Wednesday, January 6, 2010

SAR #10006

Everything seemed so easy for so long...

Ready, Set, Restart:   Sales of existing houses fell 16% in November (m/m/), showing how much the market depends on Federal support and bribery. Whatever recovery there is in housing will collapse as federal programs are ended. So they won't be.

The Iceman Waffles:  Citing massive public opposition, Iceland's president vetoed the parliament's 33/30 vote to assume responsibility for the massive debts of the failed Icesave bank. Wonder if the US public will ever gather enough backbone to put a stop to the US bail-out of Wall Street.

Wording:  Reports claim that “among the targets” the CIA gave a team of Blackwater assassins was an alleged al-Qaeda financier in Hamburg.   “Among the targets” is an interesting turn of phrase.

Answered:   To illustrate the US commitment to global climate change, construction of the Prairie State Energy Campus coal-fired power plant continues.  Its 700 foot smokestack will belch 10 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year for decades, where it will remain to warm the planet for centuries.

Either/Or:   Was the whole escapade that ended up with the burnt BVD's in Detroit the result of incompetence or conspiracy?  And whose incompetence,  whose conspiracy?   'All of the above' may be the right answer.

Carry On:   In December, US customers bought cars at an 11.1 million a year rate, up 7.75% from December 08. Sales grew at Ford, Honda, and Toyota, while Chrysler and GM lost customers.   Total sales for 2009 were 10.4 million units, down from 2008's 13.2 million.  But while buying those 10 million units, Americans sent 14 million to the compactor – leaving the US with only 246 million light vehicles.

Danger! Danger!   Senate Republicans are determined to prevent the government from protecting customers from Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and the rest of the Whiplashes.  They claim it would be as bad as the (generally gelded) EPA.

Deflating the Deflationists:  Despite all the assurances from the government that there is no inflation, since October 2007:  Sugar up 11.8%.  Cereals and bakery goods up 11.5%.  Cooking oils up 11.6%.  Food and beverage up an average 5.6%.  Educational books and supplies up 14.9%.  Medical care up an average 6.7%.  Hospital services up 14.0%.   How are things on your block?

Wording:  “Pemex Output May Rise” - or so the headline said.  As if producing 2.55 mbd instead of 2.50 mbd is worth writing home about.

Denial R Us: Scientists claim that volcanic rocks off the coast from NJ to Maine might make ideal reservoirs to sequester carbon dioxide.  How are they going to get the CO2 out there?  How long before it would leak, kill thousands and end up in the atmosphere?  Why aren't they working on 4th generation nuclear plants?

Democracy In-Action:  For nearly a year a single individual has been able to keep the nation from filling the rather important post of head of the Transportation Security Administration.  Why should one person – elected from one of the smaller states – be able to control the fate of the nation in such a way?  Majority vote, right?  What's wrong with this picture?

Delivery?  Nestle has paid $3.7 billion to buy Kraft pizza.  Hold the anchovies.

God's Work:  Richard Land, the Southern Baptist's ethics guru, says that  "The Biblical worldview sees Earth and its systems as robust, self-regulating, and self-correcting, not immune to harm but durable." and he is certain that in God's eyes, “Man comes first.  Not animals.  Not the planet."

Question:   If the electricity comes from coal, what good are electric vehicles?

Hurdles:  The GOP thought it had raised the bar high enough in 2005 to prevent most bankruptcies by the poor and middle class.  And for a while it worked to force those without highly paid lawyers to keep paying debts pretty much forever.  But now foreclosures and job losses have so impoverished Americans that they are qualifying for more bankruptcies - up 32% in 2009.  And Chapter 7 bankruptcies, which erase debts – cardinal sin to bankers and Republicans – are up 42% y/y.

Porn O'Graph:  Brother have you Saved?


Matte Gray said...

As a passionate left coast advocate of electric vehicles, and owner of an electric scooter and a hybrid car, I must point out that very little of my electricity comes from coal.

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

Louis: You - and PG&E - get good marks for avoiding coal generation. But the US as a whole gets 57% of its electricity from coal-fired plants (2007 data). If we all begin driving electrical vehicles, carbon emissions will actually increase, because more coal will be burned to supply the electricity and coal is far dirty to burn than petroleum.

However, the problem is not what to use to fuel our cars; the problem is our cars and the effect they have on promoting an energy intensive (and energy wasteful) lifestyle. Your scooter (a Segway?) is a far better solution than an electric car. Mass transit is better than that. And walking wins the prize.

Eric Hacker said...

Re: Electric Vehicles

Just because the electricity comes from coal today, that does not means it will come from coal tomorrow. Replacing a gas powered vehicle fleet is a serious challenge to changing over to greener vehicles. The vehicles will likely stay on the road until they completely break down. Better to at least get the electric vehicles in place now than to wait until clean electricity is widely available.

Electric vehicles also require less maintenance.

Pollution is easier to control at power plants than on individual vehicles.

I think, but admit that the details are very complicated, that electric vehicles are overall more efficient than gas powered vehicles. Just look at the efficiency gains by going hybrid.

It will probably be easier to keep electric vehicles going into the long emergency than gas ones.

I participate in a Greenup program that allows me to buy all renewable generated electricity at a premium. I do have some doubts about the merits of these programs which operate on credits and such, but I'm trying.
I also own a Prius.
My skateboards and bicycles are entirely human powered, however.

rjs said...

that was the first id heard of 4th gen nuclear power, so i did a search on it; it appears the chinese are way ahead of us on that, too...

Eric Hacker said...


I was writing while you posted ckm. I edited out my anti-car stuff because I was rambling too much by then!

My current house also has a Walkscore of 100.

Anonymous said...

The Iceman Waffles:

Death to the "Vampire Squids"!

Plus the Brits are threatening to keep Iceland out of the EU. What could be better for Icelanders!


Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

On cars: There are some 246 million light vehicles in the US. Last year we dumped 14 million and bought 11 million new. Quick estimate says that if we bought only electrics (or super efficient hybrids that do better than a diesel) we could replace about half the fleet in a dozen years. Anybody think we're going to stop buying ICE's that suddenly? The replacement rate will get us, no matter how pretty the flowers in the ads.

I suspect (as you may have noticed) that the economy will change the whole equation long before the ICE/electric question gets settled.

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

FYI I came across the 4th generation nukes option in Dr Hansen's "Storms of My Grandchildren" - which I recommend, even though it is unevenly written and a tad dense in places. The message is important, and even though he is not challange Carl Sagen,Stephen Jay Gould or James McPhee as a stylist, he does merit reading.

rjs said...

something ive never seen in any of the equations on the benefits replacing current technology with "green", be it electric cars or wind and solar power, is the amount of coal based generating power needed to get from here to there; ie., most manufacturing done in the midwest is from coal generation; hybrid cars, windmills, solar panels all must be manufactured, and expansion the electric grid (massive amounts of steel & aluminum; iron ore & bauxite mining are energy intesive) to move the power from where your "clean power" comes from will also be needed; all of that takes enrgy inputs from current systems to complete...there's no silver bullet...

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

rjs - No silver bullet, for sure. The bullet is pretty much coal black - for the reasons you cite. Until non-fossil fuel energy systems can produce enough energy to replicate themselves (mine the ore, smelt the ores, shame the metals, transport all the stuff about...) they will be but interesting toys. When we have burned all the fossil fuel (and we will - it is just too damned easy) it won't much matter anyway, or not for long.

kwark said...

I agree with James Kunstler's view on a "green" economy (ignoring most of his other hyperbole). Without much thought, we seem hell-bent on greening our current car-centric culture. Trouble is, it is exceeding unlikely that we CAN maintain our current car-centered culture with any combination of green power or green cars.