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  • Rationing in action

    February 27, 2007
    Apparently Al Gore now uses Green Power to light and heat his home, so he isn't entirely hypocritical. However, the issue here is that if we want to mitigate carbon emissions, we have to institute rationing of some sort.  Al is living by this principle.  Carbon-free energy in Nashville costs $4 extra per 150 kw, so if you can afford to pay that, you get to live the lifestyle you want.  Gore will pay approximately $6,000 extra this year for the privilege.  A drop in the bucket for him, of course. Other people, however, who cannot afford to increase their electricity bills overall (by about $300 for the average household, which is probably currently spending around $750 per year on electricity) will therefore have to decrease their electricity use by the equivalent amount - about 4,000 kwh at...
  • What price the planet?

    February 27, 2007
    When I read about sainted Al's massive power demands I immediately thought, "Surely he must use Green Power from windmills or something like that." Apparently not:
    Gore could not dispute the findings of the group as they come directly from public records.  Kalee Kreider, a spokesperson for the Gores, instead pointed out that both Al and Tipper Gore work out of their home and she argued that "the bottom line is that every family has a different carbon footprint. And what Vice President Gore has asked is for families to calculate that footprint and take steps to reduce and offset it.  (And) they are in the midst of installing solar panels on their home, which will enable them to use less...
  • Food-or-fuel hits home(s)

    February 27, 2007

    Well, the food-or-fuel debate has now been recognized by the mainstream media, previously salivating over the wonderful tax benefits and subsidies for corn ethanol production to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    Earlier, there were articles about the high prices for Mexican tortillas; then, features about hog and poultry producers facing skyrocketing prices for corn feedstock.

    Now, just about all food producers are realizing that — hey — high prices for corn translate into high costs for manufacturing such foodstuff as cereals, canned fruits and vegetables, snacks, juices and sodas that use high fructose corn syrup, etc., etc.

    And, guess what — those higher costs are gonna have to be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.  But don't...

  • Environmental heretic sees Simon's lesson

    February 27, 2007
    John Tierney does it again.  In Tierney's profile today of Stewart Brand — a staunch environmentalist and the man who gave us the Whole Earth Catalog — readers learn that Brand is now a staunch proponent of genetic engineering and nuclear energy. Here is Brand's view of agricultural biotechnology — a scourge on the earth, according to many environmental groups:
    “He sees genetic engineering as a tool for environmental protection: crops designed to grow on less land with less pesticide; new microbes that protect ecosystems against invasive species, produce new fuels and maybe sequester carbon.”
    And here's Brand's take on nuclear energy:
    “Alternative energy and...
  • Global Warming Round-up

    February 27, 2007

    Some global-warming related stories you may have missed:

    • The EU's rapidly rising transport emissions mean that they won't meet their Kyoto targets "without additional measures."
    • Ireland is in a particular pickle with its ransport emissions.
    • British government Ministers are contributing to the problem.
    • Hedge funds are rapidly retreating from investment in renewable energy technologies, which is showing signs of being a classic bubble market.
    • Sen. Feinstein says mandatory caps on emissions will...
  • Al Gore - energy conservation is for the little people?

    February 27, 2007
    Does Al Gore believe energy conservation is for the little people, the hoi polloi? The Tennessee Center for Policy Research, as reported by the Drudge Report today, says that Al Gore's home electricity use is 20x that of the average US household.
    Gore's mansion, [20-room, eight-bathroom] located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).
    Seems that the average household consumers 10,656 kilowatt hours, compared to Gore's 221,000 kWh use. Reminds me of the time Barbara Streisand urged all the little people to forego clothes dryers and line dry their wash, instead. And then her spokesperson was aghast at the suggestion that Babs might do the same.
  • Green Grass and High Times

    February 26, 2007

    How cute, Environmental Defense is declaring that “news just broke”—wink, they just now heard of it too!—that Texas Utilities (TXU) has agreed to a buyout by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. joined by a group chock-full of greens called the Texas Pacific Group. Why is this cause for environmentalist joy (or at least joy among those who have a stake in the deal — whatever it is, they are not yet saying — a universe which does not yet include the unsated Public Citizen and Rainforest Action Network)? Well, it seems that, along with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):

    “As part of the sale agreement, Environmental Defense helped negotiate an aggressive...
  • Decoupling Selling from Profit

    February 26, 2007

    I recently testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. One of the other witnesses was Peter Darbee, CEO and President of PG&E Corporation. In his testimony, he argued that his company had no special interest in the energy rationing fight because California had adopted the “decoupling” policy which ensured that his firm was able to make as much revenue by “not selling” electricity as by selling it.

    This idea—supported by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Amory Lovins, and many within the utility industry—is strange. Imagine if grocery stores were regulated utilities, each enjoying a regional monopoly over the selling of food and other basic needs, and were guaranteed revenue regardless of whether they...

  • “Social” Housing?

    February 26, 2007
    On C-SPAN last night, I was watching “Prime Minister's Questions”—the wonderful British institution in which the Prime Minister answers questions, both from his sometimes supporters and from the opposition. One question dealt with the adequacy of housing in Britain—the questioner arguing that far more money must be spent to provide housing for the poor. Prime Minister Blair responded by arguing that a balance was needed between private housing and “social housing.” Frederick Hayek once noted that the growing use of “social” as an adjective had lowered the quality of communication. “Social,” he argued, was a weasel word—it connoted some element of morality while conveying no substantive meaning at all. Ah, but in the political world connotations may well be more meaningful than substance. Consider “social justice,” “social security,” “social costs,” “welfare state,” and...
  • When Everything Is Unhealthy, Nothing Is

    February 26, 2007
    Americans eat more junk than many other peoples, although the gap is diminishing, and many other Western countries are beginning to catch up to the United States in their obesity rates. The greater American tendency to eat junk food may ironically be partly the result of our obsession with the health risks and imperfections of perfectly ordinary foods, which leads us to see no difference between such foods and truly unhealthy food. People often erroneously believe that baked potatoes, hamburgers, pizza, and cheese are intrinsically unhealthy, when they are not. As a result, they avoid them, while satisfying their food cravings instead with corn chips, potato chips, doughnuts, buttered popcorn, and cake, which typically contain few nutrients. (By contrast, people in my wife's native France, who are somewhat skinnier on average than Americans, do not view cheese, hamburgers, or baked...


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