Skip to content Skip to site navigation

Gar Lipow's Posts

Comments

Zombie carbon trading’s latest resurrection

[Because the following is long, it is also available in pdf format at http://www.nohairshirts.com/zomb.pdf ] Even as London carbon trading desks shut down[1] in response to the crumbling European Trading System (ETS) , the zombie concept of carbon trading spreads to China. Because Robin Hahnel's carbon trading defenses[2] offer the best pro-carbon market arguments to date, this article tackles carbon trading largely by answering Hahnel. For those wondering "who the hell is Robin Hahnel?", he is an underappreciated left economist. His 1999 book Panic Rules was one of the  best critical primers on globalization.  He is a long time critic …

Read more: Uncategorized

Comments

Light rail on a diet equals better mass transit

I often write about the key role the federal government plays in infrastructure. Ultralight rail is one small example of the role national governments can play in advancing or bottlenecking infrastructure change. The state of today's light rail: when extensively used it saves energy compared to cars. Another advantage: light rail has lower capital costs. Trains are simpler to build than automobiles. Extensively used trains also put more of their capital capacity to work, because trains operate for much of the day, where autos typically sit 22 to 23 hours out of 24 hours. Railbeds, though initially more expensive than …

Read more: Uncategorized

Comments

The Price is Wrong

[A short excerpt from the following was previously published on the "Triple Crisis" blog of Dollars & Sense magazine] For United States climate activists to succeed, they must demand serious government spending on energy efficiency and renewables - spending comparable to the current war budget. Calling for hundreds of billions in annual green public investment has potential for the popular appeal needed to build a powerful grassroots climate movement. That investment would be the best policy as well. Massive clean energy spending would not only provide jobs and economic growth on a grand scale. It is the most effective way to …

Read more: Uncategorized

Comments

“Pennies for Wendy’s”

http://youtu.be/KsLXI_2Xypc Wendy's is the biggest holdout among the fast food giants who refuses to pay a penny more per pound of tomatoes on condition that growers treat workers with a minimum of fairness. This , payment to workers at least equal to the minimum wage, time clocks, a third party grievance procedure. By refusing to join Wendy's saves costs of less than a penny per meal. So a group of us collected pennies at a local Olympia festival as charity to Wendy's so they can afford to do the right thing.

Read more: Uncategorized

Comments

Climate change deniers, you should get together with Beatles deniers

Yes, along with those who deny that human action is the primary cause of this century's global warming, there are people who deny that the Beatles ever existed.  Their basic argument: There was never just one group of 4 individuals calling themselves “The Beatles” who rose to world stardom.There were multiples of each character performing as “John”, “Paul”, “George” and “Ringo”. Each part of the world appears to have had its own Beatles group, And even then, there were sometimes multiple characters within. They all looked identical to each other except for a few features here and there.But what was most …

Read more: Uncategorized

Comments

Why your iThings don’t have to be weCruel

Free marketeers and green-minded people tend to converge on a single belief -- that electronic goods such as Apple iPhones and iPads are inherently unsustainable. Making such goods is only possible, the story goes, because of the unbearable mistreatment of workers who make those products, and the extraction of raw materials under environmentally destructive conditions. Treat workers fairly, and extract rare earths and such in ways that don't degrade the ecology, and costs would explode -- your iPad would carry the price tag of a small car.

This argument is sometimes made by those who don't want to see anything done about the horrible treatment of workers in places like Foxconn in China, where nets have been placed to catch workers driven to attempting suicide by jumping from building windows and roofs. Sometimes it is made by those who think this whole technological civilization thing is a mistake. In both cases it is wrong.

Here is the truth: The single greatest cost component of both the iPhone and the iPad is neither labor nor materials, but profits.

Comments

Sorry, we still don’t know if biochar can save our asses

Can biochar save us from climate change? We need more research to know for sure. (Photo by Visionshare.)

Many claims have been made over the years about biochar. It certainly sounds like something that can help save our asses from the climate crisis. Take some waste from thinning trees to prevent fires, or straw from growing wheat or rice, or any other high-carbon waste. Partially burn it without air to power cooking stoves or provide some other kind of energy. Bury the resulting charcoal in fields to store the carbon, and improve soil structure. Voila, biopower that on net takes carbon out of the atmosphere and turns some of it into fossil carbon that is permanently removed from the carbon cycle. In essence, it is supposed to be a form of carbon sequestration that is permanent today, and makes agriculture more sustainable besides. Suck it, global warming!

Unfortunately, this is completely unproven.

Read more: Climate & Energy

Comments

Why Miracle on 34th Street delights my cold cynical heart

Miracle on 34th Street is the perfect Christmas movie for those who hate fake sentimentality. It is not that the classic 1947 film lacks schmaltz, but that a sly script hides a sharp edge under every schmear. Most of the plot advances come when characters, good and bad act out of self-interest. Two exceptions are "Kris Kringle" who is soon revealed to suffer from a delusion of being Santa Claus, and Sawyer, the evil psychologist who acts out of ego-driven malice and hurts other for no gain other than personal satisfaction. With those exceptions everyone has motives an economics 101 …

Read more: Uncategorized

Comments

Clean, cheap long distance electricity transmission? Worth investigating.

I recently stumbled upon some High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) technology that seems promising to me for long distance transmission. It is not existing technology; it is a detailed proposal with no prototype and not even a computer simulation behind it. Nonetheless it looks like a less expensive and more environmentally friendly way to move large amounts of electricity over long distances -- well worth further exploration. The basic idea, elpipes, as developed by Roger Faulkner is to place HVDC lines inside insulated pipes, which can then be buried underground or placed just above ground rather than raised on transmission …

Read more: Uncategorized

Comments

CDM study defending CDM against charges of being a miserable failure is a miserable failure

My last post was a reminder that the Clean Development Mechanism(CDM) remains a miserable failure. The evidence that it does not actually contribute to solving the climate crisis included data that showed that the overwhelming majority of offsets certificates issued and approved by the program are generated by scandal ridden projects, and are widely acknowledged as invalid. The same post also linked to a study from the World Bank, an offset pioneer, that acknowledges that most existing project based offsets are "non-additional" i.e. based on partially or totally false stories. That same post also provided quotes from leading authorities in …

Read more: Uncategorized