Well, maybe my words can't describe how bad corn ethanol is, or Mayor Bloomberg's, or those of top scientists, but I think I have found someone's words that do: Opus's from Bloom Country. First, however, the lastest grim news from Fortune: "The ethanol boom is running out of gas as corn prices spike." Yes, "plans for as many as 50 new ethanol plants have been shelved in recent months." Why? Spurred by an ethanol plant construction binge, corn prices have gone stratospheric, soaring from below $2 a bushel in 2006 to over $5.25 a bushel today. As a result, it's become difficult for ethanol plants to make a healthy profit, even with oil at $100 a barrel. If you can't make money with oil at $100 a barrel, you are not much of an alternative fuel. But I know what you're thinking -- if corn ethanol is so bad, what's wrong with plants being scrapped? Well, the corn ethanol business is here to stay. The corn ethanol mandate from the most recent energy bill requires doubling supply from current levels. Fortune explains what that means:
According to a new index by Cambridge Energy Research Associates: The cost of building a U.S. power plant has risen 130 percent since 2000, and 27 percent in the 12 months to October 2007 alone. CERA's Candida Scott explains most of the implications:
In last month’s print edition of The American Prospect, Chris Mooney had an article called "This will mean the world to us," about what a new president and Congress could and should do on climate change. The editors asked me to write a letter in response, which is in this month’s issue. It’s semi-on the web here, but I think you have to be a subscriber to read it. Here’s the full, pre-edited version: Dear editor, In his otherwise astute survey of the political landscape around climate change, Chris Mooney takes a puzzling tone toward the advocates and activists who …
Perhaps because it was released the same week as Ben Halpern and colleagues' excellent human impacts map, the new U.N. report "In Dead Water" has been met with little fanfare. It's too bad, because the report is a natural complement to the scientists' graphic illustration of the intersection between humans and the seas. "In Dead Water" takes a big-picture look at the five primary threats facing the oceans: pollution, climate change, overfishing, invasive species, and habitat loss. You can download the report here (PDF); I plucked out some of its major findings in an oceanic ode to the Harper's Index. With apologies to Lewis Lapham:
This is from the very funny daily web comic Joy of Tech:
From an article titled "Cold Water on 'Global Warming'" (paraphrased): My climate change prediction is that no one outside of our own inner circle of discredited charlatans and industry shills will want to sit around and watch The Great Global Warming Swindle reruns for three straight days, even if it is at the Times Square Marriott. Once my prediction comes true, I can blame it all on the liberal media.
I have been asked this question about daylight saving time many times. I have long believed it was not an energy saver -- even though that is how it is typically justified. Turns out there is quantitative proof. For those who are interested in this relatively obscure issue -- I doubt Congress would change DST on the basis of this or any other study -- you can read a very good article in the Wall Street Journal. "Springing forward," as we will do March 9, "may actually waste energy":
The Competitive Enterprise Institute's Iain Murray warns of the dangers of renewables: While we're on the subject of renewables: here's further proof that wind power is no panacaea for the nation's looming electricity crisis. The wind dropped in Texas, and caused blackouts. Indeed, an unexpected demand spike not met by coal-fired power plants wind power caused irreparable harm by unfairly favoring the unwashed masses over "large industrial customers who are paid to reduce power use when emergencies occur" on Tuesday. Tuesday was the very day nuclear, natural gas, and coal power demonstrated their unfailing reliability to 3 million Floridians. More Murray: Meanwhile, in Denmark, wind turbines are exploding. Dramatic video (provenance uncertain, so may not be genuine) here. This follows the fatal collapse of a wind tower in Oregon last summer. They also come with environmental costs of their own. Now, of course, all energy production comes with risks, but wind power has such a positive image that people think of it as completely safe, environmentally-friendly and reliable. That's not the case. I, for one, would take mountaintop removal, mercury emissions, and global warming over dangerous wind power any day!