Articles by Jon Rynn
Jon Rynn is the author of Manufacturing Green Prosperity: The Power to Rebuild the Middle Class, from Praeger Press. He has a Ph.D. in Political Science and lives with his wonderful wife and amazing two boys, car-less, in New York City.
Manufacturing can be a source of pollution, and the iconic image of manufacturing is the smokestack hurling smoke into the atmosphere. But in order to create a sustainable economy, we're going to have to manufacture the necessary windmills, solar energy systems, trains, and electric vehicles. We have a negative demonstration of the necessity of manufacturing in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, in an article entitled "Alternative Energy Hurt By a Windmill Shortage" (attention web surfers: the Wall Street Journal is free all day today!):
The race to build new sources of alternative energy from the wind is running into a formidable obstacle: not enough windmills.
In recent years, improved technology has made it possible to build bigger, more efficient windmills. That, combined with surging political support for renewable energy, has driven up demand. Now, makers can't keep up -- mostly because they can't get the parts they need fast enough.
It turns out that mostly European utilities have locked up the consumption of most of the wind turbine builders in the world, so if in particular a small U.S. utility wants to expand its wind power base, it has one alternative: sell itself to a European utility. The wind turbine manufacturing capacity in the U.S. is so small that much of our wind turbine industry could soon be mostly European:
The Chicago Tribune has an article in today's paper entitled "MPG bill could cost UAW jobs; Workers fear SUV plant's fate sealed," although the article itself isn't as shrill as the title suggests.
At first glance, the article looks like the classic "those environmentalists are going to take away your jobs" piece, but the author presents data for the other side, that is, that the problems of the auto industry are the problems of the managers of the auto industry:
Higher fuel standards would affect all automakers but would hit the domestics harder because they sell a greater percentage of trucks than foreign rivals. Trucks account for 56 percent of GM's sales, two-thirds of Ford's and three-fourths of the Chrysler Group's.
Youch! Who's fault is it that they bet the farm on SUVs? The car companies could have analyzed the data on peaking oil, foreign imports of oil, even global warming. Because of their short-term outlook, made much worse by Wall Street's emphasis on the next quarter, not the next quarter of a century, they refused to go down a path that should have been obvious by the end of the 1970s.
I regularly receive a letter from Ted Glick, the coordinator of the U.S. Climate Emergency Council, who recently was arrested for hanging a banner on the NOAA building to protest their mishandling of climate information. He has joined with others in calling for a fast on September 4th:
We are calling on thousands of Americans to voluntarily give up food for one day on September 4th, 2007. Other participants will fast even longer beginning on that date, some for weeks. Our appeal to you is to consider joining us in this climate initiative called, "So Others Might Eat: The Climate Emergency Fast." ...
What will we be calling for? Three things: no new coal or coal-to-liquid plants; freeze greenhouse gas emissions and move quickly to reduce them; and a down payment of $25 billion for energy conservation, efficiency and renewable energy.
Ken Ward has recently posted here about the efficacy of protest.
The problem as I see it is that in the past, direct action and protest have had very clear achievable goals, whereas in the case of global warming, we know we want drastically reduced carbon emission, but the devil is in the details.
If you think that the current governmental and corporate interest in ethanol has something to do with global warming, think again. It is dawning on the U.S. government that (1) most of the remaining supplies of oil are in unfriendly hands, and (2) that there isn't enough oil remaining to feed a constantly growing global demand.
With oil production plateauing, governments can turn to three main strategies to maintain fuel supplies: (1) consume what's left of the planet by growing huge amounts of biofuels; (2) fry what's left of the atmosphere by converting coal to oil or exploiting dirty, expensive tars and oil sands; or (3) conquer the planet to forcably take whatever oil is left.
Michael T. Klare brings this problem right to the door of the U.S. military in his new article, "The Pentagon v. Peak Oil: How Wars of the Future May Be Fought Just to Run the Machines That Fight Them."