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The true cost to going green (what Ed didn’t mention)…

While I’m all for reducing the effects on the environment by fossil fuel use, I’m not for people going hungry when a person has to decide whether to put fuel in the car to get to work, pay for food or medicine. While it’s true that Europe has paid roughly four times the amount Americans have paid per gallon their society is geared more toward public transportation.

Let’s put a more realistic spin on the oil/gas issue. If you own a big SUV / Hummer and drive in the city, you really don’t have a legitimate complaint for oil / gas prices. The tax loop should be closed on these luxury items so that the buyers actually pay for the vehicles and the gas used. Any one of several mini-vans can carry more people than a large SUV with better fuel mileage. If the SUV is an actual work vehicle, have it documented as such with special plates, like dual axle pickups used for farming, and give them the tax breaks.

BIO-diesel is one of the biggest public farces I’ve seen in recent history, and on so many levels. I was a truck driver for three years, driving in the top 10% of the companies 200 drivers for fuel mileage. All drivers that tried the bio-diesel had / have at least one of the following issues: worse fuel mileage, engine damage, less power going up hills and mountains, and increased gelling of the fuel in winter time. If a driver uses 10% more BIO-fuel doesn’t that mean 10% more has to be brought in? In addition to that how much more energy and pollution is produced to make BIO-fuel, and does it actually offset the “environmental impact of hydrocarbons” of the current supply of fuel?

Next on the list would be the ‘shortage’ of crops reported from last year’s harvest. (Bio-diesel / fuel is made from corn or soy beans.) For many decades now the government has been paying farmers not to plant crops but trees. One of the reasons for this was to artificially inflate the price so farmers wouldn’t produce so much and drive prices down. Imagine reclaiming that land and planting corn on it, in fact in 2007 we had so much corn it was sitting in the open in WI, IL, IA, IN, MN, NE, and KS.

What about offshore drilling? Sure we want to protect our environment and coastline, but what difference does it make when right at the boundary of the coastal waters you have Mexico or Russia or Korea tapping into that oil deposit that is literally feet away from the American water border.

Wind generators, I would have one at my house if I had the money to finance it, tax breaks and grants from the government months after they are installed does not fill the stomach or gas tank now. Additonally, many state, county, and local laws are set against putting up a tower.

Solar panels. Right now there is a solar panel developed in South Africa that literally could supply all the electrical demands of a house by covering that houses’ roof with 100 square feet of this product. It’s not available in the United States, yet it’s cheaper and more efficient than the closest competitor.

I recently contacted a solar panel installation company for installation on my house. The quote for $32,000 would only apply to me if I were a business, which obviously could afford it. The company stated that they do not yet provide their services for the general residential needs. Bare in mind this is for the less efficient available product. Further complicating matters are the Federal, state-to-state incentives for installing these systems. Each state is different some have programs, some push off incentives to the power company. Either way a $2,000 incentive with a $2,000 tax break does not significantly reduce the installation cost.

The bottom line is that Americans want everything without paying the price. The energy crisis cannot and will not be resolved without a major change in America’s attitude.

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13 Responses

  1. I’d say you’re overlooking cellulosic biofuels which are produced from things like switchgrass, wood chips, and other forms of plant biomass that don’t double as food sources. The technology is still young, but there’s promising work being down with microbial processes for efficiently breaking down the biomass. Certainly not a panacea, but it seems like a wise option given we already have a national infrastructure for distributing liquid fuels. I can’t speak to the problems you’ve had with biofuels in truck engines, but off the top of my head those sound like the kind of problems that naturally get solved by technological progress and market innovation.

    And as for reclaiming more land for farming, that means cutting down trees which would otherwise be removing carbon from the atmosphere. Which kind of shoots yourself in the foot given one of the attractions of biofuel is its ability to address global warming.

    I certainly agree with your last point, though. One of our biggest problems is cultural, rather than structural, in that most Americans don’t want to face the hard work of doing more with less.

  2. There is a difference in ‘over-looking’ and selectively using. Soybean and then corn provide the most ‘material’ for the goal, and yes technology may/can solve the issues in the future. In reality with the global warming stance you have taken (which I dont fully agree with) This is a pointed question that needs an answer not a debate. Is there a significant drop in hydro-carbon emmisions after using 10% more fuel and using the extra energy producing it? And then address who will absorb the costs of the adding / changed equipement for example Truck drivers? Farmers? My Grandfather last year had his storage tank, transfer pump and the tractor in the field gel up in August. Who gets to pay for that? Would you be wiling to pay $10 a gal for milk until technology catches up? Also the other side of the agricultural end is this… (which by your comment either you were not aware or disagree with). Why would we pay our farmers not to plant, then a new demand of bio-fuel emerges and now we have to import corn? So Americans incure a penalty for having a trade deficet and higher fuel prices. Honestly there is no real rebuttal on that last statement. But if you contend that bio-fuel is one of the answers to global warming then, the question must be answered, the addtional 10% of increased fuel must be free and there are no extra BTU’s put into the environment produceing this bio-fuel. Also in reality if America really wants to address the issue gib SUV’s like in my origional statement would be outlawed, some of them get 9 to 10 mpg only 3 mpg better than when I was driving an 18 wheeler.

  3. I’m guessing that wind power is still largely the province of big energy companies, at least for now. Perhaps you can try looking for an existing company in your area that supplies wind power?

    Regarding offshore drilling, even if you ignore the impact to the environment — and the disruption to the balance of the ecosystem — the benefits are marginal at best. Besides, oil companies haven’t even used up all their existing offshore drilling leases… it seems the only significant beneficiary of McCain’s “offshore drilling” proposal will be his vote count.

    By the way, what exactly are your doubts regarding the theory of global warming?

  4. Do I believe that we have a impact on Global Warming (GW), yes I do. But to skew the facts and sway public opinion like the press does is ludicris… The same data that says we are causing it, has an equal number of reports and scientists that says we are not. This requires a chain of logic. #1 you have to believe in evolution (which I do not) go back 10k to 12k years (end of the last ice age and the melting there of) I believe we are still in the melting trend, and since thermal dynamics in this case is geometrical and not linear. This means as the warmer it gets the quicker it gets even warmer. We have only been accurately recording temps for the last 300 yrs or so why is it that during WW2 dureing the firestorms and nuclear explosions are some of the coldest on record. Evolutionists say the dinasaurs (sp?) lived in a huge tropical region so which is it? Again if we dont have to but carbon in the air, or add BTU to the air, plant trees I’m for it. I’m for the responsible citizen on accomplishing this not a govt crutch (as I think most Americans do not act like citizens and they always think govt is the answer.) Until we curve our own greed for power… all the Ipods, the SUV’s, air conditioning, exotic foods, shipping exotic foods etc… You can not effect a change in the environment until you effect a change in the American behavior.

  5. (1) “why is it that during WW2 dureing the firestorms and nuclear explosions are some of the coldest on record”
    (2) “I believe we are still in the melting trend”
    (3) “I’m for the responsible citizen on accomplishing this not a govt crutch”

    So you dispute the global warming theory because you think (1) it’s colder than before; (2) it’s warmer than before but the warming’s not caused by humans; and (3) it’s warmer and it’s caused by humans but getting Big Government™ to come in to solve the global warming problem is a Bad Bad Thing so let’s Do Nothing (on the policy front).

    “This requires a chain of logic.”

    Indeed it does, but it seems you’re relying more on a he-says-she-says type of ‘methodology’ to form your ‘opinion’, rather than any coherent chain of logic. Because what you said doesn’t seem particularly coherent.

    Why not check out what climate scientists are actually saying? Bypass the journalists; go straight to the primary material — the journal papers, and the textbooks (Ray Pierrehumbert has put up a draft of one). Find out how exactly they conclude that there is global warming, that it’s man-made, and that it’s serious.

    Anyway, I’d like to know what CM’Blog thinks of the global warming theory…

  6. I use conjecture from the climate scientists and depending on which one you get, you come up with different culprits.
    I dont believe that a true neutral source has been utilized to isolate the warming trend, diluting the bias I can only come up with half-truths. but statisically thinking 300 years of measuring over 12000 from the last ice age is only 2.5%, considering El Nino and El Nino global effects are on 20yr (or is it 10yr I cant remember) cycles doesn’t it make sense that there could be bigger weather patterns we do not see yet? count rings in trees from around the globe, you can see climate changes for hundreds of years.

    I don’t have an answer as to why WW2 era had colder averages (I mis-quoted earlier by saying the coldest)

    I do still believe (if you use evolution) that we are in the up swing of an ice age cycle.

    Finally Government is rarely the answer, it is a fact that once any program on any issue that is working well, gets gummed up once government is involved. Especially ours.

    My real issue is that poeple in general are so willing to take a political issue and twist it to make a rallying cry. Yet they feel no social obligation to do anything about it. They will blog, and write, but for the most part their life style is the same at home. IE: Don’t reuse bags from the store, plan trips in a pattern as not to run back and forth. Cooking at home vice eating out. Home solar panels, recycling food, gardens, rain barrels.. etc

    It is evident that we (people) are having an effect on the environment, and I have always said I am for reducing pollution. Acid rain, mud slides, polluted lakes, ozone layer. If we can, we must make a change. But we are only accelerating the warm up, not the cause of it. Now to truely address the issue sure its easy to pick on the U.S. but do you honestly believe countries like China, Korea, India are going to curb there industrial developement for the sake of the environment? Each of them have a larger population than the U.S.

    One more thing, I’m not too keen on the globaliztion of my country, and its losing its identity. But I know that todays generation is. And that in itself is a huge problem. But that is for different post.

    As far as logic goes, I may have not been specific enough, the issue is much larger then my abbreviated form here – so my thoughts seem disconnected and vague. I apologize for that. And honestly if I applied all the knowledge across the sciences that I posses and can look up, I wouldn’t be working where I am at now (LOL)

  7. “I use conjecture from the climate scientists”

    …and pundits, and think-tanks, as filtered through the brains of the mass media? Because from the way you talk about how “the press” likes to “sway public opinion”, it seems this is the case.

    Anyway, the prevailing theory about the cooling from 1940s to 1970s is that it’s caused by aerosols. Once aerosol levels fell, scientists started worrying about global warming caused by CO2.

    “Finally Government is rarely the answer, it is a fact that once any program on any issue that is working well, gets gummed up once government is involved.”

    I’m sure that did not come from a climatologist. Even mainstream economists are saying that government action — in the form of carbon taxes or carbon cap-and-trade — won’t harm the economy. Cap-and-trade has already been tried for other types of pollutants; where’s the doom and gloom that the free-market pundits have been predicting?

    “Now to truely address the issue sure its easy to pick on the U.S.”

    Woh, woh, woh. Now you’ve just throwing out talking points at random. If you demand that others produce a “chain of logic”, is it too much to ask the same thing of yourself?

    “And honestly if I applied all the knowledge across the sciences that I posses and can look up, I wouldn’t be working where I am at now”

    Yeah, climate science is hard, but why not apply basic critical thinking first? Check out for example my blog post on climate conspiracy theories; it’s not even rocket science material.

  8. I’m not using this as an arguement forum, attack my logic if you will, which you will (frankbi) I just see it differently than the liberal utopian government has answer forget the little people wannabe’s. If you want to step it up with m for a true conversation I’m for it, but I want it constructive. Until then or another person comments, I’m done with this topic for now.

  9. jcbwolf, I don’t see why the only way to be seen as “constructive” is to avoid “attacking” your (lack of) “logic”. Above I’ve provided a number of links debunking some of the so-called “skeptic” arguments. If providing evidence isn’t “constructive”, then I don’t know what is.

  10. Honestly, I looked at some of your links yesterday, I could not clearly tell which direction you were going with it, I can’t clearly tell what your main point is. But that may be on me I have a different way of looking at things. I am convinced in my view of ‘GW’ and I could change my mind but ‘the facts’ need to be from a neutral source, I did not see that with you. Actually what my posts try to do, is just get people to look at an issue in a different light. If their opinion is changed or modified its neither good nor bad, but I would argue that it is more informed. I would not put something out that I didn’t at least do a little research on. It would seem from some of your posts that you believe in GW and that we are the cause, it would also seem that you are actively pursuing some sort of resolution. This is all good, and I agree with the effort, just maybe not the scope, and how to get there. I think that toooooo much energy ‘as in human’ is spent looking on who to blame (not the actually pollutants). And if our (U.S.) developement is a big cause of this then the world (Al Gore, U.N.) needs to address the potential industrial power houses developing in China, Korea, and India. All of which had a significantly higher emissions growth RATE than the U.S. in the latest reports. Most of the time the fight over blaming just detracts from actually solving the problem, you alluded to this in your own words in your blog. Just to prove I did look at your blog, it peaked my interest on your champion for denouncing Agent Orange chemical compound DDT. The reason for this, is several thousand steel barrels were buried in MN, near to where I grew up, cancer rates tripled, and that is from a report I read in the early 90’s. In addtion to all this I have my own ‘Oil conspiracy theory’ which I will try to post by early next week (maybe today) just for laughs. It requires, not so much as a chain of logic as taking a step back and saying maybe this is so (kind of like X-files logic). Finally, as you believe that your logic and facts (note I did not “” them signifies I’m not denoucing your work) provide you with an answer, is it not conceivable that others have the same passion and fortitude to do the same?

  11. I must say, you two have been at it for days and I like where the discussion has gone. Frankbi, soon I will post my thoughts on Global Warming and what I think can be done to reduce our carbon footprint while meeting our energy needs. Jcbwolf, your thoughts are appreciated along with your willingness to listen and explore other sources. As far as finding the “neutral” source, well, the best advice I can give is to read all sides and make your judgment based on what you’ve learned. In many ways, it’s like the job of a Supreme Court Justice, reading amicus briefs and listening to testimonies. You then make a decision based on your understanding of the issues. When you enter the blogosphere, those views are challenged by others who too sit on the bench. It is all a part of the process.

    Thanks again for being a part of the Great Debate.

  12. I just had to do this; check out the following link


    go Global Warming alarmists.

    its exactly as I said, there is as much data for as against.

  13. Engaging page,, i will visit once more=D

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