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Remember This the Next Time Someone Says a Green Economy Would Be Too Expensive

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/10/23/remember-next-time-someone-says-green-economy-would-be-too-expensive

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Here in the Bay Area, “red-flag fire warnings” have been on-and-off incessant for weeks. So far we’ve skated through several very dry and windy episodes without a new major catastrophe exploding, so far. Now they say this weekend could hold the most dangerous weather yet, with wind gusts over 100mph, in the East Bay hills. You savor each clear day, expecting it might be the last in awhile before getting confined in that surreal orange planet again, for awhile.

This is what my forecasting gizmo sees ahead for us late Sunday. An intense splinter of wind breaks off north of the Bay, moving with our immense blob-imposed anti-cyclone over the central north Pacific:

~https://earth.nullschool.net/#2020/10/26/0300Z/wind/isobaric/850hPa/overlay=wind_power_density/orthographic=-121.84,39.46,3000/loc=-122.506,40.547

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You can’t build dikes around Miami because of the porous limestone ground, water will just leak through. The nitwits who think we can engineer our way out of this are full of themselves. We have to start now and move fast, and it may already be too late.

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I’m a solar and climate inventor. My view of the world is rather different from most of the climate change movement.

When I see the vast majority of the climate change movement I think, “See no solar, hear no solar, speak no solar.” I think of the fable of the emperor’s new clothes, where anyone who doesn’t see the magnificence of the emperor’s new clothes is unworthy of his/her/their current position.

As an inventor I see around engineering corners. I pester engineers, people who have worked in the business, and I listen to them. That’s the easy part. I’m pretty certain from an engineering standpoint that we can flip all houses and buildings in the frost belt over to near-100% solar heating in winter. I’m pretty certain from an engineering standpoint that we can replace freeways. I’m pretty certain from an engineering standpoint that stopping the Arctic meltdown is mission-critical for saving the planet.

Here’s the hard part: I live in a “find the fish” world where everybody is looking all over for the fishie, here, there, everywhere and nobody is succeeding. I live in an original AFLAC duck world where I can scream out the answer that everybody is looking for and nobody can hear.

Will the green economy be too expensive? Absolutely, if you build everything out of hundred dollar bills or out of pure gold, it sure will be. Every government green new deal is going to be built on money and on who gets theirs off the top.

If you actually want to succeed, if you actually want to know how to do things right, then you have no idea how screamingly cheap and effective a green new deal would be. I’ve learned the following lesson: why bother telling you one more time? I’m an engineer and so I need to find something more effective.

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~https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_the_United_States
(good info here)

~https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/carter-white-house-solar-panel-array/

The White House itself once harvested the power of the sun. On June 20, 1979, the Carter administration installed 32 panels designed to harvest the sun’s rays and use them to heat water. [snip]
By 1986, the Reagan administration had gutted the research and development budgets for renewable energy at the then-fledgling U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) and eliminated tax breaks for the deployment of wind turbines and solar technologies—recommitting the nation to reliance on cheap but polluting fossil fuels, often from foreign suppliers. [snip]
And in 1986 the Reagan administration quietly dismantled the White House solar panel installation while resurfacing the roof. [snip]
The Carter administration set a goal of deriving 20 percent of U.S. energy needs from such renewable sources by the turn of the century.
~https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_the_United_States#/media/File:History_of_energy_consumption_in_the_United_States.svg

~https://electrek.co/2020/04/09/us-energy-chart-2019/
Rejected energy is still over 2/3 of production

The biggest shock to most people is that over two-thirds of energy produced in the US is “rejected.” What does that mean? A good primer:

Rejected energy is part of the energy of a fuel — such as gas or petrol — that could be used for a purposeful activity, like making electricity or transport. However, because of the technologies that we currently use to consume fuels, a lot of it gets tossed out by turning it into heat in the environment, which is totally useless [or worse]. For a coal-fired power station, for instance, about two-thirds of the energy released when the coal is burnt is discarded as heat in the environment. This reject energy sometimes appears as clouds of vapor coming off a power station’s cooling towers…
~https://flowcharts.llnl.gov/content/assets/images/energy/us/Energy_US_2019.png ( a very descriptive image )

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Lee- but that $2 Trillion is fake money. Where did it come from? Printed out of thin air, created… That $2Trillion, or say $10Trillion “printed” or digitized out of thin air injected in 2020 into the economy or rather given to the corporates…that has done nothing but primed economies that use the dollar for a major collapse, reset, major loss of currency value…The Dems would have done the same as did the Repubs…

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Evidently you don’t know that we are about to enter the “Great Dying II”

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PAULK. I hear you and I do appreciate you… You are an inventor but you feel that nobody is listening to you. I am. I encourage you to write in any web site with any topic that you think to be useful. It is a desperate situation and desperate measures are becoming more and more necessary. I have studied the financial system. Whatever needs to be done is financially possible. There can be nothing more stupid than those who say that we can not afford to save the environment of the planet, OUR LIVES, because it would coost too much. FULL SPEED AHEAD.

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All the money is fake in that sense. It’s a bit like the windmills that the old man takes for dragons in Don Quixote. They’re not dragons, but they are not windmills either: they are figments in a book.

The money is all fiat, created from nothing, and serves us only by our neighbors’ faith.

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The trouble is that the cost is real, so money does not measure it.

The people whom one would reach with a financial explanation will at some level tend to be saying, “Well, no, the fires actually did not cost me money because it was not my house that burned down.”

In that limited sense, which admittedly removes most relevant human context, they are, within their off-world mathematics, not incorrect.

Of course, on the actual planet, this costs us, including dollars and cents for many individuals. And it is just picking up steam.

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I agree. I feel we are finally in for a bear market and all the angst it will bring.

Anyone who has been on a cruising sailboat knows how well solar and wind generators work hand in hand to generate electricity. It can also be inexpensive. I was amazed that Puerto Rico did not rebuild its grid on a local generation model and instead built its grid on a large scale distribution model…dumb, really dumb. Tell us more.

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“The market” (meaning financial markets taken all together, markets for claims on IOUs, bets on bets on debts, which at some point are claims upon actual goods and services) is not the economy.

It connects with the real economy only to the extent that bettors (“investors”) panic, starting a cascade that it is technically the mission of the Federal Reserve System to thwart. They failed completely in their first trial (the Crash of 1929), performed swimmingly in several fiascos in the 80s and 90s (most of which centered on a single entity), and did pretty well in the Crash of 2008 even as they were undercut by President Hopey-Changey. They did what they could to avert another meltdown for the next 6-8 years by continuing to pump money into the economy as a whole (note that there was negligible inflation). But that came at the expense of middle-class households that had been banking (pun intended) on their “conservative” portfolios (bonds) for their security (NO pun intended) in retirement.

Yes, ALL money is ultimately a fiat. But I’m not sure I understand what you mean by “the cost is real, so money does not measure it,” or the comment that it opens. Insurers and some other entities squabble over who takes the hit for the human errors and the “Acts of God” that that such errors cause, but that doesn’t seem to be what you’re getting at.

“Tasked with evaluating the same proposed transition to the energy system that scientists had modeled, the government’s expert claimed that adopting such a transition would force the nation to abandon the free market.”

  1. We don’t have a free market.

We have a corporate/oligarch-controlled market. And yes, we have to abandon that, not just for the climate catastrophe but for the larger ecological crisis and the inequality—> fascism crisis.

  1. The New Deal didn’t destroy the free market (we didn’t have one then, either); it created the hyper-capitalist conditions in which the current Psycho-Industrial Complexes came to control not only the economic system but the political system as well. We must and can avoid that with the comprehensive emergency Green New Deal needed to prevent catastrophic ecological and social collapse.

  2. Biden’s plan is grossly inadequate—too small, going in the wrong direction, not recognizing the existing emergency, kowtowing to fossil fuel and other corporations and rich people of mostly white.

“To spend $2 trillion to avoid this future—and to do it with standard economic tools such as taxes on carbon and the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies—simply makes sense, Stiglitz argues. It is just as pragmatic as taking out insurance before an emergency, rather than paying out of pocket to fix things later.”

  1. The paragraph is wrong from beginning to end.

a. We’re already in the emergency. It’s too late to be shopping for “insurance”.

b. A carbon price might make a useful part of a Green New Deal but it’s 30 years too late for it to make a difference as the only or even the main tool. It’s too small, too slow, and WILL NEVER PASS until progressives have enough power to pass more appropriate and effective actions. Republicans who say they want it, mostly have no power, and the ones who do are dangling a carbon price as a trap for climate activists, to further delay real action on the emergency.

c. $2 trillion? RUKM? We need to start thinking $20 trillion and go up from there. Between oil wars, fossil fuel subsidies, and bailouts for corporations and mbillionaires, we’ve wasted far more than that in the last 20 years. Biden and the other corporate Democrats are thinking of talking about considering accomplishing things by 2050, but:

a. the main purpose of such goals is to put off action until the politicians and corporate warlords currently (theoretically) accountable are retired;

b. 2050 is far too late. We need to eliminate fossil fuels worldwide, transform chemical industrial ag to small-scale low-meat organic permaculture, transform industry to ecological forms, massively reforest the planet, radically equalize, and confront the essentially psychological nature of all our crises—by 2030.

d. Wise action now will save us at least $400 trillion in short term costs, and avoid the end of civilization and the extinction of millions of species, which obviously have no dollar value, though capitalists keep trying to objectify, normalize, and minimize such things by quantifying them.

We need to implement a massive emergency Green New Deal now, and whoever’s next in the White House, Senate, and House is is going to be the enemy, with maybe a dozen exceptions. (Biden and Harris are not exceptions.) They’ll only be forced to do what’s needed by a peaceful revolution with more than 10 million committed people. We need to organize to do that if we want civilization to survive another century.

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And yet whenever I say exactly the same things (as the last part, without the less-than-credible self-aggrandizement and incomprehensible metaphors) you deny, argue, attack, and insult. WTF, engineer?