Blogs, environment, politics, technology and the kitchen link, often all in one post!

Showing posts with label coal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label coal. Show all posts

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Apology to David Friedman

Kitchen Linker is honored to have David Friedman commenting here, even if the comment is a justified accusation of making a base assertion. Kitchen Linker has now actually read The Coal Question and Climate Change cited by David Friedman rather than taking a quick glance and throwing it into the frying pan.

A strong case is made that most long term global warming scenarios assume much more hydrocarbons will be burned than are available to burn. Unless we trigger a major change now, the long term (year 2100+) impact on the climate from humans releasing carbon into the atmosphere will be relatively small and transient, because we'll run out of oil and coal.

However, Kitchen Linker does not really believe people are concerned about the year 2100 and beyond, at least not very much (and they shouldn't be--if we survive, people then will have incredible wealth and tools to face down the pedestrian challenges of today). People are concerned about the possibility (admittedly small) of near term catastrophic climate change and/or collapse in oil production.

Frankly, any policy implemented now is going to only slightly tweak the probability of either near term disaster scenario. But that is not an excuse for doing nothing, in particular because people want something done, and that something could be very, very bad, such as anti-technology terrorism and/or resource wars.

Let's ward those off with policy that is good and addresses climate change and energy depletion. In a comment on his own blog post, David Friedman has sage advice:
The conclusions I want to reach lead me to conclude that the future is sufficiently uncertain so that it is almost always a mistake to bear large costs now in or to avoid problems in the distant future. For more on that, see the webbed draft of my current writing project, Future Imperfect.
Yes, but a green tax shift does not involve bearing large costs. To the contrary, it costs less than equivalent taxes on production.

Friday, October 20, 2006

"Green" software development and n-order effects

Thought provoking post:
Face it: every layer added between your code and the hardware costs something once you scale it up, just like it does for a million gasoline cars. In the case of web pages and applications, that something is electricity. Most of which is generated by fossil fuels. Most of which comes from coal mines or oil imports.
As a first-order effect, yes. But IT is an efficiency-enabler. As an n-order effect, Kitchen Linker is not sure that making programmers more efficient by allowing them to write inefficient code is a bad thing for the environment.

But, do turn off your damned screensaver!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Dangerous conflation of global warming and peak oil

Clinton to Start $1 Billion Renewable Energy Fund, quote from WaPo:
"The Earth is warming at an alarming rate, we are running out of fossil fuels, and it is long past time for us to take action to correct these problems," Clinton said.
I applaud these efforts, but ain't the symmetry ... ironic, dreamlike, unlikely, ??? Actually there is no symmetry and the above is a gross oversimplification -- we're nowhere near to running out of coal or low quality oil sources (tar sands and shale), each of which is worse for the environment and global warming in particular than high grade crude that we are slowly running out of. So yes, efforts like Clinton's and Branson's are desperately needed, but they undersell the case!

WaPo closes (Bill) Clinton's quote:
"This is also a tremendous opportunity and there are countless good new jobs to be created in the field of green energy."
Ever the politician.