Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Energy: Are You A Pig - And A Bigot?

Posted by Karl Denninger in Musings at 16:17
(Page 1 of 450, totaling 2249 entries) » next page


There are a huge number of what some on the right call "Limousine Liberals" that preach all sorts of BS about "energy efficiency", "global warming" or "alternative fuels."

I have yet to see one with actual resources - one who is not reasonably wealthy or better - that is not a hypocrite or worse, exploiting people and playing on fear for their ECONOMIC benefit and to your detriment.

Let's deal with some facts.  I will not provide the references, but I do have them.  You will do your own homework if you care to.  If you don't, just skip to the next Ticker, as I'll provide you with fair warning here and now - if you come into the forum to run some sort of claptrap you'll only do it once, as my tolerance for the nutball lefties on this subject (including the jackasses who showed up on Pensacola's beach to claim "no drilling" but got there in their SUVs) is utterly exhausted.


  1. We have a lot of coal in this country.  It contains Thorium, which is a natural substance that can be used to build nuclear piles.  Said technology was developed and built more than 30 years ago - this is not "pie in the sky" technology.
  2. Each ton of coal we burn up contains 13 times as much energy as that liberated by combustion of the carbon in said Thorium.  We could thus receive the same electrical energy we gain by burning the coal through extracting the Thorium and using the nuclear energy to produce power.  With the rest of the energy, the other 12/13ths, we could then extract hydrogen from seawater (which we have lots of) and convert the remaining coal to either diesel fuel or gasoline.  To put a not-fine-point on this, we throw away more than 100 billion gallons of gasoline (after conversion losses) in thorium tailings alone.  That is damn close to all of our existing gasoline consumption - with ZERO oil being drilled.  (PS: Those are conservative estimates - mathematically, it's 200 billion gallons!)
  3. We know how to build fast breeder reactors.  It is true that we have a limited supply of U-235, because it is a tiny proportion of the natural deposit in terms of isotopes.  However, we have a lot of U-238 and we can turn that into Pu-239 in said Breeder Reactor.  That produces both more nuclear fuel and electricity.
  4. We like our cars.  We like our Air Conditioning.  We like our electricity, peak load of which is often generated with natural gas.  We like our 3,000 square foot houses, our computers, our bigscreen TVs and other electrical and electronic knick-knacks.  All of these require energy to operate.
  5. A growing economy requires a growing energy output.  There is no escaping this fact, despite it being inconvenient.
  6. We have a lot of oil and natural gas in various forms in the United States.  That includes (but is not limited to) offshore oil and gas, shale on federal lands and more.  We don't want to stick the straws in the ground and perform other sorts of mining (including strip-mining), but the energy is there.

Bluntly, "energy scarcity" is artificial.  We have every means within this nation - never reaching beyond our own borders - to supply every single bit of energy we need literally for the next several hundred years, and we can make as much of that energy into liquid hydrocarbons (gasoline and diesel) as we wish.

Notice that nowhere did I include such things as:

  • Ethanol from corn (or anything else); such is an idiotic waste of good foodstuff and arable land, and is utterly uneconomic unless subsidized, never mind the corrosion and phase-separation problems it presents in fuel systems (both of which are real.)
  • Biodiesel from blue-green algae.  It will work.  We have lots of arid, hot and sunny land on which we can build fully-closed systems.  Once we have scadloads of power (see above), we might choose to.  But we don't need to in order to get where we need to go.
  • Solar P/E.  It only works when the sun shines, it requires rare earth elements, manufacturing calls into question whether you will ever get out what you put in and on a $-per-kw basis it doesn't make much sense.  If it ever does unsubsidized, then fine and well.
  • Any sort of "pie-in-the-sky" sources such as wind (insufficient to provide a meaningful part of the load), wave (nice concept but unproved and not deployable today), tidal (and exactly who's waterway do you intend to dam to do that), lasers (or simple focused sunlight) from space and similar things.

That's because I don't need to.  I only need what we know we can make work, right now, right here, today.

Our refusal to be energy independent is political, not practical, thermodynamic, or driven by resource.  It is the product of lies and manipulations by those who claim "environmental awareness", which in fact is no such thing - it is instead a demand that "someone else" eat the risks that come with the consumption of energy we demand to enjoy, instead of those risks and costs being accepted by us in the United States.

Now with these facts let me put forward one of my first principles - that is, one of the things that I simply will not compromise on.

We have no right to demand that other people accept pollution and degradation of their environment to further our way of life

We will start with oil.  You can gripe about drilling off the coasts - all of them - and argue for shutting it down, along with arguing AGAINST strip-mining for shale and recovering oil sands and similar.  But if you do so you have an obligation to crush your powered vehicles (all of them), get a goat to "mow" your grass and refuse to fly or ride in any conveyance that is not powered by humans, animals or electricity (more on that latter one in a moment.)  If you heat your home with natural gas or heating oil you must disconnect both and toss your heating plant in the trash heap, replacing it with something that burns wood (if you'll accept the smoke that doing so produces) or lots of blankets (if not.)  You must, right now, go through your home and trash every item made of polymers - that is, plastics and synthetic rubber.  This means your computer, your television, your telephone (yes, including your cell), indeed, anything containing electronic components as all have petroleum in them.  You also may not use any sort of petroleum lubricant anywhere in your home or business.  If you have carpeting in your home, remove it - it was made using petroleum.

If you enjoy your Air Conditioning in the summer time you may not use it whenever the electric company is required to use natural-gas-fired "peaking" plants.  This is, incidentally, when it's hot outside.

Next, coal:  If you argue against coal-fired power plants you may not use electricity anywhere that it is generated using that coal.  Likewise if you argue against nuclear power, against hydro-electric ('cause of all the poor fishies we displace) and similar.

Finally, nuclear: We can build, right now, both thorium-salt based nuclear reactors and fast breeders.  The former we have more fuel than we know what to do with and the latter is fuel-cycle positive for both itself and a bunch of pebble-bed ordinary fission reactors.  You have no right to consume electricity where there is no coal or hydro-electric available (or if you argue against those!) if you argue against building a nuclear plant next door to your home.

The fact of the matter is that each and every one of the jackasses who I keep reading that argue against our "energy profligacy", along with "environmental damage" refuse to do any of the above.

They want to drive their cars and fly their (often private or chartered) airplanes - but they want the environmental risk and damage, if any, to happen to "those people" - you know, the blacks in Nigeria and the ragheads over in the Middle East?  Yeah, "those people."  Those "less than" fully-human people that are not entitled to the same environmental protection they arrogate for themselves?  Uh huh.

These are the same lefty liberals who type on their Macbooks and iPhones (made in China where they pollute their air, water and earth, never mind the workers at Foxconn who are committing suicide by the busload - apparently due to working conditions) all produced where it's cheap primarily because they have no EPA and thus simply throw out industrial waste instead of recycling or properly reducing it to harmless materials.

The bottom line is that all human endeavor involves risk.  You want to enjoy a western lifestyle, this means petroleum and energy production.  Period.

You want to know what I consider being "equitable" if you really believe the crap that is spewed by people like Kunstler and Gore - as a maximum resource consumption point?  I'll tell you:

  • One bedroom of of no more than 144sq/ft (12x12) for each cohabitating or married adult couple, plus one 10x10 bedroom for each additional single person (including children.)
  • One bathroom no more than 10x8, containing one tub/shower, one toilet, and two sinks.
  • A living room space of no more than 20x20.
  • An eat-in kitchen no larger than the living room.

This puts the "living space" for a household of 4 persons at about 1100 sqft.  That's what I grew up in and it's definitely "middle class" by the definitions of the 70s and early 80s.  It is also quite livable and frugal.  Now let's continue:

  • One television, LCD (not plasma), no more than 400w.
  • Passive cooling only (e.g. basement + fan), no air conditioning.
  • Solar hot-water boosted with electric (remember, no petroleum - so no gas!) when necessary.
  • Your computer is a laptop (low-power netbook), and you own only one.
  • No incandescent lamps, no dishwasher (you have a dishwasher - it's your hands.)
  • Your clothes are dried on a line outside.  The use of a horizontal (low-water and energy) washing machine is acceptable.
  • No person drives more than 5 miles to work and no petroleum is used to get there and back.  Yes, this means you walk, you bike, or you use a plug-in electric bicycle or golf-cart style vehicle or moped.
  • You do not use, at any time except for bona-fide emergency (e.g. an ambulance ride!) any petroleum-consuming conveyance, including diesel-powered trains, city buses (other than electric trolleys), automobiles or aircraft.  Period.

You do that and you can complain about energy profligacy.  And before you say that's impossible, no it's not.  A lot of people get damn close to it, and I know one such person very well who has the $30 monthly electric bills to prove it.  In Florida, where such would be called "impossible" by many.  It's not.

Those who argue for a "western lifestyle" but demand that others, whether defined as Chinese, Nigerians, Arabs, Mexicans or anyone else "eat" the risk and pollution that comes from their profligate lifestyles, or who argue for you to live as the above while they have their cars, boats, mansions and planes, are both pigs and bigots

This means you Mr. Gore, it means you Mr. Kunstler, and it means you <insert your favorite author or politician arguing that we're all gonna die if we don't "go green" right now.>  I won't even bother getting into the financial deals many of these people have entered into that will generate huge windfalls if we do have "carbon exchanges" and similar claptrap - I don't need to in order to make my point.

I like my car, my boat, my pool and my house.  I like my A/C in the summer and my natural-gas fired heat in the winter. 

I therefore support extraction and production of each and every BTU that I desire to consume right here, inside our borders, where the risk of the production of that BTU falls on ME, as part of the collective known as The United States.

And that, my friends, is the name of that tune.

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