The Emperor’s New Clothes

12/21/09 – Pre Christmas

As I wrap a Christmas present of stories by Hans Christen Andersen for my granddaughter I can’t help but notice the coincidence that the recently completed Copenhagen meeting on global warming was held in the same city where “The Emperor’s New Clothes” was written.

Perhaps this coincidence was to be expected as global warming will be significantly increased due to the hot air and pontification, not to mention the well documented Carbon footprint of the jets and limos used to get the delegates there, that was expended with no hope of tangible results.

The true believers are faced with yet another challenge to their reality as many scientists in the unwashed community have observed that the globe really has not warmed any more over the past decade. This, again coincidentally, was confirmed by the record snows on the east coast that welcomed the U.S. delegation home. Coupled with the third world and the emerging economies' reluctance to carry a large load in eliminating greenhouse gases this only diverts the world’s effort at addressing any real problem and finding real cures.

Points to Ponder

  • Did the conference try to follow the U.S. Congress in its efforts at wealth redistribution, pork barrel demands and avoidance of real solutions?
  • Does the third world and the emerging (or recently emerged) economies such as Chindia have a legitimate point that the developed OECD countries brought the world to the current levels of greenhouse gases and therefore they should bare the brunt of any solutions?
  • Does the third world and the emerging (or recently emerged) economies have a legitimate point in saying that they have a moral right to unhindered economic growth to catch up to OECD economic GDP standards?
    • Regardless of the impact on the environment?
    • What cost should they pay for such economic advancement?
  • Can the OECD countries cut back enough to even offset the additions from the emerging economies?
  • Can the world look to solutions with real potential impact, such as nuclear power,that does not require regressive or punitive policies for implementation?

Conclusions ???

By ignoring the consequences of its actions (or its planned actions) governments add to the cost of energy that will be passed on to the consumer. This is no way to get reelected. Be it an outright tax or the less than transparent cost of Cap and Trade, etc., We the People are not that naive. Indeed, Congress is supposed to be our representatives and not our omnipotent rulers that lead the unwashed masses to the paths that they see as righteous.

Let’s get the most bang for our buck, regardless of:

  • where current pollution came from, new emissions from all sources are growing faster than can be absorbed by nature;
  • the rate in global warming or its directional trend, mankind should recognize that its environmental well-being and its ability for economic growth is enhanced by a cost effective minimization of its carbon footprint and its other impacts on the environment;
  • where the world sits in the natural warming and cooling cycles it has gone through since the beginning of time. Mankind is adding greenhouse gases to the equation. How much is the question? And if mankind did not exist, it is still debatable weather whether or not the current warming trend would continue.

Mankind’s existence is fact and cannot be environmentally 100% benign. We are not animals that are considered to be a part of the environment. Of course mankind is a part of the environment. However, we can define just what our impact will be. Nevertheless, specific temperature targets are disingenuous in that the incremental component of mankind’s contribution to this cycle cannot be determined.

That being said it is just good business and the proper exercise of social responsibility to minimize our carbon (and other manmade pollutant) footprints in the most economic manner possible.

Here individual actions such as not leaving one’s computer on 24/7 (note to self: turn the damn thing off) and using twisty light bulbs do help. However, on their own they will only make a small contribution. Similarly, relying on wind and solar should also be followed, but again they alone are not the silver bullet we need.

This may seem like a Whack-a-Mole approach, but there are some big moles in this game that can make a big difference and give us the most bang for our bucks.

I truly believe that mankind’s drive for a better lifestyle is a morally justifiable activity. This better lifestyle requires energy and in particular electricity.

The Nuclear Option

Not to be confused with some of the tricks played in Congress, the cleanest form of KWHrs available to us today in sufficient and reliable quantity to realize that better life is the nuclear option. It’s the big mole. Mankind needs to mobilize, coordinate, and significantly emphasize its effort in such technologies that offer the biggest reward.

So what is the problem? Even though the U.S. is the largest producer of nuclear power, it is only 20% of our power mix. What is holding us back from producing as much as 70% like France? Does the current silence suggest that this administration is anti-nuke?

Technology must be improved to solve the nuclear waste issue. Investments in research in fast breeder technology and in fusion are key. Such investment would also include developing the security measures needed to minimize the threat of weapons grade by-products falling into the hands of the bad guys.

However, we have lost a lot of our manpower with the expertise to solve these problems over the past 25 years of neglect. Where is the government investment in R&D no less jobs in this and battery development? This nuclear avoidance seems to be bipartisan. Indeed, the only environmental group that even tacitly recognizes the potential for nuclear is the Sierra Club. Not an issue to try to get re-elected on.

The blind eye of neglect also removes this option from being of any real help as the recognition of help from nuclear will be too late to mobilize this resource with the current lead time in regulation and construction. Such impediments need to be corrected now.

Electric Transportation

The next biggest mole is the battery storage technology that is required to truly make the most out of electric transportation needs. China has just surpassed the U.S. in new car sales. While these cars can be as clean as possible, they still are fueled by hydrocarbons.

Nuclear power and 500 mile flash charged batteries for a six-passenger car: now there’s a price I can justify not only for pristiness but also for viable and sustainable growth for that better lifestyle.

Would GM need another bailout if the internal combustion engine suddenly went the way of the buggy whips?

A Cultural Change in Responsibility

Here you, as a charter member of We the People, do need to have a cultural change in how you use government and demand action on truly long-term solutions. Can you step up or will you also have your heads in the sand by abdicating these decisions to your fellow ostriches?

"Not only do they not understand, but they don't understand that they don't understand, and that's a whole new level of ignorance."

John Carl

Regardless of their actions, our representatives will leave a legacy. So, they should leave one of a stable and sustainable energy policy that will last well beyond their years in power. They will be rewarded in heaven.

You only learn who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.

Warren Buffet

Is this Emperor really naked? We’ll soon see as the tide goes out now that this meeting as concluded.


For further discussion of this and other related topics please see my report Points to Ponder about Energy Policy and Politics available from PennEnergy Research in late January 2010.

Click here for more information about Confessions of an Energy Price Forecaster: A 12 Step Program to Enlightenment

Click here for John Tobin's full bio

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