20 Mar

NYTimes.com – Whatever Nuclear Power’s Threat, No Easy Alternatives

But the alarm in Japan and globally belies the fact that nuclear power plants, in the approximately half a century that they have existed, have caused fewer deaths than another common source of power production: coal.

via NYTimes.com – Whatever Nuclear Power’s Threat, No Easy Alternatives. Not typically known but true, especially when taking into account the pollutants that coal plants emit. It’s the whole thing of how the rare threat is scarier than the common threat.

20 Feb

NYTimes.com – China, Twitter and 20-Year-Olds vs. the Pyramids

I look at the young protesters who gathered in downtown Amman today, and the thousands who gathered in Egypt and Tunis, and my heart aches for them. So much human potential, but they have no idea how far behind they are — or maybe they do and that’s why they’re revolting. Egypt’s government has wasted the last 30 years — i.e., their whole lives — plying them with the soft bigotry of low expectations: “Be patient. Egypt moves at its own pace, like the Nile.” Well, great. Singapore also moves at its own pace, like the Internet.

The Arab world has 100 million young people today between the ages of 15 and 29, many of them males who do not have the education to get a good job, buy an apartment and get married. That is trouble. Add in rising food prices, and the diffusion of Twitter, Facebook and texting, which finally gives them a voice to talk back to their leaders and directly to each other, and you have a very powerful change engine.

via NYTimes.com – China, Twitter and 20-Year-Olds vs. the Pyramids. Do you really need a better explanation for why the revolts happened?

19 Feb

NYTimes.com – From Sputnik to SunShot

Just as President Kennedy pledged in 1961 that the United States would land an astronaut on the moon by the end of that decade — a moonshot — Dr. Chu said the United States should attempt a “sunshot” by aiming to cut the cost of solar power by about three-quarters by the end of this decade, to $1 a watt for utility-scale projects. That would translate to an end-user price of about 6 cents per kilowatt-hour, he said. “That would make solar energy cost competitive with other forms of energy without subsidies of any kind,” he said in a conference call with reporters on Friday.

The department said it had spent $1 billion on solar in the last 10 years, and it took partial credit for the price of solar power falling 60 percent since 1995.

via NYTimes.com – From Sputnik to SunShot. 60% drop in about 15 years, another 75% percent drop over next decade with more emphasis on renewable energy sources seems totally doable.

15 Nov

NYTimes.com – I Believe I Can Fly

Where do I start? We know that these were not the Republican goals because they had eight years under George W. Bush to pursue them and did just the opposite. And even if we assume that this time they really mean it, they’ve never explained what programs they would cut and how doing that now won’t make our recession worse. But even if they did, these are the wrong priorities. Our priorities now are to mitigate the recession that was set in motion under Bush and to put the country on a path to sustainable economic growth. That will require vastly improving the education and skills of our work force and enabling them with 21st-century infrastructure so they will be smarter and more productive. We know that tax cuts alone won’t do that; we just had that test, too, under Bush. It requires a complex strategy for American renewal — raising some taxes, like on energy, while lowering others, like on workers and corporations; and investing in new infrastructure, schools and research, while cutting other services.

via NYTimes.com – I Believe I Can Fly. Remember the Republican agenda old failed ideas and non-ideas.

28 Jul

FiveThirtyEight – Politics Done Right: Cap-and-Trade is Dead; Long Live Cap-and-Trade

But my premise is that tax increases are inevitable: it’s a question of who bears those taxes and how they bear them. And at some point Congress — which is surely headed for some massive showdowns over the budget at some point in the next several years — might conclude that cap-and-trade is a more acceptable way to raise revenues than an omnibus tax increase. In fact, cap-and-trade actually polls rather well. That might change as the public learns more about policy and comes to grips with the fact that they’re going to have to bear some of the costs personally. But other than increased taxes on the very wealthy, and some gimmicky stuff like sin taxes and windfall profits taxes that don’t have all that much revenue-generating potential, it polls a lot better than other types of tax increases, and may be a more politically palatable compromise.

via FiveThirtyEight – Politics Done Right: Cap-and-Trade is Dead; Long Live Cap-and-Trade. If I could I would just re-quote the whole article word for word.

04 Aug

Drilling Bill Passes, Drilling Occurs Years From Today

Some Congressional Republicans have skipped heading home during the August break to instead park out at Congress and try to pressure the Democrats to vote and debate on energy bills.

Okay, first off a couple of Twitter messages that might provide some background into this issue.

John Culberson, a House Republican from Texas, who uses Twitter has been broadcasting from Congress regarding this and other issues. First off I am happy that a member of Congress is using social media to communicate with people from across the nation on diverse issues. Second, he isn’t my representative so I don’t have a say in how he votes.

Rep. Culberson tweeted this “I will be back on House floor tomorrow at 10 am with others asking the Speaker to call the House back for a vote to drill here drill now”. To which I then responded “@johnculberson why does drilling here matter if it really won’t add any oil in the supply chain, this is just a stunt in my eye”. To his credit he answered, saying “@jtyost2 We can prove to you that it will make a huge diff – we will use our debate time onfloor to show the vast amount of oil in America”. Which I then responded with “@johnculberson http://bit.ly/3SRU1M http://bit.ly/4brs2a http://bit.ly/glNHw <sarcasm> of course you can </sarcasm> I have yet to read any real info on that side”.

Personally it just feels to me like a gimmick for Republicans to look important in this election. There isn’t a lot of oil in the US, that’s just the way it worked out. Yes, I do think we should be energy independent and it is a worthy cause for the government to spend money and time towards, but this isn’t a step in that direction. You are looking at an amount of oil that in the words of Rep. Culberson “@upadaria It takes years & epic big bucks to develop an offshore lease – must 1st survey, be CERTAIN its good, set rig, drill many holesetc”.

So even he acknowledges it isn’t a short term solution, nothing really is. I want Congress to focus on developing resources that are renewable and available in the US. So what if a bill was to pass even today for offshore drilling, it wouldn’t matter for years. Drilling in ANWAR isn’t wanted by the oil companies and won’t add anything to the bottom line for at least 10 years. The other thing is that oil companies currently aren’t using large chuncks of the oil leases that they have in place. What is the point of giving a company more land when they aren’t using the land they already have? That isn’t to say that the oil companies couldn’t have reasons for not using their current leases, but why haven’t they gone public with that information?

Politics is unfortunately politics, but please can it at least develop real solutions to problems rather than gimmicks that do nothing but waste my time oh and money?