06 Mar

Scientific American Blogs – Observations: Can we get off oil now?

To be clear, the goal is to break U.S. addiction to oil, not just foreign oil. Oil prices are global, and as Woolsey points out, the U.S. has no domestic leverage. Greatly increasing our own offshore oil drilling could lower imports a little, but it won’t lower world prices; it is too easy for OPEC to manipulate production to offset the effects of any new U.S. supply.

The payoff of significantly reducing oil consumption would reach far beyond the economy and the environment, by the way. A study by Boyden Gray and Andrew Varcoe noted that oil companies are permitted under a waiver of the Clean Air Act to include known carcinogens such as benzene, toluene and xylene in gasoline, which raise octane (power output). The study showed that the added cost to healthcare and shortened lives in the U.S. comes to more than $100 billion a year.

The U.S. can take a number of steps to reduce oil consumption and to create liquid fuels that can substitute for oil.

via Scientific American Blogs – Observations: Can we get off oil now?. The argument of drill here, drill now, doesn’t really mean much.

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.

27 Jun

Rolling Stone Politics – BP’s Next Disaster

Here’s what BP has in store for the Arctic: First, the company will drill two miles beneath its tiny island, which it has christened “Liberty.” Then, in an ingenious twist, it will drill sideways for another six to eight miles, until it reaches an offshore reservoir estimated to hold 105 million barrels of oil. This would be the longest “extended reach” well ever attempted, and the effort has required BP to push drilling technology beyond its proven limits. As the most powerful “land-based” oil rig ever built, Liberty requires special pipe to withstand the 105,000 foot-pounds of torque — the equivalent of 50 Mack truck engines — needed to turn the drill. “This is about as sexy as it gets,” a top BP official boasted to reporters in 2008. BP, a repeat felon subject to record fines for its willful safety violations, calls the project “one of its biggest challenges to date” — an engineering task made even more dangerous by plans to operate year-round in what the company itself admits is “some of the harshest weather on Earth.”

via Rolling Stone Politics – BP’s Next Disaster. The next place for BP to start drilling, the Arctic.

03 Aug

Moving Is Environmentally Unfriendly

This became really obvious to me today moving my girlfriend to her new place. Just the sheer amount of junk thrown out is crazy. And it wasn’t just her, it was everybody, from electronics and posters to even vacuum cleaners and plastic bins and all kinds of food. Moving just from the basis of the amount of stuff thrown out is environmentally unfriendly it seems to me.

Now granted that if people bought items that they both actually needed and would last longer than a stay at an apartment would certainly help this problem. But it makes me wonder if anyone has done a study on the effects of moving and what are the environmental repercussions of a across city move vs. an across state/country move.