Open Thread for Friday, November 6, 2015

Sorry about no posts yesterday; I’m trying to get back on track here:

  1. Obama rejects Keystone XL project, citing climate concerns — OK, somebody ‘splain this to me: If you’re concerned about climate change, you want to see us move away from fossil fuels. And I think most rational people want to do that, as soon as we can. But we know that we won’t be able to replace them for decades to come, and will still need fossil fuels in the meantime if we want to have jobs and eat and operate our mobile devices. So… why not do so as efficiently as possible? I don’t get it. But then, I’m an Energy Party guy.
  2. Russia suspends Egypt flights — It would be nice if someone would figure out what actually happened, and how and why.
  3. Editorial: USC shouldn’t pay Spurrier for work he’s not doing — Absolutely. Oh, and I enjoyed the file photo that The State ran with the edit — Spurrier in his office leaning back with his hands behind his head, his golf clubs occupying a prominent space at his right hand…
  4. Friends proud of Chester boy who died saving sister from hit-and-run — Don’t know what else to say about this. Can you be devastated and proud at the same time? I suppose so…
  5. Conjured criminals: A history of imagined perpetrators — I just included this because it features the BBC revisiting the Susan Smith case. See below.


21 thoughts on “Open Thread for Friday, November 6, 2015

  1. Karen Pearson

    First of all, they asked for a delay after all this time. I suggest that if they had not figured out the route yet, these might not be the best people to work with. Secondly, oil is so inexpensive right now, it’s not worth it to mine those sands for it. I suspect that the company or companies who wanted it so much so quickly have quietly made it clear that it’s not a priority at this point. So Obama gets points with the environmentalists while not angering business people at all. Finally, while that oil would be run through our country to refineries and ports on the gulf coast, the plan was then to ship it elsewhere. We would get a minimal amount of profit from it, while taking major risks. Now, the hard part will be to continue to push for building infrastructure for sustainable energy, and for funding further research in that area. Our history seems to be that we worry about alternatives only when oil is very expensive.

    1. Norm Ivey

      One theory for the sudden request to withdraw the application is that they are hoping for a Republican president who will say yes. Apparently, once Obama says no, it’s over for them. So the administration refused to allow the withdrawal, and now has rejected it. Good for them, though it doesn’t matter much.

      I’m pretty ambivalent about the pipeline, and I’m one that is concerned about climate change. The oil coming through the pipeline would have done little to continue our dependence on oil, and stopping the pipeline will do nothing to reduce our dependence. As Kathryn observes, it would have little impact on our economy (either way). It would have no impact on oil prices. Canada’s new government isn’t going to put much pressure on the US. I think this is one of those things whose time has passed.

      The best thing that could happen for us in terms of climate change (short of focused, direct action to reduce CO2), would be a rise in oil prices. We (individuals, businesses, government) get pretty good about conserving energy when it’s expensive.

      1. bud

        I agree Norm. The Keystone pipeline was much ado about very little. What needs to happen is the Canadians need to stop producing the massively filthy tar sands oil. But if they are hell-bent on producing it it is likely to be shipped by rail which is much more problematic than a pipeline.

        As for Brad’s comment about needing fossil fuels for decades, well, if global warming really is as bad as the climate folks say then we need to get out of that business very quickly, even if it costs a ton of money.

  2. Juan Caruso

    “But we know that we won’t be able to replace them [Fossil fuels] for decades to come, and will still need fossil fuels in the meantime if we want to have jobs and eat and operate our mobile devices. So… why not do so as efficiently as possible?” – Brad

    I totally agree with your thoughtful support for more energy efficiency, Brad. We will never convince John Q Public that sensible moderation is advised while the U.S. government pays sell-outs to frighten the public with its steady stream of impending doom deadlines for climate points-of no-return. In every case such deadlines either lapse with obvious falsely or have been extended beyond the span of the forecaster’s expected employment life.

    Industrial giants (e.g. GE) wait until they can provide better alternatives before campaigning for the status quo to be replaced (transportation, medical, energy, etc). The government has been lead too long by people whose chief disciplines are superficial: collegiality, transparency when convenient, and self-dealing. Efficiency, accountability and basic management skill are sorely needed in D.C.

    1. Norm Ivey

      Industrial giants (e.g. GE) wait until they can provide better alternatives before campaigning for the status quo to be replaced

      Industrial giants often wind up being overcome by disruptive innovations from much smaller companies. For example, transistors disrupted tubes, LCD TVs disrupted picture tubes, cell phones have disrupted pretty much everything Radio Shack sells, and the Internet is disrupting everything from the news industry to cable TV. And the music industry is quickly becoming virtually irrelevant with all the ways people have to access music now.

      I hope that big companies like GE are sharp enough to adopt some of the tech energy technologies–they’ll become mainstream quicker with their help.

      1. Juan Caruso

        Good point Norm and no argument with it.

        The reason I used “Industrial giants”, however, is that theirs is closest to the scale in CIVILIAN employment with our federal government. No one expects small companies to be bound by all the strictures of a GE… otherwise, it would be quite impossible for them even to start a business.

        Conversely, if it had to comply with sound economic operations and efficiencies like industrial giants, the federal government might be smaller, make better decisions and operate with more efficiency and accountability than we have come to expect since 2008. You would never have heard of comiing Social Security Fund shortfalls, for instance, if the funds had been properly invested like GE’s pensions, earning conservative rates of interest. Instead our congress spends social security deductions taken from paychecks to fund $560,000,000 losers like Solyndra.

  3. Bryan Caskey

    It would be a good move of some (or all) of the GOP candidates to make a play for the union votes. A lot of the union folks have to be fed up with getting screwed over to please the cult of global warming crowd.

    1. Norm Ivey

      So last time we talked about this, Brian, you said that you believed human impact on the climate to be negligible. I’d like to discuss that.

      I believe you understand and accept the physical science of global warming–that CO2 traps heat and causes the atmosphere to behave as a giant greenhouse, so I’m not going to spend time on that. I also believe that you understand and accept that climate is the long-term weather patterns of an area, and that weather is driven by heat transfer in the atmosphere–the planet is trying to balance everything out. Those are my assumptions, so I’ll focus on scale.

      If you put a Red Delicious apple in the fridge for an hour or so to chill it, and then remove it from the fridge, the moisture in the air around it will condense on the skin of the apple. If the apple were the earth, the atmosphere would be thinner than the moisture on your apple. Just an illustration for scale.

      In real terms, the part of the atmosphere (the troposphere) where all of earth’s weather and climate occur is about 10 miles deep at its thickest points (around the equator). It’s much thinner at the poles, and averages about 7 miles thick overall. The troposphere would be less than 10% of the thickness of the moisture on your apple. Mass-wise about 75% of the atmospheric gases are located in this level. My point is that the atmosphere is thin enough to be affected by events on the surface of the earth. Large volcanoes can reduce the temperature of the atmosphere temporarily.

      CO2 makes up a minuscule amount of the gases in the troposphere–about 4/100 of 1 percent (400 parts per million). Yet, that small amount is enough to keep the earth warm and water liquid. If the planet were much cooler, life would not exist here. For virtually all of human history prior to the 20th century the CO2 concentration was 300 ppm or less. In fact, it seldom rose above this level at any point in the last 800,000 years. In the last 100 years, we have increased the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by 30%, and we’re not through yet.

      The atmosphere is thin, especially the troposphere. The planet is warm in large part due to the CO2 in the atmosphere. We have already increased the CO2 by 30%. If the amount of heat in the atmosphere is increased, the weather patterns change. If the weather patterns change, so does the climate. The planet already shows many signs of warming–the ice caps shrinking, tundra thawing. These changes are not “negligible”.

    2. bud

      Bryan this is what really is disturbing about this issue. Why has it has become a conservative/liberal issue? Let’s just look at the facts and evidence and go where it takes us. It’s not a “cult” where one group is trying to get everyone to drink some sort of kool-aid. Perhaps the science is wrong. But it is really hard to believe it’s some type of conspiracy. The arguments against the reality of man-made global warming are really far more cult like than those who earnestly believe there is something to it. Basically we have the oil companies fabricating a bunch of nonsensical studies to refute global warming whereas the entire climate science community believes the evidence is solid.

      Besides, we’ve been down this path with a whole host of issues. The southern way of life would be destroyed if slavery was abolished. If women are given the vote our cultural way of life will be destroyed. It would be too expensive to make cars clean; too expensive to make them safer. The whole auto industry would be imperiled. The hazards of cigarettes are just a government driven hoax. Why should we destroy the hard-working family tobacco farmers to satisfy some government conspiracy. We just can’t give up our aerosol sprays. We can’t get rid of Freon. If we give these things up the economy will crash. At the end of the day we did address these issues while the conservatives bitched and moaned. And the world became a better place. Conservatives will be proven wrong on this issue too.

  4. Mark Stewart

    Actually, this has a geopolitical fallout. If one follows the logic the administration offered that dirty oil coming on the market is bad and the project therefore cancelable, this would make a strong case that the government is going to have to allow LNG terminals to export our cheap, clean natural gas to China.

    Not really an ideal alternative for us. I would have approved the meaningless and already widely existing oil pipeline. Better to export dirty oil to China all in all.

  5. Bryan Caskey

    How does it benefit the global environment to merely redirect the flow of oil? Okay, so we aren’t going to let a Canadian company move their oil to US refineries.

    Do you think they’ll just totally abandon the project of getting the oil out of the ground?

    No. The oil will be extracted.* It will go somewhere, be refined somewhere, sold on the international oil market, and be burned somewhere. A pipeline is the safest way to move the oil, and the US (probably) has the most efficient refineries. So how does this benefit the planet as a whole?

    *Don’t respond that it’s not economically viable to extract the oil because of the current low price of oil unless you’re prepared to argue that the price of oil will never rise from its current price. (That objection is overruled.)

    1. Norm Ivey

      It does not benefit the planet to redirect the oil. I’m glad you agree with us. There’s a room for you in our compound. 😉

      The key is to reduce the use of oil and coal, and encourage the use of non-fossil fuel energy sources like solar, wind, hydro, biodiesel, and even nuclear. The reason this is such a tough nut to crack is that we are more efficient at extracting energy from fossil fuels than we are at extracting it from wind, solar and hydro (hydro is the most efficient of these three). I’d like to see a four-pronged approach:

      1. Encourage energy use efficiency (like mileage and emission standards on vehicles).
      2. Gradually increase the expense of ancient carbon-based fuels (and therefore decrease their use).
      3. Gradually decrease the cost of clean fuels (and therefore increase their use).
      4. Encourage R&D in alternative energy efficiency. we actually do a fairly decent job of doing this now.

      I don’t see an unfettered market leading to these outcomes, so government intervention of some sort is necessary. These four approaches would, over time, begin to reduce the rate of accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere and hopefully stabilize it at an acceptable level.

  6. bud

    Actually Norm the market, with a bit of a nudge from the government, is doing a pretty fair job of increasing wind and solar energy sources. Coal production is in decline. It just isn’t happening quite fast enough but improvements in renewables make them cost competitive with coal now and oil soon.

    1. Juan Caruso

      When one gets rooftop solar, the installer may offer to perform a one-year service for a hefty fee. Is the added outlay really necessary with the standard 25-year warranty for solar panels and the 10-year warranty for the inverter? If offered, savvy buyers make sure their warranty includes onsite repair or replacement so they don’t have to ship solar panels back to China. A third-party warranty could avoid warranty uselessness if the installation outfit disappears. However. some buyers are simply confident their warranty will be fully honoured onsite. On average, solar panels lose a little less than 0.05 percent of their overall efficiency per day.

      In a California study researchers found panels that hadn’t been cleaned, or rained on, for 145 days during a summer drought in California, lost 7.4 percent of their efficiency. In rainier climes like South Carolina, solar panels still lose 1/2% of their efficiency permanently every year.

      Thought about selling your house with rooftop solar panel warranty of 23 years, but an underlying roof with only ten years left on its warranty? Uh oh, look for buyers sold on the old-fashioned notion of climate change versus the underlyimg rationale, “Climate Justice” (translate into the pockets of trustworthy U.N. leaders that you certainly cannot elect.

  7. Bryan Caskey

    So just recap our energy-related foreign policy moves over the last few months, we’ve decided to block one of our closest allies and largest trading partner from accessing markets for their oil, but we let Iran access a market for their oil.

    I’m just a moron, but this seems backwards.

    1. Juan Caruso

      Bryan, certainly backwards to you and me. Probably accebtably logical however for many involved in teaching, learning or approving of today’s common core curricula.

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