Don’t Tax Development, It Hurts The Poor

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

I was reading an interesting article, paywalled sadly, called “Detecting Novel Associations in Large Data Sets“, by David N. Reshef et al. It describes a subtle method for detecting relationships in datasets. Their method is called “MIC” for maximal information coefficient. The MIC coefficient measures the strength of the association of the two datasets. A value of 1 indicates a very close association, while a value of 0 means random noise. Their MIC coefficient outperforms traditional indicators for a range of complex non-linear types of relationships, including sinusoidal, circular, and multiple additive relationships. This is because it makes no assumptions about the shape or form of the association. It’s a fascinating method, one I want to learn more about.

One of their test cases involved looking for a relationship between a range of global indicators. Here is a list of their results, sorted by MIC.

Figure 1. Significant associations as indicated by the maximal information coefficient. Traditionally, the association would be measured by the Pearson coefficient. 

The odd one out in this list  is MIC rank 3, the association between oil consumption per person and income per person. The Pearson rank of this one was 207, while the MIC rank was 3. So I was motivated to take another look at the question of energy and development.

To do so, I used “Gapminder World”, an amazing online tool for visualizing data. Figure 2 shows an example. This is a comparison of average energy use and income, both on a per capita basis. Each country is represented by a “bubble” in the diagram.

Figure 2. Bubble plot, by country, of per capita energy use (vertical scale) versus income per person (horizontal scale). Note that both scales are logarithmic. Size of the individual bubbles shows total energy production by that country. Color of bubbles shows total oil production by that country. Units of energy use are tonnes of oil equivalent (TOE) per person per year. SOURCE

As you can see, there is a clear and quite tight linear relationship between energy use and income. This leads to an inexorable conclusion. You can’t get out of poverty without having access to affordable energy. Figure 3 below shows the same data, with larger energy producing nations identified.

Figure 3. Bubble plot, by country, of per capita energy use (vertical scale) versus income per person (horizontal scale). Note that both scales are logarithmic. Size of the individual bubbles shows total energy production by that country. Color of bubbles shows total oil production by that country. Units of energy use are tonnes of oil equivalent (TOE) per person per year. SOURCE

The bubble size shows that the US and China are about tied for top country regarding total energy production. Russia is third, the Saudis fourth, and surprising to me, India fifth. The colors show that for Russia and the Saudis most of the energy is produced from oil (red) while for China and the US coal is also a major source. India’s energy is mostly coal.

Figure 4 below shows the same basic energy vs. income chart, but in a different way. In Figure 4 the bubble size is energy production per capita, rather than total energy production. All of the bubbles are in the same location, but are changed in size.

Figure 4. Bubble plot by country of per capita energy use (vertical scale) versus income per person (horizontal scale). Note that both scales are logarithmic. Size of the individual bubbles shows total energy production per capita. Color of bubbles shows total oil production. Units of energy use are tonnes of oil equivalent (TOE) per person per year. SOURCE

We can draw some fresh conclusions from Figures 3 and 4. One is that you don’t have to produce a lot of energy, either per capita or in total, to have a modern industrial developed economy (lots of small bubbles at upper right). The Netherlands and Japan are examples. The second is that if you have high energy production per capita, it is easier to have high per capita income (preponderance of large bubbles at upper right).

The Gapminder website also allows us to look at the history of the various countries. Here is how some countries have evolved over time. Label lines show the start of each record.

Figures 5 and 6. Same as Figure 3, but showing the evolution of some countries 1971-2007. Size of the individual bubbles shows per capita energy production by that country. Color of bubbles shows total oil production by that country. “Trails” show the year by year values. Note that both scales are logarithmic. Fig. 4 SOURCE1 Fig. 5 SOURCE2:

Some comments on the historical figures. First, the direction you’d love for your country to be moving over time would be down and to the right. This would mean using less energy while making more money. Generally, almost nobody is moving in that direction overall.

The bad direction would be up and to the left. That would be using more energy to make less money. Ugly. The Saudis have moved that way in recent years.

Some countries took the worst quadrant, down and to the left. This is where you are using less energy, and you’re also making less money. Zimbabwe and the “Democratic” Republic of Congo did that. Bad sign. It’s de-development, and it generally involves suffering for both humans and the environment.

That leaves the fourth quadrant, moving up and to the right. Using more energy and making more money. Commonly called “development”, AKA getting out of poverty. Making enough money to be able to afford to protect the environment.

The game is to move to the right as much as you can (increased money) and upwards as little as you can (increased energy). So Bangladesh is not doing as well as India in that regard, since it is moving upwards more steeply.  China was doing as well as India in the 70s and 80s, but has sloped upwards in the last decade of the record. Note that India is producing the majority of its energy from coal.

Russia went down and to the left in the early nineties, but has since recovered and nearly doubled its income without much increase in energy. Curiously, the income is now back to the 1990 level, but the energy use is less. The same is true of Uzbekistan and many other former members of the Soviet Empire. To their credit, they have fought back from the breakup of the Empire and returned in a more efficient form. Indeed, the Uzbeks have gone down and to the right in the last decade, and that’s the holy grail of development, doing more with less energy.

The poor Saudis, on the other hand, ended up going almost straight up (more energy used to provide the same income), and even lost a little ground. And Senegal has gone nowhere at all.

Japan, China, Mexico, and Australia have increased their per capita energy production over the period (bubble size), while the US and Russia have stayed about the same. The total oil production for the US has fallen (bubble color) while for China it has increased. Russian oil production fell and then has come back up.

The US and the UK have done a curious thing. Per capita energy use for each country in 2007 was about the same as in 1979. But income went up. Both countries nearly doubled their per capita income, with basically no increase in per capita energy use. Not sure what they are doing right, but we should figure it out and clone it …

Conclusions and final notes:

1. Development is energy, and energy is development. Although efficiency and conservation can help you, in general you must increase energy use in order to increase personal income enough to get out of poverty. If you make energy expensive, it is hugely regressive, as the poor countries and the poor people will simply not be able to afford it. Carbon taxes, “cap-and-trade”, or other energy taxes are a crime against the less favored inhabitants of our planet.

2. Large countries with higher transportation costs will use more energy per dollar of income than do small countries.

3. Within the limits of the “cloud” of countries shown in Figure 3,  it is possible to increase energy efficiency, and to make more money using the same amount of energy.

4. Countries that produce lots of energy tend to waste it more than countries that produce little.

5. The preferable place for any given income level to be is on the lower edge of the “cloud” of countries with that income. This is where you get the most bucks for your bang. Many European countries are in this position. The US and Canada are about in the middle of the cloud. However, as noted they are much larger than the European countries.

6. China, India, and Bangladesh had about the same per capita income in 1971, ~ $700 per year. The differences in their current positions are large, with Bangladesh at $1,400, India at $2,600, and China at $6,000 per year.

7. Sadly, the datasets only go up to 2007 … it would be interesting to see the reduction in both energy use and income due to the global financial meltdown.

8. Finally, when someone says the word “technology”, many environmentalists think “bulldozers”. Instead, they should think “energy efficiency”. At the end of the day, technology is about doing more with less. Technology is what allows us to use less gasoline to go a mile. Through some combination of conservation and technological advances, the US and the  UK were able to double their income on the same expenditure of energy. This technological advance is to the benefit of everyone including the environment.

Regards to all,

w.

PS—The source links below each chart goes to the corresponding live chart on the Gapminder website, where you can play with the variables or investigate the histories of countries other than the ones at which I looked.

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156 thoughts on “Don’t Tax Development, It Hurts The Poor

  1. “Both countries [UK and US] nearly doubled their per capita income, with basically no increase in per capita energy use. Not sure what they are doing right, but we should figure it out and clone it ”

    Both countries abandoned rust-belt heavy industry and went into high-tech and particularly services, which are much more energy-efficient than industry.

  2. ‘Russia went down and to the left in the early nineties, but has since recovered and nearly doubled its income without much increase in energy. Curiously, the income is now back to the 1990 level, but the energy use is less.’

    It would seem to me, that (somewhat) reducing their military machine, not to mention, no longer having to try to control a score of ‘conquered’ nations, would reduce consumption a fair bit.

  3. On 19 December, Willis Eschenbach writes:

    1. Development is energy, and energy is development. Although efficiency and conservation can help you, in general you must increase energy use in order to increase personal income enough to get out of poverty. If you make energy expensive, it is hugely regressive, as the poor countries and the poor people will simply not be able to afford it. Carbon taxes, “cap-and-trade”, or other energy taxes are a crime against the less favored inhabitants of our planet.

    …and much besides.

    It is beyond doubt that the avowed purpose of all “Carbon taxes, ‘cap-and-trade,’ [and] other energy taxes” is to punish people for using energy, providing a disincentive for the victims to heat their homes in winter, to cool them in summer, to travel, and generally to experience a higher quality of life than otherwise.

    The purpose of this hatefulness is to “reduce our carbon footprint.”

    Yeah, and Santa Claus is ramping up like crazy this time of year, his elf-hiring program (on multi-megabuck Obamanoid “stimulus”) a big part of the favorable jobs numbers being touted by our Kenyan Keynesian’s Department of Labor.

    It’s making up for the Easter Bunny’s unfortunate layoffs.

    These extortionate suppressive measures have the same ostensible strategic purpose as have the unspeakably high federal and state taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products, these latter hate crimes being a punch in the user’s nose to induce quitting (or, at least, reduction in consumption) and supposedly to fund collectively – socialistically? – the increased health care costs associated with tobacco use.

    In actuality, of course, the taxes and other costs levied upon people’s energy use – precisely as is the case with regard to the revenues accruing from those sky-high tobacco taxes – goes into government coffers as “general revenue” excises, to be spent by the incumbent “Malevolent Jobholder” according to whatever expenditure is most politically advantageous for him.

    Invariably, this will be in accord with the wishes of those who have bribed – er, “contributed to” – those popularity contest winners with the most clout in the legislative and executive branches.

    Yet another persuasive a reason to get Ron Paul to the top of the Red Faction’s ticket next November and avoid a “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss” situation in which our current Fraudulence-in-Chief is replaced with yet another corporate socialist pleasing to the utterly corrupt Republican establishment.

  4. If you make energy expensive, it is hugely regressive, as the poor countries and the poor people will simply not be able to afford it. Carbon taxes, “cap-and-trade”, or other energy taxes are a crime against the less favored inhabitants of our planet.

    Two people at least understood and stated this this year: Willis Eschenbach and FOIA. It was extraordinary in the UK to see how the news media struggled with FOIA’s brief statement of motive. He seemed to care for the poorest – but how come? Such people have imbibed the stupidity of the cartoon at the end of the Carbon Trust’s counter-arguments to Freeman Dyson’s email interview in The Independent in February, where he said:

    If it happens that I am wrong and the climate experts are right, it is still true that the remedies are far worse than the disease that they claim to cure.

    In reply a delegate at a climate summit is depicted saying:

    What if it’s a big hoax and we create a better world for nothing?

    Dyson hadn’t said it was a big hoax in any case – but the underlying message, which I have seen repeated again and again, from seemingly intelligent people, is that there are no negative impacts to making energy more expensive through carbon controls or energy taxes. In fact, it will be a death sentence to many of the poorest. Thanks Willis and WUWT for continuing to bring to the attention of the world. In 2012 may it reach the hidden part we call conscience.

  5. In the US, homes built today use about 30% of the energy of homes built just 15 years ago. Businesses use smart sensors to control lighting and heating and AC. And cars are much more fuel efficient.

    As for development, what if you take out the coal plants the EPA wants to close?

  6. >>
    As you can see, there is a clear and quite tight linear relationship between energy use and income. This leads to an inexorable conclusion. You can’t get out of poverty without having access to affordable energy.
    >>
    Firstly it’s not linear, as you point out it’s log-log.

    However your “inexorable conclusion” is totally exorable !

    How about this interpretation: “richer people can afford more energy”
    inexorable !!

    An I do not need a bubble plot to prove it.

  7. Here’s another inexorable conclusion for you. People with more money have bigger cars.

    This clearly proves that you can’t get out of poverty without having a big car.

    Inexorable !

  8. Austin~ ‘As for development, what if you take out the coal plants the EPA wants to close?’

    And replace the energy they deliver with… what?

  9. Try to plot Income per person (Y) vs CO2 emissions per person (X) and colour by life expectancy. Definite eye opener!

  10. Willis wrote, “Sadly, the datasets only go up to 2007 … it would be interesting to see the reduction in both energy use and income due to the global financial meltdown.”

    The EIA has charts that show US primary energy consumption per dollar of GDP, 1949-2010 and US primary energy consumption per capita, 1949-2010.

    No direct link but available here.

    http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/perspectives.cfm

    (list in right hand column)

  11. Wealth redistribution. This is what’s it’s all about and all that it’s ever been about, save for Al Gore making his first $100 million on it.

  12. P. Solar says:
    December 19, 2011 at 4:04 am
    “How about this interpretation: “richer people can afford more energy”
    inexorable !!”

    Rich people have not become rich by being wasteful but by investing their wealth carefully; so if I’m wealthier I might be able to afford better machinery, think tractors, for instance; this will result in higher total energy usage but also in vastly improved agricultural efficiency; creating a virtuous cycle. So I’m investing my wealth in energy to create more wealth. I see no contradiction between Willis’ and your argument.

  13. >>First, the direction you’d love for your country to be moving over
    >>time would be down and to the right. This would mean using less
    >>energy while making more money.

    Willis, you are thinking like a liberal, city-dwelling consumer here, not a nation that has to survive by its wits.

    There is a minimum amount of energy required to smelt a tonne of steel or aluminium – so if you are a producer nation, you want your energy usage to continue rising. Increased energy consumption means more products exiting the factories, and more cash in the bank.

    Thus one of the reasons the USA’s trend-line has flatlined, is a huge loss in production capacity, and that is not good for a nation. And the fact that the US’s per capita income has kept rising, in the face of reducing production, is due to Western politicians rediscovering the joys of slavery.

    .

    (A slave is someone who works all day for a meagre crust of bread, has no control over their lives, and produces goods for his rich overlords. Today we call slaves ‘The Chinese’. Thus the West has had ten years of growing fat by giving China worthless bit of paper in return for goods that were cheaper than we could even buy the raw materials. Unfortunately, the slaves are getting wise to the West’s empty promises about ‘payment’, and we face a ‘slave revolt’ in the next decade. Even more unfortunate is the fact that, having surrendered all our technological knowledge and production capability to the Chinese, the slaves are now in the dominant position. Previous civilisations used to jealously guard their technology from rivals, while we just gave it away for free – sometimes, I think the West is supremely dumb. We live in interesting times.)

    .

  14. The close association of transport fuel with economic growth is shown by Tad Patzek in
    <a href=http://gaia.pge.utexas.edu/papers/PatzekManuscriptRevised.pdfExponential growth, energetic Hubbert cycles, and the advancement of technology 2010

    His Figure 7 shows

    “Exponential rate of growth of world crude oil production was 6.6% per year between 1880 and 1970. Sources: lib.stat.cmu.edu/DASL/Datafiles/Oilproduction.html, US EIA.

    Figure 11: Between 1880 and 1940, the annual production rate of oil and, initially, associated lease condensate, in the US was increasing 9% per year!

    Figure 12: Between 1880 and 1960, the annual production rate of natural gas in the US was increasing 7.2% per year.

    Tad Patzek in Peaks Everwhere visualizes the severe challenges ahead in providing transport fuels.

    JOE 2010/Joint Operating Environment

    By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 MBD. . . .
    Natural disease also has an impact on the world’s food supply. The Irish Potato Famine was not an exceptional historical event. As recently as 1954, 40% of America’s wheat crop failed as a result of black-stem disease. There are reports of a new aggressive strain of this disease (Ug99) spreading across Africa and possibly reaching Pakistan. Blights threatening basic food crops such as potatoes and corn would have destabilizing effects on nations close to the subsistence level. Food crises have led in the past to famine, internal and external conflicts, the collapse of governing authority, migrations, and social disorder. In such cases, many people in the crisis zone may be well-armed and dangerous, making the task of the Joint Force in providing relief that much more difficult. In a society confronted with starvation, food becomes a weapon every bit as important as ammunition.

    Why are climate scientists ignoring peak oil and coal?

    Uppsala University physics professor Kjell Aleklett also criticizes the level of economic awareness of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientists with respect to coal.

    “Our conclusion is that the assumptions of coal use that the IPCC recommended that climate researchers refer to in calculating their future horror scenarios are completely unrealistic. The question is why at all these gigantic volumes of carbon dioxide emission are to be found among the possible scenarios. The IPCC bears a great responsibility for the fact that thousands of climate researchers around the world have dedicated years of research to calculating temperature increases for scenarios that are completely unrealistic.”

  15. I always love to read Willis for the great insights he offers.While I absolutely agree with him that development = energy, what he misses is the fact this renewable energy is intended to keep the poor poor. A new type of eco-imperialism. Here’s some extracts from my post:

    “Oxfam observes : “But the Malthusian instinct to blame resource pressures on growing numbers of poor people misses the point, because people living in poverty contribute little to world demand.”

    Actually Oxfam was being rather disingenuous. That was indeed the whole point. “People living in poverty contribute little to world demand.” The planet’s poorest 10 percent receives only 0.6 percent of the world’s income. And sub-Saharan Africa’s population accounts for about 2 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions.

    What happens to prices and supply when developing countries start increasing their demand to ultimately seek parity to those of the West? There would be a substantial rise in need for energy and raw materials within rising economies, intensifying competition for that restricted resources globally. This is the West’s greatest nightmare. So it follows that by keeping more and more developing country people in a continuing state of abject poverty, ensures moderating global demand for food or energy which in turn moderates their global prices.

    Omamo & Grebmer, 2005; Borlaugh, 2001; Shiva 2000 in their perceptive paper “Eco-Imperialism: The Global North’s Weapon of Mass intervention” exposed the real agenda of renewable energy when they observed:

    “We are seeing a new type of imperialism emerge, an imperialism based not on the acquisition of territory, but on a radical environmentalist agenda, an agenda that seeks to reserve the earth and its resources for the wealthy and elite, to freeze energy use at current levels, and to restrict nation states from exploiting indigenous resources for the benefit of their people.”

    Read more: http://devconsultancygroup.blogspot.com/2011/12/climate-smart-agriculture-new-eco.html

  16. Richard Drake says:
    December 19, 2011 at 3:48 am

    Willis writes: “If you make energy expensive, it is hugely regressive, as the poor countries and the poor people will simply not be able to afford it. Carbon taxes, “cap-and-trade”, or other energy taxes are a crime against the less favored inhabitants of our planet.”

    Drake responds: “Two people at least understood and stated this this year: Willis Eschenbach and FOIA.”

    No, what you mean is two people don’t know the meaning of the word “regressive”. If the price of something, or the tax rate, is constant then the price or the tax is neither progressive or regressive. A regressive fuel price would be one that, for example, falls as the quantity purchased increases.

    In point of fact in many places the retail cost of electricity rises with the amount purchased. Just ask anyone living in California!

    What you mean to say is that a higher energy price has a greater adverse effect on the poor in comparison to the rich. This both Willis and FOIA and most other people with a pulse understand easily enough. For the rich person it means travelling coach instead of first class. For the poor person it means freezing to death because they can’t afford to buy fuel for the furnance. This is not, however, what the term “regressive” means.

    It is for this reason that electricity in places like California is priced progressively. It’s to compensate for the fact that people who can afford to buy more electricity are less adversely effected by rising cost. To illustrate this when I lived in California the basic lowest-price allotment of electricity was called the “lifeline allowance” which communicated it was a basic amount needed by one modestly sized household for critical uses such as refrigeration, heating, and cooling.

    So I would put forward that many many millions of people understand how higher energy costs has a greater adverse effect on the poor and not only do they understand this but they explicitely and tangibly deal with it through progressive energy pricing.

  17. The US and UK have bought an increase in GDP by borrowing vast amounts of cash and spending it.

    You cannot safely look at GDP figures without looking at debt at the same time.

  18. darkobutina @ 4.09 am

    While stats seem only avail from 2004 try plotting the injury indicators (murder per 100,000 by gender). And make sure Sth Africa is selected.
    And also look at the energy use per person across Sth Africa, Russia, Guatemala and Colombia etc. etc etc.
    There’s an awful lot of human energy going into sub-economies there it appears.

  19. Greens, deal with it: the more rich people are, the more goods they will buy. The only alternative is a giant concentration camp, where the authority would be assigning resources “per each needs”, well exactly as theory of communism says. The circle has met its end.

  20. “Both countries [UK and US] nearly doubled their per capita income, with basically no increase in per capita energy use. Not sure what they are doing right, but we should figure it out and clone it ”
    I can’t speak for the UK, but Much of our manufacturing base simply went overseas, particularly to China, lowering our energy use and raising theirs. That is not a good thing, though. It has resulted in a loss of well-paying jobs for millions, and pushed many from being comfortably middle-class to lower middle-class or even poverty level. The fact that per capita income has still risen only means that the income gap has grown both wider and broader.
    All is not bleak, though. With labor costs spiking sharply upward in China in addition to higher shipping costs, manufacturing is starting to come back to the U.S., at least. If we can manage to keep the “green energy” idiocy at bay, that process can and will continue.

  21. A prosperous economy definitely requires energy. However, this analysis seems to focus on energy production and completely ignores the efficiency of energy production, distribution, and consumption. Wasteful and inefficient energy production and use does nothing to support economic development.

    Some “green” policies make enormous economic sense; for example insulating homes to reduce energy waste. Of course, such programs can go off the rails when governments meddle with subsidies and the like. But optimizing efficiency and reducing waste are vital elements of economic progress completely ignored by this analysis.

    Therefore, it is hardly surprising that a number of countries have made progress while simultaneously reducing energy production as several posters have pointed out.

    Sadly, governments aided and abetted by IPCC, have decided that CO2 is the holy grail. But focusing on CO2 reduction does NOT improve the efficiency with which we produce and use our energy. In most cases, CO2 reduction measures reduce efficiency.

  22. Nick is right. You have to adjust the per capita income by the per capita debt (or maybe per capita deficit would be a better indicator). At some point you have to pay the piper.

  23. I believe that Willis has a valid point. The amount of energy used can only fall to a certain lever per geographic region before the effects on the general population becomes adverse, at this point the effect on the poor becomes disastrous. This can be attested to by the efforts during the past150 years of warfare when the major efforts have been to deny the delivery and use of energy. When that happens poor people become disadvantaged to the point starvation. this becomes exacerbated when the middle class (shrinking) and the well to do begin to protect their ability to purchase energy in one form or another (fuel or products) by reducing the amount of services they purchase thus causing unemployment of the poor first and the middle class next. Energy availability represents wealth and wealth promotes employment creating a better standard of living for both the poor and the middle class.

    Just thinking,
    Bill Derryberry

  24. It would be better to reverse your x and y to show that the efficient use of energy produces wealth. Thus, restricting it’s use should be expected to produce poverty. Just compare food productivity methods as a function of efficient energy use per person.

  25. That is way cool. Thanks Willis.

    Of course you do realize that you have confirmed what some of us were saying in your post about oil production. Price spikes in oil produce recessions.

    Here you say, correctly “You can’t get out of poverty without having access to affordable energy” But that means the opposite is also true “You will go into poverty with unaffordable energy.”

    Hence once oil prices spike, due to depletion, we will return to poverty. Countries like the US and the EU will trek to the top left.

  26. On the US and UK “getting it right”: I think these graphs probably take the total income and divide it by the population, assuming some sort of normal distribution of income. What has actually happened in the US and UK is that more money has been made in total, but actual individual income for the majority of the population has actually decreased in real terms. Income has shifted, and almost all new income has gone to a very small number of people and to large corporations, which are no longer required to re-distribute their income amongst shareholders.

    The production required to create the increased income has come partly from lower energy industries, but also from moving production overseas, so increasing the energy use in those countries while reducing it for the US and UK.

    I believe that a closer look at these countries would reveal that the real income/living standard for the majority of their populations has significantly decreased, and that once the energy use shifted overseas is re-apportioned the performance of the US and UK would look decidedly worse, while the reduced (re-assigned) energy use of some other countries would make their performance on these graphs look considerably better.

    While I disagree that the US and UK “have got it right”, I do agree with the core hypothesis that income (a proxy for “living standards”) is directly related to energy use, and that we should be looking at cheaper methods of energy production rather than more expensive methods which produce less.

  27. Just a side note that the EPA in the US recently tried to tie dust production in the fly over area of the US to pollution and were going to fine (read as administrative tax) on agriculture. (read food production) This it seems would help to reduce the carbon use of agriculture. It would but how much would it cause death and starvation world wide. Especially if this were promoted in the grain growing countries of the world. I agree that there are good things coming from the green movement, but there should always be a cost evaluation before implementation. Investigate the ethanol production targets and actual production and what it is doing to the energy production and cost in the United States.

    there I go just thinking again,
    Bill Derryberry

  28. Thanks again Willis!!!!
    I’ve been waiting for someone to use Gapminder (5 yrs ago I would have been able to but my mind is failing me) to show that the quality of life for the vast majority of the worlds population is improving at a very significant rate, mostly due to the availability of relatively cheap energy. Your conclusions are right on target!

    Hopefully Rosling and students will update their database to the present so we can continue to follow the (mostly) improving world condition and refute the cries of the doomsters.

    BC

  29. I think here in the UK we have become a lot more energy aware. Our houses are more energy efficient as are the products and services we buy. Not for some altruistic reason (though that may have a small part to play) but mainly because we wanted the best return for our money. Many folk just don’t get the idea that progress is built on such thinking and that aesthetics plays a part in it as well. In fact one could argue that it is in developed capatalist states where one sees the best environmental care not in left wing or theocratic dictatorships. Indeed I would love to see an example of a socialist state that is doing more for both the environment and its people than a comparable capatalist one.

  30. Somethings should be painfully obvious to anyone who has ever lived outside academia, the state capital or the Washington beltway.

    _If you want less of something, tax it more.
    _Free markets create wealth.
    _Redistribution destroys wealth.

    ~More Soylent Green!

  31. jrwakefield says:
    December 19, 2011 at 6:50 am
    “Here you say, correctly “You can’t get out of poverty without having access to affordable energy” But that means the opposite is also true “You will go into poverty with unaffordable energy.”

    Hence once oil prices spike, due to depletion, we will return to poverty. Countries like the US and the EU will trek to the top left.”

    The price of coal is practically constant over the past two decades. Yes, rising oil costs will affect transportation, but not necessarily energy production .

  32. “The US and the UK have done a curious thing. Per capita energy use for each country in 2007 was about the same as in 1979. But income went up. Both countries nearly doubled their per capita income, with basically no increase in per capita energy use. Not sure what they are doing right, but we should figure it out and clone it …”

    Yes, as a couple of commenters have said, “moving” production offshore uses less energy per wealth produced, but there are other reasons as well.

    Checking on http://www.shadowstats.com, I find that, since 1980, the CPI has grossly understated price increases, which causes a grossly overstated GDP. How much? By my reckoning (eyeballing the graphs), the CPI as reported (which already shows a great loss of purchasing power), if calculated the way they used to do it in 1980 is 2 1/2 times larger than as reported. So, $250 today really is worth only $100 of 1980 purchasing power, meaning that US GDP really is worth not $15 Trillion, but only $6 Trillion! (Is that why Archie Bunker used to say that the US had the Grossest National Product?)

    Assuming other countries’ governments also are less than truthful with their numbers, the whole distribution would be shifted somewhat more steeply to the left.

    P.S. Love your work, Willis. Keep it up.

  33. P. Solar says:
    December 19, 2011 at 4:04 am

    Enough with the socialist nonsense already.

    Moving to the right wtihout moving up is due to innovation. Innovation percolates downward through layers of poverty to improve the lives of most people.

    Perhaps this is a little over the top, but it makes the point clearly: Just remember the image of well-fed Palestinians, many wearing glasses, jumping for joy in front of a minivan parked on a paved streed in front of a pharmacy in a city with piped clean water and supplied with electricity, waving plastic flags to celebrate the demise of the World Trade Center Sept 11, 2001. The point is, without technology developed by the filthy rich West, they would be (and based on their actions, arguably should be) herding goats.

    “A rising tide lifts all boats.” – President John F. Kennedy
    “America is the only place where people drive to the poor house in their car.” – Will Rogers

    Your computer and the internet are examples of technology percolating downward. You have the power under your fingers only the largest corporations had 40 years ago.

    How many people living in “poverty” in the West have electricity, indoor plumbing, refrigeration, television, a car, and access to life-saving medical care? (Aside: you don’t need medical insurance to be treated in a true emergency – by law doctors are are required to treat to save your life.) The goal should be to share basic technology with the poorest people in order to lift them out of poverty. Technology cannot be developed without a concentration of capital and without a high level of education. Poor nations are caught in a Catch 22 of poor education and poor resources. Education is the critical factor allowing innovation by developed nations, and allowing development by under-developed nations. Breaking the West and taking it down (redistribution of wealth) out of some twisted notion of “fairness” will not actually help anyone.

    On the other hand, taking the twisted green logic further, if people are bad and nature is good, it makes sense to create conditions where as many people die as possible (to save the planet?!!). That sort of thinking is truly sick, and serves as a dark portion of the foundation of green policy. It’s not the believers in green approaches who are deranged; they are idealists and miguided. Instead, it is the formulators of that policy who are dangerous and must be removed from power, hopefully through the ballot box. Unfortunately, there is an allure to socialist ideology. It usually takes a minimum of two generations to break the spell and kick the parasites out after they gain power. The lessons are learned only after great suffering (socialism fails every time is tried – as western Europe is learning). Eastern Europeans formerly behind the Iron Curtain already know better.

    Keep an eye on China. There is a disturbance in the force down south. Is socailism cracking over there? Could this be the beginning of the fall of the regime?

    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/60be1f9e-296c-11e1-a066-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1gx7ySTSn

  34. Willis, how about a graph of CO2 production for the worlds climate elite? Hansen, Gore, Mann, Pachauri as compared to the average citizen of the world?

    Are the climate elite truly doing as they say and producing zero carbon? If carbon is such a problem, have they shown leadership and reduced their carbon pollution to zero?

  35. Hoser says:
    December 19, 2011 at 7:30 am

    There are plenty of things happening in China that most people don’t know about, and the NY Times doesn’t want us to know.

    As you say, the cracks are showing. The secret police have increased in size, dissidents are regularly harassed and jailed, the housing market is under strain and their are regular riots taking place.

    However, the Chinese military is expanding.

  36. @willis

    Try making the scales on those charts to linear instead of log. At the higher income range, say $35,000/capita, energy use per person varies by a factor of four.

    How is it possible that where annual income per capita is constant at $35,000 the energy use (or production, same story) per person varies from 3 to 12 tons of oil per year?

    Essentially those charts you produced confirm the alarmist notion that rich nations can vastly cut their energy consumption and not harm their economy. At least that’s what the data says if you do more than look at the pretty colors and actually read the scale values on the side.

    Oops. Thanks for nothing, pal. This is meat for the opposition. This is also why amatuers shouldn’t do original research for science blogs – their ignorance trips them up somewhere almost every time.

  37. “Both countries [UK and US] nearly doubled their per capita income, with basically no increase in per capita energy use.”

    Both countries were/are living beyond their means based on an inflationary house price bubble. Both are heavily into financial services to replace lost manufacturing capacity. This is not a route “to prosperity” other nations should emulate. Both countries are heavily indebted both at the government and private level. NOT a success story IMHO.

  38. @BarryW: That would be a good start, but then you need to normalize over the time range — a $ in 2011 is not what a $ was worth in 1970 for example. This is important if we are using income as a proxy for standard of living, because if at some point in the past real income was double what it is now (I now have twice as many $, but can only buy the same food, and housing), but we have doubled out energy use, then we have really made negative progress

    Then there is the question of energy consumption – Willis touches on this when he mentions that India uses coal — I think these graphs are just oil. Also need to (somehow) compensate for displaced energy use (burning oil/coal in India for goods and services delivered in the US).

    I don’t want to distract from the central theme of what Willis is saying, I think its correct, energy is needed to improve income/standard of living, but where I do have a problem is calling out the US and UK as being models of “good” progress. I believe that a closer examination would show that they decidedly are not. Especially wrt improving the lot of their inhabitants.

  39. “Some countries took the worst quadrant, down and to the left. This is where you are using less energy, and you’re also making less money. Zimbabwe and the “Democratic” Republic of Congo did that. Bad sign. It’s de-development, and it generally involves suffering for both humans and the environment.”

    yet is is percisely what John Holdren wants. “de-development presents our economists with a major challenge. They must design a stable, low-consumption economy in which there is a much more equitable distribution of wealth … Redistribution of wealth both within and among nations is absolutely essential”” John Holdren, Obama’s Science Czar – Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions (1973)

    Hoser, good post. Efficiency and energy is desirable. There is no energy bubble.
    Willis can rate of population growth be added to such charts. Developed first world nations do not have population explosions.

  40. @willis

    This might be a nitpick but the labels about income are all messed up. What is shown is GDP per capita but the label, which I assume you made up yourself, reads:

    Income Per Person (GDP/capita, PPP$ inflation-adjusted)

    The values plotted are GDP/capita which IS NOT the same thing as income per person. If it were income per person then the US, for instance, is shown as having over $40,000 income per person. That would mean that the average family of four has a household income somewhere north of $160,000. In fact it’s less than half that because gross domestic product is not the same as income per person.

    This is what happens when pikers wander into areas of knowledge where they are grossly (pun intended) deficient and start yammering on like they know what they are talking about. I’m no expert in economics but I at least know the difference between income and GDP and recognized right away that the charts were displaying GDP/capita not income per capita. If I can spot flaws like that God only knows how laughable this must be to an actual economics expert.

  41. I have said this several times here and elsewhere . . .

    Electrify rural Africa and you will stop deforestation in it’s tracks. At the same time people’s lives will improve immeasurably. Children will be able to do homework after the sun goes down, women will not have to waste hours every day collecting firewood, people will not have to rely on a hand pump for water, Threshing and grinding can be done at home if necessary, cell phone with internet coverage will be ubiquitous.

    Everything in life that is not religious depends on energy. The more affordable energy the more prosperous the population and the better their environment.

    Foreign aid and charitable contributions at present could pay for this both in capital terms and the initial operation level. Electrification is prosperity.

  42. >>>Beesaman says: December 19, 2011 at 7:19 am
    >>>I think here in the UK we have become a lot more energy
    >>>aware. Our houses are more energy efficient as are the
    >>>products and services we buy.
    .
    And I think that the UK is using less energy because it has lost all its means of production. Nearly all of our shipyards, car facories, train factories, smelters, rolling mills, potteries, white-goods manufacturers, shoe and clothing factories – all gone – and our last aliminuim smelter last month.

    Manchester used to be called Cottonopoplis, but now has not one cotton factory. Stafford was ‘The Potteries’, but now only has one ceramics factory. Birmingham was the Tin Basher, but is now deathly quiet. The Tyne made more ships than anyone else in the world, but is subsidised by government made-work pen-pushing projects. Leicester made the world’s shoes, but now processes unemployment claims. Coventry made the entire world mobile, with cars and bikes, but is now famed only for its ghettos.

    Less energy usage is not a sign of national advancement or health, it is a sign of demise and decay.

    .

  43. I think poster P.Solar is missing the point. One of the hidden parts of the bubble plots is the notion of infrastructure. In a stable society such as the US roads are already paved, wiring is already where it needs to be, and so on. Once the basics are in place you’re not spending as much percentage of the energy building energy distribution. It should not be surprising that coups and corruption and otherwise poor political conditions either fail to address infrastructure *or* there’s no longer term planning due to a lack of stability. Politics (and ramifications thereof) plays a larger role than is being acknowledged here. This would be a contributing factor to the US moving rightward on the graph. You could argue that upward and leftward movement is almost a requirement to get infrastructure in place (cf. china and india) and once this is accomplished the movement will track up->right almost by definition.

    Another “hidden” part of this is bang for the buck in terms we have yet to discuss. Despite the US not moving downward and right, this will happen, and what we can do with the units of energy are interesting. Compared to 1971 even the poorest citizens have access to volumes of information that would have required thousands of acres of libraries (and the heating bills, etc.) Diseases that would have been a death sentence in 1971 are survivble now (e.g. various cancers.) In other words, we are getting far more “work” from the same number of units of energy than we were getting in 1971.

    These are two OBVIOUS items that stood out upon first cursory view of the charts. My conclusion is that P.Solar seems to be agenda driven and is incapable of much contribution here.

  44. I looked up the numbers in US census report. Mean income per person 25 years or older is $43,000. This is about the number plotted on the charts near as I can tell. I’m not at all sure what is actually being plotted. If it’s income per adult over the age of 25 that is going to badly skew comparisons between nations.

    I tried clickong on the “Source” url below the graph but GapMinder is broken using FireFox 8, Win7, and latest Flash player. The data is only as trustworthy as GapMinder’s source.
    Nevertheless here is the source description by gapminder which I was able to locate. It’s basically a hodgepodge with some undefined amount of pencil whipping by GapMinder. Not exactly confidence inspiring.

    Income per person (fixed PPP$) (version 9)

    Gapminder has compiled the data you see in this graph from several sources, such as official international statistics, various historical sources and our own estimates.
    The link below takes you to Gapminder’s documentation page, which contains the details on how the compilation was done and the sources for each observation.

    .
    Definition and explanations

    .
    Definition of indicator Gross Domestic Product per capita by Purchasing Power Parities (in international dollars, fixed 2005 prices). The inflation and differences in the cost of living between countries has been taken into account.

    .
    Main sources: Cross-country data for 2005 is mainly based on the 2005 round of the International Comparison Program. Estimates based on other sources were used for the other countries. Real growth rates were linked to the 2005 levels. Several sources are used for these growth rates, such as the data of Angus Maddison. Follow the link below to download the detailed documentation.

    .

    .
    Who has compiled the data and how was it done

    .
    Compiled by: Mattias Lindgren, Gapminder

    .
    Link to the full documentation of this indicator http://www.gapminder.org/downloads/documentation/gd001

    .
    Version: 9

    .
    Present version uploaded: 2010/07/12

    .

    .
    Updates

    .
    2008/12/04 Data for Iraq & Zimbabwe added upto 2007

    .
    2008/12/10 Data for many other countries added upto 2007

    .
    2008/12/22 Complete revision of the whole data set. This new version is based on the PPPs from the 2005 round from ICP. Previous version of the data set is available as a separate indicator.

    .
    2009/04/27 Version 5: updated Swedish data, revised Myanmar, raised lowest level, added data from Barro & Ursúa

    .
    2009/10/01 Version 6: Congo Dem. Rep. revised

    .
    2009/12/18 Version 7: data for 2008 added

    .
    2010/04/26 Version 8: data from IMF for 2009 added + some revisions since 2005 + added a few missing observations that were mistakingly deleted in previous update

    .
    2010/07/12 Version 9: revision of a large number of countries. The revisions has mainly been made for the period before 1950.

    .
    2011 June 18 Extending series up to 2010, by using real GDP per capita growth from IMF World Economic Outlook. The following are not in the WEO data, and were estimated based on CIA World Factbook growth figures: Korea Dem Rep, Cuba, Kosovo, Macao, Taiwan, Bermuda, Macedonia, Puerto Rico, Somalia, Timor Lests, Trinidad and Tobago, West Bank & Gaza. Kosovos series was extended five years backwards from 2005. /Ola

    .

    .

    .

    .

  45. P. Solar says:
    December 19, 2011 at 4:08 am

    Here’s another inexorable conclusion for you. People with more money have bigger cars.

    This clearly proves that you can’t get out of poverty without having a big car.

    Inexorable !
    _______________________________
    Fine P. Solar, How about you living in the equivalent of the 1700′s. No Factories, No heating, No plumbing (no electric for water pumps) No refrigeration, not even FACTORY MADE farm equipment, because unless you are advocating thorium nuclear THAT is what you are talking about.

    The amount of energy per capita is not the amount someone uses for his gas hog but is the amount the ENTIRE COUNTRY USES! This includes mining and smelting ores, and the factories that built the commuter rails and trains you use to commute into the city built of cement and high temp FIRED BRICK and STEEL BEAMS.

    From Comment on: http://blogs.dailymail.com/donsurber/archives/45086

    “If you want to talk risk/reward fine. The cost to reduce CO2 output by 80% has been calculated, and that’s the low end of numbers estimated to “remove” mankind’s footprint of warming.” The commenter cites Modelling a UK 80% Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction by 2050: http://www.newscientist.com/data/doc/article/mg20427373.400/ce_new_scientist_report.pdf

    So he did not pull the reduction by 80% out of his hat. That is what these people are advocating.

    So Let us look at what real facts tell us.
    The average for the USA is 335.9 million BTUs per person. http://www.nuicc.info/?page_id=1467
    (Total population: 246,081,000)

    The U.S. in 1800 had a per-capita energy consumption of about 90 million Btu. http://www.bu.edu/pardee/files/2010/11/12-PP-Nov2010.pdf
    (Total population: 5,308,483)

    If the USA reduces its energy consumption by 80% it equals 45.18 million Btu. per person IF THE POPULATION WAS THE SAME.

    For the USA to use HALF the energy per person that was used in 1800 we must abandon ALL factories and 90% of the population must return to subsistence farming using animals. (If the Warmistas will allow oxen and horses and the methane/CO2 they produce)

    Remember in 1800 there was only 2% of the current population in the USA. Solar and Wind just are not going to produce enough power to keep us in anything but a few lights and if we are lucky a refrigerator per town for medicines. FACTORIES use a huge amount of power and that is why cotton mills and other primitive factories were built on rivers. (Again use of hydro is frowned upon by the econuts and has been legislated against in “Wild and Scenic River” laws)

    Anyone who tries to tell you differently is talking baffle gab because at present less than 9% of the US labor force is in manufacturing. The USA got rid of most of its really energy intense industry like smelting the ores to make machines.

    In 1970 the USA had 24% of the work force in manufacturing and that included high energy manufacturing in the “Rust Belt”

    The long version of the analysis is here: http://blogs.dailymail.com/donsurber/archives/45086/comment-page-1#comment-380871

  46. FYI

    Energy use per person comes from “The World Bank”. Now there’s a source of information everyone really trusts. Banks. /sarc

    Are you KIDDING me?

    Energy use, per capita (toe)

    .

    .
    Definition and explanations

    .
    Indicator name Energy use, per capita (toe)

    .
    Definition of indicator Energy use refers to use of primary energy before transformation to other end-use fuels, which is equal to indigenous production plus imports and stock changes, minus exports and fuels supplied to ships and aircraft engaged in international transport.

    .
    Unit of measurement Tonnes of oil equivalent (toe)

    .

    .
    Data source

    .
    Source organization(s) World Bank

    .
    Link to source organization http://data.worldbank.org/indicator

    .
    Complete reference World Development Indicators

    .
    Link to complete reference http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.USE.PCAP.KG.OE

    .

    .
    Specific information about this indicator

    .
    Uploader Gapminder

    .
    Time of uploading 12-Dec-10

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

  47. TOE data comes from The World Bank.

    http://www.worldbank.org/

    The World Bank motto: Working for a World Free of Poverty

    I wouldn’t trust their data as far as I can throw it when they have a mission statement like that.

    But that’s just me.

  48. @Gail Combs

    Arm yourself with data not conjecture.

    For instance:

    http://minerals.usgs.gov/ds/2005/140/ironsteel.xls

    http://minerals.usgs.gov/ds/2005/140/cement.xls

    Steel and cement production are two of the biggest industrial energy hogs there are. US cement production, for instance, was at new record highs in this decade and only dropped beginning in 2007 with the recession. US Iron and steel production reached a record high in 1973 and then fell off a cliff as the oil crisis created a huge demand for small cheap high mileage jap cars and trucks instead of the venerable 8-cylinder big block Detroit Iron epitomized and idolized in the muscle car era (sigh, good times). The US auto industry never recovered and neither did US steel production.

  49. Dave Springer says:
    December 19, 2011 at 5:08 am

    Richard Drake says:
    December 19, 2011 at 3:48 am

    Willis writes:

    “If you make energy expensive, it is hugely regressive, as the poor countries and the poor people will simply not be able to afford it. Carbon taxes, “cap-and-trade”, or other energy taxes are a crime against the less favored inhabitants of our planet.”

    Drake responds: “Two people at least understood and stated this this year: Willis Eschenbach and FOIA.”

    No, what you mean is two people don’t know the meaning of the word “regressive”. If the price of something, or the tax rate, is constant then the price or the tax is neither progressive or regressive. A regressive fuel price would be one that, for example, falls as the quantity purchased increases.

    Dave, once again you’ve let your unreasoning hatred for me cloud your judgement.

    Consider a flat tax of $50,000 per person. By your definition, it would not be regressive, since as you say “the price is constant”, and is the same for everyone.

    However, in fact it would hit the poor the hardest.

    Your problem is the assumption that a flat tax on fuel, assessed say on the basis of carbon content, somehow translates to the same percentage of their income for different purchasers. It does not. It is a larger percentage of their income for the poor. I read the other day of a lady who is paying most of her social security to heat her home.

    If you think a $1 per gallon fuel tax will take the same percentage of her income that it would of Bill Gates income, you’re mad. There is no way that such a tax is “neither progressive nor regressive”. In practice, it hits the poor the hardest, and that is a regressive tax.

    w.

  50. Mike Smith says:
    December 19, 2011 at 6:15 am

    A prosperous economy definitely requires energy. However, this analysis seems to focus on energy production and completely ignores the efficiency of energy production, distribution, and consumption. Wasteful and inefficient energy production and use does nothing to support economic development.

    Some “green” policies make enormous economic sense; for example insulating homes to reduce energy waste. Of course, such programs can go off the rails when governments meddle with subsidies and the like. But optimizing efficiency and reducing waste are vital elements of economic progress completely ignored by this analysis.

    You should learn to read, I did not ignore efficiency and reducing waste. I said

    Although efficiency and conservation can help you, in general you must increase energy use in order to increase personal income enough to get out of poverty.

    This is because I’m talking about countries and people getting out of poverty (moving from the lower left end of the charts above to the upper right end). You’re not going to do that by insulating their homes.

    w.

  51. P. Solar says:
    December 19, 2011 at 4:04 am
    >>

    “How about this interpretation: “richer people can afford more energy”
    inexorable !!”

    Chicken and the Egg argument. The age-old problem of correlation confused with causation. So which is it? Cheap energy creates wealth or wealth creates cheap energy?

    There are only three ways to create wealth: “Make it, mine it, or grow it” and all three need energy. The cheaper the energy, the more wealth you can create (the more things you can mine like Lithium for batteries, the more things you can make like hybrid cars, and the more things you can grow like corn for biofuels).

    In old times you’d use slaves as the cheap energy source, or you’d exploit child labor or immigrants, etc. Nasty stuff. Nowadays we can use cheap fossil fuels. Without energy, you simply can’t create wealth. So cheap energy allows you to attain wealth. Your wealth cannot create cheap energy.

  52. Dave Springer tries to insult me by saying:
    December 19, 2011 at 7:54 am

    … This is also why amatuers shouldn’t do original research for science blogs – their ignorance trips them up somewhere almost every time.

    I love it when someone tries to insult me by calling me an “amateur”, because I am in fact an amateur scientist. However, I’m an amateur scientist who just published his fourth peer-reviewed scientific paper, including a “Communication Arising” in Nature magazine … so the claim redounds to my credit.

    The best, though, is when some charmingly illiterate fellow tries out the insult and he spells it “amatuer” … that makes my whole day.

    w.

  53. http://www.eia.gov/pub/international/iealf/tablee1.xls

    Above is energy use per dollar of GDP generated listed by nation and continent, annually, from 1980 to present.

    Interestingly Eurasia sticks out like a sore thumb consuming almost twice as much energy per dollar GDP as any other region.

    Europe is the most efficient. The United States is typical but has been becoming more efficient every year.

    Judging by this data what brings a country out of poverty generally isn’t rising energy consumption per capita but rather rising efficiency in converting energy consumption to gross domestic product.

    Technology then appears to be the key. A nation will just spend itself further into the poor house by simply consuming more fuel. The consumption has to efficiently generate GDP. Consumption isn’t, in and of itself, enough. The key is HOW it is consumed not HOW MUCH is consumed.

  54. Dave Springer says:
    December 19, 2011 at 8:15 am

    @willis

    This might be a nitpick but the labels about income are all messed up. What is shown is GDP per capita but the label, which I assume you made up yourself, reads:

    Income Per Person (GDP/capita, PPP$ inflation-adjusted) …

    As usual, and as you would know if you had followed the citations to look at the original, you’re wrong in your assumption, Dave. I didn’t make the label up myself, it’s straight from Gapminder.

    So take your pissy little complaints and your incorrect assumptions to them … and next time, do your homework. You’re just making yourself look foolish with your dickish comments.

    w.

  55. Dave Springer: In tax and government (read political) terms something is called regressive if it impacts those with less income harder. For instance people argue against the sales tax on food because we all eat about the same amount rich or poor (within roundoff error, the rich do buy more expensive food, but not enough to significantly skew the numbers in the example.) IF it costs $5,000 to feed a person, with a 10% tax rate that comes to $500 dollars of tax per person each year. If a poor person makes $16,000 per year, that is 3% of there income. If a middle class person makes $50,000 that is 1% of there income. If a rich person makes $500,000 that is 0.1% of there income. Because such a tax hits the poor with a higher tax percentage the politicians call that a regressive tax. As the price is influenced by a tax and it will hit those with the least disposable income the hardest it is by political definition “regressive”. That this does not meet your current political desire, “regressive” being a political pejorative and all, does not allow you to ignore the common usage.

    Your example on electricity is not a good example. Most poor people live in older, less well repaired abodes that require much more power to keep at a livable temperature. California’s insanity only works because the climate in California where most of the poor live is fairly benign. The folks with the expensive places in the mountains or who like their A/C at 68 are the ones who get hit hard, but they make the choices and can afford it. The problem is that sometimes they use the same amount of electricity keeping their new, high-efficiency house at 68 that the poor in their old, inefficient houses do to keep their places at 78.

    You are being intentionally obtuse in using your definition.

  56. Dave Springer says:
    December 19, 2011 at 9:02 am

    TOE data comes from The World Bank.

    http://www.worldbank.org/

    The World Bank motto: Working for a World Free of Poverty

    I wouldn’t trust their data as far as I can throw it when they have a mission statement like that.

    But that’s just me.

    You “don’t trust their data.” But you have not pointed out a single problem with their data. Not one. You have not indicated why you think their data is bad. As far as you’ve told us, you can find nothing wrong with their data.

    But you don’t like it because they are working to reduce poverty in the world?

    Yeah, that’s a mean, nasty, ugly thing to do, working to reduce poverty, you’re right to groundlessly mistrust someone who does that …

    You are correct, however, and thankfully so, when you say

    But that’s just me.

    because most everyone else is totally unaffected by whatever it is that has so badly damaged and warped your judgement. We base our judgements regarding data on whether or not the data is good and accurate, and not on who produced it. And particularly, not on the mission statement of whoever produced it.

    w.

    PS—Truly, I don’t get your unreasoning hatred for me, Dave, but you really should do something about it. It’s leading you to make very foolish postings whose only result is that people point and laugh at you. I doubt that that is your intention … but I can assure you that that is the usual result.

  57. Dave Springer says: December 19, 2011 at 7:54 am
    … Thanks for nothing, pal. This is meat for the opposition…

    Dave Springer has a certain amount of rudeness but I think he also has some valid points to answer. However in your defence Willis I think this piece is tremendous, at least as a starter, and I trust we can refine our tools as we go, with help from Dave et al.

    I’d like to see Bjorn Lomborg’s stats here. And I’d luuuuurve to see these tremendous Gapminder tools used to demonstrate to Gapminder’s founder that AGW is (a) near-total scam (b) put out as propaganda in which debate, and even the existence of serious challenges, is stifled and denied existence. And I’d like opinions from the statistically savvy as to its wonder-working Maximal Informational Coefficient.

  58. Dave Springer says:
    December 19, 2011 at 9:49 am

    http://www.eia.gov/pub/international/iealf/tablee1.xls

    Above is energy use per dollar of GDP generated listed by nation and continent, annually, from 1980 to present.

    No, it’s not. Your citation is to a table of Primary Energy Consumption, not energy use per dollar of GDP as you mistakenly claim. The table is headed:

    E.1 World Primary Energy Consumption (Btu), 1980-2006
    (Quadrillion (10^15) Btu)

    You can’t even cite your own facts right, and you call me an “amatuer”??

    w.

  59. “1. Development is energy, and energy is development.”

    And the biggest problem in the US is that the “progressives” are stopping all progress through litigation, for which the various levels of government pay the legal costs. Result, no power plants, no refineries, less mining of coal, less drilling for oil, etc., etc. The liberals will even approve projects knowing that their sycophants will litigate and stop them with the cooperation of liberal judges.

  60. Willis Eschenbach says:
    December 19, 2011 at 9:44 am

    “…who just published his fourth peer-reviewed scientific paper, including a “Communication Arising” in Nature magazine … ”

    Congrats! No small feat!

    I wonder…how many publications does one need before they are no longer considered amateur. I went to grad school with plenty of people that got PhD’s and didn’t publish even 2 papers. And I guess they would be considered “professional”.

    I also wonder if all the aeronautic professionals and academics at the turn of the century called the Wright brothers “amateurs”.

  61. Heck Willis are you fast

    Thanks again for this post, which makes an essential point. The last world wars were fought over energy far more than is realized IMO. Germany was trying to build a land-based pipeline to the Middle East through Sarajevo IIRC. The Brits at that point understood very well the importance of oil.

  62. Fred H. Haynie says:
    December 19, 2011 at 6:44 am

    It would be better to reverse your x and y to show that the efficient use of energy produces wealth. Thus, restricting it’s use should be expected to produce poverty. Just compare food productivity methods as a function of efficient energy use per person.
    ______________________________________
    Very good idea. The well being of a country can be measure by how much food a farmer produces.

    Subsistence farming means feeds me and my family and a bit more for taxes.

    In 1790, the time period the Neo-Luddites seem to want us to return to, Farmers made up about 90% of labor force. With equipment inventions this was reduced to 69% of labor force by 1800 finally dropping to 2.6% by 1990. 1840 is when factory made farm equipment became available.

    It took about 250-300 labor-hours to produce 100 bushels of wheat in 1830. By 1987 it took 2-3/4 labor-hours.

    THAT is what t energy use is really all about. Freeing up humans from the drudgery of producing the necesities of life (food,shelter & clothing) so they can produce more wealth. Now the UN/IPCC wants to return to shackling everyone to a farm like the serfs of old. (UN Agenda 21 considers land too important to be owned by an individual)

    SOURCE: http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blfarm4.htm

  63. To P. Solar:
    Regarding your belief that rich countries use more energy because they are rich.
    Let’s use a little logic. Assume first that energy is very expensive, so much so that only a few can afford it at all. It should be obvious that only a few people, those selling the energy, would benefit from such a situation.
    Now, assume that energy is cheap and limitless. Obviously everyone would benefit economically by such a situation, except perhaps the energy producers.
    Further, assume that some countries have abundant energy, while others have little and it is more expensive. Would you locate a factory of any kind in a country with limited and expensive energy, or energy that was only available when the sun shined or the wind blew?
    The people that champion wind and solar energy see no problem with increasing the cost of energy, and in fact see it as a means to an end. When Obama said that “energy costs would necessarily skyrocket”, he was saying it proudly. By advocating such a thing, he is advocating a lower standard of living for everyone, and higher costs for everything.

  64. Wilis:

    Einstein was a patent clerk when he published his most important papers. Was an amateur scientist when he published his paper on Special Relativity?

  65. Curiousgeorge says:
    December 19, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Apparently the EPA wants to decide what is Sustainable and what isn’t. I can hardly wait for that! :(
    =======================================================
    ” EXCLUSIVE: EPA Ponders Expanded Regulatory Power In Name of ‘Sustainable Development’

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/12/19/epa-ponders-expanded-regulatory-power-in-name-sustainable-development/?test=latestnews#ixzz1gzuT6GQY
    ==================================

    Oh great now the bureaucrats want to bypass Congress and take their orders DIRECT from the United Nations!

    Why don’t we just abolish the US federal government and get rid of the parasites in DC since the UN and WTO are now writing all our laws anyway and all Congress does is rubber stamp them.

    GRRrrrrr

  66. @Gail

    It’s a bit of an urban legend that the US became service oriented. We became high technology oriented. Who invented the transister, the microprocessor, the personal computer, and the internet? The information age was pretty much “Made in the USA” just as the auto industry before it was. What’s next? I’m betting on synthetic biology which will reduce the cost of energy and manufacturing by an order of magnitude over the next several decades. I think the information age is a brief but necessary predecessor to what will be a far more transformative technology.

    You can produce an incredible amount of energy for very little cost if you could grow a plant that was an arbitrarily large green mat you could water with municipal waste water and it has a tap at the end of a collection network that produces peanut oil which can power a diesel engine, a boiler for an electric plant, a furnace for a home…

    Evolution never produced anything like that because there’s nothing for natural selection to select for but we are getting close to being able to take what evolution has provided and cut & paste to get new things tailored to what WE want instead of what natural selection “wants”. What evolution has provided is pretty wide ranging. There are bacteria which make a living without sunlight eating iron hydroxide and crapping pure magnetic iron for instance.

    http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/rev32_3/amazing.htm

    So it’s only a matter of time before synthetic biology can pretty much cut & paste microbial capabilities in new ways and then direct their coordinated actions by the quadrillion. The big green living mat that produces pure peanut oil out of a tap is something that can be biologically engineered one way or another. Craig Venter is already able to assemble a working genome for a minimal free-living bacteria from a computer specification of the genetic sequence and bring it to life. It’s expensive to do but the cost/performance of automated laboratory equipment to take the time & labor out of it is improving at the rate of Moore’s Law for semiconductors. That’s probably because it’s moving towards being done on semiconductor size devices grown in same way that traditional semiconductors are made.

    Just because US workforce is less blue collar doesn’t mean it’s producing less of what raises living standards. The global network for instance probably carved 20% off the typical end to end supply chain cost of a widget. When you buy something off the shelf at Walmart the relevent information instantly and seamlessly flows all over the world to everyone who played a part in manufacturing that widget or any of its pieces. All billing and payment, tracking bits in transit, all instant and paperless. That was a huge gain in productivity that the entire world benefitted from greatly. Is that “service” oriented?

  67. Lucy Skywalker says:
    December 19, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Dave Springer has a certain amount of rudeness but I think he also has some valid points to answer.

    Thanks, Lucy. Which points?

    … And I’d like opinions from the statistically savvy as to its wonder-working Maximal Informational Coefficient.

    The MIC was actually of much more interest to me than the energy/income stuff. Any comments welcome.

    w.

  68. Keith Battye says:
    December 19, 2011 at 8:29 am

    I have said this several times here and elsewhere . . .

    Electrify rural Africa and you will stop deforestation in it’s tracks. At the same time people’s lives will improve immeasurably….

    Everything in life that is not religious depends on energy. The more affordable energy the more prosperous the population and the better their environment.

    Several people I know grew up on dirt poor farms here in the USA. We are only a generatio or two away from that now in the USA:

    1940
    + 58% of all farms had cars
    + 25% had telephones
    + 33% had electricity

    1954
    + 70.9% of all farms had cars
    + 49% had telephones
    + 93% had electricity

    1975
    + 90% of all farms had phones
    + 98.6% had electricity.

    SOURCE: http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blfarm3.htm

  69. The Rural Electrification Administration of 1936 began the process of making farms more productive, with less labor, at a lower cost per tons of grain. Grain is planted and harvested with energy intensive implements; grain is transported via trucks on roads to grain elevators; shipped by train to distribution points, and by sea to the world. By the 1970′s, 98% of all US farms had electricity. Energy to farm use to be manuel; a man with a scythe could cut 2 acres a day of standing wheat. If dad got sick or injured at planting or harvesting time, a whole family could die; truly organic and subsistent farming. Farming energy engaged horses and horsepower was the measure of how much work could be done. Still steam engine threshing, gas tractors could not overcome the subsistence nature of farming. There were still cows that needed milking, chickens and their “farm fresh eggs”, pigs to be “slopped” (recycle what is currently labeled as garbage and landfilled), and a host of “farm chores” that necessitated child labor. Rural electrification meant industrial grade farming, even by individual families, and a grocery store with its cornucopia of meats, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, oils, wines, etc and the items to prepare and serve each. Less than 100 years ago, that cornucopia was not possible except to the extremely rich. An orange for Christmas was a gift, to be treasured and savored. Now, five pounds of Navel oranges, from California for $3.99, $3.49 with store coupon. Energy for life has moved from manuel, to horsepower, and now kilowatts. In the spirit of Christmas and giving, shouldn’t we give kilowatts to the “…tired and poor, your huddled masses, yearning to be free..”

  70. *ferd berple says: December 19, 2011 at 7:42 am Willis, how about a graph of CO2 production for the worlds climate elite? Hansen, Gore, Mann, Pachauri as compared to the average citizen of the world?*
    The graph of CO2 production is very similar to that of energy, for a very simple reason – about 86% of the world’s primary energy comes from fossil fuels. The differences between the two graphs come largely from the mix of fossil fuels – countries that have lots of coal as their primary source of energy are higher emitters than those who have lots of natural gas.
    There are also, of course, the outliers such as France with its large nuclear contribution and Norway with its hydro power – but these show up quite clearly. The underlying relationship between wealth and energy remains sound.
    Also it is interesting that organisations like the International Energy Agency have used population growth and GDP growth to predict energy consumption, and their predictions have proved very reasonable for many years.

  71. “In old times you’d use slaves as the cheap energy source, or you’d exploit child labor or immigrants, etc. Nasty stuff. Nowadays we can use cheap fossil fuels. Without energy, you simply can’t create wealth. So cheap energy allows you to attain wealth. Your wealth cannot create cheap energy.”

    Ergo, expensive energy destroys wealth.

  72. Downdraft says:
    December 19, 2011 at 11:17 am
    To P. Solar:
    Regarding your belief that rich countries use more energy because they are rich.
    Let’s use a little logic. Assume first that energy is very expensive, so much so that only a few can afford it at all. It should be obvious that only a few people, those selling the energy, would benefit from such a situation.
    Now, assume that energy is cheap and limitless. Obviously everyone would benefit economically by such a situation, except perhaps the energy producers.
    Further, assume that some countries have abundant energy, while others have little and it is more expensive. Would you locate a factory of any kind in a country with limited and expensive energy, or energy that was only available when the sun shined or the wind blew?
    The people that champion wind and solar energy see no problem with increasing the cost of energy, and in fact see it as a means to an end. When Obama said that “energy costs would necessarily skyrocket”, he was saying it proudly. By advocating such a thing, he is advocating a lower standard of living for everyone, and higher costs for everything.

    ———————

    Why is it that the left is so eager to happily destroy civilization?

  73. Lucy Skywalker says:
    December 19, 2011 at 10:39 am
    Heck Willis are you fast

    Thanks again for this post, which makes an essential point. The last world wars were fought over energy far more than is realized IMO. Germany was trying to build a land-based pipeline to the Middle East through Sarajevo IIRC. The Brits at that point understood very well the importance of oil.

    ————

    Japan went on its conquest because the US cut them off oil.

  74. Dambisa Moyo’s “How the West Was Lost: Fifty years of economic folly – and the stark choices ahead” has an interesting perspective on this. Highly recommended reading IMO. The book description at Amazon reads:

    “In How the West Was Lost, the New York Times bestselling author Dambisa Moyo offers a bold account of the decline of the West’s economic supremacy. She examines how the West’s flawed financial decisions have resulted in an economic and geopolitical seesaw that is now poised to tip in favor of the emerging world, especially China.

    Amid the hype of China’s rise, however, the most important story of our generation is being pushed aside: America is not just in economic decline, but on course to become the biggest welfare state in the history of the West. The real danger is at home, Moyo claims. While some countries – such as Germany and Sweden – have deliberately engineered and financed welfare states, the United States risks turning itself into a bloated welfare state not because of ideology or a larger vision of economic justice, but out of economic desperation and short-sighted policymaking. How the West Was Lost reveals not only the economic myopia of the West but also the radical solutions that it needs to adopt in order to assert itself as a global economic power once again.”

    FWIW Ms Moyo has worked for the World Bank and Goldman Sachs. I imagine she would laugh and point at Dave Springer if she knew what tosh he writes ;-)

  75. Gail Combs says:
    December 19, 2011 at 10:39 am

    … The well being of a country can be measured by how much food a farmer produces.

    Like this?

    Figure S1. Bubble size is per capita energy production. Color is total energy production.

    It seems like a reasonable indicator, although there are countries with few agricultural workers who are not all that well off …

    w.

  76. Dave Springer says:
    December 19, 2011 at 9:18 am

    @Gail Combs

    Arm yourself with data not conjecture.

    For instance:

    http://minerals.usgs.gov/ds/2005/140/ironsteel.xls

    http://minerals.usgs.gov/ds/2005/140/cement.xls

    Steel and cement production are two of the biggest industrial energy hogs there are…..

    That I was aware of and why I mentioned it.

    Aluminum is another material in common use that is high energy.

    As one poster noted there is also the point about existing infrastructure vs building new.

    It is a complex subject when you start digging but access to cheap energy drives civilization whether it is oxen and horses in the 1700′s or nuclear power of some nature in the future.

    Heck you could improve the lives of the poor in Africa with decent farm equipment and horses, mules or oxen. You go from 250-300 labor-hours required to produce 100 bushels of wheat with a walking plow (and some do not even have that) to 40-50 labor-hours required to produce 100 bushels of wheat with gang plow, seeder, harrow, binder, thresher, wagons, and horses, mules or oxen.

    Until you can free people from subsistence farming they can not advance and that takes ENERGY whether it is the muscle power of animals coupled with decent farm equipment made of steel or diesel powered tractors.
    …………..
    I sometime wonder if some of the Neo-Luddites have any idea where the metal comes from that supports most of our civilization. Mining, smelting and fabrication are energy intensive and you need coal, gas or electricity to run a commercial blast furnace.

    Without metal you do not have much of a civilization. Flint knapping anyone?

    http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blfarm1.htm

  77. I also wonder if all the aeronautic professionals and academics at the turn of the century called the Wright brothers “amateurs”.

    There were aeronautical professionals before the airplane was invented? Who knew?

  78. Willis Eschenbach says: December 19, 2011 at 11:46 am…

    You’ve already answered me re Dave Springer, in your previous copious replies to him. That’s why I said you were fast.

    Re the Maximum Informational Coefficient, I’m not a statistician, and don’t even know if Gapminder is capable of handling the correlation I’m thinking of – solar / SSB fluctuations vs global temperatures. Graphs of Vuk etc make it look as if there are not only slower climate change correlations, but also faster short-term fluctuation correlations – and really fast, like Svensmark bagged with the Forbush decrease.

    Wishful thinking can trick one into imagining nonexistent correlation, OTOH “simple” mathematical analysis can fail to identify what seems like stunningly clear visual correlation, when there are different frequencies involved.

    I became aware of this with my Yamal post that shows close correlation between adjacent Russian thermometer records over shorter and longer fluctuations, while the YAD trees are completely different.

  79. Dave Springer says:
    December 19, 2011 at 7:54 am

    … Essentially those charts you produced confirm the alarmist notion that rich nations can vastly cut their energy consumption and not harm their economy.

    I don’t see how it supports that idea, much less confirms it. Cutting energy without cutting GDP/capita would be a move straight downwards on the chart over time. I see no country who has been able to do that. Well, Russia and the ‘Stans kinda did, but that’s because they started out incredibly inefficient and got forced to become efficient when the Soviet Empire broke up. Theoretically I suppose a country could move straight downwards on the chart. But in reality, the charts confirm that no one has ever pulled it off, which hardly supports the idea.

    The other problem is, take a look at where most of the industrialized nations are—near the bottom edge of the cloud. The odds of them moving downwards much are very small.

    w.

  80. At 10:39 AM on 19 December, Gail Combs had asserted:

    In 1790, the time period the Neo-Luddites seem to want us to return to, Farmers made up about 90% of labor force. With equipment inventions this was reduced to 69% of labor force by 1800 finally dropping to 2.6% by 1990. 1840 is when factory made farm equipment became available.

    It took about 250-300 labor-hours to produce 100 bushels of wheat in 1830. By 1987 it took 2-3/4 labor-hours.

    THAT is what t energy use is really all about. Freeing up humans from the drudgery of producing the necessities of life (food,shelter & clothing) so they can produce more wealth.

    Do these “labor-hours” figures also include the effort invested in the manufacture of tools and other farm equipment (in both eras) as well as the “back-end” labor and capital devoted to energy exploration, extraction, refinement and delivery to point-of-use in the modern farming industry?

    The soldier of 1987 was capable of laying down (and calling in) far more firepower than could the soldier of 1790, but there was immense capital investment behind the more modern combatant, who brought to a focal point on the battlefield the efforts of hundreds of other people, ranging from the guys on the mortars half-a-klick in the rear to the miners who’d gathered the ores with which had been made the weapons and vehicles and munitions used by the soldier at the sharp end of the stick and his support elements.

    Much as I’d like to consider tactics and strategy, I’ve got to think about the logistics.

  81. Dave Springer says:
    December 19, 2011 at 9:49 am

    http://www.eia.gov/pub/international/iealf/tablee1.xls

    Above is energy use per dollar of GDP generated listed by nation and continent, annually, from 1980 to present.

    Interestingly Eurasia sticks out like a sore thumb consuming almost twice as much energy per dollar GDP as any other region…..

    Judging by this data what brings a country out of poverty generally isn’t rising energy consumption per capita but rather rising efficiency in converting energy consumption to gross domestic product.

    Technology then appears to be the key. A nation will just spend itself further into the poor house by simply consuming more fuel. The consumption has to efficiently generate GDP. Consumption isn’t, in and of itself, enough. The key is HOW it is consumed not HOW MUCH is consumed.
    ______________________________________________________

    Dave, I think you are missing the point.

    Eurasia is clawing its way into the 21st century as is China that takes ADDITIONAL ENERGY beyond maintenance. (Building that factory out of cement and steel) The EU and North America were already there although doing their darnedest to head for third world status.

    As I showed in the above post technology does not mean diddly if you are stuck following the north end of a southbound mule just to feed yourself. First you have to free yourself from providing the basics and that takes energy. Implementing technology ALSO takes energy.

  82. There is another way of looking at this. It took thousands of years to go from hunter gather to the beginning of the industrial revolution.

    …About the time of the American Revolution, the people of England began to use machines to make cloth and steam engines to run the machines. A little later they invented locomotives. Productivity began a spectacular climb. By 1850 most Englishmen were laboring in industrial towns and Great Britain had become the workshop of the world. From Britain the Industrial Revolution spread gradually throughout Europe and to the United States.

    Changes That Led to the Revolution

    The most important of the changes that brought about the Industrial Revolution were (1) the invention of machines to do the work of hand tools; (2) the use of steam, and later of other kinds of power, in place of the muscles of human beings and of animals; and (3) the adoption of the factory system….

    The Industrial revolution was also a farming revolution and that was part of the key. The other was over population.

    The truth is that economic conditions were highly unsatisfactory on the eve of the Industrial Revolution. The traditional social system was not elastic enough to provide for the needs of a rapidly increasing population. Neither farming nor the guilds had any use for the additional hands….

    The factory owners did not have the power to compel anybody to take a factory job. They could only hire people who were ready to work for the wages offered to them. Low as these wage rates were, they were nonetheless much more than these paupers could earn in any other field open to them……

    The outstanding fact about the Industrial Revolution is that it opened an age of mass production for the needs of the masses. The wage earners are no longer people toiling merely for other people’s well-being. They themselves are the main consumers of the products the factories turn out. Big business depends upon mass consumption. There is, in present-day America, not a single branch of big business that would not cater to the needs of the masses. The very principle of capitalist entrepreneurship is to provide for the common man.
    http://www.fff.org/freedom/0993e.asp

  83. @ Gail Combs says:
    December 19, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Curiousgeorge says:
    December 19, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Apparently the EPA wants to decide what is Sustainable and what isn’t. I can hardly wait for that! :(
    =======================================================
    ” EXCLUSIVE: EPA Ponders Expanded Regulatory Power In Name of ‘Sustainable Development’

    ================================================

    Gail, I don’t think most folks have thought this through. If the EPA gets their wish, this would mean rationing of nearly everything — energy, food, raw materials, even ultimately including people. This may be a little over the top, but suppose at some point in the future, the EPA decides that, say 310million people are the maximum sustainable population in the USA? Or 200 million? This is nothing less than authority over life and death.

    What then? Population control? These two words; “Sustainable Development”, are the two most dangerous words ever voiced. Who decides what is sustainable? Who decides what is development? This grab by the EPA scares the hell out of me, and I fully intend to increase my arsenal beginning tomorrow.

  84. Dave Springer says:
    December 19, 2011 at 5:08 am

    No, what you mean is two people don’t know the meaning of the word “regressive”. If the price of something, or the tax rate, is constant then the price or the tax is neither progressive or regressive.

    Come on now, Dave. Everyone knows the current U.S. tax code’s stable, but increasing rates on taxable income are “progressive”; and likewise Obama’s idea to increasingly tax lesser incomes of the progressively defined downward “rich”. Such measures are also specifically referred to as “progressive” by Karl Marx himself as one of his necessary Communistic principles in producing the renamed but same old “Progressive” Utopia – the multiple examples of which by now certainly everyone should recognize as in fact provenly “regressive” as to its effect on the very people such measures are alleged to “help”, and in fact productive of the very Master-Slave “Capitalist” society which the various Communists allege they are curing.

    Everyone should also know by now that the Federal and State taxes on gas do not vary with the retail price of gas, are very substantial, are always stable until the next increase, and are in fact often even greater in effect on gas prices than the evil Big Oil Corporations’ wildest “windfall” profit margins, a term more appropriately applied to the Central Government’s “take” against all of us users of gas and purchasers of every product its use requires.

    Now, you and the Ecofascists wouldn’t call all of that regressive, but I would. Not to mention Obama’s intentionally restrictive efforts to constrict the availability of oil and coal. And, writ large, this sure sounds to me like the kinds of things Willis is talking about by comparing GDP/capita and Income/capita to Energy use/capita, and when considering just what is “regressive” and what is not.

    Therefore, Dave, I’d advise you to first stop fooling yourself with your own [regressive] word games.

  85. Willis writes “It is a larger percentage of their income for the poor. I read the other day of a lady who is paying most of her social security to heat her home.”

    This is an excellent example of where a higher up front cost can benefit in the long run. If she had ever been in a position to buy more efficient heating (say a heat pump) and had done so, now her ongoing heating bills would have been significantly lower. But instead she has chosen to go down the path of least expense, knowing oil would increase in price and is now feeling the pinch.

    I liken this to making the choice to pay up front and go to renewable energy now vs taking the easy cheap way out and going with the ever increasing price of fossil fuels.

    The other comparison to be drawn is that she is increasingly in a position where she is locked into her initial choice because her options are fewer with the burden of this cost.

  86. December 19, 2011 at 11:37 am

    @Gail

    It’s a bit of an urban legend that the US became service oriented. We became high technology oriented. Who invented the transister, the microprocessor, the personal computer, and the internet?….
    _________________________________
    That used to be true.

    Now we are scrapping the bottom of the barrel education wise:

    For 10 years, William Schmidt, a statistics professor at Michigan State University, has looked at how U.S. students stack up against students in other countries in math and science. “In fourth-grade, we start out pretty well, near the top of the distribution among countries; by eighth-grade, we’re around average, and by 12th-grade, we’re at the bottom of the heap, outperforming only two countries, Cyprus and South Africa.

    http://www.enterstageright.com/archive/articles/0804/0804textbooks.htm

    …the U.S. ranks 21st out of 29 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries in mathematics scores, with nearly one-quarter of students unable to solve the easiest level of questions….In 2000, 28 percent of all freshmen entering a degree-granting institution required remedial coursework

    http://www.edreform.com/_upload/CER_JunkFoodDiet.pdf

    TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER
    U.S. Technology Transfer Policies and the Modernization of China’s Military: http://www.jstor.org/pss/2644540

    Technology Transfer Agreements in EU and U.S. Antitrust Law http://europe.stanford.edu/research/technology_transfer_agreements_in_eu_and_us_antitrust_law

    The largest American employer is, by far, the United States federal government with over four million employees worldwide. Wal-Mart, the retailing giant follows with 1.8 million employees. These 5.8 million employees are more than the total employees at the remaining top ten publicly-held American employers….

    Top 10Public American Employers
    1 Wal-Mart Retail 1,800,000
    2 Kelly Services Staffing/Temporary Help 750,000
    3 McDonald’s Fast Food 465,000
    4 UPS Express Delivery 428,000
    5 IBM Computer Hardware 355,766
    6 Home Depot Home Retail 345,000
    7 Target Retail 338,000
    8 Citigroup Banking 337,000
    9 General Electric Leasing & Finance 319,000
    10 AT&T Staffing/Telephone Service 302,770

    http://jobs.lovetoknow.com/Largest_American_Employers

    …Nations such as Germany and China who have openly embraced manufacturing, have recovered far faster than countries such as the U.S., where manufacturing has been in steady decline. There are only 12 million U.S. manufacturing jobs today, compared to the 20 million people employed by manufacturers in 1979.

    With unemployment the highest it has been in months, America needs jobs. MIT President Susan Hockfield said, “…it’s very hard to imagine where those jobs are going to come from unless we seriously get busy reinventing manufacturing.” If we want jobs, we need to rebuild our manufacturing capabilities.

    Manufacturing was the engine that spawned the economic powerhouse the U.S. became during the 20th century. As we have let it lapse, so too has our standard of living and overall economic health. Our free trade policies and greater commitment to a financial sector that almost completely ruined us has rendered our manufacturers uncompetitive in the world economy. Suzanne Berger, a political science professor at MIT said the U.S. has “not developed enough kinds of manufacturing that could generate high profits and also good jobs.” …..

    http://economyincrisis.org/content/service-economy-alone-cannot-propel-america-forward

    On top of all this most of the “High tech” jobs are now filled by H-1B Visas

    http://www.economicpopulist.org/content/brought-you-ge-american-express-were-white-house-lets-destroy-more-jobs

    The Other side of H-1B visas:
    America’s Other Immigration Crisis: We are bringing the world’s smartest people to our shores, training them, and then making them leave. http://www.american.com/archive/2008/july-august-magazine-contents/america2019s-other-immigration-crisis/

  87. Willis Eschenbach says:
    December 19, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Gail Combs says:
    December 19, 2011 at 10:39 am

    … The well being of a country can be measured by how much food a farmer produces.
    ____________________________
    Thanks Willis.

    There will always be outliers, the countries that use trade instead of producing their own food but when push comes to shove you can not eat gold.

  88. ChE says:
    December 19, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    I also wonder if all the aeronautic professionals and academics at the turn of the century called the Wright brothers “amateurs”.

    There were aeronautical professionals before the airplane was invented? Who knew?
    _______________________

    Of course there were…. We call them the birds and the bees

  89. Tucci78 says:
    December 19, 2011 at 12:57 pm
    ….Do these “labor-hours” figures also include the effort invested in the manufacture of tools and other farm equipment (in both eras) as well as the “back-end” labor and capital devoted to energy exploration, extraction, refinement and delivery to point-of-use in the modern farming industry? ….
    ______________________________________
    Not my figures, but I very much doubt it includes the manufacture of tools.

    However farm tools generally last a lot longer than what we think they would. (I have usable ones over a hundred years old) The “cost” of Farm equipment is one reason for consolidating farms. The farms in Poland for example are/were an average size of 18 acres. Commercial farms here in the USA run into the hundreds if not thousands of acres. (Economy of size)

    Therefore it is really hard to make comparisons and farm subsidies really muck up the waters.

  90. Curiousgeorge says:
    December 19, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Gail, I don’t think most folks have thought this through. If the EPA gets their wish, this would mean rationing of nearly everything….

    Oh I understand alright that is what the GRRrrrr was for at the end. Agenda 21 aka Sustainability is nothing more than a return to serfdom. The Lords used to have the power of life and death over the serfs could refuse to permit marriage…. George Bernard Shaw (founding member of the Fabian Society) and Holdren have made it darn clear THAT is their goal too.

    http://www.sovereignindependent.com/?p=7948

    http://zombietime.com/john_holdren/

    Two views of the Fabian Society:

    http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Fabian_Society

    http://centurean2.wordpress.com/2010/12/24/the-fabian-model_british-fabian-society-dynastic-banking-families-_-fabian-ministers-our/

    http://centurean2.wordpress.com/2009/05/02/fabian-society-literally-control-the-european-union-plus-the-british-government/

    I wish these idiot “Progressives” would SEE Agenda 21 is nothing more than a return to slavery/serfdom!

  91. TimTheToolMan says:
    December 19, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Willis writes “It is a larger percentage of their income for the poor. I read the other day of a lady who is paying most of her social security to heat her home.”

    This is an excellent example of where a higher up front cost can benefit in the long run. If she had ever been in a position to buy more efficient heating (say a heat pump) and had done so, now her ongoing heating bills would have been significantly lower. But instead she has chosen to go down the path of least expense, knowing oil would increase in price and is now feeling the pinch…
    _________________________________________
    Oh good grief, as the working poor she probably never HAD the choice of buying more efficient heating because she could never save up that much money. Your attitude is so typical of the “Progressives” whose compassion for others only extends to coercing them to vote for what you want.

    Also the only decent “Renewable Energy” is hydro which the econuts more or less BANNED in the USA and Nuclear which the screaming Nimby Chicken Littles will not allow. I can see a nuclear plant from my window BTW so unlike the Neo-Luddites I live what I preach.

    If the Neo-Luddites ever got instantaneously transported into the life style they advocate you would hear them screaming all the way to the north pole because life would be darn difficult.

  92. TimTheToolMan says:
    December 19, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    I liken this [ the poor lady not installing a heat pump] to making the choice to pay up front and go to renewable energy now vs taking the easy cheap way out and going with the ever increasing price of fossil fuels.

    Good God! Since Wind and Solar energy have already been well proven failures, as well as only a Bilk Man’s Garden of Eden, what exactly are you talking about? And – even if you’ve never heard of things like Europe’s disastrous experience with “renewables” and new “carbon credit money”; the legal subsidized diversion of food production into ethanol, the trade of “Orangutan habitat for palm oil” and “people for Eucalyptus trees”; and of course Obama’s own “Solyndras”, now falling like dominoes as we speak – why don’t you personally try out whatever it is you are talking about yourself first, before trying to get everyone else to make your tithes to your Holy Church of Green Energy so that you can fool yourself into thinking you are saving the world?

    You could start right now by buying that poor lady a heat pump, right?

  93. JPeden writes “Good God! Since Wind and Solar energy have already been well proven failures”

    I never much liked wind myself. Too much ongoing maintenance. I do, however, like PV solar very much and what do you mean PV solar has failed? People are still installing it here in Australia and its very popular.

    JPeden then goes on to laughably write “why don’t you personally try out whatever it is you are talking about yourself first”

    You have no idea what I do or dont do.

    JPeden finishes off with “You could start right now by buying that poor lady a heat pump, right?”

    Or instead we could simply increase the pension in line with oil prices. Whadayareckon?

  94. Gail Combs writes “Oh good grief, as the working poor she probably never HAD the choice of buying more efficient heating because she could never save up that much money.”

    Thats almost certainly not true. We all make choices throughout our lives and those that live for now or worse, borrow from their futures, pay the price in the future.

  95. @ChE says:
    December 19, 2011 at 12:45 pm
    I also wonder if all the aeronautic professionals and academics at the turn of the century called the Wright brothers “amateurs”.

    There were aeronautical professionals before the airplane was invented? Who knew?”

    Since daVinci there has been a scientific exploration into flight. Ballooning was popular in the 18th century and gave way to blimps so there was definitely a field of aeronautics. What the Wright brothers learned to do was “heavier than air” flight, but aeronautics had been around long before them. A pioneer in the field was Octave Chanute, C. E. (Civil Engineer) of railroad fame. A lot of aeronautical publications were actually in “The American Engineer” and “Railroad + Engineering Journal”, probably because flight was an engineering endeavor and it was felt steam engines would supply the power to the aeroplanes.

    An interesting read is Octave Chanute’s “Progress in Flying Machines”, Railroad+Engineering Journal, 1894. A book the Wright brother’s would have referenced while doing their work.

  96. As you can see, there is a clear and quite tight linear relationship between energy use and income. This leads to an inexorable conclusion. You can’t get out of poverty without having access to affordable energy.

    Wrong. You’ve made the classic mistake of confusing correlation with causation.

  97. TimTheToolMan says:
    December 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    You have no idea what I do or dont do.

    Yeah, and I still don’t. Please proceed.

    Nor do I have any idea how anything of what you said was relevant to anything I said, except to illustrate what you don’t know, but which you should know.

  98. Willis writes “You can’t get out of poverty without having access to affordable energy.”

    In what sense do you mean this Willis? Even the people in poverty have access to the global energy markets and can buy tankers of oil at about the same prices as those in developed society. Surely by “access to (affordable) energy” you mean an electrical distribution network both of both wires, substations and so on as well as roads and petrol stations and businesses to distribute both.

    The way I see it, greater energy use is linked to wealth AND wealth is linked to greater energy use and its not a causitive relation as you appear to be trying to paint.

    Without a stable society its just not going to be possible to get the infrastructure in place and some of the poorest nations are some of the least stable.

  99. RE: TimTheToolMan says:
    December 19, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    “Let them invest in heat pumps” reminds me a little of “Let them eat cake.” The French lady may not have actually said that, but the mere rumor of her saying that got her head got chopped off, just the same.

    I wonder, as she faced her end, if she said anything like you said at 4:44, “We all make choices throughout our lives and those that live for now or worse, borrow from their futures, pay the price in the future.”

    The economy is not as bad, here in southern NH, as other places, and the autumn has been
    wonderfully mild, but I see signs people are hurting. I’m done my chores before the sun is up, and when I look over my little town in the ruddy glow of dawn’s dusk, it astonishes me how many chimneys are producing wood smoke. Last year there were perhaps two. Now there are twenty.

    When I finish my chores after dark I look over my town, and it astonishes me how few Christmas lights there are. You probably clap your hands in glee about that, thinking it means less CO2 is being produced. It doesn’t seem to occur to you less gladness is produced, and greater suffering.

    If you think your attitude is going to “benefit the poor in the long run,” you are deluding yourself. Furthermore, you are deaf to a growing growl.

    The policies you subscibe to are hurting the poor. You need to wake up to this fact. This Christmas it is you who are the Grinch, taking away all the Whos down in Whoville have, “for their own good.”

    It was a darn good thing that old Grinch returned all he had taken from the poor. If he hadn’t, then, once the Whos were done singing on Christmas morning, they would have gone after him.

    You are making choices, and facing consiquences, whether it is warmer next year or colder.

  100. Caleb writes ““Let them invest in heat pumps” reminds me a little of “Let them eat cake.” ”

    There is one difference though. I’m advocating buying heat pumps (actually more generally investing in long term renewable energy security) while the sun is shining so that when the winter cold comes, we’ll be in a better position. And by sun and Winter, I’m referring to pre and post peak oil.

    And so the difference is that the quote misattributed to Marie Antoinette is coming from a position of ignorance of the current position. I’m of the belief that energy wise, we’re well off right now and should be making (energy) hay whilst the sun shines.

    Having said that, obviously in times of recession, R&D expenditure needs to be cut back. Marie wouldn’t have understood that either no doubt. Lets just hope we’re not actually at peak oil yet.

  101. Another comment about Timthetoolman’s comment at 4:44, where he stated, “We all make choices throughout our lives and those that live for now or worse, borrow from their futures, pay the price in the future.”

    Look at the gigantic federal deficit. Who is “borrowing from their futures.” ??????

    But will they pay the price in the future? (And I’m not talking about in the afterlife.) Or will it be We The People?

  102. Alan Statham says:
    December 19, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    As you can see, there is a clear and quite tight linear relationship between energy use and income. This leads to an inexorable conclusion. You can’t get out of poverty without having access to affordable energy.

    Wrong. You’ve made the classic mistake of confusing correlation with causation.

    So you are asserting that a country can get out of poverty without having access to affordable energy?

    An example is crucial here, and you have not provided any.

    w.

  103. TimTheToolMan says:
    December 19, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Willis writes

    “You can’t get out of poverty without having access to affordable energy.”

    In what sense do you mean this Willis? Even the people in poverty have access to the global energy markets and can buy tankers of oil at about the same prices as those in developed society.

    Indeed they do have access as you say. In addition, the poor can rent rooms at the Hotel Biltmore at about the same prices as the rich can rent them.

    w.

  104. Willis writes “In addition, the poor can rent rooms at the Hotel Biltmore at about the same prices as the rich can rent them.”

    I do believe you’re missing the point Willis. You’re saying that cheap energy is the basis of wealth creation. By your own reasoning there is sufficient energy in $X of oil to produce $X+dx wealth because thats what wealthy nations do.

    So where does this fail? Well clearly its not that simple and its the infrastructure surrounding the use of that oil that facilitates the wealth generation and that infrastructure is lacking in the poorer nations. Energy doesn’t “buy” infrastructure, it needs to be built and that takes wealth in the first place.

    But of course its not a chicken and egg problem. Its a case of growing a nation’s wealth by building on its previous success. A difficult proposition when stability is an issue.

  105. TimTheToolMan says:
    December 19, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    The way I see it, greater energy use is linked to wealth AND wealth is linked to greater energy use and its not a causitive relation as you appear to be trying to paint.

    Without a stable society its just not going to be possible to get the infrastructure in place and some of the poorest nations are some of the least stable.

    In Figure 5 above the poorest nation’s income, Bangladesh, increased by about 2.5 times, log scale, and energy use per capita increased about 4 times, log scale. Those people must be some pretty stable “climate refugees”, eh?

  106. Whatever the pros and cons of the argument, one should be very wary of using log/log plots. Most relationships, even weak ones, look like a straight line on log/log plots. They also severely compress detail. Note that one country in the first plot uses 0.5 energy but has an income of 7,000, while another uses eight times as much energy but has an income of 4,000. Countries with energy use of 0.6-0.8 have incomes ranging from 600 to 11,000.

  107. TimTheToolMan says:
    December 19, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Caleb writes ““Let them invest in heat pumps” reminds me a little of “Let them eat cake.” ”

    There is one difference though. I’m advocating buying heat pumps (actually more generally investing in long term renewable energy security)

    And what is “long term renewable energy security” when it’s at home? Certainly heat pumps are not renewable.

    Since there is no currently economical renewable energy, you are asking others to subsidize your green fantasy.

    w.

  108. TimTheToolMan says:
    December 19, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Willis writes “In addition, the poor can rent rooms at the Hotel Biltmore at about the same prices as the rich can rent them.”

    I do believe you’re missing the point Willis. You’re saying that cheap energy is the basis of wealth creation. By your own reasoning there is sufficient energy in $X of oil to produce $X+dx wealth because thats what wealthy nations do.

    So where does this fail? Well clearly its not that simple and its the infrastructure surrounding the use of that oil that facilitates the wealth generation and that infrastructure is lacking in the poorer nations. Energy doesn’t “buy” infrastructure, it needs to be built and that takes wealth in the first place.

    But of course its not a chicken and egg problem. Its a case of growing a nation’s wealth by building on its previous success. A difficult proposition when stability is an issue.

    Tim, as you point out there are a host of things that need to be in place for a nation to succeed. Inexpensive energy is rightfully described as a “necessary but not sufficient” condition for development. Can’t happen without cheap power of some kind, and as you point out, that’s not all you need.

    w.

  109. Willis, I like that you highlighted “This leads to an inexorable conclusion. You can’t get out of poverty without having access to affordable energy.” I believe this is the KEY to getting the US economy out of its’ current slump. All of these GREEN energy mandates and the EPA are what is wrecking the US economy. Need to do away with the CLEAN coal concept. CO2 is not a pollutant, it is probably even beneficial having more CO2 in the air rather than less. If we can get energy costs back down to 1980s levels (easily doable if we cut the EPA and green energy regs) prosperity will soon follow.

  110. Willis writes “And what is “long term renewable energy security” when it’s at home? Certainly heat pumps are not renewable.”

    It was an analogy for your benefit Willis. There are many cheaper heating options than heat pumps. However once the electricity gets to a certain price the heat pump looks like a good option. The heat pump is meant to represent a higher initial cost with longer term benefits.

  111. JPeden writes “Those people must be some pretty stable “climate refugees”, eh?”

    Other people have pointed out the dangers of interpretation of log-log plots. I’ll simply say that a person who the doubles his standard of living may not be doing well if his previous standard was a cup of rice a day.

  112. Willis writes “Can’t happen without cheap power of some kind, and as you point out, that’s not all you need.”

    Cheap in what sense? I seems to me that the power only has to be cheap with respect to the thing produced. Hence it would be necessary to have cheap power to make Aluminium smelting profitable but perhaps less so to make call centres profitable.

  113. TimTheToolMan says:
    December 19, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Gail Combs writes “Oh good grief, as the working poor she probably never HAD the choice of buying more efficient heating because she could never save up that much money.”

    Thats almost certainly not true. We all make choices throughout our lives and those that live for now or worse, borrow from their futures, pay the price in the future.
    ____________________________________
    Yes decisions are made: Like do I put a new roof on the house, buy a new well pump, replace the rotted out door sills (necessities I have paid for) or put in new thermo windows, re-insulate the walls, buy a heat pump and completely retrofit for forced hot air. The only up grade that makes sense as ROI is adding insulation to the attic IMHO.

    After all an older home would also need thermo-window and insulation blown into the walls as well as better attic insulation and the heat pump retrofit.

    So what does a retro-fit for a mini-duct heat pump system cost?

    …In doing the ground work for preparing the house for a remodel, we brought in an HVAC person to provide a quote for the removal and replacement of a couple of radiators in the kitchen and dining room. While he was in the home, he recalled that we had requested a quote a couple of years ago for the installation of a Unico system. With a starting price of $19,000 we did not consider it at the time…. http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/hvac/msg021352375892.html

    Retrofitting Windows:

    …The average replacement window will run $300-$700 (this price includes an average installation cost of $200…. http://www.windowreplacementic.com/

    So for a small 2 bdrm/1bath house Min of 7 windows X $500 = $3500

    Blown insulation in walls

    …In old houses with plaster walls, there is no vapor barrier under the plaster so the wet air hits the insulation and condensates. This wets down the blown-in insulation making it a wet mass at the bottom of the wall cavity creating an inviting place for termites and dry rot. Then the moisture enters the exterior sheathing and wood siding causing permanent exterior paint failure. Since the homeowner, for some “unexplained” reason, can’t keep paint on the house anymore, they call the vinyl siding salesman. This makes the problem even worse as you now have backer board (insulation board) and vinyl siding which in combination creates a vapor barrier on the outside of the wall that stops the free exchange of air, trapping more moisture.

    The other factor that must be examined is payback. Lets say you spend $4,000 to have your old house walls insulated. In my experience you would probably save about $200 per year on heating and air conditioning costs…..

    I’ve inspected thousands of old houses with blown-in insulation and over 80% of them have this wet insulation problem…. http://www.bobyapp.com/blog/2009/06/myths-about-insulating-old-house-walls

    OOPS, but this is an old lady and the contractor is not about to talk himself out of a job by telling the truth even if he happens to know it so say she goes for it in the interest of being “Green” and saving Energy. Since it is a small house we will say the cost covers insulating the attic too.

    So it is $19,000 + $3,500 + $4,000 = $26,

    So say she took out a mortgage to do this work at the same time we refinanced that gives her an 8% 30 yr mortgage (No corporate job gives you a much higher rate)
    That is an additional $194.45 for the next thirty years. Do you think she is going to lower her heating/electric bill by $2400 a year?

    Oh and the heat pump is only good down to 35F and then you need aux heat anyway.

    Heck my friend in Watertown NY would sell you a whole house for that price!

  114. Gail writes “So what does a retro-fit for a mini-duct heat pump system cost?”

    Oh please. You go and find a $19k rolls royce ducted system to try to make your point? As if a financially struggling person will opt for that.

    From here

    http://www.splitsystemairconditioners.com.au/SplitsystemairconditionersBrandsInstallationPrices.html

    …they range in price from AU$1630 to AU$3955 installed. And the $4k one is almost 10kW!
    As far as insulation goes, you’d be mad to ignore it especially if you’re in a region where winters are bitterly cold.

  115. You might be in some sense correct, Willis, but you can’t draw the conclusion you want to draw from that graph and that relationship. It’s a basic logical fallacy.

  116. TimTheToolMan says:
    December 19, 2011 at 7:11 pm
    “There is one difference though. I’m advocating buying heat pumps (actually more generally investing in long term renewable energy security) while the sun is shining so that when the winter cold comes, we’ll be in a better position. And by sun and Winter, I’m referring to pre and post peak oil.”

    After peak oil we can use coal.

  117. TimTheToolMan says:
    December 20, 2011 at 1:42 am

    JPeden writes “Those people must be some pretty stable “climate refugees”, eh?”

    Other people have pointed out the dangers of interpretation of log-log plots. I’ll simply say that a person who the doubles his standard of living may not be doing well if his previous standard was a cup of rice a day.
    _________________________________
    Tim,

    You are missing the factor that keeps the third world from improving as the USA and Europe did.

    It is very similar to the lady borrowing so she could lower her heating bills – same principle.

    In these “Con games” the only real winners are the banks who loan out fairy dust fiat currency in return for labor and real property as collateral.

    In India the World Bank joined forces with the U.S. Agency for International Development starting in the 1960s to promote the “green revolution” and import fertilizer, seeds, pesticides and farm machinery.

    The World Bank heavily promotes export-oriented industrial agriculture …. Small farmers are unable to afford these chemicals and end up selling to the larger producers.

    Most of the crops that are favored by international markets like coffee, cut flowers etc. are also useless as nutrition,…. Often. these policies have contributed to famines, when countries no longer produce enough food for their own subsistence…

    INDIA:GREEN REVOLUTION
    In India the World Bank joined forces with the U.S. Agency for International Development starting in the 1960s to promote the “green revolution” and import fertilizer, seeds, pesticides and farm machinery.

    In 1969, the Terai Seed Corporation was started with US$13 million World Bank loan. This was followed by two National Seeds Project (NSP) loans….

    The Bank provided NSP with US$41 million between 1974 and 1978. The projects were intended to develop state institutions and to create a new infrastructure for increasing the production of green revolution seed varieties.

    In 1988, the World Bank gave India’s seed sector a fourth loan to make it more “market responsive.” The US$150 million loan aimed to privatize the seed industry and open India to multinational seed corporations.

    Yet a study by the World Resources Institute, published in 1994, showed that the Green Revolution only increased Indian food production by 5.4% while the environmental degradation it has caused has raised serious worries.

    Thus although the cultivated area increased by seven percent because of double cropping on irrigated farms, some 8.5 million hectares or six percent of the crop base was lost to waterlogging, salinity or excess alkalinity.

    Although the amount of wheat doubled over the period of 20 years, rice production went up 50% and production of commercial crops like sugarcane and cotton went up, this increase in cultivation of these crops came at the expense of crops like chickpeas and millet, crops grown by the poor for themselves…..

    http://www.whirledbank.org/environment/agriculture.html

    India was only one of many countries “Talked into ”Green Revolution” loans as a way out of poverty and into the 21st century.

    <b<What was the reality???

    An epidemic of farmers’ suicides has spread across four states of India over the last decade. According to official data, more than 160,000 farmers have committed suicide in India since 1997.

    Increasingly, the supply of cotton seeds has slipped out of the hands of the farmers and the public system, into the hands of global seed corporations like Monsanto. The entry of seed MNCs was part of the globalization process. Corporate seed supply implies a number of shifts simultaneously. Firstly, giant corporations start to control local seed companies through buyouts, joint ventures and licensing arrangements, leading to a seed monopoly.

    Secondly, seed is transformed from being a common good, to being the “intellectual property” of Monsanto, for which the corporation can claim limitless profits through royalty payments. For the farmer this means deeper debt. Thirdly, seed is transformed from a renewable regenerative, multiplicative resource into a non-renewable resource and commodity. Seed scarcity and seed farmers are a consequence of seed monopolies, which are based on renewability of seed, beginning with hybrids, moving to genetically engineered seed like Bt-cotton, with the ultimate aim of the “terminator” seed which is engineered for sterility. Each of these technologies of non-renewability is guided by one factor alone – forcing farmers to buy seed every planning season. For farmers this means higher costs. For seed corporations it translates into higher profits.

    The high costs of seeds and other inputs were combined with falling prices of cotton due to $4 billion U.S. subsidy and the dumping of this subsidized cotton on India by using the W.T.O. to force India to remove Quantitative Restrictions on agricultural imports. Rising costs of production and falling prices of the product is a recipe for indebtedness, and debtedness is the main cause of farmers’ suicides. This is why farmers’ suicides are most prevalent in the cotton belt…

    http://www.whale.to/b/shiva.pdf

    Another part of the problem is the Ag Cartel and price fixing. That problem is only going to escalate over the next few decades.. http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/aganswers/story.asp?storyID=2046

    So what happens when the promised miracles of the “Green Revolution” do not materialize and the loan payments can not be met?

    …..Structural Adjustment Policies are economic policies which countries must follow in order to qualify for new World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans and help them make debt repayments on the older debts owed to commercial banks, governments and the World Bank. Although SAPs are designed for individual countries but have common guiding principles and features…

    SAPs generally require countries to devalue their currencies… lift import and export restrictions… remove price controls and state subsidies….

    Balancing national budgets can be done by raising taxes, which the IMF frowns upon, or by cutting government spending, which it definitely recommends. As a result, SAPs often result in deep cuts in programmes like education, health and social care, and the removal of subsidies designed to control the price of basics such as food and milk. So SAPs hurt the poor most, because they depend heavily on these services and subsidies.

    SAPs encourage countries to focus on the production and export of primary commodities.. But these commodities have notoriously erratic prices subject to the whims of global markets which can depress prices just when countries have invested in these so-called ‘cash crops’.

    By devaluing the currency and simultaneously removing price controls, the immediate effect of a SAP is generally to hike prices up three or four times, increasing poverty to such an extent that riots are a frequent result….

    http://www.whirledbank.org/development/sap.html

    In this type of Ag revolution who is the winner? The farmer? NO! The only winners in the “Green Revolution” were the transnational Corporations and the World Bank/IMF. In other words the World Bank now controls the country through it’s financial strangle hold.

    The “Green Energy Revolution” is following the same pattern as the “Green Agricultural Revolution” A transfer of wealth from people to banks and select corporations

    85% of Monsanto stock is controlled by financiers BTW. The “Green Revolution” was David Rockefeller’s Brain Child, at least as far as the way it was twisted in its implementation. Norman Borlaug, the “Father of the Green Revolution” was funded by the Rockefeller foundation.

    http://scienceheroes.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=68&Itemid=116

    WUWT: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/11/13/borlaug-2-0/
    (Marxist POV) http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2009/09/20/food-imperialism-norman-borlaug-and-the-green-revolution/

  118. alcheson says:
    December 20, 2011 at 12:24 am

    Willis, I like that you highlighted “This leads to an inexorable conclusion. You can’t get out of poverty without having access to affordable energy.” I believe this is the KEY to getting the US economy out of its’ current slump. All of these GREEN energy mandates and the EPA are what is wrecking the US economy. Need to do away with the CLEAN coal concept. CO2 is not a pollutant, it is probably even beneficial having more CO2 in the air rather than less. If we can get energy costs back down to 1980s levels (easily doable if we cut the EPA and green energy regs) prosperity will soon follow.

    ——————————————————————————————–

    What’s wrecking the economy is the price of oil which is set by illegal OPEC conspiracy which the US refuses to prosecute through the World Trade Organization probably because of a combination of happy cooperation with politically powerful US-based energy companies and fear of disrupting the supply of foreign oil which would cause another oil crisis in the US similar to that of the 1970′s with rationing and hours of waiting in line to fill up your gas tank.

    Practically every US recession since WWII was preceded by a steep rise in the price of oil. This one is no exception. Up until 2004 oil price had held pretty steady for two decades in the $15-$20bbl range. Then it started shooting up like a rocket and by 2007 precipitated the economic crisis. It is still in the range of $100/bbl and as long as that persists so will the recession.

    I believe the #1 problem the next POTUS and congress should take on is a swift ending of foreign oil imports. This is what Rick Perry has been advocating. Put a million people back to work in the fossil fuel industries end the reliance on foreign oil. This will force OPEC to go back to $20/bbl price range and everyone comes out a winner except for OPEC. The U.S. is an energy rich nation and there’s no good reason at this point in time to be in the awful position of having to buy oil from countries that hate us and collude to keep prices artificially inflated to the point where the economy teeters on the edge of depression. OPEC doesn’t give a rat’s ass if the US economy remains depressed as long as we keep buying oil from them. It’s a love-hate relationship. They hate us but they love our money.

  119. TimTheToolMan says:
    December 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Generating electricity isn’t a problem in the US outside of misplaced environmental concerns. There’s really no good reason for solar or wind electrical generation. Our infrastructure is truly massive and is distributed between electricity and liquid fuels. In order to shift away from liquid fuels we need massive infrastructure changes which just aren’t going to happen. Our electrical grid operates on the bleeding edge of maximum capacity today. It cannot possibly take on the additional load of any significant number of electric vehicles replacing liquid fuel vehicles. The cost of expanding the grid is enormous not to mention the great many limitations of electric vehicles not the least of which is lack of copper and niobium to produce massive numbers of efficient wheel-motors. Major transporters like FedEx, USPS, UPS, and innumerable truckers which move cargo from point A to point B can’t go electric at all and neither can air transportation. Concerns about electricity are a huge boondoggle from every angle. It’s nothing more than misplaced political concerns from environmentalist whackos about CO2 emission from generating plants. Once that corrupt quagmire of climate pseudo-science, greedy politicians, and starry-eyed moonbats is vanquished the concern over electricial generation disappears at least in the US where there is enough coal and natural gas to run generators for centuries which is adequate time to perfect other methods.

    Liquid fuel is where the problem lies. The economy can’t both grow and support $100/bbl oil at the same time. The only reason oil is $100/bbl is because of illegal price fixing and western democracies getting themselves into the dubious position of becoming dependent on importing cheap oil from countries that hate western democracies. Guess what. The moslems and communists can’t spank us militarily but they can sure administer a beating economically. This is a ridiculous situation and there’s no excuse for it in nations which can be self-supporting in fossil fuel requirements if the idiotic moonbats would get the hell out of the way.

  120. Ralph says:
    December 19, 2011 at 4:57 am

    There is a minimum amount of energy required to smelt a tonne of steel or aluminium – so if you are a producer nation, you want your energy usage to continue rising. Increased energy consumption means more products exiting the factories, and more cash in the bank.

    Thus one of the reasons the USA’s trend-line has flatlined, is a huge loss in production capacity, and that is not good for a nation. And the fact that the US’s per capita income has kept rising, in the face of reducing production, is due to Western politicians rediscovering the joys of slavery.

    Since Ralph mentions steel, let’s look at steel in particular. The minimum energy, set by the second law of thermodynamics, needed to produce a ton of steel (primary production=smelt from ore) is 6GJ per Kg. Current best practice uses about 20GJ per Kg. While industry has done an amazing job of energy conservation over the past 40 years, there is enormous room for more improvement. It is quite possible to move down and to the right.

    P. Solar has some fun with correlation/causation confusion. However, he might also recognize that one does not become wealthy by paying too much for resources. Solar is too expensive to use widely in an economy, and especially in place of abundant cheap resources.

    Willis points to Uzbekistan as going the right way, but knowing what I do about Uzbekistan, I suspect that its income is rising for reasons completely unrelated to its declining use of energy. A small, poor nation, with a low baseline, undergoing de-development (i.e. energy use reduction) can increase its income if it is strategically important and can seek rent from greater nations. I wonder if Uzbekistan is not a case in point.

  121. Fascinating, Willis. This post immediately reminded me of this:

    I found one mention of Rosling in the comments but not in your post – have you seen this before? Increased life expectancy seems a logical result of what you’ve shown here. It would also be very interesting to look at countries by type of government (democracies vs socialist, etc.) and economic model (capitalist vs communist, etc.) to try and discover other relationships.

  122. @TimTheToolMan

    You certainly have some valid points on affordable energy not being enough. For instance North and South Korea had equal access to affordable energy yet while both started off on an equal footing one prospered greatly in the latter half of the 20th century while the other is starving.

    Scores of nations around the world had access to affordable energy. Some managed to capitalize on the opportunity and others squandered it. Now it would appear the U.N. wants to blame the nations that did the right things for the trevails of those that did not and force the successful to pay for the mistakes of the unsuccessful. No way, Jose. I’m for letting natural selection take care of it.

  123. Ralph says:
    December 19, 2011 at 4:57 am

    “Thus one of the reasons the USA’s trend-line has flatlined, is a huge loss in production capacity, and that is not good for a nation. And the fact that the US’s per capita income has kept rising, in the face of reducing production, is due to Western politicians rediscovering the joys of slavery.”

    Nonsense. The U.S. got more into the business of research and development and less into the business of using overpaid unskilled labor to manufacture things that can be manufactured with far cheaper unskilled labor overseas. For every uneducated auto-worker no longer earning a PhD’s salary at a Chrysler union assembly line in Detroit there is a non-union technician, engineer, or product manager at Intel earning just as much. The US traded the manufacture of steel quarter-panels for silicon wafers. The latter sell for more and require less energy but more intellect to produce.

  124. TimTheToolMan says:
    December 20, 2011 at 4:40 am

    Gail writes “So what does a retro-fit for a mini-duct heat pump system cost?”

    Oh please. You go and find a $19k rolls royce ducted system to try to make your point? As if a financially struggling person will opt for that.

    From here

    http://www.splitsystemairconditioners.com.au/SplitsystemairconditionersBrandsInstallationPrices.html

    …they range in price from AU$1630 to AU$3955 installed.
    _______________________________________________
    THAT price is for A heating/AC unit. It is just a fancy in the window AC unit except they put the heat exchanger on the ground/mounted on the side of the house and pipe to the indoor half of the unit. This product also allow more than one indoor unit to work off an outdoor heat exchanger EXCEPT“Multi Split systems consist of one outdoor unit running multiple indoor units…. if you just don’t like the look of too many air conditioners outside…Generally speaking, multi split systems will cost at least $600 dollars more for a 2 head system. So a basic 7 room house is still $1630 X 7 = $11410 and you have the darn heat exchangers dotting the landscape (I have two HE + ducted air)

    BTW I had never even seen that system before.

  125. Chris D. says:
    December 20, 2011 at 8:27 am
    “I found one mention of Rosling in the comments but not in your post – have you seen this before?”

    The gapminder site is by Rosling.

  126. TimTheToolMan says:
    December 20, 2011 at 1:42 am

    Other people have pointed out the dangers of interpretation of log-log plots. I’ll simply say that a person who the doubles his standard of living may not be doing well if his previous standard was a cup of rice a day.

    Please give it up, Tim, for your own good! The Bangladesh comparison is normalized to the rates of increase of the other Countries on the same graph. And the person who doubles his cup of rice has that much more nutrition and functional capacity to improve and enjoy life.

    But the question of why you instead want everyone to go backwards towards below Bangladesh’s origin on the graph, is a personal problem involving your own brain’s functioning which only you can deal with!

    It might even be something as simple as your own diet!

  127. Alan Statham says:
    December 20, 2011 at 5:09 am

    You might be in some sense correct, Willis, but you can’t draw the conclusion you want to draw from that graph and that relationship. It’s a basic logical fallacy.

    As I said before, Alan:

    So you are asserting that a country can get out of poverty without having access to affordable energy?

    An example is crucial here, and you have not provided any.

    I said it because you had made a blanket statement with no backup.

    Now you have come back to do the same again. I’m sure everyone is impressed that you claim it’s a “basic logical fallacy” … but you haven’t given us anything to back up your claim.

    If you think it’s possible for a country to get out of poverty without having affordable energy, that’s fine. But if you want to convince me and others that it’s possible, you’ll need to show that and not just state it.

    w.

    PS—If you’d read the thread, you’d know that David L. already answered your objection about correlation and causation as follows, and very neatly:

    Chicken and the Egg argument. The age-old problem of correlation confused with causation. So which is it? Cheap energy creates wealth or wealth creates cheap energy?

    There are only three ways to create wealth: “Make it, mine it, or grow it” and all three need energy. The cheaper the energy, the more wealth you can create (the more things you can mine like Lithium for batteries, the more things you can make like hybrid cars, and the more things you can grow like corn for biofuels).

    In old times you’d use slaves as the cheap energy source, or you’d exploit child labor or immigrants, etc. Nasty stuff. Nowadays we can use cheap fossil fuels. Without energy, you simply can’t create wealth. So cheap energy allows you to attain wealth. Your wealth cannot create cheap energy.

  128. Chris D. says:
    December 20, 2011 at 8:27 am

    … I found one mention of Rosling in the comments but not in your post – have you seen this before? Increased life expectancy seems a logical result of what you’ve shown here. It would also be very interesting to look at countries by type of government (democracies vs socialist, etc.) and economic model (capitalist vs communist, etc.) to try and discover other relationships.

    Go to the GapMinder site and explore it for yourself, Chris. You can look by, for example, the “Polity” score showing a continuum from totalitarian to democratic.

    w.

  129. Kevin Kilty says:
    December 20, 2011 at 8:09 am

    … Since Ralph mentions steel, let’s look at steel in particular. The minimum energy, set by the second law of thermodynamics, needed to produce a ton of steel (primary production=smelt from ore) is 6GJ per Kg. Current best practice uses about 20GJ per Kg. While industry has done an amazing job of energy conservation over the past 40 years, there is enormous room for more improvement. It is quite possible to move down and to the right.

    The numbers I find don’t back that up. Let me again ask that people provide citations for their claims. I used Theoretical Minimum Energies To Produce Steel for Selected Conditions, which gives the following figures:

    Theoretical minimum: You say 6Gj per Kg. My source says to get “liquid hot metal”, which I take to represent your “smelt from ore”, requires 8.6 GJ per ton (I suspect your figures were meant to be “per ton” rather than “per Kg”).

    Next, these are theoretical minimums for theoretical conditions. If you look at theoretical minimums for real conditions (ores with slag, or with slag containing impurities as well) the theoretical minimums go up to 10.4 GJ per ton.

    You also say that “Current best practice uses about 20Gj per Kg” (I think again you mean per ton). However, the source I used says only 13-14 Gj per ton are required in best practice (see Table 11, p. 20).

    To summarize, you say that if we could produce smelt from ore at theoretical values, the energy saved would be about 66% of current usage [1 - 6.8 / 20]. As you point out that’s a lot.

    My citation, on the other hand, says that the relevant numbers are [1 - 10.4 / 14], or only about a 25% possible savings. This is not very much, particularly since we’ll never get to the theoretical limit for a host of practical reasons.

    Kevin, what am I missing here?

    w.

  130. “Chicken and the Egg argument.”

    When you run into that one, it’s the same old problem: there’s almost always something wrong with the way you got to it and with what you are missing. Otherwise, it could just be a currently or permanently unresolved mystery as a feature of our existence and ability to think. But even that doesn’t mean you still can’t take it as a given, deal with it productively, or just get over it!

    By complete chance I got to watching “From the Horse’s Mouth” last night with Alec Guiness, circa 1958. After urging a person or two to “think”, the drunken “Horse” later sat down a little ceremoniously amidst what appeared to be the chaos he was creating himself in some rich people’s Apartment House he’d managed to invade and said, “From the horse’s mouth: you’ve got to know when you succeed, when you fail..and why.” At the end, he was suddenly rushing off to motor away down the Thames out to sea in his junky boat imagining what and where to “paint” next, as he was passing a gigantic Ocean Liner with a bunch of painters suspended off its sides painting it.

  131. Dave Springer says:
    December 20, 2011 at 8:29 am

    You certainly have some valid points on affordable energy not being enough. For instance North and South Korea had equal access to affordable energy yet while both started off on an equal footing one prospered greatly in the latter half of the 20th century while the other is starving.

    Scores of nations around the world had access to affordable energy. Some managed to capitalize on the opportunity and others squandered it. Now it would appear the U.N. wants to blame the nations that did the right things for the trevails of those that did not and force the successful to pay for the mistakes of the unsuccessful. No way, Jose. I’m for letting natural selection take care of it.

    Dang … I find myself agreeing with Dave Springer … I must make a note to research the temperature in the place of eternal damnation and see if it’s approaching the triple point of water …

    There are a host of factors that need to align for a country to succeed economically. The list is long and includes things as disparate as land ownership, ease of starting businesses, cultural work ethic, educational levels, access to resources, a legal system to protect assets and safety, infrastructure, access to markets, an army to keep your neighbors from taking the fruits of your labors, communications, and a whole lot more.

    Some you can get away without, or build up on the fly. For example, no country started with an educated population. And Costa Rica and the Solomon Islands get along without an army.

    Other things are harder to work around. There are three ways to create wealth. You can mine it, manufacture it, or grow it. And for all of those, you need energy.

    That’s why there is such a strong and linear relationship between the wealth of a country and the energy it consumes. The relationship is strong because the energy is what is creating the wealth. As you say, Dave, and with the great example of the Koreas, access to affordable energy is definitely not enough to ensure wealth creation.

    It does mean, however, that creating wealth absolutely requires energy.

    Thanks,

    w.

  132. DirkH writes “After peak oil we can use coal.”

    The infrastructure for that doesn’t exist so we’d be spending considerable effort and resources in building it. AFAIK there are no operational coal->oil conversion facilities operating today.

    We do have an existing hybrid/electric automobile industry starting to make headway though. So you are right that one way or another we will almost certainly be using coal to provide additional baseload but to minimise the load on the distribution system it makes sense to use naturally distributed PV solar energy to help charge those cars.

  133. Willis, your logic fails you again. Don’t try to put words into my mouth. The examples you demand relate to an argument I’m not making. It’s a simple statement and it’s unavoidably true: you can’t draw the conclusion you want to draw from that graph and that relationship. Correlation does not imply causation, and your whole argument assumes it does.

  134. Gail is determined “So a basic 7 room house is still $1630 X 7 = $11410 ”

    A basic 7 room house eh? I dont heat my laundry or toilet. Or bedrooms. The number of units totally depends on the layout of the house but IMO you need a bigger one in the main living area, one in the kitchen and thats generally it. Especially if you’re money conscious.

  135. Dave writes “Liquid fuel is where the problem lies.”

    Yes, but as we pass peak oil we need to replace that liquid fuel with something. And if its increasing electric transport then that will put additional load on the grid and requirements for more generating capacity.

    I agree with your sentiments about trucks and aeroplanes continuing to use oil. But at the time of peak oil, we’ll still have plenty of oil left for those modes of transport for years to come. Even knowing what we know today there are some options. Ultimately high speed trains might become increasingly useful modes of transport replacing planes and trucks to some extent.

  136. Willis Eschenbach says:
    December 20, 2011 at 12:44 pm
    Kevin Kilty says:
    December 20, 2011 at 8:09 am

    … Since Ralph mentions steel, let’s look at steel in particular…

    Kevin, what am I missing here?

    w.

    Yes, you are correct that the units should actually be GJ/Mt or MJ/kg. That being so, I went back to the source of my figures (not the source of data, which would require me digging through paper files), which was something I had written for a talk four years ago. I used three examples, primary steel, paper drying, and ammonia. For primary steel I had figures of 6.6MJ/kg and 19MJ/kg. Now here is the discrepancy as far as I can tell, between what I offered and the figures in the paper you quote, which by the way is a reference new to me and quite useful. Your theoretical minimum is at a temperature above 2000K, but all of the heat energy at that temperature is not unavailable, and a reversible process could recover some fraction of it as useful work. So, steel at room temperature versus that at a high temperature, is the explanation of the difference in minimums. Second you’ll notice in the summary and conclusions that the figure of 13-14 MJ/kg representing the best current practice is for process only and does not include preparation of materials. But current practice requires coke and flux and adds quite a bit more actual energy use. The true theoretical minimum from the second law cannot depend on process, but is done on any reversible path between two states (i.e. depends only on the states). State one is hematite and carbon at room temperature, state two is steel and oxygen at room temperature. I’m not saying that the minimum is achievable, because I can’t even describe this process, but it represents the goal one has to measure with respect to.

  137. Kevin Kilty says:
    December 20, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    … Second you’ll notice in the summary and conclusions that the figure of 13-14 MJ/kg representing the best current practice is for process only and does not include preparation of materials. But current practice requires coke and flux and adds quite a bit more actual energy use.

    Yes, that is true. But you are comparing to theoretical calculations which also don’t figure in the energy of the coke and flux. So if you are going to include it on one side you must include it on the other.

    Thanks,

    w.

  138. Willis,

    There is one more thing that is interesting and which is brought forth in the reference you quote, and that is, scrap steel has a lot of embedded energy in it, and one ought to use the scrap wisely. In fact if used as well as possible, scrap allows steel “making” at a minimum of zero MJ/kg (pure recycling). It represents just one of hundreds of thousands of examples of available energy lying about that we could recover or recover more wisely. One of the examples I presented in a later talk in the series I gave four years ago was the dilution of fresh water with brine in the Columbia Estuary. This currently proceeds in an irreversible manner, although it could be done in a reversible manner that would end-up with the same brackish water in the estuary. I calculated that if only one-half the discharge was made to the estuary through a reversible cell that one could make electric power at a rate three times larger than the State of California was importing from B.C. Hydro at the height of their energy crisis back in 2000. There is really a lot of potential for moving in the desired direction on your chart. Just requires that engineers think about these things.

  139. Willis,

    Yes, that is true. But you are comparing to theoretical calculations which also don’t figure in the energy of the coke and flux. So if you are going to include it on one side you must include it on the other.

    Not actually. If some process could be invented that didn’t require the current use of coke and flux, then one needn’t include those processes. The true minimum calculations from the standpoint of the second law presuppose no particular process, but only beginning and ending states. Coke and flux are not in the beginning and ending states. Only the iron and oxygen in the ore and a little carbon for alloying. The minimum is an abstraction, I admit, but it is the only true limit to what is possible.

  140. Willis,

    I’ve enjoyed corresponding on this issue. Your article was darned interesting and thought-provoking. Thanks for the hard work you and others do on this site to inform and entertain. I’m off to bed to read.

    Kevin

  141. “The US traded the manufacture of steel quarter-panels for silicon wafers.”

    But the USA does not manufacture many silicon wafers anymoe. We shipped the fabs and design shops off-shore over the last several decades (most of them early on in that period).

    IOW, we gave away our high-tech methodologies, capital equipment, intellectual capital, etc., much of it to a country whose head thugs have declared their enmity to the USA, to intellectual, religious and political liberty, etc.

    Pipe-lines (gas and liquid) are very efficient, and the optimal efficiency of scale for electricity generation has almost always been much smaller than what we have, because the monopolist wannabes (e.g. Insull) and the political power-seekers started sinking their claws into them beginning as far back as 1907. Once you have a government imposed monopoly in a local area, it’s difficult to break them up and get some competition going. The same applies in spades to transmission lines. (I worked at a state utility regulatory commission for a while… and drove them nuts distributing the latest research showing that competition is better.) Anyway, an efficient generating facility could serve a single firm or 9 city blocks.

    “[The automobile is a] suit of armor with 200 horses inside, big enough to make love in. Once having tasted the delights of a society in which almost everyone can be a knight, it is hard to go back to being a peasant.” — Kenneth Boulding _The Green Life-style Handbook_

  142. austin wrote: “In the US, homes built today use about 30% of the energy of homes built just 15 years ago. Businesses use smart sensors to control lighting and heating and AC. And cars are much more fuel efficient.”

    “Efficient” but not necessarily actually efficient. Here, on the ground, we see people out of sorts because the light doesn’t produce comfortable frequencies that make life and work easy, and I have the distinct impression that those “flow control” gadgets on showers have greatly reduced creativity because, instead of being lost in thought in the shower we’re all cursing and stamping (thus possibly increasing the bathroom accident rates).

    Cars don’t seem to be more efficent, either. I mean, 60-70 years ago, we had roomy, robust cars into which we could load our lumber, luggage, tools, family… and withstand a 40 mile/hour collision with a little dent that could be easily hammered out or re-welded, or a new panel bolted on. 30-40 years ago, you could get a wimpy, tin-foil body, tiny compact car that regularly got 35-40miles/gallon. People were looking forward to a more efficient, more powerful, roomier, less fragile car of the future, into which you could load your lumber, luggage, family, and get 40 or 50 miles/gallon… the best of both, but it hasn’t happened. That’s very disappointing.

    During the 1980s there were engineers working on some of those issues, but all we got was cheaper, less repairable, but sometimes more reliable tiny vehicles; and big, cheaper, less fuel-efficient, still tin-foil thin vehicles; and extremely powerful, tiny, low-fuel-efficiency tin-foil (and carbon fiber and extremely fragile plastic) vehicles.

    Oh, and idiot sensors which seem aimed totally at eliminating the last vestiges of privacy. Grump grump grump.

  143. Very interesting.

    What is even more interesting is that once a country is sufficiently rich, income ceases to correlate with things like life expectancy, prison population, homicide rate and other measures of well being. What becomes important then is the extent of income inequality. The more equable income distribution, the better the life expectancy, the lower the murder rate, the smaller the proportion in prison etc etc.

    But no doubt poor countries need to get richer, and I don’t think any action to combat global warming will be the major barrier they face.

  144. John Brookes says:

    “…once a country is sufficiently rich, income ceases to correlate with things like life expectancy, prison population, homicide rate and other measures of well being. What becomes important then is the extent of income inequality. ”

    In a free market economy, the greater the income inequality, the richer a society becomes, and the more everyone has, including quality of life, right down to the poorest of its citizens. However, the greater the income inequality, the easier it is to fan the flames of class warfare, as Brookes is doing in his roundabout way. Take your pick: income equality in a poorer, more mediocre nation, or income inequality in a much more prosperous nation.

  145. No Smokey, the facts don’t match your ideology. Quality of life is higher in rich nations which are more equal. You might have your reasons for preferring inequality, but faux concern for the well being of the poor should not be one of them.

  146. jgo says:
    December 21, 2011 at 11:20 am

    “But the USA does not manufacture many silicon wafers anymoe. We shipped the fabs and design shops off-shore over the last several decades (most of them early on in that period).”

    I hate morons who just make things up as they go along.

    Intel is the largest semi-conductor manufacturer in the world. The vast majority of their fabs are located in the United States.

    http://download.intel.com/newsroom/kits/22nm/pdfs/Global-Intel-Manufacturing_FactSheet.pdf

    Get a clue.

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