We have met the 1%, and he is us

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

In explanation of my title, I fear I’ll have to go on a bit of a digression. Let me tell three stories, about people in three different parts of our amazing planet.

STORY THE FIRST: In my early thirties, through a series of misunderstandings and coincidences I spent some time as the first mate on a sailboat in the Philippines. At one point we spent a couple months anchored up offshore from the Manila Yacht Club while we were getting some boat repairs done. As befits a young man with more testosterone than sagacity, I spent the evenings in the dives and nightclubs in the local red light district. Not paying for the favors of the ladies of the evening, you understand, that always seemed creepy to me. Just drinking and having a good time. One of the bars had a piano. It became my habit that each evening after work, I would go ashore. I’d walk the six blocks or so over to the bar and play the piano for a few hours, and talk to what they euphemistically called the “hostesses” and the bartender, and watch the evening go by. After a while, I was just another fixture in the bar, I was the piano man. People coming in thought I was just part of the floor show. I got to be friends with the bartenders, and with the hostesses, they would tell me their stories. One of the women working there was named Helena. She and I got to be good friends. We were never lovers, although I wouldn’t have minded one bit. We just hung out together and had a good time in the bar, singing songs maybe, telling stories. Sometimes on the weekends we would meet and wander around the city and she would explain to me the local customs, tell me what was going on. She taught me just enough Tagalog to get in trouble, it was great.

manila slums

Figure 1. Slums in Manila

During this time, Helena kept telling me that I was rich. I always laughed and said no, no, in America I was a very poor man. And that was true, I was an itinerant sailor and fisherman and a boat bum. She just laughed back at me. But she never asked me for anything, not one penny, not one gift. Well that’s not quite true. She asked me for cigarettes for her father. So I kept her old man in smokes. I figured it was the least I could do. She had her pride.

One other thing she wouldn’t do. I kept asking her to invite me over to the place where she lived. But she always refused. I wouldn’t like it, she said. So one afternoon I decided I’d just go over there on my own. I got her address from one of the bartenders. He advised me against visiting there, he said it was in a bad section of town. I said okay. I was young. I was foolish. What did I know? When I told the taxi driver where I was going, he turned around in his seat and looked at me. Are you sure you want to go there, he asked? Yeah I’m sure, I said with more certainty than I felt. OK, he said, but you gotta pay me the money now, I’m not waiting around once we get there … I gave him the money and off we went.

Helena’s place turned out to be located in a shantytown covering an entire city block. The buildings had been demolished at some point in the past and then abandoned. An entire community had sprung up there over the years. As soon as I got out of the taxi, the driver sped away. I turned around and was confronted by the most astounding warren of structures that I had ever seen. Every possible building material was on display. Concrete blocks, short sticks of wood, old highway signs, flattened out tin cans, cardboard of every color and description, car doors and windows, random bits of glass, hunks of corrugated iron, shipping pallets, foam from appliance boxes. And this potpourri of materials was all strapped and held and cajoled into staying together by a motley assortment of rusty nails, bits of wire, rubber straps, pieces of leather, sections of vine, lengths of duct tape, strips of cloth, the variety of fasteners was endless. There were buildings on top of buildings added onto buildings built underneath buildings. I asked the first person I came to where Helena lived. He gave me a series of instructions that, as near as I could understand, included obscure directives like “go over that direction except stay this side” and “don’t go under the third walkway, go where the man is selling balut” and “be careful to avoid the other opening”. All of these directions were delivered in what to a casual passerby would have passed for English, but on closer examination appeared to have been assembled from random phrases culled from instruction manuals.

I thanked the man and wandered off in the general direction he had indicated. I stopped at intervals to get new sets of partially intelligible instructions from random strangers that led me through and over and into more of the 3-D maze. The way to her house went by means of a bizarre collection of passageways that were neither streets nor alleys. I could not tell public from private areas. Eyes looked out of every opening. I knew that I could not find my way back out without a guide. The passageway wandered over and around structures, at points seemingly going through people’s back yards with life in full swing. At other points the way passed along a ditch running foul sewage, complete with a strange assortment of floating objects that did not bear close inspection. After accidentally looking at one piece of flotsam, I repented and quickly switched to carefully looking at the other side of the path, and I eschewed further reckless eyeballing until I left that ditch far behind.

Now, people mistake the Philippines for a nation. In reality, it is much more like a really big family with a bunch of kinda strange relatives. Not bad, just strange. And of course on this city block of houses-in-wonderland, everybody knew everybody. The nature of communications in the area was such that by the time that the kindness of strangers had brought me to where Helena lived, she had heard the news already and had gotten spruced up and was prepared to meet me at the door. She invited me into what she explained was her aunt’s house. She had a room in the back. She offered to show it to me. We stepped inside. Of course we could not close the door, that was not proper, nor all that practical given the miniature size of the room. But it wouldn’t have made much difference, there was no privacy. You could hear everything everywhere, the walls were paper-thin. And I suppose that shouldn’t have been surprising, because one wall was actually made of paper, but I was surprised by that detail nonetheless. I noted in passing that the paper wall was made up of pasted together advertising posters for Hindi Bollywood movies, lending a pleasant, almost carnival atmosphere to the place.

Her room was tiny. A small sleeping pallet took up almost all of the available floor space. Inside the room were all of Helena’s worldly belongings. They consisted of a small wooden box which contained a few dresses and blouses and under-garments, and another smaller wooden box which contained a few items of makeup, a mirror, and some little trinkets and costume jewelry that obviously were precious to her. Other than that, there was one pair of shoes, and a cross and a picture of Jesus on the wall. Oh, there was the cloth pallet on which she slept, but that scrap of sewn-together rags likely belonged to her auntie. And that was the sum total of her possessions, all contained in a minuscule room with one wall made of paper …

That was it … that was all that she owned. A few dresses and a picture of Jesus. Now I understood why she thought I was rich. Because by her terms, I most assuredly was rich. I was incredibly wealthy in her world.

I talked with her a while there in the house, and with her aunt. Her uncle was out working. Her aunt had a small sewing business in her house. Life was not bad, life was not good, life was just life. Helena translated, her aunt spoke only Tagalog. We laughed some. They had a roof over their heads, albeit one of flattened tin cans laid as shingles. They had each other. We watched the almost-liquid warmth of the Manila evening slowly pouring over the city. After while, Helena showed me how to get back to the street, and found me a taxi. I wouldn’t have been able to find the street without her, and no taxi would have stopped for me there at dusk, but they knew Helena. She left me there, she had to go back and get changed and get to work. I said I was going back to the ship, I’d see her later that evening, play some piano.

In the taxi, on my way back to the ship, I reflected on how incredibly wealthy I actually was. I finally realized, with some embarrassment, why she had laughed so heartily when I was so foolish and naive as to claim that I was poor. The only remaining mystery to me was how her laughter at my blindness had been so free of even the slightest hint of reproach for my colossal bumbling ignorance.

STORY THE SECOND: Fast forward five years. I’m working in sub-Saharan Africa, in Senegal. My workmate and I are in some godforsaken village out near the Kaolack salt flats. A 3-D relief map of the turf would look like a flat sheet of paper, it’s the land god stepped on. We get invited to dinner by some farmer, and by custom we cannot refuse. He lives in the proverbial mud hut, with his wife, a scad of kids, a wooden planting stick, a wooden mortar and pestle for grinding grain, a three-rock firepit in back for cooking, a leaky roof, and not much else. I note when we get there that he has two scrawny chickens wandering the yard. When we go in the house, he confers for a moment with his wife. She disappears. I hear squawking. I realize the man now has one scrawny chicken wandering the yard. The farmer and my associate and I drink sickly sweet tea and  talk about the doings in the area. After a while, his wife brings in the chicken cooked up all nice, and offers it to us, the honored guests. The kids watch from the corners of the room.

But I can’t eat that damned bird. I can’t do it. I can’t bear the eyes of the kids. Don’t misunderstand me. It’s not like they are watching me with reproach in their eyes or anything, that wasn’t the problem at all. The thing I can’t bear is that the kids can’t take their eyes off of the chicken. Their eyes caress it, they watch that bird “as one who hath been stunned and is of sense forlorn” as the poet had it, they are blind to everything else. I can’t take it.

Plus I am shamed by the easy generosity of the man and his wife. They have nothing, and yet he offers us half of what they have without missing a beat. I am reminded of Rabelais’ will: “I have nothing, I owe a great deal, and the rest I leave to the poor”. The farmer’s wife has cooked and served the chicken, both of them temporarily appropriating the easy air of people who have hundreds of chickens, people who have chicken for dinner every night. My heart hangs, suspended. I hear the lone remaining chicken complaining outside.

So I trot out my old threadbare excuse from Mexico, and I blame my much maligned liver. In Mexico they blame their liver for everything. I have found it’s quite a useful excuse, over the years my liver has cheerfully soaked up the blame for a host of my idiosyncrasies. So I take one small bite for forms sake, and then (in French, it being Senegal) I compliment the woman and the man on the chicken. I tell them the doctor has said that chicken is bad for my liver,  le médecin has said that le poulet is downright mauvais for my greatly-abused old foie, so as much as I liked the delicious flavor, and as much as I was deeply grateful for the honor they were offering me, I say I’m terribly sorry but I can’t possibly eat any more, they’ll just have to finish it off for me. And I tuck into the rest of the meal, the part that my liver doesn’t mind, to prove my bonafides.

They make the appropriate noises of disappointment that I’m not eating, and they have the grace not to look overjoyed. The children’s eyes are full of expectation. They look at that poor scrawny little representative of the great avian nation with unconcealed longing. The wife takes the plate into the back. In contrast to their earlier raucous play, the children vanish soundlessly on bare feet along with her. It seems that none of them dare to make a sound in case the mirage all disappears, like Cinderella after midnight. Not the time to get mom mad …

I avert my eyes from the disappearing chicken and the children. I look at the man and my workmate. We lapse into small-talk with no reference at all to poultry, or to children, chatting light-heartedly as though nothing meaningful had just occurred.

Thinking on it now, I consider how many times I’ve bought some random chicken in the supermarket on a whim, and how little it represents to me. I could buy fifty chickens if I chose, five hundred if need be. And I think about what that one scrawny chicken meant to that family.

STORY THE THIRD: Fast forward another five years, to when I lived in the Solomon Islands, in the South Pacific. Because I ran a shipyard, I met lots of yachties who were on boats sailing through the Solomons. Often they would complain to me about the high prices being asked by the islanders for their beautiful wood carvings. After the first few complaints, I developed the following analogy which I used over and over.

I told the yachties, imagine that one day an alien spaceship lands in your front yard. It is made out of solid gold, and it is encrusted with rubies, diamonds, sapphires and emeralds. The alien steps out of the spaceship. He is dressed in cloth picked out in gold and silver threads, and his shoes have platinum buckles and diamonds everywhere, including on the soles … he comes up to you, and through his universal vocoder he says, “I say, old fellow, I rather fancy that old pickup truck of yours. How much money would it take to convince you to part with it?”. 

Now, you know the old truck is worth maybe a hundred dollars, and that’s on a good day with a following wind. And one can’t predict the future, but you are kinda sure that this opportunity will never come again … which means the real question is, would you tell the diamond-studded alien “Oh, I could be persuaded to let it go for million dollars, it’s kinda precious to me”, or would you only say “a hundred thousand dollars”?

Seriously, I’d tell the yachties, you get a one-time chance like that, you have to take your shot. You have to ask for the moon. Might not get it, but why not ask?

Next, consider the average Solomon Islander, I would tell the yachties. The average guy in some outer island village might only see a hundred Solomon dollars in cash all year, that’s thirty bucks US. I said to the yachtie, your watch is worth thirty dollars US. Your yachting shorts set you back forty-five, the cool sunglasses were seventy-five dollars, the Izod polo shirt was fifty-five, the belt was thirty bucks. Your stylish yachting cap was sixty bucks. The nice Sperry Topsider boat shoes were seventy-five dollars. Not counting your socks or your skivvies or your jewelry,  what you are wearing is worth about what cash the average outer islander might see in ten or twelve years. It’s worth a decade of his labor, and that’s merely what you are wearing as you pass through his world.  That doesn’t count the cash in your pocket, or the credit cards in your pocket. It doesn’t count the value of rest of your wardrobe. And we haven’t even gotten to the money you might have in the bank, or your other assets …

So yes, when you sail up to the village in a yacht and ask how much something costs, they will ask a hundred dollars Solomon, or three hundred dollars, who knows? Because to them, you’re an alien wearing gold cloth, with diamonds on the soles of your shoes. They’d be mad not to ask top dollar for their carvings.

And I told the yachties, you know what? Given both that huge disparity in net worth between you and the woodcarver, and the world-class quality of the woodcarving in the Solomons, you’d be mad not to pay top dollar for whatever carvings catch your fancy.

============ END OF THE THREE STORIES =============

Now, I have told these three tales in order to provide a context for a couple of quotes. The context that I am providing is that there is an almost inconceivable distance from the top of the heap to the bottom of the heap. The top of the heap is the 1%, not of the US, but of the global population. That 1% is made up of the people like you and me and the folks who read this blog who live in the western world, the top few percent of the global population who enjoy the full benefits of development, the winners on the planet. It’s a long, long way from where we stand down to the bottom of the heap, that dark and somewhat mysterious place we don’t like to think about where far too many of the planet’s people eke out a living on a dollar or three a day, and we wonder how on earth they can do so. To them, we are as unknown and distant as aliens in golden jeweled spaceships with diamonds on the soles of our shoes. I offer the stories to give you some idea of the constraints on those people’s lives, and the contrasts between their lives and ours.

Those people have no slack. They have no extra room in their budgets. They have no ability to absorb increases in their cost of living, particularly their energy spending. They have no credit cards, no credit, and almost no assets. They have no health insurance. They are not prepared for emergencies. They have no money in the bank. They have no reserve, no cushion, no extra clothing, no stored food in the basement, no basement for that matter, no fat around their waist, no backups, no extras of any description. They are not ready for a hike in the price of energy or anything else. They have damn well nothing—a wooden digging stick, a spare dress, a picture of Jesus, a paper wall, a bowl of millet.

It is in that context, the context that acknowledges that about half the world, three billion people, live on less than three dollars a day (2005 PPP),  that I bring up the following two quotes:

 “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the [US] price of gasoline to the levels in Europe”

and

“Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”

Here’s my problem with these brilliant plans. Regardless of whatever hypothetical possible future benefit they might or might not bring in fifty years, right here and now in the present they are absolutely devastating to the poor.

The US Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu, the author of the first quote, wouldn’t have his commute to work imperiled if US gasoline prices were to double and thus reach the levels in Europe. He can buy all the gasoline he wants for any purpose. But if you are a poor single mom with a couple of kids and a clapped-out car that gets you to work and back and drinks gasoline faster than your good-for-nothing ex-husband drank whiskey before he left, for you a doubling of the gas prices means the kids eat less or something else goes by the board, because you have to get to work. It’s not optional.

And if the cost of electricity for the US and the White House “skyrockets”, Obama won’t be sleeping cold in the winter. Nor will I, for that matter. That would be the poor renter  in upstate New York who can’t afford to turn on the electric heater.

The difference between rich and poor, between developed and developing, is the availability of inexpensive energy. A kilowatt-hour is the same amount of work as a hard days labor by an adult. We’re rich because we have (or at least had) access to the hardworking servants of inexpensive energy. We have inexpensive electrical and mechanical slaves to do our work for us.

This is particularly important for the poor. The poorer you are, the larger a percentage of your budget goes to energy-intensive things like transportation and heat and electricity. If you double the price of energy, everyone is poorer, but the poor take it the hardest. Causing an increase in energy prices for any reason is the most regressive tax imaginable. At  the bottom of the pile people make a buck a day and pay fifty cents a kilowatt-hour for electricity … there’s no give down there at the bottom of the heap, no room for doubling the price of gasoline to European levels, no space for electric prices to skyrocket.

So I find it both reprehensible and incomprehensible when those of us who are in the 1% of the global 1%, like President Obama and Secretary Chu, blithely talk of doubling the price of gasoline and sending the cost of electricity skyrocketing as though there were no negative results from that, as though it wouldn’t cause widespread suffering, as though cheap energy weren’t the best friend of the poor. What Chu and Obama propose are crazy plans, they are ivory-tower schemes of people who are totally out of touch with the realities faced by the poor of the world, whether inside the US or out. Now please, I’m not making this political. There are people on both sides of the aisle who have signed on to the crazy idea that we should raise energy prices.

When I was a kid, everyone was quite clear that inexpensive energy was the key to a fairly boundless future. Our schoolbooks told of the Tennessee Valley project, and how it lit up the whole region, to everyone’s benefit. In particular, electricity was seen, and rightly so, as the savior of the rural poor. How did we lose that? Just how and when did deliberately making energy more and more expensive become a good thing?

I don’t buy that line of talk, not for one minute. Expensive energy is not a good thing for anyone, wealthy or poor. And in particular, more expensive energy condemns the poor to lives of increased misery and privation.

As far as I know, other than the completely overblown “peak oil” fears, about the only argument raised against the manifold benefits of inexpensive energy is the claim that increasing CO2 will lead to some fancied future Thermageddon™ fifty years from now. I have seen no actual evidence that such might be the case, just shonky computer model results. And even if CO2 were to lead to a temperature rise, we have no evidence that it will be harmful overall. According to the BEST data, we’ve seen a 2°C land temperature rise in the last two centuries with absolutely no major temperature-related ill effects that I am aware of, and in fact, generally beneficial outcomes. Longer growing seasons. More ice-free days in the northern ports. I don’t see any catastrophes in that historical warming. Despite the historical warming, there is no sign of any historical increase in weather extremes of any kind. Given two degrees C of historical warming with no increase in extreme events or catastrophes, why should I expect such an increase in some hypothetical future warming?

So I’m sorry, but I am totally unwilling to trade inexpensive energy today, which is the real actual salvation of the poor today, for some imagined possible slight reduction in the temperature fifty years from now. That is one of the worst trades that I can imagine, exchanging current suffering for a promise of a slight reduction in temperatures in the year 2050.

Finally, for those who think that these quotes and ideas of Chu and Obama only affect the US, nothing could be further from the truth. Sadly, the policies are being exported and imposed, both by force and by persuasion, on the poorer countries of the world. To take just one example, pressure on the World Bank from the western countries and NGOs is denying financing to coal-fired plants in countries like India with coal resources. So the poor of India are denied inexpensive coal-fired electricity, they end up paying the price for the western one-percenters’ guilt and fear ridden fantasies about what might happen fifty years in the misty future.

Heck, even if the dreaded carbon menace were real, raising the price on fossil fuels would be the last way on earth I’d choose to fight it. Like I said … big current pain for small future maybes, that’s a lousy trade. Now, like I said, I don’t think CO2 is worth fighting. But if you do, I implore you, first do no harm—any rise in energy prices harms the poor. If you want to fight CO2, there are other ways.

w.

[UPDATE: a reader has pointed out that I am not describing the poorest of the poor, and he is quite correct. Helena had her job. The African farmer had a house and land, and not to mention originally two, but lately only one, chicken. The people in the Solomons had their bush gardens and the bountiful ocean.

The poorest of the poor have none of these things. They are a whole level below the people I talk about. You don’t want to consider where they sleep or what they eat. And yes, they are hit by rising energy prices like everyone else. -w.]

 

…  from Willis’s autobiography, entitled “Retire Early … And Often” …

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454 thoughts on “We have met the 1%, and he is us

  1. The people who are “easing their consciences” are not the people who have to pay the price. Am I being a conspiracy-nut neurotic when I suspect that carbon taxes are just an excuse for the developed nations to avoid giving aid to the dark-skinned nations of the world?

    • Being a conspiracy nut requires believing that people sometimes lie and work together to achieve their desired ends. Logically that is less problematic than normalcy bias which causes otherwise rational people to believe that tomorrow will be like today inspite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

      Now that said, the expensive energy policy is designed to deal with population growth and resource scarcity. The group of peopl
      Soe that can print money, buy votes, and pay off judges, they are worried about peak everything. Their undemocratic, published, funded position is that there are too many people, carbon dioxide emitters.

      Take a look at fertility rates, gmo labeling resistance, geoengineering, and vaccine showing increased rate of many diseases. Or take a look at the foundations that gates and soros fund. What are their stated goals?

      Conspiracy nuts are not to blame for the world’s ills, its the entranced (media programmed normalcy bias) masses that standby doing nothing while evil men with printing presses and science gone mad, run amock that deserve the negative connation.

  2. Growing up in a South East Asian country, I dig you Willis. I dig you deep. Whatever President Obama experienced when he was growing up in Indonesia – also a SEA country, he must have been pretty sheltered from the rank poverty of the people there, cos to this day (I just visited Indonesia last month), kids as young as 7 or 8 are knocking on car windows on busy city intersections asking for money, when they should be in school.

  3. Thank you. I love your stories.
    I have traveled as have you. I, along with many, thought Barak Obama would “get it” after going to school in Indonesia, albeit living in Mantang (an elite suburb). I was wrong. I saw with my own eyes the rather desperate consequences of what you say. I usually find that I have to pay the full asking price, I cannot bargain. Chu and Obama are of the elite, they think poor is having an old car and living on social security, they have no idea. I am so disappointed. Inexpensive energy for the poor was and is the key to life. Without it, you die badly in your forties in most of this world. I feel so very lucky to be in the 1% (middle class Australia). I showed my kids what poor was when they grew up, made them live there for a while, so that they feel lucky too.

  4. A good read, and a very good point. Now what? The folks who vote for Obama are out of touch with this line of reasoning. Some of them are said to be angry about a recent increase in payroll deductions.

  5. Bloody hell. That’s one of the most powerful indictments of “expensive energy” I’ve ever seen.
    Willis, you’ve led one heck of a life.

  6. What can I say ? Youv’e said it all but the arrogant fools that are sociocommunists will not be reading or listening. It’s their crusade and if some of the poor have to die so be it they did afterall vote for Oblarny et al.

  7. Dr Mo says:

    January 13, 2013 at 4:20 am

    I think he grew up in Kenya where his father was the finance minister. Ideally placed to feed on the corruption that is rife throughout Africa.

  8. I fully agree with Willis.
    About electricity for the poor, South Africa is a country to keep an eye on!

  9. Willis–
    Thank you for those three very thought-provoking stories, and just to prove I read every word, there is a typo in the second paragraph after “END OF THE THREE STORIES =============”. They have no extra room in their budgets. They have NO ability to absorb…

  10. The Left cares only about getting and keeping political power. They don’t care about the poor, freedom, the environment, or the country they live in – only power and themselves.

  11. Wills: I have had experiences similar to yours, and I realized too, that I am increadibly lucky for the geography of my birth.

    We were poor growing up (two parents and 6 kids in two and three bedroom houses), but we didn’t know it. It was only when I went overseas, that I confirmed that we were indeed NOT poor, compared to most of the world.

    One story in Nigeria sticks out, involving my wife. She had one of the neighbours driver come to her, and ask for money so his wife could have a caesarian section. The doctor was asking for a several months salary, and he didn’t have it.

    My wife is a firm believer in “doveryai no proveryai”, and asked to visit his wife in the hospital. When she went there (and a in very similar journey you took in the Phillipines), she found the “hospital” to be an infection spa. Blood was everywhere, even on the doctors white jacket. Her pockets were brown, where she put her hands in. The windows were opaque with mold. The sheets had not been washed in days or weeks, and the floors were filithy with subtstances unknown, and best left unknown. My wife tore the doctor a new one. Several new ones, actually, and then paid her for the procedure.

    The next day, the driver came in and thanked my wife profusely. Not for the money, but for shaming the hospital into cleaning up.

    ps- Mother and child were doing fine, last we heard, when we left Nigeria.

  12. In australia increase in price by taxation is used cynically to reduce bad behaviour like drinking and smoking but the worst is gambling where the gov takes 35% of the winnings of hopeless addicts. The poor lose every time.

    Willis struggles with the link with 3rd world but here is one example that stands out in my memory: A more direct connection is found in Indonesia where locals were forced to pay world market prices for their own oil. Their petrol is sold in soda bottles because most folks can only afford to buy in small amounts. In 2005 the price of petrol doubled overnight. It was scary. inthe end there were only a few small outbreaks of rioting. Although nothing much happened the tension on the streets was extraordinary. Why did they do this? The gov would never have done something so risk if its hand were not forced…by the world bank as I recall.

  13. Right on the button as usual.

    The poorest folk I have seen were a family in Port Sudan. 130F in the shade only there wasn’t any. This family lived on a plot of hard sand about 20 yards by 20 yards. They had four bamboo sticks held up by string with a discarded dunnage mat on top. Under the mat lived their goat, in the shade. The family lived outside in the sun. If the goat died they died, it was all they had. I was told the man sometimes got work at the camel market, maybe a day a month.

    The countries that people like that live in do not need expensive energy.

  14. Perspective is a most valuable gift. Thank you Willis for your gift. I will now pass this along to my children.

  15. Excellent Willis! Your on point stories reminded me of a presentation I heard Dr. John Christy give in which he talked about his experiences doing missionary work in Africa and things he saw similar to your experiences. “Life without energy” he said “is short and brutal”…

  16. Spot on, Willis!

    Having been in Solomon Islands and Fiji at the same times as you, (and shared a beer in the Honiara Yacht Club, and I think today would be the 20th anniversary of our unexpected meeting on Vakabalea Corner :) ) I can fully grasp the import of every syllable you have written.

    Well done, and thank you.

  17. Too many people. Get the population down to 500 million or a billion or so and everyone would live like a king.

  18. You have put real world experiences in my mind. And vivid ones. I already had the intellectual conviction that cheap energy is important both for rich and poor countries. Now there is a couple of strong emotions attached to it too.

  19. Brilliant writing, Willis–you make your point with devastating effectiveness. Of course, you neglect a key point: there will be a wrong-headed, stupid, inefficient soul-killing government program to help the poor with their power bills, so the moral authority and smug righteousness of the horrible policy will be in place among the bureaucrats and busy bodies. We had an industrial revolution and an information revolution–what the people of the Earth need now is an energy revolution. Why the brightest of our youth are not studying physics and working on this problem twelve hours a day, I don’t know. Instead, they are playing video games and posting pictures of their cats on Facebook. So it goes. I will email anyone who wants it a free copy of my short story called Energy Independence.

  20. brilliant willis,
    and yes I as a poor aussie pensioner was seen as rich in my visit to the phillipines also..
    such a stunningly beautiful place and such staggering poverty.
    made me very aware of what I do have.
    always been in the lower income, condemned rental home life, but in comparison my childhood was still well off. we did have food if not much, we did have clothes and shoes albeit 2 sets one summer one winter. and this was single parent aus in the 50s to 70s.
    now older and still poor I get hit with 30c a Day rise in powercorp service charges and am wondering what else I can cut out to pay the extra with,. and the actual power use will also rise again soon.

  21. on the price of fuel in US and Europe.
    Most of the price of fuel in Europe is tax (roughly 70%). If there is higher tax on fuel in US, it will be the rich part of the world that pays, not the poor in your stories. As a result global demand would go down, as would probably the price of fuel in the rest of the world.
    By your ‘gold encrusted space ship’ analogy, shouldn’t the rich world pay more for this asset?
    There’s lots more to this debate than that, but the idea that the price of fuel in the US should go up is not necessarily wrong purely on the basis of the impact on the world’s poorest people

  22. Archaeology shows that when man left the hunter-gatherer lifestyle to settle in agricultural civilization the average stature and health decreased. We don’t know the whole story but two apparent reasons were that people who would have died of disease or malnutrition managed to hang on to existence and the level of non-state homicide decreased.

    The point is that civilization has always been a mixed blessing. There is no Eden to which we can return. Our only option is to push ahead.

  23. Gasoline in Europe ( in dollars US )
    Germany $9-10 per gallon
    Italy $13-14 per gallon
    My energy bill in Germany has increased by $750 over the last 2 years to pay for solar/wind
    Attention Germany is covered in solar panels, but the average sunshine in Germany is 30 hours a week so we have another country were politicians are living on stupid !

  24. A really fit man on a bicycle can generate one kilowatt-hour in ten hours. A good horse on a treadmill can do it in maybe 1.4 hours. The wholesale price of one kilowatt-hour of work (force applied over time) in the U.S. today is less than 4-cents. THAT is the fundamental source of our current good fortune. Placing that reliable source of wealth out of both our reach and the reach of others and replacing it with intermittent, 40-cent per Kwh (according to the European record) solar power is criminally insane.

  25. Here’s blurb you can use to promote your book, Willis.

    Willis Eschenbach has it in him to be the George Orwell of our generation.
    –Ken Coffman, Stairway Press publisher and author of Real World FPGA Design with Verilog and novels including Steel Waters, Endangered Species and Fairhaven.

  26. here’s something that’s worth noting with regard to President Obama.
    He has undermined the global warming arm of his party.
    Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has consistently stiffed the Gorons both when he was the Senator of Colorado, and the Interior Secretary.
    He refused to allow the warmers to use the endangered species act as a back door vehicle to impose global warming regulations. He has voted against cafe rules for cars and trucks. Against the repeal of tax breaks for oil companies. Against using global warming as a criteria for Army Corp of Engineers water projects. Increased the area of off shore oil drilling off the gulf coast of Florida (which to the detriment of us all, President Bush set aside as a sop for his brother, then Governor of Florida).

    Also President Obama sent Jon Huntsman (who had become a considerable pain in the ass with regard to oil shale developement as Gov of Utah) off to China.

    There are probably other things the Big O has done for our side which were not reported for the sake of political delicacy.

  27. How ironic that those political institutions of the left – supposedly the friends of the poor, low paid and oppressed – are the very same that fight for the introduction of these costly ‘green’ energy schemes. We need to shame the left into opposing these policies and this blog post should be considered reading for them.

  28. The worst of it is that all these “policies” of spending horrendous amounts of money on “renewables” are going to acheive practically NO reduction in emissions (even if such reduction were somehow valuable).
    It’s all just hysterically stupid.

  29. And the Watermelons snerk constantly that the “deniers” are opposed to their campaign to price gasoline like Chardonnay and make electricity rates “necessarily skyrocket” out of purely political motives.

    Even were there not imperative sufficient in our adherence to the strictures of scientific method when it comes to the preposterous bogosity of the Warmerbruder idiocy anent anthropogenic atmospheric CO2, there’s acknowledgement of the laws of economics, and our appreciation of the impact of predatory vicious dirigisme on the lives of real human beings.

    Just what the hell kind of people are these “global warming” fanatics, anyway?

    Do they even qualify as “people” at all?

  30. This reminded me of visiting a hospital in Malawi, the children there are often close to death, childbirth is horrific. I met a little 6 year old boy who was soon going to die. He was insulin dependant. Insulin was available. In my appalling western ignorance I asked why he would die, they had insulin. The doctor replied that unfortunately there was not a fridge in his village and even if there was, there was no electricity, they couldn’t afford it. That has lived with me for my whole life.

  31. Here’s a possible way to salvation, a win/win solution that some Greens could be sold on. (The book’s author is now working in Russia on a pilot project.)

    Here’s a three-part solution I endorse, spelled out in a book called “Prescription for the Planet: The Painless Remedy for Our Energy & Environmental Crises,” whose details are outlined in the first reader-review, by G. Meyerson:

    This book is a must read for people who want to be informed about our worsening energy and ecology crisis. Before I read this book, I was opposed to nuclear power for the usual reasons: weapons proliferation and the waste problem. But also because I had read that in fact nuclear power was not as clean as advertised nor as cost competitive as advertised and was, moreover, not a renewable form of energy, as it depends upon depleting stocks of uranium, which would become an especially acute problem in the event of “a nuclear renaissance.” Before I read this book, I was also of the opinion that growth economies (meaning for now global capitalism) were in the process of becoming unsustainable, that, as a consequence, our global economy would itself unravel due to increasing energy costs and the inability of renewable technologies genuinely and humanely to solve the global transport problem of finding real replacements for the billions of gallons of gasoline consumed by the global economy, and the billions more gallons required to fuel the growth imperative. I was thus attracted to the most egalitarian versions of Richard Heinberg’s power down/relocalization thesis.

    Blees’ book has turned many of my assumptions upside down and so anyone who shares these assumptions needs to read this book and come to terms with the implications of Blees’ excellent arguments. To wit: the nuclear power provided by Integral Fast Reactors (IFR) can provide clean, safe and for all practical purposes renewable power for a growing economy provided this power is properly regulated (I’ll return to this issue below). The transportation problems can be solved by burning boron as fuel (a 100% recyclable resource) and the waste problem inevitably caused by exponential growth can be at least partially solved by fully recycling all waste in plasma converters, which themselves can provide both significant power (the heat from these converters can turn a turbine to generate electricity) and important products: non toxic vitrified slag (which Blees notes can be used to refurbish ocean reefs), rock wool (to be used to insulate our houses–it is superior to fiber glass or cellulose) and clean syngas, which can assume the role played by petroleum in the production of products beyond fuel itself. Blees’s discussion of how these three elements of a new energy economy can be introduced and integrated is detailed and convincing. Other forms of renewable energy can play a significant role also, though it is his argument that only IFRs can deal with the awesome scale problems of powering a global economy which would still need to grow. Tom’s critique of biofuels is devastating and in line with the excellent critiques proferred by both the powerdown people and the red greens (John Bellamy Foster, Fred Magdoff); his critique of the “hydrogen economy” is also devastating (similar to critiques by Joseph Romm or David Strahan); his critique of a solar grand plan must be paid heed by solar enthusiasts of various political stripes.

    The heart of this book, though, really resides with the plausibility of the IFR. His central argument is that these reactors can solve the principal problems plaguing other forms of nuclear power. It handles the nuclear waste problem by eating it to produce power: The nuclear waste would fire up the IFRs and our stocks of depleted uranium alone would keep the reactors going for a couple hundred years (factoring in substantial economic growth) due to the stunning efficiency of these reactors, an efficiency enabled by the fact that “a fast reactor can burn up virtually all of the uranium in the ore,” not just one percent of the ore as in thermal reactors. This means no uranium mining and milling for hundreds of years.

    The plutonium bred by the reactor will be fed back into it to produce more energy and cannot be weaponized due to the different pyroprocessing that occurs in the IFR reactor. In this process, plutonium is not isolated, a prerequisite to its weaponization. The IFR breeders can produce enough nonweaponizable plutonium to start up another IFR in seven years. Moreover, these reactors can be produced quickly (100 per year starting in 2015, with the goal of building 3500 by 2050)), according to Blees, with improvements in modular design, which would facilitate standardization, thus bringing down cost and construction lead time.

    Importantly, nuclear accidents would be made virtually impossible due to the integration of “passive” safety features in the reactors, which rely on “the inherent physical properties of the reactor’s components to shut it down.” (129)
    ………………..
    Still, if such a new energy regime as Blees proposes can solve the climate crisis, this is not to say, in my opinion, that a growth regime is fully compatible with a healthy planet and thus a healthy humanity. There are other resources crucial to us–the world’s soils, forests and oceans come to mind–that a constantly expanding global economy can destroy even if we recycle all the world’s garbage and stop global warming.“

    Here’s the Amazon link:

  32. Willis, not only have you led an interesting life, your storytelling ability is fantastic. I hung on every word.
    I couldn’t agree more with you about the effect of raising energy costs, especially on the poor. In a word, it can be deadly. Imagine the idiotic wastefulness of spending $billions each year on a non-problem, in addition to the effects on energy prices and availability. The mind boggles. There isn’t a place in Hell hot enough for the perpetrators of the biggest, most destructive lie in human history, that our C02 is somehow harming the planet.

  33. Wholly agree.

    The ignorance of elites has caused most of the tragedies of history.

    Progress has occurred fastest when elites have not been so ignorant such as when we saw the development of parliamentary democracy in England and heard the thoughts of the US ‘Founding Fathers’.

    I have said several times on other blogs that only universal cheap energy will lead to people everywhere being rich enough and educated enough to voluntarily reduce propulation growth to below replacement level so that eventually there will be true sustaiability.

    Everything that our elites currently propose will defer that time, cause unimaginable suffering to ‘ordinary’ people everywhere and enormous additional damage to the environment in the process.

  34. What I find funny, or rather sad, is that in the west people can have a negative net worth, to the tune of millions, and yet live like kings! How does that work??

  35. Joe Grappa:

    re your post at January 13, 2013 at 5:02 am.

    You are sad, mistaken and deluded.
    Your comment is an expression of pure evil, and it has no basis in fact and/or reality.

    Be ashamed. Be very ashamed.

    Richard

  36. Willis, I am speechless. Having been a few years sailor myself, I had similar experiences in the Dominican Republic, Indonesia and other countries. But by far I can’t express my experiences as good as you do. Driving energy (and food) prices up as is the aim of all activists, will do harm at the poorest of the poorest. They don’t seem to realize that or they underestimate the consequences… Extremely well said!

  37. Willis,
    I have been telling this same narrative to my AGW believing friends. They really don’t like to hear that they don’t actually give a rats ass about the poor. They claim that they care but they really don’t.

    Excellent article….you have one small typo…the third sentence in the paragraph telling what the poor will not be able to do, you wrote “to” which should be “no”.

  38. Following the train of logic of those who believe higher energy costs are “good”, the poor folks can easily solve their problem by just ridding themselves of their gas guzzlers and buying new energy efficient cars. (Do I have to say I am being sarcastic or is that obvious to everyone?)

  39. Spot on, Willis.
    I have been to villages in that very region of Senegal, and have sat where you sat. The hospitality from people who, by western standards, have nothing, is absolutely staggering. Yet the folks you visited are (likely) not even close to the poorest of Africa, or even of Senegal.

    It is indeed the cost of energy that so often traps folks. Energy is needed to transport food and to bring water out of the ground. Children (and multiple wives) are needed for labor that would otherwise be done with machinery. As long as it is less expensive to have more children and wives than to buy, run, and maintain a tractor, children and wives will remain the commodity that they are.

    But the other part of the equation is the political culture in Africa–often nepotistic and corrupt. Both the price of energy and the political culture will need to change. And, as we have seen so often, the two seem to go together.

  40. Last night I went on what my wife calls a ‘rant’ over the costs of wind power. The rant was provoked by a GE commercial boasting about producing technology for wind energy. As if this was something good.

    I told her the world does not need expensive and unreliable wind or solar energy. It needs cheap energy; the cheaper, the better. Nothing could be worse for the consumers of the world than thousands of jobs in wind and solar energy firms. Each of those jobs would have to be subsidized with higher rates. If the mad men running things succeed in getting a significant portion of our energy from wind and solar, fossil fuel jobs would be lost, along with the tax revenue generated by these ‘dirty’ energy jobs.

    We’re in for at least a bad decade for economic growth as the US, along with the rest of the developed world, toys with socialism and central state planning. At least another four years of slow growth, with real possibilities of serious recessions, until people realize how they have been hoodwinked with false promises. It very well could be people won’t get it, as most people don’t think in terms of math and science, confusing alleged consensus among ‘scientists’ for science. All the blame will be placed on the rich and their low tax rates. If that happens, we are in for decades of misery.

    And we are the rich ones as was pointed out in this wonderful post.

    People think I’m nuts when I tell them anyone living in the US is extremely wealthy compared to the rest of the world. Our homeless are rich beyond belief. There are places where they can go when it gets cold, as it is right now in Denver.

    But they have these places of warmth only because we have cheap energy.

    The environuts must be going even crazier with the realization that the wicked oil and gas industry has slashed the costs of energy and feedstock for our plastic industry. This was all done right under their noses and the noses of government agencies focused on destroying cheap energy. And we haven’t even started on coal to fuel conversion and the great oil shale deposits in the west.

  41. Quite so Willis. Any policy designed to increase the price of food or energy is immoral.

    Biofuels policy is a double evil.

  42. Great message form Willis, beautifully delivered… thank you for the read…

    and..
    papiertigre says:
    January 13, 2013 at 5:19 am

    “….here’s something that’s worth noting with regard to President Obama….”

    Interesting stuff, papiertigre.

    Indeed that may be the way to play the game, and if that is what Obama is doing, more power to him …. truly these days with the rabid CAGW masses baying for blood if you just come out with common sense you know you’ve lost those votes and that lot will be against you forever……

  43. Amazing article that needs to be posted on as Green sites as possible. I think this is the only way to get them to see the inadvertent harm their policies are causing.

  44. Willis,

    IMHO, this is your best post to date and the things that the “think about the children” enviros will never get

  45. >blockquote>Joe Grappa says:
    January 13, 2013 at 5:02 am
    Too many people. Get the population down to 500 million or a billion or so and everyone would live like a king.

    No they wouldn’t Joe, there would still be a huge difference between the 1% and the rest

  46. Sing us a song you’re the piano man
    Sing us a song tonight
    Well we’re all in the mood for a melody
    And you got us feeling alright…
    Billy Joel
    This came to mind amidst your three stories, must be your prose reads like a song. You set and sank the nail with one blow Willis.
    Regardless of whatever hypothetical possible future benefit they might or might not bring in fifty years, right here and now in the present they are absolutely devastating to the poor.
    Spreading the wealth with the government as administrator keeps the wealth in the privileged few doing the spreading.

  47. There is a very large elephant in the room that you — we — are ignoring. The Left (the Progressives, the inellectual elite, the !% of the !%, however you want to name them) neither know nor care about the 99% and — listen carefully — want them dead. Gone. They fantasize about their disappearance (see, for example, the eco-porn television series, “After Man”). No, they do not wish to set up camps, since that would involve actual icky shooting/gassing/vaporizing, but they do very much want the “excess mouths” to. simply. go. away. Reference the choice of weapons of Our DearLeader (PBUH), Barack Hussein Obama, President of the United States, Peace Medal recipient, Leader of the Free World: the Annointed One. He chooses to use a very technologically advanced and hands-off weapon: the drone. Every morning (by his own admission), he peruses a list and chooses which ones he wants dead. Push-button war, hands-off murder. If Our Dear Leader (PBUH) could, in the secret heart, push a button and make those 3 or 4 or 5 billion (what’s another number?) messy, dirty, yearning, annoying, stinking farmers just simply *go away* don’t you think he would do it? And that’s just for starters.

  48. We live in a society that has obesity as a common problem for its poorest citizens, only our richest people can afford to be thin. They pay extra for reduced fat, or sugar or salt. They pay other people to force them to exercise, and failing that, they pay Doctors to mold them to their dream shape. Most other societies, current or past would laugh at such a situation. We truly are alien to the 99%.

  49. oldfossil says: “Am I being a conspiracy-nut neurotic when I suspect that carbon taxes are just an excuse for the developed nations to avoid giving aid to the dark-skinned nations of the world?”

    The cap-and-trade scam is not a move to avoid giving aid to the less-developed, darker-skinned parts of the world. We liberals love giving them stuff. Their countries have received hydroelectric dams, huge infrastructure loans, and so on. We are providing all of those dark nations with birth control pills and abortion technology.

    We will give plenty. There is plenty to give, and it is not coming out of the pocket of us liberals – out of the pockets of those of us with PhDs in various social sciences, those of us at the helms of the various aid societies and agencies. No, this is how we make a living. It lines our pockets to do the needs assessment, deliver the cure, and to have a sustained problem where it looks like we are doing something. The actual dollars come from wealth producers, utilizing land, labor, capital, and entrepreneurship.

    As long as it lines our pockets, and works to keep them dependent on us.

    The news stories are beginning to come out of the Asian countries where we tied economic development assistance to national birth control agandae: birth rates have dropped since we began meddling in the 1950s and 1960s. Now, the population has aged, and there is an insufficient populace to generate wealth to provide for these elderly. D’oh! Sorry about that!

  50. My aging mother’s best girlfriend’s husband did not walk the March, but hid in the mountains with friends’ families. After their husbands were gone, the ladies visited each year that they were able, they were not Ugly Americans, but they are all gone.

  51. Joe – you need to get out more, and you need to read some history. At any point in written history, when there were fewer people on the planet, how, exactly, did everyone live like a king?

    Joe Grappa says:
    January 13, 2013 at 5:02 am
    Too many people. Get the population down to 500 million or a billion or so and everyone would live like a king.

  52. Again well done Willis !!!!!
    Two men were walkin in a meadow,the birds were singing,the younger man
    man said,the world is so beautiful. A crow flies over,caw-caw-caw. The older
    man says “there is always a critic”. I see a few have already shown up.

  53. Willis,
    You’ve written some amazing things over the years, but this could indeed be your Magnum Opus.

    Well done!

  54. Good read on a Sunday morning. It’s a vicious policy circle we have seen before. Bad energy policy leads to scarcity leads to calls for government controls and around it goes. The EU is the test case and we can see the results.

  55. Joe Grappa says:
    January 13, 2013 at 5:02 am

    Too many people. Get the population down to 500 million or a billion or so and everyone would live like a king.

    This makes me very very VERY angry. The earth has enough resources to feed and care for billions more people. Give everybody cheap energy and good farming and we all would live like kings. Do people really think for a second that reducing the population will somehow get rid of the problems that cause poverty? There have been poor people since records have been kept. There weren’t 7 billion people in 1000 BC, but there were plenty of poor people. Population reduction is never the answer. Human life is special. How can anyone sleep at night advocating forced population reduction?

  56. Where’s Anna (last thread)? Working on a cracking riposte no doubt but struggling perhaps. Wonderful stuff WE, thank you.

  57. I just sent this to some greenie friends and a couple of oceanographic scientists:

    “I believe I sent you all the piece by Willis Eschenbach “It’s Not About Me” which was the story of his life, the justification for his thinking about global warming theories (and his late-in-life venture to Burning Man, with pictures).

    (“Professional” “trained” and “scientifically educated” folk were complaining that Willis had no qualifications that justified having authoritative, qualified theories about warming and “It’s Not About Me” — but about my ideas and thinking — was the response to the sniping.)

    Willis writes often on “the world most viewed site on global warming and climate change,” WattsUpWithThat, a site that smarmy professionals call a “denier blog,” but one I’d characterize as a site advocating honest science. (Interestingly, mostly the honest science and data bend away from the AGW hysteria, but Anthony Watts tells it like it is, regardless. I find the site highly credible.)

    Willis is a pretty fascinating man. He reminds me of Bob’s mentor Hank Stommel. When I first met Bob, I didn’t realize how astonishingly brilliant he was, but I certainly sniffed smart. It was the same for Hank (and Hank’s wife, Chickie, who weren’t no slouch). I don’t know if Bob took me to meet them for “approval,” or if they ever discussed me at all, but Hank, especially, enjoyed me tremendously. I made him laugh. Hank so wanted us to visit Cape Cod often and have dinner with them…

    Carl Wunsch, a friend who’s still at MIT (although he no longer discusses global warming with me and refuses to follow the blogs and disdains Judith Curry, who I believe is the most broadly educated in the field and extremely fast and facile) wrote this, after Hank died:

    “HENRY MELSON STOMMEL, probably the most original and important physical oceanographer of all time, was in large measure the creator of the modern field of dynamical oceanography. He contributed and inspired many of its most important ideas over a forty-five-year period. Hank, as many called him, was known throughout the world oceanographic community not only as a superb scientist but also as a raconteur, explosives amateur, printer, painter, gentleman farmer, fiction writer, and host with a puckish sense of humor and booming laugh.”

    Bob and I were the last friends to see Hank alive. Chickie has left and gone to her room for the night and visiting hours were almost over, in the hospital. Hank was so glad to see Bob! They talked and talked and talked and Hank tried to laugh, but he knew he was dying — and fast. At the end, he grabbed Bob’s hand, looked him in the eye, and said, “We had a grand time, didn’t we, Bob!” Then, we left.

    I thought to call the NY Times the next morning. They didn’t have a prepared obituary. I talked with them for a bit, but, I get emotionally overwhelmed sometimes, and I was. Anyway, they got it right. Hank was quite a guy. I think that Willis rattles around in Hank’s league. Hank complained over and over to Bob that young oceanographers refused to go to sea, sat at their computers and modeled the world without ever thinking about it, understanding it on any internal, visceral level.

    (BTW, Carl and Mel: I’ve put Bob Heinmiller’s “famous” Woods Hole teen club video, “Bag War” up on YouTube. I’d put the *very* famous “The Turbulent Ocean” up on YouTube as well, although I have to break it into ten minute segments, and I don’t know how to do that. It’s a classic about doing real science — at sea — and stars all the greats from around the globe. Poor Francis Bretherton got badly sea sick. Maybe one of you could put it up, in honor of science…?)

    This piece, below, by Willis is not about his theories on global warming — and he’s quite good: science that can be explained and understood by ordinary smart folk, never pedantic, arrogant, condescending. This piece is about the economics of global warming, the imposition of the energy tax (and the commissions for Goldman Sachs et al…?) that the greenies cherish so, the “protection” of their planet for…. who knows? It’s the “idea” of the polar bears and the ice caps. …the principle of the thing. This is Willis’ response to that.

    Hell, I just like Willis’ writing. He is very good. If he were not still hanging out with his ex-fiancee of thirty-five years, I’d consider catching a boat to someplace….

    ….Lady in Red

  58. I grew up in India in the 60′s, living in New Delhi. In the US we were middle class citizens, not rich, not poor. In India we were the moral equivalent of multimillionaires. The Indian government more or less required foreign workers (my father worked for the Ford Foundation) to employ a full house staff, so we had a cook, a sweeper, a dhobi (washerman), a driver, a waiter/butler, and a chowkidar (house guard, whose job it was to sit at the front of our driveway and drink tea and smoke bidi’s, cheap brown paper cigarettes, all night), complete with families, all of whom lived in servants quarters out back. We were basically supporting some 20 people including children.

    As a child, I was not of course surprised or shocked by India. It was basically “normal” to me as I grew up. The contrast between our extreme wealth (and the even greater wealth of many of the Indian inhabitants of New Delhi who e.g. worked for or in the government or for the major corporations such as Tata), the “middle class” of Delhi who lived decently and had houses or apartments and jobs or small businesses (who included our servants) and the poor — who were enormously poor, living in mud huts or tin-walled shanties or just plain living on the street, carrying their worldly possessions in a small bundle and begging for a living — was unremarkable, just the way of the world in India (and has been for time immemorial). In India, the poorest of the poor are taken care of by the second poorest — it is a virtue to give alms, usually by literally sharing your food with a beggar poorer and hungrier than yourself. It is bailing the ocean with a spoon, for all of that.

    There are always those who support this enormous disparity of wealth as the status quo. In particular, those who are on the wealthy side of the equation, all the way down to the bottom of the middle class. These are the people who have “made it” — they have some measure of security, some prospects, some hope for advancement for themselves or their children. At the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder are many people who only recently clawed their way out of the extremes of poverty and will do almost anything to avoid slipping back. But the most “entitled” of the group are the wealthiest, who view themselves as the founders of the feast enjoyed by all the rest. It is a macabre, Dickensian world we inhabit.

    In India the social construct was embedded in the religion in the form of the caste system and a complex social order of serial rebirth with promotion, but only if you did your duty as a caste member throughout your life, accepting your lot as the destiny you earned in a previous life. It was smoothly adopted by the British Raj, who effectively moved in on top of all castes, and persisted well after independence and partition through the 60s and early 70s. By the 80s and 90s, government policy abolishing the caste system and discrimination was having some effect (as was decades of as near universal education as they could manage) and the Internet and gradual growth and increasing affluence of the middle class created an ongoing social revolution and economic boom. That isn’t to say that the poorest class doesn’t remain just as poor, or even that it is shrinking. There are no easy exists from shantytowns, and the urban streets of India are lined with millions of entire families whose “home” and place of business is 100 square feet of sidewalk, many of them the great-great-grandchildren of people displaced from the Pakistans during the partition, promised resettlement and land, and then abandoned back in the 50′s and 60s. I’ve seen spaces 80 yards wide and a few hundred yards long in between two warehouse-sized buildings filled in with three to four stories of shanties, layers supported by a latticework of bamboo, with a single public tap providing water for the whole thing and a single public field providing its entire system of “sanitation” (and this in the late 90s, well on the way towards greater economic freedom and prosperity).

    Without trying to open a can of worms, many other world religions, including Christianity, have played an almost identical role in the socioeconomic culture in feudal, strongly stratified societies throughout history. Christianity was originally largely a slave religion, a religion of the lower class, in the Roman empire, in part because it promised posthumous rewards to the poor and punishments to the wealthy, neither of which was going to happen in this life for either one. It would never have been adopted by Constantine and that same Roman empire otherwise — the addition of the “divine right to rule” meme was all it took to make it the perfect religion for a feudal empire supported by a vast network of slaves and “free” tenants of land owned by the wealthy/entitled who were slaves in everything but name.

    Even Buddhism was little better — it never adopted a feudal meme but nevertheless accepted a serial reincarnation meme that included acceptance of station and rejection of attachment and wealth, both necessary to any wealthy ruler seeking to perpetuate their wealth and power without exciting a revolution. Islam has the same sort of fatalism and acceptance of the will of Allah built into it — if one is wealthy and powerful it is the will of Allah, if one is poor it is also the will of Allah, and Allah is portrayed (in the many cultural stories such as the ones we know of as A Thousand Nights and a Night, which are only a sampling of an entire verbal and written storytelling tradition) as being whimsical, as likely to raise you up as to cast you down quite independent of your own efforts. Again the dominant meme is one of posthumous reward or punishment, making it easier to accept any sort of injustice in this life.

    In all cases the dominant individuals, the ones with the wealth and power overwhelmingly embrace this view, independent of its religious support. This has persisted even in the West, even after the reformation and invention of Protestantism and the introduction of new memes of religious freedom and the key idea that God helps those that help themselves! The notions of upward mobility, democracy, religious, economic, and personal freedom, freedom of opportunity, racial and social justice and equality — these are all new ideas as far as global culture is concerned, only a few hundred years old and still far from universal. However, one effect of the memetic revolution brought about by Locke, Jefferson, Franklin, and many others is that religions that once supported a divinely sanctioned right to wealth have been — in many cultures but not all — tamed. The American Civil War can be partly viewed as a religious spasm that initiated the rejection of endorsed slavery and poverty as a Christian meme, although the persistence of e.g. the KKK with its crosses and religious trappings shows that it has been a slow, simmering process and not one that is completed even to this day.

    The reason I have worked through all of this is to return to the “CAGW is a form of global religion” meme. The caste system in Hinduism has broken down, and no longer is particularly effective in preserving the wealth and political prerogatives of the upper castes in India. Buddhism has failed in China and Japan to accomplish the same thing, although it persists in Nepal, Thailand, and other countries in Southeast Asia. Christianity no longer can punish apostasy with death and hence has little sway or reason to opposed social mobility any longer — it is no longer a good slave religion in most of the world, although you will still see the meme that God rewards piety in material ways put out there on the PTL channel and elsewhere. Islam alone has a death penalty for apostasy and barriers to socioeconomic mobility in many countries, and cracks have emerged that are starting to break down the feudal stratification of wealth and power even there.

    What is a wealthy upper class to do, to preserve its wealth and prerogatives and political power? Willis has put his hand right on it. Manipulating energy prices to save the Earth is a made to order religious issue that serves exactly the same purpose as the divine right of kings or the caste system. Raising energy prices is effectively an enormously regressive tax. The wealthy don’t care — no price increase will affect their quality of life. The middle class can cope — it hurts, a bit, but the increase is quickly absorbed in inflation or a deflection of surplus wealth from entertainment (which is cheap and easy as it is, nowadays). It is, as always, the poor who bear the disproportionate burden.

    This has enormous global consequences! It removes or stricly limits any hope of upward social or economic mobility from roughly 1/2 of the world’s population. It directly enriches still further the wealthiest of the wealthy, including all of those “energy companies” that are portrayed as being the modern equivalent of Satan, in existence to destroy the Earth itself. Who benefits from Carbon trading? Surely not the poor, or even the middle class. Only the wealthy make money from it, and that wealth is held by the same people who own the oil companies and coal companies and power companies. The rich always get richer, and are always eager to erect a smoke screen (so to speak) to make their acquisition of even more wealth into a virtue.

    The end of the Cold War left something of a global vacuum in its place. Without the distraction of a “cause”, ideally one with a religious focus, some offer of salvation from an imagined apocalypse, people might be tempted to simply act in their own self-interest and do the sort of good and compassionate things that people of all faiths or no faith at all are inclined towards when they aren’t being diverted by a holy war. Lacking a common enemy to distract the masses, how can the powerful justify their power? Blink and the next thing you know, there is a large middle class and shrinking lower class, whose wealth comes at the expense of the disparity of the wealth of the wealthiest if nothing else, which reduces their power.

    If we didn’t have religions like CAGW (and yes, the real religions too) we’d be forced to invent them, or invent space aliens, or invent some other world-spanning catastrophe to justify the maintenance of inherited power and wealth in the hands of the elite. It is the hidden cost that the cost-benefit analyses of CAGW never manage to include. They project immense costs, but safely in the future where we have to live for generations to realize them, while ignoring the even greater costs in the present, costs borne disproportionately by the world’s poorest people, and the perpetuation of poverty and social inequity.

    rgb

  59. Nice story about how the poor pinoy showed you that you as a poor american were not really poor at all. Rather undermines your plaintive wails later on about the poor american poor.

    Europe has less poverty than the US anyway. The social security systems there provide a far more effective safety net for the poor than anything available in the US. I should think that’s partly funded by fuel taxation.

  60. Brilliant as ever !
    Now lets through the cost burden of biofuels into the mix and really see how the poor people of the world sufffer.

  61. Thank you Willis, thank you so much for your elegant writing, and clear analysis. I wish my prose even remotely came close to yours.

    Having lived ex-pat, I’ve seen the other 99%. Some in India, some in Malaysia, and unless you’ve seen people washing cloths in open sewers because they have no other water available, it’s hard to understand beyond “dirt poor.”

    Liking P.J. O’Rourke, I bought “Eat The Rich.” I had a hard time finishing it the first time because there is really so little to laugh at in the larger picture. Later after several years had passed and the memories were a little dimmer, I finished it, and I must agree with him, in the poorer societies, the one thing the poor don’t lack is government. I think about the thousands of deaths in Nigeria from people desperate to have fuel, drilling holes in pipelines of gasoline to steal a little, then explosions and fires that ravage the shanty towns.

    You’re making an excellent argument for the free market in energy. It is the only thing which can save those people, or for that matter, our poor, rich as they really are.

  62. On population density; I recall and have not verified, the statement that all of Earth’s population could be housed in the Grand Canyon without exceeding the density of a common tenement. I live in 900 sq. ft. on 6 acres of woodland on the rocks of the Niagara Escarpment, Earth’s boney spine exposed.

  63. The poor people you describe so beautifully would be greatly advantaged by a clean energy world. The oil and chemicals putrifying their waters would be gone. They would be able to access the same sun, wind and electromagnetic wave power as everyone else, once whatever energy harvesting technologies were in place. If you really wanted to level the playing field on this planet, you would be pursuing greener, cleaner technologies for all the planet. As it is now, all 100% of us are forced to slave away at least some percentage of our time, the poor much greater, to buy our paltry share of oil and gas, extracted from the ground at increasingly enormous costs. I cannot fathom thatt you cannot see this. I sadly conclude that you do, but secretly harbor fears that the transition to clean energy will somehow disadvantage you personally. I hope I am wrong, that instead you are in transition and will come to see that what is right for the world in the long run is what’s right for all of us, right now. We simply must all start heading in the right direction!

  64. Growing up spending summers at my grandmother’s house in East Tennessee where many of my extended family members had outdoor “facilities” and TVA was synonymous with progress even if it meant flooding a town (Butler, TN), I thought I knew what poor was. Then I was sent to Nogales, Mexico to setup and train the locals on a plating operation and its associated wastewater treatment system. Prior to that the only country outside the US I had been to was Canada, essentially the same as the US. Nogales exposed me to a poor I had never seen. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Nogales and would go back in a heartbeat, the people were friendly and the food was extraordinary. The shanty slums were probably a little better than those Willis is describing as at least Nogales has the benefit of bordering the US and access to our refuse. Nevertheless, I came back with a whole new perspective and appreciation for being in the 1%.

    @ Willis: You’ve been on quite a roll here lately and this one in particular resonates with my soul, thank you.

  65. Re Joe Grappa on too many people:
    Any economist worth his salt will tell you the more minds working to create solutions, the better off the world will be. Lack of resources do not create poverty, lack of freedom does.

  66. I have two comments:

    1. I am lucky – if that is right word word to have had similar experiences in far flung parts of the world, and

    2. Sarc on – it is clear from their ‘research’ that Gore, Hansen and Mann are sure to have had similar experiences in just how the real world works – Sarc off.

  67. Excellent points. The whole of the world’s population needs access to affordable electricity sourced from methods that contribute as little as possible to the our global footprint. That is nuclear, if not via current Light Water Reactors then via internationally developed techniques such as the Pebble Bed Reactor or the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors. Why are we hesitating?

  68. Joe Grappa says:
    January 13, 2013 at 5:02 am
    “Too many people. Get the population down to 500 million or a billion or so and everyone would live like a king.”

    It is funny that Malthusians like you don’t give any logical explanation why that should increase the wealth of the poor.

    Since 1984 the population of Ethiopia has doubled while the GDP per capita has halfed. The West uses Ethiopia as dumping ground for excess harvests to avoid another famine on Western TV screens.

    The Ethiopian government regulates the price that local farmers can take for selling excess harvest. The farmers have therefore no economic incentive to produce more than their families need.

    Reducing the Ethiopian population back to where it was in 1984 would not make the politicians smarter. But Malthusians continue maintaining that everything would become better if only people died.

    A reduction in population would do nothing to turn Malthusians into intelligent people.

  69. In a similar vein, a couple of years back I spent some time in Romania, building bits of things for a local clinic. I was originally meant to be building or repairing houses for the local Roma but that never happened (no idea why) so instead it was building a fence at a clinic that provided charitable healthcare to Roma who’d had their identity documents seized by the state. Without ID they couldn’t get healthcare, and being Roma (and thus poor as dirt) they couldn’t afford to buy any, nor could they get work without their ID. And they couldn’t get their ID back without proof of income.

    What I remember more than anything isn’t the poverty or even the way they welcomed us into their lives and fed us like kings. It was the aftermath. The reaction I had when I got home. I looked at my little apartment that I’d considered to be a tiny cage and I think I broke down crying. I was emotionally wrecked for week afterwards (you might remember, Willis, I had a bit of a yell at you over something. I’m sorry for that), and very angry – particularly at the way so many people in the west consider themselves to be oppressed and in the worst possible situation even though they have everything. My particular bug-bear at the time was the hijacking of anti-bullying campaigns by special-interest groups and I got really, really upset when homosexuals in the US were claimed to be in a worse position than the Roma in Romania. Or the Guarani in Paraguay and Brazil.

    So many who “fight” for their latest trendy cause simply have no idea what the world is like. They pay lip-service to saving the world and improving the lives of others and make blog posts about their radical act of wearing purple or not talking for a day or wearing some damn ribbon to show “solidarity” with people on the other side of the planet who won’t see any benefit whatsoever from their “sacrifice”. Then they go off to “save the world” from the scourge of cheap energy and reliable food sources.

    See, I’m getting angry again now just thinking about it, years later. Maybe I should cut back on the caffeine.

  70. Here in the US, you won’t see the impacts on the poor as much because the government will attempt to increase spending on assistance programs to cover up and cushion the impacts their increase in energy costs would otherwise have on the poor as much as possible. The people who will really feel it are the ones who are barely hanging on to financial independence as it is. The middle class will shrink because they’ll be hit on all sides by the rising costs and by increasing taxes.

    Eventually, the government won’t be able to hide the impacts from theAmerican “poor,” but those days haven’t quite gotten here yet.

  71. AndyL says:
    January 13, 2013 at 5:10 am
    on the price of fuel in US and Europe.
    Most of the price of fuel in Europe is tax (roughly 70%). If there is higher tax on fuel in US, it will be the rich part of the world that pays, not the poor in your stories. As a result global demand would go down, as would probably the price of fuel in the rest of the world.
    By your ‘gold encrusted space ship’ analogy, shouldn’t the rich world pay more for this asset?
    There’s lots more to this debate than that, but the idea that the price of fuel in the US should go up is not necessarily wrong purely on the basis of the impact on the world’s poorest people.

    I don’t believe that you’ve thought that through, Andy. Aside from the fact that what you suggest borders on some type of world communism, the unintended consequences are numerous, and actually wouldn’t even have the effect you suggest. The overall result of raising fuel costs is that you hurt businesses, forcing them to either shut down or move operations elsewhere. So, you’ve lowered demand in the “rich” country, but raised it elsewhere, probably someplace like China or any number of developing countries. In addition, by injuring the rich economy, you lower living standards there, particularly those in the middle class who’ve been badly battered already, as well as the poor. It has been shown countless times that the richer a country is, the better able they are to attend to (real) environmental concerns, as well as to be able to offer financial aid to poor countries, perhaps so that they can afford to have inexpensive electricity.
    No, raising fuel prices is never a good idea, for whatever reason.

  72. Quoting Willis:

    “The difference between rich and poor, between developed and developing, is the availability of inexpensive energy. A kilowatt-hour is the same amount of work as a hard days labor by an adult. We’re rich because we have (or at least had) access to the hardworking servants of inexpensive energy. We have inexpensive electrical and mechanical slaves to do our work for us.”

    When I first visited Camigin Island and stayed a week in one of the tiny one room cottages by the ocean shore where it was HOT and HUMID ohh it was something to bear for a man who lives in Eastern Washington dry desert heat back at home where it is bearable.

    The electric supply in Leyte province is jerry rigged and erratic where it can vanish for a while and come back when you least expect it because there is no one telling anyone when it will come back on because it is a way of life there and they just go on about their business as if it was normal.

    Several times I have visited the Philippines and each time I am expected to pay the cost for a party as I woo a nice Leyte woman there because I am “Rich” and they want to be around me for that reason but they are always nice about it and prove to be pleasant company.They cooked all the food and discovered that they cook darn good pizza,chicken and of course crab and they see that I like eating them and they are so happy about it which is quite visible in front of me.

    I recall riding around the Island of Camiguin for a day with the three of us on a small motor bike that is NOT designed for the weight it carried but the driver/owner still did it because he wanted me to see his Island and was willing to tolerate the damaging effects to his motorbike which he makes his living on.I paid for the ride and the fuel for the trip and he was happy to spend that day carrying this big American man and his girlfriend around.He even lent me the bike to carry around my future wife and climbed up the main Volcano slopes to get a wonderful view of the region but the bike takes a beating the whole time since it is really small and designed for the weight of a single Filipino running it.Fankly I wondered why it held up in all those miles as the tires made it clear there was a lot of weight on them.

    A year later the owner of the bike asked if I could help pay for the repairs that was needed to sustain his meager living and of course I gladly paid it because he was very generously using his bike and time to entertain an American man who enjoyed the hospitable hosts support for my stay on the Island.

    That was in 2003 and the photo’s I have of that trip will always remind me how generous the philipino people can be with strangers walking around in their world and I never felt unwanted at anytime depite being the “Rich” man around who was not asked for money or favors,for themselves.It is a sobering experience to realize how lucky I am to be in a part of the world where I can have reliable electricity all year long and my Filipino wife now knows that I am not “Rich” here as I was there because she has lived in both worlds yet prefers mine over hers when it comes to comfort and reliability.

  73. papiertigre, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. I’m glad to hear of those things, naturally, but beg to insist that Obummercare and the war on people everywhere – including drone murder of anyone he pleases to kill… stuff like that somehow seems more immediate and damaging to us all.

    The only answer to poverty, or any of the other pressing problems of the world, is liberty and a truly free market. As long as some people have power over other people against their will, tyranny, poverty and death are the inevitable outcome.

  74. Damn, Willis. You did lived on the edge when you were a young man. My own recollections of the Philippines are not so daring. And I never even considered venturing into the shanty towns, although a scant few colleagues kinda sorta explored the Filipino outback around Angeles City. My closest brush with the low down of the Philippines came when the USAF sent me to Snake School.

    I agree with you completely regarding the willful ignorance — and arrogance — of those who consider themselves to be the intellectually superior elite of our society. Your quotes from Chu and Obama brought back recollections of the Great Depression and the misguided efforts to raise prices in the face of economic collapse. One thing that has always stuck in my mind is the destruction of food and commodities ordered by then Secretary of Agriculture, Henry Wallace, while a substantial segment of the US population was going hungry and barely clothed. All this was done with the aim of raising the prices of food and commodities. It was all well-intentioned, of course, so it was OK. The only thing that distinguishes it from the actions of Stalin in places like Ukraine is that Stalin did it with malice.

    I blame our education system first and foremost. Over the past 50 years it has morphed from education to indoctrination. And since it is the Left that dominates the education system the indoctrination inevitably consists of Leftist ideals. At least two generations have been contaminated with that kind of nonsense. Not all, of course, but enough to disrupt society and make significant contributions to the economic and cultural decline of the USA.

    How do we overcome the corruption of the two youngest generations?

  75. Pat Ravasio says:
    January 13, 2013 at 6:59 am
    “They would be able to access the same sun, wind and electromagnetic wave power as everyone else, once whatever energy harvesting technologies were in place.”

    What is “electromagnetic wave power” and how does one “harvest” it?

    ” If you really wanted to level the playing field on this planet, you would be pursuing greener, cleaner technologies for all the planet. As it is now, all 100% of us are forced to slave away at least some percentage of our time, the poor much greater, to buy our paltry share of oil and gas, extracted from the ground at increasingly enormous costs.”

    Pat, I live in Germany at the very vanguard of new renewable technology that already produces 1.5% of our primary energy consumption. That means that I am forced to slave away for about 250 EUR/year MORE than without said renewable energy because it is WAY MORE EXPENSIVE than oil and gas. (Germany forces electricity ratepayers to cough up 20 bn EUR a year to subsidize wind + solar. 20 bn EUR, for you, is 26 bn USD)

    There is obviously no way in hell the poorest could cough up that kind of dough. But green fanatics like you happily ignore economics. Do you think solar panels are NOT extremely energy intensive in their production? (and the electronics, and the transmission lines, and the batteries; you’ll want some if you remove fossil fuel power generators etc etc…)

    Stop fantasizing about things of which you know nothing, absolutely nothing about.

  76. While Wills essays have some literary quality, I agree with the critics here, e.g. Les Johnson, Papiertigre and AndyL

    First his stand reminds me of Gottfrieds Benn Poem “Reisen” – about travel – you dont win new insights by mer traveling, you carry always your personal world with you.

    Second: The poor need higher quality of administration, lower corruption and better infrastructure much more than cheap energy. If you look at what is going on in India at the moment with those rape cases, the poor and the middle class are profiting much more from reliable bus drivers, behaving copassengers, respect towards persons and property and secure ways to reach a work place than from lower energy cost. Les Johnsons brings it to the point – cleaning up a clinic ward is not a question of cheap energy in Nigeria, its the longing to live in a better world and respect for your fellow citizens that makes a difference.

    With respect to countries with artificially high enrgy cost like Norway, Switzerland and nowadays Germany – they thrive and have made it out very decent starts relying on a working administraive bodies that delivers on promises. High energy taxes may allow to build up reliable infrastructrure but they need an atmosphere of low corruption, technical innovation and ideas being allowed into products and income.

    Third if you want to see how globally the poor are making a better life, ask Roger Pielke and go for the Kaya equation. http://e360.yale.edu/feature/a_positive_path_for_meeting_the_global_climate_challenge/2329/ : The difference in public response to government actions illustrates the immutability of what Pielke calls the iron law of climate policy: <>

    Calls for asceticism and sacrifice are a nonstarter. But calls for a working government to provide viable infrastructures and to foster new technologies are appropriate – and via comparing good and bad examples on the political market mankind moves forward. Eschenbach delivers a sort of political standpoint with a narrow perspective but leaves completely out that the world doesnt always share american positions on role of state, culture, sports and gun laws ;)

  77. Throwing away mature technology – PWR – chasing moonbeams is as foolish as alternative renewable energy.

  78. HalloModerator – I tried to have the follwing quote of Pielke to be inserted in a different format
    The difference in public response to these government actions illustrates the immutability of what I call the iron law of climate policy: When policies on emissions reductions collide with policies focused on economic growth, economic growth will win out every time. Climate policies should flow with the current of public opinion rather than against it, and efforts to sell the public on policies that will create short-term economic discomfort cannot People are willing to bear costs to reduce emissions, but they are only willing to go so far.succeed if that discomfort is perceived to be too great.

  79. Pat Ravasio says:
    January 13, 2013 at 6:59 am
    The poor people you describe so beautifully would be greatly advantaged by a clean energy world.
    If by “greatly advantaged” you mean dead, then yes, I suppose. That is the ultimate goal of you Greenies, isn’t it? Your biggest problem seems to be that you don’t have a clue about economics, nor do you desire to even get a clue.

  80. At a glance at current technology (contra science), there are no Pebble Bed Reactors or Liquid Fluoride/Molten Salt/Thorium Reactors producing power. i will be pleased to be contradicted. My good friend Rod Adams, of Adams’ Atomic Engines/Atomic Energy Insights, beat his head on the bureaucratic wall of ignorance until he could stand it no more.

  81. Touching true stories. There is only one problem. Peak fossil fuels are not overblown concerns.
    They are a well documented geophysics problem, not an economic problem as David Yergin would have us believe. Although coming absolute scarcity will also dramatically raise energy prices. First to peak are liquid transportation fuels, which has a double whammy on agriculture and food.
    Before asserting this issue to be overblown, study the contemporary facts summarized in my book Gaia’s Limits, and in the many references and scientific sources it provides, as carefully as those posting here do CAGW. It is easy to deconstruct unscientific CAGW nonsense, as done many times in many ways. It is impossible to deconstruct the consequences of geophysics on the ability to continue to produce more fossil energy from finite resources into some indefinite future. And it is quite possible to place reliable estimates, with meaningful uncertainty bands, on when and why and how those production peaks likely arise.
    That, not CAGW, should be of concern to everyone, because it begins sooner that economies now have the ability to respond. And it will affect the “1%” at least as much as the 99, because our lives are so much more energy dependent. We do not use digging sticks to plant corn and soybeans in the US.

  82. Thanks for the great story. Of course there is a great difference in wealth and in a daily routine of health and security from the world’s bottom to the world’s top. But I take exception to the use of the ’1%’ term here.

    The term 1% is a simple reference for those at the top of the economic ladder whose important decisions (whether a government or economic policy) are selfishly made to only their benefit.

    Perhaps 500 years ago, nearly all of the world’s population was rather poor given the lack of inexpensive energy. As the West industrialized, those jobs brought relative wealth to those employed and the infrastructure brought better health to those near that industry (heat, safe water, waste management, etc.). I cannot dispute the importance of this infrastructure that the above and your other essays have mentioned.

    As the world’s population has exploded, so have the social organizations. Governments have bloated bureaucracies. Companies have global subsidiaries. Those at the top of these huge social organizations often have no empathy for those at the bottom, nor for those affected by their decisions.

    When social organizations are small there is direct accountability. In a small town where everyone knows everyone, crime or social misbehvaior can be dealt with immediately. As the organizations become larger, the accountability becomes more difficult. In the 19th Century, unions became the only check on corporate misbehavaior (unsafe working conditions, long hours, low pay, etc.) where mass demonstrations can involve others to address a social injustice. Since then, social organizations now span international boundaries (UN, multinational corporations and financial institutions). Hunamity has not yet found a way to check misbehaviors at this much higher. Companies can now move subsidiaries across country boundaries to find a place where the population can be abused (with low wages and terrible working conditions) or the environment ravaged (by dumping pollution that had been strictly managed in other places).

    Your touching stories reveal how little of Western prosperity (what you called the Western 1%) has reached most of the world’s poor. Your quotes of Cho and Obama and their analysis shows how those at the top do not comprehend the consequences of their decisions or their attitudes.

    I believe you could have made your point without mixing all of the WUWT readers into the infamous 1%.

    When you bring up the pressure from AGW groups causing the denial of power plants in India, this is also mixing groups. The AGW crowd has been convinced (it is now essentially a religion with its fanatical believers) their battle will save the world. People are social creatures, subject to the influence of groups (as in the book: The Righteous Mind). A person’s natural confirmation bias makes it difficult to convince for others to convince someone of their wrong belief, especially when there is widespread popularity of those beliefs. The AGW crowd has the IPCC and many other groups pushing for increased power at an international level so of course the world’s 1% (the top of the world’s power structures, not those having a certain amount of wealth) is agreeable with this latest fad.

  83. It is shocking to see how many pro-crowding people there are around here.

    With robot factories churning out cheap goods of every kind, a small population would enjoy the creme de la creme of the stuff.

    Sure, there will always be people at the economic bottom – there has to be somebody there, right? But even if they are lazy, stupid, mentally twisted, it will be hard for them to live less well than, say, a Prince.

    Or, since you fellows don’t like the idea of personal responsibility, let’s say their rulers are stupid and twisted. The crumbs the people get will be like a whole loaf is today.

    And look, we won’t be causing climate change or whatever it is with co2, since there won’t be enough people to generate much of it. The rivers will be clean, the lakes will be clean, the skies will be blue, there will be no traffic jams.

    Enforced Population Reduction: a win-win solution.

  84. @ Pat Ravasio

    How about providing some evidence to WUWT that “alternative energy” is viable.
    1) Determine how much energy you use from the grid monthly. Record: kWhrs and $/month
    2) Have an alternative energy system quoted to provide that power completely off-grid. Record: Capital expenditure, operational costs, and expected operational life.
    3) Calculate and record monthly cost: Operation costs on a per month basis plus Capital expense divided by expected operational life in months.
    4) Report to WUWT: grid $/month and off-grid $/month and show your records and calculations.

    Simply saying something like we can power the world with clean energy with existing technology doesn’t make it true.

  85. Pat Ravasio says: January 13, 2013 at 6:59 am
    —————
    Maybe your comment would make a little bit of sense if your so-called “clean-energy” schemes actually worked and could exist without enormous subsidies.

    They don’t. And they can’t.

    So your “clean-energy” schemes aren’t part of any conceivable solution. They are a very large part of the problem.

  86. In re education; Charlotte Thomson iserbyt’s masterwork’s first edition was a 700 page chronological collection of education policy papers from the Thirties and John Dewey to post-modern OBE. The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America has been edited and pared-down for modern consumption, but it’s still a free PDF at her website or much more expensive at AmaXon.

  87. Good stories, but I don’t understand how raising US taxes on fuel would affect the cost of energy in Indonesia. In fact, if it resulted in a reduction in demand for fuel in the USA, the world price of oil might even go down. All of this has nothing to do with global warming, Fuel conservation is sensible for its own sake. it’s not going to last forever – best spin it out as long as we can, by which time (with any luck) we’ll have invented our way out of the problem.

  88. Willis, thank you. These stories also point to the evil of taxpayer subsidized production of ethanol and the mandated burning of it for car fuel, thus raising the price of food for the poor.

  89. Willis,

    Good story. Perhaps you might consider to write a political satire in the form of a novel that shines a light on the falseness and totally hypocritical thinking of the current crop of democratic/liberal leadership in the West. These parties are often elected because they espouse a desire to help ordinary workers or the environment but their policies are in fact at odds with this.

    Governments globally now use energy as the single biggest source of tax revenue after income or consumption taxes. It is a simple fact that energy prices are much higher because governments universally share a desire for greater tax revenues – rentier states want more take and so do consumer states – every government wants more tax revenues and this all leads to greater restrictions on economic development of an increased energy supply that would in turn drive down costs.

    What is worse is that huge government subsidies for environmentally approved renewable sources of energy are typically ten times more costly and do more damage to the environment than fossil fuels (yes wind farms are environmentally a disaster, ethanol drives up the cost of food, etc)

    The very politicians who claim they are trying to protect both the poor and the environment are in fact their worst enemy. The people at Greenpeace, WWF and other environmental alarmist NGO groups, as well as the greedy CAGW scientists at the taxpayers trough are also ALL enemies of the poor like Helena.

    So sad.

  90. Willis,
    Write a book.
    And have it published.
    I’ve read a few of your “chapters” here at WUWT and I loved each one. I’ll buy the first 12 books in advance for my kids and grandkids. “Perspective” has a powerful influence on humans if it can be communicated. You sir, communicate.
    Ron

  91. Joe Grappa says:
    January 13, 2013 at 8:05 am
    “With robot factories churning out cheap goods of every kind, a small population would enjoy the creme de la creme of the stuff.”
    “Enforced Population Reduction: a win-win solution.”

    And we have a winner for the Toatalitarian Of The Day award. Thanks for confessing that you won’t wait for voluntary population reduction. I love it when a totalitarian is candid about his goals.

    Are you part of the “Zeitgeist movement”?

  92. To add an additional slant, the public utilities have now entered the business of NOT selling electricity. In other words they have inverted capitalism so they are in the business of minimizing sales. An extremely dangerous economic model that throttles production, destroys primary and secondary production, and ever drives up unit costs. Now reflected as outrageous surcharges on utility invoices.

  93. Joe Grappa:

    At January 13, 2013 at 8:05 am you whinge at people who disdain the obscene views you espoused in your post at January 13, 2013 at 5:02 am which called for culling the world’s human population.

    Your whinge says

    since you fellows don’t like the idea of personal responsibility,

    No! On the contrary.
    I was the first to object to your nasty little post and I take full responsibility for my actions.

    You say the population should be reduced but clearly fail to adopt “personal responsibility” because you are still here.

    Richard

  94. “Rud Istvan says:
    January 13, 2013 at 7:54 am

    Touching true stories. There is only one problem. Peak fossil fuels are not overblown concerns.
    They are a well documented geophysics problem, not an economic problem as David Yergin would have us believe.”

    Rud, Firstly it is Daniel Yergin not David. Secondly, I am in the know having studied this stuff for nearly a decade. There is no peak fossil fuels not for at least several hundred years or more (probably much longer). Why worry about this problem today when we don’t know what smart energy source may be invented by Physicists in 100 years time? Sorry but Yergin makes a living from selling industry analysis and like climate scientists his organization tends towards a little hyperbole in order to grab headlines and to add urgency and importance to their domain. (IEA and countless other groups do the same – so I don’t wish to single out Yergin as I have a great deal of respect for him. Yergin is brilliant. “The Prize” was a great book. Some of his stuff on Russia/Cold Wars etc. was also brilliant.)

  95. Joe Grappa says:
    January 13, 2013 at 8:05 am
    Enforced Population Reduction: a win-win solution.

    Could i ask how you intend to reduce population?
    Will you follow the pre-war model or the Chinese model or do you have other ideas?
    Will population control be in other countries or just your own?
    In which country will population control start or will it be worldwide?
    Which is your favoured method, forced sterilisation, forced abortion, culling or other?
    Will this be some kind of Logans Run scenario and where will you be in this scenario?
    Will you be part of an elite, allowed to live, have more than 1 child or will you allow any over population by your family to be “disposed of”?
    Where will your idea fit within the context of Human Rights?

    Thanks in advance

  96. Joe Grappa says:

    ”It is shocking to see how many pro-crowding people there are around here.”

    ”Enforced Population Reduction: a win-win solution.”

    I’m a pro-crowding person for the simple reason that no other driving force has historically (or pre-historically) been sufficient for compelling expansion and progress of humanity. We must expand beyond this planet or we’ll become extinct along with all other life on this planet sooner or later (probably much later), therefore it’s shocking to me how indifferent you are to what happens after you are gone to not only humanity but all the ecosystems we could potential save by expanding our civilization beyond the grasp of a single planetary disaster to wipe out.

    I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume by Enforced Population Reduction you’re referring to birth control and not wholesale murder. Even so, who decides who can reproduce and who can’t? How many potentially useful traits might we lose in such a process? It boggles the mind at how short-sighted you Malthusianists are.

  97. Typographical error: “They have to ability to absorb increases in their cost of living, particularly their energy spending.” should be “They have no…”

  98. DirkH says:

    “Thanks for confessing that you won’t wait for voluntary population reduction. I love it when a totalitarian is candid about his goals.”

    The Chinese are doing it now. What is it – 1 child per family? Those nasty totalitarians!

    “Are you part of the “Zeitgeist movement”?”

    Never heard of it.

  99. Peter says:

    January 13, 2013 at 4:22 am
    <<<>>>

    I used to live in Mentang myself. I had a company house with chandeliers in the bathrooms.
    The park in front of our house however, was full of homeless. We used to have our houseboy give them anonymous money for healthcare.

    Great post, Willis

  100. oldfossil says:
    January 13, 2013 at 4:12 am

    The people who are “easing their consciences” are not the people who have to pay the price. Am I being a conspiracy-nut neurotic when I suspect that carbon taxes are just an excuse for the developed nations to avoid giving aid to the dark-skinned nations of the world?

    I can tell you one thing. The more prices rise here in the US, the less we’re able, as individuals, to offer aid to those in need around the world.

  101. Andrew Dickens says:
    ”I don’t understand how raising US taxes on fuel would affect the cost of energy in Indonesia.”

    I don’t think that was necessarily the main point although there’s some truth to the saying that when the US economy sneezes the world catches a cold (paraphrasing). The main point being that raising US energy costs has the potential to convert our “rich poor” into the kind of poor the rest of the world knows.

  102. We were poor growing up (two parents and 6 kids in two and three bedroom houses), but we didn’t know it. It was only when I went overseas, that I confirmed that we were indeed NOT poor, compared to most of the world.

    Blimey, you were rich even compared to londoners.

  103. 600,000 German families had their power cut off last year because they could no longer afford it. Now if they can’t afford it, then forget about poor countries ever escaping the grinding poverty Willis describes.

  104. MamaLiberty says:
    January 13, 2013 at 7:21 am

    papiertigre, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

    Not one with an electronic display.

  105. Now, you know the old truck is worth a maybe hundred dollars, and that’s on a good day with a following wind. And one can’t predict the future, but you are kinda sure that this opportunity will never come again … which means the real question is, would you tell the diamond-studded alien “Oh, I could be persuaded to let it go for million dollars, it’s kinda precious to me”, or would you only say “a hundred thousand dollars”?

    Seriously, I’d tell the yachties, you get a one-time chance like that, you have to take your shot. You have to ask for the moon. Might not get it, but why not ask?

    brilliantly put!!!

  106. Willis says “The difference between rich and poor, between developed and developing, is the availability of inexpensive energy.”

    MamaLiberty says “The only answer to poverty, or any of the other pressing problems of the world, is liberty and a truly free market.”

    Willis, loved your article and your conclusions are right as far as they go, but MamaLiberty nailed both the true cure for both poverty and inexpensive energy: liberty and free markets. As Hernando de Soto describes in “El Otro Sindero”, wealth can only come from free markets and the foundation of free markets is private property rights.

    The poverty you so aptly describe is a direct result of not being secure in owning anything. People live in hovels because if they do anything at all to improve their conditions, somebody stronger or more connected will simply take it. Development of even the most basic of industry, not to mention energy production, can only come by bribing police and officialdom to leave you alone. “Protect and serve” means protection rackets and serving the well-being of the state and oneself.

    Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people that believe that instead of protecting property rights, which would result in permanent prosperity, governments should be providing Euro-style safety nets and “free” energy and social support. This will appear to work for a while, but eventually people become more dependent on being taken care of (Greece, for example) and the system eventually collapses. We here in the U.S. are on the same road, just not as far along as Greece. As much as I detested Mitt Romney’s candidacy, he was totally correct about the 47% (and growing) that depend on the government for everything.

    Government-provided cheap energy results in things like Chernobyl and the documented environmental issues at the Nevada Test Site, Hanford WA, and the Savannah River Project. The government always exempts itself from being held accountable for failures by bureaucrats.

    As much as I loved your article, I’m just afraid it will just give the lefties ammunition to demand more intervention into both energy and the economy, which is the exact opposite of the right solution.

  107. Willis, yesterday’s piece you showed that the war on energy supply was, economically, a spectacularly inefficient response to problems that are claimed to be waiting for us in the future due to AGW. Today’s piece shows that the efforts to reduce the supply of energy are also profoundly immoral. Taken together this is perhaps the most compelling single argument I have read. If you wrote a book, or produced a film, this nightmare might end. Get to work!

  108. We’re all rich in America… the parking lot at the local high school where I live is full of cars driven by sixteen year olds. How does that happen? It’s not like any of the kids have the wherewithal to produce a fully functioning car – or their parents – or their teachers. People who worry about financial inequity are oblivious to the magic of America’s productive economy. Human squalor is real, but thank goodness we don’t have it here.

  109. Willis,

    Thank you for putting into thoughtful words what I have understood for many years. My life has not been as adventurous as yours (I’ve been east of the Mississippi once) but I know about some of the plight of the poor in the third world. I enjoy your stories and your insight.

  110. Joe Grappa says:
    January 13, 2013 at 8:37 am
    “The Chinese are doing it now. What is it – 1 child per family? Those nasty totalitarians!”

    They are indeed very nasty totalitarians. You have probably never heard about it but google Falun Gong. When you’re not in China you should be able to do that without getting a subsequent visit by communist party thugs.

  111. Joe Grappa says:
    January 13, 2013 at 8:37 am
    “The Chinese are doing it now. What is it – 1 child per family? Those nasty totalitarians!”

    Another word. As you seem to be a terribly childish or sociopathic person with no knowledge of the world whatsoever, just to inform you, it is so that not every Chinese mother lets the communist party kill her baby when she’s 8 months pregnant. Many of the illegal children are born. They never get papers, they exist as illegals in their own country; they don’t get access to healthcare and don’t appear in any statistic. They have no rights. They don’t get an education. Millions of them exist.

    ““Are you part of the “Zeitgeist movement”?”
    Never heard of it.”

    You should join them They are sick twisted people who dream of robotic factories and other Technocracy Inc style nonsense, and of course, capitalism will in their glorious vision of the future be replaced by a rational, wait for it, planned economy (that they call a resource based economy). You’d love it.

  112. Willis, your essays should be collected into a book. It would stand comparison with the best in the English language

  113. I realize the term 1% was largely for literary effect because it is actually about 25% of the world’s population that lives quite well. The real wonder is, why can’t the other 75% live so well? The obvious answer is “bad government”, an answer that most of our politicians, political activists, and the UN cannot stomach.

  114. I am fortunate to be working with a Harvard anthropologist in Java, the stomping ground of Obama’s mother for several years when she was married to an Indonesian (she studied the local industry of small-scale metal-working artisans) . There are really poor people in Java, measured by our reckoning which is of course $$, not services or lifestyle or cost of living or subsidised energy.

    One of the notable things about Java is that the forest is full of people who live in beautiful weather-approporiate clay-roofed homes and they run the forest like a huge permaculture garden. It is not natural randomness at all. The forest is literally full of food. When one ‘monetises’ on paper the value of the contribution of the local environment to the living and lifestyle of the people, there emerges a very different $ value to their ‘income’. Free wood energy, free water, free building material, free all-sorts-of-things, things that literally do not come from the garden in Europe or Canada.

    This approach to comparing ‘lifestyles’ is much more realistic and perhaps why poor people like to stay where they are many times, and why rich 1% folks pay so much to try to live for a few weeks or months in the environs of those living much closer to the earth from which we all sprang.

    When my kids were told by the locals ‘they were rich’ they replied, “Then why are we going to same school as you?” Poverty is relative and the calculation of it depends greatly on what value you place on things like clean air, polite neighbours and puttering around the food garden.

  115. Moderator:

    You say to Steven Mosher who – at January 13, 2013 at 8:37 am - provided this link

    [Please provide a few words of explanation when posting links. — mod.]

    Yes, he should have because the short lecture is brilliant, superb and entertaining (despite its acceptance that AGW is a real threat).

    Everybody needs to take a look at that link.

    Richard

  116. Joe Grappa says: Enforced Population Reduction: a win-win solution.

    Grappa: Your worldview screams fascism.

  117. It is even worse than you suggest and the poor can end up subsidising the middle class in energy. This is by the use of photovoltaics. An array of solar panels feeds energy to the grid when you have no use for it, but then they expect energy on demand at other times. It is often claimed that this can lead to zero energy bills so is ‘green’. In fact it just moves the cost of the energy infrastructure on to those who can’t afford, or don’t have the space, to install solar panels. It is not green – it is just a way of robbing everyone else.

  118. Jeremy, correct on Daniel Yergin ‘name, but not on his conclusions. You possiblly confuse remaining known and potentially discoverable reserves with annual production rates. Peaks are not about running out of reserves. They are about the inability to annually produce more usefulmenergy from them than in the past. Why don’ you read a few technical books and papers on the subject, including Yergin’s argument for hoped for inventions that circumvent geophysics as fuel prices continue their inevitabe rise owing to the need to tap ever more marginal and expensive reserves, and then get back. You might even try my book, which was deliberately written using only dumbed down incontrovertible facts ( many of which are pictorial). Then get back with real counter facts if you have them, rather than mere arguments from authority. That is a technique Warmists use. Jim Hansen styles himself an authority on CAGW, but he is just crazy wrong also.
    Regards

  119. Willis -

    In my day you didn’t have to go to the Philippines to find houses shingled with tin cans and whatever. I lived (mostly) just outside East St Louis, Illinois. Where now there are ramps to and from the I-55/I-70/I-64/I-44 bridge over the Mississippi River, there was a shanty town of 4th world proportions.

    And that was before E St Louis fell apart at the seams. The USA as a whole is the 1%, yes, but we have such pockets of poverty as to make at least one or two 3rd world countries look prosperous. I never saw any here as bad as your photo, but I’ve seen close.

    Steve Garcia

  120. Joe Grappa says:
    January 13, 2013 at 5:02 am

    Too many people. Get the population down to 500 million or a billion or so and everyone would live like a king.
    ===========================================

    This is a post highlighting pure evil.

    It also demonstrates an utter lack of understanding about how humans behave. If you did manage to reduce the world population like this it wouldn’t change or improve lives at all instead it would make peoples lives worse.

    And again we have a display of someone who believes and defends evil for no good reason other than it suits their sensibilities.

  121. Typo 3 paragraphs from the end of Story the third. The paragraph starts with “Nest” when I think you intended it to start with “next”.

    [Thanks, fixed. -w.]

  122. Joe Grappa says:
    January 13, 2013 at 5:02 am
    Too many people. Get the population down to 500 million or a billion or so and everyone would live like a king.
    Well Joe, we had that already in our history, even less then 500 million, but am not sure that everybody lived like a king in those times?

  123. A wonderful piece of writing but there are still so many who are beguiled by their preconceived notions. Think people, think.

  124. When you can drive entirely across most European countries in the distance between Ottawa and Toronto, the gas pinch isn’t as bad for Europeans. Mind you when you add the rest of the pinches from socialist governments, it becomes considerable. So far I haven’t seen anything in Canadian news about elderly folk buying used books – particularly large tomes to use for heating fuel in the winter.

    http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2010/01/19/letter-burning-books-to-keep-warm/

    If socialist governments are not looking after the poor and particularly the elderly poor, what is their constituency? I know they call themselves conservatives and social democrats but they are all socialist these days – kill the engines of the economy and then redistribute what? Arithmetic will catch up with them before too long I would hope.

  125. AndyL says:
    January 13, 2013 at 5:10 am

    on the price of fuel in US and Europe.Most of the price of fuel in Europe is tax (roughly 70%). If there is higher tax on fuel in US, it will be the rich part of the world that pays, not the poor in your stories. As a result global demand would go down, as would probably the price of fuel in the rest of the world.
    By your ‘gold encrusted space ship’ analogy, shouldn’t the rich world pay more for this asset?
    There’s lots more to this debate than that, but the idea that the price of fuel in the US should go up is not necessarily wrong purely on the basis of the impact on the world’s poorest people

    Thanks, Andy. Unfortunately, it is doubtful that if the US and Europe push for more expensive fuel through cutting off of the cheap sources domestically, and through influencing such organizations as the ADB and the World Bank to cut of funding for the cheap sources around the world will see anyone escaping. It is already hitting everyone around the planet, what makes you think that won’t continue and worsen?

    Finally, the gold spaceship analogy. The main reason the US and other countries have “gold spaceships” is because they have cheap energy.

    Your brilliant redistribution plan is to make their cheap energy expensive, so then it will be fair to all?

    Sorry, not signing on. You haven’t thought that one through. You are back on the “cheap energy is bad” bandwagon, and I’m, not buying it.

    w.

  126. lowercase fred says:
    January 13, 2013 at 5:16 am

    Archaeology shows that when man left the hunter-gatherer lifestyle to settle in agricultural civilization the average stature and health decreased.

    “Archaeology shows”? Bzzzt! Citation alert! Citation cleanup needed on aisle three!

    w.

  127. Brilliant article, Willis. Like you I’ve travelled and seen the “other 99%” and we – even those camping in Times Square, outside the European Central Bank and elsewhere (on social security benefits) are the 1%. I fume with rage everytime someone like the Peabody Trust or the Guardian proclaim that “children in Britain are living in poverty” because they can’t afford Nike trainers, electronic games or some other luxury item. I’ve also been ashamed by hospitality in Africa, Indonesia, the Middle East (Yes, Christian families don’t get the best paid jobs) and in other “developing” nations.

    You are absolutely right. Driving the cost of fuel upward will simply destroy any hope these folk have of improving their lives in any way. Worse, it will seriously damage the lives of those who are on low wages in our own societies. Only overpaid, over guilt-ridden politicians, activists (either funded by wealthy parents or the generosity of ‘social security’ or ‘charities’ milking fear and ignorance) could or would come up with moronic suggestions like these. Only they can’t seem to connect the dots – higher fuel and energy costs drive prices for basic commodities upward – and out of reach of the poorest – the same one’s they claim to be trying to help.

    Excellent examples in your stories, sadly the bleeding heart mob will no doubt respond with their usual wail of “but we HAVE to do something! It will be hard for everyone …”

    Yeah, right.

  128. Obama’s world view does not reflect any of the lessons he might have gleaned from his exposure to third world conditions in Indonesia. He is what is known as, a “Red Diaper Baby”, period!

  129. T. G. Brown says:
    January 13, 2013 at 5:49 am

    Spot on, Willis.
    I have been to villages in that very region of Senegal, and have sat where you sat. The hospitality from people who, by western standards, have nothing, is absolutely staggering. Yet the folks you visited are (likely) not even close to the poorest of Africa, or even of Senegal.

    Thank you kindly for pointing out that the folks that I described are not the poorest of the poor. Helena had a job. The African farmer had a plot of land. The folks in the Solomons had their bush gardens and the bountiful ocean.

    The true poor, the poorest of the poor, have none of those things.

    Your reminder is both accurate and timely.

    w.

  130. Indeed energy costs (household and transportation) rank up there with food and health care as basic needs in a civilized society. The poor should be entitled to a basic level of each of these with government aid where necessary. A nation is judged by how its poorest live.

  131. What Willis has gotten at here is the lack of perspective that comes with being born and raised in America. Unfortunately many of our liberal/leftist friends are the worst offenders in this respect, although admittedly some are aware of the level of poverty around the globe and mistakenly believe Western societies are responsible for it. The opposite is true of course. If it weren’t for prosperous, creative, dynamic Western societies the hellholes of the world would be even worse.

    Several decades ago in San Francisco I met a woman artist who told me of a trip she had taken to the Middle East some years before. She had gone to Israel and then courageously went on into Egypt as an adventure. She met a wonderful family who took her in for a week or two, which was a surprise to her since she was Jewish. They were not a poverty stricken family, they must have been middle class, because eventually they scraped the money together to visit her years later in San Francisco.

    The story she related about their visit that had really opened her eyes was their reaction to going into a large American supermarket for the first time. The Egyptians had a shopping list of basic items. They wanted cooking oil. She would ask them, do you want corn oil, peanut oil, olive oil, vegetable oil, Crisco oil, etc. Her guests were overwhelmed by the choices. Each item on the list presented the same long list of choices. She said their eyes were wide with wonderment and appreciation as she took them down each aisle in the store. It really brought home to her how good we have it here in America.

    Willis has it right. If you are poor in America, your situation is infinitely better than middle class people in most countries around the world.

  132. Story #2 reflects so much on my own experience and a question I have that I may never find an answer to.

    Willis, I can’t write as well as you do, so I won’t try. But I can vouch for the utter generosity of people around the world – and it seems that the less they have the more generous they are. I’ve found it in the Mediterranean, in South America, in Latin America, in Europe, and in the USA. It bollixes my mind where the generosity comes from. “Is it in our DNA?” I wonder mostly. And there I get stuck. I cannot conceive of any other possible answer. Life is life, for all of us. When a stranger shows up on our doorstep, we reach out to help them, sometimes with food, sometimes with assistance – and sometimes the biggest gift of all is the gift of cameraderie/genial company.

    Altruism is not – and never will be – dead. In a dog-eat-dog world some refuse to be that way. Maybe some others just discover it along the way. And, I suppose, even those who manage to become the 1% OF the 1% will find their generosity, in their time. Not everybody will, but some will. Even as we compete for and win great wealth (or not), I wonder if the gene inside us still looks for chances to offer some of what we have to someone we encounter who touches that generosity in us.

    The times I’ve seen poor people offer so much of the little they have, I have been stunned into humility. Sometimes we don’t find ways like you did – to receive only a tiny bit – and we go away never forgetting how much was given. We come away feeling like we owe something now. And once that has taken hold, it never goes away. And when we do give, it is never enough to free ourselves from the memory. Maybe that is what altruism is about – trying to balance things in our memory, to give us peace of mind. So far I have not gotten there yet.

    Steve Garcia

  133. Pat Ravasio says:
    January 13, 2013 at 6:59 am

    The poor people you describe so beautifully would be greatly advantaged by a clean energy world. The oil and chemicals putrifying their waters would be gone. They would be able to access the same sun, wind and electromagnetic wave power as everyone else, once whatever energy harvesting technologies were in place. If you really wanted to level the playing field on this planet, you would be pursuing greener, cleaner technologies for all the planet.

    My friend Pat, in theory I certainly could not agree with you more. In fact I have spent a good chunk of my life teaching people how to use renewable energy. I like clean. I like pure. I also like Mom, and apple pie.

    The problem is, we don’t have one single renewable energy source that can run New York City. Or Phoenix. Or even Podunk. The economics for renewables, except hydroelectric, on the grid-scale are terrible.

    You say I should be “pursuing greener, cleaner technologies for all the planet”. Thousands of people have put millions of man-hours into that chimera. You may not be old enough to remember Jimmy Carter’s solar push. We’re forty years down the line now, and we’re no closer to Jimmy’s dream. Which is also your dream, and my dream, but at present is still a wildly uneconomical dream.

    See my post, “The Dark Future Of Solar Electricity” for a full discussion of the issues. I love renewable energy, Pat. I grew up with it, as I detailed in “Dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t“. I’ve installed solar. I’ve installed wind. I’ve taught renewable energy for the Peace Corps, both in the US and overseas. I lived off of the grid for years at various times in my life. I built windmills in Paraguay. And as a result, I know much more and care much more about renewable energy than your average bear. Nothing I’d like better than reliable cheap clean renewable power. We’ll get there … but we’re not there yet.

    So your accusation that I somehow don’t care is entirely misplaced. I do care, very much … and I am also a die-hard, rock-ribbed realist. At present, renewables do nothing but push up the price of electricity.

    Which is where we came in. Once again, I have someone telling me that their brilliant plan to save the planet involves increasing the price of electricity … why am I not surprised? Did you miss the part where I just showed that your kind of plan is damaging to the poor?

    All the best,

    w.

  134. Willis:

    I worked in Nuclear Power for 20 years. Let’s go over some points as FAST as we can, and as COMPLETELY as we can. Can’t get rid of NUCLEAR WASTE? BULLSHIT! All the ‘cores’ of all the commercial power reactors run in this country would fit on the football field in the local “MetroDome”, with room to spare. These could easily be put in rock storage/disposal…or BEST YET, drop them the Marianus trench SUBDUCTION ZONE and send them to the center of the Earth!

    MEANTIME, if we had had the WILL we could have had 500 reactors in this country supplying ALL our nuclear power!

    WE ALSO could (by using the Liberty and Victory ships) have provided (Provisional) power to all the world during the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s.

    AVAILABLE AND CHEAP INTENSE POWER is the answer to allow these “impoverished areas” to lift themselves. LOOK AT THE PROGRESS OF THE CHINESE (Albeit with FOSSIL FUELS).

    So the real question is – HOW SHOULD THE OBSTRUCTIONISTS BE PUNISHED? (On your 1% side).

    I say we should round them up and EXILE them to the 99% side you refer to and let them back, ONLY WHEN THEY APOLOGIZE for their obstruction! (And beg forgiveness.)

  135. @Willis Eschenbach January 13, 2013 at 9:50 am

    “Finally, the gold spaceship analogy. The main reason the US and other countries have “gold spaceships” is because they have cheap energy.”

    Willis, I agree, but to cheap energy I would add easily available natural resources. The end of the “American Century” coincided with the end of our iron mines. Right or wrong, I see a cause and effect in that. Certainly other factors exist, too.

    But I also see the rise of the BRIC countries as the rise of those who now have the capacity (in large part because of cheap energy) to dig into their large stores of natural resources. An argument can be made that Japan was not able to sustain its rise because of their lack of natural resources.

    And I agree with not signing on to expensive energy as a field-leveler. Oh, it might level the field, but at a significantly lower level. The Liberals have long been floating some level of REALLY expensive gasoline as a cure for all sorts of economic woes – but it is really only a part of the underlying AGW agenda: to take the world back to some idyllic (imaginary) time before industrialization. Both that world and the idea that expensive will take is backward are misguided; if energy gets really expensive, we humans will not go backward – we will find another way to go forward. Short of a comet impact, there IS no backward.

    Steve Garcia

  136. Willis– Another great read. You’re on a roll.

    Chu and Obama would do themselves and the world a great favor by understanding the lesson of Bastiat’s Broken Window Fallacy.

    What Socialists and Keynesian aficionados don’t WANT to understand are the unintended consequences of idiotic social and economic policies. If $100′s of billions or $trillions of a country’s limited capital resources are needlessly and stupidly wasted to accomplish some failed philosophical preconception, that wasted capital is unable to be used by other entrepreneurs to: start new businesses, develop new technologies, improve production facilities, hire new staff, expand business, roll out new and improved products, etc.

    Free markets are by far the most effective, efficient, moral and equitable way to allocate limited resources, as the best managed companies producing the best products at the highest quality at the lowest price survive and less capable companies with inferior products fail; as they should.

    Free markets are based on mutual agreement, where both sides win, whereas government controlled economies are based on coercion, where both parties eventually lose, and lose big.

    I often look across the city and imagine how vastly different our living standards and quality of life would would have improved had governments not tried to micromanage economies and hadn’t busted all those damned windows over the past 100 years…..

    We’d be living like the Jetsons by now…. but alas….

  137. Re: MamaLiberty says:
    January 13, 2013 at 7:21 am

    How did you know that my clock is stopped? Does it show?

  138. Thanks for this story Willis. I live in Manila, and while things have somehow improved economically for many people, many are still very poor, like Helena. And our electricity prices are second to Japan most expensive in Asia, due to past problems in energy policies. Now we have a Renewable Energy (RE) law and it gives feed in tariff (FIT) for the renewables like solar and wind, so they plan to make our already expensive electricity to become even more expensive, to “save the planet.” I have challenged many of those planet saviors to a debate on climate and energy policy, including the main lobbyists for that law — Greenpeace, WWF, other environmentalists, they have only one answer, the sound of silence. They even block me from following and debating them on twitter. They’re nuts and yet they succeeded in making our electricity prices to become even more expensive.

  139. One addendum to my writing on Nuclear – I hope folks can follow this train of thought.

    I went to a lecture on a “round the world” cruise a local retired Engineer went on, a few years ago. He was disappointed when he missed the “Entry of the Kings”, i.e. the Politburo coming into the meeting hall in Shanghai. But he noted, “12 of the 14 members of the Politburo were trained as Engineers. I got a good laugh out of the audience, when I said rather loudly.. “Maybe we should re-evaluate this ‘communist’ thing?” (Said firmly tongue in cheek.)

  140. Polentario says:
    January 13, 2013 at 7:35 am

    While Wills essays have some literary quality, I agree with the critics here, e.g. Les Johnson, Papiertigre and AndyL

    First his stand reminds me of Gottfrieds Benn Poem “Reisen” – about travel – you dont win new insights by mere traveling, you carry always your personal world with you.

    I fear I haven’t a clue what that means. I can’t even tell if it is praise or criticism, although I suspect the latter. Writing fail.

    Second: The poor need higher quality of administration, lower corruption and better infrastructure much more than cheap energy. If you look at what is going on in India at the moment with those rape cases, the poor and the middle class are profiting much more from reliable bus drivers, behaving copassengers, respect towards persons and property and secure ways to reach a work place than from lower energy cost. Les Johnsons brings it to the point – cleaning up a clinic ward is not a question of cheap energy in Nigeria, its the longing to live in a better world and respect for your fellow citizens that makes a difference.

    I am sorry for my lack of clarity. I never meant that cheap energy is enough to solve all of the worlds problems, from corruption to marital infidelity and the international scourge of dandruff. Nor can I find anywhere that I seem to have implied that.

    This is why I always ask people to quote my words that they disagree with. It helps greatly because then we all know which of my ideas or claims is under discussion.

    Cheap energy is what is called a “necessary but not sufficient” requirement for the poor to climb out of poverty. And agreed, there are a host of other things that are also needed for a country to flourish—a system of law, a system of land ownership and clear provable title, an education system, a government with minimum corruption, the list is very long and that is by no means the end of it.

    Hope that clears it up.

    w.

  141. Joe Grappa says:
    January 13, 2013 at 5:02 am

    “Too many people. Get the population down to … ” Pick a number, any number.

    Not “Too many people..” Too many greedy people, maybe. Too many uneducated people? Definitely. Amongst them, those who believe stupid shit that others have spouted at them and they mindlessly regurgitate – such as your statements from seemingly fundamentalist, willful ignorance.

    ‘Allowing’ those stupids to breed is a basic human right that I will fight tooth and nail for, so that it may remain a classless privilege that even cretins such as you can take advantage of.

    Sorry mods. Angrified but accepting of snippage am I. Nearly didn’t press the post button.

    Thanks Willis. Once again you show humanity … well, humanity.

  142. You pro-crowders are a sad bunch. All you can do is appeal to some
    vague stuff about how ‘history shows…’ and ‘more people = more
    ideas’ and ‘lack of understanding about how humans behave’, and how
    we need to go into space, and on and on, including the old standby
    ‘fascism!’.

    It should not be hard to realize that if you are going to feed and
    clothe and house all these billions you love so much, you have to
    build more factories. The end result is to turn open spaces into
    termataries, while forcing people to live cramped and crabbed lives
    in order to avoid the pollution that would go with such an obscenely
    large population.

    Why in the name of Malthus would anybody be so stupid as to want
    that to happen?

    I think a combination of economic incentives, and forced
    sterilization via engineered viruses would do the job.

  143. Willis, as usual, wonderful.
    But fuel and food prices no longer matter, at least in the US. It must be so because they’re ignored in the (US) government’s core inflation numbers.

    And stay tuned. The “let them eat cake” US elite are about to bring us “chained CPI” to help “control costs” for the US Social Security Ponzi scheme, where reductions in value of consumed goods don’t count as a price increase (e.g. — when beef steak gets too expensive consumers downgrade to hamburger, when hamburger too expensive, beans and rice, when beans and rice too expensive, dog/cat food, etc.). Problem solved magically, prices no longer increasing, no need to increase cost-of-living adjustments.

    And to G.P. Hanner, don’t believe that Obama and company are doing it without malice.

    Seems that only economists and climate “scientists” get to redefine the rules and pretend it represents reality.

    If you haven’t already, John Williams’ wwwDOTshadowstatsDOTcom for US CPI, core inflation, unemployment and other real values before the US royalty redefined them.

  144. Joe Grappa says:
    January 13, 2013 at 10:46 am

    I think a combination of economic incentives, and forced
    sterilization via engineered viruses would do the job.

    Good solution. Have you bred yet, or do we have to start with you and your family’s enforced sterilization and death?

    /sarchasm – That gaping whole between a liberal and reality.

  145. @Willis in response to Pat
    January 13, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Pat obviously doesn’t have a clue as to how horrifying life would be in the third-world oil-producing nations if it were not for oil revenues from the advanced nations. The Middle East would be a charnel house. While there is little chance that demand for oil will abate much in the future, think of what would happen to those countries if it did. They talk about the West’s dependence on foreign oil. They never talk about the developing nation’s dependence on revenue from the advanced countries.

  146. thanks richard.
    if i were to recommend the video closed minds would reject it on that mere fact.
    there are three huge problems.
    reducing the cost of energy for the poor
    limits of FF reserves
    the effects of burning all the FF we have

  147. With Americans being made poor (less rich) by the Obama/Chu ideologies, how much less money can we afford to donate to the starving areas of the world? This is truly a crisis, and as I recall, the people who vote for Obama mostly do it because they want more free stuff. How ironic that the most stingy, self serving of people are the most to blame for this mess the world is in. Shame on your liberals, shame on you all!

  148. Polentario, you also say:

    Third if you want to see how globally the poor are making a better life, ask Roger Pielke and go for the Kaya equation. http://e360.yale.edu/feature/a_positive_path_for_meeting_the_global_climate_challenge/2329/ : The difference in public response to government actions illustrates the immutability of what Pielke calls the iron law of climate policy:

    Much as I respect Dr. Pielke, here’s his magnificent plan.

    Imagine if countries came together at Cancun later this fall with a goal of negotiating a single number — what carbon price can they agree to implement? With agreement on a carbon price, at whatever level, the next step would be to reach a consensus on how the resulting proceeds would be invested in energy innovation, with the goals of driving down the costs of energy and expanding access.

    That’s just plain old carbon tax rewarmed, with the New! Improved! What could go wrong?! wrinkle that the profits from the tax will be corruptly distributed to the political cronies of the parties in power … if you liked Solyndra, you’ll love this plan.

    This is your idea of a brilliant scheme, Polentario?

    Pass …

    w.

    PS—What you call the “Kaya equation” is actually called the “Kaya Identity“. The Kaya Identity is an identity of the form

    D = A * (B/A) * (C/B) * (D/C)

    You can see why it is an identity, because it simplifies to “D = D” rather than to an equation like “D = 3 Sin(B)” or something, and also why it is not all that useful. I note that Dr. Pielke, for example, does not mention it.

    The problem is, the identity is true no matter what you substitute for A, B, C, or D. So it cannot really establish anything about the claimed underlying processes involved. For example, whatever someone has in the identity for “C”, you could replace their value with the number of Cows in Colorado and the identity would still be just as true … you see the difficulty. As near as I can tell, the Kaya Identity has little traction among serious scientists, because it just doesn’t go anywhere or prove anything about Cows in Colorado.

  149. I enjoyed your stories very much, Willis. I am one of the world’s elite. I am very rich and I know it, though I have no money to speak of – no stocks, no shares, no savings, no insurances and all I own is a bunch of books and a few very old computers – but I have a warm spacious room and live with good friends in a peaceful neighbourhood; I eat good food and the water is clean; I don’t watch TV nor listen to radio – just too busy with all the creative things I can do and not enough daylight hours to do them. My gold is the morning sun (when it breaks through the modern Maunder Minimum gloom of Western Europe), my garden, the birdsong and visits from my grown up kids. My carbon footprint is very small! If the rest of England lived like me, the economy would collapse!

    But I have one advantage….I am a yogi. My inner world is as rich as my outer world and thus I have few hankerings. I could tell some stories too…of meeting a family in the Atlas, during the treks of my youth, who also killed their chicken and offered equally sweet tea! Or a little boy starving in some tiny village on the Kenya/Sudan border and me passing through with my expedition land-rover and three weeks supply of food for my team. That encounter led me to vow I would not spend my life accumulating capital for my own ends.

    I have worked with lots of money….ran a research group in Oxford, which I set up myself after the University failed to back my ideas. We worked for disadvantaged communities providing scientific and legal expertise…on the risks they faced from industrial developments on their doorstep. I know about the real costs of coal, oil, gas, chemicals, hydro, biofuels, barrages, turbines, and all types of nuclear plant, uranium mining, fuel fabrication and waste disposal. I also know about how long energy supplies will last. Like you, Willis, I am a sceptic…..based on several years analysis of the computer models compared to real world data…but I have also been a ‘green’ – working for ecologically sustainable agriculture, forestry, biodiversity and stable human communities. I have written science papers, overseen theses, lectured and given seminars in Universities around the world……including writing a book on climate change (Chill: a reassessment of global warming theory) endorsed by the drafting author of the Kyoto Protocol….all of which counts for nothing with the modern greens who refuse to read the book and the left-liberal press who refused to review it.

    I don’t belong with these kind of closed minded environmentalists. When bloggers write them off as Stalinists intent on a command economy….I have to say, yes, they would happily take command with all manner of surveillance technology in a carbon-accounting economy funded by global taxes. I have had my share of ‘we know where you live’ threats. They constantly seek to prevent my voice being heard.

    I tell of of this because close as I am to your own wild heart….I think you are blind to one thing…and that is there is no longer any cheap energy available and fracking gas or some new fangled reactor ain’t going to help them. The poor are getting poorer (I live with the English subsection and I know how much they are being squeezed right now by ‘fuel poverty’ and that will continue). Oil is $110 dollars a barrel. Wind and solar are three to five times the cost of fossil fuels. There is not enough land for biofuels as well as food. I know nuclear…I spent twenty years studying its pros and cons…and leaving aside the risks….one thing it is not is cheap.

    The problem with BOTH the sceptic blogosphere’s worldview and the green-left-liberal-quasicommunist-UNsupported conspiracy, is that everyone thinks there IS a solution! There is not. Only when this sinks in will minds start to get creative enough to address the real issues. Western elite lifestyles cannot be sustained. The global poor cannot follow the same road because that road was paved by cheap energy.

    Eventually, those who are currently excluded from the social norms within the developed world (5 million in the UK and what, 20 million in the US) as well as within the development model (which creates more elites in Africa, southern Asia and South America)….will rebel and it will not be pretty.

  150. Re Joe Grappa: It’s always refreshing to find a radical misanthrope who is proud to voice his contempt for mankind.

    What people like Joe don’t understand is that the final solution they advocate would require a totalitarian reign of terror that would make the Great Leap Forward look like a picnic.

  151. Wonderful post Willis, you’ve nailed it once again.
    Been wondering about the visceral hatred toward the worlds poor, apparent in the actions of the CAGW movement.Their words hint at a callous indifference toward people unlike themselves, their actions in the name of saving us from AGW speak clearly.
    Population must be reduced is the underlying chant, starve the poor the solution.
    Does raising children in an atmosphere saturated in “White Liberal Guilt” and political correctness, produce this appalling desire to eliminate the poor coloured people?

  152. “The Chinese are doing it now. What is it – 1 child per family? Those nasty totalitarians!”

    Yes, they are. It’s the reason Chinese routinely abort or kill female babies and they now have a huge oversupply of men relative to women in their population.

    It’s also largely a response to Mao’s demands that the Chinese rapidly increase their population in order to have cannon fodder for a war with America. When that turned out to be disastrous they went to the other extreme, which is now proving disastrous.

    Most people who have to work for a living are quite capable of determining how many kids they can afford to have. When government gets involved, the results are inevitably disastrous.

  153. Rud Istvan says:
    January 13, 2013 at 7:54 am

    Touching true stories. There is only one problem. Peak fossil fuels are not overblown concerns.
    They are a well documented geophysics problem, not an economic problem as David Yergin would have us believe. Although coming absolute scarcity will also dramatically raise energy prices. First to peak are liquid transportation fuels, which has a double whammy on agriculture and food.

    Rud, people have been trying to scare me about “peak fossil” for half a century now. You are merely the latest, and you try to do it by the mere strength of your belief. Sorry, you’re about fifty alarmists too late. I’ve read them all, I may well have read King Hubbert before you were born. Your pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo is hilariously outdated, like someone still talking about “phlogiston”

    At present there are enough known reserves of fossil fuel to power the world for a couple hundred years with ease. During that time I have no doubt we will develop a host of better solutions to the energy problem, and we will slowly transition to those new energy sources as they become economically viable.

    So go away with your ten-thousandth rehash of King Hubbert’s inchoate fears about how we’re in danger of some upcoming shortage of fossil fuels. Not interested in the slightest. Both of us will be long dead before that happens, if it happens at all.

    w.

  154. dave says:
    January 13, 2013 at 8:00 am

    … I believe you could have made your point without mixing all of the WUWT readers into the infamous 1%.

    Ah. My writing must not be as good as I thought. My friend … that was my point. See the title of the post.

    As regards to the US, the 1% is the top of the food chain as you point out in your comment.

    But as regards to the people of the world, in that case the US and the west, WUWT readers and all, we are that metaphorical 1%, the movers and the shakers. That’s the problem. The decisions are being made and the policies are being decided, by people like us, without consideration of their effects on the half of the world that’s living on three bucks a day or less.

    Hope that clears it up,

    w.

  155. It’s not the benefits of delusional “development” that are ours, it’s the benefits of the wisdom of our European Western Civilization, trade, ag., tech, invention, creativity, er, science. European Western Civilization was created from smart people taking the advice of even smarter ones.

    Socialism toward power which include immigration of non-Westerns and the wasting of vast monies will be the end of the successful modern world we have become used to with our quality of life. You grandkids aren’t going to have Sperry Topsiders, they will have to with their flip-flops in the snow. I expect an increase the poor of the world, even mass starvation, based on the current collapsing of Western tradition. How else could it go?

  156. Peter Taylor:

    In your post at January 13, 2013 at 11:06 am you write

    Western elite lifestyles cannot be sustained. The global poor cannot follow the same road because that road was paved by cheap energy.

    That is plain wrong!

    You need to spend 10 minutes watching the link provided by Steven Mosher at January 13, 2013 at 8:37 am. To save you needing to scroll up to it, I copy it here.

    Richard

  157. Andrew Dickens says:
    January 13, 2013 at 8:11 am

    Good stories, but I don’t understand how raising US taxes on fuel would affect the cost of energy in Indonesia.

    Easy. By way of the World Bank (or more likely the Asian Development Bank, ADB) either funding or refusing to fund various kinds of power plants in Indonesia.

    Seems like I said that in my head post … yep, just checked. I did.

    w.

  158. A joy to read, as always.

    I recall a survey of African villagers a few years back asking what they most wanted.

    A school and electricity were far ahead of everything else.

  159. pat says:
    January 13, 2013 at 8:23 am

    To add an additional slant, the public utilities have now entered the business of NOT selling electricity. In other words they have inverted capitalism so they are in the business of minimizing sales. An extremely dangerous economic model that throttles production, destroys primary and secondary production, and ever drives up unit costs. Now reflected as outrageous surcharges on utility invoices.

    Man, you don’t have to tell me that, it’s well advanced and depressing enough here already. I live in California, where we have suicidally and systematically raised electricity prices to the twenty-five to thirty cents per kilowatt-hour level, and businesses are fleeing the state like the proverbial sinking ship that it is …

    w.

  160. A traditional house does not poverty make.

    While schooling at NRTS-NRF, I lived in Pocatello, Idaho and knew folks from a modest neighborhood that lived in a sod-house that stood three feet above grade with sod walls and roof. There may have been a half-dozen such in the neighborhood, not rich but not poor.

    The observation that money is a poor valuation is spot on. Retired on investments and annuities, my dollar income is falling from what it used to be, but my life is full, serene and challenging. I start my ten year old VW, still getting 50+ mpg on summer bicycle trips, and know that I did good!

  161. Joe Grappa says:
    “The end result is to turn open spaces into termataries, while forcing people to live cramped and crabbed lives”

    Let’s consider what a future human-termatarium (hutarium) might be like. Perhaps a “super-duper” mall like structure with sections not just for retail but also manufacturing, housing, medical, import/export, administrative/financial, high efficiency farming, and recreation all connected through elevators and moving sidewalks. One might leave ones’ apartment in the morning, take a sidewalk to work, leave work taking a multi-directional elevator to the lake surrounded by the hutarium for some kayaking, go by the retail section for some personal items, eat at the food court, and make it back to the apartment just in time to catch a favorite TV show before going to bed. Doesn’t sound that bad to me. Oh, this could also be a floating island, in the middle of a desert, or wherever space isn’t being currently utilized.

    The point being, like all doomsayers before you, you underestimate technological advancement. You might as well be the guy in 1899 NYC warning people how the city is going to be buried in horse manure unless “something is done now!” except you add a whole new dimension of objection with your elitist managed reproduction of humanity.

  162. Joe Grappa: you need to read The Ultimate Resource by Julian Simon.

    Then if you still believe man is a “cancer on the earth”, you should begin by killing yourself.

  163. Dan in Nevada says:
    January 13, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Willis says “The difference between rich and poor, between developed and developing, is the availability of inexpensive energy.”

    MamaLiberty says “The only answer to poverty, or any of the other pressing problems of the world, is liberty and a truly free market.

    Willis, loved your article and your conclusions are right as far as they go, but MamaLiberty nailed both the true cure for both poverty and inexpensive energy: liberty and free markets.”

    My thanks for your comments, Dan. However, I couldn’t disagree with you more about notional “free markets”. The reason we have environmental regulations is that human beings are pigs. If we didn’t have the regulations, some jerkwagon would be guaranteed to go piss in the drinking water. We’ve proven over and over you can’t just trust people not to dump industrial waste in the river. You have to have regulations to stop them from doing it.

    The same is true about so-called “free” markets. You want an example of a truly free market, one that pays absolutely no attention to government regulations? Think organized crime, pigs with guns. That’s what happens in a truly free market—the guys with guns who are most willing to kill people quickly take over the market. Here’s the mad paradox, the one to drive you insane:

    A Free Market Requires Regulations and Regulators To Remain Free

    Otherwise, some pig just pisses in the drinking water. The same is true in the non-criminal aspects of the markets. Without a complex legal system with lots of regulations and penalties for breaking them, we would never have something like the New York Stock Exchange. For a mental picture, think of the New York Stock Exchange if it were run by organized crime … and yes, I am aware of the more glaring parallels, but there are also some glaring differences.

    Regards,

    w.

  164. Joe Grappa says:
    January 13, 2013 at 10:46 am

    It should not be hard to realize that if you are going to feed and
    clothe and house all these billions you love so much, you have to
    build more factories. The end result is to turn open spaces into…””

    Blather.

    Currently we waste half the food we produce globally. Stop that and we could feed as many people as we have now and the maybe 3 billion more we will get before the population plummets as we educate and enrich everyone – oh, yeah, that’s not on your agenda is it.

    We already use less land, year on year, to produce said food. ]

    There are enough mature trees in the Ukraine alone to provide everyone alive with a house the size of the White House – we will never need that much as families are in the majority and are happy to live modestly on the whole.

    You are arguing for genocide because of a logistics problem that would be easily fixed with some resolve and the billions wasted on clima-sci.

    Enough of your trolling. You could take my mum’s place in the queue to ‘resyke’. We could make Soylent Green out of your remains.

  165. HankHenry says:
    January 13, 2013 at 9:06 am

    We’re all rich in America… the parking lot at the local high school where I live is full of cars driven by sixteen year olds. How does that happen? It’s not like any of the kids have the wherewithal to produce a fully functioning car – or their parents – or their teachers. People who worry about financial inequity are oblivious to the magic of America’s productive economy. Human squalor is real, but thank goodness we don’t have it here.

    Funny … the old lady I sometimes see sleeping under the freeway overpass hasn’t seemed to have gotten your message. I’ll pass on your email to her so she can receive the good news.

    w.

  166. @Joe Grappa says:
    January 13, 2013 at 10:46 am
    “You pro-crowders are a sad bunch… I think a combination of economic incentives, and forced
    sterilization via engineered viruses would do the job.”
    +++++++
    I have an idea that you can inflict upon your miserable self. Why not forced self-sterilization…

    You’re a sick demented person who without the benefit of fossil fuel we’d not be hearing from. Still, I would fight tooth and nail for your right to spew whatever it is you feel the need to.

  167. Willis, many have said it better then I, but again thank you very much. Great pictures for my mind.
    Rex

  168. Willis Eschenbach says:

    January 13, 2013 at 9:52 am

    lowercase fred says:
    January 13, 2013 at 5:16 am

    Archaeology shows that when man left the hunter-gatherer lifestyle to settle in agricultural civilization the average stature and health decreased.

    “Archaeology shows”? Bzzzt! Citation alert! Citation cleanup needed on aisle three!

    w.
    ===========================================

    I don’t have the citation handy either but I have heard of the studies and it makes nothing but sense to me that when the noble savage was tamed, deprived of his paleo diet, and forced to live in circumstances much like you describe in city states, in the service of divine kings; that his health and stature would decline.

    So what? That trend is long since reversed, and even modern Rousseauians like Pat don’t want to go back to the paleolithic.

  169. “You want an example of a truly free market, one that pays absolutely no attention to government regulations? Think organized crime, pigs with guns.”

    Sorry, but this is absurd.

    A free market is just what people do when no-one is holding a gun to their heads, and organised crime only exists because of government regulations prohibiting the law-abiding from trading things that they want to trade. Not only does that give crime gangs a massive profit margin to fight over as illegality pushes up prices, but they can’t use non-violent means of settling disputes because what they’re doing is illegal; just imagine two criminal street gangs asking an arbitration agency to settle a turf dispute, for example.

  170. Willis, you are a thinking person. Also talented. And a mystery. I fully agree with the viewpoint you have elaborated but don’t have any answers. When I started doing climate science I was just mad at the stupidity of the likes of Gore. I keep learning ramifications of it I never expected. My hope is that in the end we can stop the insanity of the pseudo-scientific cabal of these warmists before they destroy civilization. They have no scientific backing for their theories. They are still talking of Arrhenius when the Miskolczi experiment proves him wrong. Miskolczi theory has been observationally proved and invalidates the greenhouse theory completely. And with that, the anthropogenic global warming theory is dead. But people who should side with us are so confused by the years of talk about carbon dioxide that they are not fully convinced the theory never worked at all. They just want to tone it down and make the warming non-threatening when in fact the theory is dead.

  171. Joe Grappa says:
    January 13, 2013 at 5:02 am
    Too many people. Get the population down to 500 million or a billion or so and everyone would live like a king.
    ===========
    Are you volunteering to go first?

    The worlds population was 500 million about 200 years ago. Only a very few lived as kings. Today, most of the people reading this enjoy a better standard of living than any king 200 years ago.

  172. For what its worth, I was agreeing with Willis. Poverty is the problem. Without cheap energy, or without wealth, it won’t be fixed. Cheap energy and wealth is synonymous.

    If there was sufficient wealth in Nigeria, then the clinic would not likely need to be cleaned up. If there was wealth, the driver would not need to ask foreigners for money. If there was money, the clinic would have proper equipment and properly trained people. If there was wealth, there would be proper oversight, so the clinic would never get to that state.

    I really don’t know how my post was confused as a criticism of Willis. Far from it. It was an endorsement.

    We in the west are indeed the “1%” in the world. Higher energy costs won’t hurt us as much as it does the world’s poor. The best thing we could do for the poor, is make them not poor. Higher energy costs won’t allow that.

  173. “Western elite lifestyles cannot be sustained.”

    Doomsayers were claiming that — and demanding that we kill off the poor — a hundred years ago.

    There are vast amounts of resources under our feet that we haven’t even touched yet, and even vaster amounts above our heads. The only thing we need to exploit those resources is abundant cheap energy, which is probably the CAGW-ers are working so hard to prevent it.

    Get the luddites out of the way and we’ll have no problem sustaining and improving our lifestyles over the next century, just as we did over the last. A century from now our descendants will look like gods or cave-men to us, depending on which path we take.

  174. @Ferd Berple: You wrote to Joe Grappa: “Are you volunteering to go first?”
    +++
    and then placed facts to support your sentiment. I like your post far better than mine… Yes, self sterilization is too kind of an act for Joe Grappa (recall he wants a man made virus to sterilize other people). The likes of Joe Grappa see themselves as too important to volunteer their own lives, their generosity is in giving or offering the lives of others. That is the way of the neo Liberal. They want wealth that someone else has, so they vote to take it, be it lives or property. Truly a loathsome bunch. If I’m snipped, I understand.

  175. John West says:

    “Joe Grappa says:
    “The end result is to turn open spaces into termataries, while forcing people to live cramped and crabbed lives”

    Let’s consider what a future human-termatarium (hutarium) might be like. Perhaps a “super-duper” mall like structure with sections not just for retail but also manufacturing, housing, medical, import/export, administrative/financial, high efficiency farming, and recreation all connected through elevators and moving sidewalks. One might leave ones’ apartment in the morning, take a sidewalk to work, leave work taking a multi-directional elevator to the lake surrounded by the hutarium for some kayaking, go by the retail section for some personal items, eat at the food court, and make it back to the apartment just in time to catch a favorite TV show before going to bed. Doesn’t sound that bad to me.”

    It doesn’t!? It sounds like a nightmare to me.

    Contrast your nightmare with a world in which people live in small towns in which the average family can afford a decent home with plenty of land around it.

    That’s one of the differences between 9 billion (or 10 or 15 or whatever the size of the nightmare will be) and 500 million population.

    It may not be possible to bring the population down until it reaches some obscenely large number, but I would have thought that people would at least believe that reducing the population is a good thing; instead, I see here an incredible, to me almost insane, yowling about how awful it is to suggest that getting the population down to 500meg is a good thing.

  176. MarkG says:
    January 13, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    “You want an example of a truly free market, one that pays absolutely no attention to government regulations? Think organized crime, pigs with guns.”

    Sorry, but this is absurd.

    A free market is just what people do when no-one is holding a gun to their heads …

    Thanks, Mark. You have made my point exactly, which is that to keep that gunplay from happening, to keep people from holding literal or metaphorical guns to other people’s heads, to keep the market free, you have to have regulations and regulators. You need to regulate the market to keep it free of coercion, from guns or anything else.

    w.

  177. Thanks Willis for reminding us of pragmatic realities. It reminds me of Indur Goklany’s article:
    Could Biofuel Policies Increase Death and Disease in Developing Countries?

    the increase in poverty owing to growth in biofuels production over 2004 levels leads to the conclusion that additional biofuel production may have resulted in at least 192,000 excess deaths and 6.7 million additional lost DALYs in 2010. These exceed WHO’s estimated annual toll of 141,000 deaths and 5.4 million lost DALYs attributable to global warming. Thus, policies intended to mitigate global warming may actually have increased death and disease in developing countries.

    In the name of caring for the environment, we have established fuel policies that given no “benefit” to the environment, but cause some 10,000 times as many deaths among the extreme poor EACH YEAR as the 20 students killed in Newport – all to buy a few green farm votes.

  178. Steven (Mosher), thanks for the links to Rosling. He’s one of my heroes, I’ve used his graphs in my posts before.

    My best of the new year to you,

    w.

  179. Great article, excellent perspective.

    I am convinced that Obama and his cronies are deliberately causing grief to the poor with their skyrocketing energy prices. Then at some point, the government will ride in on it’s white horse, and propose a “solution” that makes the poor totally dependent on …government! The very same government that deliberately caused the problem in the first place.

    With the poor permanently on the dole, they are easily controlled.

  180. @Steven Mosher says:
    January 13, 2013 at 12:14 pm
    Child survival is the new green…

    Quite a nice video until the the guy mentioned the “The right green technology”. It’s as if you folks don’t understand the CO2 is green. What you cannot seem to intellectualize is that you have been duped towards not understanding what CO2 is. It’s hard for me to believe you would not have been one of the people to have believed in witches back in the day. The new witch, that will prevent poor from rising, is your people Mosher.

  181. @ Steven Mosher. I don’t know if child survival is “the new green”. Frankly, the whole concept of “green” is problematic. It’s certainly a worthwhile humanitarian goal, though, and we already know one of the key concepts behind it; cheap, readily available energy.

  182. Joe Grappa:

    I was the first to reply to your first post. I hope this will be the last reply to any of your posts whether or not there are more of them.

    I was moderate in my first reply to you. Clearly, that was a mistake.

    You are sick and demented. Your misanthropy is eating you. You need help. Please seek it.

    I hope nobody continues to discuss with you because that could give you the impression that your evil notions are worthy of discussion: they are not.

    Richard

  183. In a comment to “Rud”, Willis writes, “At present there are enough known reserves of fossil fuel to power the world for a couple hundred years with ease.”

    The Potential Gas Committee, in their latest assessment, estimated that the U.S. has a total
    natural gas resource base of about 2,074 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). The US consumption is 24.4 Tcf/year, giving a life index of 85 years. This resource base exclude methane hydrates.

    A frequently quoted estimate of the global methane hydrate resource is 700,000 Tcf. The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement estimates there is 21,000 Tcf in-place methane hydrate resources in the northern Gulf of Mexico, with about 6,700 Tcf of this resource in relatively high-concentration accumulations in sandy sediments. At 35% recovery factor, this would deliver 2,350 Tcf recoverable gas, increasing the US life index by a further 96 years. There is a further 85 Tcf recoverable on the north slope Alaska, 70 Tcf recoverable in high quality sandstone reservoirs around the Arctic Islands (Canada). Methane hydrate in marine sands is estimated to contain 1,000’s to 10,000’s of Tcf, and hydrate dispersed through marine muds is estimated to contain 100,000’s of Tcf.

    http://www.netl.doe.gov/technologies/oil-gas/publications/Hydrates/2011Reports/MH_Primer2011.pdf

    Alberta Oil Sands have reserves of 170 billion barrels. Production is forecast to rise to 1.2 billion barrels per year by 2019, giving a life index of 140 years.

    http://www.ercb.ca/learn-about-energy/oilsands

  184. Thanks Willis for recalibrating our humanity sensors. Your piece is brilliant shaft of reality sunshine that washes out the monitor images of virtual reality generated by our “awareness raising” activists and their priests stirring the computer modelling entrails.

    Time for a walk in the real world for us all.

  185. Willis Eschenbach says:
    January 13, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Wllis- maybe you should move to North Dakota residential gas rate is 7.31 cents / kwh. Natural gas is $7.21/ thousand cu ft . Unfortunately it is 7 degrees F. out side right now

  186. To those who seek a governmental solution every problem i offer this bumper stick on
    the back of Nez Peirce friend’s Pickup:
    “trust the Government-ask an Indian.”
    Taken father, that governmental solution can result in the “Final Solution.”
    Plenty has to be plenty and development for all. The green agenda is an agenda of
    death-especially for those of color. Period… The monies given to the “Poor” will be funnled into the Kleptocrat’s pockets their 1%…

  187. Joe Grappa says:
    “I would have thought that people would at least believe that reducing the population is a good thing; instead, I see here an incredible, to me almost insane, yowling about how awful it is to suggest that getting the population down to 500meg is a good thing.”

    That’s probably because you normally interact with the ethically and mentally challenged! And with that I’m going to heed Richards’s advice and leave you to your fantasies.

  188. Willis

    All I can say is amen. I am from a much poorer background than my current state. I still remember shacks in the company coal mining towns in Alabama where the wind would flow through like the stings of icecicles when you were there.

    When I laugh at the whining of my liberal brothers and sisters whining about the poor in the United States I remind them that the poorest American is likely richer than 99.95% of all humans in the history of the human race. I am almost universally scoffed at. However, I have seen the skeletons of the Indians (before it was not PC to display them) at Moundville Alabama where the arthritis spurs were over an inch long and after hearing this and asking how old they were, to be informed that almost no one lived past the age of 35-40 years.

    I have read the reports of the scars on the backs of the workers in ancient Egypt that carried heavy burdens from their childhoods to their deaths before the age of 30.

    I read stupid books like Kirkpatrick Sale’s “Collapse” where they extoll the virtues of pre-industrial society and how people might work half a day and then drink beer the rest of it. The incredible and audacious ignorance of these people is beyond astounding.

    Fossil fuels have done more to lift the world out of poverty than all other resources, technologies, and techniques of our entire human history. This had to be coupled with capitalism and individual freedom before the critical mass that has brought us to this day could be reached. Read the book “The Lunar Men” about the ten men who helped bring the industrial revolution about.

    Thanks for your post Willis as it is absolutely critical that such observations be out there…..

  189. Joe Grappa says:
    Too many people. Get the population down to 500 million or a billion or so and everyone would live like a king.

    Question:
    Who lives?
    Who dies?
    Who decides?
    What if they don’t want to go?

    Have you decided that you and yours are one of the ones who should live?
    Why?
    Are you especially deserving in some way?
    If they decide you and yours will have to go, will you just let them come and kill your children, kill you?
    Will anyone else?
    So, you want to kill more than 90% of the worlds people so that you can be a little more comfortable?

    You apparently have not thought this thing out. First, for everyone to live like a king, you have to assume that we have the total worldly wealth we now have but spread only among 500 million people. However, with 500 million people, we now have vastly less producers of wealth. With less than a tenth the producers of wealth, we would have less than a tenth the wealth. Result, we would not live like kings.
    What you are therefore really saying is that you wish to kill 90% or more of the people on this planet and take their stuff.

    With less than a tenth the people, we would also have less than a tenth the people to dream up new ways to produce that wealth. Result, we would have a far lower level of technology, about the level we had when we did indeed have only 500 million people. People then definitely did not live like kings. We would end up right back where we were before and go through all this yet again.

    How do we reduce population growth?
    There is only one way known to actually work, modern, high tech society.
    That takes lots of cheap and abundant energy.

  190. Willis, re the free market, yes some regulation, using agreed upon rules, is necessary.
    But our current situation is akin to lawlessness, too many rules, contradicting each other and defying reality
    Multi-layers of Regulators fighting over who has the power to regulate the minutia of our lives.
    There are so many senseless laws that we effectively have none.
    Our economy and society is being deliberately destroyed by this regulatory abuse.
    I’m late to the party, I had blamed stupidity for our current malaise.

  191. Willis
    The Helena story would be incomplete without adding that the shanty was the family’s world headquarters for a labour hire network. Helena in the brothel, Roberto on a ship in the Mediterranean, Miguel on an oil rig of Borneo. The money would be coming back to put selected children through education and to get Aunty a flat screen TV.
    The interesting link is the reason the father of one of poor single mother’s children is sitting around drinking instead of home being abused by the bitch milking the welfare state’s effort to buy her vote, is that Miguel and nine others sleep in the cabin his union feels he would be entitled to as part of his employment package. At least Helena has family and hope, the drunk has nothing but a bottle.
    The funny thing is many of your western civilization audience will be sitting around wondering
    “How can I send some of my chickens to Senegal?” God bless America of it’s generosity to those outside family.

  192. Oh dear. Good stories but they stopped just where it got interesting…

    I wonder whether Helen’s shanty town is one of the ones that gets flooded regularly? A lot of them are only just above sea level so we know that flooding will occur more regularly.

    Or was it one the shanties blown away when 350,000 were rendered homeless by a single cat 4 typhoon that sort of hit a bit south of the normal typhoon tracks last year? (It was not quite as well-publicised in the US as Sandy was but, hey, we can’t trust the MSM to get any sense of proportion about anything, can we?) I wonder whether Willis’ farming families is one of the ones who has been driven away by desertification or who are increasingly suffering from what is by now regional and chronic famine along much of sub-Saharan Africa?

    The point that Willis left out of his stories is that while economic and political systems foster huge disparities of wealth, poverty will not be fixed. Poverty will not be fixed under BAU, because it is BAU. But wait, there is more. Under the same maldistribution of wealth, under the same political and economic systems, AGW will affect the poor and the least resilient far more than it will affect the wealthy. They will be able sail their yachts to the least-affected places plus they will, in any case, have more ocean around which to sail as sea-levels continue to rise.

    So, we have yet another attempt by Willis to conflate poverty with AGW-response. Poverty is a global issue under BAU at a time when the globe is more burning more fossil fuel than ever before. If Willis wants to address poverty under BAU he should come up with something a bit more sensible than burning more fossil fuel.

    Poverty inherited from, and inherent in BAU, is a global issue under AGW-response. It is also an issue for each nation. It is why the Australian Government provided financial support to those least able to afford rising electricity prices consequent to AGW-prevention policies.

    The correct policy response is to address poverty as part of the AGW-response. Disproportionate impacts on the poor should be offset by differential payments for AGW-prevention by those of us who have benefited most – the very, very wealthy.

  193. Bruce Cobb.
    Of course you dont know if child survival is the new green. Stating one’s ignorance of the facts doesnt change them.

  194. Thank you for that, Willis. Three wonderful stories in a great article. The rich have no idea of the lives of the poorest of the poor. The affluent ‘concerned’ people are concerned about possible future problems or benefits that might emerge from a vague computer programme’s guess. It may or may not occur and probably will not. However the problems of the poor in their energy poverty are real and current. These ‘Green’ polices are absolutely and totally devastating to the poor of the World.

  195. “The new witch, that will prevent poor from rising, is your people Mosher.”

    my people? you mean libertarians?
    my people? you mean people who think taxing carbon is a bad idea?

    As Feynman said the easiest person to fool is yourself. un fool yourself about who I am and who my people are.

  196. rgbatduke says:
    January 13, 2013 at 6:51 am
    I grew up in India in the 60′s, living in New Delhi. In the US we were middle class citizens, not rich, not poor. In India we were the moral equivalent of multimillionaires.
    ============================================================
    I remember reading somewhere that the US was one of the few countries where someone living “in poverty” might still have AC and cell phones.
    People talk of “wealth” as if it was a finite amount. It’s not. What is of genuine value can change and grow. It can also be artificial. A loaf of bread has genuine value to the people Willis recounted (and to the rest of us).
    To produce that loaf of bread takes energy, even if that energy is via a person pulling a plow. How many more loaves of bread can be produced if that person is driving a tractor instead?
    I know what I just said is an over-simplification but, how would restricting energy help? Subsidize an alternative? Those paying the subsidy will go broke themselves. Then what?
    It only needs to be subsidized if it has no genuine value in itself.

    • At 6:51 AM on 13 January, rgbatduke had written: “I grew up in India in the 60′s, living in New Delhi. In the US we were middle class citizens, not rich, not poor. In India we were the moral equivalent of multimillionaires.”

      At 1:55 PM on 13 January, Gunga Din had responded: “People talk of ‘wealth’ as if it was a finite amount. It’s not. What is of genuine value can change and grow. It can also be artificial. A loaf of bread has genuine value to the people Willis recounted (and to the rest of us).
      To produce that loaf of bread takes energy, even if that energy is via a person pulling a plow. How many more loaves of bread can be produced if that person is driving a tractor instead?”

      In Tramp Royale (published in 1992), SF writer Robert A. Heinlein observed that:

      “True prices depend on wages and salaries — how many minutes a journeyman carpenter has to work to earn a kilo loaf of standard bread.”

      I’ve heard this referred to as the “Heinlein Index,” and when corrected for government controls established to disguise this and other reflections of currency debauchment and market derangement, the principle behind it is robust.

  197. Climate Ace:

    Your many posts on several WUWT posts demonstrate your ignorance of AGW. So, there was no need to do it again on this thread (at January 13, 2013 at 1:49 pm).

    This thread is about poverty and not your delusions.

    Richard

  198. Yes willis, Rosling is a great resource. So many people have a knee jerk reaction when they hear a guy say one thing they dont like that they reject everything the person has to say. I would recommend that folks listen with an open mind and take away the good and leave their disagreements aside.

  199. The green-agenda website is up at the moment, and it shows that a Malthusian worldview is not unusual at a high social and political level — Mr. Grappa is in ‘good company’, so to speak.

    http://www.green-agenda.com/

    It is a puzzle to me that the exotic energy claims are not even mentioned in this thread. After years of dismissal, it now seems that radical concepts are developing some support. For example, LENR based technology is not limited to the controversial claims by Andrea Rossi. There are several other R&D groups and confirmations that LENR has some reality. There are probably still some fools and knaves, of course, but it appears that undeniable advances will appear this year.

    http://peswiki.com/index.php/Top_5_Exotic_Free_Energy_Technologies

  200. Climate Ace says:

    “So, we have yet another attempt by Willis to conflate poverty with AGW-response.”

    Ah, but it is ‘Climate Ace’ who is conflating poverty and AGW, not Willis.

    To the extent that AGW exists, it is a non-issue. Any putative effect of AGW is so minuscule that it can be completely disregarded for all practical purposes. AGW is not the same thing as rising energy costs. They are completely different animals.

    AGW is so small that it cannot be measured. There is no measurable, quantifiable ‘human signal’ in the temperature record. AGW is a tiny, 3rd order forcing that is swamped by second-order forcings — which in turn are swamped by first-order forcings. In short, AGW just does not matter. Its primary use is as a scare tactic to frighten money out of the populace. That is the one thing it is good at.

    Climate Ace continues:

    “AGW will affect the poor and the least resilient far more than it will affect the wealthy. They will be able sail their yachts to the least-affected places plus they will, in any case, have more ocean around which to sail as sea-levels continue to rise.”

    Climate Ace is once again conflating ‘AGW’ with skyrocketing energy costs. Expensive energy — not AGW — whacks the poor. No one has been able to measure AGW. Why not? Because AGW is too minuscule to measure.

    Because AGW is too small to measure, it’s very existence stops at the ‘conjecture’ step of the Scientific Method [Conjecture, Hypothesis, Theory, Law]. A conjecture is an opinion. It is not testable or falsifiable. Yet $Billions are wasted on the AGW conjecture every year.

    However, we can measure the impact of fast-rising energy costs. More expensive energy is a deliberate tactic employed by the government as part of it’s plan to make the poor totally dependent on government. The government will dole out energy assistance funds, putting the poor on the dole — with the implied threat that their energy welfare can always be cut off. Thus, government controls those most affected by rising energy costs. That is the plan, and it is proceeding apace.

  201. Willis:
    Thank you, as said above, I am richer for having read it. In fact many are richer, your writing is a service in helping us consider the poor and to pray for them

  202. Joe Grappa says:
    January 13, 2013 at 5:02 am

    Too many people. Get the population down to 500 million or a billion or so and everyone would live like a king. And so back when the earth’s population WAS “down to 500 million or a billion or so”, how many lived like kings then?

    Your logic is appaling and wrong, Joe. Some have even described it as sick, and I suggest you rely on common sense to understand why.

  203. When people in the US or Europe plead poverty to me, I won’t allow it. “You ain’t seen poor until you’ve seen the poor in Asia.” I tell them.

    And that was before I spent any time in Africa.

    These stories bring back to me many incidents from my own youthful walk-about days. Kudos to Mr. Eschenbach for making what should be a very obvious point; high taxes on energy are THE most regressive kinds of taxes on the planet because they hit the poor much more painfully than they do the rest of us.

  204. Climate Ace says:
    January 13, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    “Poor people are going to catch on fire and then be drowned by the sky burning, and melting all the ice. Being able to get away from it is proof you’re a sinner.’

    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

    Hey Marx-for-brains,

    it stopped warming almost 20 years ago.

    So, there goes your chance for apocalypse, and not having to keep on getting up in the morning, being you.

  205. papiertigre says:
    January 13, 2013 at 10:33 am
    Re: MamaLiberty says:

    How did you know that my clock is stopped? Does it show?

    I was talking about Oboma… He may well have (probably accidentally) managed to do a few things that don’t totally screw up the world, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. It’s was HIS clock I was speaking of, not yours. :)

    And Willis… I have to suppose that you’ve never heard of or read anything from the Von Mises Institute. Your concerns have been well addressed there. The truth is that this non-voluntary government you seem to trust to plan and control everything is EXACTLY the same one that works so hard to to destroy our ability to produce and effectively use energy… and many of them wish to kill 90% of us so they will have Joe’s utopia. You really can’t have it both ways.

  206. About this idea that the green solution would hurt mostly the poor in third world countries, it would also do another thing.

    Currently, here in the USA, and elsewhere in the developed world, there are a few wee problems with debt. We are financing our consumption by debt, often because we have decided we want to ‘go green’, and thus our regulations forced companies that actually produce something to countries that have no regulation. Result, the only way we can buy their products is on credit since we don’t produce much of anything (a recent comment on the USA representative to a developed world conference was ‘a poor man in borrowed clothes”). Go to the store, it used to have something like 94% USA produced goods, it now has at most 24%, a whopping 25% reduction in just the last 10 years alone (and this was several years ago, thus 24% is now less).

    Now throw in a crushing new weight of environmental regulations and especially green taxes, and add a power shortage and resulting outages. I expect that the cracks we see even now (‘fiscal cliff’, ‘debt ceiling crisis’, trillion dollar plus budgets, cities and towns going bankrupt, other things you will read in the paper in coming months) will grow and eventually the entire economy will simply shatter. Imagine the USA with a sudden 100 million unemployed. Imagine the government in default. Imagine what that government will do, tax the rich (they will evade it as they always do, and they simply don’t have enough money anyway), print money, which will make it so worthless that no foreigners will buy our stuff or give us credit, 76% of what you see today in stores will simply be gone. It will be as it was written long ago:
    In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
    By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
    But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said:
    “If you don’t work you die.”
    (Historical note, robbing Peter to pay collective Paul is what turned the Roman republic into the empire of slavery and war that followed.)
    The government may even go the traditional route, ‘find someone to blame’ (blame the Jews!), result, secret police, pogroms, war.

    In short, I see that, if the green agenda is fully realized, the developed world will become as the third world is now. And that will result in a problem, we do not know how to live on $100 a year. I expect there would be mass riots and the like quickly, they would demand that the government ‘do something’, and this has all happened before. It will not end well, the last time resulted in WWII.

    We have spent centuries, millenia, of effort to finally see a better life for our children. We have finally succeeded, and the result, spoiled children who are now trying to throw it all away in only one generation. The result of fully realizing the green agenda will make the stories of ‘the horrors of global warming’ look like a sunday picnic by comparison to what we would actually be living in (those of us still living).

    You might want to carefully read the above tales, you might need those survival skills.

    Oh, and the reason that in ‘the gold old days’ in Europe they drank a lot of beer (and soup) was because in their poverty they dumped a lot of sewage into the river. Result, drink the water and die. Beer (and a soup that is cooked all day) is safe, however, so they drank beer. See the above tales, when you are that poor, that is the only way you have to dispose of sewage. Bring in the green agenda, and you had better learn to brew beer and like soup.

  207. I had a similar experience about 20 years ago in Venezuela. I was staying in the little town of Punto Fijo while doing some work at a local oil refinery. Well the last day in country we, my work mates and I, decide to get a bottle of rum from across the street and sit around the pool and drink rum and cokes. Well I head into the hotel bar to get a glass of coke. In usual fashion the bartender punches the price out in a calculator and show it to me. 75 Bolivares or about 40 cents American was the damage. I look in my wallet and the smallest bill I had was a 5,000 Bolivar note. At the time this was equal to a little over $27. I hand the bill over and the bartender looks at me with a “What the hell” expression on his face. I do my best “I’m sorry, it’s all I got” look, then the bartender turns around and disappears into the back with my money. A short time later the bartender returns and hands me my change. I tip him 50 or 100 Bolivares, I really don’t remember, and head out the pool with my friends. In the following days, after the rum had worn off, I started to think about this transaction again. Given what I knew about the town, I was pretty certain that the 5,000 Bolivar note was more money than that bartender was going to make in 3-5 days. I think it’s also pretty telling that the bartender couldn’t make change with what he had behind the bar. He had to go somewhere else to break it. At the time I had 5 or 6 of those notes along with a couple of 10,000 Bolivar to boot as walking around money.

    It was quite humbling to think that I was walking around with more money in my wallet than that bartender was going to see in 2-3 weeks. Even in the refinery I was making more every hour than most of the workers were going to make that day.

  208. Climate Ace says:
    January 13, 2013 at 1:49 pm
    … It is why the Australian Government provided financial support to those least able to afford rising electricity prices consequent to AGW-prevention policies.
    =====================================================
    Me: If it’s not worth it, Subsidize It!
    ======================================================
    The correct policy response is to address poverty as part of the AGW-response. Disproportionate impacts on the poor should be offset by differential payments for AGW-prevention by those of us who have benefited most – the very, very wealthy.
    =======================================================
    Well, I’m not one of the “very, very weathy” but they want my money too.

    It is self-destructive for any society to create a situation where a baby who is born into the world today automatically has pre-existing grievances against another baby born at the same time, because of what their ancestors did centuries ago. It is hard enough to solve our own problems, without trying to solve our ancestors’ problems.– Thomas Sowell

    Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.– Thomas Sowell

    The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.– Thomas Sowell

    It is usually futile to try to talk facts and analysis to people who are enjoying a sense of moral superiority in their ignorance.– Thomas Sowell

    Wal-Mart has done more for poor people than any ten liberals, at least nine of whom are almost guaranteed to hate Wal-Mart.– Thomas Sowell

  209. Joe Grappa wants to save humanity by destroying 93% of humanity.
    It may interest him to know that the total living human population, standing side by side, row after row, would fit on two islands the size of Ibiza. I do not see any problem with this. Furthermore, the best (proven) method for stabilising our birthrate is by becoming richer and richer, something that the left/humanists/greens cannot understand or refuse to understand or understand it but they have an evil agenda. Culling 93% of humanity so that the rest would be able to live comfortably smacks of evil eugenics/Malthusianism.
    Since Malthus gave us his (most erroneous) theory, humanity not only survived the population growth but produced more food and material resources in abundance to our need. This is due to our intelligence. In fact, the greater the population the greater the chance of a genius being born who would invent/develop new systems/inventions that would reult in cheaper energy, more abundant food, better medicine etc etc. Drastically reducing the number of human beings reduces the statistical chance of having these occasional geniuses being born, depriving humanity of those quantum leaps that we have seen these last two or three centuries.

  210. Wow, that was powerful WIllis. I am sharing on FB so all my liberal friends can put it in perspective. Plus the title of the story will draw them in ;-)

  211. Allen B. Eltor says:
    January 13, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Climate Ace says:
    January 13, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    “Poor people are going to catch on fire and then be drowned by the sky burning, and melting all the ice. Being able to get away from it is proof you’re a sinner.’

    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

    Hey Marx-for-brains,

    it stopped warming almost 20 years ago.

    So, there goes your chance for apocalypse, and not having to keep on getting up in the morning, being you.

    It never ceases to surprise me that BAU boosters feel such a stong need to make up stuff about me and then have a bit of fun belting some straw men around. Maybe it is all that infrared radiation frying your brains?

    I did not say that poor people are going to catch on fire. Stop pretending I did.

    Stop pretending I am a Marxist. I am not. I support capitalism and a free market with government regulation to pick up stuff that falls between the cracks and to deal with market failure. I have a preference for smaller government rather than bigger government. For example, if I were writing a new constitution for the US, I would get rid of the states, thereby getting rid of a completely unnecessary and wasteful level of government. It would save trillions per decade.

    I did not say that there will be an apocalypse. Stop pretending I did.

    What I did say, and what you completely failed to address, is that mass poverty and hunger is part and parcel of BAU and that addressing AGW is going to require addressing poverty as well as CO2 pollution, and not by ignoring poverty, as Willis seems to think is inevitable.

  212. richardscourtney says:
    January 13, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Climate Ace:

    Your many posts on several WUWT posts demonstrate your ignorance of AGW. So, there was no need to do it again on this thread (at January 13, 2013 at 1:49 pm).

    This thread is about poverty and not your delusions.

    Richard

    Richard Courtney Seagull continues to arrive, squawk, crap on everything from a great height and then fly on. I suggest you go to a garbage tip for some lunch. It appears to be your natural habitat.

  213. A very good presentation of the truth. The problem is, driving up the price of energy – thus also food – is part of the plan to rid the world of all those, as Henry Kissinger put it, “useless eaters.” I believe Ted Turner said the ideal population for the planet was 250 to 300 million people, so, although every word you say is true, the plan is to crush those at the bottom into the dirt, not to help them or protect their world. My guess would be that if you aren’t worth at least a half million right now, you are probably one of those “useless eaters” that need to be culled.

  214. RockyRoad says:

    “Joe Grappa says:
    January 13, 2013 at 5:02 am
    Too many people. Get the population down to 500 million or a
    billion or so and everyone would live like a king.

    Your logic is appaling and wrong, Joe. Some have even described it
    as sick, and I suggest you rely on common sense to understand why.”

    I am relying on common sense. Common sense tells me that if we have
    more people we will need a greater industrial infrastructure to
    feed, house and clothe them; the people and the industry will
    produce more pollution, which will require greater controls on the
    lives of the people to allow them to survive.

    With umpteen billion people, what we now cherish as wild and
    uninhabited places will become, if we are lucky, industrial parks
    and housing estates; if we are unlucky, enormous slums.

    One would think, using common sense, that any sane person would
    prefer to have a world population of 500 million rather than 9 (or 15 or 20)
    billion; but not one person besides myself, who has weighed in,
    has said that.

    I find that incredible. Truly, it makes me wonder about the sanity of my fellow
    posters; I mean their sanity on this topic. I imagine it is possible to become so
    brainwashed about a particular subject that your thinking slithers into some
    kind of twilight zone devoid of the simplest common sense.

    The only replies I have seen to my comments have been vague remarks
    about ‘history teaches….’, ‘you do not understand…’, etc., along with ad hominems.

    The replies are truly pathetic and unworthy of the supposedly
    educated people who frequent this list.

  215. Climate Ace says:
    “For example, if I were writing a new constitution for the US, I would get rid of the states, thereby getting rid of a completely unnecessary and wasteful level of government. It would save trillions per decade”

    THROW THE BUM OUT!!!. fool….

  216. Climate Ace.

    The problem is that the “solution” of taxing carbon does nothing to solve the real problem.

    in 2050 there will be 9Billion people on the planet. 6Billion of them will have no energy.
    taxing carbon will not magically create energy solutions for them. It will make energy more expensive for those who can already afford it. So, you need to solve the energy problem first.

    And as far as energy solutions go, you cant solve the energy problem for the masses of poor people by applying solutions that work for rich countries. You need a different approach.

    Care about energy and AGW?
    educate poor females

  217. D Böehm Stealey says:
    January 13, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Climate Ace says:

    “So, we have yet another attempt by Willis to conflate poverty with AGW-response.”

    Ah, but it is ‘Climate Ace’ who is conflating poverty and AGW, not Willis.

    Given our previous discussions I will assume that (unlike some of the screwball logicians on the loose around here) you are not deliberately verballing me and that it could well be that I have not been clear enough. I will admit to being a bit muzzy headed from lack of sleep due to our record breaking warm spell. Australia has had another 12 houses burn to the ground overnight. With at three houses, one and a half properties and more than a thousand animals belonging to members of our extended family having been destroyed by bushfires over the course of half a century, I do tend to get jittery at peak fire times. Oh, and the lip balm melted out of its container. Just when I needed it for chapped lips due to the extreme heat. AGW is sure going to bring along some non-linear stuff and some threshold events.

    I will have a go at clarifying my points:

    Mass global poverty and hunger is part of BAU. (I am glad that Willis refrained from paying for sex in the Philippines and Willis does write a good story. But the issue is not what an individual does or does not do with another individual. In the context of the Philippines, it is BAU poverty that forces around 400,000 Filipinas into the sex trade (some are probably Filipinos but I am not sure of the breakdown). Not nearly as romantic or poetic as Willis’ Piano Man story is it?)

    Poverty is part of BAU. Poverty will be part of AGW as it hits. AGW will most likely hit the poor the hardest becaue the wealthy will pay their way through any climate-related difficulties. The wealthy are good at that sort of stuff. When the kaka hits the BAU fan in some part of the world, the wealthy skedaddle with their wealth.

    The appropriate response to Willis’ story is to insist that those in poverty do not pay harder for any AGW response.

  218. Climate Ace says:
    January 13, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    if I were writing a new constitution for the US, I would get rid of the states.
    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
    Another Marx-billy explaining how "There's no room for any government but National Government."

  219. Steven Mosher says:
    January 13, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Bruce Cobb.
    Of course you dont know if child survival is the new green. Stating one’s ignorance of the facts doesnt change them.

    Since when is a slogan a “fact”? Miss the point much?

  220. Thank you, a wonderful essay. A compelling condemnation of all those peddling the co2 danger rubbish argument. What are they thinking?

  221. Climate Ace says:
    January 13, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    What I did say, and what you completely failed to address, is that mass poverty and hunger is part and parcel of BAU and that addressing AGW is going to require addressing poverty as well as CO2 pollution, and not by ignoring poverty, as Willis seems to think is inevitable.

    So I shall address what you claim to have said, because that’s the easy part, “Ace”:

    You call it “CO2 pollution” but the biosphere would differ with you there, for it is food to them, and by extension, food for humans and other animals. Anthropogenic production of CO2 is actually good for the earth–a slight contribution to warming and a more significant contribution to foodstuff production. Calling CO2 a pollutant is a bit of a stretch.

  222. ref. Pat Ravasio, January 13, 2013 at 6:59 am
    You seem to have missed the whole point. So-called Green, or alternate energy sources, are generally more expensive, less portable, less versatile, and less reliable than the old standby energy sources. Only advanced countries can develop, implement, and pay for sources of energy like solar and wind that must be supported by the taxpayers, mandated green energy supplies, and forced feed-in rates, and have hot standby alternate sources such as natural gas fired power plants. Where do you get the idea that wind and solar are less expensive? I wish it were true. You also claim that we are slaves to “buy our paltry share of oil and gas”. First, no one is forcing you to buy anything. You can live like a caveman if you wish. The low cost availability of fossil fuels makes it possible for us make energy our slave, so for example we don’t spend all day foraging for fuel to cook and heat with. Sure, you could install a solar power system on your roof if you live in a sunny climate and have the necessary capital, but it is far cheaper to pay the power company. In fact, power costs have stabilized or even decreased lately due to the glut of natural gas available in the US.
    As for pollution, the US, where a large portion of the worlds energy and chemicals is produced and consumed, is also one of the cleanest places to live. Real pollution, like open sewers (remember typhus, cholera, and dysentery), and smoke from the burning of trash as fuel, etc., is a feature of the poorest nations, where inexpensive and plentiful energy is not available.
    Ironically, it is thinking like yours that aggravates the abject poverty and disease, and creates the conditions that result in short life spans, of the poorest of the world.

  223. Climate Ace says:
    January 13, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    … The point that Willis left out of his stories is that while economic and political systems foster huge disparities of wealth, poverty will not be fixed. Poverty will not be fixed under BAU, because it is BAU. …

    [BAU is “business as usual …}

    The huge point that you don’t seem to have noticed is that the poor of the planet are currently better fed, clothed, educated, and housed than at any time in the last few thousand years. We have lots left to do, but we are moving in the right direction.

    We have pulled millions and millions out of the abject poverty that was the common fate of our ancestors, and we have done it through BAU and nothing but BAU. We did it with cheap energy, which used to be the cornerstone of business as usual, and hopefully will be again.

    Now I’m the first one to admit that there is miles to go, and that we need to do it better. But poverty has indeed been “fixed under BAU” for millions and millions of people. Claiming otherwise merely marks you as an ideologue.

    w.

  224. It brought back memories. The first time I was in Manila was 1966 and the last time was 1971.
    In Manila, the ship would dock to the north east of the Manila Hotel. I suspect that all of the old bars are closed now. The ship also went to Subic Bay and Olongapo City was something else; we were there before and after Marcos declared martial law. Dirt streets, board sidewalks, Jitneys racing at madcap speeds, and armed guards at the doors of the bars. It was the Wild West. We once went down to a pineapple plantation on Mindanao, a place called Bugo, just to the east of Cagayan de Oro. I checked on Google Maps and I wouldn’t recognize it if I want ashore there now! Baack then it was a pineapple processing plant and thatched roof huts on the beach.

    We didn’t stay in port for as long as you did, but I was still able to get to know the people a little. Your description is spot-on. I didn’t get drunk, I didn’t beat the girls, and I was respectful. The people I met appreciated that and I enjoyed their friendship (even though it was commercial.) Because I was nice, I was invited to spend the night at someone’s home. We washed up in a rain barrel in the back. There were no screens on the windows, and when I woke up, I noticed spots of blood on the sheets. They were squished mosquitos where I had rolled over on them. I appreciated the friendship and trust, but an air conditioned hotel would have been preferable.

    More recently, 1996 through 1999, we were running into the Dominican Republic, to the port just west of Santo Domingo. The crew used to hang out at one of the bars just outside the gate. And, yes, it is true what they say about sailor bars. I was not availing myself of the ahhh…. “services”. The ladies had a penchant for groping unoccupied sailors. So, in self-defense, I hired one particular lady. She had just gotten out of prison for eviscerating her pimp. He used to beat her and the consensus was that he had it coming. Nobody seemed to hold it against her. The evening would cost me $20 plus drinks; i.e. El Presidente beer. I explained to the long-suffering Mrs. Steamboat Jack that I was paying the young lady “standby time”. She was available for “service” but “standing by” and getting paid for that. (The Love of My Life was in the Teamster’s Union for 23 years and understands being paid for just standing by.) That made the evening much more pleasant. I was hers and she wouldn’t let anything happen to me or anyone bother me.

    It is a different world out there and most Americans don’t have a clue. Not even the beginnings of one. Some 250,000 children are supposed to have died of starvation last year around the world, yet the Liberals feel smug about converting corn to fuel. They don’t understand the reality of what they are doing. At the end of Roosevelt’s War, WW II, Eisenhower ordered that German civilians be taken on tours of the death camps, so they could see what the National Socialists had done. My father was the executive officer at the air base outside of Munich and it was part of his job to arrange the tours to Dachau. It is a shame that Liberals will never have to face what they have done, at least not on this earth.

    Thanks Willis.

    Regards,
    Steamboat Jack
    (Jon Jewett’s evil twin.)

    PS, Joe Grappa: you first.

  225. RockyRoad says:
    January 13, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    Calling CO2 a pollutant is a bit of a stretch.

    I have no problems with certain levels of CO2.

    But you can have too much of a good thing. You could always put it to the test. Buy yourself a canister of 100% CO2, attach a tube to it with a gas mask and breathe deeply.*

    When you get too much of CO2 you get AGW. That makes CO2 above certain concentrations a pollutant.

    *Warning to children: do not try this at home.

  226. Bruce.

    Since when is a slogan a “fact”?
    well,,,

    Since, god was a kid. The new green is child survival. At some point more people will get it.

  227. Joe Grappa says:
    January 13, 2013 at 10:46 am
    . . . I think a combination of economic incentives, and forced
    sterilization via engineered viruses would do the job.

    This fellow Grappa appears to be either an agent provocateur, i.e. a troll, throwing bombs into the thread in order to highjack it; or a fanatic several cards short of a full deck; or both.

    Others have already pointed out the evident fallacies in the extreme Malthusian argument, namely that there is and will be no shortage of resources,* and no problem bringing even larger world populations to comfortable living standards—not to mention recent experience showing that modern, industrialized societies quickly reduce their birth rates.

    It has also been noted that it would take an extreme form of tyranny to wipe out most of humanity. Of course this is no obstacle to the wild-eyed misanthropes who like to imagine that the human race is nothing but a viral infection upon a pristine Mother Earth.

    But rational argument holds no sway with such ideologues or fantasists. It is sobering, if nothing else, to realize that there are people who hold views of this sort.

    /Mr Lynn

    * Viz. E.M. Smith’s seminal posts on resources:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/05/08/there-is-no-shortage-of-stuff/

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/there-is-no-energy-shortage/

  228. Joe Grappa says:
    January 13, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    RockyRoad says:

    “Joe Grappa says:
    January 13, 2013 at 5:02 am

    Too many people. Get the population down to 500 million or a
    billion or so and everyone would live like a king.

    Your logic is appaling and wrong, Joe. Some have even described it
    as sick, and I suggest you rely on common sense to understand why.”

    I am relying on common sense. Common sense tells me that if we have
    more people we will need a greater industrial infrastructure to
    feed, house and clothe them; the people and the industry will
    produce more pollution, which will require greater controls on the
    lives of the people to allow them to survive.

    Joe, people have responded strongly to your ideas. From my perspective this is for a couple of reasons.

    The first one is that you talk about some unspecified action or occurrence that will “get the population down to 500 million or a billion”. This immediately raises suspicions. Actions to get rid of most of the people on the planet? Really? If it’s such a great plan, how come you haven’t offed yourself? Are you waiting for the comet to do the extinction for you?

    All of that means that whatever else may be true, your plan is wholly, completely, and totally impractical. People aren’t going to sign up for the one-kid policy. In any case, for many places the issue already is not enough kids, rather than too many.

    Is it possible that after the population peak, it gradually declines? Sure … but I don’t think that’s what you are talking about.

    Secondly, your claim is that if there were half a billion people that “everyone would live like a king”. This is just the Malthusian fallacy in reverse. We have the food we have and the resources we have in part because we have the number of people we have. You propose some mystery action that will get rid of six of seven people … which means that it will get rid of six of seven farmers, and six of seven miners, and six of seven factory workers, and six of seven bus drivers …

    How on earth is that going to suddenly make everyone wealthy?

    All the best,

    w.

  229. Willis, go to any government project in cold climate states. The clueless tenants open the windows wide and very expensive heat goes out the windows. That is why everyone should pay something.

  230. Willis

    The huge point that you don’t seem to have noticed is that the poor of the planet are currently better etc, etc, etc…

    There is no time frame to your POV.

    Looking back, when exactly have we had around a billion people going to bed hungry each night and around 15 million children dying of hunger or hunger-related conditions each year? (I can find the stats somewhere but they are rubbery, subject to change etc, etc). The real question might actually be something like, when exactly have we had 500 million going to bed hungry each night and 5 million children a year dying of starvation? Whatever set of stats you alight upon, they belong fair and square to BAU and not to some alternative universe. As a BAU Benefiteer from way back, I own this, just as you very obviously do – and both of us at a personal and visceral level.* But, try telling them that they have never had it so good and that there are fewer of them before now, and that, really, they are wealthier than they used to be. Unless you can demonstrate that there are fewer hungry people on the planet than there used to be your position does not hold water.

    To continue the meme of your Helena story, I am pleased to hear that there must be, for example, fewer and wealthier sex workers in the Philippines than there used to be. According to the latest Lonely Planet or Rough Guide or something like that, the figures are now are around 400,000. Once again, difficult to statistically delineate the real numbers, I suppose.

    Looking forward, you might be able to persuade me that BAU poverty will improve with the onset of AGW.

    *Before any fool on this string tells me I don’t know poverty, I have for years lived amongst, and worked for, communities that had no power, no running water, no toilets, no sewerage and ‘dwellings’ made from scrap. I can tell you beyond any shadow of a doubt that there is no romance or poetry in real poverty. It stinks from woe to go. It blights lives and kills people young.

  231. This is not a black and white issue. And much can be done to increase and cheapen green energy. Native American Reservations are going off the grid with wind and solar energy. The goal is to sell energy off the rez. Green energy can be the best thing that ever happened to the poor.

  232. Allen B. Eltor says:
    January 13, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    Climate Ace says:
    January 13, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    if I were writing a new constitution for the US, I would get rid of the states.
    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
    Another Marx-billy explaining how "There's no room for any government but National Government."

    Oh? I don’t mind either way. Get rid of the states or get rid of the national government. You don’t need both, and you would save trillions either way. I imagine that a collection of around 50 states, most of them broke, would pose less of a war threat to the rest of the world so your preference for an assortment of states over a single national government has some sort of appeal. But that would kill US world leadership and that, IMHO, would not be such a good thing, on balance.

    My point was that I preferred smaller governments over larger governments. Getting rid of a useless layer of government helps get you there. We have the same problem in Australia where we are burdened with hundreds upon hundreds of politicians (in either the states or the fed government) who spend a fair bit of their time blaming the other level of government for some failure or other.

    BTW, you seem to have some sort of Marx fetish. My reading of Marx is that he wanted the whole state and economy to be government-run. Not my cup of tea, actually. BTW, you might want to read Marx before you go around accusing people of being Marxists. I would advise against it. IMHO, Marx is a waste of space.

  233. Climate Joker says:

    “I did not say that poor people are going to catch on fire. Stop pretending I did.”

    Well, these comments sure sound like you are blaming everything on AGW:

    “I will admit to being a bit muzzy headed from lack of sleep due to our record breaking warm spell.”

    “Oh, and the lip balm melted out of its container… due to the extreme heat. ”

    “Australia has had another 12 houses burn to the ground overnight.” &etc.

    Stop pretending you aren’t implying that AGW is the cause. You are.

    If you can provide any testable evidence for AGW per the Scientific Method, you will have an argument. But as of now, you have no argument. All you are doing is cherry-picking isolated events.

    AGW is a conjecture, nothing more. So please stop your wild-eyed arm waving over natural occurrences, which happen every year. You sound like an emotional spinster in love with Algore.

  234. Joe Grappa says:
    January 13, 2013 at 3:42 pm


    Too many people. Get the population down to 500 million or a
    billion or so and everyone would live like a king.

    I’ll repeat what I said above, Joe: No, because when the population was at 500 million or a billion, very few lived like a king. Thinking all we have to do is reduce the Earth’s popultion to that level and everybody would live like a king is as unlikely as it was when the earth’s population was at 500 million or a billion. There were very few kings then; there would be very few kings in your (highly unlikely) scenario—unless, of course, you killed everybody else and let those remaining steal their stuff. But even then, those remaining would likely never be satisfied with what they got from their dead brethren and would continue the genocide unrestricted, like an avalanche with unknown and unintended consequences.

    And you wonder why nobody here has agreed with you.

  235. Trish says:
    January 13, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    This is not a black and white issue. And much can be done to increase and cheapen green energy. Native American Reservations are going off the grid with wind and solar energy. The goal is to sell energy off the rez. Green energy can be the best thing that ever happened to the poor.

    I woke up to -9 F temperature this morning and there’s several large wind farms 15 miles south and an Indian reservation just 40 miles south of me. The high today was 5 degrees. It was bright and sunny, with no wind. However, that’s the problem. I’ve been past those wind turbines several times the past several days and they’re not generating electricity–the blades are stationary.

    It happens every time there’s a stagnant high pressure system straddling the West, Trish. When we need those wind turbines the most, they’re useless. Super low temperatures, complete lack of electricity. The same thing happens in the summer when it gets super hot with no wind–there no electricity to power the air conditioners or anything else.

    No, “green energy” is NOT the best thing that ever happened to the poor. I’ve read estimates where up to 500 million poor have died in the past several decades from your vaunted green energy policies, Trish. It’s difficult to get a testimonial from any of those victims, but I’m pretty sure none would agree with you.

  236. Climate Ace;
    But you can have too much of a good thing. You could always put it to the test. Buy yourself a canister of 100% CO2, attach a tube to it with a gas mask and breathe deeply.*
    When you get too much of CO2 you get AGW. That makes CO2 above certain concentrations a pollutant.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    On another thread a while ago a troll posted a video of a pig being suffocated to death in a gas chamber filled with CO2. To believe that this demonstrates anything in regard to radiative physics and AGW suggests a level of ignorance and stupidity that I had not ever seen before, and never expected to see again. Yet here we are, only days later, and I am proven wrong.

    You are no climate “ace” sir, though what you are does in fact start with an “a”.

  237. D Boehm Stealey

    “Australia has had another 12 houses burn to the ground overnight.” &etc.

    Stop pretending you aren’t implying that AGW is the cause. You are.

    I have stated that I thought that the record breaking heat we have been having has had something to do with the fires. We all know that the hotter it gets, the harder it is to control fires.

    It was 12 houses In the latest fire but we are now up to 15 houses, dozens of sheds, thousands of hectares of pastures, and uncounted stock destroyed, and a firey is been reported to have died. The circumstances of his death are unclear but he was on duty.

    Meanwhile, spare a thought for Birdsville’s burghers. The bitumen on their road is reported to be melting. Someone might be making that stuff up. Their run of forty plus temperatures (every day so far in 2013) would tax the brains of a saint. They were apparently hoping to crack fifty but some cloud came along and spoiled their fun. BTW, Birdsville is already justly famous for its heat but I hadn’t heard of their bitumen melting before. Those with pretensions to costing AGW adaptation as being cheaper than AGW prevention had better add melting bitumen to the negative side of the ledger.

    You sound like an emotional spinster in love with Algore.

    You are making stuff up. I am not waving my arms around. I am typing some posts. I am not a spinster and I am definitely not in love with Gore. Not my type.

  238. 268 comments already (with this one 269) and me just getting here… Ok, I’ll comment on the article first, then go plough through the comments.

    Willis, I think we’re seeing some of the reason for a lot of the shared P.O.V.

    I grew up in a poor farm town. I knew poor folks. Not as many interesting places in the world, and not as wide a range, but the same kind of people. Happy, nice, just getting on with life with what they had, despite this “veil of tears”. (Yes, there are some bad poor too, no more than most).

    On example, migrant farm workers.

    When I was a kid ( early ’50s) they picked a lot of the fruit. These were not the Mexicans. We’re talking “Grapes of Wrath” leftovers. The rich locals called them “Poor white trash”. So you would see a fleet of old Hudson, and Ford, and Packard cars come to town when it was time to pick. Family of 4 or 5 living out of the car. Making a fire pit fueled by trash and cooking with whatever pot they had. Looking for work, any work. Just enough to buy a pound of beans and rice, and enough gas to get to the next picking farm.

    Later, in the ’60s I think it was, a law was passed mandating it be illegal to use a tire with less than 1/8 inch tread left. That meant those folks no longer had tires. They could never buy a new tire. They bought ‘hand me down’ tires with a bit of tread left. (If very lucky, they got them free). So for some of those families, that one law meant they had to choose food or tires to get money for food in the future.

    Nobody really cared about them. They just suffered from it. Most of them just accepted that they would need to be criminals now too.

    Nobody really cared when I asked about how that rule would hurt the very poor folks. The only answer was “well, the tires aren’t safe in the rain. It’s for their own good.”. For their own good to starve? Yes, I’d rather they have good tires too. But they didn’t have that choice. Besides, it doesn’t rain in California in the Summer.

    Oh well.

    I’ve gone out of my way to “hang out” with poor folks over the years. Generally I’ve liked them a whole lot more than the “Executive Class”.

    One thing it has left me with is the understanding that I too could end up with nothing. But that if that ever happened, I would be just fine. I can flatten cans and make cardboard walls and be happy.

    The sheer arrogance of the top of the pile toward the poor on the bottom never ceases to raise a burn of anger in me… and very little ever causes me to anger…

    One good thing:

    The rate at which global economic advancement is moving means that there are ever fewer folks in real poverty like “back then”. It is stunning, but most of the world population now has food, shelter, health care. Mostly we are left with sub-Saharan Africa and small pockets of slums elsewhere.

    Part of why the AGW / Malthusians drive me around the bend. We’re, maybe, 20 years away from eradicating global poverty level life styles. One good technologically driven push would do it. Rather like where we were with Malaria and the anopheles mosquito. It was near extinction and the “powers that be” decided to pull funding and ban DDT. As it was a ‘solved problem’. The result was a resurgence of the bugs and malaria – now both more resistant to treatments.

    We are on the cusp of escaping, for ever, from folks living on “A dollar a day”, and our “leaders” are doing exactly the wrong things.

  239. While in college at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, located in a bump-in-the-road called Socorro, New Mexico, I took a New Mexico History class. One of the local, and very small, Indian tribes had gotten electricity only about ten years before I took this class. The trick question of the day was which electrical appliance was the first wide-spread purchase when they finally got electricity? It was so much in demand that supplies of this particular appliance were completely sold out within about a one-hundred-mile radius of the reservation. We all guessed wrong. The correct answer was: Electric Irons for ironing clothes. The Indian tribe was Navajo, and the women were still wearing long skirts with dozens of pleats ironed in. This particular tribe was, and still is, quite poor monetarily-wise. They measure wealth in number of sheep and horses, and how large their woodpile is (actually, a lot of New Mexicans still measure their wealth that way . . . ). But I would say that if vanity (ironed skirts) is a priority, then that shows how truly wealthy even our poorest citizens are.

  240. Trish says:
    January 13, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    This is not a black and white issue. And much can be done to increase and cheapen green energy. Native American Reservations are going off the grid with wind and solar energy. The goal is to sell energy off the rez. Green energy can be the best thing that ever happened to the poor.

    Good point.

  241. @Climate Ace
    By your definition of pollution, all substances on the planet should be followed by the word pollution. The air we breath will kill a fish therefore let’s call it air pollution. If you try to breath underwater you’ll find yourself breathing sea pollution. What happens if you eat carrots and nothing else? That’s right, you’ll suffer from carrot pollution.

    To those of us watching the debate dispassionately you appear to be suffering from some kind of intellectual masochism. All your arguments have been defeated by rational debate. I can only conclude that you must enjoy repeatedly having to swallow multiple doses of truth. You’re rather sadly becoming the personification of Einstein’s words about repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting different results.

  242. Nice post Willis, I don’t push too many links on my sister, but this I couldn’t resist.
    I suggested she forward it to her many friends.
    Thanks for…….the education.

  243. @Climate Ace:

    “If Willis wants to address poverty under BAU he should come up with something a bit more sensible than burning more fossil fuel.”

    Sadly, Climate Ace, the inscrutable Chinese agree with Willis! Therefore I remind you once again that your services are needed in the People’s Republic of China, now more than ever!

  244. @Oldfossil:

    I think the “carbon tax” is just an attempt to re-impose an ancient tax that the Royals have been pining for ever since the people threw it off:

    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/coal-tax-post-redux/

    but on a global scale.

    @Joe Grappa:

    Not at all true. It isn’t the number of people, it is their political overlords and the Evil Bastards who run things commercially. There is not shortage of resources, only a political elite battling for control.

    @kencoffman (@kencoffman) :

    New energy is being worked on, but frankly, we already have loads of solutions that work fine, and cheaply. Nuclear for one. Coal for another. Well proven and cheap. That is why China is building both a speeds that make your head spin. Other things work well too.

    @Dave_G:

    The Socialist Left NEEDS a poor class or their reason for being and entire mythology evaporates. As we were busy curing poverty, that is an existential threat to their world view. Thus it is absolutely imperative that they create more poor as fast as possible.

    Realizing that, it all makes much more sense… in a sick kind of way…

  245. For example, if I were writing a new constitution for the US, I would get rid of the states, thereby getting rid of a completely unnecessary and wasteful level of government. It would save trillions per decade.

    More ignorance at work. The states are the crucibles of our republic where good and bad ideas get played out to their end. We can see which ones succeed and fail and then at the national level we at least have a chance at making the right decision. A large, all powerful federal government would more than likely not (as is the case today) veer into the wrong direction due to the allure of money and political power. The diffusion of power is one of the good things about the country, not one of the bad. The cost is far outweighed by the lessons learned at the state level.

  246. Every once in a great while, someone comes along with that magical gift of words, and when it gets used for a worthwhile cause, the impact becomes overwhelming. I have four children, eight grandchildren, so an advance order of 20 books of your collected essays would be a minimum. Thanks for your insights, said so well.

  247. Trish says:
    January 13, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    This is not a black and white issue. And much can be done to increase and cheapen green energy. Native American Reservations are going off the grid with wind and solar energy. The goal is to sell energy off the rez. Green energy can be the best thing that ever happened to the poor.

    Please, dear friends, this is a scientific site. Please provide citations for your claims. Which native americans, where, and how are they paying for it?

    Thanks,

    w.

  248. tessa says:
    January 13, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    Willis, go to any government project in cold climate states. The clueless tenants open the windows wide and very expensive heat goes out the windows. That is why everyone should pay something.

    Thanks, tessa. I can’t see how this is related to anything I wrote. What am I missing?

    w.

  249. As a young western student I cannot claim any sort of superiority in this field.

    However, I have read from numerous reputable sources that 90% of climatologists have stated they believe that “climate change”, as is the correct term, is indeed largely generated by human activity, and will increase the frequency and severity for Extreme Weather Events.

    As you said yourself, the people living in many parts of the world do not have the means to sustain themselves. How crippling would an exceptionally powerful storm be to them? How about an abnormally long drought?

    I completely agree with you that Energy price hikes are not the answer. However whenever anyone hears the word “renewable” they think of solar or wind power. Whatever happened to Hydrogen? An emission of potable water, a relatively cheap alternative to Solar or wind, and it is the most abundant element in the Universe.

    It seems that when people talk about this issue they consider a very select options. I hope I don’t offend anyone and I might have broadened some perspectives on this issue.

  250. Willis Eschenbach says:
    January 13, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Funny … the old lady I sometimes see sleeping under the freeway overpass hasn’t seemed to have gotten your message. I’ll pass on your email to her so she can receive the good news. w.

    Don’t kid me now. Do promise me you’ll stop. I’m sure she has noticed the thousands of others roaring by, and would certainly appreciate getting a fraction of the kind of attention you gave that young Indonesian chick. Maimonides described 8 degrees of charity. The highest involves not just stopping the car but stopping everyday and otherwise getting proactive advancing the person’s welfare. In America (and I would think everywhere ) we have trouble with the highest degree, but we do pretty well by the other seven.
    HH

  251. Reading books and articles about that kind of poverty can give some insight, yours much more than most Willis, but people who have not actually seen it can never hope to understand it.

    Your article does highlight a very important point. Pride and self-respect are the most important things to most people, but especially the poor. It is the most valuable thing they have.

    If you hadn’t eaten at least a morsel of that chicken offered by your Senegalese host, you would have robbed him of something more precious than food in his belly -his honour.

    Much more than handouts, the poor want the opportunity to better themselves. The Philippine girl’s aunt wants cheap electricity so that she can see properly while she sows and maybe, if she can borrow enough money, buy an electric sewing machine. And from that buy a better life.

    Some people think there’s something noble about poverty. There isn’t. It is how people deal with that poverty that is often noble. Poor people are often described as happier than the the rich. It is often true. But their happiness doesn’t come from the drudgery of plowing a field behind an ox or sewing cloth in dim light. It comes from the sense of belonging they get from their family and community, drawn together by facing adversity together and helping each other.

    That help and giving is personal. The people who are helped are better off materially but those who help them are better of spiritually. It is not something you can buy by deposting your loose change into a Greenpeace slot next to the supermarket checkout. It has as much meaning as the chicken you just bought.

    I’m not a Christian or in any way religious, but I can see why faith is so important to many people, like the Philippine girl with her cross and her picture of Jesus. Jesus understood the importance of personal and direct charity. It benefits the giver’s soul and the receiver’s honour. At least there is the possibility that they can return the kindness, if and when they can. And if they fail in that, at least there is the comfort that it was not through want of trying.

    This is something that socialists and many ‘progressive’ Christians don’t seem to get. Jesus said help the less fortunate and “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s”

    He didn’t say “render a large but fixed proportion of your earnings unto Caesar and clear your conscience and wash your hands, by having him redistribute the wealth for you, as he sees fit”. There’s no salvation or honour in that.

    [Sorry, I digress way off topic for this blog and for me.]

  252. Excellent post Willis. Though I might add that the PTB know this, but will not refrain from the path they are on,using the AGW fear campaign to try and gain total domination of planet Earth’s humanity.

    Fwiw, imo they are doomed to fail, thanks in some ways to the wonderful work exposing the errors in the science of AGW done here at WUWT.

  253. Janice says:
    January 13, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    re electric irons and Navajo.
    ===================================

    Actually an electric iron would be an amazing time saver for someone with full pleated skirts who wants to keep them pressed. Doing it by heating up the iron on a fire and etc takes time. The electric iron instantly improved those women’s quality of life by freeing up time during the day. They could keep their cloths sharp for a fraction of the time investment.

    This is why cheap energy is so wonderful particularly for the poor. It frees them up from manual labor in an amazing number of ways. There are things that cheap energy makes very easy to do if you don’t have to invest the man/woman/animal power into doing it.

    Sustainable energy doesn’t have that goal. Its goal isn’t to make the poor persons life better but only to provide the amount of energy the more enlightened say that they need. After all those conveniences are unneeded if a human can do the same work for a big time investment.

    I’ve been reading some books that have reminded me just how many people made up a household in even the Victorian or Edwardian era. Even a minor middle class family had 2 or 3 actual servants and often a man of all work who did odd jobs in the neighborhood if you couldn’t afford your own permanent handyman on staff. Now families live alone and only the very very rich have servants and even they don’t have that many. Not compared to what would have been standard 100 years ago.

    Those servants now have their own lives and jobs freed up by the cheap easily available energy. And what we see is that those who want sustainable would like to return to the days when servants were a needed part of the house.

  254. @I see the Ace of climatism is back thread-jacking, I have to call him Climate Zero, an one, is way too high a rating for a repetitious arm waving nit.
    Thread jacker, troll and bureaucrat.
    Any evidence of AGW from your “Whip-smart” buddies? I mean Australian Government Scientists? If you can’t lift some links from them, whats this AGW do you keep referring to?
    @A.I.S, Only 90%, get it right 97% is the talking point and I doubt you are what you claim.
    But Hydrogen is like my flying car and the Mega Watt storage battery, mañana for sure, just give me endless tax dollars and its yours.

  255. “Let them eat cake” was the apocryphal response of Queen Marie-Antoinette of France when told that the peasants had no bread to eat.

    “Let them build wind-mills” seems to be the 21st century equivalent-response to energy-poverty.

    How did we get to this state, Willis? A state where “environmentalist” organizations with “green” in their title are pathologically opposed to the essential defining building block of green life-forms?
    A state where otherwise sensible people treat energy as a commodity like organic-carrots, a commodity they imagine can be replaced with something else such as broccoli could if no carrots were available?

    I think improved numeracy in schools would allow people of all backgrounds to ask better questions, earlier, and with greater confidence. Even if they later study little science or engineering. I also suspect history teaching plays a role. We need to stop teaching ourselves to hate what was achieved by the industrial revolution.

  256. Climate Ace says:
    January 13, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Willis

    The huge point that you don’t seem to have noticed is that the poor of the planet are currently better etc, etc, etc…

    There is no time frame to your POV.

    Well, if you had merely quoted my entire sentence, my time frame would mystically appear …

    The huge point that you don’t seem to have noticed is that the poor of the planet are currently better fed, clothed, educated, and housed than at any time in the last few thousand years.

    All the best,

    w.

  257. An intrigued student says:
    January 13, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    I have read from numerous reputable sources that 90% of climatologists have stated they believe that “climate change”, as is the correct term, is indeed largely generated by human activity, and will increase the frequency and severity for Extreme Weather Events.

    Instead, try looking at the “climate change”, CO2 = CAGW hypotheses/issues this way: the fact is that “mainstream” Climatologists haven’t got even one relevant prediction from their hypotheses empirically correct yet – including the “Extreme Weather Events” prediction! Nothing out of the ordinary for good old regular, historical climate [change] is going on. In other words, so far the reputable climatologists’ hypotheses have only been falsified, but it doesn’t bother them! Also contrary to their predictions, there has been no Global Warming now for over 16 years.

    As you seem to suspect, their “green” solutions are either very limited or don’t work.

    Instead of following the precepts of real science, “mainstream” Climate Science, enc., is nothing more than a massive Propaganda Operation.

    Regardless, keep reading so as to not be too limited, yourself.

  258. An intrigued student says:
    January 13, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    I have read from numerous reputable sources that 90% of climatologists have stated they believe that “climate change”, as is the correct term, is indeed largely generated by human activity, and will increase the frequency and severity for Extreme Weather Events.

    It would be useful to have links to those “numerous reputable sources” that can put a number like 90% on that claim.

    As for what is known and not prognosticated, you might want to get one of these:

    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2012/03/handy-bullshit-button-on-disasters-and.html

    Regarding hydrogen, that’s been discussed in comments many times here. There is no economical source of it other than natural gas, and there is no infrastructure in place for large scale utilization of it either in transportation or for electricity generation.

    So the discussion always comes around to; Why not just use the natural gas directly?

  259. Coming to this rather late in the day I entirely accept the main thesis of the “Three Stories” – that while some of us in the developed world might think we are poor the reality is that we are immeasurably rich compared with 90% of world population; I also greatly admire Willis’s evocative writing style and his powerful plea for energy prices to be as low as possible – but sadly I don’t believe this article addresses the “realpolitik” of the present world order.

    The article quotes US Energy Secretary Chu: ”Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the [US] price of gasoline to the levels in Europe”, and President Obama: “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” But (at least in the US) energy is privately produced for sale on the open market. The only way its price can be altered (as from its open market price) is by operation of some cartel, or regulatory regime, or by taxation. In the US the first of these (a cartel) is prohibited by anti-trust laws, the second and third have to be approved effectively by all 3 branches of US government (Congress, POTUS and SCOTUS). Unless the US becomes a net energy exporter once again then by its internal democratic process chooses to tax (levy tariffs on) energy exports – which I suspect is unlikely – the rest of the world is unaffected. Taxes on internal US energy consumption may of course make energy more expensive within the US itself, but that would be its own democratic choice and is not really the gravamen of this article.

    I believe the real issue is that of energy exporting nations which operate cartels (such as OPEC), or individually restrict or levy tariffs on energy (principally fossil fuel) production and exports before they reach world markets. When supplies actually reach the markets price is determined by supply and demand coming to equilibrium in the usual way – so this article is actually a plea to the energy exporters to turn on all the spigots and mine away furiously, to maximise supply – so minimise world prices.

    But mother nature plays hardball, as ever. Much of the extractable fossil fuel supply lies within the borders of some rather unpleasant regimes – Iran, Syria, Venezuela to name a few, and plenty of others one could name. These regimes will do exactly what suits the interests of their ruling elites. Willis complains of restrictions “being exported and imposed, both by force and by persuasion, on the poorer countries of the world” – but I very much doubt that the ruling elites are poor and it is only they who will decide what restrictions they accept and impose. So I think this article really amounts to a plea (a very powerful plea) to move to more democratic – or less self-interested, or simply less corrupt – systems of government. I entirely agree with this, but sadly do not see any process that will realistically bring this about in less than centennial timeframes – but let’s not stop trying.

  260. mfo says:
    January 13, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    @Climate Ace
    By your definition of pollution, all substances on the planet should be followed by the word pollution.

    My point was that it was possible for substances to be good at some concentrations and pollution at other concentrations, not that all substances were poisonous at any concentrations.

  261. Willis

    Whoops. My bad. I missed ‘your thousand years’ and I accept that I got that point wrong. You did provide a historical time frame.

    To address this oversight, I suppose my questions need to be altered a little: ‘Has there been any time in the last millenium that there were more people who go to bed hungry or more children who die of starvation?’

  262. An intrigued student says:
    January 13, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    As a young western student I cannot claim any sort of superiority in this field.

    However, I have read from numerous reputable sources that 90% of climatologists have stated they believe that “climate change”, as is the correct term, is indeed largely generated by human activity, and will increase the frequency and severity for Extreme Weather Events.

    Thanks, student. Being a student is the best frame of mind.

    Regarding the frequency and severity of extreme events, even the IPCC now acknowledges that despite the 20th century warming, there has been no increase in extreme events of any kind.

    As you said yourself, the people living in many parts of the world do not have the means to sustain themselves. How crippling would an exceptionally powerful storm be to them? How about an abnormally long drought?

    The poorer you are, the more vulnerable you are to the vagaries of weather of any kind. The solution, obviously, is to increase the wealth of the planet … because that will be of advantage whether CO2 is teh eeevil or not. Attempts to fix it by regulating CO2 are economically ludicrous.

    I completely agree with you that Energy price hikes are not the answer. However whenever anyone hears the word “renewable” they think of solar or wind power. Whatever happened to Hydrogen? An emission of potable water, a relatively cheap alternative to Solar or wind, and it is the most abundant element in the Universe.

    Unfortunately, there are no hydrogen mines. That means that hydrogen is never an energy source, in the same way that electricity is never an energy source. It has to be generated, just as electricity has to be generated.

    So we need a cheap way to generate hydrogen. People are working on it constantly, and we’re getting nearer. However, we’re not there yet, that is, it’s not market-ready.

    It seems that when people talk about this issue they consider a very select options. I hope I don’t offend anyone and I might have broadened some perspectives on this issue.

    I’ll take any option. It just has to work and be economically viable without subsidies.

    Keep being a student, beginner’s mind is a huge advantage.

    w.

  263. john robertson says:
    January 13, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    @I see the Ace of climatism is back thread-jacking, I have to call him Climate Zero, an one, is way too high a rating for a repetitious arm waving nit.
    Thread jacker, troll and bureaucrat.

    I can live with ‘thread jacker’ and ‘troll’ even if they are incorrectly applied, but ‘bureaucrat’ is a low, low blow.

  264. JPeden says:
    January 13, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    @Climate Ace:

    “If Willis wants to address poverty under BAU he should come up with something a bit more sensible than burning more fossil fuel.”

    Sadly, Climate Ace, the inscrutable Chinese agree with Willis! Therefore I remind you once again that your services are needed in the People’s Republic of China, now more than ever!

    It wouldn’t work. I hate corrupt totalitarian regimes that maintain themselves by means of secret police backed by the military, so sooner or later I would be in jail. Probably sooner. But thank you for the thought.

  265. Very excellent story. In my own pleasure travels, I had a rude awakening seeing some of the poverty ridden areas. And yet, sweeping their dirt floor huts out with a broom, seemed like such a joy to them. Then were those living on the streets. And tourists trying to get the wares of some of the people who were lucky to have a trade, at the cheapest price possible when the price they were asking originally was not expensive to us.
    I have often wished that those at the very top of the money chain could be thrust into the situation those in the bottom of the money chain, were in with the tools and lack of resources they have and see how they survive.
    It is easy when you distance yourself.
    Yisraela

  266. Bo Conklin says:
    January 13, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    In a kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man is a god.

    Sadly, humans being what we are, the one-eyed man is more likely to be hung as a warlock and a sorcerer …

    w.

  267. Someone mentioned Malthus upstring and I understand that the term ‘Malthusian’ was used as a pejorative.

    (Warning I have no links for any of the following).

    The interesting thing is that in the nineteenth century Malthusians and Marxists were at it toe-to-toe while conservatives/reactionaries were rather more supportive of Malthusiasm than Marxists (I overgeneralize a tad here, but you get the general picture).

    In the 21st century Malthusians are more likely to be found amongst the ranks of lefties than amongst conservatives/reactionaries.

    Why did support for ‘Malthus’ change ‘sides’ over the space of a century and a half?

  268. Ben D. says:
    January 13, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    but will not refrain from the path they are on,using the AGW fear campaign to try and gain total domination of planet Earth’s humanity.

    Total domination? Wow! We should all start prepping now for BAU’s Last Stand.

  269. excellent essay and would like to think it would be a good study lesson in all grade schools and high schools.

    people often do not see how even increasing energy cost in the western countries increase energy costs in developing countries. all imported items become more expensive, food included.

  270. So true and so real. Where people really don’t think what poverty may actually look like, Willis you have given a very visual picture of the same. The top down strategy in everything is not a real time solution at times as at top people do not realize how it is going to impact the people at the bottom level where the difference between the two is so huge.

    I really appreciate the openness of this article and agree to the very point you have mentioned here.

  271. TimC says:
    January 13, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    So I think this article really amounts to a plea (a very powerful plea) to move to more democratic – or less self-interested, or simply less corrupt – systems of government. I entirely agree with this, but sadly do not see any process that will realistically bring this about in less than centennial timeframes – but let’s not stop trying.

    The US does support some despotic and undemocratic regimes, The Wahabism-based Saudi Government would probably be the worst example at the moment. However, in general the US has, IMHO, been the single biggest world driver for democracy since WW2. For example, it was a major driver in winkling the colonial empires that enslaved hundreds of millions of people.

    I couldn’t agree more with your central point: democracy is a critical must-have to address the issues that concern us all – from whatever perspective they concern us.

  272. Now up to 28 houses burned down in the latest fire which has burned around 40,000 hectares since lightning started it yesterday. Nearly all of the houses were in pastoral and broad acre cropping country so you could probably multiply shedding, fencing, equipment and stock by that 28 as well. The Siding Springs Observatory lost buildings but there is no news about whether any of the telescopes were affected.

    No lives were lost in it which is excellent.

  273. Leif says at 9:33 am

    “Richard Thal says:at 4:44 am
    Willis, you’ve done it again. this really puts things in perspective. Brings me to tears.”

    Second that!
    ———-
    So there’s a warm fuzzy heart beneath,…lovely to see.

  274. richardscourtney says January 13, 2013 at 11:24 am

    You need to spend 10 minutes watching the link provided by Steven Mosher
    re: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sqnptxlCcw

    Hans Rosling re: taking a poll of students by raising hands to a series of questions and finding that ” … even the hardcore in the green movement use a washing machine … ”

    Great stuff …

    Highly recommend the “James Burke – Connections” series of documentaries for a quick trip down ‘technology’ lane and how we arrived at where we are too:

    Historic note: In the first of those series Burke is standing outside WTC Buidlings #1 and 2 in the courtyard and takes a ride to the roof in one of those buildings (#1, I think, with all the antennas).

    .

  275. @Climate Ace: You ramble on conflating bad things that you think have to do with a warming planet, and then since these things you conflate are so bad, you must find blame… and that blame must be AGW. I find you quite boring, because you cannot understand how to find truth. You’re one of those people who can go on an on forever without understanding the core of what you are talking about.

  276. Tim C said:

    But mother nature plays hardball, as ever. Much of the extractable fossil fuel supply lies within the borders of some rather unpleasant regimes – Iran, Syria, Venezuela to name a few, and plenty of others one could name. These regimes will do exactly what suits the interests of their ruling elites.
    ————————————————
    No,Tim, you are talking about oil, not ‘extractable fossil fuel supply’. The US and Australia have massive coal reserves, enough for at least a century. The US and Canada have massive oil reserves, especially if you include shale oil. It is not true that the world’s supply of ‘fossil fuels’ is at the mercy only of the despots. And don’t forget gas, of which Europe, the US, Australia and Canada have plenty, to name just a few non-totalitarian sources. Why did you say this?

    Also, I re-read Willis’ post and couldn’t find the bit where he said that the world was under an obligation to extract as much as possible as fast as possible, as you claimed earlier in your post. Perhaps you could point me to it.

    Climate deuce, your thread-bombing is becoming tedious. 28 houses burned down in a bushfire is indeed sad, but speaking as someone who lived within a few km of where we lost 500 houses in a couple of hours, almost exactly ten years ago, it is hardly unprecedented. Your citing of people’s personal disasters to try to ‘prove’ something or other is (a) irrelevant, and (b) lower than a snake’s belly.

  277. Polentario wrote:

    First his stand reminds me of Gottfrieds Benn Poem “Reisen” – about travel – you dont win new insights by mere traveling, you carry always your personal world with you.

    I think Proust said it better.

    The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

    ——————

    dave wrote:

    I believe you could have made your point without mixing all of the WUWT readers into the infamous 1%.

    Like Willis said, that was his point.

    The “1%” are “infamous” because of a campaign of vilification by ‘movements’ like Occupy and similar “anti-globalization” zombies. Willis’ point was that we, the ordinary people of the west, are, to the rest of the impoverished world, the “1%”. They don’t hate us. They are better than that. They aspire to be (materially, at least) just like us.

    ——————

    lowercase fred wrote:

    Archaeology shows that when man left the hunter-gatherer lifestyle to settle in agricultural civilization the average stature and health decreased.

    and gymnosperm added:

    …when the noble savage was tamed, deprived of his paleo diet, and forced to live in circumstances much like you describe in city states, in the service of divine kings; that his health and stature would decline.

    So what? That trend is long since reversed, and even modern Rousseauians like Pat don’t want to go back to the paleolithic.

    Unfortunately, gymno some do. I’m skeptical about parts of your science but your “noble savage” reference gets to root of the problem.

    The idea of the noble savage was popularized by the Romantic Movement which also gave us Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

    Many of today’s ‘environmentalists’ are the philisophical descendants of the Romanticists. They have an idealized, romantic and utterly false view of the past and of primitive societies (a term they abhor). Many of them reject industrialisation (whilst reaping all its benefits) and want to “return” us to an idyllic Shangri-la that never existed.

    ——————

    Climate Ace wrote:

    In the 21st century Malthusians are more likely to be found amongst the ranks of lefties than amongst conservatives/reactionaries.

    Why did support for ‘Malthus’ change ‘sides’ over the space of a century and a half?

    I usually don’t rise to your bait, Ace. But, for once, you’ve said something accurate and relevant. I have been reading up on the same topic and was asking the same question. It’s too long a story for a comments thread. But I hope to write something on that soon. (P.S. Only “lefties” use the term “reactionaries”)

    [Good thread BTW]

  278. Climate Ace says:at 8:09 pm

    Total domination? Wow!
    ————
    Ok fine,..substitute ‘effective’ in lieu of ‘total’.

  279. Climate Ace says:
    January 13, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    Now up to 28 houses burned down in the latest fire
    ========================

    And this has what to do with the climate?

    We have been having major fires as long as the earth has been here. There is nothing special or unique about this one. It is just another fire.

  280. So Willis, were you ever a member of the Kandahar Ski Club.

    When I was first learning to ski, and studying old ski history books, while trying to learn the Emile Allais French method, I read something about the Kandahar Ski Club, and always wanted to become a member.

    I assume that Lord Roberts of Kandahar was at one time the Commodore of the Club.

  281. Caring New York Times Reader says:
    January 13, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    So you like the izod/topsider look, or not? I’m confused.

    Glad somebody identified the key question in the midst of all of that confusing science …

    I am so all about that look, it’s just me!

    w.

  282. But Willis, they don’t want the poor to be like us, they want us to be like the poor.

    That’s their solution and they’re sticking to it.

    Mind you, they think they’ll have slightly higher carbon restrictions as apparatchiks, but there you go.

  283. Joe,
    You make the assertion that the Earth would be better with just five hundred million inhabitants. Why this particular figure rather than, say, four or six hundred million? Indeed, what would really be the optimum number, and the reason why, based on scientific considerations? Just wondering.

    Ace,
    On a site such as this, I think you have to be more persuasive on the importance of AGW in order for your comments to be better received.

    Willis,
    As one who has also done some travelling for extended periods of time, I can fully appreciate, to say the least, your contributions to this site, and I look most eagerly toward your subsequent ones.

  284. @Joe Grappa

    What you are advocating is a weakened economy not a better one

    From 1 AD to 1650 population was at a near stand still and many years declined drastically as a result of the Black Death and small pox. There was very little trade and advancements during these times. Once the populations started to recover the economy also started to recover and we had boom times.

  285. LamontT says:
    January 13, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    Climate Ace says:
    January 13, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    Now up to 28 houses burned down in the latest fire
    ========================

    And this has what to do with the climate?

    We have been having major fires as long as the earth has been here. There is nothing special or unique about this one. It is just another fire.

    Who said there has never been major fires? There is something unique about this one, btw. Not that you would be interested.

  286. Two items come to mind:
    A quote I saw recently, “The love of theory is the root of all evil!” Not money…
    The other is a book to recommend: “The Lunatic Express,” by Carl Hoffman. He went around the world a few years ago, deliberately riding the most decrepit, dangerous transport he could find. The people he met, though poor indeed, were almost universally hospitable to him…

  287. @Willis Eschenbach

    said, “How on earth is that going to suddenly make everyone wealthy?”

    A person that believes in the zero sum game or Keynesian economics would have such a belief. Where there is a fixed amount of capital/money in the world which this is the bases of the leftist concepts. They believe capital can only be taken it can not be created. This myth has created a lot of problems.

    My argument against this Keynesian economics /Zero Sum game myth is simple. All the cavemen clubs are equal to everything we have today if the zero sum game myth was real.

  288. johanna says:
    January 13, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    Climate deuce, your thread-bombing is becoming tedious. 28 houses burned down in a bushfire is indeed sad, but speaking as someone who lived within a few km of where we lost 500 houses in a couple of hours, almost exactly ten years ago, it is hardly unprecedented. Your citing of people’s personal disasters to try to ‘prove’ something or other is (a) irrelevant, and (b) lower than a snake’s belly.

    Who said houses burning was unprecedented? Not me. So stop making stuff up. Who said I was proving anything at all by citing what is happening in the Warrumbungles? Not me. So stop making stuff up.

    People who post posts about how cold it is in their backyards get a free kick around here. Try saying it is hot, that heat records are being broken, and that wildfires are burning houses, farms, stock and infrastructure and the BAU boosters crawl out from under their rocks. Usually with some of the personal abuse that you dish out in your post.

    As for using the 500 houses destroyed ten years ago to make your point, that is lower than a snake’s belly, using your special personal test, of course.

  289. David Ross says:
    January 13, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    Climate Ace wrote:

    In the 21st century Malthusians are more likely to be found amongst the ranks of lefties than amongst conservatives/reactionaries.

    Why did support for ‘Malthus’ change ‘sides’ over the space of a century and a half?

    I usually don’t rise to your bait, Ace. But, for once, you’ve said something accurate and relevant. I have been reading up on the same topic and was asking the same question. It’s too long a story for a comments thread. But I hope to write something on that soon. (P.S. Only “lefties” use the term “reactionaries”)

    Well, it is refreshing to get a compliment, so thank you. That makes one nice thing for around every hundred rude things said about me around here.

    The really interesting thing about Malthus and the changing attitudes to Malthus (or what people perceive to be the views of Malthus which tends to be a whole nuther thing) is that Malthus had no idea that AGW was only a couple of centuries away.

    While not a conservative myself, I appreciate a good conservative. I appreciate their values and I appreciate where they are coming from. I appreciate their fundamental decency. I disagree with them but for these reasons, I appreciate them.

    OTOH, reactionaries are just so much human dross.

    In terms of Malthus, you sound like you might be a bit more erudite than I am but I would be looking at two elements were I to be thinking about writing about it: (1) changing views about the nature of humanity, in particular whether the view of humanity is positive or negative and (2) changing views about the what governments ought to be doing (or can be doing) and what individuals ought to do be doing.

    IMHO, these topics encapsulate what I would regard as a major crisis amongst the Ideological Left (or some such set of words). For me, an analysis of Malthus helps explicate the ideological barreness of the Left, its loss of direction and energy, and its general confusion about issues such as AGW.

    I would appreciate it were you to alert WUWTERs when you publish on the topic.

  290. Mario Lento says:
    January 13, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    @Climate Ace: You ramble on conflating bad things that you think have to do with a warming planet, and then since these things you conflate are so bad, you must find blame… and that blame must be AGW. I find you quite boring, because you cannot understand how to find truth. You’re one of those people who can go on an on forever without understanding the core of what you are talking about.

    Lento by name and lento by nature? I don’t ‘blame’ AGW for anything, in the same way as I don’t ‘blame’ lightning for starting bushfires.

  291. “Now, people mistake the Philippines for a nation. In reality, it is much more like a really big family with a bunch of kinda strange relatives. ”

    Yes,I couldn’t agree more.In our country ,we value our family and relatives ;and yes,we are a family not just a group of people under one state or flag.I love my country .
    Mabuhay Philippines!
    We may not have much, but we have enough love to be happy.:-) Great post!

  292. @Jack Simmons:

    GE is a master “rent seeker” and sucks at the public trough. They buy the laws they want via “lobby operations”. The incandescent lightbulb ban was molded by GE to increase their profit margins. Right down to the exemption of “colored” light bulbs… which just happens to include their blueish colored more ‘natural’ lighting bulbs that are way less efficient in lumens / watt. Can you say “monopoly on incandescent lightbulbs”? I knew you could… /sarc>;

    So instead of 19 CENTS each and more efficient lumens per watt, you can pay about $2 and get less. But it is a strange bluish cast, so that makes it all better… The “Reveal” name…

    I now actively avoid buying GE products. Can’t always avoid them, but I’ll be damned if I will voluntarily feed the monster attacking me.

    Since the “bulb ban” in California, GE has now basically taken over the lightbulb section of Target, OSH, heck, even Walmart. The “Philips and Sylvania” sections have shrunk everywhere (almost going extinct at the grocery store… one of the last Sylvania hold outs). Philips is still at Home Depot, but wounded. Lowe’s has a decent non-GE selection still, but not like it was.

    Oh, and ACE Hardware has also had a plague of GE show up. They used to have 3 or 4 very unique choices ( SATCO or some such). GE are basically walking in and taking over lighting sections everywhere. At high prices.

    Think paying $4 or $5 for a bulb instead of 19 cents doesn’t matter to a poor person?

    @Rud Istvan:

    Oh please. Not that peak crap again. Didn’t you get the memo? Fracking. Nat Gas now at 90+ year supply in the USA (more coming on line globally, we were just first). It also makes oil shale work. That’s about a Trillion barrels of oil in THE USA. Trillion. With a “T”. Nobody knows for sure because nobody was looking for more, but what we do know is about 3 Trillion Bbl world wide. Did I mention that’s Trillion, with a “T”?

    The USA has been the poster child for “Peak Oil” since the ’70s prediction of a production peak was hit. (Ignore that every coast by PART of the Gulf of Mexico were put off limits along with about 2/3 to 3/4 of the known oil in Alaska.

    Now, despite all that, ONE technology is putting the USA back into the oil exporting business. Peak oil just died.

    BTW, in a ‘depleted’ oil field of the past, about 1/2 of the oil was still in the ground. Just waiting for a little higher price or newer tech. We’re there now…

    I won’t even start on the mega-fields being found in deep water NOR on the point that they have found oil at “impossible” depths, so there is an entire “shell of depth” around the whole planet to explore that was never looked at since it was “impossible”… except it isn’t…

    So get back to me in about 100 to 200 years and we can see how supply is doing.

    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/there-is-no-energy-shortage/

    (There is a big shortage of competence and compassion to use it…)

    @Andrew Dickens:

    We HAVE already invented ourselves “out of the problem”. There is NO technical problem None. Not at all. There are only political problems. Please, hit the “no shortage” link above.

    ONE small example. The “pebble bed reactor” is old technology. 1960s kind of stuff. China is presently building some new ones and Germany had one before they went crazy anti-nuke and shut it down. They make high temperature heat cheaply. You can take ANY carbon source and, with that heat, make methanol. Methanol runs nicely in engines and lamps and stoves. It costs about $2.50 / “Gallon of Gasoline Equivalent” (varies a few dimes either way with some assumptions). That is “done technology”. Rentech has the carbon to fertilizer and carbon to alcohols / diesel / gasoline / whatever in production. It is running on natural gas right now as that is cheap and making fertilizer as that sells for high prices.

    But, if desired, we could dump that methanol through a zeolite catalyst and it becomes gasoline. A factory to do this was built in New Zealand (as they had natural gas fields) during the Arab Oil Embargo aftermath. Again, a known technology.

    Sasol in South Africa make gasoline and diesel and chemicals from coal using similar technologies.

    The only reason for gasoline or equivalent fuels to cost more than $2.50 or so per GGE is a bastard mix of political will and greed. NOT technology.

    For direct electricity generation, a nickel/ kWhr ought to be the hard upper bound given known production technologies today; but for political / green stupidity. (Any of several technical options, BTW, from coal and nuclear to natural gas turbines thanks to fracking.)

    @John West:

    On losing traits in poor planning of extinction of individuals and varieties:

    They only recently in sequencing the genome of grapes found that two of THE most important grapes in the globe had a common ancestor. An undistinguished grape that the elite of grape snobbery had been arguing ought to be “allowed” to become extinct… Chardonnay and Gamay Noir. There are now active preservation efforts for it as a breeding stock and source of genetics…

    http://www.wine-searcher.com/grape-746-gouais-blanc

    Gouais Blanc is a very rare white wine variety which is nowadays grown in parts of Switzerland, Croatia, Serbia and the Stajerska sub-region of Slovenia.

    Historically, it was more widespread throughout central and north-eastern France, and throughout middle Europe but today is found in minute quantities; only 550 liters of wine produced from the grape are registered annually in Slovenia. Some Swiss growers are still planting the variety for commercial production and to help preserve the species.
    Advertising

    DNA research at UC Davis has revealed that Gouais Blanc is, in fact, an ancestor of many varieties, due to it being planted alongside Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris in medieval times – albeit in poorer, less favored sites. Notable descendants include Chardonnay, Aligoté and Gamay Noir.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gouais_blanc

    Gouais Blanc or Weißer Heunisch is a white grape variety that is seldom grown today but is important as the ancestor of many traditional French and German grape varieties. The name Gouais derives from the old French adjective ‘gou’, a term of derision befitting its traditional status as the grape of the peasants. Likewise, the German name Weißer Henuisch labels it as one the lesser, Hunnic grapes.

    A look at the mess of health problems in “show dogs” and how “professional breeding” has resulted in all sorts of sickness and problems (or just a look at the Royals…) and compare that to the health and stamina of the average American Mutt. I’m damn glad nobody has been put in charge of human genetic selection(!).

    BTW, there is some evidence that folks in starvation prone parts of India have some genes to make some ‘missing nutrients’. Things that the rest of us must get from food… There is also evidence of better immune systems from folks who had the plague in their past. Malaria has shaped no less than 3 genetic responses we think of as ‘diseases’ and would undoubtedly removed from the population. Sickle Cell in Blacks. One copy gives some malaria resistance. Two makes you sick. Evolution found ‘in the process of becoming’. Favism in the Middle East. (Higher sensitivity to intracellular oxidation by products of the Fava Bean. Those folks are already using higher levels of oxidative stress to kill off the parasites and the beans put them over the top. And finally Allergies (prominent in folks of western / European extraction) is an adaptation to higher parasite loads in general (and malaria IS a parasite).

    So which of those “diseases” ought we remove from the gene pool? Or maybe it’s better not to give malaria a helping hand…

    We simply do not know enough to “fix” our genes. Not yet. There are a lot of very good special genetics out there in some of the least advantaged on the planet.

    @Stephen Richards:

    My Mum was from a way north east of London. Some small dirt poor place. She told me stories about then, there. Her Dad was a sailor in HHMerchant Marine, gone a lot, and not much money. During the war (W.W.II) things were worse. Dad grew up in Great Depression era Iowa. “potting rabbits” for the family to eat.

    They both shared their stories with the kids. I have, by proxy, what it is like to have a single lump of coal, saving and cherishing it for the moment when everyone was at home to warm the place, for just a little while. My mother took me to the back yard once (where Dad had the perpetual 50 foot x 20 foot or so garden full of food) and we had a bowl of 1 can tuna, a bit of mayonnaise and about 3 crackers each. She said, roughly: “Now imagine this is all the food you have for today, and there is none for tomorrow. What do you do? How will you feel?” Dad told stories of being given ONE .22 rifle shell and told “Come back with a rabbit, and we eat. Then you will get another shell. No rabbit, no dinner, no shell.” Dad ended up an excellent shot. Nearly 100% he could ‘pot a rabbit’. He made sure I was just as good. (It also served him very well as he crossed France and Germany in W.W.II)

    By proxy, I’ve walked in German snow, been surrounded in Bastogne (Wife’s Dad) sat cold and hungry for a day waiting to light the lump of coal. In the real world, I’ve had poor folks take a very small bit of meat and split it even more ways so as a guest I’d have first take. ( I, too, took a smaller than usual portion … I think my excuse was a ‘love of potatoes… being of Irish on my Dad’s side ;-) Speaking of which, Dad had stories of HIS ancestors and what they said about leaving Ireland due to the potato famine.

    So, FWIW, there were some folks on ‘this side of the pond’ that, even if by proxy, know what it was like on that side for those not in the keep of the Royals…

    I have an interesting “test” I do with pan-handlers. Those that say they need money for food: I offer to take them to a nearby fast food place and buy them a meal. I say “I will not give you money, but I will buy you the meal”. In all the time I’ve made that offer, only one person took me up on it. A modestly dirty woman about 30? We went 2 blocks in the cold to a warm Kentucky Fried Chicken. I bought here a meal. About 1/2 way through it, she was ‘slowing down’. I asked “Are you saving that for tomorrow?” Embarrassed, she said yes. I said no. “Finish it. I’ll buy you another one for tomorrow and all it takes to fill you up tonight.” At the end, she left with a ‘big’ meal in a box to go.

    I’m still hoping some day to have that same feeling, but glad somehow that it has not been repeated… Most pan-handlers just want some cash without working. Real poor folks take a meal.

    @Hank Henry:

    Every time I get in my car, thanks to having seen real poor folks living in theirs, I think how lucky I am that every single one of my family members has their own little mobile housing unit with built in heater, A/C, and stereo entertainment center. Comfy seats too. It is a luxury beyond compare. Yet we are so rich, we just use it to drive around…

    @Willis:

    Odd. Another parallel. I was “into alternative energy” long before it was ‘cool’. About the mid-70s? Maybe earlier. I’ve bought several ‘demonstrator size solar things. The are all either recycled now or ‘in storage’. A half dozen ‘solar battery chargers’ and ni-cd ni-mh batteries. It all ends the same. Just not really practical. I’ve got a good 3 feet of ‘alternative energy books’ on the shelf.

    There comes a time when you have bashed that nose into the wall one too many times and say “Gee, how about some coal heat while we work on that whole bio-gas yard waste thing…”

    Still, I’m “all for it”, once it works right. (The bird and bat slaughtering sleep disrupting Giant Windmills are an issue too.)

    I lived on my sail boat for a year. Not as exciting as yours. Just in the S.F. Bay. But it was self contained for electricity and stove and on board shower. Loved it. (Until the cold and damp had mold eat a favorite book…) After a lot of “ideas”, Diesel in the aux engine and shore power to charge the batteries still worked out best.

    But moving under sail, no fuel burn at all, is gliding on God’s own breath…

    @Max Hugoson:

    NOOO!!!! DO NOT subduct them! That is valuable fuel! Feed them to gen-4 or better reactors… or reprocess… or anything but tossing them away.

    @Feet2thefire:

    Japan had poor natural resources before their boom. Ditto Germany. The World Wars were in many ways about Germany wanting to get to those resources.

    Economies stagnate when a “Power Elite” becomes entrenched and more concerned about maintenance of their special position than about advancing the economy. The “Creative Destruction” that Marx hated. It requires property rights and freedom to upset the apple cart for a company like GE. For GE, it takes a strong government well lubricated with bribe money campaign contributions to keep competitors hobbled. THAT is the real “Third Way” economics. (That goes by many names, including “Market Socialism” and “Italian Fascism” and “German Socialists Workers Party” and “Industry Regulation” and “To Big To Fail” and… )

    @Joe Grappa:

    Well, you do seem to be living up to your name sake. Even resorting to name calling. “Pro-crowders”. That’s a new one on me.

    Did you miss the part about how people LIKE to live in big cities? I grew up in a farm town. Couldn’t wait to leave. That was from IN town. Folks on farms often had the family wanting to move into town and just drive out to the farm to work it. Given 1/2 a chance, folks dump the lawn maintenance and move to a beach condo in Florida. (Talk about density).

    Please Joe, do the math. The globe is not crowded at all. Not even China. The cities are crowded because people keep moving into them. (My son just moved to Chicago by choice).

    Termateries was a new word for me. Seems like you use it wrongly though. Online dictionary:

    Termatary is always a great word to know.
    So is interrobang. Does it mean: a printed punctuation mark (‽), available only in some typefaces, designed to combine the question mark (?) and the exclamation point (!), indicating a mixture of query and interjection, as after a rhetorical question.
    a calculus or concretion found in the stomach or intestines of certain animals, esp. ruminants, formerly reputed to be an effective remedy for poison.

    At any rate, yes, you need more factories. And more bus lines and L-Trains and suburbs and hotels and cars and shopping malls and movie theatres and restaurants and bars and TV sets and nice Japanese Massage Parlors (love it when they walk on your back ;-) and football stadiums and all sorts of things.

    It’s called “The Good Life”, Joe. Embrace it. Billions do, every day. (Beats the heck out of a cold mud hut and a stick…)

    Ah, your true colors show: “in the name of Malthus”… OK, you drank the poison cool-aid. Got it. I’m trained as an economist. We had to study Malthus at some length. He’s one of our ‘bright lights’. Founded demographics, even. Then again, we also had to learn where he was wrong. And he was very Very VERY wrong. By his clock, we have already all died.

    He missed: Resource substitution, the S shaped population growth curve, that educating women and bringing prosperity DROPS birth rates (he had it as ‘inevitable’ that more food meant more births. Exactly backwards.) and so much more.

    So please, put Malthus in that nice little closet we use for the Old Crazy Uncle who did something nice once but we don’t like to talk about how he scared the kids in the neighborhood…

    I think a combination of economic incentives, and forced
    sterilization via engineered viruses would do the job.

    Well, that makes you certifiable. Just ONE little problem: LIFE does not take direction well.

    Viruses mutate as they multiply. That means every time you get an infection, by the time it’s nearing an end, it is a different bug in you. Now do that in a Billion people. All it takes is one of those folks to develop a little mutation that lets the virus keep on living (which it very much wants to do). That, then, means extinction for the planet.

    Depending on the mutation, it could be all of humanity. Or it could be all primates. Or it might make the leap to birds ( we swap several disease with them already, including the flu…)

    Please, take just a minute, and ask how many of the folks living in London do so by choice. I think you will find it is most of them. People LOVE New York City (though I sure don’t know why). If all the people on the planet were in places like London or NYC, we would fit on just 6 Islands of about that size. And folks would just love it and be fighting to move in.

    For those of us who don’t like it, who like the “8 to an acre” suburban lot. The entire world population at an average 4 to the household on standard American sized lots fits in Texas and Oaklahoma combined. The rest of the world empty of people. Hint: The area devoted to industry and such is smaller… It would take about 4 x that all told just to fill up America. (Leaving lots of room for parks).

    The world isn’t full. The world isn’t even crowded. Cities are crowded by choice because we like it that way. Otherwise we’d move to the suburbs…

    Now, about that nutty idea that we must be crowded into cities as there is just not enough land to live in small towns. BS. Pure and unfiltered.

    Take those “8 to an acre” houses in Texas an Oklahoma and spread them out, just over North America. You now have a few acres each. There are a bit over 6 Billion acres in North America. At 4 people per house, that’s 24 Billion people. Each home on their “Own Little Acre”. At our present about 8 Billion (going on or at 9 yet?) that’s 3 acres per home.

    Of course, we Might want to use some of South America, Asia, Africa, The Pacific Nations, or even a bit of Europe … just so we can ‘spread out’ a little bit…

    (Why is it the loony ones never seem to do any math? Did they fail ‘word problems’ or just get so wound up in the sound of their own voice as to not ‘fact check’ themselves?…)

  293. Climate Ace:

    In response to your first post in this thread, at January 13, 2013 at 1:56 pm I wrote saying to you

    Your many posts on several WUWT posts demonstrate your ignorance of AGW. So, there was no need to do it again on this thread (at January 13, 2013 at 1:49 pm).

    This thread is about poverty and not your delusions.

    But you could not resist the opportunity to again display your ignorance and to disrupt a WUWT thread.

    This thread is about the important subject of poverty.
    This thread is NOT about the trivial matters of your arrogance and ignorance.

    Hence, it would benefit rational discussion if your nonsensical ravings were ignored because refusal to answer them may encourage you to go away.

    Richard

  294. While the poorest of the poor need energy, they also need food and water – in fact, those 2 come first. If the forecasts of CAGW-believers come to pass, the impact on the poor are as follows: 1) more expensive food due to reduced crop yields (primarily drought, but also flooding, such as the 2011 floods which wiped out 14% of Thailand’s rice crop and led to a spike in rice prices). 2) lack of water due to drought, such as that in 2011 which led to 100s of thousands of East Africans to move to refugee camps 3) lack of livelihood as subsistence farmers can no longer grow their own food, and thus lose both the source of their own food as well income from what they sell. And of course no one will buy their land if it cannot grow crops. 4) More expensive energy IF carbon taxes are enacted, or energy sources changed from coal and oil to renewable energy sources.

    For CAGW believers, the push for renewable energy is not about increasing energy costs for the poor, but trying to mitigate the impact of CAGW. I understand that the skeptic community does not believe these outcomes will happen, or that if they occur it will be due to natural variation, not CAGW. But to portray the CAGW camp’s efforts to reduce CO2 output as just a money grab or an effort to hurt the world’s poor rather than efforts at mitigation is a bit disingenuous.

    • At 3:33 AM on 14 January, Chris had written:

      For CAGW believers, the push for renewable energy is not about increasing energy costs for the poor, but trying to mitigate the impact of CAGW. I understand that the skeptic community does not believe these outcomes will happen, or that if they occur it will be due to natural variation, not CAGW. But to portray the CAGW camp’s efforts to reduce CO2 output as just a money grab or an effort to hurt the world’s poor rather than efforts at mitigation is a bit disingenuous.

      At 4:40 AM on the same date, richardscourtney had provided a reply to Chris‘ comment which effectively refuted everything in that post, but I think its not redundant to put the boot in good and proper. True, Mr. courtney had made the case effectively that:

      …at present – there is no reason to fearful of ‘the forecasts of CAGW-believers’. In the event of discernible AGW then there would be reason to assess if those ‘forecasts’ are likely to be correct. But AGW will continue to be an irrelevant distraction unless and until AGW is discernible and shown to be a problem.”

      …but having followed the prima facie preposterous AGW contention since it was brought to my attention in 1981 – at which time I horsebacked the estimation that “These clowns are overstating the terrestrial greenhouse gas effect of CO2 by at least three orders of magnitude” – I’m probably a bit more sustainedly (if not thoroughly) conversant with the “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming” hokum than are most of the folks frequenting this forum, and I can’t accept any contention that “the CAGW camp’s efforts to reduce CO2 output” is anything except “a money grab” to satisfy the personal greed of people like the Algore and his cohorts as well as a far more perfidious lunge for political economic power (particularly invidious regulation and taxation) over the productive sector of our society.

      That this will inescapably “hurt the world’s poor” (while not in any way advancing “efforts at mitigation” regarding whatever might occur as the Earth’s climate changes due to influences entirely beyond human causation) is nothing that your “CAGW believers” give the least little damn about, if they’ve so much as transiently bothered to think about it.

      The “consensus” majority of them have proven reliably throughout the past thirty-plus years that they’re as full of hate for “the world’s poor” as they are for honest men and women scrupulously skeptical of their Cargo Cult Science conjectures.

      So why should us honest folk not hate the “CAGW believers” as those lying, vicious sons of dogs have worked so persistently to deserve?

      Heavens, considering how many of us on the “denier” side are also advocates of the unalienable individual right to keep and bear arms and, indeed, participants in the “gun culture,” I think it speaks well of the spirit of respect for human life that addressing the “CAGW believers” with musketry hasn’t – yet – been undertaken.

      Once it starts, however, for my own part I’m minded to maintain the premise that “After the first one, the rest are free.”

  295. Johanna – thanks. Re: “[I] couldn’t find the bit where [Willis] said that the world [is] under an obligation to extract as much as possible as fast as possible” I didn’t actually suggest that Willis used any such words: I said “so this article is actually a plea to the energy exporters to turn on all the spigots and mine away furiously, to maximise supply – so minimise world prices”.

    Isn’t this basic economics: that if demand is constant and supply increases, prices will drop to clear the market. Surely this is both a necessary and sufficient condition for the case that Willis makes in this article – for energy prices to be reduced?

    Yes, you are right about the despots – I’m no expert in this field and you are of course correct that I was referring here mainly to oil exports. But just OPEC country exports are enough to rock the markets – remember the “oil shock” price increases of the 1970’s (you might be too young of course …!). And I think my central point – that this article really amounts to a plea for more democratic systems of government – still holds. The US, Australia, Canada and Europe (the main coal suppliers you mention) are democracies where the case can be made for policy change and (if citizens are persuaded and vote accordingly) change will happen, whereas the despots are simply a law unto themselves.

  296. @MamaLiberty:

    I call that the Evil Bastard problem. Unfortunately, both you, and Willis, are correct.

    The “root of it all” is the “Marginal propensity to invest”. Poor people don’t have the spare money to invest in “development” of industry. So at the extreme poor end of things, there’s no money to improve the economy. Every dime goes to food and clothing and such.

    As folks ‘get richer’ they have some they can set aside to invest. That might be in a stock, bond, or even a shoe store in the USA. In a rural village it can be a package of needles and some thread. Or even just a second chicken and “borrowing” a rooster for a day. (There is a program where you can buy a goat or even just a rabbit for a poor family. The “condition” being that they will use it to make more, not eat it. It has brought relative wealth to many poor folks in the world. http://www.heifer.org/ )

    So, one way or the other, we need folks “richer than the rest” to make marginal investment happen and economic growth leading to wealth and prosperity for all.

    Nice, neat, win-win, free market stuff….

    Does not matter if the “investor” is the “micro capitalist” buying needle and thread, a rich Western Corporation. The Church. Or even The Chairman Of The People’s Committee. SOMEONE has to say “today, we do not consume this money. With this money, we invest in more tooling and facilities and stock.”

    And that starts the Evil Bastard problem. Since any good investment brings more wealth, over time “the rich get richer”. Even if it is just Der Fuhrer, or Dear Leader, or Chairman of GE. Then they start wanting more and more power.

    So, on the one hand, we need the Evil Bastard so that investment happens and economies grow and we all benefit from added wealth. Yet on the other side, we end up with The Evil Bastard willing to do things like dump Dioxin in the well or starve 20 Million for his dream of collective agriculture, or kill off a Billion in service to his (or her) fantasy about Gaia being too crowded.

    We need very little regulation (and most of that keeping other evil people from stealing the individual investments or dumping crap on them) so that freedom lets folks invest and produce and gain wealth. Yet we also are subject to the Evil Bastards corrupting regulation and using it for self aggrandizement (as is rampant in America and the EU today). So which Evil Bastard do you choose? The one “from the government here to help you” or the one “From MegaCorp Inc. offering you a job dumping dioxin in the town well”? We’ve had both ends…

    For a short time, between about 1950 and 1970 we had a fair balance. Maybe a bit too much “central planning” and “big corporation power”, but maybe also a bit too little “environmental regulations”. Now we are way around the bend with way too much ‘central planning’ and too much ‘environmental regulations’ as they are all under the control of the Evil Bastard Cartel in D.C. working in cahoots with Dear Leaders…

    Sadly, I don’t have a good solution. Perhaps a limit on absolute wealth and size of any given person and corporation? Perhaps a ban on all corporate campaign contributions? Perhaps just forcing The Federal Government back into the original Constitutional role?

    We have the Evil Bastards who grasp after power in any case. They will gravitate to where that power can be taken. Perhaps what is best is just limiting the size of those places and pitting them against each other… which is what a competitive market is supposed to do. ( I don’t really care if it is ‘free’, as long as it is ‘competitive’ and the Evil Bastards of all colors, corporate and government and just filthy rich mega-Billionaires are shackled enough for the rest of us to live and breath… and buy some needles and thread, or maybe TWO goats…)

    But unless we have a high enough “Marginal propensity to invest”, we live in poverty from consuming all our wealth. So someone must be wealthy enough to do that investing…

    @GungaDIn:
    Love those Thomas Sowell quotes.

    i think he’s at Stanford now. One of the best modern conservative economists around. That he’s a black guy just has to rub salt in liberals scratches…

    @About Climate Ace:

    Ah, at last. He’s shown up putting up buckets of the same old tripe. After his other rounds of dreck, I now know not to bother reading any of it. I may finish comments in reasonable time now, with so much that is empty of content, so skipped without loss…

    @Mr. Lynn:

    Thanks for the cite! Might also want to see the one on there being plenty of food, if we would just use it a bit differently and dump the political hacks from the process:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/grains-and-why-food-will-stay-plentiful/

    @David Ross

    Ack! Reading your comment I accidentally read a C.A… bit on Malthus…

    But to answer it:

    In the beginning Malthus was creating a new field, Demographics, it had (and has) merit and worth. Then his conclusions were shown horridly wrong and his gross errors (such as “inevitably” population grows with ‘means” when it does exactly the opposite). Having been shown spectacularly wrong and in a pernicious evil way, the left of course supports him.

    Easy as can be. In business, things have to be correct to have utility. To the Loony Side Of Left, they need propaganda value and being wrong but emotional is a feature as it distracts folks from thinking. Rather like being a mindless troll…

    @Phil:

    Loved the pictures and stories in that gobar gas link. First made a ‘table top’ demonstration scale unit in about 1979?

    There’s a wonderful success story from India where I’ve lost the name of the guy who did it. Short form: Hillside denuded and eroding, village in poverty. Women going blind from dung smoke and kids ‘growing up’ collecting dung from eroding hillsides where goats ate anything and everything.

    20 years later, picture of the same place, same guy. It’s nearly a tropical rain forest look behind him instead of red eroding hills. Women with spare time. Families well fed. Men with new gadgets and tools for work. Children in school.

    How? Simple. A ‘bean tree’ Leucianna (something) planted and ‘coppiced’. The leaves fed to penned goats. Now the land is not denuded by goats. Trees fix nitrogen and shade prevents soil drying, retaining moisture. Goat dung to Gobar Gas fermenter. Little gas stove in each hut. No more wood collection for cooking, so the women and children have time and health. Slurry from gobar fermenter to the garden, lots of food and extra vegetables to sell. (Along with some cheese and such from the growing goat herd due to more forage from the coppice farm and soil building). They even had enough from selling soaps and vegetables and cheeses to buy things like needles and were talking of a sewing machine and (GASP) maybe electricity for a light bulb.

    All from penning goats, gobar gas, and using a ‘bean tree’….

    Sadly, it’s a bit cold here for me to run a gobar gas operation and the spouse will not let me have a goat. Now THAT is wealth. When you are told that having more of it is ‘unpleasant’…
    (I know, we don’t measure wealth in goats, but they do, and that’s kind of the point…)

  297. Chris:

    Your post at January 14, 2013 at 3:33 am begins by saying

    While the poorest of the poor need energy, they also need food and water – in fact, those 2 come first. If the forecasts of CAGW-believers come to pass, the impact on the poor are as follows: 1) more expensive food due to reduced crop yields (primarily drought, but also flooding, such as the 2011 floods which wiped out 14% of Thailand’s rice crop and led to a spike in rice prices). 2) lack of water due to drought, such as that in 2011 which led to 100s of thousands of East Africans to move to refugee camps 3) lack of livelihood as subsistence farmers can no longer grow their own food, and thus lose both the source of their own food as well income from what they sell. And of course no one will buy their land if it cannot grow crops. 4) More expensive energy IF carbon taxes are enacted, or energy sources changed from coal and oil to renewable energy sources.

    OK. You have provided a seeming justification for discussing AGW in the context of addressing poverty.

    However, your arguments all depend on your statement

    If the forecasts of CAGW-believers come to pass, …

    It is very important to note that there is no evidence that AGW exists at a discernible level and there is much evidence that it does not; e.g.
    lack of tropospheric ‘hot spot’
    lack of Trenberth’s ‘missing heat’
    lack of ‘committed warming’
    lack of any global warming for 16+ years despite increasing atmospheric CO2
    etc.

    This indicates that – at present – there is no reason to fearful of “the forecasts of CAGW-believers”. In the event of discernible AGW then there would be reason to assess if those “forecasts” are likely to be correct. But AGW will continue to be an irrelevant distraction unless and until AGW is discernible and shown to be a problem.

    There are real issues of poverty and a variety of ways to address them And the optimum way to address poverty may differ between countries because of cultural differences. So, philosophical, ethical, economic, political and religious issues are all important to combating poverty. These matters can be debated with a view to determining how best to address poverty overall and in any specific locality. But AGW is a distraction from each and every one of these matters.

    Climate changes. It always has and it always will, everywhere.
    Effects of real climate changes can also be addressed. AGW is a distraction from that, too.

    Richard

  298. This reminds me of this story from India. Please understand that Every 12 hours, one farmer commits suicide in India ” That is, two farmers a day for the past 15 years…. beyond a quarter million people.”

    Monsanto is blamed for this and a Monsanto official made the mistake of visiting and denying responsibility.

    …When news of a Monsanto senior official’s arrival from Mumbai reached the nearby village of Munjala, cotton farmers of the village Karanji, about 140 K.m. from Nagpur located the Monsanto official and took him to their field where a complete failure of ‘Paras Sudarshan’ Bt cotton seed was shown to him.

    When the Monsanto representative failed to admit the lapse, he was severely beaten up by the farmers.

    It was reported that even a local agriculture officer did not come to his rescue….

    http://www.salem-news.com/articles/july122011/india-monsanto-beaten-tk.php

    How these monsters can sleep at night while they are callously screwing the poor out of what little they have completely baffles me. That my government is instrumental in this shames me. The more I learn the deeper is my hatred for those who inhabit the government buildings in the District of Criminals and I am only effected in a minor way.

    An appropriate song for those in Washington to pay heed to: We are the worms of the earth Against the lions of might.

  299. Sorry mods – a re-post if I may (formatting muff in just-previous post!) TIA _Jim

    Gail Combs says January 14, 2013 at 5:44 am

    This reminds me of this story from India.

    Monsanto is blamed for this and a Monsanto official made the mistake of visiting and denying responsibility. …

    I like an un-verified, non-cross-checked story as much as the next guy – when it’s pure fiction and takes place in a movie … so let’s re-read the referenced story for comprehension, shall we?

    For expediency in addressing this, I extract below from the comments section following the ‘story’ a pair of comments addressing the errs (editorial or perhaps translational ‘slant’) existing:

    Call me Leery July 13, 2011 5:06 pm (Pacific time)

    So, the problem is that Monsanto didn’t ship enough seeds to India to fill the demand?

    The demand was high enough to sell out the supply (I guess the seeds work that much better?), so a local guy starts packing local seeds in Monsanto bags, and selling them as BT seeds.

    When those seeds failed, it was Monsanto’s fault?

    - – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Scott S. July 13, 2011 2:54 pm (Pacific time)

    So some idiot goes and counterfiets Monsanto seeds and Monsanto gets the blame? I think next year Monsanto should boycott India. Make them try to feed their nation with expensive low yeild non-Monsanto seeds and see how they do.

    (Did anyone who comment even read the entire article? The author sure did put the facts far down from the start so folks wouldn’t see them. Cancer and Agent Orange? What does that have to do with the story?)

    You know, it is my observation that ‘trvth’ should not be so easy nor early a target in the ‘war-effort’ of Gail’s mission to spread truth and ‘enlightenment’ across both the fruited and un-fruited plains and varying landscape …

    .

  300. E.M.Smith says January 14, 2013 at 4:17 am

    Sadly, I don’t have a good solution. Perhaps a limit on absolute wealth and size of any given person and corporation? Perhaps a ban on all corporate campaign contributions? Perhaps just forcing The Federal Government back into the original Constitutional role?

    Uh oh … who’s going to ‘enforce’ this equitably, equally, without prejudice or malice on that first part?

    And – WON’T potential targets SIMPLY maintain a ‘financial’ level below said trigger point – or engage in the usual political payoffs or ‘alliances’ (like with NBC’s David Gregory whose wife is friends with the DC prosecutor re: David’s unabashed waving of a high-cap magazine on national TV a few weeks ago in direct violation of a DC law? Prosecutor declines to prosecute …)

    An example, I think, EM Smith, of addressing a non-static entity with standard, static thinking … congress does it all the time re: levying of various taxes; it’s an easy pit to fall into …

    .

  301. richardscourtney says: January 13, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Steven Mosher January 13, 2013 at 8:37 am – provided this link

    Second that everyone should watch – quite brilliant. And very much to the themes here in WUWT.

    Quotes:

    ” the richest 1 billion, 1/7 of the people on the planet are responsible for half of the world’s energy consumption…”

    “The richest people will in future use less, they will get more energy efficient, and will produce more ‘green’ energy, but until they use the same amount as everyone else they should not tell us what to do!…”

    “Thank you industrialization, thank you steel mills, thank you power stations, thank you chemical processing industries …. now my mother and I have time to read books!”

  302. Oh, and the reason that in ‘the gold old days’ in Europe they drank a lot of beer (and soup) was because in their poverty they dumped a lot of sewage into the river. Result, drink the water and die. Beer (and a soup that is cooked all day) is safe, however, so they drank beer. See the above tales, when you are that poor, that is the only way you have to dispose of sewage. Bring in the green agenda, and you had better learn to brew beer and like soup.

    Indeed, there is even a not-quite-tongue-in-cheek movie available on Netflix titled “How Beer Saved the World”. This is the literal truth, and not just in Europe. The discovery of beer almost perfectly coincided with the invention of civilization, too — cultivation of barley being a key requirement to brew beer, after hunter-gatherers accidentally discovered it (probably) when returning to cached barley that had gotten wet.

    I’m ready for the collapse, personally — I brew my own (and make a pretty good soup). I survived the Mayan apocalypse (and need a tee shirt announcing that fact). Will I survive the engineered collapse of the global economy that will follow the continuation of the current energy policies and overinvestment in alternative energy resources before their time? Not so certain.

    Around here, we still remember Hurricane Fran, because it left us without electricity for a solid week. We remember a particularly nasty ice storm a few years later that did exactly the same thing, midwinter. You would be amazed at how rapidly a standard of living regresses to the nineteenth century if you just pull the plug. And even so, we never lost running water, and because I was fortunate enough then to have a natural gas hot water heater and natural gas grill that didn’t require electricity to operate we even had hot water and could cook. We also still had cars, once enough trees were cut that we could get out of our neighborhood to the dark and refrigeration-free stores.

    There’s a lovely novel — Alas Babylon, by Pat Frank — from the heart of the Cold War, that graphically describes the regression of the civilization of a patch of survivors in central Florida to the nineteenth century overnight in the aftermath of a nuclear war. With the loss of electricity, gasoline, and our network of supply that runs from farm to table, from factory to store, from pharmaceutical plant to hospital, our ability to support a large population vanishes as well.

    There is nothing “idyllic” about living below the electric light line, below the washing machine and refrigeration line (it isn’t just washing machines — refrigerators are even more important as they permit the storage of otherwise perishable food, and food trumps clean clothing). There is nothing romantic about unsafe water or a complete lack of plumbing and running water or sewage treatment.

    The primary CAGW threat is always the loss of coastal living area due to presumed flooding as the ice caps melt. It never seems to take into account the loss of living area due to the fact that it requires heat to live at all for six months of the years in most of the Northern part of the temperate zone. In “idyllic” times, that heat was provided by burning wood (carbon), something that was possible only when the population was miniscule, so that there were many trees per person available to be burned. Wood fires, of course, are horribly inefficient. Neither solar nor wind is going to heat homes in Maine in midwinter, not ever, nor in Finland, nor in Siberia. These are not small coastal areas, these are the temperate areas that collectively form the breadbasket of the world.

    rgb

  303. Willis, Based on the title, you obviously read Pogo when you were young … I’m amazed at how appropriate his satire still is.

  304. Gail Combs ” Your citing of people’s personal disasters to try to ‘prove’ something or other is (a) irrelevant, and (b) lower than a snake’s Gleick’s belly.”

    Fixed it for ya, Gail. ;)

  305. Indeed, there is even a not-quite-tongue-in-cheek movie available on Netflix titled “How Beer Saved the World”. This is the literal truth, and not just in Europe. The discovery of beer almost perfectly coincided with the invention of civilization, too — cultivation of barley being a key requirement to brew beer, after hunter-gatherers accidentally discovered it (probably) when returning to cached barley that had gotten wet.

    Beer is still nasty. ;)

  306. Willis

    Thanks for sharing your experiences close to the 10th Parallel!! Changing the word “religion” to clean energy in a comment by malob http://www.amazon.com/The-Tenth-Parallel-Dispatches-Christianity/product-reviews/0374273189/ I read when researching the book seems about right to me when looking at the religion of carbon dioxide as being evil.

    “Overall picture about the constant struggle for existence that has been going on for years. Most Americans are far removed from this reality. Should be a must-read if you want to know more about the power struggle done in the name of religion. ”

    I have a good stock pile of home made wine to make it through the chilly nights if I end up without power while it’s 20F outside.

  307. Allen B. Eltor says:
    January 13, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    Climate Ace says:
    January 13, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    “My point was that I preferred smaller governments”…

    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
    Your point was you believe a giant heater in the sky that is going to drown people before they can get out of the way.
    And that it would be a good idea to utterly remove redundancy of checks in governance.
    To save money.

    That tells us all we need to know Professor Borehole.

  308. At 5:44 AM on 14 January, Gail Combs posted:

    An appropriate song for those in Washington to pay heed to: We are the worms of the earth Against the lions of might

    …posting a link to a truly crappy YouTube cover of the tune actually named “Worms of the Earth,” written by Bob Esty and part of the repertoire of the performing group Clam Chowder in which Bob has participated for many years.

    Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a link to any online reproduction of Clam Chowder’s performances of this tune, but I couldn’t let such a frelkin’ mundane as Ms. Combs defile the work of a trufan like Mr. Esty.

  309. Very good sketching out of the global context.

    Of course, Americans are more worried about the 30 million jobs dearth, the 2 million STEM professionals who are unemployed or out of field, the exploding prices which the bureaubums denies is happening, the stereo they no longer have because the last time they had to self-move for a chance at a survival job, there was no room, the 5,000 volume library ditto, the car they had to give up because they didn’t have $50 to register it $500 for the protection rackets and $17 to replace that blasted brake light switch that was so poorly designed it had to be replaced every 18-24 months and, besides, the $50 battery was dead because it had been left to sit too long.

    And then I reflect on your description of the “yachtie’s” clothing. How long would that outfit last? I mean, really. Most of that stuff was sloppily slapped together by some under-paid slum-dweller or prison labor in Red China. Corners were cut on the quality of materials and on workmanship. He’s lucky if most of it will last 18 months (and that cheap watch maybe 10-12), but what does the yachtie care? He’s got a half-dozen business suits and several levels of casual outfits suitable for each kind of occasion. He’s not down to his last pair of dress pants, heavily clawed by the cat he’s been sitting, and wondering what he could possible wear, now, if he did land an interview.

    Why, the yachtie can bolt from one part of the world to another as it suits his pleasure, leaving suit-cases of clothing behind in many cases. He doesn’t have to turn down the job opportunity because the employers are no longer flying US candidates across the country for interviews, nor relocating them as they used to before bodyshopping started to explode in the 1980s, and cross-border bodyshopping since 1990.

    But then, let’s consider that shanty-town. It makes me think of pioneer ancestors, felling trees and building a crude cabin within a day, or building from rubble stone if that was available, then carefully improving it over time as resources allow. Both use available materials. Both ignored or avoided government permits and licenses for the most part (just as with the shanty-towns of Cairo and Mexico City).

    The main difference I see is demand for labor. Skills of every kind were in very high demand through 1900 in most parts of what is now the USA, and land was inexpensive, nearly everyone could afford to buy or homestead enough land to more than subsist. Up until the late 1800s, there was still available frontier nearly everyone was knowledgeable enough to be able to make use of, though perhaps not wealthy enough to own the best known tools for the job.

    Well, the frontiers are gone, and we’ve been “in-filling” for over a century. Though not as over-populated and over-populated as Union City or Mumbai, things are kind of cramped. If you want to move these days, if you want to build a home or business, you have to jump through numerous government hoops, to beg and bribe in the legally prescribed manner. If you get paid, governments exort big… make that huge portions of it. If you get sick, now, the feral federal government wants to know and determine what kind of care and how much you are permitted to buy, and keep your files on hand as a ready source of info on your vulnerabilities to be leveraged to keep you under their thumbs.

    From my POV, the pols (including Algore and cousin Obummer) are eagerly working to make us all shanty-town dwellers and slaves.

  310. “Once the populations started to recover the economy also started to recover and we had boom times.”

    I think you’re confusing cause with effect.

  311. “Citation alert! Citation cleanup needed on aisle three!”

    :B-)

    When agriculture got going, people started living in larger villages, towns, and cities. Diseases that had been quenched by low population densities of at most 7K to massively over-crowded cities of somewhere between 300K and 400K (and up), started ripping through, killing off high percentages of people (2% to 100% depending on the disease). William H. McNeill 1976, 1998 _Plagues and Peoples_

  312. mib8:

    At January 14, 2013 at 9:58 am you write

    When agriculture got going, people started living in larger villages, towns, and cities. Diseases that had been quenched by low population densities of at most 7K to massively over-crowded cities of somewhere between 300K and 400K (and up), started ripping through, killing off high percentages of people (2% to 100% depending on the disease). William H. McNeill 1976, 1998 _Plagues and Peoples_

    Hmmm. That is an interesting claim, and the fact that McNeill (or anyone else) has written it does not show it is true.

    People were hunter gatherers prior to agriculture.
    How can one know that diseases were “quenched by low population densities” in hunter gatherer populations which – by their nature – left no archaeological information? Please explain how McNeill deduces this was so.

    Does a wandering tribe acting cooperatively really have a lower effective population density than an agricultural village when considering disease vectors? I strongly doubt it, and you don’t say how McNeill justifies his assertion.

    Cities arise when population is sufficiently large. Of course, a pandemic may destroy a city especially in the absence of medicine, but this must always have been rare or few cities would grown and survived. Some cities were lost (e.g. Troy) but many – probably most – were not.

    Simply, the assertions of McNeill don’t pass the ‘smell test’.

    Richard

  313. Climate Ace says:
    January 14, 2013 at 12:16 am

    Who said there has never been major fires? There is something unique about this one, btw. Not that you would be interested.
    ===================================

    Ah yes you claim that your fire is special but don’t bother to explain. That is so convincing.

  314. Climate Ace says:
    January 13, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    I will have a go at clarifying my points:

    Mass global poverty and hunger is part of BAU.

    Since BAU (business as usual, with the economy fired by cheap fuel) has reduced the amount of poverty on the planet by orders of magnitude, and has made Climate Ace himself wealthy in a way unknown to kings of old, I find this claim to be totally and completely backwards.

    (I am glad that Willis refrained from paying for sex in the Philippines and Willis does write a good story. But the issue is not what an individual does or does not do with another individual. In the context of the Philippines, it is BAU poverty that forces around 400,000 Filipinas into the sex trade (some are probably Filipinos but I am not sure of the breakdown). Not nearly as romantic or poetic as Willis’ Piano Man story is it?)

    Call off your old tired ethics, Ace. Helena was twice the human being you are, she was caring and kind. Nor was it “BAU poverty” that brought her to the work. It was plain old garden variety poverty, the poverty that existed for millennia before business as usual, the poverty that business as usual has been more successful at fighting than anything else we’ve ever done.

    Poverty is part of BAU.

    I used to think you were just dumb, Ace. But now I see that in reality you are world-class stupid. Here is the actual truth, as verified by many, many experiments.

    BAU has done more to end poverty than anything else we’ve ever tried. It works better than kings and princes. It works better than anarchy. It works better than dictators and potentates. It works better than communism, better than Maoism, better than Stalinism, better than any “ism” we’ve ever tried.

    This is not just theory, Ace. This has been tried and tested hundreds of times in hundreds of places. You really should open your eyes and look at what has worked.

    Poverty will be part of AGW as it hits.

    You idiot, we don’t even know if it is going to hit, or if it even exists … and you want to tell us that poverty will be a part of it?

    AGW will most likely hit the poor the hardest becaue the wealthy will pay their way through any climate-related difficulties. The wealthy are good at that sort of stuff.

    You stupid, stupid man. BAU has been more successful at making people wealthier than any system we’ve ever tried … and you want to tear it down? You want to replace it?

    With what? And what expertise are you calling on to rebuild the world’s economy? You are just some spineless anonymous man who doesn’t have the balls to sign his own name to his ideas. What do you know about rebuilding the economy of the entire planet as you blithely propose?

    When the kaka hits the BAU fan in some part of the world, the wealthy skedaddle with their wealth.

    Whereas you, I suppose, run towards where the shit is hitting the fan. No surprise there, I guess.

    What is your point, Ace? That people flee trouble if they can? Gosh, do you have any other perfectly obvious things you’d like to point out?

    The appropriate response to Willis’ story is to insist that those in poverty do not pay harder for any AGW response.

    The appropriate response to my story is to think about it. How about you try doing that before posting here again?

    w.

  315. Willis Eschenbach:

    Your article was poetic, sad, beautiful and enlightening. Thankyou.

    But I write to thank you for your rebuttal of Climate Ace at January 14, 2013 at 10:40 am.

    I truly wish I had your eloquence so I could have rebutted him/her/it with the same calm and righteous indignation that you have. I suspect I am not alone in my gratitude.

    Richard

  316. mib8 says:
    January 14, 2013 at 9:58 am

    “Citation alert! Citation cleanup needed on aisle three!”

    :B-)

    When agriculture got going, people started living in larger villages, towns, and cities. Diseases that had been quenched by low population densities of at most 7K to massively over-crowded cities of somewhere between 300K and 400K (and up), started ripping through, killing off high percentages of people (2% to 100% depending on the disease). William H. McNeill 1976, 1998 _Plagues and Peoples_

    Thanks, mib8. Actually, I’d asked for a citation for a claim by lowercase fred, which was that people got smaller after the introduction of agriculture. I’m still waiting for that one.

    Regarding your citation to a claim by McNeill, that small hunter-gatherer populations “quench” epidemics so that high percentages don’t get killed, that’s a very, very foolish claim.

    Consider, for example, what happened when the white guys brought disease to the Americas starting in 1500. Estimates vary, but by some estimates up to 90% of the Native American hunter-gatherers living in what McNeill calls “low population densities of at most 7K” died in the huge, raging epidemics that followed …

    You know which epidemics I mean, the theoretically impossible epidemics that McNeill claims would have been “quenched” by the fact that by and large the Native Americans were hunter-gatherers living in small groups. My conclusion is that McNeill was a much better historian than an epidemiologist, but regarding epidemics he wasn’t a scientist at all. He didn’t think about what he was writing, he didn’t compare it to what he knew of the real world.

    Dear friends, please take the lesson from both William McNeill and mib8, which is to think through what you are posting before posting it … some things just don’t pass the smell test. DO NOT BLINDLY DEPEND ON THE WORD OF “EXPERTS” LIKE MCNEILL!! Think about what they say.

    You’ve all got good brains, put them to use. Look for counter examples to your own claims. Yeah, I know that the easiest guy for me to fool is me, and I’ve posted some foolish stuff too … but please do make the attempt to think through and debunk your own claims and citations before posting them.

    w.

  317. I’m not exactly sure where the villages in the Congo should be placed, but more likely hunter gatherer than farming, and most of them are well below 7K people. That is where Ebola previously wiped out village after village. I don’t think the hunters are spared either.

    Funny how a – gasp – horror – CHEMICAL like chlorine bleach can be so effective at stopping a monster. Talk about un-green.

    McNeill my tailbone!

  318. Want to be really angry? Watch this two hour video on thorium nuclear power, the abundant source of cheap, safe, energy we could have had fifty years ago. It was perfected at Oak Ridge, but the military power in the US government wanted to go with uranium because uranium could be bread into plutonium for bombs. Thorium was rejected as a source for atomic weapons — to difficult and dangerous — when making bombs. But extraordinarily easy and safe when making nuclear power. And there is enough thorium to power the world for thousands of years. Maybe we will do it, but the Chinese look like they will beat us to it using what we developed at Oak Ridge. But that part of the world needs cheaper energy than we do. So maybe it is the just thing to do.

    Watch the video:

  319. Willis, you are the very best….writter….story teller….thinker.. Your life has been amazing in its world experiences. It is your ability to understand what you have experienced that surpases that on anyone else I have ever “known”. Yes, I feel as though I know you. Thank you for enriching my life and putting perspective to big issues of the world. One problem; you make me feel very small.

  320. davidgmills says:
    January 14, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Want to be really angry? Watch this two hour video …

    Thanks, David. Here’s how it is for me. When someone asks if I want to watch a two-hour video, my answer is usually no. Videos almost always move way too slow for me. Almost invariably, I find them boring as hell. It reminds me of being in the Army, when they brought out a guy with a six-foot toothbrush, who moved it vertically to teach us to brush up and down … boooooooring …

    However, when someone offers me the unique opportunity to become totally enraged by watching a two hour video, that question is much easier to reply to. My answer is invariably no.

    Seriously, David, why would I subject myself two hours of terminal boredom just so I can be furious about the world and how it works?

    w.

  321. Wills

    Well done and well expressed.

    One of the greatest gifts God ever gave me was that of seeing real poverty on a daily basis. By age of sixteen I’d been to sixteen different countries… all poor… and by ‘73 hadn’t lived in the U.S. for over five years. I’d become used to poverty as a norm. Indeed, one of my most vivid early memories seeing contrast while regularly visiting a shanty town in Panama City, Panama, located just across the street from the then U.S. Canal city of Balboa. (Went to buy books I couldn’t afford on the U.S. side).

    The first time I recall experiencing culture shock was when I crossed the Mexican border into the United States in late ‘73. I had difficulty comprehending the United States sheer wealth. Wealth that left me reeling in disbelief.

    Reflecting upon your article, as well as the comments above, it struck me an import point is frequently missed even among those with experiences similar to ours. That being… that the gap between developed and non-developed nations is not that deep or wide a divide. We simply are not that many mistakes away from becoming an impoverished nation.

    All too often we assume that that “our” nation will never experience extreme poverty. We forget how easily we can squander the advantages given to us by prior, desperately poor, generations. We too easily forget the bulk of our current wealth was created after the Great Depression. And we arrogantly assume that we can make no mistake so great that we will not, or cannot, fall into poverty again.

    In part because I live in the Tennessee Valley and; ironically, because have worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for many years; I am acutely aware of the relationship between an abundant supply of affordable electrons and abject poverty. That lesson is starkly evident in too easily forgotten history.

    Today we are awash in electrons. Tomorrow could be a different story. In the very short order we could face storages of inexpensive power nationwide. A doubling or tripling of retail power cost is not out of the question.

    So, in just a few years, power could well be unaffordable to both the venerable poor and the businesses from which are wealth is derived.

    It useful to remember that, in the United States, economic activity comes to a dead stop when affordable power doesn’t flow.

    Remove any city from the grid. No lights. No air conditioning. No electric heat, natural gas, or fuel oil. No medical care. No access to bank accounts. Refrigerated foods are largely gone within days. Fuel shortages soon follow and transportation comes to a dead stop within a week.

    We can be the fools that squandered their father’s inheritance.

    We too live life on a razors edge. But, we forget how close and deep that edge is.

    Regards,
    Kforestcat

  322. Willis’ statements that BAU helps with poverty in third world countries struck me as intuitively very wrong. We have all heard about third world child- and slave-labor under horrible conditions. My impression was that we simply exported the kind of brutal, exploitative capitalism that we had in Europe some 150 years ago. That cannot be good. So I googled, and I found this:

    http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/course/73-371/UN_article.doc

    It seems that multinational corporations (MNC) are doing some good. The article talks about improved literacy, life expectancy, standard of living coincident with involvement of MNCs, and absent in those countries where MNC don’t invest. The author bases his conclusions on UN and world bank reports but, unfortunately, does not supply any references.

    Those of you knowledgable about world economics: is this believable?

  323. Yes there is a whole other world out there. Even the poorest of the poor in the US would be kings and queens in that other world.

  324. @johnrobertson
    I apologize for missing the details. However 97% only further reinforces my point. As for Hydrogen, you may be right. At the moment it may be insanely expensive. It may seem far off. However you may or may not be aware of a phenomenon known as the Rand Learning Curve. When research progresses far enough, cost will drop sharply as new techniques are quickly developed by corporations to beat competitors.

    Besides, while fossil fuel is an option right now, it won’t be in the future. However much oil we have left, we don’t have dozens of millions of years worth. We can’t exactly make new oil the old way, with out resorting to biofuels such as ethanol or propanol.

  325. An intrigued student,

    It didn’t take long for you to show your true colors:

    “…97% only further reinforces my point.”

    Anyone who refers to the “97%” has no understanding of the issue. And:

    “…while fossil fuel is an option right now, it won’t be in the future. However much oil we have left, we don’t have dozens of millions of years worth.”

    Nice strawman, you set him up and knocked him right down again, you strawman killer, you.

    The fact is that there is ample fossil fuel available. We are not discussing “dozens of millions of years worth,” we are debating whether fossil fuels are running out, or whether ther is sufficient supply for the foreseeable future.

    You may note that it takes deliberate effort on the part of government to restrict the availability of fossil fuels. Without that government obstructionism, we would have fossil fuels coming out our ears, and the price would drop precipitously.

    So to recap: the true “consensus’ [for whatever that is worth] is on the side of scientific skeptics. There is only a relatively small clique of climate alarmists. Unfortunately, they get most of the media’s attention.

    And fossil fuels are available in great abundance. Only government intervention to restrict supply keeps prices high and rising. As Willis points out, that hurts the poor the most.

  326. An intrigued student:

    At January 14, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Besides, while fossil fuel is an option right now, it won’t be in the future. However much oil we have left, we don’t have dozens of millions of years worth. We can’t exactly make new oil the old way, with out resorting to biofuels such as ethanol or propanol.

    That Malthusian nonsense has be refuted repeatedly on WUWT. Please search Peak Oil and read the threads.

    If there were a problem with foreseeable crude oil supplies (there is not) then synthetic crude can be already be made from coal at competitive price with natural crude. And there is sufficient coal for at least 300 years (probably 1000 years).

    Times and technology change with time.

    Nobody knows what energy sources will be used 300 years in the future but they are not likely to include crude oil. 300 years ago the major transport fuel was hay for horses but it is not now.

    Richard

  327. John Coleman says:
    January 14, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Willis, you are the very best….writter….story teller….thinker.. Your life has been amazing in its world experiences. It is your ability to understand what you have experienced that surpases that on anyone else I have ever “known”. Yes, I feel as though I know you. Thank you for enriching my life and putting perspective to big issues of the world. One problem; you make me feel very small.

    John, thank you for your kind comments. I have had immense good fortune in my life. I see people standing around and saying “Why me?” because of their pain and sorrow. I say the same thing, “Why me?”, but for me it’s not because of my pain and sorrow.

    Oh, I’ve had the usual amount of those, no one comes through this life unscathed. I’ve had enough grief and sorrow in my life to say “Why me?” for that reason. But I say “Why me?” for the opposite reason—because I have had the great luck to be born among the winners, to be one of the global 1% solely by my birth. Not the US 1%, but the global 1%, the ones born where there is education and food and cheap energy and opportunity and law and all that good stuff. Not only was I born among the 1%, but I have had the further good luck to realize what that meant, and to appreciate it, and to take full use and advantage of it.

    The one thing you wrote that I would take exception to is that there is no reason for my life to make you feel small. I had a curious experience in this regard, let me borrow a moment of your time to share it.

    I was a participant in a seminar thirty years ago. I’d just come back from a very successful fishing season in the Bering Sea, where bad weather goes to recuperate and gain strength, as well as a single-handed sail involving a fair-weather gale from Seattle to the San Francisco Bay area, and I was a young man, so I was feeling quite unjustifiably full of myself. I’d taken big chances, I’d pitted myself against raw nature, I’d ventured out on the wild ocean, and I’d won. In retrospect it’s easy to see that my head was swole up big enough to shade a small solar panel installation entirely out of the electricity business if I stood between it and the sun … but as Bob Dylan remarked “Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now”.

    In any case, at the seminar, an older woman stood up to talk. At least I thought of her as an older woman then, although now that I’m in my middle years I’d likely call her a woman of indeterminate age. Anyhow, she stood up and talked about the fear she’d always had of ice skating. It stemmed from a childhood accident, and she didn’t like having the fear. She described how she had decided to conquer the fear. She’d gone to the ice rink, determined to skate. But after she put on the skates, her knees got weak, and she didn’t have the courage to venture out. So she watched for the longest while, just sitting there while the music changed, and the skaters took the ice, and left when the music stopped, and when the music returned, took to the ice again.

    Finally, she took the good Lady’s advice to “screw your courage to the sticking-place”, and went out on the ice … sort of. She said that for the first few times around she clutched onto the handrail that ran all around the rink, using it to lean on, just watching everyone zoom by.

    And then, finally, she said that she had forced her fingers to unwillingly release her death grip on the handrail, and she had sailed free out into the circulating crowd of skaters. As you might imagine, this not being a fairy tale, it was a disaster. She made it only a very short distance before falling down hard, she said.

    But she stood up and kept trying, and falling, and trying again, until finally she made it clear around the entire rink without falling, not holding on to anything, for a full circuit of the ice.

    My initial reaction to her story was along the lines of “aaanh, that’s kids’ stuff, that’s no achievement”, combined with some sense of “I’m better” or “I’m more fearless, that’s just ice skating” or “I beat the mighty ocean” or some foolishness like that.

    But then I looked at her face. She was transformed just talking about her experience. I saw the face of a winner, of a woman who had triumphed at long last over something which she had truly and seriously feared, and avoided because of that fear, for as long as she could remember.

    And somewhere in there, I realized that there was no difference, really, between me conquering my own fears to go sailing single-handed from Seattle to San Francisco, and her conquering her own fears to go sailing single-handed once around the ice rink.

    I realized that those kind of fears only come in one size— “Too big for me to handle. Clearly too frightening.” That’s what the fear says. Doesn’t matter what it refers to, that’s always fear’s patented message, “I couldn’t do that, no way, it’s too scary”, and it makes no difference whether the fear is about the ice rink, or about fishing amidst ice bergs in the Bering Sea. The fear is the same, it says the same thing.

    I tell this story to emphasize to you that there is no reason that my life, and my abilities or the lack thereof, should make you feel either small or large, John. My life and deeds are not the issue, and more to the point, they are not the measure of your life and your deeds.

    The only relevant measure is, do you fight and triumph over whatever are the corresponding fears in your own life? And that has nothing to do with me or what I can or cannot do.

    All the best to you,

    w.

  328. E.M.Smith says:
    January 14, 2013 at 4:17 am
    @GungaDIn:
    Love those Thomas Sowell quotes.
    ====================================================
    Here’s another good quote regarding the “very, very rich” paying for Utopia, whatever you may think of the source.
    A liberal (US definition) is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. — G. Gordon Liddy

  329. Willis:
    I am a lawyer and I have read like a fiend 8-14 hours a day for 40 years. I read far faster than most humans. I too get very frustrated with anything that takes me far more time to see than I can read. But on a very, very few occasions, a video comes across better than anything I have read. And for me this is one of those times. This is partly because of Ken Sorensen, the NASA engineer that is attempting to bring thorium power back. He is the featured speaker for most of this video, is just a very unique guy, and most of the video is from excerpts of his lectures.

    Please take me up on this for a few minutes. It might change how you view the prospects of the world.

    [Which link? Mod]

  330. You’ve led quite a life, Willis. And you’ve got part of what would make a great book in what you’ve written here. Write it and I will buy it.

  331. An intrigued student says:
    January 14, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    … As for Hydrogen, you may be right. At the moment it may be insanely expensive. It may seem far off. However you may or may not be aware of a phenomenon known as the Rand Learning Curve. When research progresses far enough, cost will drop sharply as new techniques are quickly developed by corporations to beat competitors.

    First, if you want to be a better student, you desperately need to learn to document your claims. For example, you say that we “may or may not be aware of a phenomenon known as the Rand Learning Curve”. Since I wasn’t aware of it I went to Google … only to find that Google, like me, isn’t aware of a phenomenon known as the Rand Learning Curve either.

    Cite?

    In any case, you seem to think that it is some kind of law, and that it magically forces prices to drop sharply. But consider the fate of the photoelectric effect. It was discovered a century and a quarter ago, and despite both extensive and intensive research since then, solar panels are still too expensive to be of any use at the grid level … when is the freakin’ Rand Learning Curve gonna kick in for that one? I’m tired of holding my breath …

    w.

  332. Willis writes,

    ” . . . by and large the Native Americans were hunter-gatherers living in small groups.”

    Actually, that was more the exception than the rule. Most of the pre-Columbian Indians lived in settled communities; depending on where you look, most were horticulturists, exploiting the land and the forests (and the sea, where proximate) equally, and of course in Meso- and South America many lived in cities. Even on the East Coast, where the northern Europeans landed, there were extensive populations practicing agriculture. A terrific and well-referenced book documenting the state of affairs immediately prior to the European invasion is Charles C. Mann’s 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus,(New York, 2006).

    Regarding whether scattered hunter-gatherers are less vulnerable to epidemics, I’m sure that there have been epidemiological studies of such groups; arguably small bands (such as you may find in remote areas like the Amazon) might be less vulnerable than more concentrated populations, but where totally new diseases brought by invaders, coupled with (as has been speculated) genetic vulnerability to them, are concerned, I’d guess all bets are off.

    The topic, of course, is tangential to this thread. But Mann’s book is worth a read.

    /Mr Lynn

    • At 3:19 PM on 14 January, Mr Lynn had written:

      Regarding whether scattered hunter-gatherers are less vulnerable to epidemics, I’m sure that there have been epidemiological studies of such groups; arguably small bands (such as you may find in remote areas like the Amazon) might be less vulnerable than more concentrated populations, but where totally new diseases brought by invaders, coupled with (as has been speculated) genetic vulnerability to them, are concerned, I’d guess all bets are off.

      I’m not gonna cite squat, but in sources all over the place it’s sufficiently well-documented to make it plain at the Discovery Channel level of appreciation that the pre-Columbian peoples of the North American continent had extensive trade networks well established for centuries prior to their encounters with 15th and 16th Century European explorers, trappers, traders, and colonists.

      In particular, items they considered luxury goods (commonplace in one region, treasured rarities in another) got lugged all over the place. Archeologists investigating grave goods have made that plain enough.

      Modern epidemiologists – dealing with international air travel in our era of HIV-1, Ebola virus, influenza, SARS, and all the rest of those devastating microbes – know full well that a population can be “innoculated” with only a few initial contacts, particularly if the pathogen has a reasonable lag phase between infection and symptomaticity. One ambitious moccasin-shod pack peddler could haul a great deal more than Narragansett and Wampanoag first-quality wampum west and south of what became Rhode Island, spreading pestilence in his wake like a veritable Johnny Smallpox.

      And from where he’d visited, local traders would’ve exported it further, and relatively quickly.

      These “noble savage” hunter-gatherers liked new and interesting geegaws from faraway places, and were perfectly happy to make it profitable in a barter economy for inoffensive solitary strangers to come-a-calling.

      Heck, how long did it take for the Europeans to twig about the germ theory of disease?

  333. Tucci78 says:
    January 14, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Yes,Charles Mann cites evidence that the Incas of Peru were falling prey to the Euro-germs before the Spanish landed. Trade, as you suggest, was extensive throughout the Americas, doubtless more so amongst the urbanized populations (the Incas had cities larger than many in Europe).

    /Mr Lynn

  334. Mr Lynn says:
    January 14, 2013 at 3:19 pm (Edit)

    Willis writes,

    ” . . . by and large the Native Americans were hunter-gatherers living in small groups.”

    Actually, that was more the exception than the rule. Most of the pre-Columbian Indians lived in settled communities; depending on where you look, most were horticulturists, exploiting the land and the forests (and the sea, where proximate) equally, and of course in Meso- and South America many lived in cities. Even on the East Coast, where the northern Europeans landed, there were extensive populations practicing agriculture. A terrific and well-referenced book documenting the state of affairs immediately prior to the European invasion is Charles C. Mann’s 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus,(New York, 2006).

    Thanks, Mr. Lynn. You are right that it was a simplification. However, so is your claim that most lived in “settled communities”. Many of them moved between winter and summer camps, or even more frequently, with the whole population moving. And “horticulturalists” is somewhat generous. While some had regular gardens, many of these early Asian immigrants merely encouraged the wild growth of their favorite foods. It was only in the southeast that anything resembling what McNeill would call an agricultural economy existed. I freely grant you your other points, about the populations.

    My point was simple, and unrelated to your comments—despite the fact that McNeill claims some kind of protective effect from epidemics if the towns are under about seven thousand people, there were very, very few towns that size in pre-Columbian US, and despite the small villages the epidemics spread everywhere.

    And that’s what I’d expect, that small villages wouldn’t protect you. Why should they?

    If an epidemic disease hits a village, what do you think the Native Americans would do? They’d do just what the people in Venice did when faced with the Black Death, people are the same everywhere. They’d flee to their relatives and neighbors in neighboring villages, trying to escape the pestilence.

    And I cannot think of a better method, a simpler set of rules, to ensure that the disease reaches even the tiniest nooks and crannies of the smallest villages. Which is why I think McNeill was a better historian than an epidemiologist. McNeill (and perhaps you) are viewing the villages as fixed things. But they were not fixed—there was a constant flow of trade and commerce and friendship and payback and war and brides and food and slaves and obsidian flowing to and from even the smallest villages. To that constant, normal interchange and visiting of people to remote villages, including infected but not symptomatic people, we add people fleeing to other villages once an epidemic becomes obvious in their home village.

    At that point the question becomes, how could an epidemic NOT reach everywhere given those conditions?

    w.

  335. So… Everyone against renewables:

    We can all agree fossil fuels are finite, yes?
    When should we start relying on renewables?
    When oil runs out? Will we start to invest in wind and solar and biofuel then?

    Maybe not global warming, but a shortage of oil would drive prices through the roof, unregulated. The poor would really be up a creek without a paddle then.

    • At 4:37 PM on 14 January, jx8989 had snerked:

      We can all agree fossil fuels are finite, yes?

      You betcha. So is sand. So frelkin’ what?

      You didn’t read Ken Gregory‘s post (at 1:03 PM on 13 January) upstairs?

      Well, heck. Let me recapitulate for you:

      The Potential Gas Committee, in their latest assessment, estimated that the U.S. has a total natural gas resource base of about 2,074 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). The US consumption is 24.4 Tcf/year, giving a life index of 85 years. This resource base exclude methane hydrates.

      A frequently quoted estimate of the global methane hydrate resource is 700,000 Tcf. The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement estimates there is 21,000 Tcf in-place methane hydrate resources in the northern Gulf of Mexico, with about 6,700 Tcf of this resource in relatively high-concentration accumulations in sandy sediments. At 35% recovery factor, this would deliver 2,350 Tcf recoverable gas, increasing the US life index by a further 96 years. There is a further 85 Tcf recoverable on the north slope Alaska, 70 Tcf recoverable in high quality sandstone reservoirs around the Arctic Islands (Canada). Methane hydrate in marine sands is estimated to contain 1,000’s to 10,000’s of Tcf, and hydrate dispersed through marine muds is estimated to contain 100,000’s of Tcf.

      http://www.netl.doe.gov/technologies/oil-gas/publications/Hydrates/2011Reports/MH_Primer2011.pdf

      Alberta Oil Sands have reserves of 170 billion barrels. Production is forecast to rise to 1.2 billion barrels per year by 2019, giving a life index of 140 years.

      http://www.ercb.ca/learn-about-energy/oilsands

      Okay, so “fossil fuels are finite.” Of course, they’re “finite” in amounts that far exceed anticipated needs for centuries, and then we get down to hydrocarbon fuels that aren’t “fossil,” in which case your use of the term “finite” matters only on scales commonly used by cosmologists, not petrochemicals people.

      If I’m not making the point with adequate clarity here, would somebody please kick in a little assistance? These “peak oil” clowns have been giving me twitching thumbs for the last forty years, and I’m having vivid mental visions of blunt-force tracheostomies.

  336. Intrigued student

    It’s pretty clear that you can’t come up with a link to back up your original statement that

    I have read from numerous reputable sources that 90% of climatologists have stated they believe that “climate change”, as is the correct term, is indeed largely generated by human activity, and will increase the frequency and severity for Extreme Weather Events.

    Even if you try to fall back on “97% only further reinforces my point”, you still have to back up the “Extreme Weather Event” (is that trademarked now?) part of your claim.

    Of course, anyone remotely familiar with the 97% claim would know it’s pretty bogus.

    And as far as the Learning Curve? One would have to climb not one curve but a curve for each of the following:
    1) economically generating hydrogen from a non-carbon source
    2) economically storing the hydrogen
    3 economically transporting the hydrogen
    and oh by the way
    4) devising a hydrogen fuel cell that’s economical and reliable. To Willis’ point, fuel cells have been around since 1839.

    Perhaps a fuel cell that’s portable and can operate on natural gas would be a more realistic target.

  337. Mr. Eschnbach,
    I found the Article at this link: http://www.astronautix.com/articles/costhing.htm

    I may have misinterpreted the article. I apologize if so. In any case I want to thank everyone for being patient with me. It is clear from some of the discussions taking place I still have a LOT to learn in this field. I will try to do so with an objective state of mind.

    A Final question: As it was pointed out to me, 97% of scientists agree on this topic. Even if they are hugely mistaken, is it impractical to take precautions? If the frequency and severity of Extreme Weather Events do increase, I think it is safe to say that the poor will be hit the hardest.

    I most certainly do not have the answer, but current options seem unacceptable, with the poor getting the short end in both cases.

    Can alternatives be looked at?

  338. Willis Eschenbach says:
    January 14, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    [To 'intrigued student'] . . . First, if you want to be a better student, you desperately need to learn to document your claims. For example, you say that we “may or may not be aware of a phenomenon known as the Rand Learning Curve”. Since I wasn’t aware of it I went to Google … only to find that Google, like me, isn’t aware of a phenomenon known as the Rand Learning Curve either.

    Perhaps Intrigued meant this,

    http://www.rand.org/pubs/papers/P0267.html

    which Bing found. It looks like something I might have typed on my well-worn Olivetti portable typewriter back c. 1970.

    /Mr Lynn

  339. jx8989 says:
    January 14, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    So… Everyone against renewables:

    We can all agree fossil fuels are finite, yes?
    When should we start relying on renewables?
    When oil runs out? Will we start to invest in wind and solar and biofuel then?

    I’m very much in favor of renewables, and have been for years … where they make economic sense. And that is the answer to your question. We should start relying on renewables as and when they make economic sense.

    For example, remote cell towers are often powered by solar plus batteries. Why? Because that’s cheaper than running power to every mountaintop with a cell tower. It makes economic sense.

    And as soon as solar, or wind, or whatever is actually coming next becomes economically viable, we will start to depend on them then.

    Finally, you ask:

    Will we start to invest in wind and solar and biofuel then?

    Say what? What planet have you been living on? We’ve been investing billions of dollars in all of those, FOR DECADES … and they are going nowhere.

    If any of them were actually viable, they wouldn’t require the obscene subsidies currently required to make them work.

    w.

  340. an intrigued student says:
    January 14, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Mr. Eschnbach,
    I found the Article at this link: http://www.astronautix.com/articles/costhing.htm

    Thanks for the link. Yes, there is generally an asymptotic reduction in costs as things are produced. However, for solar, we’re a long ways into that reduction.

    I may have misinterpreted the article. I apologize if so. In any case I want to thank everyone for being patient with me. It is clear from some of the discussions taking place I still have a LOT to learn in this field. I will try to do so with an objective state of mind.

    A man who knows that he has to learn is more than halfway there.

    A Final question: As it was pointed out to me, 97% of scientists agree on this topic.

    No, they don’t. 97% of a very small and self-selected group of scientists said yes to some vague questions. It means nothing.

    Even if they are hugely mistaken, is it impractical to take precautions? If the frequency and severity of Extreme Weather Events do increase, I think it is safe to say that the poor will be hit the hardest.

    You do understand the issue of the poor, which is good. There is no evidence that extreme events are increasing. Even the IPCC now admits that.

    I most certainly do not have the answer, but current options seem unacceptable, with the poor getting the short end in both cases.

    Which “both cases” are you speaking of? And what do you think are our “current options”? I think we should follow “no regrets” options that help the poor … are they on your list?

    Can alternatives be looked at?

    Sure, for example, I sometimes use vodka in my martini as an alternative to gin, so why not? What alternatives are you speaking of?

    w.

  341. Mr Lynn says:
    January 14, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    … Perhaps Intrigued meant this,

    http://www.rand.org/pubs/papers/P0267.html

    which Bing found. It looks like something I might have typed on my well-worn Olivetti portable typewriter back c. 1970.

    /Mr Lynn

    Thanks, Mr. Lynn. That turns out to be discussing exactly what he meant. It’s a good paper, worth reading, about how to use the learning curve.

    w.

  342. Thank you Willis. Your three stories tied together beautifully. I believe the vast majority of Americans living today have absolutely no idea how good they have it. We think poverty is a 5 year old car and last year’s flat screen TV. Not everyone has the means or the nerve to travel where you have and see what you describe, but everyone has access to a library (thank you Andrew Carnegie) and can read some history of what America and the rest of the developed world was like before industrialization.

    Before we had mechanical power from fossil fuels to do our bidding, “work” meant physical labor, usually dirty and often dangerous. Life expectancy was much shorter and many died in infancy from infections easily treated today. Water was frequently not safe to drink and often had to be carried in buckets from a local fountain or well. Cholera epidemics were common in major cities in the Summer through the 19th century (Tchaikovsky’s death in 1893 in St. Petersburg is generally attributed to it). Until industrialization, the average citizen of Rome lived longer and better than his counterparts in Europe and America.

    Today, I flick my finger and lights come on bright as I need and for as long as I want. I twist my wrist at any one of a dozen places inside my house and water flows — hot, cold or any temperature in between that I desire. Another flick of my wrist in the kitchen and I have heat to prepare meals, without having to gather wood or brush or animal dung.

    Compared with other parts of the world Willis described or even our own society 200 years ago, this is not wealth; this is magic. We are surrounded by magic bequathed us by previous generations and instead of being grateful, we demonize it as “dirty”.

    In addition to the obvious afflictions of poverty, the many of the today’s wretchedly poor live under governments which are incompetent, corrupt or frequently both. They neither provide the services and stability necessary for a modern technical society nor leave their people alone to provide what they can for themselves.

  343. Mr. Eschenbach

    I will be frank. I have no idea what sort of alternatives are out there. I was asking for a general third opinion from any of the thread’s
    Followers

    The two options that seem to be proposed by this Thread are:

    Continue with fossil fuel usage until a less expensive alternative occurs. Risk chance of climate change

    Raise oil prices in hopes of reducing Carbon emissions (and perhaps expedite renewables research?) while pressuring the poor with higher energy costs.

    Neither seems satisfactory.

    However, I have wondered if an energy type switch might require pretty expansive infrastructure changes. Wouldn’t it be better to start cycling in renewables into the grid to alleviate the shock of a transition from fossil fuels to renewables?

  344. an intrigued student says:
    January 14, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Mr. Eschenbach

    I will be frank. I have no idea what sort of alternatives are out there. I was asking for a general third opinion from any of the thread’s Followers

    The two options that seem to be proposed by this Thread are:

    Continue with fossil fuel usage until a less expensive alternative occurs. Risk chance of climate change

    Raise oil prices in hopes of reducing Carbon emissions (and perhaps expedite renewables research?) while pressuring the poor with higher energy costs.

    Neither seems satisfactory.

    First, we don’t know if there is a serious risk of whatever you mean by “climate change”. And we don’t know if a given climate change will help or hurt us.

    In any case, I have no problem with option 1.

    However, I have wondered if an energy type switch might require pretty expansive infrastructure changes.

    Indeed, whatever replaces fossil fuels will require some kind of infrastructure change. How large? We don’t know, because we don’t know what will replace it. That’s the problem.

    Wouldn’t it be better to start cycling in renewables into the grid to alleviate the shock of a transition from fossil fuels to renewables?

    Sure, if we knew for sure what was going to replace fossil fuels. But to date we don’t have a clue what that might be. Following your plan, we could put a whole hydrogen infrastructure in place at great cost, only to find that a new process for turning coal into gasoline has rendered it useless …

    Which is why the best plan is to do nothing and trust in the market. When we went from wood to coal, and then later from coal to oil, nobody was putting in the infrastructure beforehand. It’s almost a parody of putting the cart before the horse … we’ll do just fine, as soon as it makes economic sense to use some new fuel, we’ll figure out how to do it at minimum cost.

    w.

  345. Excellent story Willis. As always, you have been very entertaining and very educational all in one post.

    I find myself checking my own sense of appreciation of being born in the US and the advantages it provided me. In the past I got angry when the country took a political turn away from allowing the market to finds its way. Now I am just very disappointed. How can people not see that the market driven solution is the simplest solution, and therefore the most efficient?

    In any case i’ll dispose of my disappointment and just appreciate all the freedom and wealth that low cost energy and other market driven results hath bestowed upon me. I’ll standby and hope that someday soon the rest of the country will catch on and my children and grand children can prosper as well.

  346. Climate Ace says:
    “For example, if I were writing a new constitution for the US, I would get rid of the states, thereby getting rid of a completely unnecessary and wasteful level of government. It would save trillions per decade”
    —————————————
    The same naïve know-it-all nonsense that you’re given to spout about AGW implicity being to blame for some local fire you now apply to the US government.
    -You seem a tad uniformed about the origin of the US Constituion. It was created by the several states and not the other way around.
    -The Federal and the state governments do not perform the same functions. They not supposed to constitutionally. They are not wholey redundant layers of government. -There are many issues of states’ rights and checks and balances on power that are involved. These concerns cannot just be brushed aside based based on your notion of efficiency.
    -Even tiny (by population) Australia I’m sure has a Federal, (state, regional, or provisional) government and local governing bodies. This is basically how every country I’m familar with is organized. Why is that a bad thing when it comes to the USA?

    Leave our State governments alone and look after your many cats.

  347. @Climate Ace: You wrote:
    “Lento by name and lento by nature? I don’t ‘blame’ AGW for anything, in the same way as I don’t ‘blame’ lightning for starting bushfires.”

    Then what did you mean when you wrote this?

    “AGW will affect the poor and the least resilient far more than it will affect the wealthy. They will be able sail their yachts to the least-affected places plus they will, in any case, have more ocean around which to sail as sea-levels continue to rise.”

    It’s apparent that you ramble, and don’t make sense. I think you just like the attention so at least you are smart enough to know how to write precisely the opposite of anything intelligent.

  348. A solar panel on every roof and windmill on every hill. A nice feel-good diversity of energy sources, kind of like a farmer raising a few chickens in his yard. But chickens can’t pull a plow any more than a solar panel can push a train over the Cascades or a windmill can power a steel mill.
    Do you think the farmer should shoot his oxen in order to give his chickens a level playing field? It’s premature to kill the heavy lifters: coal, oil, gas.
    We need lots and lots of prosperity. Prosperity breeds leisure, leisure breeds intellectual pursuits. You do want those 20 billion budding Einsteins to have an education, don’t you?
    Instead, we’re frittering away our resources on chicken-power. It’s almost like we don’t trust the next generation to invent anything better.
    Don’t be mislead into thinking carbon-taxed, unaffordable oil and gas for the U.S. will mean more plentiful, cheaper energy for developing countries. In the words of the President’s energy advisor, Daniel Schrag, the goal is zero net CO2 emission, and nothing less will do.
    That requires leaving the energy in the ground where it is, out of the hands of anyone, rich or poor.

  349. At last! As someone with a leftish world view it gets tiresome to endlessly read commentary on climate where the only sense seems to come from conservatives. A sensible critique of the failure of modern environmental “left” is how reactionary it is. Fundamentally it confuses “anti-capitalism” with anti-industrialism. Karl Marx himself mourned the breakdown of complex mediaeval social relations and their replacement with “callous cash payment” as the sole mediator. But he wasn’t against industrialisation — quite the opposite.

    There can be no mistake that the mobilisation of unprecedented productive forces is an immense force for good. Look at China. It has undergone an industrial revolution which pulled nearly a billion people out of rural squalour with frequent famines and built a modern industrial society. Chinese workers are treated horribly, but like their predecessors — the Japanese during the 1960′s and the S. Koreans in the 1980s — they are now organised and will build trades unions to drive up their conditions and win democracy. All done with political will and cheap energy.

    Next, Africa.

    For all their hand-wringing and films of dying children, the NGOs with their “sustainable development” have driven a stake through a similar aspirations — prolonging the cycle of deprivation and death. Even corrupt kleptocratic dictators can see the problem and are increasingly looking to China rather than the West.

    People who are completely consumed by where the next meal for their children is coming from and how to keep warm and dry have no interest in “environmental concerns”. That’s why poverty is so devastating to the environment (viz Haiti). Being “green” is a luxury relatively rich people can indulge. And they do, of course. Because when you are free from want and disease, you also start to become concerned with your neighbourhood, your political standing and your leisure. The great stench of 1860s Chicago, New York and London was cleaned up at great expense with sewage works and clean water supplies under popular pressure and because the frequent outbreaks of typhoid and diphtheria were “bad for business”.

    Modern “environmentalism” has its roots in the generation who read Tolkien as teenagers and mythologised native Americans. It’s a weird mixture of “Touch the Earth” animism and a yearning for the return of a fantasy “Merrie England” populated by a simple yeomanry who till the earth and live in villages. Add in a toxic hatred of Saruman-like industrialists and eternal guilt-tripping and you come up with a movement which finds 90% of human beings surplus to requirements.

    That thousands of old people should die every year from cold and hunger in the richest nations on Earth is scandal enough. That these plump campaigners should fly off to conferences in order to develop schemes that make fuel more expensive is outrageous.

    • At 4:36 AM on 15 January, Braqueish had observed:

      Modern “environmentalism” has its roots in the generation who read Tolkien as teenagers and mythologised native Americans. It’s a weird mixture of “Touch the Earth” animism and a yearning for the return of a fantasy “Merrie England” populated by a simple yeomanry who till the earth and live in villages. Add in a toxic hatred of Saruman-like industrialists and eternal guilt-tripping and you come up with a movement which finds 90% of human beings surplus to requirements.

      Ah, so I’m not the only one who has for decades despised that shell-shocked Luddite philologist and his precious putzelry about hobbits and elves and socioeconomic stagnation as the ideal condition of sapient life.

      A fantasy chronology of literally thousands of years’ worth of Middle Earth “history,” but military technology doesn’t even get to the level of the Romans’ manipular legion (much less firearms), and there is complete and gormless ignorance regarding Murphy’s Laws of Combat Operations, emphasis (at Helm’s Deep) on:


      Make it too tough for the enemy to get in, and you won’t be able to get out.

  350. The global warming scam, and hence the “need” to increase energy costs, has its roots in population control, particularly, population in the undeveloped countries like Africa. The early founders of this scam and the radical environmental movement that acts as one of its promoter along with Hypocrite of the World, Al Gore, included the likes of Margaret Mead, Paul Erlich, Prince Phillip of Great Britain, Prince Bernard of the Netherlands, and Thomas Huxley of Great Bitain. They viewed the populations of undeveloped countries as unworthy of life. Most came out of the Eugenics movement of the 1940s.. On top of population control the scam has added re-distribution of wealth as one of its primary goals, “Global Warming” simply being a smoke screen for their true intentions. The wealth will not be used to raise the standards of undeveloped countries but to keep them from being industrialized and developed by forcing them to use solar and wind power for energy. Try running a steel mill or manufacturing plant with that.

  351. You know how the EPA requires an “environmental impact statement” whenever someone does anything that might affect the “environment” even slightly? How about an Economic Impact Statement for any new regulation, prohibition, tax, etc? Reductions in standards of living shorten lives. We know that the lower the standard of living in a given country, the shorter the life span. We should require a reckoning of how many lives will be lost and shortened by schemes that will impoverish us.

  352. Beer is still nasty. ;)

    Well, when it is the corn-sugar-based fermented swill that passes for beer when mass-produced by companies whose only goal is to provide the ignorant with a cheap way to catch a buzz, it is pretty nasty, I agree. I made the mistake of getting a twelve pack of Budweiser’s “experimental” brews this Christmas, for example, and I honestly don’t understand how they could even imagine that it would pass as a craft brew — sickly sweet, underhopped, wrongly hopped, just awful.

    On the other hand, beer and ale made strictly from barley, water, yeast and hops, naturally carbonated in the bottle and made to the precise specifications of mixed sweetness, bitterness, and aroma that you personally prefer — that isn’t nasty at all. It is, in fact, actively healthful when consumed in moderation.

    rgb

  353. Which is why the best plan is to do nothing and trust in the market. When we went from wood to coal, and then later from coal to oil, nobody was putting in the infrastructure beforehand. It’s almost a parody of putting the cart before the horse … we’ll do just fine, as soon as it makes economic sense to use some new fuel, we’ll figure out how to do it at minimum cost.

    A plan I heartily endorse, although “do nothing” does not include research (as you noted elsewhere, Willis). We need do nothing but continue to invest in research that will very likely produce a commercially viable alternative energy resource (where a number of possibilities exist, some of them long shots, some of them nearly sure things given time). I also think that it is perfectly reasonable for us to establish regulations concerning actual pollutants (e.g. particulate soot, partially burned fuels, heavy metals, aromatics) produced by automobiles, power plants, and other places where we engage in heavy duty chemistry, as there is ample historical evidence that in the absence of such regulation companies will all too often seek short term profits at the expense of long term fouling of our own nest. At one point in time, that was the primary function of the EPA and I heartily endorse it.

    In the meantime, treating CO_2 itself as a pollutant is absurd. Even in the case of actual pollutants, there is a cost-benefit/risk equation to be considered — cars are dangerous and dirty but their benefits outweigh their integrated costs and risks, to most of us. In the case of CO_2 the benefits are having civilization at all, and there are few risks or projected costs that would be greater than giving up civilization or even risking economic collapse because of an absurd diversion of resources into ameliorating CO_2 at all costs now, before there are any visible costs associated with it.

    Finally, I will believe that the political administrations of the world really believe what they claim about the risks of CO_2 the day that I see them begin to push nuclear power, as fast and hard as they can. Solar will eventually (IMO) be cost-beneficial in at least some venues and hence will happen without subsidy or encouragement (it is very close now, in some venues, although it arguably only makes the cut because of artificial inflation of the costs of conventional carbon based power). Wind has yet to break even anywhere, AFAIK, and seems somewhat unlikely to ever make the cut as an unreliable and intermittent resource, at least without storage. But nuclear is cost-effective today, now, and produces no CO_2 at all.

    rgb

  354. Anthony, I think you’re on the money.
    Tucci78, why blame a story teller?No one is forced to read Tolkien’s works.
    I blame Tiny Tim.:)

    The law of unintended consequences has struck again.the anti-human movement has become too successful.The originators of this scam are now under threat.

    The deliberate destruction and growing impoverization of the under developed countries, with the enrichment, thro corrupt practices, of the self proclaimed planet saviours is now blatant.

    Rule of law has been warped beyond recognition, our civilization teeters above the abyss.
    The cost of civilization, is the wealth we pay to support a group of actors, to maintain the illusions that make it possible.
    The primary illusion is rule of law. Without our faith, that all are equal before the law, production falls off, civilization shrinks. Why would I produce and create, only to have my works stolen by force? Better to hoard what I have and can protect.
    The political bureaucracy exists to maintain the illusions that bind us together, these illusions allow us to cooperate and trust we will survive and have opportunity to prosper.
    These are actors, who live off of the largess of productive people.
    We feed them as the illusion they maintain is has value.
    But our” betters” have forgotten the cost and no longer even pretend that rule of law applies to all.
    They have become as rapacious as the wolves they were supposed to help protect us from.
    And no-longer make any pretence of performing the roles, that we pay them to perform.
    Deceit is now normal govt operation and politicians are famous for their dishonesty.
    Bad actors, all round and they cost us more than civilization is worth.
    Today our governments consume more wealth from the productive, than not having a civil society would cost production.
    My time is now better spent protecting myself from these actors and the collapse of law and order that they are orchestrating.
    The basic error of those who seek to rule over us, is their conceit that they are necessary to us.

  355. Willis Eschenbach says:
    January 14, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    And “horticulturalists” is somewhat generous. While some had regular gardens, many of these early Asian immigrants merely encouraged the wild growth of their favorite foods. It was only in the southeast that anything resembling what McNeill would call an agricultural economy existed.

    First: I apologize for picking up on a topic that is off the main article, but…

    “Horticulturalists” may not be the precise word to use, but the Native American contribution to agriculture shouldn’t be demeaned. The new world’s corn, via animal feed, is what feeds us, and as Lyman Carrier puts it in his work, “Agriculture in Virginia, 1607-1699″ “As plant breeders, the American Indians rank with the most skillful of the world. Take for instance, maize or Indian corn. There is nothing closely comparable to it known to botanists. It has been domesticated so long that its wild prototype is unknown [no longer true]… The Indians had all the varieties that are now known, such as dent, flint, sweet, early, late, pop, and other special sorts which are no longer grown. They had developed varieties that matured all the way from the tropics to the St. Lawrence River in Canada.”
    I recommend this short, very readable, work to the dilettantes among us. It was written in 1957 for the 350th anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown and is freely available from Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/28730/28730-h/28730-h.htm
    Lyman Carrier also credits Native Americans with introducing Europeans to “set” or “hill” planting rather than sowing. Also from the work, “The same hills were used year after year and became in time quite sizable mounds, remains of which have persisted, in some localities, until modern times. In the southwestern parts of Michigan, the early settlers found large tracts of ridged land, evidently relics of Indian agriculture. It is now thought that these areas were corn fields in which the seeding was made in continuous rows instead of hills. A French artist in Florida in 1564 pictured the Indians seeding their crops in rows.”

    I always enjoy Willis’s articles. The always seem to stimulate the longest discussion threads.

  356. @Willis,

    to keep the market free, you have to have regulations and regulators. You need to regulate the market to keep it free of coercion, from guns or anything else.

    Regulations which Clinton ditched, Bush added to by reducing the regulators and FBI white collar crime agents (they went to the WarOnTerrah), and then that perp, Timothy Geithner, put into rocket mode. We have a fiat currency, whether you like it not. We don’t have a gold standard currency (thank god). We have had a completely sovereign non-convertible currency since 1971, and no one understands how it works (because Watergate happened ten months later and the press fell down on the job of explaining the meaning of it). Congress appropriates what the currency should be spent on. The government then ISSUES it, and regulators are supposed to be in place to make sure that fast characters don’t abscond with it. Which we discovered they did in Sept. 2008, in spades.

  357. an intrigued student says:
    January 14, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Look what wind turbines do, information you are NOT getting:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1350811/In-China-tru…ns-clean-green-wind-power-experiment-Pollution-disastrous-scale.html

    and then this (be careful you don’t put your mouse over the ads on the right):

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2071633/UK-weather-Wind-turbine-EXPLODES-hurricane-force-gusts-batter-Northern-Britain.html#comments

  358. There is a compromise. Local energy sources for local areas (wind, water) can sustain poor areas without using up fossil fuels. The tradeoff utilitarians and eugenicists like President Obama use is “we have to save the world and make it better for us, and that means they have to suffer so we can succeed; who ‘they’ are are the disabled, the poor, the indigent; we must enact policies to make them suffer, in essence to get rid of them.”

    Yes, we have enough food for all, we waste 50%. We have enough water. We have enough energy. But utilitarians like Obama and Peter Singer want “certain people” to be removed from the equation. Abortion, birth control, restricting water, energy restrictions. Comforting to the ricj and well off. Talk about rights, personal use. Don’t ever make responsibility the key. Yes, people have to reproduce more judiciously, use energy, food the same way. pollute less. Locally grown food, locally produced energy, that’s the key.

    But when you are a eugenicist, as many of you are, population reduction is the panacea. Ever wonder why autism is still rising? Ever wonder why incurable STD’s are rising? Think eugenics policies are behind it? The former maybe, the latter obviously.

    So reduce the world population by positive (responsible actions, good health care/jobs) and negative (war, abortion, euthenasia of people you don’t like) means. Leave the world to the eugenicists, who will quickly see all that’s left are people infested with STD’s and other disorders at magnitudes unheard of even now. Or we could push local energy, local food, responsibility, and manage without all the polution, drugs, suffering, and murder utilitarians demand.

  359. For several years, my wife and I lived in rural Spain in a house that when built over a period of probably several decades cost only a couple of bags of lime and some nails, and time. It was built of stones that were collected off the land, which improved the land. They were held together by mud made from the local soil which has a high clay and gypsum content. Once dry, a coating of lime wash kept the weather out and the walls intact. Branches from olive or almond trees provided lintels over doorways and small windows. Timber for supporting the roof coming from eucalyptus trees growing alongside the river at the bottom of the valley. These trees were for the benefit of the local people and could be taken as needed, all the local people would help with felling, splitting and moving the timber. Once in place the timbers were overlaid with split bamboo, then a layer of mud, and homemade pantiles.
    This house started as a single room sometime, we think, around 1880, and was added to as need dictated. Built on the side of a hill, with an undercroft to house pigs and a couple of mules, as well as a warehouse section to store hay for the mules, and the olives and almonds until they could be collected for sale. When we bought the place, it had a total floor area of about 180 square metres, the undercroft accounting for about a third of that in four rooms. The living part of the house was six rooms, and we added two new rooms, a modern bathroom and a modern kitchen. For all that the locals considered the house to be ‘poor’, most of them having built modern brick built houses, in summer our house, with its 600cm thick walls was cool, whereas the neighbors found the need for air conditioning. We found that house to be quite easy to live in, but it taught us a good lesson as to the real meaning of poverty and where prosperity really lies. Most of us in a position of prosperity, if a job needs doing have a choice of ‘do it yourself’ or ‘pay to have it done’. The worlds real poor don’t have that choice. Where it really impacts on them is when that job can’t be put off and takes them away from winning food or fuel, because that time lost can not be regained.
    Willis, you teach a powerful lesson in your post. The best we can do is try and reinforce it, and try to get those who think they know how best to try to control our resources by falsely making essentials too expensive, to acknowledge what they are really doing.
    Thanks Willis.
    Johnr

  360. HankHenry says:
    January 15, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    January 14, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    And “horticulturalists” is somewhat generous. While some had regular gardens, many of these early Asian immigrants merely encouraged the wild growth of their favorite foods. It was only in the southeast that anything resembling what McNeill would call an agricultural economy existed.

    First: I apologize for picking up on a topic that is off the main article, but…

    “Horticulturalists” may not be the precise word to use, but the Native American contribution to agriculture shouldn’t be demeaned. The new world’s corn, via animal feed, is what feeds us, and as Lyman Carrier puts it in his work, “Agriculture in Virginia, 1607-1699″ “As plant breeders, the American Indians rank with the most skillful of the world. Take for instance, maize or Indian corn. There is nothing closely comparable to it known to botanists. It has been domesticated so long that its wild prototype is unknown [no longer true]… The Indians had all the varieties that are now known, such as dent, flint, sweet, early, late, pop, and other special sorts which are no longer grown. They had developed varieties that matured all the way from the tropics to the St. Lawrence River in Canada.”

    Mmmmm … I sense a bit of a disconnect here, likely my fault. I was talking about the folks who lived in what is now the US. There were a number of true agricultural societies among the Early Asian Immigrants, but mostly they were in Mexico, Central America, and Peru. The area that is now the US, on the other hand, contained very few true agricultural societies. (By that I mean a society where there is a food surplus produced through intensive agriculture, which then allows for things like specialization of trades, plant and animal domestication and breeding, and the emergence of an unemployed, often hereditary nobility. This was true of the Aztec, the Mayan, and the Incan Empires … but was uncommon in what is now the US. Note that having an agricultural society is different than a much more common situation where small villages of a few dozen families might each have a few hills of beans and or squash …)

    So while you are correct that there was indeed a huge amount of breeding of corn done by the Early Asian Immigrants, as far as I know the majority of it was not done by the hunter-gatherers who made up most of societies in what is now the US, but by their agricultural southern cousins. Elsewhere, however, plant breeding went on by the bozo method known worldwide, each individual farmer saving the seeds from the best plants. Your author seems surprised that that this simple rule (save the seeds from the best, strongest plants) would produce corn plants suitable for a variety of environments … me, I’d have been surprised if it didn’t do that. There’s lots of cold places in Mexico, lots of snow falls there. Why is he surprised that both hot- and cold-resistant forms of corn were developed? As far as I know, they’ve been around since the time of the Aztec and Incan and Mayan Empires.

    Finally, I only wandered into this question through someone’s claim upstream that somehow living in small villages protected people from epidemics … and while that claim was untrue, as you point out, it leads to interesting questions.

    Many thanks,

    w.

  361. To Willis and the Moderator:

    Apparently I failed to re-cite the video on thorium when I was responding upthread to Willis’ complaint that he thinks videos for the most part are a waste of time. So for those who might want the cite again, here it is:

    Willis please give it a few minutes of your time. Thorium has the promise to be a truly revolutionary energy source with the ability to solve most of the poverty in the world that is caused from a lack of cheap energy. Ken Sorenson, the NASA engineer featured in this video, can really teach well. Sometimes watching a great teacher just has to be seen.

  362. Willis Eschenbach says:
    January 14, 2013 at 5:28 pm
    an intrigued student says:
    January 14, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    (Student) In any case I want to thank everyone for being patient with me. It is clear from some of the discussions taking place I still have a LOT to learn in this field. I will try to do so with an objective state of mind.

    (Willis)A man who knows that he has to learn is more than halfway there.
    ====================
    Me: Someone once told me that it’s what you learn after you think you know it all that matters.

  363. davidgmills says:
    January 15, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    To Willis and the Moderator:

    Apparently I failed to re-cite the video on thorium when I was responding upthread to Willis’ complaint that he thinks videos for the most part are a waste of time. So for those who might want the cite again, here it is:

    Willis please give it a few minutes of your time. Thorium has the promise to be a truly revolutionary energy source with the ability to solve most of the poverty in the world that is caused from a lack of cheap energy. Ken Sorenson, the NASA engineer featured in this video, can really teach well. Sometimes watching a great teacher just has to be seen.

    David, I told you above, I don’t do two hour videos. I find them terminally boring. Inevitably, and quite properly, they are forced to move at the pace of the slowest expected viewer, and that’s far too slow for me. A video that takes two hours to watch will contain ideas that I can absorb in ten minutes of reading, and so I am totally unwilling to waste the two hours. Was I unclear about that in some fashion? What makes you think that asking me twice will change my mind?

    Indeed, your assumption that somehow I’m ignorant of thorium is completely incorrect. I know plenty about thorium. It has possibilities, and it has drawbacks, like every other energy source on the planet. Would I like to see an up-and-running commercial scale simple safe thorium reactor? Sure. Do we have one yet? Not that I know of. Are folks working on it? Sure.

    I have no problem with nuclear power, David. I once wrote a proposal which the Solomon Islands Government submitted to the Japanese for them to supply two Toshiba 4S reactors to the Solomons as development aid. Didn’t come to pass, life is like that, but I am far from ignorant on the subject of nuclear power, both conventional uranium, new design uranium, and thorium. So I find your assumption that I know nothing of thorium to be both mildly amusing and mildly insulting.

    And no, I don’t care about your pet video, not even the slightest tiniest bit, and no amount of repeated requests and repeated re-citing of the video s going to change that.

    w.

  364. At 8:43 AM on 15 January, regarding my contempt for J.R.R. Tolkien hatred of historicity (not to mention technology) as a writer of speculative – albeit fantasy – fiction, john robertson seagulls:

    Tucci78, why blame a story teller?No one is forced to read Tolkien’s works.

    Nobody is forced to read Keynes’ The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936), either, and yet look at how much damage that invidious bilge has done.

    Crappy self-indulgent fantasy that’s influential is far more invidious than crappy sword-’n-sorcery bumfodder that goes off to die in second-hand bookstores, and the authors who cobbled it up are responsible for both such kinds of crap.

  365. _Jim says:
    January 14, 2013 at 6:29 am

    Sorry mods – a re-post if I may (formatting muff in just-previous post!) TIA _Jim

    Gail Combs says January 14, 2013 at 5:44 am
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    So let me be a bit more blunt.

    If you piss the hell out of too many people for too long they are libel to do a lot more than just beat the crap out of one of your reps. The French Aristocracy got a first hand introduction to madame Guillotine by pissing off the peasants . And Porfirio Díaz got a revolution.

    Also Monsanto had other seed fail besides the cotton. (actually the farmers in India were royally pissed because the cotton did not live up to the sales pitch.

    Monsanto GM-corn harvest fails massively in South Africa
    South African farmers suffered millions of dollars in lost income when 82,000 hectares of genetically-manipulated corn (maize) failed to produce hardly any seeds.The plants look lush and healthy from the outside. Monsanto has offered compensation…

    Actually the farmers in India were royally pissed because the cotton did not live up to the sales pitch from Monsanto.
    The government of Maharashtra, a state in western India, has acknowledged for the first time that Bt cotton is a failure that will likely reduce yields by 40%, from 3.5 to 2.2 million quintal. The region’s cotton farmers will face about Rs6,000 crore, over 1 billion USD. Accumulated losses are to be even more staggering: Rs 20,000 crore, or about 3.6 billion USD, due to rising cultivation costs.

    But then you always find fault with what I write but never ever post YOUR links showing a rebuttal do you?

    BTW how is the pay as a troll?

  366. @Davidgmills: Regarding the video:

    Fusion is not a practical application now because there is no need for it. Fissionables are readily available in virtually any amount needed. Fossil fuels are cheap and also widely available. Despite growing world demand, the price of natural gas has been shrinking in many energy markets, particularly North America.

    So fusion remains purely in technology development. And it’s going to stay there as long as the fuel sources for other forms of generation remain so readily available at such low cost. But it would be a great error to jump from current circumstances to future conditions. The future is NEVER as we imagine it to be.

    I don’t want to fund things when there is no need.

  367. @davidgmills very good video for the first 5 minutes then it slows down to a snails pace. Thank you

  368. Mario Lento says:
    January 15, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    @Davidgmills: Regarding the video:

    Fusion is not a practical application now because there is no need for it. Fissionables are readily available in virtually any amount needed. Fossil fuels are cheap and also widely available. Despite growing world demand, the price of natural gas has been shrinking in many energy markets, particularly North America.

    So fusion remains purely in technology development. And it’s going to stay there as long as the fuel sources for other forms of generation remain so readily available at such low cost. But it would be a great error to jump from current circumstances to future conditions. The future is NEVER as we imagine it to be.

    I don’t want to fund things when there is no need.

    No need? With power priced at around or over $¼/kWh in parts of the US and Europe, and more in various developing countries?

    How about small 5MW (hot) fusion generators, waste free, at capital and production costs just over 1% of that? Dispatchable, 24/7 365? Ballpark $55 million to bring to market (mfr licenses to all comers world-wide) within 5 yrs? It would produce a wealth-explosion that would put the Industrial Revolution to shame.

    Putting out the best research results (nearness to break-even) in the world. Privately funded, open reporting, the whole works. LPPhysics.com — tucked away in NJ, USA. Check it out.

  369. when I was 19 i was in the villages of Viet Nam…My web gear was worth more than most of them had…colored my thinking about what I was grateful for in this country forever..that is why I am appalled by the cavalier way Obama and other elitists want to make changes that directly hurt the poor

  370. @Brian H says:
    January 17, 2013 at 6:30 pm
    No need? With power priced at around or over $¼/kWh in parts of the US and Europe, and more in various developing countries?
    +++++++++++++++
    I get your point about the high prices due to EPA and Green initiatives. However, we have 0.04/kWh now with nuclear fission. Let’s see how China does with it. If it works, there will be less risk and some people can invest in it.

  371. Greenpeace is giving Obama his marching orders here … I’ve posted the following in the comments section:

    Inexpensive energy is how the poor get out of poverty. The war on carbon is nothing more than the rich white folks’ war on the poor. Raising energy prices is the most regressive tax conceivable. It hits the poor harder than anyone. I suppose that might be OK if cutting carbon helped people in any way, but we don’t have any evidence that either the proposed danger is real, or that the proposed cure will do anything but cost money to no effect.

    For me, making energy more expensive now, which is guaranteed to hurt the poor and is doing so as we speak, in exchange for the vaguest of possibilities of future help to the poor, is an obscene gesture by wealthy folks who will not be harmed. When fuel gets expensive, you can be sure Cassady Sharp won’t go hungry … and you can be damned sure that poor people will go hungry. But Cassady doesn’t care about the poor, she cares about carbon.

    Pathetic. You guys are impoverishing the world’s poor through expensive energy, literally taking food out of the mouth of poor kids, and you want to claim that you are the compassionate caring ones?

    Spare me. You are doing immeasurable harm and smiling all the way to the bank, it is sickening.

    w.

    We’ll see if they have the nerve to run my comment, or whether the censors will consume it for breakfast …

    w.

  372. I liked your 3 stories also, right up till you tried to equate the stories with expensive energy. That part just doesn’t logically follow! A tax in the US to make energy more expensive is only relevant to the cost of energy in the US. It would force the US to stop being so cavalier and extravagant about our energy usage in this country. Energy costs in the US do not adequately reflect how precious energy truly is. But a tax would stretch energy supplies so that our children’s children might still have energy to make their lives easier also. It would slow the energy use of an energy hog nation which means it could make it more available for poorer people also. Which is the total opposite result you try to portray.

  373. Not to mention the fact that in a strategic energy arms race, the winner is the one which uses energy most efficiently. Think of our fuel supply lines in Afghanistan. The military is actually turning to solar because to many of our tankers get blown up by terrorists and never get to the base where it is needed.
    How to turn ourselves into energy sippers instead of guzzlers? Tax fuel!

  374. PCnerd clearly wants the poor to endure fast rising energy prices because it is “good for our future”. But the truth is that ‘PCnerd’ could not care less about the plight of the poor. Let ‘em eat cake, no?

    And how would much higher energy prices be “good” for the rest of us??

    Some folks truly don’t know which end is up.

  375. PCnerd says:
    January 21, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    I liked your 3 stories also, right up till you tried to equate the stories with expensive energy. That part just doesn’t logically follow! A tax in the US to make energy more expensive is only relevant to the cost of energy in the US. It would force the US to stop being so cavalier and extravagant about our energy usage in this country. Energy costs in the US do not adequately reflect how precious energy truly is.

    First, energy is not precious. Cheap energy is precious. Expensive energy is useless.

    Second, I have already given an example in the head post of how this applies, not just to the US, but to the world. I used quotes from the US, but I could just as well have used quotes from Australia, or the UK, or Europe. It is a worldwide sickness, trying to deprive the poor of cheap energy.

    Third, perhaps you and your friends are “cavalier and extravagant” about energy, and you see that as a problem. All that proves is that you don’t get out enough. Down near the bottom of the economic ladder, nobody is “cavalier and extravant” about energy. They don’t have the money to do that. “Cavalier and extravagant” thats your fantasy, and in trying to crush it, you are crushing the poor. As I pointed out above,

    The US Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu, the author of the first quote, wouldn’t have his commute to work imperiled if US gasoline prices were to double and thus reach the levels in Europe. He can buy all the gasoline he wants for any purpose. But if you are a poor single mom with a couple of kids and a clapped-out car that gets you to work and back and drinks gasoline faster than your good-for-nothing ex-husband drank whiskey before he left, for you a doubling of the gas prices means the kids eat less or something else goes by the board, because you have to get to work. It’s not optional.

    w.

  376. PCnerd says:
    January 21, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Not to mention the fact that in a strategic energy arms race, the winner is the one which uses energy most efficiently. Think of our fuel supply lines in Afghanistan. The military is actually turning to solar because to many of our tankers get blown up by terrorists and never get to the base where it is needed.
    How to turn ourselves into energy sippers instead of guzzlers? Tax fuel!

    Taxing fuel is the most regressive tax on the planet. It hurts the poor much, much more than the wealthy. You obviously don’t care about the poor, only about you and your wealthy friends.

    w.

  377. PCnerd says:
    January 21, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Yes it hurts, yes it will slow industry, but in the end, yes it is good for our future.

    PCnerd, your screen name is eerily appropriate. You seem to have no idea how the real world works. Perhaps you are foolish enough to want to trade current real losses, pain, and death for the poor, for the outside possibility that it may possibly help someone somewhere in fifty years … for me, that’s the dumbest plan I’ve heard in a while.

    w.

  378. The mechanization of homecare tasks and the availability of cheap ready-made common household products did a lot to improve the health and well being of women. That was all possible because of cheap energy. Those that worked outside the home found themselves relieved of the terrible scourge of work place injuries thanks to the mechanization of once highly dangerous jobs.

    Going back to the old days when the daily tasks of homecare was indeed arduous and backbreaking is good for our future? I tell you what PCnerd. Today, and from now on, please make lye soap, wash your clothes by hand, carry water, and kill, butcher, and store your own beef, as well as grow and preserve your own vegetables. Don’t forget to milk the cows every day, skim the cream, churn the butter, make bread, and sew and mend clothes. You will also need to learn how to knit. If you are lucky, you might be able to buy fabric but don’t be surprised if you find you need to grow sheep and learn how to card and spin wool. Bonus, you can use the tallow to make candles. If you are married, you will need to explain to your pregnant wife that these duties must continue through her childbearing times, though you will help when you can. As for your own place in this extremely hard life, good luck getting to work, and be prepared to spend your days under back breaking labor just as hard as that at home.

  379. You make the assumption that I am wealthy. Only by comparison to the third world. I am poor by US standards.

  380. PCnerd says:
    January 22, 2013 at 6:37 am (Edit)

    You make the assumption that I am wealthy. Only by comparison to the third world. I am poor by US standards.

    That’s my point exactly, you are incredibly wealthy, and your wealth is built entirely on cheap energy. If you make more than about twenty-five grand per year, you are one of the global 1%.

    w.

  381. Yea, that part I agree with. But the “more expensive energy” …. I can not see a connection to that at all. It just does not logically follow.
    Furthermore when I see our 75% of our general population voluntarily driving around in SUVs, 4wd pick-up trucks, and other cars so large they can’t be getting more then 16mpg, it seems clear they they don’t feel stressed at all by current fuel prices.

  382. Oh and to “Pamela Grey”: I never suggested anything so severe that I and my family would have to “make lye soap”. I just don’t want my children’s children to be trapped in that kind of world when we could prevent it by being frugal today.

  383. You said “Perhaps you are foolish enough to want to trade current real losses, pain, and death for the poor, for the outside possibility that it may possibly help someone somewhere in fifty years … for me, that’s the dumbest plan I’ve heard in a while.”
    Once again an over-reaction and over-exaggeration.
    A $1.00 tax per gallon will not create pain or death unless the poor are too stupid to buy a car with 10 – 20% better fuel economy to offset it. Further-more you could give that money back to the poor with a rebate.

  384. PCnerd says:

    “…when I see our 75% of our general population voluntarily driving around in SUVs, 4wd pick-up trucks, and other cars so large they can’t be getting more then 16mpg, it seems clear they they don’t feel stressed at all by current fuel prices.”

    More of nerd’s disconnect from reality. Just as folks would not go right out and buy a gas hog if gasoline prices were to drop by half, they will not go out and buy a gas sipper when prices rise. It makes no economic sense to pay tens of $thousands for a new car because of rising fuel prices. But when it is time to buy a new car, high gas prices will have an effect on most everyone.

    Also, it is interesting that a low-paid nerd wants to control everyone else’s life. How about this, nerd: you control your own frugality, and I will control mine. Quit being such a busybody.

  385. PCnerd says:
    January 22, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    You said

    “Perhaps you are foolish enough to want to trade current real losses, pain, and death for the poor, for the outside possibility that it may possibly help someone somewhere in fifty years … for me, that’s the dumbest plan I’ve heard in a while.”

    Once again an over-reaction and over-exaggeration.
    A $1.00 tax per gallon will not create pain or death unless the poor are too stupid to buy a car with 10 – 20% better fuel economy to offset it. Further-more you could give that money back to the poor with a rebate.

    You got it in one, PCnerd. The reason that the poor don’t buy newer, more fuel efficient cars is obviously because they are “too stupid” to do so … that’s the ticket.
    Would you care to reconsider that statement? If not, let me suggest that you meditate on the word ” poor“, and what it means about one’s ability to buy a newer, more fuel efficient car … you seem somewhat unfamiliar with ramifications of the concept.

    w.

  386. PCNerd says “Yes it hurts, yes it will slow industry, but in the end, yes it is good for our future.”

    I concur with you that it will hurt the poor, and certain industries. Industries with pricing power will be able to pass all of the CO2 mitigation costs onto their customers, those without pricing power will not. Our regulated utilities by definition will be able to recoup their costs for meeting any required goal. Until recently all the costs associated with meeting the state of CA’s Renewable Energy Standard have been allocated to Tier 3, 4, and 5 NON-CARE (i.e. the not poor, or apartment dwellers who happen to only use Tier 1 and Tier 2 usage levels per month). Unfortunately, this meant that the almost poor, middle class, and a few wealthy folks ended up having to pay all the bills. The current approach to cost allocations is set to continue insulating the poor (CARE electrical and Natural gas rates Tier 1 and 2) completely from the actual costs to provide them service. The almost poor, middle class and wealthy Tier 3 and Tier 4 users (those non-care utility customers) will continue to absorb the costs for meeting the RES and AB 32 goals. Hence their costs for all forms of energy have to go up as someone has to pay for the long term contracts that were put in place to meet our goals. This will in turn reduce the almost poor, and middle classes disposable incomes. And as you pointed out this will effect their ability to buy other good and services (i.e. “slow industry’). The wealthy by definition have enough capital resources available to them to look at using some of those resources to become more energy efficient or just decide the penalty for their Tier 4 usage is large enough that they will just generate their own power- which then means they will pay less to their utility who will then have to charge other customers more to cover the lost revenue.

    I noticed that Tom Fuller had a post over at 3000 quads recently that you may find of interest as he talks a bit about what is happening in regards to electrical energy in the rest of the world. http://3000quads.com/2013/01/21/the-developing-world-outpaces-the-does-predictions-by-a-lot/

    Tom has laid out what the developing world WILL BE generating in terms of additional CO2 in the future. Does his discussion of the subject impact your thoughts on how much of our limited resources should be used towards mitigation of our CO2 levels? My take from Tom post is that the CO2 level is going to go up NO matter what I do (and I already generate 55% of my electrical energy from PV) and no matter what my state (CA) does. This then means I, we, need to have some resources budgeted and available to adapt to changes in the weather IF the CAGW model(s) estimate of the attribution of CO2 to various feedbacks turn out to be correct. How much of our, and future generations resources (call it the debt load if you like) should we put you down for each category 1) mitigation and 2) adaption?

    If you are inclined to go with an 80/20 split towards mitigation, then you might want to sit in on a conference: “highlights from the 2012 Behavior, Energy, and Climate Change (BECC) Conference, ACEEE invites you to participate in a SECOND viewing of this webinar on Thursday, January 24th, at 4:00 PM Eastern.” Conference details are noted here http://beccconference.org/ and the log in for the conference is located here- https://aceee.adobeconnect.com/_a739809030/becc2012ii/ enter “Guest” to enter the conference.

  387. PCnerd says:
    January 22, 2013 at 2:38 pm
    Yea, that part I agree with. But the “more expensive energy” …. I can not see a connection to that at all. It just does not logically follow.
    Furthermore when I see our 75% of our general population voluntarily driving around in SUVs, 4wd pick-up trucks, and other cars so large they can’t be getting more then 16mpg, it seems clear they they don’t feel stressed at all by current fuel prices.

    PCnerd says:
    January 22, 2013 at 2:42 pm
    Oh and to “Pamela Grey”: I never suggested anything so severe that I and my family would have to “make lye soap”. I just don’t want my children’s children to be trapped in that kind of world when we could prevent it by being frugal today.
    =================================================================
    Why do I get the feeling that you don’t have any children? Or if you do, you have enough green that you choose not to live under the restrictions you would place on the the rest the rest of us? (Maybe you “recycle” or make your kids cycle a generator to power your PC but nothing that you don’t have the luxury of choosing to do.)

  388. PCNerd: Have you traveled anyplace other then first world countries? even the very poor still find individual transportation out side public transportation. Think about that a moment. If they can not buy a car what do they use? All you would accomplish is a lowered standard of living for the poor.

  389. I’ve seen this before–rich people using poor people as an excuse to avoid regulations that would make themselves any less rich. Interesting that no comments have mentioned the poor of Bangadesh or the Maldives, for whom global warming is a stark reality that has gone far beyond debate and threatens to wash them out to sea on an annual basis.

  390. John Parker says:
    January 27, 2013 at 6:57 am

    I’ve seen this before–rich people using poor people as an excuse to avoid regulations that would make themselves any less rich. Interesting that no comments have mentioned the poor of Bangadesh or the Maldives, for whom global warming is a stark reality that has gone far beyond debate and threatens to wash them out to sea on an annual basis.

    Thanks, John. You seem to have missed a variety of developments, you’re still on arguments that are centuries dead. You might start with my post “Floating Islands” to understand why the Maldives are in no danger at all from climate change, but they are in danger from coral mining and overfishing.

    Then take a look at “The Irony, It Burns” for confirmation of my claims. Here’s the thing. The islands are not going underwater, and neither is Bangladesh. Both of them, in fact, are growing … yes, it is counter-intuitive, but it’s true. The atolls and the river deltas both grow upwards with the sea … and you were too busy making accusations to notice.

    Now, let me take a minute to observe what is happening. You have come in here, and on the basis of claims which have absolutely no scientific foundation but which you foolishly call “stark reality”, you have accused me and others of “using poor people as an excuse to avoid regulations that would make [our]selves any less rich.” But what you call a “stark reality” is nothing but your unbridled fantasy.

    You ask why no one has mentioned Bangladesh or the Maldives?

    It’s because unlike you, we’ve done our homework.

    I want you to consider that you have made very heavy and ugly accusations and insinuations, based on nothing but a bunch of false claims that you have been suckered into believing … Charles Darwin showed a hundred and fifty years ago that coral atolls grow upwards as the sea level rises, but nooo, John Parker hasn’t ever heard that century-old news …

    Now stop and consider that again. You have come in here and made a total fool of yourself spouting false claims and unpleasant accusations.

    Now stop and consider that a third time, and perhaps next go-’round you won’t make yourself a public laughingstock by being so nasty and so unpleasantly and arrogantly sure of yourself when your “facts” are nothing of the sort.

    w.

  391. @Willis: You have a way with words. Thank you for speaking what my mind would have said had I had the breadth of information and the organization to lay it all out so neatly for the Parker’s of the world. Talk about people who think they have opinions, but instead are only parrots who perform echolalia…

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