Four Stories, Two Worlds

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

To start the four tales of the title, I noticed a couple of stories in the news lately about how critical inexpensive energy is for the poor. The first story said:

Wall Street may be growing anxious about the negative impact of falling oil prices on energy producers, but the steep declines of recent weeks are delivering substantial benefits to U.S. working-class families and retirees who have largely missed out on the fruits of the economic recovery.

Just last week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated that the typical U.S. household would save $750 because of lower gasoline prices this year, $200 more than government experts predicted a month ago. People who depend on home heating oil and propane to warm their homes, as millions do in the Northeast and Midwest, should enjoy an additional savings of about $750 this winter.

“It may not have a huge effect on the top 10 percent of households, but if you’re earning $30,000 or $40,000 a year and drive to work, this is a big deal,” said Guy Berger, U.S. economist at RBS. “Conceptually, this is the opposite of the stock market boom, which was concentrated at the top.”

Note that while the stock market boom has helped the top ten percent but not the poor, the drop in oil prices has helped the poor … I know which one I prefer.

The second story said:

Each winter in Kyrgyzstan the energy situation seems to worsen; blackouts last longer, and officials seem less able to do anything to improve conditions. This year is expected to be particularly difficult.

The winter heating season has not even begun and already lots of people are bracing for months of hardship. A video, posted October 12 on YouTube, depicting Kyrgyz doctors having to perform open-heart surgery amid a sudden blackout, is helping to heighten anxiety about the coming winter. In another alarming signal, Bishkek’s local energy-distribution company, Severelectro, sent out advisories with recent utility bills, describing the situation as “critical” and begging customers to conserve electricity and use alternatives to heat their homes.

Southern Kyrgyzstan has been without gas since April, when Russia’s Gazprom took over the country’s gas network, and neighboring Uzbekistan said it would not work with the Russians. That has forced residents in the south to use precious and expensive electricity to cook, or resort to burning dung and sometimes even furniture.

Burning dung and furniture for cooking and freezing in your living room … not my idea of a party. Even in developed countries, we have a new category of poverty that was unheard of in my youth—fuel poverty, where people (often the old or infirm) can’t afford to heat their homes.

Let me add a couple of other stories which I’ve mentioned before in comments, to set a context for a discussion of an ancient and extremely valuable injunction. This injunction, taught to doctors in medical school, is as follows:

First, Do No Harm

The injunction is a crucial part of decision-making in medicine, and deserves wider usage. To explain one place that we need to emphasize that injunction, let me go on with my tales.

Story the Third: Why Good Intentions Are Not Enough

Costa Rica is an interesting country. Among other curiosities, despite being only a fifth of the size of Great Britain, it has no less than 26 national parks, 11 forest reserves, 47 protected zones, 58 wildlife refuges, and 8 biological reserves. Now, it’s a developing country. And although it is not one of the poorest, still the per capita income is only a quarter that of the US. Most developing countries have either a few National Parks and reserves, or none. It is most unusual to find a poor country demonstrating concern about the environment, and it shows that they have good intentions. Nearly a quarter of their land is in one of those “protected” categories.

costa rica national park

Arenal National Park, Costa Rica. Photo Source: Epoch Times 

One charming day in my early middle youth, as the consequence of certain unforeseen choices, chances, and circumstances, I found myself in a lovely town in the interior of Costa Rica. The town was near a National Park. Some friends and I were having a bite of food in the little restaurant attached to the one gas station in town … or more precisely, in the gas station/restaurant that comprised the entire town.

While we were sitting and eating, a totally clapped-out pickup truck came down the road that led from the National Park back to San José, the capital city. He pulled up to get some gas. His truck said “Leña” on the side, “Firewood”. The back of the truck was filled way over the brim with tree branches and trunks of all kinds, mostly of a smaller size, but lots of them. A single rope over the top gave the load a precarious air of semi-stability.

The driver came in to the restaurant. He had the global standard poor man’s uniform—the cheapest stuff, factory seconds and used clothing that are imported by the 100 kg bale in every poor country, and resold by some local merchant at usurious markups.  Poorly made jeans. Used t-shirts. Plus the usual sandals and sombrero.

Me, I’m eternally curious about what people do to earn their supper. So I started talking to him in Spanish about his load of firewood and the firewood business.

He said that many people in Costa Rica cooked with wood. He’d started his own business. He had an axe, no chain saw. The truck belonged to his father-in-law, paid for at so much per mile that he drove it. It wasn’t much of a living, but he got by.

Now, I grew up on a cattle ranch surrounded by forest and we heated with wood. Like most ranchers, we always cut our own firewood. And as a young man, I’d made money myself cutting firewood, putting a cord of it into a pickup truck, and selling it as five quarter-cords to the over-educated and under-experienced professors and professionals in Berkeley who couldn’t tell a loose stack from a tight stack. As a result, I know the ways of the axe and the wedge, of felling and cutting and splitting, limbing and barking, and hauling the final product to market and selling it. So I had plenty to talk to him about. We discussed the ins and outs of how firewood was priced in Costa Rica, who his customers were, and the like. We talked about the fact that firewood was getting harder to find, and how these days he had to drive too far, it was cutting into his income.

Then, after kind of a delicate dance around the subject, I asked him where he’d cut his load his wood.

Now, I knew that’s kind of like asking a fisherman where the good fishing holes are, or asking a hunter where the big bull elk hang out. It’s not a topic you open the conversation with, and most of the time you don’t touch on it at all. But I figured it was clear to him that I wanted to know in the spirit of knowledge and appreciation, and that I wasn’t a threat to his rice bowl. So when I asked where he cut his wood, “¿Donde corte la leña?”, he answered frankly.

“Oh”, he said, “lo corto en el Parque Nacionál.”

“In the National Park?”, I said.

“Si, señor”

“¿Porque?”, I asked, “Why?”

He explained that most other places there was little firewood to be found.

I asked politely whether he knew that cutting firewood in the National Park might  possibly be, well, you know … illegal and all … not to mention destructive to the environment …

“Oh, si,” he said, “no es legal”.

He thought about that for a minute, and said in essence “I feel very bad about that, I know it’s wrong, but when my children are hungry, what can I do?”

I had no answer for him. It merely confirmed what I’d seen in my travels to all of the continents. This is the ugly underside of environmentalism, the unpleasant truth, which is:

The biggest threat to the environment is poverty. 

This is not some theoretical future danger. As the firewood man showed, this is going on now. And remember that the woodcutter was not the poorest of the poor, far from it. About half the world lives on less than $2.50 per day, and an empty stomach cares nothing for the environment. For example, the larger primates are all greatly reduced in numbers, with some being heavily threatened. Is this because humans enjoy killing chimpanzees? Nope. The root cause is poverty. They are being killed for food, by people who have nothing to eat.

And when people do not have cheap energy to cook with, they burn up their forests, despite their good intentions.

Finally, since the biggest threat to the environment is poverty, that means that the biggest friend of the environment is development … strange, but true.

Story the Fourth: Winners and Losers

Togo is a country of thirds. The northern third is dry and dusty Sahel. The middle third is wetter, with farms. The green third is down south on the coast. About thirty years ago, work took me to a small Christian Animist village in the dry northern third.

The village was of the simplest kind. It slumbered and baked in the noonday sun. No store. A dirt road running through the middle. Women worked the sere fields. The buildings were made of woven sticks, some covered with mud. Onlookers in every window. Men in small groups around doorways.

And as I walked down the main street, regarded curiously by eyes all around, I had a thought that had never in my life crossed my mind. I thought,

I’ve won.

I realized in that instant that everything that those women in the fields wanted, I already had. Everything that the kids in the windows dreamed of was already mine. Everything that the men around the doorways talked of achieving was something that I’d achieved.

I already had a car. I had an education. I had a well-paying job. I had a house. I had a doctor that I could go to whenever I got sick. I had my gorgeous ex-fiancee. I had money in my pockets. I owned my own house … well, “house” was perhaps an exaggeration, but at least I owned my own shack and the land it sat on. I had credit cards. I had a refrigerator, and a gas stove. I had a pickup truck, and I could afford to pay for the gas to run it. I had running water and electricity. I had any number of pants and shirts. I had my health and my youth. I lived in a peaceful country without armed insurrections or military coups. I had a telephone. I was wealthy even in the things we never think of as part of our net worth, like footwear—unlike any of the people I was walking past, I had work boots, and regular shoes, and a pair of good shoes, and rubber boots for the winter, and sandals for the summer.

And that meant there was nothing in those villagers’ dreams that I didn’t already have. In short … I’d won.

And the crazy thing is, if you are reading this, then it’s highly likely that you’ve won too. I read the other day that if you make more than about $40,000, you are in the top 1% of the world by income. The dreaded 1% that takes so much abuse in the popular press. The awful, terrible people at the top, those of us who have won. Heck, even if you are at the US poverty line, you’re still in the top 13% … here’s a web site so you can figure out exactly where you stand in global terms.

Bringing It Home

Now, I’ve brought up the two newspaper articles and told those two stories for context, that of a world divided into very rich and very poor. In that context I want to talk about the cost of energy. The reason that I’ve won, the reason that all of us one-percenters have won, is inexpensive energy in the form of fossil fuels. Here’s an important comparison I’ve made before:

A human being doing hard physical labor can put out about a sustained hundred watts of energy on a constant basis over the course of a day. 

So if I had a hard-working slave, and he worked a ten-hour day doing my laundry and cutting my firewood and the like, that’s about one kilowatt-hour (kWh) of work. One hundred watts times ten hours is one thousand watt-hours, which is one kilowatt-hour.

Now by US terms, California is the land of expensive energy. Because of our insane “renewable energy standards”, electricity here costs about twice as much as in neighboring states, at about fifteen cents per kilowatt-hour. So let’s take ten cents per kWh as a representative cost of residential electricity in the US.

That means most folks can buy a ten-hour workday of an electrical slave for ten cents, one thin dime, one tenth of a dollar. And that’s why we’re in the top 1% of the globe. We can pay electricity and fossil fuels to do all of the hard work necessary to give us our good lives.

Here’s the economics. I charge my time out at forty-five dollars per hour. So one minute of my work is worth seventy-five cents … which means that one minute of my work buys seven ten-hour days of work from an electrical slave. That’s why you and I are in the top 1% of the globe—we have cheap workers in the form of electricity and fossil fuels.

Now that all sounds wonderful … until you realize that for half the people of this marvel-filled planet, energy is expensive and the people make a few bucks a day. When electricity costs sixty cents a kilowatt hour and you make a dollar a day, well … you’re out of luck.

So here’s the moral of the stories. If you care about the poor or the environment, cheap energy is the best friend of both. When people have inexpensive gas for cooking, the National Parks don’t get deforested, and people don’t cook by burning dung and furniture. When people have cheap energy, village clinics can have refrigeration for vaccines and medicines. Cheap energy is truly the friend of the poor housewife, of the poor farmer, and of poor people around the world.

And at present, cheap energy comes from one of three sources—hydropower, nuclear power, or fossil fuels. Despite decades of subsidies and renewable standards, sun and wind are still only a few percent of global energy, and they are very site-specific.

So what does this have to do with the idea of “First, Do No Harm“? Here is the connection. Some people claim that CO2 is the magic knob that controls the global temperature, and further, those people say that a slight warming of a couple of degrees will be catastrophic.

Now, I don’t believe that either of those claims is true. But if you believe those claims,  if you do think that CO2 is worth fighting, then the first rule of fighting CO2 has to be that you must not harm the poor by increasing the price of energy. Because the rule is, first do no harm.

So fight CO2 if you think you absolutely must, but don’t fight it on the backs of the poor. Any increase in energy prices penalizes, impoverishes, and even kills the poor. Increased energy costs are the most punitive of taxes, because they are regressive, the poorest are hit the hardest, and even at the very bottom of the pile there is no escape from the increased costs. So if you do believe CO2 is worth fighting … then you owe it to the poor to find some other way to fight it, some way that does NOT increase the cost of energy.

Four stories … two worlds.

My best wishes for everyone, the 1% and the 99% alike,

w.

PS—Oh, yeah, the final oddity. Not long after I realized that I’d won, I had another curious thought for the first time—what do you do after you realize you’ve won? Struggle for even more stuff? Not my style at all. Rest on my laurels? Too boring. Retire? I was too young … and too broke.

After much thought, my conclusion was bozo simple—give it away. Not give away the stuff, of course, that goes nowhere … but give freely in the way of assisting other people to win and to realize that they’ve won. Heck, this current meander through tales of the present and the past is just one more part of my giving it away—helping to encourage cheap energy is most definitely helping both poor people and the environment alike to come out winners.

FURTHER READING: I highly recommend The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, by Alex Epstein, available from Amazon as an eBook, $11.99, send a copy to your friends.  From the description:

Drawing on original insights and cutting-edge research, Epstein argues that most of what we hear about fossil fuels is a myth. For instance . . .

Myth: Fossil fuels are dirty.

Truth: The environmental benefits of using fossil fuels far outweigh the risks. Fossil fuels don’t take a naturally clean environment and make it dirty; they take a naturally dirty environment and make it clean. They don’t take a naturally safe climate and make it dangerous; they take a naturally dangerous climate and make it ever safer.

Myth: Fossil fuels are unsustainable, so we should strive to use “renewable” solar and wind.

Truth: The sun and wind are intermittent, unreliable fuels that always need backup from a reliable source of energy—usually fossil fuels. There are huge amounts of fossil fuels left, and we have plenty of time to find something cheaper.

Myth: Fossil fuels are hurting the developing world.

Truth: Fossil fuels are the key to improving the quality of life for billions of people in the developing world. If we withhold them, access to clean water plummets, critical medical machines like incubators become impossible to operate, and life expectancy drops significantly. Calls to “get off fossil fuels” are calls to degrade the lives of innocent people who merely want the same opportunities we enjoy in the West.

Taking everything into account, including the facts about climate change, Epstein argues that “fossil fuels are easy to misunderstand and demonize, but they are absolutely good to use. And they absolutely need to be championed. . . . Mankind’s use of fossil fuels is supremely virtuous—because human life is the standard of value and because using fossil fuels transforms our environment to make it wonderful for human life.” 

FINALLY: If you disagree with someone please have the courtesy to QUOTE THE EXACT WORDS YOU DISAGREE WITH, so that all of us can understand exactly what you are objecting to.

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190 thoughts on “Four Stories, Two Worlds

    • “””””…..Note that while the stock market boom has helped the top ten percent but not the poor, the drop in oil prices has helped the poor … I know which one I prefer……”””””
      Actually this is a myth; re the stock market not helping the poor.
      Well unless they don’t carry any sort of insurance on anything, and don’t do any banking or have any kind of savings account, and neither own nor rent some sort of “home”, or belong to any union or have any kind of retirement or similar account (all unions do).
      Everybody benefits from some sort of financial transaction; even if it just buying groceries, the costs of which will fluctuate with what the suppliers of those commodities can gain in investment activities, which affects their costs.
      I haven’t paid ANY attention to the stock (or bond) market for over 50 years, so I pay no attention at all, to the stocks of Applegoogle micro$oftfaceachewhatever.
      But I do own a small interest in some funds that do pay attention to those things. If the stock market crashes, I yawn, if it goes up, I fall asleep. Pay no attention to it at all.

    • Yup. Always a pleasure to read your stuff, W. Plus, nice KITA for the Green Blob hypocrites!
      Cheers — Pete Tillman
      “It is dangerous to be sincere unless you are also stupid.”
      –George Bernard Shaw

  1. “I lived in a peaceful country without armed insurrections or military coups.”
    Willis, Have you thanked someone who served in the US military lately for the sacrifices that made that possible?
    Just saw American Sniper, today… very powerful.
    Quoting from an investigation after his funeral: “Snopes.com found no evidence that Obama made any public expression of condolence to mark Kyle’s death. ”
    The White House has sent three aides to the funeral of Michael Brown, (Brown, 6’4″, 240 lb, marijuana high 18 yr old killed by a Ferguson police as he was assaulting the police officer).
    Our country is so messed up with the current President. Obama lies to our face and expects stupid Americans to believe his lies. Obama blatantly lies to us to our face, from everything related to the Climate Change scam to how he dishonors those in uniform who served, both military and our police who serve and protect.

    • Joel O’Bryan January 18, 2015 at 7:52 pm

      Willis, Have you thanked someone who served in the US military lately for the sacrifices that made that possible?

      I am well aware that we live in peace because there are strong men and women keeping the barbarians from our gates … and then sadly, far too often we either ignore the guards or abuse them for their pains.
      So yes, when I meet members of the military, I definitely go out of my way to thank them and acknowledge them for their service and contributions.
      Best regards,
      w.

      • Willis,
        Thank you too, for fighting the good fight of truth re: Climate Change alarmism. There are many charlatans and CO2-snake oil salesmen on the road ahead. But the truth will win. Science will win. It may not be easy. It may seem hopeless at points, when the Liars own the Journals, and fiddle with datasets they controlWe are. But the lies they weave will be their undoing.
        We are here in the country you describe, not inspite of our faults, but because we struggle for truth, and rise above them. Thank you again.
        Joel

    • Well we have the leaders, and indeed the whole government that we have, because the American people voted to give them the power to do what they have done, and continue to do.
      Lots of Americans are proud of the fact that they voted into the White House, the first African ancestry President in our history. And after seeing what he did they voted to keep him there doing it.
      But in the last election, for some strange reason, they seemed dissatisfied with what he has done. So they voted for more “hope and change” ; they’d had enough of what they had done.
      But before that election year was over, the government ignored what the voters had just expressed with their votes, and they passed legislation to allow the past failed government policies to continue for the whole of the next fiscal year.
      And from the results of the first half of the first month of the new Congress, it is clear that all the old retreads in the Congress plan to continue down the path of the past six years (and longer). And the new recruits are already reneging on what they promised their constituents they would support if only they were in the government to do it.
      And they are led in their endeavors, by a person who promised to make electricity very expensive, if only they would elect him to do it. And so many Americans went along with his openly declared plans.
      So when we are thinking of the “First do no harm” mantra, we perhaps should remember, that as a supposedly educated, thinking free people, we should start that when we are in the ballot booth registering our choices to represent us. Well you should; It is not my privilege to do so.
      Yes I am also in that “evil” 1% , and I don’t work as cheap as Willis does; but I also have children whose survival and win standing are my primary concern also; and I intend to not do that by stealing from someone else, who worked to win.
      Denying the opportunity of affordable energy, and its consequences to the 99%, is not a way to ensure a peaceful way of life for all of us.
      g

      • Well I rechecked based on a news bulletin that I heard this morning regarding the SOTU speech.
        And no I am NOT one of the 1% ers, I’m not even one of the 5% ers, but I am among the 25% ers who pay 70% of all federal taxes.
        I guess the rampant inflation has driven the 1% er flag to ever higher levels; well out of my reach.
        Well a trillion here, and a trillion there, and pretty soon you are talking about real money.
        g

    • Joel, you may dislike the President, but it does not help the cause of honest science to be taking a political stance on a climate science blog. Politicization of the issue is not helping us skeptics.

      • “…it does not help the cause of honest science to be taking a political stance on a climate science blog. Politicization of the issue is not helping us skeptics.” I totally disagree. Politics has been the cause of the bastardization of climate science….and has done so very effectively. They/warmists have proven politics is stronger than science when it comes to rallying the masses. Unlike years gone by when believing the earth was the center of the universe changed nothing with people’s lives the AGW hoax has the potential of great harm to mankind and you are mistaken to believe science alone will be the savior.

      • “Politics is the art of preventing people from taking part in affairs which properly concern them.” Paul Valéry, Tel Quel (1943)

    • So just what is the basis of that political rift ??
      Uzbekistan is the home of the Native American gene that is everywhere in the Americas; virtually from pole to pole, and Timor the Lame certainly spread that gene to the west as well, along with a common religion of at least 57 Nations.
      So what could their mutual beef be all about ?? (politically that is )
      g

  2. Willis,
    Halfway trough your stories, you switch from “The Xth Story” to “Story the Xth” The latter seems to be a very odd usage and I am wondering why you use it?

    • No particular reason, it was just what came out of my electronic pen. Perhaps it’s because the latter two stories were from my own life, while the first two were news reports … I couldn’t say. I write by feel, not by logic.
      w.

      • Well said. Keep writing by feel, Willis. It fixes two hearts: yours and mine.
        I would very much hope that some teacher somewhere will take your article and use it to educate a class of future ‘winners’ and show them the consequences of the AGW scam.

      • Willis, again (and again . . . ) many thanks. I’ve book marked this one.
        Harry P – add my heart, too, for three that are fixed.
        I note your hope about teachers – servants of the New World Order – but I have little such hope, at least outside non-system schools [in the UK that is ‘Public Schools’ – which are private & fee-paying, and independent . . . .].
        Auto

  3. Unintended consequences strike again. Why is it that environmentalists care more about everything else than people? When will people become part of their “sustainable” planet? What are they saving earth for? (Rhetorical question) It’s like the Star Trek story with the ‘Nomad’ probe that goes haywire and destroys everything imperfect to save man……which is also imperfect and must be destroyed as well.

    • Deep down, the most radical of environmentalists feel that the smaller the human population on Earth, the better the environment. Drive that feeling to its ultimate extreme and the Earth is best with no humans around to enjoy it.

      • noaaprogrammer
        January 18, 2015 at 9:00 pm
        Deep down, the most radical of environmentalists feel that the smaller the human population on Earth, the better the environment. Drive that feeling to its ultimate extreme and the Earth is best with no humans around to enjoy it.

        Deep down I know that the population issue will resolve by itself as standards of living around the world continue improve – let’s just keep making fossil fuels freely available and cheap as possible. There are those who complain about over population. I ask them “what do you propose to do about it?” – silence.
        Here is someone (due to his great wealth) who is doing something about it by giving poor women a choice.
        Bill Gates funds birth control microchip that lasts 16 years inside the body and can be turned on or off with remote control
        PS – water wars? Technology beats the doomers every time, this is why their predictions of doom fail time and again – disregard human ingenuity.
        Bill Gates foundation to turn human faeces into potable water
        [There is a machine already operating in Senegal]

      • Yeah, but they never believe it enough to give themselves up for the cause. What they really want is to be alive in a world where most everyone else dies so that the Earth becomes the “paradise” that they can enjoy.

      • To put it succinctly:
        Fen’s Law:
        Liberals don’t believe in any of the things they lecture the rest of us about.

        Wake me the day any do-gooders eliminate themselves to “save the planet”.

      • Bill Gates plays both ends against the middle, you forgot to mention he is largest sponsor of “Common Core” a terrible education system.

    • The Environmentalists are like us, wealthy (At least in contrast to the Puerto Rican woodseller!), with access to (relatively) cheap energy & energy that comes at a flick of a switch, turn of a knob or out of a hose. They can look from afar at the wild (ish) places without having to face the reality of living there.
      So they can pronounce on how the World should be, without having to live in it!

      • Adam,
        Absolutely.
        I’ve visited some parts of the Third World – not like many commenters here, but some bits, more often than not in an air-conditioned car.
        Probably my longest spell ‘nearly native’ was a week on Cebu, Philippines, up in the hills an hour and a half IIRC outside Cebu City, teaching [shipping, to a major ferry company] at a hired agricultural institute, in an April in the mid-Nineties.
        Lights off – the generator closed down – at 2200. I had a private room – nobody else did, not even the founding family’s MD; it was too hot to sleep for at least another two hours.
        Lights on 0700.
        Washing was using water from a barrel, tipping it over yourself, lathering up, then rinsing clean.
        Took some doing to (literally) break the ice on the barrel to wet yourself first – never mind the rinsing clean!
        The local farmer had about five or six acres, I guess. It was a major bonus to see his children walking off to the school bus each morning at about 0800, immaculately dressed, and keen to learn.
        Nearly twenty years ago now, but I do hope that a couple of those focussed, ambitious kids have done well. The competition is so intense these days.
        Auto I a sub zero-Centigrade UK
        (A little global warming, Sirs, please, for a chilly chappy?!)

      • Adam G,
        Also, keep in mind that Costa Rica [“Rich Coast”] is one of the wealthiest countries in Central America.
        Everything Willis says is doubled and squared for neighboring countries, which have much poorer populations. Cheap electricity would really make their day.

      • Costa Rica [“Rich Coast”] is one of the wealthiest countries in Central America because they don’t waste money on a military. (Hence no military coups.)
        In 1948 the President said* “We’ve just had a civil war, and that was crappy. We don’t want to invade anyone, and if anyone wants to invade us, they’re welcome. Our problems will become theirs. So we’ll ditch all this army stuff.”
        And they did.
        (*RoHa’s translation. I’m not very good at Spanish, so it might be a bit inaccurate.)

      • And if not thorium, high temperature gas-cooled reactors. Some of them are literally designed to survive a complete loss of coolant without the need for operator intervention. Environmentalist should be demanding nuclear energy, as it has crazy-low emissions.

    • Why is it that environmentalists care more about everything else than people?

      From the OED:

      Environmentalist: one who is concerned with the preservation of the environment (from pollution, etc.).

      I am an environmentalist. What precisely makes you believe that I care more about “everything else” than people? For example the disaster at Bhopal was very much about the negative impact of pollution on people. Preventing such disasters is what environmentalism is about.

      • Your handle is appropriate…
        “I am an environmentalist. What precisely makes you believe that I care more about “everything else” than people? For example the disaster at Bhopal was very much about the negative impact of pollution on people. Preventing such disasters is what environmentalism is about.”
        You’re confusing poor industrial practices with poor environmental practices. Your lifespan and those of millions of people are extended under improved conditions due to the outputs of plants like the one at Bhopal. When you stop taking advantage of all the improvements to life brought by so called dangers to our environment then you have the right to preach “environmentalism”. Until then it’s nothing more than a holier than thou attitude.

      • Aaaah… so the darkies are just “collateral damage” then. We don’t have to worry when it’s NIMBY.
        BTW, I used to keep bees. The output of the Bhopal plant was used to make Sevin, an insecticide, and was used by an orcharding neighbour for its other property: thinning apples. When I asked him to use the non-insecticidal thinning spray, he refused. Both myself and the other beekeeper nearby sold our hives after losing ~90% of our bees, considerably reducing said orchardist’s fruit set in subsequent years. The other neighbouring orchardist who was using a bee-safe thinning spray was unimpressed.
        So no, I did not benefit in any way that I know of from the output of the insecticide plant at Bhopal. Rather, the reverse. Nor do I “preach environmentalism” unless you believe that equates with acting rationally.

      • markl says:
        You’re confusing poor industrial practices with poor environmental practices.
        I think what Willis is saying is that cheap electricity is the best thing that ever happened to poor people. For that matter, it’s the best thing that has happened to the entire human race. Name one thing that has benefitted more people. Imagine life without it.
        And coal-powered electricity is cheap! It’s the cheapest power there is. None of the arguments against it hold water.
        It makes me wonder what is really behind the anti-coal movement.
        [I like the Git, too, and his pompous handle. He is more of a true environmentalist than any of the poseurs who only pretend that they care about the poor — or the environment. What they want is power over everyone else; no more and no less.]

      • @ dbstealey
        Actually, there are rational arguments against burning coal for energy. Coal can be (and is) used to produce a wide variety of chemicals including formaldehyde, MTBE, acetic acid, DME, esters, olefins, and other products. These are used for fuels, pesticides, medicines, plastics, fibres, resins, etc. Far better methinks to use uranium and thorium for energy production. I note that the value of thorium appears to have gone positive recently which is… er… a positive sign. This is not an appeal to immediately cease using coal for energy. Just noting that in a more rational world we would be transitioning from coal to using materials that are useless for many of the useful things we can do with coal.
        Moving in the opposite direction, from efficient (that is economical) energy production to uneconomical energy production that demonstrably has a deleterious impact on the environment is sheer lunacy.

        It makes me wonder what is really behind the anti-coal movement.

        Likely it is “Reds Under the Bed”. Some history here, much of which I experienced firsthand:
        https://www.ipa.org.au/publications/2243/the-far-left-history-of-the-australian-greens

      • Bhopal is more of a process safety issue. Due to the lack of a scrubber or flare stack on the vent line, and more than likely an act of internal sabotage, the methyl isocyanate was released. Environmental science doesn’t normally have that degree of cut and dried science.

    • if life ceases to exist on this planet then does life exist anywhere in the universe? (same analogy as the ‘if a tree falls in a forest and noone is there to hear it does it make a noise’).
      Saving the planet for other forms of life is quite simply absurd and completely illogical

  4. Willis, you might also reference the petroleum equivalent energy essays in Blowing Smoke.
    Your stuff is always touching. But does nothing to change the world’s petroleum geophysical realities. Which just are. And which you have not addressed. You correctly point out fossil fuels have benefitted humanity. For sure. But you do not address the geophysics of for how much longer that might continue. Which is also very important.

    • Rud Istvan January 18, 2015 at 8:24 pm

      You correctly point out fossil fuels have benefitted humanity. For sure. But you do not address the geophysics of for how much longer that might continue. Which is also very important.

      Thanks, Rud, but you need to read a little closer, viz the part where I quoted:

      Myth: Fossil fuels are unsustainable, so we should strive to use “renewable” solar and wind.
      Truth: The sun and wind are intermittent, unreliable fuels that always need backup from a reliable source of energy—usually fossil fuels. There are huge amounts of fossil fuels left, and we have plenty of time to find something cheaper.

      As examples of the “huge amounts of fossil fuels left”, there is enough coal in the Powder River Basin for 300 years of US consumption at current usage rates … we don’t even know how much “tight oil” and shale gas there is worldwide … there are massive oil reserves in the offshore waters that are currently off-limits to drilling … and we haven’t even touched the question of methane clathrates, regarding which the Japanese are already doing experimental extraction.
      So you’ll have to peddle your “peak oil” fears elsewhere, my friend. I’m not buying them even at a deep discount. As the man said, we have plenty of time to find substitutes for fossil fuels.
      My regards to you,
      w.

      • I think that Rud’s point is that it is peak cheap oil that is the problem. When excess productive capacity shrinks, we in the west will bid the price of oil up in ways that will harm the very poor. Coal will do for heating, cooking and power generation and should remain cheap and available to them, but we will have to bring back the steam engines to make it a transportation fuel.

      • bones January 18, 2015 at 9:35 pm

        I think that Rud’s point is that it is peak cheap oil that is the problem.

        Thanks for the comment, bones, but I’ll wait for Rud in that regard. I don’t let others speak for me, and I don’t buy secondhand claims from anyone.

        When excess productive capacity shrinks, we in the west will bid the price of oil up in ways that will harm the very poor. Coal will do for heating, cooking and power generation and should remain cheap and available to them, but we will have to bring back the steam engines to make it a transportation fuel.

        It appears that you are unaware that South Africa ran its transportation system for some years using the Fischer-Tropsch process to convert coal to liquid fuel … and of course we already have vehicles running on natural gas.
        And as to whether the West will “bid the price of oil up”, have you noticed the current cheap price of oil? That’s because of the West, not in spite of the West, and particularly because of the technologies which continue to be invented in the West. You seem to think that the West has some interest in expensive oil, when the opposite is true.
        Finally, the amount of oil available is not a fixed amount. It is a function of price and thus of technology. As the price rises the amount of economically recoverable oil goes up. This puts a natural brake on any price rises.
        Net conclusion? I don’t see steam engines in our future. Instead, my guess is that by 2100 the world will have one and maybe more new economically competitive energy sources.
        w.

      • Willis, re your example of coal in the Wyoming Powder River basin, Prof Rutledge of Caltech, Prof. Aleskett of Upsalla, and Prof. Patzek of U.T Austin (plus others) all disagree with you in peer reviewed papers. Now, I do not trust them any more than I trust Mann and Schmidt on climate change. So checked out the coal basics myself. Coal facts behind your own assertion? Please provide. Then read ebook Gaia’s Limits…
        As to world ‘shale oil’ (since the term has been confused with kerogen deposits) oil companies know much more than you. See essays Reserve Reservations and Matryoshka Reserves in ebook Blowing Smoke for some details and references. There is much you apparently do not know.
        As to peak oil production (which has nothing to do with the total amount to be produced, which is much greater given its likely gamma distribution), you obviously did not/have not understood petroleum geophysics. You know, stuff like porosity, permeability in millidarcies, wetability…or individual well decline curves.
        So I will ‘peddle’ those physical facts here until you and yours grok the same, ‘my friend’. You may not like those facts. Has been clear for years since you complained about my guest posts on same over at JC that could not be refuted since verifiably just were. Complaining about fact conclusions does not change the underlying facts. Given the professed interest in climate data and data analysis, your petroleum ‘beliefs’ are bit disappointing.
        BTW, starter geophysical petroleum facts are explained and illustrated in ebooks Gaia’s Limits, and in several essays in Blowing Smoke: essays on energy and climate. Much of which you might still agree with concerning CAGW.

      • Rud Istvan January 18, 2015 at 10:42 pm

        … I will ‘peddle’ those physical facts here until you and yours grok the same, ‘my friend’. You may not like those facts. Has been clear for years since you complained about my guest posts on same over at JC that could not be refuted since verifiably just were. Complaining about fact conclusions does not change the underlying facts. Given the professed interest in climate data and data analysis, your petroleum ‘beliefs’ are bit disappointing.

        Keep peddling whatever you gotta peddle, Rud, just don’t expect me to pay any attention. You have proven yourself immune to both logic and facts. Whatever is happening you’ll find some aspect of it to be worried about. You’ve been pushing the peak oil nonsense for so long that the current drop in prices (due of course to increased production) makes absolutely no difference to you.
        You’re like Obama, who famously claimed two years ago that “we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices”, but now that we actually have drilled our way to lower gas prices, he has gone suddenly silent on the subject.
        So I see no point in further discussion on this subject, Rud. Since you are convinced that your ideas “could not be refuted since verifiably just were”, we’ll clearly never reach agreement. So how about let’s just give it a rest, agree to disagree, and part friends.
        w.

      • We also need to consider nuclear power which could further extend the fossil fuel reserves. Energy supplies are unlimited, since the human imagination is unlimited.
        Thanks for the article Willis.

      • It seems as though all of the “modern” renewable free clean green energy sources (probably excluding hydroelectric) are heavily subsidized by tax payers. Elon Musk’s miracle Tesla car isn’t even profitable including the free carbon credits he gets made out of whole cloth, that he can sell to real automobile manufacturers to pay their carbon taxes.
        So all of those purported energy sources, are actually energy wasting schemes, that are bleeding the profitable energy sources (stored chemical) that got us here from the figs up in the trees.
        The Nov 2014 issue of “Optics and Photonics” ; a publication of The Optical Society of America, which itself is one of the founding branches of the American Institute of Physics, contains a front cover story; a quite detailed paper on how “Perovskite” PV solar cells are “hitting their stride” and getting ready to replace silicon as the material of choice for Photo-Voltaic energy collection from the sun.
        Perovskite, named for its discoverer, is Calcium Titanate , (CaTiO3)
        So it is an inorganic crystal first found in the Urals (late 19th century). But that does not make for very good solar cells. Well they do convert solar spectrum energy to electricity.
        Well they are too shy to mention its conversion efficiency from ground level solar which is maybe 1kW/m^2; it’s embarrassingly low. but you can just about spray it on your roof with a garden hose, for next to nothing; why not say for nothing.
        There are some problems. You could say that Perovskite has the “Solyndra” disease.
        It does not like Oxygen or air, and it also doesn’t like water. Well you can solve that like Solyndra did, by spraying it on a glass tube, which now has three times (actually Pi times) the glass area of the collecting intercept area. So glass is energy expensive and now it is pi times as expensive compared to the glass cover on a silicon PV panel.
        Well it’s worse than that because that tube, like Solyndra’s, needs to be further enclosed in a second glass tube for hermeticity. So now you enjoy the same 2pi glass area burden that Solyndra had; but at least you are now hermetic.
        Well wouldn’t you know it; Perovskite does not like UV either, so it degrades unless you also filter the UV form the sun, along with its high photon energies. Well these same things helped kill Solyndra, which was a science scam, long before it became a financial and political scam.
        But Perovskites can come in many forms, and the best stuff to date, in terms of lab efficiency, is up around 19% on some basis or other.
        But it has lead in it instead of Titanium, and Europeans don’t like lead.
        Well a remarkable amount of research and discovery have gone into this family of materials, but they all suffer the abhorrence for the environment in which silicon can survive readily.
        And in order to build a scaffolding structure that can go on your roof, and survive a 100 year storm, every five or six years or so, you are talking about significant structure costs, so it doesn’t matter if the Perovskite spray coat costs nothing.
        Bottom line with free clean green renewable solar energy, is that nothing else matters besides the air mass 1-2 solar conversion efficiency, which is what you can get on the ground, and available volume manufactured silicon panels do reach 24% with panels that can last 25 years on your roof.
        But Perovskites do attract research dollars, so everyone is flocking to the fray, and threatening to undercut the silicon panel that so far works reasonably well.
        The scientists and technicians keep insisting that they will resolve all of these deficiency issues; and that of course gets them grant money to keep at it.
        So far, I don’t see a lot of private enterprise capital chasing these Ural rocks for the payoff.
        In the meantime, can we get the government off the backs of the industries that already supply us with affordable energy, so that we can make it available to those who can’t afford to wait for the boom in Perovskites.
        g

    • Many years ago (when US coal reserves were estimated to last 400 years at (then) current usage rates), I saw a calculation, that if the rate of usage could be reduced by increases in efficiency of energy usage, by just 3% per century, (-0.03% / yr) , then those coal reserves would last for ever.
      Yes, I checked the negative exponential growth , and it is correct. But in practice that negative growth rate would probably not be maintained for ever.

    • You really don’t understand how petroleum reserves are quantified do you.
      I recall reading back in 1972 in an article authored by leading climate alarmists how we
      were all going to freeze to death by 1980 as the man made cooling broug brought on an ice age and the oil would run out by the mid 80’s.
      Fact is proven reserves are just those that have already been drilled and flow tested.
      Reserves of oil and gas in the continental United States have been RISING for a decade as new technologies arise and exploration methods improve. Proven oil reserves in the USA have risen from 21 billion barrels to 37 billion barrels since 2007 and are still rising sharply. There is every reason to believe this pattern will be repeated, Here in the UK exploration has found very large reserves of shale gas which would radically improve our reserves. Most of Europe however has BANNED exploring for shale gas and oil preferring windmills and solar power neither of which are reliable or affordable.
      The cost of these policies can be seen in the dire state of the Eurozone economies where unemployment rates are typically between 10 and 25%
      The irony is of course that while CO2 emissions have fallen in ‘dirty’ America they have risen in the ‘Clean’ German green dominated economy. The reason is simple instead of burning clean gas from fracking they have had to resort to burning the dirty brown coal from the East German mines closed after reunification because the ‘renewables’ just don’t deliver.
      This is Lose Lose scenario – prices have risen, the economy has been seriously damaged, the poor are being hit worst, CO2 emissions are risng and air pollution has returned to levels unknown since the days of the DDR.

      • Keith W says:
        This is Lose Lose scenario – prices have risen, the economy has been seriously damaged, the poor are being hit worst, CO2 emissions are risng and air pollution has returned to levels unknown since the days of the DDR.
        But Germany gets to claim it is “green”. That trumps reality.

    • Rud Istvan
      January 18, 2015 at 8:24 pm
      …..You correctly point out fossil fuels have benefitted humanity. For sure. But you do not address the geophysics of for how much longer that might continue. Which is also very important.

      Fossil fuels will last for however long they last. But as long as they are there we should not stop economically exploiting them. Businesses should decide whether to leave it in the ground or dig it up. Warmists are telling us to stop using them NOW and using government to make this happen (US coal).
      What if oil, coal or natural gas ‘runs out’ or is about to? There are a few things in the pipeline and some have passed through.
      Diesel from algae
      Managed forests to make ‘sustainable’ charcoal.
      Oil from coal (demonstrated since WWII & exploited in South Africa).
      Propane from bacteria
      Methane hydrates
      Geothermal energy
      and future innovations yet to be developed or made workable such as nuclear fusion. Pooh hoo it people but IF it works this century then we have all worried for nothing.

      • Rud Istvan focuses on limits and when things will run out. The above article does not concern itself with this issue even if Rud is absolutely correct. Does it matter? What matters is NOW. We will deal with any problems as they arise. Gaia’s limits will be dealt with as we move forward. Please stop worrying Rud.
        Oil is currently cheap, coal is abundant as well as natural gas. Gas is everywhere even in our poop.
        Methane cook stoves in rural India

      • So tell us Jimbo; how much of your own personal investment portfolio is invested in developing for use, nuclear fusion energy ??
        Where do you know of “managed forests” for “sustainable charcoal” ? Even as a feasibility demonstration ??
        Suppose you had 10 square km of “managed forest”, a reasonably good sized test plot to grow the trees of your choice, with available sunlight and maybe even supplied irrigation. In suitable environments, you might get a cycle time from plant to replant (after harvest) of 30 years. That seems to work out at around 100 by 100 feet each day you can cut for firewood or charcoal, so maybe you can get 25 trees on 20 ft centers for 30 years.
        A similar 10 sq. km area could probably have 10,000 families each with 1,000 sq. meters (100 x 100 ft) estates.
        So each day you would provide one tree to 400 families for their daily energy ration.
        Doesn’t sound like a community I would want to live in.
        G

      • george e. smith
        January 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm
        So tell us Jimbo; how much of your own personal investment portfolio is invested in developing for use, nuclear fusion energy ??

        RESPONSE: NONE.

        Where do you know of “managed forests” for “sustainable charcoal” ? Even as a feasibility demonstration ??

        RESPONSE:
        Tambacounda, Senegal
        Sustainable Charcoal – Tanzania Forest Conversation Group
        “The project was launched in June 2012.”
        Other sustainable charcoal projects

        In suitable environments, you might get a cycle time from plant to replant (after harvest) of 30 years.

        RESPONSE:
        Fast-growing tree species for industrial plantations in developing countries [FAO]
        What kind of community do you want to live in???

      • george e. smith,
        Eucalyptus is a fast growing tree. Some can mature in 5 years and is used to make charcoal. Also see Haiti for charcoal and forestry. I could go on all evening finding examples but I think I have answered your main questions. Thank you for your enquiry.

        Abstract
        Improvement of charcoal yield by two-step pyrolysis on eucalyptus wood: A thermogravimetric study
        http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fuel.2012.01.030
        ==========
        Haiti
        Timberland agroforestry and tree nursery program
        From February 2010 — when we launched the Timberland agroforestry and tree nursery program, to December 2012, we planted 2.2 million trees in Haiti’s Gonaives region……
        The sustainable agroforestry model that Timberland launched in Haiti in collaboration with its partner, Smallholder Farmers Alliance, is an example of our commitment to Earthkeepers – the philosophy that guides us in everything we do……
        In addition to reforestation, these trees provide many other benefits including combating malnutrition; sustainably harvested wood for charcoal production and lumber for construction; re-nourishment of the soil; and much needed shade.
        http://community.timberland.com/haiti

      • I suggest George Smith reads up on charcoal production – some charcoal copses here in the UK are 100s of years old – for ideal charcoal production the tree is cut to a stump about every 5 years not thirty – that stump then produces a multitude of limbs for the next crop. there is not much canopy so sunlight is at its maximum and animals love it as there is lots of lush vegetation. generally these woods and copses are found on fairly poor agricultural ground so this is a very efficient way of using otherwise redundant ground and in these temperate parts anyhow very sustainable.

    • Rud Istvan,
      A thing one knows about petroleum “geophysics” has a “best before” time stamp. A revolution in drilling technology continues. Horizontal drilling has been around for a number of years but its full development including multiple arrays from an individual pad and even “walking” rigs that don’t require dismantling and rebuilding to relocate are only a couple of years old. Thet have speeded up and cheapened exploitation – all driven by shale development.
      This industry, in terms of practicality, is really little more than a decade old. Frac sand use increased from about; 3.5million tons in 2004 to over 50 million tons in 2014. Recoveries only 2 or 3 years ago at Eagle Ford in Texas (one of the biggees) was ~8%. EOG Resources (formerly Enron) has increased fracking stages from about 25 to 40 in a horizontal bore and increased sand use from 2500t per well to 4000t+ per well in just the last year and apparently has increased recovery from 8% to 13% – that’s more than adding another half to Eagle Ford resources.
      Now I know that the angry anti shale folks have hundreds of links to articles that pooh pooh the sustainability of this production. They, too, WERE CORRECT a few years ago but technology has passed them by and it will continue to do so for some time yet for this young industry. Re amount of oil and gas, consider that the Bakken trend under other names from ND extends through Saskatchewan, Alberta up to Yukon and from Western Manitoba to northwestern Montana and this is just one of many. Okay, we won’t quibble about recoveries let’s agree on 5%. All the nasty abuse over fracking threatening water supplies and whatever the permanently unhappy can find to discredit this remarkable American technology and bring it to a halt is to be expected. I consider it a permanent tax on doers. What does the industry do? Now they are experimenting with liquid CO2 and liquid N2 as fracking fluids. The versatility is astounding.
      Rud, don’t get caught in the old horse-manure-will-bring-cities-to-a-standstill theory. Things are dynamic. I will be out of date tomorrow, but believe it will be because I underestimated the creativity and energy of the free-enterprise system.

      • Well said Gary Pearse. Human ingenuity has prevailed time and again. In the early 1960s hundreds of millions were to die because of extrapolation. During Malthus’ time famine was to increase due to extrapolation. Global warming was going to fry us this century because of extrapolation.
        I too use the horse manure problem from the late 19th century. It seems Rud is stuck in that rut and should start thinking outside the box and stop reminding us of Gaia. She’s not dead yet.

        From Horse Power to Horsepower
        By Eric Morris
        “In 1898, DELEGATES FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE gathered in New York City for the world’s first international urban planning conference. One topic dominated the discussion. It was not housing, land use, economic development, or infrastructure. The delegates were driven to desperation by horse manure.
        The horse was no newcomer on the urban scene. But by the late 1800s, the problem of horse pollution had reached unprecedented heights…….American cities were drowning in horse manure as well as other unpleasant byproducts of the era’s predominant mode of transportation: urine, flies, congestion, carcasses, and traffic accidents…….
        The situation seemed dire. In 1894, the Times of London estimated that by 1950 every street in the city would be buried nine feet deep in horse manure. One New York prognosticator of the 1890s concluded that by 1930 the horse droppings would rise to Manhattan’s third-story windows. A public health and sanitation crisis of almost unimaginable dimensions loomed…….
        Wet weather turned the streets into swamps and rivers of muck, but dry weather brought little improvement; the manure turned to dust, which was then whipped up by the wind, choking pedestrians and coating buildings. Municipal street cleaning services across the country were woefully inadequate……
        In New York in 1900, 200 persons were killed by horses and horse-drawn vehicles. This contrasts with 344 auto-related fatalities in New York in 2003; given the modern city’s greater population, this means the fatality rate per capita in the horse era was roughly 75 percent higher than today……
        As difficult as it may be to believe for the modern observer, at the time the private automobile was widely hailed as an environmental savior……
        Per vehicle and per mile, it seems highly likely that the environmental problems caused by the horse were far greater than those of the modern car. Horses even contribute to global warming: manure releases methane, a greenhouse gas eight times more potent that CO2…..
        But neither draconian regulations nor disincentives for travel were necessary to fix the horse pollution problem. Human ingenuity and technology (enabled by government, which provided infrastructure and regulations) did the job…”
        PDF [8 pages]

      • • Peak whale oil? Replaced by kerosene lamp in 1857.
        • Peak candles? Replaced by electricity and the incandescent bulb 1800s.
        • Peak horse manure? Replaced by internal combustion engine for automobiles.
        • Peak oil? ………………[insert]

      • The economic facts are against frac production. It is a very expensive way to produce oil. At today’s crude prices, frac production is a loser. So we will see the frac boom wind down as the prices continue to fall. Then it will be a see-saw affair as prices rise to the point where frac production is again profitable. Frac oil has added a new element of downward pressure to crude prices so that OPEC is now faced with ceiling on crude prices due to frac technology.

    • Rud Istvan
      January 18, 2015 at 10:42 pm
      Willis, re your example of coal in the Wyoming Powder River basin, Prof Rutledge of Caltech, Prof. Aleskett of Upsalla, and Prof. Patzek of U.T Austin (plus others) all disagree with you in peer reviewed papers.
      Rud,
      Where I stand in Gillette, Wyo. is above a coal seam that is 150 feet thick, extends 60 miles to the West, a hundred miles to the North and seventy miles to the South. It has provided about a quarter of the country’s coal power for the last 30 years. The mined and restored areas look just like the native prairie except the grass grows over the tops of the hills in the areas that have been mined and restored. The mined areas are only an insignificant dibble along some edges of the coal deposit; it is less than 1%. This is only one of several large coal deposits in the United States. Peer review that

      • Denis,
        Is that ocean of coal under you, a “low sulphur” but low energy variety or is it high sulphur but high energy coal.
        I’m told that so-called “low sulphur” western coal is actually high in sulphur when rated in sulphur per BTU rather than sulphur per ton of coal. But I don’t remember where in the west that coal is supposed to be that Clinton put off limits for his Indonesian backer buddies.
        You watch where you strike a match now; we wouldn’t want to see you glowing from California !
        Jut think, you drill a single core drill hole in your back yard, and you conclude that the whole earth is inside a 150 foot thick shell of coal.
        g

      • Smith
        You should do a little research into the extent of the Wyoming coal deposits. You will learn some things.

  5. In one of those coincidences which probably isn’t a coincidence this morning we had a Dr. in our Sunday School class report on a trip to Togo he recently made to help out (pro bono) in a local hospital. He mentioned that the staple food was sere and showed how it was eaten. Now tonight you mention it (and Togo) again. I’d never heard of sere before today. I’ve lived about 25,000 days Anyway, great story.

    • Oops, it wasn’t “sere” but “fufu” the Dr. was talking about.. That’s what I get for not looking it up on wikapedia before i sent it. I guess you were just using “sere” in its meaning of dry and not what was actually being grown.

  6. Thanks Willis, that is a beautiful summation of the counter argument to CAGW/Chicken Little.
    Apparently the activists chose to enjoy their own winning by trying to ensure nobody from the developing countries gets to join us.

    • The activists may not realise it but they too HAVE WON, just like Willis. The difference is most have no idea about ‘real’ third world poverty. It’s grinding and hard. Labour saving devices are few – it’s the Victorian style housework for these folks. I know of families who live in a few rooms with electric lights. That’s it. No fridge, TV, car etc. They are living the low carbon lifestyle which many activists swear they live by.

  7. Speaking as a retired college professor from Berkeley I would like to discuss with you the matter of an alleged ‘full cord’ of wood I purchased from you in the early 1970’s….

    • Thanks, Lew. Since you are from an earlier generation of college professors, you might be familiar with Latin, particularly the term “caveat emptor” …
      Loved the comment, however, very good,
      w.

    • A cord of wood by standard definition is 128 cubic feet. Suppliers of firewood say “cord” but when pressed they allow “face cord” is used in regard to firewood, and this is determined by the fact that firewood is not cut at 2 ft. but at ~22 inches. So firewood standard is about 115 cu. ft. per “cord”. However, sometimes you don’t get even this much for your money. Willis speaks truly when he says “caveat emptor” in regard to firewood.
      This rule should be applied throughout the forest products industry, or you will find yourself “skint” from your eyelids to your toe nails.

      • I’ve been buying firewood this year and have learned a lot, on the principle of:
        “The one with the money gets the experience, and the one with the experience gets the money.”

        The last half cord I bought was about 25% bigger than the previous ½ cord. Now I know what to insist on, because I paid for the experience.
        Also, there are only two kinds of good wood in my area: oak and almond. Everything else is good for kindling, but it burns too fast for firewood.
        Next, our local “spare the air” days are bureaucratic nonsense. There are relatively few fireplaces in use, but now half the time none of them can even be used at all. But on ‘spare the air’ days the freeway near our house has just as many cars on it [millions; maybe trillions]. And local industries put out just as much emissions no matter what day it is.
        But if that nonsense was eliminated, who would employ the bureaucrats in charge of designating ‘spare the air’ days?
        Probably the same employers who would be happy to give bureaucrats their excessively high paid, make-work jobs inventing new ways to make life more difficult, like outlawing plastic bags… in other words, none. They only get to lord it over the citizens because they are bureaucrats. No other reason. In the private sector they would be looking for new jobs.
        /rant

  8. Cost of electricity in Brisbane, Australia is about 25 cents per kilowatt hour – thanks to the Labour Party (the left in Australia) the Greens and the left-leaning parts of the conservative Liberal National party who believe in the IPCC “vatican”. Other costs and prices considered, and thanks also to the same groups who have forced through costly industrial relations conditions, Australia seems to be one of the most expensive countries in the world. The poor must really suffer here. And yes, winter, home heating is needed in the largest population areas – the South East corner. Any one wanna invest here?

    • Victorian is as high as 29c per kwh dep on supplier
      then
      ADD around 70 a quarter for service charges
      and thats going up another 25 a qtr this yr
      what for?
      ongoing ripoffs created By “goldplated” lines(govt subsidised over supplied) and the Mandatory UNwanted crappy not very “smart meters”

    • The poor must really suffer here. And yes, winter, home heating is needed in the largest population areas – the South East corner. Any one wanna invest here?

      Yes, the poor really suffer [/sarc]
      As someone who’s not in the top 1% of income earners, the rental properties I could afford to buy were “poor” people’s homes. Unlike my tenants who receive a government subsidy (rental assistance), I do not receive a subsidy from the government. Rather I find myself being tangled in ever more red tape. Unlike my tenants who all appear to own TV sets the size of a cinema screen or bigger, I “make do” with a 32″ TV. Instead of owning a motor vehicle each, my wife and I “make do” with one. I grow a substantial portion of the food we consume while my “poor” tenants buy food-like substances from the supermarket. Perhaps that’s why they are “poor” and we own the houses they live in 😉

    • Here in Adelaide, our summer tariff power is close on 40 cents per kW-hr; after retailer discounts etc it drops back to about 35 cents. In US$: thats about US$0.43.
      Oh by the way we also have the most renewable energy in the whole country. Subsidies, anybody?
      But thats why I ended up playing the game and putting on rooftop solar: with no subsidy and no feed-in payment back it still makes plain business sense, simply because power is so expensive.
      [And that is part of the reason they want expensive primary energy from fossil fuels. .mod]

      • we also have the most renewable energy in the whole country

        Here in Tasmania all electricity supplied by the electricity companies is hydro-electric. But of course that’s no longer “renewable”. How does the slogan go? “Water! No use once it’s wasted”.

  9. Just a nit, but the top 1% of the globe is about 70M people. Median family income in the US alone puts probably150M-200M in the $36k range. Your statement is likely closer to true in the 5-10% realm.
    A good read either way.
    Mark

    • Mark T January 18, 2015 at 8:53 pm

      Just a nit, but the top 1% of the globe is about 70M people. Median family income in the US alone puts probably150M-200M in the $36k range. Your statement is likely closer to true in the 5-10% realm.

      Thanks, Mark. That’ll teach me to trust my memory. I went back to the original document:

      Let me let you in on another little secret. In order to reach that top 1 percent status, you need to earn around $47,500 per year. That’s about the average per capita income in the United States (depending on whose statistics you use). That means tens of millions of Americans are in the top 1 percent! You, reader, may even be in the top 1 percent too!
      And the rest of us are right up there. If you only earn $25,000 per year, you’re in the top 10 percent. Even if you earn the official poverty line in the United States — $11,344 (for 2010) — you’re in the top 13 percent of all income earners, give or take a percentage point.

      I’ve changed the head post to reflect that. However, your calculation is not correct. Remember we’re not talking about the income of the top 1% of population of the world. Instead, we’re talking about earning within the top 1% of all incomes, which is a different bird entirely, since so many people are so desperately poor. In other words, it’s not one man, one vote; it’s one dollar, one vote …
      w.

      • You mean top 1% of all money earned I suppose? Perhaps, though that is not exactly clear from what you quoted since it states per capita, implying one man one vote. Either way, the implications are pretty staggering, worse if you consider all of history.
        Mark

      • Willis, the number I heard this morning for 1% status in the USA was $330,000 per year.
        My wife is a grade school teacher and she gets more than that $47,000 per year.
        The 5% number given this morning, was $156,000.
        Either way, I am in the very top Fed and State of California marginal tax rates. So every dollar I earn sends 60 cents to government entities. A big part of that is forced draw down of retirement funds, that I don’t currently need to live on, but are forced to liquidate.
        Makes no sense to me.
        g

  10. Mr. Eschenbach,
    I’ve been reading WUWT for a while now, and this is probably the one article that completely vibes with me. I personally rode a bicycle across South and Central America for a total of two years. I’ve lived with, stayed with, shared meals with, and volunteered to help the poor in Latin America. If there was one thing I noticed consistently during my time there, it’s that cheap energy is fundamental, absolutely fundamental in determining the quality of life and the difference between a starved, misery reminiscent of the middle ages, and the modern era. The one thing I noticed is that the fight to survive takes precedence over any kind of environmental concerns. Environment is really a middle/upper class luxury. But the moment I saw people leave poverty and become middle class, protecting the environment then became a concern.
    The key lesson here is if you want to help the environment, help people get to middle class. Go figure, by helping people get out of poverty, which means sanitation, education, and a shot at a better life, that comes hand in hand with people developing a concern about the environment. And the fundamental key to that is cheap energy. I’ve gotten into so many arguments with climate change advocates about this, and I’ve always taken away two things from the arguments. 1.) Climate Change advocates don’t give a crap about the poor, and 2.) They really don’t understand how important capitalism, the main mechanism for prosperity, and its partner cheap energy, is to solving a host of problems that they purport to be concerned about.
    One of the most aggravating issues I have with Climate change advocates is how they keep saying that there’s too many people. The most HUMANE way to reduce the population is to get people to middle class! Not a single country that’s hit middle income status has escaped a demographic contraction. Not one. Cheap energy is the enabling factor in this. Go figure, help people live a better life, and they have far less kids, and those kids end up being educated, and are more likely to give a damn about the environment. What’s not to like?
    Anyway, Thank you Mr. Eschenbach.
    – The South American bicycle expeditioner

    • That’s because they do not understand capitalism, not in the least. Most only know what they read in the news and what gets discussed among their similarly ignorant companions.
      Marm

    • SAbicyclist, next time folks tell you there are “too many people” ask them what they propose to do about it. There are a few humane and practical ways to ‘control’ population in the developing world (assuming they think it’s a problem which I don’t).
      1) Affordable and widespread availability of birth control
      2) Education availability especially for girls.
      3) Improved standards of living / cheap abundant energy.
      Here are some of those things in action. Look at India. Back in the 1960s there were predictions hundreds of millions would die of famine in the 1970s. Today they export rice thanks to the agricultural revolution.

      The Breakthrough Institute – May 8, 2013 – Martin Lewis
      “In a recent exercise, most of my students believed that India’s total fertility rate (TFR) was twice that of the United States. Many of my colleagues believed the same. In actuality, it is only 2.5, barely above the estimated U.S. rate of 2.1 in 2011, and essentially the replacement level. (A more recent study now pegs U.S. fertility at 1.93.)…..
      …In today’s world, high fertility rates are increasingly confined to tropical Africa…..
      …fertility rates are persistently declining in almost every country in Africa, albeit slowly. Many African states, moreover, are still sparsely settled and can accommodate significantly larger populations. The Central African Republic, for example, has a population of less than 4.5 million in an area almost the size of France……
      …As it turns out, the map of female literacy in India does exhibit striking similarities with the map of fertility. States with educated women, such as Kerala and Goa, have smaller families than those with widespread female illiteracy,…..
      …Thus while the education of women is no doubt significant in reducing fertility levels, it is not the only factor at play……
      That television viewing would help generate demographic stabilization would have come as a shock to those who warned of the ticking global population bomb in the 1960s…..
      To return to our first map, fertility rates remain stubbornly high across tropical Africa. The analysis presented here would suggest that the best way to bring them down would be a three-pronged effort: female education, broad-based economic and social development, and mass electrification followed by the dissemination of soap-opera-heavy television……”
      http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/programs/conservation-and-development/population-bomb-so-wrong/
      http://geocurrents.info/population-geography/indias-plummeting-birthrate-a-television-induced-transformation
      http://geocurrents.info/cultural-geography/television-and-fertility-in-india-response-to-critics

      • Jimbo,
        Oh, I’ve asked that question. In particular, I asked, “since you think the population is too large, what do you think should be done about it, and WHO should bear the brunt of it?” I also asked why we in the West should benefit off the 200 year free ride in carbon, while colonizing non white people and using their resources, and now that non white/Westerners have a shot at prosperity, why should they not live a good life like the Climate Change advocates.
        And that’s when I discovered just how racist and inequitable so many of the Climate Change advocates are. I’ve never been more disgusted in my life after hearing their comments. I’ve dared people to go to a climate change protest, and ask that question. It’s very very revealing.
        Disclosure, I’m not white. As someone who was brought up to practice compassion and a believer in people having equal opportunities (not outcomes, there are no guarantees in life), the inhumanity and prejudice of many, MANY climate change advocates is among the primary reasons I became a Climate Change apostate, and now heretic (the other reason is exploring the ancient historical record of the Eemian warming and the Wurm Ice Age, and of course, spotting the news about the pause starting around 2005).
        I’ve also asked the question using the pause and the uncertainties if bad/poorly analyzed science should be the basis for socio-economic policy, pointing out what happened with Germany’s Energieweinde (massive expansion of lignite coal), or if screwing the poor globally and locally with carbon taxes (since this inflates global energy commodity prices) is worth incomplete science. I also took them to task that if they want rich nations to pay for poor nation’s climate change effects, that I’d be willing to accept that if I see your average Climate Change advocate go and pay the local poor’s energy bill. Charity starts at home and in the heart. I’m a believer and practitioner of this.
        All I get is silence and hypocrisy from the climate change advocates. Which says a lot to me.
        Kind Regards,
        SAbicyclist

      • Jimbo
        Thanks.
        You quote: –
        …That television viewing would help generate demographic stabilization would have come as a shock to those who warned of the ticking global population bomb in the 1960s…..
        Is, possibly, TV viewing just a proxy for having electricity, an education, and – maybe – more?
        Just asking, just asking – but interested . . . .
        Auto.

      • Auto,
        The piece is extensive and the relevant link leads to another page. It was to do with soap operas and young viewers being inspired to enjoy lifestyles of the characters. It could be wrong though and does not make much difference, the ultimate outcome of having electricity is what really matters.

        India’s Plummeting Birthrate: A Television-Induced Transformation?
        http://geocurrents.info/population-geography/indias-plummeting-birthrate-a-television-induced-transformation

        I failed to bold something I found interesting from the earlier reference. Here it is again.

        The Breakthrough Institute – May 8, 2013 – Martin Lewis
        In a recent exercise, most of my students believed that India’s total fertility rate (TFR) was twice that of the United States. Many of my colleagues believed the same. In actuality, it is only 2.5, barely above the estimated U.S. rate of 2.1 in 2011, and essentially the replacement level. (A more recent study now pegs U.S. fertility at 1.93.)…..
        http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/programs/conservation-and-development/population-bomb-so-wrong/

        So while Malthusians scream, changes are rapidly taking place under the hood. Did lack of electricity do this?

  11. Hi Willis,
    You have a major contradiction in your story. You write – “I’ve won. I realized in that instant that everything that those women in the fields wanted, I already had. Everything that the kids in the windows dreamed of was already mine. Everything that the men around the doorways talked of achieving was something that I’d achieved.”
    Not so. Like the Costa Rica man, you had not won the right to take firewood from a national park. Is that important? Heck, yes.
    In the 1980s, we were coming to grips with a brand new uranium deposit we had discovered, not far from the Ranger One deposits my colleagues had found in 1969. This new find never made it. We were faced with proclamation of both a national park and a world heritage listing, which subsequently went ahead after I’d managed a case in the highest Courts of Australia, for preventing those proclamations. We lost the case when the Federal Govt amended a related Act so that we could not win.
    The resources now locked up in parks and world heritage are part of the same drive for world control that people fear. For some parks, is not protection that is sought by those unseen authorities, but prohibition and control.
    Many an area has done poorly after being proclaimed a park, with budgets too small to combat weeds, fires, ferals, etc. Sure, there are parts of some parks that don’t need development/use/exploitation, but there are often parts that benefit nobody by sitting idle and rotting. Does Costa Rica benefit from the isolation/sterilisation of its park areas?
    Just as the best tool for raising the poor from poverty is cheap energy, the best tool for parks is careful use to produce an income for management. Locking up parks is a process that reads like part of Agenda 21. “Do no harm”, indeed.

  12. I like the essay. Only thing is adults already knew that and adults visit this site. You might want to drop this knowledge on some crazy screaming children like oh I don’t know HotWhopper or some such place.

  13. Anyone that spends time in the wild knows that first world countries are giving back a lot, and I mean A LOT, of land back to nature. It is no longer needed for farming. Some of it is being planted with trees but some of it is just abandoned and is doing its own thing, grasses to bushes, then small trees and so on.

    • I would like to add that animals are returning with too. Just this morning I was walking hills that were bare until three decades back (cut down for coal making for heating). Today there are so many wild boars that their mud baths can be found without much difficulty by even amateur hikers. I live in Japan, btw, an “overpopulated” country…

  14. Willis, it really annoys me that, when I was starved of some intellectual sustenance, that just a few feet away in the Oasis, you used to sit quietly with a beer and and a book, while we, that same few feet away, discussed ad nauseam the driving habits of the locals, or the ramifications of the latest coup.
    Goodness!

  15. Oddly, the original plan was to transfer wealth from the first world to the third world so that they could lift themselves out of poverty by means other than fossil fuels:
    “One must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy.”
    ~ Ottmar Edenhofer, Co-Chair, UN/IPCC WG-3

    Somewhere along the line, wealth redistribution got diverted into building a “green” economy. So firmly has the pendulum swung from wealth redistribution to building a “green” economy, that World Bank policy now forbids lending of money to third world countries to build coal fired power plants, which in many cases is not just the best option for poor countries, but the only viable option.
    So the poor are getting screwed over not once, but twice in this debacle. Road to H*ll being paved with good intentions and all that….

  16. Perhaps someone with media savvy could get this post to one of the news services or a magazine so it might get picked up and spread. Our local paper is small and ignores me but I will send a link to the editor.
    ~~~~~
    I started picking up soft drink and beer bottles along the sides of county roads. Sometime between then and now, I realized that “I’ve won.
    There are then other thoughts, like will this continue and for how long? And, then I wonder if those born in the purple ever have such thoughts?
    ~~~~~
    Our electric rate includes a $18.00/month facilities charge and an energy charge of $0.0875 /kWh via hydro on the Columbia River in WA.

  17. Willis. As you wrote:
    “The biggest threat to the environment is poverty”
    You can also add:
    “The biggest threat to public health is poverty”
    With some money in your pocket you can purchase good food, good clothes, good medical care, good housing etc. all contributing to good physical health. With some money in your pocket you can sleep well, knowing that you can pay your rent or mortgage, take the family on vacation, a movie etc. all contributing to good emotional health.
    So indeed available cheap energy is the starting point.
    Sleep well.

  18. the CAGW crowd only pretend to care about the poor:
    14 Jan: The Naked Scientists: The fossil fuels we can’t touch
    Christophe McGlade & Paul Ekins, Universty College London
    Cristophe – Generally, those regions which have the most resources currently are going to have to go on the biggest carbon diet, as you call it. For coal, the United States and Russia can only use less than 10% of their current reserves. In the Middle East alone, there’s about 260 billion
    barrels of oil. That’s the entire oil reserves of Saudi Arabia which needs to remain in the ground if we don’t want to exceed this 2 degrees…
    Cristophe – Some of the other sources you mentioned, you mentioned shale gas from fracking, there is some potential for that to be used particularly if we have a rapid reduction in coal consumption in the future, some gas will have to come through. And some of that gas can be
    shale gas. However, if countries such as the UK decide to develop its own shale gas resources, it has to be aware that as a result, someone else somewhere else isn’t going to be able to use all of their reserves. So, there’s always this trade-off between, if we exploit here, someone else has
    to not exploit somewhere else…
    http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/interviews/interview/1001080/
    for those who are not familiar with The Naked Scientists, its influence and its reach:
    Wikipedia: The Naked Scientists is a one-hour audience-interactive science radio talk show broadcast live by the BBC in the East of England, nationally by BBC Radio 5 Live and internationally on ABC Radio National, Australia; it is also distributed globally as a podcast.
    The programme was created and is edited by Cambridge University consultant virologist Dr Chris Smith…The Naked Scientists have won eight national and international awards for science communication since 2006…Bandwidth consumed by the programme’s podcast exceeds 28TB (terabytes) of downloads per month and more than 40 million copies have been downloaded since 2007…The Naked Scientists have received funding and awards from the Wellcome Trust, the Natural Environment Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Cambridge University including the Isaac Newton Trust, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry and Rolls-Royce.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Naked_Scientists

  19. Traveling in the back of beat up mini van between Ziguinchor and Bissau, sweaty, thirsty, dead tired, wondering if I would be able to stretch the money out to reach my goal, Bolamo. A sweet young girl all of a sudden shook my hand, told me she had never met a millionaire before…

  20. I always laugh when someone says that 15c/kWh is expensive, because here down under we’re paying closer to 22c AUD, it was up at 26 but someone had the foresight to ditch the tax. But the i think if where Anthony lives and how it costs 90 on the hot days 😐

  21. Not just Costa Rica. There are reports from Germany [http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/tree-theft-on-the-rise-in-germany-as-heating-costs-increase-a-878013.html] that people are raiding private woodlands for firewood. Germany! Hugely industrialized, proverbially law abiding, are stealing wood to keep warm. So much for ‘Energiewende’.

  22. Well said, Willis.
    When they recently found King Richard III and dug him up from under a local car park I thought the same thing. In almost every respect, I live a better, healthier, and wealthier life than he did.
    And while his position as King may have helped him have more varied sexual opportunities than me, I still hope to avoid being shot in the back and then having my head staved in after falling from a horse. Volvo’s are much safer.

  23. Many places have instruments such as a dooms day counter, the number of people estimated to have died from gun violence, etc. I doubt anyone on the well-intentioned but unintended consequences ignorant left realize how many people die each year from green activism. WUWT could be a leader in this area by putting up a real-time Death by Green Intentions counter. I’d seed it with a body count of elderly Brits that are dying from winter cold this year.

  24. Another great and important read Willis …its ironic, at least to me, that while solar and wind are terrible, largely worthless options to replace fossil fuels at a grid scale in the developed world, they do have value at the small, non-grid, personal scale of developing and impoverished areas.
    I was particularly taken with the $25 solar light stories – and how they helped address fuel poverty you discuss.
    What I find a very interesting dynamic is some of these products also include the ability to charge a phone or computer thru a built in USB port. People living in a hut, using kerosene lamps, yet it would appear enough have cell phones and other electronic devices that it makes sense to include a charging ability in these lamps.
    A couple stories:
    http://www.usaid.gov/news-information/frontlines/energy-infrastructure/lighting-lives-rural-poor
    http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2010/10/20/20climatewire-bringing-clean-light-to-poor-nations-and-mov-88428.html?pagewanted=all

  25. Thanks Willis.
    I might have been varming my nordic body in wood You sold to professors i Berkeley back in the mid seventies! I mostly rememberd fake fires thou, gasfires!

  26. And the crazy thing is, if you are reading this, then it’s highly likely that you’ve won too.

    I’ll dispute that. I haven’t won. I’m just living on the winner’s podium because I was born here.
    In no way have I earnt the rewards that I reap.
    And the obligations of wealth are in no way mitigated by the privilege of profiting from my own toil.

  27. Having lived through very cold winters as a poor student 30 years ago, here are a few practical tips:
    1. Don’t be proud to wear fingerless mittens and a bobble hat indoors. The same with thermal shirts and long johns, silk socks under traditional ones. The equipment is suitable for winter mountaineering – it usually does just fine inside a home too. It’s not heaven on earth, but the equipment has a time to payback of under two years. As children have a smaller surface-to-volume ratio, the benefits for them are most marked.
    2. Invest in down-based sleeping bags. If traditional bedding doesn’t work, get stuff which is rated down to -15C. Really only suitable for those of an age that they are toilet-trained.
    3. Socialise with friends of similar means – if that means that 15 people heat one home each day for 7 days a week, you can cut your fuel bills very very significantly. Alternatively, frequent the local community centres, sports clubs etc etc as places you can spend time without spending too much money which are warm.
    In a perfect world, 100% of people would have their own home insulated perfectly, heated cheaply and no-one would suffer fuel poverty.
    In the real world, you may need to make compromises.

    • rtj1211
      Agree. Totally.
      Some queries.
      Can you help your building be better insulated? Roof? Clingfilm across the windows? (aesthetically lousy, but if it gives another degree and a bit – so flipping what?) Use fire wood piled against outside walls to give that – ‘every little helps’ – effect.
      One of the cheaper body-warmers is a two [or a bit more] metre length of fleece, two metres wide. Cut a line from the middle of one side to the centre [UK orthography], and wear as a cape/throw.
      A bit of bubble-wrap against an outside wall will help a bit.
      Another thin layer helps a good bit, as indicated.
      A sheet round the legs helps greatly – a blanket much more so.
      Even an outdoor coat round the legs, if not needed for the body, will be a great help.
      Bobble hat and mittens will enhance the effect, and none the worse for that.
      Scarfs cover the middle of the torso – small garment, decent-ish effect.
      Any – that is – a n y – hat helps, even the archetypal knotted handkerchief . . . . .
      If very cold, put your legs in a black bag [trash bag, but, note, unused] with newspaper lining.
      Some good kit can be bought cheaply from charity shops, especially in September/October/November.
      Unless using combustion heaters, close doors and windows, to keep one room warm.
      Combustion heaters – coal, charcoal, oil, gas, LPG, paraffin, wood, LNG etc. all MUST have a source of fresh air – otherwise you WILL DIE.
      Carbon monoxide poisoning is silent – and utterly deadly.
      It KILLS you.
      No apologies for SHOUTING here – the downside is death, which is pretty permanent, I gather . . . .
      Try to keep your water pipes above 0C – failure due to freezing may mean flooding when it warms, which is not good.
      All this applies at home, and also if traveling. If motoring in winter-prone areas see above, take expert advice (including spare fuel, water, food, clothing, wraps) and follow that advice, if you must travel in threatening weather.
      Auto

  28. Upon hearing Pope Francis’ climate change pronouncements a few weeks ago, I emailed my brother who is a Jesuit the following (in part< there was more). Every Catholic with a shred of morality should be bombarding their priests with this sort of sentiment.
    "…I can demonstrate that 'what is happening to the earth' in the last 100 years has actually been overall very good for all of God's creatures on this earth. On the other hand, the goals of the climate change promoters (principally the reduction of energy use and development) are extremely deleterious to the poor and to underdeveloped countries. Cheap, abundant and available energy is by far and away THE biggest factor in getting people out of poverty. To not promote more energy development is THE moral travesty. The climate change promoters push for less energy development and are morally bankrupt or deluded or stupid in my opinion. However they have deceitfully turned the issue around making it sound like it is the moral thing to do. It is not. I am extremely passionate on this subject for two reasons:
    1) The climate 'science' being presented to the science-ignorant public is deceitful, more often than not poor science, and filled with a hubris that is astounding. As a scientist, this annoys me. However, I could shrug this off and say the science will work itself out in time like so many other poor science issues (such as eugenics) have been correctly resolved, but,
    2) Because it is clear that the goals of the climate change promoters is to reduce energy development and I know that this will negatively affect the impoverished, it really, really pisses me off. My morality meter is pegged in the red.
    Because I have a good grasp of science in general and a reasonable grasp of our present day knowledge of climate science (which is a woefully limited knowledge but growing) and because of my Catholic beliefs, I am appalled and dismayed by climate change politics. It is astounding to me that Pope Francis buys into this political deceit. …"

  29. Finally, since the biggest threat to the environment is poverty, that means that the biggest friend of the environment is development … strange, but true…..
    When people have inexpensive gas for cooking, the National Parks don’t get deforested, and people don’t cook by burning dung and furniture……

    Well said!
    It never ceases to amaze me why many greens cannot understand this simple fact. Those of us who actually see real poverty up close know this simple fact (I live in a developing country). My sister came back from the UK a few years ago and her family has a large modern house, 2 cars, 2 gas cookers, 4 flat screen TVs, 2 PCs, tablets, smartphones, imported furniture, imported marble tiles etc, etc. She uses natural gas for cooking ALL meals (a local oddity), she hates the smoke from wood and charcoal and can afford it. I also use natural gas except for cooking lunch. Had we been dirt poor we would burn wood or charcoal 100% of the time. Deforestation for firewood is mainly an activity of the poor. I see these people hard at work chopping firewood for their own cooking or for sale along the road sides – the effect on the environment is not good.
    Haiti is poorer than it’s immediate neighbor the Dominican Republic. Here are the results from the UNEP.
    http://www.unep.org/disastersandconflicts/portals/155/countries/haiti/imgs/Haiti2013.jpg

    Time – Jan. 19, 2010
    The U.N. ranks the Dominican Republic 90th out of 182 countries on its human-development index, which combines a variety of welfare measurements; Haiti comes in at 149th. In the Dominican Republic, average life expectancy is nearly 74 years. In Haiti, it’s 61.
    http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1953959,00.html

    IF YOU WANT TO HELP THE ENVIRONMENT SUPPORT THE USE OF FOSSIL FUELS – coal, oil and natural gas.

    • McKibben is the most pathetic human being I have has the displeasure of listening to. He is a textbook example of a zealot; committed, passionate, self-deluded, self-serving, self-loathing compensated with being on a holy mission, and a disturbing lack of understanding between fantasy and reality.

    • @canman, I watched this in the past 2 hrs, I warned my (also really beautiful, understanding partner, Willis we are lucky btw), that I might have to occasionally leave the house screaming, that happened at least 4 times, she went to bed saying you can’t scream loud enough at your age anyway. But that debate was on ( “dr” as he wasn’t and admitted during the debate) McKibben’s side so pathetic it was embarrassing to be held at Duke. Towards the end a young lady directed a question to Mr. Epstein about “the Ethical importance/damage of the fossil industry” waving I think purple finger nails etc, I screamed some more and sorry that’s when I stopped watching with about 20 minutes to go but thanks I really needed another wake up about how really, really poorly, they defend the indefensible but as many on this site have mentioned we cannot stop now and this vid helps me. I realize now McKibben is an Acolyte and we can never stop the indoctrinated ones like of him but in my own family the rocks are slowly moving and cracking after using this kind of info, so thanks.

  30. Thanks Willis – a very concise and powerful argument in favour of cheap energy. The paradox of renewables is that they cause more harm than good.
    Just recently in the UK, a planning application was approved on appeal for a colossal solar array covering some highly valuable ecological land in the south of the country. This happened despite opposition from the local authorities and from environmentalists. Just so sad.

  31. “Truth: The sun and wind are intermittent….”
    How very true. Here in the UK we’re having freezing temperatures with the likelihood of snow – you know, the stuff that the Met Office scientist said was becoming a thing of the past.
    But right now all the UK wind farms are generating just 300 MW, well under one percent of total.

  32. @Rud Istvan January 18, 2015 at 10:42 pm
    … Then read ebook Gaia’s Limits……
    Ah, the old idea that there is a single, limited set of resources on the Earth. Read Julian Simon’s “The Ultimate Resource”, where he completely demolishes that argument.
    In fact, I’ll go one better than your reference to an e-book. Here’s a reference to a ‘Wired’ article which covers some of his points at a high and simplistic level…
    http://archive.wired.com/wired/archive/5.02/ffsimon_pr.html

    • Rud Istvan is flogging his book called ‘Gaia’s Limits’ – that’s why he keeps referencing it here and telling us we are wrong. Just like Malthus et al.

  33. Willis, thank you an excellent post.
    There is one point that is missing though. How fragile our current civilization is as it has become so dependent on remote sources of power. The UK ‘Department of Energy and Climate Change’ recently carried out a study on what would happen if the South West of UK had a total energy loss for some reason with very worrying results. Had they done the same for the South East with the London metroplex after a few days without power there would be rioting and deaths as unlike the more rural South West where many people are used to supporting themselves in the countryside, large connurbations would not be able to exist without energy supplies and for that matter food and water supplies from a wide area. The current ‘civilization’ as a system is extremely fragile.
    Meanwhile, those villagers in the Sahel would not notice a ‘Carrington Event’ and life would go on as it always has. Indeed they would be better off than those that had ‘won’.

  34. Willis, we may have had our differences in the past, but every word you have written here sums up my feelings about the world, energy, poverty and “greens” today.
    They take absolutely no notice of unintended (maybe intended?) consequences, most are total hypocrites, jetting around the world espousing their “save Gaia” while millions starve or die of preventable deseases.
    Thank you very much for this post.

  35. Hi Willis,
    Great piece, as usual. Just a small story in support of your remark:
    [quote] So if you do believe CO2 is worth fighting … then you owe it to the poor to find some other way to fight it, some way that does NOT increase the cost of energy. [/quote]
    I did a bit of volunteering in East Africa, where de-forestation is a big issue. The charity that I worked for introduced such an “other way” to reduce deforestation and at the same time reduce CO2.
    See, the classic way folks cook over there is cut down a tree, cut the log in three pieces, lay out these pieces radially and then start the fire in the middle, shifting the pieces inward over time. Note the step “cut down a tree”, which is at the root of the problem.
    The charity’s solution was in the form of a clay stove that can be made of easily available clay bricks, sand and animal dung. The stove is too small for logs, you need to feed it branches. It also concentrates heat where it’s needed (under the pans), and protects kids from burns, and uses about a third of the wood of the classic way. The charity ran a project which has already introduced 30,000 such stoves in the area, saving tremendous amounts of trees. Similar projects exist in Tanzania.
    All you need sometimes to make a great environmental impact is a simple idea.

  36. … I found myself in a lovely town in the interior of Costa Rica.
    Perhaps you were one of those eco-tourists I used to fly down to Costa Rica who wanted to see the pristine rain forests before they were despoiled by all those eco-tourists I used to fly down to Costa Rica.

  37. Here’s an interesting datapoint to keep in mind: the gallon of gas you’re paying three bucks for holds 34,500W of power. How can people hate companies like Exxon that give you such a cheap, easily transported and conveniently converted source of energy? I wish three dollars of taxation delivered a fraction of such value.

    • How do you equate gallons of gas (energy) with power (rate of use / supply / conversion / whatever.
      You can probably get megaWatts of power from a gallon of gasoline if you do it properly, but it would likely get you arrested.
      Now you might have perhaps 34,500 W hr of energy in your gallon of gasoline. I can get close to an hour’s driving time from a gallon of gas on a flat road at say 50 mph, and probably my car engine is putting out 30-40 hp when it is doing that.

  38. “He said that many people in Costa Rica cooked with wood. He’d started his own business. He had an axe, no chain saw. The truck belonged to his father-in-law, paid for at so much per mile that he drove it. It wasn’t much of a living, but he got by.”
    So he was able to provide fuel at less cost than “the poor” could buy coal or gas or electricity.
    I have asked many people how they expect the poor to pay for their gas/electric cooker, fridge, light bulbs, etc.
    I have asked the same people how they expect the poor to pay the fuel price Gas bottles/coal require transport from distant sources, all more expensive than the local national park forest.
    With electricity for cooking and heating, you need high voltage power cables from generator to remote village, then you need substations to reduce the voltage. All this will force a price more than the poor can afford (presumably similar costs to the west since fuel and infrastructure are similar in cost).
    How do you stop stealing of unmetered power? – more cost.
    In the 1960s/70s the benevolence of the government meant most people got connected to the Grid. Are those countries with isolate impoverished communities going to provide the connection infrastructure for free?
    Even in the UK today, where the benevolent government is no more, broadband internet is running at 100s mb/sec in towns but isolated communities have no chance of connecting at these speeds – no private company (as they now are) is going to invest £millions to connect up a few hundred houses – there is no profit.
    So why should any private energy provider provide the required infrastructure to connect a handful of people, who may not be able to pay for the energy used?

    • @segie: For once try to to re-channel the money that the UN is wasting in NY at the UN level alone and these peoples would do a F..k of a lot better, the unpaid double parking bills, then add the lavish life styles of over a 130 Nation members and their entourage in NY while their own peoples are dying ahh sh.t I could go on and on. All these people need is a few effective propane burning stoves to share (you know the ones you take camping?) and their lives would be better and that is only ONE solution, Read Willes’s and other peoples observations in this conversation. You see the minute these people get a chance they would be actually ahead of us. we are way to complacent and they are the survivors.

  39. Great read, Willis. I am always struck by the irony (and hypocrisy) that the loudest voices for limiting or eliminating fossil fuel are without exception 1%’ers or better.

  40. You are correct in saying “If you care about the poor or the environment, cheap energy is the best friend of both.” Your perspective, unfortunately, is too narrow.
    We have arrived at the end of cheap energy, for all of us, rich & poor. We are on the threshold of Peak Oil, where prices climb inexorably as we scramble for petroleum in increasingly dangerous, expensive and difficult places.
    Short-term cheap energy is a mistake: it prevents us from making short-term sacrifices and seriously investing in alternatives.
    For a lucid and insightful analysis, follow James Kunstler (http://kunstler.com/)

    • Pierre Clouthier
      January 19, 2015 at 5:42 am
      ………
      We have arrived at the end of cheap energy, for all of us, rich & poor. We are on the threshold of Peak Oil, where prices climb inexorably as we scramble for petroleum in increasingly dangerous, expensive and difficult places….

      Have you been on holiday? Never make predictions especially about the future.
      In 2011 we were told that it was the “low-cost oil and gas” because “finding resources will be more “complex” and require more money and investment”. [Shell].

      19 January, 2015
      Total focuses on cutting costs as oil prices plunge
      January 8th 2015
      Developing countries to reap from oil price slump

    • Pierre Clouthier January 19, 2015 at 5:42 am

      We have arrived at the end of cheap energy, for all of us, rich & poor. We are on the threshold of Peak Oil, where prices climb inexorably as we scramble for petroleum in increasingly dangerous, expensive and difficult places.

      You know, Pierre, I was about twenty years old when I first heard that claim, and guess what? I believed it. I thought that soon, very soon, the price of oil would go through the roof.
      But even back then in the sixties, this “peak oil” scam was well past its use-by date. Consider this quote

      “… the peak of production will soon be passed, possibly within 3 years. … There are many well-informed geologists and engineers who believe that the peak in the production of natural petroleum in this country will be reached by 1921 and who present impressive evidence that it may come even before 1920.”
      – David White, chief geologist, United States Geological Survey (1919)

      And this wasn’t just some random guy on the internet like yourself making the claim, this was “well-informed geologists and engineers” … be still, my beating heart.
      Now, we’re coming up on the hundredth anniversary of that quote, and oil production is still rising … I’m sorry, my friend, but after forty years of listening to the same hundred-year-old nonsense, folks like you crying “Wolf! Wolf!” have grown terminally boring. Go see if you can scare your friends with that kind of alarmism. I’m not even remotely interested, been there, done that.
      w.

      • Willis, it is like talking to rocks! I am glad you are patient and have a heavy, heavy hammer, and I see a few cracks! Some of the comments are sounding a little hystirical. And as usual thanks for your education and as usual it taught me.

    • Here is the “lucid and insightful” James Kunstler. He predicts a lot so here is just a snippet.

      My Y2K – A Personal Statement
      1. From Duh to Huh?
      Writing this in April of ‘99,….
      If nothing else, I expect Y2K to destabilize world petroleum markets. These disruptions will be at least as bad as those produced by the 1973 OPEC oil embargo (so-called).

      Back to Duh.
      Here is another brave prediction from someone called Elias Hinckley.
      January 9, 2015
      Everything Has Changed: Oil, Saudi Arabia, and the End of OPEC
      http://theenergycollective.com/eliashinckley/2181166/oil-prices-saudi-arabia-and-end-of-opec

    • Pierre Clouthier says:
      We have arrived at the end of cheap energy, for all of us, rich & poor.
      That is flat wrong. Fracking alone has immensely increased our energy reserves, and if it were not for the government’s blocking of extraction, prices would be much lower.
      We are not “at the end of cheap energy”. That is economic nonsense. There is plenty of fossil fuel energy available, and if in the future it becomes more scarce, then the price will gradually rise, as other more cost-effective alternatives are adopted.
      finally, Mr. Clouthier says:
      Short-term cheap energy is a mistake: it prevents us from making short-term sacrifices…
      More nonsense. That sounds like a Puritan telling us that pain is a good thing, so we need more of it.
      We do not need to ‘sacrifice’, we need to provide plenty of cheap energy so that poor folks can lift themselves out of poverty. That is the only proven way to help the environment.

  41. When reasonably smart folks continue to do something that harms and kills the poor, even after being clearly informed, the more likely conclusion is that that is the desired goal…

  42. Obviously the woodcutter knew what you meant, but ¨Where do you cut the firewood?¨is ¨¿Dónde se corta la leña?¨
    Costa Rica´s UN-influenced rural electrification plans emphasize renewables, so your informant may still have his job despite an increase in GDP per capita of about ten fold in the past 30 years. At around $11,000 per capita, Costa Rica is tied with Panama as the richest Central American country. roughly on a par with energy wealthy Mexico.

    • milodonharlani January 19, 2015 at 7:01 am

      Obviously the woodcutter knew what you meant, but ¨Where do you cut the firewood?¨is ¨¿Dónde se corta la leña?¨

      Thanks, Milodon. I just looked it up in my language bible, Collins Spanish Dictionary, known around our house as “Big Red”. It uses “cortarse”, the reflexive form, for such things as cutting one’s hair or cutting one’s finger, which makes sense, but it specifically gives “cortar” without the “se” for cutting down a tree.
      However, one thing I’ve learned about Spanish while traveling in Central and South America is that there are more country-specific differences than Heinz has varieties, and Heinz has 57 of those … what say the native Spanish-speakers reading this?
      w.

  43. E.M.Smith says:
    January 19, 2015 at 6:20 am
    When reasonably smart folks continue to do something that harms and kills the poor, even after being clearly informed, the more likely conclusion is that that is the desired
    ———————–
    This does not tie in with this wuwt post at all
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/01/14/climate-risk-map-mainly-countries-hostile-to-the-usa/
    this despicable post suggests leaving them to fester in their poverty is the best way of ridding USA of enemies!!

  44. Desperate people will raid the wilderness. They will catch parrots, frogs, lizards, snakes and sell them to the pet trade. Cut firewood. and eat anything that moves as well as picking wild plants, digging mushrooms, gathering honey. Orchids are a big sale item. All this raiding can devastate the forest that greens claim they love. The reason many animals in US have recovered (e.g., deer, turkey, elk, etc) is that people left the farms and don’t hunt as much.
    If you have to depend on horses for transport and cows to plow, they take a lot of land, create a lot of waste, and take your time to maintain.

    • If you have to depend on horses for transport and cows to plow, they take a lot of land, create a lot of waste, and take your time to maintain.

      Horse and cow manure is not “waste”; it’s called fertiliser and is very useful for growing crops. Of course you can mow the grass and compost it instead to make your fertiliser, but that’s much harder work than watching the cows eat the grass and concentrate it into small packages. Ever tried to eat the offspring of a lawnmower? I prefer beef 😉

  45. Willis, thanks for another fine piece of writing. You quoted this–
    “Southern Kyrgyzstan has been without gas since April, when Russia’s Gazprom took over the country’s gas network, and neighboring Uzbekistan said it would not work with the Russians. That has forced residents in the south to use precious and expensive electricity to cook, or resort to burning dung and sometimes even furniture.”
    Which reminds me of a Russian quip from Soviet times. The Soviets were making inroads into Africa, and the question came up, “What would you expect if the Soviets took over the Sahara?” Answer: a shortage of sand.
    Russian (government) entrepreneurial and management skills still leave something to be desired.

    • Thanks James, in a way sadly LOL. But it is sadly history again repeating it self, when will we learn? I wonder.

  46. …”electricity here costs about twice as much as in neighboring states, at about fifteen cents per kilowatt-hour.”
    Willis,
    15 cents per kWh (average cost) sounds about right for residential electrical service if your service is provided by one of the public utilities (i.e. SMUD, LADWP, etc.) in CA. If you obtain your electrical service from one of the big three private service providers (PG&E, SCE, SD) in the state the Average cost is higher. PG&E’s “bundled” residential rate schedules (E-1, E-6, E-1 CARE, E-6 CARE, etc.) have an average cost of $.17228 per kWh- ref Rate Case A.14-11-010.
    How the residential rates are designed for the big three is a tad confusing. In order to encourage energy efficiency and penalize energy hogs for their excessive use of electricity the Tier pricing structure was developed. How this structure plays out is defined in the E-1 Tariff information denoted here- http://www.pge.com/tariffs/ERS.SHTML#ERS
    PG&E’s price for kWh usage in the different Tier levels changed on January 1, 2015. They look like this for PG&E’s customers who are on the E-1 rate Schedule:
    Tier Price (kWh)
    1 $.16170
    2 $.18491
    3 $.27322
    4 $.33322
    The current E-1 Care rates are lower than the prices noted above- the top Tier costs are around $.16 kWh.

    • kakatoa January 19, 2015 at 11:10 am

      … In order to encourage energy efficiency and penalize energy hogs for their excessive use of electricity the Tier pricing structure was developed.

      “Energy hogs”? “Excessive use”? Well, aren’t you all noble and judgmental. My friend, those customers are BUYING electricity, and having to pay through the nose for it. And if they are wasting it … so what? When did you become the electricity nanny, scolding people for their eeevil electrical ways?
      In most industries, people who purchase a lot of your product are not called “hogs”, they are called “good customers”, and you give them a discount rather than abusing them and driving up their rates. But nooo, you and PGE know better …
      I despise this kind of Newspeak, as if someone who has large energy needs or even desires to use lots of energy is a “hog”. PGE is fostering both these kinds of ideas and terms, as well as its Tier pricing scheme, to cover up the fact that it is unable to produce enough of its product to keep people satisfied. And since they are a monopoly, they (and you, apparently) feel they are justified in screwing the customer to the wall.
      Anthony Watts was paying the astronomical figure of $0.90 per kWh, and he is as far from an “energy hog” as anyone that I know. The Tier pricing structure is just another way to disguise the devastating effect that the California “30% by 2020” renewables standard is having on our ability to produce electricity. Please take your sanctimonious attitudes elsewhere, here they won’t do anything but blow up in your face.
      w.

    • Kakatoa:
      The biggest energy hogs are hospitals and it would make you gasp to see figures on their use of electricity in a day. Do we penalize hospitals? Piss on putting such decisions into the hands of elected officials. Piss on those who advocate such.

  47. Wall Street might be feeling touchy about the mighty oil industry, but they don’t comment on the wider benefits to the economy through lower oil prices. $750 saving for each family over a year means that the saving on oil costs will be spent on other goods. There are 115 million households in the USA, which means that the saving on oil for each household a year will release over $86 billion into the economy, Money which is more likely to be spent rather than saved. This will be to the great benefit of industry and commerce across the nation. Add to that the great reduction in costs for oil sensitive industries and transport costs for all, and the wider benefits to the nation become profound. High oil prices are a curse in the nations economy, and does more to contribute to the plight of the poor, whereas lower oil prices give the poor an improved standard of living, with the prospect of essential consumables prices also coming down, or at least staying stable, through lower manufacturing and distribution costs. Let’s hope oil prices will fall further, thus providing hope for a faster economy growth for the USA and all other nations of he world.

    • Willis, very much enjoyed this piece (as usual with your writing). However, the global rich list website won’t proceed on my income last FY: $AU626. Previous FY was $AU241.

    • Fascinating website, Willis, thanks for posting. Maybe my wife and I don’t consider ourselves to be very well off, but compared to the average human, we’re fabulously wealthy 1%ers!
      .
      Fetch the driver, Benson, and where are my cigars …? ☺

      • Fetch the driver, Benson, and where are my cigars …?

        Nicaragua! Would you like some coke with that? And don’t call me Benson; it makes me feel like a cigarette 😉

  48. As others have said, you owe it to yourself to read Alex Epstein’s book if you haven’t done so already.
    Among the other important things he points out is that it’s only occasionally good for humanity to leave nature pristine. No, we don’t want to use the Grand Canyon as a landfill. Mostly what we do, though, is transform someplace dangerous and forbidding into someplace where you can live safely and comfortably.
    Incidentally, he calls his discipline philosophy. That’s not something I’d previously had much regard for, but in critical thinking that philosopher is head and shoulders above the physical-science types it’s recently been my misfortune to encounter. (Still, I doubt that I’ll pick up Schopenhauer very soon.)

      • Thank you for the pointer. Although I tend to think that critical thought is an ability you either have or you don’t, I’m sure that there is indeed a degree to which education can enhance it.
        In my working life I dealt extensively with physical-science types, and there were many who were quite capable of trenchant analyses. And, more recently, my knowledge of most topics dealt with on the Web is limited enough that I can’t make very solid judgments. So I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush.
        Still, when topics I’ve actually looked into have turned up recently on sites like this, I’ve been possessed by a sort of morbid fascination at how consistently execrable the experts’ performance has been.

  49. Thanks Willis… and excellent article. It’s a crying shame the common sense presented here so totally escapes the ‘true believers’ pushing the whole CAGW scam.

  50. I wanted to forward this link but email addresses not accepted…what am I doing wrongly? I know my other half would like to see this as we have been discussing this very subject.
    It is a brilliant article.

    • Well, Annie, assuming you can’t get the email option (at the end of the article) to work you could always do a ‘Sel All’/copy/paste into an open email form in your own email.

    • Yeah, I’m familiar with that bogus action. Marcia McNutt and her scurvy allies (who of course refused to be interviewed for the story) used junk science to toss Kevin Lunny out of the park. We’ve been eating their oysters for decades, and the various other species of creatures that lived there didn’t mind a bit. But McNutt and the rest of the EcoNutts got a bunch of people from the East Coast and everywhere but here to cry boo-hoo for the poor benighted suffering something or others, and they rammed it through.
      And that’s the sanitized version of my opinion of Marcia and her minions …
      w.

      • Bob and Willis,
        That episode is truly despicable. Every time I heard about an upcoming decision over the years, I *assumed* that there would be some honesty and justice along the way…
        …stupid me. I’m from an earlier time.

      • I even know some green Berkeley ex-hippies who think it’s despicable. They told me that it could be a huge net negative because the oysters were likely filtering agricultural run-off from the cattle pastures nearby. I haven’t had a chance to look that up re the real science, so don’t jump on me. Just saying what they said.
        Make sure to add Salazar to the despicability too.

  51. The Federal Government of Belgium (where I live, and yes, the distinction is needed because we have SIX governments) has responded to the lower gasoline and diesel prices with… a raise of the fuel taxes. You see, it’s called the “cliquet system”: everytime the prices go up, the taxes go up, everytime the prices go down, the taxes remain the same. It’s a nefarious system that has already caused us to pay more taxes for our fuel that the actual costs and profits to the providers themselves. And now the government has had a bright idea: the prices went down, let’s … RISE the taxes !
    Needless to say we Belgians have coined the expression “don’t steal, the government hates competition”.

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