Thursday, July 12, 2012

Damn the Extremists, Full Speed Ahead


On the one hand we have folks on the left who deny the reality of how much energy it takes to run a15 trillion dollar economy. Maybe they think that if we all break wind at once that will provide enough power to do the trick. Oh no that's bad too. Methane after all. On the other hand we we have folks on the right who think that Jesus Christ has granted them the right to burn, pillage and slash the earth in any way they see fit because after all the Bible says its OK and we are God's chosen creatures. Yikes.

Can't we find we find a way around, or through this two headed lunatic fringe? Isn't that what a functional political process should do? Isn't that what this blog has dedicated itself to doing? So let's see, in the usual fashion, if we can find some starting points for agreement.

1) The US natural gas boom is a boon for the nation's economy and its national security. It has the potential to 1) provide a cleaner fossil fuel alternative than any available alternative 2) Provide a powerful competitive advantage to the US economy 3) Produce nearly complete energy independence which means, to paraphrase Thomas Friedman, we will no longer be financing both sides of the War on Terror. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to be able to tell the Saudi's to go sh-t in their hat, as my Dad used to say.

2) Fracking technology brings with it considerable uncertainties in terms of degree of ecological risk and the best available strategies for containing that risk. There will be a hammering out of the regulation business, and we will both hope that there will be no Exxon Valdeez/ Blackwater Horizon equivalents.

3) There is a considerable body of high quality science done by people who are careful and good at what they do to suggest that release of carbon dioxide through fossil fuel emissions is producing climate change. How much, how fast and how reversible remain undetermined.

4) The best hope to alter the arc of climate change is through a combination of classical conservation, technological innovation and shift in cultural paradigms. Cleaner cars and homes. Transportation alternatives. Living closer to work. That would also likely be good for the economy. 

5) Neither political party is talking about any of this with any sincerity or coherence. The only people who really seem to care about it are those discussed in the 1st paragraph.

Finally about the poor, I'm beginning to wonder if anyone really cares about them.



1 comment:

  1. Well said. You've done it again.

    I take issue with number 4. Conservation, or not, is best accomplished with price. In which case it's not conservation it's individual consumers deciding what the value. Technological innovation is horizontal drilling and fracturing. Cleaner cars and homes are functions of prices, technological innovation and consumer choice. Why is telling people to live close to work a good thing? Why are cities a good thing? For some that's a good choice for others not. Who am I (or you) to tell them otherwise.

    Fracturing, done properly, is safe. There is overwhelming evidence of this given the hundred thousand wells drilled this way and yet Texas, Okalahoma, Colorado, Utah and North Dakota all seem fine. No massive corruption of the water table or environmental degradation. There are bad actors. They should be punished, vigorously.