Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Saudi Arabia, besieged on all sides, gambling with last of its cheap oil

oilprice.com: "Saudi Arabia is not trying to crush U.S. shale plays. Its oil-price war is with the investment banks and the stupid money they directed to fund the plays. It is also with the zero-interest rate economic conditions that made this possible."
Saudi Arabia, forced into a gamble, precipitated the fall of expensive oil. Why? Demand in the west was falling and China teetering on edge of recession, while Russia and Iran taking market share. The US was propping up production way too long on printed money. It was time to take action to preserve market share. Saudi Arabia is gambling it's last cheap reserves to hold on to power -- as the three pillars are wobbling and the Islamic State will take it over in a sweep like the fall of Mosul.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Falling birth rate, good for humans, bad for capitalism

Zero Hedge: "Japan's population continues to fall (4th year in a row) but what is worse, there are now 33 million people over the age of 65 (a record 26%), more than double the number under the age of 14 (16.2 million). The ministry says the population will likely continue declining for some time as fewer babies are born and society ages."
The tone of this article from Zero Hedge is unmistakable. Falling birth rate is causing panic for capitalism. As people urbanize, they see less need for more farm hands, and focus on having fewer and better-educated children. A way to speed up this process would be to make cities car-free.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Ocean acidity rise linked with mass extinction event in Late Permian period

The Pioneer: "There have been five mass extinctions over the course of life on earth. The largest one, known as the Great Dying, occurred at the end of the Permian period, 252 million years ago. Around 96 percent of earth’s marine species, 70 percent of terrestrial vertebrates and 57 percent of all insect families were completely killed off."

Carbon tax, bad idea

Want to know how a carbon tax will work? Look at current taxes. Years to get approved, then laden with exceptions, then many loopholes found. Why would a carbon tax be different?

It is worse than that. A carbon tax CAN NOT work.

The price of carbon necessary to have a real effect would be too high. Corporations would correctly argue that the nation that implements it would harm its own ability to compete. A tax would have to international, with all the big powers at least.

A carbon tax addresses the supply-side of energy. It does nothing to discourage growth. By the laws of thermodynamics, humans, at current growth, will cook the planet regardless of what we burn. We need a demand-side solution.

We could at least stop wasting energy on autos and sprawl. Autos are consumer products which are unsuitable for a major transport system. They take up too much room and pollute before they turn a wheel. Sprawl, the partner of the auto, is the most wasteful way to live. Each house must have its own set of consumer products, there is no economy of scale from sharing that a city has.

Let's make cities a pleasant place to live. Start by getting rid of cars. Make buses free.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hiding in plain sight, the big secret of capitalist economics: Externalities

Grist: "The notion of “externalities” has become familiar in environmental circles. It refers to costs imposed by businesses that are not paid for by those businesses. For instance, industrial processes can put pollutants in the air that increase public health costs, but the public, not the polluting businesses, picks up the tab. In this way, businesses privatize profits and publicize costs."

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Permafrost, a vicious cycle

carbonbrief : "Scientists are concerned that permafrost thaw and the subsequent release of carbon will fuel a positive feedback loop, which will accelerate climate change. Warmer conditions cause the release of carbon dioxide and methane from permafrost, which means more warming, which in turn causes more permafrost to thaw and so on.

Calling this cycle a 'positive' feedback might be misleading. It's more of a vicious cycle."

Monday, April 13, 2015

How the climate change debate got hijacked by the wrong standard of proof

Resource Insights: "Some people wrongly treat the fossil fuel industry and carbon dioxide itself as if they are both somehow involved in a quasi-criminal proceeding. They think any one piece of evidence--even in isolation--that might suggest, however tenuously, that neither is implicated in climate change leads to reasonable doubt and a verdict of not guilty."

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Tax Breaks for Pedestrians

The Stranger: "Now, recall that Section 179 of the United States Internal Revenue Code still (in the age of Obama) gives Americans money for buying SUVs (the expense limit: $25,000; weight of vehicle: 6,000 lbs; business use: 75% ). With this in mind, let's consider the most eco-friendly mode of transportation in our uncertain times of climate change: "

Thursday, April 9, 2015

US people want #publictransit, Congress does not

Transit advocates plan to 'Stand Up For Transportation' | TheHill: "Public transit advocates are holding rallies across the country on Thursday to push Congress to approve a new transportation spending bill this year."

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The liquid fuel problem

The US has trillions of dollars of infrastructure and systems that depend not just on fossil-fuel, but oil in particular. Everyone knows that these systems are unsustainable, but they cannot be dismantled without tremendous loss of wealth. People are so dependent on these systems of auto and sprawl, that they are forced to allow more subsidy and wars.

The oil industry controls most government, but they can't be everywhere. You can fight back by helping to advocate #freetransit. If there is a strong movement for free public transit, that will embolden public transit advocates in general.

The only thing that will break the critical mass of #autosprawlsubsidy is free urban buses.