Category Archives: carbon offsets

How You Know Your Empire Has Died

[UPDATE]:

Here’s the audio clip:

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This discussion between Ali Velshi and Stephen Leeb on Al Jazeera America yesterday was the smartest five minutes I’ve heard on TV news in a long time. The segment was about the new carbon pollution proposals the EPA just unveiled, the same proposals causing aneurisms in right-wing “Drill Here, Drill Now” land (sorry, bear with me guys: for some reason I can’t get the audio clip to post, so here’s the transcript. And you’re gonna have to take my word for this until I can figure out how to post audio, which I believe involves me making a purchase of some kind, possibly more storage) (Got the link posted, I was right, I needed to buy something. The things I do for you guys):

AV: Joining us to tell us more is Stephen Leeb, founder and research chairman of the Leeb Group. Now Stephen, you and I have talked for years about cleaner energy, you‘re an expert on the energy field and somebody who embraces a cleaner environment. My guess is that you would like this, but I’ve heard rumblings that you don’t think this is a good idea?

SL: Well Ali, it’s not that I don’t think it’s a good idea, I think it’s a day late, a dollar short, and maybe that’s an exaggeration. It’s way too little. What we need in this country is something nationwide, something like the interstate highway system. Something like a smart grid that runs across the country. I mean for me the key here in reading it was that it’s up to the individual states. That just doesn’t cut it. We have a grid in this country that in some.. there are cases in which our grid is more than a century old.

AV: This is our electrical grid.

SL: This is our electrical grid! I mean the only reason people can’t hack it is that one state doesn’t talk to another state! That’s the only advantage I can see to having a grid this old. We could create so many jobs by following China’s example. Build out a smart grid. Then you can have all these energy sources — gas, solar, wind, hydro, geothermal…

AV: Everything feeds in.

SL: Everything feeds in. Right now the Chinese are eating our lunch. I mean there was an item about a week ago in the Financial Times. EDF, a massive French utility, is building an electric plant that will supply 7% of British electricity. Massive! Except they didn’t have the skill sets. Who did they turn to? Not us! The Chinese. Who now has the fastest way of transmitting voltage from one part of the country to the other part of a country? The Chinese! We need to get our act together, Ali, if we’re really going to do something. Yes, I mean, I applaud any efforts to cut down emissions, to use new fuels and we may even get more solar and more wind because ….

AL: And that’s starting to happen. But in Europe it was the cap.. I hear you on how this can be unwieldly with the states but the concept of a cap-and-trade system and an exchange has worked out for Europe.

SL: It can work out yes, but it’s not going to be the solution unless you have a grid that can accommodate it across the country. Eventually you run into trouble. And I’m not even talking about the troubles that you see when you write down the amount of shale oil in this country by 60%, which we did the other day. All of a sudden the Monterey has 4% of what we originally thought.

AV: Right, across the country we are finding in these wells where we thought there was more oil and in some cases natural gas, there’s less.

SL: And it could be much less or maybe there’s more, I mean, you can always hope. But right now we’re becoming more and more dependent on the Marcellus. And you’re starting to see very rapid decline rates there. We need something Ali, I mean we were able to do it 30-40 years ago, interstate highway system, man to the moon…

AV: We don’t have the will to do anything on a national level, particularly something that would cost billions and billions of dollars.

SL: But create billions and billions of jobs! I mean, we somehow equate investment with spending, and it doesn’t have to be that way. Investment in an electrical grid, is not spending, it’s not wasteful. It’s creating something that will benefit all of us, our children, etc.

AV: Give me a sense, because we’ve had some Republicans come out and say this will increase energy costs for the average family in this country where the middle class is struggling. What is the net result on electrical prices out of this?

SL: You know, my guess is the net result is electrical prices go up because the guts of our electrical system right now is still hydrocarbons, and they’re not getting more plentiful. They’re getting scarcer, despite the shale revolution. They are. We’re not going to ever become energy independent, at most maybe we’ll be able to produce 11 million barrels of oil. We may have a little gas to export but basically we’re still going to be relying on outside sources. So regardless, it’s going to up. We need cleaner, renewable, new sources of energy in order to counteract that and this legislation or these proposals — they’re not legislation, not by a long shot — they just don’t go anywhere near far enough to getting us to that goal. I mean I hate to say this but we should take a page out of what the Chinese are doing. I mean look…

AV: There’s no question, they are well ahead of us when it comes to electricity.

SL: And look at their economy? They’re spending all of this money but last I heard their economy is still growing at 7 and a half percent a year. One of the reasons is all the money they’re spending on infrastructure. Let’s do the same thing!

AV: From your lips to their ears, Stephen! Good to see you …

This is what makes me nuts. The idea that we’ve lost touch with what is an “investment” and what is “spending,” when the hell did we decide we can no longer “invest” in America? Now it’s all just “pork” or whatever. The Democrats can’t even get ahead of the damn meme.

You know that America is no longer a global superpower when we can no longer do The Big Things. The saddest thing is, we can’t do these Big Things not because we don’t have the money or the know-how or the military might, but simply because we don’t have the will. This is how empires die, people.

The last “big” thing we did was invade Iraq and Afghanistan. And we did it, not because we forged consensus and compromised and came together as a nation to do it, but because one faction bulldozed their way over anyone who so much as asked the question, why? They used every tool in the toolbox — fear, flag-waving, you name it — to get their way.

The fact that the Left is completely unable to muster the same amount of national will on something clearly more in the country’s interest than invading an oil-rich country in the Middle East is, to me, the single biggest threat to America’s future.

Damn depressing, folks.

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Filed under Ali Velshi, carbon offsets, China, climate change, environment, EPA

>Carbon Dating

>I’m not a big fan of “carbon offsets.” They always struck me as a “guilt balm,” where a bunch of rich white Westerners could soothe their conscience for living like a bunch of, well, rich white Westerners. They pay their offset and feel they can enjoy their Hummer guilt-free. I don’t think you should be able to buy your way out of planetary responsibility.

This is Paris Hilton thinking–the kind of stuff you’d expect from some vapid blonde heiress who is too stupid to know better. The truth of the matter is, a lot of America’s super wealthy are Paris Hiltons: they just don’t give a shit. That’s what stuck in my craw about the whole “Don’t Give” campaign. Too many people already don’t give a shit in this world, and I don’t think that’s something which should be encouraged.

But I won’t object to carbon offsets on the whole, especially for folks who are doing other things to reduce their energy consumption. For people like Al and Tipper Gore, who also have solar panels on their home, drive hybrid vehicles, buy green power shares, etc., it’s just another item on the green menu, not the whole enchilada. And I think criticism of the Gores–in particular, nonsense like this–is pretty disingenuous:

Gore’s people tout his purchase of “carbon offsets” as evidence that he lives a “carbon-neutral” lifestyle, but the truth is Gore’s home uses electricity that is, for the most part, derived from the burning of carbon fuels. His house gets its electricity from Nashville Electric Service, which gets its from the Tennessee Valley Authority, which produces most of its power from coal-burning power plants. Which means most of the power being consumed at the Gore mansion comes from carbon-emitting power sources.

Big fat duh. That’s what the carbon offsets are for, ya nitwit.

As I’ve written on this blog before, unless you’re Jeremiah Johnson living in a deer-skin tent, you’re consuming carbon fuels. I can’t imagine the right wingers are surprised to learn that a former U.S. Vice President and Senator doesn’t, you know, churn his own butter. What a shocker.

So quit being hypocrites yourself. Just living in America, enjoying the cushy lifestyle we have here, has an impact on the planet. We all know it. That’s the point of carbon offsets. You can’t eat, live, work and raise a family in this country without consuming more carbon and creating more pollution than your grandfather did doing the same things. All you can do is try to minimize your personal impact, and try to spread the word and get others to do the same thing.

I’m tired of the “Al-Gore-is-a-hypocrite” BS. It’s stupid. Unless you’ve found a better way of doing it, shut up. It’s not productive to the conversation (and of course it’s not supposed to be), and it’s the worst sort of partisan hackery.

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Filed under Al Gore, carbon offsets