moldybluecheesecurds 2

Friday, May 30, 2008

Federal budget game!

I capped carbon emissions, covered everyone with health insurance and ended the Iraq War and still had money in the bank. How about you? See the game intro below or go to the Budget Hero website to play.

See my budget here

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The danger (and cost) of carbon markets

This post at Triple Pundit notes that a study of the largest carbon market, the Kyoto Clean Development Mechanism, finds that most of the carbon offset money is being sent to coal and oil companies and that "much of the market does not reflect actual reductions in emissions."

This is why a world offset market - as opposed to a local offset market - is a really bad idea. And why we shouldn't be giving carbon emissions credits away for free.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

High oil prices explained - 1 chart

In addition to an excoriation of the ridiculous pagentry over oil prices on Capitol Hill, R-Squared provides the chart that explains it all. When world supply is lower than demand, prices go up. (R-Squared credits Optimist for this chart)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The gas pump Y2K bug

An amusing story on analog gas pumps - those old things you see in front of a small-town general store. Apparently, these pumps can't be set for a price higher than $3.99 a gallon, so when the actual price gets there, they have to be shut down.

The entertaining tidbit was this, from an interview with an owner of a set of these older gas pumps:
"If it gets too bad, maybe we'll just pull" the pumps out, said Hammett, unnerved by a recent TV program with apocalyptic predictions of $8-a-gallon gas.
OMGWTFBBQ - $8.00 a gallon? That's almost as much as they pay in Belgium, and France, and Germany, and Italy, and the Netherlands, and the UK...

Thought experiment: replacing gas with solar power

No, not rooftop panels for your Prius, but using a lot of solar panels to make electricity to drive electric cars. Robert Rapier's analysis tries to uncover how much solar it would take to supplant gasoline (if we had the battery technology to drive on electricity only - we may, actually - the GM EV-1 got 75-150 miles per charge, more than enough to commute on).

How much land area do we need for PV panels? 36 x 36 miles.

How much would 444,000 MW of solar PV cost? $1.8 billion
(if you believe the price Southern California Edison is forecasting for their upcoming solar project). Even at double the cost, that's less than 0.1% of the federal budget.

Food for thought (not biofuels)

You've probably heard about how biofuels are causing world hunger. Well, world hunger's sadly been around for a lot longer than biofuels, and agricultural economist Daryll Ray tries to provide some perspective:
Even if no corn were to be used for ethanol production, over 800 million people around the world would suffer from malnutrition...when corn prices were below $2.00 per bushel [they're now close to $6.00], 800 million people were still food insecure and the US subsidies that enabled prices to remain at those levels were being blamed for impoverishing farmers in the rest of the world.
Ray also notes that during the last world food crisis in the 1970s, we blamed cattle for the food shortages in the developing world, since getting energy from meat requires much more grain than just eating grains.

So corn to ethanol may not be the best environmental or nutritional solution to high oil prices or global warming, but it's not the source of malnutrition.

Friday, May 23, 2008

From a conversation about high gas prices

Shadoweyes and I frequently shoot the breeze about politics, energy policy, and inanities of western civilization. Today we discussed how the average American doesn't really get the idea of supply and demand (see: bitching about high oil prices). I see the following as the epitome of the average American's support for capitalism:
Capitalism is great until it makes you pay too much for something you want.

Electricity: an addition to fueled power plants

Why do we go to so much effort to find, process, and combust or react fuels to generate heat for electricity when all that heat is already provided? This nice essay reflects on the follies of power generation from fossil fuels and nuclear when there's an abundance of free heat (read: geothermal) underground to meet all our water boiling (for steam turbine) needs. Here's a taste:
An even more popular way to boil water with fuel is to blast the tops off of mountains and then dig out the carbon that was sequestered by nature eons ago. We then crush and wash this carbon and store the poisonous residue in ponds. We hope to find a way to safely dispose of this waste someday too, but the rest of the poison, the sulfur, mercury, and heavy and radioactive metals fly out of the smokestack when we burn the coal to boil water. Every ton of carbon we burn unites with oxygen atoms from the air to go up the stack as 3.7 tons of CO2. Since this CO2 has been causing nasty climate problems, we are working on a way to hide it in underground caverns. Unfortunately hiding this much CO2 costs a lot of money so we're spending $407 million next year hoping for a breakthrough idea.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

It's raining in Munich

And so I give you this post of a video map of the Middle East, visualizing what empires have controlled that territory since early recorded history. If you ever wonder what makes the Middle East such a complicated mess of political, religious and social struggle, look no further than this 90 second map.

Tip 'o the hat to shadoweyes.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Gas prices: we're 111th highest!

Out of almost 200 countries, the U.S. has the 111th highest gas prices. But we use three times the oil per capita of our European counterparts, who responded to the oil shocks of the 1970s with steep taxes that have kept demand level. Americans, on the other hand, went nuts with far-flung suburbs and big-ass cars.

How's that Hummer feel now? Patriotic?

Great reporting from TV news

I really don't think there's anything more to say.