Delusions of Power: New Explorations of the State, War, and Economy

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So amidst all the good news, which big cities are still doing badly, or even relatively worse? Sadly, many of the places still declining are located in our home state of California, including Los Angeles 59th place among the biggest metro areas , Sacramento 60th , and, and just across the Bay from Silicon Valley, Oakland 63rd. Only the old, and to date still not recovering, industrial towns of Providence, R. And the glad tidings in manufacturing have not touched all the Rust Belt cities: Camden, N. Dedicated to promoting policies that empower private citizens and business owners and support policies that advance economic and personal freedom and liberty and nourish civil society.

Learn More. GadflyRadio A Deliberate dose of Reality. Words matter, ideas rule and Kotkin fingers the new power class January 31, By Martha Montelongo. This L. No matter how much it hurts, how many more jobs it kills, how less competitive it makes CA businesses, clean energy now, outrageous costs be damned. June 15, By Martha Montelongo. A debate rages across the Atlantic, and here, in the U. He is and has been promoting his book, End this Depression Now!

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He dismisses those who call for a return to a gold standard as fool hardy. So much hangs in the balance.

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Read his latest report here. Government is not the answer! How does Govt make life worse? Steven Greenhut spells it out! May 4, By Martha Montelongo. By Joel Kotkin and Michael Shires Throughout the brutal recession, one metropolitan area floated serenely above the carnage: Washington, D. About Martha Montelongo Dedicated to promoting policies that empower private citizens and business owners and support policies that advance economic and personal freedom and liberty and nourish civil society.

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As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves. In the I. This error was the difference between low oil prices and the huge spike in energy prices that actually happened in the second half of the decade. Such over-optimism is repeated by the International Oil Companies and the U. Energy Information Administration E. A [75]. At least some of this optimism may be politically driven, as claimed by some ex I. Our society is so used to growth measured with a very poor indicator being GDP which represents expenditures and not wealth that no one wants to foresee decline. Another misrepresentation is the way in which different fossil fuel derived liquids are reported, without any correction for the differing energy densities or energy costs of production.

It is the flow of net energy the energy provided minus the energy utilized in exploration and production upon which modern societies depend, not the raw production volumes which are mixed together in the category of Global Liquid Fuel Production. Newer oil fields tend to be in much less accessible areas, to be much smaller than the older ones, and to have more difficult geologic characteristics.

All of these factors increase the costs of extracting the oil with respect to the older fields. As those older fields age and deplete, the oil pressure falls, and huge amounts of water or gas have to be pumped in to keep the production volumes up. This again increases costs. They are not the same as crude oil though, and are usually blended with heavier crude oil with refiners tending to pay less for crude blended with condensates as there are limitations on what products can be produced from such a mix [78].

Adding corn ethanol to global liquids production is actually double counting, given that the net energy is about zero, with biodiesel and sugarcane ethanol better, but still below, the net energy of conventional oil. The raw production volumes that the I. Energy Information Administration [81] are a significant, and increasing, misrepresentation of the net energy available to power our complex human societies. As conventional crude and condensate production peaked in , the share of unconventional oil, NGL, and biofuel production has increased as a share of the total global liquids production, and therefore the misrepresentation has become greater [82].

With even the net energy of crude and condensate declining, together with the net energy of natural gas production, some commentators have proposed that the peak net energy of global liquid fuel and gas production may have already been reached, contradicting the ongoing increase in volumes [83]. It is as if a wine producer had started to count the production of white wine as part of the champagne production statistics. This issue also extends to coal production. The net energy of coal varies among locations. It is affected by differences in geology, differing types of coal which vary in energy densities, and varying levels of problematic properties such as sulphur content.

For example, in the United States the ratio of energy gained to energy expended ranges from to , while in China it is about [84]. Since the more energy dense and accessible coal tends to be mined first, the energy density of coal tends to fall over time as the more energy dense deposits become depleted. This is not reflected in the raw production numbers that are reported, as is the case in the United States where a decreased amount of energy provided has paralleled an increase in coal production due to ongoing reductions in the energy density of the coal being extracted.

The true level of required change to society, and the requisite level of reduction in wealth, is very hard for people to accept; especially when this is in direct opposition to the beliefs of the overwhelming majority of the population, and will most probably result in large amounts of suffering and strife. Also, there is a natural human desire to not deliver truly horrendous news and possibly be branded as an extremist or crank. Instead they adopt somewhat escapist and delusional beliefs which support their claims that human societies can continue to grow while still moving towards a sustainable path within a few decades.

When coal, oil and natural gas are burnt, the resulting energy is released immediately. In addition, the infrastructure of mines and wells, transport and refinement mechanisms, and incineration modes are already in place — the massive investments required have already been made.


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  7. For wind and solar things are completely different, as there is an upfront build for each new increment of capacity, and the resulting energy is only provided in small amounts over many years. This is not including the cost to upgrade electricity grids to be able to deal with fluctuating and dispersed power sources. Fossil fuel electricity generating installations tend to be highly concentrated and provide a reliably constant output.

    Wind and solar are subject to the vagaries of the weather, and the technologies required to store electricity during the peak periods of utilization to balance out fluctuations are not in place. The many congratulatory announcements of growth in installed wind and solar capacity misrepresent the true situation. Of course, there is no mention of the non-windy, overcast days where they may be providing next to nothing and the fossil fuel generating plants are being fully utilized.

    In the absence of extremely cheap and scalable storage systems, redundant backup systems are needed, as with Germany, which assumes that it will be burning coal to produce electricity for decades to come [88]. The amount of work required would be huge, complex and of course incredibly expensive. Currently non-hydro renewable energy sources wind, solar, bio-fuel, geo-thermal provide 2.

    The expansion of hydro-electricity is limited by applicable sites, with only a doubling of current capacity probable. As many possible new sites are in the tropics, with concentrated levels of biomass, the construction of dams will add to atmospheric carbon dioxide levels even after they have been built, as the lush vegetation decays under the rising waters. Wind and solar can only produce electricity, with the former providing 2.

    The complication is that the usage of electricity grows in lockstep with the growth in the economy, and during the I. Nearly all the increase in renewable power generation is used up by the growth in demand and therefore there is very little actual reduction in fossil-fuel usage. As long as the economy keeps growing, energy demand will tend to grow, and thus the replacement of fossil fuels will be chasing an ever-increasing target. This is the reality that has pushed climate scientists such as Hansen to consider that a massive expansion in nuclear energy is the only way in which atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations can be kept within an acceptable level [96].

    About a third of the global energy supply is provided by the extraction of oil and is predominantly used in internal combustion engines to drive cars, trucks, trains, and ships. There are currently more than one billion cars in the world, with only a tiny proportion not relying upon the internal combustion engine, and the number of cars is expected to roughly double by Although there has been some reduction in miles driven in the more affluent nations, this is being more than offset by growth within developing countries such as China and India, with China already having a higher number of car sales than the United States [97].

    Global car production is expected to reach 85 million in , of which about , will be plug-in hybrid or fully electric vehicles, and will be above million by [98]. The sheer scale of the challenge to replace a significant number of gasoline-powered cars with electric ones is shown by these figures. Even if all new car production was of electric cars from onwards, it would require two decades to replace the current fleet of gasoline-powered cars. That is, of course, not taking into account ongoing growth in the number of cars, which would take up a significant amount of new car production.

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    Whether or not electric cars help reduce carbon dioxide emissions depends upon how the electricity that they use is generated. If it is generated predominantly with fossil fuels then an electric car could be better referred to as a fossil fuel car, the only difference being that the fossil fuels are not directly incinerated by the car, but rather in far away power stations. The widespread usage of electric cars will increase electricity demand, and given the inability of renewable energy to replace fossil fuels in electricity generation by , the additional electricity will have to be supplied by coal and natural gas.

    Nothing about the energy mix that will be used to provide the required electricity.

    Delusions of Power: New Explorations of the State, War, and Economy

    The car may have been designed to be light for its size, but it is still heavier than smaller cars. To call it sustainable is to render that word meaningless. In style doublespeak the unsustainable is transformed into the sustainable through some quick technology fixes and a huge dash of marketing. Brazil is the only country in the world where the majority of cars are powered by bio-fuels. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, Brazil enjoys the specific combination of advantages of a low population density, large amounts of fertile land, a climate that promotes the growth of the sugar cane from which the ethanol is derived, and car engines equipped to use fuel that is predominantly ethanol [].

    The countries where car use is expanding at the fastest rate, such as China and India, do not enjoy this combination of factors. Corn ethanol production, predominantly utilized in the United States, is nowhere near as efficient as Brazilian sugar-cane ethanol production.

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    At best it uses as much energy to grow, harvest and process the corn as the resulting ethanol provides and therefore does not reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Cellulosic ethanol has been put forward as a much more efficient alternative to corn ethanol, but there are no commercial plants currently operating and it is at least a decade away from being commercially provided in significant amounts [].


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    Nature does not produce waste; instead, biomass serves as food and nutrients for animals, insects, and the soil. This is emphasized by a report that the removal of crop residue from fields to produce bio-fuels will cause the soil to degrade and lose increased amounts of carbon to the atmosphere [].

    Any increase in what humanity takes has to be at the cost of other consumers, resulting in accelerated species loss and soil degradation.

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