economics


John Droz Jr. has posted a couple of brilliant little videos on MasterResource highlighting some very pertinent questions about the efficacy of wind as a source of energy.

Part 1: Dick & Jane Talk Wind Power

I found the rejoinder “compared to what?” a very effective method of countering the green mumbo jumbo that is often spouted by wind supporters. Though well meaning, they seem completely oblivious to the fact that their simplistic arguments in favour of wind do not hold up to scrutiny. Nor do they recognize that they are mindlessly repeating the talking points of self-interested green promoters. In this, Big Wind is little different from Big Oil.

Part 2: Jane Speaks With Her Town Representative

In this video, I like the way Jane turns the tables on wind developers. It should not be up to the citizen to prove the shortcomings of a particular wind project, but for the developers to prove its benefits. Of course, in the absence of any objective scientific study on the costs and benefits of wind power, the wind industry is understandably loath to go down this path. But that should not stop citizens from demanding it.

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Governments just don’t seem to get it:

Green taxes to fund economic growth

Environmental taxation plans feature prominently in the Government’s growth strategy 

By Richard Tyler 6:04PM GMT 29 Nov 2010

The Government will set out in the New Year plans to raise environmental taxes to fund the country’s transformation to a low carbon economy, it has said.

The plans formed part of a joint Treasury and Business Department “growth review” launched yesterday that set out how Whitehall will “facilitate” long term economic growth.

You simply cannot tax your way to growth.

As a Canadian living in Canada, I’ve always thought that concern over global warming was misplaced. So what if it went up a few degrees. Overall, life in our northern climate might actually be more pleasant.

In a new book, The World In 2050, Lawrence C. Smith considers the upside for Canada:

By the year 2050 Canada could be enjoying newfound status as a global superpower blessed with a developed north, plenty of fresh water, a growing population and new shipping lanes through the Arctic.

That’s the theory put forward in Laurence C. Smith’s new book “The World in 2050” — a scientific exploration of the effects of climate change over the next 40 years.

According to Smith’s 40-year projection, global warming will free up northern natural resources such as oil, gas and water. That in turn will attract immigrants and lead to new infrastructure and development for northern rim countries — NORCs, as he calls them — at a time when southern countries will be running out of resources and seeing their populations fall.

Of course, the underlying climate alarmist scenario in the book portends disaster for other parts of the world. But if this is the case, why should Canada actually pay to address the issue while forgoing these potential benefits? Maybe the other parts of the world should be paying us.

The disconnect between economics and the environment is a common theme among the schemes promoted by environmentalists and politicians. Take curbside recycling:

Unlike commercial and industrial recycling — a thriving voluntary market that annually salvages tens of millions of tons of metal, paper, glass, and plastic — mandatory household recycling is a money loser. Cost studies show that curbside recycling can cost, on average, 60 percent more per ton than conventional garbage disposal…

“There is not a community curbside recycling program in the United States that covers its cost,’’ says Jay Lehr, science director at the Heartland Institute and author of a handbook on environmental science. They exist primarily to make people “feel warm and fuzzy about what they are doing for the environment.’’

Voters evidently support this stuff since the guys that propose it seem to get re-elected. It is ironic though that caring about the environment is reduced to just another consumer good, one that is actually forced upon us by politicians and environmentalists. I thought consumerism was what environmentalists abhor.

It was only a matter of time:

Japan files trade dispute over Ontario solar power rates

 

GENEVA — Japan has initiated a trade dispute against Canada related to renewable energy equipment in the province of Ontario, the World Trade Organization confirmed on Monday.

The Japanese mission to the WTO said the dispute centres on guaranteed long-term pricing for solar and wind generators made with a certain percentage of locally-produced components.

Some industrial strategy.

The Economist points out one of the paradoxes of energy efficiency:

Solid-state lamps, which use souped-up versions of the light-emitting diodes that shine from the faces of digital clocks and flash irritatingly on the front panels of audio and video equipment, will indeed make lighting better. But precedent suggests that this will serve merely to increase the demand for light. The consequence may not be just more light for the same amount of energy, but an actual increase in energy consumption, rather than the decrease hoped for by those promoting new forms of lighting.

The light perceived by the human eye is measured in units called lumen-hours. This is about the amount produced by burning a candle for an hour. In 1700 a typical Briton consumed 580 lumen-hours in the course of a year, from candles, wood and oil. Today, burning electric lights, he uses about 46 megalumen-hours—almost 100,000 times as much. Better technology has stimulated demand, resulting in more energy being purchased for conversion into light.

This phenomenon is known as the rebound effect or Jevon’s paradox. Saving the environment is not as easy as it seems.

Source: Marc Roberts Cartoons

Ontario plans to become a leading green economy in North America.  And those who stand to benefit glibly repeat this mantra as if it is was something to be proud of:

Governments in Canada are now actively competing to become environmental leaders. No longer content to merely follow environmental trends, several Canadian provinces have introduced legislation and programs designed to make them leaders not just in their jurisdiction, but across North America. One area at the forefront of this trend is green energy generation: the generation of electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, water, biomass and biogas. Several Canadian jurisdictions have introduced legislation which offers economic incentives to generate green energy, removes barriers to access the market, reduces red tape in respect of permitting and approvals, and encourages the development of local content in such green energy projects. In Ontario, the Green Energy Act was designed to accomplish these goals and establish Ontario as a North American leader in green energy. British Columbia, Quebec and New Brunswick have also introduced programs and legislation to accomplish similar objectives.

But what does it mean to be a green leader? If California and Spain are any guide, today’s “green leader” is more likely to be tomorrow’s loser.  Is this rush to be green worth the risk?

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