high-risk, low-yield hydrocarbon fuels not fit to compete over long term
Opportunity cost is a serious, long-term stress on economies hampered by rampant governmental corruption, or by severe productive resource deficits—in consumer capital, infrastructure, or long-term reliable energy flows. With the ongoing boom in development of shale gas drilling and tar sands oil recovery, there is now massive investment, into the tens of billions of dollars of public and private money, in high-risk, low-yield ways of extracting carbon-based fuels, with the explicit purpose of extending old-fashioned combustible fuel technologies beyond what would otherwise be economically viable.
Massive new investment is flowing to these resources, because existing incentives and the influence of entrenched interests make it more efficient for major investors to pour money into these resources. They are not attracting investment by being inherently more economical than other options. In fact, as a direct result of dedicating such massive investment to new, untested and riskier schemes for carbon fuel extraction—including ultra deepwater drilling—the most efficient means of investment in future energy technologies are being choked off.
Continue reading “New Development of Carbon Fuels May Be Drag on Economy”
The United States of America has been, since its birth 235 years ago, a world leader in promoting universal public education. It has also been a world leader in promoting universal access to higher education and to advanced degrees. That history has made the US a leader in technological innovation and advanced problem solving for two centuries.
That legacy is under threat, and national educational aims demand immediate attention. In the current budgetary and economic climate, cuts to public education, the rolling back of teachers’ salary opportunities, job security and benefits, and the underfunding of financial aid for higher education, are threatening to stunt the quality of education available to millions of Americans. But education is the key to strong, resilient democracy. Continue reading “Education Must Be the Centerpiece of a Vibrant 21st Century Society”
Generative economics is rooted in a simple insight: that economic activities can have corrosive or generative impacts on future available resources. The dynamics of an economic environment can add another layer of corrosive or generative potential to the activities in question. Analysis can be subtle, however, because generative qualities are often not the focus of conventional thinking or play out over the long term.
New trends in corporate benefits offerings show evidence of the substantial generative potential of health and fitness benefits for employees. Even as major corporations have cut jobs and reduced pension offerings, major employers have increased funding for employee access to fitness facilities. And there appears to be substantial value added, over time, from doing so.
Continue reading “Health & Fitness Benefits Expand Generative Potential of Businesses”
Ownership is liberating only if it liberates; the new paradigm has to be a participatory society
In order to push his 2004 bid for re-election, and his radical and untenable economic ideology, George W. Bush touted the need for an “ownership society”. In theory, this meant ordinary people could have access like never before to capital for home-buying, and the paradigm of a privately owned individualist property would be firmly rooted in the democratic ground of American society.
“In theory”, because that never really was the case. There was a massive new flow of capital from financial institutions to home-buying, but much of the capital was illusory, and the motivation was to gather more wealth to those institutions, not to leave it in the hands of homeowners. In practice, most borrowers were in fact falling into a dangerous situation in which they were in effect owned —their homes, their wages, their working lives and recreational time— by the lenders.
Continue reading “The Usership Society: Decentralized Energy Next Stage for Democracy”
At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we held the first of our series of Climate Talks, to explore with more depth and more detail some of the intricacies of the climate crisis, including social, philosophical and political, dynamics, and the way we frame our perception of global-scale phenomena. It was a construtive conversation, from four points of view, each of which was able to benefit from a kinship of interest, so that whether we were discussion environmental justice, political solidarity, economics and collaborative politics or Villanova’s ongoing commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, there were ways to deepen and broaden our understanding of each facet of the problem from each of the different perspectives.
Continue reading “Climate, Energy & Ethics Roundtable (video + recap)”
The quest for the most fuel-efficient vehicles has entered a new phase, with major government private-sector investment in research and development for industrial-scale commercial production of a new class of gas-electric hybrid vehicles and EVs (all-electric cars). Swiss-based Solar Impulse is building the world’s first 100% solar-powered airplane, an achievement that will revolutionize the travel, industrial production, transport and fuel sectors. Now comes the news that the Chevrolet Volt will shatter the existing paradigm for fuel efficiency, achieving 230 miles per gallon (mpg).
Nissan claims to have better comparable performance for their LEAF model, and Tesla is preparing a fleet of high-performance “100% torque 100% of the time” EVs. Solar panels are creeping into automotive design, for supplemental power for commercially sold vehicles, though they have long been the subject of engineering competitions that race solar-only prototypes. Organic solar concentrators (dye-treated SV-edged windows) allow for the highly efficient use of existing window surfaces to capture solar power and generate electricity.
Continue reading “Fuel Efficiency: Hybrid, Electric, Solar or ‘Exotics’ (discussion)”
The converging crises of carbon-induced climate destabilization and unsustainable transport-related costs and land-use are pushing global society toward a moment of major change, in which “fuel” as we know it will be less a matter of resourced-fuel combustion and more a matter of renewable clean electric power storage and delivery. The petroleum industry needs to adjust its business model to operate in a world where burning its prime resource is not the goal.
Until now, and even in the midst of the current ongoing energy debate, we are accustomed to viewing the onset of renewable energy sources and the interests of petroleum companies as diametrically opposed and politically incompatible. That idea is now easily seen as what it is: an ideological assumption based on a world-view informed by too few facts and too little understanding of complex interrelationships among resources, natural systems, and economic activity.
Continue reading “Big Oil Needs to Adjust to Non-fuel Long-term Business Model”
Among the numerous scathing criticisms leveled against the record $3.1 trillion federal budget proposal —which will be the last of the George W. Bush White House— are fiscal irresponsibility, near record deficits, and plans to cut or eliminate fully 151 federal programs, in an effort to save just $18 billion, while base Defense Dept. spending increases by 8%.
Economists worry that spending priorities laid out in the budget will only exacerbate current economic slowdown. Democrats in Congress have vowed the budget “will not be the model” for the legislation they will put forth to govern spending for 2009. But the White House insists the budget is fiscally responsible and will in fact reduce spending.
Continue reading “Final Bush Budget Shows Economic Weakness, Policies at Odds with Marketplace, Moment”
2008 will be a year in which the integrity of election processes, the quality and resilience of cultivated soils, the availability of credit to consumers, the affordability of homes and rentals, and access to affordable vital staples like food and water, as well as the cost of transportation, will affect economies the world over. Some economic analysts have said the combination of these factors, resulting instability or environmental degradation, and migration of affected populations, could mean the world is facing an unprecedented level of economic precariousness.
2007 saw prices of commodities, ranging from grains, to metals to petroleum, skyrocket, with mining giants like Río Tinto tripling their stock value, and the price of bread in Mediterranean countries like Spain, jumping 40%. The Earth Policy Institute reports that world grain stocks are at an all-time record low, with only about 54 days of consumption available in case of crop failure or demand-driven scarcity. Drinkable water is also frighteningly scarce, with overpumping of fossil aquifers already beyond sustainable and on the rise.
Continue reading “Elections, Credit, Fuel Costs, Soil Quality, Water Policy & Access to Food Crucial in 2008”
Between the years 2008 and 2020, we are likely to see a still unimaginably sweeping shift away from fossil fuels and high-contamination modes of powering our economy. The transition will have a political component, but will be driven mostly by cost concerns, resource scarcity, and public demand for cleaner air and responsible climate policy, a demand which is not ideological in nature.
The long-term overhaul of the global economy, to bring it in line with what would be a responsible climate policy, will be more gradual, and has for some time now been taking its first halting steps toward acquiring momentum. But wealthy countries, ostensibly the most dependent on carbon-based fuels, also enjoy the conditions that permit broader flexibility in fuel resourcing, namely an economic cushion and variety in the marketplace.
Continue reading “The 12-year Sea Change, the Green Economy”