Tiltin at Windmills

Tom Friedman:

As Richard K. Lester, an energy-innovation expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, notes, “The best chance we have — perhaps the only chance” of addressing the combined challenges of energy supply and demand, climate change and energy security “is to accelerate the introduction of new technologies for energy supply and use and deploy them on a very large scale.”

This, he argues, will take more than a Manhattan Project. It will require a fundamental reshaping by government of the prices and regulations and research-and-development budgets that shape the energy market. Without taxing fossil fuels so they become more expensive and giving subsidies to renewable fuels so they become more competitive — and changing regulations so more people and companies have an interest in energy efficiency — we will not get innovation in clean power at the scale we need.

That is what this election should be focusing on. Everything else is just bogus rhetoric designed by cynical candidates who think Americans are so stupid — so bloody stupid — that if you just show them wind turbines in your Olympics ad they’ll actually think you showed up and voted for such renewable power — when you didn’t.

More here.


Good News Bad News

The good news is that the first new nuclear plant in the US in ages is being proposed for Texas, and the City of Austin is thinking about chipping in. Thus it is an important step to realistically addressing greenhouse gas accumulation.

The bad news is that the plant will be sited next to existing nuclear facilities near Bay City TX at Matagordo Bay, and so, as far as I can tell, would add to the already vast industrial infrastructure at risk from sea level rise.

Tiltin’ at Windmills

Texas ought to be leading the way on energy. We need it, we have an established culture of energy related industries, we have land, wind, sun and saltwater (for cooling and possibly even for hydraulic energy storage), and we have geological formations that can contain sequestered carbon.

We in Texas also have a huge coastline at huge risk from business as usual, possibly worse than anybody except Florida. That’s worldwide; the other real comparable trouble spots I know of are Shanghai, Bangkok, Calcutta and parts of the Baltic region (Scandinavian and northern Slavic countries). Anyplace where the coastline is steeper (California, New England, Britain, Japan…) or the big cities are further inland has much less at stake. Sea level rise is for real, folks, and we’re on the front lines. So we ought to be motivated.

What we don’t have is the cultural inclination to address big problems collectively, and I’m afraid that might be a showstopper.

Texas will be either a big winner or a big loser in the coming century, I think. We ought to be pushing for change, hard, in our own selfish interests if for no other reason. It’s hang together or hang separately, as old Ben Franklin once said.

I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part, and discuss it only with consenting adults.”

-Molly Ivins