Steve Mendell: Threat to sustainability

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The biggest threat to “sustainability” is the so-called “sustainability” movement promoted by Sarah Jones in her March 11 letter to the editor. Why? Because only a centrally planned allocation of resources can ever (through government mandates and subsidies) result in the complete depletion of any resource. More on that later.

“Sustainability” is just the latest euphemism for the age-old central planning agenda — an agenda which holds that only a self-appointed elite who (falsely) think they alone possess a superior wisdom and insight can (forcibly) lead us all to the promised land of milk and honey.

There’s just one problem with this utopian fantasy — central planning of resource allocations never works! It never has and it never will. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about centrally planning the allocation of capital, housing, water, food, health care, health insurance, energy, whale oil or any other resource. Central planning always misallocates all resources in wasteful and destructive ways. It always has and it always will.

If you wonder why I mentioned whale oil, do a little research into the previous “sustainability” movement which hysterically preached the world soon would end because we had reached peak whale oil and we soon would run out of whale oil.

Free market economic theories are, regrettably, not in fashion these days. But free market economics are rooted in the natural laws of supply and demand. These laws cannot be repealed. They only can be temporarily distorted (with, inevitably, enormously destructive results). As long as the natural laws of supply and demand are respected (through the free market interaction of willing sellers and willing buyers), the world simply cannot run out of any resource. Why? Because dwindling supply drives prices higher, and higher prices reduces demand until equilibrium is achieved. In the case of ever-dwindling supply, we see ever-rising prices until, eventually, a more economical alternative is developed (thanks only to the profit motive and never to government bureaucrats and the self-appointed elite). That is precisely how fossil fuels replaced whale oil.

As was the case with whale oil, the natural laws of supply and demand in concert with the profit motive will, at the proper time, deliver an economical and profitable alternative to petroleum (and other fossil fuels). But as the fracking revolution has demonstrated, now is not the proper time. Attempts to force this to be the proper time will only result in harm (and lots of it).

Global warming hysteria mongering (also promoted by Sarah Jones) is yet another false front for forcibly imposing a centrally planned economy (and wealth redistribution on a global scale). However, the RSS satellite data demonstrate more than 17 years (and counting) of global cooling. By NOAA’s own standards, any 15-year period without warming invalidates all of the IPCC computer models (the root source for all of the global warming hysteria). The global warming hysteria movement was born in 1988, roughly 10 years after the cooling phase of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation had bottomed out and the warming phase had begun. That warming phase now has peaked and plateaued. Around 2018, we’ll enter another distinct cooling phase, which will resemble the colder climate of the 1970s that led scientists and journalists to swear we were all going to freeze to death if big government did not come to our rescue. By 2040, at the bottom of the latest cooling phase, the global cooling sales pitch will have been revived (in the latest effort to pitch a more centrally planned economy).

Please, let us not allow the sustainability movement to misallocate any of our resources — monetary or otherwise.

Steve Mendell

Steamboat Springs

Comments

John Weibel 5 months, 3 weeks ago

There is a point to sustainability, and every decision that the city council, county commissioners, state officials, etc make should be based upon the desire to minimize their consumption of resources as that is less costly. That is in reality a decision that works with the free market beliefs or the sustainable belief.

Unfortunately, I believe we are at a point in society where we fail to hear what others have to say. There actually is some merit in investing in the solar garden, though I am not sold that solar is a "sustainable" electric power source when utilizing PV panels. However, in buying into the solar garden to defray future electric bills might very well be a very good strategy for any business.

Given the current macro economic picture, a long term trade deficit and large debt burdens at all levels of the economy, fixing this variable expense, allows the government to reduce ongoing expenses and essentially cut future spending for electricity. Reducing the cities budget, by investing in an alternative energy source has been done by other communities, very effectively and is financially sound. Though most of those cases involve wind energy.

Any time you are reducing your variable expenses you are moving to a more "sustainable", "financially solvent" position.

As opposed to the desire to have something now and pay for it later (buying the iron horse with certificates of ??, bonding for the library, etc) it would be a case of paying for something now to ensure future budgets would have less expenses to be paid.

While I disagree with Solar being a sound choice, the idea of investing in an energy source for 25 years into the future, makes far more sense than building a very large police station that is going to raise the variable expenses of the city, because of the additional energy costs.

Making a sound choice or seemingly more sustainable choice, involves determining the allocation of scarce resources, in a very complex system. Unfortunately, in government those making the decisions are not playing with their own money and the "pain" of a bad decision - probably an investment in the solar garden from my vantage point - is not born by the individual making the decision, it is born by the community as a whole.

Being sustainable or seeking to make sustainable choices is not the problem. Nor do I believe that Sarah was advocating for a planned society, though I could be wrong.

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John Weibel 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Steve,

I would agree on solar not being competitive, wind I completely disagree with you on the subject. The issue with wind is the power lines that do not exist to supply a base load via wind energy, with wind turbines spread across many regions as the wind does not blow all the time in one place, but it blows all the time in many places.

As Stewart stated and one of the problems with the free market is the "socialized" costs of pollution.

Wind will not come close to collapsing. Solar I can not say the same for.

Given that YVEA does not buy power in bulk blocks and resell excess power in the summer, (if I am not mistaken consumption is greater here in the winter than summer opposite of just about everywhere else) leads me to believe they really have no desire to be capitalists in the market and simply do business as usual.

YVEA is a monopoly and really has little incentive to be creative as they make a profit no matter what, just like the government.

I would agree that the Data on human induced climate change is suspect at best, when one considers the warming that occurred on Mars recently. The real issue with CO2 is that as stated in another thread is that the C of the CO2 is no longer in the top soil and we will see major issues, flooding and drought related to that. This issue was mainly caused by the government trying to rig the markets to have abundant food.

Anyway, the point about is that we fail to listen to others on issues that we have developed our beliefs on, mainly through education/indoctrination. Which really appears to be the case in reading the limited number of replies I did. Peace and out, too many posts for me to try and keep up with a sense of what the debate is any longer.

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John Weibel 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Steve,

Well just because someone decided to put in a wind turbine where one should not go, does not mean that all wind energy projects are bad. When I ran the numbers on a project they were fairly lucrative, when in a good location, transmission lines close by and a decent steady wind.

If you throw subsidies at something then yes the market distortions are going to cause misallocations of capital. However, that does not entirely mean some capital should not have been allocated to that resource.

A potential problem in Germany or Brittan is the lack of diversity in regions in which a base load could be created and so the power grid has to deal with that inconsistency. On the great plains, from Montana to Texas, one could put in the turbines and because of the vast differences in locations a consistent wind electricity supply could be created and augmented with natural gas. That probably is not the case in Germany, which probably does not share a grid with Italy, France, Sweeden, etc. to give it the same level of BASE LOAD that can be created in the US.

I try to live in a world with varying shades of gray, that does not seem to apply to most discussions in the world today. Here also as people throw out articles to prove their point and the only thing it proved was that, that application was not thought out well enough.

Peace and out, done here

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Neil O'Keeffe 5 months, 2 weeks ago

" the world simply cannot run out of any resource." Are you kidding me? Steve, you may want to attend the free lecture at the Library on Monday, it could help with that myopic vision of the world you entertain.

The author of “Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth?” — released in September — and The New York Times best-seller “The World Without Us” takes a hard and sometimes sobering look at our interaction with the Earth and how the world’s rising population is affecting its future.

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Stewart Beall 5 months, 2 weeks ago

A true Free Market demands that the seller bear ALL the COST of their products. What is always missing in the discussion is that we always pay for the hidden cost of the goods and services produced like pollution, lack of safety, health care cost of bad water and air, ect. It is just another form of Privitizing the Profits and Socilizing the Risk. The Earth is not flat; and it is getting warmer.

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Dan Kuechenmeister 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Lot's of man caused global warming in the Triasic era. The climate, has, does and will continue to change. It will always be good for us to conserve when and where we can but letting government determine "sustainability" is a scary thought. Their attempt to promote "sustainability" could bankrupt the middle and less than middle class as energy prices will rise to pay for expensive alternative energy sources. Let private enterprise develop alternative energy - no subsidies. If there is a profit, they will do it.

http://c3headlines.typepad.com/.a/6a010536b58035970c0162fdd74ba3970d-pi

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Neil O'Keeffe 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Seems odd that so many climate deniers were refuting all the supportive science over the years and now all of a sudden have embraced some more recent controversial scientific findings that support there previously unsupported positions. What ever happens to fit our accepted beliefs once again rules the day. I am more than willing to consider all possibilities on most given subjects, our supposed intellect can be a very dangerous thing indeed. JMHO

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/10/scientists-debunk-conservative-myth-of-global-warming-pause

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Dan Kuechenmeister 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Neil, Please define "climate deniers" for we in the unwashed masses who try to stay away from generalizations. There is no denial from me that the climate is changing. Well duh! News flash. I will not agree with those who say that global warming and it apparent causes are "settled science" any more than the threatened "global cooling" in the early to mid 70's was "settled science". Believe it or not, there are some of us in this world that actually think for themselves, do their own research and do not ascribe to a particular political dogma or agenda

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Neil O'Keeffe 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Really now, I never would have guessed that Dan. I have some soap for you if ever in need!

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Scott Wedel 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Resources becoming scarcer have a free market solution. Oil at $100 a barrel certainly discourages cars with single digit gas mileage. The cars sold in the US in 2013 averaged over 25 mpg.

Wind and solar are competitive in the right places. Wind turbines in Altamont Pass California are very profitable because they provide power during peak load and are next to a major urban area so don't need long haul transmission lines. Likewise, since a defective repair ruined the big San Onofre nuclear power plants near San Diego, solar in the nearby deserts will do well.

Locally since this is a region with higher heating needs, we generally have a better return on investment in improving energy efficiency.

But the part of the letter on Global Climate Change demonstrates deep ignorance of science. A scientific theory being imperfect is not proof the opposite theory is true. Competing theories are constantly refined as additional data comes available.

Simple Newtonian physics gets flow dynamics and aerodynamics wrong largely because the simplest equation of an object pushing on a fluid fails to account for the fluid moving and the resulting turbulence. That didn't mean that Newtonian physics was disproven. It was refined to have more precise equations for flow dynamics.

For GCC, the data suggests that the oceans have absorbed more heat than in the computer models. When they refine their models to have better ocean modelling then they are getting better matching of oceans and air temps.

The critical thing the GCC deniers have failed to do is to create models that do a better job of matching the climate data.

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john bailey 5 months, 2 weeks ago

again , I ask , how is the smart-grid in Boulderboat working out?

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Scott Wedel 5 months, 2 weeks ago

You seem to have a different understanding than most scientists. The general understanding is that currents have moved more heat from the surface into the deeper ocean.

But the bigger picture is that there is almost nothing presented arguing that the current path of a 500 ppm CO2 around 2050 would be meaningless. I think there is no reasonable doubt that someone trying to argue that CO2 levels can be increased without affecting the earth's climate has far more problems with that theory than those arguing that increasing CO2 will affect the climate by trapping more heat.

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Dan Kuechenmeister 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Steve, The great and powerful OZ has spoken. There are no links you can post that will dissuade him from allowing any debate to go forward. The fact that you have done graduate studies and graduate research in Environmental Science means nothing to Mr. Wedel. He is right and anybody who disagrees with him is wrong.

Scott, what is it like to always be right. I mean really. From my perspective Steve has posted some interesting links that suggest that global warming and the effect of CO2 on the rate of temperature change are not "settled science". Far be it from you to concede that possibility. From time to time you actually post something on this forum that I can actually agree with. I guess it's the old theory of throw enough s#*+ at the wall and something will stick.

Neil, thanks for the offer of the soap. Does that mean you will Loofa my back (Caddyshack reference-Danny Noonan running through Judge Smales house)

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Neil O'Keeffe 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Let me think about that one Dan but it did bring back a very funny image from that movie.

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mark hartless 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Steve's letter is, of course, exactly right.

It is refreshing to read comments from someone who actually understands basic economics, something that is sorely lacking today.

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Scott Wedel 5 months, 2 weeks ago

It is almost funny how you cite a scientist like Dr. Richard Lindzen. If a scientist opposing your views had to have a paper withdraw for what the scientist acknowledged were "stupid mistakes" and then reviewers of his choice won't accept his paper so he had to resort to a rather obscure Korean publication then you'd be all over it.

And this isn't some irrelevant paper, but what has become his signature theory of infrared emissions from the oceans being larger than expected and thus being a mitigating effect of increasing CO2 concentrations.

Instead, others have looked at his theory and analyzed it via satellite data and found that CO2 is actually an amplifying effect.

Personally, I'd be happier if there was good evidence that global warming wasn't a serious issue. It'd mean that the US won't end up spending hundreds of billions on sea walls and other measures defending properties against the effects of climate change. NY area is certainly going to want seawalls to protect itself after all the damage caused by Sandy and so on.

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mark hartless 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Stewart's response "A true Free Market demands that the seller bear ALL the COST of their products..." is an understandable expectation which many share. However, it is incorrect to assert that free markets MUST bear all costs up front.

Free market transactions can and do occur at whatever point a willing buyer and seller chose to meet. If you want the farmer to NOT use fertalizers which contain phosphates you have the right to buy organic products, etc. If you want to not pollute with your car you can buy a hybrid or walk.

However, this is not where it ends because many like Stewart wish is that THEIR personal expectations could be mandatory for all.

This is an unrealistic and often elitist expectation and desire. Many folks can't afford the luxury of organic produce, non-polluting hybrid cars, etc. But they still deserve to eat and drive to their workplace.

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mark hartless 5 months, 2 weeks ago

In other words: You are all freakin NUTS... and global warming is really global cooling... which is really Climate Change... which, as it turns out, ... has been a regular occurance for thousands of years... and since everyone is totally stoned anyway...ummm... what were we saying ... ???

The bottom line here is that we should all hand over our rights to the UN and let them do all the thinking from this point forward...and they should put all the planes on autopilot and... ...

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