Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Review: Energy

Okay, I admit this is a softball post. Sue me.

1. Biofuel is not a long-term solution to anything. This includes global warming, American "energy independence", etc. The energy required to create biofuel is typically only marginally above what we get from burning it. Until breakthroughs arrive in this area (see: cellulosic ethanol, or the removal of trade restrictions on Brazilian sugar cane), this won't change.

2. Some sort of cap-and-trade or carbon tax is the preferred system to fight emissions of greenhouse gases. Remember, greenhouse gases are not limited to CO2. Methane, ozone, nitrous oxides and whatnot also play a role. I prefer carbon taxes for these reasons. Carbon taxes are simpler and would likely spawn less additional government. Just because the theoretical end result of both plans is this same, doesn't mean there are not second or third order differences.

3. Locally to Newfoundland, the idea to start metering water usage is a great one.

4. Also locally to Newfoundland, the energy debate in the province hasn't received sufficient scrutiny because nobody complains when the money is rolling in. Of course, two of the province's three offshore fields will be dead within five years - we aren't Saudi Arabia. One more field (Hebron) remains to be developed, but there have not been any significant offshore discoveries for twenty-five years.

5. In the very long run, I don't think that energy prices are anything to worry about. High gas prices aren't going away tomorrow, but people who preach about a return to the 18th century are numb to both economics and the human condition. This does not mean I think there is a ton more oil out there, indeed, I'd be surprised if world oil production ever significantly increases from current levels. I have faith in nuclear, solar, and maybe even things we don't know about right now.


KipEsquire said...

Thanks for the links. Please note I just recently migrated my blog -- new link here. Cheers. =)

Andrew said...

Yeah, I fixed my RSS the other day. Love your writing.