Posts Tagged ‘energy’

Thomas L. Friedman wrote the daylights out of this book in my opinion.  I have “borrowed” the best sections to get my crew to read the whole book:

Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need A Green Revolution And How It Can Renew America

p. 8  I have already mentioned one disturbing trend: Post 9/11, we as a nation have put up more walls than ever, and in the process we have disconnected ourselves emotionally, if not physically from many of our natural allies and natural instincts to embrace the world.  In the process, America has shifted from a country that always exported its hopes (and so imported the hopes of millions of others) to one that is seen as exporting its fears. 

p. 32  To put in another way, the Industrial Revolution gave a whole new prominence to what Rochelle Lefkowitz, president of Pro-Media Communications and an energy buff, calls “fuels from hell”- coal, ooil, and natural gas. All these fules from hell come from underground, are exhaustible, and emit CO2 and other pollutants when they are burned for transportation, heating and industrial use.  These fules are in contrast to what Lefkowitz calls “fuels from heaven” – wind, hydroelectric, tidal, biomass, and solar power. These all come from above the ground, are endlessly renewable, and produce no harmful emissions.

p. 80  Finally, through our energy purchases we are funding both sides of the war on terror.  We are financing the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps with our tax dollars, and we are indirectly financing, with our energy purchases, al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad.

p. 101  The way I like to out it is: The motto of the American Revolution was “No taxation without representation.”  The motto of the petrolist authoritarian state in “No taxation, so no representation, either.”  Oil-backed regimes that do not have to tax their people for revenue – because they can just drill an oil well and see the oil abroad- also do not have to listen to their people or represent the wishes.

p.  168  If the rural poor on every continent no longer feel they have to move to cities and take manufacturing jobs or drive taxis or work as maids, because they have the tools and skills to connect globally and the abundant, clean energy to support their connectivity, “they will be able to get the best out of both localization and globalization,” said Sridhar. 

They will be able to remain in the countryside, enjoy its benefits, maintain, their traditions, food, dress, and family ties, but also be able to generate the income the need to thrive.  Also, the more that rural populations have their standards of living raised, the fewer children mothers will have – another way to reduce crowding.  

p. 192  What constitutes an ethic of conservation?  We can start to answer that question by saying what ethics are not.  Ethics are not laws.  They are not imposed by the state.  Rather, they are norms, values, beliefs, habits, and attitudes that are embraced voluntarily – that we as a society impose on ourselves.  Laws regulate behavior from the outside in.  Ethics regulate behavior from the inside out.  Ethics are something you carry with you wherever you go to guide whatever you do. 

p. 198  With tongue only slightly in cheek, I would argue that what we need is a renewable energy ecosystem for innovating, generating and deploying clean power, energy efficiency, resources productivity, and conservation < the true cost of buring coal, oil and gas.  That is, we need clean energy that is cheaper than the true cost of society of fossil fuels, when you measure the climate change those fuels cause, the pollution they trigger, and the energy wars they engender.

p.  207  Pentagon planners like to say: “A vision without resources in a hallucination.”

p.  264  The best way of fully appreciate the scope of the challenge we face in shifting to a Clean Energy System is to reread Machiavelli.  My favorite passage in The Prince goes like this: “It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in introducing a new order of things, because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new.  This coolness arises partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.”

p. 335  Often the people who design or purchase products inside a company, and the people who use those products, and the people who paid the electricity or fuel bills for those products, were all different people.  So the vice president for equipment buys the lowest-cost machine to make his budget look good.  But the vice president for accounting, who pays the electric bills, is on his back ever day because that same low-cost machine was the one that sucked up the most energy when electricity prices started to soar, and when electricity prices went through the roof, that cheap machine actually cost the company over its life cycle far more than the expensive super-energy-efficient model would have.  Because no one had a bird’s eye view of all the costs and benefits of energy decisions, money, and resources were continually wasted.

p. 376  The money from the “energy-industrial complex” – auto companies, coal companies, certain unenlightened utilities, and oil and gas companies- has obscured our ability to tell the ecological truth about the situation we are in and has undermined out ability to engineer the smart policies (at scale) that are needed for us to out an Energy Internet in place.

Their cumulative impact on decision-making is this: Rather than having a national energy strategy, we have instead what the energy expert Gal Luft calls “the sum of all lobbies.”  Whichever lobby generates the most campaign cash wins.  To put it another way, “We have energy politic, not energy policy,” says Nate Lewis of Caltech.  And energy politics is life gender politics or race politics or regional politics.  It means that the politics of the issues (that is, who will benefit in specific) drive the policy priorities (what is really best for the country as a whole), not the other way around.  It is very difficult to produce a coherent and viable long-term strategy in such an environment.


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“A vision without resources is a hallucination” is a good quote from Thomas L. Friedman’s book Hot, Flat and Crowded.  The quote could easily apply to the efforts of a small group to Black moderates in the South who seek to improve political and public policy relations through diversity and dialog with the conservatives.  It’s not going to happen Don Quixote. 

Better than Don Quixote and the windmills, the situation is similar to the dog movie Bolt (the kids in my family got Uncle Teddy to watch it yesterday.)  Bolt is running around thinking he has super powers and can get this and that done only to discover the whole drama is fake—everyone is an actor unbeknownst to him.  It’s all smoke and mirrors (Uncle Teddy saw Sherlock Holmes this week also.) 

After the GOP got spanked in still another election, the opportunity was there for them to foster better relations with the middle and a red version of the Blue Dogs seems imminent.  That did not happen because the vocal far-right decided to push out the remaining few GOP moderates and purify their ranks.  Expecting the true conservatives to dialog with the center or left is silly.  So, the Blue Dog section of the Democrat Party became the logical home for centrists.

Friedman’s book details his view of our energy future if we don’t act quickly and seriously.  In Georgia, political energy gets wasted in alarming amounts.  They try to defeat members of congress who can be beaten rather than working with the fellows to improve policies, laws and budgets.  After 20 years in game, I can say that Democrats will talk with dam near anyone while the power behind the GOP dares their members to listen to anyone else.  Zero.  Not a freaking syllable. 

In America, we need to produce more clean energy but also reduce our consumption with efficiency and better technology.  The same logic applies to politics and policy for me as a Black southern moderate.  I want to see the far-left and far-right limited because their extreme views are unhealthy but I also hope that they will envision a policy arena with various views working toward consensus. Let me make it plain: many southern conservatives function with the mentality that they know everything and should decide what is best for everyone—think plantation or apartheid. 

Rush and Glenn have them full of piss and vinegar and that is no way to go through life.  On the other side, the liberal part of the Democrats have people waiting for the government to fix all the problems in their lives—problems the people created.  My primary concern is pushing for a better Georgia and South, and the next step toward that goal is a few members of congress who can tell the truth in a positive way. There are current congressional members who went to D.C. to do that but the national parties talking points don’t included honesty on that level. 

Are you seriously telling me that a national party would pass on Newt, Huckabee and Romney for Palin and the same party can’t produce one Black member of congress?  Michael Steele promised improved diversity but I don’t think he had any idea who was on his team.  If he wanted historic congressional diversity, Georgia could serve it up on a platter with limited resources but you know what they say about vision without resources.

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