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  • Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on April 21st, 2009 (All posts by )

    Cut to the chase. We rich people can’t stop the world’s 5 billion poor people from burning the couple of trillion tons of cheap carbon that they have within easy reach. We can’t even make any durable dent in global emissions—because emissions from the developing world are growing too fast, because the other 80 percent of humanity desperately needs cheap energy, and because we and they are now part of the same global economy. What we can do, if we’re foolish enough, is let carbon worries send our jobs and industries to their shores, making them grow even faster, and their carbon emissions faster still.
     
    We don’t control the global supply of carbon.
     
    Ten countries ruled by nasty people control 80 percent of the planet’s oil reserves—about 1 trillion barrels, currently worth about $40 trillion. If $40 trillion worth of gold were located where most of the oil is, one could only scoff at any suggestion that we might somehow persuade the nasty people to leave the wealth buried. They can lift most of their oil at a cost well under $10 a barrel. They will drill. They will pump. And they will find buyers. Oil is all they’ve got.
     
    Poor countries all around the planet are sitting on a second, even bigger source of carbon—almost a trillion tons of cheap, easily accessible coal. They also control most of the planet’s third great carbon reservoir—the rain forests and soil. They will keep squeezing the carbon out of cheap coal, and cheap forest, and cheap soil, because that’s all they’ve got. Unless they can find something even cheaper. But they won’t—not any time in the foreseeable future.

    -Peter Huber, “Bound to Burn

     

    3 Responses to “Quote of the Day”

    1. renminbi Says:

      This is what makes blogs so useful compared to MSM,which is invariably dumbed down.Very good link to Huber,who knows his technology and his economics.The analysis is faultless.

    2. Niko Says:

      Can’t fault the logic. Which begs the question why? Either sinister designs or sheer stupidity.

    3. Robert Schwartz Says:

      “Findings: Use Energy, Get Rich and Save the Planet” by John Tierney in the NYTimes on April 21, 2009:

      … among researchers who analyze environmental data, a lot has changed since the 1970s. With the benefit of their hindsight and improved equations, I’ll make a couple of predictions:

      1. There will be no green revolution in energy or anything else. No leader or law or treaty will radically change the energy sources for people and industries in the United States or other countries. No recession or depression will make a lasting change in consumers’ passions to use energy, make money and buy new technology — and that, believe it or not, is good news, because…

      2. The richer everyone gets, the greener the planet will be in the long run.

      * * *

      In dozens of studies, researchers identified Kuznets curves for a variety of environmental problems. … As incomes go up, people often focus first on cleaning up their drinking water, and then later on air pollutants like sulfur dioxide.

      As their wealth grows, people consume more energy, but they move to more efficient and cleaner sources — from wood to coal and oil, and then to natural gas and nuclear power, progressively emitting less carbon per unit of energy. This global decarbonization trend has been proceeding at a remarkably steady rate since 1850, according to Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University and Paul Waggoner of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.

      … Mr. Ausubel, the director of the Program for the Human Environment at Rockefeller. “The long-term trend is toward natural gas and nuclear power, or conceivably solar power. If the energy system is left to its own devices, most of the carbon will be out of it by 2060 or 2070.”

      * * *

      “Energy systems evolve with a particular logic, gradually, and they don’t suddenly morph into something different,” Mr. Ausubel says. That doesn’t make for a rousing speech on Earth Day. But in the long run, a Kuznets curve is more reliable than a revolution.