the 100% ‘renewable’ energy capitalist climate saviors


From Stan Cox and Paul Cox: ‘100 Percent Wishful Thinking: the Green-Energy Cornucopia’, Sept. 14, 2017, counterpunch.org

The authors open with a rueful narrative on last spring’s Peoples Climate March, noting that there were occasional banners advocating ‘systems change, not climate change’.  But they note that the crowd was very electric with signs claiming the current and coming climate emergencies would be relatively simple after getting Herr dRump out of office and ‘converting to 100% Renewable Energy™’.

Their take was that most of the shiny, cheerful placards and slogans were inspired by two 2015 reports issued by Mark Jacobson of Stanford University, claiming that the planet could meet 100 percent of future energy demand with solar, wind, and other “green” generation.

“A growing body of research has debunked overblown claims of a green-energy bonanza. Nevertheless,  Al Gore, Bill McKibben (who recently expressed hope that Harvey’s attack on the petroleum industry in Texas will send a “wakeup call” for a 100-percent renewable energy surge), and other luminaries in the mainstream climate movement have been invigorated by reports like Jacobson’s and have embraced the 100-percent dream.

And that vision is merging with a broader, even more spurious claim that has become especially popular in the Trump era: the private sector, we are told, has now taken the lead on climate, and market forces will inevitably achieve the 100-percent renewable dream and solve the climate crisis on their own. In this dream, anything’s possible; Jacobson even believes that tens of thousands of wind turbines installed offshore could tame hurricanes like Katrina, Harvey, and Irma.

Cox and Cox speak about NOAA scientist and coauthors whose recent report critiqued Jacobson’s work (to threats of a law suit, apparently), and what they have in common in knowing that shortfalls in ‘renewable energy generation’ will fall to the fossil fuels and nuclear power they wish to eliminate…eventually.

“But the two sides also share other basic assumptions. They both seek to satisfy all future demand for energy solely through industrial production, technological improvements, efficiency, and markets, without any strict regulatory limits on the total quantity of energy consumed in production and consumption. The 100-percenters believe such a scenario is achievable while their critics conclude that it is not, but they agree on the ultimate goal: a permanent high-energy economy.

That part of the dogma, not the “100-percent” part, is the problem. America does need to convert to fully renewable energy as quickly as possible. The “100-percent renewable for 100 percent of demand” goal is the problem. Scenarios that make that promise, along with the studies that dissect them, lead me [us?] to conclude that, at least in affluent countries, it would be better instead to transform society so that it operates on far less end-use energy while assuring sufficiency for all. That would bring a 100%-renewable energy system within closer reach and avoid the outrageous technological feats and gambles required by high-energy dogma. It would also have the advantage of being possible.”

Now their Waking Up from the Dream section is far more complicated than I can grasp or begin to shorthand, but they cite a study by BP Heard and fellow researches that pretty much blow holes in the 24 Big Decarbonization studies they’d examined.  After mentioning a 2016 paper in Energy Policy by Patrick Moriarty and Damon Honnery of Monash University in Australia demonstrating some of the critical factors that will limit total planetary ‘renewable’ energy:

“Moriarty and Honnery show that given all of these factors, expansion of renewable energy will hit a brick wall, a point at which as much energy is required to install and operate electric facilities as they will end up generating in their operating lifetimes. But even before that point is reached, it will have become pointless to expand generation capacity that has lower and lower net output. They conclude that as a result, future renewable output “could be far below present energy use.”

The statement that I do grasp in that section is this:  “Studies did not account for the expected four- to five-fold expansion of the power transmission infrastructure that will be required to accommodate renewable energy.”

Underneath Unrepealable Limits:

“…ubiquitous deployment of technologies that either don’t yet exist or are only lightly tested and can’t be scaled up to the huge scales envisioned. They include underground thermal energy storage for virtually every building in the country, a full air transportation system run entirely on hydrogen(!), wind farms covering 6 percent of the entire land surface of the 48 contiguous states, an outrageous and unrealistic increase in ecologically harmful hydroelectric power, and a buildout of electricity generation capacity that hurtles along at 14 times the average rate of capacity expansion in the past half-century.”

“Finally, all production of wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and especially hydroelectric energy has an ecological impact on the landscapes where it occurs. So if we are to halt our degradation and destruction of the Earth’s natural ecosystems, it will be necessary to declare large areas off-limits to the energy sector.”

I’d say “especially biomass, myself, as in turning agricultural land into mono-crops (corn, sugar cane, switchgrass, hemp, etc.) for energy ‘demands’: specially solar depending on storage…


Diego Rivera’s ‘sugar cane harvest’

But back to Saint McKibben and his ‘Keep it 100%! The Unimaginable is Now Possible; 100% Renewable Energy.  We Can’t Settle for Less’, inthesetimes.com, Aug. 22, 2017  (some snippets):

“In any event, we no longer need to go slow: In the last few years, engineers have brought the price of renewables so low that, according to many experts, it would make economic sense to switch over even if fossil fuels weren’t wrecking the Earth. That’s why the appeal of 100% Renewable goes beyond the Left. If you pay a power bill, it’s the common-sense path forward.”

“One person who noticed the falling prices and improving technology early on was Mark Jacobson, director of Stanford University’s Atmosphere and Energy Program. In 2009, his team published a series of plans showing how the United States could generate all its energy from the sun, the wind and the falling water that produces hydropower. Two years later, Jacobson and a crew of co-conspirators—including actor Mark Ruffalo—launched the Solutions Project to move the idea out of academic journals and into the real world. The group has since published detailed plans for most of the planet’s countries. If you want to know how many acres of south-facing roof you can find in Alabama or how much wind blows across Zimbabwe, these are the folks to ask.

With each passing quarter, the 100 percent target is becoming less an aspirational goal and more the obvious solution. Hell, I spent the spring in some of the poorest parts of Africa where people—for the daily price of enough kerosene to fill a single lamp—were installing solar panels and powering up TVs, radios and LED bulbs. If you can do it in Germany and Ghana, you can do it in Grand Rapids and Gainesville.”

“That’s always been the trouble with renewables: The sun sets and the wind dies down. Indeed, one group of academics challenged Mark Jacobson’s calculations this spring partly on these grounds, arguing that unproven techniques of capturing and storing carbon from fossil fuel plants will likely be necessary, as well as continued reliance on nuclear power. Yet technology marches on. Elon Musk’s batteries work in Tesla cars, but scaled up they make it economically feasible for utilities to store the afternoon’s sun for the evening’s electric demand. In May, at an industry confab, one California utility executive put it this way: “The technology has been resolved. How fast do you want to get to 100 percent? That can be done today.”

That means, of course, that renewables advocates need to emphasize the jobs that will be created as we move toward sun and wind. Already, more Americans are employed in the solar industry than in coal fields, and the conversion is only just beginning. Sanders and Merkley’s federal 100 percent bill, beyond its generous climate benefits, is expected to produce 4 million new jobs over the coming decades.”

And yes, he touts the ‘Just Transition for displaced workers, as well as the Labor Network for Sustainability (LNS) a pro-climate and pro-labor group advocating that such workers get a deal like the 1944 G.I. Bill: three years of full wages and benefits, four years of education and retraining, and job placement in community economic development programs.  Lol, kewl, Bill, et.al.  Any other Pipe Dreams you can offer?  Okay, just one more…
“Sometimes, Brune says [Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club], all environmentalists have to rally together to work on the same thing, such as Keystone XL or the Paris accord. “But in this case the politics is as distributed as the solution. It’s people working on thousands of examples of the one idea.” An idea whose time has come.”

Yes, but about those ‘scalable’ Tesla batteries (or others); how many rare metals and minerals are in nations the US would love to plunder further (I mean ‘liberate’)?  Lithium, coltan, and cobalt, for three, Bill?  Have you ever bothered to say ‘quit consuming, ‘live simpler so that others might…live’, end factory farming and tout actually sustainable small organic farming, or Stop all Wars and Occupations?  No, you zoom around on jets to protest Climate Change in very narrow ways.  But could we surmise that your plutocrat funders might not like that?  Betcha they even bought the tickets for all of the Indigenous folks who ‘led’ the various climate marches with you, most especially in Paris.  Nice touch, though.

(added: rats; the tweet had also said that Bill’s been fighting Obama over Keystone XL for years!!!)

Hilarious, given ‘Tweeting while the World Burns’, Bill and his elite latté lib dem friends at the White House using Obomba’s campaign logo ‘protesting’ the XL pipeline…knowing that he’d Gone Fishin’.  Here’s the Proud Saint on Twitter.

But back to Cox and Cox: “What are we hoping for?

“A generally overlooked but crucial point about high-energy, 100-percent renewable proposals is that they seek to meet future demand patterns in a way that would leave in place today’s great distortions in access to energy and other resources. The American economy would carry on uninterrupted with its overproduction, overconsumption, and inequality, while billions of people in poorer regions and countries would not get the access to energy that’s required for a minimally good quality of life.”

The 100-percent scenarios themselves, as well as the critiques of them, hold one especially valuable lesson. Unintentionally, they show in stark terms why rich countries need to start planning to live in the renewable but lower-energy world envisioned by Moriarty and Honnery rather than the high-energy world that the mainstream 100-percent scenarios envision. With society having zeroed in singlemindedly on acquiring enough energy to keep driving, flying, and overproducing as much as we want, there’s no reason to expect that other problems, including enormous distortions in economic and political power and quality of life, along with racial and ethnic oppression, would have been solved.”

The authors don’t add that BigAg factory agriculture and…the military have the first two highest carbon footprints in Amerika, either, nor did they instruct us as to what percentage of the world’s resources the US ‘consumes’, but those might have been beyond the purview of their critiques for this exposé.

Excerpts from lyricist Phil Rockstroh’s ‘Walking in an Anthropocene Wonderland: “But I’ll Know My Song Well Before I Start Singing“, Dec. 26, 2013

‘In the Anthropocene Epoch, in our manic flight from consequence and accountability and our attendant estrangement from empathic imagination, we have come to regard all the things of the world as fodder for our empty appetites, as commodified, meretricious objects that exist to distract us and then be discarded. By our actions, we are destroying the living things of the world by caprice. The fetishization of mechanization and its concomitant soulless and habitual reductionism has mortified our psyches, inflicting alienation that we attempt to remedy with the palliative of perpetual media distraction.

Devoid of the musk and fury of true communal engagement, this communion with electronic phantoms only exacerbates our alienation and decimates one’s ability to evince empathy, when, conversely, empathy is the quality required to feel the suffering that hyper-capitalist industrialization has wrought. If we are to pull back from the brink of extinction, we must lament what has been lost to cupidity.

Yet, one must resist the temptation to become intoxicated by grim prophesy. It is possession of the qualities of sadness and gravitas that separates an individual bearing accurate augury from false prophets. The tears of the world will saturate the soul of an individual who lives in the truth of our era of Climate Chaos and global-wide ecocide.

‘And I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinking,
But I’ll know my song well before I start singing…”

~ Bob Dylan, A Hard Rain Gonna Fall’

Allow the images of thinning polar icecaps, of oceanic acidification and depletion, and of the 150 to 200 species of plants, insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals that become extinct on a daily basis to permeate your heart and mind. Thus, you will know the tears at the heart of things.

Then decide what your song will be, arrange it according to your individual talents, and start to sing. Because we must end this paradigm or it will end us.’ [large snip]

Late capitalism’s putrefying paradigm has but one remedy for the devastation reaped by the system…insanely, more production and more consumerism. Bafflingly, despite the vast carnage inflicted and multiple promises betrayed, why does the storyline of the capitalist/consumer state still resonate with so many? Consumerism, in the US and elsewhere, is one of the few activities in the capitalist paradigm whereby fantasy and human libido merge (albeit a facsimile thereof). The mall, the big box store, even upscale stores and department stores are phantasmagoric agoras, much like the fairways of old style roving carnivals wherein the modus operandi of carnies was to bamboozle gullible, repressed rubes by bait-and-switch scams involving the commodification of curiosity and desire.”

(again, the rest is here; longish, but heart-piercingly, achingly relevant to the capitalist consumer culture and …heading toward the sixth extinction.  the Last Roundup?)

Believe it or not, I have material for at least a Part II.  ;-)

28 responses to “the 100% ‘renewable’ energy capitalist climate saviors

  1. You might already have seen Robert Hunzinger’s “Trillion-ton Icebergs…” at counterpunch on Friday. Somewhat tongue in cheek, but very readable about the consequences of the stripping of protective ice shelves. And the point he makes , whilst maybe stretching it along correlation lines is eminently grasp- worthy.

    “…bull markets reflect increased global warming whereas bear markets mean less growth of CO2, slower warming…”

    I planted out a sweet cherry tree this morning (self seeded itself in my poblano pot).

    Go, tree!

    • thanks for the tip, juliania, but like naomi klein, he indicts ‘unfettered capitalism’ as the culprit. sure, let’s ‘fetter it’, lol. now hansen also touts nuclear, iirc, perhaps by way of ‘re-purposing’ out of date bombs in silos. no way, josé, for me. but yes, it seems the big bucks owners are bullish on geo-engineering, although it’s not a monolithic gambit. (gates, richard branson, et. al)

      now i can’t say what the correlation w/ ppm and mr. market is, unless as you say, he’s just being tongue in cheek, but the con of mckibben’s ‘boycott and divest’ is that the corps don’t care a whit. they just buy back the shares themselves w/ free fed money to beef up their market value, or else sell them for more money to other ‘investors’.

      here are some pages on geo-engineering hansen style; each person can decide, okay? i’m again ballasting the OMG you idiots! side. what could possibly go wrong??? ;-)

      http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2012/05/01/the-double-edged-sword-of-geoengineering/

      https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-hidden-dangers-of-geoengineering/

      woot, go little cherry tree! (the birrrrds always get all of our cherries, including chokecherries.)

      • Yes, they go for some of my apples too, but think , what angelic predators they be, and how I’ve loved your exquisite photos!

        Geo-engineering:

        I planted out an eroding hillside with prickly pears – it’s easy, you just saw off the pads with a bread knife, use tongs and a few rocks to anchor them in the rubble, and presto, habitat!

        (You have to saw below the ‘stem’ that joins one pad to the lower one, as it will root from the stump)

        • it’s hard to know how to respond, juliania, as in whether you didn’t read either of the links i’d provided from a random bingle, or are just jesting about easy propagation of prickly pears as your brand of (of course) safe sort of geo-engineering. but of course it’s not geo-engineering. well, anyway, given the hunziker link you’d mentioned, i wasn’t altogether sure you’d understood what the over-arching theme of this diary was. from the first link, a snippet:

          “Shooting sulfur particles into the stratosphere to reflect the sun? Dumping iron into the ocean to boost the absorption of carbon dioxide? Could these far-fetched and dangerous-sounding schemes help avert potentially catastrophic effects of climate change, or would they exacerbate conditions on our ever warming planet? These strategies, which involve the deliberate and large-scale intervention in our climate system to moderate global warming, are known as geoengineering. Fantastical as they seem, billionaires Bill Gates, Sir Richard Branson and others, are investing millions of dollars into the geoengineering research of a few leading climate scientists like Ken Caldeira at Stanford. At first, Caldeira thought geoengineering sounded crazy too, but his research showed that it would basically work.” what could go wrong?

          perhaps when i do part II it might become clearer? best to you in any event.

          • I do know about such things. Sorry you didn’t see what I was intending with my post, no worries!

            • ah, you were teasing. and sorry if i missed why you brought your hunziker (sp?) link. i keep saying that i’ll learn to read one day soon. prolly after y’all laugh me off the internets for epic memory failure, to say the truth. ;-)

              but as far as birrrrds, from where i sit at my ‘desk’ (which is a portion of the dining table), out the window is a maple in glorious colors. and if color can be such, there’s been a veritable cacophony of blue-feathered birds vying for the last of this year’s seeds: magpies, scrub jays, and stellar jays, the dark ones who sport pointed hats and white eyebrows.

              we keep hearing that actual blue jays and cardinals have been seen on the eastern slope due to climate change, and ooof! i hope some come here…kinda as ‘cold comfort climate change’, i guess. fall here is gorgeous, but as a harbinger of winter to come…eeep.

  2. oh, and don’t i wish they ‘knew their songs well before they start singing’

  3. son of a son of a j

    oh lord, this whole eco-tech racket is designed to shield us from one question: the economy *for whom*? if we just throw up some solar panels, we can completely avoid asking just what the hell “the economy” has been about for…maybe forever, but we’ll stick w/the last 500 years. will this new green economy demand mass enslavement & the murder & despoliation of the natives? no? eliminate those w/a flip of the new switch, huh? how can one know that who has not the slightest interest in why & how those things happened in the 1st place? now one of those dumb Pierce Brosnan James Bond movies already figured out that if the sun becomes the primary energy source, the energy of the future, power comes from controlling it & weaponizing it. Forget the weaponizing part (done w/big space mirrors & whatev in the Bond flick), but control of the technology exploiting an energy source (like solar battery packs or gas prices) is control of the energy source. Sticking up all the god dams in the world for hydro does nothing about resource distribution.

    the beneficiaries of the existing order have a very difficult time groking any of this. “…superficial notions of evolution…
    become, in the popular mind, a means of disowning the past…” 4 quartets

    • but hey, j son of a j son of a j…when bill gates, richard branson, and billy mckibben talk…people listen! and that’s part of what the epic danger of ‘big brands’ is. esp. when they are backed by millions of billions of ill-gotten booty bucks.

      billy just tweeted about oxford and paris out-lawing cars w/ internal combustion engines; now gov. moon beam is, cuz: the tech is cheaper, better, and ya can now go 500 miles! before ya need a charge. nuttin’ about funding actual, reliable, cheap, public transportation, which yes, might exist in paris and oxford… but oooof, think of the cost of EVs, not to mention the external costs, well, you know the list. just stop consuming so much shit, making continual war, farming sustainably…just doesn’t have the sexy ring to it, does it?

      oh, and was obomba’s clean carbon plan or whatever it is/was…so much nothin’, or a real thing? ‘Trump negates it!!!’ i guess moar coal, more drilling, but what the hell, over by now? oooh, i have some crazy stuff on ‘carbon capture’ for a second post.

      • James Hansen’s posted a couple of short items recently about the Michael Foster case, a just-convicted (on three of four counts against him) Keystone-XL protester. Convicted of turning off a valve on the Keystone 1 pipeline briefly.

        Anyhoo, in the first piece, in addition to that, he talks about the sham of Paris and the fecklessness/perfidity of politicians today:

        “Representatives of the party dominated by deniers, are honest crooks. They don’t hide the fact that they are on the take from the fossil fuel industry. Science be damned; it’s all about money.

        History may find the other party to be more destructive. They fool the public and themselves. They are the Neville Chamberlain party. They pretended that the Kyoto Protocol would do something. Now they pretend that the Paris Agreement does something. Kyoto and Paris are analogous to what Churchill described as “half-measures,” and “soothing and baffling expedients.” As a result, young people will be “entering a period of consequences”.

        Have you heard the hogwash about the world turning the corner, moving to clean energies, phasing out fossil fuels? You heard it in 2015 with all the politicians clapping each other on the back in Paris. You can read it daily in “Big Green” propaganda machines, such as EcoWatch, just to pick on one of them. Let’s look at real-world data for the quantity that matters.

        […]

        Wait a minute! Didn’t Jerry Brown just renew cap-and-trade, with hoopla? Isn’t California leading us on the right track! Hogwash. That scheme locks in fracked gas for decades, freely allocates allowances to polluters, provides offsets that virtually ensure carbon prices hug the floor, and thus does vanishingly little to reduce emissions. That is no model for our nation or any other. I once called Brown’s cap-and-trade approach half-baked and half-assed to Jerry’s face at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. Some in the audience gasped, but Jerry took it in stride – he is, after all, a tough guy with a sense of humor. Jerry defended his program as “pretty darned good.” In truth, it’s pretty damned bad. It is not plausible to get rapid phasedown of global fossil fuel emissions without an across-the-board global carbon fee, and the public will not accept ensuing price increases unless the money is distributed to the public, not grabbed by government for pet projects. A “cap” approach cannot achieve rapidly declining global emissions. What is the “cap” on India? Jerry likes the cap approach; it allows backroom deals with the fossil fuel industry and he is able to grab the people’s money for a monument: a 20th century LA-SF railroad. If Jerry Brown had chosen a simple honest carbon fee-and-dividend, California could have led the world to a climate solution. Instead, baffling half-measures.”

        In the second piece he tackles the sort of investments that’ll be needed to remove carbon from the air, and let’s just say he thinks it’s improbable.

        “The requirement of extracting CO2 from the atmosphere will fall upon today’s young people and their children, as today’s adults have yet to develop and seriously consider, no less commit to, any serious program to extract of massive amounts of CO2 from the air. This “young people’s burden,” the need to somehow achieve negative CO2 emissions in the middle and latter part of this century, has been quietly inserted into all studies of the United Nations modeling group (IPCC) in their scenarios that attempt to stabilize climate. But it simply will not happen absent a conscious, concerted international effort, and its costs seem likely to be unbearable.

        Let us first note the estimated cost of negative emissions. Smith et al. (2016) [5] review estimated costs for a wide range of proposed methods of extracting CO2, concluding that costs are at least $150-350/tC, where tC is a ton of carbon. Thus the cost of extracting 100 PgC is $15-35 trillion. Let’s assume the emitting nations agree to cover this cost, spread over the last 75 years of this century. The bill would be $200-467 billion/year. The United States is responsible for 25% of the excess CO2 in the air from fossil fuel use, so the proportionate U.S. annual bill is $50-117 billion/year for each 100 PgC of extraction.

        However, carbon extraction needed to stabilize climate is likely to be much more than 100 PgC. If fossil fuel emissions remain constant, the extraction requirement is 695 PgC (Fig. 2). Thus the cost of removing the CO2 from the air would be about a factor of seven larger than for 100 PgC. I am not saying that young people will actually be able to come up with the resources to clean up this mess. Our “Young People’s Burden” paper [2] concluded that “Continued high fossil fuel emissions unarguably sentences young people to either a massive, implausible cleanup or growing deleterious climate impacts or both.”

        • thanks, greyson smythe, and i hope it’s okay i removed the blockquotes. i have a hard time reading the italics w/ my crap eyes. nice to see he noted the US’s huuuuge carbon footprint, but yes, he did sorta/kinda get that ‘young people’ would actually be able to pony up that kind of lucre for carbon capture. (more on a bogus study or two about that in a coming ‘ecomodernism v. ecosocialism’ soon.)

          yeah, some of the charges of terrorism against standing rock water protectors were sincerely ugly, and they faced mercenary forces (Xe?) barbarity not unlike what the civil guardia did do voters in catalonia.

          heh, good on him for showing what a relative zero barry 0’s clean power plan was. i poked about a bit and kinda laughed about it, just…coal fire power plant emissions, and planned aspirations by each state, yada, yada. now i covered the paris ‘talks’ here, and imo, it was even worse than hansen made out. and of course, none of the ‘final agreement’ was binding in any bleeping way. although the g-20 sustainability conference in __, SA (rio?), might even have been worse. except for the indigenous side meetings, and it was they who taught me the evils of capitalism. their various manifestos were…extraordinary.

          aha; they’re all under this category. file under: blog whores R us.

      • Oh, and vis-a-vis the Clean Power Plan, Hansen has this to say (first article):

        The Clean Power Plan will be Obama’s legacy – a tiny short-term dent that at best encouraged widened use of natural gas. Some legacy! Obama blew the enormous opportunities that he had, both early and late.

  4. Eggs o’ Lent, wd. Was gonna rant & ramble & roll on ’til I got to Phil’s ‘Walking’ which pretty much summarizes what you didn’t mention already at greater length.

    If you want to know how many acres of south-facing roof you can find in Alabama or how much wind blows across Zimbabwe, these are the folks to ask.

    Quips like that are what make me, someone who’d never do such a thing, want to punch smugness in the face. An additional reason Libs irritate me more than their ostensible & ostensibly conservative enemies is that the enemy, however hypocritically, is on the money about Libs opposing self-sufficiency at every turn (again, not really, but they play that on TV).

    Want to see 100%? It exists. But it will never on an industrial level. On the contrary. The industry fights off-the-griders where they notice them with plenty of help from their ‘centrist’ reps of every stripe. You know, ‘Crats who live in ‘the real world’ and their ‘Can’ colleagues who’ll kick ’em when they’re down but can be counted on for the ‘common sense’ vote when it comes to bi-partisan energy bills (I really wish they wouldn’t force me into using quotation marks so much – it’s so inelegant).

    As long there’s money to be made, it will always be such that “as much energy is required to install and operate electric facilities as they will end up generating in their operating lifetimes.” The industry calls the shots. Libs will counter using models in Germany, without getting too deep into the details and completely ignoring the current politics, which has reduced the subsidies, which, would have to be so much massively more to get Big Fossils to switch over. This, I guess you could say, is where the Lib might cite where everyone has to sacrifice and do their part: only to be taxed and generate enough revenue to bribe everyone at the top who will lead us into the future with corporate logos featuring rainbow striped lollipop-windmills and sun-powered fighter jets w/ clean-nuclear sidewinders.

    • ha; did you catch me off-guard w/ ‘eggs o’ lent’, davidly. wot? isn’t lent in the spring? before the easter bunny? srsly, i’ had to read it out loud, oh my demented mind. but eggs ‘o lent comment, mein herr. but you put your finger right onto the characteristic that bugs me so much: ‘smugness’, and i join you in imagining poppin’ some of em right in the nose, wherever.

      rockstroh is a true genius, isn’t he? he can lyrically help us see through the capitalist con game with imagery that won’t allow us to hide from what he sees, knows, and intuits… (more later on that, perhaps) later on edit: almost as though he can channel a parallel universe in which… capital doesn’t rule.

      but yes, as long as there’s money to be made. and i’d add those like ruffalo and his ‘solutions projects’, a kinda ‘donate to our supply stream and we’ll map clean energy projections for you!’ so much happy, happy, joy joy that is a total distraction to what could have been, should have been…were it not for the lords of capital jiggering it all.

      but oh, my, your final paragraph is fine, especially ‘…lead us into the future with corporate logos featuring rainbow striped lollipop-windmills and sun-powered fighter jets w/ clean-nuclear sidewinders’.

      happens that b. kampark at CP has narrated ‘Big Batteries: Elon Musk and Powering South Australia‘, gob-smacking hubris, secret dollars ‘deal’, dudn’t even have to care if he ‘loses the bet’, but oh yes, oh, yes: he’ll do the same for puerto rico. sigh.

      but see, mark ruffalo’s homies are Superheroes! a veritable rainbow coalition! and yeah, he brought solar panels to standing rock just before the big, big, bulldozers…shut down the camps. and to great acclaim, of course; sorry for the cynicism. or am i? not sure some days.

      • Rockstroh’s writing is evocative and an axe to the root:

        ‘Eric Hoffer summarized the hapless state of being thus: “You can never get enough of what you don’t need to make you happy.”

        That is why the following incantation cast by the dark magicians of the consumer paradigm seizes the psyche, literally steals one’s soul: “No one can eat just one.”

        Attention: Consumer State shoppers: The world was never your oyster – nor your salt-spiked snack food. Beware, although you believe you possess the consumer item, in reality, the consumer item possesses you.’

        • ‘an axe to the root’; how succinct, greyson smythe. i’ll have to wait to check out your other comments. mr. wd just cleaned the wood stove, the pipes, and the tall chimney, and we are soooty and dusty altogether. we’ll clean, sorta dust, have some lunch, a bit of a rest, then…later, after some java when my laryngitis clears…and i can talk… ;-)

  5. ‘I Just Dropped Dead Inside Myself…’

    She explained softly, quietly
    to the Stranger listening patiently
    upon the other end of the telephone line.
    “I became a Ghost, trapped,
    and destined to roam around,
    inside the ruins of what my life had now become.
    At first, I searched the horizon,
    in every direction,
    for a Beacon,
    a Lighthouse to help steer my desolate course
    away from the jagged rocks
    which I had become soul-shipwrecked upon.
    A distant Sail of Rescue did not come…
    and as the weeks ground into months,
    until finally a new calendar replaced the old,
    I realized that I was looking for Hope
    in the wrong place.
    That I would have to fight this Struggle
    alone to begin with…
    so here I am, still Lost and Butchered…
    not asking for Help exactly,
    but, only the smallest hand of Encouragement.”

    ~ Paul Tristram, today, dissident voice

  6. son of a son of a j

    we’ve already gone a couple of rounds w/this asshole here at c-b (hope we at least hurt his fee fees) but just look at the home & cars & suburban neighborhoods that can be maintained sustainably! no need to watch the whole thing, just scroll thru on the preview bar, look where the talk is being held & who the audience is. your lifestyle? same as it ever was, except on solar now. some of the graphics & images tell more truth than he’d like to admit. I couldn’t find it but there’s one viddy of his talks w/a graphic of the blazing sun like one mile from the earth and directly over the US. so to get to this solar fantasy land we 1st have to move the sun (or earth) 92.999 million miles closer together. got that everyone?

    people eat this tesla crap up. desperate to hear how good for the earth their Prius is.

    and fyi per wsws on the northern CA fires, there are now 100k more homeless people today than a week or so ago.

    • lol: ‘electric car, full solar house! it solves the whole energy equation!’ i’ll take two of each, won’t you? dunno if any of the dos coxes ‘waking up from the dream’ technical problems apply, but tesla at least notes that ‘climate change is becoming a serious problem’, so…there’s that. too bad he forget to mention that there’s plenny good money to be made by…’

      well, aren’t there at least 600 still missing in the CA fires? that’s harsh, not knowing if your loved ones survived. telesur’s reporting major wildfires in spain and portugal, as well.

      might just write up on the 60 minutes exposé, partially for the sick news, partially to ask a few questions…instead of part II: ecomodernism v. ecosocialism. oh, davidly had mentioned germany and solar, st. mckibben ‘jobs jobs jobs!, and this was hard to grasp for me, but adding trump to it may have made it a ‘mist read’ for many. beats me.

      ‘Could Trump be About to Kill U.S. Solar Industry Jobs?’, Counterpunch Bavaria!

      and think how many years it would take before the working poor could afford a used tesla. sheeesh, california. but never fear! the motor city auto makers are gettin’ into EVs big time….

  7. There is a lot going on in your title – 100% renewable energy, capitalism, and climate saviors. And the event that is causing all the effervescent optimism is the cost of installation of solar and wind (per KWH) dropping below the cost of fossil fuels is most places and way below nuclear power. So ramping up demand for new installations is the way that the industry and its allies (like McKibben) are playing the capitalist game (other games having been amputated in the United States in 1946.)

    The situation is that it no longer requires government to subsidize renewables in order for them to be competitive; economies of scale have arrived. That is good no matter how you deal with these issues.

    Exactly forty years ago, Amory Lovins (yes, still looking at the “natural capitalist” side here) published Soft Energy Paths: Towards a Durable Peace. The logic of his argument then was that the way forward toward renewable energy comes from matching the energy quality of the demand with the energy quality of the supply. It is a conservation strategy. He said that you don’t need the high temperatures of nuclear power stepped down through a long-distance transmission network line losses in order to fulfill most household energy requirements. And you needed high-temperature generation only for certain high-temperature industrial processes, which tended to be concentrated in economies of scale instead of distributed.

    Second, you don’t need to generate electricity and convert it to heat unless the electric furnace is the most efficient process for the application. There is a role for a small amount of fossil fuels wisely rationed out as the “mother nature’s savings accounts” they are.

    Third, nuclear power generation (in its 1970s) form is destabilizing and leads to proliferation of nuclear weapons. It would be best to tightly control its use and its applications, if not eliminate nuclear power generation altogether. The only demand are very high temperature requirements, and the engineering of containment was not there in 1977 and still is not there. There really is no current demand for those temperatures.

    Soft energy paths thus became the buzz word of the late 1970s, a time when capitalism was not seen as problematic as it was in the 1930s and is now.

    There are some insights that have been gained since Amory Lovins wrote. (1) Models of free markets that do not force supply-demand equilibrium cannot guarantee trends away from inequality nor stability of the market system; to survive long-term they always require regulation and redistribution. (2) Connection through transmission systems provides efficiencies in cities and tight concentrations of industry but does not for residential and certainly not for rural uses. (3) Energy became partisan during the Carter administration in which calls for thrift and conservation were called “freezing in the dark”. (4) Much engineering of large-scale wind and solar has been done since the wind-turbine on a mountain near Boone NC was taken down in the early Reagan administration. (5) People in the neoliberal world are beginning to discover that infrastructure cannot be privatized (without tight regulation that turns them into a quasi-government agency) and preserved the function of delivering goods and services to everyone instead of rationing on the basis of ability to pay. (6) Batteries have become important in matching sources to demand (a function that transmission lines do). (7) Lovins matching of energy quality requires some design intelligence to place energy supplies and loads; after 40 years, no one has thought through how that works outside independent households with disconnected distributed systems or dedicated high-temperature applications; conceptually, it does not scale up well.

    The Republican taker over of the NC General Assembly started out in 2010 encouraging offshore oil lease in lockstep with the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity. Local pushback by beachfront-owning Republicans have seen that plan dropped.

    A more promising plan would be to put over-the-horizon (no visible from shore) wind turbines on Frying Pan Shoals (east of Wilmington NC) and transmission lines over the 75 miles to shore. The shoals provide a shallow sea for construction; construction firms with North Sea experience should be capable of the work required (I don’t know if there are 75-mile long transmission lines over-or-under water from wind farms there.) And, of course, the technology must withstand storm surge (on a shoals) and wind gusts from super-storm CAT 5 hurricanes. I don’t think the ideas of reducing hurricane strength is a well-thought-out speculation; more like an idle hope for massive deployment (how many is massive enough) of wind turbines. I myself would like to see a test of this offshore generation. There are a number of problematic shoals all along the NC coast that might be useful.

    One of the interesting tests in the 1950s of nuclear naval propulsion was the Nuclear Ship Savannah (NS Savannah), a prototype of a nuclear-powered merchant ship. (It is now a museum exhibit at “Patriot Point” in Charleston SC.) One wonders why it was never rolled out to merchant fleets. The use of nuclear propulsion by the US Navy seems to indicate that is it a workable and reliable technology. Well, yes, there is the matter of how many vessels would have to be replaced or retrofitted and how few are them are US-owned vessels.

    At this point, the movement mobilized by McKibben, Gore, and others has become mostly political noise.

    • j son of a son of a j

      “fossil fuels don’t kill planets; people do.” I don’t think anyone would disagree here that there is a limited use for fossil fuels & no use for nuclear except in very limited applications (medical, KERN making a wormhole to Satan’s kitchen, etc.) does it matter if nuclear is viable for pushing big weapons around the oceans (or just regular ol’ ships) if the waste cannot be controlled?

      “The situation is that it no longer requires government to subsidize renewables in order for them to be competitive; economies of scale have arrived. That is good no matter how you deal with these issues.” fossil fuels will never ever be replaced by renewables, if the goal is maintenance of late 20th c. suburban USaian lifestyles. there is no economy of scale. solar is “cheap” now cuz it’s mostly being made in China. we start our “green revolution” by continuing the hyper-exploitation of cheap foreign labor & then say, “see! renewables are competitive!”

      and just who is defining the “competition” b/n a windmill & a combustion engine? why is this of concern except if maintaining a certain in itself not sustainable consumer lifestyle is the goal?

      • j son of a j x3, i’d poked about a bit to discover how long solar panels last, because last figure i’d seen some years ago mentioned it was about ten years. only claims i found the other day were from solar organizations, noting twenty years give or take, depending on the ‘cost’ of the product, which to me meant cheap, flimsy, v. durable, expensive. now tesla’s sexy glass shingles would be a whole different thing, as are ‘solar roadways’ and gofundme’s for same.

    • well, you said a mouthful here, thd, so i’ll need to choose which parts to respond to, or even am able respond to. ‘-) first, i guess, is this: ‘ And the event that is causing all the effervescent optimism is the cost of installation of solar and wind (per KWH) dropping below the cost of fossil fuels is most places…’ now installation is one thing (esp. if one doesn’t consider the external costs to the ecosystem, carbon footprint of production of same, etc. storage is a whole ‘nother thing, especially if bestest ever battery storage is lithium and other rare minerals. i reckon lithium is a big reason to stay another ten years occupying afghanistan.

      but no subsidies? that i hadn’t known, myself. some of these folks keep talking about ‘public-private partnerships’, but i haven’t seen specifics mentioned. and aren’t there boatloads of fossil fuel generating stations already? coal, oil, and fracked gas? maybe i’m talking thru my hat, but i would have thought so, given that amerika began exporting oil and crap coal again not long ago. and the newest nuke stations did get a big financial boost from obomba in terms of cheap loans, etc.

      i do like where you say amory lovins was heading, but i’m not sure what he means by ‘quality’. but yes indeed, energy production has indeed been influenced by politics, rather than wisdom or true sustainability. i like ‘freeze in the dark’ a lot.

      interesting thoughts about wind generation in the shoals off the coast of NC. it’s not proof positive, but i do remember reading comments on ‘solutions’ post irma and maria that many turbines went off-line, but i hadn’t checked out the supporting links. as for nuclear powered vessels, i can’t speak at all intelligently on that, except to ask if US tridents become a major issue in the EU, as in: just say no?

      if and when i get up part II, we might be able to see more about ecosocialism. but yes, as to my title: the US consumer culture is the major culprit in the 100% dreamers, imo. phil rockstroh said it right.

      on edit: i heartily disagree w/ mckibben and gore being just ‘political noise’, gates and friends and geo-engineering, as well. and that’s simply political, imo.

      on edit expansion on mckibben: his brand is soooo strong and respected that folks everywhere look to him as they look to a god. so if he says that without sacrificing consumerism, factory ag, and empire…we can still have it all w/ 100% ‘renewables’, that’s the take-away of the progressive/librul class ‘climate change protest’ class. fer crissake, he can call the press to come take his photo in front of a (stopped bulldozer, no operator) and write up his ‘solo protests’, usually something to do with…the keystone xl, while myriad other eco-protests, including pipelines, go begging.

      the truth hiding in plain sight (pretending to laugh), i reckon:

  8. TotAlly OT, but I can’t find a suitable comments place on my phone –

    I have good news from NZ:

    National is OUT, Labour is IN!

    Alll thanks to my distant cousin Winston!

    The Who’s down in Whosville are celebrating – oh boy they are! And take a look at the Herald headlines – doom and gloom at Empire headquarters. ( Yes, I’m mixing my media references, gonna savor this whilst I can!)

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