Thursday, May 25, 2006

If you want to reduce food miles, tax the food truck

I don't believe local food markets reduce the environmental burden of bringing food to our plate, although it may well be healthier and a good social outing. My back of the envelope calculations are that if there is less food to carry, the extra energy will be used bringing fertilizer for the local growers; extra fuel for the people who make a special trip to the food market etc. Infact, it really is impossible to tell whether it makes any difference, but it sure makes everybody feel better about it. Being pro-active doesn't require proof that it is making any difference. Contrast this to a simple carbon tax. Everyone gets punished or rewarded depending on how much they use/save. It is all proportional. Put the carbon tax high enough and the food markets will generate themselves if they really do reduce CO2 emmissions.

Does the carbon tax then give an overall burden on the economy? Not if there is no exemptions. The money that goes to the Government can be used for whatever purpose we feel necessary. If there are exemptions, the exempt will have more options and more incentive to consume carbon, and more of it available because the non-exempt are saving it for them.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Answer - Smaller "NIMBY" footprint!!!

AHA. So what was the question? Why would a green-ly inclined Premier build a desalination plant in Sydney? The alternative of another dam involves incalculable number of "Not In My Back Yard" ers. The other answer is how the "culled" trees get treated. For general expansion of Sydney all trees are killed humanely (ie. chopped down quickly) and the animals which relied on those native trees could move on (a bit like the early settlers thought about aboriginals). With a dam being built, the imagination is that basically everything gets drowned - a slow and painful death.

This is also why Hydro-electric schemes get fought tooth and nail by environmentalists, despite the incredible number of carbon credits over a number of centuries of likely operation. Meanwhile, fossil fuel powered schemes just find an existing industrial complex to attach themselves to WITHOUT A SINGLE PROTESTER!
ACT LOCALLY - yeah right, as long as no big ugly dam, wind turbine, solar generation stack, farm etc. doesn't end up in my back yard!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

When I lost Faith in all environmental activists

It was in third year University, at the refectory, watching a debate about a hydro-electric dam proposal somewhere in North Queensland. My primary interest was that because it was the World's most popular and effective type of renewable energy, we may turn the corner and have a bias towards these type of projects and away from coal and gas powered stations. I was sadly mistaken. The local environmental speakers pointed out that we should be reducing demand by using less electricity in the home by turning off lights etc. etc. and not building new power stations (oh yeah, and not needing them anyway). The scheme was shelved - Not one single hydro power project has been built in NQ. Several gas power stations have been built. Coal fired stations that had been out of commission for years were re-started. Meanwhile, electricity demand has increased steadily by about 8% per year. Since that time I would estimate our (NQ) CO2 emmissions have doubled. Meanwhile at the university, virgin wilderness surrounding it has been built on for new accommodation and general expansion. Surely the environmental activist movement could have picked a different project to pick their fight on. Environmental activists are still aiding fights against wind farms, tidal energy projects and the list goes on. Any project that is "big" and "new" is automatically seen as bad and fought tooth and nail - but the gradual but certain expansion of existing facilities is completely ignored.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Evil market-distorting subsidies come good - Exception that proves the rule

The amazing force for good that high petrol prices have shown to be, even made a previously insanely counterproductive Brazilian ethanol subsidy almost return a break even after all those years of being a junk bond investment. High petrol prices also help our sugar farmers, only due to the Brazilian swing production status which connects the two. The advent of carbon trading has made Uranium more financially desirable. It is time to make a global pollution emissions trading system. Radiation emissions/waste products trading for instance, should be trialled to counter the "carbon bias" of current environmental regimes. Nasty coercive regulation should be contrasted with "minimum necessary regulation" which is better than self-regulation or free for all. Flexible regulation involving trading of the "commons" resource is good if it can prevent the tragedy of the commons, which is what we should be fearing. Technologies that "can" save the world are useless if there is no individual incentive to research and apply them.

evildrclam says:Hooray for rising petrol prices! Rising petrol prices are a much better engine to drive the development of sustainable energy resources than nasty coercive regulation or evil market-distorting subsidies: rising prices focus pressure precisely where it is most needed, while government intervention spreads the burden with majestic impartiality over the just and the unjust alike...

'The rain it falleth on the just, and also on the unjust fellow;
But chiefly on the just, because, the unjust steals the just's umbrella.'

And, I am doing the responsible thing what you told me to, and reading the Skeptical Environmentalist. This means that sooner or later I will have to go to the trouble of constructing a great big post pointing out the errors in sites pointing out the errors in discussions of Bjorn's pointing out the errors in speeches of Al Gore's... Curses!