“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” - Often attributed to Plato but likely from Ian McLaren (pseudonym of Reverend John Watson)

Monday, July 19, 2010


I'd always just used Google Analytics to check my meager traffic flow, not noticing the "Stats" tab on my Blogger dashboard. I've been looking that over and it's pretty cool. But, amazingly, when I look at the "Audience" tab, for last week the country with the second largest number of pageviews on my blog was Moldova. That's right: USA; Moldova; Canada. On the all time list, Moldova is in sixth place behind: USA; Canada; Germany; Philippines; and Japan. What am I saying that's of keen interest to Moldovans? Please chime in!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Subsidies, no, no subsidies...

One of the criticisms I read consistently of governmental encouragement of renewable energy (feed in tariffs, renewable portfolio standards, tax incentives, etc.) is that this artificially distorts markets, thereby leading to inefficiencies. "Let the free market decide" is the cry from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the American Petroleum Institute, etc.

So it strikes me as ludicrous and ironic to read the extent to which the oil industry relies on subsidies, and to read the rationalizations provided for it. I've mentioned many times that I'm philosophically inclined toward market-based policies but that I believe they'll be insufficient to get us through times of diminishing primary energy supplies at increasing prices and sporadic availability, together with climatic effects of burning fossil fuels with very large inertia with respect to delays between emissions changes and effects.

So what we seem to have here is proposing that technologies that could help with our energy and climate dilemmas fend for themselves while those that contribute most to the variety of problems receive massive subsidies. Can anyone call this sane? There is absolutely no question that we need, and will continue to need, fossil fuels in massive quantities far into the future. They are intrinsic to much more than the generation of electrical energy and liquid fuels for transportation. But converging events make weaning ourselves from those areas where it's possible on a generational time scale critical. Because corporations' only responsibility is to maximize shareholder value, and shareholders value reliable short term returns above all else whereas the needed developments are quite long term, market intervention will, I'm sorry to say, be necessary.