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The US was founded on utopian dreams, and utopian dreams all too easily give way to apocalyptic longings. I sometimes think that American culture is simultaneously self-glorifying and self-loathing, a narcissistic fever dream spiralling ever-more rapidly into oblivion.

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Tl;DR: Stop waiting for technology to save us! We have the tools in hand. What's needed is regulation and public investment, not scientific miracles!

I completely agree. That said, I think that scientific miracles are easier than regulation and public investment, because I am old and jaded.

 

A couple of other notes:

 

- I completely agree that biofuels are carbon neutral and could be a good way to immediately reduce net carbon emissions. But it's not going to happen because it's expensive, and I'm old and jaded.

 

- I completely agree that we don't have time to wait. But we will.

 

- Nuclear isn't much harder now than it used to be, but renewables have eaten nuclear's lunch economically.

 

- We have a pretty good idea what battery parks will cost.

 

- I understand that electrics have been chasing ICEs for 150 years. Much the way firearms chased longbows for 300 years or electric lights chased gaslights or cell phones chased landlines. I repeat, the battery tech is here now, and is still improving rapidly while ICE tech has made only marginal improvements for decades. Honestly, if the current subsidies on fossil fuels were repealed, total cost of ownership for EVs would be decisively lower. Your linked jokes are cute, but they look dated. Whoever Lucas is, he's not Tesla or LG, or even GM or BMW.

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Tl;DR: Stop waiting for technology to save us! We have the tools in hand. What's needed is regulation and public investment, not scientific miracles!

This is never going to happen as long as Big Money is allowed to buy politicians. The Trump Admin has already rolled back regs for clean water and air as being too intrusive

 

CES

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A-hem. To follow up on my previous post, not everyone is just "waiting" for an ideal technology to Solve Everything. The point of the Nova episode I cited is that, yes, some people are working very hard to create the technologies that can Solve Something.

 

I am not the historian of technology that Lawnmower Boy says he is, but the episode incidentally claimed that early in automotive history, EVs were competitive with ICEs and it was not at all clear which would win. ICEs won because they had greater range.

 

In mentioning potential use of CO2 as chemical feedstock, I am pretty sure none of my phrasing enthused about a "perfect future." I do not appreciate having words, or sentiments, put in my mouth. I merely note that new technologies do sometimes appear and change what is economical. I make no claim for any particular technology.

 

Dean Shomshak

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In mentioning potential use of CO2 as chemical feedstock, I am pretty sure none of my phrasing enthused about a "perfect future." I do not appreciate having words, or sentiments, put in my mouth. I merely note that new technologies do sometimes appear and change what is economical. I make no claim for any particular technology.

 

Dean Shomshak

 

FWIW, I took that second perfect future comment to be more LB riffing on his first use of the phrase than attributing it to you directly.

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A-hem. To follow up on my previous post, not everyone is just "waiting" for an ideal technology to Solve Everything. The point of the Nova episode I cited is that, yes, some people are working very hard to create the technologies that can Solve Something.

 

I am not the historian of technology that Lawnmower Boy says he is, but the episode incidentally claimed that early in automotive history, EVs were competitive with ICEs and it was not at all clear which would win. ICEs won because they had greater range.

 

In mentioning potential use of CO2 as chemical feedstock, I am pretty sure none of my phrasing enthused about a "perfect future." I do not appreciate having words, or sentiments, put in my mouth. I merely note that new technologies do sometimes appear and change what is economical. I make no claim for any particular technology.

 

Dean Shomshak

 

Well, first of all, I should apologise for putting words in your mouth, Dean. Pattern Ghost has been more generous to me than I deserve. I was getting rhetorically reckless. If it is any defence, I'm pretty passionate about this. 

 

So if I can step back here, there's two issues here. Agriculture really seems to get a short shrift in these conversations. The is kind of personal for me. I grew up in a rural landscape that's been depopulating for as long as I've been alive. There's not a lot of hope or prospect of economic growth out there, and  that's true of a lot of the world --but getting all of that abandoned land back into production would not only be good for the prospects of North America's small, hometowns, but also good for global warming. People are ignoring the potential role of agriculture and discounting biofuels because --well, I'll get back to that.

 

At the same time, I can certainly appreciate the vision of an electric power plant that sucks in air at one end and spits out air with less carbon dioxide and high-octane gasoline at the other. It'd solve a lot of problems! (With a nuclear plant you could even have practically free power for it --I'm not giving up on my all nukes all the time vision easily!--, but you don't need fission or fusion, since there's a whole lot of stranded renewable energy that could be repurposed.)

 

The other issue is a more academic one. Economic historians have basically given us two pictures of technological progress. The first is one in which technological progress is "endogenous," where it comes out of economic growth --and, I would add, more problematically, population growth. If this is the case we can't count on technological progress to save us. We've essentially got the cart before the horse.

 

In the other interpretation, technological progress is "exogenous--" it comes from outside. In the memorable phrase of Joel Mokyr, doyen of historian of technology, it is a "free lunch" in the economic process. Here, it's not enough to say that I disagree, or that this idea is offering us a false hope. (Including, perhaps, the false hope that battery technology will continue to progress along the exponential curve of improvement that has been charted for it.)  More dangerously, the idea might be offered to us disingenuously. 

 

Karl Marx long ago took quite a different argument and proposed that it was "ideological," by which he meant something very uncomplimentary. People were pretending that one thing (religion) was fundamental, and that another thing (class relations) were "superstructural." Get religion right, and class relations would fall into place. In reality, religion was the superstructural element, and fiddling with it would get us nowhere. But! It made a great excuse for ignoring the problems of the poor, etc. "If we can just sort out the Lord's Supper, then all of this 'people dying in the street of hunger' stuff will sort itself out! You know, without raising our poor tax."

 

I think that technological progress has become our new God --in the "God is dead" sense, in which we don't need an actual God, so much as a story about the future and how we live that allows us to avoid the real issues. The real issue, of course, is global warming, and the story is that we don't need to do anything, because "God" is going to be along any time now to solve the problem for us.

 

I'm saying, we don't need technological progress. It would be great if it comes. But we don't need it. We need to save ourselves --with good governance, hard work, and investment.  

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I'm not sure that tech development wrt renewables and battery storage needs to be endlessly exponential, so much as it just needs to improve sufficiently to be cost competitive and cost effective. Electric cars don't need to be vastly superior to ICE cars. They just need the cost/performance/range to be comparable in order to increase adoption rates. Not having to deal with the array of maintenance issues that ICE cars habe is a selling point. Battery storage just needs to be good enough to carry through down time.

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I think that technological progress has become our new God --in the "God is dead" sense, in which we don't need an actual God, so much as a story about the future and how we live that allows us to avoid the real issues. The real issue, of course, is global warming, and the story is that we don't need to do anything, because "God" is going to be along any time now to solve the problem for us.

 

I'm saying, we don't need technological progress. It would be great if it comes. But we don't need it. We need to save ourselves --with good governance, hard work, and investment.  

 

Agreed.  But so far good governance, hard work, and investment have failed, and right now the person who's made the biggest dent in the fossil fuel hegemony is a deranged dot-com billionaire technocrat who thinks we're all living in a computer simulation.

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In a similar way, people think that increasing diversity is somehow going to magically overcome systemic racism and deeply entrenched biases and grievances. It's not. What we're seeing instead is that it draws that more to the surface and even triggers backlash and an urge towards regression of hard won progress.

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CO2 as chemical feedstock is a little problematic because carbon dioxide is an extremely stable chemical substance. In other words, it takes a lot more energy to break those C-O bonds than you're likely to get back when you then combine the carbon and oxygen with other things. Nature (and combustion) tends to make CO2 because it exists at a lower energy state than other carbon compounds. That's why there's so much CO2 around in the first place.

 

There is a lot of research going on into catalytic processes that can make carbon dioxide easier to break apart so that it can then form something else. But that's a work in progress. If someone did discover a viable way to convert CO2 into something less environmentally offensive and more practically useful, they'd almost certainly win the Nobel.

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Sure, if you want health insurance badly enough, you'll get a second or third job so you can afford it.

There's probably some principle of moving goalposts here, though: "Working 27 hours a day so you can pay for healthcare is unhealthy, so we're going to push your premiums up so you need to eat cheap process-recovered food padded out with carcinogens to keep your food bills down enough to be able to afford the cost of health insurance. But eating that crap is even more unhealthy, so we're going to increase your premium so you have to scrimp on the heating/aircon, which increases your chance of sickness, so we're going to up your contribution again..."

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But the money won't even be saved. The cost of health insurance and healthcare will go up as the customer pool shrinks. The CBO analysis shows that this plan will leave Americans worse off than they were before Obamacare.

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This isn't economic policy, it's dogmatic policy. "Smaller government is better government" is being applied across the board indiscriminately. The Republican Party sold Americans a bill of goods regarding health care, which was the easy part. Now they're under pressure to deliver on the hard part, actually making it work. At this stage the numbers not adding up isn't believed by a significant fraction of their supporters, who are taking their promises on faith. That will change if and when the changes start to hurt.

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Boy, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) just doesn't know when to quit. There are conservative calls to give him a strong primary challenge, so that's good.

 

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/323867-steve-king-hispanics-and-the-blacks-will-be-fighting-each-other

 

 

Jorge Ramos' stock in trade is identifying and trying to drive wedges between race, Race and ethnicity, I should say to be more correct. When you start accentuating the differences, then you start ending up with people that are at each other's throats.

He's adding up Hispanics and blacks into what he predicts will be in greater number than whites in America. I will predict that Hispanics and the blacks will be fighting each other before that happens.

 

Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies.

 

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But the money won't even be saved. The cost of health insurance and healthcare will go up as the customer pool shrinks. The CBO analysis shows that this plan will leave Americans worse off than they were before Obamacare.

Right. Money will be saved by the government, as if that were a separate entity with its own independent income. Any time you hear somebody talking about how "the government" with benefit, you can be sure that means the people are paying for it. If it was good for the people, they would say that instead.

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Boy, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) just doesn't know when to quit. There are conservative calls to give him a strong primary challenge, so that's good.

 

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/323867-steve-king-hispanics-and-the-blacks-will-be-fighting-each-other

 

What astonishes and sickens me is that a federal elected representative in the United State today is making public pronouncements like this, and not being pilloried from every quarter. It's like American society has rolled back fifty years. :(

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