Environmental Economics

Update: The top post on Environmental Economics right now links to an article on MSNBC called "What happens if oil output 'peaks'"? I have to say I'm pretty impressed with the MSNBC article, which admits that right now alternative energies are mostly geared toward generating electricity, and there's no viable technology currently that will replace oil (for transportation) on a large scale.

However, regarding the price of oil and demand, they write that Europe has always had high gas prices, and we don't see their economies crumbling. As all of us here know, comparing the US to Europe is a non-starter. Their geographical landscape is entirely different than ours, with functional city centers and large rail networks. As I wrote in the comments there, people don't drive 20 miles just to go to Wal-Mart in Europe. And because of this, we cannot compare the US to Europe.

Original post: Check out this great, in-depth new blog called Environmental Economics. It's a group blog by a whole lot of economists who are experts in the topics they're writing about. It spans a lot more than peak oil, but they touch on that issue too. A little description from the site:
The Environmental Economics blog is dedicated to the dissemination of economists' views on current environmental and natural resource issues. We hope this blog will help bring economists' views on environmental issues further into the mainstream. The intended audience includes the general public and students. Posts are non-technical.

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I went and had a read or two. I guess what baffles me is that it seems economists have complete faith that trade and money will eventually sort everything out, in time. But their time-sense sems to be skewed from what we consider day to day as time passing. And then there is a complete refusal to admit that money or usury (interest) could be a problem in any way, shape or form.

From my POV, after a lot of reading and thinking and discussing, lending of money and any use of money will eventually lead to hoarding money, which is, effectively, hoarding resources, since all money is derived from resource depletion in one form or another.

We are the richest country in the world per capita, yet most of us have no real savings. Instead, we have things, possessions, stuff, junk. Those saving money (ex - China) do so to buy things, possessions, stuff, junk. This stripping bare of the Earth is called our "economy", and money velocity makes it work supposedly.

I posed some economists a few of these questions, and they were quick to avoid me by pointing out how wrong my basic assumption was. But I was simply not convinced by their arguments - maybe I'm too dumb to get it.

I would submit that if a tax were charged on money HELD by someone, the velocity of money would increase well beyond anything we imagine in this economy. How? Simply place an expiration date on currency - use it or lose it. Transactions can be done in Islamic banking fashion, with a negotiated fee.


You may want to read Michael Hudson's "THE $4.7 TRILLION PYRAMID." Michael Hudson is Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City

On a more optimistic note, World's First BioOil Powered Cogeneration Facility Delivers Power This marks the world's first BioOil fuelled gas turbine to generate power at a combined heat and power facility.

When fully commissioned, expected later this summer, up to 48 tonnes of BioOil per day (two-thirds of the fuel production capacity of the plant) will be utilized to fuel the gas turbine producing up to 2.5 MW of electricity per day - enough to serve 2,500 households - to meet the power requirements of Erie Flooring and to export electricity to Ontario's electrical energy grid. Heat generated by the turbine will produce up to 12,000 pounds of steam per hour for Erie Flooring's industrial operations.

DynaMotive's BioOil is produced using patented technology that converts forest and agricultural wastes such as bark, sawdust and sugar cane bagasse into a liquid fuel. Unlike fossil fuels, BioOil is renewable, clean burning, low in emissions and is greenhouse gas neutral. As a clean fuel for power generation in gas turbines, diesel engines and boilers

Here is a Carter era "boondoggle" that is paying off.

Carbon Dioxide for Sale

On september 14, 2000, the Dakota Gasification Company moved beyond survival. The company's one-of-a-kind chemical plant in Beulah, ND--an industrial beast that converts 18,000 tons of lignite coal into 170 million cubic feet of synthetic natural gas per day (enough to heat 2,500 homes for a year)--had been written off 15 years earlier as a government-financed boondoggle, a misbegotten product of crisis-driven U.S. energy policies. But the determined subsidiary of a rural utility defied its critics. That September day, the company took a dirty by-product--carbon dioxide--and made it a financial asset by turning on a new CO2 pipeline. Not only would the move secure the plant's viability, but it would also help clean up the environmental reputation of coal power.

Dakota Gasification operates a 300-kilometer pipeline full of carbon dioxide. This river of pollution heads north from Beulah to the aging oil fields of southeastern Saskatchewan. There the CO2 plunges a kilometer and a half below the earth's surface into thick, stubborn oil deposits. The CO2 cuts the oil's viscosity by a factor of four and eases its flow to the surface. Beulah's CO2 is expected to help extract 130 million extra barrels of oil from the Saskatchewan oil fields, for which Dakota is well compensated. Once in the ground, the carbon dioxide takes the petroleum's place, becoming trapped beneath an impermeable stack of limestone, sandstone, and shale. The process safely buries more CO2 in a year than a hundred thousand cars release in their operational lifetime.