Monday, June 30, 2008

Leonard Cohen at Glastonbury 2008


There Ain’t No Cure for Love:


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Counteracting Global Warming by Manipulating the Earth’s Albedo

Theoretically, global warming can be reversed by reflecting more of the sun’s energy back into space. The cheapest and simplest solution to global warming I’ve seen is to increase cloud cover by spurting seawater up into the sky. This short video about it is well worth watching:

Another plan, the Global Albedo Enhancement Project, involves covering a vast area of desert in white plastic. Keeping the plastic white seems to be the hard part. The use of vacuum-cleaner robots has been considered.

There are also things that the average citizen can do to help raise the earth’s albedo.

What got me thinking about albedo was this article from Tree Hugger.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Good News On the Environment

Sapphire Energy claims that it has a scalable and cost-effective method of producing gasoline from algae, sunlight, and carbon dioxide. It seems too good to be true, but the company does boast the support of the prestigious Wellcome Trust, so maybe they really can do it! I recently read that converting the entire US corn crop to ethanol would still only produce enough to meet 6% of the country’s gasoline needs, so it looks like algae and electric power are the best options. Link.

Here’s a radical idea for a sales tax on carbon that is then refunded directly back to consumers: carbon emissions are reduced and the cash goes back to the people. There is an obvious element of wealth redistribution that diehard capitalists might find objectionable, but in theory you can escape the tax for the most part by purchasing different products. It’s way out there, but it just might be brilliant. Link.

The Portugese are world leaders on renewable energy. They are building the world’s largest photovoltaic solar farm and stimulating their economy by developing clean-energy manufacturing industries. Link.

Britain is building enough wind turbines to power all of its homes. China is trumping that by aiming for a tremendous 100 gigawatts of wind. That's an increase that is about equal to the entire amount of wind-produced electricity currently available worldwide. Unfortunately, with about 20 times the population of Britain China’s future energy needs are projected to be so immense that even 100 gigawatts will only make up about 5% of the requirement.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A dedicated gas tax would effectively fund clean energy

There are few good options for raising the enormous amounts of money needed in order to transform into a clean-energy economy. I think a 5% gas tax is a very attractive option if the funds are dedicated solely to the development of renewable energies like wind, solar, algae, etc. The tax could be implemented at the beginning of the year when gas prices are lower. This approach would actually provide an incentive for oil-producers to keep prices down: the higher the price of gas went, the more money would be put into developing alternative products.

The idea is not as unpopular as one might suppose:

The US consumes about 12 billion gallons of gas a month. At $4 a gallon, that’s 48 billion dollars, so a 5% tax could bring in $2.4 billion monthly or $28.8 billion annually. Scientific American calculated the cost of converting the US to solar power at $420 billion over forty years. A 5% gas tax would take about fifteen years to raise that amount if gas use remained stable and the pre-tax price averaged $4.00 per gallon. However, I expect that after 2015 the number of vehicles using gas will start to decrease rapidly. If the dedicated gas tax failed to influence oil poducers to keep prices low, it would at least encourage the purchase of alternative vehicles.

I think a 10% dedicated tax would be even better! Whatever the percentage, the tax would terminate when use of gasoline in vehicles ended.

Graph found at the Breakthrough Institute blog.

(This post is an alternative to a previous post suggesting a monthly use tax on vehicles, which I deleted)