American Elephants

What We Can Learn From Spaghetti Sauce by The Elephant's Child

Malcolm Gladwell, author of Tipping Point and Blink, talks about the food industry’s search for the perfect spaghetti sauce, and makes some larger points about human happiness, and the nature of choice.

It’s Not Easy Being Green, And It’s Hard to Stop. by The Elephant's Child

Predictions: This one comes from Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive officer of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Michael Economides, in an essay at the Energy Tribune describes him as a man who has a firm grasp on the big picture. Ghosn told an industry gathering that “several paradigm shifts” have the potential to severely disrupt the auto industry — and the planet. He predicts that, by 2050, there may be as many as 2.5 billion vehicles on earth, compared with fewer than 1 billion now. China and India will account for half the growth. The transportation sector is overwhelmingly dependent on fuels derived from crude oil and will be for the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, the ideologically blinkered Obama administration continues to behave as if it can magically banish the fossil fuel economy with more Solyndra-like subsidies to cronies, punitive taxes on U.S. energy producers, and politically motivated delay tactics.

For three years, the White House has declared war on fossil fuels, which is like saying it has declared war on the U.S. economy. The ideologues in the White House are marching in lockstep with their masters in the environmentalist movement. They are dangerously ignoring the “demand shock” that has characterized energy markets in recent years, and the warning from the International Energy Association (IEA) recently that, “In a world full of uncertainty, one thing is sure: rising incomes & population will push energy needs higher.”

By its deeds – not its flowery words and talking points – we saw last year how the White House failed to develop energy policy according to this new global reality. President Obama punted on the crucial and urgent need to greenlight the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring 700,000 barrels per day of Canadian crude oil and would ignite $20 billion in related economic activity, knit the U.S. into the vast Canadian oil sands, and dramatically strengthen our energy security.

In Europe, governments have been crippled by European Union requirements that a significant percentage of their energy come from “renewable” sources. With a succession of very cold winters, and suffering economies, they are taking a hard look at those requirements. The Dutch, for whom those wonderful old windmills are an iconic symbol, have thrown in the towel on offshore wind power. They cannot afford subsidies for expensive wind turbines that cannot produce electricity at economically competitive prices.

Germany, in love with solar energy because the get so little sun, has found that solar power is at least four times more costly than the energy from fossil fuels. And, of course, it has the habit of not working at night just when electricity is needed most. They are cutting their subsidies, and planning to completely phase out taxpayer support over the next five years.

In Britain, 101 Tory Members of Parliament have written to the Prime Minister demanding that the £400 million-a-year subsidies to the “inefficient” onshore wind turbine industry are “dramatically cut.”Joined by some MPs from other parties, they have called on Mr. Cameron to tighten up planning laws so that local people have a better chance of stopping wind farms from being developed and protecting the countryside.

Chris Huhne, former Energy Secretary, was an enthusiast for wind farms. At least 4,500 more turbines are expected to go up as required by the government’s legally binding targets for cutting carbon emissions.

The IPCC scared governments with their computer projections of global warming. Those have proved to be fraudulent, and the IPCC has moved on, but governments are not ready to admit that they were mistaken. Freezing winters that play hob with power supplies, kill people from the cold, and troubled economies are bringing a new caution. Renewable energy is turning out to be very costly and is not producing the energy promised.

Here in the U.S. the majority of states have required their utilities to get a significant portion of their energy from “renewable” sources. They will not meet those goals. The EPA requires 8.65 million gallons of cellulosic fuel to be blended into gasoline for 2012. The only problem is that no cellulosic fuel is being produced — it’s still a fantasy.  But nevermind. The Obama administration pushes on. They do not grasp the nature of the big energy picture, nor do they have an energy policy.  Neither rain nor snow nor scandals nor bankruptcies will slow their drive to be ever more green.

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