Does Carbon have Privilege

I would like to believe we still live in a free society with the freedom of choice in how we spend our leisure time.  I am always thankful that so many others provide these amenities, and I do respect their need to bring in enough money to make them sustainable.  It worries me when I hear about farmers going out of business, being pushed out in fact because they just can’t compete with the giant corporations.  It also makes me cringe when I hear small local businesses being crushed by Walmart and Amazon.  Worse yet, Walmart goes into a town, destroys the businesses and then seems to have no remorse in shutting down when they decide it just wasn’t worth it.

A recent article condemning ski lifts who need more snow making equipment  because this increases their energy use. Read the article from New to Ski.   Didn’t these same people ban natural gas in new buildings which will increase the electric use plus cost the building operators more money.  Doesn’t anyone realize the added costs of snow making will raise ski lift ticket prices … that’s all … and given how much these tickets are already, hardly anyone will complain.  After all, they want snow!

The Washington Post article referenced here illustrates that energy has always been a significant cost for ski resorts.  If the planet is warming a bit and there is less snow, are you going to declare that they have to go out of business?  How about irrigation to increase crop yields?  Are you going to ban that?  After all, that too increases the energy use, plus it depletes the water supply.

I do think we need to ask and answer water use questions, especially in the Western US where these agribusinesses do not pay for water anyway … they have hundred year old rights to water.  Why were those rights granted?  Because they are growing food you fool!  This is part of modern business.

Rank has its privilege.  Where does carbon stand in the ranks?  The last time I checked, food and shelter took the high rank.  We can certainly live without skiing if we decided it was destroying the planet … which it is not.

Why are we continuing to tilt at this windmill?  Oh, I forgot … this is all about the money … in other people’s pockets.

Glass Windows

Our houses and buildings today have more glass than at any time in history.  We all just love looking out at the world and admiring its beauty.  OK, maybe it all is not quite so beautiful.  My wife and I were visiting our client in Newark and the motel looked over a junkyard.  The view from the desk and bed was OK … just as long as you didn’t walk over the to the window and look out from there.

As a boater, it is now quite clear that the windows to the master stateroom have grown exponentially, even if they are close to the waterline.  Years ago those windows were called portholes and were built like they were the front of diving helmets.  The main salon windows now are absolutely huge.

So what?  Well, energy efficiency of boats has never been a criteria.  After all, when you understand the fuel efficiency of a motor boat you quickly realize that is an oxymoron. When I grew up it was pretty common to think of getting 3-5 miles per gallon for my little outboard and the wooden skiff, and I could get even more if I kept the speed down.  Today’s modern yachts can get 2-3 miles per gallon if you keep the boat in a no wake condition, but they now consume between 2 and 10 gallons per mile at 20 mph and much worse if you go faster than that.

Of course, if you aren’t going anywhere, fuel efficiency doesn’t matter, and since we use our vessel as a floating condominium it actually makes sense compared to property in Sarasota.  In fact, it makes perfect sense, especially since our marina costs do not meter our electricity use.  We pay a flat fee for our power consumption, and ironically, because the marina doesn’t measure individual slip power consumption, they have no idea we use so much more electricity for both heating and cooling compared to the older boats here.

Why?  Because of the glass of course.

Today’s glazing is much more efficient than that of the past where it was about an R = 1.  The modern coatings and multiple panes can bring that up to about 4-5.  But, compared to modern wall materials, that is still pretty awful.  Modern walls are an R value of 15 and higher, and much higher if you really work at it.  Ceilings of course make these numbers look awful.

So what?  Why are we letting modern architects use so much glass if we are really obsessed with energy?  Because it helps sell you say?  Why, if this is an existential crisis, is selling good for the planet?  Because these newer homes and business buildings are better than the old ones?  Why do we need new buildings?

Why, why, why … and the list goes on if you are really thinking.

It is time to clearly recognize that the world’s path is irreconcilably conflicted if we fail to be willing to destroy economic growth.  We can’t mine our way out of the shortages of materials to build EVs and PVs.  We can’t power our way with renewables to a lower carbon footprint if we fail to stop growth of the world economies.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where breaking the glass ceiling, rightful as it is, takes precedence over facing obvious abuses like our glass windows.

I love our free capitalistic economy.  I am only pointing out that our corporations and politicians are all hypocrites if they think can continue growth this way.

DINK Implications

What do you think about the word DINK?  When I grew up it was a criticism that something was a bit too small for the task at hand.  When I was on a ski trip with my then fiancée Susan to announce our engagement, it was what a kid behind me said about the skis I was using.  As life progressed, it now means Double Income No Kids.  And this article describing the attitudes toward raising children in China speaks volumes about our current situation.

The article points out that many young couples are not having kids or are having fewer than at times in the past. They cite the costs of everything as their primary reason.  That, on the surface, seems to be a rational answer, especially given the costs of education these days.  I can speak from experience sending several kids through private preparatory schools and college.  If I did not have a good paying engineering career I wouldn’t have been able to do this.

But, perhaps we are not looking at the deeper reasoning.  Go ahead and talk to your children or those of child bearing age about this question, and compare their thoughts with your own.  You will probably see the same thing I did when I look at this.

  1. They no longer see family legacy or even family name legacy as important.  I remember so clearly how a sole surviving son was not to be sent to the front lines of a military situation … because it could wipe out the family legacy.
  2. The Royals in England use the term heir and a spare recognizing lineage to the Crown as an imperative.  Recent events bring that thought process into focus.
  3. The move away from an agrarian economy … it is no longer essential to have a large family to provide for each other.
  4. They don’t believe they will live to retirement.

That last one surprised you, didn’t it?  How can that be?  Check it out and listen carefully.  They believe the world is coming to an end as we know it and they are afraid. They have chosen to “live, eat and be merry because …” you guessed it … the end is near.  That is what the global focus on climate change has wrought!  They have no hope.

Most of us worked our whole lives to give our children and their children a better life.  We passed on that goal from our parents and grandparents.

Go ahead and check this out please.  You will not hear that attitude widely expressed.  Sure, there are notable exceptions, but they are just that … exceptions.

We can point to an almost countless list of reasons why today’s younger generation are so different, but I think it is primarily because they have DINK aspirations.  Their views of life and their places in it are just too small to be relevant.  They have been told that others are to blame.  They have not been told that it is their job to rise to the task.  The tasks now are to be dumbed down and spoon fed so they don’t have to break a sweat.

We can find blame everywhere if that is where you want to let this argument rest: social media, online gaming, plus an obsession with digital substitutes for true friendship.

Assigning blame may make us feel a bit better, but it is not going to change anything.

Insanity is …

The EV Kool-Aid

I grew up enjoying Kool-Aid during the heat of the summer … it was a refreshing, cheap, and just plain fun to make.  My entrepreneurial streak saw the opportunity to sell glasses of it to passerby pedestrians.  I think we all have an image of that glass jug with moisture on the outside and a smiley face as shown here.  What fun .. and for those who are trying to cut calories, you can even get it sugar free.  What is so wrong with all this?

Well, let’s start with those artificial sweeteners.  Do you remember the original one: saccharin?  It was banned due to fears that it caused cancer which was later discredited, but more importantly it is known to have no nutrient value … it may not be bad for you, but it is certainly not good for you.  Drink water, and please avoid bottled water.  If you want, use a filter but be aware that many of them will take the beneficial fluoride out of it.  Let’s come back to that after we take a deeper dive on what Kool Aid now means.

As Wikipedia indicates, “Drinking the Kool-Aid” is an expression used to refer to a person who believes in a possibly doomed or dangerous idea because of perceived potential high rewards. The phrase typically carries a negative connotation. It can also be used ironically or humorously to refer to accepting an idea or changing a preference due to popularity, peer pressure, or persuasion. In recent years, it has evolved further to mean extreme dedication to a cause or purpose, so extreme that one would “drink the Kool-Aid” and die for the cause.

While use of the phrase dates back to 1968 with the nonfiction book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, it is strongly associated with the events in Jonestown, Guyana, on November 18, 1978, in which over 900 members of the Peoples Temple movement died. The movement’s leader, Jim Jones, called a mass meeting at the Jonestown pavilion after the murder of U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan and others in nearby Port Kaituma. Jones proposed “revolutionary suicide” by way of ingesting a powdered drink mix made from Flavor Aid (later misidentified as Kool-Aid) that was lethally laced with cyanide and other drugs.

We are witnessing an age of artificial sweeteners on EVs … which are not helpful in a sustainable business model.  Don’t we remember when then President Obama sweetened the opportunities for smart grid implementations.  Sure, it resulted in a “pull forward” demand for these ideas but that simply resulted in a boom bust cycle.  Everyone was drunk with enthusiasm when those incentives appeared, but no one (except me) pointed out that there was going to be a disaster in the years that followed.  They had bought forward the customers who were on the fence about smart grid investments … and how could they turn down the sweeteners?

We need to cool our jets on ideas like “banning the internal combustion engine” and start teaching people how to think differently about the driving experience.  We should not be sweetening the perspective of jackrabbit performance and long range.  Where are the thoughts we learned helped like reducing speed limits which we did during the energy crises of the late 1970s.

It might be a bit harsh to compare the EV hype with Jonestown, but the parallels are clear.

We are going to kill off most of the emerging EV companies with artificial sweeteners.