The Austerity Debacle | MY COMMENT

By  | The Austerity Debacle In the New York Times

MY COMMENT — While Professor Krugman’s points are well-taken, there would be no need for austerity programs were there no outrageous federal government deficits in the U.S.A. and Europe.

Nor would billions of dollars have been funneled out of those economies — dollars which are now flowing out of those nations at exponential rates just to pay interest on reckless government deficits and accumulated debt.

Nor would governments have needed to lay off millions of government workers over the decades — workers whose governments could no longer afford to pay them, because revenues were earmarked for interest payments on debt!

All of these nations should adopt balanced budget legislation so that instead of paying multi-billions in interest every year to foreign lenders, gov’t revenue goes towards creating national infrastructure jobs for citizens.

Realistically, it may take 7 years to get to the point of balanced budget status in the U.S..

After that, a constitutional amendment requiring an orderly pay-down of federal debt spread over 25 years should begin.

The only real weakness of democratic systems everywhere appears to be that over the decades, politicians can’t resist spending taxpayer money to the extent they have almost bankrupted their own nations.

This is not a reason to adopt the statist model or even ‘managed democracy’ — all we need are checks and balances to manage the spending of elected politicians — who, for all their gifts, are not world-class economists.

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The following information is courtesy of: brillig.com/debt_clock/ where there is everything you ever wanted to know about U.S. federal government deficits and debt.

U.S. NATIONAL DEBT CLOCK

The Outstanding Public Debt as of 30 Jan 2012 at 06:48:44 AM GMT is:

$ 1 5 , 2 4 9 , 4 9 7 , 2 6 5 , 5 4 0 . 6 0

The estimated population of the United States is 312,131,534
so each citizen’s share of this debt is $48,856.00.

The National Debt has continued to increase an average of
$3.94 billion per day since September 28, 2007!
Concerned? Then tell Congress and the White House!

Obama Unveils Energy Initiatives In Las Vegas | MY COMMENT

Obama Unveils Energy Initiatives In Las Vegas
Lucia Graves in The Huffington Post | January 26, 2012

MY COMMENT — President Obama’s idea of linking natural gas pipelines is a good one.

As Wikipedia states: “Natural gas is often described as the cleanest fossil fuel, producing less carbon dioxide per joule delivered than either coal or oil and far fewer pollutants than other hydrocarbo­n fuels.”

The environmen­tal comparison between toxic crude oil pipelines and natural gas pipelines, favours natural gas pipelines by a substantia­l margin.

As for offshore drilling inside U.S. waters, the EPA should have the legal right to cancel the lease of any operator with poor safety or spill at that location and be required by law, to hand the platform over to another company in good standing with the EPA.

That would be one way to reduce spills attributed to drilling platforms and reduce injury or death to workers.

China is out-compet­ing the U.S. on solar panel and wind turbine manufactur­ing and exports. If the U.S. ramps up it can compete, make money at it – and regain lost market share.

It is a huge world-wide market. As Steve Bolze, the President and Chief Executive of GE Power and Water recently said; “Solar is a $100 million business. It’s not a big part of our portfolio, but when you look at it over the course of the next five to 10 years, this could easily be our next billion-do­llar business.” — The National

The Economist online — Watts Next? | MY COMMENT

What will be fueling the world in 2030?
The Economist online | January 25, 2012

MY COMMENT —

“THE world will consume 40% more energy in 2030 than it does today, according to BP’s World Energy Outlook, though the rate of growth will decrease…” — The Economist

Global primary energy use
Global primary energy use

On sustainability front-runners, Germany, Spain and Argentina

Germany, Spain and Argentina are getting close to 25% of their electricity from solar, wind, geothermal and hydro power. It’s a safe bet that within five years, those targets will be met or exceeded.

On top of all that, Germany is shutting down it’s entire nuclear power industry by 2022 and is ahead of schedule there too. (They’re German’s after all!)

A new industry is taking hold in Germany, the UK and in other European countries – pure vegetable oil is being used to fuel (formerly) diesel cars and trucks.

It’s NOT bio-diesel as there is no petroleum diesel mixed into the veg oil fuel. Bio-diesel is a different product altogether, but IS available there as an optional fuel. (minor alterations are needed to the vehicle in order to use each different kind of fuel)

See: http://www.vegoilmotoring.com/eng/

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On German environmental law

“The 2012 EEG sets a minimum requirement of not less than 35 percent of renewable energy in electricity supply by 2020, not less than 50 percent by 2030, not less than 65 percent by 2040 and not less than 80 percent by 2050.

However, the law actually sets a target of between 35 and 40 percent of supply within the next decade. This conforms to a decision made by the Ministry of Environment in 2010. Rather than reducing its commitment to expanding renewable energy, Germany has codified a more aggressive target than in the previous law.”

This quote is from:
http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2011/07/germany-pas

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At the same time as all the above is occurring

The UK has already dropped it’s feed-in tariff for sustainable electricity. Germany is lowering theirs twice within a 12-month period.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jun/20/solar-panel-price-drop

It’s a simple equation, solar panel prices have dropped dramatically in the past 24 months, which is why Solyndra (and others) failed.

In 2011, China passed both the U.S. and Germany as the world’s largest manufacturers of solar panels and wind turbines.

Here’s a basic, but excellent link for you:
http://cleantechnica.com/2011/12/30/german-solar-power-production-surges…

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On conventional nuclear power

Many nuclear plants are getting close to the end of their lifetime. It is often less expensive to build new, state of the art nuclear plants – than to refurbish or renovate old plants to meet modern standards – as the Japanese are now finding out.

A majority of Japan’s 54 nuclear plants are shut down for inspection since the Fukushima disaster. Japan has just inked a deal with Saudi Arabia to purchase more oil to make up for the loss of all that nuclear power generation. How much more oil? THREE TIMES Japan’s total 2010 oil imports from all sources!

See: http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article560501.ece

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On ‘Modular” nuclear power:

To help you get up to speed in the modern nuclear power age, here is some general info.

Old, large nuclear plants all over the world, are nearing the end of their (safe) lifetime. They need to be decommissioned as soon as time and circumstance allows. Germany is decommissioning all their plants by 2022. Japan has shut down most of it’s 54 nuclear plants – a few may restart if, after rigorous inspections they are deemed safe enough.

The trend now is towards much higher safety and security standards and much smaller nuclear power plants – so called ‘modular’ nuclear power.

Here’s a great link for modular N-power:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/uciliawang/2012/01/20/feds-to-finance-small-…

If you need more info on this use keywords “modular, nuclear, power” on Google, plenty of info there.

Modern and safe, modular nuclear is the perfect partner for solar and wind power – as N-power can quickly ramp up to meet demand (at sundown) or when wind speeds suddenly drop. Nuclear does this far better than any other electrical grid partner.

The sore point with nuclear for decades – apart from old, obsolete N-plants has been ‘spent’ fuel rods. Some types of fuel rods require secure storage facilities and continuous cooling for 20,000 years(!) which significantly add to the cost of nuclear power.

Those old rods are hot and can become very dangerous if allowed to come into contact with the atmosphere, or if mis-handled in any way. Terrorist incidents are always a danger with both nuclear plants and long-term storage facilities, again, adding to the overall cost of nuclear.

Yet, there is a solution if the option is chosen. France’s nuclear power plants can ‘burn’ our ‘spent’ rods and eventually render them into a low radioactive state and France can store those (almost) fully-spent rods. The cost to dispose of N-rods in this way are much lower than 20,000-year storage.

Safe transport to France is imperative.

What I have outlined above is not the entire solution to all of our electrical power generation requirements, but can be considered huge steps in the right direction.

We need voices on this to make it happen.

Braid: Redford has many more promises to keep | MY COMMENT

Braid: Redford has many more promises to keep The Calgary Herald
By: Don Braid January 12, 2012

MY COMMENT — The Premier of Alberta, Alison Redford is barely on the job 100 days. We should cut her some slack, don’t you think? Would you accept judgement after your first 100 days at a new job? Really?

Ideologue politicians are just as bad for their province as good for their province, it seems. This Premier doesn’t strike me as on of those, refreshingly, she seems to be a pragmatist.

Give her a fair chance to succeed and she will.

Now, what about those oil sands?

Do you agree we should highly-refine the oil sands in Alberta keeping all those jobs in western Canada?

Or should we just extract oil sands, and then just pipeline it away? “Look fast — there goes all the jobs!”

If we keep those thousands of permanent jobs here, (jobs which are not temporary pipeline construction jobs) it helps Alberta and BC in three important ways;

1) Many value-added products are created in western Canada, translating into thousands of jobs for Albertans.

2) The problem of pipeline or supertanker spills are completely eliminated.

3) Environmentalist’s will better accept modern, world-class refineries producing low-toxicity products relatively near the oil sands site – in exchange for eliminating toxic crude oil pipeline and supertanker spills. (Not all environmentalist’s, but most)

The world’s largest petroleum exporter, Saudi Arabia, is already doing this and creating thousands of permanent jobs:

http://arabnews.com/economy/article514179.ece

It’s your call.

United States: Nuclear Energy Picking Up Momentum | MY COMMENT

United States: Nuclear Energy Picking Up Momentum  in ENERGYBOOM.COM
By JOSEPH BAKER ON January 20, 2012

MY COMMENT — With proper safeguards and spent-fuel disposal, nuclear can do.

Under the right conditions, and I’m talking about rigorous design and location standards, robust redundancies and state of the art security — small modular reactor (SMR) nuclear plants could be a real asset to North American energy needs.

For one example, placing a nuclear plant on geologically-active strata (most of California) is a very bad idea. Ask Japan about that.

Japan has shut down most of it’s 54 nuclear plants and is now burning fossil-fuels to replace that electricity and has just signed an ongoing agreement with Saudi Arabia to supply Japan with THREE TIMES THEIR GROSS 2010 OIL IMPORT TOTALS.

Germany is getting out of the nuclear power business completely and since Fukushima, is now doing it sooner than planned.

The sweet part of small-scale nuclear plants is that they mesh seamlessly with solar and wind power. Along with sustainable energy, geo-thermal and nuclear, “all clean electricity — all the time” for the entire continent could now be well-within our grasp.

Notwithstanding America’s huge coal reserves, coal is better used for Coal-To-Liquid fuels (CTL) and other highly-value-added synthetic products — and for export to better the U.S. balance-of-trade account.

With world-class standards, modular nuclear could be an outstanding asset.

Without those high standards in place, I’m against it.