Enviro News Wrap: Solar Struggles in the U.S.; NASA's Climate Skeptics; Koch Bros. Want Control of Cato Institute, and more...
GlobalWarmingisReal contributor Anders Hellum-Alexander wraps-up and comments on the climate and environmental news headlines for the past week:
- 49 former NASA astronauts and scientists have voiced dissent over NASA's belief in global warming. Their letter argues that the science is not settled on global warming. The most important part about the letter is that of these 49 people none of them are climatologists. These 49 NASA employees include people who held titles such as "Chairman, Shuttle Pogo Prevention Panel, Chief, Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering Branch, Mgr. Motion Simulators, Asst. Manager, Quality Assurance."
- Guar Gum: "Its in everything from snack foods to shampoo..." is the favored line by news reporters. The reason why they are reporting on Guar Gum in April 2012 is that the Natural Gas industry is using it in their frickin' Fracking. This has caused the price of Guar Gum to skyrocket. Only the Natural Gas industry can buy Guar Gum at the new price so everyone else has to figure out how to adapt. Natural Gas is not a sustainable fuel, Fracking is dangerous and it is impacting our market in unforeseen and negative ways. All that capital going to this industry with no future should switch over to renewable energy.
- The Pentagon (Army, Navy, Air Force) just set a 3 gigawatt goal by 2025 for renewable energy in its portfolio.
- The Koch Brothers try to take over the Libertarian think tank Cato Institute in a lawsuit. Here is an open letter to the Koch Brothers that explains that if they do win the lawsuit then they will in effect own the Cato Institute thus ruining its credibility. Wow, I hope the Koch Brothers do win the lawsuit. The Cato Institute may produce some good arguments but the Cato Institute also supports abolishing food stamps and letting everyone go back in time to the land of Charles Dickens' David Copperfield where the poor are all dependent on Charity Houses. The Cato Institute believes that many of our problems will be magically solved by the Free Market, but we have many environmental problems that are just not being solved by Invisible Hands or Job Creators.
- OPEC is the global oil price-fixing organization, and they want the price of oil to stay steady at $100/barrel for now. High enough to constrict the US economy, but low enough to keep consumers from quickly switching to other fuel sources. Fox News misreported this situation by truthfully saying that oil prices are declining, but they don't point out that they are only declining a little bit in a dance that generally moves upwards. Its like boiling a frog by first putting the frog in cold water before you turn on the stove.
- In the natural gas industry prices are staying low, a warm winter in the US has decreased demand while production is steadily increasing. The low prices are crowding out investment in renewable energy. This means that once again America is making itself dependent on a finite fuel that starts out cheap and then becomes increasingly expensive as supply decreases and extraction and refinement costs increase. Its all just an economic game that we are playing with ourselves.
- China has created a stable environment for its renewable energy industry to grow, while America and Europe have decided to both support and harass theirs. I wonder which model will prove to be the most successful in the long term? Japan could be the winner with a Free Market Economy and low private debt.
- BrightSource Energy cancelled its initial public offering (IPO)! This is a symptom of the decrease in private funding for the US renewable energy industry in 2012. This scarcity of investment is occurring during a period of low-priced and over-supplied solar panels. The manufacturing industry is just waiting for the installation industry to pick up, in the meantime the manufacturing industry will consolidate. Reuters.com argues that the consolidation will occur around non-Chinese companies like Kyocera and Hanwa. Maybe the real problem is that without strong investment in installation, manufacturer's are forced to reduce prices thus undercutting American companies and favoring Chinese companies that can sell at a loss. If the installation industry was healthy then all price-points for panels would be desired. Then there would be no need for a tax on solar panels imported to the US, which is not going to fix the problem for American Solar Manufacturers.
- Global Agreements on climate change are unlikely, there are too many conflicting interests between countries. Right now India is claiming that there can be no deal in the next round of United Nations talks if the European Union continues to push its support for an airline carbon tax.
- If the US halved the amount of meat it eats the global environment and health of the American populace would greatly improve. One of the main effects would be the reduction of nitrous oxide emissions (a potent greenhouse gas).