Sunday, October 4, 2009

Let's hear it for hurting the poor!

One of the lunatic dreams of the global warming hysteriacs is the capture and storage of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. We are supposed to terraform the earth, capturing carbon dioxide from the air and injecting it into underground storage all for the purpose of returning the world to a low level of CO2, around 280 ppm. Science last week had a special section on carbon sequestration (storage and isolation). This special section made it perfectly clear why this will never ever work. It is terribly uneconomic. It will hurt the poor and make their lives more miserable but the global warming hysteriacs don't really think about the poor. They don't care that what they suggest will increase the old misery index, raise the cost of food and make shoes for poor school children less affordable. They only care about carbon.

Let's start with what Stuart Hazeldine said. I will post more from that section

"Separation of CO2 is the step that consumes the most energy and results in the highest cost. Historical examples of CO2 separation, if scaled-up, could consume 25 to 40% of the fuel energy of a power plant and be responsible for 70% or more of the additional costs in CCS (8). The developments currently under way should result in tangible improvements toward a 10 to 20% energy penalty. For commercialization, it is normal practice to construct progressively larger equipment from pilot to demonstration plants (Fig. 2). This practice enables learning to increase reliability and reduce cost. The three capture methods are currently indistinguishable in cost and efficiency." R. Stuart Haszeldine,"Carbon Capture and Storage: How Green Can Black Be?" Science, 325(2009), p. 1648

So, to capture the CO2 we must spend say 30% of the current energy of the power plant. This is like throwing away 1/3 of the energy we generate just for fun. This is as lunatic as getting your pay check and throwing 1/3 of it down the toilet. Energy is a valuable gift and throwing away 1/3 of it for something that is absolutely unessential is sheer madness.

How many of you are willing to do with 30% less electricity? To put this into perspective, to capture CO2 would take more energy than is currently used on PCs.

"They[IEA study--grm] hold computers, related equipment and consumer electronics responsible for close to 15 percent of total residential electricity consumption today, a share similar to that of other major appliance categories such as water heating or refrigeration. However, they add, the growth has been faster, about 7 percent per year since 1990."

Given that cooking (26% of consumption) and AC/Heating (31% of consumption) are necessities, a loss of 30% of our electricity for the purpose of capturing carbon would lead to dropping our computer use, ipods and cell phones. Are you willing to do this? I know the answer. You are not.

But at least in the short term, carbon capture would raise the cost of electricity by more than 30% in order to balance supply and demand. This is supported by a recent economic study showing that at at a coal gassification plant carbon capture would raise the cost of electricity by 34%. At a natural gas fired plant the cost would rise 48% and at a pulverized coal plant the cost of electricity would rise by 75%. source Yeah, this is a wonderful way to help the poor--raise the cost of everything.

Such cost rises would have huge implications. Food companies can't do without the electricity they use to refrigerate our food; they can't reduce consumption. Unless we are willing to cut out our personal refrigerators and eat unrefrigerated products, it is hard to see how we will cut down the onsumption. Iron ore miners and aluminum smelters use electricity and unless people don't buy steel or aluminum, they can't cut consumption. Companies today rely on computers and can't reduce those costs either. All their records are kept on computers. That means that prices will sky-rocket. In modern office buildings you can't open the windows so you must have air conditioning or you can't work in that building. Rental costs go up to pay for the electricity. The cost for everything will go up as the cost of electricity rises. Food costs will go up, clothing costs will rise, and shelter costs will rise. All of this will hurt the poor. In a carbon sequestration world, the poor, it seems, will just have to eat, well, more poorly. Yep, let's hurt those poor people--they are too fat anyway!

Last year when oil prices were so high, I had a conversation with an electrical company employee who told me that many of the rural poor in the region around my ranch were having to chose between buying electricity for air conditioning in the hot brutal Texas summers, or buying gasoline so they can drive to work. They were choosing to have their electricity cut off. They were being hurt by high energy prices.

Since carbon sequestration will lead to the short term increase in electrical prices, once again, the poor will have to chose between electricity in their homes or gasoline with which to drive to work. Of course, why should the poor have nice lives? The global warming hysteriacs clearly don't care about the quality of life the poor live. They want all of us to pay for reducing our carbon footprint. The rich will suffer through; the poor will merely suffer. Hip-hip-hooray for hurting the poor!!! We can lower the atmospheric carbon on the backs of the poor.

Seriously, shame on those who don't think about the consequences of capturing carbon and what it will do to the poor. They are heartless ideologues.

The second effect of carbon sequestration is vastly more coal mining. Most of our electricity comes from burning coal. Humans will NOT want to reduce their electricity usage so because of the high price of electricity, driven by the insane usage of energy to sequester carbon, more and more electrical plants will be built resulting in more coal mining to get the fuel with which to make electricity. While that will provide some jobs for the poor, it will result in more strip mines being built, something the hysteriacs in general don't like. But they don't care about that either--they just want to reduce carbon emissions. To heck with anything else.

Because each electrical plant will now requires a costly companion plant to capture the carbon, we can expect to see little no economic growth. Of carbon capture demonstration plants, Haszeldine writes:

"Each demonstration coal plant requires a system for price support for many years to recover the $1.5 billion extra capital and operational cost of generating decarbonized electricity. The pricing provided by the current carbon market is far too low and erratic." R. Stuart Haszeldine,"Carbon Capture and Storage: How Green Can Black Be?" Science, 325(2009), p. 1650

This means that companies will have to pay more for electricity in order to pay for the stupid carbon sequestration plants. Every product they make will cost more--shoes for the children of the poor will cost more. Fewer shoes will be sold. Those companies will have less money with which to hire people because the people who buy their products will have less money with which to buy them. So, some jobs must go.
How will the jobs go? Some of the companies will simply move overseas to places where they don't have a carbon sequestration rules. It is cheaper to make the product overseas and then ship it here than to pay 34-75% more in electricity costs. So, who loses their jobs? Not the executives who manage the plants over seas. It is the US poor who used to work in those factories driven out of the US by the lunacy of carbon capture.

Because of the inevitable export of jobs, families will have less disposable income and will go out to eat less often, meaning waiters and cooks will get laid off. That old car I am driving? Well, I think I can nurse it along another year--meaning more auto workers laid off. Store clerks will not be needed as much because there will be less money spent on clothing and everything else. The global warming hysteriacs forget taht 70% of the economy is consumer spending and they want less of it. Yep, lets make more poor people; it is such an environmentally friendly thing to do.

Let me try to illustrate this by something from the unemployment figures yesterday. The Wall Street Journal Oct 3-4, 2009, p. A2 said this:

"More troubling: Several indicators pointed to a weaker job market in the months ahead. Overtime fell, a sign that employers can get by with existing staffing. The number of hours fell by 0.1 to 33.0. Hourely wages of private-=sector nonsupervisory workers rose only one cent an hour to $18.67, but a shrinking average work week reduced average weeklly wages by $1.54 to $616.11."

Now, there are about 160 million people in the US work force (or who want to be in the work force). A reduction of income of $1.54/week results in a reduction of spending by those same people of $246 million dollars per week, or about a billion dollars per month. There is no way this won't cause more job losses in the future. If people don't buy the product, someone gets laid off. Of course it is the poor who will suffer the most.

Yep, the global warming hysteriacs don't think about the consequences of increasing the costs of doing business. Product prices must rise to pay for the increased costs. People then have less money to buy those products and so buy fewer of them and that means fewer people are needed to produce the product and thus some of them must be laid off. Yippee, we get more poor people.

Let's hear it for hurting the poor.

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