Archive for December 14, 2009

Just How Batshit Crazy Is Our Government?

Well, check Unqualified Reservations to find out. Excerpt:

In reality, there’s no way a cost like the cost of carbon action can be measured in mere money. Consider one mainstream proposal of today, endorsed by President Obama and many other world leaders: reducing carbon emissions to 80% of 1990 levels, by 2050.

Presumably a proposal like this corresponds to said “trillions of dollars” – a completely empty soundbite, of course, but something an innocent person might read as “a few trillion dollars.” Say, perhaps, “7.5 trillion dollars.” I’m just guessing here, of course.

Knowing as we now do what goes into the sausage, we feel perfectly entitled to sneer at whatever study, process or press-release could possibly have produced whatever ridiculous non-number lies behind the ridiculous non-number “trillions of dollars.” First, this entire information pipeline is clearly sweating it to produce the smallest possible number in the reader’s mind. Second, it implies a capacity for predictive macroeconomic modeling which does not exist. Third, what on earth will a dollar buy you in 2050, anyway?

In reality, to consider an action of this impact through the lens of antiseptic monetary exponents, churned out by some irreproducible spreadsheet, is to avoid considering it at all. Since the planned carbon action is a significant event on a significant historical scale, it must be considered as history. It must be analyzed with the tools of the narrative historian.

Now, I have an easy way to picture 2050: my daughter, Sibyl, will be 42 in 2050. As a student of history, I also have an easy way to picture an 80% reduction in fossil-fuel use: Germany and Japan in, say, 1944. The little Nips, for instance, had a very active alternative-energy program. I believe turpentine from pine trees was a key component. The primary sources display little fondness for this weird fuel.

An 80% energy cutoff goes beyond any mere economic calculation. It is a punitive measure of military proportions – to which one might subject a defeated enemy nation – for the purpose of collective penal subjugation.

H/T Fresh Bilge, an excellent blog that I recommend highly.

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