Friday, January 20, 2017

The dawn of a new age... will it be a good one?

Donald Trump has been inaugurated today. In his wake Mike Pence (Vice President), Betsy deVos (education), Rick Perry (energy), Ben Carson (housing) and a great host of other people. If pressed on the depth of knowledge in their areas of interest, they buckle under the weight of having no reasonable and well-substantiated answer, and resort to typical political evasive behaviour. It's just hot air, no substance. And I say this well before these people get the chance to prove me wrong. I've watched their antics from afar for years now, and have little confidence that I they will embarrass me.

In trying to establish whether the Climate Change section on the White House webpage had really gone, I only found this:

Here I was scratching my head, thinking what else I could (not) find on the "new" White House webpage. Let's have a look at this:

An America First Energy Plan
Energy is an essential part of American life and a staple of the world economy. The Trump Administration is committed to energy policies that lower costs for hardworking Americans and maximize the use of American resources, freeing us from dependence on foreign oil.

This sounds like music to my ears. However, on a second glance it conveys a dangerous message. Freeing the US from their dependence on foreign oil is essential, but does this mean that the US will cut their fossil fuel consumption? I'm afraid this is not the case. And we will learn that there's only three real energy sources according to Trump and his administration:

For too long, we’ve been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry. President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule. Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next 7 years.

The Climate Action Plan, amongst other things, comprised of policies and plans to mitigate deforestation and lowering fossil fuel subsidies, I don't know whether lifting these restrictions will immediately cause harmful effects. However, we may note that pristine US forests have been clear cut to feed European biomass-fired (read tree-fired) converted ex-coal plants, like the Drax power plant in England. Will lifting these restrictions revitalize the deforestation machine, and increase exports of wood and "biomass" to other countries? It's a golden opportunity waiting to be grasped, and as the freshly installed administration is "yuge" on trade and profit, no bounds will be set to the amount of denudation which will ensue.

On the other hand, it is also the signal that major oil and car companies will get a renewed lease on their favoured source of money, the thirst of internal combustion engine. Why challenge them to evolve, if you can make it easy for them to continue to extricate themselves from blame and keep using finite earthly resources. I know the climate change argument lands on deaf ears here, but at least acknowledge that the combustion economy is harmful to humans and their health in general.

Sound energy policy begins with the recognition that we have vast untapped domestic energy reserves right here in America. The Trump Administration will embrace the shale oil and gas revolution to bring jobs and prosperity to millions of Americans. We must take advantage of the estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves...

Aren't there more meaningful jobs to create? How about training the most excellent teachers the world has ever seen? I assume that investing in a bright and intelligent and well-developed generation of children must be one of your top-priorities, right? How about training nurses and doctors to take care of your fellow countrymen? Teach cops how to restrain themselves and realize that they are public servants? What about expanding national laboratories and helping universities gain more funds to accommodate more students and perform more research and gaining the upper hand in terms of intellectual and technological fortitude? What about taking pole position on Generation IV nuclear power development and deployment? That would be inspiring, that would be visionary, that would make America really great! A frontrunner in modern technology, rather than clinging on to old principles and dying industries, with people who scream wolf, but don't invest in themselves and fail to adapt to changing circumstances. Is that what the US has become? A bunch of hypocrite "pull yourself up by your bootstrap" people without actual bootstraps?

...especially those on federal lands that the American people own. We will use the revenues from energy production to rebuild our roads, schools, bridges and public infrastructure. Less expensive energy will be a big boost to American agriculture, as well.

3Perhaps there are expenditures which can be cut that would amount to the means required to do the same things. I thought that Republicans were fiscally conservative? As a Keynesian I don't understand why you don't invest in progress.

The Trump Administration is also committed to clean coal technology, and to reviving America’s coal industry, which has been hurting for too long.

When was the last time you've sent a telegram? Or have seen a phone-booth on the corner of the street?  Coal is a thing of the past, just as horse-drawn carriages are.

Clean coal is an oxymoron in and of itself. Besides, the fact that the coal industry in the US has been hurting for so long is merely thanks to the fact that the US has not been able to wean itself of coal in the first place. A great portion of US electricity generation comes from coal. And it is one of worst sources of energy on the planet. We can prove that the coal-industry itself kills hundreds of thousands of people around the world every year due to respiratory diseases contracted thanks to the harmful emissions from coal-burning. Don't tell me you don't acknowledge this too...

In addition to being good for our economy, boosting domestic energy production is in America’s national security interest. President Trump is committed to achieving energy independence from the OPEC cartel and any nations hostile to our interests. At the same time, we will work with our Gulf allies to develop a positive energy relationship as part of our anti-terrorism strategy.

How will this work if you don't buy their oil any more? This is a vacuous statement that conveys both the wish to become independent from OPEC and simultaneously staying dependent. Simply take a look on who sits in OPEC : Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Qatar, Indonesia, Libya, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Nigeria, Ecuador, and Angola.

So basically you want to work with the OPEC minus 8 countries (assuming that you want to keep trading with Iraq).

And what does it mean to have a positive energy relationship with countries? And what does this do to counter terrorism? It's all quite nebulous to me. If someone can tell me how this works, I will be immensely grateful.

Lastly, our need for energy must go hand-in-hand with responsible stewardship of the environment.

Then clean coal and shale should be out of the question. The denudation they bring about is unheard of. Ever took a minute to check the Apalachian Mountain range and see the damage mountain top removal has wrought on this most magnificent landscape?

We also have staggering combinations of open pit coal mines and endless patchworks of fracking wells in Wyoming.


Or take a look at the areas in which fracking is popular. (For instance just south-west from Forth Worth in Texas)

You can spend hours at a time looking for fracking patchworks across the North American continent. Just start in Texas and go up all the way to Edmonton, Canada, and beyond. Endless patchworks of fracking wells east of the Rocky Mountains.

Don't worry about another big gulf oil spill. And let's not worry about aquifer intrusion, or methane gas leaks, because you don't care about these things. Oh wait...

If your idea of a prosperous US is an increase in fracking and coal exploitation, I can tell you that it is incongruent with the claim that you want to show good stewardship over your lands.

Protecting clean air and clean water, conserving our natural habitats, and preserving our natural reserves and resources will remain a high priority. President Trump will refocus the EPA on its essential mission of protecting our air and water.

So get a move on, start by fixing the water supply of the Flint residents.

A brighter future depends on energy policies that stimulate our economy, ensure our security, and protect our health. Under the Trump Administration’s energy policies, that future can become a reality.

I agree wholeheartedly. However, the focus of US energy innovation, development, and deployment should be on high-energy-density nuclear power (keeping current fleet up to date and running, and investing heavily in generation IV reactors), some (augmented) hydro, a lot of geothermal, some solar and a little wind. Why? If you care about water and air quality, nothing beats a power source without an exhaust pipe.

Investing in a dying industry is bad business. All you are doing is postponing the day of judgement for coal, oil and gas. The people in these industries could be saved by a Trump administration, by helping them moving towards working with newer, more efficient technologies. Rather than keeping them clinging on to the past. Tell me, how exactly are you helping these people move on once their source of income has become obsolete?

It seems that the White House webpage has been purged of the words climate change, equality, sustainability, accountability, responsibility and sensibility. And the choice for people like DeVoss, Perry, Carson, and Pence only exemplifies the ineptitude to do something really meaningful for your country. All you can see there is regression... Donald, you deny scientific principles simply because it doesn't suit your agenda and the agendas of those who have been investing in your cabinet. I am deeply concerned about your consecutive actions. Will you actively damage our research capabilities, and destroy the decades worth of knowledge that has been gathered by your most reputable research labs and institutes?

I think we are in deep trouble. And by WE, I mean the world population. For the influence the US has on the entire world is profound and every action undertaken in your White House has the potential of reverberating around the globe.

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