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Bloggingheads
01-27-2008, 11:00 AM

piscivorous
01-27-2008, 12:19 PM
To borrow from an old Wendy's commercial seems appropriate to this diavlog. We know that Scott Paul is in favor and we have his assurance that group after group is also in favor of the treaty and assuredly only some pea brained dinosaurs are against it. Yet did we learn one thing about the possible benefits or harm that the treaty will entail. No. I know nothing more about the treaty than before listening to this diavlog.

Alot of the discussion was about it needs to be passed so that other treaties to follow have a better chance of passing and then a specific argument is given that it is not a precursor to passing Kyoto next generation. Does anyone else see the dichotomy in that?

InJapan
01-27-2008, 12:46 PM
First, a bit of punctiliousness... "Kyoto" is composed of two syllables, not three. So please, no more "key""O""to"...

On to more substantive stuff... agree with piscivorous that we could have used a bit more detail on the treaties, and examples of specific objections that have been raise.

On climate change treaties, it would have been good to hear why the Senate was unanimous in their signaled opposition to Kyoto, and why Clinton abandoned any hope of getting it passed.

Herein lay the key issue - that we, the industrialized world, use hydrocarbons for a very profound reason - that is, we need the energy stored in the H-C chemical bonds. By "need" I mean need. There are no good substitutes for oil, natural gas, and coal. There are substitutes, but not ones that can give energy return on investment equivalent to those fossil fuels. Nuclear has the energy potential to replace some hydrocarbon use, but it is very expensive and we would need to build thousands of nuclear plants to replace our fossil fuel consumption (and they would need to be new designs which make use of Thorium and the wastes of current Uranium plants). Wind is nice, but it will take decades to roll out in quantity and there are many places where wind will not work well. Solar is of course the ultimate answer, but again we are looking at many decades (essentially the rest of the century) to roll out in sufficient quantities, and again there are locations where it won't be very good.

CO2 is not an easy problem, regardless of treaties. That is why many of those countries which agreed to Kyoto haven't made any progress.

So, do we sit around and pass treaties, knowing our ability to meet them is close to nil, just to feel good about ourselves? I wish Mark would have raised this issue to his guest.

On the Law of Sea treaty... yes, it is weird that a treaty that was in large part blessed by RR, supported by GHWB, and even assented to by GWB, could not overcome a minority of opposition. What has this to say about the efficacy of American democracy?

bjkeefe
01-27-2008, 02:01 PM
InJapan:

First, a bit of punctiliousness... "Kyoto" is composed of two syllables, not three. So please, no more "key""O""to"...

Agreed. Also, the penultimate syllable in Copenhagen is pronounced with a long A, not an "ah" sound.

bjkeefe
01-27-2008, 02:42 PM
Sit down for a second ... I agree with piscivorous. I'm going expand upon that thought by directing my comments at Mark.

Mark --

I hope you read the following as constructive criticism.

While it's nice to hear the ins and outs of trying to get a treaty passed against the dark forces of America-Firsters, I really did want to hear some more substantive discussion of why someone might sincerely oppose passage of the treaty of the seas. As presented in the diavlog, supporting passage sounds like such a no-brainer that I could not stop wondering what the case against might be.

I'm willing to believe the truth boils down to "we're Amurrika, we don't need no stinkin' treaties," but I presume the opponents have some plausible, or at least plausible-sounding, reasons for their stance, and I'd like to hear them. I'm also willing to believe that someone who writes opinion pieces for The Washington Times is a liar, but I have a little trouble believing that there isn't someone else who better represents the anti-treaty point of view. Holding up Frank Gaffney as the sole voice came off as a little unfair, and certainly felt uninformative.

This gets me to a larger point, something that I have been feeling about a lot of your recent diavlogs.

If you are mostly ideologically aligned with your guest, I would like to see you make more of an effort, for at least part of the diavlog, to adopt the "other" side's point of view, or at least, to put on a skeptical/neutral interviewer's cap. Listen to Terry Gross: when she has a guest on Fresh Air who is, say, a Bush-basher, she'll spend a good part of the interview probing for the weak points in the guest's argument. Now, obviously, no one dislikes Bush more than Terry Gross, but in the end, her approach usually makes the argument that she supports stronger, and it's certainly more interesting for the listener. If you dislike hiding your political leanings in this manner, maybe you could phrase the questions as "Some would say ..." or "When opponents say X, how do you respond?"

I'm certainly not asking for the obsession with "balance" that the MSM too often resorts to. In many cases, like the treaty of the seas, it's obvious that the majority is on one side, and the minority is magnified by their narrow interest and their consequent loudness. But somewhere between fetishizing balance and letting the diavlog devolve into an echo chamber is where I'd like you to be. I'm not saying your diavlogs are echo chambers, but they do come close, sometimes.

I grant that many of the topics that you cover on your show are ones that I am woefully uninformed about, so maybe your starting point is different from where I think it should be. In this example of the sea treaty, maybe it's the case that "everybody knows" it should be passed, and the interesting topic for the diavlog, as you saw it, was mainly why it isn't getting passed and/or what needs to happen to get it passed. If that's so, fine, and I apologize for missing the point, but maybe you could give at least a bit of introduction, sort of a CliffsNotes version of the the opposing side's talking points?

Wonderment
01-27-2008, 05:35 PM
Agreed. Also, the penultimate syllable in Copenhagen is pronounced with a long A, not an "ah" sound.

There is no such place as Tia-juana. Tia Juana is your "Aunt Jane." The name of the city in Baja California is Tijuana.

Incompetence Dodger
01-27-2008, 09:00 PM
First, a bit of punctiliousness... "Kyoto" is composed of two syllables, not three. So please, no more "key""O""to"...



Well as long as we're being punctilious... Technically, "Kyoto" is three syllables: kyo-u-to. I always think it's a shame when I hear gaijin who otherwise speak Japanese fairly well botch the long and short vowels. For those not going for perfection in their Japanese pronunciation, however, it's best to think of it as two syllables, and anyway you're completely right that "key-oh-toe" is totally whack.

BTW, I agree completely with what Brendan said downthread about how people who are fairly closely aligned can and should make their diavlogs more productive. It works in the other direction, too. I thought Ruy Teixeira and Ross Douthat did an admirable job of keeping their conversation on track by passing up opportunities to argue over what I'm sure are large ideological differences.

David_PA
01-27-2008, 09:29 PM
Herein lay the key issue - that we, the industrialized world, use hydrocarbons for a very profound reason - that is, we need the energy stored in the H-C chemical bonds. By "need" I mean need. There are no good substitutes for oil, natural gas, and coal. There are substitutes, but not ones that can give energy return on investment equivalent to those fossil fuels. Nuclear has the energy potential to replace some hydrocarbon use, but it is very expensive and we would need to build thousands of nuclear plants to replace our fossil fuel consumption (and they would need to be new designs which make use of Thorium and the wastes of current Uranium plants). Wind is nice, but it will take decades to roll out in quantity and there are many places where wind will not work well. Solar is of course the ultimate answer, but again we are looking at many decades (essentially the rest of the century) to roll out in sufficient quantities, and again there are locations where it won't be very good.


Where are you getting these projections from, InJapan?

There's no question that wind and solar are some time away from being viable, but they aren't necessarily as long away as you say. And, 'solar is not feasible in quantity until the end of the century' is much too conservative an estimate.

Leaving aside the CO2 issue, if the US really made a commitment to achieving as much energy independence as possible within 20 years via wind, solar, hydrogen cars (thousands of 60+ mpg equivalent Hondas are being tested in CA this summer), modern nuclear, ways to use coal with scrubbing so it's almost clean, more natural gas use - it could be achievable. The technology is pretty close. With mass production, continued high oil costs, and some favorable federal incentives - the financials could work out within roughly 20 years.

Slowing CO2 growth is a much more difficult problem. If the global wamring tipping point really is 20 years away, it sure doesn't look like a leveling of CO2 emissions, much less a slowing down, is possible by then. I haven't heard anything more about pumping CO2 into the ground since it was mentioned in a few articles last October. That ... did look promising.

Simon Willard
01-27-2008, 10:37 PM
I agree. I'm not a specialist in these areas, and I listen to learn. I did not get much insight in this diavlog.

We are told that The Law of the Sea is advantageous for (1) national security, (2) big business and our economic strength, (3) environmental protection and (4) good relations with our allies. Sadly, it's being held back by a few wackos on the fringe.

When things don't add up like this, you can be sure that either the diavloggers don't know what they're talking about, or they are misleading us.

Let's call it The Law of the Piscivorous.

InJapan
01-27-2008, 11:03 PM
Well as long as we're being punctilious... Technically, "Kyoto" is three syllables: kyo-u-to. I always think it's a shame when I hear gaijin who otherwise speak Japanese fairly well botch the long and short vowels. For those not going for perfection in their Japanese pronunciation, however, it's best to think of it as two syllables, and anyway you're completely right that "key-oh-toe" is totally whack.

Yes, understand that using the Japanese syllabary that there are three "syllables" in "Kyoto" but as you said, for the English speaker when listening the sound will resemble two syllables...

On the roll out of alternative energy - any timeframe will of course be an estimate based upon assumptions. Mine is simply that it is too expensive to ramp up solar (PV cell) production (to cover the world's energy requirements now serviced by coal, oil, gas) in order to replace fossil fuels within a couple of decades. Solar thermal is interesting but look at how much electricity we get today from solar thermal - virtually nothing. It is unreasonable to assume we will replace a new coal powered electricity plant until it is well into its projected service life - this is why Dr. Hansen is running around asking for a new coal plant moratorium. Also, the uses of oil and natural gas are so varied that to change from them would mean reconstructing our society profoundly - not something you can accomplish in just a few decades.

Until someone can show me a workable means to reduce CO2 output significantly over a short period (say a couple of decades) I maintain that any AGW treaty is just a feel good effort and not a means to avoid consequences of CO2 pollution.

David_PA
01-27-2008, 11:31 PM
On the roll out of alternative energy - any timeframe will of course be an estimate based upon assumptions. Mine is simply that it is too expensive to ramp up solar (PV cell) production (to cover the world's energy requirements now serviced by coal, oil, gas) in order to replace fossil fuels within a couple of decades.
Too expensive at today's prices -yes. But, that could change quickly with the right federal incentives and continued high or higher gas prices. This (solar) alternative to fossil fuels only needs to replace 20% - 30% of fossil fuel use in a 20 year time frame to be a success.

I didn't say, nor do I think, that non-fossil sources can supply world energy needs within 20 years. I'm saying that smart energy policies and the right industry incentives could make it so that non-oil sources could supply all of the US energy needs within about 20 years.

I essentially agree with you on the CO2 issue.

piscivorous
01-27-2008, 11:58 PM
In a 20 year time span we would be lucky to offset the increase, during that time period, in electrical demand using solar and wind much less replace the electricity we currently use. Plus neither are guaranteed to produce a reliable base load. It will take coal, oil, gas or nuclear to produce the base load requirements of day to day living and working and we all now tat nuclear is verboten to the Green crowd.

David_PA
01-28-2008, 12:17 AM
In a 20 year time span we would be lucky to offset the increase, during that time period, in electrical demand using solar and wind much less replace the electricity we currently use. Plus neither are guaranteed to produce a reliable base load. It will take coal, oil, gas or nuclear to produce the base load requirements of day to day living and working and we all now tat nuclear is verboten to the Green crowd.

InJapan & Pisc: You don't have a very positive attitude about this. Consider these alternative energy possibilities.

My brother-in-law is building a small community of solar-powered homes. Many days of the year, they put electricity back into the grid. With special glass and insulation, heating costs are only about 30% of a conventional home. There energy savings quickly pay for the extra expense. With enough federal incentives for new homes to be built like this, there's 30% less electricity use in 20 years, right there.

Hydrogen cars are being tested in CA this summer. It takes electricity to make the hydrogen, but they get the equivalent of 60mpg. If most cars were getting 60mgh 20 years from now, that would cut oil dependence in half. In fact, hydrogen cars fueled by a home fueling station powered by natural gas, requires no oil use. It's a very promising automotive technology.

There are some new nuke techs that are fine with me and appear to have workable disposal. Even with plants taking 10 years to build, there's the possibility of at least 10% of energy coming from this source.

Fuel cell technologies that can provide electricity for a small city, or many cells providing electricity to all, or many of, the portions of a large city, are feasible today. These don't require oil. Large scale use of fuel cells for this purpose is possible within 10 years.

http://www.cmt.anl.gov/Science_and_Technology/Fuel_Cells/Publications/Hydrogen_Fuel_Cells.pdf

Part of the Honda hydrogen car roll-out program is home hydrogen plants that use fuel cells to produce hydrogen while also providing enough electricity for an average household. They run on natural gas.

http://automobiles.honda.com/fcx-clarity/owning/home-energy-station/

piscivorous
01-28-2008, 01:25 AM
Actually I am not as pessimistic as you might think. It is just that when one takes a look at the math to project replacing our current energy supply and meet futures demands in a 20 year time span is a unrealistic pipe dream and I believe that more progress would be made if realistic obtainable goals were the norm of discussion instead of rose colored fantasy scenarios.

Much of my speculative money goes to purchasing shares of various fuel cell companies so I am very conversant in them. Yes fuel cells are approximately twice as energy efficient as standard combustion engines of today. the problem is the available supply of Hydrogen and the infrastructure necessary to support the conversion from a petroleum based transportation system to that of Hydrogen. Currently most hydrogen is produced as a by product of refining or deliberately produced by converting natural gas but this would fall well shy of the demand if we could convert the fleet of cars over to fuel cells in anyways close to approaching 20 years. With the hopefully successful demonstration of the next generation of nuclear reactors, in around 2015, the supply problem will be mitigated. These reactors will be run at extremely high temperatures allowing the hydrolysis of water to occur at a reasonable cost and carbon free. It will then probably take another 10 or so years before the technology is considered mature enough to start building these reactors in any kind of meaningful way. Give it a another 5 years and the reactors will finally start coming on line giving us both the electricity and hydrogen we would need to begin to support a wholesale conversion to this new energy reality and we are now at about 23 years before real serious conversion, in the auto industry can begin. While the estimated costs of mass manufactured fuel cells is approaching that of internal combustion engines there are currently 0 manufactures making them via automated assembly lines or process so each one is currently relatively expensive when considered against current available motors.

Given the supply problem is licked tomorrow there is a small matter of replacing essentially all of our current petroleum supply infrastructure with one that will handle hydrogen. It's small molecular size and corrosiveness means that we will essentially have to completely rebuild or replace every pipeline in America. No small feat in itself and 20 years may fall short of the time span necessary to accomplish this small matter. Yes a home hydrogen "refining" system may elevate some of this burden but while you are getting around twice the energy efficiency you still wind up producing CO2 from the natural gas you are "refining" and I'm not sure that everyone will be thrilled with having a high temperature catalytic device around the house will be acceptable to many.

David_PA
01-28-2008, 02:00 AM
We could easily work out the issues with hydrogen distribution within 20 years. And, don't dismiss the home hydrogen station. If the Honda tests that start this summer pan out well, I'll be among the first to buy a hydrogen car and a home hydro-station. Of course, hydro is dangerous stuff. I'd wait until the bugs get worked out - 3 - 5 years, maybe.

The issue isn't rosey scenarios vs. other supposedly more realistic scenarios, it's having national leaders who recognize how important good energy policy is to the economy and to security and - leading. That would shorten the time horizon from 30 years to 20 years.

My cynical view is not that the economics or the technology is the problem, but that the Bush crowd is so tied to oil that they are in subtle and pernicious ways preventing fuel cell technologies from becoming viable as soon as they could. An even more cynical view would be that oil will remain so powerful as to thwart alternative technologies no matter who is president.

piscivorous
01-28-2008, 03:02 AM
My cynical view is not that the economics or the technology is the problem, but that the Bush crowd is so tied to oil that they are in subtle and pernicious ways preventing fuel cell technologies from becoming viable as soon as they could. An even more cynical view would be that oil will remain so powerful as to thwart alternative technologies no matter who is president.

You know I keep hearing that but then again it is President Bush that that had made it the official policy of the U.S. to move to a hydrogen economy. Along with this executive order he has poured in quite a considerable amount of extra funding towards fuel cell and alternative energy. Besides the direct funds you will notice a lot of DOD funds going to fuel cells for several strategic reasons. As the largest consumer of petroleum products in the world the DOD is very interested in lessoning it's dependence for one. Another is the logistical tail necessary for suppling this petroleum is huge if you can double you energy efficiency you cut the logistics tail considerably. Thirdly they are very interested in the stealth capabilities of an almost silent fuel cell as compared t noisy generators and vehicles. If one looks at the more esoteric reasons for the DOD wanting fuel cells is as a means of battery replacement. all this high tech gear that individual soldiers use in the field use batteries. Along with being the largest gas hog the DOD is probably the largest consumer of batteries in the world. To be able to replace batteries with fuel cells would again cut the logistics tail in addition to giving foot soldiers a better longer lasting energy source. So I don't buy the bit about President Bush not doing enough; he has done far more than any predecessor to push us along the path to breaking our dependence on fossil fuels he just doesn't get the recognition.

Besides who do you think is going to eventually supply the bulk of the hydrogen that it will take to run this new hydrogen economy. Ma and Pa kettle? No it will be the companies that currently supply us our energy because they already are experts in doing just that. It is sort of the chicken and egg problem. Which comes first the demand or the supply and who is going to take the leap and spend the 100 of billions and in the end trillions to make the shift. Historically in America demand has proceeded supply so don't look for the energy companies to get out in front but they will meet demand as that is where the money lies.

David_PA
01-28-2008, 03:18 AM
Historically in America demand has proceeded supply so don't look for the energy companies to get out in front but they will meet demand as that is where the money lies.
That's the problem and Bush isn't part of the solution. If he were really committed to hydrogen: 1) we'd hear him talking about it often, 2) he'd ask congress to put a 100B or more a year into helping the corporates on the supply side such as with R&D and conversion tech, 3) he'd sell it as security to help get us out of our ME entrapments, 4) he'd have set 5- and 10-year targets in making the shift, 5) he'd propose heavy tax credits to early hydrogen car and home fuel cell adopters and to electric suppliers who used fuel cells, and ... you could think of more. Maybe he'll announce all of this in his state of the union and prove me wrong.

Baltimoron
01-28-2008, 07:00 AM
Actually, in ROK and Japan, UNCLOS has intensified the disagreement over Liancourt Rocks/Takeshima/Dokdo. The elaborate system of ocean boundaries, continental shelves, and economic zones has created a messy collision of concentric circles where Japan's and ROK's boundaries all overlap. PRC and Japan have similar disputes. Of course, the mother of all disputes is the Spratly's in the South China Sea.

The effext of UNCLOS has not been to diminish these controversies, merely to remove them to the tedious confines of IGO conferences and ministry negotiations, with occasional internet flame wars and bloated government rhetoric.

piscivorous
01-28-2008, 09:14 AM
From the search bush hydrogen 560,000 entries

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/06/20030625-6.html
http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/may2005/2005-05-26-10.asp
http://www.energy.gov/news/1584.htm
http://www.theonion.com/content/node/47767
http://www.energy.gov/news/1264.htm
http://www.energy.gov/news/1264.htm

From bush "fuel cell" 536,000 entries
http://www1.eere.energy.gov/hydrogenandfuelcells/presidents_initiative.html
http://www.engology.com/artfuelcells.htm
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_go1459/is_200302/ai_n7446003
http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/01-17-2002/0001650110&EDATE=

Perhaps it is the MSM that is not paying enough attention our your suffering from BDS that prevents you from actually seeing what is being done by this administration to moving the U.S. in this direction.

Your suggestion as to spending 100 billions at this point in time is ludicrous as 90% of that money would be wasted on frivolous schemes and ideas. Until the needs and are better known and understood to throw more money at the problem is to waste that money.

InJapan
01-28-2008, 11:35 AM
There are many wonderful websites out there dedicated to alternative energy - it is not as if I do not know of the varieties of possibilities.

But again I'm with piscivorous on this one - when you look at the rate which one can introduce any alternative energy source, then spread it throughout the world economy, you see that it takes decades to replace coal/oil/gas. Would it be 6 decades instead of 7? Don't know, but it is of that order of magnitude. In the mean time we will continue to raise the CO2 level in the atmosphere, and have to live with whatever consequences follow.

The point I guess I really wanted to make is that the LOS treaty and any future CO2 reduction treaty are two different kinds of treaties, and the diavlogers sort of lumped them together, for the sake of talking about US Senate strategies. That is unfortunate IMO because something like the Law of the Sea treaty should and can be analyzed based much more on its merit to the US, rather than some hypothetical CO2 treaty.

David_PA
01-28-2008, 01:39 PM
Your suggestion as to spending 100 billions at this point in time is ludicrous as 90% of that money would be wasted on frivolous schemes and ideas. Until the needs and are better known and understood to throw more money at the problem is to waste that money.

Why is Honda the only car company that is large-scale testing hydrogen cars? How about some Washington pressure on US car-makers to get more in the game?

There are some local hydrogen station programs and there's the Honda home hydrogen station, but no federal ones. Why isn't the federal govt. putting up money to attract big companies (such as oil) to produce and test model hydrogen filling and delivery systems.

How long did it take after the introduction of the first autos until gasoline was readily available in the early 1900s? A: A couple of decades.

I'll agree that we have to ramp up federal aid and that too much now would not be a good use of funds. But, the drive to alternative energy should be a "war" effort. And, it's not.

piscivorous
01-28-2008, 02:20 PM
There are numerous companies building and testing fuel cell filling pumps. Currently many of the auto models use pressurized tanks to hold fuel. There has been a discussion going on as between those that say 5000psi tanks are sufficient to get the Detroit requisite 300 miles or so, between fill ups, and those who say that it will require 10,000psi to obtain this range. Others maintain that no low pleasure tanks that absorb hydrogen into some sort of chemical compound or matrix is the best idea. So do we let the government decide and dictate the correct solution or do we let the market work it out? Since the market has not quite done so and if the energy companies design the pumps will the market then have to adapt to what the energy companies pumps designs?

Do yourself a favor and go to Google news and set an alert for "fuel cell." This will allow you to get caught up with current events and trends as to what is actually going on in fuel cells as reported in the MSM. If you would like to follow fuel cell developments in greater detail there are a number of good publications available both on the WEB and in print.

David_PA
01-28-2008, 02:38 PM
Pisc: The "market" except Honda is moving too slowly. Why isn't a US company testing hydro cars as soon as Honda? Why is the US behind the curve in alternative energy in other respects? Are you saying that the US govt. is doing all it can to foster alternative energy (hydrogen delivery, fuel cells, solar) development?

Clearly, you support some govt. role or you wouldn't be touting what Bush is doing re: hydrogen. It seems, though, that we might have to just agree to disagree whether the govt. is doing enough and whether the "market" needs more govt. prodding.

Joel_Cairo
01-29-2008, 07:26 PM
Agreed. Also, the penultimate syllable in Copenhagen is pronounced with a long A, not an "ah" sound.

Hate to quibble with you Brendan, but that's not strictly correct. Copenhagen, in Danish, is KÝbenhavn. Danes pronounce it in a way that sounds quite a bit like "Schoepp'nhavn"; there really is no vowel between those final two consonants, and everything past the "H" is often swallowed. Therefore, a more faithful English pronounciation has a soft long "aah" rather than a hard "A", with the last part sounding much more like "Hšagen-Dasz" than "the Hague".

bjkeefe
01-30-2008, 05:25 AM
Hate to quibble with you Brendan ...

Oh, stop it. You love to quibble with me. ;^)

I must say that you sound like you know what you're talking about. My sources were my mother (who knew everything, even if she didn't always get it right), a handful of European friends, and the discussion that was raised by the Broadway play of the same name. I have not, however, spoken to any Danes about this.

Maybe we should ask this guy (http://www.research.att.com/~bs/bs_faq.html#pronounce). His discussion on a closely related matter suggests there's something to your claim that the syllable in question is swallowed.