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new energy and costs – not being realistic about innovation costs

by on October 5, 2010

We have a problem.

 

On the one hand we need the economy to grow in order to get the money for investment in clean tech. on the other hand it is a growing economy that gets us into trouble. Is anyone doing the math? For example, we compare the greenness or energy efficiency of one car (old) vs a another (new) without spread sheeting out the costs of that new car in terms of building the factory, workers driving to work there, transportation and mining  of materials, education of clerical staff (in energy terms), the roads used, the support services for those roads and drivers…

The result is that we could be building all new efficient tech with rapidly increasing total costs!

 

Following up on previous posts..As an example, the Rocky Mountain Institute, one of the tchnically best, has a new report

http://www.internetevolution.com/author.asp?section_id=1042&doc_id=196523

 that says, among much else that is very helpful. For example, pointing out the cost of failed projects, a real cost in terms of environmental impact as we go through a few win many fail innovation phase.

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2 Comments
  1. Excellent for critical thinking, Doug, but unfortunately these are the kinds of facts that appeal to few people. Same regarding overpopulation. Likewise, people don’t want to hear that humans are NOT rational as a species – and that humans don’t think clearly and critically when faced with cognitive dissonances arising from threats that we pose to our own sustainability. China had the coherence to understand that its population problems had to be addressed. We do not.

    And that is why China’s planned economy can surpass the US. I think that reaching the limits of sustainability has exposed fatal inefficiencies in “free” market thinking. Innovation will help solve China’s problems, because they are discerning about which directions to take, but it will not solve ours in a “free market”. What the US needs is a coherence of purpose and values to replace the groupthink greed and arrogance that have clouded our ability to see what is going on, let alone provide an effective response.

    Technological innovation, without guidance through central planning, is likely to squander the vast amounts of money and intellect that are available to us. Yet, “free market” zealotry (e.g., neo-conservatives) stands in the way of creating a “Manhattan Project” for independence from fossil fuels. We may not any longer have “captains of industry” with the skills and status to marshal an effort such as the one that built “Liberty Ships” for World War II. Instead, we have immensely “successful” scam artists and spin-doctors running our financial markets and overseas industrial projects who labor under the delusion that they are actually “growing” our economy.

    Government is the “parent” who is there to get the bratty, spoiled corporate children to work together for everyone’s benefit. But the kids have grown too powerful and full of contempt, sure that they know more than their parents. This is an age-old problem, but one that now places government in the role of “enabling” billionaire addicts who lack the will to reform their ways, potentially leading all of us on a hideous downward spiral to a very perilous and unforgiving “bottom.”

  2. Yes, and… the china model has lots of energy and appeal, but it is an authoritarian society in large part Do we want that to be the organizing principle for the world? I am not saying no, but do want to think about it as a question.

    I actual now think that a lot of resistance to climate initiatives is based on fear of the concentration of political power. It may be neessary, but we still need to understand peoples’ reactions.

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