Thursday, April 24, 2008

You'd Think This Would Be A Lesson

ChinaDaily reports that national power plant coal reserves are down to a new record of only 12 days, and less than a week in some Chinese provinces. This is pretty serious for a nation that relies on more than 70 percent of it's electrical power from coal. China is now a net importer of coal. And of course, even China is subject to supply and demand, and the cost of coal is rising – effecting China's whole economy.

You'd think this would be a lesson for us. But we have our own examples.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has stated:

Today, we don’t need to abolish carbon as an energy source in order to see its inefficiencies starkly, or to understand that this addiction is the principal drag on American capitalism. The evidence is before our eyes. The practice of borrowing a billion dollars each day to buy foreign oil has caused the American dollar to implode. More than a trillion dollars in annual subsidies to coal and oil producers have beggared a nation that four decades ago owned half the globe’s wealth. Carbon dependence has eroded our economic power, destroyed our moral authority, diminished our international influence and prestige, endangered our national security, and damaged our health and landscapes. It is subverting everything we value.

We know that nations that “decarbonize” their economies reap immediate rewards. Sweden announced in 2006 the phaseout of all fossil fuels (and nuclear energy) by 2020. In 1991 the Swedes enacted a carbon tax—now up to $150 a ton—and as a result thousands of entrepreneurs rushed to develop new ways of generating energy from wind, the sun, and the tides, and from woodchips, agricultural waste, and garbage. Growth rates climbed to upwards of three times those of the U.S.

Iceland was 80 percent dependent on imported coal and oil in the 1970s and was among the poorest economies in Europe. Today, Iceland is 100 percent energy-independent, with 90 percent of the nation’s homes heated by geothermal and its remaining electrical needs met by hydro. The International Monetary Fund now ranks Iceland the fourth most affluent nation on earth.”

You'd think this would be a lesson for us.

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