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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Palin and the politics of abundance

It tells you how big Sarah Palin is on the national scene when you consider this: no one is paying any more attention to Michael Jackson’s death.

Sarah Palin is being written off by all of the Left and parts of the Right. They may be right, but I doubt it. After all the hatred and vitriol that she and her children have been subjected to, I believe that it’s payback time. And there would be no bigger payback than the Presidency.

So I have begun to advise Sarah Palin.

It’s all right that she doesn’t know me, has never heard of me and probably never will, but that will not stop me (or millions of others) from offering her advice. I have already begun by telling her that she should come out as the ENERGY candidate.

Outside of glaciers and polar bears, it's what Alaska is known for. It's also the area of Palin's greatest expertise. It also happens to be topic number one for most Americans. Every time they fill their gas tank, every time they pay their electric bills, every time they discuss "cap and trade," every time they see windmills on the horizon and know - in their hearts - that these ugly machines are not going to be the solution, they will think about Sarah Palin.

Sarah Palin can become the spokesman for abundance while the left preaches the politics if scarcity. The Left’s solution to the issue of energy is to try to cope with scarcity. Every “solution” they propose is build on the assumption that energy is going to be less available and more expensive. Even their technological fixes - wind and solar power – are no one’s idea of the source of abundant energy.

The Left has brought a child-like faith to the religion of man-made global warming and demand that Americans wear hair shirts as penance for our sins as we developed a society that relies on the ready accessibility of abundant energy. Rather than finding new, economical and reliable sources of energy, they have demonized the use of energy and are working to force Americans to use less. By making energy more and more expensive via regulations that reduce the availability of natural resources, by taxes on the use of energy, buy hectoring and nagging when nothing else works.

Michelle Obama’s White House garden is the concept that the Left has of an American future. A sort of a genteel Unabomber vision of a proper America with the people growing 21st Century Victory Gardens. America as a rural Kenya outside of Nairobi; peaceful, happy rural and poor. Exceptions will be made for the leadership.

To this Leftist dystopia, Palin can bring the politics of abundance. The development of our own natural resources including oil, natural gas and coal. The re-vitalization of the nuclear power industry. Research can be funded to develop new power sources, but ones that are at least as efficient as current sources without requiring taxpayer subsidies to compete.

If given a choice between a vision of scarcity and a vision of plenty, a people will choose the path of plenty every time.

Sarah, are you listening?

Somehow, I suspect that she has it figured out already.


Dick said...

One question: Where do you find a "reliable" source of energy on a planet with fixed reserves and a population of 6 billion and expanding?

You can rail all you want against a scarcity policy, but that won't change the fact that oil reserves are being depleted and there isn't any more being made. In twenty, fifty, or a hundred years, take your pick, we WILL run out of oil at our present consumption rates.

E Vere said...

"with fixed reserves"

We have unlimited reserves of human ingenuity, and our domestic reserves of coal are almost unlimited. As long as we don't allow ourselves to be ruled by fanatical enviro-religionists, our children and grandchildren have a bright future.

Anonymous said...

Sarah Palin destroyed any chance she had of becoming President on July 3rd. She will have the albatross of "quitter" hung around her neck

Moneyrunner said...


Have you given any thought to your question? Read the first sentence again and then tell me that you don’t really believe that humanity will run out of energy. It’s a strange thing to say.

Second, you have no idea what they earth’s oil and gas resources are. I may be a little older than you – I don’t know – but I have been told for 50 years now that we are within 10, 20 or 30 years or running out of this or that natural resource. And you know what? It has not happened.

But let’s assume for the sake of argument that we will run out at some point in the future. What should we do with that information? Certainly we should look for a replacement source that will provide us abundant energy. Second, we should make the deposits that we know are there available so that the present generation – especially the poor – will not have to suffer artificial scarcity caused by political decisions to lock these resources away.
And we should not rush into policies that reduce the availability of the resources that we have to subsidize doubtful and inefficient power generating machines like windmills and expensive and inefficient solar panels.

One source of reliable energy is nuclear energy for electricity production. But that resource is also being blocked by the anti-nuke Luddites.

thisishabitforming said...

How do you know that oil reserves are depleted? The coast of California has oil washing up on shore because it leaks out of cracks in the sea floor. If we were pumping the oil out it would be better for the beaches.

There is oil in ANWAR which we are denying ourselves because we want to protect the tundra. China is sucking oil out of the Gulf of Mexico through slant drilling. It is illegal for us to access oil under the Great Lakes by the same methods.

We have oil shale, Canada has oil sand, and we are said to be the Saudi Arabia of coal.

How do you know there isn't any more being made? Some oil pools that have been thought to be pumped dry have oil seeping back into them. There is a very interesting theory that says that oil is not a fossil fuel at all but is made in the mantle of the earth; check out "abiotic oil".

But if you don't like these fuels, how about nuclear? We know how to do that and the rest of the world does too, even the Iranians.

America is committing national energy suicide. We make it illegal to search for our own supplies and buy from those who would destroy us. They set the price on a whim and we are forced to pay whatever they dream. The govenment wants new technologies that don't now and may never exist and are ignoring what is there for the taking and needs no retooling.

Anonymous said...

Michael Jackson died?

Anonymous said...

"Michelle Obama’s White House garden is the concept that the Left has of an American future. A sort of a genteel Unabomber vision of a proper America with the people growing 21st Century Victory Gardens."

That is without a doubt the funniest thing I have read for daaaaays.

Dick said...

E -
I'm not taking sides on the "global warming/climate change" issue. I only point out that the earth does not have inexhaustible resources. Where does your confidence come from to state that our children and grandchildren have a bright future? You've provided no argument to refute the scarce resource proposition beyond "human ingenuity". I think the only thing that can save us, i.e. prevent a catastrophic collapse of civilization sometime in the future, is power from nuclear fusion. Maybe that's your ingenuity claim. And we'd better be sure we still have energy around to keep the lights on until that happens so we can bootstrap it.

Moneyrunner - As I said above in response to 'E', I'm addressing this purely as an actual shortage issue, not a contrived political shortage to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

I always make an effort to engage my brain before writing. Your comment about my "first question" makes no sense. I asked where do you find a RELIABLE source of energy when we have fixed reserves and a growing population.

We're not going to run out of energy entirely until the sun stops shining, but we are going to run out of fossil and nuclear fuels long before that happens.

As regards predictions on running out of oil, I was 26 in 1973 when the first "oil crisis" hit and I've heard the same moving predictions about running out as you have. The fact that it hasn't happened yet, I think, is due to imperfect estimation, not that we won't eventually run out. Do you actually believe we'll never run out?
Yes, we have coal reserves that could carry us for maybe another 200 years, despite the fact that we'll have to ruin a great deal of our farmland to get all of it. Life magazine had an article on this in the early 70s "Should We Strip-Mine Iowa to Air Condition New York?" - maybe you remember it. And we should use nuclear fission - I'm not a Luddite and I believe that finding a place to dump nuclear waste is a smaller problem than freezing to death. Do you know however, that nuclear "fuel" is in far shorter supply than oil or coal? Google "Die Off" or "Peak Oil", or "Sustainable Growth" and read what these pages have to say.

"Certainly we should look for a replacement source that will provide us abundant energy."

Yes, I agree, but it's not going to be easy.


By our own government's estimates, ANWAR has two years worth of crude at our (America's) present consumption rates, but it will take ten years to extract. Also, should ANWAR be opened, unless you're willing to allow nationalization of the oil companies involved, much of what is pumped out of ANWAR might well go to Asia. Oil is a world commodity - there is no "our own" oil. Unless you own stock in an oil company, there's no guarantee that there's anything in ANWAR or the continental shelves for you.
The fact that oil is washing up on the beaches is probably not a reliable indicator of how much we have in reserve. Oil companies hire very bright people with advanced degrees in geology to determine these sorts of things. Do you think somebody's sandbagging about where all the extra oil is? Satelite imaging and seismology is really quite advanced these days, at least in determining where the easy oil is likely to be found.
I am familiar with the "theory" that posits that oil is continually being produced through some interaction with the earth's magma, perpetually refilling the wells of dried-up fields. I remain unconvinced as does the actual scientific community. When is the last time you actually saw an unlimited abundance of something we desperately need? If it sounds to good to be true...
My point in writing to this blog was to challenge the claim that there is somehow an "abundance" of energy out there for the taking. Until we somehow perfect sustained nuclear fusion reactions, we're going to be at the mercy of the level of resources we have on the planet. We can argue about just how many years these resources will last, but even if it's ten times the worst case predictions, that's still a short time.

Moneyrunner said...

I’m glad we had this opportunity for a civil exchange of views. Let’s take a few things one at a time. First, we have no idea of the extent of the resources that will become available to the earth’s people. Even a resource that we have been using for the last century – oil – is still abundant and more is being found virtually daily.
False or misleading statistics, like the one cited by Dick about ANWAR’s size is one way of controlling the debate. The statistic cited is true if, and only if, America stopped using oil from ALL OTHER SOURCES and drew ALL ITS OIL need from ANWAR. First, that would probably be a physical impossibility and second, it’s not how oil reserves are drawn down. Obtaining oil from ANWAR would be a huge boost for Alaska’s and America’s economy and step toward less dependence on oil from the Middle East.

Sticking with oil as an energy source for a moment, there are huge oil shale reserves that are being tapped in Canada and the Colorado’s Green River Oil Shale Deposit is the largest oil find in the world.

Regarding newer energy sources, I mentioned nuclear energy for electricity generation as a piece of proven technology that is blocked primarily by political issues. Hydrogen is mentioned as an energy source, and hydrogen is the most common element in the universe. At this point, it’s not a viable source of energy, but it is useful to research ways in which it can be used.

The “next” big energy source, beyond oil, coal and gas is probably something we can’t even imagine at this point. The political battle lines are drawn between people who believe that we are in for a future that is increasingly constrained by political limits on energy use; who see a future in which the best times are behind us; a future of scarcity and increased levels of poverty. The other side, the side I am on is the side that seeks to break through these constraints and see a future that is better than today.

Dick said...

I too appreciate a civil, discussion.

"The “next” big energy source, beyond oil, coal and gas is probably something we can’t even imagine at this point.

Can't refute this because it's logically impossible to do so, but we've observed the physical universe for something like 500 years now, and it's unlikely IMO that we'll discover a new source of accessible energy. What might there possibly be besides chemical, nuclear and mechanical?

The political battle lines are drawn between people who believe that we are in for a future that is increasingly constrained by political limits on energy use; who see a future in which the best times are behind us; a future of scarcity and increased levels of poverty. The other side, the side I am on is the side that seeks to break through these constraints and see a future that is better than today.

The scarcity I'm talking about is not a contrived political one, it's an actual, cupboard-is-bare one. I clearly see the "best" times as being behind us.

Increased levels of poverty is an understatement. Because of a dense accumulation of energy accreted over millions of years and only recently exploited (last 150 years) our numbers have increased far, far beyond the carrying capacity of the planet. We are "spending the principal" of this energy density at a prodigious rate when we should have limited ourselves to living on the interest. The economic system we have created since even before the start of the Industrial Revolution is impossible to carry forward without continued cheap energy, and there's not going to be any more of that as I see it.

The human species may be seen as having evolved in the service of entropy, and it cannot be expected to outlast the dense accumulations of energy that have helped define its niche. Human beings like to believe they are in control of their destiny, but when the history of life on Earth is seen in perspective, the evolution of Homo sapiens is merely a transient episode that acts to redress the planet's energy balance. -David Price

I like your optimistic position much better than my pessimistic one, I just don't see any basis for it being true. I don't believe that the earth is hiding any vast pools of easily accessible energy. Even if by some chance it were, the period of time over which it will last is insignificant compared to epochs of civilizations or geological time scales.

I'm not saying we should just throw up our hands and give up! We must continue to work on nuclear fusion. This is the game-changing wild card that will put my shortage arguments out to pasture, but after 40 years of trying, there's not much to show for the effort.

thisishabitforming said...

Gee Whiz Dick you have to cheer up. God set this planet spinning and he didn't put it here to just let it run out of gas(literally and/or figuratively) shortly after the year 2000.
God is a God of abundance. When man discovered fire, he didn't know about Titusville, Pennsylvania, and the good folks there had no idea about nuclear power.
Be of good cheer, there is plenty of whatever out there, we have to stop listening to the sky is falling folks and get busy finding the new "oil" in the meantime drill here, drill now.