Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step

March 17, 2009

AIG: Too Late To Defuse an Exploded Bomb

Category: Rants – Tom Harrison – 9:02 am

Ok, I’m off-topic on this one, but I’m a little ticked off, and I always like to vent my frustration in a public place. AIG has a problem with bonuses. Obama has asked Geitner to see what legal recourse we have. Andrew Ross Sorkin of the Times is defending AIG‘s right to give bonuses because they are contracts. I am as mad as the next guy about 400 people getting $165M in bonuses ($412K each, on average). But I accept that their contract may require payment.

What I don’t accept is that the top leaders of AIG and other companies who failed to identify and stop the problem, and wrote bonus contracts like this are so precious that any manager in their right mind would believe there’s a need to retain them. The main defense for propping up companies that played this game seems to be that they are the experts.

But experts at what? (more…)

February 17, 2009

Obama. Hope Springs. (Eternal TBD.)

Category: Political,Rants – Tom Harrison – 7:53 pm

No guarantees. No certainty. No proscriptions. A nice little stock market plunge in response. Nope — hope is not something you can take to the bank. But maybe it’s something we can work with.

The stimulus bill is a messy, ugly, sloppy, horrendous thing of beauty.

For in all of its compromise, and stupidity, and waste, the core of the really important things survived. It’s pretty much a sure thing that you know there’s a lot of pork stimulus for green jobs, green energy, and environmental … whatever, when the virulent, progressive community is shouting loudly at how it was us who made all these great green giveaways stimuli happen. And the shouting is loud. Man, the Republicans must be stewing in their own formaldehyde plotting how to undermine any progress we might actually make indignant.

I wrote a few months back that Bush’s legacy might indeed be a novel way to solve global warming … by throwing our country into a massive recession. As it turns out, the recession has indeed been a rather effective and immediate way to mitigate our climate change and energy security issues. We’ll see if Obama’s more … conventional, progressive, liberal methods for solving the issues are equally effective (and who knows, perhaps without all the pesky side effects). No guarantees, of course.

Obama won this round, and it was a big, big, big one. Sure, the press had nearly written him off last week, but as the magnitude of this victory has become evident … and as Obama has taken back control of the message, we’re seeing what we voted for. Damn, he’s good. Heck, he might be as good as Bush was, and what’s more, using an almost entirely different way to manipulate the message. Who knew we could be manipulated in so many different ways. I’ll take mine this way, thanks.

This is not an issue about the economy. This isn’t an issue about education. Or science. Or health care. Or, dare I say it, about the environment. This is an issue of who is best able to direct the message, and how pragmatism makes it all work quickly (if not purely). Why even bi-partisanship isn’t dead!

Next stop: the banks. God help him.

I have hope.

October 28, 2008

How Bush Solved the Climate Crisis

Category: Rants – Tom Harrison – 11:38 pm

No one has given our (still) President Bush a lot of credit for taking positive steps to help solve the climate crisis.

But in a master stroke, he has taken the first step, and like many others, it’s a bold, decisive one. As with most of his policies, it has been misunderstood. (more…)

October 24, 2008

My Last Political Post (I Promise)*

Category: Political,Rants – Tom Harrison – 7:56 pm

Delightful. Frightful.

* I promise that this will be my last political post for a while unless something really, really un-delightful and frightful happens, begins to happen. Or for any other currently undisclosed reasons that I am the decider-of that I can earmark at my executive discretion by making a signing statement.

October 5, 2008

“Truthful Terms” are not The Truth

Category: Editorial,Observations,Political,Rants – Tom Harrison – 3:39 pm

(Note: this post has nothing whatsoever to do with energy or conservation: it’s a political rant)

Fox reports that McCain spokesman, Tucker Bounds responded to an Obama ad.

“We’re going to talk in truthful terms, which they are not in that advertisement,” Bounds said. “We also want to talk in truthful terms about who Barack Obama is. These are important things for voters to know.”

Just curious, is “truthful terms” anything like talking truthfully? Or perhaps even telling the truth? Or does it just means that the terms (i.e. sound bites) will be truthful, but strung together in such a way as to be effective … which is to say, deceptive.

October 3, 2008

Talkin’ About Energy Independence

Category: Climate Change,Political,Rants – Tom Harrison – 3:29 pm

In watchin’ the VP Debate last night I now understand Sarah’s and John’s position on energy independence. See, I’ve been havin’ some problems understandin’ how these guys can be for it when all they’re saying is “Drill, Baby, Drill”.

The thing is, and I would like to shout out directly to Sarah here (can I call you Sarah?). You see, Sarah, energy is not exactly the same thing as oil, gas, and coal. Now I know you’re sittin’ right on top of a whole heap of oil and gas there in Alaska, and it seems like a gosh-awful lot of it that we can tap into, and for sure, almost everything we use to power our country with now comes from one of those taps. Yep, there’s some nu-cu-ler in there, too and a little other crazy stuff.

But Sarah, lemme tell it to you straight. A billion or trillion of barrels sure seems like a big ol’ number, but the thing about it is, though we do have a bunch of billions of barrels of oil that we could tap into, those billion taps would only make only one of New Jersey, North Carolina, or Georgia energy independent. (more…)

September 10, 2008

If You Say Something Enough, It’s True (So I Do)

Category: Rants – Tom Harrison – 11:35 pm

It\'s True!

It's True!

OK, so yesterday I wrote a nice review of compact fluorescent bulbs and did my environmental thing. But what’s on my mind these days is a little less direct: is the current strategy of the McCain campaign just to say things that aren’t true, hoping knowing that people listening will believe it?

All evidence so far, and from the last few elections and the administrations that follow suggest that people will believe what you tell them, especially if you tell them over and over.

However, the lie has to be done well (and repeatedly). When Bill Clinton said he had not had sex with “that woman” we all knew he way lying. See, he’s a Democrat, so really not very good at lying in a convincing way, since no one else would repeat his denial.

But when Bush promotes the “Clear Skies Initiative” we kind of all know that it isn’t really going to make our skies clear, in the sense of being clean, or less polluted or anything like that, but instead something more … opposite. Except hat hundreds of spokesmen and spokeswomen and “journalists” all say something about “Clear Skies”, so it’s what we believe. (more…)

June 26, 2008

White House Doesn’t Open Mail from EPA Stating Carbon is a Pollutant

Category: Climate Change,News,Observations,Political,Rants – Tom Harrison – 8:29 am

If you cover your ears and say “la-la-la-la-la” does that mean you don’t hear your parents telling you go to bed? Not in my house.

Apparently the White House feels differently. The New York Times reported yesterday that the White House simply refused to open an email sent by the EPA. (Please read this article!).

Nothing important, just the EPA’s response to the Supreme Court ruling stating that is wasn’t ok to ignore the Clean Air Act. As a result CO2 needed to be treated as a pollutant just like other effluents.

So it seems the EPA wrote up rather extensive study in 2007 after the ruling showing how the country could actually benefit from acting upon this ruling, such as how having strict rules on vehicle emissions could save (not cost) billions of dollars.

But the administration doesn’t think the Clean Air Act is a good thing, it seems, so they refused to accept these findings. “La-la-la-la-la” (more…)

April 30, 2008

One honest voice on gas prices (a non-partisan rant)

Category: Editorial,Political,Rants – Tom Harrison – 9:50 pm

Warning: the following is my opinion. While everything I write here is to a lesser or greater degree a reflection of my opinion, this post falls into the “greater degree” category :-)

I believe Barack Obama is the only person with a strong political voice with the courage to tell the truth and a lot to lose by doing so. Republicans and Democrats all have stood on their bully pulpits and pronounced their “solution” to high fuel prices. There’s only one I saw who had the common sense to realize that people could understand a slightly more nuanced view of the cause of high fuel prices. I don’t agree with all of Obama’s policies relating to energy, to be sure, but when it comes to common sense and honesty, this guy’s got it.

Before you watch the ad I have copied below, please be sure you read all the other responses from our elected and want-to-be elected representatives. If you don’t come away feeling as though we need Obama’s kind of honesty and courage in our White House this fall, I encourage you to help me understand what I am missing. (more…)

April 18, 2008

Freakonomics Gets It Right/Wrong (Completely)

Category: Climate Change,Editorial,Rants,Transportation – Tom Harrison – 10:46 pm

Cars cost a lot more than we pay for, say Dubner and Levitt of “Freakonomics” fame:

with roughly three trillion miles driven each year producing more than $300 billion in externality costs, drivers should probably be taxed at least an extra 10 cents per mile if we want them to pay the full societal cost of their driving.

Their article will be published in Time Magazine this week. In nearly the first paragraph, they define the problem:

…there are all sorts of costs associated with driving that the actual driver doesn’t pay. Such a condition is known to economists as a negative externality: the behavior of Person A (we’ll call him Arthur) damages the welfare of Person Z (Zelda), but Zelda has no control over Arthur’s actions.

That’s the good news (I guess). The bad news is they say that externalities from carbon emissions are a mere $20 Billion of that $300 Billion a year cost (traffic congestion and property damage are both far more costly unrealized costs). (more…)