Farewell. The Flying Pig Has Left The Building.

Steve Hynd, August 16, 2012

After four years on the Typepad site, eight years total blogging, Newshoggers is closing it's doors today. We've been coasting the last year or so, with many of us moving on to bigger projects (Hey, Eric!) or simply running out of blogging enthusiasm, and it's time to give the old flying pig a rest.

We've done okay over those eight years, although never being quite PC enough to gain wider acceptance from the partisan "party right or wrong" crowds. We like to think we moved political conversations a little, on the ever-present wish to rush to war with Iran, on the need for a real Left that isn't licking corporatist Dem boots every cycle, on America's foreign misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. We like to think we made a small difference while writing under that flying pig banner. We did pretty good for a bunch with no ties to big-party apparatuses or think tanks.

Those eight years of blogging will still exist. Because we're ending this typepad account, we've been archiving the typepad blog here. And the original blogger archive is still here. There will still be new content from the old 'hoggers crew too. Ron writes for The Moderate Voice, I post at The Agonist and Eric Martin's lucid foreign policy thoughts can be read at Democracy Arsenal.

I'd like to thank all our regular commenters, readers and the other bloggers who regularly linked to our posts over the years to agree or disagree. You all made writing for 'hoggers an amazingly fun and stimulating experience.

Thank you very much.

Note: This is an archive copy of Newshoggers. Most of the pictures are gone but the words are all here. There may be some occasional new content, John may do some posts and Ron will cross post some of his contributions to The Moderate Voice so check back.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Hoping for the sun to be brighter tomorrow

By BJ Bjornson

There is much to like about Paul Krugman�s article regarding the increasing affordability of solar power, not the least of which is his indictment of fracking and its supporters.

Speaking of propaganda: Before I get to solar, let�s talk briefly about hydraulic fracturing, a k a fracking.

Fracking � injecting high-pressure fluid into rocks deep underground, inducing the release of fossil fuels � is an impressive technology. But it�s also a technology that imposes large costs on the public. We know that it produces toxic (and radioactive) wastewater that contaminates drinking water; there is reason to suspect, despite industry denials, that it also contaminates groundwater; and the heavy trucking required for fracking inflicts major damage on roads.

Economics 101 tells us that an industry imposing large costs on third parties should be required to �internalize� those costs � that is, to pay for the damage it inflicts, treating that damage as a cost of production. Fracking might still be worth doing given those costs. But no industry should be held harmless from its impacts on the environment and the nation�s infrastructure.

Yet what the industry and its defenders demand is, of course, precisely that it be let off the hook for the damage it causes. Why? Because we need that energy! For example, the industry-backed organization energyfromshale.org declares that �there are only two sides in the debate: those who want our oil and natural resources developed in a safe and responsible way; and those who don�t want our oil and natural gas resources developed at all.�

So it�s worth pointing out that special treatment for fracking makes a mockery of free-market principles. Pro-fracking politicians claim to be against subsidies, yet letting an industry impose costs without paying compensation is in effect a huge subsidy. They say they oppose having the government �pick winners,� yet they demand special treatment for this industry precisely because they claim it will be a winner.

Now, I happen to think Krugman is quite optimistic regarding solar�s near-term future, not just because of the energy trap, but because, as even he notes, the entire GOP has made investment into renewable energy alternatives that might threaten the fossil fuel industry into part of their endless �culture war�; something to be opposed as a matter of litmus-test identification. This story from Grist provides a good example of that fact.

So you'd think this would be a home run, right? At a time when jobs are at the top of every politician's mind, surely a bit of low-cost economic stimulus that doesn't increase the deficit and leverages tons of private capital and creates tens of thousands of jobs can serve as the rare locus of bipartisan cooperation. Right?

Except the industry in question is the solar industry. And because this industry involves clean energy rather than, I dunno, tractor parts, it has been sucked into conservatives' endless culture war. Rather than lining up to support the recession's rare economic success story, Republicans are trying to use the failure of a single company -- Solyndra -- as a wedge to crush support for the whole industry

This is highly unfortunate, because regardless what any of the propaganda may tell you, we�re heading for a world with diminishing fossil fuel supplies. Tom Murphy at the Do the Math blog has a good post on the facts underpinning the peak oil phenomena, complete with multiple informative charts, the most striking of which I found to be this one.


This goes very much to what Ron posted a few days ago.  Those �big� discoveries you keep hearing about are only big in relation to the meagerness of discoveries overall in the last several decades. There is simply no way to look at that chart and believe that we're going to have all the oil we need for very much longer.

The sun may be coming out, but it seems unlikely that it will be bright enough to save us from our mostly self-inflicted fossil-fuel withdrawal pain.

No comments:

Post a Comment