Archive for April, 2012

Crowds at Home Show Attracted by Energy-Conserving Ideas

Monday, April 30th, 2012

The economy may be on the upswing, but it was clear at Saturday’s North Central Florida Home Show in Gainesville that whatever additional cash people may have in their pockets, they don’t want to spend it on heating and cooling their homes.

Vendors selling energy-saving materials from reflective insulation to solar panels were popular stops at the show …

“Energy saving is No. 1. Our house is 2,600 square feet with two different A/C units. We want to reduce the electric bills, which are $600 a month in the summer,” said Gainesville’s Mark Menjivar. “I’ve always been hip to new things that come out. I’ve done the math — if I get a loan for solar panels, I’m replacing the high cost of energy with what I’ll be spending on the loan, but after two or three years paying off that loan, I’m paying zero for energy.”

http://www.gainesville.com/article/20120310/ARTICLES/120319975

Will Alternative Energy Ever Go Mainstream?

Monday, April 30th, 2012

The problem in evaluating various forms of power is that two critical elements of the debate — the true costs of production and the efficiency of the energy source — are often ignored, or wind up buried beneath “statistics” designed to sway the heart instead of the brain. In many cases, an ignorant public and a highly divided political system simply demonize what they barely understand. Let’s try to ignore the talking heads for a while and look at the numbers at ground level.

A pressing need
Renewable energy’s support is often based on hope and hype, promising freedom from polluting hydrocarbons and the nasty terrorist-harboring petrostates that control them. But that hope ignores the reality, which is that we need to power our many devices quickly, cheaply, and consistently, and we need to do it right now. Alternative energy is not yet up to the task, and so hydrocarbon alternatives remain (for now) on the fringes, as the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s data show …

http://www.dailyfinance.com/2012/01/05/will-alternative-energy-ever-go-mainstream/

Why Alternative Energy, Part Two

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Sometime between 2008 and 2009, or perhaps before then, I got it in my head that the best poetry was political in nature, the best fiction was psychological or sociological in nature, and the best non-fiction, well, was non-fiction!

It was also sometime around then that I got on board the alternative energy train, or rather hopped on the caboose that’s being dragged by the engine. At the time, I wasn’t thinking about writing about the subject. I was only interested in understanding why the drumbeat of news on the subject was getting louder. I convinced myself of the benefits of alternative energy not for the reasons I mentioned in an earlier blog post, “Why Alternative Energy.”

Back then, I could only see the subject from an international economist’s point-of-view. Economic policymakers typically argue that the US current account deficit, the fact that the nation imports more than it exports, is sustainable because it has a large internal market. If it had to, the country could enjoy life without exporting or importing. But it seemed clear to me that America needed to prove to itself as a nation that it didn’t have a balance of payments issue, that our current account deficit was sustainable, or else not on a one-way track to nowhere, and that changing our energy mix would go a long way towards that.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaynejung/2012/01/12/why-alternative-energy-part-two/

Why Alternative Energy

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Sometimes, I must admit, it is difficult to convince myself of the scientific basis for global warming and alternative energy. The data seems too easy to manipulate. Can scientists really predict temperatures 100 years into the future when it is so difficult to predict this year’s hurricane season? Perhaps with some probability of error.

What is clear, however, is that the thinning ozone layer isn’t getting any smaller around the Antarctic. Instead the hole has gotten bigger since the late 70s. And that is not good.

We know that biodiversity is important for our survival. Learning how different organisms and animals live and breath provides valuable, sometimes lifesaving, insight into our own lives. So we should do what we know we can while we can to protect the species that we have — perhaps not to protect against cataclysmic global collapse in the distant future per se, but to address the dramatic change that’s happening now.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaynejung/2012/01/02/why-alternative-energy/