Monday, November 06, 2006

the 17 point scale cancels its no endorsement in i-937

the 17 point scale no longer chooses to offer an endorsement for initiative measure 937 (i-937). i'm confused. i don't even know what i'm voting for, so how can i offer an endorsement? however, we still urge you to vote NO on i-91!

earlier today i told my accountant (errr...that is, he's an accountant, and he was the first to show me the free online services that do all the tax work for me) that i was wavering on my no vote. jonathan attempted to encourage me in my no vote by citing this reasoning:

"...I think that corporations need to have the foresight to privately research on their own. I don’t think that this should be imposed on them by the government. If Matt and you are right that we are going to eventually run out of our naturally resources (which I disagree) than the corporations should be savvy enough to figure that on their own and not have sanctions imposed. I think I am really going to scare you, but have you thought about Nuclear Power?"

my friend the alternative energy engineer also commented on yesterday's blog. actually, it was more like a letter to the editor:


Though I’m studying sustainable energy, I don’t claim to have all the facts, especially about Washington State. That being said…

I disagree with your position.

I think you hit the nail on the head that in you point ii response to Beth: “the intitiative doesn't say water is NOT renewable, it just doesn't include it. the supporters of 937 say that that's because we're already maxed out with hydro--we won't be building new dams anytime soon. i haven't heard fish mentioned, but wikipedia does include damage to fish runs as one of the negatives to hydro.”

From my understanding (based on a water management class I took last semester) we’ve pretty much reached the “balance” as far as industrial size hydro power in the US. In that, were we could build them, we pretty much did…everywhere in the continental US that is. And I would also guess that it is likely that any expansions, or small pockets of untouched potential hydro sites, are pretty much off limits because of the perception of what hydro power does to ecosystems (i.e., salmon).

So basically, I think your premise that hydros provide a good source of renewable energy is 100% correct. But I thinking voting against the proposition does a lot more harm, and no good. (Not living in Washington anymore, I haven’t even read this proposition, and completely base any knowledge of it off of your blog.)

Here’s a pretty bad analogy:

Little 10 year old Jimmy has cancer, not the kind that is instantly fatal, but in about 5 years he is going to die unless his cancer is treated. Jimmy also has strep throat as a result of his weekend immune system. Do we choose not to treat the strep throat because it won’t cure the cancer? Or do we tell little Jimmy, “sorry buddy, this strep throat is indirectly related to your terminal illness, but since treating it won’t directly cure your cancer, you’re just going to have to suffer the intense pain, sorry buddy.”

OK, so this analogy doesn’t apply on several levels, and is pretty extreme…but here’s my opinion: The US is horribly addicted to cheap energy derived from cheap oil. There are all sorts of sick geopolitical dimensions to this that go well beyond the scope of this blog (see the movie Syriana for a fictionalized representation …to get your mind going), but even ignoring that, something needs to be done. ANY move toward renewable energy is good.

I agree with you that hydro should have been included. But why does it matter that it wasn’t? Couldn’t another bill be added, or this be amended next year so that it is “more encompassing”? Why would you want to shutdown a good thing that wasn’t perfect but still good?

I don’t see how voting no will do anything except take a step in the wrong direction? Even if the bill only took half a step in the right direction, at least it was in the right direction.

Furthermore, look at your energy bill. What are you paying per kWhr? I bet 12 cents, right? In NYC I’m paying 20 cents, but frankly, even on a tiny student budget in one of the most expensive cities, my utility bill is still a very minor part of my overall expenses. The community I worked with in Africa had to pay closer to $2-3 per kWhr!!! This is only slightly higher than much of Africa. There are a lot of reasons for this disparity – the rich pay less while those that can’t afford it pay more – that again go beyond the scope of this conversation. Additionally the REAL climate change impacts that WE brought on with OUR addiction to cheap energy are being felt in the poorest places in the world, like Darfur for example.

We can afford to pay more for energy; we should pay more for energy. We need to stop requiring the rest of the world to foot the bill for our addiction. (I hate it when people talk about the US as a “super power” or “leader”, that being said…) The US should stop acting unilaterally on issues of Energy (both issues that include military action as well as R&D). The US needs to wake up, and look around and follow in the footsteps of other countries that are putting more efforts into finding sustainable energy solutions.

Hydros are good, and micro hydros should continue to be explored. But frankly, the technology is mature, and in the US, I’m pretty sure, we’ve pretty much tapped all the large scale locations we can at this point.

Our greatest hope for a sustainable energy future, I think, will come from solar power…(from a straight up physics type energy / matter balance perspective this is the biggest source of energy) not hydro, not biodiesel (even though biodiesel type fuels is ironically what I’m going to be doing my PhD on), not wind…but solar PV (photo voltaic) cells…eventually, not tomorrow, not in 10 years, but maybe in 50 years if we start today…. PV is still too expensive to be cost competitive with our addiction to cheap oil, but sooner or later it will come down. Let’s help get the price of PV solar down…maybe this initiative will lead to Pudget Sound energy funding research at UW, and maybe some great breakthroughs will happen…and maybe then we can have cheap, responsible energy, and even share the technology with the rest of the world…but even if that doesn’t happen, voting NO doesn’t seem to do anything except take a step in the opposite direction.

Even if its not perfect, I think you should vote YES for this proposition, not against it.



The Salmon Princess said...

Hey, you changed your tagline!

Matt Basinger said...

It seems sort of ironic to say that corporations should have the foresight to research on their own...but why would they? There is no innitiative - not as long as the government provides all sorts of ways for us to get cheap energy. If we believe markets are the way to go, then why the cheap energy? Should corporations figure out how to make it cheap without the government providing all sorts of cuts, breaks and incentives? ...? If we're going to play the business over government card, then we should play it at both ends of the deal, in order to be consistant...