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the environmental movement and the role of government

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by JRP3, Dec 19, 2008.

  1. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    #1 JRP3, Dec 19, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 23, 2008
    Moderator's Note: Continued from this thread: http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/tesla-roadster/2039-carmack-says-too-much-fun.html

    http://www.armadilloaerospace.com/n.x/Armadillo/Home/News?news_id=364

    That's a disappointingly ignorant comment from an otherwise intelligent individual. Some people seem to be afraid of clean air, trees, and dirt, but if someone with that attitude can appreciate the Tesla I guess that's a strong selling point.
     
  2. bobw

    bobw Tesla Reader

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    I have to disagree.

    Notice he is "hostile to most of the environmental movement." (emphasis mine) He is not hostile to the environment. He dislikes the whackos who advocate giving the Great Plains back to the buffalo.

    In Dallas, the heart of the bible belt and the home of the megachurch, the difference between the environment and the environmental movement is crystal clear.

    Too many environmentalists seem to want to control peoples' lives.
     
  3. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    Actually I was really referring to this part:
    That's the sort of consequences be damned attitude that leads us to poison our living environment, since altering something in the short term may seem like a good idea without knowing how it may impact us in the future. Sure there are extremists in the environmental movement, as in all groups, but people are always trying to control what others do. No one tries harder to control people's lives than megachurches and the bible belt.
     
  4. Joseph

    Joseph Member

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    "I care nothing at all for the environment in isolation, only for how it positively impacts human life -- civilization is all about beating the environment into forms that suit us better."

    I think this approach to nature sums up the instinctive "caveman" thinking in us. I appreciate that he can be this honest, to tell us what he really thinks. However, what makes people human is their capability to rationalize and care for things that aren't related to them.

    So, while this statement is true (I think we all think this far in the back of our heads) we can't actually live out our lives so selfishly. What civilization really is all about is being humane and rational and civilized and all that stuff. This civilized attitude where we are capable of caring for things unrelated to us, unselfishly, should be extended beyond people and to nature.
     
  5. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    I look at it on a more basic level. It may be convenient for you to dump your garbage in the stream by your house but then it ends up washing down to mine. Therefore your dumping has to be controlled so as not to affect others.
     
  6. bobw

    bobw Tesla Reader

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    #6 bobw, Dec 22, 2008
    Last edited: May 17, 2010
    I think you all are trying too hard to take John Carmack wrong.

    There is no environment without human influence. There is no place on earth that has not been touched. It's not just the plastic bottles floating in the ocean.

    Primitives in a sparsely populated rainforest can slash-and-burn all they want. When the soil dies they move on and eventually the jungle restores their old fields. Rapa Nui was once covered in forest. North America once had mammoths and mastodons and giant sloths and camels and horses. Then humans crossed the Bering Strait and changed all that.

    There has never been a time when humans lived as one with Nature. It's all a romantic fantasy.

    Civilization is what gives us the perspective to take care of the environment.

    We can make sure our surroundings are fit to live in. We can make sure the air and water are clean. We can reserve green spaces to enjoy. These are jobs for scientists and engineers, not lobbyists in Washington or activists in the street. They are not jobs for neopuritans who want to impose their standards on everyone.

    If you want people to stop burning oil, build something better!
     
  7. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    Actually primitives in a sparsely populated rain forest are often small groups of hunter gatherers and because of their low population density have almost no impact on their surroundings. Low population density lessens any impact, as density grows we have to actively try to lessen that impact.

    Too bad it doesn't work that way. People tend to do what is easiest for them. If you build something better but it costs more and takes a bit more work to implement it won't be adopted. Scientists didn't get people to stop throwing away cans and bottles, recycling programs did. That's why we need activists and government to give incentives to do the right thing, because some people are better able to look ahead than others. The sad truth is that people are short sighted and will not necessarily do what is best, even for themselves.
     
  8. bobw

    bobw Tesla Reader

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    #8 bobw, Dec 22, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2008
    Better includes costs.

    You can't railroad before it is time. You need low pressure steam engines to pump water out of coal and iron mines. You need inexpensive steel for rails. You need high quality steel for high pressure steam engines for locomotives. People experimented with horse drawn railroads on wooden tracks, but it wasn't viable until all the pieces came together.

    The same is true with electric cars. We're on the cusp. We know what the obstacles are. Whining that people won't do what's good for them won't make it happen faster. Forcing people actually hurts them. There are no two ways around that. If you make people use something less economical, you hurt them. Revolutions have happened over similar issues.

    It's not your money. It's theirs. They earned it, many at jobs they hate. You haven't the right.

    When I was an undergraduate I said scornfully that all the proletariat wants is titties and beer. As I grow older I reflect that their priorities, right or wrong, are theirs. And they might be right.


    So build something better. Really.
     
  9. Cobos

    Cobos S60 owner since 2013

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    You can actually force people or at least you can strongly influence their choices. Goverments do it all the time, what do you think the $7500 tax rebate on the Volt is. And as a social democrat I strongly believe in mild forcing or at least that you actually pay for all negative externalities (i.e. polluting the common enviroment). Revolutions usually happen when you loose control or when the changes are major and arbitrary.

    Cobos

    PS: This is getting off topic so I'll stop.
     
  10. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    Using foreign oil hurts us all in the long term, even though it's cheaper in the short term. The only real obstacle to EV's right now is battery cost. Batteries are expensive because they are made in limited quantities. Quantities are limited because the market is limited. The market is limited because the batteries are too expensive. See the problem? Subsidize the batteries and they become more affordable, more will be bought, production can ramp up, and then economy of scale takes over to keep costs down.
    I do if the way they spend their money negatively affects my life and costs me money. Living in a civilization means you really can't just do whatever you want. That's why we have governments, like it or not.

    Yes, we're way off topic. Sorry, I'll stop. :redface:
     
  11. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

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    You can continue your discussion if you wish. At some point tonight move I'll these posts into a new thread.
     
  12. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    1,200 Roadsters is Eight Million cells (8,197,200). Plus Tesla is selling to an as-yet-unamed maker as well.

    At what point is it no longer "limited quantities".
     
  13. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    I was thinking more along the lines of A123, Altairnano, Phostech, or even Thundersky. Plus they've only built 100 or so Roadsters as of yet.
     
  14. bobw

    bobw Tesla Reader

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    #14 bobw, Dec 23, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2008
    Optimum Government Policy

    I think this discussion does need a new thread.

    I do think government can have a useful role preparing solutions for long term problems. It's important to separate goals from policies.

    In this case, if you want to develop alternatives to oil in transportation, there are much better ways than by flat fiat. That approach brought us CAFE, and I believe led directly to the proliferation of SUVs. Somehow politicians see regulations as less risky than taxes. They may be right, but regulations tend to have side effects. They also often turn out to be much more expensive.

    A gasoline tax would have been much less intrusive and more effective at the same time.

    Here's one idea:

    When the government wanted to promote aviation, the Post Office awarded airmail contracts. The Post Office would be an ideal customer for highway capable EVs. The Department of Energy could buy a new fleet of postal delivery vehicles, only specifying speed ranges, range, and carrying capacity. There's your instant mass market. It would be smart to spread out the purchases and buy from a number of suppliers.

    This board has many bright and ingenious members who most certainly could come up with something better. The criteria are:

    1) A transportation solution as flexible as current technology that doesn't burn oil. Be humble. Don't pick winners. You aren't smart enough to consider all possible approaches to the problem. Don't get stuck on electricity. I think it's the best solution. I could be wrong. It's happened before.

    2) Disrupt the citizens' lives as little as possible. Expand their choices, don't close choices off. You are certainly not smart enought to manage 300 million lives.

    3) Promote manufacturing in the USA. We don't need to exchange one balance of payments problem for another. Also, it would be nice to have something to sell overseas. If a foreign company wants in on the action require them to manufacture crucial components, like battery cells, in the USA. China did it in the '80s in aviation. I wonder if the tie cutting ceremony has spread?

    4) Try not to create and/or expand an Advocacy, Bureacratic, and Commercial complex invested in the development process. We've already got one in hydrogen fuel cell development.

    Remember that "Let there be Light" was not a Congressional Resolution.
     
  15. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

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    Done. Let me know if you guys have a more appropriate title.
     
  16. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    I think that's a great idea.

    As far as I can tell, electricity is the only option at this point.
    All technologies limit choices, we are simply conditioned to accept the negatives of ICE's and gasoline. People see the problem with EV's being you can't do a quick fillup on the road, but fail to see the benefit of cheaply filling up at home over night, which would take less time for an individual than going to a gas station, waiting in line, and pumping gas.
    Agree.
    The problem with they hydrogen push is that it's greenwashing at it's worst. "Look at this great, green tech we are working hard on. It's not practical now or even close to it so you'll have to keep buying our ICE's, but we are trying". If all the time, money, and resources that have been wasted on hydrogen were spent on battery tech we'd already have cheaper batteries, and more fast charge stations for those who feel that's necessary.
     
  17. SByer

    SByer '08 #383

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    Again, I go back to improvements in technology not being a disparate set of a-ha moments, but a continuing series of incremental building on others' work, the rate of which is pretty directly tied to funding and interest.

    JRP3 is completely right, IMO - hydrogen has been a distraction from a real solution, nothing more. It's a fundamentally flawed concept. That money would be better spent towards developing more viable alternatives. The quick fill thing is just a completely bogus part of the same set of distractions - in a more BEV world, rent-able RE trailers would be readily available.

    Note that if oil wasn't subsidized through wars, tax breaks for oil companies, and tax breaks for consumers (by not taxing the true costs of emissions and other byproducts and damage), batteries would already be more than competitive. But it's politically much easier to give new benefits than it is to remove ones already there, especially ones that are as hidden as those for oil.
     
  18. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    I've said, the government should mandate all of it's vehicles be full electric by 2010. Follow with all government contractors and state an local as well.

    If you force it then all will build it.
     
  19. bobw

    bobw Tesla Reader

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    I agree that hydrogen looks like a red herring. Two categories of people fixate on it:

    1) People who want quick-fillup and ignore all the other drawbacks.
    2) Members of the fuel cell/hydrogen Advocacy, Bureacratic, and Commercial complex.

    I don't think the ads boasting about fuel cell research are greenwashing so much as high-tech washing.

    Each set of technologies has its own set of limitations. The IC engine has to be refueled at sometimes inconvenient locations and intervals. The battery electric car has to be recharged periodically, cannot be easily be recharged quickly, and may have limited battery life. Hydrogen vehicles, IC or fuel cell, have to be refueled at sometimes inconvenient locations and intervals, has low energy density without cryogenic storage, has storage issues even without cryogenics.

    The point is that different people can make different tradeoffs. It's a bad idea for government to try to choose for them.

    Micromanagement by government is still micromanagement. Besides, the government works for us.
     
  20. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    The physics of hydrogen from "well to wheel" show it as a failed technology yet much of the public perception of it is as some sort of savior. So if the public drives policy to push this technological failure where does that lead us? Some technologies are simply better than others and should be promoted.
    The government will be subsidizing some technology, we should focus on the best to get the most out of our dollars. The truth is that BEV's need the least amount of help to become viable:
    1. Reduce battery costs. The technology is there and will continue to improve, costs just need to come down.
    2. Build up a fast charge infrastructure. This can be done slowly since the majority of early adopters realize this isn't absolutely necessary, and would rather charge at home more cheaply than pay the premium for a fast charge.

    If all the subsidies and resources were put into BEV's that are being used on hydrogen, ethanol, etc., BEV's would really take off. I think they will anyway but sooner is better than later for all of us.
     

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