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The Law of Unintended Consequences Part 47

I often write about “The Law of Unintended Consequences”. It is surprising that few people consider the possibility that not all decisions from the mind of man work exactly the way intended. That is one reason I have been such a harsh critic of Al Gore. There is an irony that liberals and progressives who constantly howl that religious populism is a very bad thing could follow Al Gore in locked step slobbering obedience. Elmer Gantry had nothing on Al Gore.

Two things Al Gore is bringing for the consideration of the American people are very questionable ideas. But on the front end they seem to make sense. Even conservatives may think that compact fluorescent bulbs and ethanol made from corn are no brainers. Each of these ideas have serious economic and environmental drawbacks. But in the current state of frenzy not everyone is thinking about what the future implications of these ideas will be.

The good news is that a few people are navigating through the fog and considering the full implication of what wide acceptance of compact fluorescent bulbs and ethanol made from corn. Even the folks at KnoxViews. R. Neal is even beginning to see that corn based ethanol doesn’t make either economic or environmental sense.

My told you so piece on CF bulbs was back in March. Rich Hailey expanded on the mercury issue in May after R. Neal at KnoxViews wrote a long piece defending CF bulbs.

So before we think about a new religion maybe we should look under the hood and think whether the old religion is really broken. This is really all about politics. The liberal progressive side of the fence has shown to be incompetent when it comes to National Security. So the Earth First religion is what they have to offer. The simple facts are that without mandatory recycling CF bulbs will cause environmental and health issues which will negate any electricity or cost savings they may have. Corn based ethanol is one of the worst ideas for energy independence.

So why are liberal progressives changing their tune on corn based ethanol? Because the other team has gotten out in front by supporting switchgrass based ethanol which may make economic sense and which will not hurt the environment. In other words, it is CYA time for the liberal progressives.

The good news for the American people is that two questionable ideas are finally getting the full thought process required and maybe we can use our heads and not go on a National fools errand.

12 Responses to “The Law of Unintended Consequences Part 47”

  1. Rustmeister Says:

    I’ve been wondering why switchgrass hasn’t been getting more attention, as it’s a better producer of energy.

    I haven’t read if it depletes the land like corn does, though.

  2. Lyle Says:

    I’ve not seen anyone come forth and even say they have attempted to determine how much energy goes into the production of a CF bulb, as compared to the energy that goes into the production of a tungsten filament bulb of similar output. If there’s a difference, shouldn’t it be part of the hype as well? It would be difficult, because you’d have to research the whole materials acquisition chain, from the ground to the factory, as well as the actual tool-up and fabrication.

    Plus, 100% of the CF bulbs I’ve seen for sale are packaged in heavy, welded plastic “blister pack” type junk, with a slick, color printed and die-cut card inside, whereas the standard tungsten jobs are packaged in lightweight, flimsy paper boxes. So we also have to talk about shelf space, transport space, packing materials, and the energy costs of making/maintaining all of that. Of course there is no such thing as an Earth Firster who can think that far, else they wouldn’t be Earth Firsters—ipso facto.

    Furthermore, if you’re using a tungsten bulb during the heating season, the “wasted” energy (the heat output) isn’t waste at all, since it is partially offsetting the need for your furnace. Same goes for refrigerators located in a heated space, and water heaters, etc.—the “wasted” heat goes toward heating the space.

    Now of course the reverse is true if you’re spending energy to cool the space—any reduction in energy output of your lighting and other systems is putting an extra load on your AC.

    Here in the North, heating costs outweigh air conditioning costs.

    And: Building and building maintenance, and landscaping practices, I would guess, will pretty much overwhelm any of these stupid, nitpicking issues regarding energy consumption.

    Last: None of this is any of your business, unless you want to invest in a building, factory, energy provider, etc.. Git ‘er done and quit bitchin’ y’all! Free markets feed. Socialism kills.

  3. drstrangegun Says:

    I think we ought to be looking into butanol, myself…

  4. HKL Says:

    Ethenol wouldn’t be so cheap at the pump if it weren’t for tax dollars.

    The Cato Institute has an article that shows that for every dollar profit Archer Daniels Midland makes on ethenol, it takes $30 taxpayer money. Also it states ethenol probably uses more energy in producing a gal of fuel than the energy produced from burning it. Billions in taxpayer subsities has been spent.

    Other studies say that ethenol may produce less polution of some types, but more of others. Also biodiesel does the same. Rapeseed used to produce bio emits pollutants 200-300 times as bad.

  5. emdfl Says:

    I accidentally dumped a tankful of 10% eth into my 200 Isuzu. My gas mileage dropped about 10%. Where’s the savings? NOT!!

    Ethanol is nothing more then a way for ConAg and similar corporations to receive more massive taxpayer subsidies.

  6. straightarrow Says:

    Ethanol is nothing more then a way for ConAg and similar corporations to receive more massive taxpayer subsidies.

    Duh! No kidding, just look at where the money comes from for the studies. Follow the money is the best and quickest way to know whether or not something is legitimate even when you have absolutely no understanding of the science.

  7. persimmon Says:

    Noted liberal and progressive State Senator Tim Burchett was creating subsidies for ethanol production in Tennessee several years ago. Early adopters of ethanol production like ConAgra and ADM are darlings of liberals and progressives, just like early adopter of ethanol sales, Pilot Oil.

    Niner, is being wrong about what progressives stand for an unintended consequence of your political tribalism, or do you do it on purpose?

  8. Diamondback Says:

    Interesting:
    “Ironically, compact fluorescent bulbs are responsible for less mercury contamination than the incandescent bulbs they replaced, even though incandescents don’t contain any mercury. The highest source of mercury in America’s air and water results from the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, at utilities that supply electricity. Since a compact fluorescent bulb uses 75 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb, and lasts at least six times longer, it is responsible for far less mercury pollution in the long run. A coal-burning power plant will emit four times more mercury to produce the electricity for an incandescent bulb than for a compact fluorescent.”

  9. #9 Says:

    Ironically, compact fluorescent bulbs are responsible for less mercury contamination than the incandescent bulbs they replaced, even though incandescents don’t contain any mercury.

    So sayeth R. Neal at KnoxViews. I am familiar with that argument.

    The problem is that this theory forgets that the CF Bulbs in landfills will pollute ground water.

    Simple test, are you willing to drop a CF Bulb in your kitchen on the floor?

    This has to do with local immediate exposure and concentration. Not dispersed distributed exposure.

  10. News du jour « live. laugh. love. Says:

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  11. markm Says:

    #9: “the CF Bulbs in landfills will pollute ground water.” So does mercury emitted from a power plant smokestack, eventually – although a small portion would be delayed from entering the ground for up to a century by being deposited in someone’s lungs first.

    “Simple test, are you willing to drop a CF Bulb in your kitchen on the floor?” Sure. It’s happened. Unlike the broken thermometer I played with once, it’s not enough mercury to even see.

    The dose makes the poison. The mercury in a CFL or other flourescent bulb isn’t enough to worry about, unless you’ve been doing something like eating tuna every day or shucking your protective gear while at work somewhere that mercury is used so you’ve already accumulated almost enough to make you sick…

    I use CFL’s a lot. I like the light, and I’ve watched our electric bill go down as we switched over. However, there are places where they are definitely inappropriate (ovens, anyplace the light gets turned on and off frequently, anyplace the light is rarely turned on at all), and I’m not going to tell you where you must use CFL’s, or support nosy parkers that want the government to force their usage.

    OTOH, ethanol from grain, as grain is grown in the USA: that’s a total crock. It might make sense for Brazil, that can make ethanol from sugar cane with a much lower energy input per gallon of alcohol produced, but in US-style agriculture it’s hard to even show a net gain of energy.

    There are two ways that ethanol could make sense as a fuel additive rather than as the main fuel. One is that (IIRC) it’s a octane enhancer – if we remove the import duties and restrictions that prevent us from getting ethanol from foreign sugar cane rather than from domestic sources. The second is biodiesel; it’s not a main fuel source, but it is a useful supplement, and it takes either 30% ethanol or 20% methanol, reacted with lye, to break used frying oil or other natural fats down and make biodiesel that won’t start freezing and clog the injectors every cool morning. Once again, imported ethanol from sugar cane sounds like a good source – except for protective import duties.

  12. » News du jour-My 1983 Says:

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