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April 30, 2010

Cute, Fuzzy Animals Doom America to Energy Dependence

As "Drill, Baby, Drill" gains in popular support, stupid fate intervenes, and now we have friggen otters getting slicked by oil.

This is going to retard efforts immensely to expand domestic drilling. The Democrats have gotten lucky with a propaganda coup. Conservative politicians are going to de-emphasize this, and even run away from the issue for a time, and that's going to enrage many conservative voters, but that is life.

Pelicans, otters along La. shore in path of spill

Pelicans. Generally, Who cares about birds?, but pelicans are ugly-cute and thus have personality. And otters -- cute and fuzzy, forget about it.

Well-played, AP.

Oil from a massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico was starting to ooze ashore, threatening migrating birds, nesting pelicans and even river otters and mink along Louisiana's fragile islands and barrier marshes.

Crews in boats were patrolling coastal marshes early Friday looking for areas where the oil has flowed in, the Coast Guard said.

The leak from a blown-out well a mile underwater is five times bigger than first believed. Faint fingers of oily sheen were reaching the Mississippi River delta late Thursday, lapping the Louisiana shoreline in long, thin lines. Thicker oil was about five miles offshore. Officials have said they would do everything to keep the Mississippi River open to traffic.

The oil slick could become the nation's worst environmental disaster in decades, threatening to eclipse even the Exxon Valdez in scope. It imperils hundreds of species of fish, birds and other wildlife along the Gulf Coast, one of the world's richest seafood grounds, teeming with shrimp, oysters and other marine life.

And this is all happening as Graham wins on his desire to push a "bipartisan" climate/energy bill in the Senate which has lots and lots of establishment praise as a good bill. I doubt very much the establishment even knows what the hell is in it, but that has become the conventional wisdom.

And Bill Nelson of Florida says that any energy plan which expands off-shore drilling is "Dead on Arrival." So... it will be all restrictions on energy production, all taxes on legitimate, real energy production, all useless subsidies for fake energy production, and not a damn bit of actual increased domestic production to offset this stupidity.

This is a major spill and it is doing great damage. The environment may not be as fragile and exquisitely sensitive as the tree-huggers swear, but obviously pouring millions of gallons of oil on top of the ocean, where 90% of all sea life lives, is a very bad thing.

It's the childishness of this all though that bothers me, the refusal to accept the simple proposition that in life, there are choices, and choices have consequences, and sometimes it's necessary to accept some downside to get a lot of upside. People don't seem to acknowledge the upside of petroleum -- like being able to drive places, or having heat and electricity in their homes, and so on -- because it "just happens," by magic, I guess.

On the other hand, show them a dying otter and they want to stop this all.

People always want the ideal solution -- all upside, no downside -- and it is a politician's job to con them into thinking that such a thing is possible (and of course that such a thing is possible only if you elect them and their party into a position of power where they can execute their magic formulae and arcane rituals).

A substantial portion of the public doesn't think critically, has no functional bullshit detector whatsoever, is incapable of balancing downside and upside, and thus is forever gulled by promises of the Miracle Solution in which they are disburdened from ever having to make tough choices.

The Miracle Solution, you see, doesn't require a choice at all, because you never have to choose between cheap, reliable energy and a pristine environment, because the Miracle Solution promises both.

So much of politics -- God, 95% of it -- is the positioning of one party or another to sell a gullible segment of the public (the swing segment, unfortunately) on fantastical Miracle Solutions.

The Exxon Valdez disaster ushered in a new, bad era of restrictivist energy policy, and higher-than-it-ought-to-be dependence on Middle East oil, and just as we're finally getting past that, oh, look, dead otters.

Wonderful. Just wonderful.

Of course, the Valdez disaster was due to transhipment of oil, which our zero-new-production policy will cause more of, and thus more spills in the shipping process, but the Stupid Segment of the public has a memory only extending back a few months, so now, shipping oil is the greatest thing (until we can all get our solar on, at least) and domestic drilling is just awful so by all means let's continue increasing the portion of oil we get from Iran. (And we do get it from Iran -- these commodities are fungible, after all. If we don't get it from Iran, that's just because China is buying our portion of Iran's oil at a slight discount. On the net, it's just like we're paying for Iran's oil any way you slice it.)

And the Miracle Solution will be just peachy, because, after all, it's working so well in Spain (which, by the way, is on the verge of financial collapse). So, as the President says, yes, let us look to Spain for our future:

“Think about what’s happening in countries like Spain.” It seems so long ago that Barack Obama thus instructed us — eight times — to ponder his model for a “green jobs” economy.

...

It’s been an eventful week in Spain on the issue, so allow us to gloat.
On Tuesday, the story finally made it onto the front page of Expansión (their equivalent of the Financial Times) — earning coverage by an editorial and two opeds, as well.

The paper’s front page screams: “the cost of renewables skyrockets to 6.2 billion euros” — though that number refers only to the feed-in tariffs of last year alone. (Hey . . . skyrocketing. No wonder Obama cast his longing gaze Spain’s way!)
The title of one article inside is “To subsidize the renewables costs 250 euros [appx. $335] every year in electricity to each consumer.”

The editorial decries “the unsustainable cost of renewables.”

...

Further, the president of Gas Natural has decided to attack the renewables scheme directly, as revealed in a Libertad Digital article titled “Gas Natural criticizes the government for investing in renewables that we do not need.” He is quoted as asking, “Are we so rich as to invest in something that we do not need? Do we have so much extra money?”

Calzada informs me that the precipitating event for this outburst of honesty was that, in recent weeks, the government has recognized that electricity costs went up 23 percent last year due to subsidies for solar power.

Also helpful was a solar scandal that Calzada described to me a couple of months back but that could not be established as fact at that time: Owners of solar fields had placed oil generators next to their solar fields to simulate more electricity production from the solar panels, for which they were reimbursed at the highly subsidized solar rate.

The scandal was finally uncovered because, after years of conducting this fraud without inspections, the greedy rascals were doing it even at night. Now, no matter what sort of absurd cheerleading President Obama engages in about Spanish technology — similar to his inanity about windmills being “new technology” (yes, he says that) — I am certain that even Spanish solar panels are not so advanced as to produce electricity at night.

There's our future. And a lot of our representatives will now run away from pushing back against this bleak future of ever-escalating energy prices and resultant diminishment of prosperity and opportunity, and, we might rage against them for that, but you know what? What can they do? They can only go forward if we have their backs, politically, and while we do have their backs, about one-third of their necessary level of public support just peeled off from them (Think of the otters), and so they now have to choose between doing the right and winning and election, except that's not even really the choice, because they can't do the right thing if they're not elected in the first place.

I never mind useless, wasteful spending on renewable research because when the Stupid Segment starts demanding that Something Stupid needs to be done as stupidly quickly as possible, the only way to appease them is to throw them a Bone of Stupidity and try to craft something that sounds like your own Miracle Solution (hey, let's research and then in five years we'll all have our own operational fusion reactor in the basement) that at least does the least harm possible.

I hate this spending, and believe it is all a waste of money, except when you compare it to the alternative of draconian reductions in energy production and skyrocketing power costs. Better to vote for ten billion in wasted money than allow a the waste of hundreds of billions.

But those who want to waste as much American money as possible are now going to win. As that Spanish guy said, "Do we have so much extra money?" Well now I guess we do, and we can afford to burden an economy already on the rocks with additional waste.

And anyone who opposes this is racist against otters.

Last link thanks to EdwardR., who kept sending it, even though I didn't post it, but finally got my attention.



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posted by Ace at 02:11 PM

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