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Daily Archives: February 5th, 2017


The new administration has not and possibly will not solve the disconnect between our Congress and their constituents. After years of bafflegab and politispeak many people still do not know that the ACA that they enjoy is the same as the Obamacare that they hate and the Congress is working to repeal and replace. Aside from that issue (among others) we are overlooking the wholesale takeover of Congress by people who do not have the welfare of anyone in their minds. Forget about party’s and look at the individuals! There are members of Congress who want to trash Social security (the savings you worked for all of your life) stating that is “broke and under funded”. This is  just an out-and-out lie. Social security is doing fine. These naysayers are attempting to put OUR money into some dubious private agency for administration. To recap: Congress member pull an average annual salary of about $170,00. and will receive about $70,000  in retirement, then social security later along with a premium healthcare plan forever.  All of these perks were put in place by the Congress without our (the American People) input. Keep in mind that the Congress appears to be composed of finger pointers and rumor mongers who in their infinite dysfunction have consistently under served “the American People” they so loudly proclaim to represent. I am not singling out any party since neither side has a stellar record in representing anyone other than themselves. There was a quote by someone who stated” you can tell they are lying because their mouth is moving” or something similar. I stand by  my assertion that the Congress is the government entity we need to pay close attention to not the Commander In Chief (sometimes he merely an instrument of obstruction).

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 David Roberts

1 day ago

Seba says electric vehicles will be cheaper than regular cars, unpredictably rapid growth happens pretty predictably. 

Just about every analyst agrees that the electric vehicle market is poised for rapid growth. But how rapid?

It’s not an idle question. The rate of EV growth will have huge implications for oil markets, auto markets, and electric utilities. Yet it is maddeningly difficult to predict the future; forecasts for the EV market are all over the place.I don’t think the wide range of projections means that we’re blind here, though — I think we can make educated guesses. Specifically, I think history justifies optimism, the belief that the high-end projections (like those in a new study I discuss below) are closer to the truth.

Let’s walk through it.

EVs could do serious damage to oil — or not much

Transportation accounts for a huge portion of US carbon emissions. As recently as 2014, it was behind the electricity sector — 26 percent of US emissions to electricity’s 30 percent. But as Vox has reported, and the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) just confirmed, as of 2016, they have crossed paths. “Electric power sector CO2 emissions,” EIA writes, “are now regularly below transportation sector CO2 emissions for the first time since the late 1970s.”

This is happening because power sector “carbon intensity” — carbon emissions per unit of energy produced — is falling, as coal is replaced with natural gas, renewables, and efficiency.

The only realistic prospect for reducing transportation sector emissions rapidly and substantially is electrification. How much market share EVs take from oil (gasoline is by far the most common use for oil in the US) will matter a great deal.

However, as Rice University’s Dan Cohan explains in The Hill, EV forecasts are all over the map.

The EIA’s “Annual Energy Outlook 2017” is much more bullish about EVs than in previous years — its forecast for the EV market is “nearly double its forecast from last year, and nearly 10 times its forecast from 2014.” It no longer thinks hybrids or plug-in hybrids will play a major role. It believes EVs are ready.

However, even with that boost, EIA has EVs at 8 percent of US market share in 2025 (it’s 1 percent today), plateauing there as US mileage standards stop falling. The other big, influential forecast, BP’s 2017 Energy Outlook, has EVs at just 6 percent of global market share by 2035.

“Overall,” BP writes, “the increase in demand for car travel from the growing middle class in emerging economies overpowers the effects of improving fuel efficiency and electrification, such that liquid fuel demand for cars rises by 4 [million barrels a day through 2040] — around a quarter of the total growth over the Outlook.”

That is … something short of revolutionary.

As Cohan notes, however, others are more optimistic:

Bloomberg New Energy Finance expects electric vehicles to represent 35 percent of new car sales globally by 2040. Greentech Media Research expects 11.4 million electric vehicles on the road in the U.S. in 2025, compared to 7.5 million in the EIA’s latest Outlook.

Projections for EV growth feed into projections for oil demand. EIA, IEA, and BP expect demand for oil to continue rising into the 2040s and even beyond.

On the other hand, Michael Liebreich, the head of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, expects oil demand to peak in 2025. The CFO of Royal Dutch Shell agrees — he said the company expects it to peak within five to 15 years. The World Energy Council predicts peak demand in 2030.

Into this milieu comes a big new study that claims all those previous projections are hopelessly pessimistic.

New study says oil and coal are in trouble

Today saw the release of a new study from the Grantham Institute for Imperial College London and the Carbon Tracker Initiative. It argues that solar photovoltaics (PV) and EVs together will overtake fossil fuels, quickly. “Falling costs of electric vehicle and solar technology,” they conclude, “could halt growth in global demand for oil and coal from 2020.” That would be a pretty big deal.

The “business as usual” (BAU) scenarios that typically dominate these discussions are outdated, the researchers argue. New baseline scenarios should take into account updated information on PV, EV, and battery costs. (The EIA doesn’t expect inflation-adjusted prices of EVs to fall to $30,000 until 2030, even as multiple automakers say they’ll hit that within a few years.)

And baseline scenarios should take into account the commitments made in the Paris climate agreement, they say.

(All the data and assumptions are available along with the study, and there is an interactive dashboard that allows you to fiddle around with scenario results, if you want to dig in.)

Using that new baseline produces some pretty eye-popping numbers. To wit: “EVs could make up a third of the road transport market by 2035, more than half the market by 2040, and more than two thirds of market share by 2050.” And also: “Oil demand could be flat from 2020 to 2030 then fall steadily to 2050.”

Again, that would be a very big deal! Most big forecasters, and big energy companies, expect coal to rise at least through 2030 and oil to rise basically forever.

These new scenarios do not reflect hippie idealism, they just take seriously a) the cost curves demonstrated by PV, EVs, and batteries so far, and b) what countries said they would do in Paris. They assume that all this talk about climate change is not a bunch of BS — that it’s a real problem and we’re really going to try to solve it. (Admittedly, Trump has complicated that picture, but he can’t stop the rest of the world.)

If these forecasts play out, fossil fuels could lose 10 percent market share to PV and EVs within a decade. A 10 percent loss in market share was enough to send the US coal industry spiraling, enough to cause Europe’s utilities to hemorrhage money. It could seriously disrupt life for the oil majors. “Growth in EVs alone could lead to 2 million barrels of oil per day being displaced by 2025,” the study says, “the same volume that caused the oil price collapse in 2014-15.”Yet, according to the study’s authors, virtually none of big fossil fuel companies are taking the possibility seriously, or planning for it.

 

So EV forecasts range from modest to revolutionary. What should we make of this?

It seems to me that we don’t come to these questions with a clean slate. The very kind of models this study critiques are the ones that have consistently underestimated the growth of solar and wind. They use baseline scenarios that assume no further cost and policy changes when, in reality, cost and policy changes are both rapid and inevitable.Multiple drivers (pardon the pun) are lining up behind EVs — rapidly falling battery costs, rising range, synergy with other new energy technologies, widespread international policy support, growing consumer interest, and (my pet dark horse) wireless EV charging. Experience shows that markets at the center of this kind of interest and activity do not continue to grow on a steady, linear path. They take off, lurching into exponential growth. That shift is impossible to predict in advance with any precision, but at this point, we ought to know that it’s coming.By now, we need not be neutral toward this range of projections. History has taught us that for new, distributed, consumer-focused technologies, unexpected explosive growth is … to be expected. Big oil companies and investors would do well to prepare.

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In the 1950’s Senator Joseph McCarthy went on a “witch hunt’ for communists, in the process he ruined many lives and in the end was proven to be a purveyor of unproven lies and innuendo (sound familiar?). We now have a similar situation which we can call by several names: Trumpism, Bannonism,Trumpedation or just Racism. I have posted below a short history of McCarthyism during the 50’s in the hope that it explains what could be coming down the road at us. Communism does exist and we all know it, it also has an existence here and around the world in one form or another. We must remember American style freedom has a worldwide existence too along with many variations according to the culture where it exists. In our current history we have a President who mirrors McCarthy through the influence of others (his Staff) or through a need for recognition as a celebrity  or a bully, its hard to be sure which. Given Mr. McCarthy’s meltdown and end, we are not sure how Mr. Bannon  (or Trump) may end.MA

McCarthyism, named after Joseph McCarthy, was a period of intense anti-communism, also known as the red scare, which occurred in the United States from 1948 to about 1956 (or later), when the government of the United States actively persecuted the Communist Party USA, its leadership, and others suspected of being communists. Loyalty tests were required for government and other employment and lists of subversive organizations were maintained.

The word “McCarthyism” is not a neutral term, but now carries connotations of false, even hysterical, accusation, and of government attacks on the political minority. From the viewpoint of the political and cultural elite, the suppression of radicalism and radical organizations in the United States was a struggle against a dangerous subversive element controlled by a foreign power that posed a real danger to the security of the country, thus justifying extreme, even extra-legal measures. From the radical viewpoint it can be seen as class warfare. From the viewpoint of the thousands of innocents who were caught up in the conflict it was a massive violation of civil and Constitutional rights.

One of the tools used was the McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950 which required Communists and Communist organizations to register with the federal government. The McCarran Act was gradually ruled unconstitutional in a series of Supreme Court decisions, beginning in 1964, and it was completely repealed in 1990. Another was the Smith Act of 1940, a federal criminal statute outlawing “advocacy of violent overthrow of the government.”

Under the Smith Act, the leadership of the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party were prosecuted, as was the leader of the Communist Party, Eugene Dennis, and eleven members of the party’s National Committee. Since CPUSA had not explicitly advocated the violent overthrow of the U.S. government, the prosecution was on somewhat shaky ground, and based its case against the party’s leaders on Communist works of literature they possessed. Instead of arguing this legal technicality, the CPUSA leadership denounced the law under which they were tried itself, a defense which failed. Others who were tried under the Smith Act in later years successfully based their defences on more technical grounds. The Smith Act was declared unconstitutional in its full form by the Supreme Court in 1957, and limited to much more specific offences.

Another major element of McCarthyism was the internal screening program on federal government employees, conducted by the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover. This comprehensive program vetted all federal government employees for Communist connections, and employed evidence provided by anonymous sources whom the subjects of investigation were not allowed to challenge or identify. From 1951, the program’s required level of proof for dismissing a federal employee was for “reasonable doubt” to exist over their loyalty; previously it had required “reasonable grounds” for believing them to be disloyal.

The hearings conducted by Senator Joseph McCarthy gave the red scare the name which is in common usage, but the red scare predated McCarthy’s meteoric rise to prominence in 1950 and continued after he was discredited by a Senate censure in 1954, following his disastrous investigation into the U.S. Army which started on April 22 of that year. McCarthy’s name became associated with the phenomenon mainly through his prominence in the media; his outspoken and unpredictable nature made him ideal as the figurehead of anti-communism, although he was probably not its most important practitioner.

McCarthy headed the Permanent Investigating Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Government Operations; other significant legislative committees were the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), officially called the United States House of Representatives’ Committee on Un-American Activities, and the Senate equivalent, the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee. These committees independently investigated specific individuals and made allegations that many were communists. They had no official power of punishment, but those named as communists or communist sympathisers by the various committees often found themselves fired from their jobs and sometimes ostracised from society. These committees often received information on suspected communists and communist sympathisers from the FBI, which found them useful to attack suspects against which it did not have enough evidence to push for a criminal prosecution. These national committees were imitated by committees within state and even local government; these committees, sometimes known as ‘little HUACs’, were however generally less effective than the national committees.

Charlie Chaplin was one person accused of un-American activities, and the FBI was involved in arranging to have his re-entry visa cancelled when he left the States for a trip to Europe in 1952. In effect, his film career was over despite not being found guilty of any offence. Walt Disney worked closely with the FBI at this time also, chiefly by way of giving inside information from the film industry, but himself came under suspicion at one stage. Some people feel he used these alleged powers to denounce people who may have been a commercial threat to his operations.

The most publicly visible elements of McCarthyism were the trials of those accused of being communist agents within the government. The two most famous trials were those of Alger Hiss (whose trial actually began before McCarthy started brandishing his lists, and who was not in fact convicted directly of espionage, but of perjury) and of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. Such trials typically relied on information from informers, such as Whittaker Chambers (whose testimony led to the downfall of Hiss) and the three men whose confessions and testimony were vital to the Rosenberg trial, Klaus Fuchs, Harry Gold and David Greengrass. It was revealed in the 1990s that the government had been relying on access to secret Soviet communications that showed that all of these, Hiss, the Rosenbergs, Klaus Fuchs, and many others, including Harry Dexter White, U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, were in fact paid agents of the Soviet Union. These communications are known collectively as the Venona papers.

The Rosenbergs were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage in 1951 and executed in 1953. Hiss was convicted in 1950 of perjury for denying on oath that he had passed documents to the Soviet Union while working for the State Department in the 1930s, and sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment. Both cases have aroused considerable controversy down the years and remain debated in the present day, and have to some extent been revitalised by the opening of much of the Soviet archives in the early 1990s. This provided new evidence on all these cases, but the Venona evidence is still disputed by partisans.

The red scare affected many people in Hollywood, resulting in arrests of various figures in the film industry. Many were also “blacklisted”, meaning that they were unable to work in the film industry (although some screenwriters were able to work under pseudonyms).

McCarthy’s anticommunist crusade faltered in 1954 as his hearings were televised, for the first time, allowing the public and press to view firsthand his bullying tactics. The press also started to run stories about how McCarthy ruined many people’s lives with accusations that were not supported by any evidence in some cases. Famously, he was asked by the chief attorney of the Army, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?” McCarthy suffered a backlash in public opinion and was investigated and then censured by the Senate for not cooperating with the investigating committee, and for publicly calling them the “involuntary agent” and the “attorneys-in-fact” of the Communist Party. After the censure, McCarthy lost his other committee chairmanship, and reporters stopped filing stories about his claims of continuing communist conspiracies. He faded from the spotlight overnight. McCarthy died in office of hepatitis, probably caused by alcoholism, in 1957.

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