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The Fallacy of Green: Supporters of "green energy" like to say it will create more jobs.

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Green Smoke Screen

Political rhetoric has shifted away from the need to respond to the "generational challenge" of climate change. Investment in alternative energy technologies like solar and wind is no longer peddled on environmental grounds. Instead, we are being told of the purported economic payoffs—above all, the promise of so-called "green jobs." Unfortunately, that does not measure up to economic reality.

The Copenhagen Consensus Center asked Gürcan Gülen, a senior energy economist at the Bureau for Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin, to assess the state of the science in defining, measuring, and predicting the creation of green jobs. Gülen concluded that job creation "cannot be defended as another benefit" of well-meaning green policies. In fact, the number of jobs that these policies create is likely to be offset—or worse—by the number of jobs that they destroy.

On the face of it, green-job creation seems straightforward. Deploying more wind turbines and solar panels creates a need for more builders, technicians, tradesmen, and specialist employees. Voilà: Simply by investing in green policies, we have not only helped the climate but also lowered unemployment. Indeed, this is the essence of many studies that politicians are eagerly citing. So what did those analyses get wrong?

In some cases, Gülen finds that proponents of green jobs have not distinguished between construction jobs (building the wind turbines), which are temporary, and longer-term operational jobs (keeping the wind turbines going), which are more permanent. Moreover, sometimes advocates have assumed, without justification, that the new jobs would pay more than careers in conventional energy. In other cases, the definition of a "green" job is so fuzzy that it becomes virtually useless. If a sustainability adviser quits a concrete factory and goes to work instead for a renewable energy project, can we really conclude that the number of green jobs has actually increased?

More disturbing is Gülen's finding that some claims of job creation have rested on assumptions of green-energy production that go far beyond reputable estimates. Of course, if you assume that vast swaths of the countryside will be covered in wind turbines and solar panels, you will inevitably predict that a large number of construction jobs will be required.

But the biggest problem in these analyses is that they often fail to recognize the higher costs or job losses that these policies will cause. Alternative energy sources such as solar and wind create significantly more expensive fuel and electricity than traditional energy sources. Increasing the cost of electricity and fuel will hurt productivity, reduce overall employment, and cut the amount of disposable income that people have. Yet many studies used by advocates of green jobs have not addressed these costs at all—overlooking both the cost of investment and the price hikes to be faced by end users.

The companies calling for political intervention to create green jobs tend to be those that stand to gain from subsidies and tariffs. But, because these policies increase the cost of fuel and electricity, they imply layoffs elsewhere, across many different economic sectors. Once these effects are taken into account, the purported increase in jobs is typically wiped out, and some economic models show lower overall employment. Despite a significant outlay, government efforts to create green jobs could end up resulting in net job losses.

Still, proponents might argue that even if that is true, investment in green jobs is nonetheless a good way to stimulate a sluggish economy. But Gülen shows that there are many other economic sectors, such as health care, that could actually create more jobs for the same amount of government investment.

In addition to job creation, some researchers have blithely claimed that all sorts of other economic benefits will accrue from investment in alternative energy, including increased productivity, higher disposable incomes, and lower operating costs for businesses. Here, too, Gülen concludes that the assertions are "not backed up by any evidence and are inconsistent with the realities of green technologies and energy markets."

The fundamental problem is that green-energy technologies are still very inefficient and expensive compared to fossil fuels. Deploying less efficient, more expensive alternative-energy sources will hurt businesses and consumers, not help them.

In order for the whole planet to make a sustainable shift away from fossil fuels, we need to make low-carbon energy both cheaper and more efficient. That requires a substantial increase in research and development into next-generation green-energy alternatives. Today's research budgets are tiny, and that desperately needs to change. In the meantime, the public should be cautious of politicians' claims that deploying today's inefficient, expensive technology will result in windfall benefits at no cost.

http://www.slate.com/id/2284634/

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Green Smoke Screen

In order for the whole planet to make a sustainable shift away from fossil fuels, we need to make low-carbon energy both cheaper and more efficient. That requires a substantial increase in research and development into next-generation green-energy alternatives. Today's research budgets are tiny, and that desperately needs to change. In the meantime, the public should be cautious of politicians' claims that deploying today's inefficient, expensive technology will result in windfall benefits at no cost.

http://www.slate.com/id/2284634/

They will still be far cheaper than the cost of the fossil fuels of tomorrow. Oil reserves have been overstated by Saudi Arabia. Coal reserves have been well overstated by the US.

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It depends on the what jobs are being replaced. Right now we're purchasing how many millions of barrels of oil from other countries? Those aren't American workers on the receiving end of that money. If the focus on Green Jobs is centered on reducing our dependency on foreign oil, you can bet your old, tye-died, hippie t-shirt that that will translate into more American jobs, not to mention the reducing the costs associated with securing and maintaining those foreign supplies of oil.

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It depends on the what jobs are being replaced. Right now we're purchasing how many millions of barrels of oil from other countries? Those aren't American workers on the receiving end of that money. If the focus on Green Jobs is centered on reducing our dependency on foreign oil, you can bet your old, tye-died, hippie t-shirt that that will translate into more American jobs, not to mention the reducing the costs associated with securing and maintaining those foreign supplies of oil.

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They will still be far cheaper than the cost of the fossil fuels of tomorrow. Oil reserves have been overstated by Saudi Arabia. Coal reserves have been well overstated by the US.

You are talking about "proven" reserves, and as the technology improves, those proven reserves tend to increase over time, not decrease. So, whether you are talking about an 120 year supply versus 160 year supply, the key idea is that there is at least another century's worth of fossil fuels left. Plenty of time to improve the technologies of other fuels, and no need to launch questionable technologies to appease the doom-sayers and make Algore wealthier than he already is.

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It depends on the what jobs are being replaced. Right now we're purchasing how many millions of barrels of oil from other countries? Those aren't American workers on the receiving end of that money. If the focus on Green Jobs is centered on reducing our dependency on foreign oil, you can bet your old, tye-died, hippie t-shirt that that will translate into more American jobs, not to mention the reducing the costs associated with securing and maintaining those foreign supplies of oil.

no, it won't


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You are talking about "proven" reserves, and as the technology improves, those proven reserves tend to increase over time, not decrease. So, whether you are talking about an 120 year supply versus 160 year supply, the key idea is that there is at least another century's worth of fossil fuels left. Plenty of time to improve the technologies of other fuels, and no need to launch questionable technologies to appease the doom-sayers and make Algore wealthier than he already is.

MAYBE you saw the latest innovation in drilling?

To put it simply, they drill down to the certain depth and then drill horizontally, the results have been a huge increase in recovered oil and gas.

THis whole terminology of "green energy" is hogwash.

Every new innovation is greener than the one before it, for the most part.

Image in we were all heating our homes with wood or coal fired stoves.... what we have now would be considered "green"

Imagine if instead of the combustion engine, we were all still using horses, the food it would take, the methane it would produce.

Think about it, just a cup of gas, transports you, your groceries and kids and a comfortable 1000 lbs vehicle a couple of miles, try pushing your car just 50 feet and you will appreciate the wonder of it all.

There is no doubt that something new.... and better will be developed and when it is... you wont need a rebate to goad you into buying it.


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You are talking about "proven" reserves, and as the technology improves, those proven reserves tend to increase over time, not decrease. So, whether you are talking about an 120 year supply versus 160 year supply, the key idea is that there is at least another century's worth of fossil fuels left. Plenty of time to improve the technologies of other fuels, and no need to launch questionable technologies to appease the doom-sayers and make Algore wealthier than he already is.

Discoveries have declined for the past 30 years however. The idea of a 120 year supply is a irrelevant if it can not be delivered at a pace to match economic growth. Oil production, for instance, has probably peaked in the last decade or will peak this decade. If the world economy can not shift to other sources in time, it will jolt the economy. Ironically this will make fuel cheap again and renewables won't compete. This will in turn create a cycle of spikes and collapses until economies stop functioning.

MAYBE you saw the latest innovation in drilling?

To put it simply, they drill down to the certain depth and then drill horizontally, the results have been a huge increase in recovered oil and gas.

THis whole terminology of "green energy" is hogwash.

Every new innovation is greener than the one before it, for the most part.

Image in we were all heating our homes with wood or coal fired stoves.... what we have now would be considered "green"

Imagine if instead of the combustion engine, we were all still using horses, the food it would take, the methane it would produce.

Think about it, just a cup of gas, transports you, your groceries and kids and a comfortable 1000 lbs vehicle a couple of miles, try pushing your car just 50 feet and you will appreciate the wonder of it all.

There is no doubt that something new.... and better will be developed and when it is... you wont need a rebate to goad you into buying it.

You are referring to fracking I assume? (Yes its not just a curse world in Battlestar Galactica)

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Discoveries have declined for the past 30 years however. The idea of a 120 year supply is a irrelevant if it can not be delivered at a pace to match economic growth. Oil production, for instance, has probably peaked in the last decade or will peak this decade. If the world economy can not shift to other sources in time, it will jolt the economy. Ironically this will make fuel cheap again and renewables won't compete. This will in turn create a cycle of spikes and collapses until economies stop functioning.

Production is currently still in excess, and there is enough reserve capacity to last a few decades with increasing capacity. What is in decline, especially in the US, is refinement capacity, which has actually decreased over the last few decades. That is what is spiking gasoline prices in the US, along with a declining US dollar. The US is not as reliant on Middle Eastern crude production as Europe and the rest of the word is. Even much of the US West Coast crude oil is being diverted to the Western Pacific in favor of lighter crude produced in the rest of the Americas, including the Gulf.

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Wouldn't we be stealing jobs and resources from other sectors of the economy?

Let's say we have 100 people - 5 guys making energy, 85 guys doing productive things with it and 10 guys who are unemployed.

Now we have 15 guys making "green energy", 80 guys doing productive things with it and 5 guys who are unemployed.

Ok, so we have "created" 10 jobs and reduced unemployment by 5 percentage points. However, energy is now more expensive (we have to pay 15 guys to produce it instead of 5) and we have fewer guys doing something useful with it (80 instead of 85.)

Energy is a means to an end and not an end in itself. It's important only as it allows us to provide the services that are important to other people. If we need more people to produce energy, fewer people will be doing something more productive with it.


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Production is currently still in excess, and there is enough reserve capacity to last a few decades with increasing capacity. What is in decline, especially in the US, is refinement capacity, which has actually decreased over the last few decades. That is what is spiking gasoline prices in the US, along with a declining US dollar. The US is not as reliant on Middle Eastern crude production as Europe and the rest of the word is. Even much of the US West Coast crude oil is being diverted to the Western Pacific in favor of lighter crude produced in the rest of the Americas, including the Gulf.

Currently Oil Production is roughly 88 million barrels. Oil consumption peaked in 2009 due to the recession at about 85 million, however as the world economy grows the current slack will eaten away. I agree completely that the current US prices are not being affected by world wide oil production at the moment. But the supply demand difference is only about 1% at the moment. With alot of growth in the next couple of years its going to be pretty bad.

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Currently Oil Production is roughly 88 million barrels. Oil consumption peaked in 2009 due to the recession at about 85 million, however as the world economy grows the current slack will eaten away. I agree completely that the current US prices are not being affected by world wide oil production at the moment. But the supply demand difference is only about 1% at the moment. With alot of growth in the next couple of years its going to be pretty bad.

Saudi Arabia alone can produce over 88 million barrels a day.

World Oil Production capacity to increase up to 25% by 2015; No peak seen for decades, US Congressional Committee told

A field-by-field analysis of global oil production and development shows the world is not running out of oil in the near- or medium-term, and a large increase in the availability of unconventional oils will expand global liquid hydrocarbons capacity by as much as one-fourth in the next ten years, Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA), an IHS company, testified to a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee this morning.

http://www.finfacts.com/irelandbusinessnews/publish/article_10004190.shtml

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Wouldn't we be stealing jobs and resources from other sectors of the economy?

Let's say we have 100 people - 5 guys making energy, 85 guys doing productive things with it and 10 guys who are unemployed.

Now we have 15 guys making "green energy", 80 guys doing productive things with it and 5 guys who are unemployed.

Ok, so we have "created" 10 jobs and reduced unemployment by 5 percentage points. However, energy is now more expensive (we have to pay 15 guys to produce it instead of 5) and we have fewer guys doing something useful with it (80 instead of 85.)

Energy is a means to an end and not an end in itself. It's important only as it allows us to provide the services that are important to other people. If we need more people to produce energy, fewer people will be doing something more productive with it.

Energy will be more expensive until someone figured out how to make renewables cheaper. The question is who that someone will be. The way we're going about this, we'll merely change from importing oil to importing patents, know how and equipment to utilize renewable energy. The jobs will continue to be overseas where people realize that there will be a market for the technologies and equipment in the near future. The train is leaving the station and we're still sitting at the station bar enjoying our drinks. Fun now but it'll come at a price down the road. We no longer lead. Leading is what made America great. We're no longer interested in being great, we're interested in being cheap. Only, we can't compete in that space - and shouldn't want to.

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