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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Colourless Green Ideas' LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
4:56 pm
Job openings at NEEA

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) is seeking qualified applicants for the following positions:

Lead, Stakeholder Relationship Management 

The Stakeholder Relationship Management Lead is responsible for ensuring high-functioning business relationships between NEEA and its many stakeholders and funders.  In addition to leadership and accountability for NEEA’s relationship management activities, this person plays a key leadership role inside the organization: developing NEEA staff knowledge and understanding of stakeholder perspectives; ensuring an effective and efficient stakeholder relationship management system; establishing and ensuring standards for excellence in stakeholder interactions; and establishing measurable stakeholder relationship goals.  This person reports to the Director of Stakeholder Services, with dotted-line accountability to the Executive Director of NEEA.

Senior Project Manager, Industrial

The primary objective of the position is to effectively manage projects in support of NEEA initiatives and programs. The senior project manager is an integral part of an interdisciplinary sector team dedicated to bringing affordable energy-efficient products and services to market, leading to long term market transformation and energy savings.

Monday, December 19th, 2011
2:04 pm
Job at the Northwest Power Council
Conservation Analyst position open.  Good opportunity to work in a solid industry.  
Monday, November 21st, 2011
4:34 pm
Job opening at NEEA
The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) is seeking qualified applicants for the following position:

HR Coordinator 
The Human Resources Coordinator leads Human Resources practices and objectives that will provide an employee-oriented, high performance culture that emphasizes empowerment, quality, productivity and standards, goal attainment, and the recruitment and ongoing development of a superior workforce.
The Human Resources Coordinator executes NEEA’s Talent Acquisition program and oversees the administration of employee benefits programs.  The Human Resources Coordinator carries out responsibilities in the following functional areas: departmental development, Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS), employee relations, training and development, benefits, compensation, organizational development, and employment.  The Coordinator reports to the Manager, Human Resources and assists and advises organization managers about Human Resources issues.  This is a temporary position for 4-6 months; part time at 32 hours per week.

For more information, click here. Position open until filled. 
Sunday, November 13th, 2011
11:07 am
DNV looking for data analyst
Det Norske Veritas, a carbon-tracking and renewable energy company is looking for a data analyst.

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011
8:54 am
Two Job Openings at NEEA
I work at NEEA and I've really enjoyed my stay here (I've been here about 8 weeks). It is a place where you can grow and sleep at night knowing you're doing something to positively change the world.

Currently, there are two openings. One of these will be working directly in my group (market planning).
There are three job openings under development. 

Planning Analyst
The Planning Analyst’s primary responsibilities will be to assist in the performance of quantitative, cost-benefit analysis of NEEA activities.  The analyst will be responsible for ensuring that work products are accurate, defensible, and delivered in a timely manner that supports periodic reporting needs and organizational decision-making.  The analyst is an integral part of an interdisciplinary team dedicated to bringing affordable energy efficient products and services to market in a sustainable manner.  This is a highly responsible position that requires top-notch quantitative modeling, orientation to detail, critical thinking, and communications skills.  To complete an application and obtain a more detailed description of this position, please click here.

Channel Market Manager, Consumer Products
This position is responsible for developing and managing NEEA’s supply chain strategies and relationships to optimize the distribution and adoption of the most energy-efficient consumer products in the Northwest. The Channel Market Manager has responsibility for managing the initiative life cycle strategy and process of our  current Energy Forward TV program and for steering future initiatives in the channel.   This is an exciting opportunity to represent the Northwest in an existing partnership with California and with other potential partners nationwide.

In addition, the Market Manager will develop and manage a regional retail and distributor channel solution, by collaborating with local and regional utilities in the Northwest. This involves leading a team comprised of multiple stakeholders, utilities, an evaluation/research team, and a program management agency to develop the market transformation strategy to implement an energy efficiency program that includes current retail channel initiative(s) and may expand into additional and new lines and channels. 

For more information, click here.
Tuesday, October 11th, 2011
1:06 pm



Energy Trust of Oregon, Inc., is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to energy efficiency and renewable energy development. We serve Oregon customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas.


This individual will assume responsibility for Energy Trust's wind initiative. He/she will provide technical customer and trade ally support, design and implementation of promotional and outreach strategies, project evaluation and management, and coordination with other Energy Trust programs.


Respond promptly and professionally to inquiries from customers and trade allies
Review and evaluate proposed projects for technical and financial merits and adherence to program and Energy Trust requirements, providing recommendations and screening for approvals
Implement program activities and outreach, to overcome market barriers
Develop new marketing and outreach strategies to grow the wind initiative
Participate in multi-state cooperative efforts to develop common standards for wind turbines
Present program offerings in public settings to residential, business or government audiences
Coordinate renewable energy projects with Energy Trust residential, commercial and/or industrial efficiency programs; provide technical assistance and training to efficiency program staff and contractors
Coordinate outreach activities with marketing staff and ensure program materials and website content are kept up-to-date
Maintain accurate and organized records of project information
Manage program activity to stay within budget and meet program goals
Perform all functions of the job in a safe and conscientious manner


This position may need to hire and direct the work of external contractors and an intern.


Undergraduate degree (science, economics, finance, business, or environmental science preferred)
Minimum 2 years of professional experience in project or program management, project evaluation, program design, or technical customer support (direct experience with renewable energy or LEED, CEM accreditation a plus)
An understanding of energy project development or the ability to translate skills to such
Professional written and verbal communication skills, including public speaking
Targeted marketing and outreach experience
Strong technical and mathematical aptitude (renewable energy technology expertise preferred)
Successful experience working within multidisciplinary teams
Ability to direct or work with contractors, installers and equipment suppliers
Strong knowledge of Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint and Word software applications

The above information is designed to outline the functions and position requirements of this job. It does not identify all tasks that may be expected, nor address the performance standards that must be maintained.

Application Instructions and Additional Information

Qualified individuals please submit a cover letter, resume and employment application (found on website) to:

Position: RE Project Manager
Attn: Kathleen Cannon
Energy Trust of Oregon
851 SW Sixth Ave., Suite 1200
Portland, Oregon 97204

Or via email at kathleen.cannon@energytrust.org
Fax: 503-546-6864
Tuesday, August 16th, 2011
4:48 pm
Come work with me!

The efficient use of energy resources is one of the most critical issues facing us today. Join a team of smart, passionate and experienced professionals to change the way the Northwest thinks about and uses energy.

SharePoint Developer (Systems Analyst, SharePoint Technologies) 

The SharePoint Technologies Systems Analyst will assess requirements, provide appropriate solutions, serve as a SharePoint evangelist, and manage the overall SharePoint infrastructure.  This position requires taking the initiative in working with stakeholders to align SharePoint capabilities with NEEA’s needs and will play a major role in defining and establishing the methods the organization employs to create, collaborate on, and share information over a 3-5 year plan. This position plays a critical role in defining and establishing the organizations ability to create, collaborate, retrieve and share information for the foreseeable future.

For more information,

Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) is seeking qualified applicants for the following position:click here. Positions open until filled.





421 SW Sixth Avenue, Suite 600, Portland, Oregon 97204
503.688.5400 | Fax 503.688.5447 |

Thursday, July 14th, 2011
12:05 pm
Job opening: Communications manager and admin assistant.
The efficient use of energy resources is one of the most critical issues facing us today. Join a team of smart, passionate and experienced professionals to change the way the Northwest thinks about and uses energy.

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) is seeking qualified applicants for the following positions:

Communications Manager

The Communications Manager is responsible for meeting key department objectives in support of NEEA’s strategic and business plan goals, with a specific focus on funder and executive communications at the corporate level. This individual will serve as the key point of contact for information and communications related to NEEA's business results.

Administrative Assistant/Communications Specialist

The primary objective of the position is to provide professional administrative support for NEEA's Stakeholder Services business unit, which includes Evaluation and Market Research, Corporate Communications, and Partner Services. Additionally, this person will serve as the corporate communications specialist.

For more information, click here. Positions open until filled.

Friday, May 27th, 2011
10:57 am
Climate Change Death Toll: Dolphins, hurricanes, oh my.
I talk with people often about climate change.  When it comes down to it, human interactions with the world when done without regard to our impacts on it result in horrible things.  It is for this reason that I studied sustainability, abandoned architecture (without knowing 10 years later that architects would be a part of the solution), and got involved in reducing energy use as a career.

While I live in the Pacific Northwest, and our generation is significantly fossil-fuel free, still nearly a half of our generation is fossil-fuel based.  Still, compared to most of the resource-hungry US, we tread a bit lighter here in the NW.  But there is still more to do.  There always is, isn't there?  

So, while the dams present problems for fish (mostly salmon, who are carnivores and probably shouldn't be eaten by humans anyway), not having dams presents more problems.

I present to you a Scientific American article that talks about dolphins and the challenges they're having with climate change.


[O]ur unrelenting demand for seafood—which has caused rampant overfishing throughout the world’s oceans—means that dolphins, which feed on smaller fish such as mackerel, cod and herring as well as squid, are having a harder and harder time finding food. And in Turkey, Peru, Sri Lanka, Japan and elsewhere, dolphins are hunted as a delicacy and also to decrease competition for fish resources.

As if these problems weren’t enough, climate change also looms as one of the biggest threats of all to dolphins. “Due to the rapidly rising oceans temperatures, the dolphin’s primary food sources are seeking deeper cooler waters,” reports the Defenders of Wildlife. “Scientists are concerned that the dolphins will have difficulty adapting as quickly as necessary to find new feeding grounds to sustain their populations.”

Can you imagine having to hold your breath longer to catch dinner?  Can you imagine having to risk getting the bends to just have a meal?  That's screwed up.

In other news, I just read that the twister in Joplin, MO was a half-mile wide.  Yikes.

It seems to me we're coming up against some serious trade-offs.  We have the choice to save the lives of dolphins, plants, bees, polar bears, penguins, human beings, the Maldives, coastal cities everywhere, and billions of animals in the ocean and on land.  Or we can continue to use fossil fuels to increase our creature comforts.

Salmon are gorgeous creatures that have a real history here in the NW.  They're are a reminder that we are linked to the ocean and that our impacts on the land and water have real consequences.  We should learn our lesson, and we should do our best to save them as a resource.  And we should be mindful that carbon dioxide affects them as well as those who lost their lives and homes in Joplin and throughout the US.  Storms are becoming stronger and more intense.  And while some of us are doing our best to alleviate those pressures, there is always more to do.


Be mindful.

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011
9:21 am
Chris Harmon puts 205M gallons of oil into perspective

Here's what 205M gallons of oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico last year looks like... if processed of course.

We're blessed with an extremely dense form of energy that took millions of years to be created. It does make me a bit sad that we've overused black gold to the extent that we have. Instead of treating it as precious, it is a commodity.

What in your life is precious? And would you ever treat it as a commodity?

In other news, Nissan just won a 10-year, 1B$ deal to be the new cab supplier for New York City. This could be a boon for all-electric car technology. From a capital standpoint, knowing you have that kind of flow coming in is a good thing, and from a economies of scale/promotional standpoint, this is good for any business.

I must mention that there is a nugget in here that makes me feel bad for sustainability communities.  Doing the 'right thing' (sustainability) is illegal so often in our wholly unsustainable society.  
Vehicle fuel efficiency was not a criterion for selecting the winner. The reason, says Bloomberg spokesman Marc LaVorgna, is because of the federal court rulings that struck down New York City's attempt to control the fuel efficiency of its cab fleet.

"Due to what is known as federal pre-emption on this issue, that a city does not have the authority to regulate its own air quality essentially, that that is a federal prerogative, thus we were not able to use fuel efficiency as a specific criteria here," LaVorgna said.
And so, it continues.  Keep fighting the good fight...
Friday, April 8th, 2011
10:14 am
Admin Assistant at NEEA
The efficient use of energy resources is one of the most critical issues facing us today. Join a team of smart, passionate and experienced professionals to change the way the Northwest thinks about and uses energy. The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) is seeking qualified applicants for the following position:

Administrative Assistant

NEEA is currently accepting applications for an experienced administrative assistant to support director level positions in our Market Operations & Planning business unit (MOPS) and Emerging Technology (ET). In addition to providing general office assistance, this person will assist with travel coordination, scheduling and provide meeting, event, and communications support. The position will also have responsibility to oversee contract and administrative project support. The ability to work independently and as a contributing member of a team is a must. For more information click here.

The deadline for submission is April 22, 2011.
Friday, April 1st, 2011
2:40 pm
Cool new product using mushrooms

Biomimicry and the use of Nature's wisdom is alive.

Check out this great article about the use of fungi as an alternative to Styrofoam [crosses fingers and hisses].
What if mushroom roots could bind natural substrates into a sturdy, lightweight material? It could ultimately replace the Styrofoam packing materials that are ubiquitous in most consumer goods -- and the bane of landfills.

Ecovative's packaging materials cost about as much as Styrofoam, says Dennis Carlson, the logistics manager for Steelcase. Carlson explored other "green" packaging companies before choosing Ecovative, but found that their makers charged premium prices for products that required significant energy consumption to produce. Mycelium foam, on the other hand, was an affordable, low-energy solution with two additional advantages: it upcycles local agricultural waste and it decomposes on its own in the ground.

Thursday, March 31st, 2011
9:41 am
Good news!

A great article has been posted on Scientific American about the real costs of carbon and carbon abatement.  It's not as economically crippling as many would have you believe:

If we could achieve a cost of $50 per ton of CO2, what would that do to energy prices? Every $10 per ton of CO2 increases the cost of electricity by 1 cent per kilowatt hour, and increases the cost of gasoline by 10 cents per gallon. So a $50 per ton cost to capture CO2 would, if applied back to the cost of CO2 emissions, raise electricity prices by 5 cents per kilowatt hour and raise gasoline prices by 50 cents per gallon. That is not a bad price for avoiding catastrophic changes to the planet.

Look at your electric bill.  5 cents in California means about a 20% increase in the electric bill; in the Northwest, it would mean about a 70% increase but the Northwest uses hydropower for over half of its power, and wind is a growing segment of the energy.  $0.50/gallon for gasoline is nothing at this point with how gasoline fluctuates, so I don't see a problem there.

The vision I'm getting from this article is two-fold.  Although renewables are spotty, they could be used to fuel the carbon abatement infrastructure (this is assuming that putting liquid CO2 in the Earth's crust is a fantastic idea, which I'm not really sure about). So, although renewables are not always timed well for use, combine this with smart-grid demand/supply management, a distributed battery/storage system (plug-in electric cars), and we could really be talking about something cool.

I still think that the amount of land we have available for biofuels is grossly understated, though.  Think of all the lawns, road ditches, and easily-accessed but not typically agricultural places available; one has to be creative in thinking about this, but I do think there is a lot of room for biofuels.

This whole scheme seems fairly logical, though, to me.  I can envision this whole reverse industry that undoes the harm that is used to create energy.  It seems fair to me that when you make a mess, you should have to clean it up.  That is why governments were developed in the first place: to enforce things like that and hold people accountable.  We've recognised carbon as a problem, and a global one at that, so those who make money from emitting carbon should also be the ones to pay for it.  It isn't exorbitant and it isn't punitive; it is just a cost of doing business.  And as long as every energy company has to do it, it is fair: they will all have the same costs of business.  The author has an idea of how to tackle this: I'm not entirely sure it will work because we don't have a global framework in place and the US constantly flouts international consensus in order to race everyone to the bottom and garner itself an unfair competitive advantage when it comes to climate policy.

The best way to go about doing this is to place a price on carbon. Pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, where it causes long term damage to a planet shared by all, should be something one needs to pay for. The price paid should be at least commensurate to the cost of undoing any harm. On the flip side, efforts that remove a pollutant from the atmosphere should be rewarded at the same rate.

We’ve seen estimates of cost of mature carbon capture systems that range from $35 - $70 / ton, and of the very first systems at around $150 / ton. ...I would propose a price that starts at zero but ratchets up progressively to $100 / ton (in today’s dollars), at an automatic increment of $5 / ton each year. $100 / ton gives buffer room over the current price estimates for carbon capture and storage. This allows for some flexibility if cost estimates turn out to be too low. ...The gradual and predictable increase in the carbon price would soften the immediate economic shock of it, while giving both consumers and corporations clarity about the future and the ability to plan logically for it.

My bolded part up there: I think that is a fair principle for all business, isn't it?  Pay to clean up your mess?  Wouldn't the conservatives, who tout accountability and so-called 'personal responsibility'* be a fan of this?

Note that he didn't propose a carbon market.  He's proposing a tax.  For the simple reason that unpridictable pricing reduces certainty, planning, and all sorts of things that businesses need in order to project revenues and forecasts for the future.  A predictable carbon price has so many benefits, but this is the biggest one.

So, yeah, read the article for yourself.  It's a good read.
*In America, corporations are legally people, so it applies, dammit.
Monday, February 28th, 2011
9:44 am
Energy efficiency industry growing quickly
If you're looking for work, I can not only say that energy efficiency is a great industry to get into, but it looks like it is growing pretty well.  According to the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (not exactly a neutral source, but one that knows the status of the industry), the energy efficiency industry grew by about 23% last year.

If you're looking for work, and you're not a climate-change denier and see the value in conservation (rather than increasing supply), this sort of work may be for you.  Highly-prized skills are project management, program management (managing policy, budgets, and cost-effectiveness), computer programming and database administration, database querying, analysis, research, and mechanical engineering and sciences.  It is a varied industry, that includes everything from figuring out carbon potential of different sources to calculating savings from researched baselines to problem solving human behaviour.  It is big picture, in that it isn't a simple one-to-one phenomenon.  Energy efficiency is implicitely trying to combat normal price signals to get people to change either energy use behaviour or technological purchases (a $0.20 incandescent produces more heat than light, and uses 20X more energy than an equivalent LED for the same lighting job.  Unfortunately, an LED costs 100X as much as an incandescent.  So which is more important in the big picture?  Fewer fossil fuel use, or cheap light bulbs?  If you answered the former, energy efficiency may be for you.).

The industry is on the move, as well.  I see a lot of signals that legislation and building codes are starting to integrate energy efficiency (which, oddly, has a negative impact on the claimed savings, because the baseline has shifted upward, so the incremental savings is less, which means that fewer dollars can be paid for those savings).  Because of those codes, I feel that in five years, the typical utility-cuts-you-a-cheque incentive model will die, and there will be more collaboration with manufacturers and retailers and less with (thousands of) residential and commercial contractors (who install lighting and insulation and furnaces).


The industry isn't sexy, like renewable energy.  But it is much more stable than that.  Millions of houses need insulation.  Insulation saves people money (conservation in energy=conservation in dollars), as do solar panels.  But insulation does so 100% of the time, whereas wind and solar energy are spotty when it comes to timing.

As we get into developing the Smart Grid (whereby energy is coupled with data and used more efficiently and stored in places so it doesn't have to be so real-time), the skills and breadth will grow, as will the sexy integration of renewables.  But until then, many renewables are funded by grants and finicky governments (who are starved for cash, which seems to be a trend that isn't ending soon).  Utility programs for energy efficiency are standing on their own two feet, and while we're working against that $0.19 of profit per lightbulb for GE, there are lots of other opportunities for these same corporations to make money from what it is we're doing.

And, I can sleep at night.

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010
3:17 pm
Job: Engineers needed for BPA

Aerotek Energy Services is looking for Energy Efficiency Emerging Technological Project Managers.


These positions are with Bonneville Power Administration. There are opportunities in Portland & Seattle, WA.


Additional Position Information:


General Position Overview:

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) vision is to be an engine of the Northwest's economic prosperity and environmental sustainability.  BPA Energy Efficiency advances the efficient use of energy throughout the Pacific Northwest by working with utility customers, trade allies, industry, and other partners. The 6th Power Plan indentifies energy efficiency will meet 85% of 20 year load growth in Northwest one of the most aggressive regional targets in the nation. This will deepen an energy efficiency resource that already accounts for 12% of the region’s energy resource.


The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) Energy Efficiency department is undertaking a multi-year effort for the identification, assessment, and development of emerging energy efficiency technologies (E3T). E3T is a collaborative effort to "fill the pipeline" for Pacific Northwest utilities with innovative energy efficiency solutions and technologies that promise significant region-wide energy savings under the direction of BPA’s Office of Technology Innovation (TI). The project will address the research and development needs for the agricultural, commercial, industrial, and residential sectors in support of BPA’s energy efficiency program. For more information about E3T go to:


Tyler Monzie

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010
3:46 pm
House improvements for cheap: sink/toilet mod
I work in energy efficiency, but that doesn't mean I'm not interested in water conservation. I own my own house, and although I use 1/4 the water as anyone else in Porltand (according to the Water Bureau person I talked to) that doesn't mean I could/should just start wasting water.

I have a couple of schemes for an upcoming bathroom remodel.  It goes in two steps.

Firstly, I will spout (sorry, bad pun) on about the difference between saving water and reusing (grey) water.  Some people may not understand this difference.  There are two tactics you can use to save water when flushing: re-use sink/rain/dishwasher/bath water (as long as you don't pee in the shower, technically... but if it goes in the toilet, who cares?) in your toilet tank.  That's greywater use.  That's probably the best solution.  The next solution is to use this little gizmo: a toilet spout (here's another).  This techinically is a greywater creator, by allowing you to wash your hands with soap and (cold, input-to-the-tank) water.  The advantage of this is two-fold: you're not using fresh water to flush and you don't need a sink in the bathroom. That's a real space-saver, and I think I will take advantage of that in my upcoming kitchen/bathroom remodel (I have a bathroom close to my kitchen).

One other thing to mention is that dual-flush toilets have been available in Europe and most former-colony nations for a long time.  I was introduced to them on my trip to Australia in 1999.  These have the advantage of metering the flow depending on the needs of the flush.  For my household, that's probably less attractive, as we're a yellow-let-it-mellow household.  So, installing a dual flush would probably increase our water use for at least one of our toilets.  But each toilet in the house has a different use profile, so it is important to take note of that.  I plan on replacing my upstairs (close to the bedrooms) with a high-tank, old-school, pull-chain toilet eventually.  That one will be filled with greywater, either rainwater or water from the shower.  The middle-floor (next to the kitchen) bathroom tends to not get the 'mellow' treatment, and so would benefit from the toilet spout or dual flush arrangement.  The basement bathroom is used so infrequently, it would best be served by a dual flush and greywater system (not the sink-spout, since a sink is right there and it won't be going away any time soon because it is needed in that bathroom). 

OK, that's all I have... enjoy the flushing!
Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
9:53 am
Our bad relationship with our Mother
Scientific American has published two great articles about our dysfunctional relationship with Mother Earth:I welcome your reviews.
Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
9:33 am
I am a refrigerator
I am listening to Marketplace, and this episode links a compelling argument of regulation to service.  It goes a little something like this: under a price-regulated market, competition falls not on price, but on non-price drivers, such as service.  In the airline marketplace, fixed prices meant that the only thing airlines had to compete with one another with was on food, service, and internally, efficiencies.

It was the very wealthy, really, who flew. And the airlines actually competed based on their in-flight service and how luxurious they could actually make it.

In fact, that's the only way airlines could compete. Until 1978, the federal government strictly regulated air fares -- every airline had to charge the same amount for a given route. Unable to offer lower prices, they had to offer better service.

But when Congress deregulated the industry? ... everything changed. Airlines rushed to cut fares. And to make up for the lost revenue, they slowly cut back on the luxury.

This fundamentally flips market-based dogma on its head... sort of.  You see, under our current paradigm, flying, like driving, is not a luxury, but a democratised good.  Anyone, generally, rich or poor, can travel by air.  Anyone, rich or poor, can (and usually must) commute by car.  The problem is, both now suck for all involved.  Cramped seats, security concerns, a lack of service, nickel-and-diming for baggage, the cattle-call seat arrangments; traffic, long commute times.  The market-based approach says that prices will inevitably go down.  The problem is, as prices go down, non-monetary quality also suffers, as we see.  And sometimes, like in the case of cell phones, services and things become so ubiquitous that they increase, rather than decrease, our level of complexity (technology was supposed to simplify our lives).

In reality, this is exactly what the world of externalities predicts: costs may go down, but so do environmental and social quality.  In a regulation vacuum, things rarely work out as intended.  While the market may work, the foundations of the market (markets are founded upon society, which is founded upon environment... it's a holon all over again) are real issues that don't get met.  The one-dimensionality of the market is a collapse in measurement.  Do you need an example? 

We live in three dimensions.  I am approximately as tall as a refrigerator.  If you measure just our height, I am practically indistinguishable from a refrigerator.  Collapsing length and depth means you lose something: something very important (there are other dimensions lost, such as consciousness and other qualitative elements).  Economy is one dimension of three.  And when everything is market-driven, you lose the other dimensions (including consciousness and other qualitative elements).  The only way a market includes these is if the foundations of the economy constrain it.  That means that regulation (a social construct) or scarcity (an environmental limit) can constrain economy.  Many times, regulation is intended to prevent scarcity.

This brings me to a conference call I had yesterday regarding carbon markets. 

Carbon tax or carbon markets?Collapse )
Thursday, June 24th, 2010
9:31 am
Louisiana: some of you get what you deserve...
A homemade sign voices support for the oil industry in Houma, La. 

With production declining in Louisiana's mature onshore oilfields, offshore is where the action is. An industry study estimates that oil and gas and its support businesses generate $70 billion and 320,000 jobs in the state.

"We have farming, tourism, fishing, shrimping — I mean, we've got other industries," Allen says, "but nothing close to what the oil and gas industry provides."

The oil and gas industry pervades the culture of Cajun South Louisiana. Note the symbol of Morgan City's annual Shrimp & Petroleum Festival — a shrimp in a hardhat wrapped around an oil derrick.
"These oil companies have, basically, from Huey Long all the way up to [current Gov.] Bobby Jindal, paid for the social services that we have in Louisiana," says Paul Leslie, a historian at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux.

What Louisianans get out of the bargain are low property taxes and good oilfield jobs. Today, a young man out of high school can make $70,000 a year offshore, with full benefits, working only half the year.

But Louisiana has paid dearly for its oil wealth, long before the present Gulf oil calamity.

More than 50,000 wells have been drilled onshore in coastal Louisiana, accessed by 8,200 miles of canals crisscrossing the swamps, marshes and bayous. Experts estimate that mineral extraction is directly responsible for one-third of all the coastal wetland loss and land subsidence.

Wow.  Just wow.  I'm not going to cry conspiracy theory, but this is classic (CLASSIC) sell-out.  The people of Louisiana are selling out their environment to be paid (too much, especially for the local conditions and that level of education).  Their loyalty is overtly being bought.  And that's exactly how conservatism persists. 

Because many can (viably) argue: Why should they change?  But I would like to know what the other costs of this industry are.  

I don't have time to do the research, but I would venture a few guesses here.  Feel free to comment if you have the time.

  • What are the effects of environmental health problems in Louisiana compared to non-agricultural, non-petroleum-extractive states?  What are the rates of cancer, for example?
  • What is the difference, the socioeconomic gap, between the haves and the have-nots? (I know, conservatives don't care about this issue, but it prevents have-nots from climbing the economic ladder)
  • Where does LA rank in education vs. other states in quality of education?  (The premise here that there is no incentive to educate people when they can make 70K$ out of high school)
  • What is the instance of generational complacency in LA, i.e. how long do families stay in LA?  (The theory here is that they have few transferrable skills that will move them to other states)  Especially with respect to people with a non-college education.  Do they stay there longer than people from other states?
  • What is the high school graduation rate?
My concern here is not my judgement of the people of Louisiana.  My concern is that oil companies are buying their favour and robbing them of opportunities in other places. Politically, this means that conservatism is purchased, in essence, at least in LA.  And unless other companies invest in LA, which with a (presumably) uneducated workforce and a lack of willingness to take on a new industry, there is no reason for renewable energy companies, for example, to invest in LA.

One of my premeses with the renewable debate is that renewable energy jobs, green collar jobs, and energy efficiency jobs are much higher quality jobs than extractive jobs.  But, they require education.  And if Louisianans don't have access to education, nor a willingness to get one because in the short term they can just work on a rig (away from families and in dangerous, chemical-filled, cancer-causing environments), there is a purchased complacency, a conservatism, that is a threat to their future livelihoods.  Because they really have no way out.

And it is very hard to damn them for that.

If the government wants to invest in non-extractive industry, such as renewables, it needs to tackle this problem.  Coal and oil industries somehow breed labour union-conservatives.  But it is because people have become accustomed to a way of life, and they want to protect that livelihood.  Who wouldn't?  If you made 70K$, wouldn't you want to keep that income?  Especially only working 6 months out of the year?  That's a sweet-ass life.  Ish.

A carbon tax would both enrich and threaten this delicate balance.  It would threaten the jobs, but it would enrich the state who does the extraction.  A carbon market, though, may take some of that money out of their economy, because, presumably, less oil will be extracted, thereby lowering tax rates.  Instead, Texas will take off even further with its wind projects. 

All in all, when it comes down to it, life, society, environment; these are the important things.  Money is a made up concept that is an abstraction of those things and I think we need to keep that in mind.  This oil spill is a huge wake up call that fossil fuel extraction is polluting and bad for people and the environment (plants and animals who we depend on for environmental quality and food).  It seems that people are easily purchased.  And conservatives, as well as progressives, decry politicians who are bought and sold, but will rarely be aware of how they, too, can be purchased.

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010
5:35 pm
Thom's Blog
Three executives from BP, Halliburton, and Transocean each blamed the other for the deaths of 11 men on the Deepwater Horizon in their testimony before congress, yet they all walked out of the room and off to their private jets to fly off to their private mansions - but if three people had robbed a gas station and 11 people had died because one of them accidentally exploded a gas pump, and each of the three blamed the other guy, do you really think three "average guy" criminals wouldn't be in prison right now?

I recently talked with one of my few Republican friends last Friday, and it was interesting all the assumptions that he brought to the surface.  In his mind, humans can't possibly affect carbon, pretty much pure and simple.  That is baffling to me considering the sheer amount of (fossil fuel) energy each American, let alone what happens in Europe, India, and China.  Nevertheless, we could agree that the oil spill is a problem.


In my world, I want clean energy because this sort of stuff doesn't happen when you're doing solar panels.  Wind power, tidal power, and a few other things have predictable environmental problems (as does hydro), but that's the thing: it is predictable.  Currently, wind power is keeping many farmers in this state in business.  That's a good thing and is a win-win.  But oil: oil is putting many in LA, AL, MS, and FL out of business who depend on the sea for their livelihoods.

Additionally, let's assume (as I do) that carbon and greenhouse gases are indeed a problem.  The dead zones, change in oceanic patterns, and a bunch of things we do as humans that impact the environment create problems that many-times we just don't see; it is out of sight, out of mind.  Farmers don't see dead zones that are created by the eutrophication due to their fertilisers.  Those who build parking lots don't see the impacts on fisheries and oyster beds.  There is a disconnect, and it is the role of government to connect those dots and do everything in their power to make things equitable.

BP's lack of progress shows that multinationals can't be trusted with our environment, our livelihoods, nor our profitability.  We need to get off dirty fuels that directly and indirectly pollute our environment.  This is a call to arms.

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