Sunday, January 30, 2011

Insider vs. outsider impact on environmental policy

Do insider or outsider strategies make a more substantive impact on environmental policy? In chapter 6 of The Politics of the Environment, author Neil Carter is hesitant to make any firm conclusions about the substantive impact of insider strategies, but does declare that outsider grassroots campaigns are seldom the deciding factor in the wider environmental policy arena (p.176). I believe pursuing insider strategies have had a mild sensitizing impact, but helped little to achieve material results. Significant pressure from grassroots campaigns and protest actions are required for environmental policy victories.

An insider strategy is one in which environmental lobbyists seek to influence policy decisions from the inside in consultation with government ministers. Carter (p.166) points out environmental groups have gotten only limited access, and where there is regular access this kind of strategy inherently involves compromise of values and playing by the rules of the game- basically dealing with the devil. Furthermore, access is only temporary and can be lost when the elected administration changes, ie. Clinton to Bush in 2000. Even where green parties have been part of the government, as in Germany, access was barely improved.

Institutionalization of environmental groups has certainly increased (p.148). Environmental values have been generally accepted as part of the political discourse. Environmental organizations have grown in membership and funding. Organizations like Friends of the Earth (p.152) have become more professional and centralized as well as shifted their strategy from direct confrontational actions toward more lobbying and monitoring. These advancements have led to an increased public awareness of environmental issues and helped shape political considerations of the environment.

However, the environmental lobby has largely failed to enact its proposed policy reforms as it runs up against very powerful corporate and producer interests. In the US, the environmental lobby never achieved ratification of greenhouse gas emissions controls sought by the Kyoto Protocol legislation1. Energy producers have a stronger insider-presence in most governments and often get their desired mining permits approved with waivers on environmental review2.

There are isolated incidences where insider strategies have helped block environmentally harmful development projects (167). But most environmental achievements are often in large part due to strong conventional grassroots campaigns and media attention from unconventional actions that exert considerable pressure on policy decisions. In the US, both pressure-group politics and swelling public opinion are credited for the enactment of the major pollution control bills of the 1970s 3. In Germany, popular anti-nuclear campaigns halted transport of nuclear waste and building of nuclear reactors4. A Greenpeace anti-whaling campaign that began in 1975 ultimately resulted in a moratorium on commercial whaling and creation of whale sanctuaries5. The insider environmental lobby probably had a facilitating role in these grassroots successes. But without strong pressure from outside mass social campaigns and attention-grabbing actions, insider environmental lobbying alone has exercised little influence.

~Mark Bremer, Green Explored Contributor


1 (accessed 1/24/11)

2 (accessed 1/24/11)

3 (accessed 1/24/11)

4 (accessed 1/24/11)

5 (accessed 1/24/11)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The State of the Union

The President gave his almost hour long state of the Union address last week. Of course I watched and listened to it as I am interested in the state of my country. Lot’s of applause was given to the President for all sorts of Mom and Apple Pie themes in the address. The obligatory green part of the speech was also applauded. I have excerpted that part of the President’s speech and list it below. Even old W got applause for his renditions of the dis-laws of thermo when he opined a few years back on how Hydrogen and Ethanol will lead us to greener pastures. Obama has pretended to exit the Hydrogen Highway and the Ethanol Freeway and his address remained agnostic about particular green messianic technology but promised us that in 25 years 80% of our electric power will come from “clean” energy sources. Of course the President had to throw in the Sputnik Moment, the Apollo Program, and call clean energy the man to the moon challenge of our time. Well Mr. President we got to the moon by burning a heck of lot of fuel in a Saturn Five Rocket. In fact the comparison of getting to the moon and weaning us off of fossil fuels is plain thermodynamically dumb.

The challenge is not about technology it is about lifestyle. The President should have challenged us to change our gluttonous way of living. He should look to streets of Cairo and Tunis where high food prices have caused the public to revolt. He should have said no more corn ethanol subsidies and let food be food and let fuel be fuel. He should have used his bully pulpit to ask his fellow Americans to stop using so much food and fuel. The part of address of turning sunlight and water into fuel (hydrogen) for our cars was like a W moment of pure stupidity. I like the way Obama said “we’re not just handing out money”. Yeah we are doing electronic transfers of funds rather than handing out paper bills. Handing out a hundred billion electronically is faster than printing it and sending it in the US Mail. I will however give the President a B for the address. B stands for Boring. He was lecturing to a fifth grader on how to want a better future while doing absolutely nothing in the present.

My State of the Union address is as follows;

“For scores of years we have been eating, driving, cooling, heating and buying too much. My fellow citizens I am trading in my 747 Air Force One for a small Lear Jet and will cut down my jet fuel use by 75%. As half of the Whitehouse is already in the dark, I will keep it unlighted and unheated. I will cut my gas and electric consumption by 50%. Instead of flying around the country to campaign in 2012 I will simply Skype my campaign promises from the oval office. I will demonstrate to you business will go on and that nothing will change politically when I halve my carbon footprint, I expect you all to do likewise. If all of you ride a bike to the store, carpool to work with friends, limit your diets to 2,000 kilocalories, and heat and cool your home less we can finally stop having to kiss up to OPEC, Exxon and ADM.

I have asked President Muburak to listen to the will of his people and ride into the sunset toward Benghazi. I too will listen to the will of the people and cut all funds for all projects that pretend to be green that in fact are gangrene. I control the on off switch of pork barrel funding and it is simply time to turn many of our switches to off and not believe in fairy tale science that we can live like gluttons. You may have heard me talk about hope and “yes we can”, but I have now seen the light and have to tell you hope will not save a fluid ounce of oil. I still think we can save our country but first we have to save it from ourselves and our wasteful way of life. May Mother Naure Bless America even if we have not respected Her.”

Readers, compare what Abe Lincoln said with Obama’s address and tell me we have not become lost, self congratulating, and long winded. One question readers, did the members of Congress in 1863 interrupt old Abe with applause or did they just listen in amazement to the words of our last great president? President Obama forget Sputnik and go back further to in our history and lead by example rather than by long winded speeches as the “world did little note nor long remember what you said here”.


"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."


“That's what Americans have done for over 200 years: reinvented ourselves. And to spur on more success stories like the Allen Brothers, we've begun to reinvent our energy policy. We're not just handing out money. We're issuing a challenge. We're telling America's scientists and engineers that if they assemble teams of the best minds in their fields, and focus on the hardest problems in clean energy, we'll fund the Apollo projects of our time.
At the California Institute of Technology, they're developing a way to turn sunlight and water into fuel for our cars. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, they're using supercomputers to get a lot more power out of our nuclear facilities. With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. (Applause.)
We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I'm asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. (Applause.) I don't know if -- I don't know if you've noticed, but they're doing just fine on their own. (Laughter.) So instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's.
Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they're selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: By 2035, 80 percent of America's electricity will come from clean energy sources. (Applause.)
Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all -- and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen. (Applause.)”

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Coda Blue- The new code for a voltage flat line

News from DC is that Hu was on first, Obama struck out Shee was on deck and Biden was not even in the ball park

A blog today on micro hybrids. I kind of like things that are small. Micro hybrids are not small cars but cars that use a small assist from a hybrid technology. The small assist is that the engine shuts off when the car is stopped in stop and go traffic. The engine is restarted when the motorist depresses the accelerator. This means the car’s engine may be stopped and started a couple of hundred times a day. A traditional car is started and stopped perhaps half a dozen times a day. This sounds like a really simple solution to improving the gas mileage of cars as well is lowering pollution in urban areas. Yes it is simple but not that simple. Traditional lead acid batteries cannot handle many thousands of restarts of a car or truck and they would be dead within six months if used as a single battery in a micro hybrid. Automakers are equipping cars with two batteries for this purpose and also they are thinking of improved high tech lead acid batteries for the second battery. The improved technology is either a glass mat or some carbon based high surface material for the electrode. This will only add a couple hundred dollars to the cost of the vehicle and by my estimate the vehicles gas mileage for city driving will improve by about 1 mile per gallon for a compact car and perhaps 1.5 mpg for a larger car or truck. The technology is easier to implement in Europe than the USA as most vehicles in the USA have automatic transmissions and the restart of an engine that has an automatic transmission that is engaged in the D (drive) mode is jumpy. Manual transmission cars typically have their clutch engaged when stopped and the restart of the engine is simple and smooth. The Green Machine estimates that some 10 million cars a year will be equipped with this micro hybrid technology starting in the 2013 model year.

The Green Machine estimates that zero Tesla Model S vehicles will be sold in the 2015 model year as Tesla will be dead as dry cell by then. The VCs that funded Tesla have made out like bandits. The boys at Draper Fisher Juvertson sold a bunch of their stock at over $30 per share in late December. This was just after Tesla had a press release that their Model S release schedule is not slipping and they will be on time for the launch. I blogged at that time that the press release did not tell us anything about costs being lowered and that the company will yield a profit by the timely sale of the sedan. Someone must be reading my blogs as Tesla’s stock slumped this week to $23.00. Last week I opined that within a year the Tesla stock will be below the 19 gallons of gasoline they claim are in a barrel. Perhaps I should have said after their next quarterly report the stock will be below the $19.00 a share level.

Talking about taking investors to the cleaners my other villain AONE has lost their CFO. He made about a million dollars selling his shares during 2010 while the stock was high. After 7 years with the company he is leaving to join a LED company. Yeah he saw the light after he made some bucks in the lithium ion business. When will the public wake up and see that the VCs and CFOs of these soon to be dead lithium ion technology based companies have taken them for a ride? Perhaps Obama and Chu will ride off into the sunset in 2014 when the hundreds of billions of dollars of government grants for gangrene technology are all gone and a few thousand low paying green jobs were created. I think Exide, Insterstate and Die Hard will succeed and still be charged in 2015. Their lead acid batteries will be installed in 10 million micro hybrids.

To be fair and balanced the Republicans are also cleaning up on the clean energy boondoggle. Hank the take us to the tank Paulson who let us slide into deep recession and his team at Coda will soon be importing their battery car from China. They hired an ex GM guy as CEO. My prognostication is the Codas will all be painted blue and we will soon use Coda Blue as the hospital code for calling AAA to resuscitate cars with dead batteries that have a flat voltage line at zero.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Teslacle the Gonadwhere Company

Sorry Green Machine readers I have made a new year’s resolution to blog only every fortnight as I am far too depressed after I blog. I know the thermodynamic thieves in government and industry simply won’t change their ways. The latest from Teslacle is that they have saved the world over 22,000 barrels of oil by having sold over 1,500 Teslacles in the past three years since the introduction of the gonadwhere roadster. Their press release is at the end of the blog.

Of course I contacted Teslacle to tell them that their math is wrong. There are 42 gallons in a barrel and 415,000 gallons is only 9,888 barrels not 22,000. They had the chutzpah to reply to my email that there are only 19 gallons of gasoline extracted from a barrel of oil. The remaining 23 become things other than gasoline when refined. Wow this reminds me of my “banter with Blair” a year ago and how I had to help Blair understand that oil yields diesel, jet fuel, residual oil, propane, and other oils and in fact as the crude oil is denser than many of the refined products there is a gallon gain of 5% in the refining process. The best method to evaluate the conversion of crude oil to gasoline is to compare the heat content of a barrel of crude oil with a gallon of gasoline and also account for the energy lost in the refining process. The US DOE uses 5.8 million BTUs higher heating value in a barrel of oil. Gasoline has 130,000 BTUs per gallon HHV. This means there are 44.615 equivalent gallons of gasoline in a barrel of oil prior to accounting for the refining loss. The refining loss is about 5% so we have 42.4 gallons equivalent of gasoline in a barrel of crude oil. If Teslacle were to be thermodynamically truthful, they could have claimed a savings of 9,788 barrels of oil.

It took the Gonadwhere company 3 years to achieve 1,500 vehicles of total sales and they have lost (retained earnings) over $300 million. This is a cost of $200,000 per vehicle sold or $30,653 per barrel of oil saved. The Pres and his Energy Secretary Dr. Chu Chu Train should take note of Telacles accomplishments.

My parting shot to person at Tesla who emailed me is that I predict in less than 12 months their stock will trade for less than their invented number of gallons of gasoline in a barrel and that within 24 months they will join Studebaker, Oldsmobile and Pontiac as a forgotten brand. Here is their press release from January 10 2010:

PALO ALTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Tesla Motors has delivered more than 1,500 Roadsters worldwide, a significant milestone as the automaker’s momentum builds in North America, Europe and Asia.
The fleet of Roadsters spans more than 30 countries. They have accumulated more than 8.5 million miles (14 million kms) in real-world driving, saving 415,000 gallons (1.6 million liters) of gasoline and more than 22,000 barrels of oil.
“The Roadster has earned global appeal. Our latest delivery milestone proves the Tesla is raising the bar for EVs,” said Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk. “The Roadster’s advanced electric powertrain is the foundation of Tesla’s success.”
The milestone comes after a banner year for Tesla, which acquired an assembly plant in Fremont, Calif., and forged strategic partnerships with Toyota and Panasonic. Tesla also became a public company in 2010.
Tesla also launched the next-generation Roadster 2.5, demonstrating Tesla’s continuous innovation and close feedback loop with its engineers and customers. Tesla opened its first Asian store in October; the showroom in Tokyo’s Aoyama district has the highest foot traffic of any Tesla store worldwide.
In 2010, Tesla delivered cars in more than 30 countries – from Singapore to Switzerland. The most northerly Roadsters are in Narvik, Norway, 140 miles (220 kilometers) north of the Arctic Circle.