The Climate Crisis, Rationing and Conscription

Yves here. It’s telling that none of the key climate change interest groups have recommended rationing as an answer. It would quickly focus minds on how much energy was being spent and on what.

By Thomas Neuburger. Originally published at DownWithTryanny!

Let’s take a trip to fantasyland, to a world in which the U.S. addresses climate change in a meaningful way.

What does a meaningful response to climate change entail? Among other things, it means enacting the following two policies — energy rationing and conscription — and starting to enact them now. (Both are inevitable, of course, but probably not until after it matters, and not in an orderly way.)

Energy Rationing

Let’s look at rationing first, then turn to conscription. To paraphrase something I wrote in 2019 (“The Elephant In the Room: Addressing Climate Change Means Rationing), it’s very simple. We’ve dithered so long in addressing climate change that to address it effectively means not just a radical restructuring of the entire economy, it also means energy rationing.

The IPCC Special Report, “Global Warming of 1.5ºC,” calls for global carbon emissions to, in effect, “fall off a cliff” — to end, or at least start to end, almost immediately. This, of course, means ending the fossil fuel industry completely and forever.

Let’s say we actually tried to do this — let’s say that in 2021 [yes, I wrote this in 2019] a radical, FDR-style president and an awakened, panicked public committed to a crash conversion to 100% renewable energy. What would that mean for the consumer economy? Would that big screen, smart phone lifestyle, the one the energy industry say is at risk, actually be at risk?

This is where the answer gets obvious — of course it will be at risk.

If protecting people’s ability to spend endlessly on consumer products is society’s highest priority, then a crash-course energy conversion will be slowed to whatever speed it must be slowed to protect consumers first.

But if averting the global climate crisis is the highest priority, of course the consumer economy will take a back seat, to whatever extent it must.

This is exactly what occurred during World War II. This is what a “World War II-style mobilization” means.

In a perfect world, we’d start that energy restructuring now and we’d divert energy from the consumer economy — as we did in World War II — to do it. To quote Stan Cox on this:

We know from wartime experience that with resources diverted away from the consumer economy, shrinking supply will collide with still-high demand, bringing the threat of runaway inflation. Price controls will be essential, but with goods in short supply at reasonable prices, we will have to move quickly to prevent severe shortages, hoarding, and “rationing by queueing.” As in the 1940s, that will require fair-shares rationing.

Of course, given the mentality of our current crop of leaders — those who promise, for example, one-time (and only one-time) Covid relief checks of $2000 before they win office, then renege the minute they achieve it — energy rationing won’t occur before the crisis as a way to preserve the economy for the rest of us. Instead, rationing will occur after the crisis to make sure the economy of the wealthy and their attendant professionals, and only theirs, is protected.

Just as with Covid relief, the rich are the first in line, and often the only ones served.

Yes, the men and women who rule us are that psychopathic. And yes, we continue to let them have their way. But in a better world — one we could have today if we gave ourselves better leaders — that’s how it would be done. Rationing would start now so the whole economy could be rebuilt, and that approach would work.

Conscription

Our comments about conscription come via this piece by Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (emphasis added):

The All-Volunteer Force Forum was founded in 2016 to begin stirring up a debate across the United States on how the country populates its military. Since then, it’s been an uphill battle, but hosting conferences at universities across the country — and coming up in March, at the Catholic University in Washington, DC — has at least put the forum and the debate on the national map. Working with the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service also helped give the forum some heft.

It was inevitable that the climate crisis — arguably the most catastrophic crisis the United States, indeed, the world, is facing — arose as one of the several force-defining threats the forum has addressed that might require the country to resume conscription. Millions of young, healthy, dedicated, well- and specially-trained men and women will be required to manage both the domestic and the international threats created by this crisis.

Seems reasonable, even necessary. Wilkerson explains in detail:

In the domestic realm, fighting massive fires, meeting the emergency requirements following multiple hurricanes striking simultaneously or unexpected deep freezes like the one currently ongoing in Texas, dealing with disappearing shorelines and even whole swaths of developed land suddenly overwhelmed by the sea, dealing with massive flooding following torrential and constant rains, and managing the temporary camps and facilities set up to house millions of homeless people, are just a few of the new missions they will confront, undertake, and manage between now and the close of the century.

Internationally — while the U.S. reputation for taking the lead in disaster relief and humanitarian assistance has taken significant blows over the past four years — there is no doubt that possessing unprecedented power projection capabilities means that the U.S. military will need to be at the forefront of such operations.

In addition to the many crises caused by sea rise, the more intense typhoons in the Pacific, the flooding and then the drying up of water sources occasioned by Himalayan glaciers disappearing, the coming massive changes in the Arctic and the Antarctic regions, the desertification of land, the acidification of the oceans, the salinization of coastal water wells and other supplies, and the lack of viable agriculture, will so rack the world that the U.S. military will be run ragged attempting to keep up.

That’s a hefty list, and as he points out, the current army, the All Volunteer Force, will be “utterly incapable of meeting these domestic and international challenges even if they were to occur separately, which they won’t.”

Simply looking at the likely mission sets tells us several millions of troops, skilled in both traditional and completely new missions, will be necessary. Perhaps the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s is a model, though the overall mission would not be preparation for war but preparation for the survival of much, if not all of the human race.

Thus, we need a new mission set — domestic disaster relief on an unprecedented scale, agricultural skills pertaining to new and very different forms of food development and distribution, and refugee management aimed at millions of displaced people and construction of the massive encampments to house them.

We’ll also need flood control and flood repairs that might include the construction of dams as well as their demolition, construction of water facilities and even desalinization plants that turn seawater into fresh, potable water.

We’ll need to open new lands further north to extend food-growing capacity and we’ll require management of remedial actions to be taken should the Arctic, the Antarctic, or even Greenland’s ice packs suddenly deteriorate rapidly and add meters to the levels of sea rise. And we’ll need life-saving aid to desperate peoples all over the globe.

To do this, Wilkerson suggests that planning start now, that the Selective Service (the draft) be reformed, that Congress re-initiate full conscription, and that the military be divided into two parts, a smaller war-fighting force similar to what we have today, and a new, far larger contingent focused on climate-related tasks.

Again, perfectly reasonable, even necessary.

After all, as the crisis hits, who’s going to fight “massive fires,” meet the requirements of “multiple hurricanes striking simultaneously,” deal with “unexpected deep freezes” and “disappearing shorelines,” relieve the damage of “massive flooding following torrential and constant rains” and manage the “temporary camps and facilities set up to house millions of homeless people”?

It will have to be the government. And to do that, the government will have to be prepared. Given the scale of mobilization needed, if those preparations don’t start now, they’ll never be ready in time.

Do you expect the Biden government — or any U.S. government not led by someone like Sanders — to even start to be ready? Neither do I.

Will there be mass mobilization after the crisis occurs? Of course. But given the demand on our resources relative to supply, to whom will those resources go?

If past is prologue, the rich will be first in line, and the only ones served.

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37 comments

  1. The Rev Kev

    With all due respect to Thomas Neuburger, this won’t be a Disneyland future but would be one of Dystopia. The rationing aspect I won’t go into except to mention that with less than 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. consumes almost 17% of the world’s energy. Does anybody seriously think that the top 20% of the country will give up any of their high-energy lifestyle and confirm to any sort of energy budget? But it is the conscription part that seized my interest for several reasons.

    People might think that with conscription, that this is their grand-pappy’s Civilian Conservation Corps that will be used as a model – the one set up by Roosevelt. There, unmarried, unemployed males, 18–25 years of age, volunteered to do work for at least 6 months but could re-enroll for up to 2 years. They were paid $30 per month (equivalent to $590 in 2019) with a majority of that sent to their families and they received housing, food, clothing, and medical care. Good times for some and their legacy is still being used today.

    But I would imagine that a different model would be used – that of the National Labour Service (Reichsarbeitdienst) of Germany during the same time period. There, young men & women were conscripted to do labour and had to move into labour barracks for six months. They were given a spade, a bicycle, a military uniform and had to work up to 76 hours a week. They could be seen marching in military formation along roads but carrying spades instead of rifles. They could find themselves digging ditches, bringing in crops, charitable works, etc.

    But what I really thought of was the mention of Labour Battalions in books by Robert Heinlein such as “Misfit”(1939), “Starman Jones” (1953) and “Starship Troopers” (1959). If you could not go for advanced education, did not have a solid job or trade, then you were rounded up and put into a labour battalion as a way to coral unemployed people and giving them a life in a paramilitary structure. You might find yourself in one if you just do not fit in society, or maybe the job that you were training up for was eliminated by new technology, or maybe you just got into trouble because you did not know what to do. Whatever. It was not something that you aspired to. The common feature was those kids never felt needed by anybody.

    How could this play out down the track? Your grandchildren could easily find themselves in a Labour Battalion, perhaps fighting back the edges of the Amazon desert or down in cold Antarctica doing terraforming on the ice-free portions of that continent. The pay would be a pittance but perhaps credit could be given so that the longer that you were in one, the longer you could do a course in college. Tit for tat so to say. It would be a paramilitary organization and you would have regualr soldiers detailed as instructors and the like. The work would be hard but those with jobs or the wealth to avoid duty there would roundly approve of the whole thing. Hell, maybe they could offer other benefits so service there guarantees citizenship. But its only real purpose would be to keep unemployed young people off streets and physically exhausted so that they could not protest this new society. And the best part? They would own nothing and so they would be happy.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reich_Labour_Service

    1. Thomas Neuburger

      Nicely done, Rev. Kev. This is how I see it playing out as well — dystopian indeed. Love your eye for detail here.

      Thomas

      1. Andrew Watts

        I don’t think people realize how reckless and desperately fought the Iraq War was. The Pentagon and Joint Chiefs were committing the last of their reserves.when the Surge was launched back in 2007. They didn’t have any troops left in the event they needed to reinforce forces in Afghanistan or if they needed to be deployed in another part of the world.

        It’s a reason why we should at least be skeptical of any do-gooderism claims when it comes to the draft. It’s also likely they’ll be sent to fight for the remaining hydrocarbon energy sources in places like Nigeria or Venezuela in the future.

    2. BlakeFelix

      I think that I would much rather the UBI/Carbon Tax future than the forced labor in Antarctica future, I have never been good at being happy with nothing 😆

    3. Ian Ollmann

      > Does anybody seriously think that the top 20% of the country will give up any of their
      > high-energy lifestyle and confirm to any sort of energy budget?

      The top 20% can possibly afford solar, Powerwalls, EVs, etc. So, yeah, they might cut it in half if they like to be green. The bottom 80% is the part you should worry about. They probably can’t afford to do the right thing. They are waiting around for someone to do it for them, be it their landlord, they guy buying the new car that they will ultimately buy used, or their energy utility. The utility might be subject to some regulation, but the rest of them don’t care or won’t find it profitable.

  2. Randall Flagg

    Here is a thought, playing devils advocate. If humans are the main reason for excess carbon emissions, we keep hearing how we have to reduce emissions as quickly as possible, now damnit(!), then why are we trying to stop this pandemic? Or any other diseases? Covid-19 left on it’s own could certainly reduce the population, quickly, as other diseases do. Just weeding out the weak as happens in the wild. Sarcasm off now, I think mankind will pull through. Clumsily, but we will.

    1. Halcyon

      I realise you’re being sarcastic, but I just want to point out that the “overpopulation” folks don’t ever seem to do basic math.

      To get to 1.5C Paris (we’ll miss this by miles but this is the type of goal that these folks are talking about), we need to halve emissions by 2030 or so.

      COVID has killed 2.5 million+. You’d need a disease a thousand times more fatal to even get close through sheer “population reduction”. (Of course such a pandemic would wreak havoc on the global economy that would result in many more fatalities and would make what we’ve just been through seem like a picnic, so it probably would cut emissions well below half.)

      Given the timescales involved I find it frustrating when people point to overpopulation as the problem. Practically speaking, even if it is the case, there’s nothing you can do about it on the given timescale.

      And when you look at what’s actually causing the problem, to advocate for this is effectively saying that we should allow millions to die without even… you know. Banning SUVs. Crazy talk.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I agree totally. And the ‘overpopulation’ argument falls apart when you look at even the most basic comparisons of emissions between countries. You would have to kill off maybe 40 sub Saharans to make up for one North American. Or three Swedes. Its all about emissions per person.

        As the Indians and Chinese have shown over decades, its enormously difficult to shift demographic trends. Even the one child policy in China didn’t make much difference to overall trends, it maybe took a ‘bite’ out of their population, but not enough to be significant in environmental terms. But all the indicators are that the world population is naturally stabilising, and will probably go into demographic decline (or improvement, as I’d see it). But the issue with climate change is far too urgent to waste time talking about stopping brown people produce babies, which is, when it comes down to it, what is being called for.

        1. Keith Newman

          It’s the population of the developed countries that needs to decrease not sub-Saharan Africa, etc. The developed countries consume vast quantities of resources and pollute enormously although currently much of the pollution has been off-shored to China. The fertility rate is well below replacement in all these countries. Their population and consumption would drop relentlessly to very low levels if nature ran its course but shrinking populations is not profitable so our economic and political overlords won’t let it happen. While there are many strands to reducing human damage to the environment a drastic decrease in the population of the developed world is a key element.

      2. Robert Hahl

        World population grows relentlessly. The last I heard it was 200,000 a day (350k births – 150k deaths), so COVID-19 has set back world population growth about two weeks so far. Actually reducing population will be quite as difficult as dealing with climate change. It’s hard to imagine an effective and humane response to either problem.

        Was the CCC really about preparation for war? I thought it was about avoiding revolution.

        1. Jason

          Was the CCC really about preparation for war? I thought it was about avoiding revolution.

          They seem to go hand-in-hand.

  3. Halcyon

    I like Lawrence Wilkerson from what I’ve heard of him on TheAnalysis.news and elsewhere, and I’m sure his intentions are good, but I do worry about this stuff being co-opted by other aspects of the military.

    I agree that the government needs to mobilise resources both on the mitigation and adaptation side of climate change, but if this falls into the hands of the wrong people (i.e. the military industrial complex, who are basically the incumbents: I don’t think LW is really reflective of the mainstream there), then climate just becomes yet another excuse to expand purely military spending in aid of the defence of empire, and nothing else. The sensible “division” of forces proposed by Wilkerson may never happen.

    These types are very very good at pointing at real problems and then somehow convincing people more money for the military is the answer.

    1. Susan the other

      Previously “mobilization” for war or disaster did require all hands on deck. Rationing. A universal draft. Patriotism and volunteerism. But we’ve (all nations – not just us) never used these tactics for a global climate emergency. We probably should have had a civilian contingent all along because we have externalized all of our obligations to the environment for the symbolic profits of “money” in such a shameless manner that we are now in this horrendous mess, talking about mobilizing for survival. Wishing there weren’t so many of us. Money is not the problem – the problem is the use of money. What exactly is it for? Wilkerson is correct. It will take the rest of the century to get it all turned around. Now, as fate would have it, we have used up most of our resources already. And making more steel, etc. will use up what’s left and pollute the atmosphere faster than anything so far. So, for instance, building all the necessary refugee camps and refurbishing existing structures to weather the century will actually require an efficient industry in recycling. Recycling – the orphan of the environmental movement – will finally be recognized as a productive industry in commodities. And “harvesting” plastics from the oceans will be viable. And plastics, contrary to popular consensus, will become a useful building material. Etc. And in response to Robert Hahl above – I think it’s more about avoiding total anarchy. Even revolution needs organization – which is why the storming of the US Capitol was nonsense.

      1. Jason

        Recycling – the orphan of the environmental movement – will finally be recognized as a productive industry in commodities.

        Recycling was birthed by industrial giants, not environmentalists – most of whom recognized at the time that it was a scheme to continue mass production at the expense of the environment.

        Decades later, and today most “environmentalists” do industry’s bidding, though not even aware they’re doing so.

        In this respect, finance and industry have won.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      The U.S. military ground forces both the Army and Marine Corps have some equipment and expertise that could be very useful for disaster relief. But the also have a lot of equipment and a long tradition of executing other very different missions. Wilkerson wants to bring back conscription and seems to give the U.S. military disaster relief as a major mission. The U.S. military can indeed establish communications, set-up field hospitals, deliver food and fuel, generate electric power, provide potable water, and build housing and latrines. But providing these helpful services has often been subordinate to other less benign components of the disaster relief mission. As I recall, the DOD and Army TRADOC climate change threat assessments included missions related to maintaining ‘order’ — missions much more in line with what our military has been pursuing for the last few decades. I think Wilkerson needs to elaborate on how he will change the U.S. military mindset to boost the disaster relief mission and greatly subordinate the other missions which the preponderance of past training and practice have made far more familiar to the military.

  4. James E Keenan

    Why not combine mandatory National Service with the Job Guarantee? Have people doing a 6-12 month tour between the ages of 17 and 24 — no exemptions for bone spurs! — work side-by-side with older people who have been involuntarily unemployed and want to work.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Of course, everything is ‘rationed’ to some degree, and energy rationing will be needed, the question is how to do it. It should be pointed out of course that even in wartime, rationing was as much an anti-inflation policy as it was one of sharing out scarce resources. And ultimately, lots of things weren’t rationed as it proved impractical.

    Inevitably, price and money comes into it – even in wartime, you could get whatever you wanted if you had the cash for the black market, so no doubt the exact same would happen with energy. So you would need to be more subtle about it. One policy I saw suggested which could be a model would be for air travel, that you would have a very high tax for each trip, but make it tax deductable for one trip per person per year. This way, people on regular incomes still get their vacation or necessary family trip, while hitting people who are travelling for business or just careless about planning their journeys think twice about it.

    1. chuck roast

      An inclining block rate structure would work for water, gas and electricity rationing. The more you use the more you pay per marginal unit. Stand Marshall, Wicksell and the Austrians on their collective heads. Marginal utility theory is based on absolute abundance. If the new presumption is scarcity then the New Marginalism will act to limit waste and reallocate use to promote social needs over individual wants. Certainly there would be carve-outs, and we know who will wield the paring knife. But, a clear and resolute search for equity might mitigate the inevitable social upheaval. I think I’m getting too much sun.

    2. UnhingedBecauseLucid

      Ultimately, in the world that awaits us, “people on regular incomes” sure as hell won’t be flying to vacation; you can be certain of that.

  6. Carla

    Re: rationing. The medical-industrial complex has a lot of experience with doing this in a manner that both political parties seem to love. Just put that lot in charge. The sheeple continue to accept it where their health is concerned, so why not ?

  7. John

    I’ve been reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s book Ministry for the Future in which he describes a pathway thru the warming crisis where the response is late but sorta happens with a somewhat happy outcome. In the book, he has all jet air traffic shut down by terrorists after a few random planes are taken down by drone swarms…concentrating first on corporate jets. The point being that if rationing is not done voluntarily, it will happen by other means.
    The problem with American oligarchs is that they don’t believe 1789 and 1917 can happen again and like adolescents think they are immortal and the money immunizes them from danger.

  8. Dwight

    No need for conscription to expand Army Corps of Engineers and National Guard and downsize offensive military. Pursue cooperation with China and Russia rather than an arms race. Collapsing economy will make military service more attractive, and constructive service with less chance of having to kill and be killed or maimed will also make it more attractive.

  9. Kilgore Trout

    As important and even necessary as rationing and conscription may be in staving off a dystopian future, there is one critical element needed before either or both can be realized. Once Pearl Harbor happened, opposition to the US entering the war in aid of Great Britain vanished. It will take a similar watershed moment to convince skeptics and deniers that global warming is real. Unfortunately, by the time we see a tipping point climate event, like a massive methane release from the Arctic, it will probably be too late.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      A “Pearl Harbor Event” is short, sharp and all at once. Like the 9/11 plane attacks.

      The only manifestation of global warming I could think of which would have a Pearl Harbor impact would be for a mile-wide tornado with 400 mile-per-hour winds to spend a few hours leisurely meandering around a few square miles of kill-area centered on the center of population-gravity of a multi-million-person American city. If such a tornado were to kill a million or more people in Dallas or Houston or some other pro-fossil-fuel city, then people might really notice.

      Otherwise, not.

      1. Ian Ollmann

        Not enough. A methane explosion the size of Alaska won’t be enough if it’s in Alaska. This disaster is going to have to play in Peoria, literally, several times, before they pay attention, and then only if they live in Peoria.

        Long before that occurs, this problem will be solved in part by regulation, and in part by prices. Humans are very, very easily bought. Moral fiber is rare. What is the first thing nearly everyone does before installing solar? They look to see if it will pay for itself over the expected lifetime. If they honestly cared about being green, this would be a non-issue. Even if they do care about being green, they will still do that exercise. We are conditioned to think about money first, last and mostly only.

        Once the cost of producing EVs falls below ICEs or the $/GWh for solar / wind falls below natural gas, the transition will start. Alas, we can expect the public to nurse every last drop out of polluting infrastructure and use it utterly to failure before buying a greener alternative, but eventually, they will come around.

        I don’t know about you, but all the times I bought a new car, I bought the one that someone would make, not the one I wanted. If we have a new ICE car sales ban, as is on the books in many states and countries, the public will buy EVs because that is what there is to buy. They will drive EVs because that is what is in their driveway. It isn’t a matter of convincing them to do the right thing. It is just a matter of making the right thing cheaper or banning the alternative.

  10. Socal Rhino

    Rationing was also the point of the follow-up to the essay by the former World Bank economist that described de-growth as magical thinking: given that a small percentage of the world’s population contributes the lion’s share of climate change, the real solution would be to reduce the consumption of the few toward the low level of the many.

  11. Anthony G Stegman

    Getting the military involved in everything is a bad idea. For dire emergencies, perhaps. Ever expanding roles for the military (including vaccinating people) leads to ever increasing military budgets, at the expense of important social and other needs. Lets not ever forget, highly militarized societies are prone to coups and military dictatorships. The military should always be kept on a short leash in a democracy.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      A “universal draft” of people into the Eco-Emergency Response Corps is just a sleight-of-mouth bait-and-switcheroo trick to raise millions of soldiers for big million-soldier forever- wars. That a (present-or-former) military man suggests this is all the proof I need of that basic fact.

      I reject this idea without wasting any further thought on it.

      Think up something else.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Good. And pay the members of the Green Corps ( if we decide to call it that), a high enough wage to make it worth it to them to do it. It should not be “slave” labor.

          This will lower the chances of the DoD and the NeoKagan Democrats subverting it for million-soldier forever-war purposes.

          David Brower of the Sierra Club once had an idea for something he wanted to call the “Green Cross”. Like “Red Cross”, only “Green”. But the Wokeness TonePolice of his day browbeat him into renaming it “Green Circle” because “Green Cross” might offend someone or be insensitive or offend Muslims or some other Social Justice Warrior reason. And he gave in.

  12. ex-PFC Chuck

    Any discussion of the implications of climate change should include Steve Keen’s recent work arguing that the economic assumptions underlying the IPCC study are criminally optimistic. A good place to start is his submission to the Australian Government House Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy. The TL/DR is the IPCC report ignores the impact of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

    While on the latter subject the current issue of the IEEE Spectrum magazine has a brief article on the fact overall US energy efficiency has declined over 18 percentage points since 1950. The two major causal factors are, first, that transportation, in spite of improvements in engine efficiency, remains among the less efficient sectors but now accounts for a much larger share of the total usage. The other is that household efficiency has declined. The latest data is depicted in a readily grasped Sanker diagram.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I am confused. Your comment talks about the IPCC report and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics in reference to Steven Keen’s paper reviewing the work of work of 2018 Nobel Prize winner William Nordhaus on the economic impacts of climate change. [Also a small niggle: Sanker diagram should be Sankey diagram.]

      I followed the reference to the Spectrum brief on “Increasing Energy Inefficiency”. I am still looking for a definition of “Rejected energy”. I picked out one of the explanations of how “We are getting less efficient at converting energy into usable forms”:
      “The decline of average conversion efficiency has been much more pronounced in the industrial sector, from 70 percent to 49 percent, which is explained largely by the sector’s ongoing electrification (which displaced former direct fuel uses) and by the expansion of ­electricity-intensive manufacturing.”
      Is there some other article that details how electrification is less efficient than direct fuel uses and explains — given this as fact — why industry has chosen this direction. This brief raises many more questions than it explains.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I am a total layman on this subject, but I will make a guess as to why industry would go more electricity-based.

        Electricity is more versatile and you can do more different things with it. You can run a little hand-held drill or a desktop computer. You can’t run a little hand held drill or run a desktop computer with steam. And I suspect the same principle holds for bigger industry-sized machines and needs.

        And aluminum is all smelted and refined by electricity. As we go more aluminum, we go more electric at the industry level.

        But this is just a layman’s guess.

      2. Ian Ollmann

        Assuming you mean fossil fuel for direct fuel uses, it is important to remember that due to Carnot inefficiencies, energy loss for ICE engines is going to be around 70%, especially for the sort that would fit in a vehicle. There are inefficiencies in electricity transport and voltage, but in general, it is nowhere near this great. If the calculation is showing fossil fuels to be more efficient, it may be missing this contribution. Also it may miss energy costs to transporting fossil fuels onsite. Even if we are not talking about an engine for mechanical work, but rather just heating stuff up, we should remember that with electricity we can often build a heat pump that will move much more heat than the electrical energy used.

        Most of the time the counterintuitive finding is the counterintuitive finding because it is wrong.

  13. Ian Ollmann

    > Let’s take a trip to fantasyland, to a world in which the U.S. addresses climate change in a meaningful way.

    Naughty!

    > After all, as the crisis hits, who’s going to fight “massive fires,” meet the requirements
    > of “multiple hurricanes striking simultaneously,” deal with “unexpected deep freezes”
    > and “disappearing shorelines,” relieve the damage of “massive flooding following
    > torrential and constant rains” and manage the “temporary camps and facilities set up to
    > house millions of homeless people”?

    I thought the Texas Republicans had already answered this question.
    “Yer on Yer Own!” (YOYO)

  14. Tom Denman

    Conscription is involuntary servitude.

    Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for Wall Street and the War Machine.

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