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Friday, October 17, 2014

Pollyanna Krugmaniac: Flaccid Science's Take on Hard Science.

Pumpkinhead: The strident voice of a Neoliberal.

That Pumpkinhead of Economic writers, Paul Beady-eyed Krugman, the scold of Neoliberalism, is pedaling another fantasy-fueled chimera, this time economic growth without ecological pain, running a fossil-fuel-based economy on solar-power, paying down an enormous multi-trillion-dollar mushrooming national debt of $17 trillion, one that he has advocated in the same pages of the NYT to exponentially increase, sucking in more of the wealth of the rest of the world's economies, whose leaders would buy up that debt, (American oligarchs already being so stuffed with it they can't force down any more), easily and simply, all while we stop burning fossil fuel and abandon all those nasty coal/natgas power plants, even though, (I guess they didn't consult Pollyanna first), they are now building new ones in GERMANY, the world leader of wind-power and solar-generated electricity and alternative power. They need coal-fired plants to replace the nuclear ones they shut down after the calamity of Fukushima (but Pollyanna probably has a way to INSIST that that's been good for growth, and if you disagree, well, that's because you don't understand what's meant by economic growth).

The Neoliberal scold starts by berating anybody so foolish as to think that there's a link between economic growth and ever-rising emissions of greenhouse gases, they are simply basking in what he ridiculously calls “climate despair”, a nonsensical term, the user of which insists that it's everyone else who, as he so often states from his increasingly pedantic rostrum, is "getting it wrong". Even as he uses the other absurd term of the avatars of economic-growth-without-emissions-growth, "renewable energy", as though it magically comes out of a magician's hat.

Energy is generated in all biological and economic processes, in order to do work, and thereby generates waste heat, but then more must be generated for the next task its user needs it for. It is never, in any of all the methods used to generate it anywhere in the known universe, "renewable". It is transformed and dissipated; if you need more, you must create more, you can never simply "renew" it as though it's a book from the library. But of course, that's science, something Pollyanna never has to really trouble himself with; he is, after all just an economist, and as a group they feel no more need to justify their statements than the pundits on Fox News.

But he indulges in even more Krugmania:

"On one side, there has been dramatic progress in renewable energy technology, with the costs of solar power, in particular, plunging, down by half just since 2010. Renewables have their limitations — basically, the sun doesn't always shine, and the wind doesn't always blow — but if you think that an economy getting a lot of its power from wind farms and solar panels is a hippie fantasy, you’re the one out of touch with reality."

I know I shouldn't start at the end, but I mean who the hell thinks that "an economy getting a lot of its power from wind farms and solar panels is a hippie fantasy"? Much of Europe, and especially the powerhouse economy of Europe, Germany again, has been doing exactly that for this entire century, even as the emissions from the global economy have accelerated, despite the fact that they have had in place carbon trading during that whole time. When does he think he's writing this, in 1990? As for the "dramatic progress in renewable energy technology, with the costs of solar power, in particular, plunging, down by half just since 2010", with the price of oil plunging the exact same amount, by half, that will put that theory to the test, plus, every time a solar panel gets built, it uses fossil fuels to mine its ingredients, build it, transport it, install it, and to back it up when the sun isn't shining. And of course there's that thing with science getting in the way again: if the percentage growth in overall energy utilization exceeds the growth of energy generated via wind/solar installations, with no diminution, but in fact increases in energy consumed, (which it has done, even in the sluggish growth in the period of which he speaks), then CO2 production and venting into the atmosphere continues to INcrease, not decrease. During the period when the price was dropping, the CO2 generation continued to grow by 3% per annum, such that now the amount in the atmosphere exceeds 400 ppm.

Pollyanna then states, "So saving the planet would be cheap and maybe even come free." So the Krugmaniac thinks this is about "saving the planet"? I really do find it harder and harder to distinguish him from that other idiot economist gracing the pages of the NYT, Ben Stein. The planet, you poor deluded fool, is in no danger from the acts of the marauding primate known as man. It is all other lifeforms, and the stability of the conditions under which they live in order to be able to mutate and therefore continue their existence, that is in peril. The Planet Earth has been here, unless you also believe like the right-wingers you line up with on this, as on so many other issues, that it is a mere 6,000 years old, is 4.5 billion years old, and has survived a literally earth-shattering cataclysmic collision with a comet that was so violent it shore off a chunk of it that we can now look at in the dead of night as it reflects our star's light onto our planet's surface: the Moon. Earth is in no danger from Climate Change. In fact, as I look out into the universe, it has lately occurred to me that, far from being the only "intelligent" life in the universe, it could well be that we are simply all that's left of intelligent life. Its own destruction is baked in, as it makes a Faustian bargain with Nature, because Reason brings with it Hubris. We could well be the last surviving remnants of a once-far-flung lifeforce. And although that's a bit fantastical, it's no more so than the drivel being spouted here by the self-important Pollyanna Krugman.

And as for the assertion that it will, "maybe even come free"? Well, as an aside, remember the triple A's of evaluating someone's position: Anytime you hear Anyone, suggesting that Anything can be had for "Free", as a citizen of the finance-industry-as-fraud-machine known as the USA, you should know better, on the strength of that alone, than to listen to anything further coming out of their mouths.

Next the flaccid scientist takes on hard scientists by stating:

"And you sometimes see hard scientists making arguments along the same lines, largely (I think) because they don’t understand what economic growth means. They think of it as a crude, physical thing, a matter simply of producing more stuff, and don’t take into account the many choices — about what to consume, about which technologies to use — that go into producing a dollar’s worth of G.D.P."

Pollyanna always gets a little har-umphy when it comes to people who practice real science, who have to back up what they say with real world, not Pollyanna, data. Men who can't just spout something because they think it should be that way, but have to present hard data verifiable by other scientists in their fields. Otherwise, he wouldn't be needing to make such ludicrous statements as "they don’t understand what economic growth means". This is something only a person with an inferiority complex would sputter. These are the very scientists who've come up with the models that've tracked the changes in the climate that predicted many of the phenomena that we're seeing already happen on our planet. So with this statement he disparages the very people without whom there would BE no solar panels nor windfarms nor access to all those fossil fuels, for that matter, by suggesting that they can't understand something as intellectually flaccid as the concept of economic growth, which , apparently, since he uses the outmoded measure of GDP, instead of the now generally accepted metric of GNP, he apparently doesn't understand himself. Can any of the economic forecasts that any economist has made over the last two decades (Two years? Two months?) be used to predict how the world's economies will look by 2015? No. Because, even economists don't understand, and therefore can't agree on, what's meant by economic growth.

The Krugmaniac made comments of the same snarky nature about William Greider's book " One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism", all of them wrong, but failure to test theory against reality is the hallmark of academic economists, the only profession that makes psychology look like hard science.

Planes don't fly on solar or wind power, nor do the billion cars currently on the road worldwide, the replacement of which alone would burden the atmosphere with many more gigatons of CO2 (1.2 million tons of CO2 is generated to produce every million tons of aluminum ... whether the cars they are in the process of manufacturing are ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) machines or electric, but that's just one of those inconvenient truths); furthermore large industrial users don't buy into cap and trade:

Guy Bjerke, with the Western States Petroleum Association, said refinery managers are willing to look for ways to cut emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. But they balk at the idea of an emissions cap for each facility if it restricts operations. Setting that kind of cap would undercut the operating permits that the district has already given Bay Area refineries.

In the global economy, the way it is currently structured, those 'operating permits' Guy refers to have an equivalent instrument: derivatives. For every power plant coming on line right now, in far greater quantities than solar  panels or wind-farms, in terms of their electrical production, there are loans and other financial paper generated, all of which is then securitized, and swapped, and leveraged, and used to generate more debt, that bakes in the CO2 production into the cake for the entire next generation, and that amount is accelerating despite all the solar panels and wind-farms being put in simultaneously. Should these plants be taken out of operation earlier than their calculated lifespan, that represents losses: Real Losses that are taken out of any Growth that they may have contributed to the GDP, as well as their growth-enhancing energy-generating capacity.

"We’re not opposed to emission reductions,” said Bjerke, the trade association’s Bay Area manager. “What we’re opposed to is anything that undercuts the operational flexibility of the refineries and impairs the permits these facilities already hold.”  That "operational flexibility" he refers to means the profits he expects to reap, and those profits, if carbon trading is made part of the picture, will be reduced, and therefore, so will growth.

So it isn't the real scientists, but the Pollyanna Krugmaniac that doesn't understand how growth works. To whit, this bit of flimflam from the Krugmaniac after the economy went over a fiscal cliff in 2008: "Our capacity hasn't been diminished".  And yet here we are, six years later still diminished by our incapacity to end the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, diminished by the millions and millions unable to pay their mortgages, diminished by even more millions and millions without jobs, millions dropped from the workforce, millions on welfare, food-stamps, involuntarily working only part-time jobs, living out of their cars, diminished by the millions of seniors with reduced or no income because of ZIRP, diminished from the crash in output and inability to grow our economy without using Enron-style Fed monetary legerdemain, diminished by our inability to issue new debt unless that same Fed buys it up after the Treasury sells it to Goldman Sachs so that they can get their cut before turning around and pawning it off on the Fed, a risk-free transaction they charge a risk-premium for, or is that what you mean by "economic growth", Mr. Krugman? The funneling of the bulk of the output of an entire "Free" people into the hands of an oligarchic elite? Then you're right Pollyanna, I don't understand economic growth. Because your idea of economic growth, despite all your tsk-tsk'ing, looks more like economic doldrums, or as your buddy Larry Summers would call it, stagflation, to those of us not cushioned from its lack with a position in Academania (sic). But as long as you can maintain your bully pulpit position at the NYT, you don't really care about any of that, do you? You only care about licking the shoes of your masters in order to retain your sinecure as Mr. Supercilious Krugman.

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