19 May 2010

From the Comments

One of the pleasures of blogging is that you get to hear from lots of really smart people. In the comments Harrywr2 had this comment which I thought was worth highlighting.
Country A is going think long and hard before becoming dependent on an energy source provided by country B if they have a long history of animosity.

At the end of WWII France had 3 potential suppliers of coal. The US, UK or Germany.
The shipping costs from the US were prohibitive.

The French added an 'intangible cost' to the market cost of coal. They would rather pay more for their energy then be dependent on the English or Germans.

If I go back to my shopping trips with my wife. My wife and I place a high value on 'marital harmony'. Sears offers us both an enjoyable shopping experience. JC Penney doesn't offer us both an enjoyable shopping experience. Hence, we'll shop at Sears even if the prices are a little lower at JC Penney's

The 'climate debate' for the most part is a debate over what intangible 'environmental costs' should be added to fossil fuel use.

I don't care about drowning polar bears. The cost I'm willing to assign is zero.

I commute to work on a moped. It is my primary means of transportation. I care about not sending money to nasty dictators.

Others may have different intangible costs they assign to the price of fossil fuels.

If I look at Chinese Coal reserves, a substantial portion of it is lignite.
Lignite has a tendency towards spontaneous combustion.
The deeper one goes in a mine the more methane seepage becomes a problem.

Mining lignite in a methane rich environment is pretty close to suicidal. What is a reasonable intangible cost to assign to thousands of coal miners in China being killed in mine accidents every year?

If I look at the various 'Global Decarbonisation' justifications they all use a global average market fossil fuel cost and then add a large(many would say inflated) environmental cost in order to make fossil fuel energy the least desirable energy option.

If I localize fossil fuel costs by assigning shipping costs, add a modest intangible for energy security and a modest intangible for the lives of coal miners I don't need a huge environmental cost to justify decarbonizing the vast majority of the world.

IMHO 'Climate Science' has harmed itself because it falsely believed it needed to justify a huge environmental cost in order to compel decarbonization.