Monday, February 12, 2007

Automobiles, CO2, and Global Warming


Some thoughts about the costs of global warming, transportation, and the environment.

  • Hydrogen powered vehicles would be the cleanest environmentally and neutral regarding CO2 production (for those who subscribe to the IPCC concerns).

    The issues with hydrogen power are:
    1. Large amounts of electricity are needed to produce sufficient hydrogen power to power the world's fleet of vehicles. The only viable alternative for producing large amounts of CO2-free electricity is nuclear power and the concern for nuclear waste disposal make this a politically incorrect choice among environmentalists.
    2. The infrastructure to distribute hydrogen does not exist which means that the spread of a hydrogen-based transportation system would be decades away.
    3. May be significantly more costly over the life of the vehicle than a small, gasoline-only powered vehicle.
  • Hydrogen fuel cells are an alternative to hydrogen gas and do not require a new distribution system.

    Issues with hydrogen fuel cells are:
    1. The fuel cells require additional amounts of electricity from the electric power grid thereby increasing CO2 production from that source (unless created from nuclear power).
    2. The fuel cells degrade and must be replaced over time.
    3. They may be significantly more costly than a small gasoline-only engine for the operating life of the vehicle.
  • Ethanol powered vehicles would reduce the need for oil and would reduce some of the CO2

    Issues with ethanol are:
    1. It is environmentally unfriendly when burned, releasing numerous smog producing gases.
    2. It is agriculturally disruptive and has been the cause of widespread deforestation worldwide as countries attempt to clear land to produce crops that can be used in the production of ethanol.
    3. It is economically unsound because it requires subsidies to make it competitive with oil products while, at the same time, increases the price of crops such as corn, causing hardship among poorer people for whom corn is a staple in their diet.
    4. It is significantly less efficient as a fuel than gasoline which means more of the fuel must be burned than gasoline to travel the same distance.
  • Gasoline/Battery hybrid vehicles offer the promise of improved fuel efficiency, thereby reducing CO2 production for the miles driven.

    Issues with gasoline/battery hybrid vehicles:
    1. They require large battery "packs" which much be replaced and require recycling or disposal of "dead" batteries which may not be environmentally "friendly."
    2. They are much more costly than a small gasoline-only engine for the operating life of the vehicle and only improve overall mileage and total fuel consumption marginally.
  • Gasoline/Electric/Battery hybrid vehicles offer the promise of substantially improved fuel efficiency, thereby reducing CO2 product for the miles driven substantially over present vehicles.

    Issues with gasoline/electric/battery hybrid vehicles:
    1. Battery technology for "plug and play" cars is not sufficiently advanced for production.
    2. They may be more costly than a small gasoline-only engine for the operating life of the vehicle.
    3. They require additional amounts of electricity from the electric power grid thereby increasing CO2 production from that source (unless created from nuclear power).
    4. They require large battery "packs" which much be replaced and require recycling or disposal of "dead" batteries which may not be environmentally "friendly."
For those of you who have read the history of automobiles, you may recall that electric powered vehicles were popular before the advent of a low cost gasoline engine and the widespread availability of the fuel. The clear advantages a quickly refueled gasoline system versus the slow recharging of batteries with limited ranges, killed the electric powered vehicles.

Those who believe that climate end is nigh see no economic cost as too high to eliminate CO2 production from our lifestyles. For them, pick your alternative and buy it. For most, they will be forced to pay significantly more for the "risk management" of possibly adverse effects of global warming.

If they live in the north where during the last month they have experienced well below normal temperatures and, in some areas, overwhelming amounts of snow... that might be a hard sell... even though those who adhere to the belief of CO2 mono-causal global warming say that abnormal cold temperatures are caused by global warming. And abnormal warm temperatures. And more hurricanes. And less hurricanes. And less ice. And more ice.

Locally... it's a really hard sell.

Month Avg.
Feb 34°F 18°F 26°F

Average overall temperature for February 2007 has been about 11°F or 7°F below the average low.


Light Snow
Wind: N at 5 mph
Humidity: 80%

27° | 14°

17° | 11°

Snow Showers
17° | 3°

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Blog Archive

Cost of Gasoline - Enter Your Zipcode or Click on Map

CO2 Cap and Trade

There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
The Independent (UK)

Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)