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The end of this year’s climate bill 2010-Jul-26 at 13:18 PDT

Posted by Scott Arbeit in Blog.
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Yes, yes, I know… the climate bill is now a mere shadow of itself, with no cap-and-trade, and no requirements for new renewable energy sources.

And that means that the forces of greed and cowardice have won again, right?  (My apologies in advance for linking to a column from Dr. Doom himself.)

So… is it too late?  Has the U.S. Senate doomed the entire planet to a slow-cooked death?

Well… not exactly.

Ultimately, any energy solution that requires end-users to change their behavior is destined to fail.  Anything that requires companies and individuals to cut back, to buy from other sources, to pay more in taxes (which cap-and-trade is)… that’s just not going to get the job done.

Why?  Because we have to include a developmental perspective on climate solutions.  So, let me ask you a question: do you think egocentric Red or ethnocentric Blue is able to think in worldcentric terms?  In other words, do you think that the vast majority of people in the world (don’t forget to include China, India, and Africa) will, for this one issue, magically rise above their current level of development and make what some others would consider “the right choice”?

If you do… hell, you’re even more optimistic than I am.  Because I just don’t see it happening.  I see those billions of people far more interested in improving their families’ standard of living than I see them interested in whether or not an iceberg is bigger or smaller this year than last.  And that’s not a bad thing.  And it’s not a good thing.  It’s just a developmentally appropriate thing.  There’s no reason to get upset about it, and we already know that there’s every reason to expect it to be that way, because at an Integral level of development we understand developmental psychology.  This is what Red and Blue look like.  No judgments, just understanding.

And there remains every reason to open our hearts with love at the play of this beautiful spiral of development, flowing through every human being on Earth.

This is why I’m personally opposed to any sort of limitations or laws based on changing end-user behavior.  It’s a well-meaning but futile attempt to change things.

The only way we’re going to change the use of energy on Earth, and therefore move away from the sources that contribute to global warming (assuming that such theories are accurate) is to deal with it on the supply side.  We have to take a systemic view of our energy supply, and we have to change the way it’s generated in the first place.  Only through massive changes on the supply side will we be able to deliver virtually unlimited amounts of electricity to the billions of people in Asia and Africa who are poised to join the global economy, through the spread of globalization, in the next four decades.

Fortunately, those massive changes are coming.  Developments in nanotechnology-based manufacturing, solar, and battery are all on track to be able to supply 100% of the world’s need for energy within 20 years… whether the Senate passes a bill with cap-and-trade or not.  And government investment in these technologies?  Well… there’s so much profit to be made by whomever figures these out that government investment just isn’t necessary.  We already know that it’s a global business that’s worth trillions of dollars.

And it’s not the United States that’s going to lead this anyway.  So, relax… it’s OK.  The Senate didn’t just doom the planet.  Not that I think it’s a particularly wise institution at this moment in history, but in this case, we’re going to be just fine.

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The most powerful energy storage outside of nuclear 2010-Jul-07 at 14:16 PDT

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Solar power, is, as I constantly point out, right on schedule to be able to support all of Earth’s energy needs within 20 years (think exponential growth curves in nanotechnology-based manufacturing).  Along with solar, though, has to come a corresponding improvement in battery technology, since, you know, the sun doesn’t shine at night.

From Super battery is most powerful energy storage ever (besides nuclear power), by Boonsri Dickinson, 06-July-2010:

Washington State University researchers created a super battery.

Using similar pressures to what is found in the center of the earth, the researchers created a new material that could store unprecedented amounts of energy.

“If you think about it, it is the most condensed form of energy storage outside of nuclear energy,” says Choong-Shik Yoo, a WSU chemistry professor and lead author of results published in the journal Nature Chemistry.

Is this ready for consumer production?  Of course not.  Is this yet another indication of the advances that continue to speed up in researching these topics?  You bet it is.

We need battery just as much as we need solar, and this is the kind of advancement that’s going on today, all over the world, in pure materials research.

Samsung to invest $21B in new technology businesses 2010-May-10 at 23:41 PDT

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Samsung to invest US$21 billion in solar cells, LEDs, more, by Dan Nystedt, 11-May-2010

The 23.3 trillion Korean won (US$21 billion) investment is aimed at developing five new businesses that the company expects to create 45,000 new jobs and generate 50 trillion won in annual revenue for affiliate companies by 2020, Samsung said in a statement Tuesday.

The company has earmarked 6 trillion won [$5.3B] of the amount for solar cells, using crystalline silicon technology and thin film technology. Another 5.4 trillion won [$4.7B] will be used for rechargeable batteries for hybrid electric vehicles and 8.6 trillion won [$7.6B] will go to LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology for a range of power-saving applications, from computer screen backlights to car electronics and indoor/outdoor lighting.

On the medical side, Samsung will invest 2.1 trillion won [$1.8B] in biopharmaceuticals and 1.2 trillion won [$1.0B] in electronic healthcare equipment, starting from external diagnostic tools such as blood testing devices.

Let’s go over this again.

Five new multi-billion dollar business to step up and own these important emerging markets… markets that will be important over at least the next four decades.  This is exciting stuff.

Can you name a U.S. company that’s going to do anything like this?  I’ll be honest, I can’t.  But it’s important to know where we are as a nation right now in terms of being competitive in these areas, isn’t it?