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Do you believe in Jevons Paradox?

Discussion in 'Environmental Discussion' started by burritos, Jun 16, 2008.

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  1. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    Our household is using LESS energy ... ONLY because we're more efficient. Our PV setup was based off our former usage ... using an inefficient washing maching, AC, fridge, and incandecent lighting. Ergo, we have a surplus credit with the electric company. We ARE less anal about clicking lights off now days ... and feel less paranoid about gazing into the fridge daydreaming ... because we have surplus. For the most part, our hours of daily use remains pretty much static.



    Agreed ... as a general rule. Exceptions
    1) No space to store fuel or generater
    2) Periodic maintenance on generater's ICE ... filters, oil, etc ... yuck.
    3) Noisier
    4) More costly.
    A commercial UPS cost can be had "on the cheep". It seems AT&T/Verizon etc are quick to upgrade to the latest & greatest UPS setups ... leaving lots of used equipment bargains for those on the prowel. The electrical engineer who set up the PriUPS website has had his UPS grid tied now, for over 4 years ... and it was "years" used when acquired. The sealed lead acid battery used in a commercial grade UPS is pretty robust.

    Using a commercial UPS in this fashion is atypical. It's not to provide backup power per se, for a house. Rather, it's using the UPS like an intermediary ... like a capaciter ... passing the Prius' 240 DC volts onto the UPS, which then converts it to AC. That's super simplifying it, but plugging your hybrid into the UPS (which then plugs into the house) means the UPS's batteries don't take huge charge/recharg hits ... and that's the reason the the Prius traction pack lasts long, too. You're basically using the Prius as the generater. The hybrid traction pack dips low when powering your house, and then the ICE starts up for a few minutes to recharge the traction pack. Using a hybrid as a generater means you don't have to double up by buying a 2nd generater ... you just have to buy a big UPS. Here's ours:

    [​IMG]

    You can see it's like two big ol' computer towers ... that weigh 100's & 100's of pounds. Check out how LOW the Prius sat, hauling it home:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Again, the down side. In order to work, and remain charged, it has to be kept plugged in. 200 watts per hour ... 4.7Kwh per 24hr day. THAT's our addition to Jevon. We would be reluctant to go forward with this project ... but for our having over a two thousand Kwh surpluss. Now you know where to come to keep your ice cream frozen, during the next brownout.
    ;)

    .
  2. patsparks

    patsparks An Aussie perspective

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    I have a UPS on my desk top computer just so I can shut it down nicely if the power goes off. Our power is prone to brown outs in the heat of summer, maybe 2 a year. Never more than 2 hours at a stretch.
    My little UPS is under a quarter the size of my PC tower and I worry about its power consumption. Those monsters will eat mine for breakfast.
  3. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

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    Hill,

    Even in your case Jevons Paradox as stated does not appear to have been satisfied.

    I don't see what purpose your UPS serves other than wasting about 1750 kwh/year (~$200/year.)

    Have you considered how frequently you will need to be replacing batteries in those things even if they last 8 years? It is going to be costly, probably enough to pay for a generator and panel install. I'm already irked the larger of my two small UPS' chews through batteries about once every 4 years costing me about $100 in gel cel batteries. During the next upgrade cycle on my PC's I'll be converting to machines that use a fraction as much power...and the larger of my UPS will go bye-bye...cutting my vampire load by 15 watts.

    I can't see the advantage of that large UPS versus a generator and dedicated panel. It's not like the large UPS will run forever. It will protect from dips, but a small UPS on PC's will do that as well.

    The UPS won't help much during an extended outage. By comparison a generator is cheap and less maintenance intensive.
  4. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    Older UPS's, especially on-line designs, were terribly inefficient, <70% in some cases. Which is why telecoms, data centers, etc, dumped them as soon as financially (Written off) feasible

    Battery replacement is a signficant factor for UPS's. In large scale +20 KW systems, batteries can represent 2-10x the purchase cost over the expected 5-7 year functional lifetime. Now that the price of flywheel systems have come down, we're seeing a bigger push towards flywheel UPS paired with a backup genny

    In almost all cases, a backup genny is FAR more efficient, reliable, and cheaper, than adding batteries. The amount of batteries necessary to run an inverter for a 3 KW load, vs a decent genny, its fairly assinine to invest in batteries

    Another problem with older UPS's is that many used a 6-pulse thyristor. This tends to introduce a lot of harmonics into the line side, especially 5th order harmonics, in some cases to cause significant issues to other equipment on the same phase. Most data centers and telecoms use fairly expensive and bulky capacitor banks and other filtering methods, which they won't part with when they ditch the old UPS

    Pair an older UPS with a generator, that is where it gets interesting. Say you have come across an old 6 KW UPS. You figure you need a 6 KW genny, right? WRONG! You may need a 12 KW genny just to get the UPS to transition from battery to line, and even then it may enter a feedback loop with the genny, switching from line to battery until the genny trips

    To power my security system, I have an older APC SmartUPS 1500. The actual load on it is <60 watts. According to my AEMC power quality analyzer, the SmartUPS will actually consume 72 watts under that load, with PF 0.92. There are no noticeable artifacts introduced into the line side

    This UPS isn't online though, it normally functions as a large line filter, with <5ms transfer to battery/inverter when the power sags too much or goes out. I have a new APC SmartUPS 1500 to power my home network and critical computer loads, it has similar electrical characteristics
  5. alohabailey

    alohabailey New Member

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    I am taking a class with the WCS- Wildlife conservation society. Our teacher said driving a Prius doesn't make a difference for pollution- only hydrogen vehicles will be better for the environment. He also said that plug in electric will not be good because the electric companies burn coal to produce electricity. Yikes- didn't make me feel better but I do love the Prius.
  6. icarus

    icarus Senior Member

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    I think your "teacher" should do a bit more research before he/she spouts forth misinformation!

    There are arguments up the yin-yang about the pros and cons of alternative fuels etc, but the hard core reality is that on a per capita or certainly a per vehicle basis a Prius is BETTER for the environment than one that consumes more fuel per mile.

    Hydrogen may indeed be the only fuel that is safe for the environment, but what is not said is the environmental cost(s) of making that hydrogen. In many cases hydrogen made through electrolysis uses more energy than is available from the hydrogen, making it hugely inefficient.

    As for the argument that plug ins or EVs are no better for the environment because of burning of coal to produce the energy to charge the batteries. He/she is wrong on two counts! First, electric motors are many times more efficient that internal combustion engines, so on a KWH or HP/Hour basis, electrics beat ICEs hands down in every application in terms of net fuel efficiency. So while there would be some net increase in electrical generating emissions from fleets of PVs (on it's face) it would be more than offset by the corresponding reduction of emissions from ICE vehicles.

    Finally, what your teacher fails to grasp is the great hidden advantage of plug ins and EVs. By having a large fleet of plug in vehicles you create a large, disaggregated battery bank that serves a multitude of purposes. Remember, cars park ~23/7 so for 23/7 they are plugged into the grid. Not only can they buy power from the grid, but they could also be programed to SELL power to the grid! The advantage of such a system is also multitudinius. This large battery bank, because it is scattered through out the country, it can serve as a large battery for solar and wind to feed into during the day, and then sell back at night. But perhaps the biggest advantage is, that by having such a large battery "grid tied" 23/7 the grid could actually cut down on the idle spinning capacity that is just wasting energy until the next peak load comes on. The grid must always have extra capacity to allow for peak capacity. This idle spinning capacity is the biggest waste and polluter because it's energy is not being used,, it is just being wasted!

    The technology to do this is already available and is not exotic. There is not reason that you couldn't program your EV, so that when it plugs in at work, or at home, or even at the mall, it could sell power when peak demand was high (and therefore expensive) buy power when demand was low (and cheap) all the while leaving enough power in the battery to drive the required miles to get home/work/etc.

    I encourage you and your teacher to look into the work of Dennis Hayes, former undersecretary of energy, founder of earth day and current director of the Bullit (Bullet?) foundation, who has written and spoken extensively on the subject.

    I also encourage you (and all) to do a bit of independent research when confronted with issues. Realizing that most people have agenda who's goals might be worthy (wildlife conservation for example) those goals are likely to get lost if we don't proceed using the best available knowledge and sources. Al Gore has been hounded by, and his message largely lost, by the deniers pouncing on small factual errors in "an inconvenient truth" even though the vast majority of the information is correct and is indeed coming true!

    Icarus
  7. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    Your teacher is a typical mis-informed person. Ask them (in a nicer way, of course ;) ) "Hey Teach ... where do you think the hydrogen comes from ... children's laughter and sunshine?"

    Then you can query your teacher about the percentage differences between pollution caused by millions of cars running 10 to 40 miles electric created from the scrubbed coal plant's power (coal power is about 1/2 the nations source ... don't confuse them any farther by pointing out ratios of electric power stemming from nuke, natural gas, hydro, wind, PV, etc which further invalidates that concept) ... versus the pollution of millions of cars that would have otherwise been spewing NON PHEV smog. If they don't know which is cleaner, tell them maybe they ought to go find a teacher ... but stated more diplomatic, of course.

    ;)



    Agreed! Oh, wait ... first you need to convert your hybrid's 240 DC volt to 240 AC so it will be grid compattable. Hmmm if only I had a big ol' commercial UPS that I could run my hybrid's 240DC through ... because converting DC to AC is JUST what they do ... oh wait ... I just bought one !
    ;)

    As jayman points out though ... "Battery replacement is a signficant factor for UPS's." But again, if a big (used/cheep) UPS is primarily acting as a 240 DC to AC conduit where your hybrid powers your house during times of need ... you have to choose. Is it to pricey? Individuals have different needs / goals. "she who must be obeyed" has med's that MUST remain refrigerated. We have lots of business equipment that "simply MUST not go down" according to she w.m.b.o.'d ... so for us, there are collateral benefits, beyond potentially back feeding the grid.

    Will a big UPS run a whole house under a big load for more than 15 or 20 minutes (or 45-60 minutes of moderate load)? Hook the hybrid up, and it doesn't matter. Agreed it may be a big (cost/technical) deal to get 'em up and running for most. But so is solar (for most folks), for that matter. I just wish it didn't eat 200 watts continuous. Yes, that's maybe $200 a year. But we have about a $600 year surplus that we'd be otherwise giving back to Edison for free anyway. We're not your typical scenario. Who knows ... it may be a bust. Won't be my first.

    Perhaps our $200/year electrical UPS vampire power doesn't fit neatly into Javon's paradox either. I think it does. But for the higher efficiency we achieve via solar & electric upgrades, we wouldn't be using the UPS.
    .
  8. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    Part of the problem is the on-line design of older commercial UPS's. A 12 KW on-line model, I won't mention names, from the early 1990's had a consistent 250 watt line draw, with nothing even hooked up to the load side. Yes, the batteries were fully charged. That thing had 3 huge cooling fans for a good reason

    I suppose in cold weather, you could just turn on that UPS, it would keep you comfy

    As far as harmonics, the older on-line UPS's with 6-pulse thyristors had big problems with 5th order harmonics. A fairly impressive (Expensive) capacitor/inductor bank was needed to keep that harmonic problem under control

    I really wish the average consumer wouldn't buy these commercial older UPS's. First of all, almost all of them are only rated UL for commercial environments, not residential environments.

    Second, a well-meaning but uninformed layperson could be introducing significant harmonics into the utility system by utilizing such a UPS

    I'm sure in time we will have access to moderately priced super-cap UPS's that can be easily plugged into a hybrid that is purposely designed for such a purpose. Hopefully something not as pricey and a bit more practical than this model

    ProPulse® is an unmatched hybrid electric drive system that provides dramatic benefit for military fleet performance.
  9. icarus

    icarus Senior Member

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    From Hill:

    "first you need to convert your hybrid's 240 DC volt to 240 AC so it will be grid compattable."

    For those that don't know, grid tie inverters are common everyday items, that are available off the shelf now! These inverters convert direct current (DC) to/from batteries, solar panels, wind, PEVs, etc to "standard" 120/240 volt alternating current.

    To plug your Prius (or any PEV or EV does not require any exoitic, buck rodgers technology. There is all this naysay talk about how we need to "develop the technology"! The fact is, we already have it! We just need to make it more commonly known and available. I don't hold much to conspiracy theories, but what is needed is a cogent energy policy (and leadership) to get us going! It is just criminal that since the '73 oil embargo/energy crisis we have done virtually nothing as a society except on the fringes. Grow up people! Now we not only have to deal with the 'energy crisis' from a peak oil perspective, but now we have to deal with global warming as well. If we had listened to folks like Dennis Hayes in 1974 and had adopted some small but PROGRESSIVE changes we would be that much further toward solving these issues. Instead we built Hummers!

    Icarus
  10. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    True. However, the downside with your everyday garden variety wind / PV inverter is that they are designed to do the OPPOSITE thing, when it comes to being grid tied. When the grid crashes, or browns out ... whatever, these inverters shut down ... and rightly so. You don't want to backfeed 240 volts onto the grid, when some poor lineman down stream is working on restoring power. Speaking of PV inverters, for over 10 years, these puppies have almost completely dialed in all harmonics issues. Similarly big UPS's have beat the issue. Though that was once a problem, not any more. Jayman can likely talk rings around me when it comes to clipping out of phase & such ... but I did make sure that it would be non-issue with our UPS.
  11. skruse

    skruse Senior Member

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    The most cost effective choice in any situation is conservation & efficiency first. You cannot make use of a resource when it is depleted. Hypothetically, a resource becomes more expensive as supply decreases. Nonrenewable resources, such as oil, are better spent on pharmaceuticals rather than a quick impulsive drive to the store one block away. There are many paradoxes, but we do not have to substitute oil for knowledge - we know enough, well in advance, to apply the knowledge.
  12. icarus

    icarus Senior Member

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    Hill correctly points out that grid tie inverters are designed/failsafe to shut down when the grid power fails for what ever reason. This is called an "anti-islanding", so that when the inverter fails to "see the grid", it can't send your PV/wind etc power back up the line in reverse, potentially causing problems for a line that the utility thinks is dead.

    There are however hybrid grid tie inverters that rely on a battery bank as back up (essentially a UPS) When the grid goes down, the anti-islanding feature kicks in, killing the feed to the grid. Simultaneously the inverter picks up power from the battery, acting as a "surrogate" grid. This allows your PV/Wind to produce power either into your battery bank or your loads or both. These systems are by their very nature quite expensive, as well as being quite reliable.

    That said, I stand by my previous idea that for the limited amount of time the grid is likely to be out, a generator would provide much more emergency power, much more reliably, for a longer time, with much lower costs.

    If one were to consider a propane or Natural gas generator, the fuel doesn't go stale over time. (natural gas would be great for hurricane zones as it will flow for long times even if you are without power. On the other hand in earthquake zones the chances of gas lines going down are significant). If you live in a house that has Propane for cooking or water heater or space heating, it is a simple matter of installing a simple quick connect T assembly (or permanent gas piping) to fuel the genny virtually indefinitely. A 3 kw propane Honda will burn less than 1/2 gph, so plugged into a normal 250-500 gallon house tank would give a pretty darn long run time, at pretty cheap cost. Personally, I would run the genny once a month at a minimum to keep it exercised , but other than that there is no storage/maintenance issues of consequence.

    Every one gets to be the judge of how robust they think their grid is, and what kind of security they are looking for. For me, I would spend the extra money on more PV that pays off 365 days a year, and by a genny for 1/4 the price for the 1 day a year the power goes out for a bit.

    Icarus
  13. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    I'm not trying to "talk rings" but am simply trying to state a fact. Commercial UPS's can be a significant source of line-side harmonics, especially ones intended to be used ONLY in a commercial environment

    In such a commercial environment, the use of input-side line reactors or LC filters, are quite common. This is to mitigate the harmonics on the line side. Note that these harmonics are not necessarily present on the LOAD side of the UPS

    Harmonic filter for better power quality | Electrical engineering BLOG

    If the UPS is a commercial model (A FCC Part 15 Class A rating) it can also cause significant interference to other electronic items, eg "noise." A Class A device can legally only be used in a commercial/industrial environment, NOT in a residential environment

    FCC Part 15

    If a Class A device is in a residential area, and found to be causing significant harmonics and noise to the neighbors, then the owner of the Class A device is fully liable to remedy

    Note that Class B devices may be used in a Class A environment.

    This PowerWare battery cabinet has a specific caution on page 2 regarding interference

    http://www.hmcdistributor.com/web/w...-vdc-extended-battery-cabinet-users-guide.pdf

    Ditto this Avaya/PowerWare commercial battery cabinet, on page 2

    http://support.avaya.com/css/P8/documents/003682370

    If you care to do so, examine the rear of the UPS. There should be the mandatory certification label. If it states something along the lines of "This device complies with Part 15 of the FCC .... Class A" then the device was only intended to operate in a commercial environment

    Regarding harmonics, especially 5th order harmonics, it was only in the last 3-5 years that the larger commercial UPS's went away from on-line 6-pulse thyristor designs. This problem is very well known and discussed in the industry

    Ensuring Generator and UPS Compatibility

    Preventing UPS and Generator Compatibilty Problems

    This is probably more information that you care to digest, but the layperson does have a lot of misconceptions about that bargain of a used commercial UPS they just picked up
  14. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    I agree.

    This isn't the "technical" problem that is purported by the Mainstream Media. It's a political and legal issue. Nobody wants to offend large utilities

    They may cry all they want about having no excess capacity, whine about cutting back loads on very hot days, etc. But they still have very deep pockets for PAC's and to spread FUD.

    You don't want to do anything to endanger their revenue stream
  15. icarus

    icarus Senior Member

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    Actually, I think that it has less to do with "offending utilities, than offending big OIL/COAL/NUKE interests. But even that aside, it is a reluctance to take head on the real costs of our energy choices. The right wingers/deniers etc all like to say "we can't afford to do,,,,whatever". The reality is that we just don't want to pay for it, and IMHO, those with the most, are the least likely to be willing to pay anything!

    I would gladly pay twice as much for energy net/net if I was assured that it was really covering it's costs. Then there would be real incentives for "green" alternatives. And please don't feed me the line that any increase in energy prices is going to hurt the poor disproportionally. While this may be true in fact, the reality is the consequences of global warming will KILL the poor disproportionally! If we had cogent energy policy we could mitigate the impact of rising energy prices on the poor by charging the rich (HUMMER DRIVERS?) more!

    The same negative logic is used by folks that won't make any real progress in health care reform. They say, " If it won't reduce MY premium costs I am not interested in doing anything" (Heard that today on the radio!) What they don't get, is that by doing nothing, they are not only NOT going to reduce their premium cost(s) but they are very likely to pay much higher premiums in the future.

    As I have said before, a country that can afford to buy $60/pr pre-ripped jeans, and then claim in the same breath that "we can't afford" health care reform has it's priorities seriously skewed! (screwed?)

    Icarus
  16. rpatterman

    rpatterman Thinking Progressive

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    Don't want to sound like one of those damned socialists, BUT, I really see a sane energy / renewable policy as being in conflict with utilities as "profit centers" owned by wall street scum. Our energy company (now Xcel Energy) use to be called "Public Service". What a concept, a monopoly serving the public. Our future grid will have redundent capacity to cover renewables and this is not a good "profit" decision.



    So true! One way around that conflict is tiered-pricing with everyone able to buy a small amount of energy (electric, natural gas AND gasoline), at a reasonable cost with large increases for big users.
  17. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    There are plenty of NDP'ers in Canada, along with Liberals, who talk big, but do nothing to follow through. Eg: the NDP in Saskatchewan, the NDP in Manitoba, the McGuinty Liberals in Ontario, etc

    The CBC had that good spot on how McGuinty really fumbled the windpower and alternative energy for Ontario

    The Gospel of Green | CBC News: the fifth estate



    When have I fed you anything like that? A bit emotional today?



    Since when has either Canada or the US had a cogent energy policy?



    Yes, I discovered that when I made the huge error of trying to participate in a debate regarding health care in Canada. All I tried to do was to patiently explain how health care is administered in Canada, to correct common misconceptions that many Americans have. To also point out administrative secrecy at the RHA level, and administrative cover-ups and blunders

    That turned into a heated pissing match, which I wisely bowed out of.

    All I suggested was making health care delivery in Canada more transparent, more open to honest critique. At a very basic level, there is something very wrong when a homeless native guy is allowed to croak in the St Boniface ER due to a plugged Foley urethral catheter, and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Minister of Justice Oswald lie their asses off about it

    Instead, I was accused of being everything from an insurance industry shill (Where the hell did THAT come from?!), to a real bastard for even bringing it up

    This sadly reflects on the mood of our society. One cannot ask honest questions or even honestly critique: the "fanboys" (Both the far left and the far right have these "fanboys" who pounce on you if you dare question their beliefs) won't allow it.



    How about Canadian and American kids who buy those new clothes at least monthly, lest they appear untrendy? Seems all of them have cell phones, games, and generally selfish, ignorant, and arrogant attitudes

    We pretend to be "green" by recycling our electronics, then ship them to a country like India or China, to let them deal with the toxic heavy metal byproducts.

    We also export our "dirty" industries overseas, to kill off those in the third world. While acting all smug and self-righteous

    We then point a finger to those in the third world, and tell them how to live their lives, how to "care" for their environment, etc
  18. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    You might be shocked by this, but I fully agree with you

    I was trying to be sarcastic. I promise to properly format my responses, eg: [Sarcasm Mode = ON] You don't want to do anything to endanger their revenue stream [Sarcasm Mode = OFF]

    You may now step off your soap box. Thank you
  19. icarus

    icarus Senior Member

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    Jay,


    My apologies,, you misread me,,, probably because I made it sound like I was arguing with you. When I said, "don't give me the line,,,," I wasn't speaking to you, but more metaphorically to those who counter with such arguments.

    As for your arguments that the NDP has it's share of bad policies/obstructionist objectors etc, I certainly wouldn't argue that no one has a lock on being on the right or wrong side of this (or any issue)

    For those Americans whose knowledge of Canadian politics is limted, Canada has 3 major political parties. (Federally, provincially there are other derivations, but they generally follow) From Right to left, you have the party of the current government, the "Progressive Conservatives (an Oxymoron if ever there was one!) In some ways more "liberal" than the current GOP in the US, but in some way more conservative. Then there is the "Liberal" party of Canada. The party of Trudeau. (another Oxymoron) The liberals probably more closely resemble the US democratic party. There there is the farther left New Democratic Party (NDP). A party that grew out of some odd mixes of agrarian populism and social democracy like that which is practiced in Europe. The NDP probably reflects the far left of the Democratic party in the States. There are other, including the Greens. The NDP has never formed a government, the Liberals have governed for more of Canada's history than any other party.

    So, my point is that no one has a lock on bad policy.

    Finally, you agree with my point, we have NEVER had a cogent energy policy, and probably never will. We are in too great a measure ruled by corporate interests who are driven by the next quarters report rather than any long term vision.

    If you wish further evidence, a recent survey revealed that 80% of CEOs would not make an investment in reducing CO2 emissions if it affected the bottom line in the next fiscal QUARTER!!!!! As has been said by others way smarter than me, "that is functionally insane!"

    Icarus
  20. rpatterman

    rpatterman Thinking Progressive

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    756
    Likes Received:
    223
    Location:
    Boulder, Colorado
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2004 Prius
    Model:
    II


    A bit sensitive tonight???

    I understand your sarcasm, I'm not shocked that you and I sometimes agree and what soap box are you referring to?

    P.S. If you missed MY sarcasm about socialism, I was agreeing with you!
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