SEAWEED V. SOLAR

Peter Kaczowka: “Seaweed [from Friday’s post] is interesting, but biofuels will never compete with solar energy. Algae is currently the most efficient biofuel, yet it has only 1% efficiency. It converts 1% of the solar energy hitting a field into usable energy. Solar panels are 20% efficient. A field of solar panels produces twenty times as much energy as a field of biofuel, and requires no fertilizer, no labor, and no trucks to carry away the fuel. Solar panel power production degrades slowly to no less than 80% of original power after 25 years. After that they are easily recycled. (Except for the ‘thin-film’ variety, solar panels are silicon – beach sand.) Their cost is the only issue, but solar is already cheaper than retail electricity in places like southern CA. Within five years solar will be the cheapest source of retail electricity available.

☞ Peter links to Paul Krugman:

. . . These days, mention solar power and you’ll probably hear cries of “Solyndra!” Republicans have tried to make the failed solar panel company both a symbol of government waste — although claims of a major scandal are nonsense — and a stick with which to beat renewable energy.

But Solyndra’s failure was actually caused by technological success: the price of solar panels is dropping fast, and Solyndra couldn’t keep up with the competition. In fact, progress in solar panels has been so dramatic and sustained that, as a blog post at Scientific American put it, “there’s now frequent talk of a ‘Moore’s law’ in solar energy,” with prices adjusted for inflation falling around 7 percent a year.

This has already led to rapid growth in solar installations, but even more change may be just around the corner. If the downward trend continues — and if anything it seems to be accelerating — we’re just a few years from the point at which electricity from solar panels becomes cheaper than electricity generated by burning coal.

And if we priced coal-fired power right, taking into account the huge health and other costs it imposes, it’s likely that we would already have passed that tipping point.

But will our political system delay the energy transformation now within reach?

Let’s face it: a large part of our political class, including essentially the entire G.O.P., is deeply invested in an energy sector dominated by fossil fuels, and actively hostile to alternatives. This political class will do everything it can to ensure subsidies for the extraction and use of fossil fuels, directly with taxpayers’ money and indirectly by letting the industry off the hook for environmental costs, while ridiculing technologies like solar.

So what you need to know is that nothing you hear from these people is true. Fracking is not a dream come true; solar is now cost-effective. Here comes the sun, if we’re willing to let it in.

GREECE

Bob Iserman: “Should Greece default in the next six months, how would that affect the market? Would it make sense to sell everything now and buy back in after the market declines?”

☞ I don’t see how you and I can know better than “the market” how Greece – and Europe – will play out. It’s possible that all will go to hell and the market will crash. Or that all won’t go to hell and the market will keep rising as people become less fearful and look for higher-than-zero-percent returns on their money. If you know which will happen – I truly don’t – you should act accordingly. If not, spread your bets?

WASHINGTON STATE

The seventh to attain marriage equality. Governor Gregoire’s signing ceremony remarks start about 10 minutes into this clip.

THE GAY AGENDA

Rob Shook posted his here:

I’m an American. I’m Christian. I’m gay, and always have been. I pay property taxes, sales taxes, and Federal taxes. I serve on a board at the University and I support local charities. I support my alma mater. I work very hard for my employer of 24+ years. I buy things from local merchants when I can, and I believe that strong families build strong communities. I’m a Freemason. I’m in Mensa. I recycle. I love clever puns. I buy girl scout cookies. I teach the concealed handgun licensing course. I’m raising my 8th guide dog puppy for the blind. I play bingo with friends and neighbors. My parents are aging, and I wonder what the future will hold for their health and mobility. I spoil my niece and nephew. I manage my investments and prepare for retirement. I’m fiscally conservative. I do the laundry. I don’t go to the gym enough. I help my neighbors when they have computer problems, and they repay me with baked goods.

Does someone want to show me the “gay agenda” in that?

Does someone want to tell me why I deserve to be part of a “second class” that can’t enjoy all the benefits of living in this great nation and this great state?

I’m like a lot of people — except that I can’t get married, absent protections from my forward-thinking employer I could be fired just for being gay, and can be in a relationship for 4 months, 4 years, 14 years, or 40 years and still be treated as strangers (while Britney Spears can get married on a drunken whim and immediately get all the rights & responsibilities of marriage: THAT is the crap from which marriage needs to be protected).

I would never force any church to marry gay folks; if they don’t want to extend the welcome God extends to all His children, then I don’t want to be a part of that community. There are plenty of welcoming churches (and Justices of the Peace) out there. But the “full faith & credit” clause of our great nation needs to be honored.

There’s only one thing [above] that “entitles” me to equal treatment under the law, and that’s my first three words: “I’m an American.”

 

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