Energy sources (Re: The Motives of Scientists)

David Gunn David.Gunn at
Tue Oct 31 20:57:54 EST 1995

bht at (Bernd Treine) wrote:

>knolle at (Ernst G. Knolle) writes:
>> Will Stewart (will1000 at wrote:
>> : We continue to use cheap, dirty energy; at some point, it will be in
>> : such short a supply as to require a change to another form;  hopefully,
>> : we can build the requisite solar/wind/geothermal/hydro infrastructure
>> : before a complete collapse of the energy supply.

Yes, but global warming would be out of hand by then, in say 100 years.

On 8/10/95 I posted the following to sci.econ, in response to Doug Bashfords
gauntlet.  No-one has posted a response either for or against.  Does this show
complacency about global warming or what?

>   Yep, Markku Stenborg  wrote to All on 11 Sep 95  23:30:23 
>    about:   Re: Mainstream of Economics?:

>S> Doug.Bashford%ow at writes:
> >>
> B>  Yep, Doug van der Veen wrote to All on 08 Aug 95  08:24:48 
>  v> D. Robinson (David.B.Robinson at wrote:
>  r> dvdv at (Doug van der Veen) writes:
> >*    "If current predictions of population growth prove 
> >*     accurate and patterns of human activity on the planet 
> >*     remain unchanged, science and technology may not be 
> >*     able to prevent either irreversible degradation of the 
> >*     environment or continued poverty for much of the world." 
> >*     -- Unprecedented joint statement by the National Academy 
> >*     of Sciences and the Royal Society of London,  1992

>  And while you are generating this vote, why don't you see
>  if you can do this as well?  An equivalent to the  NAS and 
>  RS that you guys could reach in consensus?  Such an exercise
>  (exorcise?) could put many troubled minds to rest.

OK.  How about.

"Human society on planet earth needs to cut permanently the amount of
greenhouse gases it puts into the atmosphere.   We should set a target for the
stock of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  Let us say that we want to reach a
steady state of stock of carbon dioxide, back at the 1990 level.  To start
doing this an additional sales tax of $3 per gallon needs to be introduced,
over 5 years at 60c per year, on USA gas, so that increased emission by China
can be more than accomodated.   By 2005 we would like to see a global carbon
tax implemented to replace existing fuel taxes, the local government would put
the resulting revenue towards its general expenditure.   Failure to start on
this road may result in 100,000,000 (say) people being flooded out of their
homes over the next century and the worlds weather and climate patterns being
modified in completely unpredictable and deliterious ways."
   Draft consensus statement from the sci.econ internet discussion group 1995.

The statement would also have to say something about preserving biodiversity,
in particular stating some kind of measure to help prevent species being
eliminated from the gene pool.
And cover a bribe from the better off countries to those who still have
rainforests to stop them being burnt.

Note I'm advocating specific prescriptions.  This is because it is an answer
to the previous quote, an attempt to change "patterns of human activity on the
planet".   How to do that is what economics can contribute.    Doing something
about the 5.8 tons of carbon per person per year being put into the atmosphere
by the USA and Canadian populations must be the top priority.  The figure from
Europe is 2.8  tons per person, because fuel taxes are much higher.  The UK is
already increasing the petrol tax by 3-4% above the rate of inflation per
annum, from in US terms, an already high level. (60p per litre)  The UK is
already more energy self sufficient than the US or Canada so that isn't the UK
governments motivation.  Its motivation is to meet the committments that it
gave at the Rio Earth Summit, which the North Americans are currently

I propose we vote on it using normal usenet voting procedures for formation of
a new group.   Which I believe is, to pass proposal needs 2/3rds of votes to
be in favour, and 100 more in favour than against.

David.Gunn at
Aberdeen, Scotland

"All opinions must be my own, since nobody pays me
 enough to be their mouthpiece."

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