Discover more from Briefed by Data
Quick Takes and Random Stuff Aug 24, 2023
CO2, energy, anti nuclear spending, and more
U.S. vs. China CO2 emissions
The Washington Post had this to say about the Republican debate last night:
In one of the most revealing exchanges, several candidates blamed China and other foreign countries for their planet-warming emissions, overlooking America’s role as the largest historical emitter of greenhouse gases. As things stand now, China produces roughly double the carbon emissions of the U.S., but the U.S. exceeds China on emissions per capita.
Then Haley took aim at China and India.
“Is climate change real? Yes, it is,” she said. “But if you want to go and really change the environment, then we need to start telling China and India that they have to lower their emissions. That’s what our problem is."
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina agreed.
“America has cut our carbon footprint in half in the last 25 years," Scott said, adding that China, India and African nations had increased their emissions over that same period.
Who is right? Well, it is complicated. Figure 1 shows the U.S.'s and China's total CO2 emissions. It is true that historically, the U.S. has emitted more CO2, but China is now doubling U.S. emissions, which, if you want to cut emissions around the world, is untenable, and the U.S. has been decreasing its emissions while China is still increasing its emissions.
On the other hand, on a per capita basis (Figure 2), the U.S. emits more. CO2 emissions are a proxy for energy use and, hence, standard of living. The U.S. has reduced per capita emissions through efficiency and renewable energy. China’s emissions per capita would be higher with their efficiency and renewable efforts. Both are making strides but the standard of living in China is much lower than the U.S.
So, who is responsible, and who should cut emissions? If you can come up with a fair deal that both sides will accept, you have a great career in geopolitics to look forward to. It just isn't that simple, and hence, in my opinion, there is no real deal to be had any time soon.
U.S. oil production
As to CO2 emissions, it is worth noting that the eia reports (8/23/2023) that they predict oil production in the U.S. will increase in their article, Prices and higher well productivity drive up U.S. crude oil production forecast (see Figure 3).
The bottom line is that if there is money to be made selling oil, then unless it is illegal, and maybe even not then, it will be produced or really extracted.
Florida produces little solar energy
Again from the eia. The article Florida’s electricity generation mix is changing (8/24/2023) provides figure 4.
Apparently, the Sunshine State doesn’t produce much solar energy, but they have reduced coal and oil use. My quick take is that solar doesn’t do well without tax breaks and incentives, which so far haven’t existed in Florida, as well as rules that require grid operators to use solar first.
What is also surprising at first is that Florida produces zero wind energy. It turns out that all of the southeast is not suitable for land-based wind power. Figure 5 is a 2007 map from a Research Gate article.
This adds to my skepticism about wind and solar, as wind power isn’t viable in a good part of the country. So, what do we do—build up transmission lines? This is certainly possible, but it adds to the cost and complexity of the grid.
You can now impress your friends with your knowledge of Florida energy. Keep learning more by subscribing.
Be cautious about interventions
A break from energy-related matters for a good read from fs, Iatrogenics: Why Intervention Often Leads to Worse Outcomes
A simple rule for the decision-maker is that intervention needs to prove its benefits and those benefits need to be orders of magnitude higher than the natural (that is, non-interventionist) path. We intuitively know this already. We won’t switch apps or brands for a marginal increase over the status quo. Only when the benefits become orders of magnitude higher do we switch?
We must also recognize that some systems self-correct; this is the essence of homeostasis. Naive interventionists, or the interventionista, often deny that natural homeostatic mechanisms are sufficient, that “something needs to be done” — yet often the best course of action is nothing at all.
The money spent to stop nuclear
From the article Annual Revenue of Opponents of Carbon-Free Nuclear Power Exceeds $2.3 Billion (8/9/2023),
The Sierra Club is far from alone. There may be as many as 1,000 groups in the United States with an agenda that includes opposition to the nation’s largest source of carbon-free energy. More than 200 have recently been identified in the Capital Research Center’s InfluenceWatch database. The combined annual revenue of the groups identified, as measured by recent filings with the IRS (where available), exceeds $2.3 billion.
This is a lot of money spent to stop nuclear power and, in fact, to stop any conversation about nuclear power. The article includes this interesting tidbit
Nuclear (0.03 deaths/TWh) and solar (0.02) were revealed to be the two safest means of keeping the lights on.
This is where I have issues with the environmental groups. Nuclear has its issues like any other energy source, but if global warming is as bad as they say it is (and it may be), then building out nuclear decades ago may have been the smart move, and they made sure not only that it didn’t happen but that any discussion was off the table.
Mean vs Median in student load debt
It is hard to say if journalists are purposely misleading by using a mean instead of a median or still don’t get it, but Drum calls out one example in his post: Gen X student debt is mostly about highly paid graduate professionals. First, he points out a quote from a NYT article:
As of the first quarter of this year, members of Generation X held about a quarter of the nation’s outstanding $1.6 trillion in student loan debt — to the tune of nearly $49,000 per borrower, according to TransUnion, the credit reporting bureau.
and responds with
First, that $49,000 average is a mean, not a median. That means it's inflated by the astronomical loan balances of a small number of doctors, lawyers, and business grads.
Second, this is the average among people who still have debt. Almost by definition, these are the people who borrowed the largest amount of money (i.e., doctors, lawyers, and business grads).
and a chart (Figure 6).
The spinning CD
A new excellent and energetic instrumental tune from the Nuclear Power Trio: Critical Bass Theory
Please share and like
Please help me find readers by forwarding this article to your friends (and even those who aren't your friends), sharing this post on social media, and clicking like. If you're on Twitter, you can find me at BriefedByData. If you have any article ideas, feedback, or other views, please email me at email@example.com.
In a crowded media market, it's hard to get people to read your work. I have a long way to go, and I want to say thank you to everyone who has helped me find and attract subscribers.
Disagreeing and using comments
I'd rather know the truth and understand the world than always be right. I'm not writing to upset or antagonize anyone on purpose, though I guess that could happen. I welcome dissent and disagreement in the comments. We all should be forced to articulate our viewpoints and change our minds when we need to, but we should also know that we can respectfully disagree and move on. So, if you think something said is wrong or misrepresented, then please share your viewpoint in the comments.