The Receding Horizons of Renewable Energy

Renewable energy has become a topic of increasing interest in recent years, as fossil fuel prices have been volatile and the focus on climate change has sharpened. Governments in many jurisdictions have been instituting policies to increase the installation of renewable energy capacity, as the technologies involved are not generally able to compete on price with conventional generation.

The reason this is necessary, as we have pointed out before, is that the inherent fossil-fuel dependence of renewable generation leads to a case of receding horizons. We do not make wind turbines with wind power or solar panels with solar power. As the cost of fossil fuel rises, the production cost of renewable energy infrastructure also rises, so that renewables remain just out of reach. Continue reading “The Receding Horizons of Renewable Energy”

The View from the Bottom of the Pyramid

People occasionally comment that we only consider the circumstances of the relatively wealthy in articles like, for instance, our Lifeboat Primer. It is true that by no means everyone can achieve the ideal circumstance of holding no debt, having cash on hand and having some control over the essentials of their own existence, however there are many other important factors in play that may decide the balance of advantage.

It seems important to consider explicitly the plight of those lower down the financial food-chain. The decisions people have to make will depend critically on their personal circumstances. However unfair it may be, all of us face constraints grounded in where we find ourselves in life, and we do not all have the same options available to us. This may seem overwhelmingly to favour the currently better off, but this is not always the case by any means. There are different ways of being well off besides the conventional monetary definition. Continue reading “The View from the Bottom of the Pyramid”

An Unstable Tower of Breaking Promises

Despite the continuing atmosphere of optimism and denial (that’s par for the course during long-lived counter-trend rallies), we are witnessing a slow-motion crash of the juggernaut that is the real US economy. The unemployment situation is already the worst since the Great Depression and showing no signs of recovery.


David Rosenberg provides his take on the data from the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report:

Just How Ugly Is The Truth Of America’s Unemployment

The data from the Household survey are truly insane. The labour force has plunged an epic 764k in the past two months. The level of unemployment has collapsed 1.2 million, which has never happened before. People not counted in the labour force soared 753k in the past two months. These numbers are simply off the charts and likely reflect the throngs of unemployed people starting to lose their extended benefits and no longer continuing their job search (for the two-thirds of them not finding a new job). These folks either go on welfare or they rely on their spouse or other family members or friends for support.

Continue reading “An Unstable Tower of Breaking Promises”