Friday, December 26, 2008

Demand Side Management, Energy, and Reform

I would like to address the supply side scenario for energy production based on assumptions of economic growth requiring an increase in the use of energy.

The trouble with focusing on supply side economics and energy is that they both ignore demand. In relation to economics, the lack of effective demand for the plethora of consumer products will prove to be the downfall of this past generation’s experiment with supply side economics. With respect to energy, we must recognize that demand side management is critical to any possibility of a sustainable future. Liberal economics (laissez faire, the so-called free market) can not deal with the problem(s). We need a planned economy to effectively retrofit the infrastructure and to rebuild our communities to be walkable, therefore eliminating the terrible daily waste of oil/energy resources for transportation purposes.

I have to differ with rosy scenarios regarding the contribution that photovoltaics can make. I’m not an electrical engineer or an electrician, but it is my understanding that PVs don’t have the oomph (be it voltage, amperage, and/or wattage) to contribute very significantly to the current and recommended increased usage of electricity. Sure, PVs and wind might be able to contribute to lighting applications and a few very high efficiency appliances, but they can not power our transportation, industrial, business, and home heating and air conditioning, hot water, agricultural inputs, refrigeration, drying, and cooking needs.

We could go full throttle to the building of nuclear power plants, but I am highly leery of their toxicity and safety issues. Even if we pursued the path of electrification with the maximization of nuclear power, it will require a tremendous overhaul of our transportation infrastructure, and other applications currently met by oil products, coal, and natural gas.

First of all, nuclear is not a “free market” technology. Government programs paid for most of the resources for development of such. Then, there is the waste issue. Is it not the Federal Government who is going to or proposing to pay for the waste depository at Yucca Mountain (Nevada)? Also, there is the issue of bringing back the so-called Price-Anderson legislation. This was legislation in which the Federal Government provided insurance for nuclear power plants and related operations. No private insurer would underwrite the risks, thus the Feds had to step in.

Perhaps a better scenario could be realized if we started very soon with a planned economy that focused first on economic and energy demand side management and also retrofitted infrastructures with respect to very scarce and relatively clean (I view carbon resources, if appropriately used, to be cleaner than nuclear) energy applications.

The potential for solar thermal hot water is immense, especially with such hot water heaters equipped with concave magnifying lenses to concentrate the rays of the sun. Imagine all hot water demanding properties on the planet equipped with such devices. Imagine all the (community/worker owned) jobs involved with the production, installation, and distribution of these units. I list distribution last, because all efforts need to be made to maximize the localization of such production and installation, as well as any other products for which going towards relocalization may be possible (e.g. food).

Relocalization is part of the plan (and not just for food). Instead of reversalism, the term that the author Staniford has coined as being emblematic of the relocalization paradigm, let me offer the following "re" words that imply a gradual evolution to a future which incorporates the best of the past, for your consideration, response, and action.


Little to no beneficial change will occur without an almost religious change from the paradigm of economic growth and standard of living to one that emphasizes community redevelopment and quality of life. This is an important educational component of an alternative ecological economic plan.


If we can be successful and realize the educational/reform component, the next (concurrent) step is to reorganize to one of cooperative (or at least partially so – we will probably need to compromise on the divide between one dollar/one vote and one person/one vote as the dominant paradigm of economic organization) communitarian local and regional economic entities, at least until the day that we are all nearly equal in terms of ownership of the means and goods of production and distribution. How to assure the transition from inequality is problematic. However, as the entire economic system begins and proceeds to fail, those wealthy seeking to avoid total financial ruin will welcome the opportunity to accept the quality of life paradigm, foregoing their opulent, ostentatious, enslaving, ecocidal, genocidal, and suicidal "standard of living" modus operandi.


We need coordinated regional planning agencies that agree on the fundamental mission of a global ecological economy that have the two basic pillars of sustainability and equity. These “planning” agencies would work together and with the local/regional economic entities to determine how resources are allocated to and within communities based on the relocalization paradigm and other governing principles. The vehicle, That I envision here is a Peoples’ Equity Union with “branches” in all communities/neighborhoods.


Communities will need to be physically rebuilt to make them walkable (i.e. new urbanism, retrofitting residential communities built in the oil/automobile age by building
community economic and cultural centers making necessities and other important quality of life amenities available to all within walking distance of their homes). Included in such a plan would be neighborhood work stations which would aid in the ability of office workers to telecommute in their occupations as we transition from a Capitalist economy to a Socialist one. Imagine all the jobs!


Reduce, reuse, recycle.

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