The Solar Oil Field, and other short notes

Wrap your brain around this: Oman is building a big solar facility to help it pump more oil. Solar energy makes steam that gets injected into the ground to bring up more oil.

You can tell Grist wants to hate the project, but just can’t.

If they work out in Oman, which desperately wants to keep its natural gas for other purposes, it could be huge: imagine entire oil fields covered with these things, silently mocking solar advocates everywhere.

Yeah, it’s helping produce oil which will get burned and cause more global warming. But the likely alternative is to produce the same oil with steam made by burning natural gas.

The Onion: Obama Turns 50 Despite Republican Opposition.

I thought that was a joke. But no: Michele Bachmann attacked Obama for celebrating his birthday on a day when stocks were crashing. And Fox News made sure their viewers knew the President was having a “hip-hop barbecue” with a bunch of other black guys instead of doing something to create jobs.

Do you miss the days when Jerry Falwell went after Tinky Winky? Well, tune into Fox News, where Sponge Bob is environmentalist propaganda.

Ever wonder how that E-Trade baby is doing now that the market is going down?

Matt Damon turns back a right-wing talking point about teachers getting lazy because of tenure.

A teacher wants to teach. I mean, why else would you take a shitty salary and really long hours and do that job, unless you really love to do it?

DIY nuclear reactor — bad idea. Damn those government regulations.

Last week (in the middle of Centrist in Exile) I ranted about Republicans’ attempt to blame the bad economy on the EPA. Grist follows up:

After 30 years, it is time to start ignoring all of the hyperventilating about the imaginary economic horrors of environmental protection. In reality, there is overwhelming evidence that a healthy environment is part of a strong economy; indeed, allowing pollution to continue unabated is the economically foolish thing to do.

Environmental regulation doesn’t cost money; it saves money. Dealing with pollution at the source is so much easier, more efficient, and healthier than cleaning up downstream.

The Onion News Network covers agitated climate scientists as if they were zoo animals: “Don’t some people believe that scientists can actually sense danger coming?”

Some classic Fox news-twisting: When President Obama issued a statement sending “best wishes to Muslim communities in the United States and around the world” on Ramadan, Fox & Friends was all over him: He was favoring Ramadan over Easter, which hadn’t rated a presidential statement.

Of course, Easter got mentioned in the President’s weekly radio address, there was the annual Easter-egg roll on the White House lawn, and Obama hosted an Easter Prayer Breakfast in which he talked about “the resurrection of our savior, Jesus Christ“. But all Fox-watchers know is that there was no official written statement, like Ramadan got.

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  • Maggie Pax  On August 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Well done, yet again. I like the new format, but is there a way to put the date at the top of each post? That way a quick glance will alert me to new posts. Thanks.

  • Anonymous  On August 8, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Here’s a link to the e-trade baby that was still active as of 4:45pm Monday:

  • Dan B.  On August 8, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    The Grist excerpt would be on the money (so to speak), except that we live in a post-NAFTA, post-WTO world where it’s all too easy for manufacturers to take their home and go play ball elsewhere.

    I’m very pro-EPA and the environment, and I’m all for free trade where there’s a level playing field; but we need to do something about the fact that so many other countries, especially those with developing economies, have much laxer environmental regulations and enforcement. That was a problem before regulating greenhouse gasses was on anyone’s radar screen, and it’s all the more true now.

    As I wrote last week, I don’t really know if environmental regulation has been a major motivation for any companies that have moved offshore. Still,it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s been the case for particular operations with high pollution rates.

  • weeklysift  On August 9, 2011 at 6:57 am

    Even from a pure economic perspective, I don’t think America suffers if companies move their Love Canals somewhere else. Greenhouse gasses (and similar cross-border pollution) could be handled by a tariff. Countries that controlled carbon could trade freely with each other, but would tax anything that came in from polluting countries to compensate for the advantage companies gain by avoiding controls.

    • Dan B.  On August 9, 2011 at 1:07 pm

      [Do you allow HTML in comments?Let’s see…]

      I don’t think America suffers if companies move their Love Canals somewhere else

      I tend to agree, but I don’t see it as a black-and-white proposition. Economically and politically, it may be that an economy has to suffer a few Love Canals before it gets to a position of strongly protecting the environment. (I say “an economy” rather than “a country” in the hope that, with international supports, developing countries might be able to skip that stage. But that would probably require strong economic ties between developed and developing countries.)

      Greenhouse gasses (and similar cross-border pollution) could be handled by a tariff…

      I strongly agree, but as I understand it, WTO, NAFTA, etc. provide few if any means to levy tariffs based on a country’s internal policies. We would need to amend or even cancel those treaties if we wanted to levy tariffs based on a country’s emissions of GHG or other pollutants.

      • weeklysift  On August 9, 2011 at 3:46 pm

        Good points about the treaties. I’ll have to look up the details.

  • Kim Cooper  On August 20, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Tariffs are a great idea for protecting American jobs. The problem is getting tariffs laws passed. How would we do that? As long as big money is necessary to get into office, we can’t count on any elected official voting against the suppliers of that big money.

    • weeklysift  On August 21, 2011 at 7:37 am

      If we can only propose stuff that the special-interest donors will support, we’ve already lost. Fighting the big-money special interests is the central political battle of our time, but we need specific things to fight them ON.

      The Left needs to spell out a clear vision of what the United States should be doing. If we fight for that and lose, then we lose. But we don’t define the vision at all because we don’t think we can win, then we’ve lost without firing a shot.

      BTW, I’m not an across-the-board supporter of tariffs to protect jobs. I think there’s fair competition and unfair competition. Unfair competition includes being willing to sell out the global environment in ways we won’t do here. If we balance the unfair competition with tariffs, and other countries out-compete us anyway, that’s a different problem.


  • By The People Repelled « The Weekly Sift on August 8, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    […] The Solar Oil Field and Other Short Notes. Oman uses solar to bring up more oil. Protesting Obama’s 50th birthday. Sponge Bob, propagandist. The E-Trade baby loses everything. Matt Damon sticks up for teachers. The EPA saves money. And a manufactured snub of Easter. […]

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