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Benton D Struckcheon

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Member since: Fri Jan 18, 2013, 08:06 PM
Number of posts: 2,345

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Renewable tipping point already reached in US power generation

...and soon, this will happen globally.
What got me started was running across the below yesterday:

Wind was responsible for 4.8 percent of America’s electricity used in January. That’s the highest January total ever, breaking the record from last January, which broke the record for the January before that, and so on.


from U.S. Wind Power Blows New Records. Again. And Again.

This got me started looking for the primary source for this report over at the EIA, which I managed to find, after a while. Useful links are as follows:

http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_1_01_a
http://www.eia.gov/electricity/data/browser/

It is true that wind made up 4.77% of all electric power generated in January. But that's not the big news. This is the big news:



That's a graph of non-renewable (minus hydro, wind, biomass, and solar) electric power generation since 2001, measured in thousands of megawatts. Notice it peaked in 2007 and has been steadily declining since then.
To be crystal clear, total electric power production continues to rise (*EDIT: Correction to that. As pointed out by Muriel Volstanger below, total power production has declined some since 2007. After taking account of that decline, renewables account for 63% of the decline in non-renewable power production.) But the portion of that power produced by non-renewable sources is now on a steady decline.
The reason why is in this next graph, which is the net change in power produced by wind:



Notice the big jump from 2007 to 2008. 2008 was the year wind began to increase by enough to begin elbowing out other forms of power production. In other words, in power production, we've already reached the tipping point: renewable power production is slowly, steadily eroding away the non-renewable portion, and will continue to do so.

But even that's not the big news. The biggest news is in this graph:



This is the net change in power produced by solar. It jumped in 2012, and again in 2013. Solar is now adding enough capacity every year that it too is starting to make a difference. The interesting thing about solar, though, is the pace of change. Whereas wind added capacity at a more or less steady pace of 20 to 30% per year and is still doing so, solar's pace in the past few years has been this:

2009 - 3.13%
2010 - 36.03%
2011 - 50%
2012 - 138.01%
2013 - 113.82%

There's definitely something different going on here. And no sooner did I think this, then I ran across this story:

Global solar dominance in sight as science trumps fossil fuels

Solar power has won the global argument. Photovoltaic energy is already so cheap that it competes with oil, diesel and liquefied natural gas in much of Asia without subsidies.
...
The technology is improving so fast - helped by the US military - that it has achieved a virtous circle. Michael Parker and Flora Chang, at Sanford Bernstein, say we entering a new order of "global energy deflation" that must ineluctably erode the viability of oil, gas and the fossil fuel nexus over time.
...
Michael Liebreich, from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, says we can already discern the moment of "peak fossil fuels" around 2030, the tipping point when the world starts using less coal, oil and gas in absolute terms, but because they cannot compete, not because they are running out.
...
For the world it portends a once-in-a-century upset of the geostrategic order. Sheikh Ahmed-Zaki Yamani, the veteran Saudi oil minister, saw the writing on the wall long ago. "Thirty years from now there will be a huge amount of oil - and no buyers. Oil will be left in the ground. The Stone Age came to an end, not because we had a lack of stones, and the oil age will come to an end not because we have a lack of oil," he told The Telegraph in 2000. Wise old owl.


So, for the world, renewables, led by solar, are going to take over very quickly. We're over 400 ppm of CO2 right now, but the light at the end of the CO2 tunnel is in sight, and within the lifetimes of the younger folks, those below 30, renewables will be the fuel that makes the world go.
Posted by Benton D Struckcheon | Wed Apr 9, 2014, 07:25 PM (7 replies)

The Roots of Putin's Nationalism

I keep seeing stuff about how right wing and evil the Ukrainian government is, filled as it is with eeh-vul neo-Nazis.
So, to balance this out and point out that Putin is at least as vile as the new Ukraine government, some information on the folks who back "United Russia". (a name that kinda gives it away, but apparently it's not as blatant as I think it is. Oh well.)

In the course of reading this link here - Understanding Svoboda - I ran into this interesting bit of information right at the end:

HSI asks him whether the conflict over Crimea could strengthen the ultra-nationalists in Ukraine, and maybe in Russia, too.

“It is quite likely that this leads to an increased polarization, as wars tend to do, and maybe more so in Ukraine, which is the country being threatened,” Rudling said. “In Russia, we already find an authoritarian regime in power, a regime that lends its ear to both Aleksandr Dugin and other right-wing radicals.”


This was the first I'd ever heard of this Dugin character, so I commenced to Google, and right away found the below extremely suggestive headline:

Russian nationalist advocates Eurasian alliance against the U.S.

So now, what is it that Putin calls his imitation EU thing? Eurasian Union I think?

Anyway, read on:

Writer, political activist and father figure for contemporary Russian nationalism, Aleksandr Dugin is the founder of Russia's International Eurasian Movement and a popular theorist among Russia's hard-line elite. He envisions a strategic bloc comprising the former Soviet Union and the Middle East to rival the U.S.-dominated Atlantic alliance. The Times interviewed Dugin this week at his Moscow office, a room draped with flags bearing the slogan "Pax Russica." The following are excerpts.

Dugin: We consider that all of the post-Soviet space -- except the Baltic states -- we are dealing with Eurasian civilization. Not with European, not with the West. And to try to get these spaces out of our control, or out of our dialogue, or out of our special relations with them, based on history -- it was a kind of attack, a declaration of war. It is not, as Americans like to put it, a competition. . . . It was perceived to be not a competition but an act of aggression, as Napoleon or Hitler, and nothing else...

If Ukraine were to move into NATO, what do you think the Russian reaction would be?

I think that Russian reaction would be to support an uprising in eastern parts and Crimea and I could not exclude the entrance of armed force there, as in the Ossetian scenario.

But the difference is that half of the Ukrainian population is Russian, is directly Russian, and this half of the population regards itself as being oppressed by the values, by the language, by the geopolitical issues, completely against their will. So I don't think that, in this case, direct intervention of Russian armed force will be needed. I think on the eve of the entrance into NATO there will be public riots and the split of Ukraine into two parts.


So far, sounds like a regular standard-issue Russian, really. I don't think any Russian is going to be pro Ukraine going to NATO.
But here's where it gets interesting:

Your views on Vladimir Putin have fluctuated.

I appreciated very much his concrete steps to reinforce political order in Russia, his steps to get away the oligarchs, to diminish influence of Westerners and to save Russian territorial unity in the Chechnya situation.

But also I saw that he was encircled by pro-Western, pro-liberal politicians and advisors and experts . . . and that was main reason for my criticism toward him.

But I think that now, after [Russia's military intervention in Georgia on] Aug. 8, Putin and Medvedev have passed the irreversible point. They have shown that the will and the decision to put the words into practice are in fact irreversible. So my support to Putin and Medvedev is now absolute.


Once Georgia happened, he converted to all-out support of Putin. And as noted in the below, he began to become much more influential.
Now from the above there doesn't seem like there's much that's extreme about him. It's when you dig a little further that it starts to sound like a Russian version of Svoboda. The only difference, as always with these types, is who gets to be on top:

Aleksandr Dugin’s Neo-Eurasianism: The New Right à la Russe (ENR = European New Right in the below)

In August 2008 Russian troops intervened in the armed conflict between Georgia and the separatist self-proclaimed republic of South Ossetia, and Russian society found itself increasingly affected by the almost Soviet-like propaganda espoused by the right-wing newsmakers backed by the state. A quasi-religious mantra, ‘Tanks to Tbilisi’, was introduced into the Russian mass media by Aleksandr Dugin, Doctor of Political Science and a leader of the International Eurasian Movement, and widely publicised by radio, TV and press. ‘“Tanks to Tbilisi!” – this is a voice of our national history’. ‘Those, who do not second the “Tanks to Tbilisi!”, are not Russians.
...A month after the tragic events in both South Ossetia and ‘core Georgia’, a Financial Times article correctly asserted that ‘against the backdrop of conflict in Georgia and deteriorating relations with the west, Russia’s ultra-nationalist thinkers were starting to exert unprecedented influence’.
...

In his most important book, Osnovy geopolitiki (Foundations of geopolitics), Dugin – ‘a sort of mouthpiece and ideologue’ of ‘the demonization of Western values’ – has geopolitically grounded Neo-Eurasianist aversion to the US and the Anglo-Saxon world in general.
...
The propagators of both a decentralised federal Europe (‘a Europe of a hundred flags’) and the Eurasian empire of ethno-cultural regions assume the Third World states that allegedly embody the rooted traditional communities to be their natural allies in a battle against the ‘homogenizing New World Order’. According to de Benoist, the cultural ‘diversity is the wealth of the world’, and the ENR promote the idea of anthropological culturalism in their ‘struggle against the hegemony of certain standardizing imperialisms and against the elimination of minority or dominated civilizations’.
Here the ENR imitate – in a rather twisted way – the democratic call for the right of all peoples and cultures to be different. As the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples affirms, ‘all peoples contribute to the diversity and richness of civilizations and cultures, which constitute the common heritage of humankind’, while‘recognizing the right of all peoples to be different, to consider themselves different, and to be respected as such’.
The ENR turn this right into an imperative, so ‘exclusion is given a place of honour’.
Now, ‘[t]he right to difference’ changed from being a means of defending oppressed minorities and their ‘cultural rights’ into an instrument for legitimating the most extreme appeals for the self-defence of a ‘threatened’ national (and/or European) identity.
...
This kind of legitimisation was required to maintain respectability as the tragic developments of the twentieth century discredited biological racism and it was ‘no longer possible to speak publicly of perceived difference through the language of the “old racism”’.
Therefore, the ENR claim the insurmountable difference not in biological or ethnic terms but rather in terms of culture, while – in a politically correct manner – rejecting the idea of the hierarchy of cultures. However, the main thrust of the ENR is of European identity, and their ideal is ‘a federal Europe’ made up of ‘homogeneous ethnic-cultural communities’.
It is thus evident that Neo-Eurasianist interpretations of ‘the right of all peoples to be different’ is not so much a means of defending the ethnic-cultural peculiarities of Eurasian peoples, but rather ‘an instrument for legitimating the most extreme appeals for the self-defence’ of a Russian ethnic identity perceived to be in decline. This idea is perhaps best and most laconically articulated by Dugin himself: ‘The will of any people is sacred. The will of Russian people is sacred a hundredfold’. In other words, though all animals are equal, some animals are indeed more equal than others.


So what is Dugin's relationship to the current Russian government? As noted above, at the time of the Georgian incursion in 2008, Dugin's influence increased. Note that the date Putin proposed the Eurasian Economic Union was 2011, a few years after the Georgia incursion and the increased influence of Dugin. Is the fact the name happens to be very similar to Dugin’s ideology a mere coincidence? I don’t think so, but I claim no special knowledge. Anyways, I got no beef against the new EEU, except it will doubtlessly be just as retarded as the old EU.
Regardless, Dugin now hobnobs with very prominent members of the ruling party, as noted in the below as well from the Guardian:

Ukraine and Crimea: what is Putin thinking?

The events of recent months have also solidified the hold of "Eurasianism" on the imaginations of Russia's top lawmakers. This ideology envisions Russia's re-emergence as a conservative world power in direct opposition to the geopolitical hegemony and liberal values of the west. The ideology was largely developed by Alexander Dugin, the son of a KGB officer who has become the wide-eyed prophet predicting a "Russian spring", as he called his recent plan for Russia's domination of Europe via Ukraine. Dugin serves as an adviser to State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin, a key member of the ruling United Russia party who has loudly supported Russian intervention in Ukraine, and has made widely viewed television appearances to discuss the Ukraine crisis alongside high-ranking members of the government. Glazyev is also an associate of Dugin's.
Upset with western criticism of him when he returned to the presidency for a third term in 2012, Putin realised that an independent Russia could never be part of the "western club" as he had previously wanted, says Dugin. "Putin sees the west as his main enemy, but to come to this conclusion he lived through a lot, he lived through a historical situation," Dugin said. "He came to the same conclusion in practice as we did in theory."


Bio of Sergey Naryshkin from RT:

Sergey Naryshkin is a politician and a businessman. He has been the head of the Russian Presidential Administration since May 2008. He is also the Chairman of the Board of Management of Channel One, the Russian federal TV channel and Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Rosneft Oil Company, Russia's extraction and refinement giant.


Naryshkin is way up there in the hierarchy, as can be seen from his position as Deputy Chairman of Rosneft. So Dugin and his far-right ideology are part of the normal discourse of the Russian elite.
Given all this, I don't see a whole lot of daylight between the Right Sector and Svoboda, and United Russia. Which is what I thought before I did all this reading. So beyond the actual fact that Russia invaded, I don't see why I'm supposed to care what the excuses for Russia's behavior are or why I keep seeing posts about how evil the new Ukraine government is, when any pro-Russian government would just be carrying water for Putin's "Eurasian" dream, the flip side of Svoboda's Banderist nonsense.
So given that in this duel of competing rightists, the ideology of the Russian elite differs from that of the Ukraine elite only in who comes out on top (which agrees with this radical dude I heard about in passing, can’t remember his name…), the only thing that matters for a non-Russian and non-Ukrainian is: Russia violated the terms of the Budapest Memorandum with Ukraine, and it invaded another country.
That sort of thing should have some consequences. Not war of course, but what's been done has been effective and restrained, so far, in my opinion.
Posted by Benton D Struckcheon | Fri Apr 4, 2014, 07:57 PM (14 replies)
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