Muck and Mystery
   Loitering With Intent
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October 04, 2011
Green Gold

As someone whose work and focus has involved environmental concerns for many years the "greens", and the loosey-goosey coalition of those afflicted with urban superstitions about nature, have long been an embarrassment. Worse yet are those who exploit those confusions.

In my view, the Summers/Klain/Browner analysis was a damning indictment of the Shepherds Flat project. The taxpayers were expected to fund by far the largest share of the bills and also of the risk and in return they weren’t getting many benefits in terms of reduced pollution. In contrast, Caithness Energy and GE Energy Financial Services, the corporations behind the project, weren’t taking much risk but they stood to profit handsomely. I guess that is why they call it “green” energy.

In short, the Shepherds Flat project was corporate welfare masquerading under an environmental rainbow.

So are you surprised to learn that shortly after the memo was written the Shepherd Flats loan guarantee of $1.3 billion was approved? Of course not; no doubt you also saw that the memo authors were careful to inform the President that the “338 GE wind turbines” were to be “manufactured in South Carolina and Florida.” Corporate welfare meet politicized investment.

In the Solyndra case just about everything went wrong, including bankruptcy and possible malfeasance. Caithness Energy and GE Energy Financial Services are unlikely to go bankrupt and malfeasance is not at issue. As a result, this loan guarantee and the hundreds of millions of dollars in other subsidies that made this project possible are unlikely to create an uproar. Nevertheless, the real scandal is not what happens when everything goes wrong but how these programs work when everything goes right

This isn't just the venality and corruption of the current US administration, it's as bad or worse among those who have been playing international shell games for profit to exploit the even more ludicrous greens outside the US.
Critics have long questioned the usefulness of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which was established under the Kyoto Protocol. It allows rich countries to offset some of their carbon emissions by investing in climate-friendly projects, such as hydroelectric power and wind farms, in developing countries. Verified projects earn certified emission reductions (CERs) — carbon credits that can be bought and sold, and count towards meeting rich nations' carbon-reduction targets.

But a diplomatic cable published last month by the WikiLeaks website reveals that most of the CDM projects in India should not have been certified because they did not reduce emissions beyond those that would have been achieved without foreign investment. Indian officials have apparently known about the problem for at least two years.

"What has leaked just confirms our view that in its present form the CDM is basically a farce," says Eva Filzmoser, programme director of CDM Watch, a Brussels-based watchdog organization. The revelations imply that millions of tonnes of claimed reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions are mere phantoms, she says, and potentially cast doubt over the principle of carbon trading. "In the face of these comments it is no wonder that the United States has backed away from emission trading," Filzmoser says.

Carbon is a technological problem, not a political problem. All of the fists in the air collective action nonsense in the world has done squat about the problem, but it has elevated some of the vilest politicians and enriched any who bellied up to the slops trough.

There's an Ourobouric quality to all of this: the corporate welfare is a rational if cynical exploitation of corrupt government, which is a rational if cynical exploitation of an intellectually and morally bankrupt societal neurossis, which is at least in part a reaction to the excesses of those corporations and governments.

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Do you really think a day will come when these greedy biggies will learn to do their social duty more sincerely?

Posted by: Meryem at October 10, 2011 09:41 PM

I have no expectations of "social duty", whatever that means. If there is any simple expression of the change that is needed it is to get over the addiction to social manipulation and get bored with the risible idea of strong government.

That would eliminate large scale rule arbitrage by big money players and break the cycle. If you have a strong government making rules then you will have rational if cynical arbitrage and exploitation. There's no cure for that. All that can be done is to lower the stakes of the game so that more productive activities attract the power players.

Posted by: back40 at October 10, 2011 10:26 PM
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