Saturday, January 7, 2017

Trump And Alternative Energy

Bloomberg News, Nov 9, 2016: "Trump's Win 'A Disaster' for Plunging Renewable Energy Sector"

Bloomberg News, Nov 23, 2016: "Economics to Keep Wind and Solar Energy Thriving With Trump"

More headlines seem to agree with the second headline than with the first. A third headline, from on Nov 14, seems to cover the prevailing opinion pretty well: "It's Hard To Tell Whether Trump Supports Renewable Energy — And That May not Matter Much"

It may not matter much, because wind and solar and other green energy options may very soon be so much more attractive economically than oil and coal that Trump and the petrochemical sector won't be able to kill them. The technology just keeps getting more efficient and cheaper. The tech geniuses just keep thinking stuff up, as Bruce Willis put it in Armageddon. Transparent solar panels, which can cover the entire exterior of a building because they double as windows. Rotating solar panels.

When I said "more attractive economically" above, I was referring to conventional economics, and to the kind of investor whose biggest hero is Adam Smith. Conventional economics or paleoeconomic theory, exemplified by Trump and Big Oil, create a theoretical model of the entire world in which things such as the environment are treated as "externals," as secondary factors, not to be treated as the primary things under consideration when investing. Of course, this is completely insane: conventional economics is an arbitrary way of doing things which functions only because enough people have agreed to do things that way. It can be completely scrapped and replaced by a totally different economic model whenever people agree to do so, and such a change will not harm the atmosphere or the oceans one bit. On the other hand, if the oceans die or the atmosphere becomes too polluted or temperatures rise too much, all of the people will die, and every form of economics on Earth will die with them. Conventional economic theory regards buying and selling and currencies and loans and interest and so forth as essential things, and environment and health as secondary. The plain and obvious truth is that conventional economics has this completely backwards.

It's dawning on more and more people that conventional economics has this completely backwards. Nevertheless, it continues to function in terms of rewarding those who follow its rules with greater accumulations of money than those who don't. It's either dawned on Democrats much more often than on Republicans, or Republicans pretend that it hasn't dawned on them because they're making money with that pretense. "We are what we pretend to be," as Kurt Vonnegut pointed out.

The ironic thing is that solar and wind energy and other clean energies are beginning to win, not because of their ecological benefit, but because of their appeal to those who continue to follow conventional economics and to treat the environment as if it were secondary to buying and selling and loaning and interest rates and wages and so forth. These clean energies are rapidly growing in appeal to those who seem to believe that conventional economics consists of laws of nature rather than completely arbitrary agreements between people, agreements which can be, and are, modified, re-invented or scrapped whenever people agree to do so. Green energy is growing in appeal to those appeal because it's making money and not because of anything to do with the environment or with the health of living things.

Presumably, if clean energies grow by several hundred percent in the next few years, resulting in petrochemical shrinking to a small fraction of the market share they now enjoy, Trump will take credit for the bluer skies and gentler weather and our greater ability to see the stars at night, and claim it was all his idea right from the start, whether he's still president or whether he was impeached and removed from office early in 2017.

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