Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Dr. Makhijani - Keep the $25

The talk this morning was the weakest, most unsupported, hand-waving piece of energy policy trash I have ever listened to. While his book is hopefully better than what we heard this morning, I don't think I'll waste my time with it. A few have already mentioned his complete neglect in addressing the transportation sector and the problems associated with requiring that housing retrofits be a part of a mortgage. On top of these problems, he failed to even sound like an informed speaker when it came to Yucca Mountain, Hydrogen (planes or not), the concept of a base load in our energy grid, the problem of carbon dioxide emissions from algae biofuel, and the sustainability and carbon neutrality of any other biofuels program. He provided no discussion of supply and demand (somehow V2G, solar on parking lots, and wind will cover all emerging energy demand...) and he failed to provide any economic data whatsoever. Also lacking was a clear explanation of how a dispersed power grid like he proposed would function -- what % would be natural gas? And while I do not like the government largesse that is thrown at biofuels and fossil fuels, his plan appears to require the completely unrealistic proposal of eliminating all of these subsidies plus instating a carbon tax to fund everything. Never mind addressing how such policies could fit into our current economic condition with the possibility of an upcoming recession. I doubt that there are any senators in Michigan (automobiles) or W. Virginia (coal) that will go along with his plan... much less any senators or policymakers anywhere in the country if all his presentations are like the one this morning. Such talk is just empty words that echoes as incessant dogma, and it gives a bad name to those individuals and agencies that actually have something of substance to say on this topic. I would have appreciated a talk that demonstrated a mastery of the subjects presented, as well as practical, creative ideas for our energy policy.

My time would have been better spent standing on Mo-Pac this morning waving a banner encouraging people to bike to work. Dr. Makhijani, your entire book is a mistake, but you can keep the $25.


John Losinger said...

Wow! What do you really think?

I hope this didn't have anything to do with my citing him in my last rebuttal to your Gore post. Just kidding.

To your point, I agree that he did not adequately address some of the questions asked in class. That said, I think the hydrogen question was a bully question. The phrasing of the question, and the manner in which it was asked, was completely inappropriate and totally disrespectful to our guest speaker.

I actually found his paper to be one of the most interesting things we've read so far. I think that Dr. Makhijani at least realizes how diverse our response(s) must be to our energy problems. And, unlike some of the other things we have read for class (as well as the things I have read on my own), he actually proposes solutions, however bold or idealistic they may be.

When approaching such large and complex issues, I think that we need to have healthy doses of both pragmatism and idealism. I think Dr. Makhijani realizes this; even though he might not be an expert on every single issue; which no one can truly be.

In any event, I certainly appreciate the passion and candor you bring to each of your posts. Keep it up.

Candide said...

JL -

I'm glad to have someone to debate with on these topics. We might agree on a lot more than these posts suggest, and perhaps we just have different ways of looking at things... or not :) No, I didn't blast Makhijani b/c of your reference to him. I agree with you that both pragmatism and idealism are necessary - I just didn't get the sense that Makhijani was really presenting us with robust, well thought out material.

John Losinger said...

Agreed. I will be on the lookout for contentious Candide posts :-)