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Comment Re:It's easy for him to demand that (Score 1) 715

What's wrong with bagging your own groceries? I don't really understand why the job of "grocery bagger" exists in the US. It's like stores treat their customers as invalids. If the customer is too disabled to be able to put their groceries in bags, how did they manage to collect them all and wheel them around in the first place? And if you're going to go so far as hire baggers to do the "difficult" job of bagging, why not also hire "shoppers" to fetch the groceries for the customers, so that they can just sit down and eat a bowl of nachos instead of having to do all that pesky walking?

Comment Re:If I didn't have to work (Score 1) 715

How are you going to afford all that dope on only basic income - living in tent? I'm not sure what most people picture when they think of UBI, but if it's going to replace existing "social safety net" programmes, then life on UBI alone means living like life on existing social safety net programmes. Aka, you'll survive, but it won't be a pretty life.

You seem to be picturing the simultaneous implementation with UBI and a massive downwards transfer of wealth to boost the basic UBI to far beyond existing social safety net levels. While that's certainly possible to do, and I'm sure there's a good section of the population that would support that, it is in no way a fundamental requirement of UBI.

Comment Re:So long as we seem unwilling as a society... (Score 2) 715

I support a mostly revenue-neutral transition to UBI. As UBI gets ramped up, all other existing benefits (including minimum wage) get deducted against UBI payouts. Whenever ~90% of a programme's former recipients are no longer getting a benefit from that programme due to UBI benefits, it is eliminated entirely - so as UBI goes up, overhead from other programmes goes down. Businesses become more efficient and markets less distorted as minimum wage ramps down and ultimately disappears, boosting tax revenue; eventually eliminating the need to deal with most payroll taxes also saves money.

Now, as people who previously might have "fallen through cracks" get covered, that adds new expenses, which might not be fully covered by savings. Also, since some "social safety net" programmes pay more than others, the more you want to engulf the more higher-payout programmes with a higher UBI baseline, the more you have to pay. The balance between 1) cutting the higher-payout welfare programmes to match a lower UBI, vs. 2) increasing tax revenue to pay for a stronger UBI, vs. 3) setting the UBI payment scheme to more closely match the existing payout distribution, involves political decisions to be taken by the government in power during UBI implementation negotiations.

Comment So long as we seem unwilling as a society... (Score 5, Insightful) 715

... to let people starve in the streets, why not?

We run these patchworks of programmes to try to approximate the effects of universal basic income. Lost your job? Unemployment insurance. Chronically unemployed? Food assistance, welfare, etc. Homeless? Housing assistance / public housing / shelters. Too old to work? Pensions / social security, and in the US, Medicare. Too poor for health insurance in the US? Medicaid. Physically can't work? Disability. Job wouldn't pay enough to afford basic expenses? Minimum wage. On and on.

Isn't it about time that we just simply accept what we're trying to approximate, and just do it directly? Then scrap the patchwork of programmes that try to approximate it, and all of their overhead (ex: all of them), market distortion (ex: minimum wage), and perverse incentives (ex: trying not to earn too much to avoid losing benefits). People can reasonably differ about the amount that defines "basic needs", how much if any to boost people who "permanently can't work" vs. those who simply don't have a job for whatever reason, how to deal with dependents, etc. But it certainly simplifies the debate versus having a whole complex and inefficient patchwork to argue over.

Comment Re:Problem is the amount of farmland you'd need. (Score 3, Interesting) 148

It's an interesting tech, but I'm not all that sanguine about it.

1) Presenting it as being some sort of lossless, no-downsides system isn't accurate. There's always going to be some losses when you add an extra chemical intermediary step in (in this case, a solid-state oxygen transfer mechanism).

2) It's not really all that fundamentally different from what's done to capture CO2 today. To capture CO2 you have the exhaust stream flow through a bed of CO2 absorbers, which you then reversibly degas. Here they're having the input air stream flow through a bed of O2 absorbers, which they reversibly degas for combustion. They've just moved it from the output side to the input side and switched absorbers. I can see some potential advantages to this (for example, the broader range of O2 absorbers; all other pollutants being captured with the CO2 rather than just a fraction of them; etc), but when it comes down to it, it doesn't look like some huge game changer.

Comment Re:Problem is the amount of farmland you'd need. (Score 5, Interesting) 148

Assuming that your plan is to grow greenhouse biomass to burn for power. Which would be a pretty weird plan.

CO2 has plenty of uses (a big one is in enhanced oil recovery), but yes, the amount produced in generating baseload power is far more than industry needs. That said, the objective is not to have CO2-intensive power as baseload - only peaking. With an ideal generation infrastructure (solar + wind, HVDC links connecting different regions), the amount of CO2 generated drops by 1-2 orders of magnitude. Which puts it more in the range of industrial needs.

Comment Re:Windfarms kill more eagles than previously thou (Score 3, Interesting) 202

For the record, the Audubon Society supports wind farms. Because while they kill birds, coal kills far more, between direct and indirect effects. Now, of course, they insist on proper siting and proper measures taken to minimize bird deaths, and work towards strong laws on this front. But they do support and advocate for wind power.

Comment Re:Uranium miners, not coal miners (Score 1) 202

Per cubic meter mined, yes, uranium mining is far dirtier than coal. But you need to move a lot less rock for uranium mining to produce the same amount of energy, even accounting for the orders-of-magnitude higher tailings fractions in uranium, and the fact that only 0,7% of recovered uranium is U-235, and of that you'll only burn half of it.

That said, nuclear power is not being killed by wind, solar, gas or coal. It's being killed by its own price. Which only seems to go up with time, not down; it's the only major power generation method which has demonstrated a negative learning curve.

Comment Re:And that is the problem with Wind turbines (Score 4, Informative) 202

Beyond what everyone else is pointing out: no, wind is not baseload; it's intermittent. But:

1) Intermittent + Peaking = Baseload
2) Intermittent + Storage = Baseload
3) Intermittent + Hydro uprating = Baseload
4) Intermittent + Different kind of intermittent = Less intermittency
5) Intermittent + Geographic diversity = Less intermittency
6) Current grid = Demand intermittency (aka, we're already used to dealing with the situation, just in reverse).

Yes, high wind penetration means better grid interconnects and/or more peakers. But wind is so damned cheap now (contracts on new wind farms in the US averaging around 2,5 cents per kWh) that you can afford to invest in better interconnects and peakers. Which does everyone a service, because it makes your grid more reliable with conventional baseload plants or existing links go down. Solar, by contrast, is more expensive than wind (the cheapest new contract in the US being 4 cents per kWh - although places outside the US are under 3 cents). But solar, in addition to pairing nicely with wind (the latter peaks when the sun is down, the former when it's up), actually reduces peaking demand at low penetrations (offsetting the daytime peak, and corresponding roughly with cooling needs), and doesn't require as extensive peaking at higher penetrations.

Comment Re:Which comes at the cost of environmentalism. (Score 5, Insightful) 128

I'm calling BS on this one. Even Cape Wind, the most expensive wind power in the US (really more of a research project), is only 18.7 cents per kWh. And the first power it's displacing some crazy-expensive oil-fired power. Wind currently averages 2.5 cents per kWh to produce in the US. Now, that's the cost to the grid operator, not the consumer, and you have to pair it with peaking, which will add a penny or so to the cost per kWh. But it's gotten absurdly cheap. US solar contracts are now starting to come in at under 4 cents per kWh. And at low penetration, they actually reduce peaking requirements rather than raising it.

Furthermore, your claim "overall bill used to be 6 c/kw but now 9 c/kw and climbing, all due to wasteful subsidies" makes me even question whether you know what a subsidy is. If you were being hurt by a subsidy, it'd show up on your taxes, not your bill. If anything, your bill would get lower. And the $7B per year in subsidies for renewable electricity (which includes, by the way, research) equals $1.70 per month per person in the US. How does that compare to your electricity bill?

Where are you, by the way?

Comment Re:World in reverse (Score 4, Insightful) 128

Oil is only rarely used for power in western nations. In the US, oil really only competes for electricity market share in Hawaii (and to a much lesser extent in Alaska). And while gas is a competitor to solar and wind for baseload, it's also boosted by them for peaking. Solar and wind don't drive out coal and nuclear alone; they do so in combination with NG peakers. The amount of gas being needed depending on the strength of their grid links and the diversity of the resources (solar + wind > solar | wind; solar + wind in different geographic locations > solar + wind in the same place).

Hydro works even better in combination with solar and wind than gas. But hydro capacity is geographically limited, largely tapped out (although you can uprate existing plants, which is being done), and concerning places with new generation possibilities, most people don't want them. Batteries will eventually win, and they're starting to make inroads into the grid in specialized applications, but they don't yet compete with gas for bulk peaking needs.

** Note: this is a bit of an oversimplification. At small penetrations, solar actually reduces peaking needs, as it tends to offset daytime peak usage. But this only applies up to certain levels of market penetration.

Comment Re:World in reverse (Score 1, Interesting) 128

Reality is precisely the opposite. Transmission losses are very low (under 10% on average), but small batch installation costs on rooftop arrays kill the economics relative to large installations, which are installed in bulk with dramatically lower labour per unit nameplate capacity. Associated hardware (such as inverters) and grid links are also much cheaper per unit power at large scales. Even panels can be purchased and imported significantly cheaper when bought in bulk and all delivered to the same location. And as for subsidies, while both residential and commercial get the same ITC, residential installs also tend to be subject to a lot of state benefits as well.

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