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Category — Costa Rica

Dear Thomas Friedman: Are You a Fascist Wannabee?

The New York Times chief foreign affairs correspondent, Thomas Friedman, has finally come out of the closet as a fascist wannabee. Harsh words, but consider the evidence.

Here is the pertinent section from his recent op-ed, “One Party Democracy” [with commentary]:

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks [like the secret police and labor camps?]. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today [that’s why they need all those internet filters], it can also have great advantages [such as locking away dissenters]. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century [no need to find out what people want, just tell them what to do].

It is not an accident [or, as Marxists.org puts it: “It is not mere coincidence . . .”] that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency [not quite, China uses more than twice as much coal as the US and almost three times as much energy per unit of output, by 2030 China will generate more CO2 than the rest of the world can save, even with the most draconian “green” policies], batteries, nuclear power and wind power.

China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power [such as all that coal and CO2?] and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing [!] wants to make sure that it owns [italics added] that industry [can’t we give then Chrysler and GM, too?] and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down [Chinese gasoline prices are still below world market levels, we do not worry about that because we have markets].

Green Fascism

Friedman quotes approvingly that renowned defender of freedom, Joe Romm, who notes that “China is going to eat our lunch and take our jobs on clean energy . . . and they are going to do it with a managed economy we don’t have and don’t want.” You are certainly right about that, Joe and Tom.

If this were just an aberration, we could forgive them. But it is not. [Read more →]

September 11, 2009   8 Comments

Costa Rica Follow-Up: Fatal Dependence on Renewable Electricity (Tom Friedman's energy paradise loses its luck)

“When an abundant natural fall of water is at hand, nothing can be cheaper or better than water power. But everything depends upon local circumstances. The occasional mountain torrent is simply destructive. Many streams and rivers only contain sufficient water half the year round and costly reservoirs alone could keep up the summer supply. In flat countries no engineering art could procure any considerable supply of natural water power, and in very few places do we find water power free from occasional failure by drought.”

- W. S. Jevons, The Coal Question (London: Macmillan and Co., 1865), p. 129.

Thomas Friedman in the New York Times has presented Costa Rica as a model for the energy world, noting its reliance on renewable energy (hydro) to generate electricity. In response, we posted last week about how such dependence had left it vulnerable to the vagaries of rainfall, and (to a much lesser degree) wind. W. S. Jevons, the father of energy economics, said as much in 1865.

With all hydro development in the hands of the government, and with hydro responsible for 75-80% of power generation, any shortfall in rain can, within 1-2 weeks result in reduced electricity generation. And the odds have now caught up with Costa Rica – recent dryer conditions have led to blackouts in the country. [Read more →]

April 25, 2009   2 Comments

Costa Rica’s Energy Paradise: Comment on Tom Friedman (Not everywhere can be a playground for the rich)

In his recent New York Times op-ed, Thomas Friedman veritably gushes about the long-term commitment of Costa Rica to a clean environment and renewable energy. He is proud of the fact that renewables power 95 percent of the country’s economy. Such energy air-conditions resort hotels, charges golf carts, powers cable pulleys through the rain forest canopy, and bakes chips at the local Intel assembly plant.

Costa Rica’s energy mix is led by 75–80% hydropower, 12% geothermal, and 3%–5% oil (more specific statistics are here). The workhorse hydro is a mix of storage and run of river, with storage at about 50% of the 2,000 MW installed capacity.  In a dry year, the run-of-the-river plants will not produce much, or very reliably, which brings up the risk of such reliance.  In 2007 Costa Rica suffered power cuts as a result of drought and its lack of diversity in electricity generation. [Read more →]

April 15, 2009   13 Comments