A Free-Market Energy Blog

2Q-2012 Activity Report: MasterResource

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- July 27, 2012

“In the current energy debate, the diligent amateurs are often the real pros, and too many ‘pros’ are amateurish.”

MasterResource continues apace as a movement-wide voice of free market energy scholarship. Nearly 150 different authors have been featured at our site since its inception in late 2008. Total views have surpassed 1.3 million, with many visits by those searching on a topic relevant to past posts.

MasterResource is rated a top 30 (of 10,000) “green blog,” and a “Top 100” Science blog, according to Technorati.

With 435 categories in our extensive index, MasterResource is a research tool, not only a timely contribution to energy scholarship and current political debates. We are Google friendly with many energy terms (try one with ‘masterresource’).

I have lauded our ‘talented amateurs’ in previous activity reports. This is really an understatement given the large population of  ‘smartest guy in the room’ alarmists and interventionists. Let history note that in the current energy debate, the diligent amateurs are often the real pros, and too many ‘pros’ are amateurish.

New Principals: Lisa Linowes and Travis Fisher

Principals at MasterResource are those of us who regularly post at this site. One relatively recent addition has been Alex Epstein, the head of Center for Industrial Progress, and a trained philosopher, who has graced our pages with his unique perspective in the last year.

MasterResource is pleased to announce two new principals, windpower expert Lisa Linowes and energy economist Travis Fisher.

Lisa Linowes is cofounder and executive director of the Industrial Wind Action Group (www.windaction.org), a national advocacy group focusing on the impacts and public policy associated with industrial-scale wind energy development. She has testified before the U.S. Congress and discussed/debated wind issues at major events around the country hosted by National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and other groups. She has been quoted in a variety of leading outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and dozens of newspapers in the U.S. and abroad.

Travis Fisher is an economist at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington, D.C. After graduating from North Carolina State University with a B.S. and an M.S. in economics in 2006, he joined FERC with a focus on the wholesale electricity market.

Fisher became interested in free-market philosophy at North Carolina State. Inspired by the work of Frederic Bastiat, he served as an intern at the John Locke Foundation, a classical liberal think-tank in North Carolina. While in college, he also led a student group to explore cross-disciplinary issues in politics, economics, and law.

Site Background

MasterResource was conceived in late 2008 as a free-market-movement energy blog. Ken Green of AEI, Marlo Lewis of CEI, and Jerry Taylor at Cato, among others, lent their reputations and blogged to get things going. Climatologist Chip Knappenberger was recruited to cover technical science issues for the blog.

MasterResource to date has covered a variety of energy issues on the state, federal, and sometimes international level. But our most active area has been the growing backlash against industrial wind turbines. MasterResource is a leading voice for citizens, environmentalists, and small-government advocates who have united against this intrusive, uneconomic, sub-quality, government-enabled electricity source.

Major Themes

MasterResource has become a ‘go-to’ blog in a number of key areas:

  • Resourceship vs. Peak Oil (or gas). Our bloggers explain how and why the ultimate resource of human ingenuity in market settings allows the supply of ‘depletable’ resources to expand, not contract, even in the face of record usage.
  • Sustainability. Our bloggers explain why government intervention in the name of ‘sustainability’ threatens energy affordability, availability, and reliability. We challenge the conventional view that carbon-based energies are inherently ‘unsustainable’ due to pollution, depletion, and man-made climate change.
  • Energy Density. As scholars from Vaclav Smil to Robert Bryce have documented, the best energies are the ones that can produce the most power at the least resource cost. The future belongs to the efficient—and oil, gas, and coal are the prime-time consumer-driven choices.
  • Renewable Energy Realities. Our many bloggers from the front lines of the windpower debate, in particular, have documented how wind fails the cost, reliability, capacity, space, noise, and health tests. Taxpayer savings and deficit reduction, anyone?
  • Fallacy of “Green Jobs”  Our bloggers have applied Economics 101 to explain how and why consumer-driven jobs are sustainable while government-created bubble jobs are not.
  • Climate Realism, not Alarmism. Chip Knappenberger has given MasterResource readers a reliable scientific voice on what the science does and does not say about the human influence on climate. And the balance of evidence does not favor alarmism.
  • Historical Perspective. It is important to understand how today’s government activism repeats the errors of the past. Many current energy debates are informed by often neglected studies and experience from the past. W. S. Jevons in his 1865 book, The Coal Question, basically refuted the notion that renewables could power the machine age. He also explained the paradox that increasing energy efficiency will tend to expand total energy usage, not decrease it.
  • True Energy Efficiency. Economic efficiency is different from physical efficiency. Market efficiency can be thought of as conservation, while government conservation (or the doctrine of less energy usage as a per se good) can be tagged conservationism.
  • Spontaneous order (in the Austrian School tradition). Outstanding developments in the industry that are ‘the result of human action but not of human design’ are highlighted, such as the oil and gas shale boom occurring in the United States and around the world.
  • Objectivist philosophy. Objectivism believes in objective reality, which is core to the concept of energy realism (a respect for what is and what can be in light of technical, market, and political realities). Our Alex Epstein is the nation’s leader in applying philosophy to energy issues.
  • Subsoil Privatization. Our bloggers explain why expanded reliance on capitalist institutions of private property, voluntary exchange, and the rule of law is the key to a better energy future for all, and particularly for the 1.4 billion who do not have access to modern forms of energy.

MasterResource advances the ideas of Julian Simon (1932–1998), the scholar who changed his mind about Malthusianism after reviewing the data and became a guiding light for realism and ensuing optimism.

Good Tone, Open Scholarship

MasterResource welcomes opposing views in our comments. We do not block critical comments except when couched in spite and the argument ad hominem.

Economist Peter Boettke’s approach to scholarly discourse continues to resonate with us. “As we engage in debate with our intellectual adversaries,” he has stated, “we should remember three core rules of engagement:”

(1) the principle of charitable interpretation — always give your opponent the best interpretation of their argument and motives;

(2) adopt a value neutral analytical approach — strictly take ends as given and limit your analysis to the effectiveness of chosen means to those given ends; and

(3) always try to find common ground with your opponents with respect to intellectual curiosity and not necessarily policy conclusions.

Toward the Future

We continue to uncover talent that challenges the politically correct with reality-based energy insight. We welcome new talent to this site (contact me at rbradley@iertx.org).


Prior Activity Reports:

1Q-2012 Report

4Q-2011 Report

3Q-2011 Report

2Q-2011 Report

1Q-2011 Report

4Q-2010 Report

3Q-2010 Report

2Q-2010 Report

1Q-2010 Report

4Q-2009 Report

3Q-2009 Report

2Q-2009 Report

1Q-2009 Report

Opening post/comment (December 26, 2008)

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