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RE: Greens add to Greenhouse gasses

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  • Dan Minette
    ... country-wide electric grid, only some parts of the Rain Forest are outside it). It helps save water and not consume natural gas when the wind blows.
    Message 1 of 29 , Nov 30, 2012
      >Here in Brazil, Wind is used as part of the electric grid (there is a
      country-wide electric grid, only >some parts of the Rain Forest are outside
      it). It helps save "water" and not consume natural gas when >the wind blows.
      So, Wind is _not_ one black swam away, it can be used complementary to other
      sources of >energy.


      I'm sorry if I was unclear. Texas actually had a fairly large number of
      windmills. And, they had been used in tandum with expensive natural gas.
      The natural gas plants are cheaper than coal, but the fuel was more
      expensive. So, they were fired up when the windmills were down due to low
      wind. Now, with cheap natural gas, the building of windmills has slown down
      to a virtual halt.

      The largest German company in this field has calculated that they can only
      count on about 10% of the nameplate capacity from windmills. As a result,
      when windmills get to over 6%-10% of total grid power, they become
      impractical. The black swan I was talking about was a cheap efficient
      storage mechanism for vast amounts of power. That would make windmills
      practical as a significant source. Otherwise, we can have them as a 4%-8%
      source, but always need to rely on other sources. At low levels, this might
      make ecconomic sense. But, having two sets of power plants, overall, does
      not make sense.

      Dan M.


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    • Kevin O'Brien
      ... Well, I just noted that a new technology has come along that replaces much of the use of rare earth elements (it had to do with electric motors). This is
      Message 2 of 29 , Nov 30, 2012
        On 11/29/2012 6:38 PM, Dan Minette wrote:
        > They used the low price tactic to drive out virtually all
        > other rare earth suppliers a bit over a decade ago, and are now in a
        > position where the startup costs are high for other countries, and any
        > country with pollution regulations would have a hard time competing. So,
        > using this tactic, they could keep a monopoly, once they established it.
        Well, I just noted that a new technology has come along that replaces
        much of the use of rare earth elements (it had to do with electric
        motors). This is one of the reasons you have to be slightly skeptical
        about attempts to use predatory pricing to create monopolies. The very
        act of raising prices creates a strong incentive for substitutes, among
        other things. I just did a Google search on "rare earth substitutes"
        that brought back a number of recent articles about how rare earth
        prices were falling as a result of manufacturers finding substitutes,
        and other articles about how manufacturers are finding those substitutes.

        Now, I cannot say exactly how this will play out since predictions are
        hard, especially when they are about the future. ;) But there is a
        concept in economics called "hysteresis" that says that changes once
        made are sometimes hard to reverse. A great example of this was the
        automobile market in the 1970s. When oil prices rose, consumers went
        looking for fuel-efficient autos. When U.S. manufacturers could not meet
        this demand, they turned to the hitherto ignored Japanese cars. This led
        them to discover a previously unknown fact, that those cars were of
        higher quality than American cars. As a result, even when oil prices
        fell, the market share of Japanese autos did not fall back to its
        previous level. A "permanent" change had occurred in consumers'
        preferences. It is at least conceivable to me that the research into
        alternatives to rare earths will result in a "permanent" fall in demand
        for them.

        Regards,

        --
        Kevin B. O'Brien
        zwilnik@...
        A damsel with a dulcimer in a vision once I saw.


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      • Kevin O'Brien
        ... Well, cheap currently. It is just one carbon tax away from being expensive. And to my mind the only question is when that tax comes, not if. Regards, --
        Message 3 of 29 , Nov 30, 2012
          On 11/30/2012 8:49 AM, Dan Minette wrote:
          > So, they were fired up when the windmills were down due to low
          > wind. Now, with cheap natural gas, the building of windmills has slown down
          > to a virtual halt.
          Well, cheap currently. It is just one carbon tax away from being
          expensive. And to my mind the only question is when that tax comes, not if.

          Regards,

          --
          Kevin B. O'Brien
          zwilnik@...
          A damsel with a dulcimer in a vision once I saw.


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        • Wayne Eddy
          On the subject of black swans, what do you guys think about LENR? Is it all smoke & mirrors or is it a game changer? On Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 11:08 PM, ALBERTO
          Message 4 of 29 , Nov 30, 2012
            On the subject of black swans, what do you guys think about LENR?  Is it all smoke & mirrors or is it a game changer?


            On Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 11:08 PM, ALBERTO VIEIRA FERREIRA MONTEIRO <albmont@...> wrote:
            Dan Minette wrote:
            >
            > Wind just needs one, effective storage.  The lack of it is why
            > wind power cannot be counted on as part of peak demand.
            > It only made sense when natural gas was expensive.
            >
            Here in Brazil, Wind is used as part of the electric grid (there is a
            country-wide electric grid, only some parts of the Rain Forest are
            outside it). It helps save "water" and not consume natural gas when
            the wind blows. So, Wind is _not_ one black swam away, it can be used
            complementary to other sources of energy.

            Alberto Monteiro

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          • Klaus Stock
            ... Of course, certain critical businesses will be exempt from that tax. - Klaus _______________________________________________
            Message 5 of 29 , Nov 30, 2012
              >> So, they were fired up when the windmills were down due to low
              >> wind. Now, with cheap natural gas, the building of windmills has slown down
              >> to a virtual halt.

              > Well, cheap currently. It is just one carbon tax away from being
              > expensive. And to my mind the only question is when that tax comes, not if.

              Of course, certain critical businesses will be exempt from that tax.

              - Klaus


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            • Dan Minette
              ... yourself. I have actions that, given historical precident, have a much better chance of suceeeding. ... working on power satellites ... I m not sure if you
              Message 6 of 29 , Dec 1, 2012
                >If you have a better way to get humanity off fossil fuels, don't keep it to
                yourself.

                I have actions that, given historical precident, have a much better chance
                of suceeeding.

                >Make a good case that it's cheaper and I will support that instead of
                working on power satellites
                >and laser propulsion.

                I'm not sure if you will like my case because it's not a quick fix. But,
                we've been trying quick fixes since the oil shock of 1973, almost 40 years
                now, and haven't made any significant progress. So, I'd argue we need a
                plan that will work in the long run as well as remediation in the short run.

                Short run: give nuclear power a level playing field...the same safety
                requirements as any other industry, and allow the testing of new safer,
                cheaper designs in the US and Europe. Practically speaking, it is unlikely
                that the Communist party/the government of China is a good source for
                innovation. Princelings tend to not want to vary from the tried and true
                much. So it is up to Europe and the US to do this. (I've had experience
                both with Chinese tech. goods and as a potential vendor for China and you
                can see the fingers of the Communist party holding back the wheels of
                progress in both cases).

                Short run: improve fuel efficiency standards. Add a tax to gasoline and
                electricity. Have rebates for low income people to balance the tax. If
                they spend it elsewhere, find.

                Short run: build a natural gas infrastructure for truck transportation in
                the US. The decline in US emissions to 1992 levels (even though the
                population increased 23%) is mostly due to the switch to natural gas from
                coal.

                But, the critical area is the developing world. China puts out more CO2
                than the US and EU combined, and the new coal plants on order from China and
                India will add this amount again. So, we need to make nuclear power cheap.
                It may not be enough to be as cheap as coal, and in that case the west could
                switch but India and China would be far less likely to. In the west, the
                small difference in cost would not be a barrier. The difference is larger
                in India and China because coal is very cheap with no pollution control or
                mining regulations.

                Mid term, offer subsidies for synthetic biofuels that do not displace
                cropland. Right now, several companies are in pilot to initial commercial
                appplication. I'd give this field the highest chance of working: say 25%
                chance of being close to competitive with gasoline while using concentrated
                waste CO2, sunlight, bioengineered life forms, and brackish water.

                Then, the goverments should support research in areas that would allow for
                alternative energy in decades. This would be developing our knowledge in a
                lot of different fields so someoone could put the knowledge together to
                develop either a power source or effective power storage.

                They include

                Plasma physics
                Mesoscopic physics
                Synthetic biology
                Material sciences

                And more engineering oriented, but still experimental:

                Development of capacitance
                Development of compact accelerators

                This is not exhaustive, I'd welcome suggestions. It's putting governments
                back in the business of funding fundamental research at, say, 1% of GDP.
                There will be scores of possibilities that all have a 1%-2% chance of
                working. And when one does, venture capital and small companies can be the
                mechanism for picking winners and losers. The government's job is to
                prepare the field.

                Dan M.


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              • Dan Minette
                ... probably even using the wind ... not technology. I beg to differ. The obvious problem is geography. Pump storage is highly used in Switzerland, and they
                Message 7 of 29 , Dec 1, 2012
                  > Of course, it would make sense to integrate water and wind plants,
                  probably even using the wind
                  >turbines to power the pumps directly. But that's a problem with politics,
                  not technology.

                  I beg to differ. The obvious problem is geography. Pump storage is highly
                  used in Switzerland, and they have moutainous terrain and have hydroelectric
                  dams which are perfect for combined generation/pump storage. But, most good
                  windfarm locations are offshore or on the plains (e.g. Iowa or the Panhandle
                  of TX) where high winds blow. The energy from a wind turbine is
                  porportional to the cube of the velocity of the wind. Yes, there is high
                  wind on ridge lines, but I've seen windmills there, and there is just one
                  line, not row after row. So, pump storage needs to be located in very
                  specific geographical locations (wherever there is a quick change in
                  elevation from one large area to another....mountaintops aren't good because
                  you can't put a big lake there), while the flat plains and the oceans, seas,
                  and the Great Lakes are the best place to locate wind turbines. If it were
                  easy, the German company that already has 10% of its nameplate capacity in
                  wind would be doing water storage already.

                  Dan M.


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                • Dan Minette
                  ... From: brin-l-bounces@mccmedia.com [mailto:brin-l-bounces@mccmedia.com] On Behalf Of Kevin O Brien Sent: Friday, November 30, 2012 8:13 AM To:
                  Message 8 of 29 , Dec 1, 2012
                    -----Original Message-----
                    From: brin-l-bounces@... [mailto:brin-l-bounces@...] On
                    Behalf Of Kevin O'Brien
                    Sent: Friday, November 30, 2012 8:13 AM
                    To: brin-l@...
                    Subject: Re: Greens add to Greenhouse gasses

                    On 11/30/2012 8:49 AM, Dan Minette wrote:
                    >> So, they were fired up when the windmills were down due to low wind.
                    >> Now, with cheap natural gas, the building of windmills has slown down
                    >> to a virtual halt.


                    >Well, cheap currently. It is just one carbon tax away from being expensive.
                    And to my mind the only
                    >question is when that tax comes, not if.

                    How is that going to happen. Are you arguing that the US will impose a
                    carbon tax that is so high that we will be paying more in carbon taxes than
                    fuel costs? Given the fact that we've been unable to raise the gas tax in
                    decades, how will we impose a severe carbon tax. A modest carbon tax will
                    benefit natural gas, because it will facilitate the switch from coal to
                    natural gas. Nuclear power might benefit, but I'm guessing that real reform
                    of nuclear regulations will not be popular. Taxes in the US are not
                    popular....even going back to the tax levels of the Clinton era is too much
                    for Obama to propose.

                    Given the fact that Kyoto was rejected by the US Senate 95-0, I can't see
                    carbon taxes at 5x the European level. At the present level of Europe's tax,
                    it would cost an extra 0.6 cents/kwH for natural gas and 1.2 cents per kWh
                    for coal. That's peanuts compared to the extra cost for wind/endergy
                    storage which is by far the cheapest form of energy. And for gasoline, it's
                    an extra 11 cents/gallon, well within the weekly variation in price.

                    And, this is just the US. China will just use coal. But, windmills will
                    not be effective until the total cost, with energy storage, becomes within a
                    2-3 cents/kwH of other sources.

                    Dan M.


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                  • Klaus Stock
                    ... Only for an ideal wind turbine. In real life, current designs have to be turned out of the wind if the wind gets strong. They actually have a rather small
                    Message 9 of 29 , Dec 2, 2012
                      >> Of course, it would make sense to integrate water and wind plants,
                      > probably even using the wind
                      >>turbines to power the pumps directly. But that's a problem with politics,
                      > not technology.

                      > I beg to differ. The obvious problem is geography. Pump storage is highly
                      > used in Switzerland, and they have moutainous terrain and have hydroelectric
                      > dams which are perfect for combined generation/pump storage. But, most good
                      > windfarm locations are offshore or on the plains (e.g. Iowa or the Panhandle
                      > of TX) where high winds blow. The energy from a wind turbine is
                      > porportional to the cube of the velocity of the wind. Yes, there is high

                      Only for an ideal wind turbine. In real life, current designs have to
                      be turned out of the wind if the wind gets strong. They actually have
                      a rather small range of wind speeds in which they can operate; both
                      weak and strong wind is a problem.

                      Vertical wind turbines, like the Savonius design, are less efficient,
                      but can cope with a wider range of wind speed (including weaker wind
                      and turbulent wind). Advocates of vertical wind turbines often cite
                      conspiracy theories as the reason for the limited use of these designs
                      in large scales.

                      > wind on ridge lines, but I've seen windmills there, and there is just one
                      > line, not row after row. So, pump storage needs to be located in very
                      > specific geographical locations (wherever there is a quick change in
                      > elevation from one large area to another....mountaintops aren't good because
                      > you can't put a big lake there), while the flat plains and the oceans, seas,
                      > and the Great Lakes are the best place to locate wind turbines. If it were
                      > easy, the German company that already has 10% of its nameplate capacity in
                      > wind would be doing water storage already.

                      Nope. In Germany, political reasons are the real reasons, not common
                      sense. Electricity from wind turbines was highly subsidized, with the
                      result that it became "commercially efficient" to erect wind parks at
                      location which made absolutely no sense. After this had been found
                      out, the subsidies have been reduced. But still you can make more
                      money by producing electricity than by pumping water.

                      - Klaus


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                    • Keith Henson
                      On Sat, Dec 1, 2012 at 11:00 AM, Dan Minette wrote: (Keith) ... I make a case that going to laser propulsion and power sats would get
                      Message 10 of 29 , Dec 2, 2012
                        On Sat, Dec 1, 2012 at 11:00 AM, "Dan Minette" <danminette@...> wrote:

                        (Keith)
                        >
                        >>If you have a better way to get humanity off fossil fuels, don't keep it to
                        > yourself.
                        >
                        > I have actions that, given historical precident, have a much better chance
                        > of suceeeding.
                        >
                        >>Make a good case that it's cheaper and I will support that instead of
                        > working on power satellites
                        >>and laser propulsion.
                        >
                        > I'm not sure if you will like my case because it's not a quick fix.

                        I make a case that going to laser propulsion and power sats would get
                        humanity off fossil fuels in 20 years. Do you consider that a quick
                        fix?

                        But,
                        > we've been trying quick fixes since the oil shock of 1973, almost 40 years
                        > now, and haven't made any significant progress. So, I'd argue we need a
                        > plan that will work in the long run as well as remediation in the short run.

                        snip

                        I notice you don't put either a cost per kWh or a capital investment
                        on any of these tired proposals, Nuclear is both expensive and slow
                        (even in China) to install. There are also scaling problems. If you
                        are going to get off fossil fuel, do you really want to build 15,000 1
                        GW reactors?

                        If we are going to make a good choice, we need to cite the numbers. I
                        have analyzed the cost of this new idea to build power satellites with
                        laser propulsion. I get $1600 per kW and 2 cents per kWh based on
                        6.8% discount rate. The cost information for other forms is easy to
                        find.

                        Offer stands, but you are going to have to cite defensible numbers to
                        get me to switch my efforts to your concept of how to solve the
                        problem.

                        Keith

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                      • Kevin O'Brien
                        ... I am assuming that at some point we have enough Sandy s to tip the balance. That will come much later than it should have come, but I think it will come
                        Message 11 of 29 , Dec 2, 2012
                          On 12/1/2012 6:36 PM, Dan Minette wrote:
                          > How is that going to happen. Are you arguing that the US will impose a
                          > carbon tax that is so high that we will be paying more in carbon taxes than
                          > fuel costs? Given the fact that we've been unable to raise the gas tax in
                          > decades, how will we impose a severe carbon tax. A modest carbon tax will
                          > benefit natural gas, because it will facilitate the switch from coal to
                          > natural gas. Nuclear power might benefit, but I'm guessing that real reform
                          > of nuclear regulations will not be popular. Taxes in the US are not
                          > popular....even going back to the tax levels of the Clinton era is too much
                          > for Obama to propose.
                          I am assuming that at some point we have enough "Sandy's" to tip the
                          balance. That will come much later than it should have come, but I think
                          it will come at some point. IF you don't think that will ever happen,
                          just adjust your forecasts accordingly. BTW, carbon taxes are an
                          economically efficient way of reducing emissions, which means that if
                          you need to reduce emissions this does it with the least negative effect
                          on the economy.

                          Regards,

                          --
                          Kevin B. O'Brien TANSTAAFL
                          zwilnik@... Linux User #333216


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                        • ALBERTO VIEIRA FERREIRA MONTEIRO
                          ... The europeans are crazy. They don t know what to do, they add a lot of uncertainty to the economy with all those subsidies that come and go, taxes that
                          Message 12 of 29 , Dec 3, 2012
                            Klaus Stock wrote:
                            >
                            > Nope. In Germany, political reasons are the real reasons, not common
                            > sense.
                            >
                            The europeans are crazy. They don't know what to do, they add a lot of
                            uncertainty to the economy with all those subsidies that come and go,
                            taxes that come and go, and regulations that come and go.

                            Alberto Monteiro

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                          • Dan Minette
                            I sent this to a single person instead of the list due to Killer B being changed (probably automatically) from the sender to a cc. I think this happened a
                            Message 13 of 29 , Dec 4, 2012
                              I sent this to a single person instead of the list due to Killer B being
                              changed (probably automatically) from the sender to a cc. I think this
                              happened a couple of other times. I've gotten replies, but will not post
                              them, because they aren't my emails. But if the sender would, or would give
                              me permission to, that would be great.
                              In reply to Kevin, I wrote:

                              > The Chinese were extremely ham-handed about this. In particular,
                              > their stoppage of rare earth shipments in response to an incident
                              > involving their extrodinary claims to ocean territory (basically any
                              > territory claims of the Chinese over the last 1000 years are
                              > considered valid and enforceable by the the Chinese government)
                              > generated strong reaction. Given the fact that consumers rightfully
                              > believed that the Chinese were untrustworthy suppliers, as well as
                              > expensive ones, it was reasonable for them to sacrifice a little
                              > performance to switch to a more reliable and cheaper supply. The Chinese
                              overplayed their hand, as they have overall the last year.
                              >
                              > They can probably drive Western companies out of the solar cell business.
                              > Their entire ecconomic model, with artifically low value on their
                              > currency, and the disdaining of IP right of other countries, fits
                              > this. They may very well increase prices after becoming a near
                              > monopoly, but the alternatives are oil and gas and coal and wind.
                              > And, for certain remote applications, solar power actually works best.
                              >
                              > So, I'm guessing that it will not be the big win they see. But, they
                              > are caught at a GDP level where Huntington has pointed out that
                              > totalitarian goverments begin to get pushed by the growing middle
                              > class. Their reaction is to clamp down harder....especially with the
                              > new leadership, where all the leaders are both well filtered and the
                              > result of nepotism. It is a dangerous mixture. Putting this together
                              > with their demographic window of opportunity (the 1-child policy has a
                              > big demographic bubble that will be old in 20 years), a surplus of
                              > males, and one has a classic situation where countries become aggressive.
                              >
                              > We will be living in interesting times.
                              >
                              > Dan M.


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                            • Kevin O'Brien
                              ... And if the Chinese try to raise further, it only creates more incentives to look into alternatives. I think this may be one of the reasons why the Club of
                              Message 14 of 29 , Dec 4, 2012
                                On 12/4/2012 9:02 AM, Dan Minette wrote:
                                > I sent this to a single person instead of the list due to Killer B being
                                > changed (probably automatically) from the sender to a cc. I think this
                                > happened a couple of other times. I've gotten replies, but will not post
                                > them, because they aren't my emails. But if the sender would, or would give
                                > me permission to, that would be great.
                                > In reply to Kevin, I wrote:
                                >
                                >> The Chinese were extremely ham-handed about this. In particular,
                                >> their stoppage of rare earth shipments in response to an incident
                                >> involving their extrodinary claims to ocean territory (basically any
                                >> territory claims of the Chinese over the last 1000 years are
                                >> considered valid and enforceable by the the Chinese government)
                                >> generated strong reaction. Given the fact that consumers rightfully
                                >> believed that the Chinese were untrustworthy suppliers, as well as
                                >> expensive ones, it was reasonable for them to sacrifice a little
                                >> performance to switch to a more reliable and cheaper supply. The Chinese
                                > overplayed their hand, as they have overall the last year.

                                And if the Chinese try to raise further, it only creates more incentives
                                to look into alternatives.

                                I think this may be one of the reasons why the Club of Rome predictions
                                failed (there are clearly numerous reasons). As an economist named
                                Hotelling pointed out early in the 20th century, there are good reasons
                                in economics to expect the prices of non-renewable resources to rise
                                over time at approximately the same rate as the interest rate. (I'm just
                                giving a simplified explanation here, see the Journal article if you
                                really like this sort of thing.) But any time a resource has rising
                                prices it creates incentives to look for substitutes, and the higher the
                                price, the higher the incentive. So a lot of products are no longer made
                                with steel, but with plastics or composites, for instance. The other
                                price obviously is to stimulate the search for new sources of supply.
                                Put those together and you can see why those predictions of disaster
                                have not materialized.

                                By similar reasoning, any attempt to monopolize a resource or product
                                can only succeed if there is some way of preventing and competitor from
                                entering the market. Most commonly this requires government action to
                                create and sustain the monopoly. Since that will not happen in the case
                                of rare earth elements, I doubt there can be a lasting monopoly problem
                                here. In a similar way, recall how the oil prices hikes of the 70s
                                turned into the price collapse of the 1980s as both fuel efficiency and
                                increased exploration responded ot the market price signals.

                                > They can probably drive Western companies out of the solar cell business.
                                > Their entire ecconomic model, with artifically low value on their
                                > currency, and the disdaining of IP right of other countries, fits
                                > this. They may very well increase prices after becoming a near
                                > monopoly, but the alternatives are oil and gas and coal and wind.
                                > And, for certain remote applications, solar power actually works best.
                                Well, they can drive them out, perhaps, but can they keep them out? One
                                of two things seems likely:

                                1. China creates a temporary monopoly, then tries to raise prices to
                                profit from it. See above for how market forces respond.

                                2. China creates a monopoly, then subsidizes solar panel producers
                                permanently to maintain that monopoly. And permanently low prices for
                                solar panels cause terrible devastation to the U.S. economy...Wait, that
                                doesn't quite make sense. I think I rather like low prices for solar
                                panels. And this could create a boom in low-cost, non-polluting energy
                                which only benefits us.

                                > So, I'm guessing that it will not be the big win they see. But, they
                                > are caught at a GDP level where Huntington has pointed out that
                                > totalitarian goverments begin to get pushed by the growing middle
                                > class. Their reaction is to clamp down harder....especially with the
                                > new leadership, where all the leaders are both well filtered and the
                                > result of nepotism. It is a dangerous mixture. Putting this together
                                > with their demographic window of opportunity (the 1-child policy has a
                                > big demographic bubble that will be old in 20 years), a surplus of
                                > males, and one has a classic situation where countries become aggressive.
                                OK, this is where my "economist" hat no longer gives me any particular
                                aid. I will say that indeed it will get interesting, but the factor that
                                is most likely to cause aggression on a large scale is water. That is in
                                short supply, unless we can access abundant cheap energy to desalinate
                                ocean water to make potable water.

                                Regards,

                                --
                                Kevin B. O'Brien
                                zwilnik@...
                                A damsel with a dulcimer in a vision once I saw.


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                              • Klaus Stock
                                Hi, ... Well, selling products at prices below below production cost and (aggressive) disdaining of IP right of other countries has happened before. So. China
                                Message 15 of 29 , Dec 4, 2012
                                  Hi,

                                  >> Their entire ecconomic model, with artifically low value on their
                                  >> currency, and the disdaining of IP right of other countries, fits
                                  >> this.

                                  Well, selling products at prices below below production cost and
                                  (aggressive) disdaining of IP right of other countries has happened
                                  before. So. China is imitating the past strategies of the western
                                  countries. So what?


                                  Some disturbing thoughts remain, though.

                                  We in Germany pay high fuel taxes and are told to drive fuel-efficient
                                  and clean vehicles. OTOH, Volkswagen still produces 1980s models in
                                  China. This way, we take care that not are responsible for pollution
                                  and excessive oil consumption, but the Chinese. Hooray?

                                  - Klaus


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