Saturday, 22 June 2013

"Plump, Round Biases & Erect Ignorata"

My comment below, awaiting moderation at Ketty Chen's blog, "The Participant Observer"...


Generally, I think your and J.M.'s reporting on this episode in Miaoli is very good. The contempt for  the local thugs noted with the phrase "white shirts" is very good. That being said, my general precept for commenting is to offer criticism rather than praise, on the assumption that criticism is of greater value. So...

"I do maintain, however, as we said in the Times article, the case of Yuanli could serve as a platform for open discussion on what kind of renewable energy method is best suited for Taiwan."

If that discussion is framed as about renewable energy, then it's not much of an "open" discussion is it? And that's not simply due to the implied exclusion of fossil fuel sources from the discussion, but also because the selective focus on renewable energy implies a decision about which ends are to be sought, and which are to be excluded.

Reducing CO2 emissions is an implied end of that discussion. Yet even if the Taiwan government could tommorow magically reduce CO2 emissions to zero, this would not affect the ongoing increase in worldwide CO2 emissions. The costs of such a policy would be very large whilst the ostensible benefits would be zero.

Limiting the growth of electricity demand is an implied end of that discussion, since a switch to renewable energy would necessitate a reduced rate of increase in the supply of electricity. The natural consequence of this is electricity price increases - which will tend to affect the poor most of all via their more general effect upon other market prices.

The excluded ends are obvious: all of the things that could have been done had not the money been wasted on reducing CO2; the attempt to protect the poor from price inflation in the markets; any attempt to rationally disengage the State from electricity production.

There are many other points that could be made, but basically an "open" discussion about renewable energy would be little more than a talking-shop for fashionable people to admire their own plump, round biases and display their erect ignorata in front of one another at the implied expense of everyone else.

An "open" discussion about energy should be just that: an open discussion. There is nothing to fear from alternative views and disagreement.


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