The International Monetary Fund has come out with a study saying that the $1.9 trillion that governments around the world spend on energy subsidies are a huge problem and are negatively affecting global warming. IMF says that governments could balance their budgets and do the world a favor by cutting them right now. Easy enough to say. The problem is that this is one place where developed countries are not at fault. Most of these subsidies are in the developing world (Iran is the worst) and are used by governments to placate their restless populations. This may be just another case of the cold, cruel IMF imposing austerity on developing nations.
Earnest Moniz (above) may lead a charmed life. He seems surrounded by adversaries as he enters his Senate confirmation hearings this week. Environmentalists and liberals are upset about his ties to the oil and gas industry and his support of fracking and nuclear energy. Conservatives have latched onto his statements in favor of carbon levies and says he wants to raise energy prices. Will he be annihilated in this liberal-conservative crossfire? On the contrary, Politico says his confirmation will probably sail through the Senate.
Britain's "Green Deal" is proving to be a tough sell for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey. The policy is trying to combine new energy taxes with a redoubled effort at government supported energy conservation. It looks good on paper but the taxes are hitting right at a time when Britain is suffering an unprecedented cold spell and utilities are running short on gas supplies. BloombergBusinessweek calculates the new rules will drive up utility bills 36 percent. The government claims they will eventually come down 40 percent with greater efficiencies but that's still over the horizon. Right now Davey is under severe fire.
Finally, scientists at the University of Georgia have come up with a marvel - a newly created microbe that takes carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and turns it into a biofuel. Wait a minute! Isn't that what all photosynthetic organisms do? Well, the researchers say this will enable us to bypass bulky plants and deal directly with bacteria. But what about those blue-green algae? Haven't we already experimented with those? Well this time, they say, the microbe will produce 3-hyroxypropionic acid, "a common industrial acid that's used to make acrylics." Further genetic tweaks may allow it to produce something that can be burned as fuel. But there's another catch here. In order to do all this, you have to feed the microbe a steady diet of hydrogen. But hydrogen doesn't exist free in nature. It has to be manufactured, usually using . . . . natural gas. So we're going to use natural gas to feed a microbe to generate a carbon fuel that can be burned? Sometimes you have to do a double-check on these overenthusiastic scientists.