There’s a lot of good stuff today, including this article by Arnold Kling on the predictive power of Moore’s Law and the future of telephone companies, and this article by Ed Driscoll on the opportunities and roadblocks in the dissemination of wireless networks. A lot of folks, including Virginia Postrel, have thought carefully about the development of “third places”, and the technology described here is the kind of creative change that will make it happen.
Today’s LA Times has an article on a controversy over Medicine Lake, which is in a geothermally active area in northern California. Calpine is looking into constructing some geothermal generation plants, but local Native Americans worry that this use of the lake will sap it of its cleansing properties and traditional spiritual energy. It will be very interesting to see how this unfolds, and how they resolve the conflicting uses of these resources. The article makes a point that resonates with my prior post:
Calpine’s armada of new plants fired by natural gas remain susceptible to the price swings of a fickle market for fossil fuels. In contrast, power from a geothermal plant comes with no cost for fuel–and produces 26 times less greenhouse gas. Mother Earth does all the work: Deep pockets of subterranean water are superheated by magma, producing steam to turn turbines.
Geothermal is likely to be more costly than fossil fuel generation per megawatt hour for a while yet, because while there is no fuel cost it does not generate power as intensely or as consistently, but it would be useful in enabling the diversification strategy.
RAND has released a report on the consequences of increasingly relying on natural gas as the primary fuel for generating electricity. This very good article in the San Jose Mercury News does a nice job of summarizing the risks inherent in such non-diversification, which the report highlights. Hedge, hedge, hedge; it may mean tolerating spending more for other fuels, or using more dirty fuels than we might otherwise, but when we think about fuel choice we are trading off on lots of dimensions of costs and benefits — stability of fuel prices and supplies, pollution, and many others that will vary from person to person.
What a fantastic start to my day! The BBC reports that three previously unperformed Monty Python sketches will be performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this fall by Sketch Club. Now if I can just find a good reason to go … although I agree with the article’s author, who calls the troupe’s task in performing them “unenviable”. I mean, how many of us will watch them and superimpose the original Pythons in our heads?