This weekend brought an email from a 13 year old. He asked simply why I hadn’t written about “Carbon Credits” and the effect that will have on energy and fuels. In the course of the letter, the matter was raised that he and his classmates see the carbon credit thing as something that will increase costs to consumers. The revelation is in a question in context:

“If they have to increase the cost, why not increase the cost of inefficiency?”

The thirteen year old children get it. They realize that the lost energy and fuel productivity is 2, 3, 4 and 5 fold or more of what energy is used now to do work. The biggest sources of energy and fuels, oilfields, reactors, solar collectors and power plants are already there, and the kids want to know why we aren’t doing something about that.

It’s the best question I’ve ever received. Coming from a young students who have read this blog, and use it in school is high praise indeed. I had never thought that the level of language and construction used here would be useful at the 8th grade level or that they were paying attention.

The first answer is about “Carbon Credits,” as that is the theme in the email letter. The answer is that carbon credits won’t exist to solve any problem. They would exist to move the responsibility of emitting carbon dioxide from one who emits a great deal to someone who emits not as much or sequesters CO2 in the course of their activities. Carbon credits are nothing other than a construction of law that will make using carbon based fuels more expensive and there will be a bureaucracy to cope with and meaningless jobs in companies to do the coping and perhaps a “marketplace” to exchange them among the holders. It will cost consumers more money and will not solve any problems. It’s a huge political and popular press diversion from doing something constructive. Something to talk about, perhaps impose a financial leak on companies that can be mopped up by doing, well, something or another.

Currently, in the U.S. the struggle is on to make the law and the inevitable rules and regulations more of an advantage to some than others. The construction of a law is underway and the work of the slyest and loudest voices of special interests and political influence are under way.

The best that could happen is to call the whole thing off. By the time the influence peddlers and special interests impose their wishes on the process, not much will remain of the original goal. There must be a compromise among the competing interests to garner the votes to get to a law, and it already looks bleak for the people who must pay the bills. The original goal of the proposed law is quite dubious just to start with.

The second point about “increasing the cost of inefficiency” is an excellent observation. I believe that humanity en mass has blinders or “tunnel vision,” both concepts that limit the view to “straight ahead!” It requires a special effort, or a more remote point of view to examine things in a larger more encompassing view. Most of the time people don’t expand the view, they look for relief of the problem or trouble rather than solve the matter that brought on the problem or the trouble.

It might be a cultural thing, much of the world’s people when faced with a problem react with an attempt to fix blame, a form of looking at the consequences to them and for them, a way out. Another way practiced by a few cultures and the better businesses waste no time fixing blame, rather they look for people to find problems as early as possible so the problem can be fixed at the lowest cost. One is a primitive although completely normal emotional behavior; the other is a learned behavior that requires applied intelligence and practice.

When you go to math class, imagine that with each proposed problem the class let out with a clamor for “relief” and a demand for a “way out” of solving it! That’s just what most of the grownups, the politicians and popular media are doing about energy and fuels. You and me, and all the other readers here at this site are looking for new ways to solve the problem, and if at all possible, find ways that make the solutions less expensive and available to more people.

I wish to thank the email author for sparking me to write this post. He and his classmates seem to be at a fine school where looking into the issues of the day has a role. These kids have a better chance to add to their body of a wide base of knowledge than do many others and as we older folks know, it just takes time to absorb the knowledge and the skills of discernment to attain a base of wisdom. Dear young readers, keep going, there are fascinating and rewarding challenges ahead in a journey of exploration and discovery ahead of you.

There are some special kids out there thinking about much more than YouTube , and the array of other youth oriented sites that make no contribution to their growth and maturation. Its quite a pleasing surprise to get this kind of communiqué, and seeing and hearing from the good kids on the internet, the achievers, and those interested in the world around them is such a refreshing event.

I wish everyone to know that the information about the email author is deleted, with only the text of the content filed for reference to make this response, as a matter of policy not to release personal information of those who make contact here.

Good kids on the Internet, indeed!


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