Look at the Whole Equation

That’s essentially what Michael Levi is saying in this smart post. His lament is that energy and related environmental issues are not viewed through a wider lens:

Until we can think about security, economics, and environmental risk at the same time, we’re going to have a lot of trouble developing an energy policy that makes sense.

This made me think of an interesting conversation I had with someone earlier this week (a veteran of counterinsurgency campaigns), who was asserting that the U.S. military plan in Afghanistan similarly made no sense, because it pairs traditional counterinsurgency tactics (e.g., winning hearts & minds) with a heavy boots on the ground footprint. That large military presence (much of it a supply network) requires conventional firepower support that, in turn, leads inevitably to collateral damage (enraging the hearts & minds of indigenous would-be friendlies) and the subsequent undermining of the counterinsurgency campaign.

Thus, it would appear that the U.S. has a screwy war policy to go along with its screwy energy policy.

4 Responses to “Look at the Whole Equation”

  1. charlie says:

    Should I even bother pointing out that the fuel lines into Afghanistan – hundred of trucks — are being driven by Taliban drivers?  More confusion.
    The problem with energy and environmental policy is we’ve cleaned up the low hanging fruit, and the last fruit  remaining (conservation) is something a Democratic president won’t touch.

  2. Keith Kloor says:

    Charlie, please do elaborate. What types of “conservation” are you talking about with respect to energy policy?

  3. Alexander Harvey says:

    A concern I have about allowing the market to produce the optimal response given a regulatory structure like Cap and Trade lies in the fact that whereas the markets can be as free as one might wish they may not be open markets from the point of view of the consumer.

    The consumer cannot necessarily participate in an optimal way if it cannot access all of the tradable equivalents. If consumers are tied to electricity produced primarily by coal how can the market for gas produced electricity be made open to them. The production in their available marketplace may adjust on decadal timescale as it optimises but that may be of little comfort. A similar case can be made for heating fuel and transportation fuel.

    The personal benefit of optimising markets is dependent on the consumers ability to invest in optimal solutions which is dependent on the availability of income, credit and or interventions such as government support.

    So I should like to add the Social Dimension along side energy security and climate considerations.


  4. charlie says:

    Sorry, a bit late.
    When Romm is not being an complete ass.
    The (political) issue with this stuff is most of it is things the federal government doesn’t really regulate, or it does, it does so imperfectly. (light bulb ban)

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