Sunday, March 3, 2013

Welcome to the Gottesdiener Sened Clean Energy Index

Dr. Sened is a Professor of Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis, and former chair of the Political Science Department at Washington University. His main interests are comparative theory of institutions, game theory and mathematical modeling. Dr. Sened teaches Undergraduate and Graduate level courses in the Political Science Department.

The reason we decided to launch a new Clean Energy Blog is rather obvious but may not look that way at first sight.  On the surface, there is a lot of talk of green energy and its potential to literally save the planet from global warming and other public harm associated with the emission of CO2 and other toxins in all processes of producing energy from fossil fuels.  Beneath the surface and away from the public eye, the pace of the implementation and spread of the use of clean energy is painfully slow.  The question is why?  If clean energy is so potentially beneficial why are we not replacing all fossil fuel based energy production with clean energy sources?  After all the leading potential energy sources, wind and solar, are readily available at almost no cost.  Our clean energy blog will be dedicated to tireless search for the truth on this matter.  

After much preparation and anticipation we are finally launching our clean energy blog.  Why are we embarking on this journey?  Not because we know where it will lead us but because we are convinced that we need to give it everything we have got. The stakes are too high and the cumulative knowledge on the subject is yet to be sorted out.  So we decided to provide this service in the hope to close the information gap and by doing so, enable and promote better policies to replace those that are failing us.

The scientific evidence of the global warming and its devastating effects that are coming much sooner than previously expected is no longer a source of controversy.

The fact that commitment to clean energy and replacing fossil fuels energy with clean energy can reverse this trend is not controversial either. 

So why are we not doing it?

Besides global warming, the processes of burning fossil fuels to produce energy release numerous toxins into the air that kill hundred of thousands of humans every year.  According to the American Lung Association, 24,000 people a year die prematurely because of pollution from coal-fired power plants alone. And every year 38,000 heart attacks, 12,000 hospital admissions and an additional 550,000 asthma attacks result from power plant pollution.  This is only coal, and only in the U.S. where air quality has improved significantly as a direct consequence of the Clean Air Act of 1970.  Now think of all the other fossil fuel burning that is going on every day in the U.S. and around the globe.  China has a much bigger air quality problem in its vast urban areas and a lot larger population.  Even if we completely discarded the global warming phenomenon, which of course we should not do, burning fossil fuels would still be an alarming devastation of a monumental magnitude.

And then there is the simple fact that we can easily put an end to it by simply switching to clean energy resources.  They are abundant, cheap and almost infinitely available.

So why are we not doing it? 

Well, this is the main rationale for creating and putting all of this time into the creation and from now on the maintenance of this blog.

It turns out that the answer to this question is complicated.  Actually part of the answer to the question is precisely that it is so complicated that it is hard to comprehend. 

But we have acquired some expertise in the matter and have been collecting data for the last four years so as to be able to provide this simple service: close the information gap.  Put it out there for everyone to see.

Technologically, it is rather simple and very feasible to replace all fossil fuel energy on the planet with clean energy resources.  The reasons why this substitution is not taking place are many and very complex.  In this blog from this day on we will review all that needs to be reviewed so that the public gets free access to the intricate web of reality surrounding the clean energy world and the debates, large and small that surround it. 

We are not going to be ideological about any of this.  We will look at the facts as best we can gather them and report to the best of our ability the most fact-based knowledge on the issue humanly possible.

We will visit particular policies that work and discuss failures as well.  We will continually update the prices of alternative energy sources and review academic and other scientific reports from around the globe so that our readers can find the most updated information on as much of it as we can put our hands on.

We are not alone in this quest.  Over the years we have made some friends.  They are former students colleagues and professional of different and very wide range of expertise. Some of them are very enthusiastic and advocate the fastest possible deployment of as much resources available to replace the use of fossil fuel with clean energy as soon as humanly possible. Others are very skeptic.  They raise the issue of price, long time reliability, intermittency and many other challenges associated with the deployment of large scale clean energy installations.   We will give all of them a stage to post their factual based, expertise knowledge – to distinguish from personal opinion -  and let the debate lead to as clear insight as it may.

We will make every effort to check the origins, validity and reliability of the posts posted and will publish quickly any refutations or evidence for error.

More importantly, we will publish a lot of interesting information so as to make the effort and time that our readers will dedicate to our blog, well worth their time.

Most importantly, we hope to close the information gap not just so that our readers are better informed.  Our purpose is to help bring the change that is so urgently needed.  Though we do not know, as of now, what change is needed, what policies work and what policies are bound to fail, we are convinced that the open and lively debate on this blog will help all of us figure it out.  Good luck and bon voyage!


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