PART ONE OF AL GORE’S KEYNOTE SPEECH AT POWER SHIFT 2011
Hear that clicking sound? That’s the sound of the wheels of progress. The progressive movement is developing across our country in pockets and corners and campuses and homes and neighborhoods. Powershift 2011 is underway in our nation’s capital. Take a look at what this coalition of young people energizing the green energy movement. I see the future and it is us!
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New York Times reports:
… with food prices rising sharply in recent months, many experts are calling on countries to scale back their headlong rush into green fuel development, arguing that the combination of ambitious biofuel targets and mediocre harvests of some crucial crops is contributing to high prices, hunger and political instability.
This year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported that its index of food prices was the highest in its more than 20 years of existence. Prices rose 15 percent from October to January alone, potentially “throwing an additional 44 million people in low- and middle-income countries into poverty,” the World Bank said.
Soaring food prices have caused riots or contributed to political turmoil in a host of poor countries in recent months, including Algeria, Egypt and Bangladesh, where palm oil, a common biofuel ingredient, provides crucial nutrition to a desperately poor populace. During the second half of 2010, the price of corn rose steeply — 73 percent in the United States — an increase that the United Nations World Food Program attributed in part to the greater use of American corn for bioethanol.
Food and Agricultural Organization – FAO, click here
World Food Index reports: The FAO Food Price Index (FFPI) averaged 230 points in March 2011, down 2.9 percent from its peak in February, but still 37 percent above March last year. International prices of oils and sugar contracted the most, followed by cereals. By contrast, dairy and meat prices were up.
»The FAO Cereal Price Index averaged 252 points, down 2.6 percent from February, but still 60% higher than in March 2010. The past month was extremely volatile for grains, with international quotations first plunging sharply, driven largely by recent events in Japan and North Africa, before regaining most of their losses towards the end of the month, as markets reacted to a continuing tight world supply and demand condition. Rice prices also fell amid large availability in exporting countries and sluggish import demand.
» The FAO Oils/Fats Price Index fell 7 percent, to 260, interrupting nine months of consecutive rise. Last month’s slide in prices reflects primarily a recovery in global supply prospects for palm oil.
» The FAO Sugar Price Index averaged 372 points, down as much as 10 percent from the highs of January and February. The recent decline in international sugar prices was partly prompted by prospects of increased market availability, notably from India.
» The FAO Dairy Price Index averaged 234 points, up 1.9 percent from February and 37 percent above its level in March 2010. Firm import demand together with lower than expected production in Southern hemisphere supplying countries, where the milking season is coming to a close, continue to underpin world prices.
» The FAO Meat Price Index was little changed at 169 points in March. The upward trend in meat prices since 2010 has flattened in the past few months, reflecting trade disruptions in several key markets, particularly North Africa and Japan.
I just finished listening to the Economics Editor for Bloomberg, Michael McKee, on whether the Libyan situation which is spiking oil prices will “shock” the markets and lead to a double-dip recession. McKee stated that 10 of the previous last 11 recessions were preceded by oil shock to the markets. The big question is, is this an oil shock to the markets?
Here is a brief summary of his report:
– Oil prices are highest in three years
– Gas nationwide average of $3.19 (closer to $3.79 here in SoCal)
– The U.S. uses 400 million gallons per day
Stephen Schork of the Schork report stated we will liekly see gas at $4.00 a gallon in the summer of 2011;
If we get to $4.00 a gallon, the increase = $2.6 billion per week that people will pay and that will not be spent in the overall economy for other goods & services and thus may lead to a double-dip in the economy;
OPEC has stated it will replace any shortfall of Libyan oil through increased production.
As we can see, it is time to invest in alternative energy as we are at the mercy of middle east politics and related oil production models.
Just a note: The bill that passed the House last week to continue funding the federal government would rescind all “unobligated” funds from the Department of Energy’s clean energy loan guarantee program, with the exception of funds for nuclear energy projects.
NPR reports: SolarCity, a four-year-old company, leases solar panels to its customers, so they don’t have to shell out a lot of money up front to buy them. Customers often pay less for the leases and their electric bills than they used to pay for their electric bills alone.
The company is quickly spreading to more states, but only ones that are subsidizing renewable energy.
“A key thing for us when we move into a market is can we save a business or homeowner money, and if there’s no local incentive you can’t do it,” says SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive.
This all sweetens a 30 percent federal tax credit for solar panels.
Solar installations in Massachusetts are up 20-fold compared to four years ago and prices are coming down, Sullivan says.
“The goal of all these programs is to support and create a market in renewable energies, particularly solar, and then the free market will take over and you’ll see the costs of installations come down and the cost of power come down so that the rebates and the incentives can ultimately go away,” he says.
Rive, SolarCity’s CEO, says by offering affordable solar power, he hopes to grow his company fast enough to create the economies of scale and the name recognition necessary to make solar affordable without incentives.
“So, this is what’s important to me: To get to scale where we see millions of people adopting it,” he says. “And when we get to that point, it will make an environmental difference.”