Google invests in renewable energy research

Written By: - Date published: 6:15 am, November 29th, 2007 - 12 comments
Categories: climate change - Tags:

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From the NYT:

Google, the Internet company with a seemingly limitless source of revenue, plans to get into the business of finding limitless sources of energy…

Google said it would spend hundreds of millions of dollars, part of that to hire engineers and energy experts to investigate alternative energies like solar, geothermal and wind power. The effort is aimed at reducing Google’s own mounting energy costs to run its vast data centers, while also fighting climate change and helping to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels.

Read the full article.

12 comments on “Google invests in renewable energy research”

  1. PhilBest 1

    How many on the left have spotted the connection between wealth and the ability to take better care of the environment?

    Or that NZ hasn’t a dog’s show of meeting its Kyoto targets without going back to the stone age economically, while the US, which didn’t sign Kyoto, has turned its CO2 emissions around already, one of very few countries in the world to do so? Google’s initiative here being merely a typical example of what a hang of a lot of all those evil capitalists are actually doing for the environment.

    So sorry, your little ploy is coming badly unstuck. You’ll have to revert to the original plan for the overthrow of Capitalism.

  2. PhilBest 2

    You guys, the difficulty posting on this Heath Robinsod site is just a joke. Here’s my second attempt. What a waste of time.

    How many on the left have worked out the connection between wealth and the ability to care for the environment? Or why NZ hasn’t a dogs show of meeting Kyoto targets without winding our economy back to the Stone Age? Meanwhile, the US has actually turned even its CO2 emissions around (having long since fixed all the other environmental nasties) even though they didn’t sign Kyoto (shock, horror). Notice that the richest nations are the ones most looking like meeting CO2 targets.

    What Google is doing here is just one typical example of what lots of those evil capitalists are doing for the environment.

    Sorry, guys, it looks as if we’re not going to fall for your little ploy after all. You’ll have to revert to Plan A for the overthrow of Capitalism.

  3. Phil 3

    Big thumbs up to you – another Phil!

    (No, we are not the same person – I got here first)

    One thing that i’ve always thought odd about the Wealth vs Environment argument is that it doesnt take account of HOW that wealth was created in the first place – if you ruined some aspect of the environment (deforestation, polluting rivers/lakes etc) then you’re starting from a lower base upon which to improve.

  4. Matthew Pilott 4

    PhilBest,

    Might I mention that many of the countries that are meeting their Kyoto targets are obviously signatories of Kyoto, last I heard they weren’t back in the stone age. I guess that’s just some fluke, right?

    So what do you think NZ has done that has led to growth in CO2 emmissions, that is directly attributable to NZ signing the kyoto protocol? Because if you can’t show a direct link then you’ve wasted your time posting that comment, and twice at that…

    While we’re at it, I’m interested to know where you think the drive for environmental issues comes from? It’s pretty obvious that corporations have no interest whatsoever in internalising their environmental costs, and only do so to a minimal degree that will ameliorate their customers. Google and a select few othes have a genuine, almost philanthropic interest in the economy. They are unfortunately in the minority. Therefore corporations need regulation, and agreements such as Kyoto.

    I notice Australia is about to sign, and probably the US, when the democrats take over. After that, there will be a real chance of tackling the developing countries too.
    I like your faith in google saving the world though, how many of their shares do you own btw?

    Lastly how many on the right have realised that excessive and rampant consumerism is responsible for the plight of the planet and your cure is – more excessive and rampant consumerism.

  5. Gruela 5

    PhilBest

    You’re using very selective facts to claim the U.S. has turned around it’s CO2 emissions.

    It’s true that they did drop last year, but even the U.S, Govt. admits that this was due mainly to a very mild winter, (caused by Global Warming?)

    The fact is that U.S. emissions are still higher than they were even a few years ago, and are still expected to rise overall for quite some time. (Unless, of course, there is a serious recession caused by that numpty in the White House and his creative budgeting.)

    You’re right that a free market economy is the best tool for creating wealth, but it has absolutely no feed-back systems to enable any recognition of the value of conservation of resources. This requires Govt. intervention, because only the state can plan impartially for the future.

  6. Pascal's bookie 6

    I quite like to see a breakdown of PhilBest’s figures on the reduction in US emmissions. I’m not questioning that they are happening,(I’m kind of agnostic on the point: I understand much enviromental reporting in the US is now done on a voluntary basis), but I wonder in what sectors they are occurring. It is reasonable to assume, I think, that SUV’s cause more emmissions than smaller cars, so that aint it.

    I suspect that a lot of industrial emmissions are dropping due to the fact that a lot of american industry is now done offshore. Unless this outplacement is taken into account your theory is hoggswaddle.

  7. PhilBest 7

    Matthew Pilott, miss all my points and argue things I’m not saying, why don’t you? In countries that are WEALTHY, there is a much more rapid uptake of new, more expensive technology that leads to reductions in CO2 emissions. Cars, appliances, solar panels, energy efficient houses, etc. If your population can’t afford it, then the only way to cut CO2 emissions is by shrinking your economy. It all depends at what point you are on the scale of economic development and wealth.

    It is no accident that Communist countries, with their inability to create wealth or improvements in living standards, were the WORST EVER WRECKERS OF THE ENVIRONMENT IN HUMAN HISTORY. If the “former USSR” were still intact, the inhabitants of whole regions would be dead or dying of their toxic environment.

    “The drive for environmental issues” as you call it, comes from people who are fed, clothed, housed, and relatively contented. We don’t see the dirt-poor natives of third world countries protesting against those new factories that will provide them their first ever paying jobs.

    So how many people in Communist or undeveloped countries have a “philanthropic concern for the environment” or the money to do anything about it?

    My “cure” is not rampant consumerism, but wealth. They do not have to be the same thing. Is installing solar panels on your roof “rampant consumerism”, and how many poor people will do it?

    I don’t disagree that there needs to be regulations to protect the environment, but in countries that are underdeveloped, they are prepared to put up with a bit more pollution until everyone is fed, clothed, etc. Just like our forebears thought nothing of utilising coalburning steam engines to advance the prospects of civilisation in their time.

    Gruela, I like you. As I said above to Matthew, I agree that government regulation is important. We’re pretty much agreed otherwise, I take it.

    Pascal’s Bookie, how do you think NZ is going to meet Kyoto requirements. If it causes industry to go offshore, what was the point of signing the protocol at all?

    Regarding small cars and SUV’s, the latest ones are around ten times more efficient than they were ten years ago. Americans driving brand new Ford Explorers are emitting less than NZ-ers driving ten-year old Toyota Corollas. That’s all part of the wealth/environment dynamic.

    The other Phil, nice name. That is an interesting point given that those European countries that are now wealthy and doing OK on Kyoto, carried out all THEIR environmental despoilation CENTURIES ago. Like burn-clearing forests for hunting, grazing and crops. Fixing a date of 1990 under Kyoto is inherently unfair on nations who have a lot of unspoiled forest cover.

    The best solution is to provide developing countries with the LATEST forms of energy so that they do not have to go through the dirty Industrial revolution stage. It doesn’t help that the Left has co-opted environmental issues as a form by which to attack capitalism, which is the only game in town when it comes to wealth creation.

  8. Matthew Pilott 8

    PhilBest, not sure where the communist angle is coming from and I don’t think you quite got my point. (which was nothing whatsoever to do with Communism…)

    Corporations, left to their own devices, have no incentive for helping the environment. Any negative effects from corporations are spread over too great an area, or too far removed from the source, or working too slowly, to take direct action (or to accept that they should, in time to make a difference. I.e already over 350ppm CO2, and will get far higher without intervention).

    I’ll give a couple of examples. Deep-sea fishing, left to its own devices would overfist stocks to the point of collapse. This has happened in the past and is still happening. The decline is generally too slow for them to notice until 95% of stocks are gone, and it becomes slim pickings.

    Nissan, on its own, can’t be blamed for atmospheric carbon. Nor can Toyota. Nor Exxon-Mobil.

    These corporations or industries will not self regulate to the point that their environmental externalities are internalised. You’ve agreed that regulation is required, but my point to your first post stands – it is the capitalists that are purely self-serving and need regulation. My point is Google and co are precious few exceptions.

    Communism needn’t be the only counterpoint to capitalism.

    Wealth on its own won’t do anyting, it needs to be mated to ideals other than capitalism. Pure capitalism will fail the planet as the focus on wealth will not lead to corporations accepting their share of the cost of sustainability – it is a fallacy that wealth is the cure.

    Form a left point of view, corporations seem to generally require being dragged kicking and screaming into the world that is our environmental reality. ‘Evil’ is a subjective measure, and I’d go with self-serving. And I argue still, that any corporate environmentalism is a pragmatic bowing to commercial realities rather than a paradigm shift in capitalism itself.

    Furthermore, a left-leaning government will generally want to assist the environment from an ideological perspective – look at where the world’s green-aligned parties lie on teh spectrum. Right-leaning parties are becoming ‘blue-green’ as a token and pragmatic gesture to voters.

    I do not specifically disagree that wealth is an important aspect of environmentalism, (and was misunderstood if that’s whta you thought I said) I was more commenting on the evil capitalism concept. By “the cure being excessive and rampant consumerism” I was implying that capitalism is not the answer, and that alone would lead to a worse environment that we have.

    P.S can you give me any decent sources on the modern large engine vs inefficient small old engine. I’ve seen some very conflicting views on this, as it’s so easy to paint the picture you want, and I’d like to know if you can contribute to that, based on what you said regarding SUVs.

  9. PhilBest 9

    OK, you’re still arguing with things I am not saying. What I am saying is that regulations to protect the environment, and people that actually care for the environment, only exist in wealthy countries, and only capitalist (to at least some degree) countries are wealthy countries.

    I personally detest rampant consumerism, but I hold that the technological advancement that is part of the Capitalist growth engine, does a whole lot of good for mankind, and that that is going to provide the solutions for environmental crises, NOT introducing regulations that go so much further than ever before that they derail that engine of growth and advancement.

    You might be amazed that the crisis in the late 1800’s was horse excrement. Typhoid was rampant. Every new energy source has brought problems, but has incidentally solved worse ones in the process, and that tends to be forgotten. I have no hesitation in saying that Nuclear energy is a far LESSER evil than the burning of fossil fuels.

    Are you familiar with any of the works I referred to above? If not, you should be. DAMN. What works referred to above? Bloody censoring post-deleters? Oooooh, we CAN’T HAVE people KNOWING about Bjorn Lomborg, or Julian Simon, or Indur Goklany. At least look at the works of Nordhaus and Schellenberg – they are very hardcore environmentalists who want the movement to up its game by getting realistic.

  10. Matthew Pilott 10

    Bugger, lost my last post, Wodrpress doesn’t like me much.

    And now it won’t let me post this. If this appears seven times, my sincere apologies!

    PhilBest – There’s not a hell of a lot of difference in a lot of what you are saying, except that you seem to be saying wealth creation, in of itself, will ameliorate the worst effects of anthropogenic climate change. Wealth creating being driven by capitalism.

    Fact is wealth creation is exacerbating the problem. Every dollar of GDP has a corresponding carbon cost. Therefore too much walth creation, and the planet will be royally screwed before any green technologies are able to help. wealth creation only has the potential to limit the damage that it does!

    I also don’t think I was arguing things you weren’t saying – more presenting an alternative viewpoint, in which wealth is more of an indicator for a country that is likely to be investing in environmental research.

    Capitalism by itself won’t do this at all, and it is a fallacy to credit it with environmental initiatives – unless there’s a buck to be made, but that demand for such products and services is not driven by capitalism but by other sources, my previous post suggested the origin or these…

    regarding regulation, historically ther hasn’t been such an imperative. Not on a global scale anyway – regulations need to curtail the economy to sustainable levels that will allow environmental technologies to catch up – before it’s too late.

    If your post appeared and then was gone, it is bacause you got the captcha wrong. I sincerely doubt that anyone would have deleted your post, and I wish I’d been able to read it.

    Yeah go nuclear power – although a joke of an idea for New Zealand, and just one whipped up by those who seem to be embarrassed to be New Zealanders – I’d rather India & China put a few dozen of those up. At best they’ll work fine and help keep atmospheric carbon below 450ppm, at worst they will only destroy large tracts of land but not the planet. Nuclear technology had probably improved to the point that a three-mile/chernobyl is unlikely, though I’ve got bugger all knowledge of recent advances in nuclear energy safely.

  11. Tane 11

    Just a tip fullas – if the captcha looks obscure there’s an option to ‘Get a new challenge’ that might help. It’s that little button with the refreshing arrows.

  12. Matthew Pilott 12

    Yeah I use that a fair bit Tane 😉

    So what do you think of Google, and Evil Capitalists?

    I saw an interesting article today, world business leaders demanding action in climate change.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/3/story.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10479303

    Pretty pertinent to what Phil and I were discussing.

    But heck, if this is ‘early action’ I sure don’t want to know what late action would look like.

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