Skip

Don't be Carbon-emitting?
October 1, 2008 8:36 PM   Subscribe

Google, an internet search company, announced a US$ 4.4 trillion proposal for reducing U.S. dependence on fossil fuels by 2030. Google CEO Eric Schmidt, chided political leadership in the U.S. and the rest of the world for not showing initiative on the issue. Google's philanthropic arm, Google.org has already made significant investments in alternative energy solutions (previously) that will naturally tie in to this plan.Google stock has bounded on the news, but is their plan the way to go?
posted by HE Amb. T. S. L. DuVal (56 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Google, an internet search company

Never heard of 'em.
posted by Cyrano at 8:40 PM on October 1, 2008 [9 favorites]


Related: Google datacenter efficiency. This one little marketing website says more publically about their datacenter operations than has ever been revealed before.

Google stock has bounded on the news
Or not; it's really not clear Google's stock price has anything to do with this news.
posted by Nelson at 8:41 PM on October 1, 2008


This is googles concept album phase.
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:43 PM on October 1, 2008 [14 favorites]


Oh, Google is totally getting the ten million dollars for this one...
posted by tss at 8:45 PM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is googles concept album phase.

'Googlegumma'?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:45 PM on October 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


Wow, i had never known that Google was an internet search company. I thought they just did Orkut and Knoll.
posted by delmoi at 8:46 PM on October 1, 2008


No, they look for internets too.
posted by regicide is good for you at 8:47 PM on October 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


Also, how can you say that their stock "bounded" on the news when it was announced after the close today? The whole market is up over the past two days, and I doubt you could separate the effect of the announcement on their price.

Anyway, there's not really any reason why Google couldn't get into the alternative energy business. Everyone knows it's the next bubble.
posted by delmoi at 8:48 PM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, google's stock price dropped from $404 to $320 in the last three minutes of trading on Tuesday due to "technical errors" at nasdaq.
posted by delmoi at 8:49 PM on October 1, 2008


ok... been a while since i been on the filter. On this subject i think google is right. Take for example I am quite sure previously linked Shai Agassi's approach to forward looking transportation:

http://www.wired.com/cars/futuretransport/magazine/16-09/ff_agassi?currentPage=all

http://www.betterplace.com

a couple links to which my man jonathan responded to in his curious wonderful way:

"This is a very valuable "legend in the making". The power of a legend is that it replaces the last legend, which in our case is the legend of the carbon economy, up the line and down and especially in the area of energy: carbon fuel feudalism. This legend-in-the-making seems to have the key ingredients, a visionary and a an elder cueing the hero to push deeper into the maze of necessity.

Think about the problem, 100-and-some-years old, now: the battery issue. There has to be something there that is not only a physiological challange but a psychological one as well. The human barrier, here, is evident, and you have got to love seeing that barrier being pushed by something like, "Better World."

Apparently, we have to marrow the reality that even problems have Birthdays. and dig the reality out of our bones and spot-light it with a big target and then set the heart behind the target, so the arrow goes deep, and burns, until a curl of blond smoke that will become a root, begins to leak from the little nut and take hold in some way in the meat and dust of time.

Esoteric Offering: This is where I think there might be a missing piece of technology that has to be pre-engineered--spiritually, using a spiritual technology both fresh and anceint at the same time--because I suspect that until the right kind of hole is excavated in time, carved right-out of the flesh of time, there is a block based on simple laws of temporal volume. A sort of problem, this one, that is generally solved by excavating a hole, into which some high-ankled god can tumble, and by tumbling, fall deeper and deeper into his or her own divine purpose. We get, I think, that their is something divine about Shai's solution, in the true sense of the word, like when a desert is "just divine!" And there is something deeply human in the dilemma.

Exoteric Set-up: Love the way the cell phone and the engine come together, setting the two things on a level with each other and saying: "These two need to get married and do their thing." It smacks of the brilliance of true solution, the braiding of an essential answer not just rudimentary.

But we might spend some time dealing with the question of what this motiff <> is all about. What is it about the battery that we are not grasping on a spiritual level. We sure were not getting it an a financial level: few folks have a real Savings. A Battery listens, and fills-up; it is charged by listening--like a savings account. Isn't a Savings Account is a way of listenning?--while Spending, a fashion of speaking? Burning, exhaust out the tail pipe; that is a way of expending, spending energy. I have had a gut-feeling that this whole "battery issue" is a bearier-issue, like breaking the sound-barrier, and that it cannot be overcome without a complete cultural buy-in. Or, maybe, it is better to say that its solution involves a complete cultural buy-in. I suspect that the battery is, itself, a metaphor for the next stage. Civilization has, as an idea, been associated at various times with the emergence of plumbing and the guiding and control of water (the Dravidians on the Indus River had some kind of plumbing, several thousands of years ago; archeologists have found the pipes). I think we might be at a time where we are dealing with a critical-leap like that of being able to handle water, cleanly, efficiently, purposefully in such a way as to have altered the whole capacity of human beings to live close together. Now it is about a Battery!

You get the drift. I suspect that there is linkage up and down the line between problems all over the planet and a great developmental crisis relative to the Installation in Civilization itself the metaphor of the Battery. The financial system is probably based on a basic comprehension of "burning" and the mechanics involved, but we might be winding down an 81 year Fire period on the planet that is winding down toward something else. I would bet that we really are about to collapse into the answer, not avoid a collapse, but that the collapse will land us, plop, right in the stuff of the solution. I am thinking that the collapse is not to be feared but embraced and that the new thing has already dug a whole under our feet."
posted by specialk420 at 8:50 PM on October 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


Okay, Google -- you save the world, and I let you keep track of my search results. Deal?
posted by danb at 8:50 PM on October 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Shai Agassi's business plan is to get governments to give him electricity monopolies.
posted by delmoi at 8:53 PM on October 1, 2008


It looks like there are two parts to Google's proposal:

1. Replace all of our existing energy generating infrastructure with some pretty bogus renewables, the bulk of which are wind. I didn't see a proposal for matching ambient wind speed with electricity demand, the biggest problem with wind power.

2. A bunch of obvious stuff that is going to happen anyway.


Yawn. Google, wake us when you have solved some of the hard problems. Oh, wait, you are a marketing company which has decided to staff itself with PhDs. But you are still a glorified ad agency.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:01 PM on October 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Good.
posted by voltairemodern at 9:02 PM on October 1, 2008


Alas, I'm too lazy to read the whole Knol. Can someone explain in 25 words or less how Google proposes to spend $4.4T and save $5.4T, leaving one ... *trillion* dollars?
posted by lukemeister at 9:02 PM on October 1, 2008


Which is to say, good that an ad agency would bother to talk about this issue. It won't stay in the public spotlight past elections, otherwise.
posted by voltairemodern at 9:02 PM on October 1, 2008


Ok, perhaps I can't prove causation on the stock price increase, but that was the way I heard it and certainly the correlation is there, glitches aside.

The "internet search company" part is obviously tongue in cheek, but I left it in to emphasize the point that this new project is slightly off from what they are known for. Which is Knol, with one "l".
posted by HE Amb. T. S. L. DuVal at 9:03 PM on October 1, 2008


Volkswagen, an automobile manufacturing company...
posted by spish at 9:03 PM on October 1, 2008


Apparently, we have to marrow the reality that even problems have Birthdays. and dig the reality out of our bones and spot-light it with a big target and then set the heart behind the target, so the arrow goes deep, and burns, until a curl of blond smoke that will become a root, begins to leak from the little nut and take hold in some way in the meat and dust of time.

Waiter!

I'll have two of what he's having.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 9:07 PM on October 1, 2008


Trouble is it'll be in beta until 2050.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:11 PM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Metafilter, a snark manufacturing company...
posted by lukemeister at 9:21 PM on October 1, 2008 [15 favorites]


1. Replace all of our existing energy generating infrastructure with some pretty bogus renewables, the bulk of which are wind. I didn't see a proposal for matching ambient wind speed with electricity demand, the biggest problem with wind power.

I've heard that a $60 billion upgrade to our electricity grid (although I say we still leave Texas out) would be good enough to allow power to flow from a wind farm in one state all the way to the rest of the country. So presumably we could get power from where it was windy at the time.

I'm not exactly sure how accurate that is, though.
posted by delmoi at 9:27 PM on October 1, 2008


In other news Royal Dutch Shell announced a plan to improve internet search engines.
posted by sien at 9:28 PM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


There is a simple, ingenious solution to this crisis: eat babies.
posted by swift at 9:29 PM on October 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


an internet search company, announced a US$ 4.4 trillion proposal

Wow, that's an expensive proposal! I wonder how much it will cost to implement?
posted by blue_beetle at 9:47 PM on October 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Oh, wait, you are a marketing company which has decided to staff itself with PhDs. But you are still a glorified ad agency.

I agree with this wholeheartedly, and I like nothing better than to piss on advertising from the canonical great height, but I nonetheless applaud efforts, particularly with cold cash behind them (or hot cash for that matter; I am nonpartisan on the cash-temperature issue), to make alternative energies a more mainstream discussion.

I didn't see a proposal for matching ambient wind speed with electricity demand, the biggest problem with wind power.

Tethered zeppelins with turbines attached. Boom! $10 million please.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:06 PM on October 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Well, I, for one, am feeling lucky.
posted by salishsea at 10:40 PM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Rule #1: Anything is possible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself.
Rule #2: Especially if he also doesn't have to pay for it himself.
posted by Class Goat at 10:44 PM on October 1, 2008


Ah metafilter, you come for the links, you stay for the snarks.
posted by sien at 10:44 PM on October 1, 2008


specialk420 wrote:

.....The battery issue...... snipped for drivel.

I think someone's a-batteried your head.

Exhibit A: SpecialK420's comment favorites as of 1105pm.

2 users marked this as a favorite:
treepour October 1, 2008 9:51 PM
specialk420 October 1, 2008 8:54 PM

posted by lalochezia at 11:06 PM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Could they have picked a more inopportune time to introduce a plan that involves spending 4.4 trillion dollars?
posted by sophist at 11:09 PM on October 1, 2008


"Wow, i had never known that Google was an internet search company. I thought they just did Orkut and Knoll."

That's really funny. Except it isn't. It actually takes quite a bit of intelligent and foresight to drop all the preconceptions you have of your audience's knowledge and write something as universally understandable as "Google, an internet search company, announced...". Okay, everyone who reads MetaFilter probably knows what Google is. It's still the right way to write the post.
posted by nthdegx at 1:56 AM on October 2, 2008


"Could they have picked a more inopportune time to introduce a plan that involves spending 4.4 trillion dollars?"

Yes, because it's not as if the climate change problem is going anywhere fast.
posted by nthdegx at 1:57 AM on October 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


It actually takes quite a bit of intelligent and foresight to drop all the preconceptions you have of your audience's knowledge and write something as universally understandable as "Google, an internet search company, announced...".

"Internet search giant Google announced today..."

No commas, not even parenthetical commas, are needed.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:45 AM on October 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


but is their plan the way to go?

Historically, yes.
posted by rokusan at 3:14 AM on October 2, 2008


This plan looks like the set of the most boring, obvious, and green-friendly things to do, rather than anything resembling innovation. C'mon, Google, I expect some surprises, not a checklist that a few more enlightened White House staffers could come up with. Yes, the budget is nice, but, really. It's good to see numbers, but I wouldn't mind having some sharp new concepts come along.

Short shrift indeed given to nuclear. Just a very tiny climb. This is wrong in at least two ways: 1) Our nuclear power plants are getting old, so you'd expect to see them drop, unless you did the other thing, 2) build more nuclear power plants. I've banged on the thorium reactor drum before; our country is way, way behind on this. It's even clever enough that it allows us to "burn" our old, high-level radioactive waste.

And the changes they propose still look a lot like the centralized model of Whopping Big Power Sources (with some friendly renewables scattered here and there). Where's the love for a more resilient network of lots of little power sources - everything from solar panels on the roof of every freakin' house (or maybe just windows with concentrator glass and cells along the edges) to the five acre neighborhood wind farm? Where's the consideration of some out-of-the-box ideas, like DC in the home? (It's a wacky idea with some drawbacks, but it doesn't entirely suck)

The reliance on savings in efficiency is optimistic, to say the least. Give us convenience or give us death - and that means that our TVs are always on, waiting for a signal from a remote to show us a picture. Efficiency isn't a bottomless well from which you can extract more and more as you need; if anything, it gets harder and harder after you hit the first few obvious things. People will put up with wind turbines, but probably not having to cross the room to flick a switch.

Too bad none of this sets me on fire — if it did, you could call it biomass and it'd probably manage a small contribution to the energy budget. If it wasn't for those pesky carbon offsets ...
posted by adipocere at 3:58 AM on October 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


but is their plan the way to go?

Why must there be a the way to go? Why can't we be diversified?
posted by DU at 4:49 AM on October 2, 2008


DU, this is because any plan of this magnitude is going to require a bill/budget pushed through Congress. Sure, "the market will take care of" (hee hee, ha ha, I'm sorry ... I can't use that phrase with a straight face any more) some of the little things, but the electrical grid infrastructure? That's a bill. Greater efficiency? Yeah, because our automakers do that on their own. Nope, that'll be a new standard, which means a bill.

These little things are gathered together in one big bill, partially as a means of obscuring pork, sometimes for the free riders, sometimes because one measure requires another to be effective, often so Congresscritters can point at it and say to their constituents, "We're done with that! Now let's talk about getting tough on crime!"
posted by adipocere at 4:57 AM on October 2, 2008


Alas, I'm too lazy to read the whole Knol. Can someone explain in 25 words or less how Google proposes to spend $4.4T and save $5.4T, leaving one ... *trillion* dollars?

Ah, it's easy. Slightly more than 25 words, but within an order of magnitude is close enough for grand visionary plans to reorganize our whole energy infrastructure:
  • Get everyone to buy plug-in hybrid-electric cars.
  • Get all the old cars off the road faster, ignoring the costs of building more new ones.
  • Build lots of wind and solar power.
  • Assume that the cost of solar PV will magically fall to $2/W by 2030.
  • Somehow get everyone to use 33% less electricity, saving lots of money.
The basic idea seems okay. Building lots of solar and wind generation, and plug-in electric cars. I happen to think those are great things to do. But if I didn't, this wouldn't be enough to convince me.
posted by sfenders at 5:08 AM on October 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


How much does T. Boone Pickens stand to make on the plan?
posted by Pollomacho at 5:08 AM on October 2, 2008


"No commas, not even parenthetical commas, are needed."

That's true but very far from the point.
posted by nthdegx at 5:35 AM on October 2, 2008


>There is a simple, ingenious solution to this crisis: eat babies. Burn investment bankers. I'm told it smells like Cohibas and Chivas.
posted by Artful Codger at 5:35 AM on October 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


specialk420: Your man Jonathan's last name wouldn't be Markov, by any chance?
posted by Pinback at 5:56 AM on October 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Doesn't Google realize that a bunch of rich people who have more money than everyone who has posted here put together will loose money?!?!?!?!?! We can't do that. Just think of the bitter sweet 16 party that will have to be thrown now for that rich little girl who already has it all!!! She won't be very happy. God Google very irresponsible....... trying to save the environment and make things easier on the middle class.... SHEESH!
posted by Mastercheddaar at 8:12 AM on October 2, 2008


Anyone can come up with a Powerpoint presentation of how to get us off foreign oil dependence. Jimmy Carter came up with one in 1979. Google's got a lot of real smart computer scientists, so they think they know everything. I think it is bunk.

Just one example: they seem to rely a lot on geothermal energy. I once knew someone involved in this industry and it is a lot harder than it seems to some armchair quarterback software geek. The underground hotspots are usually highly corrosive, making it difficult to build pumping systems that last very long.

And they rely a large part on efficiency savings--something Carter also talked about. We've had 29 years to implement this and what have we accomplished? "No, this time it's for real!"

The Saudi's know the real answer. I was just reading how they are ignoring the other OPEC nations and are pumping out more oil (and they have a lot more to pump than the other nations) to drive the prices down because they are concerned that the high oil prices will cause Americans to seek other sources of energy. The world's energy experts are thinking long term and they want us to remain dependent on oil.

The opposite of their approach is our solution: just keep oil prices high and the problem will solve itself.
posted by eye of newt at 8:24 AM on October 2, 2008


Google, an internet search company,

Do you write for the Economist?
posted by Kwine at 8:26 AM on October 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


swift : There is a simple, ingenious solution to this crisis: eat babies.

Once again, I find my lifestyle choices have pushed me way ahead of the technology curve.

It's lonely up here on the bleeding edge.

But the babies sure are tasty.
posted by quin at 8:29 AM on October 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


People: The point of identifying the aegis of the company wasn't to inform, clearly we've heard of The Google, but to remind us that this kind of public policy shaping is being attempted by a private corporation who has nothing whatsoever to do with the industry it intends to affect.

Imagine this happening in the 60s?
"Coca-Cola, a soda-drink manufacturer, announced a US$ 40 million proposal for withdrawing the US from Vietnam by 1972." said spokesman Don "Supermench" Draper.

This is not normal. Maybe its the first step towards plutocracy, or maybe SpecialK420 is posting from Futurefilter on his organic turkey burger computer sandwich in a world where nerds who make good products get to decide how everything should go.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:03 AM on October 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


And they rely a large part on efficiency savings--something Carter also talked about. We've had 29 years to implement this and what have we accomplished? "No, this time it's for real!"

Well, yeah, but that's because we've been counting on a great big box full of nothing (i.e. "the markets") to make all the changes for us. And Reagan managed to hoodwink a whole generation into believing that relaxing the rules governing how commerce is transacted is always the best approach to addressing our problems (despite the many hard-learned lessons to the contrary that even a quick review of American history turns up).

The railroads that spurred interstate commerce to exponential growth in America weren't built because "the markets" took care of it. They were built because we (well, Lincoln mainly) allocated massive amounts of public funding to the project of constructing the railroads. From interstates to internets, the only way to push the system into completely new directions in a short amount of time and on massive scales is through public policy. Plain and simple.

Sitting around waiting for the magical power of profit-motive to solve all our problems will leave us waiting a long time because there often simply isn't any short-term profit to be made from solving a particularly complex problem--especially if it's a long-term one.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:21 AM on October 2, 2008


No one's welcomed our new internet search company overlords yet? Sloppy work, people.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:32 AM on October 2, 2008


Anyone can come up with a Powerpoint presentation [...] Jimmy Carter came up with one in 1979.

Jimmy Carter is even more amazing than I knew. Was this before or after FDR went on television to explain the 1929 stock market crash?
posted by fings at 12:24 PM on October 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Saudi's know the real answer. I was just reading how they are ignoring the other OPEC nations and are pumping out more oil (and they have a lot more to pump than the other nations) to drive the prices down because they are concerned that the high oil prices will cause Americans to seek other sources of energy.

Some people think that there is a sort of dual equilibrium point with the price of Oil. If demand drops far enough, the price of Oil could crash once alternative infrastructures are built. Once that happens, lots of demand for oil will dry up.
posted by delmoi at 12:50 PM on October 2, 2008


Jimmy Carter is even more amazing than I knew. Was this before or after FDR went on television to explain the 1929 stock market crash?

It wasn't in 1929, but FDR did appear on television in the late 1930s.
posted by delmoi at 12:51 PM on October 2, 2008


There’s nothing innovative in Google’s proposal, it’s pretty much all public domain kinda thinking that has been around quite a while. The technological fixes to carbon emissions have never been the problem, nothing that couldn’t be overcome with any reasonable commitment – the outstanding blocker is political – vested interest will ensure that misinformation and bullshit wills top anything rational happening.
posted by wilful at 6:51 PM on October 2, 2008


The "outstanding blocker" is that $4 trillion price tag.
posted by Class Goat at 7:54 PM on October 3, 2008


Assume that the cost of solar PV will magically fall to $2/W by 2030.
All-polymer solar cells improve efficiency, flexibility
Researchers have successfully created an all-polymer solar cell, simultaneously replacing the expensive indium tin oxide layer, opening the door for cheaper processing, and making a thin and flexible solar cell.
[or put some of these in space! (to power these, to feed...)]

btw, looks like they're crowdsourcing the innovation bit to save the world :P

posted by kliuless at 1:44 PM on October 5, 2008


« Older The Mathemagician and Pied Puzzler, and others   |   Since we are encouraging... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post