Innocents Killed In US Drone Strikes in Yemen?

02/11/13 Robert Lorei
Radioactivity: Live Call-In (Monday) | Listen to this entire show:


Good morning,

Welcome to Radioactivity. I'm Rob Lorei. Coming up today we'll talk with New York Times reporter Robert Worth who, along with two colleagues, wrote a story last week about the problems related to US drone strikes in Yemen.

We'll also discuss a FOX News claim that Germany is a better location for solar projects than the US. But first three listener comments about last Friday's interview with Sean Faircloth of the Richard Dawkins Foundation.

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So, FauxSnooze says solar power is dying? I See their pundits claim that solar don’t work and as proof point to the fact that it is not currently providing much of the power: This is true, and it is also true that the most evil lies are couched in the truth. What they always fail to mention is the growth rate of solar. Further, it is easy to see their attempts to fix the facts to the ideology that solar is a bust by saying Germany is way more sunny. That is laughable (if it wasn't soo sad). Someone take their mic away. A quick google of 'U.S. solar growth rate' gave me this site that is not well sourced but seems to fit what I've read on sites I respect: “Solar Facts While the United States pioneered clean energy technologies like solar power, Germany and China now lead in solar panel manufacturing. Further, China attracted $54.4 billion in private finance in 2010 while Germany attracted $41.2 billion and the United States was third with $34 billion. A sunny location (like Los Angeles, California, US) receives an average of 5.5 hours of sunlight per day each year. A cloudy location (like Hamburg, Germany) receives 2.5 hours per day of sunlight each year. Solar modules produce electricity even on cloudy days, usually around 10-20% of the amount produced on sunny days. Monthly average residential consumption of electricity in the US in 2008 was 920 kilowatt hours. Monthly average residential electricity bill in the US in 2008 was $103.67 (Source: US DOE). Over the last 20 years the cost of solar energy systems has come down seven fold. As the demand for systems rises and manufacturing volume increases, costs will decrease and the economic payback time will also decrease. In 2009, the United States was the third largest solar photovoltaic market in the world, after Germany and Italy. Despite a challenging domestic economic environment, the US market still delivered a growth rate of 36%, strong but not nearly as strong as the 62% growth in 2008. The US market is forecasted to grow to between 4.5-5.5 GW over the next five years, around ten times the size of the 2009 market and an average annual growth rate of 30% per annum. The solar industry employs more than 100,000 Americans, more than twice as many as in 2009. They work at more than 5,000 companies, the vast majority being small businesses, in all 50 states. The U.S. solar industry grew by 125% from Q2 2011 to Q2 2012, making it one of the fastest growing sectors in the U.S. economy. The industry installed 772 MW of solar electric (PV and CPV) capacity in Q2 2012. SEIA forecasts the solar industry will maintain its rapid growth with 2,100 MW of solar electric (PV, CPV and CSP) capacity projected to be installed during the second half of 2012. Residential solar installations are increasing too – there was 98 MW of residential installations in the second quarter of 2012, up 42% over Q2 2011. Solar is achieving record cost reductions. Surging demand has dropped solar module prices approximately 75% in just the past three years, with another 50% expected over the next three, (Source: Navigant Consulting and other market data). This mirrors the experience with cell phones, digital cameras and flat-screen—and follows the rule of thumb in electronics manufacturing that costs decrease 20% each time production volume doubles. Those favorable technology prices combined with business efficiencies have delivered increasing value to consumers. The average pre-incentive cost of going solar decreased 17% in 2010 alone, the most significant annual reductions since the data has been tracked. Costs declined another 11% in the first half of 2011, (Source: Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s Tracking the Sun IV). The average cost of a total PV system dropped by 33% in the second quarter of 2012 compared to the second quarter of 2011. The U.S. was a net exporter of solar products in 2010 by $2 billion. We were even a net exporter to China. Solar power in the U.S. now exceeds 5,700 megawatts (MW), enough to power more than 940,000 homes. Continued industry growth enhances our energy security and diversifies our domestic energy portfolio. An investment in solar is an investment in jobs. Solar investments create more jobs per megawatt than any other energy resource, (Source: UC Berkeley Energy Resources Group). 100,237 Americans are currently working in the U.S. solar industry (more than coal mining or steel & iron manufacturing). Solar businesses added 6,735 new workers in all 50 states since August 2010, which represents a 6.8 percent growth rate. During the same 12-month period, jobs in the overall economy grew by a mere 0.7 percent, while fossil fuel electric generation lost 2 percent of its workforce, (Source: Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census – 2011). Over the next year a majority of solar energy companies plan to add employees. According to the National Solar Jobs Consensus 2011 issued by The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit focused on education, research, and market transformation of the solar industry. Solar industry employers expect to increase their workforce by 24% in the next year, creating 24,000 new jobs.” ……. Also here is a nice article for a perspective on energy subsidies. What jumped out at me is the number of ways we subsidize a mature and profitable dirty energy (coal) compared to clean energy. It’s not just direct cash subsidy. “…buried in a 2011 report from the International Energy Agency is the fact that fossil fuels currently receive subsidies via "at least 250 mechanisms." What externalities for the clean energy systems can we point to that could compare to: “External costs of coal mining and power generation include the following:[11] * Reduction in life expectancy (particulates, sulfur dioxide, ozone, heavy metal, benzene, radionuclides, etc.) * Respiratory hospital admissions (particulates, ozone, sulfur dioxide) * Congrestive heart failure (particulates and carbon monoxide) *Non-fatal cancer, osteroporosia, ataxia, renal dysfunction (benzene, radionuclines, heavy metal, etc.) * Chronic bronchitis, asthma attacks, etc. (particulates, ozone) * Loss of IQ (mercury) * Degradation and soiling of buildings (sulfur dioxide, acid deposition, particulates) * Reduction of crop yields (NOx, sulfur dioxide, ozone, acid deposition); some emissions may also have a fertilizing effect (nitrogen and sulfur deposition) * Global warming (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide) * Ecosystem loss and degradation” (mountain top removal, surface and groundwater contamination) All costs should be included to be fiscally conservative. Finally to assuage the 'all gubment is bad' folks who would try to convince us of their evidence free beliefs that Germany must be subsidizing this incredible explosion in solar try: Cheers! Kirk