|green energyPage 2 of 8 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)|
Hey, I would love a solar powered Motorcycle... But realistically... that is way down the road... but not out of the imagination.
One reason that it is way down the road at this late date has been the ongoing and concerted lobbying effort on the part of special interests to suppress funding for basic research into solar power and electric vehicle technologies, and to use their disporportionate market clout to undercut innovative private companies that have tried to bring such products to market.
You also asked about why we'd wind up in toxic cesspools, and I can only say that I believe it to be true because it has already happened in every community that has not instituted comprehensive environmental regulations. This has been historically true throughout America and the rest of the world.
Posted: 3/26/2009 10:47:17 AM
|Here is a quote that I like very much. It speaks to the power of individuals who proceed as if ...|
"Going … green is a bet, nothing more or less … Sometimes you have to act as if acting will make a difference, even when you can’t prove that it will. That, after all, was precisely what happened in Communist Czechoslovakia and Poland, when a handful of individuals like Vaclav Havel and Adam Michnik resolved that they would simply conduct their lives “as if” they lived in a free society. That improbable bet created a tiny space of liberty that, in time, expanded to take in .. the whole of the Eastern bloc. "
Micheal Pollan, Why Bother?, New York Times, April 20, 2008,
http://donogreenteam.org/Why%20Bother.pdf, accessed March 24, 2009.
Posted: 3/26/2009 11:57:57 AM
I don't think it's legal.....oh wait there's that pesky government again.
But the question is why is it illegal? Is it because we need the resources that make ethanol to feed some other situation and therefore can't divert or overstretch the resource, or that there's some other subsidy involved? Is it because of the big oil lobby? Is it because ethanol polutes or is poisonous to some endangered species? Is it because all of the "kits" that help us make our own ethanol are all made overseas by cheaper labor who don't have to answer to unions and therefore we hurt our trade imbalance by importing them? .......... So, we return to free trade on the raw materials, get rid of the labor unions, mitigate the polutions and the lobbies...... Of course, this might take time, and money to accomplish in and of itself. And heavens to Betsy, someone, or rather each of us, might have to be willing to make some kind of sacrifice somehow.
Posted: 3/26/2009 12:09:00 PM
oh wait there's that pesky government again.
You know what aspect of government frustrates me no end and accounts for an immense amount of utterly wasted fuel?
Who times those damn things anyway?
I can just see the Big Oil executives laughing in glee every time the cars at three of the four directions in an intersection are stopped while the only empty direction has a 2-minute green.
How much fuel could we save if they were all equipped with the same computing capability as a $6 digital watch?
Posted: 3/26/2009 8:50:12 PM
It's taken me a while to answer your "Sure, as long as" question.
I can only answer that while I believe in the absolute necessity to prevent however we can further human-caused damage to our environmet, the one we ALL have to live in, I am honestly pragmatic enough to know that there are compromises that have to be made, from both sides (exploitation vs. conservation) of the environmental issue.
I worked as an Archaeologist for the US Forest Service. A major part of my job was negotiating resolutions between conflicting needs over the use of National lands. It was never an easy process. I had federal law on my side, but I also recognized the need for ranchers, miners and so on to make a living from their use of the people's land. The point is that I was usually successful in reaching compromise, without involving litigation or outright hostility. Compromise is almost always possible, if the two sides can reach out and talk to each other. Yes, some compromises I resolved cost the rancher or miner or whoever a little more, but by talking to them, I could show them that the American public, as a whole, had both an interest and the right to preserve for future scientific study archaeological sites that might be destroyed by unregulated use of federal lands. A random, though frequently occuring, case in point. You have a rancher who has the right to graze his cattle on federal lands, at a cost far below his costs for a commercial feed lot. However, cattle grazing can have a horrific impact on the land, particularly in critical streamside and wetland habitats. By absolutely no coincidence those environments are precisely where prehistoric habitation sites are located. So...do we permit cattle to destroy those riparian environments by letting them graze and bed down as long as they like, with no controls? Or do we ask the rancher to make sure that the cattle move on from those areas after a day of grazing. Yes, it's more work (thus more cost) for the rancher to make sure his cattle move, but moving them dramatically reduces the environmental damage, both to biologically sensitive (read: Ecosystems) but also to archaeologically important areas. It can be done. All it takes is a willingness to talk on both sides.
So...do we do more offshore drilling off Santa Barbara? Again, I say that it can be done. There are sufficient federal laws in place to enforce compliance if necessary, but it is far better to TALK and find the compromises that ensure both corporate profits and protection of sensitive environmental sites. It can be done. I've done it. To blindly state that federal environmental laws totally stifle the extraction or use of natural resources is simply wrong. Compromise and informed, intelligent discussion on both sides can almost always find a way to mitigate the damage to the environment caused by human activities.
Posted: 3/26/2009 9:18:07 PM
|Mostly supportive, Pirate. Ethanol is in widespread use now (the 85% ethanol/gasoline fuels widely available now). There is a downside however. Most commercial ethanol used in producing fuels is currently (because it's available and cheaper than other sources) is produced from agricultural grain, primarily corn. Well and good, but the diversion of these food crops for ethanol production is having an impact on the world availability of cereals for human consumption. So, the question is rapidly becoming one of "Drive or Eat". |
There are a number of other experimental fuels sources being developed. My favorite is the use of used cooking oil from fast food restaurants to produce a clean burning fuel. This is legal, and is being done by many small-scale entrepeneurs. The downside is that driving behind a vehicle burning this fuel will fill your vehicle with the smell of greasy french fries, often causing unscheduled stops at the nearest McDonalds to satisfy sudden cravings.
The point is that there are ways to wean ourselves from petroleum dependency. One of the best is hydrogen fuel, which produces only H2O as an emission. There are a number of pilot projects around the world developing this technology. A great example is Mercedes, which produces Hydrogen using electrical power generated by solar panels. This is quite simply the most elegant and efficient alternative fuel yet to be developed. I'm sure you won't be surprised that the oil industry is doing all in its power to halt or slow the development of these technologies.
You should also not be surprised that the new administration is very well aware of the potential of these new technologies, and has already begun to actively support research and development, and eventually the infrastructure construction that will be necessary. Chain gas stations, controlled by the oil industry, are not happy about having to provide hydrogen fuel pumps. This will no doubt require some legislative intervention. But it it the brightest hope for pulling our collective mouths off of the teat of oil dependency.
Posted: 3/26/2009 10:02:45 PM
|Re: Msg 51|
Whao...I actually agree with something pirateheaven said. Yes, wouldn't it be lovely if the government would let us start up mom and pop distilleries brewing ethanol from kitchen scraps. Imagine that, locally produced biofuel from kitchen waste.
Energy solutions can be simple, home brewed, local solutions when possible. Imagine American dollars staying in America. That would generate new jobs. You've got to love that.
This green guy stands with the pirate on this one.
Posted: 3/26/2009 10:13:50 PM
|OldFolkie and Pirate: For totally different reasons for you each, let me offer each of you at least two !!!!!|
OF: Your post 49 really hits the nail on the head! THIS is what we need! And you've already been there / done that. Would you please run for office so I can vote for you??! btw: as per the example you gave, I'm sure you must have considered that although you might have raised the rancher's cost by requiring that he had to move the cattle on within a day......you still saved him a ton of dough when compared to the feed lot alternative. I'd bet the same principles apply about how much regulation we could enforce on drilling off-shore. Safety measures in scale with the premium which otherwise would be going to the around the world transport.
Pirate: I'll drink to that just for the sake of drinking to that!!!
Posted: 3/27/2009 10:33:44 AM
I am going to look into it.
Excellent! Please let us know how you fare!
From what I've been told the most efficient crop to plant for ethanol production is Jerusalem Artichoke, aka Sunchoke--as the entire plant can supposedly be used in fermentation. I suspect that any herbaceous (low lignin content) plant could work if added to the mash while still soft and green. However, I haven't tried it as my interest is more about local food security.
A quote from Wikipedia regarding starch fermentation:
"According to U.S. Department of Energy studies conducted by the Argonne Laboratories of the University of Chicago, one of the benefits of cellulosic ethanol is that it reduces greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 85% over reformulated gasoline. By contrast, starch ethanol (e.g., from corn), which most frequently uses natural gas to provide energy for the process, may not reduce GHG emissions at all depending on how the starch-based feedstock is produced. A study by Nobel Prize winner Paul Crutzen found ethanol produced from corn, and sugarcane had a "net climate warming" effect when compared to oil."
I assume that they're referring to the NG used to fire the distillation process.
In other words, depending on how the corn is raised and processed, it can take more fossil fuel to produce the ethanol than the ethanol would replace.
Posted: 3/27/2009 8:32:25 PM
|I'm watching it now. There are some strong points: CO2 as a lagging indicator of temperature change in the ice record (not a leading indicator); the strange bedfellows of Margaret Thatcher's pronuclear agenda and the Luddite fringe's resistance to all things industrial; the lack of validation of the computer models; the case for solar activity as a primary driver of surface temperature; and so on.|
BTW, there is a way to validate the models. You simply set the initial conditions to what they were 100, or 1,000, or 10,000 years ago, depending on what measurements you have, and let them run. When they track the pattern that actually occrred to within a statistically sigificant margin, they're valid enough to produce plausible projections.
Personally, I hope that global warming is false, because if it's true and we keep going along the way we are, we're going to overshoot so badly that God only knows what that bottom will be.
But even if it does turn out to be false, the limits on our fuel supply will still exist. So, we would still do well to retool for long-term sustainability here, in the US, where we are better situated to afford it than in many other places like Africa (which the video argues needs reliable electricity now).
If nothing else comes of the global warming campaign, the general acceptance of the carbon footprint as a proxy for the quantity of fossil fuel embedded in a product or service can help us compare their relative energy efficiencies. That information will come in handy when the economy picks up and fuel prices start climbing again.
Since the only thing that gets people to move seems to be the imminent threat of utter destruction, and we do need to move now if we want our grandchildren to have enough fuel for decent prospects, I'm not sure the global warming hysteria, if that's what it is, is all bad.
Posted: 3/28/2009 12:19:41 AM
But green is choking us... it will always continue to grow, we will never be good enough, it has to be that way, or they will be out of business, and everyone is buying into it.... There is some big world wide meeting Obama is attending soon. I hope they are looking at better things, and not just buying into this and taking us down this unnecessary road.
I disagree. What's choking us is not all those people who are trying to get us to be more efficient. The ones who are choking us are the ones who stand in the way of us exercising, or even knowing about, our choices!
Go see "Who Killed the Electric Car" for a counterpoint to the polemic you've just swallowed whole. Like so many of us, it is much easier to swallow agendas that are framed in ways that resonate with themes we've heard before.
There are some environmental extremists who do get in the way of our ability to streamline. However, the real impediments to us having lives that are qualitatively better at lower cost are the ones who make the most money from our consumerism.
Why can they do that? Because they have the profits that come from our spending more than we need to for fuel to buy, haul, store, and dispose of so many things that we really don't need. Every person I know over 30 has a garage or storage bin full of useless junk that they just had to have. I've shed a bunch of crap but I could still cut a quarter of my remaining possessions and not miss them. All of that crap represents a significant quantity of wasted fossil fuels, including the costs of heating and cooling the rooms that they're in.
Why in the hell did I buy all that stuff? And why on Earth did I buy a lawn mower when my neighbors and I could have pooled our resources and gotten a really nice one that we could share. When I needed to move out, they could buy me out and sell my share to the next person moving in! Does every square block in America _really_ need 17 lawn mowers?
You've been asking me to open my mind for quite some time. Now it's my turn to ask you to do the same. Scare tactics are ugly, nasty, and potentially evil no matter who uses them. So if global warming is a scare tactic, what other scare tactics have you been subjected to from the Right for so long that you don't even recognize them as such any more? With sufficient repetition, they appear to be real--like that nonsense about the government being the problem, the slander that liberalism and environmentalism are communist plots, the idiocy of guns being inert (it is the fact that they are lethal that makes it so important for everyone to have access to them), and the insanity of thinking that an unregulated market can do anything but explode.
Posted: 3/28/2009 12:20:38 AM
|I wonder what the percentage of CO2 in the air must have been when the dinosaurs were going strong. Does anyone know if that's been studied? Something made the Earth warm even at high latitudes, and plants grew like crazy. I know the land was arranged much differently, but I don't know if the proportion of land to ocean was smaller than now. If it was, I'd think CO2 released from the ocean might have contributed to the warm conditions.|
Just knowing how many natural events could influence the Earth's temperature, and how unimaginably complex their interactions must be, makes me skeptical about anyone's ability to predict climate change from models. The sun's output varies in an unpredictable way, and so does cloud cover around the Earth; the crust is more active at some times than at others, and that affects the amount of CO2 released from volcanos; the Earth wobbles around its axis once every so-many-thousand years, which makes its poles tilt just a little more toward or away from the sun; if any cooling of the Earth should begin, it tends to continue--less snow and ice melt each year, and the larger white area reflects more sunlight; the Moon, bit by bit, is slowing the Earth's spin, so that the dinosaurs saw ten or twenty more days each year than we do; and so on, and on.
Also, it seems too convenient that the prescription now in vogue happens not to favor progress, industry, and a high standard of living. Is it just coincidence that many or most of the people here who are trying to tell us all how we should live dislike capitalism and individual initiative, don't think this country is exceptional, and would like to see it humbled? And does anyone seriously think most of them care about how many jobs--and lives--will be lost here because a rule made by unelected bureaucrats in the EPA defines CO2 as a "pollutant?" I don't know yet if Congress plans to amend the Clean Air Act to allow for that rule, but the notion that it authorizes it as written is absurd. If something as common and normal as CO2 is a pollutant, how is it that "fact"only comes to light now--39 years after Congress enacted the CAA? I suppose the next step is to claim oxygen's a pollutant, too.
Posted: 3/28/2009 9:26:37 AM
When electric cars do become mass produced, there will be a big outcry about the pollution the batteries are causing.
If the batteries are dumped in landfills instead of being reprocessed and reused, then yes, there will be an outcry about the needless pollution--especially if the manufacturers refuse to design them in such a way that they _can_ be reprocessed. And if you aren't one of the ones to join in that outcry, so much the worse for us all.
There is pollution and then there is overconcentration of nutrients/raw materials. Other living things produce outputs that are in turn reused within their ecosystems. When they hit Malthusian limits there is too much waste for a particular species to go on, but with time, other organisms can and do use their wastes as nutrients.
So far, we are the only ones who routinely produce outputs that cannot be reassimilated. There are some fabulous business opportunities in figuring out how to turn those outputs back into usable inputs, and also in substituting different inputs that _can_ be reassimilated. For example, I'm not exactly sure when the patents on sugar- or cellulose-polymer plastics run out, but if they haven't already, they soon will.
I hear you about population control. But if there was ever an issue that smacks of socialism and governmental interference in privacy rights, that would be it. Of course, we already have precedents for such interference in the private sexual decisions of consenting adults: the sodomy laws (many of which have been struck down) and the the ban on gay marriage.
On that note, it is interesting and scary to recognize that the current baby boom is even larger than the one in the 40s and 50s. The current cohort of infants in the US is the largest we haveever seen.
Posted: 3/28/2009 1:01:33 PM
|Even without the greenhouse gas effect, coal releases tremendous amounts of pollution. When they can clean it up, I'll be willing to see it's use expanded. BTW, I believe it is still our #1 fuel for producing electricity.|
We need to conserve oil because, if we don't, we will run out. That reality will not change regardless of whether global warming turns out to be true or not. Oil, while less polluting than coal, still releases dangerous pollutants when burned.
We need to switch to a more sustainable means of production in any case. At this point, while I would much prefer us to get to the right place for the right reasons, I'll settle for us getting to the right place--the highest level of prosperity that we can sustain.
Posted: 3/28/2009 2:22:16 PM
|Well, like I said. We still need to conserve and get efficient. If 30+ years of making the case results in wholesale dismissal but this farce gets people to move, it is regrettable. However, the long-term result will be better than if they don't move.|
Perhaps you can tell me why the only thing that people respond to seems to be fear.
Posted: 3/28/2009 4:51:15 PM
|"So, the question is rapidly becoming one of "Drive or Eat". "|
Asked and answered... Brazil created the 'flex engine' that can switch between biofuel and gasoline because they hit 'drive or eat.'
I'm old enough to recall as a child (before garbage disposals) that our 'trash' was separated into 'trash' and 'garbage' That same garbage can now be used as biofuel. Potato peels ... all the others that can convert. Save the dumps, save the sewers.
When the infrastructure provides the means of on-the-go distribution then the supplies are ready and willing. This is one of the things the infrastructure changes are supposed to include.
Posted: 3/28/2009 5:15:10 PM
|One interesting thing no one seems to mention much about the environmental movement is the way it involves race. Its biggest backers have always been whites with above-average incomes. But blacks, especially, have never been as enthusiastic. One reason may be that they tend not to use natural areas as much as whites. For example, the percentage of black visitors to national parks is consistently much lower than their percentage of the population. I doubt that REI, Sports Chalet, etc. are pitching that much of their advertising toward them.|
Another reason is that restricting the supply of land through environmental regulations tends to increase the cost of housing. (This also gives homeowners a financial incentive to support these regulations.) Because blacks have smaller incomes than whites, on average, a lack of affordable housing harms them all the more. This has been the subject of major lawsuits in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and other states. Although Massachusetts, Connecticut, and California passed affordable housing laws mainly for other reasons, their legislatures were well aware of these suits and certainly wanted to avoid them.
Also, as has been true from the start of traditional restrictions on land use, like zoning and planning, the desire to protect property values by excluding people existing residents consider undesirable may motivate environmental regulations. And race may figure into their evaluation. Is a five-acre minimum lot size necessary in an outlying area not served by a sewer main, because the heavy soil requires very large leach fields? Or is the hidden purpose to keep out denser housing and the minorities who might occupy it? Is it really necessary to maintain the parcel whose owner wants to build a mobile home park as "urban open space?" Or does the city just want to get rid of trailer parks because its residents think they're rowdy hotbeds of crime? Will a new school site really damage a small seasonal wetland in its far corner? Or is it that the mostly elderly, white residents of the town don't want to attract new families from the large black population of a nearby city, and have to pay to educate their children?
Of course, books like Environmental Racism (making the paper for which was a clear abuse of trees) would have the reader believe heedless, greedy industries prefer to pollute minority communities when they can. And a whole field of study along those lines has developed. I just wonder how many people in the racial minorities they claim to be going to bat for are buying it.
Posted: 3/28/2009 6:25:43 PM
|I'm watching the video. First and foremost; who funded the movie? For that matter who funded "An Inconvenient Truth"?|
I read part of the article about global warming in wikipedia. It quotes the IPCC. Are there other independent studies and what is the consensus?
To change subject here's something I have been watching. It's funded by the U.S. Navy
It is still wait and see. What is interesting is that in the TalkPolywell blog the scientists who have worked on tokamaks cannot shoot it down in terms of theory. Those working on the Polywell always have an answer. Their weakest answers amount to saying that it remains to be seen experimentally. To reiterate it is still wait and see. What's good is that it is one of about four alternative approaches to fusion being experimented or developed, other than tokamak reactors. This is how it should be. Multiple ideas competing for money.
There is a video on YouTube called "Should Google go Nuclear?" I don't pretend to understand nearly all the science but certainly the politics that Dr. Bussard talks of.
Posted: 3/28/2009 6:39:22 PM
|I forgot. I should be doing what I am doing with economics; going back in time and see who was right. |
I'll look but does anyone know offhand of scientists that predicted the weather decades ago?
Posted: 3/28/2009 7:00:25 PM
|Forgot something else. |
Hydrogen. The most practical non-CO2 producing way to get H2 is by electrolysis. For this to be competitive you need electricity that is much cheaper than it is right now.
Electric cars. You can run an electric car off your house which gets its electricity mostly from coal fired power plants.
I could be wrong here but I doubt it; Cheap and green energy is the foundation and once you accomplish that it won't matter what we are driving or what its mpg is.
Posted: 3/28/2009 7:13:39 PM
|Hi SD Matt,|
I think I mentioned earlier that providing the power for the electrolysis to produce the hydrogen is done by Mercedes with their own solar power field. That is why it is such an elegant solution. Yes, it's a pilot project. But it works, and shows the potential for combining technologies to provide answers for the problems plaguing us from our dependence on fossil fuels. It is synergy like this that just might save us and our planet.
Posted: 3/28/2009 7:52:34 PM
Posted: 3/28/2009 8:39:39 PM
|Precisely, o4. |
Now, Mominatrix already posted about environmentalist opposition to development of new solar plants in the Mojave because of the destruction of habitat necessary for the preservation of the desert tortoise species (and others linked to that ecosystem).
Yes, to further develop solar power arrays we need land. But as noted in the article, most existing SEGS are using 1980s and earlier technology for power production. New technologies are on the horizon that require far less land to produce equivalent electrical power. A very promising new technology uses thin flexible ribbons of plastics which are in essence photovoltaic cells "printed" on plastic film. These materials can be placed with minimal impact on the roofs of buildings, including those that will be producing hydrogen through electrolysis. Hence no need to construct new solar power (or any other) fields in sensitive habitats. These new photovoltaic systems can be put on the roof of any existing building to provide power. Yes, they are still in R&D, but the promise is there.
Look, the fact is that there already are very promising technologies that do NOT rely on fossil fuels to produce energy. It is our task as a people (right wing, left wing, flightless or somewhere in between) to demand that these technologies be encouraged and promoted.
Posted: 3/28/2009 10:46:36 PM
|Developing these technologies is the theme of this thread. The technology to generate green electricity should come first. Besides, coal plants put out more CO2 than cars, by far. Houses with cheap solar panels on their roofs will make more of a difference than trying to convert to hydrogen cars. Hydrogen is a very long term project. I think plug in hybrids will be practical and have more impact before hydrogen cars but cheap solar ( or some other kind of cheap electricity for that matter) has to come before that. |
I agree that large systems are not the way to go. I think the public should demand (in the long term) systems that can ultimately free individual households from the grid.
Two companies claim to have met the $1 per watt goal; NanoSolar and First Solar. NanoSolars production is spoken for for some time. Im not sure that First Solar even has its product available yet or whether it was tested independently.
NOTE; I'm watching An Inconvienent Truth and The Great Global Warming Swindle side by side. Whoa.
I think you guys really need to do this. Let me say this again. Watch both of them one after the other.
Posted: 3/28/2009 11:59:57 PM
|I booted a copy of Truth. You can watch Swindle on Garage TV. Be sure to watch one right after the other.|
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