Watch the whole thing:
Brilliant. Click here for the background on this nice video.
What’s the plan for dealing with this AGW stuff? I’d love to see a plan detailing key technologies and milestones. The idea of dismantling the economy first, then developing workable alternatives later will be a tough sell.
The plan seems to be more or less as follows:
Step 1: Profit!
Step 2: ????
Step 3: Who cares? It’s be the next generation’s problem!
The idea of dismantling the economy first, then developing workable alternatives later will be a tough sell.
Then it’s a good thing nobody is proposing that isn’t it?
1) build better electrical grid.
2) build more solar, wind power sources
3) make houses, cars, factories more efficient
4) have fewer babies
5) burn less coal and oil.
Barracuda wrote: “The idea of dismantling the economy first, then developing workable alternatives later will be a tough sell.”
Are you sure about that? From where I stand, it looks like a lot of people have bought it — or at least have bought the claim (from Heartland and many other sources) that this is what the government is trying to sell.
It isn’t, of course, as Mikel points out.
What I am sure about is that there is no plan any more specific than what MobiusKlein just proposed. Sorry, but that just ain’t gonna do the trick. You guys spend a lot of time trying to vilify the energy industry (among others). But, for most folks (probably every single soul in the US) The positives provided by the energy industry far outweigh the negatives of any perceivable climate change (we had a mild winter! oh no!). The AGW crowd needs a better message.
The meme that the economy has to be dismantled in order to address this problem is absurd. Idiotic, even. No one thinks that unless you are either a) not very smart, b) badly informed or brainwashed or c) making it up because you are a science denialist, and why that, it is hard to imagine for individuals that are not 1%ers.
Try this, for instance. Take the amount of money that will need to be spent to rebuild the next 20 large aging power stations (of whatever type) and invest it in advance of the need to rebuild the stations into non-carbon methods of making energy, with concomitant upgrades of the power grid. Create lots of jobs, get cleaner energy, reduce carbon emissions, spend the money we were going to spend anyway. This would be a good experiment to demonstrate the benefits and difficulties of doing this sort of thing, and it may serve to shut up some of the idiots as people are busy having jobs and not living in a recessive economy in the affected areas.
Sounds wonderful, Greg. How about this, why don’t the proponents of these steps stop the name calling long enough to name specific technologies, and develop some real world applications. For instance, how cool would it be if Obama and his entourage used some of these “green” technologies for his travel need instead of tooling around in a 20 SUV convoy or jetting around in a 747. Hell, rewire DC at public expense if you have to, but show me something that works! What better way to demonstrate the viability of the technologies than to have the leader of the free world use them? That alone would go a long way toward convincing me. Why doesn’t he do it? You say that the meme of dismantling the economy is absurd, but it is not. This IS an economy being dismantled by high energy costs. We will be hard pressed to get meaningful innovations out of a depressed economy.
What I am sure about is that there is no plan any more specific than what MobiusKlein just proposed.
Sorry, are you actually complaining that we don’t have a Soviet-style command economy, at least for energy? I was under the impression that this sort of central planning was somewhat out of favour…
Sorry for the misunderstanding, Dunc, I’m just asking for a plan that can be vetted. Not a government mandated implementation (a government sponsored proof of concept that worked would be ok with me). I’d like to get invested in the new technologies ahead of the curve, if you know what I mean. Wouldn’t you? The problem is, as an engineer, I do not see realistic, viable, practical (pick your adjective) solution on the horizon. I’m sure that’s only because, as Greg revealed in his response above, that I’m not very smart or I’m brainwashed.
Greg L.:“Take the amount of money that will need to be spent to rebuild the next 20 large aging power stations (of whatever type) and invest it in advance of the need to rebuild the stations into non-carbon methods of making energy, with concomitant upgrades of the power grid. Create lots of jobs, get cleaner energy, reduce carbon emissions, spend the money we were going to spend anyway.
In other words, do exactly what Amory Lovins at the Rocky Mountain Institute has been suggesting for the last what, 25 years?
Barracuda, this is for you! Here’s a non-profit, non-government agency that’s doing exactly what you’re asking above.
Sorry my five point plan does not suffice. It’s just a simple blog comment, not a master’s thesis. Other folks out there have put real plans together.
The point of a high level summary is to start to break down the problem into smaller chunks. As an engineer, you surely know about this. And yes, a purely top-down approach won’t be enough. So do dive into the details – is a broader, low loss transmission grid feasible? Or is it better to have more localized power generation, with some cheap battery technology.
Not all the questions can be answered today, nor should we try to answer them all. We can not predict which technologies will pan out 20 years hence. So be patient with us, please. But don’t be the guy in the back off the meeting saying everything is bad, but doing nothing to make it better.
MobiusKlein, the problem with your 5-point plan is that it is essentially the same one I have been hearing since the middle 1970s. That’s the problem with your calls for patience as well. It’s been 40 years since our first oil crisis. Why hasn’t an obvious, viable alternate been emerged in all of these years? Wind and solar clearly will not do the trick. Maybe there isn’t an alternative. Maybe an alternative is decades or more away. Whatever the case, I’m skeptical about whether there is even such a thing as a consequence free energy supply. So, what’s practical today if you don’t want to burn fossil fuels? Only nuclear fusion as far as I can tell. Boy, but doesn’t that one come with a whole set of unpleasant baggage. There may be some spaced based collection techniques that could work. They could be used for powering stations that convert CO2 and H20 back into burnable fuel. But those possibilities only become less likely as we continue to dismantle our manned space program.
Barracuda, I’m sorry that progress has not been fast enough for you. Or for me, or for the world.
What is practical for today is to take the steps needed to get us ready for a low fossil fuel society. We can’t shut off the oil pipe yet; we can start replacing the least efficient coal plants with wind / solar today.
We can’t build a grid overnight that deals with the intermittentcy issues of wind / solar. But we can start it today, learning what works, what does not.
Can Solar / wind do it all? Nearly all green types don’t think so, but they do see it as part of the way there.
As for space based energy collection, that seems more pie in the sky than fusion to me. Lifting mass to orbit takes vast sums of energy, the break even point will be much harder to reach than land based solar.
MobiusKlein, Its nice to be able to have a dialog about this, especially on this blog. I misspoke/mistyped in my last post. What I meant to say is FISSION seems to be the only practical alternative to fossil fuels right now. And it’s yucky. You are right, Fusion has lost a lot of its promise. I can remember watching a film in science class in fifth grade where the narrator claimed that success with fusion is confidently predicted in the next ten years. That was in 1979! The space-based proposal I have gotten wind of requires just a few collectors in orbit. They would beam microwaves to a small number of installation on the ground that would use the power provided to reconstitute burnable fuel from the exhaust created from burning hydrocarbons. Pie in the sky? Maybe, but it seems to me that it deserve some consideration. The existing infrastructure could be maintained, and emissions would net out to be zero, since they would be recycled.
Space based power is in the 15 -> 100 year timeframe at best.
Sure, we should investigate it. But it’s folly to see it as a savior. The problem now is how to bridge us over to the far flung future where we do have Clean Nukes or Fusion Power or SpacePower or SuperSolar.
And even then, we would still benefit from
1) a better electrical grid
3) more efficient homes and factories
5) burning less oil / coal, for the pollution alone.
15 to 100 years? I won’t argue that point. But I will remind everyone that the things you are proposing will require the same kind of time frame to implement. Is it likely we can redesign and rebuild the electrical grid, etc in less that 15 years? Certainly not globally, and probably not locally. Like I’ve mentioned earlier, the rhetoric for ‘clean’ energy and efficiency has been going strong for approximately 40 years. We’re not much closer today than we were in the 1970s. Folly is as folly does.
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