reducing energy consumption
maybe thats why we are also talking about "reducing energy consumption" in addition to "renewable energy" ?
Two highly qualified Google engineers who have spent years studying and trying to improve renewable energy technology have stated quite bluntly that renewables will never permit the human race to cut CO2 emissions to the levels demanded by climate activists. Whatever the future holds, it is not a renewables-powered civilisation …
Except you'd pretty much have to stop using any sort of power for anything other than making renewable energy generating plant. Which means there wouldn't be any money for building that plant, nor any food to feed the people building that plant, nor and heat for them in the winter or light in the dark.
Reducing energy use is a real goal, particularly as nearly all raw energy eventually ends up as heat. But it is a separate issue to where the energy comes from.
It's all very well us in the developed nations using huge amounts of power trying to cut back a bit - but remember the billions in the developing countries who use relatively little now but of course that will change. We need new nuclear power - not to rely on old plants well past their sell by date.
"...nearly all raw energy eventually ends up as heat."
I try to heat my electrically-heated house with consumer electronics.
Since our heating season in Canada is literally eight months long, any energy savings from low power netbooks and LED lightbulbs is thus 67% ineffective, since the electric heaters have to compensate for the reduction in "waste" heat. The big problem is not "deniers", it's that most environMentals are uneducated about such technical details.
That's a fine conclusion just as soon as you explain how the previously solved (cough) condition of sustainable growth for...you know, non-electric non-carbon-burning nuclear power products...is the tallboy can of protoculture of the future that runs into no mineral shortage. Carbon fiber clothes, kitchenware and whiteboards, very nice...
The big things we need for comfort, like heat and clean water and being washed more than twice a year are not something we really want to give up.
Transport is another that we could do much better on, but ain't going away so long as we operate efficient farming, etc, that moves large amounts of stuff globally.
And we have a LOT of folk still in 3rd world misery and they also deserve something better.
So efficiency might help a bit, like 20-50% perhaps, and reducing birth rate would help a lot long term, but really the Google guys are right - we need so much energy for a comfortable life that when either fossil runs out or it screws our climate beyond achievable farming and population relocation changes, we are fscked.
Unless we do something now about large scale generation that is not fossil based.
>The big things we need for comfort
The crux of the problem lies within the above phrase. Who is willing to give up their comforts today in order that tommorrows generation can also have a minumum chance?
The consumer society pushes us towards the consommation of products, many of which we don't "need" but that are very comfortable to possess/use.. This is turn gives us a very comfortable lifestyle but has the negative adverse effect of requiring massive a mounts of energy....
We need to cut down on consommation, reduce the population, basically to stop dipping our hands in the cookie jar. BUT as long as the rich can continue to grow richer this will never stop. Be carefull about the evalutation of "rich", it is not necassarilly the top 1%. If you have a roof over your head, own a car and eat two meals a day, have a few pounds/dollars in the bank, you are already on the list of the rich.
>The big things we need for comfort
The crux of the problem lies within the above phrase.
He said the BIG things. So this is not about consumer products etc. This is about having heating, light, hot water, cookers etc. All things that a civilisation the size of ours needs.
As also pointed out in the article, just to make the renewable generation equipment, we need vast amounts of energy. So we need more energy to produce more energy generating equipment... You see the vicious circle?
I agree with the article: What we need is a large investment in modern nuclear fission power (as well as continued research into fusion), as well as some small reductions in red tape. We also need to continue developing renewables, but stop the hidden subsidies (if the govt want them subsidised, do it, don't make US subsidise through our bills).
What the article is saying but does not actually spell out is that no solar-pv, wind-power or geothermal unit ever pays off its initial costs. They *all*, without exception, cost more than the "free" energy is worth.
Coal and oil are cheap because the cost of getting the energy out of them even at point-of-use many megametres from their source is far less than the usefulness of said energy. Oil is an extremely energy dense substance, far better than any battery technology we have and many times more so than hydrogen or any of the other alternatives for mobile power plants like vehicles. Dreaming of running cars from second-hand solar power, like wind energy, is the rankest of idiocies.
The solution to our power needs is obvious and always has been. It just is one the greenies hate, loath and detest and will, for their own religiously bigoted reasons, never admit is really viable or desirable. We need nukes. More nukes, better nukes and eventually *fusion* nukes.
With sufficiently good nukes we would not have the issue of "radioactive waste" for all the radioactive stuff would be consumed as fuel. If it glows it can power something. That is obvious even to a chimp. Only tree-huggers could possibly miss that most blatant fact and they only do so because their religious dogma will never allow them to admit that nukes can be made far safer, cleaner, cheaper and better than anything solar or windy. Also greener.
Domes can be painted.
With sufficient nuclear input, petrol, gasoline, can be *made*. We can still use petrol-driven cars, only better, safer and cheaper ones that do not pollute and do not create carbon emissions. Any carbon the cars exhaust into the air will be consumed by the fuel *making* industry. No drilling for oil ever again. Safe, clean power.
Yes that is a stupid idea and it is a stop-gap and it is so very typically human but it would allow us to keep the things we have and love and still drive our micro-buses to protest rallies where we could plug in our amplifiers and electric guitars so we could sing about how evil and satanic electricity is while smoking weed grown using artificially created fertilisers. Nuclear-created petrol would give us the time we needed to develop real high technologies to replace the internal combustion engine. It would give us breathing room.
But the greenies would have fits were it proposed. Their religious hysteria driven delusion that nuclear is evil won't let them consider the idea that plutonium orbiting Jupiter can't harm baby seals so they are never going to be able to cope with the idea that a technology that utterly consumes radioactives and removes them from existence forever is a good idea. While the green lobby are stuck in their delusionary world of magical unicorns and electric guitars that never need batteries, and the parasitic politicians use these hordes of half-wits as a support base, the human species, for all of its innovative macguyvering will be doomed.
We need more nukes. Nukes are the safest and gentlest and greenest form of power generation possible.
They are even better than solar-powered, photo-voltaic, microwave beaming satellite power stations and the greens would have litters of porcupines, breech, if anyone ever suggested those.
We also need to spread the human species, and those other species that we feel worthy of coming, to the stars, but that idea would cause tree-hugger heads to detonate.
An economy based on ever-expanding off-world activities would never collapse and could grow at an astonishing rate for many millions of years. By the time resources became an issue the Sons of Earth would have evolved into things smart enough not to *need* economies so off-world is basically a ticket to immortality.
Best of all, no human walking the worlds of another star could club baby seals in Canada. (They could club mutated baby-seal descendants on their own worlds but *we* won't tell the greenies this and they are far too lacking in vision and imagination to notice it by themselves.)
Greenpeace and their coterie of hysterical lack-wits should be pushing manned space-flight and ardently, religiously supporting nuclear power. But they are far too dim-witted to see their own best interests. Like most religious cults.
If you can do simple arithmetic you can see that nuclear is the only safe, green power source. Sadly, greenies can't.
HJ: "...greenies can't."
Self-proclaimed greenies, with their lack of common sense and dangerous idealism, are a vastly greater threat to the planet than the harmless lunatic "deniers".
The Siberian-Chinese natural gas deal *by itself* shoiuld contribute roughly a 1% reduction in CO2 global emissions (by displacing dirty and 2x CO2 coal), plus a vast incalculable reduction in NOx, a much worse GHG (even more benefit to climate change). Thank godness China is a one-party state. Else the idiot Greenies would be knee-jerk protesting the pipelines from Siberia, cause the project to be halted, and China would then continue to smolder dirty coal.
The greenies would then stare blankly at the Beijing smog wondering why it isn't going away.
The energy density of nuclear power is staggering... I recall reading how one of the founders of Greenpeace is now a nuclear proponent. He gave a speech at a large hall in NY indicating that this energy density, combined with zero emissions, was what would save humanity. (I personally believe natural gas is the bridge to the nuclear future.If we're going to burn something in the meantime,. let it be natural gas.)
Anyway, for the mathematically inclined, according to e.g. http://www.ocean.washington.edu/courses/envir215/energynumbers.pdf, the energy density in Joules for a pound of oil is 2.4 x 10^7, whereas for a pound of Uranium-235 3.7 x 10^13. 13-7=6, so ~1 million times the energy density.
Thorium is even more abundant than uranium, and cannot be used to make a bomb at all. It needs to be lit by a uranium "match". The tin-foil crowd says that thorium was abandoned because its unsuitability for bomb-making made it unattractive to e.g. the US military, who wanted to be able to dip into the uranium of the civil nuclear industry to get feedstock for nuclear bomb making. Who knows? It is being worked on extensively in India.
There is no energy crisis. There's just a brain crisis - as in, we refuse to use them.
Reducing energy consumption is simply impossible without killing off the civilization.
To me, anyone pushing for the former is implicitly calling for the latter.
Short of this, any attempts to use administrative of fiscal measures to reduce energy consumption will invariably result in the opposite - an increased use and/or the use of cheaper and dirtier sources (e.g. coal) as it will suppress investment into cleaner sources. Watch Germany to see how such things fail.
There is one direction for us - increase efficiency and intensity of power generation and soon. And that means - nuclear.
@Khaptain - reduction of population is impossible in anything approaching long term. Your only hope is a reduction of the rate of growth of the population and that is only possible with increased per-capita energy use. The rule of thumb is - people leaving in shit multiply fast, while people living comfortably barely sustain replacement rate. The higher the living standards, the more expensive are children to make and bring up.
Vladimir Plouzhnikov: "reduction of population is impossible in anything approaching long term."
I rather think it's trivial in the long term: human population will naturally reduce to zero. Possibly it doesn't even take all that long a term.
Even in short term, say a couple of centuries, chances of a catastrophe that'll wipe out 99%+ of the species are not impossibly small.
First off, "consommation;" I invoke the spirit of Inigo Montoya.
Secondly, I had a very enlightening conversation with a gentleman who moved from one of those third-world countries over in Africa (maybe second and a-half, really.) During our discussion a number of things became more clear to me. In particular, one thing he mentioned was how he found himself caught up in the excesses that our country has to offer.
A very real solution is to not over-indulge in what we have available to us. A long time ago I saw a bumper sticker which sticks (ha!) in my mind as a perfect summation of our circumstances: "Conservation means doing with less, not going without." I come from a family in which I was constantly hounded about not leaving lights on, water running, etc. Even though we received such amenities for "free" being a military family*, I was taught a life of using what is needed and necessary. Today I live that for the most part, with the understanding that we are also allowed escapades of fancy: if I want to drive to California for AmiWest, then that is perfectly acceptable. If I want to idle my car in the driveway until the tank runs empty I am free to do so, but doing so is wasteful and shameful.
* The military is, of course, paid for by taxes. However, the idea of "free" (as in beer) living in the military is a myth only revealed within the past decade or so when paychecks began reflecting how housing and other amenities are actually deducted from a member's base pay. Once you retire you really begin to see how the military life is not free at all.
problem is, many people make the mistaken assumption that most other people are not ALREADY conserving out of fiscal necessity.
All blanket legislation, is always a "one size fits all" which while bringing down the visible excessive consumers, actively *harms* what I believe is actually a majority who are already working down to the minimums.
take the following for example. Subsidies used to fund deep discounts in power bills for people who reduce their power x% per month. When you're leaving lights on and running the heat up, you can make that award level by turning down the thermostat a little. later on, by switching to LED bulbs, and again by turning off ones you don't use. So people who start at the high waste level are golden.
Now take those of us who see efficiency in our lives like a game-we're looking to score points, so as a hobby (and as a gadget enthusiast) we've swapped our bulbs with whatever new "energy saving" tech comes along, so by now we;ve already surpassed CELs and are on second generation LEDs. We already turned off bulbs we weren't using because our parents raised us that way. Thermostat is set to absolute minimum since it controls the whole apartment, and heat is provided through either single room electric heaters (closed door, rest of the house at around 60 degrees or less) and a nice new thermal blanket. Kill A Watt devices on our fridge and freezer, and even the TV swapped from plasma to LCD, I even personally underwent the medical procedure to assure that my personal biological carbon footprint ends with me.
So this program comes along, and I can't do d*ck to drop consumption. I live in an apartment and can't get the landlord to replace the fridge (energy star rated from 15 years ago) to something newer and more efficient, or the decades old electric range with something more effective.
What I do receive are nag letters monthly how my power consumption is "15 percent higher than other similar homes". Because I have a wife who works from home using the computer, and I have the network controller/file storage box with the RAID array to keep her stuff safe, and an old tape drive that gets run once a month. the "average" apartment in my area, has mostly kids on smartphones streaming internet over cell tower data plans.
Government level programs for "conservation" have not in the past, nor I suspect will they in the future, take this into account. Like all those cheering high gas prices because such prices keep them from wasting gas on useless trips, they fail (or choose) to recognize that a large number of people have already chosen or been forced to the minimum amount of fuel usage already.
Especially here in the Land of Tesla. People have been building their own EVs for so many decades, a short commute sees dozens of Leafs ever day, and 100mpg mopeds, e-bikes and almost every marque and age of bicycle are on the trails on weekends when people want to go somewhere for fun and not necessity.
Giving politicians control over energy usage will reward the wasteful and harm those with the forethough and attitude to be frugal already. While managing to pass that cost onto their best allies.
Conservation and living without extravagance are anathema to business and government. Most governments are hugely in debt and spending beyond their income, and see increasing GDP as the way out of their dilemma. Increasing GDP depends, in part, upon the public buying more and more "stuff" that they don't really need, but which advertising prompts them to buy. The more stuff people buy, the more manufacturing activity, and the more the workers and businesses earn, and the more the governments can take in taxes (and the more energy and resources are consumed, and the more pollution is produced). In other words, artificially created demand is a key element in the strategy of governments to cover financial problems. Wasteful as artificially-created demand is, it is now seen as essential in the fight to stave off economic recession.
Overcoming our addiction to consumerism would require painful adjustments. Cheap and readily-available credit has enabled excessive consumption to flourish for the last 30 years or so, but the public and governments are at or beyond the debt levels that they can service. If interest rates are not kept artificially low, defaults are inevitable. At the same time, we have enjoyed low energy costs as we consumed the most readily available cream of the fossil energy supply. As energy costs rise, more adjustment is forced on us.
There is a recognized negative correlation between birth rate and wealth and that correlation has been present since the days of Classical Greece at least. Poor people have strong reasons for many children, not least that child mortality increases as wealth decreases. To have any surviving children and thus a family to care for you in your old age, you need more children in proportion to the incidence of child and infant mortality, and that is the case at present in industrial societies. Drop back a few centuries when the majority were agrarian and not only are you worried about your old age but simply getting the harvest in. More children is more working hands and thus lighter work. Overseas Chinese families often operate this way even at present. Even farther back, hunter-gatherers need large families because individual heads where the culture resided - that's what a "traditional society" is, one that operates in head space alone.
The "replacement levels" for the poor are not the same as for the rich. The point here is that the aggregation of large amounts of wealth in a very few hands may indeed cause overpopulation. Not deliberately but just the same.
¨The replacement levels for the poor are not the same as for the rich¨
Quite right. If the rich want to have their incontinence pads changing they use other peoples´ children.
The poor just smell and stay wet.
The point being missed in pushing for a zero-rate level of population increase is that at some point over-population will change, quite rapidly, to under-population, and then to extinction.
When the ¨age demographic¨ changes dramatically, coupled to other consequences of first world society (such as having children later in life) you come to a point where the population has aged to a point where increase just becomes a word with no action. You then import population increase.
Marshalltown "Poor people have strong reasons for many children, not least that child mortality increases as wealth decreases. To have any surviving children..."
I documented this inverse to common sense relationship more than a decade ago. Very few have understood it, and policy makers haven't all brought it on board. You're one of the few to have instinctively grasped in on your own. It's not rocket science, so I'm frustrated that most people still don't get it.
High child mortality (e.g. 50%) has a high random deviation. So to achieve a high confidence of two surviving kids, you can't trust just having four babies, because you want better than 50/50 odds. So you have eight babies and end up with four kids on average to guarantee two.
.: High child mortality leads directly to high population growth. <- THAT! Simple math.
Low child mortality (modern world), has little room for variation. Want two, have two, end up with two. Leads to very low growth.
The nonsense about "educating women" (a very good thing anyway) is a red herring. Except possibly as a secondary effect that helps to lower child mortality. Mostly it's all about wealth and health of modernity leading to lower population growth via the above described counterintuitive mechanism.
"it's not "the rich" that are increasing the population at 2-4x their replacement levels."
The funny thing is, that once the "poor" become "rich", they decrease reproduction rates of their own accord.
last time I was in Myanmar (Burma), I was a little surprised to hear people talking about having children for the specific purpose of ensuring someone would be there to look after them in their old age - but when you think about it, that's been one of the prime drivers for reproduction all along.
If you're going to give up comfort, why bother to live at all? What really is the point? Why bother to breed, for that matter - all you'd be doing is condemning another soul to a life of misery, a grossly selfish and wicked act just to satiate your animal instincts.
Or we could ignore retards, spark up a few nuclear plants, and everyone could live in luxury.
I know which sounds more tempting to me.
For environmental reasons - I think Gazpachomation would be better - because Gazpacho soup is eaten cold. No energy wastage there.
For similar reasons - I also recommend eating Ginsters pasties cold. Though these are quite difficult to eat with a soup spoon or direct from a mug.
"If you have a roof over your head, own a car and eat two meals a day, have a few pounds/dollars in the bank, you are already on the list of the rich."
You need to travel more. Only the car claim is true. The world is doing vastly better than it was a few decades back. Roof and two square meals a day is now widespread. Not universal, but certainly the rule.
PC: "...reducing birth rate would help..."
This isn't the 1970s. Reduced birth is already a fact in most countries. Overpopulation isn't the big issue it once was. We'll probably peak at about 9B around 2050, and most of that in Africa. The new issue is too few young people leading to skewed to elderly demographics.
It's pretty much an over-solved problem.
I'm not sure how they're 'Top Google enginners', either: There were only two of them and they couldn't do the job they were asked to. They sound like dregs to me! :)
Just because you don't like their conclusions doesn't mean they're wrong.
Like the article said, anyone with a decent understanding of physics knows that "renewable energy" isn't the answer. Those of us with degrees in engineering figured it out right away. And the people that claim that "we need to make new discoveries" are people that don't understand basic physics.
If you want to have fun with someone who keeps making claims about renewable energy and climate changes, ask them one simple question: "What causes rain?"
"Just because you don't like their conclusions doesn't mean they're wrong."
/facepalm. smiley face + pint glass = joke, trite comment.
It doesn't mean they're right, either. Or indeed that I don't think they are.
We have two people here saying it won't work, and that's good enough a sample for Lewis to churn an article out.
"Like the article said, anyone with a decent understanding of physics knows that "renewable energy" isn't the answer."
That's not true at all. Quite the reverse: I'm fully aware of just how much energy pours down on our heads. Given the size of that number it's more likely people who DON'T understand physics who see it as insufficient. Anything like a decent conversion rate and we should be harnessing that free stuff. We can't because we're not good enough and need something else, but in theory that's an insane amount of energy.
"Those of us with degrees in engineering figured it out right away."
Never been down a hot, sweaty mine, either then?
Playing the 'I've got an engineering degree and you'd have to know nothing about physics to see that renewables don't work" is essentially your argument, and one based on smugly demeaning others, rather than facts. Your engineering degree does not make renewable enrgy your field of expertise, which you know more about than anyone else, so don't pretend that it does.
"And the people that claim that "we need to make new discoveries" are people that don't understand basic physics."
We need better engineering solutions. Those are new discoveries.
"If you want to have fun with someone who keeps making claims about renewable energy and climate changes"
wow: Seriously: For all your intellect you're still in the tiny minority of educated minds who don't swallow the climate change thing, despite the...y'know...tons of evidence?
For all your intellect you're still in the tiny minority of educated minds who don't swallow the climate change thing, despite the...y'know...tons of evidence?
There is a significant difference between agreeing that global temperatures are increasing (a trend in the observed data), and agreeing the anthropogenic CO2 emissions are responsible for the majority of the increase (a theory to explain the observed data).
If I recall correctly, the current models / theories don't support the observed decade+ hiatus in increased temperatures, correct? If so, that would suggest that the model is inaccurate, and needs to be revisited. That's how science works; you make a theory to explain observed measurements, and if it doesn't properly predict things then you tinker with it until it does. Sometimes you need to throw the whole thing out and start from scratch, because some of the initial assumptions turn out to be incorrect (like atoms being a hard billiard ball with electrons embedded in the surface).
Generally though, what I tend to see are an awful lot of people who are overly invested in their favourite climate model, to the exclusion of actual science. Anyone who would state "it doesn't fit observed period X but the rest of it is sound" is arguably not being scientific enough. If it doesn't fit observed period X, then it needs to be changed so that it does fit observed period X. If it cannot be changed so that it does fit observed period X, then it is arguably unfit for purpose as a scientific model.
It is highly unscientific to base policy on a prediction of between +2C and +4C by the end of the century, if the model failed to account for a decade of no observed warming. If the model actually does account for a decade of no warming then please let me know, as I will support it 100%.
If you mean solar radiation, yes, it is a lot of energy, but it is somewhat diffuse, variable due to weather, and only available during daytime. Solar power satellites have always been a way around the variability issue, and partially around the diffuse issue if you make really big ones that capture a lot of energy.
But these also require huge investments, and wireless power transmission from e.g. geosync orbit down to ground is a thorny problem both in an engineering and socio-political sense - any such transmission beams could be weaponized, and would likely cause fits among some environmentalists.
So, this article makes clear that according to these well respected Google engineers, man-made climate change is real and a 'massive' danger.
Don't forget the renewable energy part.
According to these well respected Google engineers, man-made climate change is a clear and present danger, and renewables are a complete waste of time and money that would be better spent elsewhere.
I'd like both parts to be taken into account when asking for policy changes to be made, please :)
You are not reading closely. Both parts ARE considered and the truth is that current "renewable" technologies are too expensive and too inefficient to do the job that those who are afraid of AGW ask for. Not only can these technologies NOT do the job, they never will be able to. You are up against the laws of thermodynamics. That is why these engineers are saying that we need a "disruptive new energy technology." Both solar and wind power are, when applied on an industrial scale, environmental catastrophes. Look up for instance the problems with the Ivanpah solar plant in the Mojave desert. The "development" of that plant destroyed - yes, destroyed - several thousand acres of desert habitat pushing aside desert tortoise and kit fox, and archaeological remains, not to mention the mining, manufacture, and transportation of the materials to construct it, in order to send power to greater Los Angeles. It has never met the production levels that were "expected" because clouds and dust interfere more than expected. The odds are the plant never will meet those levels for any significant span. A couple of new nuclear plants in the LA basin would have done the job vastly more efficiently with far LESS environmental impact, even considering the threat of earthquakes, which is just as high at Ivanpah as it is in LA.
Consider yourselves lucky you don't live in Ontario Canada. 300 billion dollars of provincial debt to install wind farms and convert agricultural land into ground level solar farms. Electricity bills? Set to quadruple over the next 10 years. And who needs food when you have a little solar power? The people's response? Re-elect the tard politicians responsible for the mess. I'm all for environmental responsibility on a personal level and have made major efficiency upgrades at home but I've been lobbying against this madness as best I can, because our economy is crumbling. Yay!
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