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    Green Energy - Back To A 13th Century Future
    By Hank Campbell | March 29th 2011 11:01 AM | 56 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0® and co-author of "Science Left Behind".

    A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone...

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    Green energy technologies like wind, solar and biomass presently constitute only 3.6% of fuel used to generate electricity in the U.S.   Energy expert Vaclav Smil calculates that achieving Al Gore's renewable energy goal in a decade would incur building costs and write-downs on the order of $4 trillion, note Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren at Forbes

    Is that a lot?  Not spread over 10 years.  That is only 25% of what the U.S. economy lost in 2008-2009 so anyone claiming this investment would be devastating has to note America did not collapse when 4X that much value disappeared completely, so shifting it to something else would certainly have been inefficient, as government always is, but nowhere near as devastating as what happened anyway.     

    No one even knows what the Department of Labor in the federal government does but 50% of the cost of implementing renewable energy would be achieved just wiping that thing out.  The Treasury Department costs 2X as much per year as we'd need, though that includes interest on the debt we incur to subsidize a Department of Education which gets $100 billion per year, even though education is supposedly done at the local level and not the federal.

    And the military?    I am not knocking the value of helping people oppressed by mass-murdering dictators, I am instead heartened that Democrats have come around to seeing the benefits of using American military might to aid democracy in places like Iraq Libya, but Iraq and Afghanistan alone have surpassed a billion dollars in costs in 8 years.   And windmills would certainly still be here whereas bullets and bombs are gone.

    Otherwise, Mssrs. Taylor and Van Doren make fine points, namely that the recurring cost of old, tired renewable energy schemes would be horrifically expensive.  Wind power is 80% more expensive than current technology without factoring in all of the new transmission infrastructure that would be needed.  Progressives seem to only believe in the miracle of capitalism when they are talking about subsidizing something to get it going - costs will come down when windmills get popular because American business is awesome - but otherwise they hate business so the belief that subsidizing something magically leads to profitability is just that; hocus-pocus.  The instances where more government led to more efficiency are still sitting at zero.

    What do they mean by old and tired renewable energy schemes?  They rightly note that wind energy has been tried since the agricultural revolution in Europe - the 13th century.  Today, it is slightly more efficient but not by much and due to the remote locations it requires it would mean waiting for battery technology to improve in order to really be a replacement for fossil fuels.    

    And environmentalists should note that the last fad in future clean energy - nuclear - is terrifically unprofitable and a concern to even Europeans, who have long bragged how they have cut CO2 by using more nuclear power, but now nuclear power has protests in Europe because of recent events in Japan.

    Not everything needs to be profitable, of course.    The American government subsidizes food because it is a strategic resource and we cannot afford to have it outsourced.    Science is also heavily subsidized.   But we have subsidized wind and solar power for decades and no magical boost in efficiency has occurred and to increase it would mean we will soon run up against limits Europeans have run up against in what the government can subsidize and tax for, and privatizing again is a tough sell once people are used to 'someone else' having to pay.   That someone else is still all of us.

    Any economic of political free market commentator could have written what I just wrote, and perhaps a lot better, so what is the solution?    I don't think capitalism is out of it just yet and science has a lot of options in hydrogen and other areas that need some technology but are promising.  For as much as conspiratorial progressives want to believe that current industry is squashing green technology, it never holds up.    Big Horse And Buggy was not able to suppress Ford Motor Company.    Google was very late to the search engine party but Lycos and AltaVista could do nothing about it.

    Instead, progressives (and conservatives and liberals) should be more suspicious of green tech that industry is endorsing - I am talking to you, CFL bulbs and ethanol - because it is profitable due to it being paid for by taxpayers.

    If we have to bet on government or the private sector, bet on the private sector - and necessity.   The green efforts of the 13th century failed but society marched on.  The government did not invent the heavy plow that made Europe a juggernaut for the rest of the millennium, private industry did.   Let's just hope the Black Plague and fewer people to work the fields are not the Mother of Invention this time.

    Comments

    logicman
    Sir,

    I take my quill pen in hand to warn your readers of the dire economic implications of Henry Ford's scheme to adapt military expertise to the horseless carriage industry.

    Although the standardization of component manufactures has proven of benefit to the production of small arms for military purposes it is by no means proven that the same methodology can be adapted to other uses.  We should not rush to create novel mechanical devices.  Rather, we should wait and watch other nations.  If there is anything other than sheer novelty to be gained from the internal combustion engine then - and only then - should we consider its introduction to our shores.

    The fact that the horseless carriage has been adopted as a mode of transport by very few people should be taken as conclusive proof of the ultimate folly of diverting investments away from those industries which are the backbone of our national strength and a national pride.  I refer of course to the saddlers, wagon-makers, blacksmiths and horse-breeders without which our nation would suffer an economic decline such as to send us all back to the stone age.

    I shall finish by reminding you of the great burden of taxation which would fall on us all if the said horse-transport industries - major contributors to treasury funds - should fall into decline if we were so foolhardy as to pursue this dream of mechanical horses.

    Your humble servant,

    P. Lockerby Esq.
    Hank
    Brilliant!    It's always the subtle left who can portray the right so deftly.   Whereas an actor like Alan Alda is cloying playing a Republican (rabid, manic, evil) Alec Baldwin does it spectacularly because he doesn't assume the audience won't get it unless he overdoes it.

    See here for a montage of funny clips (no embed code over there).   He threatened to move to Canada if Bush won in 2004 and was soundly mocked in "Team America: World Police" but Baldwin is the funniest Republican on TV, to an extent I bet he gets much nicer treatment these days from the right.
    logicman
    Left?  Moi?

    Egad, sir!  I voted for Margaret Thatcher - not just because she understood the perils of our excessive emissions of CO2, but because she didn't suffer fools gladly.  I am convinced that if Monckton had ever really advised Mrs. T  that CO2 wasn't a problem he would have ended up in the Tower of London, never to be heard from again.

    Left?  Yeah, right!  :-)
    Hank
    Hillary Clinton claimed she campaigned for Barry Goldwater too.  I see through you!  No right wing person could have been that funny.
    logicman
    I want to make it quite clear - once and for all time -

    my stand in politics is over on the extreme right

    of Vlad the Impaler.  ;-)
    Oh Please, stop with the "free-market" BS. I would love a free market where the true costs of carbon use is captured in its purchase price and the roughly $10 billion a year the government subsidizes fossil fuels goes back to taxpayers. Do those things and I'd love to let the market solve the problem. Until then, the "free market" argument is just a euphemism for "I love the status quo."

    Hank
    I agree with you.  I am not sure where you obtained a link between my use of the term 'free market' and my criticism of subsidies that I am endorsing subsidies or tax breaks for anyone, fossil fuels or not.

    Your other snippet makes less sense - " the true costs of carbon use is captured in its purchase price" is a ridiculous request.  Why carbon use?  How do you value carbon use?  There are zero models to remotely come close to showing the "true cost" of anything, including organic food, windmills or a Maserati.  So why try and introduce it as some sort of defense?

    I get the feeling you just copy and paste your comment and it's "I love the status quo" anywhere you disagree with people about penalizing businesses.
    Gerhard Adam
    I think we have to be careful with the idea of the "free market", because as has been pointed out before, while many alternative energy costs are high, the status quo is also artificially priced by subsidies or not reflecting all the true costs of production so it's hard to get a good read on what actually works or what is economically feasible.

    Also, we have to consider whether the market can address certain aspects of living in our society.  We don't rely on the "free market" to establish our highway system, nor did we for rural electrification.  Numerous other businesses are successful precisely because of government intervention (and not always for the good), so the "free market" model has some serious flaws in it.  Most people have high speed internet access because of special access granted to cable companies or other providers that were not "free market" driven.  Similarly we've seen our health care costs go out of control because we want to allow everyone to profit as long as there's some "middle man" willing to foot part of the bill (i.e. insurance companies).  None of these are representative of the "free market", so I don't have much faith that we're willing to actually allow the market to determine where our costs actually lie.  Instead we have a lot of posturing and all of our economic efforts are going into maintaining the status quo (since those are the guys that pay for political campaigns).
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    I have the same question for you as I had the previous commenter; where did you gain a sense I was advocating a completely free market?   The only time it was mentioned was "Any economic of political free market commentator could have written what I just wrote, and perhaps a lot better, so what is the solution?" in relation to "we have subsidized wind and solar power for decades and no magical boost in efficiency has occurred"

    As I noted, science, food and plenty of other things are subsidized because, even with its inefficiency, it's essential.   No one is advocating making people build their own highways because more subsidies for wind power are a bad investment.
    MikeCrow
    the status quo is also artificially priced by subsidies or not reflecting all the true costs of production

    Gerhard can you provide some specifics?

    The only subsidies that I've read about are that oil companies are sometimes given discounts on royality payments to the government for extracting oil and gas, because in general the government wants someone to do the hard work of drilling and pumping out of the field. A lot of the gulf was tapped this way, because it's expensive to drill, and the oil companies weren't going to do it
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    http://www.kentucky.com/2010/02/02/1120882/ky-legislators-criticize-plan.html

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/01/science/earth/01subsidy.html

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/03/952153/-Fox-blames-Obama-for-oil-subsidies

    As for the government wanting to create incentives for the oil companies to drill, this demonstrates quite clearly how the entire energy policy is skewed and why the "free market" doesn't work.  This is also a compelling argument as to why no amount of drilling in the U.S. is ever going to make us independent of Middle Eastern oil.  The simple reality is that the oil companies are enjoying extravagant profits by purchasing oil from overseas and there's no incentive for them to drill for it here.  Once again, this is reflected by our inability to properly deal with imports and creating the necessary pricing incentives to create the "free market" environment we want.  In that case, the U.S. worker and resources are perpetually doomed to failure because they will be forced to compete with third-world labor and government/dictator controlled production.
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    So this is what I see:

    tax incentives, deductions, depreciation and investment credits

    The government isn't giving them money (though I know Hank feels differently), they're just not taking their full cut of taxes, they do this to influence what a private enterprise does.

    A quick search for oil company profit margins found this (I haven't vetted this, but it's similar to what I've seen other places). This is from 2006.

    Based upon a $3.00 gallon of gasoline, the average break-down is as follows.

    Gasoline Retailer $.01 cents per gallon

    Oil Company $.08 cents per gallon

    Refining $.29 cents per gallon

    Marketing/Distribution $.32 cents per gallon

    Taxes $.59 cents per gallon

    Cost of crude $1.71 per gallon (delivered)

    The reason oil companies make so much is they sell a lot of oil. From what I've read their profit margins are 8-10%, hardly excessive. When you invest your money don't you want to make at least that much? We need more refineries, but again from what I've read, it's next to impossible get the necessary approvals to build one.

    The commodities market is bidding the price of a barrel of oil up, I've seen no evidence the oil companies are behind it. BTW, oil companies who pump oil, sell to the commodities market, I'm going to guess that at $100+/barrel, that makes them more than 8 cents a gal.

    IMO reporters are disingenuous when they rant on high corporate profits (they never refer to ROI), the same with CEO salaries, most make a large portion on stocks. Some get heavily discounted shares with no vesting period (given by the board as a means to hire potentially high quality ceo's to manage the investment in the company by the board members), with others the boards is smarter and use it to incentivize the ceo to run the company well.

    But, reporters never mention this.

    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, but you'll never get me to feel sorry for corporations that manage to post record profits.  What I find disturbing is that most of your comments tend to favor whatever business needs or does with respect to incentives, but the same workers and citizens that actually make up a society aren't entitled to any of those things.

    Small businesses will NEVER get that kind of government assistance despite the politicians constantly going on and on about how small businesses create new jobs.  The fact is that the status quo is protected and large corporations are the most protected of the lot.  Any government favoritism towards any business stifles a "free market". 

    I don't care WHY they make so much, I only care that despite making so much they still feel that they need government favoritism to make their business viable.  That's simply absurd.

    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    As a worker I've been given those kinds of incentives, not at a CEO's level of course, but nothing to sneeze at.

    The status quo is protected by taxes. Just get lucky enough to make a bunch of money some year, and see how much you have to pay. Unless you cheat.
    The only way out of paying excessive taxes is to differ income, where you'll pay for it in the future, give it away (then they get to pay them), spend it on a business expense and get a deduction, or cheat. That's pretty much it.

    And the oil companies aren't getting favoritism to make their business viable, they're getting breaks to cycle money back to the US, instead of giving all of it to OPEC.

    On the other hand, I saw a report that GE was using a loophole to not pay any taxes. That's wrong. On the other hand, I also don't want them taxes excessively either. IMO part of the problem is the rates are as high as they are(1st or 2nd highest in the world), ie excessive, which makes businesses a lot more interested in finding ways out of paying any.

    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    Businesses will always try to avoid paying taxes regardless of what the rate is.  Oil companies are getting favoritism, since anything they get that other businesses are not eligible for is favoritism.  If we believe in a "free market", then let it be so.

    The problem is that when the government has to start giving breaks because of concerns where money is spent, then the corporation is too big.  No entity within this country should be so large that it can result in government largesse or favoritism because it's "too large to fail".
    The status quo is protected by taxes. Just get lucky enough to make a bunch of money some year, and see how much you have to pay.
    You're joking, right?  I'm not talking about people making 6 figures, but much higher.  I'm so tired of people worrying about how wealthy people can possibly make it.  They've demonstrated that they're more than capable of taking care of themselves and they don't need me shooting myself in the foot to do them even more favors.

    The bottom line in this country is that while the wealthy whine, the middle class is getting killed.  I'm equally tired of people acting as if the wealthy are the only people that work for a living or even work hard.  Millions of people are hard and dedicated workers, and it makes absolutely no difference in their ability to make a living, afford health care, or avoid taxes.  So, forgive me if I'm not all weepy about multi-millionaires having to pay taxes.

    Taxes are not the problem.  The problem is that corporations are undercutting the very customers they require to remain viable.  If they think they're going to make up the short-fall by new customers in China and India ... well, that may work for a time, but inevitably they're going to discover that you can't destroy an infrastructure, export your knowledge, and remain a leader at the same time.
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    The problem is that when the government has to start giving breaks because of concerns where money is spent, then the corporation is too big. 

    This isn't the problem, it's that as a country we spend a lot on oil, and if it's not drilled here, we're shipping the money someplace else. I don't see why this is so hard to understand (and it's not just you, I hear this sort of stuff all the time).

    I'm not talking about rich people paying to much taxes, I'm talking about people like myself paying to much taxes on the off chance they get lucky and make a lot of money one year.
    Never is a long time.
    Hank,

    Actually, that was the first time I've ever commented on any article!

    With regard to the various points, your comment: "If we have to bet on government or the private sector, bet on the private sector - and necessity" pretty much says private sector (which I have taken the liberty of being synonomous with free market) is the answer. It is rare that in isolation it is the complete answer. It takes a combination of free-market, ie bottom's up efforts and top down efforts to solve something as challenging as our energy future. So, in reading your last sentence, it was just reminiscent of the all the supposed "free market" folks who neglect to mention when their industries are not truly operating in a "free market." To be fair, you do mention where subsidies are needed so aren't always playing the "free market" card.

    Hank
    Well, we wouldn't know if your definition of 'free market' works or not.  If America is the most capitalistic country in the world and over 50% of the money is controlled by the government, it isn't capitalism and certainly not free market.

    You can't transpose free market and private sector either.   A privately-owned radio station does not exist in a free market.  It competes with a government radio station and rules and frequency restrictions created by the government.   There is no free market in America, though there is a substantial private sector.
    Gerhard Adam
    There is no free market in America...
    You'd never know it from listening to the politicians (with their one size fits all policies) nor the media.
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    I think of myself as a Monopoly Capitalist, The bank keeps the game fair, but other than that, it pretty much stays out of the game.

    And in also all the cases I can think of the Government distorts any part of the game it joins into. Low cost health insurance? Has got to be the most stupid idea I can think of to do to the healthcare business, think of china dumping steel into the US market at an artificially low price and what it does to businesses that have to make a profit to keep the doors open.

    This is also why competition is the best thing you can do to a market, as long as it's played fair. It makes all the players bring their A game.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    ...where did you gain a sense I was advocating a completely free market?
    It just seemed like something you would do... :)

    Actually my comment was more general regarding the whole problem I see with the way energy policy (along with most economic policies) seems to be handled.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Out here in the desert we have both solar and wind turbines. Both energy formats require a great deal of land, are visual blight, inefficient and do not produce anywhere near the levels of energy they are reputed to produce.

    Wind turbines are noisy as well as ugly and tend to require huge amounts of oil to lubricate the propellers. This oil tends to drip down the support posts and probably poses some sort of environmental hazard or other. What wind turbines don't do is kill birds. Birds are actually pretty good at flying and oddly enough can "see" quite clearly when there are hazards in the vicinity. The other thing they don't do - produce enough energy to justify the investment in land.

    Solar mirrors are pretty passive, but take up so much land that you can't possibly light a large city without plastering the entire state in mirrors. Like it or not, coal energy, hydro-electric energy and other petrochemical types of energy production are far more effective, efficient and economical. Out here in the desert our electricity ought to be free, but it still costs the same as anywhere else in the state - too much. Backwards is never a great direction to go. Nuclear energy is actually pretty efficient, but we do have the San Andreas fault to think about...

    Hank
    When I first moved to California and drove over the hills past Livermore I saw all those huge wind vanes and was curious so I looked them up.   Even then, a decade ago, though they were going to 'pay for themselves within 5 years', as the claim went in the 1980s when they were created, they were millions of dollars in the red.

    California is pushing more of the stuff and has created a fake emergency by exaggerating pollution estimates by 340%, which got our expensive clean air legislation passed.   But it was so obviously advocacy rather than legitimate data that even a judge in notoriously progressive San Francisco couldn't let it go and put the legislation on hold.
    Gerhard Adam
    Solar mirrors are pretty passive, but take up so much land that you can't possibly light a large city without plastering the entire state in mirrors.
    Why would you do that, when each home or building could potentially have enough to generate the power for their own needs.  That's not to say that there aren't improvements needed, but power generation doesn't have to be under the control of a separate energy industry.  It is a technology that could allow all of us to live "off the grid" ... but then ... that's the problem isn't it.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    It doesn't work (yet), though.   I have yet to see a story of someone trying to generate their own power that isn't living some spartan, frontier existence.   In my case, the solar panels couldn't even heat the pool without costing me more money to pump the water on the roof than I saved not heating the pool.   And I live in arguably the sunniest livable place on Earth.
    Gerhard Adam
    I have to disagree, since I know people in L.A. that were heating their pool with solar panels 20 years ago.  Why would you pump water anyway, rather than generating electricity for heat?
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    Gerhard, I priced enough solar to generate about a MW (a little less than I use most months with the air off) at around $70,000, and that didn't account for the fact that we have crappy weather and would still get an electric bill.

    That's about a 30 year payback, if nothing fails in that 30 years. And heat, weather and vibration kills electronics.

    So tell me how this is a good idea?

    Hank, The problem with hydrogen is it's really a storage medium, and it isn't too bad at that, but unless someones actually come up with an economical way to make it, or you have cheap electricity it isn't all that much better than anything else.

    Also I don't think most people know that most of the world hydrogen supply comes from natural gas, with CO2 being the waste product.
    Never is a long time.
    Hank
    You can disagree but how do you know they did it cost efficiently when I could not 10 years after they did?  I know it can be done.  It just saves no money.   And every pool heat system works the same way; they do not generate electricity, they heat water for the pool.
    Gerhard Adam
    You're right, I don't know that, so I'll let that one go since I don't really know anything about what they had or did.
    Mundus vult decipi
    vongehr
    "living some spartan, frontier existence.   In my case, the solar panels couldn't even heat the pool"
    This is all that you needed to write. Anything else is nothing but you fooling yourself to be something you are not.
    But wind turbines don't really take up that much land if its ranch land. The Cows grazing below don't care. Go to Sweetwater, Tx and look at the wind farms it is less that 1 part in 100 that is involved in the turbine base, and the rest can stay in grass for the cows. Actually north of Roscoe you see Wind Farms in cotton fields, again the cotton does not care. Or take the Land between Melrose, NM and Say Vaughn, NM empty with so little rainfall it is acres per cow, here there is just miles and miles of miles and miles so no scenery to despoil. This land also would be good solar land, again because there is little alternative use for it.

    Aitch
    The main problem with Taylor and Van Doren's trillion dollar costing is, they completely fail, like so many others, to grasp what green actually means!!

    Why try to build HUGE generators at all?!
    Green equates to smaller scale more localised power, even, just on a per property basis, and IF people had to think before flicking a switch to use their energy supply, they just might not do it at all!
    ref: E F Schumacher
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_Is_Beautiful

    Hank, you are clearly out of date in saying that battery technology would need improving, as it has moved on leaps and bounds due to electric vehicle [including pushbike] use, and the newer batteries hold charge longer and at higher charge/discharge rates than 'conventional' lead acid batteries as used in many wind generator installations currently.
    Costs will fall as volume increases, we are told

    Aitch
    Hank
    Costs will fall as volume increases, we are told
    We're always told that when activists are pushing taxpayer money toward an agenda.   Now, is progress about regression to a time when I can't read a book at night because I have to worry about whether or not I had enough sunshine that day?   Not to me, it isn't.  Progress used to be about forward thinking, not backward.

    Your claim about battery technology is just that - a claim.   Moving in "leaps and bounds" from really awful to mostly awful in the last 40 years does not mean the bulk of the world can use them to have electricity on anything resembling a consistent basis yet.   Prius owners have discovered that the costs falling as volume increases does not really occur.   Instead, the thinking is "you were dumb enough to overpay for a car that is no better for the environment, so you are dumb enough to pay for new batteries every 4 years at 40% of the cost of the car."

    Volume only decreases cost in goods people want, not goods some people advocate for everyone.
    Aitch
    So I take it you haven't replaced your carbon stick torch batteries yet, or your Leclanché radio batteries....?   ;-)

    Aitch
    Hank
    I said 40 years.  There is no cost-effective increase in storage that has made wind power attainable for home use.   It's a gimmick.   

    Will batteries get better?  Sure, but I could also probably send a rocket to Alpha Centauri today.  What I should not do is subsidize a rocket to another star for billions of dollars that will be overtaken by one we send in 60 years, nor should we waste a lot of money on failed tech.    Obviously we need better energy sources but that doesn't mean we have to look backwards.  What we need is a way for everyone who wants to improve their lives to have energy to do it, not to send people back to caves and rationing electricity.
    Aitch
    There's a huge difference between being a reasonable bit more frugal, not using energy because all it takes is a switch/clicker......and rationing
    Air conditioning can be as simple as opening a window, sometimes, and electricity is not the only form of power we can store/save.....heat is the major waste in energy terms, worldwide

    ....but I get the feeling your latest series of 'green articles' is more about attracting trolls/raising hits....

     Aitch
    Hank
    Insult is your standard fallback position when someone disagrees that science=voodoo or says something like this, that solutions already proven not to work should not be subsidized with taxpayer money, even if it happens to be a cultural favorite of yours.    

    It's not trolling to note for a confused public that more money on advertising supposedly 'green' solutions that have long failed will not actually improve the planet.  People being sheep is why we got ethanol after 2 decades of Al Gore shilling for it, along with "cap and trade" boondoggles.   If people are duped again and again, they will stop believing that anyone is telling the truth.

    How much of your home is powered by wind and how many batteries do you have hooked up to Casa Aitch?
    Aitch
    Where's the insult?.....it was intended as humour....sadly misread/misinterpreted

    Unfortunately, I am unable to install my preferred means of power/saving to our joint-tenanted house....and the other tenant isn't too environmentally friendly

    I did however build an environmental project house in the mid '60's that cost £37 odd to run for a year!

    ....but my love of fast cars got the better of me ;-)

    I do have several designs waiting to be implemented.....just that planning law has been in the way for over that 40 years you mentioned

    Aitch
    Hank
    I'm with you on the fast cars issue.   But the various agendas of many, many groups are not going to just step aside for technology ideas.   I don't see environmental advocacy corporations as being in any way superior to energy corporations in their desire to be self-perpetuating, essential and using lobbyists to make sure it stays that way so actual advances will have to be grass roots, even guerrilla.    Imagine the laughability of someone being dragged into court for using a device that saves electricity yet does not have a permit.   But that is how things will be changed.
    Aitch
    Imagine the laughability of someone being dragged into court for using a device that saves electricity yet does not have a permit
    Well, I have been ordered to remove a vertical rotor genny from a chimney pot, as it was deemed 'dangerous and experimental technology, of little or no value, with the potential to cause damage to passers-by from parts flying off or damage to the adjacent roof tiles'
    I couldn't be a*sed to fight what would have been an expensive court case over a 5-800watt genny - despite having constructed a far larger 12kw wind genny based on a truck rear axle, and scaffold pole tower, and with 15ft wooden blades during my aforementioned project!
    Publicity is not always something you want at certain times in your life/relationships, and compromises have to be made, in the interests of peace

    I wish someone would do it and set the legal precedent of having a right to experiment, in the interests of one's own financial and environmental  outlay....

    Small is beautiful, is still a great philosophy in my book

    Aitch
    Hank
    I did an article about an underground movement in biology yesterday (Biopunk: Hack Your DNA) - maybe you need to start an EnergyPunk movement?   The future of energy should certainly not be determined by lobbyists (including coal and wind power kinds) and energy is the kind of thing citizen science can solve where Big Science cannot.
    MikeCrow
    Fast cars and faster motorcycles, dear to my heart. It took near 30 years to catch up to the late 60's.
    Batteries are cool, if you're only going in a straight line for a short distance.

    And yes the Tesla is cool, but it doesn't turn like an Elise does.
    Never is a long time.
    Aitch
    I'd quite like one of these....




    Aitch
    MikeCrow
    It is pretty, but for it to have any range it all, it has to have a huge mass. Now with a whole rash of auto's over 4,000 lbs, maybe it'll weight less than that, But I want 400+hp in something no more than about 3,000-3,100 lbs(my former 02 Z06 is my benchmark).

    I think the only way will be with hydrogen fuel cells. But H isn't a fuel, it's a storage medium, and at least for now most of it comes from Natural Gas, and making it releases CO2.
    Never is a long time.
    Aitch
    0-60mph in 3.4 secs, top speed 170mph, sounds like better performance than a 400hp motor

    Question is, whether it'll get built/sold in the numbers needed....

    It uses Li-ion battery packs, so probably isn't as heavy as you suspect, but I can't find any specs

    http://jalopnik.com/#!5678848/li+ion-motors-inizio-if-tesla-were-a-supercar

    Aitch
    MikeCrow
    The Z06 had a 3.9sec 0-60 time, and went some where around 165-170, but was hampered by the steep 6th gear.

    The R weighs 3100lbs 0-60 5.9
    the RT 3600lbs 0-60 7.1
    and the RTX 3900lbs 0-60 3.4

    The R and RT have 175Kw motors, the RTX 275KW, which my convert puts around 373hp(metric whatever that is converted to SAE hp)
    Never is a long time.
    Aitch
    I'm all for Citizen Science - but also wary of the wealthy nut who fancies a bit of GM to make a personal army....I know, it's been done to death in film, but the reality is often worsened by becoming some mainstream pet project for military advancement, or absorbed into corporate 'global food production solution'

    Humans still have some nasty traits despite my best wishes

    The [punk] energy sector seems obsessed with 'over-unity' solutions, though I suspect there was something in Tesla's research we haven't rediscovered yet

    Aitch
    Looking up 2.5Dimethyl furan on the net[second generation bio-fuel]might cheer you up Hank.The american government is investing and encouraging this as well as private enterprise.The fact is you have a valid point that it would be better to concentrate on the fuel and better carburation than change the system of transport in any drastic way.D.M.F. is an excellent substitute for petrol ,since it is insoluble in water is produced with far less heat than ethanol and can be made in vast quantities from fructose.Sewerage has always been seen by the general public as unsuitable for food production and has been in the past seen as a polutant but it can be very successfully used to produce jerusalem artichokes,a root vegetable i believe from america that can produce prolific roots rich in fructose .These roots have not been unpopular for food in the past because they cause flatulance so this could not be said to be taking people's food out of their mouths.The use of three dimensional farming i.e alternate high and low rows of crops increases the surface area and co2 absorption giving a more efficient use of land.By the way one horse can pull as a pack horse one-eighth of a ton,pull a wagon of five-eighth;s of a ton but could pull a barge on a canal of 50tons.so horses arn't so inefficient if you give them a go and greenhouse friendly too.

    MikeCrow
    I just saw something on the History channel talking about the big cities at the turn of the century, and how much filth there was everywhere from the manure the horses left behind, I don't think that would be progress.
    Never is a long time.
    If Ruddimann et al is to be believed human beings have been inducing climate change for 8,000 years. By what stretch of hope do we entertain the idea that in the space of a few decades we are going to make a significant dent in that trend? If the models are correct, and that is a very big IF, we could stop all carbon emissions tomorrow and the earth will keep warming for centuries. Such was the assertion of a recent University of Washington study.

    Scientists are not prophets but are called upon to act as the same. We might better off relying on science fiction writers for a vision of the future. When I see "scientific" predictions concerning the climate in 100 years time I wonder if the relevant scientists have any idea of how problematic it is to try and see so far into the future. I don't have much faith in the models but I do accept AGW because the bulk of evidence clearly points to this conclusion. The trend is there but that is entirely different from assuming the trend is quantifiable and predictable.

    Green technologies are not a solution they are a salve for our collective conscience. There is something tragically funny in the belief that creating environmentally dependent energy sources because we face a changing environment is a sound strategy. For example, in Europe during the recent cold snap the wind turbines froze and the solar panels were covered in snow. Our civilisation is critically dependent on controllable sources of power that are not environmentally dependent.

    So now people are touting nuclear energy as a solution. A recent Swedish study asserted that the problem there is nuclear power plants emit so much heat the benefits from GHG reductions will be negated. I have doubts about that conclusion but it highlights a significant point. Our culture generates vast amounts of heat so if we are to manage the global temperature would have to reduce GHGs to levels well below those prior to the Industrial Age. We don't have a hope of doing that.

    The best hope we have for mitigating climate change is not anything we do but a huge volcanic eruption or a huge change in solar energy output. Both of these are beyond our control. Given the current technologies nothing we can do is going to prevent the ongoing release of GHGs. We are not going to give up the benefits of our lifestyle. Freeman Dyson has written about a story his uncle told him as a child. His uncle told him how when you get a new toy the old toys lose their lustre. There is no turning back, there may be some who will be happy with a Thoreau like lifestyle but the greater bulk of humanity is not going to throw away all these wonderful toys.

    There are two broad strategies to addressing climate change: mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation is not going to work unless there emerges some new whizbag technology. I like to refer to an old computer game I loved playing: Master of Orion 2. Two technologies in that game are our best strategy: weather control and soil enrichment. The idea that we return the climate back to some prior state is nonsense. The world keeps changing and we cannot go back home. Civilisations often fail to recognise environmental change and its consequences, that failure is often a critical factor in the demise of civilisations. Mitigation may be still be possible but not with the current technologies. On the basis of current knowledge our best hope is adaptation to future changes.

    I adopt a techno optimist perspective because that is the only realistic perspective. At present governments are pre-occupied with mitigation and largely ignoring geo-engineering. A set of papers released by the Royal Society last year argued that geo-engineering is the only viable approach. I fully concur with that because on current evidence we have no hope, absolutely none, of ever significantly impacting on AGW. Governments always reassure people that they can go living as they have always lived and government will solve the problems of the day. People in government refuse to acknowledge that our way of life is the problem because they know people will never accept that.

    If you want a solution to AGW it is not going to be found in turning back the clock but in making much greater strides towards a future where we master environmental management. That is a highly problematic goal, we don't have much luck with wide scale management of ecological processes. But let's be honest here, we're not going to throw away our new toys, we're not going to stop GHG emissions to any significant degree, and we most certainly are not going to give up our love of energy.

    We have to master weather control, that is our only hope. We have to do this because even if AGW is not a problem, another ice age will be far more devastating than anything the current models of AGW suggest will arise from a warming planet. Once you start thinking in century timeframes you have to consider all the possible climatic changes that can occur. As a risk global warming is dwarfed by the implications of an ice age.

    Aitch
    John

    As an ex-environment activist, I've had similar thoughts to yours over the years, however, I'm more and more convinced that were misreading the signs

    We don't have an energy crisis....we have a power crisis

    Power not just covers the physical, but also the spiritual, and it is here, I'm sure that the problem lies
    We have been duped into believing we have no power and government, banks and corporations hold it all
    I believe until we reconnect spiritually with our real power, we will continue to be warned of this danger by nature herself

    If our collective focus continues to shift away from favouring this flawed power model, and shifts evermore towards ethics and integrity, I believe we will just shift consciousness enough to find our natural way out of this dilemma....ideas spring forth from necessity, not favoured shareholder agendas

    btw, link to Ruddiman article here

    http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110325/full/news.2011.184.html

    Aitch
    Aitch
    Oh!... Whoops...we missed it....Earth hour day, 26th March 2011

    http://www.earthhour.org/Homepage.aspx

    Still, there's plenty of time for Scientists here to catch up with projects....in between micky taking environmentalists and green ideas

    Aitch
    Hank
    We didn't miss it, we even reminded people but, like not buying gasoline on Tuesday, people have figured out it is a pointless gesture.  Even the organizers have now fallen back to 'awareness' instead of claiming to make a meaningful difference.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Are you saying that we were all here in Australia sitting in the dark with our candles for the fifth year running all for nothing, just a pointless gesture?
    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Hank
    Don't feel bad, St. Patrick's Day is an equally pointless gesture and a whole lot more people celebrate that.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Oh I don't know, Patrick might enjoy all that adulation, hopefully it will enthuse him to keep churning out his blogs, he has a few in the pipeline that I'm looking forward to.
    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine