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Renewable Energy: How to power the world without burning dead things

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    CantidoCantido Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Pata wrote: »
    The obvious answer is to engineer a living thing that can be burned, and thus regrow once it's spent.

    Sure its life will be eternal agony, but that's the cost we have to pay for power.


    Create a Yatagarasu?
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    Sign me up! But I promise you, I will use my powers to fuck the earth up.

    Cantido on
    3DS Friendcode 5413-1311-3767
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    HonkHonk Honk is this poster. Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    edited April 2011
    Slippery slope.

    As demand rises we'd be burning Unitologists.

    Then the Orthodox.

    Who knows where it would end?

    Honk on
    PSN: Honkalot
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    KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    We roll with a lot of hydro back home in NZ, maybe around 70% of total generation. But all the easy to exploit large sites have been tapped and the remaining sites require large scale diversion or canalisation of rivers (rather than say making lakes) which has obvious and real environmental issues. Then there is the issue that the main hydro areas are in the South Island and the demand growth areas are in the far north of the North Island. So there is the issue of transmission loss.

    The hydro network is pretty spectacular though, giant dams, lakes and canals marching across a lot of the mountain landscapes that also hosted Lord of the Rings

    Kalkino on
    Freedom for the Northern Isles!
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    HonkHonk Honk is this poster. Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    edited April 2011
    Helms deep was actually the wall of a hydro dam.

    Honk on
    PSN: Honkalot
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    Caveman PawsCaveman Paws Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Honk wrote: »
    Helms deep was actually the wall of a hydro dam.

    The orc with the bomb was Big Oil.

    Caveman Paws on
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    hanskeyhanskey Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Isn't the real unsolved issue with hydro that eventually sediment build up makes power generation impossible? There's no good resolution that I've heard (correct me if I'm wrong) to alleviating this issue and it usually results in abandoning a dam in place. I seem to remember that this has actually happened in the U.S. with number of our earliest hydro-electrics. I guess you blow up the dam every 50-60 years and rebuild?

    Also, while it is true that if we had plenty more breeder reactors or thorium reactors the spent fuel issue is null and void for practical purposes, but we actually don't have access or sufficient access to those types of reactors to actively employ recovering spent fuel as regular business practice, so at this moment in time one has to continue to consider spent fuel waste in making energy policy until the situation on the ground changes. Don't get me wrong, I think that increasing our numbers of those kinds of reactors, or, better yet, re-purposing the breeder reactors the military currently uses for generating plutonium for nukes is definitely a good idea, but non-proliferation goals have prevented that strategy in the past, and I'm not sure that won't continue. I'm curious if the new non-proliferation agreements allow us to use breeders for eliminating waste though reprocessing, and I wonder if they allow thorium plants at all? Just curious dudes, since some of you seem to really be up to speed on all things nuclear.

    I asked the question about depleted uranium projectile source materials because it seems they are the most common variety around the world right now, because of their super-high density (stopping power) and I would feel like that is not such a great use of nuclear waste if the source of those bullets is waste from actual U.S. nuclear plants. That might be a silly position, because it doesn't really matter where the depleted uranium is sourced, you still wouldn't want to get hit with one of those rounds, but I still would be a little unhappy with that use of our electric generation nuclear waste.

    hanskey on
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    JihadJesusJihadJesus Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    jothki wrote: »
    Pata wrote: »
    The obvious answer is to engineer a living thing that can be burned, and thus regrow once it's spent.

    Sure its life will be eternal agony, but that's the cost we have to pay for power.

    That's supposed to be the point of ethanol.
    The point of ethanol is to make sure the giant agricorporations have someone to buy the fuckload of corn we subsidize for no good God damn reason...

    JihadJesus on
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    hanskeyhanskey Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Yeah, Ethanol has been DOA since it's inception, because you never want to use a fuel that is also a food, except as an absolute last resort! Fuel demand makes food much too expensive very quickly on the open market, and we already saw this effect on African corn aid a few years ago. In fact, the U.S. government put the kabosh on the increased Ethanol subsidies of the Bush era as result, if I'm not mistaken. Also, Ethanol in nowhere near as energy dense as gasoline, making it less attractive than gasoline in that sense alone.

    Even if you can grow a crop for Ethanol production (like switch grass) that is not a food source you still need to careful manage it's production, so that it does not reduce the amount of food grown. After all, farmers will switch to growing fuel stock instead of food if there is more profit in it.

    Either way it is a terrible, terrible idea. Biodiesel is just as terrible of a fuel as Ethanol for the same reasons, but it's never reared it head the same way Ethanol did, because it's not as easy to produce and there is not a powerful industry lobbying for biodiesel, like the corn producers fought for their extra fuel production subsidies.

    hanskey on
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    EgoEgo Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    God would I love to see corn subsidies die. Too bad it's political suicide to go after something like that, when 99% of the public is completely ignorant about it and the lobbyists pushing for it can say 'YOU'RE ATTACKING FARMERS!'

    Ego on
    Erik
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    TheGerbilTheGerbil Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Several of the research groups I work with on occasion are still trying to figure out way to produce Hydrogen gas cheaply and energy efficiently. Our current methods are terrible for the idea of using hydrogen as a fuel source in cars and the conversion to hydrogen alone would likely produce more pollution than gasoline alone.

    Not to mention the added side effect of releasing a bunch of H2O in the air from cars. CO2 is a greenhouse gas but so is H2O. That would likely mess up several ecosystems in and of itself.

    So the question we are grappling with is how we are supposed to make hydrogen fuel cells work?

    TheGerbil on
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    electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    TheGerbil wrote: »
    Several of the research groups I work with on occasion are still trying to figure out way to produce Hydrogen gas cheaply and energy efficiently. Our current methods are terrible for the idea of using hydrogen as a fuel source in cars and the conversion to hydrogen alone would likely produce more pollution than gasoline alone.

    Not to mention the added side effect of releasing a bunch of H2O in the air from cars. CO2 is a greenhouse gas but so is H2O. That would likely mess up several ecosystems in and of itself.

    So the question we are grappling with is how we are supposed to make hydrogen fuel cells work?

    Uh...what?

    Are you seriously trying to claim that the small amount of H2O which would be produced from hydrogen fuel cells, is in any way comparable to the effect of releasing huge quantities of CO2 which has been sequestered out of the ecosystem for millions of years?

    EDIT: I mean, you do know that the combustion of hydrocarbons produces H2O as a byproduct as well right? CxHy --> xCO2 + (y/2)H2O

    electricitylikesme on
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    redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    hanskey wrote: »
    Either way it is a terrible, terrible idea. Biodiesel is just as terrible of a fuel as Ethanol for the same reasons, but it's never reared it head the same way Ethanol did, because it's not as easy to produce and there is not a powerful industry lobbying for biodiesel, like the corn producers fought for their extra fuel production subsidies.

    and what of Biodiesel derived from algae? Aside from sunlight and water, I don't believe it would compete with food for any sort of resources material or human. Heck, one of the byproducts is fertilizer.

    redx on
    They moistly come out at night, moistly.
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    SynthesisSynthesis Honda Today! Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I could be completely ill-informed on the subject, but the most promising argument for biodiesel I've heard is not growing fuel directly, but rather, using waste materials (cooking oil comes to mind) that was going to have to be processed and thrown into dumps anyway.

    Of course, you're going to have to process it into fuel anyway, and then burn it in internal combustion engines or in boilers, so it's not really a step up.

    Synthesis on
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    redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Synthesis wrote: »
    I could be completely ill-informed on the subject, but the most promising argument for biodiesel I've heard is not growing fuel directly, but rather, using waste materials (cooking oil comes to mind) that was going to have to be processed and thrown into dumps anyway.

    Of course, you're going to have to process it into fuel anyway, and then burn it in internal combustion engines or in boilers, so it's not really a step up.

    It's certainly not a step down. The carbon released by biodiesel is already part of the carbon cycle, and if it was dumped somewhere it would just be broken down by bacteria(releasing co2).

    There has been talk about growing, like, soy to make biodiesel.

    redx on
    They moistly come out at night, moistly.
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    electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Synthesis wrote: »
    I could be completely ill-informed on the subject, but the most promising argument for biodiesel I've heard is not growing fuel directly, but rather, using waste materials (cooking oil comes to mind) that was going to have to be processed and thrown into dumps anyway.

    Of course, you're going to have to process it into fuel anyway, and then burn it in internal combustion engines or in boilers, so it's not really a step up.

    There's not enough.

    Pretty much all the whacky alternative hydrocarbon fuels do not exist in sufficient excess to actually be viable transportation fuels, cooking oil being one of the worst. There's a lot of it around, but there's not that much and it's kind of an awful thing to try and use in an engine anyway.

    electricitylikesme on
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    SynthesisSynthesis Honda Today! Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    redx wrote: »
    Synthesis wrote: »
    I could be completely ill-informed on the subject, but the most promising argument for biodiesel I've heard is not growing fuel directly, but rather, using waste materials (cooking oil comes to mind) that was going to have to be processed and thrown into dumps anyway.

    Of course, you're going to have to process it into fuel anyway, and then burn it in internal combustion engines or in boilers, so it's not really a step up.

    It's certainly not a step down. The carbon released by biodiesel is already part of the carbon cycle, and if it was dumped somewhere it would just be broken down by bacteria(releasing co2).

    There has been talk about growing, like, soy to make biodiesel.

    That's a horrible idea. o_O

    Synthesis on
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    TheGerbilTheGerbil Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    TheGerbil wrote: »
    Several of the research groups I work with on occasion are still trying to figure out way to produce Hydrogen gas cheaply and energy efficiently. Our current methods are terrible for the idea of using hydrogen as a fuel source in cars and the conversion to hydrogen alone would likely produce more pollution than gasoline alone.

    Not to mention the added side effect of releasing a bunch of H2O in the air from cars. CO2 is a greenhouse gas but so is H2O. That would likely mess up several ecosystems in and of itself.

    So the question we are grappling with is how we are supposed to make hydrogen fuel cells work?

    Uh...what?

    Are you seriously trying to claim that the small amount of H2O which would be produced from hydrogen fuel cells, is in any way comparable to the effect of releasing huge quantities of CO2 which has been sequestered out of the ecosystem for millions of years?

    EDIT: I mean, you do know that the combustion of hydrocarbons produces H2O as a byproduct as well right? CxHy --> xCO2 + (y/2)H2O

    No, I am aware of that. Nor am I saying that it is on the same magnitude. But rather that it would become a magnitude and it is something that we are trying to figure out. Not saying "We can't do this because..." but rather "These are issues we are attempting to work around."

    Well... that and finding cheaper, better storage containers for H2 gas that doesn't leak it out.

    edit: The storage and hydrogen gas production are our main concerns at the moment. As you mentioned the products itself is not a huge deal especially considering our current prospects.

    TheGerbil on
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    hanskeyhanskey Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I forgot about algae, lot of benefits there if it can actually be made to work on a sufficiently large scale. Thanks for the reminder.

    However, aren't there still major technical problems with creating sufficiently large scale algae farms for that to actually be viable? Also once you go industrial scale with such a platform, then won't you will get into adverse land and water impacts? How should those be mitigated? My gues is that you'd probably also need electrical power in some fashion to create and manage the artificial environment under which the algae is raised. Frankly on a truly industrial scale, with a critical system such as fuel production, you'll need the quality control provided by some kind of automation system. It would be used for things like circulating water and other nutrients, keeping the Ph balance correct, and fighting/preventing disease, etc. These are the same kind of technical difficulties we experience in drug manufacturing where a biological component must be batch grown. Not to say it isn't doable, but I think it may not get you very far in defeating the resource competition that arises from Ethanol production by using algae produced biodiesel instead (I wouldn't mind being wrong on that one).

    Either way we're still burning things when we use algae produced biodiesel, and I doubt it's be cleaner burning than any of the other cheaper alternatives we already have (Natural Gas for example).

    hanskey on
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    KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I do not really know anything about dam removal but surely there must have been a lot of it by now. I know the oldest dam near my place was made in the 1930s, one of six of its design globally but is now the only one still running

    Kalkino on
    Freedom for the Northern Isles!
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    electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    TheGerbil wrote: »
    TheGerbil wrote: »
    Several of the research groups I work with on occasion are still trying to figure out way to produce Hydrogen gas cheaply and energy efficiently. Our current methods are terrible for the idea of using hydrogen as a fuel source in cars and the conversion to hydrogen alone would likely produce more pollution than gasoline alone.

    Not to mention the added side effect of releasing a bunch of H2O in the air from cars. CO2 is a greenhouse gas but so is H2O. That would likely mess up several ecosystems in and of itself.

    So the question we are grappling with is how we are supposed to make hydrogen fuel cells work?

    Uh...what?

    Are you seriously trying to claim that the small amount of H2O which would be produced from hydrogen fuel cells, is in any way comparable to the effect of releasing huge quantities of CO2 which has been sequestered out of the ecosystem for millions of years?

    EDIT: I mean, you do know that the combustion of hydrocarbons produces H2O as a byproduct as well right? CxHy --> xCO2 + (y/2)H2O

    No, I am aware of that. Nor am I saying that it is on the same magnitude. But rather that it would become a magnitude and it is something that we are trying to figure out. Not saying "We can't do this because..." but rather "These are issues we are attempting to work around."

    Well... that and finding cheaper, better storage containers for H2 gas that doesn't leak it out.

    No, quite literally it cannot possibly be any worse then it is now. Again: CxHy --> xCO2 + (y/2)H2O, at say, 40% thermal efficiency vs H2 + O2 --> H2O at 80+%.

    It would require use on a staggering scale - orders of magnitude larger then present fossil fuel usage, for water vapor from fuel cells to have any type of negative greenhouse impact. Climate scientists don't care about water vapor emissions from power plants, cars etc. presently because it's an absolute non-issue - it simply does not stay in the air long enough.

    electricitylikesme on
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    SyrdonSyrdon Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Kalkino wrote: »
    I do not really know anything about dam removal but surely there must have been a lot of it by now. I know the oldest dam near my place was made in the 1930s, one of six of its design globally but is now the only one still running
    There's a turn of the century dam around here that would still be functional if there weren't some problems relating to it being a heavy metals superfund site. You do get sediment build up (see: superfund site), but its not going to get high enough to fill the reservoir in reasonable time frames, nor is it going to build up enough to cover the intakes for your dam. Even if it does, you can always just dredge it out.

    Actually, one of the big issues with dams is that the sediment never ends up going downstream each year, so ground doesn't get the usual influx of nutrient rich silt so it ends up degrading faster than it would under natural conditions. If it were coming down stream quick enough to be worth dredging then it could be sold to farmers to fill that purpose after being dredged.

    Syrdon on
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    TheGerbilTheGerbil Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    TheGerbil wrote: »
    TheGerbil wrote: »
    Several of the research groups I work with on occasion are still trying to figure out way to produce Hydrogen gas cheaply and energy efficiently. Our current methods are terrible for the idea of using hydrogen as a fuel source in cars and the conversion to hydrogen alone would likely produce more pollution than gasoline alone.

    Not to mention the added side effect of releasing a bunch of H2O in the air from cars. CO2 is a greenhouse gas but so is H2O. That would likely mess up several ecosystems in and of itself.

    So the question we are grappling with is how we are supposed to make hydrogen fuel cells work?

    Uh...what?

    Are you seriously trying to claim that the small amount of H2O which would be produced from hydrogen fuel cells, is in any way comparable to the effect of releasing huge quantities of CO2 which has been sequestered out of the ecosystem for millions of years?

    EDIT: I mean, you do know that the combustion of hydrocarbons produces H2O as a byproduct as well right? CxHy --> xCO2 + (y/2)H2O

    No, I am aware of that. Nor am I saying that it is on the same magnitude. But rather that it would become a magnitude and it is something that we are trying to figure out. Not saying "We can't do this because..." but rather "These are issues we are attempting to work around."

    Well... that and finding cheaper, better storage containers for H2 gas that doesn't leak it out.

    No, quite literally it cannot possibly be any worse then it is now. Again: CxHy --> xCO2 + (y/2)H2O, at say, 40% thermal efficiency vs H2 + O2 --> H2O at 80+%.

    It would require use on a staggering scale - orders of magnitude larger then present fossil fuel usage, for water vapor from fuel cells to have any type of negative greenhouse impact. Climate scientists don't care about water vapor emissions from power plants, cars etc. presently because it's an absolute non-issue - it simply does not stay in the air long enough.

    That's true. My area of research is not directly in this group so I was just listing things they've been talking to me about for a while and looking into it further you are correct on the greenhouse gas thing. It was really only brought up once and I should have looked into it sooner.

    The groups main concern is the storage of the Hydrogen gas and creating vast quantities of hydrogen gas cheaply.

    TheGerbil on
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    hanskeyhanskey Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    redx wrote: »
    There has been talk about growing, like, soy to make biodiesel.
    Even worse than corn for Ethanol, because the volume of fuel per ton of fuel stock is even lower (I think).

    hanskey on
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    TheGerbilTheGerbil Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    hanskey wrote: »
    redx wrote: »
    There has been talk about growing, like, soy to make biodiesel.
    Even worse than corn for Ethanol, because the volume of fuel per ton of fuel stock is even lower (I think).

    Biodiesel doesn't really have much going for it. It takes away from food production, and is not very high in energy compared to other fuel sources.

    TheGerbil on
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    JihadJesusJihadJesus Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    TheGerbil wrote: »
    hanskey wrote: »
    redx wrote: »
    There has been talk about growing, like, soy to make biodiesel.
    Even worse than corn for Ethanol, because the volume of fuel per ton of fuel stock is even lower (I think).

    Biodiesel doesn't really have much going for it. It takes away from food production, and is not very high in energy compared to other fuel sources.

    The only positive I can think of is that it can be made from food bi-products that are otherwise trash. It's not a long term solution, but it's better than ethanol.

    Unless you live where it gets anywhere remotely close to freezing ever. Then it can screw off.

    JihadJesus on
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    redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    hanskey wrote: »
    I forgot about algae, lot of benefits there if it can actually be made to work on a sufficiently large scale. Thanks for the reminder.

    However, aren't there still major technical problems with creating sufficiently large scale algae farms for that to actually be viable? Also once you go industrial scale with such a platform, then won't you will get into adverse land and water impacts? How should those be mitigated? My gues is that you'd probably also need electrical power in some fashion to create and manage the artificial environment under which the algae is raised. Frankly on a truly industrial scale, with a critical system such as fuel production, you'll need the quality control provided by some kind of automation system. It would be used for things like circulating water and other nutrients, keeping the Ph balance correct, and fighting/preventing disease, etc. These are the same kind of technical difficulties we experience in drug manufacturing where a biological component must be batch grown. Not to say it isn't doable, but I think it may not get you very far in defeating the resource competition that arises from Ethanol production by using algae produced biodiesel instead (I wouldn't mind being wrong on that one).

    Either way we're still burning things when we use algae produced biodiesel, and I doubt it's be cleaner burning than any of the other cheaper alternatives we already have (Natural Gas for example).

    1) who cares if we are burning stuff? We take carbon out of the atmosphere, then we burn it putting it back into the atmosphere. There is no net change. Natural Gas's carbon is all nicely sequestered in the earth.

    Yeah, it isn't practical yet and they are still doing testing on stuff and it will require some energy to run the stuff. If it takes more to energy to produce than it yields... eh it might still be useful for transportation if it is more efficient than hydrogen(which wouldn't take much) or batteries(still not too great at the moment, but showing a hell of a lot more promise than hydrogen).

    You don't need fertile soil to grow algae, so there should not be too much competition for land. However, most of the places that have naturally shitty soil and a lot of sunlight tend to not have an over abundance of water.

    Like, water management is an issue that is going to become very important in america and it is something we are going to need to deal with if we want to keep living like we do.

    redx on
    They moistly come out at night, moistly.
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    hanskeyhanskey Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Syrdon wrote: »
    you can always just dredge it out.

    Yeah, but it's cheaper not to, so people don't.

    I didn't realize that the problem of deposition obsolescence was a point of contention at this point. I've read some of the published scientific literature on hydro, and the main con of hydro other than flooding upstream of the plant seems to be deposition obsolescence. I wish I had a reference handy for you, but I don't. I did see and hear that problem cited an awful lot on NPR right around the time of the completeion of the Three Gorges Damn and encountered it in a number of books I got from the local college's engineering library on energy policy and practice.

    Also, dredging is only feasible where sediment deposition is at a sufficiently slow rate that dredging has a snowball's chance in hell of working. As I mentioned above, dredging also makes one of the cheapest sources of electricity (normally thought of as a mostly one-off cost for building the dam) much, much more expensive.

    hanskey on
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    EgoEgo Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I'm surprised biodiesel isn't more efficient to produce than ethanol, since biodiesel is just vegetable oil. I mean, I've never looked it up, but I guess I just assumed that by weight you could get more out of pressing rape seed than by feeding corn to bacteria.

    Though really I just don't see turning food into fuel as a realistic energy source regardless. Maybe with fancy engineered bacteria, edit: and food that's more or less just stuff we throw away, right now, as opposed to actual crops we eat.

    Ego on
    Erik
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    hanskeyhanskey Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    redx, I think you make some good points, I'm just looking at what technological and other varieties of issues we'll have to work through for that to be a viable option, because I like that fact that it is a net 0 carbon process.

    The problem with alot of the alternative fuels is the scale that we are talking about. Here's some numbers just to indicate how challenging scale is for these problems. I know of a NG gathering system which produces 1.2 billion cubic feet of NG per day! The really fucked up thing is that 1.2 BCFD only represents maybe %5 of the NG used in the U.S. on a daily basis and Natural Gas isn't even a main source of electric power generation, let alone fuel for cars!

    The other reason I bring up scale is because problems that don't exist on a small scale suddenly become huge on a scale sufficient to be useful for our ends.

    Edit: Hyrodgen production definitely has scale issues.

    hanskey on
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    hanskeyhanskey Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Ego wrote: »
    I'm surprised biodiesel isn't more efficient to produce than ethanol, since biodiesel is just vegetable oil. I mean, I've never looked it up, but I guess I just assumed that by weight you could get more out of pressing rape seed than by feeding corn to bacteria.

    You might be right. It must be dependent on the fuel stock I suppose. Don't forget that you also need methanol from somewhere to add to biodiesel stock in order to make biodiesel (unless I'm remembering wrong)?

    hanskey on
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    TheGerbilTheGerbil Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Server business pretty much ate what I was going to say. But its been said.

    TheGerbil on
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    SyrdonSyrdon Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    hanskey wrote: »
    Syrdon wrote: »
    you can always just dredge it out.
    Yeah, but it's cheaper not to, so people don't.
    After a quick look around, what I'm finding is that US dams lose less than .5% of their capacity per year. So, not likely to kill production of the dam (which is to say, not enough to be worth dredging out). Somehow, I suspect that dredging is cheaper than decommissioning (and coming up with replacement power) a dam every 60 years (the comment that was being responded to).
    I didn't realize this was a point of contention. If you read any of the published scientific literature on hydro, the main con other than flooding upstream of the plant is deposition obsolescence. I wish I had a reference handy for you, but I don't. I've seen and heard that problem cited on NPR stories right around the time of the Three Gorges Damn and in a number of books I got from the local college's engineering library on energy policy and practice.
    On the subject of Three Gorges specifically, the sediment related concern appears to be with ... farms not getting sediment, not obsolescence. If you have sources, please, spend the time to at least find someone on the internet who will cite them.

    Syrdon on
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    TheGerbilTheGerbil Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    hanskey wrote: »
    Ego wrote: »
    I'm surprised biodiesel isn't more efficient to produce than ethanol, since biodiesel is just vegetable oil. I mean, I've never looked it up, but I guess I just assumed that by weight you could get more out of pressing rape seed than by feeding corn to bacteria.

    You might be right. It must be dependent on the fuel stock I suppose. Don't forget that you also need methanol from somewhere to add to biodiesel stock in order to make biodiesel (unless I'm remebering wrong)?

    Based on this article I'm reading now you are correct. You need either ethanol or methanol depending on the process (most use methanol) in creating biodiesel.

    This article has some excellent data on the effects of these different processes on human health, climate change and resources required.

    I'm reading Life cycle analysis of biodiesel production by Varanda, Pinto and Martins (2010), Fuel Processing technology. I have access to these journals, so many of you may not be able to read them. I referenced it for those who can access online jorunals and are interested.

    TheGerbil on
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    WobizzleWobizzle Registered User new member
    edited April 2011
    Only a few years ago, some companies were saying climate change wasn’t a
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    humanity’s survival, for justice, and for sustainability, we must reduce our
    emissions and consumption here at home.
    To do so, we must educate ourselves about bogus climate change solutions
    we are given and act to restructure our relationships to the earth and its
    peoples to achieve a zero carbon society; short cuts are clearly insufficient.

    Clean coal, and carbon capture sequestration and storage
    Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a major departure from other climate
    mitigation strategies. Rather than stopping pollution or replacing a fossil fuel, it
    allows current activities to continue but captures the carbon emissions and buries
    them under the ground. This “carbon sequestration” is primarily considered
    for coal power plants—it’s a key component of the “clean coal” myth—although
    its use for other fossil fuels has also been proposed.
    Even proponents recognize that CCS is unlikely to be widely operational until
    at least 2030, a bit late if we want quick action on climate change! Methods
    for determining how much carbon can be stored in an underground site or
    how to indicate technological failure—such as leaking toxic concentrations of
    CO2—have yet to be developed. The infrastructure necessary to widely implement
    CCS would be extraordinary and highly controversial. CSS would demand
    thousands of miles of pipelines and hundreds of untested underground
    storage sites. Most troubling, it would require new “CCS-ready” coal-fired
    power plants, hundreds of which are already on the drawing board despite the
    embryonic state of the technology.By far the greatest concern is that CCS legitimates the continued dominance
    and expansion of the coal industry under the notion that coal can someday be
    clean. The impurities flushed from one stage of the coal “cleaning” process are
    stored behind over 600 earthen-sludge dams throughout the United States. Residents
    nearby these sites are exposed to heavy metals as the reservoirs leak into
    drinking water. Dams can rupture from age or poor construction, as was tragically
    demonstrated by the toxic coal ash spill in Tennessee on Christmas Eve
    2008, which buried homes and rivers in more than a billion gallons of sludge.
    Coal power plants are responsible for an estimated 24,000+ premature deaths
    in the United States each year caused by the fine particulate matter they release
    into the air. In contradiction to the “clean” propaganda, mercury emissions are
    actually higher in “clean” coal plants than conventional ones.
    Even if coal could somehow be prepared and burned safely, there is no way
    to repair the damage of coal extraction, which has devastated communities
    and ecosystems from Bangladesh to Black Mesa, Arizona. The worst forms
    of mining—termed “mountain top removal”—can level up to 10 square miles
    of landscape in a single operation. West Virginia alone has seen well over 500
    square miles of mountains and 1,500 miles of rivers destroyed by mountain top
    removal coal extraction.
    Many environmentalists agree that “clean” coal is too dirty for the Global North,
    but, vacating any notions of global human rights or international solidarity
    amongst environmental activists, contend that it should be deployed for the
    Global South’s energy needs.

    Agrofuels
    Agrofuels (or “biofuels” as they are known by their proponents) rely on industrial
    scale agriculture, which has long been dependent on deforestation and
    cheap fossil fuels. In many countries, rainforests are being plowed under for
    the expansion of agrofuel plantations, destroying carbon stores vital to regulation
    of ecosystems.
    Across the United States and European Union, governments announced steadily
    increasing targets for the inclusion of agrofuels in the fuel that runs our cars. In
    response, the agricultural market made a wholly predictable shift toward fuel
    production, contributing to the skyrocketing price of grain around the world.
    Just with these preliminary agrofuel targets, staple foods are becoming less
    affordable for the poorest people, and thousands have protested in Indonesia,
    Mexico and in many African countries over price hikes. Agrofuel production
    inevitably outcompetes food production, since the buying power of rich
    northern agrofuel consumers is greater than the buying power of poor southern
    food consumers. For countries with a strong car culture, most arable land would
    need to be converted to agrofuels to keep the gas flowing. The reality, however,
    is that most agrofuel consumption in the Global North does not come from
    domestic industry, but is based on importation from the Global South, just as
    oil is imported today.Furthermore, recent scientific reports have suggested that biofuels made
    from corn, sugar cane and soy are having a worse impact on the climate than
    burning fossil fuels. Most agrofuels are grown on large monoculture plantations.
    Such plantations require large scale deforestation that actually contributes
    to climate change, as do the nitrous oxide emissions from chemical
    fertilizers. Emissions from oil are merely shifted to emissions from wasteful
    agricultural land use.
    Agrofuel targets in climate and energy policies have one source: lobbying
    by companies with investments in agrofuels. The beneficiaries of the rush
    to agrofuels are neither the climate nor farmers, but multinational agricultural
    corporations.
    “2nd Generation” Agrofuels
    “We are told that corn and sugar ethanol is merely a stepping stone to advanced
    ‘second generation’ fuels. This next generation is to be made from the inedible parts
    of plants, grown on marginal and idle lands and won’t compete with food. Unfortunately,
    all forms of agriculture require land, soil, water and fertilizers—all
    of which are dwindling resources. The removal of wastes and residues from agricultural
    and forested lands for fuel production will deprive soils of organic matter
    required by healthy ecosystems. Energy demand is too huge to use plants for fuel
    sustainably and the efficiency of plant growth and conversion to fuels is too poor. The
    intensifying scramble for land is causing the displacement of people, often violently,
    from their traditional lands. Stripping the land bare, planting monocultures, and
    using every scrap of plant life for fuel is a clear path to catastrophe.”
    – Rachel Smolker, PhD, Research Biologist
    Biofuels and Communities
    Exploitation of workers on plantations. In the Brazilian sugar-cane
    industry, cutters receive only a fraction of a dollar per ton of sugar cane cut,
    and many people have died in sugar cane plants and plantations.
    Unemployment and the destruction of the rural economy. Actual employment
    generated by agrofuel production is very low. The spread of
    agrofuel plantations weakens rural economies, increases poverty, and pushes
    people into the cities where they swell the slums.
    Human rights violations. In Tanzania, more than 11,000 people have been
    evicted from one agrofuel plantation alone. Oil palm plantations in Indonesia
    have been imposed on communities with adverse effects on their livelihoods
    while agrofuel companies have a history of violations of human rights.
    Water stress. In India it takes nearly a thousand gallons of water to produce
    4 cups of sugar-cane derived ethanol. Scarce water resources could be
    further depleted.

    The Nuclear Option
    The nuclear industry has latched onto the climate crisis in a last ditch attempt
    to survive in the face of long-term public opposition.
    Nuclear power is presented as clean energy because no carbon dioxide is
    emitted during the electricity generation process. Yet huge amounts of energy
    are required for every other stage in the process, including the mining,
    milling and transportation of the uranium; the construction and decommissioning
    of the power plants; and the reprocessing, storage and disposal of
    nuclear waste. At present, most of this energy comes from fossil fuels.
    Uranium is mainly mined in vast open-cast pits. In some hard-to-reach
    seams uranium is removed through in situ leaching, where sulfuric acid,
    nitrous acid and ammonia are injected into the seam and pumped up again
    years later. Typical-grade uranium ore requires a thousand tons of rock to be
    ground up to produce one ton of useful fuel. The other 999 tons of rock is
    radioactive indefinitely and is left in the environment where its radioactive
    products are free to be leached out.
    The economics of nuclear power are highly uncertain, particularly with the
    new generation of “safe” designs. The first of these “third generation” plants is
    under construction in Finland. In August 2007, after 27 months of construction,
    the project was declared to be between 24 and 30 months behind
    schedule and $2,230 million over budget.Nuclear power plants take far longer to build than almost any other energy source and–when the lifecycle costs are taken into account–are far more expensive then most every other climate solution under consideration. It is only through the tax-payers covering nuclear waste disposal, reprocessing, storage and plant decommissioning costs–and frequently subsidizing the intial construction
    as well–that nuclear power remains an energy option at all.

    Carbon Trading
    Part I: Cap and Trade
    The practice of carbon trading was implemented by the Kyoto Protocol as
    another strategy for tackling climate change, while allowing “business as usual”
    in many industries that profit most from the use of fossil fuels. Essentially,
    governments create a market commodity out of carbon pollution by issuing a
    finite amount of tradable pollution permits each year. As the theory goes, the
    amount of permits issued would decrease year to year and carbon emissions
    would be reduced. Because the permits are tradable, and emissions cuts are
    easier and cheaper for some businesses to make than others, the “invisible
    hand” of the market will cut overall emissions as efficiently as possible, at the
    lowest possible cost to the economy.
    Established by the Kyoto Protocol, a cap and trade system is up and running
    in Europe, but it has been an unmitigated failure, beset by fraud and market
    manipulation. Known as “The European Emissions Trading Scheme,” (ETS)
    the market includes within its scope large industrial plants including power
    stations and factories—entities that comprise just under half of Europe’s
    total CO2 emissions. Some power companies were issued the permits free
    of charge, yet have raised prices to “compensate” for the costs of the scheme,
    resulting in windfall profits. At the same time, other companies overestimated
    their emissions upon entering the scheme, miscalculations that lead to
    bottom-basement prices for the remaining permits and reduced incentives to
    limit emissions.Worse, monitoring of emissions
    is inadequate. The levels of greenhouse gases that individual countries emit cannot be precisely
    quantified—studies claim the level of uncertainty is as high as 30%—and nearly half the
    emissions sites that purchase carbon credits in Europe are not satisfactorily monitored.
    Furthermore, enforcement of penalties for exceeding limits is almost nonexistent.
    Is there any wonder that Europe’s CO2 emissions are rising despite their commitments
    under Kyoto?
    Proponents say these problems can be fixed, but there are more fundamental
    issues. Carbon trading seeks reductions on the cheap–sometimes you get what
    you pay for. While short term reductions in carbon emissions may be less
    expensive in carbon trading markets, there is no incentive toward crucial long
    term changes and investments that will be necessary to move us into a postcarbon
    society. Furthermore, as exemplified by the US sulfur dioxide trading
    market, communities with less political clout—typically low income communities
    and communities of color—can see increases in pollution under permit
    trading regimes, as neighborhoods and towns with more political clout demand
    more rigorous enforcement of pollution limits.
    Perhaps the most troubling aspect of cap-and-trade is that it creates an experimental
    new system of private property rights. Permits are accounted for in corporate
    balance sheets and recorded in legal statutes the same way as patents or
    land grants from the government. When property rights are created and given
    to the most powerful actors in society, their ability to shape future privileges is
    only further entrenched. The level of the cap and the rules associated with the
    trading become the product of endless lobbying by companies trying to retain
    their high allowances, not scientific understandings of ecosystem and biosphere
    health. This power dynamic also exists on a global level as the countries and
    companies of the Global North fight to retain their high share of rights to emit.
    At a time when poorly understood, experimental markets dominated by powerful
    interests have thrust millions of households into foreclosure and the world
    into the worst global recession in decades, do we really want another opaque
    commodity trading market?Europe says it intends to fill some of the holes in the ETS—for instance, by auctioning
    some permits instead of giving them away. But the EU has no intention of
    removing one of the biggest problems with carbon trading—the fact that carbon
    credits (popularly referred to as “carbon offsets”) can simply be bought from the
    Global South to substitute for emissions reductions at home.
    Carbon Trading Part II: Carbon Offsets
    The UN’s “Clean Development Mechanism” (CDM) is the largest generator of
    carbon offset credits. Perversely, factories in India and China have sold offset
    credits for implementing modest clean ups required by law throughout the
    Global North, and then have used their “emissions reduction” revenue to expand
    the same, highly-polluting industries. As a result, local communities have
    suffered from exposure to pollutants (like arsenic, acid rain, and mercury) while
    greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise.
    Tragically, environmentally conscious individuals have been hoodwinked by the
    “carbon neutral” mentality, priming the pump for the global offset industry. We
    are told that we can “offset” our emissions from a particularly polluting activity for
    a small fee. The fee is used to plant trees to soak up CO2, or to help people in the
    Global South reduce their emissions.
    Tree planting has been widely discredited as an offset because the polluting
    activities take place immediately even though the tree plantations only soak up
    carbon emissions over a period of decades. Furthermore, release the stored CO2
    back into the atmosphere after they die. The creation of offset tree plantations
    has frequently stripped communities of control of common lands often used for
    subsistence agriculture.Offsetting encourages us to think we can buy our way out of the changes we need to make to the way we live, but the reality is that the vast majority of offset projects are either scientifically dubious or minor tweaks that distract us from the large changes we need to make in our own backyard.
    In order to tackle climate change we need to support community-led sustainable development in the Global
    South as well as reductions in CO2 emissions in the Global North, not instead of them!

    Seeing REDD: The World Bank’s Anti-Solutions
    Tragically, the World Bank is a central agent for delivering “green” development
    within the UN’s climate treaties. The Bank, a powerful and deeply
    undemocratic international institution, has a long and controversial history
    of assisting large corporations in “developing” poor countries.
    The Bank manages the massive Prototype Carbon Fund (PCF), a corporate
    and government investment pool that claims to “pioneer the market for
    project-based greenhouse gas emission reductions while promoting sustainable
    development,” making the Bank a kingmaker within the offset market.
    Despite the stated goal of the PCF, less than a quarter of its offset projects
    are linked to development and a mere 6% of funds are set aside to promote
    sustainable development. More than 80% of the funds released have gone to
    heavily polluting industries in the oil, gas, cement, iron and steel production
    and industrial gases sectors. Communities living in the wake of these projects
    have been devastated by their environmental and health impacts.The Bank’s latest scheme, called “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation
    and Degradation” (REDD) is part of the “Bali Roadmap” established by the
    UN in 2007, and is slated to be a key component of any post-Kyoto climate
    treaty. This new plan offers a means for rich countries to avoid responsibility
    for over-consumption and evade emissions cuts by buying offsets.
    The logic underpinning REDD is fairly simple: at present, the short-term
    economic gains from deforestation outweigh the long-term benefits of forest
    conservation. The Bank argues that investing up to $10 billion globally per
    year into saving forests will change the economic balance in favor of conservation.
    This money would be paid in the form of carbon credits–the more
    trees a country or company saves or pays to save, the more it earns the right
    to pollute.
    The Bank’s record of failed forest conservation projects is worse than its
    efforts at green development. During the 1980s, human rights activists and
    environmentalists worldwide campaigned against the Bank’s funding of logging
    projects, mega-dams and road building programs. Recently, in massive
    logging and agrofuels projects in the volatile Democratic Republic of Congo,
    in Indonesia, and in the Amazon Basin, the Bank has been harshly criticized
    for funding environmental destruction and encouraging social unrest.
    Given the Bank’s past record, there are other reasons to be concerned as well.
    In many tropical countries, governments have attempted to legally define
    remaining forests as leaseable state lands, so that indigenous peoples who
    have lived in forests for millennia are being evicted from their homes. With
    the World Bank and their corporate partners’ interests in protecting lucrative
    forest carbon “reservoirs,” the risks to forest-dwelling people will surely grow.
    Will the UN Help Us?
    Activists from Climate Justice Now! described the atmosphere during the
    2008 UN climate meetings in Poland: “Private investors are circling like
    vultures, swooping in on every opportunity for creating new profits. Business
    and corporate lobbyists expanded their influence and monopolized conference
    space at Poznan. At least 1,500 industry lobbyists were present either as
    observers or as members of government delegations.”
    The UN process on climate has been blighted and continually sidetracked
    by an all-encompassing focus on the inner working of carbon markets. This
    approach was introduced when the United States, under Al Gore’s tenure
    as lead negotiator, stated it would not ratify the Kyoto protocol without a
    central role for carbon markets within the plan. More then ten years after
    weakening the protocol, the US has still declined to sign on.

    Megadams
    While hydroelectric dams do not require combustion to generate electricity,
    they have deep ecological and social footprints and they still produce greenhouse
    gases. The flooding created by dam construction has forced thousands
    of people worldwide out of their homes. Protesting communities are often
    brutalized during violent evictions of villages and cities to make way for dam
    construction. In the Pacific Northwest, salmon are on the brink of extinction
    due in large part to dams blocking their annual migration and the higher
    temperature of stagnant water behind them.
    Newly-built dams flood thousands of acres of forests, killing trees and starting
    the decomposition of massive amounts of organic material. This accelerated
    decomposition releases tons of methane and CO2 into the atmosphere. One
    study found that the net release of CO2 from hydroelectric dams in tropical
    regions are as high as the greenhouse gas emissions of a coal plant producing
    an equal amount of electricity.
    The CDM (detailed in the “Carbon Offsets” section) is increasing subsidies to
    hydropower developers while allowing major fossil fuel emitters to carry on
    polluting. By the beginning of 2008, 654 such projects had received or had applied
    to receive status as UN sanctioned carbon offsets. Hydro is now the most
    common technology in the CDM, representing a quarter of all projects.
    Like many other offset projects, the great majority of hydroelectric projects
    in the CDM were in the works long before they applied for carbon credits.
    Absurdly, more than a third of the dam projects that have been approved for
    credits by the UN committee in charge of the CDM were built before CDM
    approval!
    The large dams now angling for CDM certification also impose significant
    environmental and social damage. The massive 880 Megawatt Campos Novos
    Dam in Brazil (completed in 2005, yet applied for credits in 2007) displaced
    3,000 people, many of whom were never granted their promised compensation.
    In addition to this injustice, local project opponents were subjected to
    arbitrary arrests and police violence.

    Geoengineering
    The term geoengineering refers to the large scale manipulation of the environment
    to bring about specific environmental change, particularly to
    counteract the undesirable side effects of other human activities. Geoengineering
    rests on the assumption that humans are masters of the universe and
    the natural world, and have the ability to control and engineer its systems.
    Climate change has shown that humans do not and probably never will
    understand the planet’s systems well enough to try to artificially engineer a
    rebalancing of the scales that over-consumption has tipped.
    Once any of these geoengineering schemes is embarked upon, it must be
    maintained for as long as the carbon dioxide emissions that it aimed to counteract
    remain in the atmosphere regardless of any negative impact the scheme
    turns out to have. Some of the very worst and most absurd of these false solutions
    are described here:
    Sulphates in the Stratosphere
    When volcanoes erupt they release sulfates which are known to have a cooling effect on global temperatures by reflecting solar energy back into space. Some scientists are proposing to increase levels of (banned) sulfate aerosols to simulate this effect. However, a dramatic increase in sulfates would have serious impacts on ecosystems, including acid rain and localized climatic disruptions, such as droughts. Nobel prize winner Paul Crutzen, who advocated research into sulfate aerosols as a last ditch solution to global warming, predicted around half a million deaths as a result of increased particulate pollution.
    Sunshades in Space
    This scheme involves a set of 16 trillion transparent, sunlight-refracting
    shades installed in space about 1.5 million km from Earth. The project would
    require 20 launchers each positioning 800,000 screens every five minutes for
    ten years to initiate and would cost trillions of dollars to deploy.
    Genetically Engineered Trees
    Some believe we can create unlimited quantities of “renewable” carbon neutral
    wood energy using genetically engineered trees. Some consider burning wood
    “carbon neutral” due to the notion that the CO2 released during burning
    would have been released anyway as the tree died and decomposed. Towards
    that end, companies like Arborgen are developing trees with resistance to
    drought, freezing, diseases and insects, as well as reduced lignin. (Lignin is a
    structural material that gives trees strength and flexibility but “gets in the way”
    of industrial processes.) Since trees spread pollen and seeds over hundreds of
    miles, contamination of native forests by GE trees is virtually inevitable and
    once it occurs could devastate native forest ecosystems globally.
    Ocean Fertilization
    This idea centers on encouraging the growth of phytoplankton in the oceans,
    which take up carbon dioxide as they photosynthesize. In theory, some of
    this carbon dioxide might not return immediately to the carbon cycle.
    Exactly how much carbon dioxide is sequestered, and for how long, has not been quantified. Ocean scientists have warned that this technology is potentially dangerous to ocean ecosystems, unlikely to sequester much carbon dioxide, and has the potential to increase levels of other
    dangerous greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide and methane. In addition,
    expanding phytoplankton populations could amplify ocean acidification in
    deep ocean waters and deplete nutrient loading in surface waters (potentially
    leading to the creation of “dead zones”).
    Plastic Coated Deserts
    In this plan, 67,000 square miles of desert would be coated in shiny plastic
    each year for 60 years to reflect sunlight. The plastic sheeting would have to
    be maintained, and periodically replaced, for a century or two. Premature
    removal would have a rapid global warming effect.
    Burning Trees to Cool the Planet
    Another strange idea is using charcoal (marketed as “biochar” to make it
    sound more appealing) to save the planet. The idea is to plant over half a
    billion hectares of tree plantations and burn them using a pyrolysis (low
    oxygen) process to make charcoal. The charcoal is then tilled into the
    ground, so that the carbon in the charcoal is safely sequestered in soil, away
    from the atmosphere.
    “Ladies and gentlemen, I have the answer! Incredible as it might seem, I
    have stumbled across the single technology which will save us from runaway
    climate change! From the goodness of my heart I offer it to you for
    free. No patents, no small print, no hidden clauses. Already this technology,
    a radical new kind of carbon capture and storage, is causing a stir
    among scientists. It is cheap, it is efficient and it can be deployed straight
    away. It is called . . . leaving fossil fuels in the ground.”
    – George Monbiot, Columnist with the Guardian UK

    Demanding Climate Justice
    “The economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest
    wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that... I’ve
    always thought that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly
    UNDER-polluted”
    – Larry Summers, director of Obama’s National Economic Council,
    former chief economist at the World Bank

    Environmental and social justice activists in the Global South are demanding
    that the world’s wealthiest nations assume responsibility for the disaster
    they have created rather than perpetuate carbon colonialism in the developing
    world. Social movements and grassroots organizations rooted in the
    Global South have long realized the futility of certain “solutions” and remind
    us that any old action won’t do.
    Our Southern allies believe we should respond to climate change through
    commitments to reduced consumption and by payment of the ecological
    debt from the Global North to the Global South owed from decades
    of resource extraction. Investment in community-led renewable energy
    initiatives and sustainable, small-scale agriculture infrastructure geared to
    meeting the right of all people to healthy food are supported, corporate
    development is rejected.
    The climate crisis demands that we, as residents of the Global North, ask
    what kind of world we want to live in, and recognize that the answer is as
    much a social issue as it is an environmental one. Climate Justice is more
    than a theoretical goal—it is a practice in the movement against climate
    chaos. No effort to create a livable climate future will succeed without
    the empowerment of marginalized communities. No justice will be found
    without an end to policies long-pursued by the wealthy countries which treat
    communities—from Iraq’s oil fields to Indonesia’s palm oil plantations to
    Appalachia’s coal fields—merely as resource colonies.

    Real Solutions
    An evaluation of climate solutions must start with basic, yet rarely asked,
    questions: Who owns, controls, and profits from each technology? Who
    loses? Beyond measuring carbon impact, how does each proposal affect communities
    and other aspects of ecosystem health?
    While technologies—micro-hydro, organic agriculture, public transit, passive
    solar home heating and many others—will be important in making
    a just transition to a post-carbon world, it’s imperative to recognize that
    great problems have always been met by great social changes, not merely by
    technological shifts. Changes in technology are only a fraction of the climate
    solution, yet they consume nearly the entirety of the policy debate.
    Growth of the whole global economy means consumption of an everincreasing
    amount of goods, using an ever-increasing amount of energy,
    mineral, agricultural and forest resources. Replacing “growth” as the main
    objective of the economy is a fundamental change that must be made to
    address climate change. Building a new paradigm, rooted in meeting human
    needs equitably and sustainably, is as big a challenge as climate change
    itself. But if human society is to survive as we presently know it, the two
    must be inseparable.
    Effective and just solutions to climate change require decision-making that
    incorporates all who are affected by the results of the decisions—not just
    deals between those who stand to profit. The hold that corporate interests
    and centuries-old colonial mindsets have over political decision-making
    must be broken. Only then can we begin creating a new, more just society in
    the shell of the old.
    “If we hold up banners saying climate change kills and we want more
    government action, the very power groups driving the destruction
    will cheer and might give us even more carbon finance or agrofuels.
    Instead, we need to mobilize against the false solutions and for
    real, meaningful actions that will actually cut emissions and deliver
    climate justice...The time for marching for ‘global action on climate
    change’ without denouncing the false solutions and the drivers of
    climate change is over.”
    -Simone Lovera, activist with Friends of the Earth
    Paraguay and the Global Forest Coalition

    Sorry for the weird formatting transcribed from a piece I helped write.

    Wobizzle on
    The future is unwritten
  • Options
    SyrdonSyrdon Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Wobizzle, assuming you get all the policy changes you want, does planet wide energy use stay where it is currently, increase, or decrease?

    Syrdon on
  • Options
    hanskeyhanskey Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    TheGerbil wrote: »
    main concern is the storage of the Hydrogen gas and creating vast quantities of hydrogen gas cheaply.

    Good Luck! I truly hope they find the silver bullet for these problems :)

    hanskey on
  • Options
    TheGerbilTheGerbil Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Yeah I hope they do too.

    I was really surprised when I first found out that the storage of H2 gas is a very legitimate concern, as it is able to leak out of most containers being an extremely small molecule.

    TheGerbil on
  • Options
    hanskeyhanskey Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Syrdon wrote: »
    hanskey wrote: »
    Syrdon wrote: »
    you can always just dredge it out.
    Yeah, but it's cheaper not to, so people don't.
    After a quick look around, what I'm finding is that US dams lose less than .5% of their capacity per year. So, not likely to kill production of the dam (which is to say, not enough to be worth dredging out). Somehow, I suspect that dredging is cheaper than decommissioning (and coming up with replacement power) a dam every 60 years (the comment that was being responded to).
    I didn't realize this was a point of contention. If you read any of the published scientific literature on hydro, the main con other than flooding upstream of the plant is deposition obsolescence. I wish I had a reference handy for you, but I don't. I've seen and heard that problem cited on NPR stories right around the time of the Three Gorges Damn and in a number of books I got from the local college's engineering library on energy policy and practice.
    On the subject of Three Gorges specifically, the sediment related concern appears to be with ... farms not getting sediment, not obsolescence. If you have sources, please, spend the time to at least find someone on the internet who will cite them.
    Let me apologize for lack of source citation. I'm trying to be as involved in this thread as I can be from work so I have to work from memory or the people I work with will get very annoyed with me. I did forget about the lack of sediment downstream for farming, which you rightly mention as one of the main cons of hydro power, so thanks for pointing it out. :)

    I will not dispute that the primary concern early in a hydro project's life-cycle is centered around the loss of farm utilized sediment downstream of a plant, and the loss of arable and economically productive land to flooding upstream. However, depositional obsolescence remains a valid long term concern in many people's mind including my own. While your figures are not particularly worrying in the average case (30% loss of capacity over 60 years) they're still not great. In addition, there are certain to be a big statistical chunks of hydro generation that will lose capacity at a higher rate, perhaps even a much higher rate due to the sediment load upsteam (think Yangtzee River, vs. Colorado River).

    Most hydro projects don't take into account the future cost of dredging and so the cost to the consumer will not cover long term maintenance issues such as this. This is a similar to another very tricky problem that cities all over the U.S. are facing as our water mains die while we have saved no money to fix them because rates have been far too low historically. I agree that it should be cheaper overall to dredge rather than decommission, but think about when the cost hits. When the short term solution of doing nothing is so much cheaper than dredging, people will continue to do so even though that is not the best practice and will eventually cost them more in the long run (well it'll cost their kids and grandkids far more based on the timescale). While dredging may be practical in some applications there are sure to be examples where dredging is simply not viable. I do like the idea of dredging and selling the sediment to those downstream who might need it, but I'm not aware of any location where this actually happens.

    hanskey on
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    hanskeyhanskey Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    TheGerbil wrote: »
    Yeah I hope they do too.

    I was really surprised when I first found out that the storage of H2 gas is a very legitimate concern, as it is able to leak out of most containers being an extremely small molecule.

    Think about H2 supply as well. I mean, there is essentially no free H2 available as a gas anywhere on earth, because our gravity well is insufficient to hold it in, and because it is so unstable that it'll break apart and bond with something else if you look at it funny. All the H you could want out there in the universe, but here on earth it's all bound to something or is in the process of leaving orbit. :P

    hanskey on
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    TheGerbilTheGerbil Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    hanskey wrote: »
    TheGerbil wrote: »
    Yeah I hope they do too.

    I was really surprised when I first found out that the storage of H2 gas is a very legitimate concern, as it is able to leak out of most containers being an extremely small molecule.

    Think about H2 supply as well. I mean, there is essentially no free H2 available as a gas anywhere on earth, because our gravity well is insufficient to hold it in, and because it is so unstable that it'll break apart and bond with something else if you look at it funny. All the H you could want out there in the universe, but here on earth it's all bound to something or is in the process of leaving orbit. :P

    Oh yeah definitely. Hydrogen is so plentiful, but so yet so very hard to come by in a pure form.

    TheGerbil on
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