Easy Climate Change

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by crabby, May 6, 2006.

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  1. http://www.easyclimatechange.com/

    Sometimes they've got their heads stuck in the clouds, sometimes they're just plain wrong. But with the Greening of politics perhaps we should "green" arrse just that little bit more.

    They do have some good points, any of the links link to other websites, some inciteful, some less so (friends of the earth *shudder*). With global warming imagine in 2050/2060 with otterburn/warcop/sennybridge 3 degrees warmer, the recruits then will be totally soft!!!

    Oh and for once the greenies managed to make something almost funny...
  2. No problem with green policies based on proven scientific evidence, the problem is that many Greens support every daft proposal set forward. Do an audit on wind turbines, a proper one that includes the amount of energy used to produce one, and the payback time for the fossil fuel used, the necessity for keeping fossil fuel power stations operating at low efficiency to back up the turbines, and green they ain't.

    The Govt had made great play about their green policies - wind farms et al, but if thy really wanted to make a differance they would start giving big tax breaks to energy efficiency, bio fuels and LPG. Sadly they still regard energy as a cash cow.
  3. Mushroom, I have done, many times. Payback on a turbine is within 6 months, even taking into account load factor (wind blows, wind doesn't blow). Fossil fuel powerstations can load follow to an extent, increasing or decreasing an extra percent or two, without decreasing effeciency. Back-up power is not needed at "full power" and the wind does not drop instantly all over the country, allowing a measured response. Wind turbines are, actually, green. On the otherhand placement and numbers has to be appropriate, they have to be supported. Even better offshore turbines are becoming economically viable, removing some of the sight aspect (some planned sites are beyond visually range).
    Green policies are about appropriate measures. Cars are still needed, wind can only provide 10_15% of generation needs. Fossil fuels will not disappear overnight. Effeciency and renewables need to fit into society, as much as society need to fit into them.
    They also understand that the environment is not just "CO2", it is waste management, local pollution sources, recycling, aviation and consumption.
  4. Crabby, hats off again another well argued peice, I for one intend to manage my life with one car and continue to try be as efficent as possible. I believe that we could do much to reduce our energy consumption, a lot of which is cost neutral or better which means I can spend more on Beer!
  5. Too many so called "Enviromental Groups" seem to me to have little technical understanding of the issues and technology at hand, and to be more intent on finding someone to blame for it. Ultimately, the energy industry in all it's forms is a demand driven industry. Until we, the great mass of people known as the public, change our habits and demand more efficient products and less polluting energy sources, the status quo will persist. If we don't treat it as a make or break issue in our day to day lives, and at the polls, nothing will change.

    On a more positive note, i heard a pretty convincing argument for decentralised power gird the other day. Obviously it only affects elecrtricity production rahter than transport, but the point that the closer the pwer source to the power usage, the less energy is lost in transmission, and the more waste heat can be used in your CHP (Combined Heat and Power) network. This has already been tried and tested in areas such as Woking, where the council have set up their own little CHP plant for all the council buildings in the Town Centre. obviously this can't be applied everywhere, and is only a little energy in the grand scheme of things, but lots of little savings all contribute to a big change. And since local energy productions would probably use diverse methods (whatever works best locally, tidal on the coast, wind on the hills, biomass near farms, solar and fuel cells in town etc...), the chance of them all failing at once and needing lots of fossil fuel plants to back them up is reduced. And if they do fail, it's a local failure, not all the areas.

    Well there's my tuppence worth.
    Apologies for spelling in advance

  6. Decentralised power is probably the way things will be done in 2050/2060 if effort is made now. However it's not a short-term fix. CHP is effective, but is still burning fossil fuels. Effeciency of a good CHP scheme is 70-80%, compared to about 50% for electricity generation by gas (CCGT) and then 85% for your domestic boiler (gas condensing). I disagree with the use of biomass for anything but transport - the calorific value is such that a huge amount of land would be needed to provide this energy source, creating vast swathes of monoculture. Solar (photovoltiac) is not economically viable and releases nasty chemicals in the manufacture. In the future it may prove economically viable and viable over the life-cycle, however the payback time in carbon emissions on PV cells is about half the life of the cell. Solar (thermal) for hot water systems is just about viable, and definitely would be if all new residences built in this country were forced to install one (installed when house built, no retrofit), as this would mean they are easily economically viable, and payback in carbon emissions in less than a year. Wind can work best in valleys as well you know (air funnelling). Wind is best when community supported, the village residents own the wind turbine that powers their village, any extra is sold to the grid and makes the residents money. There are some schemes like this (one in Orkney... on a little island, I believe "Roussay" or something like that) and some scattered around the country. On a smaller scale "wind-save" style devices could come in - like Cameron is putting on his house. These only generate about 1kw (turn on a kettle and that's 3kw), but can supply most of the low-demand electricity and you're still connected to a grid for high demand times. If the severn barrage were to be built it would supply ~7% of our country's electricity generation needs. It would be a huge scheme, and could easily be economically viable over 30 years, but the effect on the ecology of the area may not be worth it. On a smaller scale including tidal devices on offshore wind turbines may be something to look at (blades below water, blades above water, double whammy). A director of CRED (carbon reduction team) loves this idea and claims to have thought of it himself... Wave power could work, there are some interesting new devices, such as Pelamis (looks like a snake). All of these renewable sources can add to the energy mix, but for now we have a need for fossil fuels and what nuclear supplies. A cut in demand/consumption would be far more effective than the 3.5% we currently have produced from renewable sources.

    The environmental movement does have many problems. Often a different way of life is presented with renweable/consumption ideas, making it harder to swallow. They often are blaming people, including big business. As someone said these energy firms are only supplying to a demand. If we complain about prices of energy then we need to look at how much we're demanding (to an extent energy prices are elastic - demand increases and price increases). There is an alternative energy centre in Wales which is interesting and shows some ways that a community can live sustainably, but only some of these ideas can be transfered across. Getting of their high horse and demonstrating effective ways of lowering energy demand in urban areas and producing energy from renewable means in these areas would be incredibly effective (in my opinion). The other thing some environmentalists are starting to understand is the nuclear debate. Some now see nuclear as part of the short term answer. What Mr/Miss Greenpeace will fail to tell you is that if we build new nuclear reactors, starting today, and double the current nuclear supply of ~18-20% up to 40% then we will only increase the amount of high level radioactive waste by 10%. We have high level waste anyway, it's a problem, but by supplying a huge amount of electricity (unfortunately centralised) from a very very low carbon fuel (mining, construction and transport releases some carbon) is easily worthwhile. Also reactor design is nothing like that at Chernobyl, only the Russians could come up with a reactor that bad.

    Was that useful? Obviously some of the stuff above is my own opinion, but is based on reading and my own work on these issues. I'll include below a piece about the environmental movement and the nuclear debate, which aren't brilliant but luckily aren't too long. Feel free to completely ignore them :p

    " The environmental movement has been around in various guises but grew in numbers and political power on the back of other issues around military nuclear programs, unpopular conflicts and the rise of globalisation. Even at the start of the 20th century social commentators saw the damage being done to Gaia, yet they would not have been able to link this into how this could effect Gaia as a self regulating organism; “In spite of hard trying, man has not yet succeeded in doing his dirt everywhere” (Orwell, 1936) and responsible stewardship has been encouraged, but may have been widely ignored “The process of development is almost irreversible, things must not be allowed to happen by chance or accident” (HRH Duke of Edinburgh, 1964).

    Organisations have brought attention to a wide range of issues, some promoting nature and others promoting the human health impacts from exploitation of the environment. However the lack of political movement from the policy makers and apparent apathy among individuals within many countries towards the issue of climate change has raised the question of whether the environmental movement has failed and the reasons for any failures.

    Several problems are faced, namely; communication on a significant scale, public apathy, poor science or alarmist views leaving the movement open to criticism and a failure to connect the changes in the world to individual actions, a very small part of a much greater whole.

    However, another suggestion could be a public dislike of individual members of the movement, the ideas being put forward can be sound but if it is from someone leading a lifestyle that is seen as unacceptable, uncomfortable or radically different the idea may be distrusted. The idea put across is generally sound and to suggest that we should exploit the environment beyond its means would be folly, yet many social changes have been retarded by resistance to change and a dislike of individual politicians or idealists. In 1930s Britain Orwell attributed one of the failures of the socialist movement to these people; “The whole thing amounts to a kind of malaise produced by the dislike of individuals” (Orwell, 1936), and it is very possible that this has been a hindrance to drastic changes in the way most of humanity treats the environment."

    " There has been much recent controversy in the UK over a nuclear review ordered by the government. Nuclear power is low carbon technology for producing electricity, emitting only 4% of the carbon emissions of an efficient natural gas power station per unit of electricity produced (SDC, 2006).

    James Lovelock argues that nuclear fission is needed to reduce carbon emissions from power generation; that it is safe and is merely a stop-gap measure until nuclear fusion is developed. A doubling of the UK’s nuclear capacity would reduce carbon emissions by 8% (SDC, 2006), which is a significant step towards meeting Kyoto targets. However, the Sustainable Development Commission has identified 5 key problems with the use of nuclear power (Figure 5).

    James Lovelock does argue that waste can be properly dealt with and is a small issue compared to the enhanced Greenhouse Effect Gaia is experiencing. Nuclear waste can only harm part of Gaia, the experience of Chernobyl where a nuclear incident excluded man from vast areas of land where nature has now flourished. This illustrates that nuclear waste can not harm Gaia as a whole. It is also argued that nuclear generation is safe and it is notable that the SDC did not have any problems with the safety of a new generation of nuclear plants.

    Internationally no country is denied a civil nuclear program; under the Framework Convention on Climate Change any technology to reduce carbon emissions should be open to other countries to use. However, a civil program can easily be converted to a program to produce military devices either from the waste or from further enrichment of Uranium; this is a major barrier in the potential international development of nuclear power generation.

    It has to be remembered that electricity consumption is only a portion of total end-user energy. In the UK transport accounts for 36% of all end-user energy consumption (DTI, 2003). Almost all transport is currently fuelled by fossil fuels and so there is a strong correlation between energy consumption and carbon emissions. In some countries electricity consumed is an even smaller portion of the whole. This shows that nuclear power is not the answer, but could be part of it.

    There are new nuclear programs worldwide, the latest reactor to be built is in Finland, yet the project has been heavily subsidised by the Government due to overruns on cost and this makes the economics uncertain, especially with the cost of decommissioning. The Chinese are investing heavily with plans for up to 30 reactors and the US government is looking again at a new generation of nuclear power stations. The Chinese plans will still only account for 4% of electricity generation in a fast growing, energy dependant economy.

    Nuclear power therefore can be part of the answer internationally but doubts still remain over the impacts of waste on humanity, the economics and unstable/irresponsible governments. To continue with our high energy demand nuclear power can only help Gaia and sustain our current economy, whilst reducing the impact of potentially damaging climate change."
  7. Crikey that's a big post crabby!
    i agree with pretty much all of it, though i think you're a bit pessimistic about the length of time it would take to impelement a lot of these things. Fair point, none of them is a 100% fix, and we're certainly going to need fossil fuels and nuclear power for a while yet. If Nuclear fusion ever gets going, that'd be the answer to most of our problems, though it might involve mining the moon (now there's a cool job!).
    Even if all that's achieved if a 50% drop in 30-50 years, that's still a great improvement, a lot better than nowt.

    Quick point on nuclear waste disposal. The problem isn't nuclear waste, it's people. Oil and Gas can be trapped underground for millions of years, there's no reason why we can't stick nuclear waste down there. The problem is, try explaining to people you're burying nuclear waste near them, and they get upset, despite the fact it's so far underground they'll recieve a higher dose of radioactivity from the air they're breathing than the waste with 1km of rock inbetween.

    An imperfect solution now is better than a perfect solution too late. That's what i was always told anyway.

    Interesting to see Lovelock quoted. I think he's a guy whose taken a useful metaphor too far.

    right, back to secretary. Maggie Gyllenhall, mmm....
  8. I like Lovelock, I think some of his ideas are fascinating (Gaia).

    The problem with waste is "if we bury it do we make it accessible - so it can be dealt with in the future, or inaccessible - so noone can get to it".

    In theory the drums the scandanvians use for their waste will last 100,000 years, even sat out in the open. Therefore find somewhere above the water table (old salt mining areas), but geologically inactive and where the geology is mapped (problem with salt mining areas if you don't know where all the mines were). The waste isn't a huge problem really, it'll be dealt with. A friend who stood for the Green Party mainly dislikes nuclear fission on the issue of "we don't need it, put the money into effeciency gains and renewables and you'll have the same effect".

    Why would we have to mine the moon for fusion? My understanding of fusion (D-T and D-D) means we basically need some seawater!!! Obviously it's more complicated than that but we have the resources to run a nuclear fusion program worldwide with no problem, especially once we advance to D-D reactors. It still won't be around for a while though, the last project (JET) just broke even in energy terms (energy in = energy out). The next reactor, to be built in France I believe, will need to prove it can sustain the reaction, provide power etc. Then we need prototype reactors, then we need comercial reactors. Most sources quote 2040 at earliest, 2050 possible, 2060 likely.

    A point I should clarify on my earlier post, the small scale renewable and all renewable can start today. Yet the take-up and advances in technology means it will be beyond 2035 when they really start to make a majority impact. We could have new nuclear fission reactors by 2015 if we started now. Nuclear fits into our existing strategy and society (more or less), society would have to change more for effeciency gains and large renewable growth. (I'm not even going to get into DC generation, DC networks replacing AC, the use of alternative fuels in transport etc)
  9. It's a good question over the acsessability, i'd personally make it inacsessible, but i can see both sides of the argument. i don't think you need it above the water table, just with a good stratographic seal (impermeable layer). If it can keep oil and gas underground without leaking it can ceratinly keep vitrified nuclear waste there.

    Don't wory too much about the whole moon thing, you just need a bit of Helium-3 to get nuclear fusion started, and the moon's a good source since it's mostly primitive mantle, without plate tectonics to cycle it over and lose gasses to the atmosphere. We should never have left ITER, the best hope of getting a viable fusion reactor going. it does seem to be one of those technologies that's always 40-50 years away.

    On Nuclear Fission power, if we ever did switch to hydrogen powered transport, that could be a good way of producing hydrogen form electrolysis, as nuclear reactors are best run at a constant load, which you could do with hydrogen production quite easily.