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Anonymous Nutrient

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Debate: Green Energy vs Fossil Fuels

As we all well know, the world is addicted to petroleum for things such as energy, transportation, and other uses. However, the burning of fossil fuels (most likely) diminishes the quality of the air we fill our fragile lungs with. Sure, petroleum has proven it's undeniable worth for transportation, but this resource may have the potential to lead our ecosystem's demise.

Do we need to start considering the integration of Green Energy into our civilizations? In doing so, would that possibly grant our delicate habitats more time of life and existence? Or should we just stick with fossil fuel, simply because it already gets the job done. Or should we invest in Green Energy (potentially creating thousands if not millions of jobs), and save whats left of our burdened world?

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    Oct 20 2012: Let me put it this way.

    The only companies with enough equity to establish effective green-energy programs...are still sucking money from the oil industry.

    I also don't see many investors throwing their money into green-energy companies. That usually doesn't happen when you are talking about research. An investor wants a real return promise...not "well we hope green-energy works soon".

    Green-energy is being used as a term to increase political standing. Green-energy, in most cases, is seen as a "charity" and investors are forced to go elsewhere.

    We cannot have a market that facilitates growth based on investing....and then sit around wondering why our research programs don't attract investors....well...with 0% return on research programs...who wants to invest?

    The U.S. still subsidizes the three largest oil companies that make over 80 billion a year combined.

    Green-energy will be taken serious...when its not a tool to make more money.
    • Oct 20 2012: You are right that fossil fuels are still being subsidized, I would like to add that the cost of environmental damage is not fully included in the price of fossil fuels, even in countries that have eco taxes fossil fuels. The biuggest point, I believe, is that it's just so difficult getting the start-up capital for major investments in green energy (this touches on you sentence about large companies sucking money from the oil industry). This is true on all levels: in many countries buying solar panels is already a sensible investment, but you need to own a house with a roof and have $10k-20k in starting capital, many households just don't meet those requirements, while many governments already have such high national debt that they can't invest much in green energy either, even though they're guaranteed to get their money back eventually. Only large corporations can invest but they have vested interests in fossil fuels.
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      Oct 21 2012: "Green-energy will be taken serious...when its not a tool to make more money."

      You're completly right my friend, when the time comes that we'll be facing life (through clean energy) or ecosystem collapse, the choice is clear. The next question is when will we face ecosystem collapse?
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    Oct 27 2012: We have working green tech now and we should use it. It is profitable, but does not offer quick returns that many investors want (by that I mean profitable by 5 years or less). I have heard people claim that we can wait for better, cheaper green energy. I disagree for a few reasons

    First, it will take a long time to replace current fossil fuel infrastructure. Think of how long it took us to build the oil based infrastructure we had today. Its not like one day solar will become viable and our energy will just flip like a switch. It will take decades to build the replacements to the fossil fuels we have today. Some people talk of thorium reactors. Thats easily a decades worth of research away, then it takes another decade to engineer, go through regulation and build the thing. We don't have the qualified professionals to build enough of them simultaneously to accommodate our energy needs.

    Second, it takes oil to build solar panels. It takes CO2 emmissions to build windmills, hydro dams, and mine nuclear materials. It is not a question of how long we have until the fuels run out, or how long we have until the climate can take no more CO2. Its a question of how long we have until the oil required to build the replacing infrastructure puts us over the edge. Hypothetically speaking, we have until 2050 until the climate is irrevocably damaged and it takes 50 years of industrial development of green technology to replace oil, then we are already too late.

    The time to begin the transition away from fossil fuels was 10 years ago. There is no time to waste or to wait for some silver bullet that will both save the planet and make you rich.
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    Oct 21 2012: We are already considering the integration of Green Energy into our civilizations. Not all people are on the same page, but our leaders are paving the way. There are tax incentives for going green.

    In the seventies we had the oil embargo. This led to a reduction in gas guzzling cars for a season. Once the oil embargo was over, the trend to bigger and better resumed. It is human nature to want more. But there are those who see beyond next week and they are doing what is necessary to pave the way to green energy.

    The problem is that going green is not cheap. Fossil fuel produces high yield and high power density. Finding alternatives requires thinking way outside the box.

    Solar hot water is cost effective if you know what you are doing. I worked for a utility company who invested in solar projects, but the project manager was all talk and no brains. He organized many projects that failed, leading to the conclusion that solar energy was not effective in our area. I designed and build a solar project on my house that has paid for itself twice in the twenty years it has operated with only a few minor breakdowns. It is still functioning.

    My brother works for a solar corporation that makes the furnaces that melt silicon into solid ingots that can be cut into wafers that are used to create solar electric panels. He has noted three problems; it takes about a week to produce one ingot of silicon (it has to cool slowly so it does not create internal stress cracks that would render it useless). Two; cutting the silicone into wafers is time consuming and tedious (silicone is as hard as granite). Third; the wafers are extremely brittle. You can't handle them with your hands without considerable breakage. Until the problems are solved, solar electric will remain expensive, but not out of reach for those who want to invest in alternative energy.

    Wind is finding a lot of growth, but climate is critical in both solar and wind. It will grow with time.
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    Oct 20 2012: @Josh S:
    me: 'don't you think that the technology in 2100 will be more suitable to come up with alternatives than today's technology?'
    john: Yea i do, and since fossil fuels are expected to last easily for another 100 years, why do we worry about it?

    and it is a perfectly valid argument, the only question is how much time we have. fossils will not run out, that is not the issue. but how much more CO2 the climate can handle? some says none, other says we have a good 50 or 100 years to act on it. if you can show me that we indeed have 50, i would say mine that coal, friend, because we have more urgent tasks problems to solve.
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    Oct 20 2012: i'm all for green energy. like 4th generation nuclear plants.
    • Oct 20 2012: Easily mineable uranium will run out before the end of this century. Of course there is recycling and there are uranium reserves that are harder to reach, but mineable, but this will increase the cost of nuclear fission energy even more, while it's already heavily subsidized.

      Please don't let your association of green energy with "hippees" stand in the way of the welfare of future generations.
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        Oct 20 2012: and your point being? why would we need "easily mineable uranium"? what's wrong with all the plutonium, the U238, thorium? and why would we want to solve the energy problems 100 years in the future? don't you think that the technology in 2100 will be more suitable to come up with alternatives than today's technology?

        nuclear is subsidized? where? it is severely hindered by ridiculous levels of regulation and politics. nuclear was way cheaper without all these. in the EU, it is almost impossible to build a nuclear plant. it is very difficult to even extend an existing one.
        • Oct 20 2012: "nuclear is subsidized? where? it is severely hindered by ridiculous levels of regulation and politics. nuclear was way cheaper without all these. in the EU, it is almost impossible to build a nuclear plant. it is very difficult to even extend an existing one."

          It's subsidized everywhere, from tax credits, to R&D subsidies to the taxpayer paying for waste treatment and calamity "insurance".

          http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear_power/nuclear_power_and_global_warming/nuclear-power-subsidies-report.html

          "don't you think that the technology in 2100 will be more suitable to come up with alternatives than today's technology?"

          Not if we don't invest in those technologies today. It's too easy to just pass on the cost to future generations. I'm not saying we should have 100% green energy 10 years from now but we should pay up just like future generations will be forced to.
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          Josh S

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          Oct 20 2012: You make a point that i could use to support fossil fuels:
          'don't you think that the technology in 2100 will be more suitable to come up with alternatives than today's technology?'

          Yea i do, and since fossil fuels are expected to last easily for another 100 years, why do we worry about it?
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        Oct 20 2012: link to the actual data, this link contains nothing but smalltalk. i can tell you that in the EU, governments can not support nuclear technology. and in the current economic situation, private companies won't either. in effect, nuclear is pretty much dead in the EU. existing reactors will slowly wear off, and that is the end for nuclear.

        where did that thought, technologies not being invested, came from? your logic goes as: nuclear is not good, because if we don't invest in new technologies today, we will run out of fuel in 100 years. that logic seems to me as broken as it gets. the solution, of course, is to invest. but it is totally unrelated to what energy we use today. we need to use the cheapest and cleanest we have, so we can fill the gap to something better. nuclear is an excellent choice.
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    Oct 20 2012: The price of energy in Holland goes down a little because Germany subsidised sun energy collectors in the past and windmills.

    In Germany many households and communities invested in sun collectors and windmills in the past because the government stimulated this with subsidies. Now they have a surplus of energy that they sell to our country for a small price. Lots of people have become independant on price swings in energy because they produce their own and often share with each other.
  • Oct 20 2012: "Or should we just stick with fossil fuel, simply because it already gets the job done."

    We can't, they're called non-renewables for a reason: they'll run out rather quickly.
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    Oct 20 2012: I think:
    If we give up the SILLY INVALID HAPPINES, we will save about 90% of our energy at least.

    Then there will be no need to talk about the energy problem.

    Wrong?
  • Oct 20 2012: The amazing thing is that in America there weems to be little understanding that when gasoline is gone it and the oil from which it is derived is gone. Duh - The easy oil is gone etc. etc. Narmer ruled Egypt over five(5) thousand years ago. History is old. Our reserves are small. Green is good. Waste of fossil fuels is irresponsible.