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Sam Powick

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Global Warming - Real or faked?

In most places, human induced global warming/climate change due to CO2 emissions is taken as truth simply because people hear about it so much. The Kyoto Protocol and other such agreements are examples of that. But I am skeptical, for a couple of reasons: one, why is there so little true transparency globally on this issue? In my country New Zealand, we have recently implemented an Emissions Trading Scheme, the details of which are classified information - so all we know is roughly how it is supposed to work, and that we have an extra tax to pay.
And two - the percentage of CO2 we emit is so small compared to volcanoes etc...what is wrong with letting nature do what nature does?

I would love to hear what you think, I have absolutely no answers, but of course an opinion! :)

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  • Jul 13 2013: Since the existence of of global warming due to human is such a controversial topic, I think the topics that we should be focusing on are the toxins released by the burning of fossil fuels and the eventual impracticality of using said fuels.

    Firstly, the burning of fossil fuels releases nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, which can dissolve in water vapor to produce acid rain, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. The burning of fossil fuels also produces PAHs, which are carcinogenic. As if the health threats weren't enough, we won't even be able to use fossil fuels in an economic manor within the next 10 to 15 years because the price to use them will rise so much that renewable energy will actually become more affordable. Whether or not people believe in global warming is irrelevant because we won't likely have to worry about fossil fuels within the next 15 to 20 years.
    • Jul 14 2013: Unfortunately, renewable energy is plain and simple non competitive.
      Hydroelectric and geothermal are great, but there are only so many rivers you can dam, and geologic hot spots to tap, and most of them near where people live are already used up.
      Solar and wind produce electricity per dollar spent somewhere between one and two orders of magnitude beneath fossil fuels. That's just not realistic, especially for developing countries that need that power now, and cheap just to get necessities we take for granted in the west. Renewables instead of fossil fuels will cripple them.
      I don't know of any revolutionary development down the pipeline that will solve those fundamental problems.

      Nuclear may be the only real answer, but half the world can't touch it due to politics (you'll be blamed for trying to develop nuclear weapons), and the other half is hesitant due to fear mongering of another Chernobyl.

      We'll be burning off fossil fuels until they run out, or at least turn non-economical. That'll take a while yet--the oil may be at risk, but there is plenty of natural gas, and coal to last for a long time to come, with all the harm they do.

      Fossil fuels are currently the best solution.
      That doesn't make them a good solution by any stretch of the imagination, just not as bad as the rest.
      • Jul 14 2013: By 2020, the price of oil and the price of solar will level out, however, the cost of oil will continue to rise and the cost of solar, and other renewable sources, will continue to decrease. Renewable energy will become a very competitive player. Nuclear energy will, most likely, become a very viable option as well due to LFTR technology. These types of reactors are incapable of melting down, yet they output the same amount of power as a modern reactor.
        • Jul 14 2013: Modern nuclear reactors are plenty safe if you build them right, that's not the issue. The problem is that the public and the politicians don't trust them, and half the world can't touch them due to fear of being blamed for starting a nuclear weapons program.
          Don't get me wrong, I'm very much pro nuclear power, but I'm also depressingly realistic.

          As for oil and solar, maybe, once the oil starts running out (the easy stuff anyway, not what you have to produce from stuff like tar sand at a net energy loss). Now, that will happen eventually, but 2020 seems a bit pessimistic.
          Coal and gas reserves are much vaster though, and while oil is more useful for mobile power generation, coal and gas are the dominant ones for electricity and industry.

          Don't forget that you also have an issue with how mobile your power sources is. Hydroelectric for example, is great for power generation, but you can't exactly use it as a motor fuel. Fossil fuels will remain the best option for that for a long time to come (hydrogen fuel cells are a pipe dream, batteries are underpowered, and biodiesel using current technology compromises food supplies).

          In short, don't count fossil fuels out yet. They have quite a run ahead of them yet, and seeing the alternatives, we should be grateful for that.
      • Jul 14 2013: Modern reactors are safe in operation, but they still retain the possibility of melting down and they also generate nuclear waste, which lasts for thousands of years. On the other hand, LFTR technology cannot melt down and it generates radioactive waste which only remains a threat for 300 years at most. In operation, they also generate rare metals which are utilized in electric cars. Thorium is several times as abundant as Uranium, therefore making it a green and viable option for future mass energy production. Thorium is also quite abundant on the Moon, so this may provide incentive for the space industry.
        • Jul 16 2013: A new technology might help put a new spin on things.
          The problem is currently less technical prowess (current reactors have their issues, but a host of advantages to more than make up for it), and more of the distrust the public has for nuclear power.

          Of course, if the LFTR reactors look significantly different than developing a nuclear weapons program, it might help that half of the world that can't touch nuclear power generation due to politics.
          You'd have to ask someone who knows more about this stuff than I do for that. Diplomacy as nuclear physics.

          The real question is how you convince the general public, if the technology proves practical.
          Until you do, we're stuck with fossil fuels. As I've said before, all the green stuff comes with severe limitations, to the point of being crippled.

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