Jah Kable

Thinker ready to be unleashed upon the world,

This conversation is closed.

Why are the alternate power sources not being implemented on a world-wide scale? There is a tipping point and we must be close by now!!!

Solar panels
Wind Turbines
Hydro-Elecric

We all see the signs of the world changing. Ice caps disappearing, mega storms, tempature rise, ect.
Yet we are more concerned with royal babies, wars, and profits.
We will have none of that if this planet stops supporting life as we know it.
This is a back burner issue always used for politics but never solved by politics.
Turn the heat up on this, the Earth is!

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    • Aug 21 2013: I don't now about fossil fuel subsidies in your country (the US, I presume?), but we don't have those where I live, and fossil fuels are still the cheapest option by a wide margin (on the order of twenty times cheaper for wind, in fact, and solar is even worse).

      Nuclear is also not all that harmful, assuming the plant is built properly--they actually release less radiation than burning coal (which contains trace radioactive elements). Water draw is very dependent on reactor design, and is typically not much of a limiting factor, especially near the ocean.
      I don't really see how it damages the locals either, except lowering property values somewhat; it also provides jobs to partially make up for it.
      A bigger issue is that in a lot of countries, you can't build nuclear reactors without being blamed for trying to develop a weapons program.

      Also, if you try to have every building produce half its power via solar panels, you'll suddenly find you don't even have enough electricity for the toaster and the boiler to work simultaneously--solar power has a piss poor output even during high noon, and power storage technology leaves a lot to be desired.
      A solar panel does pay for itself over the course of a few years on lower latitudes, but the power output is nothing to write home about. Its useful for heating water (through direct heating, no electricity involved), but doesn't particularly shine at anything else.

      I've covered electric cars responding to someone else bellow, and don't feel like repeating myself...
      Natural gas cars may have potential, I honestly wouldn't know, and don't feel like doing the research at the moment.

      Frankly, if the renewables were economical, we'd be using them already, environmentally friendly or no.
      • Aug 22 2013: Are fossil fuels cheaper than renewable? It depends. If the law was that you must clean up your own mess, so that all of the toxins put into the air, water and land must be cleaned up, and you are liable for all the damage done by those toxins whether it is asthma, cancer, or acid rain, or even global warming, then no, Fossil fuel is not cheaper. No one denies that asthma rates are a direct result of burning coal. No one denies that acid rain is a result of the burning of fossil fuel. No one denies that the increased CO2 in the air is changing the chemistry of the atmosphere and having a deadly effect on the ocean. The idea that people could argue that fossil fuel is cheaper while ignoring the costs of all the damage done and the costs of cleaning up the mess is extremely offensive.

        Burning fossil fuel while not cleaning up your mess is akin to rape and pillage of the Earth. The Earth is 4,600,000,000 years old and in just the last 150 years of burning fossil fuel we have had a very dramatic effect on the environment of this planet.

        This is also true of nuclear. Yes, on a whole nuclear seems much, much better than coal, yet then we have a Chernobyl, or a tsunami in Japan, or a 3 mile island and then we see how incredibly expensive one catastrophe can be with nuclear.
        • Aug 22 2013: I agree that burning coal comes with some nasty side effects, global warming or no, but natural gas is a lot friendlier in that regard. Aside from the CO2 and some water vapor, there are no byproducts at all.
          Of course, at 20 times cheaper, you can still fund a lot of cleanup and still have it be less expensive...

          As for nuclear, all those leaks you mentioned are a result of bad engineering, not some fundamental problem. Chernobyl was the only one that actually managed to do any major amounts of damage, and that's because it was an old Soviet era piece of garbage. By the way, in the current environment around the reactor, wildlife is actually doing better than in any comparable region in Eastern Europe, because apparently radioactive fallout isn't as bad for them as human presence...
          Honestly, chemical plants working with dangerous materials have a much worse track record (and not half the regulations), and coal mines kill more people every year, and no one seems to bat an eyelash at those. Go figure.
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        • Aug 22 2013: Your view on the issue is very US specific.
          I can tell on good authority in other countries, where fossil fuels aren't subsidized, they're still a lot cheaper. You could try to factor in air pollution for coal all you want, but natural gas burns very cleanly, and in most countries, is priced similarly to coal (often being slightly cheaper).

          In many of those other countries, big business doesn't own half the government like it does in the states (there are always lobbyists, but in most of the world they haven't taken root quite as well as in the US), and yet most energy production is still in fossil fuel simply because renewables don't deliver any bang for your buck.

          You can't suppress a technology, not on a global scale anyway. If there is profit in developing it, someone, somewhere outside your control will develop and implement it anyway.
          Renewables aren't failing due to some conspiracy, or suppression, they're just uneconomical. Fossil fuel corporations don't have to do a thing, renewables are failing under their own power.
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        • Aug 23 2013: http://www.oecd-nea.org/ndd/reports/2012/system-effects-exec-sum.pdf

          Grid level operating costs in cost per unit of energy. Cost for installation and/or replacement of existing infrastructure is not factored in.
          You'll find that compared to fossil fuels and even nuclear, the renewables will put a hole in your pocket. In most countries, fossil fuel and nuclear aren't subsidized either, so you can't put the blame on that.

          Hydro and thermal require you strike lucky on geography. They're great if they're available, but that's a big if.

          Sun and wind are just plain ineffective.
          Having no control over the on/off switch really hurts, and their output is just pathetic for price spent. They currently need a 500% improvement to match nuclear, and a 2,000% increase to match coal or gas, under a best case scenario.
          Unless there is some exponential growth in the field I'm not aware of (and everything I know about engineering claims there isn't), they're just not realistic contenders. Especially in developing countries, which don't have such large sums of cash to throw away on inefficient electric production.
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    Sep 5 2013: Mr. Kable
    I can appreciate your passion for renewable energy and the promises made by it's most outspoken proponents.
    In the past, I too became a passionate spokesman for causes that portended great salvation for troubled humanity.
    But....
    In old age comes the wisdom of .unintended consequences. Many comments in this conversation have addressed those perceived consequences. Are they all correct? Maybe not, however too many will be. I am not against renewable energy generation, in my own area, these resources have been integrated into a viable plan to provide power energy at a reasonable cost to consumers. That is the best one can hope. Maybe, in a few hundred years, technology will provide a new source of energy that will meet all the requirements of all. One can only hope.
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      Sep 9 2013: Well thank you very much Mike. I really do appreciate it and have given thought to such consequences, environmentally, of course. I can't put a monetary value on our survival or the earths survival. I immediately think solar panels would increase global temperatures due to the reflective surface. Tidal and Hydro-Electric would interfere with the ecosystem IF implemented in a plan that hasn't been thoroughly thought out. As for Wind, I don't really see anything besides one breaking to peices and crashing to the ground. Nature is strong and will work around the turbines without hesitation, as long as we don't use paint that is poison or materials that rust. Which is all possible we just have to stay committed to it.
  • Aug 24 2013: Nadav Tropp,

    I agree that nuclear compares very favorably to fossil fuel, even so it is a very hard sell and for good reason. The people living near fukushima have lost everything, likewise Chernobyl. No one ever considered the Japanese to be sloppy engineers.

    Also, the fact that you could use the money saved using coal or natural gas to clean up the disaster they cause is irrelevant, the fact is they don't use that money to do that.

    My mother lives in an area that was in the midst of a debate over whether to have fracking or not. Every day I was emailed one point of the contract. Never once did it say anything to the effect that they would clean up their mess. Once the water supply is poisoned the land is ruined. Who cares if you are getting royalty checks from the natural gas if your land is now ruined.

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The potential money from fracking and the protections the company was willing to agree for up front was woefully short of what would be fair compensation for the possible damage.
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      Aug 24 2013: in bhopal, a chemical plant released a gas that killed and injured thousands. in derweze, turkmenistan, a natural gas well burns for 40 years now, releasing sulphuric acid contaminated carbon dioxide. it is not dangerous to humans nearby only because there are no humans nearby.

      unless you want to stop all chemical plants and all fossil mining too, lamenting about fukushima is not rational. it is a very minor accident that is merely an inconvenience for those that had to move.

      and about japanese engineers. i assume you don't know too much details about the accident itself. i'm an engineer, and i followed the events in detail. fukushima was a mindbogglingly sloppy design, with at least 5 design decisions that i could not believe. i still don't understand how can anyone come up with such a design, or approve it.
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          Aug 25 2013: expected number of deaths is zero.

          if you would kind enough to actually read what other people write, you would have understood already that all industrial activities pose some risk. the people of a village had to move: this is not so terrible. i can repeat it many times, but it is getting boring.

          or you say we need to stop all industry right away? also motorized traffic?

          or you just don't understand probabilities. what is your education btw?
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          Aug 25 2013: this is the case when i don't need to read the article, even this little excerpt stinks. how can an ongoing study have results? how can 12 confirmed case out of a few tens of thousands local inhabitants a "minor increase"? how could fukushima cause any effects worldwide if the radiation released were negligible at a distance?

          you can cherry pick media attention whoreisms from all around the world if you so desire. it does not make you look particularly well informed in the matter.
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          Aug 25 2013: maybe you should educate yourself on how radiation works. 99.999% of the human population got less radiation from fukushima than from eating a banana.

          i don't have to be an expert. it is enough if i read the experts. which i did. i followed 3 expert blogs, one of them was a leading hungarian nuclear physicist.

          health effects of fukushima are negligible. i'm not wasting more words on that, the material is out there, this is not up to debate.
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          Aug 26 2013: You realise the 985000 is projected deaths that might possibly be attributable to Chernobyl up to 2056. That many people die because of natural disasters several times each year. I wonder how many deaths will occur due to wind turbine construction and operation in the same time frame.
          http://www.strahlentelex.de/Yablokov%20Chernobyl%20book.pdf
          This is a link to the actual paper to which your link is referring, rather inaccurately.
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          Aug 25 2013: "Chernobyl was much more contained on land and the spread of contamination was limited to the surrounding areas"

          o_O

          i'm out
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          Aug 26 2013: i want your self confidence. you have the audacity to educate me on nuclear accidents after i clearly explained to you that i'm an engineer and i specifically followed up on both cases. listen, i don't know how to break through the wall of chosen ignorance. so let me be brief. this is a message for you to carry with you everywhere, and remember. remember that i told you: your knowledge seems to come from new age / wildlife protecting websites, and it has no resemblance with reality. my job is over. you have been warned.
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          Aug 27 2013: "You are aware that it is almost impossible to know how many deaths occur from a nuclear disaster because many of the people exposed may not develop a cancer for 10 years and may not die from that cancer and may die 20 years later."
          It's not impossible you just need to do some science and compare cancer rates between equivalent populations. Even accepting the number from your new link 25000 deaths from the whole industry isn't that many. How many deaths do you think have occurred in agriculture in the same time period? Or in Mining?
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          Aug 27 2013: You can get some information from his profile. I notice yours is blocked.
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          Aug 27 2013: Pinter also said "i'm an engineer and i specifically followed up on both cases"

          which somewhat proves that you don't read what i write. why would you? you are not here to read. you are here to feed your personality disorder.
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          Aug 27 2013: On his profile it says he has a chemical engineering degree. I don't know if he does but I know what a degree in chemical engineering is. What exactly is a Health Education Specialist?
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          Aug 27 2013: You don't need to track individuals to do statistical analyses. You compare cancer rates in exposed areas to cancer rates in similar populations that weren't exposed. Samples from the more densly populated parts of Australia would make a good control group
          Radiation poisoning 101
          Other than strontium radiation poisoning occurs as the accute effects of exposure to gamma and beta radiation. Damage to DNA may cause development of cancer susequent to acute exposure but the chances diminish with time as long as further exposure is avoided. Strontium is a special case as its chemical similarity to calcium causes deposition in bone tissue so exposure to strontium radio-isotopes must be monitored in the long term as it is hard to remove the strontium once deposited.
          Thats from my own Physice text.
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          Aug 27 2013: What about all the people that die each year from respiratory diseaes due to exposure to dust from agricultural land, how many people die from malaria from mosquitos that breed in irrigation ditches?. By isolating chernobyl you are cherry picking the one tragedy from an industry with an otherwise good safety record. The stakes sre high with nuclear as a single incident has dire consequences but you must balance that against the fact that incidents are rare. What your doing statistically is the same as claiming planes are dangerous because one crash kills so many people.
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          Aug 28 2013: I have a combined science/education degree from the University of Newcastle with a major in chemistry and a minor in physics and have spent the last 13 years teaching both chem and phys in high school. I spent last year wriring a physics text for the NSW department of education. The study of electricity generation is one of the major topics in the course and another major topic is nuclear physics so I have a great deal of understanding of both sides of nuclear power generation and the effects of radiation.
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          Aug 28 2013: A similar list for any industry would be just as bad. Coal mining kills around a thousand people a year directly and many thousands more from emphysema, from prolonged exposure to coal dust in areas around mines.
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          Aug 28 2013: If you're tracking individuals you are doing case studies not statistical analysis. Case studies are of less scientific use as there are too many variables that cannot be controlled. That's why we do large study statistical analyses.
          They are tracking the radiation from Fukushima. You just do a survey of the background radiation in the pacific and observe any variations from the expected readings or you could monitor the radiation in a particular species of fish and track the progress of contaminated water that way.
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          Aug 28 2013: BTW caesium is a bad example because it doesn't bio accumulate as there is a biological mechanism for it's removal, it being a group I element.
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          Aug 28 2013: Your own post below states that caesium doesn't accumulate
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    • Aug 24 2013: Actually, Fukushima was badly engineered. It wasn't obvious until after the fact (mostly because no one was looking for problems too hard--after the fact examination shows the signs and even a warning or two were all there), but in retrospect, it had some serious design flaws, like the emergency generators being vulnerable to flooding.
      Reactor design has come a long way since the 60's however.

      Realistically though, I don't see most of the world adopting nuclear. Its an easy target for fear mongering politicians and the media, environmentalists hate it, and perhaps most importantly once the Fukushima scare had died down, it requires a very significant initial investment to construct.
      Not to mention all those countries not allowed nuclear power because of politics.

      This basically means that we're stuck with fossil fuels and renewables. Renewables are impractical aside from a few niche roles, so we better not run out of fossil fuels anytime soon.
      Maybe some new technological development will change everything in a few years, but you can't count on those to come to your rescue at your convenience.
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        • Aug 25 2013: Hah, I wish. If you know where I can contact them though, I'd love to get paid for going on random forums and arguing with people. Sure beats some of the other jobs I've had.
          Never mind that I'm backing nuclear as much as fossil fuel... They must both have me on payroll then. Apparently, I'm making more money then I knew.

          Seriously though, its not about land. It never was about land--most countries have more useless land than they know what to do with, no one's trying to save it for anything, not should using it be a priority.
          Saying we should switch to solar because we have useless land is like saying that I have a spare tire, so I should buy a car to install it in.

          Same for the side of buildings. Covering a house with solar panels dramatically increases the house's cost, and takes a few good years to pay for itself. Add to that decreased solar output the farther away you are from the equator, and you're basically throwing money at an unproductive project.
          Seeing as you need for everyone to have electricity on cloudy days, you still need all the non-solar infrastructure in place anyway, so you've basically installed twice the infrastructure.
          Solar is good for heating bath water, not for making electricity. If you want to install a solar panel, I'm not stopping you, but don't except me to throw my good oil/nuclear spokesperson money at the problem--there are better solutions.

          Its purely about cost per unit of energy.
          If the price of energy goes up, the price of everything goes up, and everyone's quality of life deteriorates. Never mind all those the other things the money could have been used for: infrastructure, healthcare, defense, education...
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          Aug 25 2013: calling for more education sounds incredibly ironic from your mouth :)
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          Aug 25 2013: Aren't you lucky. I live in the best areas of the US for residential solar panels, but for me, in my circumstances, I could not meet the ROI. Just to the south of town is one of the largest solar farms in the country. Southeast of here is one of the largest nuclear plants in the country.
          Northeast of here is a maze of windpower farms. I spent 4 years as a chief of utilities for a small town, 40K pop, including recycling, environmental programs, etc. I hold the appropriate academic credentials.
          So, I think you are the one needing the education, I am qualified to do so, but you are not a worthy student.
        • Aug 25 2013: That's not what I've said. At all--the points I've made aren't the ones addressed.
          I think I'll just stop arguing at this stage, seeing as we're long past rational discussion.

          Maybe if I was actually paid for it like insinuated, but alas, its not the case.
  • Aug 22 2013: I agree whole heartedly Jah. I run solar at my home. Use my own well, We eat what we grow also. But with solar panels and wind turbines cost being so low to purchase, There should be more implemented. And not just buy money hungry power giants.

    http://www.wilmington-wedding-dj.com
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    Aug 22 2013: Just a note to US citizens. In the US fossil fuals aren't subsidised to make them cheaper than renewables. they are subsidised to make US fossil fuel competative against imported fossil fuels. There are massive heaps of coal just sitting around waiting for buyers. If there were no subsidies the US would just import cheap coal from indonesia or Russia.
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        Aug 22 2013: On a per kilowatthour basis the fossil fuel subsidies are a fraction of the renewable subsidies.
  • Aug 22 2013: I think many scientists feel that 350 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere is the line over which we will hit a tipping point in the acidity and health of the ocean. (We just passed 400 ppm).

    http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/critical-issues-ocean-acidification/

    As for temperature we are very close to the scariest tipping point which is where methane hydrates begin to bubble up out of the ocean. Once that happens the Earth as a viable place to live for man is over, at least for a short term, perhaps a million or so years.

    http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2012/10/gulf-stream-unlocking-frozen-methane
  • Aug 20 2013: The numbers aren't even close anymore. It's much cheaper to buy renewables, than it is to steal oil. Renewables will exponentially elevate everyones standard of living.
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      Aug 20 2013: and of course you got your numbers from some green website. not financed by wind and solar, so i'm told.
      • Sep 1 2013: for a measly $25 billion:
        Thank you for alerting me that some people believe that renewables do not compete with oil. They think that an electric car plugged into a house powered by sol/wnd somehow uses gasoline. Also, I didn’t get my numbers from a ‘green website.’ I started with 3rd grade math and the retail price of solar panels. I’ll show my math with some big round easy numbers.
        In the U.S., it costs $15,000 to solarize 1 house (labor, Inverter, & panels). If we solarized 10 million houses (that’s over 10% of U.S. houses, think of all those jobs), that would cost ($15,000 X 10,000,000 = $150,000,000,000) $150 billion. The govt. could pay for it all, but lets just offer a half-off rebate to the public and make it a 3 year project ($150B ÷ 2 = 75B, then 75B ÷ 3). That would bring the cost to the govt. down to a measly $25 billion per year, bad game over, good game starts. For the first time ever (fossil fuel) power plant usage would begin to decline, oil prices would plummet. So, America could say to the world and to itself, we are going forward, we are not self-destructing.
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          Sep 1 2013: two observations.

          1. you did not even attempt to back up your original claim, namely that solar is cheaper than oil.

          2. government paying something means people paying. government only redistributes, does not create. if something is economically viable, we don't need the government. people choose it for their own good. we need the government in cases when we want to push something that is not economical.
    • Aug 21 2013: Actually, wind and solar aren't competing with oil, they're competing with coal, gas, and nuclear.
      Oil's high demand as a motor fuel makes it far too expensive for electric generation, to a point that even some oil producing nations export the stuff and use the money to buy coal or gas instead.

      Coal and gas typically come from stable countries, no need to "steal" them from anyone.

      Never mind that wind and solar are both completely uneconomical. 20 times more expensive than coal or gas is a best case scenario.
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        Aug 22 2013: Maybe 20 times more expensive to install.... then the only time you have to spend money is to upgrade them to more efficient models. I think that would beat spending money everyday to get fossil fuels, not to mention all the labor and equipment costs for the coal mines, oil wells, power plants and their power lines, pollution, ect. The change would be a nice little shot to the wallet today but it's like renting VS buying. Spend more at once to save in the long run.
        • Aug 22 2013: http://www.oecd-nea.org/ndd/reports/2012/system-effects-exec-sum.pdf

          Not install, but fully operate at a power grid level.

          Renewable doesn't require any fuel, true, but you still pay for maintenance and staffing, and have a lower power output to show for it, which leads to higher operating costs per unit of power. 20 times more expensive than fossil fuels is a best case scenario for on shore wind. Off shore wind is typically worse, due to increased maintenance costs at sea and greater power transmission distance. Solar is the worst of the lot even close to the equator, and only gets worse the farther you get from it.

          Also note that having mother nature in charge of the on/off switch is economically problematic, as you need a reserve to supply power needs in case the wind is slow or sky overcast (or just generally after sun down for solar).
          As electricity storage technology as of today is rather poor (read: impractical on a mass scale), this creates all sorts of added technical problems, and increases cost overall.

          Initial investment for installation is typically only an issue for nuclear, which is more sophisticated than the other technologies. At least fuel costs are negligible, as Uranium is dirt cheap for the amount of power it produces.
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        • Aug 22 2013: 1. I'll concede that coal is filthy, but gas doesn't pollute the environment with anything other than CO2 and water vapor.

          2. the figure actually comes from an assessment of OECD countries, many of which don't subsidize fossil fuels. Granted, cleanups were not factored in, but again, that's only really an issue with coal.

          3. good luck using solar or wind to replace oil. As bad as they are for electric generation, they're even worse for mobile applications--a car or aircraft can't run on sunlight or wind, after all.
          You could try to make a switch over to electric cars I suppose, but batteries have an atrocious power to weight ratio. It barely scrapes by for cars, and is laughable for aircraft.
          New capacitor technology might solve that, but as with all these yet undeveloped technologies, don't count your chickens before they hatch.
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    Aug 15 2013: Most businesses that put the environment before profit simply went broke, because they couldn't compete with those short-sighted businesses who put making money first.
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      Aug 16 2013: business ought to be as shortsighted as the market demands. companies do not have valuations. only people have. if people don't care about the global warming, nor should companies.
      • Aug 18 2013: So, how do you propose forcing companies to "care"? Prison? Executions?
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          Aug 18 2013: i don't want to force them. i don't want them to care. i don't want my lawnmower to care about the grass or the noise. i don't want my knife to care about the vegetables, meats or my finger. i don't want corporations to care about anything other than delivering the product or service they are created for. i want the consumer to care. i want people to care.

          that is the biggest problem we have. people don't care, but that's OK, because they blame it on someone else. they happily buy fish, and at the same time blame companies for overfishing, or governments for not regulating or badly regulating. all they have to do is not to buy wild fish, problem solved. but of course that won't happen. blaming someone else is so much easier, and we all love wild fish.
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      Aug 18 2013: That is so true Dale! Thank you! That is the mentality that's going to ruin us. If i was rich i would try to solve it myself but I'm not.
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        Aug 18 2013: You don't have to be rich to help. One thing everyone can do is buy eco-friendly products like Krisztián suggested above.
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    Aug 15 2013: Also:

    Geothermal:
    http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/geothermal-profile/

    Large-scale solar (Gemasolar):
    http://www.torresolenergy.com/TORRESOL/gemasolar-plant/en

    Nuclear fusion (nearing feasibility):
    http://www.ccfe.ac.uk/introduction.aspx

    Energy that costs little, is sustainable, or is incapable of raking in vast profits for huge corporations, will forever be of minor importance as long as capitalism remains the pervading ideology.

    Sucking or hewing stuff out of the ground translates as a product that can be bought and sold. Anything remotely sustainable does not. That's the bottom line.

    I'm afraid capitalism has to run its own course of blindness, denial and stupidity before it sees any need for change. When there's no more easy money to be made, it will disappear up its own fundamental orifice, taking all its filth and pollution with it. What a blessed relief that will be for everything that lives - though I doubt I'll be around to celebrate such a long-awaited spectacle.
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      Aug 18 2013: I'm scared that we will disappear before all the easy money is gone. I don't really want to take a wait it out type of approach either. But i agree it will be something to celebrate!!
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        Aug 18 2013: I'm actually filled with guilt that my generation has comprehensively messed this world up for your generation. You will have to rebuild what we've destroyed, leaving you with no natural resources to use sensibly and sustainably. I don't feel great about that.

        The point being that many individuals may possess the conscience to feel aggrieved enough to do something about the harm that collective "others" are doing, but remain powerless to put things right. That powerlessness exists because the normal channels of complaint and protest seem now to be closed off - or at best, remain open, but with nobody listening - such is the power of the ideologies you and others are up against.

        When even scientific research gets grotesquely distorted in order to support highly funded ideologies or products, you know that something is going very,very wrong indeed and the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

        In the face of such powerlessness, some resort to wholly unacceptable violent protest, which makes matters significantly worse for everybody and only ends up in some form of despotism.

        What's left then? Unless there's the unlikely occurrence of a global change in consciousness, the only option is to wait it out.
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          Aug 18 2013: Your generation has taught us that the earth is fragile and we do have an effect that is very noticeable after only one generation of heavily relying on fossil fuels. You are not responsible for what your whole generation has allowed to happen either. It isn't like anyone knew the effects that fossil fuels would have when the industrial revolution started. Now that we do know, it is time to do something about it. I agree that there is something majorly wrong when studies are distorted so people can keep making money off unsustainable, ecosystem destroying fossil fuels. I know the transition is going to be difficult but we have done plenty of difficult things throughout history. I agree that the violent method is not the best method and it is one I would not support or condone. I do believe that the global consciousness can change if the real data is known by everyone. Some people are still in disbelief of the facts. We could implement alternative power now and destroy the fossil fuel tyrants. The real challenge is going to get people to see the facts and be able to decipher the propaganda from the real data. Even my generation is still addicted to fossil fuels but some of us are aware of the truth. If it is not my generation that achieves this, I hope the next generation will. For now, all we can do is inform people about the facts. From then on, it is their decision to make for their future.
        • Aug 22 2013: Stop with the guilt and stop believing the outright lies. Anyone who claims that a single generation has gotten us into the current situation regarding fossil fuels is either an idiot or a liar. What year did fossil fuels start making up the majority of US energy production? Go ahead, take a guess.

          The year was 1885. That's right. 1885. From that point on, "heavily relied upon" fossil fuels would be true to the present day.

          1885.
          Think about that.
          1885.
          Eighteen
          Eighty
          Five.
          1885.
          Now, since I live in the real world and not some play-pretend cartoon carebearland, I don't consider 1885 to the present day to be a mere single generation.

          The "Industrial Revolution" started about 100 years earlier than the fossil fuel event.

          Going around blaming a single generation is simply nonsense. This has been building for over two centuries. However, since nobody bothered to notice until recently, stupid people believe that it only started recently.
  • Aug 15 2013: It seems to be a growth of the use of solar panels due to the drop in cost. I am seeing more solar panels being used in remote places and are now being used in suburban and urban areas.
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      Aug 16 2013: If everyone had a roof made of solar panels, I'd imagine it would cut power bills and consumption of fossil fuels by at least 20%. That's a good chunk of money staying in our economy.
      • Aug 16 2013: Today many of the solar panels are made in China (see the EU charge of dumping solar panels against China) Newer technology I think will move the manufacturing from China.
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          Aug 18 2013: That isn't even what makes them expensive if they are made FOR american companies by chinese workers. If this is the case they should be super cheap but they aren't. Profits will drive us into the dirt until there is nothing left.
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    Aug 15 2013: M-O-N-E-Y

    forgot geothermal energy also
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    Aug 15 2013: Jah, I cannot speak for the rest of the world ... so lets talk the USA. All of the green initiatives that the administration has supported, funded, or mandated have failed. The current schedule to close all coal fired power plants that is being hotly pursued is a plan for national grid failure. Nuclear power is being regulated to death. The fifty plants in design are down to two.

    This is the time for serious people to make rational sane long range decisions .... not the time for politicians to seek votes. To continue on this path is a sure fire means of destroying the current grid system and reducing the available power and driving companies out of business with no means of recovery.

    Bob.
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      Aug 16 2013: I only want to ask one thing Bob, What green initiatives did they support? I don't believe they gave real sustainable initiatives a fighting chance. There is always a financial setback even thought running things with these types of power would save money and pay for themselves eventually. The savings from not buying oil and the free energy would be a stimulation to our economy and what can come from that is endless.
  • Aug 14 2013: 1. the temperature isn't rising
    2.they do use hydro dams throughout the world wherever it's possible to do so
    3.there's no need to change fuel sources we have tons and tons of oil for a very long foreseeable future
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      • Aug 15 2013: haha pretty funny man but what am I denying global warming? That has been proven to be false and now the people who had that and supported the idea have changed it to climate change so they cannot be disproven again. The running out of oil thing? With the brand new technology of hydraulic fracturing the united states has more oil reserves than all of the middle east and it's estimated that we will be exporting in the year 2020. So I ask you who is in the state of denial?
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          Aug 15 2013: Proven to be false?

          Can you please provide evidence of that proof, including your sources - and most importantly a detailed account the funding involved (who provides the money, and how much)??
      • Aug 15 2013: yes it has been just type it in like everyone does please there's endless amounts of links for both sides really. And i have no idea what you mean by the funding? what are evil rich people using science now?
      • Aug 15 2013: You are worried that it's all the big businesses being corrupt and evil it's the modern mind set nowadays. Is that not the same thing as having people pay for any environmental propaganda? Can oil companies not protest against them? Many environmentalist will do everything they can to stop what they think is bad to nature and their are tons of funded programs some that make money with the save the environment theme and make Tons! of money. Don't you know those big bad businesses also spend millions even billions developing cleaner ways to burn fuel and alternative fuel technologies?
  • Sep 9 2013: The cost of ANYTHING is a direct measure of the resources that must go into producing it. If renewable resources are more expensive than nonrenewable then that means they probably take more out of the environment than nonrenewable. As a result, they may cause more pollution not less. This is true of Ethanol for example. It takes more fossil fuel to produce Ethanol in the current manner than it does to just use the fuel directly.

    One must also realize that, even with current cheap fossil fuels, most people in the world spend a very large portion of their income on food. I've heard that many spend as much as 90% of their money on food. If we do not bring down the cost of renewables to at least match fossil fuels then there will be a lot more hungry people out there. Hungry people are violent people. Just look at Egypt, LIbya, and Syria, it is the cost of food that has lead to their recent troubles.
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      Sep 9 2013: Yes, hungry people are violent which raises the question? Why is food so expensive in the first place?
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    Sep 5 2013: I have to say this whole "we dont have the capital/money to do this" is BS. A company that makes solar panels could steal a page from the banks playbook and lease/loan the solar panels and get monthly payments on them. Pollution will decrease. Natural resources could be used for other things that renewable energy can't be used for. Yeah solar panels are expensive and yeah they want to make a bunch of money. Well understand this, if you're dead you can't make any money. We say we're smart but it seems greed is overriding all that.
    • Sep 5 2013: Its not about "we don't have the money". Its about "we have better use for that money".

      Its not that we can't find funding. If we slash enough budgets for other things, and take enough loans, we can start making a transition to 100% green energy tomorrow, and probably be done in a few years.
      It would crash the economy and lead to all sorts of different damages though.

      Saving money isn't about greed, its about resource allocation.
      What money we're saving on energy by using cheaper fossil fuels we can spend on things like healthcare, infrastructure, defense or education.
      I don't care what country you live in, I'm sure some of the above are in need of improvement. Sometimes even desperate need.

      Take into account the cost of energy affecting anything and everything, and cheaper energy directly translates into a higher standard of living for the lot of the populace.
      In that regard, the expensive solution of going green would be shooting ourselves in the foot. Its really bad for the economy, and whats bad for the economy is bad for the people, not just the top 1%.
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        Sep 9 2013: To tell you the truth, I don't think it would be bad for the economy. For one we would have more money to spend throughout our economy instead of making a few select people rich beyond belief. For the resource allocation I'd have to say this isn't checkers, it's chess. We could spend money now on American-made (seeing as I'm American) Renewable Energy. The workers are American so they spend money in America, not to mention people would buy houses, cars, ect. There's most of the cost right back into our economy. I know this is optimistic but shouldn't we be? This is all without mentioning our Defense budget.

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/01/07/everything-chuck-hagel-needs-to-know-about-the-defense-budget-in-charts/

        From The Washington Post
        "All told, the U.S. government spent about $718 billion on defense and international security assistance in 2011 — more than it spent on Medicare. That includes all of the Pentagon’s underlying costs as well as the price tag for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which came to $159 billion in 2011. It also includes arms transfers to foreign governments.
        (Note that this figure does not, however, include benefits for veterans, which came to $127 billion in 2011, or about 3.5 percent of the federal budget. If you count those benefits as “defense spending,” then the number goes up significantly.)
        U.S. defense spending is expected to have risen in 2012, to about $729 billion, and then is set to fall in 2013 to $716 billion, as spending caps start kicking in."

        That is a SUBSTANTIAL amount of money and to consider the veterans and their families that end up receiving benefits, not that they shouldn't. Less soldiers and weapons means less spent on benefits and less violence, all while we invest in renewable energy to lower our need for fossil fuels. As I said before it's very optimistic but it is not impossible.

        Thanks for the reply Nadav. The input is most certainly appreciated!
        • Sep 9 2013: I very much doubt that going green would redistribute the wealth.
          Instead of oil tycoons, you get wind farm tycoons. Wealth disparity isn't a result of the fossil fuel industry, its a result of capitalism. The current system is built to encourage that sort of thing, with a list of advantages, and a list of disadvantages.
          A renewable switch makes the cost of living go up, and everyone poorer, rich and poor alike (though the poor, as always, feel it more).

          This is also true for countries as a whole. Developing nations are hurt much more by a renewable switch than developed ones.

          I'm also not sure just how much it'll help the local economies. Parts are usually made where its cheapest to make them--the moment that's foreign, they start importing them. You could insist to keep them domestic, but that further pushes costs. The workers usually have to be local, but the workers at coal and gas plants are also perfectly local.
          While stimulating the local economy through government spending on rebuilding the energy grid has its benefits, it also further alleviates the problem of government debts (already bad enough in the US).

          Finally, your arguments for slashing the US defense budgets, while sound, have nothing to do with renewable energy.
          It has to do with over spending. Related in a way, but not inherently connected.
    • Sep 5 2013: They already do that. In our State you can get the power company to install your solar panels on the roof, no charge. Then you pay a monthly fee for the installation and also get the credit for the electricity generated. In many or even most cases the result is your electric bill decreases.

      The electric company gets several benefits. They get electricity at peak hours. This is critical because their grid has to be designed to handle peak loads.

      Second, they don't have to build additional transmission lines to handle this extra capacity. That is a very significant savings.

      Third, they don't have the issue of public hearings and all the other hassle in getting extra power generating capacity built.

      Fourth, laws restrict and penalize pollution from coal plants. The greater the percent of power generation from clean energy the better the power company does with health and environmental regulations.

      Fifth, there are tax benefits, City, State and Federal, because they understand the savings in health related issues, the jobs that are created locally, and the tax benefits of having real improvements made to real estate.
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      Sep 2 2013: i would suggest that "mr reynolds" is just the next reincarnation of our angry ghost, and should be removed. i would mark his profile ... if he had one.
  • Sep 1 2013: In 1982, in my college physics lab in Portland, Oregon, we calculated the costs of nuclear versus solar power. We determined then that the cost of the solar panels was cheaper than the cost of nuclear to supply power for an equivalent number of homes. This did not include the cost of installing the panels or the storage medium, ie batteries and inverters. Now, this was in Portland, and we took the weather into consideration. Plus it was 1982, and the cost of solar cells has come down considerably since then. (If I remember correctly, at that time the cost per home was about $30,000.)
    The real reasons for absence of alternative energies are profits and control. Oil is profitable. Nuclear, and other centralized plants, keep us tied down to a community and remove a certain degree of our freedom and autonomy.
    Tesla had plans for a central broadcasting station for electricity in the 1920's, and would have sent it out freely, without wires, all over the earth. This was shut down due to the inability to make money off his system. Now, it was never tested, and may have been a disaster if used, but the principle remains: we do not have alternative power today because those who control the world's economies can not make money off of it.
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      Sep 1 2013: your calculation was probably incorrect. what usually happens is that people include all the legal and administrative costs of building and operating a nuclear plant, exclude a lot of real costs from solar, and include subsidies to solar. this suspicion of mine is supported by the fact that you admit leaving out storage for solar, and probably also any sort of grid costs too.
    • Sep 1 2013: For a start, I tend to agree that something in the calculation was off. As I don't have it in front of me, it'd be hard to guess exactly what was the issue with it.

      Second, even if the calculation was spot on, the market has shifted quite a bit since 1982.

      Third, the problem with renewables isn't profit, because there is money to be made. The problem is that there is less money to be made than fossil fuels or even nuclear--higher expenses, lower power output, and lacking control over the on-off switch all hurt quite a bit.

      Also, a note on Nicola Tesla. While I am in no way disputing that he is very much the man who "invented the modern world", you must remember that later in life, his funding having gone dry, and worn down by years of competition with Edison, Tesla had a tenancy to make all sorts of wild claims to keep in the public eye.
      What Tesla published in detail all worked brilliantly. What he left purposefully obscure (like the death ray, earthquake machine, and using the earth as a power grid), he did because it was nothing more than a tall tale.
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      Sep 1 2013: Phillip,
      Your class made the same mistakes that too many do. It was based more on a political theory then the basic economic issues.
      I will use my house and numbers I had when considering solar panels.
      First: our local power company bought power from individuals at the wholesale rate and sold it back at the retail rate a spread of $.04 per KW.
      Second: Initial installation of 4 KW of panels on my house would be $22K with a estimated life of 15 years.
      The sustainment cost including depreciation was estimated at $1400 pa. The ROI was flat, mostly because we go north for the summer and shutdown the house.
      Third. You used houses in your calculations. Houses simplify calculation. Commercial power is not just about houses. It's about factories, shopping centers, airports, office buildings, hotels, amusement parks, medical centers. Power requirements are all over the place.
      Forth: Yes, commercial power companies make profits. How could you have a business without profits?
      Even publicly owned power companies make profits. Now, if you are under some belief that profits are bad,
      we need another whole conversation.
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        Sep 1 2013: it is time for us to reconsider our thinking about profit. i don't know what is the exact origin of the sentiment that profits would be bad or irresponsible. maybe marxism, maybe paternalism, maybe escapism, i don't know. but people have to understand how profit works.

        it is not that hard. whatever i do, i take some resources, like raw materials, energy and manpower, and i use those resources to produce something. that something is the "product". but since i used up resources, i also prevented some other things from being produced. if i make chairs, the wood i used will not become tables, pencils, paper or electricity. we call these goods foregone "cost". profit is nothing more than the difference between the goods produced and the goods foregone.

        using that framework, "profit" really means nothing else than taking resources, and transforming them into something that people want more than anything else that could have been produced from the same resources. and "loss" means i took some resources, and transformed them into something that is less wanted than something else that could have been created from the same resources. i made chairs, but people wanted cupboards.

        profit is efficiency. loss is waste.

        it seems to be easy and straightforward. but unfortunately we need much more effort to make people understand this.
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          Sep 1 2013: I look at profit in the capitalistic manner. Profit is the return on application of time, materials, labor and equipment. Sometimes there is no profit. Sometimes some will say there is too much profit. There are market forces that control profit outside the the hands of the maker.
          I believe we are due for a spirited conversation on profits amd what value they present to society..
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        Sep 2 2013: we are talking about the same here. money cost is the apparent cost. but one has to look further, what is money cost? money cost comes from the best alternative use of the same resources. thus, if you make a profit, it means that you create more value than the alternative. if you make a loss, the alternative would have been better, and you wasted resources.
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        Sep 2 2013: And I am hearing just the opposite. A company here in Texas has developed a smalll self contained nuclear generator based on what is used in ships and is contracting to install those in a number of places. New large plants have not been built because of a myriade of suits and regulations, etc; Old plants are being closed do to be worn out. Uranium is the third most prevalient energy source in the US behind coal and oil.
        My take seems to be different then yours. I think nuclear power is a viable option and should not be regarded as useless.
        • Sep 2 2013: To Mike Colera:

          I only brought up Israel as an example to point out nuclear reactors aren't terrorist targets. I can't actually bring up how competitive it is for power generation, because we don't use nuclear for power generation here. I know of two reactors in Israel, one for research, the other for production of weapons grade material (unofficially of course, but everybody knows--its been called the worst kept secret in the middle east). Terrorism though, we have plenty of, and no attacks on nuclear targets to date, too hardened.

          We're one of those parts of the world were you can't touch nuclear due to politics--looks too much like a weapons program we don't officially have.

          This is actually a big problem for nuclear in the developing world.
          A weapons program looks very different from a peaceful one when examined closely, but not from a distance, and people often don't care to try and spot the differences. Many countries risk international sanction or even military action by perusing a peaceful nuclear program.

          Not to mention the lack of technical know-how. Hiring foreigners to do all the work, and importing half the components for the project is as politically problematic as it is expensive.

          I'm afraid nuclear is simply out of reach for much of the world. Combined with the high expense per power output of renewables, and you see why the developing world would be shooting itself in the foot trying to reduce emissions.

          Honestly, it global warming is real (which I doubt), we may well be better off spending money on damage control than on trying to stop the inevitable, because I don't see the planet going green any time soon.
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        Sep 2 2013: nuclear being expensive is a recent development, it wasn't always the case. those expenses you have listed are of course included in the operational costs, and not hidden. the costs that makes nuclear expensive are due to the heavy overregulation (and let me add, ineffective regulation). all the extra cost this regulation puts on nuclear constitutes up to 2/3 of the total cost.
      • Sep 2 2013: Those foreign Uranium sources you're talking about are places like Russia, Canada and Australia. Unlike with oil producing nations, these are typically stable countries, that can be counted on not to make a fuss.
        Same goes for coal and gas. Its only oil that's politically problematic, and renewables can't do a thing to replace oil (they're useless for mobile power generation--which is where most of the oil is used).

        Avoiding any foreign energy sources is essentially shooting yourself in the foot. The US simply cannot support its own energy needs using only domestic fuel sources--unless you want to go entirely renewable, in which case, good luck having your industry compete with exorbitantly expensive electricity prices driving production costs high.

        Nuclear material is actually widely available, and fairly cheap to boot. Its the enrichment process that's costly--it takes a specialized and rather expensive infrastructure, which is why nuclear proliferation has been as slow as it had.
        Reactor grade material and weapons grade material are not quite the same thing either. The weapons grade stuff takes a much greater level of enrichment, and is practically never sold.

        Nuclear's biggest problem at the moment is the construction of new nuclear plants being made artificially slow and expensive by a combination of over-regulation and local politicians smelling an easy target.
        Once a plant is up and running, its quite economical. Not as much as fossil fuels perhaps, but still a fair bit better than renewables.
      • Sep 2 2013: http://www.oecd-nea.org/ndd/reports/2012/system-effects-exec-sum.pdf

        On a strict, kilowatt-hour per dollar basis, nuclear is cheaper than onshore wind by a factor of between 4 and 8, depending on the country. It only gets worse when you move your wind offshore or start using solar.
        Nuclear is more expensive to set up, true, but once its up and running, its is without a doubt cheaper.
        For comparison, fossil fuels are typically around 5 times cheaper than nuclear.

        Being a target for terror attack is also not much of an issue. Its pretty easy to build a containment structure that can resist improvised rocket attack (which you'll need for any nuclear plant anyway), and a dozen military grade security guards can stop any ground bound terror attack just fine. Populations centers will always be more enticing targets, as they're much larger and therefore impossible to defend so easily.
        Case in point, Israel, where I happen to live. We've had well over a thousand successful terror attacks targeted against us in the past two decades, and despite this, not a one was targeted against one of the country's nuclear reactors. They're just too hardened to be enticing as targets.

        As for regulation, the problem is with the process is that in the US, most of the regulation isn't actually productive, but in practice does nothing but artificially increase the cost of construction for a nuclear reactor. Think of it as bureaucratic roadblocks set up alongside the legitimate stuff.

        As for no one wanting to live next to a reactor, just set them up away from population centers. You'll take a hit on grid costs due to the plant being far away, but if that's what it takes, that's what it takes. Disposal sites can be as remote as you like with only a negligible increase in expenses, so they're not an issue.

        And if the US wants to be truly energy independent, without importing a thing, it'll sign the death warrant of what industry hasn't already moved to China. It'll make it non-competitive.
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          Sep 2 2013: I live in the 7th largest metropolitan area in the US. Different parts of the world have differing issues. In the broadest general terms, Australia has almost no population density. Israel (with all due respect) is a sardine can. USA is not really all that crowded.
          Our local major power supplier uses energy from all the resources. The integration is carefully planned to make best use at the lowest possible cost to customers. One of the largest solar "farms" in America provides peak power support during the hottest days, Wind power is brought on line as available for maintenance time and repairs. Old inefficient plants are being replaced with new fossil fuel plants to meet air quality guidelines. And for those who are critical of money hungry usurpers, this system is publicly owned.
          Each nation has to provide their citizens with the best model available.
          Having said this, one thing learned here is that the "renewable are not controllable. the best that can be foreseen in spite of claims to the contrary is an 80/20 ratio of controlled power.
          Now, if you go off line to provide your own power, you must be careful. My provider must provide power to my residence. If I am off line, I am on my own and failure can be catastrophic.

          PS. Here the retail cost of wind is $ 0.14 pkwh and nuclear is $0.10.8 pkwh. It is different in different places. Our retail cost to residential customers is #0.11.1 pkwh. My average cost for my totally electric home is $120 per month
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        Sep 2 2013: what? you came back so soon? i expected a month without your undesirable attitude.
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        Sep 1 2013: i consider the conversation dead. the new rules of the game: who can ridicule pseudonym caesar ducant more? would there be real moderation on these forums, and would the moderators understand the threats to a genuine discussion, the problem could be solved. as of now, we need to deal with a google troll, and it is either you leave, or you play his game, or you try to upset him the best you can as a source of fun. discussion is not possible.
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          Sep 1 2013: Aja posted a couple of weeks ago that Conversations were on vacation until September 2 or 3 in the sense that moderators were mostly on vacation.

          It appears our moderators have now returned.
  • Aug 31 2013: one reason is that people think we need newer high tech solutions. we could take all our existing internal combustion engines, all of our cars and our generators, and run them off of alcohol or methane with little to no alterations necessary. that is an energy source which is 100%green and clean, completely renewable and very easy to manufacture which means no big business can own or control it. and because internal combustion engines are already what we are set up for, it could be done immediately. very low tech, very simple, very inexpensive, very effective. can be implemented immediately across the board. the only reason it isn't being done is because people aren't thinking it. change that and you change the world.
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    Aug 31 2013: Mr Kable,
    Your question has resulted in a tirade that has proven non conversational. To address your question. two points based on my experiences and knowledge is as follows.
    1. Hydro power is not really available to any extent in the USA. Other countries are expanding this method of energy production. Alternatives such as solar and wind are useful additions to any power system, the one flaw with these resources is that they are not controllable Energy providers have to have the means to open and close known and reliable energy flow into the grids. In my area, solar energy is used to make up peak period demand during high use such as air conditioners when the temps reach 100. Good use. Wind power is used in the grid when available to lower fuel use in generator plants. Good use. But the use of power is ever increasing and current systems are under stress. Alternative energy systems can help, but can not replace conventional and controllable power resources That is a fact for the foreseeable future.
    About mother earth. Yes, something is going on. Some claim it's is industrial pollution that is causing these changes.
    Others are not so sure. The problem is that earth has been undergoing constant changes albeit so slow that sometimes we can't even se the changes coming. So is industrial .pollution causing the tipping point?
    Could be
    If man can stop all industrial pollution, will the climate settle back to it's old position?
    No one knows and no one will guarantee. The best guess is it won't get any worse by some and others say that earth climate is already shifting.
    What bothers me about all this is the passion that this debate has taken. Science is a very matter of fact. No emotion. Yet, we hear that millions of people will die due to raising seas and all the polar bears are doomed to extinction. These things may someday happen... The oceans have been up and down. 95% of all life on earth has gone extinct. We need is careful analysis not panic
  • Aug 30 2013: Guys, the administration won’t invest in something that is less profitable for them.
    Here in South Africa I here we got too much of natural Gas, but guess what Government will rather sell it to outside inventers. Secondly we pay too much for petrol (Gas) and yet our neighbouring countries they pay less for same service and yet they buy it from us, tell me what’s that?
    Any method that will make our life at easy is contradicting with what states and administration stand for they are here to make money and now you want to turn around and invent or expose what I will call free lunch no way!!!!

    not yet finish to be continued, Im rushing off
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      Aug 30 2013: in fact you googled them, or just picked some from forums, and posted without looking into them. we need a new term for that. i proposed "google trolling"
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        Aug 30 2013: I like the term "google trolling". It seems to fit so well. I mean the internet is completely free of information that is bias, skewed, out right untrue or self serving, isn't it?

        What is the term for those who read up to 2000 characters in a comment and finds fault with a dangling participle? Compulsive Context Focal Disorder?

        And then there are those that take a conversation subject and address an entirely different matter that has little to do with the comments at hand....

        Whoops, I may have been guilty of that one
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          Aug 31 2013: in the previous post, you originally wrote "vitamin K potassium is not cesium". you have edited your post to look less silly, but still contain reference to vitamin K so it does not look edited. you do this in order to hide that you don't know the difference between potassium (chemical symbol K) and vitamin K. i would say that here goes your credibility, but no, you did not have credibility to begin with.

          obviously, you do not have a degree in health, such a blatant mistake would never be made by anyone ever learning about the human body in any way.
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          Aug 31 2013: it was an exact quote, which is further supported by the fact that you left the vitamin K part in, which would be otherwise be totally unrelated. i expect now that you edit that out too. i wonder if there are rules on TED forums against heavily editing comments.
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          Aug 31 2013: keep quoting, as you keep editing. this time it is

          "... potassium with Vitamin K since they are both K in the periodic table"

          vitamin K in the periodic table?
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          Aug 31 2013: because it is. both K40 and Cs137 are beta emitters, and they emit approximately the same energy electron. actually, K40 emits higher energy. both of them are members of the first group of the periodic table, and behave alike. and to those that curious, potassium has a natural 4000-5000 bq radiation in a human body. this amount does exactly nothing. to be any dangerous, we need mega- or gigabecquerels of radiation.

          so where do we find vitamin K in the periodic table? have you edited your post already? lemme check... no, it is still there. unlike your remark about "vitamin K potassium".
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    • Aug 30 2013: So let me get this straight, anyone who isn't persuaded by your arguments is automatically assumed to be on payroll by a corporation whose interests don't match your own?

      That's convenient. Your arguments must truly be infallible then, for everyone to be so easily swayed by your logic except those paid to pretend otherwise.

      If only persuading people was so simple for the rest of us mortals...
      Or if a corporation was actually paying me for posting on random forums; I could use the money. Perhaps you could do me a favor and use your great skills of persuasion to talk one into putting me on payroll?
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          Aug 30 2013: have you researched becquerel? you were talking about like 15000 or so bq cesium in fish. tell me what is the normal level of radiation in bq in an average human body coming from potassium. can you google that too?
        • Aug 31 2013: Legitimate reasons? Sure, its expensive as hell.
          As the price of energy affects anything and everything, expensive energy means expensive everything, and the quality of everyone's lives goes down.

          I've posted a link bellow of a study in OECD countries proving that fossil fuels and even nuclear are all cheaper than any of the renewable alternatives on a kilowatt per dollar basis. Natural gas and coal are usually between 20 to 40 times cheaper than the best case renewable (onshore wind).
          Granted I'm not factoring in air pollution (only really an issue for coal) or set up costs (expensive for nuclear, cheap for fossil fuels), but all in all, fossil fuels still come out a lot cheaper, especially natural gas.

          Look, I'm not saying that new developments in renewable won't change that, as they might, but one simply can't place their trust in as yet uninvented technology to come solve all our problems for us. When its here, I'll believe it, until then, I'm sticking to what I know works.

          That's for developed countries.
          In developing ones, the higher expenses usually mean that using renewable means more people who don't have power period, never mind that you need cheap energy to set up any real sort of industry.
          Remember, most electric consumption isn't by the average user, its by industrial processes. Cost and competitiveness are a very real issue--otherwise, they just move their operations to some other country with cheaper energy bills (or lower taxes, whichever saves them more money).

          Just because people all over the world are adopting renewables doesn't mean its a good solution. Appeal to popularity is a logical fallacy.
          Besides, while I don't have the numbers on hand, if you look you'll find that there is plenty of investment it fossil fuels and nuclear as well--apparently some people at least agree with me.
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        Aug 31 2013: Pinter
        I believe that anyone who is so focused on their points to pretty much ignore reading the complete comments and further hide in some unanimity is not worth discussion. In several of my comments I wrote that there is a place for some alternative power sources, I cited my local company who has managed to use a variety sources to provide power at the best possible price to their customers. Which is what commercial enterprises do. Fanaticism is not a basis for discussion.
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    Aug 29 2013: I guess this conversation has turned into a sales promotion for alternative energy sources. I looked at my situation and it's not for me
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    • Aug 29 2013: This thread asks "why they aren't being implemented"? So unless your answer is that they are being implemented and the question is wrong you are not answering the question.

      You say that implementing renewable energy solutions are a "win win solution and should be supported by everyone!" Which of course ignores everyone that doesn't support them. Do you think the people who own coal mines are going to support shutting them down and being replaced by renewable? Do you think people who have spent 25-50 years of their life and invested everything that they have into fossil fuel should "support" losing everything they have and call it a "win win solution"?

      The status quo always resists change. One solution is to have growth in power production come from renewables so that the existing power companies and structure do not have to shutter their operation and have massive layoffs. That is a response to the question in this thread -- we are not implementing faster because it would cause layoffs and massive disruption to the workforce, as well as to the existing power structure. In addition it takes time to ramp up production of renewables because you have to have trained people. Growth rates over 10% in an industry often cause many problems.

      If our goal was to have carbon neutral energy production then that would imply a mixture of renewables with nuclear. However in the context of the current political environment that would not be practical.

      However, if we made a law that required new power production to be "carbon neutral" then that would be much more effective than government subsidies at implementing renewables. However you will still come one day to the issue of Nuclear. Without effective political leadership such a law would push the US into a corner at some point in the future.
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        • Aug 29 2013: Yes, we know all that, but it still doesn't address the question.

          For example, China is a very big producer of renewable energy and yet they are building coal fire plants and burning coal and turning their country into a toxic nightmare.

          Why?

          Is it because you can only have 20% of your power from an intermittent power source?
          Is it because it is faster and cheaper to build a coal plant?
          Is it because of financing? Existing political power?

          China is a nuclear power and a dictatorship with a central control so they could easily adopt nuclear which would clean up the smog. So why did they choose coal? Was it because it takes too long to build a nuclear plant?
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        • Aug 30 2013: Yes, that is the point, they still use Coal and so does the rest of the world. Emissions of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuel has continued to grow year by year. Even with all of the wonderful advances.

          This is not a question of what is right or what is wrong, if that were the case they would stop using coal.

          This is a question of what is right versus what is easy. Coal is still the easiest choice to make.
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  • Aug 28 2013: Caesar Ducant

    Look at the graph of US coal production by year

    http://www.fromthewilderness.com/images/052504_coal_peak_figure2.jpg

    Now compare that with the graph from energy produced by Nuclear power plants in the US

    http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/images/2011.06.30/vintage_nuclear_permits_p2.png

    Is this a joke? Yes, Coal power requires hoops and hurdles, but it is much, much easier to get the permits than it is for Nuclear because no one gets permits for nuclear. Not in the US. Not since 1979.

    That was my initial point. I have no idea what your point has been.
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      • Aug 28 2013: The context of the comment was that it is very difficult to build nuclear power plants. Look at the graphs, it is obviously much, much easier to expand coal than to build nuclear. The fact that it is a byzantine process with lots of hoops to jump through doesn't "make it hard". These are relative terms, not absolutes. If I define "getting a permit for a Nuclear plant" as hard, then by definition it is "much, much easier to expand an existing coal plant".

        I am not confusing either one. My point is simple, no one was factoring in the political process. Based on the political process Nuclear is a non issue and pointless to discuss whereas coal is not.
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      • Aug 28 2013: Yes, and meanwhile coal production in this country is growing exponentially because coal exports are growing exponentially.
  • Aug 28 2013: I was particularly impressed by the way Mike Colera has exposed the reasons why these alternative energy sources haven't been implemented yet , However I'm afraid I totally disagree about his lack of interest in doing something. We most certainly cannot change what other people do, that is to say the heads of companies that damage the environment, but we can take some action at home.Say, not using cars or throwing away things that can be recycled or reused.
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      Aug 28 2013: Yohana,
      I am sorry, that I left the impression that I was uninterested in new energy resources. There are some lab experiments going on the may prove fruitful some day and one can only hope. What I was trying to say that we have been trying to make solar and wind real players in energy world since I was a kid in college. People have made great investments and not done well. The government has supported these systems and companies promoting them in the past with loans and subsidies and too many failed. In my area, the major energy supplier has power from coal, gas, nuclear, wind and solar sources.... see "CPS, San Antonio, Tx". Wind and solar energy is about double what power from the other sources costs. These cost are currently subsidized but that can not go on forever. When it ends, the company will raise prices and that will mean very unhappy customers. Many people in the area are installing residential solar panel on their house to offset some cost. Personally I couldn't quite make it work for me, but my nieghbor could. He installed 4KW of panels on his house. I have reduced my energy needs by those "smart" things everyone says to do.
      I would like to see something new, I am just tired of beating dead horses as we say in Texas.
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    Aug 28 2013: Mr. Kable,
    Let's address your question directly. None of the alternative energy sources are ready to be implemented on a world wide scale. It took the world a century to get here using fossil fuels as we have. The Alternative power generation is still in it's infancy in technology. It is not controllable. Winds don't always blow, the sun doesn't always shine, And just about every river has been dammed twice. So, there are alternatives out there, but they are problematic for a number of reasons. So, the bottom line is that if we can get a perfect energy source that has no problems, no environmental impacts, creates no political concerns and is economically viable, we are still looking at a century to get it where we are today. I am not saying we shouldn't try, but the suggestions you have made have been around for many years and we still can't get past their shortcomings, in spite of modern technological improvements. We need new approaches.
    About Mother Earth. Our global climate is not static. It is constantly changing. Our history tells us that earth has been covered in ice and has been a steaming jungle with no polar ice caps. Some have made claims that if we just cut back on carbon dioxide the global climate will go back to the way it was and they have computer models to support their claims . Others have found that the correlation of CO2 and climate are not that connected.
    There has been so much emotion in conflicting claims that scientific credibility has been lost.
    So, what to do... I will do nothing. I will go with the climate changes as they occur and I do not have a practical solution for the generation of power on the scale that is demanded. Therefore Cest la Vie

    .
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      Aug 28 2013: I flagged this as spam as the link is to a site that gives no referencing to its claims and seeks donations.
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          Aug 30 2013: So the NIRS is a registered charity?
          The references I was looking for were the ones that should be there to demonstrate the validity of the 11 claims. The first three contain obvious factual errors.
          1)" it was the largest single release of radioactivity to date," This is a misquote, the word uncontrolled has been removed, the original statement excludes nuclear tests as they are controlled.
          2) There are several ways to dispose of nuclear waste they are just very expensive. You could shoot it into space on a tragectory perpendicular to the ecliptic for example.
          3)"Chernobyl has caused permanent contamination of food and water and children." No radioactivity lasts for ever so the contamination may be long term but it isn't permanent.
  • Aug 28 2013: I think much of this discussion has missed a very critical element in the political process. In general there are many existing coal powered power plants. Therefore to expand the plant is a very easy political process that, handled properly, can be accomplished without the community even noticing.

    On the other hand with nuclear you would have to build a new nuclear power plant which could never be done without the public getting involved. The question then becomes whose backyard gets the power plant. One thing we know, for the average middle class person their home is their single biggest investment. Putting a nuclear power plant near their home will dramatically impact the resale value. As a result the objections to these are usually very, very strong.

    Also, common sense dictates that you put a nuclear power plant far from a population center, which also means far from the poor. Whereas upgrading an existing coal power plant is generally located in the heart of where the poor live. So whereas coal is dirty and deadly, those who should object the loudest are the ones with the poorest political voice. Whereas those who object to Nuclear are well organized and financially motivated.
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      • Aug 28 2013: Are you saying that it is just as difficult for a power company to upgrade existing equipment at an existing power plant that is already zoned for power plants as it is for a power company to get all the necessary permits to build a nuclear power plant?
      • Aug 28 2013: You didn't answer my question.

        Are you saying that it is just as difficult for a power company to upgrade existing equipment at an existing power plant that is already zoned for power plants as it is for a power company to get all the necessary permits to build a nuclear power plant?
  • Aug 27 2013: the temperature isn't rising
    2.they do use hydro dams throughout the world wherever it's possible to do so
    3.there's no need to change fuel sources we have tons and tons of oil for a very long foreseeable future
    • Aug 27 2013: To understand the dire situation we are in concerning oil and why putting the US military in the single biggest known reserves of oil other than Saudi Arabia (which has booby trapped its reserves with dirty bombs) you must understand Peak oil.

      1. We cannot recover all of the oil in the ground, generally about 1/3 of the oil will be irrecoverable.
      2. World consumption of oil increases by around 3-5% per year. This is critical to growth. The minute oil consumption cannot grow by 3-5% you will see a dramatic impact on the world's economy.
      3. Once the world has consumed 1/3 of the world's known reserves we are then at a "peak" in oil production. At that point it is no longer possible to increase yearly production and instead you will begin to see a yearly decline in production after a few years at this peak.
      4. The best estimate as to when the world will reach this "peak" oil is 2008. It is difficult to predict since oil companies and countries are now hiding their data and are no longer transparent about it.

      You also need to understand something called "ROE" or Return on Energy. The idea is that once it takes 1 barrel of oil worth of energy to recover 1 barrel of oil then it is a waste of time.

      100 years ago at the time of Rockefeller we had oil wells with an ROE of 100. For every 1 barrel of oil of energy used the well gave back 100 barrels. This oil was under pressure, we didn't need pumps. Those days are long gone.

      Today we have oil wells with an ROE of less than 5. Oil shale is typically less than 2.

      http://www.westernresourceadvocates.org/land/oseroi.php

      By comparison the EROEI of wind is, on average, 25

      http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/152560/
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      Aug 28 2013: Hi Cheap,
      You are about right on this matter, even the use of tons and tons to mean one hellava lot is colloquial enough to make sense. And don't be fooled by politicians who have political agendas in the diminishing the economic strength of the USA. If they are successful and destroy the American dream as even now many Americans think that their children will not be as successful as they were, they will replace our constitution with a meritocracy of progressive academics who will see to the end of America as we know it today.
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      Aug 27 2013: So, how long did you spend in Germany studying their gains in renewable energy sources.? One of the largest cities into the renewable program is Wurzburg. The Bavarians are even more into "renewables" then the Rhinelanders. The Bavarians will also tell you that the energy goals of Rhinelanders are even flatter then their beer.
      Here is the problem. If you use residential numbers and consider current usage and possible gains in efficiency of generation systems, you can show excess in power available, but no where in the numbers you show address other needs, so that is hyperbole. Where the numbers don't go is in the commercial power demand for the Rhineland. This is one of the faster growing industrial areas of Germany. Germany is closing nuclear plants and buying natural gas from Russia at a high price to power their commercial enterprises, the minimization of residential power use in highly encouraged, so solar panels, and all are greatly encouraged. Also the average German household runs on a 60 amp service about half of the average american household.
      So, not an example that you should fall over. I am not against people using solar panels or back yard windmills, whatever. But they are not for everyone and you should not be berating those that don't see it your
      way.
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          Aug 27 2013: Sources and links.... Better, I was there. I lived in Germany from 1987 to 2003 as a program manager for community utilities and environmental compliance. I worked with German engineers in solar energy projects, Met with German companies manufacturing panels and controllers. Was one of a small number of American Environmental Officials that helped prepare the final governing standards for Germany's Environmental Laws, My area was recycling and reuse. Here is the bottom line... the Danes are farther ahead then anyone alternative energy generation. They have it down to 70/30 with alternative energy sources. They have determined that a nation must have 70% of energy from a continuous and controllable sources. Think big power plants. Residents are encouraged to be free of power lines and generate their own power for their homes and there are a number of appliances and panels and and. However, be advised that if you can't get your lights on it's your problem. So, one more thing, most of what you read on the internet and most of the links to this tube or that book... mostly BS... just saying
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          Aug 28 2013: BS? you don't even read your sources correctly. First, what I left in 2003 is the foundation of today in Germany. I told you that Denmark was doing better. If you look at current power production in Germany and you have to read Deutsche, you will note that conventional generation from 95% at night and 78% during the daytime when the maximum solar generation is in full operation with about 5% attributed to wind power and yes the EU has a continent wide grid so excess power is traded back and forth.
          Further, don't give me sites that are supporting solar power schemes, they tend to be one sided. And if you want to bloviate, at least get better informed.
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      Aug 28 2013: We already have that in Australia but we still need to burn coal at night. I live by myself and am at work all day so my solar offsets the cost of my night time energy usage, but I still need electricity when I get home at night. As do most of the industries in my local area. The aluminium plant for example uses as much electricity as a small town and runs 24/7.
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          Aug 28 2013: I'm not sure what I said that gave you the impression that homeowners subsidise industrial energy costs. They don't. The point I'm making is that in a warm country like Australia domestic energy use is just as high at night and most industry now runs all night. Our climate in spring and summer is characterised by hot still nights so solar and wind are of little use for half the time.
      • Aug 28 2013: Why not grow your fuel in the Australian desert using algae? It requires energy input, but that could easily come from renewable. You get 1.5 what you put in. Then, instead of burning coal at night you could burn the oil from this algae, a renewable resource.
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          Aug 28 2013: We've been working on the algae for around ten years now and currently have several different GM varieties under evaluation.
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          Aug 30 2013: "Yes they do because those industrial complexes are not producing their share of power using solar and wind so your excess power is being ate up by those corporations. You are subsidizing their energy use."
          But I get payed for any power that goes back into the grid at double the rate I'm charged for grid usage.
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          Aug 30 2013: 1) Because the aluminium plant runs at night too
          2) A solar array big enough to power an aluminium plant would cover about 10 square kilometres of land and still wouldn't power it at night.
          3) Wind works everywhere there is wind. They call the doldrums the doldrums for a reason, and an awful lot of people live at tropical latitudes.
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    Aug 24 2013: I guess we are going to keeping beating this subject to death.

    First, Global Climate as it is defined is in a constant state of flux. Some forces we (humans) sort of understand, but most are beyond our understanding, like black holes.
    Best we can do (as humans) is to clean up the climate in some regional areas like (my first choice) the LA river basin. We begin by removing 20 million people and all their cars and trash, tear down all those condos and rip up all that asphalt, maybe in a hundred years all will be well again.
    Of course, the worlds life blood is inexpensive energy for power and transportation.
    So, we burn fossil fuels. Cheap, but not without side effects.
    But we have alternatives....
    Solar Panels... OK, the sun is always shining in Arizona, lets cover it over with solar panels, solar water generators, and any variation thereof. It will take about that much area to do the job for the USA. It will be your job to convince the Arizonians to move to California, so we can get right on it.
    Wind turbines... better yet, we only need windy conditions, like off the east and west coasts. There goes that view from Cape Cod, whatever, but when you get too many in one area, you suck the energy out of the wind and that changes all kinds of weather down stream... anyway we can't get enough up to cover the USA or even the slack of other systems.
    Which leave Hydro Electric. Every electrical generation engineer's first love. Is there a stream left we haven't dammed? But none of this is the real problem.
    It's Power distribution. Electricity starts off a KILOWATT as it jumps on the first wire out of the generator and 600 miles later.. we got a wimp of a spark that will barely charge your cell phone. So this country is divided into a grid of power lines and generating stations carefully balanced to provide a network of power supply to meet the needs of local customers. So the question begs in our grid can we replace a coal fired plant with windmills?
    • Aug 24 2013: as i mentioned a few days ago, it is very inexpensive and 100% green to use alcohol as a fuel for any internal combustion engine. since we currently use the internal combustion engine already for just about everything it would be very easy to switch over.
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        Aug 25 2013: Really? And how much power will it take to distill all this alcohol to feed all those internal combustion engines. Let alone all the material to provide the base. These ideas have been around for 50 years.
        They cause more problems then they cure. If it was that easy, my grandfather would have seen to it.
      • Aug 25 2013: And where would that alcohol come from?
        Only real option I can think of is agriculture. Problem is, that compromises your food supplies.

        Using current technology, the earth can only support so many fields. With the world population climbing ever higher, and developing nations industrializing and requiring ever more energy, you'll find that you need to farm more land than you have to support it all.

        Future technology might change that, like fuel cultivation from algae farms, but that remains to be seen. Current biotech isn't sufficient to economically compete with fossil fuels, unfortunately.
        Bio-diesel may be the way of the future, but its not the way of today, and for good reason.
        • Aug 25 2013: The best suggestion I have seen is to produce alcohol and oil from algae being grown in the desert. This takes a good amount of energy but that would be ideally from a renewable source like wind or solar. If you did that then you could view the energy produced as being similar to a battery to store the energy from the renewable source. The energy returned on energy invested is around 1.5 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23012769) not great, but for a "battery" it is astoundingly awesome.
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        Aug 27 2013: Keep in mind that no matter how you generate electricity it can only be transmitted around a thousand kilometres so large centralised solar thermal will never power the colder areas.
  • Aug 23 2013: the more people find low tech alternative energy solutions which can be easily implemented on an individual basis the more quickly the power structure built by the oil cartels will lose their power. wood alcohol and other alcohols are excellent fuel sources for any internal combustion engine and can be very easily and cheaply made and they are 100% green. likewise methane gas just like propane can be very easily fitted to burn in an internal combustion engine. once power is in the hnads of people and not corporations it will be very easy to upgrade to more efficient forms of energy use.
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    Aug 22 2013: I actually can't find one peer reviewed science article that proposes the existence of a climate "tipping point". All the science journals seem to consider it a theoretically possible but highly unlikely scenario.
  • Aug 21 2013: Hydro electric is very similar to geothermal power in the sense that its quite economical, environmentally friendly (except for the immediate region being flooded I suppose, but you can't have everything), and requires that you strike lucky on geography.
    If you don't have access to a body of water you can dam up, you can't take advantage of hydro electric power, its as simple as that. This is why there hasn't been much growth in the field in recent years, at least in the developed world--most bodies of water suitable have already been taken advantage of.

    Wind and solar are a whole other story. They're plain and simple uneconomical, no way around it.
    20 times more expensive than fossil fuels and 5 times more then nuclear for the same amount of power is a best case scenario. It'd be faster to throw your money into the ocean.
    I got into a long debate about this on the following thread, and I'd hate to re-post everything:
    http://www.ted.com/conversations/19995/global_warming_make_me_an_off.html

    Solar has some use for user end power generation, things like heating water for showers, but its useless for producing power on an industrial scale.
    Wind doesn't even have that.

    I'm also a quite skeptical concerning the global warming issue (again, already covered in the thread up top).
    I support switching over from fossil fuels not because of CO2 emissions, but simply because they're a finite resource, and beginning to switch over now while we still have time is a priority.
    However, the way I see it, except for those of us lucky enough to sit on top of a river or geologic hot spot, nuclear is the only practical answer for power generation on a massive scale (true, uranium is also finite, but there's so much of the stuff that it won't be an issue for centuries to come). I suppose there's also nuclear fusion, but seeing as its been 20 years away for the last 50 years now, I wouldn't hold my breath.
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      Aug 21 2013: some minor corrections.

      you say: "no way around it". there is a way around it, and it is time. solar is getting more economical every year, so it is only a matter of time to become a feasible choice. not sure it will be the best choice at any point, but a feasible choice nevertheless. when will it happen, in five years, in thirty years, i don't know.

      you say "finite resource". fossils are not exactly a finite resource as of now. we still have at least 20 years of oil, probably more, hundreds of years of gas, and god knows how many centuries of coal ahead. just as stone age did not end because we ran out of stone, the oil age will probably not end because we are running out of oil. we will find better energy source much sooner.
      • Aug 21 2013: When solar becomes economical, I'll be among the first to embrace it.
        Until then... if you could take hypotheticals to the bank, we'd all be swimming in money by now. Unlike consumer electronics, which have a very clear and predictable progression, solar energy advances are much harder to predict accurately.
        I care for results, not good intentions.

        Fossil fuels are most definitely finite.
        Oil has got to be the worst of the lot--running out in a couple of decades is the very definition of finite. Its so ubiquitous in our industries and vehicles, that any shift would have to be done very gradually, possibly taking decades, and that means that the earlier we begin, the better.

        Coal and gas aren't as limited, true, but we should still be looking for long term solutions. Its not nearly as urgent as the oil running out, but we'll get there eventually.
        As you may have noticed, I'm hesitant in putting my trust in technologies that don't exist yet--nuclear fusion has been 20 years away for the past 50 years after all.
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          Aug 21 2013: solar is finite too, sun dies in 10 billion years.

          the question is whether we will ever see the exhaustion of said resource. probably not. as we run out of super cheap oil, we will turn to offshore, deeper reservoirs, natural gas, hydrogenated coal, etc. as the price goes up, suddenly a nuclear backed electric becomes more economical, and the fossil industry gradually phases out.
      • Aug 22 2013: We'll have to phase out fossil fuels eventually, but I agree that its only really pressing for oil, as there seems to be enough coal and gas to last us at least another human lifetime.
        We should start looking into alternatives now so that the change can be a gradual thing when it is forced on us. Gas and coal will do fine on the back burner for now though.

        That said, replacing oil should be a top priority. A sudden spike in prices as supply can't keep up with demand (potentially aided by a bubble fueled by a scare), followed by the stuff completely running out a decade or two later, while certainly not apocalyptic, isn't exactly good for the economy.

        Just because it won't bring about the end of the world doesn't mean its not an issue we should look to solving, rather then expecting it to solve itself.
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          Aug 22 2013: economics teaches us that prices can not spike. if they do spike, it is a temporary effect, or it marks the end or the beginning of state intervention.

          the rationale for that is as follows. things don't change abruptly. it won't happen that we suddenly run out of oil, and we are all shocked. traders will anticipate that for example ten years from now, there will be so few oil left, and the reservoirs will be so much harder to harvest, oil prices will be ten times higher. it means it is reasonable for anyone to borrow money at 15%, buy as much oil as possible, keep it, and sell ten years later. it means that if traders anticipate oil prices up in the future, the price will be up right now. for this reason, the price of a finite resource goes up exponentially with the rate of usual interest on the market. it means 5-10% annually. this is in fact happening. oil producers don't produce oil as fast as they can. they keep the production lower and the prices higher. this maximizes the discounted total future income.

          this assumes free market of course. stupid US and EU decisions, or wars in the middle east can cause price spikes or drops. but that's a whole other issue.
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    Aug 20 2013: Solar panels & Wind Turbines only last 20-40 years and normally only create power about 50% of the time. So the lifespan is really 10-20 working years, they use up a lot of space, are costly, and do more harm to the environment then good.

    Not every place can have Hydro-Electric.

    The green power movement is just one big massive scam, like any scam there is some truth mixed into the lie.
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      Aug 20 2013: I have my reservations about hydro, but what harm is being done to the environment with solar and wind?
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        Aug 20 2013: I'm no expert but off the top of my head,
        In addition to the manufacturing process, wind turbines kills birds, changes migration patterns, generates noise pollution disturbing nearby wild life. Solar panels has just the opposite effect of a green roof, so you have a “heat island effect” increasing cool cost/power needed, unfriendly environment for wild life, with zero carbon capture.
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          Aug 21 2013: the number of birds killed by windmills is really insignificant. cars kill more than 100 times the number of birds than windmills.

          About 4 years ago, I lived near a windfarm and there really wasn't that much noise. (about a km away) The cows and goats grazed the land with no disturbances. some of the land under it was farmed too.

          http://www.gereports.com/how-loud-is-a-wind-turbine/

          Manufacturing to me seems to be the big impact and when I compare it to oil, fracking, making dams, It's much much less.

          solar panels do allow or vegetation under them, which is again much much better than oil,

          Have you read about the never ending fires that burn continuously underground spouting up smoke from coal seams that have had oxygen exposed to them?

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/25/centralia-pennsylvania-fire_n_1546552.html

          What I'd really love to see is landfills, livestock farm runoff and sewage treated as if they were fuel sources. I really think that it could make up for the lulls in solar and wind peaks alongside the existing dams so no new dams need to be built.

          A friend in Mumbai said "don't all cities do it?" when I complained about the rivers of raw sewage flowing into the ocean.
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        Aug 20 2013: I should add that the lack of support given to Allen Savory by so called environmentalist has me questioning everything they clam.
        http://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deserts_and_reverse_climate_change.html
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          Aug 21 2013: I agree Allen savory needs more support. people should allow the possibility of growing more livestock to support meat eating, and understand that this is a huge step above factory farming.
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      Aug 20 2013: In UK windfarms, the embodied carbon in the manufacture, transportation, siting and requirements for infrastructure roads, exceed the carbon that can be saved within the lifetime of the turbines. This renders them pointless.

      This is because of the clumsy siting of them on hilltops and ridges on peat substrates (peat is a significant carbon sink), which if disturbed, release a high tonnage of CO2 into the atmosphere.

      Many people in the UK also object to massed turbines on aesthetic grounds. Unspoilt landscapes are rapidly dwindling here because of this.

      The only option for wind technology as I see it, is for smaller local schemes supplying local demand.
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        Aug 21 2013: Aesthetics are relative. We live with telephone and electricity poles, broadcast towers, roads cutting through beautiful scenery, and my neighbor's collection of 'vintage' (rusty) cars. Ever been on a picnic to the nearest strip mine? how 'bout an oil field?

        avoiding peat bogs is probably a good idea, but siting along the existing roads shouldn't be a problem.

        I really don't see a way of avoiding emitting some carbon without ending up in the stone ages, unless we make carbon sinks... like rebuilding tropical rainforests WITH all the storeys, and limiting humans to land that has already been 'humanized'.
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          Aug 23 2013: Manishka, I agree that aesthetics are relative. Engineers probably find wind turbines beautiful, but artists may not.

          The main point I'm making is that (in the UK at least), industrial scale windfarms are being sited in areas of outstanding natural beauty, very close to the periphery of National Parks including what few wilderness areas we have left in Wales and Scotland. I have deep misgivings in trashing wilderness areas like these with industrial development, for the sake of very dubious benefit:

          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/9889882/Wind-farms-will-create-more-carbon-dioxide-say-scientists.html

          http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/382813/The-battle-for-Britain-s-countryside-Windfarm-war-escalates

          I'm as passionate as you are about reversing global warming, but in the mix of the natural order of things, the preservation of wilderness and landscape beauty is massively important for a whole host of reasons.

          I agree with you that siting along existing roads would not be a problem, neither would siting turbines around already developed urban areas - but we don't do that here in UK. Why? Because it was all about the vast subsidies for which big landowners are eligible in allowing wind farm development on their land. The primary raison d'etre therefore, has been skewed towards big money and big business, rather than any genuine desire to reduce carbon emissions - hence the clumsy, socially divisive planning loopholes that have been responsible in blighting the British upland landscape.

          However, this is changing with a proposed 25% cut in subsidies for onshore schemes
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        Aug 23 2013: LOL! renewable subsidies as a bad thing!

        So basically big landowners own land on the periphery, and big land owners stand to gain the most from the subsidies.

        Siting is of course very important. I wouldn't advocate ruining perfectly good wilderness or the edges of them to be used for windfarms. Actually, I believe it's best to keep technology where humans are and preserving untouched habitat and also leaving a margin around it to let it grow more.

        That's the plan with reversing desertification too is to identify the edges rather than cutting straight through like chinese and saharan green walls.

        And also create green corridors connecting isolated habitats.

        perhaps then, the subsidies could scale up with the population density? keeping in mind safety of course.

        I can see you are passionate about renewable energy from some of your posts, keep it up!
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    Aug 18 2013: Money.
    Corporations.
    Though it may be Cliche, I think it does have some merit to it.
    (I may be very wrong on this though!).
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    Aug 18 2013: COST SHOULD NOT MATTER WHEN IT COMES TO SAVING NATURAL RESOURCES! hence why i put profits in the description. Tired of hearing cost effective. Sorry to anyone who didn't say anything about it but I'm tired of hearing things people say everyday. Stop thinking like that. That's why were f***ed now. Everything is falling apart right in front of us and we're still concerned with money. Is there any hope to think people want to change or is everyone happier sitting back and only worrying about the tiny domain they occupy at any given moment?
    • Aug 18 2013: Because those in roles of leadership control the reigns on cost. They still are making lots of money from destructive means of energy. When those methods become important, they will make them "available" for the public. Because they will profit. RIght now, most of the methods make the consumer more in control of their energy and less restricted by the government. That is a threat to big money.

      As an aside, hydro-electric, while beneficial, is not always the best. The damage it does to the local area and fish runs needs to be considered. Look at the dam project in China and the destruction it caused on the area. Not always a win win so to speak.
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        Aug 18 2013: Yeah they are harmful now because of the dam design that they are so infatuated with. I have a design for a hydro electric power plant that doesn't dam the river but would ALWAYS produce energy with a much smaller effect on the ecosystem, theoretically of course. I can't be sure until its built and it won't be built unless I fund it which is not possible for me at this time.
    • Aug 18 2013: Okay, where are you going to come up with the money and how? Your childish whining means nothing in the context of reality. Cost does matter in the real world. Thus, you can either scream at the ocean tides to obey your will or learn to surf and thereby go where you need to go.
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        Aug 18 2013: Cost does not matter. If we have the resources we can build them and put them into action and reap the benefits now. I'm guessing I'm childish because I believe we should put the cost aside and worry more about the resources that WON'T come back. When the resources are gone, they are gone, there's always more money and unlimited ways to get it from people. This is not like the ocean. Money is not something you NEED to create things. You need water to surf, you don't need money to build. All you need is materials and people to build them, and the fact that you believe without money we can not create is crazy. People volunteer all the time. I would volunteer in a solar panel plant to save the world. Would you or do you NEED money more than a clean atmosphere and plants to convert CO2. It's as simple as this, If I had the money to spend to solar panel the world, I would. The simple fact is you don't NEED money, people WANT money, but that is not a NEED. Call me whatever but I would do all I can to help people on a wide scale. :D
        • Aug 22 2013: You will also need guns and prisons, and mass graves. Look at what happened in every country that tried to do things without that icky-poo old money. China got the Cultural Revolution. Cambodia got Pol Pot's Year Zero. Let us not forget North Korea. If you want to dispose of money, it will have to be done at gunpoint. Who you going to murder first? If you want to live in the real world instead of a childish fantasy in which merely demanding something makes it true, you'll have to deal with real-world things like money, even if your little feelings just aren't up to the task.
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        Aug 18 2013: I have to make money before i start to save the world... will never be a thought i believe in.
    • Aug 21 2013: Of course cost matters.
      What do you think finances the energy infrastructure, goodwill?

      Say I have x money to set up an electric infrastructure in my country. I can use it to produce y power using wind, or I could use it to produce 20y power with natural gas (those numbers are actually a best case scenario).
      If I only produce a single y amount of power (because money doesn't grow on trees and I only have so much funding), then electricity is going to be a lot more expensive in my country. As energy costs affect the price of anything and everything, everything in my country is going to get more expensive, at no real economic benefit to anyone, other then may people in other countries which will have an easier time competing (they have 20y power for x money, they have cheap electricity, which leads to cheaper everything).
      Never mind when that y power isn't enough to support the growing energy needs of a nation, but 20y does just fine...

      This is why developing countries never go green by the way. That single y as opposed to 20y means that some of their population won't have access to electricity period, never mind the detriment it has on developing any sort of industry.
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        Aug 22 2013: http://www.residentialsolarpanels.org/
        Invest now and save later AND saving the environment. The average home could be essentially zero cost for the price of a cheap college. After 10 years of todays solar panels they would be free due to savings and after that you would just be getting paid for having the panels. Win for you Win for the environment. Everyone could do that especially if the industry pulled back on the prices of the technology. Give it 5 years and the price will go from 15k to 6k to fully power an average home. That's all with no pollution as well. I'll say it again. the price doesn't matter... because if you give it some time it's more than worth it price wise and pollution wise. We just want to do things the easy way and we, actually, our kids will pay the price for our greed, laziness, and short mindedness.
        • Aug 22 2013: There is a big difference between powering a home and providing electricity for a modern, industrial nation.

          My problem with solar and wind is for mass electric production, not private use. If you want to instal some on your own home, go right ahead. It'll take a few years to pay for itself, but seeing as you're not looking to make a profit, who cares?

          This also goes to show you why people looking to make money by selling electricity (as in, any power company not owned by a government) won't touch solar with a ten foot pole. Five years just to break even on your investment is shall we say, less than stellar.
          The numbers may be a bit more favorable with economy of scale, but its still pretty awful.

          As I've said, the world doesn't run on good will. If it doesn't make economic sense, it won't get done, except maybe by a small number of idealists who don't mind loosing money. As for the rest of us, we'll be burning fossil fuels for some time yet.
  • Aug 16 2013: It is still more economically viable to produce energy on a large scale using fossil fuels than to use renewable energy. If research and implementation of alternative sources of energy are continued, we will soon reach a point where the falling costs of the alternative sources will meet the rising cost of conventional sources, making renewable energy the more economically viable option. This is the point when renewable sources will be implemented on a world wide scale.
    • Aug 17 2013: No, it isn't.

      The environmental damage done by fossil fuel is calculable and should be a cost that is factored into the equation, it isn't. That includes asthma and other health care costs. The only reason there is any debate over the damage done by greenhouse gases is to delay the implementation of liability. Even so, acid rain is a very real and calculable damage.

      Also, the cost for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan should also be included in the cost of maintaining a flow of oil to the US. That cost is also not included.

      There is a very real benefit to spending money in the US, a "Made in America" vs sending the money overseas. Once the money leaves the US we don't get the benefit of it being spent and reinvested back into the US economy. It results in the trade deficit which can only be maintained by the US going deeper into debt. On the other hand money spent in the US returns back to the US government in the form of taxes, about 40%, it also supports families and people who spend the other 60% in the US on goods and services. When you include this benefit renewable energy looks much better economically.

      Also, fossil fuel use is subsidized by the US government. The US government pays for roads. This is the transmission line for trucks of oil, gas, and coal. If the US government paid for the transmission lines of wind energy wind would be about half the cost that it is today.

      Finally, solar energy should not be compared to coal. No one burns coal at home to generate electricity, it is burned in large power plants, hence you need to calculate the cost as "wholesale". However, solar is often generated at the point it is used, hence it should be compared to retail cost. It is also generated at the hottest time of day which is also "peak hours" so it should be compared to the peak hour retail cost. Finally, since solar is generated on site you save the cost of transmission which can often be 33% or more of the total cost.
  • Aug 15 2013: The "tipping point" is very easy to understand: When it becomes cost-effective, it will be done. No amount of silly moralistic posturing will change this fundamental fact. No amount of ethnocentric Western "environmentalism" will force Russia or China to change their practices. They don't care, and they are so powerful that they can't be compelled to care. The bottom line is the bottom line. This is why the future of this stuff is not in legislation, regulation, or similarly stupid approaches. The future of this stuff is in improvement of the basic methods to the point at which they become more cost-effective in comparison to currently-used methods. Why does nobody burn whale oil, anymore? It has nothing to do with touchy-feely environmentalism. It has everything to do with petroleum becoming more cost-effective than whale oil. Turbines are used a lot in Texas--they are profitable. Hydroelectric is used where it is profitable. Solar power is still too boutique to be worth using on a large scale.
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      Aug 18 2013: There are some things we can do as environmentalists.

      http://www.wtnh.com/news/new-haven-cty/hamden-home-runs-on-solar-power-system#.UgzHRpUd7MA

      When you install solar panels,your extra energy gets sold to the grid. If enough people do this, then the country could run on solar during the day and only run on fossils or whatever stock at night. A message loud and clear to the power company.

      We can also install fuel cells.

      each power company also has to list sources of power for it's customers. A petition for wind can help with that.

      Electric cars are available now, and tesla's newest least expensive model is on the drawing boards as we speak.

      Things don't have to change at the national level if you know your town's budget and when the meetings are.
      • Aug 18 2013: This is not acceptable. Real grass-roots individual activity is evil. Only gigantic, intrusive, totalitarian government acts are acceptable. Don't you know that? Only tyranny is virtuous. Personal acts of virtue are evil.
      • Aug 21 2013: I fail to see the benefit of electric cars.
        Aside from being overweight and underpowered due to limitations in battery technology, if someone at the power station burned fossil fuels for you, what did the environment earn?
        All you're doing is distancing yourself from the guilt, you're not actually solving anything.

        While I agree that solar has some use in user end power generation, both solar and wind are completely ill suited for mass scale power generation. 20 times the cost per unit of energy than fossil fuels is a best case scenario.

        You'd be better off spending all that money on things like healthcare, education and infrastructure--saving money isn't about greed, its about resource allocation.
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          Aug 21 2013: Electric cars are an investment in the flexibility of cars, and diversifying the cash flow, and a step in the right direction.

          Power stations are more efficient at burning fossil fuels than my car is. My power company is using 10% renewables right now. When renewables are finally available to power 100% of my electricity, i don't want the fossil car industry holding me hostage. getting 10% of my fuel dollar into the hands that are buying my neighbor's solar excess. And when I get a electric car, I'll be my neighbor's first private customer, If I haven't installed my own solar panels by then.

          I'm also quite happy to concentrate the exhaust away from my son's nose and into a smokestack that is monitored by ever increasing legislation and a whole team of scientists working to comply.

          I've already got healthcare and working in the healthcare industry. Ready to switch my investments to the hyperloop the second it's available, and Allocating resources away from fossils is well worth it to me.

          please quote your source for the 20 figure.
      • Aug 21 2013: http://www.oecd-nea.org/ndd/reports/2012/system-effects-exec-sum.pdf

        This is for the times 20 figure, though you'll notice that I'm not exaggerating when I'm saying its an absolute best case scenario.

        As for the electric cars, remember that while the power plant is operating at about 40% efficiency with burning fossil fuels, and a gasoline car is only around 30% (less for older models, a bit more for new), you loose quite a fair bit of that efficiency in getting the electricity from the power plant over to the charger at your house. It depends on distance, but it can easily reach half, which actually gives your car about a 10% edge, despite some of the power station's output being green.
        If we ever get around to developing super conducting power lines, then we'll talk, but for the moment, that's just not the case.
        Add to that the electric car being less than 100% efficient in of itself...

        As for concentrating the exhaust away from population centers, that I can't dispute.
        It doesn't help that electric cars, due to current limitations of battery technology are overweight and underpowered. There's a reason most of the major auto manufacturers decided to skip this technology rather than trying to build their own electric cars.

        Concerning priorities, every man has his own I suppose.
        I'd much rather seeing my nation's resources spent less on "green" energy, and more on things like defense (I live in the middle east, its more of a priority than in the western world), education, infrastructure, healthcare, or a whole host of other priorities, that may actually prove a benefit.
        I don't really buy into the whole global warming theory--investing more money in those other things however, I know will get results.
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          Aug 21 2013: You only lose about 10 to 15% electricity in the grid. and the 10% renewable is improving everyday. So is electric car technology. I do buy into the global warming theory, but not stuck on just that. Fossils are not negative only because of the co2, or because they may be finite, but because of the other ways in which they affect the environment from water pollution to loss of habitat.

          Another way is the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, the conflicts they cause, and the maintenance of the status quo. I think the world is due for a shake up.
      • Aug 21 2013: Actually, I heard the 50% figure from an engineer I talked to while visiting a power station...
        My country isn't particularly large (too small for its name to fit on a map, actually), so I can only imagine its worse elsewhere.

        Fossil fuels are finite, true, which is why we should be looking to replace them in the long term. The oil is the only one threatening to run out anytime soon (well, have its price spike up dramatically and being unable to keep up with demand anyway, it'll take a while longer for it to completely run out).
        Seeing as oil isn't used for electric production, renewable energy won't help solve that.

        Coal and natural gas reserves ought to last quite a long time yet, more than a human life span in fact. We should be looking at replacing them as long term R&D, not as an immediate concern.

        As for wealth disparity, you honestly think quitting fossil fuels will solve that?
        Wealth disparity is a symptom of capitalism, not the energy industry. Even if you make the switch, instead of oil tycoons, you'll get wind farm tycoons.
        In fact, the lack of cheap energy will only make it harder for the developing world to catch up to the developed one, which will have pretty much the opposite effect of alleviating wealth disparity...
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          Aug 22 2013: Nadav,

          What does the size of your country have to do with efficiency? The engineer may have been referring to thermal efficiency in plant, not transmission.

          AT THE SOURCE: the average automobile engine is only about 35% efficient, and must also be kept idling at stoplights, wasting an additional 17% of the energy, resulting in an overall efficiency of 18%. Large stationary electric generating plants have fewer of these competing requirements as well as more efficient Rankine cycles, so they are significantly more efficient than vehicle engines, around 50%

          IN THE GRID: You only lose about 10 to 15% electricity. (According to EIA data, national, annual electricity transmission and distribution losses average about 7% of the electricity that is transmitted in the United States.) Compare that to having to go to a gas station to get gas. Then compare the cost of getting gas to the gas stations (multiple) to getting the coal, natural gas, etc to the centralized power stations.

          I don't mean transfer power from one small group to another. I have no illusions that oil will suddenly stop being sold. The oil rich will continue having a market. What I'd like to see is some of that money being diverted into other hands.

          Oil is used used in electricity production. One of the products of crude oil is deisel which is used for power generation when natural gas supply is insufficient or interrupted. Another product of crude oil is Petroleum Fuel Oil used by power plants. Petroleum reserves do give oil AND natural gas. Natural gas is found in proximity to crude oil. The same companies and similar processes are used to refine crude oil and natural gas.

          http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/
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          Aug 22 2013: I don't know how to fix the capitalistic world. But I do think it would function better if the wealth was diversified a bit more.

          If more people switched to electric cars, then the oil guys don't have a monopoly do they?

          If power generation involved more than just coal, petroleum and natural gas, then there wouldn't be so much money concentrated there.

          With electricity, If more people got solar panels at home, then the power companies lose some of their power don't they?

          All the while, R&D is diversified and innovation becomes multidirectional.
      • Aug 22 2013: My understanding was that in the transition of power from the station to people's homes, around 50% went to heating up the electric lines on the way (my assumption is that in a larger country with a more dispersed populace, distance between plant and populace would increase, and overall resistance of electric wires increase). Internal efficiency of the plant itself is the unrelated 40% I was talking about, which if your figure of 35% for a car's engine is accurate, means that electric cars earn even less.
        You'd think an electric car would be lighter than a gasoline one due to lack of plumbing, but battery technology as of today is so bad compared to oil in terms of energy density, that its actually heavier. The calculation isn't all about efficiency, accelerating a heavier car leads to spending more energy overall.
        Essentially, unless your power plant is renewable, I still don't think you're earning much, at least not until electric cars improve drastically (which probably means switching over from batteries to capacitors still in development).

        As for oil in power generation, that's less crucial, as it isn't inherent to the industry. Running out of oil would hurt power generation somewhat, but it won't be crippling. Where we'd really feel the lack of oil, is its use as a motor fuel--this should be where the concerns are for replacing oil as an energy source, and renewables won't solve that.

        As for spreading the wealth, again, it might help to some extent, but I don't think the change will be truly significant. Again, the problems renewable energy causes for developing countries will if anything, have the opposite effect.
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          Aug 22 2013: http://www.teslamotors.com/models/specs

          The curb weight of a Tesla model S is about 2 metric tons, which is the average weight of US vehicles today. It will improve even more considering this is just the first model. How long has the fossil car had to bring it's weight down?

          35% for fossil car efficiency, 50% for power plant and 7% for transmission = 43% for electric.

          do you know where natural gas is stored? in huge salt caverns. like this:
          http://grist.org/business-technology/meet-the-town-thats-being-swallowed-by-a-sinkhole/

          I live in a developing country. I'd consider sewage and livestock farm runoff renewable lol!
          Right now, the sewage is chanelled into the ocean, or rivers, or you know... ignored. Total waste. So, rather than separately spending to clean that up, and then getting coal for the power plant, I say clean it up and use it. can be done with tyres and landfills and most household waste too. I wouldn't call that a developing country taking a hit on economy just for renewable...
      • Aug 22 2013: I'm all for "renewable" gas production, all though that's really more of making use of existing waste products, and is completely dissimilar from all the other renewable energy technologies. I wouldn't lump it together in the same category with solar and wind. Its wholly practical, for one.

        As for the storage thing, that sounds more like a regulation problem than a fundamental one. If big business didn't have the massive influence it does in the US government, it could have probably been fixed by now...
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          Aug 23 2013: The storage is what would drive the price way up, if it was done properly.
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    Aug 15 2013: And here's a guy that has a plan to convert the whole world's energy to renewable within 20 to 40 years at costs comparable to what we're spending now

    http://news.stanford.edu/news/2011/january/jacobson-world-energy-012611.html

    this is using wind, water, sun only
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      Aug 18 2013: I truly believe that things we need should cost nothing. We should pay for what we want that are not necessary for survival in our modern world. So as for this subject, I don't think the cost of renewable energy should matter. It will save us money for other things like paying wages to americans so we can stimulate our own economy. As time goes on they will also be upgraded and become more efficient saving even more money and more of the earths resources! The cost of this shouldn't matter.
      That is awesome that someone has said it possible with substantial evidence. I don't see how they can make the argument that we couldn't do it. That just seems absurd.
      Thank you for the info and link Manishka.
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    Aug 15 2013: Hi Jah,

    Can you please add geothermal and waste to energy before hydro?

    Waste to energy has been around for a while, but it has been given a boost by companies like
    http://www.envirowave.com/aboutenvirowave.htm
    http://www.envirowave.com/scraptirereduction.htm
    and http://www.biofuels-solutions.com/technologies.php

    I'm curious, would any of you pro fossil fuel guys object to turning sewage and scrap tires into energy?

    Many towns and cities around the world let their sewage flow directly into the ocean or into rivers. aside from that, they have open sewage channels breeding mosquitos, diseases, and smelling up the place.
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    Aug 14 2013: 1. where is nuclear?
    2. could you please research how fast the south cap is melting?
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      Aug 15 2013: "2. could you please research how fast the south cap is melting?":

      http://adsabs.harvard.edu//abs/2013EGUGA..15.1640J

      "Summer melting is now at a level that is unprecedented over the past 1,000 years..." from:
      http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v6/n5/abs/ngeo1787.html

      "...On the basis of the GRACE data, we conclude that most of the change in ocean mass is caused by the melting of polar ice sheets and mountain glaciers. This contribution of ice melt is larger than previous estimates10, but agrees with reports11, 12, 13 of accelerated ice melt in recent years..." from:
      http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v6/n7/full/ngeo1829.html

      (GRACE = Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellite mission)

      Please let me know if you need to see more research-based evidence.
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        Aug 15 2013: number please
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        Aug 15 2013: let me just help you out here. according to wikipedia, west antarctic contributes "around 0.14 mm of sea-level rise" per year. that is 10cm in hundred years. end this result is not even sure. east half is thought to be "lowering sea level or near to balance". the net effect is very close to zero.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Current_sea_level_rise#Antarctic_contribution
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          Aug 15 2013: I don't really need help from Wikipedia thanks. I'd rather get my info first hand from research papers on the subject, where publicly available.

          Data variability in ice melt in Antarctica is thought to be down to differences in ambient air and ambient water temperatures, giving rise to ice formation on the surface, yet melting underneath. Global air currents and water currents behave very differently to each other, which may explain the differences and even why huge ice-shelves (like the Ross Ice Shelf) are breaking away.
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        Aug 15 2013: so? in the original post, we have the statement that the south pole is disappearing, when in fact it does not do anything or even thickening. i'm not a fan of bombastic statements with no basis.

        btw the phrase "research papers vs wikipedia" almost sounds crackpot. wikipedia is based on research papers.
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          Aug 17 2013: "btw the phrase "research papers vs wikipedia" almost sounds crackpot. wikipedia is based on research papers"

          Is that so?

          Harvard Referencing says otherwise:

          http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k70847&pageid=icb.page346376
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          Aug 17 2013: Youre right, the Antarctic ice sheet appears to be stable or thickening, yet huge chunks of ice are breaking away. Why do you think that is?

          The temperature of the Southern ocean is increasing, which means the humidity of the air above it is also increasing. This translates to heavier snowfall on the ice surface, combined with base melting of sea-borne ice. The ice loses the strength it formerly had to bear the increased weight, so breaks off mainly at its periphery.

          Therefore, as surface area of sea-borne ice, the Antarctic is shrinking.
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        Aug 17 2013: you might or might not be aware of a section on the bottom of each wikipedia page. if not, check it out. it is called "references". good stuff.

        i did not really care for your exposition of the antarctic water balance. there was a statement that reads "ice caps melting". i would suggest to stop spreading disinformation, and stick to true statements. the thing is, climate scientists cried wolf so many times, this behavior is a big contributor to the skepticism and general lack of concern.
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          Aug 17 2013: The thing about cutting-edge research is that it has to contain a speculative element in the statements it makes, based on results and data that do not necessarily match what is expected, or even what is being observed - especially so in climate research.

          Despite the best efforts of NASA, The British Antarctic Survey etc in deepening our understanding of climate change, the "true statements" you want are sometimes not yet possible. You see it as "crying wolf" and "disinformation", when it should be seen as a necessary process in establishing certainty out of something incredibly complex and chaotic.

          Some of the speculative statements are released to the public before they should be, which understandably breeds scepticism and lack of concern. That seems to me to be more a problem related to misguided public relations, rather than flawed research.
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        Aug 17 2013: sticking to truth is obviously possible. for example instead of saying "the south polar cap will melt", we could say "we don't know, but it might melt". see? it was easy.

        ps: i'm not blaming genuine climate scientists actually. they just present data most of the time. i blame some scientists that resort to what i call "media whoreism". they put up an article, and then rush to the media with some distorted and bloated interpretation. the goal is of course to get attention, and thus get funding. and i also blame all the government funded quasi scientific organizations like the ipcc, whose primary occupation is to cherry pick the scientific literature in a rather shameless manner.
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          Aug 17 2013: Yes, cherry-picking scientific research data to bolster political ideologies is more common than we think.

          I hear what you say about scientists seeking funding and the occupation of the IPCC.

          Are we agreed then, that what funding can potentially buy, is one of the major distortions of what gets presented as legitimate science?
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        Aug 18 2013: probably not. i don't mind private organizations or persons paying for the results they want. i of course mind the state to do that, because it is my money. but only because of that.

        the real solution would be to respect facts, and ignore those that do not respect facts. that includes every single politician.