Sam Frost

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Sam Frost
Posted over 1 year ago
Will the Belo Monte Dam project on the Amazon River cause more harm to the environment or will it be a good source of energy for Brazil?
It isn't a question of choosing wind or mining. The power levels that are being discussed are orders of magnitude more than would ever be used in a residential setting by the local community. Brazil's major population centers are more than 1700 miles away. The lions share of the proposed power would go to mining whether it was generated by hydro or wind or solar or coal or happy thoughts. It can be assumed that a wind power proposal would see similar cost overruns - all construction projects have them, especially when federal money is involved. As for calculating the differing effects on biodiversity, I've yet to find an estimate for the impact of clearing enough room for the 600-1500 turbines it would take to produce an equivalent power output
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Sam Frost
Posted over 1 year ago
Will the Belo Monte Dam project on the Amazon River cause more harm to the environment or will it be a good source of energy for Brazil?
Because it wasn't covered in the conversation starter, I'll talk a bit about one of the reasons why the Brazilian Government is pushing for the dam project. As proposed the dam project would be built in the state of Para, a major center of the mining and mineral refining industries in Brazil. More info on that here --> http://www.infomine.com/countries/SOIR/brazil/welcome.asp?i=brazil-soir-3 , but I'll pull out some of the big numbers for you. Brazil is the world's 3rd largest producer of Iron, and the state of Para is responsible for 26% of the country's output. Industry projections from 2011 predicted $37 billion in investments from the iron industry by the year 2016. The state of Para is home to the largest known deposit of copper in Brazil. 2011 output from one mining complex approached 130,000 tonnes per year. Constructing a photo-voltaic solar array capable of producing 1 megawatt of power takes, on average, one tonne of copper. There's bauxite, an ore of aluminum. The state of Para is responsible for approximately 12% of all bauxite production on Earth - 21.76 million tonnes per year. In total, the products of mining operations represent the majority of Brazil's exports. By value, iron ore alone represented 82% of exports in 2010. Mining in the state of Para accounted for ~$11 billion in that same year. The Brazilian government rightfully sees any way to improve the efficiency of its mines as a way to further increase raw material exports. And when Brazil develops further into a manufacturing based economy, it will need those raw materials even more. Finally, as to why the dam and not another form of electrical industry development, the basic reasoning can be found in this study ---> http://www.nuca.ie.ufrj.br/gesel/TDSE35.pdf , from the University of Brazil. You can copy paste it into google translate if você não fala Português, but the gist is that the Bella Monte dam strikes the right balance between cost and environmental impac
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Sam Frost
Posted over 1 year ago
Purell now, Bacteri-ell later?
It isn't simply a matter of figuring out what is in us. Only a tiny fraction of the microbes a "bacteriell" product would need to contain can be supported outside the body in a carefully controlled laboratory setting. The product would require them to survive in a bottle on a truck travelling between the production facility and the store 2 timezones away. "Mapping the universe" is a romantic but thoroughly inappropriate comparison. A better metaphor would be kelp farming in the Sahara.
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Sam Frost
Posted over 1 year ago
Purell now, Bacteri-ell later?
"Bacteri-ell" would be a very difficult concept to bring to fruition. Assuming they follow the same ratios as other microbes, we'd only be able to culture a tiny percentage of the necessary microbes to simulate exposure. When factoring in those microbes that wouldn't support industrial scale production, or those that wouldn't survive transport from point of production to point of use, or those that wouldn't be conducive with the application method, the resulting product probably wouldn't surpass the paltry diversity found in "probiotics" already on sale. Logistically, I do not suspect that a supplement could ever equal natural exposure.
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Sam Frost
Posted over 1 year ago
What form of renewable energy has or will have the lowest impact on biodiversity?
As important as the environmental impact of producing the power is the environmental impact of producing what produces the power. The blades of a wind turbine are made from aluminum, which must be mined or recycled, and composites that include plastics made from petroleum. Producing the average Mega Watt of photovoltaic electricity takes 4-5 tons of copper, an increasingly scarce and expensive metal. Moving and installing components is still largely dependent on a diesel powered infrastructure. We can't just look at the method of producing power alone when assessing its impact.