Politics Vs Climate (and how to stop it)

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Politics Vs Climate (and how to stop it)

Postby Steviebike » 13 Dec 2011, 10:08

I'm no expert in either politics or climate (when I say expert, I mean; scientist, policy maker, analyst, etc). The two are are so inextricably linked that one can not serve the other. Those with strong political belief see the floundering of climate groups as pathetic and those with strong climate views see the lies of politics as evil and corporations the same. This is equal to a unstoppable force meeting an unmovable object.

Let's not confuse climate issues with the green ideology of 'far-left' environmental groups, with the need to protect and conserve the world we live in from over-pollution. Neither should anyone deny that there is a need for economic growth - and climate deals should be aware of that. I fully understand Cananda's leaving the Kyoto agreement, for example.

NGO or governmental, there is a real need to monitor those that show blatant disregard for environment and the health of humans. We also need those independent organisations to regulate, industry, politics and environmental groups. This is not a whimsical fanciful idea but, a real need for protection and this needs funding like everything else.

This is NOT about denial and challenge. This is about what you think is necessary. I want to hear clear ideas about what can be done, not the errors or others.
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Re: Politics Vs Climate (and how to stop it)

Postby Ducked » 28 May 2012, 11:34

Thinking/brainfarting outside the box, um..

Pay the Brazilians to protect the remaining rain forest, on a rent-a-tree basis. Monitor and enforce violations. This isn't of course a new idea.

Seed fishing grounds on a large scale, with anti-trawl net obstacles (improvised or specially constructed) Normandy - beach stylee. Such an action would probably be illegal under the existing law of the sea, but since enforcement is lacking, especially in imternational waters, this might not be a show stopper. Most fishing grounds are on the comtenental shelves within territorial waters, however

Mine the rainforest (I mean with anti-vehicle mines). The legal framework for such an action in sovereign territories on land would have to be....er...created and this is likely to be politically impossibe.

Unfortunately politics and the environment are not seperable, however outside the box you want to be.
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Re: Politics Vs Climate (and how to stop it)

Postby finley » 28 May 2012, 12:55

Neither should anyone deny that there is a need for economic growth

Why shouldn't they? Can you (a) first define what "economic growth" is, and (b) explain why it is necessary? I have never seen an answer to either question that wasn't a circular argument, a non-sequitur, or just willy-waving.

Firstly, I very much like those suggestions from Ducked. As regards political impossibilities, I understand South African mercenaries are the standard solution.

Personally though, I don't think we need to pay anyone to do anything. Everyone seems to assume all this climate change business is going to cost us a shitload of money. I think it's the complete opposite. What we're doing NOW is costing us a shitload of money. Logically, if it wasn't, we'd all be lying on beaches sipping cocktails instead of slaving away at the office. My suggestion, therefore, is to create corporations which can sell a cocktail-sipping lifestyle to poor people. I believe this will work because:

(a) There are about three billion poor people, and that number is growing;
(b) many of them aspire to sip cocktails on beaches (except the Muslims) because that's what rich people do;
(c) many of them live in devastated environments, which is usually at least part of the reason they are poor;
(d) the technology and know-how required to turn devastated environments into productive, zero-carbon economies exists, and is not expensive - especially when you have a deep pool of cheap labour available;
(e) delivering that technology and know-how to poor people means that they will become less poor;
(f) which means they will be able to repay the loans which paid for all that infrastructure, and everyone wins.

There are only a few countries where this would work, initially. Off the top of my head, I can only think of Guyana, Bolivia, Sierra Leone, and (possibly) Indonesia. Most other poor countries are deliberately so and the government has no intention of allowing people to become rich. OTOH, a clear demonstration of a productive "green" economy might swing a few opinions in other countries.

The technology would vary slightly from place to place, but my "killer apps" (I can't believe I just used that phrase :oops: ) are:

a) revegetation/reforestation with productive species - that is, stuff that can be sold or used, including biofuel for cooking and industry.
b) composting and/or slow pyrolysis of all organic waste for regenerating dead soil.
c) photovoltaics (for electricity) and solar heat collection (for climate control and industrial processes).
d) autonomous electric vehicles powered from the solar grid, for humans and for unmanned transport of stuff, running on very narrow, low-cost roads.
e) bulk rainwater collection for human uses (potable water, for some unfathomable reason, seems to be a big issue in poor countries).
f) rammed-earth residences and low-cost space frames for roofing, designed by the most expensive architects money can buy.

All this kit would be sold or rented, not given away. It would be marketed as exclusive stuff that rich Americans use. Flexible credit terms, of course, would be on offer to "the right customers" (ie., more-or-less anyone). Ongoing charges for electricity, transport, water, rent etc., and income from spin-off businesses (eg., agricultural products and light industry) would then fund expansion.

The tricky part of all that, of course, would be finding a VC with enough cash to roll out credit-funded deployment on a big enough initial scale.
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Re: Politics Vs Climate (and how to stop it)

Postby Dog's_Breakfast » 28 May 2012, 13:51

Steviebike wrote:This is NOT about denial and challenge. This is about what you think is necessary. I want to hear clear ideas about what can be done, not the errors or others.


What "I think is necessary" probably has a snowball's chance in Hell of actually happening, but what the heck. Here goes:

1) Population reduction - the world can support maybe one billion people sustainably. When I was born, the world's population was a little more than 2.5 billion, now it is 7 billion. We are on course to hit 10 billion by around 2050 or 2060. That will be an environmental disaster of unprecedented proportions. China's one-child per family policy is a possible model for population reduction, but not likely to be implemented worldwide. If history is any guide, population reduction will be achieved by war, famines and plagues. I hope I'm wrong about that.

2) Fourth-generation nuclear power. As far as I can see, this is the only technology that can produce electric power in sufficient quantities to meet current demand without adding CO2 to the atmosphere. But the current anti-nuke political atmosphere makes it hard to get that going. It's estimated the world would need to build around 4000 nuclear power plants to retire fossil fuel use. That is technically achievable, if you can get past the politics. I used to be a part of the anti-nuke movement, and I know how dishonest they are. Right now, they are crowing about the fact that Japan has shut down all 52 of their nukes, which is viewed as a "great victory." The problem with that "victory" is that Japan has accomplished this by burning much more coal, and their emissions are through the roof as a result. They are also bracing for brownouts and blackouts this summer. Many of their factories are quickly relocating to coal-burning China because they can't purchase enough power in Japan. Similarly, Germany is shutting down nukes, another much ballyhooed "victory" even though they are compensating by purchasing power from their neighbors to the east, who generate this power with coal and nukes.

3) Energy conservation. A good idea, but it can only go so far. In the developed world we are energy gluttons. Turning off the air-conditioning and using fans, smaller cars, public transport, energy-efficient lightbulbs, etc - that's all good. But it's not enough. You can cut maybe 25% of your power consumption by becoming super-efficient, but that still leaves another 75% that has to be produced somehow.

4) Alternative energy. I'll just mention it, but my opinion is cool at best. Not opposed to wind and solar, I just think it will produce a miniscule amount of power. I'm very familiar with the alternative-energy folks and their arguments, and I think they are mostly misinformed or (at times) just plain dishonest. There is an article in today's Taipei Times:

Renewables Can Recharge Taiwan

The article is full of the usual dishonest bogus statistics, such as: by 2030, renewable energy power generation could reach 12,500MW and account for more than 16 percent of Taiwan’s installed capacity.

Note the words "installed capacity." The big problem with wind power is that you can have lots of "installed capacity" but when it's not windy (as is the case about 80% of the time in Taiwan) the actual output of power is zero. Multiply 12,500MW times zero and it's still zero. Wind power's actual output (as opposed to "capacity") is generally limited by both the amount of wind and how much hydro-power you have available to back it up, because you can pretty much flick a switch between wind and hydro. Taiwan's maximum wind generation ability is probably around 5% of consumption. Another of the article's bogus statistics: An international comparison shows that renewable energy makes up 11 percent of power generation in the US, 20 percent in Germany, 26 percent in China and more than 30 percent in Spain and Denmark. They fail to mention that in all of the above examples (except Denmark), most of the "renewables" are conventional hydro-electric power which has no room for expansion. In Denmark's case, there is wind power, but it relies on constant backup from Norway's hydro-power plants. Norway is the only country in Europe with spare hydro power to sell and Denmark consumes nearly all of it.

The article claimed 26% for China - again, that's mostly hydro-electric. I went looking for recent info, and the best graphic I could come up with is admittedly six years old, so by now hydro should be more thanks to the completion of the Three Gorges Dam. Nevertheless, this will give you all an idea of what "renewables" in China really means:

Image

5) Fusion power. Maybe someday, but the technical challenges are enormous. I doubt that I'll see it in my lifetime. It is not necessarily any cleaner than fourth-generation fission reactors either, but fusion gets good press. Many science-fiction movies make it look easy as pie, but that's true for time-travel as well.
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Re: Politics Vs Climate (and how to stop it)

Postby Steviebike » 28 May 2012, 15:41

Wow! I thought this post was dead. No one replied for such a long time.

Avatar change – no problem.

What do I mean by economic growth? That I don't see a need to stop the economy, and look for alternative ideas to have a better, less-poluted world, rather they work together. It would mean a loss in profits for certain companies, but a rise for others. To me that is economic growth, circular, but always moving?! Not sure I know what I'm talking about really. I like Finley's approach as this seems to encompass a financial growth. Which is important. You can't expect someone to accept pollution reduction if they will lose money.
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Re: Politics Vs Climate (and how to stop it)

Postby finley » 28 May 2012, 21:30

haha .. I just noticed the posting date. I guess this would have died if Ducked hadn't posted a reply - which is weird, because the topic makes a refreshing change from certain other threads that always descend into undirected diatribes. It's more interesting to debate what's possible rather than gripe about what's impossible.

That I don't see a need to stop the economy, and look for alternative ideas to have a better, less-poluted world, rather they work together. It would mean a loss in profits for certain companies, but a rise for others. To me that is economic growth, circular, but always moving?!

OK, I think I know what you mean. Sounds reasonable. I think economists call it "creative destruction", and I agree that's usually a good thing. Maybe one of the reasons we're in this mess is because there hasn't been enough of it; most of the things we currently think of as "modern" were invented 50-100 years ago.

I don't think you can stop the economy, anyway, at least not without guns and concentration camps. I just have a big problem with people who argue that things have to get bigger, faster, more more more. If you ask them why, the answer is usually something silly like "because it improves our quality of life", despite a mountain of evidence that it does nothing of the sort (as long as basic needs are being met, obviously).

Population reduction

Definitely, but it seems to me that's another good reason for not allowing poor countries to remain poor; once people attain a certain level of security, they naturally stop breeding like rabbits. Easier said than done, of course, since most countries are ruled by people who will fight tooth and nail to keep the great unwashed in grinding poverty. Kim and Mugabe are just the worst offenders; there are plenty of others doing similar things, and creaming off whatever they can. I think it's a disgrace that international organisations aren't a lot more forceful about fighting corruption, human rights abuses, etc., since that would go a long way to preventing a (future) Malthusian crisis.

2) Fourth-generation nuclear power. As far as I can see, this is the only technology that can produce electric power in sufficient quantities to meet current demand without adding CO2 to the atmosphere.

I'd agree that "current demand" is far too entrenched in industrial nations. It can't be fixed. At least not cheaply and easily. Too bad - there are plenty of other countries which haven't (yet) gone so far down that path that they can't change course. If they want to. Which mostly they don't, even though they can see the brick wall right in front of their eyes. And yes, a lot of the "renewables" hype is just lies, cant, bullshit and wishful thinking, and most of the general public don't have enough scientific background to critically assess what's being said to them anyway. Sadly, the entire industry is now tarred with the same brush, which makes it virtually impossible to get funding for projects that just might make a difference.
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Re: Politics Vs Climate (and how to stop it)

Postby Steviebike » 29 May 2012, 10:08

As far as energy demands go, I think a good solution would be to make it 'localised'.

Yes we need more nuclear power stations for big urban areas and industry.

But, if local government/councils could have funds available to build local energy infrastructures. For example; an area that has a lot of tidal movement, could use wave-power. I know will only bring incremental changes, but it would create a lot of work and industry. Work and industry that would be helpful. Poorer countries could develop the technology and become whorl-leaders in that (I'm ignoring obvious political problems).

And even smaller localisation would be the individual. Taiwan's population could make good use of solar power. Solar cells are becoming cheaper and a huge part of the society could afford to install them.

I'm glad this thread is receiving a little life. I would prefer an interesting exchange of ideas and the chance to learn something, rather than baiting people.
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Re: Politics Vs Climate (and how to stop it)

Postby Dog's_Breakfast » 29 May 2012, 10:58

Steviebike wrote:But, if local government/councils could have funds available to build local energy infrastructures. For example; an area that has a lot of tidal movement, could use wave-power. I know will only bring incremental changes, but it would create a lot of work and industry. Work and industry that would be helpful. Poorer countries could develop the technology and become whorl-leaders in that (I'm ignoring obvious political problems).


I would like to add that I certainly don't oppose such local projects, even though I'm pro-nuclear. A town that has a fast-moving stream through it could certainly benefit by building a very low dam (perhaps two meters tall) and generate hydro-power from it. A really windy place (Alaska's Aleutian Islands come to mind) would be crazy not to exploit wind power (I guess they must be crazy - my understanding is that the tiny fishing villages of the Aleutian Islands get almost all their power from diesel generators, even though this is possibly the windiest place in the world!). Iceland successfully exploits geothermal because of its ideal location on top of a volcanic ridge in the Atlantic Ocean, helped along by the country's low population of 300,000 individuals. There are a few other places in the world that could easily exploit geothermal (Indonesia comes to mind, though with over 200 million people production will still fall far short of demand), but it's not an option for Taiwan (despite the nice hot springs at Beitou).

Unfortunately, looking at Taiwan with its large urban high-density population (Taipei, Kaohsiung, etc), there is little room for anything but large, centralized power generation (ie coal, natural gas, nuclear). Wind generation, even if we had lots of wind here (which we don't) consumes a great deal of land area. Putting it offshore on concrete platforms increases its costs many times over and creates a difficult maintenance problem.

And even smaller localisation would be the individual. Taiwan's population could make good use of solar power. Solar cells are becoming cheaper and a huge part of the society could afford to install them.


I am more hopeful for solar in Taiwan than wind. Actually, sunny southern Taiwan where I live is a reasonable place to exploit solar. In fact, I've got 10 solar panels stuck in a storage shed and I intend to install them soon as I finish the house we've been building. But my expectations are limited to hoping that this will be a good backup system if we face future energy shortages. My 10 panels could probably not meet even my modest demands (note - I don't have air-con, which is the most power-hungry home application for most people). My wife likes to bake bread, and I doubt the 10 panels could supply her oven which consumes 1200-watts. My panels are rated at 220-watts each, so 2200-watts for all 10 combined, but that is again their "installed capacity" and you only get that under ideal conditions. The "ideal conditions" means having the sun directly overhead at noontime. With solar, you can generally expect to get only about six good hours per day if the weather cooperates (approximately 9 AM to 3 PM). Experience form others indicates that I can only expect 25% of my installed capacity to actually be produced. Outside of the six-hour daily peak window-of-opportunity, the only solar power you get is from storage batteries that you charged during the peak hours. The batteries are the biggest weak point in a home solar application, and they don't last forever, needing replacement perhaps every four or five years if you treat them well.

Much as I like solar, it's hard to imagine it being a very big percentage of Taiwan's power generation. Works best in rural areas where you've got lots of space for panels, but hard to imagine Taipei trying to power the MRT and high-speed rail on rooftop solar panels, especially at night.

I'm glad this thread is receiving a little life. I would prefer an interesting exchange of ideas and the chance to learn something, rather than baiting people.


Amen. I've pretty much given up on the usual global warming threads, which inevitably turns into a slugfest between (usually American) bloggers fighting the Democrat/Republican tribal war. Energy technology should be divorced from politics. The laws of physics do not care what political party you belong to.

Steviebike - the new avatar looks good. Thanks!
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Re: Politics Vs Climate (and how to stop it)

Postby finley » 29 May 2012, 17:54

As far as energy demands go, I think a good solution would be to make it 'localised'.

Absolutely. It is the ONLY way to make renewable sources work effectively. The problem is that everything else needs to be arranged around that, which means there's no possibility of 'retrofit' into the stuff we've got in industrialised nations. Again, that's why I'm keen to see "poor" countries take up the challenge; you're right, they could become world leaders in this field ... if they could just refrain from starting a war with the next village because someone's great-grandfather molested someone else's great-grandfather's cow in 1906.

Taiwan's population could make good use of solar power.

Down south I've noticed heat collectors are quite popular. Most domestic energy use is for climate control and water heating, and heat collection is much more efficient (60-80% compared to 6-14% for PV). So it makes sense to use this sort of system. I'm surprised absorption chillers aren't more popular here - there are some Japanese manufacturers making state-of-the-art absorption-type aircon units designed to operate from hot water at 80-90'C.

PV on a house roof is largely a waste of time, because you're out at work during the day, when it's sunny. However, this is where distributed electricity infrastructure can work: PV panels on domestic roofs linked into a local DC grid (covering, say, a couple of hectares) can supply local industry, offices, retail outlets, etc., and the nice thing about solar generation is that panels can be added or removed as businesses or people move in/out. One little project I've got going on at the moment is a DC bus controller system for kilowatt-class distributed solar. It's a suite of interconnected boxes for MPP tracking and DC bus feed-in (from one or more panel arrays), static battery management, and domestic demand metering/billing. Bus voltage is 300-370VDC, which can directly power most standard appliances. The meter box also has a 60VDC output for a low-voltage domestic circuit suitable for lighting, electronic appliances, etc. I think low-voltage DC is something that will take off in countries where safety standards are lax, and you get much better performance from lighting or anything that runs from a 'wall wart'.

Sumitomo have just developed a new molten-salt battery that operates at 60'C; it could be easily kept at that temperature using solar-heated water, providing an excellent 'hybrid' system for static storage.

My panels are rated at 220-watts each, so 2200-watts for all 10 combined, but that is again their "installed capacity" and you only get that under ideal conditions. The "ideal conditions" means having the sun directly overhead at noontime. With solar, you can generally expect to get only about six good hours per day if the weather cooperates (approximately 9 AM to 3 PM). Experience form others indicates that I can only expect 25% of my installed capacity to actually be produced.

Taiwan gets about 1500 suns/year insolation (i.e., 1.5MWh/m2/year). I'm guessing your panels are the expensive monocrystalline silicon wafer types, so you should get about 8kWh/day on average from your setup (I assume you've got an inverter just feeding into the grid?). Obviously that'll vary up and down a lot.

Personally I think we ought to be using a combination of biofuels and solar-heated fluid for cooking - it makes no economic or technical sense to use electricity. But again, that requires a whole different way of thinking and a new set of appliances coming onto the market.

And yeah - batteries are a major extra expense and source of non-recyclable waste in any PV system, which is why we ought to be aiming to minimise storage as far as possible by using demand billing, smart appliances designed for solar, and EVs configured for vehicle-to-grid operation.

The laws of physics do not care what political party you belong to.

I like this :) However, in Taiwan, I get the feeling a lot of people think they're above the law, including the laws of physics. But that belongs in the 'driving in Taiwan' threads...
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Re: Politics Vs Climate (and how to stop it)

Postby fred smith » 29 May 2012, 20:45

) Population reduction - the world can support maybe one billion people sustainably. When I was born, the world's population was a little more than 2.5 billion, now it is 7 billion.


It would appear that the world is sustaining 7 billion better than it did 500 million if one considers the standard of living, number of starving, etc.

What you seem to be suggesting and this is the climate change alarmists' weakest point is that there will LIKELY be catastrophic results from increased population and consumption of resources, which we have seen for the past 5,000 years with not worsening results but better. So, I think that you may want to revisit this assumption.
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