Politics Vs Climate (and how to stop it)

IP is the place for boisterous political discussion, but please remember, the Rules still apply, especially with regards to Personal Attacks. These and other inappropriate posts will be removed without notification.

Moderators: Mick, TheGingerMan

Forum rules
IP is the place for boisterous political discussion, but please remember, the Rules still apply, especially with regards to Personal Attacks. These and other inappropriate posts will be removed without notification.

Re: Politics Vs Climate (and how to stop it)

Postby finley » 31 May 2012, 22:34

Well one idea in Taiwan is to make briquettes from rice straw, burn it and then return the ash to the soil, since they burn it anyway in the fields. Maybe farmers could use this in wood burning type stoves to heat their homes in Winter.

Personally, I think this is solving a problem that doesn't exist. If people designed and built their houses properly here, they would need very little in the way of climate control. Yet they insist on building them to a temperate-climate design, out of unsuitable materials, and then when they find the building has pisspoor thermal performance, they throw energy at the problem with heating systems and A/C. Whether that energy comes from the grid or biofuels is immaterial - it's still energy that could have been used for something more productive, or not used at all. And again, if you must have climate control, the most efficient solution is solar-heated hot water.

As for the rice straw: they burn it because rice straw carries disease, but that wouldn't be a problem if they practiced proper crop rotation and/or polyculture. They could then leave the straw on the fields, where it belongs. Technically it would work, though. Rough guess: 1tonne/ha. dry weight containing 20MJ/kg = 20,000MJ = 5600kWh/ha. If you consume 20kWh/day in your boiler for 3 months (1800kWh) then you'd need about ~0.3ha. to heat your home. 0.3ha. would be considered a large field here, but not outrageously so.

Ideally, I suggest biofuels should be shaved from some perennial crop; otherwise, you've left a big patch of bare dirt that's going to erode very fast.

I once heard that high rise living was the most eco-friendly way of living in terms of energy/water use. Seem plausible to me.

I completely disagree, from a systems design point of view. We had a good discussion about that elsewhere.

I also want to add water consumption and reduction to this thread. I'm constantly horrified how much water is wasted. We really could put waste water to much better uses.

Yeah, that's true, but people tend to think in terms of domestic waste, which is a drop in the ocean (haha) compared to what gets used by agriculture and industry. It's quite a subtle issue. Waste is only truly "waste" if the water is polluted in some way, for example by detergents or agricultural chemicals. There's nothing wrong with taking a 200-litre shower and dumping the water back into the river. It just re-enters the water cycle and all is well. The problem is that you've also dumped 200x4.2x25'C = 21MJ = 6kWh of energy down the drain too (assuming it was a hot shower), and the detergents you've used will have some adverse affect on the river ecosystem, especially if you're one of a million other people doing the same thing. What unregulated industry does is a hundred times worse. Fertilizer and pesticide runoff also causes major ecosystem disruption.

One particular "waste" of water that irritates me is the management of urban runoff. A lot of city infrastructure is devoted to catching, channelling and "disposing of" rainwater. A properly-designed city should (a) contain mostly green spaces that will naturally use this water to produce something useful (biofuel, food, whatever), with minimal costs or human management; and (b) collect, store, and locally filter water from rooftops for domestic use. To collect water in reservoirs and then build a cats-cradle of pipes to distribute it (and a parallel network to throw away water that falls out of the sky!) is utterly ridiculous. I have no idea who came up with such a stupid design, but we ought to have an annual celebration like Guy Fawkes' where he's drowned in effigy.

Anyway, like you said, these things are all interrelated. You can't just talk about CO2, or energy, or water use, or environmental pollution; they're inseparable. That's what makes this stuff such an interesting topic!
"Global warming is happening and we KNOW that man is 100 percent responsible!!!"
- Fred Smith
Forumosan avatar
finley
Has-been Pop Star (guòshí míngxīng)
Has-been Pop Star (guòshí míngxīng)
 
Posts: 5360
Joined: 20 Jan 2011, 23:34
670 Recommends(s)
545 Recognized(s)

6000

Re: Politics Vs Climate (and how to stop it)

Postby Steviebike » 01 Jun 2012, 10:32

A lot of the stuff were talking about, is build from new. For the most part we know this isn't possible or won't happen in a reasonable time-scale. I think this is the challenge. To integrate with what is available. Sure it's less likely to be as efficient, but again that is the challenge.

I don't believe there to be one solution, but many. I think one of the biggest pitt-falls for success in energy reduction is actually going to be people's laziness. What the general public want is something that 'just' plugs in and works, no effort involved and no dirty job to perform. I personally don't mind the work.

The only current 'seen' motivation for people is saving money and some are too lazy to even do that!

And we have already talked about not forcing things on people. I'm all for freedom, but when that freedom is doomed by lack of direction and blindness – somebody has to do something! Depending how quickly and how bad the situation gets, the laws will have to change to cope with the shortages (from the ever growing burden of resources globally).

Would it be a waste of time and money to fit as many properties with solar panels on the roof and a rain water collection system for flushing the toilet? As a kind of bare minimum? Would it's impact really make a difference? It seems from the talk here it wouldn't.
Just checking but you're a South African Engrish Teachur right? No. I'm a Russian nuclear physicist.
Forumosan avatar
Steviebike
Betelnut Beauty (bīnglang Xī Shī)
Betelnut Beauty (bīnglang Xī Shī)
 
Posts: 1504
ORIGINAL POSTER
Joined: 12 Oct 2011, 16:26
Location: Taipei
70 Recommends(s)
80 Recognized(s)

6000

Re: Politics Vs Climate (and how to stop it)

Postby Dog's_Breakfast » 01 Jun 2012, 10:54

Hi all. I have some work to do this morning, so not much time to post. Anyway, I was bummed-out to see my lengthy post about hydrogen (along with Finley's excellent response) vaporized by the reboot. No time now to recreate the whole thing, but essentially I was going on about how hydrogen is very difficult to work with (leaks easily, explodes) and is very energy inefficient, especially when you need to liquify it as you would if you wanted to make a hydrogen-powered car. As a storage medium, only pumped-storage makes any sense (if you have the right geographical conditions), and even it loses 30% of power.

On to this rice-straw thing... I don't think it's at all practical beyond the farm itself. Yes, if you live on a farm, you can gather up straw (very labor-intensive though) and burn it for cooking (as opposed to using wood or fossil fuel). Gathering it up, baling it and transporting it to Taipei or Kaohsiung (on trucks powered by fossil fuel) might be a bigger energy loss than just using the fossil fuel directly for cooking, heating and cooling in the cities. Straw is not exactly a very "energy dense" fuel. Also creates lots of smoke, a problem in polluted cities. Furthermore, farmers want to keep the ash to fertilize their next crop, so sending the straw to the cities means they've got to buy fertilizer.

There are lots of things you can do on a farm that are not practical in a city. Someone has mentioned water, so let me just add that pumping water is one of the things that wind power is actually useful for. Again, it does depend on whether or not you live in a windy area (and Taiwan might not be the best place for this) but wind has long been used for water pumping. You may well be familiar with scenes like this:

Image

That is a wind-powered water pump, not an electrical generator. That sort of design (with the big blades) works fine in low-speed wind, but it doesn't move fast enough for generating electricity.

The reason why this can work so well is because intermittency is seldom a problem with water pumping, since you can store water easily in ponds and cisterns. So if you get three days without wind, then one day with good wind, you can still have enough water pumped to accomplish your purpose (water for your crops and animals, and household use). This is quite different than generating electricity with wind, since three days without wind means three days without electricity.

Speaking of intermittency, yesterday I stumbled upon a couple of charts showing very clearly how much power (measured in megawatts) was generated in Germany in March, 2012. Germany is heavily pushing this "alternative energy" idea as anti-nuke fervor has really become a political hot potato since Fukushima. Let me note that March is one of the windiest months in Germany, or in most places - with a few rare exceptions, wind blows strongest in late winter and early spring. Most of Germany's wind towers are in the north, along the North Sea, and solar is mainly in the far south of the country (Bavaria). So without further ado:

Image

Image

In a future post I want to get into the nuclear thing, but no time right now.

cheers,
DB
Welcome to the Hotel Forumosa. You can login anytime you like, but you can never leave.
Forumosan avatar
Dog's_Breakfast
Eldest Grandchild (zhǎngsūn)
Eldest Grandchild (zhǎngsūn)
 
Posts: 1116
Joined: 27 Oct 2004, 20:32
52 Recognized(s)

6000

Re: Politics Vs Climate (and how to stop it)

Postby finley » 01 Jun 2012, 11:31

DB, a wind-powered pump is an excellent example of what I mentioned earlier: it's better to use energy directly in the form that nature delivers it, rather than attempt to convert it to something else; and, as you say, to accept intermittency as a fact of life and design the rest of your system to deal with that. The other aspect you mention - that the effectiveness of such solutions depends a lot on the situation - is one of the reasons I argue against high-rise living.

Personally I'm appalled by Germany's subsidized deployment of solar panels on homes. The economics simply don't work out, which means those panels are actually creating pollution, not mitigating it.

Yeah, shame about your H2 post. It was a good explanation of why high-tech makes good news headlines and attracts a lot of VC funding, but is rarely practical for real-world use.

I don't believe there to be one solution, but many.

Steviebike, I absolutely agree that there is no One True Way. In fact I think a lot of our problems are caused by international adoption of a homogeneous technological style: the same slab-concrete buildings with the same big glass windows, the same power stations and distribution systems all made by the same company, the same cars and roads. Countries ARE radically different and need different solutions. Solar will never work in Finland (not enough sun). Point-source power generation is inappropriate for Peru (too many mountains and jungles). Nuclear power in Iran is (would be) utterly ridiculous when they have the Kavir desert - one of the hottest regions on the planet - just south of Tehran.

I think one of the biggest pitt-falls for success in energy reduction is actually going to be people's laziness. What the general public want is something that 'just' plugs in and works, no effort involved and no dirty job to perform. I personally don't mind the work.

I think it's intellectual laziness, not physical. People simply can't conceive that there might be a different way of doing things. It's like the anecdote about Edison when he was marketing electric lighting: supposedly, he said that if he'd asked his customers what they wanted, they would have asked for a better gas mantle. The tech I have in mind will be much more easy to use than what we've got now. If it wasn't, it most likely wouldn't be efficient (in energy terms).

Would it be a waste of time and money to fit as many properties with solar panels on the roof and a rain water collection system for flushing the toilet? As a kind of bare minimum? Would it's impact really make a difference? It seems from the talk here it wouldn't.

It wouldn't exactly be a waste of time, it would just be more difficult than it needs to be. If the government forced all building companies to cover the roof of new buildings with solar water heating panels and rainwater collectors, that would definitely be a good idea. But retrofit of anything is always painful, expensive, and less effective than it could be if properly designed-in.

Hopefully, the market will decide which solutions are better, but again, that's why I think it's better to start in countries with not much legacy technology. In The West, sunk costs, subsidy and tradition are too strong: they will maintain the status quo far beyond the point where it's economical to do so. Also, a given amount of money can have a much larger effect. Providing someone with 1kWh/day, when before they had nothing, is a vast improvement which will have a snowball effect economically (so they'll be able to pay their energy bills and have a better quality of life). Asking rich westerners to install the equivalent capacity on their roof when they can get as much power as they want from the wall socket is ... well, not very practical. And in actual fact, they're making the right decision to refuse.

A lot of the stuff were talking about, is build from new. For the most part we know this isn't possible or won't happen in a reasonable time-scale. I think this is the challenge. To integrate with what is available. Sure it's less likely to be as efficient, but again that is the challenge.

Few buildings last longer than 50 years. There are new buildings (and entire new cities) going up all the time, all over the world. There are lots of fancy plans on the drawing board for "eco-cities", but when the construction companies are called in, they just want to pour concrete. It's what they know. So the "green" stuff never happens.

This needs to happen from the ground up, involving ordinary people building cities for themselves and bypassing TPTB. Governments, of course, are terrified of that sort of thing and make all sorts of laws to stop it. But there are places where it can still happen, and I think they can lead by example. It's hard for the average man in the street to imagine what it's like to actually live and work in a zero-carbon city. It's too far removed from common experience. Somebody has to do it first, so other people can visit, gawk, take photos, and then go away thinking, "I like that".
"Global warming is happening and we KNOW that man is 100 percent responsible!!!"
- Fred Smith
Forumosan avatar
finley
Has-been Pop Star (guòshí míngxīng)
Has-been Pop Star (guòshí míngxīng)
 
Posts: 5360
Joined: 20 Jan 2011, 23:34
670 Recommends(s)
545 Recognized(s)

6000

Re: Politics Vs Climate (and how to stop it)

Postby fred smith » 01 Jun 2012, 21:56

How utterly god damned precious... what to do with Taiwanese rice straw, indeed. This is the most self-indulgent conversation that I have seen since the Chevron ads with their teachers who care and hardball pepper question oil industry execs. Wind? Oh yes... there is a lot of it... if only we could harness that to reduce global warming. Pah!
Forumosan avatar
fred smith
Guan Yin (Guānyīn)
 
Posts: 16508
Joined: 11 Oct 2002, 17:14
54 Recognized(s)

6000

Re: Politics Vs Climate (and how to stop it)

Postby Steviebike » 01 Jun 2012, 23:29

Thanks Fred.
Just checking but you're a South African Engrish Teachur right? No. I'm a Russian nuclear physicist.
Forumosan avatar
Steviebike
Betelnut Beauty (bīnglang Xī Shī)
Betelnut Beauty (bīnglang Xī Shī)
 
Posts: 1504
ORIGINAL POSTER
Joined: 12 Oct 2011, 16:26
Location: Taipei
70 Recommends(s)
80 Recognized(s)

6000

Re: Politics Vs Climate (and how to stop it)

Postby Dog's_Breakfast » 02 Jun 2012, 10:35

fred smith wrote:How utterly god damned precious... what to do with Taiwanese rice straw, indeed. This is the most self-indulgent conversation that I have seen since the Chevron ads with their teachers who care and hardball pepper question oil industry execs. Wind? Oh yes... there is a lot of it... if only we could harness that to reduce global warming. Pah!


Fred, this is a NON-POLITICAL discussion about possible technologies and policies to reduce CO2 emissions. We want to learn from each other. All cards are on the table here - we can discuss technologies even when we think they will NOT work, if for no other reason that to understand why they don't work. We had already pretty much shot down the rice straw thing without your help, but it was worthwhile bringing it up to understand why biomass (which is widely touted in the media as an "alternative energy solution") either does not work, or works poorly at best. Similarly, we've already discussed the serious limitations of wind power - we didn't need your snide comment - and solar. So Fred, if you've got something to say about technology or policy, then let us hear from you. If you want to hurl "self-indulgent" insults at people for posting their ideas and questions, kindly take it someplace else. Everyone here is trying to be polite and respectful to each other even when we disagree, but you are not returning the favor. You only weaken your argument when you start getting nasty.

Unfortunately, I'm still pretty busy today. I'm working on that new house I mentioned. I'm setting a goal to move in by July 1, and not sure I'll make it. But anyway, I wanted to delve into nuclear power.

I actually first got very interested in energy issues as a result of the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. I gravitated towards the anti-nuke movement, and I'd say I was in that for about a year. But I gradually came to realize that my fellow anti-nuke activists knew almost nothing about the technology other than that they were against it. They weren't even interested in learning more, and they had no interest in looking for ways to fix it and make it safe. It was just "No Nukes Now!" And unfortunately, we were spreading misinformation, telling people that nuclear power plants could blow up like a bomb, and that anyway we could just shut them down and run everything on rooftop solar panels, and we didn't actually need electric power companies (like Taipower). We told people we could put solar panels on the roofs of cars and would no longer need to buy gasoline, and put Big Oil out of business. We did have a few good arguments on our side, and I think that most of the people in the anti-nuke movement were sincere, but we were just ignorant and naive about a lot of things and there was a lot of wishful thinking on our part.

I've woken up to the harsh reality that we 1980s anti-nuke campaigners probably did more to cause global warming than stop it, by hampering the development of generation four nuclear power, which in turn has resulted in more coal burning. I've since then vowed to learn as much as possible about energy and pass along what I know, which is why threads like this one interest me. I do get upset when I see current anti-nuke folks making the same mistakes, using the same faux arguments, and engaging in outright propaganda - it seems that nothing has been learned, and time is running out.

Since I'm short of time today and can't explain everything, I'll just point to a couple of links. If nuclear power is to have a future, we've got to go fourth generation. All of the current nukes in Taiwan are second generation, and the one under construction is third generation, though it is early third generation and it's already somewhat obsolete. Currently, most countries that are still building nukes (China, India, Russia, some other east European countries) are going with generation three-plus, but generation four reactors have been built. Sadly, the USA developed one of the best Gen-IV reactors, the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) back in the 1990s, but the Clinton administration shut it down to please the green lobby - ironic indeed since Clinton later signed the Kyoto Protocol (though the US Congress refused to ratify it) and those IFRs would have made it easy for the USA to meet Kyoto's emission goals. It would have done the US economy a lot of good too - now the nuke-building business has moved to Japan, South Korea and Russia, though the US company Westinghouse still does joint-ventures with Toshiba.

The chief advantages of generation four reactors are:

* Nuclear waste that remains dangerously radioactive for a few centuries instead of millennia
* 100-300 times more energy yield from the same amount of nuclear fuel
* The ability to consume existing nuclear waste in the production of electricity
* Improved operating safety

Anyway, some good links to start with:

Integral Fast Reactor

Brave New Climate (very informative pro-nuke blog)

Now I've go to run. More later.

cheers,
DB
Welcome to the Hotel Forumosa. You can login anytime you like, but you can never leave.
Forumosan avatar
Dog's_Breakfast
Eldest Grandchild (zhǎngsūn)
Eldest Grandchild (zhǎngsūn)
 
Posts: 1116
Joined: 27 Oct 2004, 20:32
52 Recognized(s)

6000

Politics Vs Climate (and how to stop it)

Postby headhonchoII » 02 Jun 2012, 12:52

My idea for rice straw was pretty simple, for farmers to dry it, compress it and use it for heating (and cooking). In Taiwan rice farming is highly mechanized and specialized with multiple contractors for each part, baling and collecting rice straw is not difficult for them to do if they wanted to. I happen to know a little about this as my FIL is a part-time rice farmer. I still think it's feasible but it seems rice husks are commonly used in Japan instead.
If one lives in Taiwan you would know of the severe air pollution from burning of rice straw.
So Fred, maybe you have a real contribution to make but you haven't made it yet.
I can remember the fourth of July runnin' through the backwood bare.
And I can still hear my old hound dog barkin' chasin' down a hoodoo there
Chasin' down a hoodoo there.
headhonchoII
Maitreya Buddha (Mílèfó)
 
Posts: 11668
Joined: 26 Aug 2002, 10:40
Location: Taipei
1314 Recommends(s)
504 Recognized(s)

6000

Re: Politics Vs Climate (and how to stop it)

Postby fred smith » 02 Jun 2012, 13:41

But I gradually came to realize that my fellow anti-nuke activists knew almost nothing about the technology other than that they were against it. They weren't even interested in learning more, and they had no interest in looking for ways to fix it and make it safe. It was just "No Nukes Now!" And unfortunately, we were spreading misinformation,


Plus c'est change... plus c'est change, non? eh bien...


but we were just ignorant and naive about a lot of things and there was a lot of wishful thinking on our part.


c'est la meme chose... c'est la meme chose...

I've woken up to the harsh reality that we 1980s anti-nuke campaigners probably did more to cause global warming than stop it, by hampering the development of generation four nuclear power, which in turn has resulted in more coal burning. I've since then vowed to learn as much as possible about energy and pass along what I know, which is why threads like this one interest me. I do get upset when I see current anti-nuke folks making the same mistakes, using the same faux arguments, and engaging in outright propaganda - it seems that nothing has been learned, and time is running out.


Time is not running out. But it is amusing, no, wrong choice of words there, pathetic, to see the same global warming activists pushing biofuels which are "fueling" so much of the destruction of rain forests and leading, ironically, no, embarrassingly, to greater release of CO2 from these areas...

All right.. all right... have your little discussion... I won't interrupt... it reminds one of the new "insights" that newcomers find when they move to a city that one has already lived in for 30 years... but point taken... why take the enjoyment of the new experience away from them? You are right. I should not. I shall not. So proceed with your dialogue. :)

Love Fred
Forumosan avatar
fred smith
Guan Yin (Guānyīn)
 
Posts: 16508
Joined: 11 Oct 2002, 17:14
54 Recognized(s)

6000

Re: Politics Vs Climate (and how to stop it)

Postby Steviebike » 02 Jun 2012, 14:26

it reminds one of the new "insights" that newcomers find when they move to a city that one has already lived in for 30 years...


Thanks Fred.

EDIT: Actually Fred. Maybe you could be useful. Could you tell us what your position is? You know, what board[s] do you sit on? Where do you gather your knowledge from? It seems to be a far superior source than any of us have. Would really appreciate you sharing it with us, being new to the city and all.

None of us are saying we are right, just interested in exploring the ideas/facts that we have. I admit I know next to nothing but the discussion is interesting. I have no idea why you have to be so scathing with your comments, there is a nasty cruelness to it, but I get the feeling the man behind the keyboard isn't as nasty? Come on, add something of value. Some own-knowledge fact not regurgitated internet facts. You know something then share it.
Just checking but you're a South African Engrish Teachur right? No. I'm a Russian nuclear physicist.
Forumosan avatar
Steviebike
Betelnut Beauty (bīnglang Xī Shī)
Betelnut Beauty (bīnglang Xī Shī)
 
Posts: 1504
ORIGINAL POSTER
Joined: 12 Oct 2011, 16:26
Location: Taipei
70 Recommends(s)
80 Recognized(s)

6000

PreviousNext




 
 
 x

Return to International Politics



Who is online

Forumosans browsing this forum: No Forumosans and 5 visitors

I would I could stand on a busy corner, hat in hand, and beg people to throw me all their wasted hours -- BERNARD BERENSON