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Green Irony

Post in 'The Green Room' started by webbie, Jun 13, 2008.

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  1. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Irony? - buying "green" products to be green when the best course for being "green" is simply consuming less.

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  2. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    I think that's called being "cheap" in which case, I've been very "green" for years...

    RECYCLE those magazines when you get done laughing at them!!

    Chris
  3. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Kudos forever, Chris.
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    So cheap is the new "green"? Probably........

    I have some scotch irish friends that could probably save the world - problem is when they take me out to lunch, it's fast food and I have to pay my own way....AND, they complain to the clerk about the prices (even if they have coupons).
  5. mainemac

    mainemac Member

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    Kirk 22 re Hummer vs Pruis

    Please..
    I have had a 2005 Prius for 3 years ($24K)
    My MPG on this tank is 57 mpg, lifetime 45 mpg (lots of snow up here)
    Once Plug ins come online it will be sold ($17K)
    I think I can find a few people interested in 50 mpg car with gas at $4.00 per gallon
    I wonder what the trade in value of a Hummer is?

    Tom
  6. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    What is the green angle on plug ins? Is there still a big efficiency gain on having the power generated by whatever means elsewhere and the transmission losses getting it to your house? I haven't heard that much on them.
  7. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm going to write a story showing how the Space Shuttle is more energy efficient than a Prius. It will probably get a lot of press.

    In fact, an F-15 with afterburners on is probably better on fuel than a Prius. This is because the F-15 allows us to secure (steal) more oil, and therefore we can fuel the Hummer. Makes some sense....at least as much as koop-pook does.......

    As the MIT study showed, a Homeless person is the most green in America. Therefore the current economic situation here is really a gov. policy to make our nation more energy efficient.
  8. mainemac

    mainemac Member

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    They have calculated that even with coal fired plants it is much more efficient ( and cheaper to Joe average you and me)
    to use electricity to power your car. Hopefully we can use wind tidal solar etc to power more of the grid.

    Most Americans have a 30 mile or less commute
    Overnight charge (for $2-3) can charge the battery full give you 30 miles all electric
    Gas is there for longer trips

    Slap a solar panel on your garage and you have a genuine solar car.


    Off Topic:

    In Germany the govt has mandated that electrons generated by sun commands a price twice that by
    coal or fossil fuels . This is for many decades so investors know they can get a ROI.

    Tom
  9. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    The idea, which does have some truth to it, is that the future is largely going to depend on the grid - whatever the fuel...hopefully solar PV, wind, etc....also hydro, biomass, nat gas, geothermal......and for the foreseeable future, also coal. But, in general, it is much easier to clean up one giant central grid than 100 million separate engines.

    Even the economics has some logic - plugs in's get 2 to 3x the MPG as conventional cars, so even if PV Solar was twice the price of coal (right now it is 4x or more), things will work out.

    Although no one really knows where technology is headed, my best guess is that the Grid will provide a lot of the solution...
  10. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Interesting that you don't mention nuclear power.
  11. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    There you go - more irony. The group of folks who are most gung-ho about being green overlap quite considerably with the group of folks who are most adamantly against the energy source that has the best chance of providing a good standard of living with the least possible environmental and aesthetic impact: next-generation breeder reactors.

    The theory is well understood and the technological problems are being solved by France, Germany, and Japan. Not by us, though. If this trend continues, we'll be hobbled by expensive, unsightly, and ineffective sources of power while the rest of the world moves forward with plentiful, cheap, and truly clean energy.

    We idolize Europe for their foresight on the green issues that we like, but most folks miss the part that nuclear plays in their energy portfolio.
  12. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    Velvet; I think you may have hit on the greatest "green" irony of them all...

    Chris
  13. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm for Nuke power if they can truly solve the disposal situation and THEN come up with a true life cycle cost. The fact is, they cannot do this now...and if they would come up with the actual cost, it would be too high! Even the existing plants can only be there because the government has agreed to indemnify them against their actions (pollution, waste, etc.). If they had to buy insurance on the "free market", they could not get it.

    So all I would ask is the same standards be applied - life cycle cost. If they can store stuff for 10-20,000 years and show me the low KWH cost for doing so, I'm all ears.

    Even so, the experts say that it will be 2030 before we'd be able to have any decent quantity of nuke power anyway.....so it certainly is not gonna help within the decade or two (or my lifetime, in that case).
  14. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    NF, I have to call you out on this one!
    We all know the crazy Frenchies went all-out nuke, but they are certainly not the ones you hear me talking about re: Alt energy.
    Here are the facts......


    "Denmark has no nuclear power plants"
    "In 2000, the German government, officially announced its intention to phase out nuclear power in Germany - The power plants in Stade and Obrigheim were turned off on November 14, 2003, and May 11, 2005, respectively"
    "Ireland presently has no nuclear power plants."
    "Voters decided to shut down Italy's four nuclear power plants. The last was closed in 1990".
    "In 1994, the Netherland's parliament voted to phase out nuclear power "
    "No nuclear power plant has ever been established in Norway"
    "n 1979, the Swedish Government decided, after a referendum, that no further nuclear power plants should be built and that a nuclear power phase-out should be completed by 2010."

    Specifically, Norway, Germany and Denmark are the folks I often talk about as to green initiatives.
  15. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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  16. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    The Germans may be phasing them out at home, but they're still developing the technology. Fourth generation breeder reactors should be able to utilize better than 95% of the available energy in the fuel that they consume, rather than the 1% that current plants accomplish. They also should produce virtually no high level waste, and in fact use some of the existing waste as fuel.

    The barrier is fear, not a rational decision making process based on comparative risks and benefits.

    We've never built a plant as dangerous as Chernobyl, and even with that disaster the safety of nuclear power far and away better than any other energy source. Chernobyl killed about 40 people. I wonder how many people you would lose just falling off of roofs to install the equivalent capacity in PV arrays? How about coal mines, or the little squabbles that are carried out in oil producing regions? I think you'd expect to lose a few people on any large-scale civil engineering project as well.

    Nuclear is certainly not zero risk, but it has the ability to give us large amounts of much less expensive and safer energy with virtually zero environmental impact. There really isn't anything else that comes close. We just need to invest the money to bring the next generation from proof of concept (done) to full-scale production. The technical challenges are totally solvable. The political challenges will require someone with a spine. Someone will do it, and they'll be the next economic superpower.

    Basic facts of life: Conservation is good, and there's no virtue in using a wasteful approach if there's a more efficient way to accomplish the same thing. However, at any level of conservation, the more energy you can afford, the better your standard of living. Energy multiplies your ability to accomplish work. It keeps you comfortable. It allows you to travel, and it allows you to do things more quickly.

    We've been spoiled by cheap energy, and we have a choice. We can use our brains and our ingenuity to figure out ways to enjoy the same comforts while using less scarce or nonrenewable resources, or we can retreat and accept a more impoverished lifestyle.

    Many of the 'green' crowd seem to prefer the second option, perhaps feeling that we need to be punished for our sins. I'm firmly in the first camp. I want to be just as warm and comfortable, with just as much convenience as when I heated with oil. I don't want to huddle in a small, dark and cold house. I want to figure out transportation options that get me where I want to go at my convenience without taking any more of my time.

    It doesn't appear to me or anyone else that there's any prospect that wind/PV/tidal will be able to replace any sizable fraction of our current coal/gas/nuclear power base load generation mix. If carbon induced global warming is a real threat, then there are exactly two options:

    1) Learn to live with a LOT less energy. See 'huddling in small, dark, cold houses' above. Forget long trips - once in a lifetime, like it was for out ancestors.

    2) Develop next generation nuclear and have plentiful energy. We need this especially if we're going to pursue pure electric, hydrogen, or plug-in hybrids.

    I'll stick with my irony: Folks promoting green and simultaneously stopping progress on the only viable environmentally friendly large scale energy alternative out there.
  17. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I'll let you stick with the irony, but consider that you eat the words about the progressive green European countries pushing nukes....they simply are not.

    It's not much of an irony. Tell me when and where the nuke breeder is going to be, what it will cost to build, the life cycle and the actual fuel cycle from start to finish. Can you honestly expect people to just "trust you" about how good it is going to be? What happened to facts and proof?

    Based on your analysis above, we can suppose that all those "green" countries in Northern Europe are stupid and that they will be living in dark and squalid conditions soon. Meantime, they are eating our lunch as far as installed wind and solar %.

    Lastly, speaking of irony, what happened to the brilliant folks who told us - told us 100% - that they were going to solve the CURRENT waste disposal problems with reactors. Well, it appears they underestimated the problems.

    To top is all off, lot of worldwide nukes means lots of worldwide nuclear proliferation. There may already be no way to stop it, but this will definitely speed it along.

    Heck, a perfect nuclear reactor - or even one close to perfect with low total life cycle costs - would solve a vast percentage of our energy problems. But my guess is that other technologies will appear first which will win in the marketplace.....if not, I will be more than willing to plug my electric car into the breeder.
  18. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    You HAD to ask, didn't you?

    Chris
  19. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    Good thing my wife didn't hold me to that standard before I bought our gasifier. Small-scale proof of concept reactors have been built, but political opposition has prevented progress, at least here. As I said, the science is understood at this point, while the technical and political problems need to be resolved. Your questions arguably have more to do with the effectiveness of political problem resolution rather than the technology. As to proof - google 'generation IV nuclear'. There's a huge body of literature and research out there. Believe it or not, there has been a lot of progress in the 30 years since we built our last reactor.

    I suspect that the 2030 date that's kicked around for these is a recognition of the current lack of political will. We built an entire space program from scratch and put a man on the moon in ten years. This isn't anywhere near as hard.

    For my part. I see that my mission is to attempt to educate people about technology that can improve quality of life for all of us. Just as a gasifier is a more sophisticated and vastly better solution than an OWB, so a generation IV reactor is better than burning coal.

    I'll grant that the Scandinavian countries aren't doing anything with nuclear. Of course, they've got plenty of oil......

    Last time I went to Europe, I was struck by how small the average house and car were, and that people seem to keep their travel much closer to home. Energy costs seemed to be a major factor in those differences. Installed wind and solar isn't automatically a virtue, by the way. If PV consumes more resources than the value of the electricity it produces, then it's wasteful.

    Scientists and engineers often underestimate political problems. There are plenty of solutions for the technical problem. Fourth generation breeder reactors can reprocess spent nuclear fuel from conventional reactors, vastly reducing the amount of high level waste. It's those pesky trans-uranic elements that are the real problem, especially when it comes to proliferation. Unlike current designs, generation IV reactors can reprocess all such byproducts on-site. For other waste, there are technically sound solutions - deep sea subduction zone disposal would be one example: encase it in glass, and drop it into the seabottom mud in a plate subduction zone, where it will be recycled under the earth's crust, not to be seen for many millenia.

    One of the benefits of generation IV reactors is that they don't have to generate any fissionable material as part of their waste stream. That would be a big step forward from where we are now. The vastly improved efficiency also means much less demand for uranium enrichment - not a bad thing.

    The US and China are both sitting on enormous quantities of coal. Here's a political reality for you: Before people resign themselves to shivering in the dark, they're going to demand that we use the coal that we have, as they're currently doing in China. We need to develop an attractive alternative.

    The only way we're going to make significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions is to have a safe alternative that can provide similar quantities of energy at a similar price to coal. We need to finish the development of those alternatives, and we're not doing it.
  20. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    I wanna plug into nofo's breeder. Wait, that didn't come out right...

    Chris
  21. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm all for research........just don't build civilian plants until the industry can be self-insured and not hide behind the government or shell corporations.

    As to that Shoreham debacle, when you read it now you see that it seems like just a fear factor! There was a bunch of shoddy work....I remember the 60 minutes program on the inspectors signing off on faulty welding, but the idea that an evacuation plan for the entire end of Long Island has to be drawn up was just a bit drastic!

    NF, I understand about political will - but, right or wrong, that is a part of the process. In the end, it is the same "body political" that the plants are being built for. The opposition may be right or they may be wrong, but they must be dealt with....and they include a number of well informed engineers and scientists also.

    There is a good chance that you are correct...in that these technologies may be brought into focus in the future. But it seems highly unlikely that anything resembling a Space Program will be brought into play on a grand scale.

    The games have begun and we'll see which technologies pan out. I suspect it will be a combination of many.
  22. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    Fair enough. Get the government out of subsidizing / protecting power generation, or dedicate the same dollars per kilowatt subsidizing nuclear that we spend subsidizing PV. I'm happy either way.

    I agree very much with the idea that people should choose the solutions that they want. However, I would prefer that to be an informed decision. Without context and knowledge of options, a lot of folks would choose an OWB instead of something that would serve them and their neighbors better. Sometimes, conventional opinion and the majority opinion is wrong.

    This site is dedicated in part to informing people about options, and I think in general that's a better approach than legislating choices away from people or having the government decide. I believe that decisions based on facts and data are typically better than decisions based on emotion. Unfortunately, appealing to emotions is more efficient. For that reason, a disturbing percentage of public discourse is essentially manipulation of emotions.

    Nice to have a forum where that's not the default behavior.
  23. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    We would be remiss in not mentioning GM's championing of their yellow 85 cars, which can burn almost straight corn ethanol.........might be a great idea is:

    1. The cars were fuel efficient
    2. The ethanol was available
    3. The cost in fuel input for ethanol wasn't a problem....

    Oh, the new name for this is called "Greenwashing", and as you can imagine it is green combined with brainwashing! I might throw up soon if I see anything else that is eco-friendly. I just opened the cabinet and the aluminum foil box now trumpets that is is an "eco box" because it is 20% smaller!

    The truth is in the overall picture. If we have these millions of green products....and our energy use per capita (especially our fossil fuel use) is not headed downward, then I question whether that green is anything but more paper green ($$$$$).

    BTW, Google.org is attacking the PV situation in trying to make it cheaper than coal - period. That's a tall order, but is what it might take for it to really make a difference. In all fairness, the price of coal is drastically subsidized by the complete dismissal of government and people to account for the entire tops being cut off mountains, the pollution at the mining source and the pollution at the burning end. If we added in those costs.....who knows? What would it take to remove coal with complete restoration and no surface runoff? I suspect that the cost of coal electric, usually given at 3-4 cents a KWH, is closer to double than if we cared about the mountains and air. That type of pricing......7-8 cents wholesale, would be very doable given advances in technology. We might not use it for heat, but for plug-in cars, heat-pumps/AC and many other uses, 18 cents retail a KWH would be acceptable.
  24. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    I think it's a bit ironic that most people seem so addicted to energy consumption that they will do anything to get their fix, including burning coal, even if the outcome is a change in climate that no longer supports human life as we know it.
  25. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Man made global warming is a crock.
    Just a way to take some more money out of your wallet.
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