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thoughts on green economy (how to get there)

Post in 'The Green Room' started by stoveguy2esw, Jul 3, 2010.

  1. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Then start demanding lobbying, campaign and voting reform. That is where I am focused right now. If the foundation is crooked, everything that's built on it has to be constantly adjusted.

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  2. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Two billion just went to some decent solar projects - and these are not "make work" pie-in-the-sky.
    One is thermal solar, which is the most efficient currently and the other is manufacturing of American thin-film, a new technology.
    http://www.stltoday.com/news/national/article_39bc08d6-289f-58f1-ba6e-3364f7dd14c1.html

    A lot is happening behind the scenes. Many may not agree with the participation of government (taxpayers) in the funding, but as per Mike...when your parents want you to eat healthy they have to buy the veggies and organic food until the children develop the "taste" for same. It's really not too hard to do, although it will take awhile.

    I am pleased that the 2 billion is not going toward solar electric in Maine and other projects I consider "make work" as opposed to actual steps forward. At least it assures me that someone in the administration knows what they are doing...
  3. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Well, I am glad you are feeling so culpable, but it doesn't feel like a fair fight to me. If Exxon-Mobile alone has 15 billion every 3 months to throw at legislators and my budget for lobbying is about 3 dollars and 75 cents a year, They are going to win every time.
  4. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    i was watching a show a couple days back on MSNBC (yeah i do watch some of their shows, along with certain fox or CNN shows generally based on how reasonable the "talking heads" are on it) anyway the guy on this show (and its killing me his name escapes me right now but has "the fix" segment in the end of his show if that clues you in) was advocating for complete transparency in campaign financing as well as severe penalties for " conflict of interest" i just remembered guys name is "ratigan" (dunno if i spelled right) anyway i liked his approach. truth is if most folks were able to actually see the billions and where they come from in relation to legislation voted on by their lapdogs (in both parties) they would be much more likely to vote elsewhere come election time. (one of the reasons we are seeing the "anti encumbant" movement so strongly in this cycle) it would become even more poignant were these contributions mated with voting records were collated and made public.


    truth is (as bad as it sounds) a fair percentage of people vote party line (on both sides) doesnt as much seem to matter who the candidate is as long as the "r" or "d" follws their name. these folks generally arent the deciders there simply arent enough of them in most cases, its the independants who really decide elections, and they would be the ones who would be most swayed by this information.
  5. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Glad you mentioned these projects. It takes years to ramp up factories and infrastructure. It's not flashy and headline grabbing, but the payoff in jobs and energy security is real. That seems to be part of the problem. Folks are looking for instant solutions and soundbites instead of appreciating long-term plans like those instituted in Scandinavia or Brazil. I see the Obama administration steadily chipping away at these issues and really appreciate that there is finally some progress.

    Recent elections in Georgia would seem to indicate that is not always the case. Sometimes it appears that people en masse are voting out the incumbent by picking the first name showing up on the ballot. I would hope for an informed public, but when it comes to electing visionaries that actually understand our energy needs, the issue usually takes a back seat to talking points. It's up to us to bring that dialog back on topic. In an election, forget ab0rtion rights, environmental causes or immigration temporarily until real lobbying, voting and campaign reform become the core issues. End the revolving door option once and for all.
  6. rowerwet

    rowerwet Minister of Fire

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    and two billion (which we borrowed 60% of to give) just went to brazil to drill in their ocean for a project that a big friend of the pres. is involved with, and China is contracted to buy all the oil they can pump, so much for gov. hypocrisy on "clean energy", it is all about who your friends are and who can lobby harder.
    The real answer is what can you do on your own either out of saving energy or saving the resources we have, I still say the answer to the oil "problem" (go see what life was like with coal as THE fuel of the world, we are cleaner now than ever) is going to be the "death by a thousand cuts" approach and we have the biggest part to play with our own choices. Insulation, alternative heat, and pressure for clean tech that won't skyrocket cost (check out how much cape wind will cost the rate payers in southern MA), right now nuke energy with fuel reprocessing (something france and other countries do with out major problems, we banned it to make the nuke industry hurt, france vitrifies the waste from reprocessing into "marbles" and stores them in abandoned salt mines) is the answer. Check out how solar and wind are not getting the return on the investment for spain that was thought...
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Bring up the Spain issue in another thread maybe? I have some thoughts on it, but this is not the appropriate thread. It's a good topic, but a separate one.

    On another note, I see I am getting pulled into the politics of this topic. Can we take the politics to the ash can? I'd hate to close this thread due to an eventual degradation into the same old drivel that is getting us nowhere. Mike has brought up a good thread and it would be great to focus it on solutions instead of the problems of politics.
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I agree completely that weaning our country from oil is going to take a long time and multifaceted approach. That is a good reason to distribute the best solutions based on regional appropriateness.

    Note, France is not having a cakewalk with its nuclear waste. Quite the contrary, it is a big issue. The 40-50yr cooling ponds, required before vitrification are not holding up well in some areas. They have similar problems to what we have seen here in our state at Hanford. Heavy metals are leaching into aquifers like they are leaking into the Columbia. This is not a clean technology. In certain areas it may be our best temporary solution, but it is only temporary and with some very high downstream costs which governments end up paying.
  9. rowerwet

    rowerwet Minister of Fire

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    the next big thing in nuke energy will be fusion, and according to what I have read waste from our current reactors will make an excellent fuel, right now they are talking another 25 yrs or so to have usable fusion reactor. intelligent conservation is the best answer, also using other sources that we have in place would help, why are we dumping money into hydrogen tech., when there are no hydrogen wells or major sources unless we learn how to mine the sun, while almost every city has a natural gas system installed and there are NG pipelines all across the country, all of which would power cars without too much infrastructure investment or modification to the cars. NG cleans up much of the air that will be polluted by the coal powered plants making electricity for all those electric and plug-in hybrid cars. I found a web site before that sold a kit to convert my car to NG for about 4k, if NG was sold locally I would consider it if they could compete in price (just paid 3.70/gal for propain).
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Yes, in the short and long term, nothing beats conservation for results. It is our least expensive and fastest way out of our dependency on fossil fuels.
  11. rowerwet

    rowerwet Minister of Fire

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    I don't think we will ever get away from oil, it may end up like coal, everywhere but not as in demand, it will still be needed for medicine, paints, food, clothes, houses, etc. even if we crack the cold fusion puzzle and can power our lives with Mr Fusions.
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Yeah, we just need to be much smarter when and where we use it.
  13. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Bingo! We NEED oil for the things you mentioned and plastics. Burning fossils instead of using them as miraculous building blocks is a dire abomination which has to stop. Using oil and coal to make plastic is planned recycling with a 95% retention of mass, ensuring manufacturing stock for future generations. Burning can claim no such legacy save millions of tons of particulate poisons falling to the earth or already there.

    Consider that 1000 watts per square meter is the average solar input for the planet. Utilizing it and every other source of available alternative energy, we could be comepletely off fossil fuels by 2030. ( Scientific American).

    Doesn't matter how we get there, let's just get going.
  14. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Interesting thread. In the wake of the oil spill these topics are coming up on all kinds of forums - some that have nothing to do with energy. In fact I got into a huge debate on one of my RC airplane sites about these issues.

    In the last couple months I stumbled across the oil drum (http://www.theoildrum.com/) - sure many of you have probably heard of it - but if not take a look. they discuss all these issues and there are some pretty knowledgeable folks on their including some oil/gas industry types who explain a lot of the technical junk. Be careful though - that site is also full of doomer types who think this problem is unsolvable and humanity is doomed, thus some of the comment threads thus get really depressing.

    Sifting through the opinion extremes the middle of the road thinking over there seems to be:
    - The peak and decline in world oil production is real, the only difference of opinion is over when - optimists say 2020, pessimist say it already happened and is an underlying factor in the recession.
    - No single renewable alternative will be enough - we need a plan that involves all of them (wind, solar, nuclear + careful use of coal/NG) to get through this
    - All of the alternatives have limits as well (even nuclear will hit a limit of mine-able uranium in the next 20 years)
    - All these alternatives need to be pursued long before oil declines so bad that we don't have the spare energy to build them out.
    - We are at 6+ billion people now, but without oil, farming all the worlds land organically could only support 2 billion. Alternative energy plans have to account alternatives to the oil based fertilizers and infrastructure our food supply uses.

    Big questions they keep discussing:
    - How do you maintain economic growth when the energy supply is declining? Our basic economic theory might have to be rewritten.
    - Tackling population growth - Nobody knows how we are going to feed the predicted 9-10 billion population peak in 2050.
    - How do you keep up the energy supply from fossils long enough to build renewables without destroying the environment in the process?
    - If fossils start running low before enough renewables are online, how do you find energy to build renewables? i.e. if there is an oil shortage and you have to choose between running farms or building windmills while people starve - what do you do?
    - How do we create the societal will to stop thinking of just today and making the big sacrifices needed to save tomorrow?

    These are very tough questions, and that fact that when this comes up in discussion, most of my friends and family respond with either boredom, or an assumption that the magical "they" (govt/big business/Santa Claus...) will solve it for us doesn't give me a lot of confidence.

    Nice to see that a lot of people are waking up to these challenges. I do think it will take a modern day Manhattan project. We all need to spread the owrd and get people out pushing for that.


    -Jeremy
  15. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Nice post Jeremy. Some of us here follow the oil drum. It offers a good perspective on the status of current world oil supplies, the problems we face and the real numbers that have to change.

    As a first step - we need to realize that the "they" is us. There are many ways an individual can make a difference. When you have these discussions with friends get proactive and offer simple steps that they can take now to help conserve energy. With a car, it is just common sense ideas like: consolidate trips, don't leave the car idling, drive a bit slower, etc. If we all collectively stopped using the drive thru lanes at fast food places the savings would be greater than the flow rate of the runaway well in the gulf. If we add to that all the other places that cars sit idling, this can become a very large number.

    Conservation is the first step we can all do now.
  16. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    anyone seen the "sunchips" commercial where they talk about the biodegradable bag they are using?

    all things considered WHAT A GREAT IDEA!!! WHY ARENT MORE COMPANIES DOING THAT???? caps meant!! sorry
  17. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I so wish they would do that with pellet fuel. There was no local place to recycle the bags for us. The nearest spot was like 90 miles away!
  18. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    Anyone here have bulk pellet delivery? It would seem to me they'd get mushy if not in the bags. Are the bags good at keeping moisture in the air out?
  19. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    the bags do a fair job but humidity isnt the big killer as much as actual water such as rain the bags if you look closely are actually perforated in most cases otherwise when stacked by the ton they could burst. over time most pellets will get "stale" usually clinkering becomes heavier when this occurs but ive burned 2 year old pellets that have done fine other than having to flip a clinker out every day or so
  20. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    I know. But its tough convince others of that. Most people have no foresight. Talk about peak oil and you get "I dunno, gas was down 10 cents yesterday. seems fine to me". Mention AGW and you get "We had a lot of snow this year".

    Few people today seem to have enough knowledge of basic science to understand the scale of our dependency, or how a 1-2 degree temperature change leads to ivolent weather extremes. And even those who do get it often have the "why bother - nobody else cares so my actions wont make a difference" attitude. I always respond to that - we'll if EVERYONE says that nothing will ever happen, but if EVERYONE did something just imagine what we could do?

    And in truth I could do a lot more myself, but its hard to break old habits. I've got the CFLs and the woodstove. I live in a fairly samll, old construction house. I've NEVER irrigated my lawn. We drive 2 small 30mpg cars. We don't buy bottled water, period. I put out almost as much recycling each week as trash...

    But I know all that's only a drop in the bucket compared to the reductions we are giong to have to make eventually even if the best case projections of renewabes works out.


    -Jeremy
  21. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That's a great start Jeremy. Keep on pushing for others to adopt the same simple practices. This is not about a hair shirt (yet). It is about simple daily awareness that add up to significant differences on a large scale. If you multiply a quart of oil saved per day, times 300 million people, you get a big number - 75 million gallons/day.
  22. GunSeth

    GunSeth Member

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    Those bags are loud as hell when you crinkle them. My coworkers all know I compost so I'm always bringing home these loud bags to throw into the pile.
  23. Delta-T

    Delta-T Minister of Fire

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    I believe that transport is the #1 obstacle to the entire green economy. I think its relatively easy to imagine homes being heated with solar or geothermal, or wood, cuz these things aren't really that new. Wind power was a dominating force in water movement for the southwest until steam and later electricity became available and were "on demand" so to speak. I haven't been able to figure out anything that seems all that feasible to change OTR trucking. The energy density of gasoline/diesel is so fantastic, and so predictable that I'm not sure what we can do. To my knowledge, at present, no major manufacturer of rigs makes a diesel hybrid engine, or markets an engine that can run consistently on bio fuels. What kind of "Tom Foolery" is this? Who is the joker suppressing this technology? We've seen electric cars that work just fine, maybe cost prohibitive right now, but its real, working stuff. We see little things happening everyday in our neighborhoods that are indicators that the individuals are taking steps (be it from necessity, like switching to wood burning for heat cuz LP is too $$$, or optional) to cut cost, which in turn cuts energy demand. Its all good and dandy to onnly need your car to go 30 miles, but them there trucks need to go farther, longer, and with a high degree of reliability. Trucks also account for most of the degradation of the road surface. Maybe we need smaller trucks? I don't think we'll ever get better rails because of all the land BS that would have to occur. I've seen dreams of dirigibles, and jet packs,and teleportation devices, but since the "World of Tomorrow" that was advertised in 1950 didn't really materialize the way they thought, I'm not putting much stake in those other seemingly "fantastic" things to come. I don't think the battery thing will actually be a big problem with electric cars. Right now there are limits on discharge and recharge rates, but I think a shift toward capacitors to manage energy input to motors will reduce the need for a whole new generation of batteries with off the chart abilities. There are lots of small things out there just looking for a symbiote technology to latch onto. This is almost always the case with software technology leaps (someone has a small idea, that they combine with another small idea that suddenly turns into an Iphone app that makes a lightsaber when yo shake it). Globally, nevermind domestically, the race for resources is on, and hte sooner everyne (in the USA)figures that out, the better (for the USA). Its been obvious to the ones with no resources (ie any coutry investing hardcore in nuclear,solar, hydro). We're just a wee bit slow on the uptake. Hopefully we still have a descent chance to stay ahead of the curve and actually develope the tech of tomorrow, or else we'll be the ones paying dearly to those that do.

    BeGreen- I have not seen a hair shirt before, but I have seen a hair bikini at the Ripley's Museum in LA, and it did not look comfy. Hopefully you and I will never find ourselves standing next to each other at the store trying to figure out if we like the "polo" or the "Henly" and whether it should be blonde or brunette. Now I feel itchy.
  24. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Battery swap idea: make the battery cells uniform (think large D cell batteries). Little car takes 4 - family go getter takes 6 - heavy pickup takes 8 kind of thing. Kinda like a 2 cell flash light or a 4 cell flash light.

    On OTR trucks - we have combustion over electric autos, we have combustion over electric trains, combustion over electric for OTR is not that much of a stretch.
  25. Delta-T

    Delta-T Minister of Fire

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    thats the aggravating thing Jags, its not such a stretch, it just isn't here.

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