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World Can Be Powered by Alternative Energy, Using Today's Technology, in 20-40 Years

Post in 'The Green Room' started by madrone, Jan 27, 2011.

  1. madrone

    madrone Minister of Fire

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  2. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

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    Unrealistic at best, pure fantasy at worst.
  3. benjamin

    benjamin Minister of Fire

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    "Based on our findings, there are no technological or economic barriers to converting the entire world to clean, renewable energy sources," said Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering. "It is a question of whether we have the societal and political will."

    I'll agree with that much, but therein lies the problem. We americans are unbelievably spoiled, lazy and demanding, worse still, we have some say in our own government! This will happen a few decades after we're living together on the land that they'll be givin away...

    Engineer talk is the least convincing form of propaganda. This story reminds me of a British prof who wrote a book analyzing energy use and came to the exact opposite conclusion (that renewables wouldn't cut it and nuclear was our only hope) in an equally dull example of tunnel vision.
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    "Could" is the important word.

    There is little doubt in my mind that alternative and renewal energy will power the majority of the world within the next century.
    But I have to agree with Benj.....we are too spoiled to do it. It will be forced upon us after India, China and others do it....and when dinosaur juice becomes too expensive (in blood and treasure) to use.

    This would take......that curse word....GOVERNMENT efforts. Otherwise, it will only happen when we absolutely 100 percent have no other choice. There is a threshold...a tipping point....but it is usually further away than we first think.

    For instance, despite the fact that we cause the majority of our own disease through pollution (food, air, water, chemicals, radiation), we still are resistant (business, government) to stop killing millions of our fellow Americans this way.....but the tide is slowly turning as people actually understand they are poisoning themselves.

    So where the line is - I can only guess.

    It would be nice if we could be more proactive about it - and truthfully, we currently ARE being more proactive than we have been in the past 3 or 4 decades. But that can be fleeting.
  5. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Scientific American did and article on this last april. Completly doable, just requires the will.
  6. dafattkidd

    dafattkidd Minister of Fire

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    I'm surprised there isn't more discussion on this. Interesting article, madrone.

    Here's my two cents: I would guess that if the demand was there today- we have the technology and could probably muster up the materials to accomplish something like this at least in the US if we had to, and it was financially advantageous to private enterprises. The problem with this is that it is an unfelt need in our world and therefore the push to execute this plan according to this article will come from government legislation. I'm all for moving forward when it comes to renewable resources. I just think it happens best when a company puts out a product that is so good that it renders the old way of doing things obsolete. Until that happens I don't think this article is applicable. It's just a really well thought out idea. Maybe I'm pessimistic, but I'm not tremendously confident that this sort of thing is best executed by the government.
  7. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    Talkin' bout together now!

    How do you OWN a distributed network? How do you OWN the wind, or the sun? That's why its never going to happen, because there's no way to take something for free and make people pay for it. If you can't obtain central control the rich are not interested in doing it. The government is not going to do a damn thing to help us.
  8. madrone

    madrone Minister of Fire

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    The cynic in me agrees. That's why I also agree with TMonter, in a way. I think it's technically doable, but requires too much change from the current economy to actually happen in even 40 years. Regardless, the optimist in me will continue to move in that direction in my own choices about energy.
  9. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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  10. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

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    Okay I'll play the optimist (this is a sad bunch if I'm the optimist :)

    Really? It's too much change even to accomplish in 40 years? Heck it's only 100 years since the Model T Ford came out. The first aircraft that were actually useful for more than a short hop at a few feet elevation didn't appear until WWI, and a little over 50 years later we landed on the freaking Moon! 40 years ago a computer was something that filled an entire room with vacuum tubes at a university and using it to actually do anything required years of study; we now have much more powerful devices in the palm of our hands....
    This is something that doesn't even require a big technological leap like that, just needs a bit of damned motivation and a society-sized rectal-cranial extraction.
    The oil-based economy has only really developed since WWII era. I know it's a huge and complex system, and that the incumbent powers are extremely powerful but I don't agree that it's too difficult to change over 40 years. That is, unless we convince ourselves that it's too hard before we even try.
  11. benjamin

    benjamin Minister of Fire

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    If only we were so lucky! I'm afraid the government will do many things to TRY to help us.

    Here in WI our new governor has canceled "high speed" rail and a state owned biomass plant which were unnecessary, uneconomical and unwise. He also pushed through restrictions on wind turbines from the old 1,200' to a residence to 1,800' to a property line, which is a little extreme and is probably going to result in the next democratic administration pushing the most ridiculous thing they can get away with. Tax credits for priuses? did that already. I bet the next one will be re-education camps: tax credits for nice ones in the woods for democrats, and government "encouragement" for less nice camps for climate change deniers. That's what happens when you make an issue into a political football.

    Personally I don't think that renewable energy will "power the majority of the world" in the next century, and if it does it won't be because of the expansion of wind and solar electricity, it will be the result of conservation, passive solar, simpler (not copper dependent) active solar heat and hot water, and more reliance on biomass. I don't think I saw any mention of biomass in that article.
  12. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    The major argument against this happy future coming to pass that often gets discussed at sites like the Oil Drum goes like this:

    Today all our factories are still running on oil/coal/etc
    If we want to run the world on solar and wind you have to build all the turbines in those factories that run on oil/coal.
    If oil is already in decline, where do you find the spare energy to build the panels/turbines in the first place?

    The alternative is build panels in a solar powered factory, and then use those panels to power a second factory and then scale up. But can we do that fast enought to offset the decline in conventional energy?

    And this all assumes the climate or a recession doesnt throw a wrench in the plan...
  13. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Not arguing - but that is failed logic. That argument assumes that we need to replace the energy it takes to make a "renewable" energy source, and that is not true. Your not forced to replenish the earth for the fuel you used driving into work today.
  14. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Why can't oil/coal energy be used to produce solar panels etc now or in the near future for a conversion of some power sources? I don't get it.
  15. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    You don't get it because it doesn't make sense. We are ramping up now. We need more participants, and that is coming too as the price of photovoltiac panels drops.
  16. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Got pumps? There is at least one major mine that is not going to be producing anytime soon. Take a look at the scale of this new lake. Hope they got the heavy equipment out of there in time.
    http://gregor.us/coal/water-in-the-hole-postcard-from-australia/

    Note the closing quote: "As Max Keiser and I agreed during our interview, it’s no longer a political position to acknowledge global warming. The global reinsurance industry is already pricing it in as observable, measurable, and costly. I’m growing more confident that the global resource extraction industry is going to start bearing more of the cost–via the insurance mechanism–of increased weather-related risk."
  17. benjamin

    benjamin Minister of Fire

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    If any oil goes into the production of turbines/panels, that's one less drop that goes in my hummer and into the factory that makes the junk I need to throw out.

    It seems silly but it's not any more silly than the assumptions that went into the study. They're talking about a massive shift in industrial output, use of transportation resources etc. in order to implement their plan. The authors themselves compared it to WWII.

    If Craig were supreme dictator he could outlaw private vehicles, nationalize all oil and see how far he could get with this "bright new future". Not even the current president can pull that off though.

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