environment,energy,greenhouse,gas,carbon,dioxide,global,nuclear energy,clean energy,emissions,global climate change,environmental impacts, Nuclear Energy Can Save US: March 2008

Nuclear Energy Can Save US--America�s 100 nukes equal four million barrels of oil per day.

Billions of lives and civilization itself may be at risk from the Global Warming & End of Cheap Oil, Crisis. Rising sea levels and rising oil prices could be the end of civilization as we know it. The problem is so huge that the most powerful answer, many nuclear plants, must be deployed. Currently, America‘s 100 nukes deliver the energy of four million barrels of oil per day. Wind and solar cannot do the job, and may delay the real answer too long. Still, all kinds of clean energy, plus conservation, plus reducing deforestation, will be needed to help the poor half of the world, and for civilization to survive through this century.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Greens Get Silly, But Are Very Right At Times.

To me, fighting construction of the Tellico Dam to save one unimportant species , the Snail Darter, was silly. Nature has tried and discarded gazillions of species over geologic time.
(To digress, it would be interesting to have a guess of how many different species there were in humanity's family tree, from the earliest forms of life to ourselves. My Christian educators never said that evolution could not have happened. Couldn't God have started life on earth, knowing that the Infinite Intelligent Design of the DNA molecule, would inevitably evolve creatures in God's image? God's Image could mean intelligence; i.e. intelligent creatures like ourselves capable of contemplating God's existence. The form that we would arrive at might not have mattered.)
Back to the Greens. They were right about the hole in the ozone layer. With that heads-up, the world is in process of trying to stem the problem. Couldn't loss of the ozone have forced us to live some form of nocturnal life, since sunlight would become deadly?
Likewise, I am firmly convinced that they are right about climate change, and the very serious consequences future generations will face. However, they then get all ideological and fight the hard-headed answer, nuclear energy. Since it is so difficult to get everyone moving in the same direction, I believe that diffused (weak) solutions, from conservation, efficiency, and better forestry, to solar, wind and biofuels will take too long to work. The massive, concentrated energy of nuclear plants is the best chance that humanity has for survival.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

One Nuclear Kilowatt Equals Five of Solar

As a senior, concerned for humanity's very survival, who thinks that nuclear is the only clear answer, I would still be delighted to see 100,000 square-miles of pv cells, and thousands of concentrated solar energy plants in our future. However, there is not enough manufacturing capability in the world to produce such an immense array of structures this century, not even in several centuries beyond. This huge quantity would be needed because solar energy is so weakly diffused. In 12 hours of daylight, a pv cell can only accumulate 4, or at most 5, hours of sunlight for rated output. A nuke delivers rated energy more than 22 hours of the day, 95% of the hours of every year.
Solar enthusiasts make the most of the situation, by saying that a solar cell produces the energy during the heat of the day when it is most needed for air conditioning. This is only a small percentage of the electric energy a household needs. (NOTE: It is my belief that by 20-30 years from now, all air conditioning may well be outlawed; people will be able to survive without air conditioning.)
Other proponents point to houses constructed by experts, that have every possible detail of shape, materials, insulation, heat pumps, etc. in the design. Such houses can be energy neutral, or better. However, America's 300 million people, possibly 75 million households, are not likely to find more than a million with enough enthusiasm and resources to make this a practical part of the energy solution. Government programs can help, but only as a percentage play; unless climate change becomes so serious that everyone must sacrifice and join the fight. If we wait too long to see if to see if solar energy will work, this enlightenment may come too late. The massive potential of nuclear energy would give a much more certain future.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Scary Climate Modes: Universe Today Report (Part Three)

The so-called Greenhouse (GH) Effect is not similar to that in greenhouses for flowers. The real GH however, is in fact, essential to all organic life on Earth. The partial blanketing of Earth by water vapor, CO2 and other gases keeps our atmosphere near +15-degrees C (above freezing), rather than the minus 15-degrees C (a frozen planet), that it would otherwise be. Relative to life, CO2 plays a zero-sum game. Plants absorb CO2, helping them to grow with the C (carbon), and giving off the O (oxygen) . Plants then take back the O, combine it with C, to emit CO2 when they die and decay, or are burned. Higher up the food chain to animals, and humans, all other life operates the same way. This interchange is, and has been for millenia, in equilibrium; but in modern times the system has changed. Fossil-fuel burning creates excess CO2, deforestation (slash and burn) adds 30% more. Rich and poor nations therefore each have there own fronts on which to fight the anti-GH war. http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_effect.

Some respondents to the UT report, mentioned that humans and animals exhale CO2. Though that is right, its simply part of the life/CO2 equilibrium. However, there is a more dangerous gas, methane, that results from eructation (burping) and flatulence from cows, sheep and other ruminants. They can eat cellulosic food like grass, and digest it with unique microbes, producing the methane. Methane is only 6-7% of GH gas but stays longer in the air and is more efficient at increasing heat than CO2. Seemingly, there is no way to mitigate this gas, so we must do what we can about CO2; build thousands of nukes, and millions upon millions of wind turbines.

Some respondents acted as though the GH is ideological, especially because of Al Gore's climate proposals. He is a good man, but some seem to say there is no problem, simply because Al says that there is. This is as silly as extremists of the opposite stripe, who say that there must be skeletons of LGM at Roswell, because the USAF says there are none

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Scary Climate Modes: Universe Today Report (Part Two)

Several comments to the climate report brought up good subjects.
One person said that sea levels had risen and fallen 30-feet, from time to time in the past. These were likely minor cycles, within the thousands-year-long Ice Age histories. My environmental bible, National Geographic, says that Ice Ages are probably caused by cyclical changes in the Earth's oval orbit around Sol. From the height of the last ice caps, 18,000 years ago, the oceans have risen 360 feet. Since 360 feet is 1/15 of a mile, about 11 million cubic-miles of ice must have melted, spreading 10MCM of water over Earth's 140,000,000 square-miles of ocean.

The remaining ice in Greenland (which is melting more rapidly each year) has the potential to raise sea levels by 20-22 feet. The West Antarctic ice shelf contains slightly more ice; enough for an additional 24-foot rise. This shelf has disappeared several times in geologic history; the last time being 600,000 years ago, so experts are clearly worried about its stability. The East Antarctic ice cap is even more massive, and its melting could raise levels more than 200 feet. This is not a worry to experts, since this ice cap has been stable for 15 millions years.

Another comment was about Sol, our Sun. Sol is a variable star, but just slightly; its output changes only slowly over long periods. During 70 years, near the middle of the Little Ice Age (1645-1715), Earth's temperature dropped an additional 3-degrees F, due to lower energy output from Sol. Something like this, right now, would give humanity time to get its clean energy act together, but that can't be estimated because long-term data is not yet available. However, Sol's energy can be measured quite closely. From 1955 to 2000, Earth's oceans have warmed by 0.7-degrees F, but Sol's energy output has increased less than one-tenth of one-percent, not near enough to cause the warming (Scripps Institute of Oceanography).