Tuesday, 20 March 2012

When 'Green' isn't 'Green'

Yesterday Josephus wrote quite a piece on the mirage of "free" energy and the pitfalls of covering the landscape with the noisy eyesores of wind 'turbines.' All of this is being pushed forward by WWF, Greenpeace, other "Green" NGOs and all the rest of the "Climate Change/Global Doom Warming organisations. As he mentioned, the proponents determinedly ignore all evidence of environmental damage being done in this pointless pursuit of this golden dream of a "fossil fuel free future."

The vision set out in the report Josephus cited is a grand one, but takes no account at all of the environmental, economic, political and resources impact of attempting to generate electricity in desert areas and then distribute it to countries not just thousands of miles away, but on different continents and even on different sides of an ocean ... Nor does it attempt to address the thorny question of how it will all be paid for or who will pay for it. Josephus raised a second thorny issue. The report proposes placing all these wonderful generating systems in some of the least stable, politically, areas of the world, under the control of governments who have something of a track record of behaving in a somewhat petulant manner in international relations. One can easily imagine a scenario where someone in one of these countries, no doubt "provoked" by some supposed "slight" to his faith, country or culture, could pull the plug on Europe.

Today a report published in the geologists journal, suggests that geological evidence suggests that the 2*C warming the AGW/IPCC pundits want to prevent is not preventable. Indeed, they go further, they say it is inevitable and that sea levels could rise by well over 20 metres as a result. But that, as they are quick to point out (but which will no doubt be omitted from any popular press reports of this) will require the melting of all the West Antarctic ice shelf, all the Greenland ice and most of the sea ice shelf in East Antarctica - which would take thousands of years.

I can see many reasons for finding cleaner energy supplies, but the most important, in my opinion, is to break away from our dependence on oil supplied by countries whose regimes are unstable, untrustworthy and interested only in destroying Western culture and economies. We cannot do entirely without oil, but we can use it more efficiently, we can ensure there is less wastage and we can certainly make better use of our own resources such as coal. But none of these is likely to even be looked at until we can break away from this fetish for "free energy," which, as Josephus has pointed out, is neither "free" nor clean and green.

1 comment:

  1. Ah! The infamous 20 metre rise in sea level pops up yet again. This one has always entertained me as one with a fascination for technical and scientific problems.

    One of my favourite myths is the fact that the hundreds of thousands of domestic smoke detectors installed in dwellings since they became available in the mid 1980s have saved thousands of lives. If you look at a fire death graph over the latter part of the 20th century, the trend is downwards and has been for that entire time, provided you ignore individual spikes from nasty disasters, which one should if looking at trends. It would therefore appear that neither the demise of the open fire not the arrival of the bleeping detector has changed this trend, we can therefore surmise that it does not save lives. I suspect, however, that thinking people would not choose to use this statistical truism as a basis for removing their smoke alarms.

    The trend of rise in sea level follows a similar curve over the past 100 years, probably longer. The sea level has risen, on average, and that matters, about one inch in one hundred years. Now over that century we have virtually eradicated the factory chimney in western Europe, however, the BRIC countries have taken on the role of atmospheric pollution producer, so this seems to be a fairly constant rise and not one that every bovine burp is going to double simply because chewing the cud releases methane which is a "greenhouse gas".

    Added to that is the factor that if you have an ice cube floating in a glass of water (or preferably, for repeatable experiments, gin and tonic)when the ice melts the glass does not overflow, in fact the level remains the same. The density of ice does not come into the equation, only the mass, which is (thechnically only 99.9999999999%)the same in the liquid phase as it was in the solid. (Einstein informs us that a tiny portion of mass vanishes as energy in the transition.) So the Arctic ice cap can melt with no net change. The Antarctic is a different matter as the ice rests on a suppressed land mass. (So does Greenland for the pedants.) How do we calculate what will happen when the ice melts and, its weight removed from the earth's crust, the land rises?

    I for one would be more interested in the results of the Earth significantly changing its shape that a potential 20m rise in sea level. If the egg-shape becomes sheroid, it might wobble. That would disturb our concept of time, the rotation of the planet may well slow down. It may even roll as a ball and all of our lattitudes would change.

    On the bright side, as long as the Gulf Stream keeps going, we would still need to use summer-time as we live on a dim lattitude, if the Gulf Stream stops, we need to look to look to Vancouver for the South East and Juneau, Alaska for Scotland to predict our winter weather: global warming my, err, foot!