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  1. #1
    Phero Pro jose's Avatar
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    Default Climactic Changes

    visit-red-300x50PNG
    Seems like the weather in the past 10 years has been erratic, I mean Europe having the worst floods in years, polar icecaps melting. Also forest fires and droughts, is the earth fighting back? Are we screwing with the environment to the point where the earth is changing?

  2. #2
    Carpal Tunnel Whitehall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Climactic Changes

    In a word, yes.

    The UN sponsored a detailed study of our scientific knowledge of climate change and I find it pretty scary.

    http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/index.htm


  3. #3
    Banned User EXIT63's Avatar
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    Default Re: Climactic Changes

    No

    The UN couldn\'t find their way out of a paper bag.

  4. #4
    Carpal Tunnel Whitehall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Climactic Changes

    The UN did bring together some of the best scientific minds to look at the issue. The UN is hard pressed to take effective political action and all too often seems like a Third World make-work program - taking dues from big countries like the US and paying huge salaries to politically connected minor officials from the small, poor ones.

    One needs to keep in mind that the UN is not a world government but rather a collection of governments of the world - a meta-government if you would.

    Still the scientific analysis presented in the UN report is not conclusive but it is persuasive, IMHO.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Climactic Changes

    Ok, what about this, which is what I comfort myself with and could be complete bull....but when has that ever stopped me ... doesn\'t our planet go through changes on its own, didn\'t it way before us, like, isn\'t it perfectly normal for us to go in and out of ice ages, with varying degrees of climate changes as part of the natural order of things? There are powerful anti-environmentalist lobbies working against any acknowledgement of our role, whatever it may be, in damage to the ozone layer (they swear it\'s a hoax) and saying that these ideas are scare tactics put forth for subversive political reasons, also such things as protesting the US government\'s buying up private property to hold as protected environment, because the government now owns more land than the citizens....see, e.g., www.americanpolicy.org (I met this guy once and went out with him a couple of times before I realized he was nuts imo)It\'s hard to know what the truth is.

  6. #6
    Carpal Tunnel Whitehall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Climactic Changes

    The climate is formally treated as a \"chaotic\" system - remember the butterfly flapping its wings affecting the winds in Peking? It is unpredictible and subject to swings.

    What humans are doing is applying a \"forcing function\" to the natural forces through our releases of greenhouse gases. A good metaphor is a spinning gyroscope - give it a little flick (a forcing function) and it will wobble and right itself. Give it too big or too critical a flick and it can flop over.

    The human forcing function is significant in the bigger scheme of things and certainly comparable to Nature\'s surprises.

    When we burn fossil fuels we are truly playing with fire - no one will know what will happen but we do know our match is plenty big. All our political concerns about having enough oil is trivial besides the long term problem of humans having access to more oil than the atmosphere can hold when burned.

  7. #7
    Bodhi Satva CptKipling's Avatar
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    Default Re: Climactic Changes

    So then we cut down on fossile fuel usage. So...who is refusing to do that at the moment [img]/ubbthreads/images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  8. #8
    Carpal Tunnel Whitehall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Climactic Changes

    So who is refusing to cut down on greenhouse emissions?

    China and India have their refusal to live under any constraints codified in the Kyoto Treaty. That\'s why I support Bush\'s refusal to sign it - its an example of bad global governance. As to the environmentalist organizations, until they vocally DEMAND the increased usage of nuclear power, the only solution compatible with our way of life and civilization, I will refuse to believe that are serious about finding a solution. They are just part of the problem.

    BTW, I drive a small four cylinder car with a stick shift - not the highest gas milage but pretty darn good.

  9. #9
    Bodhi Satva CptKipling's Avatar
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    Default Re: Climactic Changes

    But surely anything to cut down emisions is a good thing?

    Wasnt meaning to ruffle any feathers.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Climactic Changes

    So, Whitehall, you were saying in a post somewhere else that, basically, you were behind Bush\'s war efforts (which I don\'t challenge, I don\'t know enough about it to argue). I\'m wondering what would you think if we took that money we\'re spending/going to spend on war and focused it on alternative energy sources, wouldn\'t we be much better off? Then it wouldn\'t matter so much what\'s going on with the oil countries and we wouldn\'t have to have our noses over there where maybe we don\'t belong.

  11. #11
    Phero Pharaoh a.k.a.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Climactic Changes

    Global warming is a fact. In Canada and Alaska, forests are sinking into what used to be permafrost. Homes and Inuit villages are being washed into the sea.

    There is some so-called controversy over whether or not it’s due to the burning of fossil fuels. But that’s just a bunch of BS from industry hacks. There is some legitimate difference of opinion over the overall rate of warming and what sort of homeostatic systems may mitigate or exacerbate the effects.

    The UN appointed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is taken seriously by most scientists. Their “Third Assessment Report” predicts a 30% higher increase in overall temperatures than their 1996 report. The more we learn, the worse it looks. (For example, melting ice and reduction of tree cover is expected to exacerbate the effect of carbon emissions.)

    Industrialized countries are by far the most responsible for getting us to this point, but some Third World countries, eager to catch up, are contemplating so-called development plans that will greatly exacerbate the situation. (Imagine China with the same per capita of cars as the US.)

    The US, with 5% of the world’s population and 25% of its carbon emissions is the worst offender. The Bush administration justified its decision to blow off the Kyoto Protocol on the pretext that it was unfair to expect higher reductions from the US than say India or China. But he didn’t mention that, per capita, the US produces 11 times more carbon emissions than China and 20 times more than India.

    Nuclear power is not a solution because nobody has a serious proposal for getting rid of the waste. The Bush administration’s plan is to ship about 70,000 tons, from about 100 nuclear powerplants, to an “interim” storage site at Yucca Mountain Nevada. This will require about 80,000 truck and 13,000 rail shipments. If a single truck was to spill its load, 42 square miles would be contaminated. To make maters worse, the Department of Transportation and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have come up with a “cost cutting” plan to ship the waste in single-shell casks instead of the sturdier double-shell casks currently required.
    (How can Bush expect to be taken seriouxly about Iraq\'s nuclear threat, when he\'s puting us at greater risk than Saddam ever could?)

    There is no solution “compatible with our way of life and civilization”. Our economic model is premised on the possibility of limitless growth and this is simply unrealistic and ultimately suicidal.

    There are numerous practical steps every country can take to radically reduce carbon emissions without compromising quality of life (unless you think SUV’s, disposable packaging, and jet planes are a quality of life issue). But there’s no magic bullet that will solve every problem, and most of the solutions will result in huge losses for big corporations.

    So we are stuck in a situation where the technical means for survival are readily at hand. But the political barriers are colossal.

  12. #12
    Carpal Tunnel Whitehall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Climactic Changes

    \"Nuclear power is not a solution because nobody has a serious proposal for getting rid of the waste.\"

    EXCUUUUSE ME!!!! So far the US government has collected $15 billion for the Nuclear Waste Trust Fund and spent $6 billion on research, development, and preliminary design for the Yucca Mountain Project. I\'ve been watching this issue for 25 years with an educated, informed, highly self-interested eye. My assessment is that the government has wasted billions on unnecessary studies and reports - the technical issues are just NOT that difficult. The proposed design makes the phrase \"gold-plated\" seem cheap - they really know how to spend money!

    As to your assertions that a transport accident would contaminate \"42 square miles\" - sorry, it just doesn\'t past the reality test. The waste form is solid, heavy, ceramic, and encased internally in small, separate titanium-like tubes.

    For more detail, check

    http://www.rw.doe.gov/homejava/homejava.htm

    I have some good friends working on Yucca Mountain and I would jump at the chance to join them.

  13. #13
    Moderator Mtnjim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Climactic Changes

    I find it egotistical of the environmentalists who are going to \"save the earth\".
    There really is no problem. We will continue to pollute the earth until we poison ourselves. Our species will go extinct. The pollution will stop, the earth will clean itself up, a new species will emerge as \"top dog\" and the earth will go on----without us!

    ;~0

  14. #14
    Carpal Tunnel Whitehall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Climactic Changes

    Red,

    As to the notion of diverting defense moneys to alternative energy supplies, it sure seems sensical, doesn\'t it?

    I remember Henry Kissinger\'s analysis of Jimmy Carter\'s plan for synthetic fuels production. Carter wanted to spend billions on plants to take domestic oil shale and convert it to gasoline. Kissinger pointed out that that investment would then be held hostage by the Saudis. All they had to do ruin that idea would be to drop their price to below our cost of production. That would make all that capital a big waste.

    A similar notion underlay Japan\'s reluctance to participate in the Gulf War. The price of oil would be what it would be no matter who won. They just wanted to sit back and not get involved and so not piss-off whomever the winner was to be.

    If the US allows a hostile country to control the price and availablity of oil, we may be able to supply ourselves with adequate supplies but our domestic supplies would certainly be made more expensive. Since energy is what drives contemperary economies, a difference in energy costs will affect competitive positions.

    An advanced country with cheaper oil supplies will be able to out-compete one with more expensive energy. And oil can be the cheapest, most convenient energy source.

    Ultimately, our military is useful for securing our own access to cheap oil. Just as important, it helps keep our competitors from securing cheaper oil.

  15. #15
    Phero Pharaoh a.k.a.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Climactic Changes

    Thanks for the link, Whitehall. It’s always good to hear the official story. Here’s something that was left out. Joan Claybrook’s (President of Public Citizen) testimony to the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce:

    http://www.citizen.org/cmep/energy_enviro_nuclear/nuclear_waste/hi-level/yucca/articles.cfm?ID=7434

    Also a long quote concerning the nuclear waste casks:

    Furthermore, the NRC s performance requirements for nuclear waste casks (10 CFR 71.73), established in the 1970s, are outdated and dangerously underestimate the conditions of today s worst-case accident scenario:

    The drop test requires casks to withstand a fall from 30 feet onto an unyielding surface, which simulates a crash at 30 miles per hour. Yet no regulations are in place to limit to 30 mph the speed at which nuclear waste shipments can travel. This test condition could easily be exceeded, if, for instance, a cask traveling at regular highway speeds (now 65-75 miles per hour) crashed into oncoming traffic or a virtually unyielding structure such as a bridge abutment.

    The burn test requires casks to withstand an engulfing fire at 1475 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Other materials routinely transported on our roads and rails could spark a hotter fire (diesel burns at 1850 degrees) and could potentially burn for longer than half an hour. Last summer s fire in Baltimore s Howard Street train tunnel which the DOE has identified as a potential Yucca Mountain shipment route - burned for more than 3 days and likely reached temperatures of at least 1500 degrees. If a nuclear waste cask had been on the train involved in that accident, its containment would have been breached, exposing 345,493 people in the area to radiation and costing at least $13.7 billion dollars to clean up.

    The puncture test requires casks to withstand a free-fall from 40 inches onto an 8 inch-long spike. A train derailment or a truck crash on a bridge could result in a fall from much higher than 40 inches and potentially result in puncture damage to the cask s shielding.

    The same cask is required to withstand submersion in 3 feet of water, and a separate test requires an undamaged cask to withstand submersion in 200 meters of water (656 feet) for 1 hour. If a crash involving a nuclear waste shipment occurred on a bridge or barge, a damaged cask could be submerged in depths greater than 3 feet. Furthermore, given the weight of nuclear waste transport casks, it is not reasonable to assume that a submerged cask could be rescued within one hour. Licensed truck casks weigh 24-27 tons, loaded, and train casks can weigh upto 125 tons, loaded. In the case of a barge transport accident, if a crane capable of lifting such a massive load out of the ocean were not immediately available, water pressure over longer periods could result in cask failure and radiation release.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Climactic Changes

    I quite agree, Mtnjim.

    I think we\'re a plague on the face of the planet. We just keep breeding and multiplying, swarming over every last bit of green and paving it over, stringing it up with lights -- you can\'t even see the stars anymore. We\'ve imposed so much on the planet\'s hospitality and on our fellow creatures that she\'ll shake us off one way or another, if we don\'t manage to poison ourselves before she does. And the beat will go on. It\'s not like humans are the be-all and the end-all.

    Wonder if dinosaurs thought they were, when it was their time to be?


  17. #17
    Carpal Tunnel Whitehall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Climactic Changes

    I watched parts of Claybrook\'s testimony live on C-Span. All I can say is that some people are never happy - especially when they made a career of complaining, as Ms. Claybrook has.

    On a more concrete plain, the complete set of test conditions are very impressive to most observers - watch the video of the actual tests. Of course, someone can always say they want more.

    So what is your response to this 42 square mile contamination claim? Tell me how this is supposed to happen - I can\'t imagine a plausible scenario. What exactly do you mean by \"contaminated\"? Instantly lethal? Measurable? Big difference.

    California has 7 nuclear spent fuel pools - I\'ve contributed engineering and management expertise to 3 of them. I\'ve also been the responsible lead nuclear engineer on three pools currently under construction in Asia. I know the limitations of the temporary, at-plant storage facilities - they most certainly DO have some weaknesses! The transportation and storage of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain is far safer then the continued long-term paralysis that keeps spent fuel at the plants.

    The whole issue really requires judgment - one can pick apart any detail and offer criticism - I know, I do it for a living. What we have to do is weigh and balance risks to achieve a better human condition. Frankly, the massive building of more coal plants in China is a far greater hazard to Americans than the operation of nuclear power plants in this country and the transport and disposal of their spent fuel at Yucca Mountain.

    Until \"Environmentalists\" acknowledge that, I will continue to dismiss their ilrelevant posturings.



    (Sorry, AKA, you\'ve got me spun up!)


  18. #18
    Bodhi Satva CptKipling's Avatar
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    Default Re: Climactic Changes

    Thats the beauty of the UK, most places you can still see the stars. Apart from maybe London.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Climactic Changes

    Orion\'s belt is faint in the night sky I look at, which amazes me, to barely be able to see it.


  20. #20
    Moderator Mtnjim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Climactic Changes

    That\'s the nice thing about living in the mountains of Cailfornia. The night sky is white with stars, an hour\'s drive I\'m at the beach. (San Diego, CA-but please don\'t move here, it\'s getting crowded-Ave home price 250K)

  21. #21
    Phero Pharaoh a.k.a.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Climactic Changes

    Whitehall,
    No need to apologize. I enjoy being challenged by someone that knows what they’re talking about. (Even if they have already dismissed my arguments as categorically irrelevant.)

    The bit about 42 sq. miles being contaminated comes from the NRC’s “Spent Nuclear Fuel Transportation Package Performance Issues Report”. You can download a PDF at:

    http://ttd.sandia.gov/nrc/docs/draft.pdf

    No doubt you know more about the scientific side of this debate than I do. But it doesn’t take a nuclear physicist to see that Yucca Mountain was chosen on the basis of political expediency vs. scientific rigor.
    Does science explain why proposed sites in Texas and Washington were eliminated, or could it have something to do with Speaker of the House Jim Wright being from Texas and the House Majority Leader Tom Foley being from Washington? Can science explain why containment standards already on the books have been lowered for the Yucca Mountain site? Is there some scientific reason we can’t have a risk assessment of terrorist attacks on the shipments?

    Maybe I’m not qualified to decide which is worse: leaving the waste on site or transporting it to Yucca Mountain for the next 40,000 years. Neither scenario seems reasonably safe, and that just highlights my original point. Nuclear power is not a solution.

    Of course if I had to chose between nuclear and coal, I’d chose nuclear. This way the problems could be deferred to your grand-children. But why put future generations at risk in the interest of corporate profits and consumer lifestyles?

    In any case, I could argue that your side of this debate is at least as irrelevant as mine, because the Bush administration is projecting increases in BOTH fossil fuel and nuclear energy consumption. So it’s not as if we’re being given a choice.

  22. #22
    Carpal Tunnel Whitehall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Climactic Changes

    Yep, politics played a role. Nevada has one of the smallest, and at the time of the original decisions, one of the weakest Congressional delegations. You want a technocrat to make that decision?

    But then face this question: is there a perfect site? ANSWER: No such thing. Unless you\'re a NIMBY.

    Is not Yucca Mountain an acceptable site? Given the dryness, isolation, rock type, sure looks darn good to me (and most other technical types.) Note that Yucca Mountain overlooks Yucca Flats, site of 1,000 nuclear weapons explosions, largely uncontained.

    The original standards have been adjusted - take a little off there, add a bunch there. It is an advancing field of knowledge and part of the design process. The ultimate goal - 10,000 years isolation was pulled from a hat anyway - as a political decision.

    As to transportation - the stuff has to be moved someday - that can NOT be in question by any responsible commentator. I\'m printing out the report you linked me to and I\'ll comment tomorrow.

    Let me guess - you\'re a staffer for Senator Reid?

  23. #23
    Bodhi Satva CptKipling's Avatar
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    Default Re: Climactic Changes

    I believe the point is that nuclear fission is not the answer.

  24. #24
    Carpal Tunnel Whitehall's Avatar
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    Default Making a Choice of Energy

    When you flip that light switch, you expect the lights to go on. If you show up at work, and the power is off, your boss sends you home without pay. When your mother goes to the hospital, all those life-saving machines work on electricity. Electricity is vital.

    The question is really, if not nuclear, then what? A decision has to be made and someone has to answer for it. If you rule out nuclear, then the responsibility is on you to propose some replacement.

    But be careful! If you can criticize nuclear, I can criticize your proposals. Gas, oil, coal, solar, wind, conservation, geothermal, etc all have problems when one gets down to the nitty-gritty of making real electricity to serve real customers.

    When you come down from the clouds and get serious about making real juice, I think any serious person will see that nuclear is the best option in our imperfect world. It\'s not perfect but no option is.

  25. #25
    Bodhi Satva CptKipling's Avatar
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    Default Re: Making a Choice of Energy

    No I cant agree with you there.

    There are undoubtedly other forms of CLEAN and RENEWABLE fuel, more cach needs to be pumped into research. I for one am not satisfied with the options currently available. Nuclear is non-renewable aswell dont forget. Properly handled, yes it can be a suitable source of power, but I\'m sure there are better ways.

    Cold fusion anyone? Yes I know a fairy tale, but thats the kind of tilt people should be looking into.

  26. #26
    Carpal Tunnel Whitehall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Making a Choice of Energy

    \"Undoubtedly\"?????? Sorry, the more I read about \"alternative energy\" the MORE I doubt.

    The strongest case FOR nuclear comes from the physics of energy. If it\'s energy you want, it\'s gotta go through physics - if physics don\'t know it, then it probably doesn\'t exist. Of course, physics might have to change if you discover something new, but current physics can\'t tell you how to get there.

    You have completed avoid my main point - we as a society can\'t just dream or hope - it has to be REAL. Politicians have promised us alternatives for decades. Why? Because 1) they won\'t have to deliver during their term in office and 2) that promise allows them to avoid the hard decisions. Politicians are happy to throw your money down a rat hole if it makes you happy.

    As to nuclear being \"non-renewable\" - there is plenty of uranium - it\'s more plentiful in the Earth\'s crust than lead. For all intents and purposes, nuclear is unlimited. In fact, uranium is a force of nature. What causes earthquakes and volcanos? - Uranium. The Earth emits to the sky 104% of the solar energy falling upon it. The difference comes from the radioactive decay of uranium.

    Our current plants are crude - I know that all too well. We should be pouring money into design better nuclear plants and processes - THAT would be money well spent.

  27. #27
    Bodhi Satva CptKipling's Avatar
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    Default Re: Making a Choice of Energy

    Ok a fair compromise is to further develop currrent plants, and yes I do see your points and think they are entirely valid. We will always need power, and we will always need solutions in the here and now. Thats what is currently happening, people burning fuels and so forth. Nuclear is leagues better, cleaner, and if delt with properly, safer. But you cant escape that point that a lot of current policy regarding fuels IS only thinking about the now.

    You could NEVER convince me that further R & D wont reap any rewards, the idea in itself is just plain stupid. Your point about the physics of the problem is only partially valid, you also avoided my point. Physics has HUGE possibilities yet to be explored (or that may have been, but are being held tightly under wraps), even current physics. My example of cold fusion isnt completely rediculous, but things like that need time and research. You\'re right that various governments need a kick up the arse regarding their policies, but how can you seriously say that other solutions are not worth the time or money?

    Ok my point about uranium being a fintie resourse was a bit of a dud. But even with these unlimited supplies, what do you do when the waste piles up? I nuclear is the long term solution, how do increasing populations and extra space needed for waste disposal exist in harmony?

  28. #28
    Moderator belgareth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Making a Choice of Energy

    Why must it be cold fussion? There have been experiments for years regarding fussion and magnetic containment. There have also been tremendous advances made in anti-matter. There is speculation about tapping the energy intrinsic to matter itself. There is much to explore!

    Despite the opinions espoused earlier, global warming, the ozone hole or man\'s fault in any of these are not proven. The research has been very biased and the media information has been over-sensationalized. Why is it that no attention whatsoever is given to the climatic data showing that the ice caps have increased in thickness in some areas? (AP-Wire story about six months ago) How about the evidence that the globe should be heading towards another ice age? (geologic/archeological surveys and climatic data reports) There is no discussion about the increased growth of trees in Europe which consume increased amounts of carbon dioxide or the potential for equalibrium. (Studies done in Norway and Germany) I only scanned most of the precious pages but saw little discussion of the scientific evidence related to those issues.

    I do not work for big industry, I own a small business. This panic mongering in the media reminds me of the old government made, big industry sponsered movie \"Reefer Madness\'. Despoiling our land is always a dumb idea, but jumping to conclussions because the media or some special interest group promotes it is just as dumb.

    I\'ll get off my soap box now.

  29. #29
    Carpal Tunnel Whitehall's Avatar
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    Default Further R&D - and parting words

    Break apart \"R&D\" - \"R\" is for research, \"D\" is for development.

    More money for physics research is great but I don\'t see a lot of physics ideas out there worth pouring more money on for a potential of an energy supply impact. Maybe for pure science - yes, of course - but if you\'re looking for a payback, keep looking. \"Cold fusion\" might be an exception but there the engineering got ahead of the physicists - one of those surprises I mentioned. If you have any other ideas, let us know.

    Development is another story. Spending more money on windmill blades or solar cell fabrication is a waste, in my opinion. The physics of energy just doesn\'t justify it since these are low energy concentration sources trying to make high concentration electricity - just pushing energy uphill at a horribly low efficiency.

    That\'s why nuclear has such potential - it is so much more concentrated than any other source of energy known to science - 10E7 or 10E8 times -200,000,000 electron volts for fission vs 3 electron volts for burning carbon. Right now, we\'re just boiling water with it - it\'s embaressingly primitive!

    Like asking the bank robber why he robbed banks - \"Because that\'s where the money is.\" We need to look to the nucleus because that\'s where the energy is.



    BTW - Oscar Wilde defined a \"fanatic\" as \"someone who will neither chage his mind nor the subject.\" With that thought I\'ll not post any more on this subject since I\'m sounding like a bit of a fanatic to myself. You can PM me if you want to discuss more.

  30. #30
    Moderator belgareth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Further R&D

    I agree with you completely on the short term and about solar and wind power. The efficiancies are just not there and the maintenance is a nightmare for both. At best they can be used to reduce (passive solar) individual consumpion.

    However, basic research is what brought us nuclear energy and will help us to tap infinitely greater power sources in the future. Cold fussion? Don\'t get your hopes up! But tapping the energy source that powers our sun? Now there is some potential. Especially since the bi-products are much cleaner.

    We need to look to both the immediate future and the long range. We cannot allow our technology to stagnate.

    Regarding fossil fuels: have you heard of mono-hydrodynamic generation? The old Soviet Union was looking into that at one time with some pretty impressive results. High efficiency and low emmissions.

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