V For Vendetta  

Posted by Big Gav

Greenpeace is accusing federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell on 'anti-wind farm vendetta' after yet another decision to reject a wind farm plan. I always wonder after these sorts of reports - how much money do coal mining companies donate to the Liberal party ?

Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell has weighed in to a community debate on another wind farm project, rejecting calls to fund a scheme in Western Australia.

Senator Campbell said a plan to build turbines on the coast near Denmark, 415 kilometres south of Perth, should not proceed until a national code was established. "I think if we want to have a low carbon future with a lot of renewable power, we need to find a way to ensure that community concerns about visual impacts, about impacts on unique bits of coastline are assuaged," Senator Campbell told the ABC today.

WA Planning Minister Alannah MacTiernan says the proposal could still proceed without federal funding. "If the bar is going to be set so wherever there is any opposition to wind farms there won't be any wind farms, then no projects would get up at all," Ms MacTiernan said today.

Senator Campbell last month prevented a $220 million wind farm project proceeding in south Gippsland in Victoria on the ground that one endangered orange-bellied parrot may die a year. There had been no reported sightings of the bird within 10 kilometres of the proposed site.

MonkeyGrinder has an excellent rant about those who oppose wind farms up which should summon up a wry chuckle from most people.
I get it. Build them wind turbines, and one early spring day, frost still on the ground, I might walk out to a turbine only to be impaled into the ground by an ice shard flung off a turbine. As the ice melts, and I weakly crawl to my feet, a thunderstorm will zoom in out of nowhere, and I’ll be struck by lightening attracted by the nearest tower.

Hair a bit frizzy now, I’ll begin to totter away when a turbine above me will suddenly disintegrate. A spinning blade thus shall chop my arm away. Spewing blood, as I am glancing frantically about, the thrumming turbines will induce a seizure, causing me to collapse again. Mortally wounded, a cow will find me muttering about my cherished - - property values.

...

Will wind farms be so ugly then? Or will people find them beautiful, when natural gas electricity plants start dropping off the grid, for lack of fuel? When the Appalachian mountains have been turned into the Appalachian flatlands? The alleged health risks of a humming turbine pale in comparison to the mercury heaving out in our air every second from coal furnaces around the globe.

James Hall doubtless hasn’t considered any of this. He’s a property values guy, a “baby boomer,” in the American parlance. Perhaps he drives an SUV, perched so fearfully high off the ground, so high up in heaven, that he doesn’t realize that the road below is paved with the bones of his grandchildren.

The ABC has a report on environmental activists "driving commercial innovation and seeding new mainstream industries" (like wind power, if the environment minister would let them).
Environmental activists are driving commercial innovation and seeding new mainstream industries, a UK study says. The study says rather than putting up hurdles to economic progress, radical activist groups and proponents of a greener lifestyle are driving developments in mainstream businesses like wind energy, organic food and eco-housing.

Australian sustainability pioneer and engineering lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney, Michael Mobbs, says the report rings true for him. The environmental lawyer was renovating his Sydney home in 1996 when he decided to put in sustainable features, including a water tank, a reused sewage system and solar panels. At the time people thought he was "frothing at the mouth or somehow abnormal", he says.

Ten years later, 17,000 people have toured his home and he advises policy makers, developers, builders, architects, engineers and "mainstream, middle class Australians". "There are now laws requiring rain tanks and many of the things I did that were regarded as weird and stupid are now in red tape," he says. "The engineers who were once critical of me are now describing themselves as sustainability experts."

Mobbs is currently helping Western Australia's Department for Planning and Infrastructure design a sustainable village at Gracetown.

Moving onto uncleaner sources of energy, the nuclear industry probably hates days like today - the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident.

I was aghast to see wingnut lunatic Andrew Bolt on the TV news this morning foaming at the mouth about this subject as he dispensed conspiracy theories about Chernobyl being a giant scam - hardly anyone died and there are few residual effects, according to our great historical revisionist. Too much kulturkampf, like too much radiation, is obviously very bad for the brain.

It was entertaining watching him trying to wage the pro-nuclear PR battle while being unable to mention global warming (he is also a vehement global warming denier, which outlines one of the dilemmas faced by those who like to parrot lines for both the coal and nuclear industries). Of course, I'd imagine all of those kids with leukaemia wouldn't find his line of argument quite so entertaining - maybe some should send him on a visit to the involuntary park and some of the nearby hospitals and villages...


Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the nuclear power-plant accident in Chernobyl, Ukraine, that spewed radioactive fallout across Europe. Estimates of the total number of deaths that will result range from around 9,000 (a U.N. report released last year) to 93,000 (a new Greenpeace report). The controversy stems from uncertainty about the health effects of small doses of radiation. Thyroid cancer and other thyroid abnormalities are health problems that most scientists agree are directly linked to Chernobyl, but the Greenpeace report also blames fallout for "damaging immune and endocrine systems, leading to accelerated aging, cardiovascular and blood illnesses, psychological illnesses, chromosome aberrations, and an increase of deformities in fetuses and children." The last of Chernobyl's four reactors was taken out of commission in 2000; now, the site sits quietly amidst a wide "dead zone" that has, ironically, become a kind of wildlife refuge. It almost makes it all ... wait, no it doesn't.

Dave Roberts is, like MonkeyGrinder, reduced to ranting as well - in this case, about the success big PR money is having for the cancerous energy industry in terms of framing the debate as "coal vs nukes" (two unpleasant choices), instead of "coal vs nukes vs renewables" (which has an obvious winner).
One of the most frustrating things about the renewed debate over nuclear power is that it has basically been forced into the public sphere by brute force of cash. The Nuclear Energy Institute can afford to hire high-profile shills; they can blitz the press until they get some prominent placement.

They get to set the terms of the debate. We're stuck arguing "nukes good" or "nukes bad." That makes public acceptance of nukes inevitable, since the "nukes bad" crowd can always be cast as obstructionists standing in the way of progress.

What's missing? A big-money push behind the positive green alternative: Energy efficiency standards, carbon taxes, incentives for clean energy, smarter land-use policy, smarter agricultural policy, etc.

Why is there no big-money push? Because no big, consolidated industry stands to make money off it. Certainly money could be made, but for the short- to mid-term it will be scattered, distributed, small-scale money.

These green strategies serve the public good, not the corporate good, and thus are at a heavy disadvantage in our corporate-dominated political and media system. They have no big-money backing, and thus have no effective advocates.

So the corporate "solutions" dominate the debate.

(The same is true, to some extent, for biofuels. How did ethanol come to serve as a stand-in for energy independence? Because Big Agribusiness and Big Oil both stand to profit, and congressfolk from agricultural states stand to benefit from the rush of subsidies.)

Dave doesn't mention the hydrogen economy in there (which is often linked to the nuclear industry, though thats just one way of making hydrogen) - George Monbiot has returned from a break to consider the hydrogen and nuclear questions in England.
If we’re to have a hydrogen economy, we have to secure our supplies of natural gas.

My timing could scarcely be worse. To announce, in this of all weeks, a Damascene conversion to natural gas is to invite ridicule from every quarter. The price of oil has hit $75, and for reasons no energy company has yet been able to explain to me, it takes the gas price with it. Even before this new surge, the wholesale cost of gas had trebled in just three years.

This winter, we nearly had to do without it altogether. First Russia’s state-controlled producer Gazprom cut the supplies to Europe in order to show Ukraine where real power still lies; then the private monopolists in the European Union appeared to restrict the flow through the “interconnector” which supplies the United Kingdom. At just the wrong moment – February 16th – the UK’s main gas storage facility (on the Rough Field in the North Sea) blew up. Centrica, the company which runs it, predicted then that it would remain closed for one month. A month later, the company said it would be shut till May. Now its spokesman tells me that it will be back in business “from June 1st”. The “from” does not inspire confidence.

Last week the chief executive of Gazprom, from which the UK buys about a quarter of its natural gas, warned of the consequences this country would suffer if the government refused to let it buy Centrica. “One cannot forget that we are actively developing new markets such as North America and China. Gas producers in Central Asia are also pay [sic] their attention to the Chinese market. It is not by accident. Competition for energy resources is increasing. It is needed to note that attempts to limit Gazprom’s activity in European market and politicize gas supply issues … will make no good results.” Doubtless he was stroking a white cat as he said it. To make my task of persuasion particularly difficult, Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group reported that the European Union, desperate for access to Turkmenistan’s reserves, has been ignoring the atrocities of the borderline-bonkers President Niyazov.

All this means that the British government is even more likely to recommend a new generation of nuclear generators in its energy review in the summer.

...

I’ve looked into every source of sustainable heat I can find, and while there are plenty that could supply some of our houses – wood and straw, solar hot water panels, district heating systems and heat pumps for example – all of them are constrained by one factor or another, such as a shortage of agricultural land, our feeble sun and the disruption involved in fitting them to existing homes. It seems that there is only one low-carbon source of heat which could (with a massive investment in new infrastructure) be supplied to most of the homes in the United Kingdom between now and 2030. It is hydrogen.

Hydrogen can be used to power a fuel cell, which is a kind of gas battery. If, as their promoters predict, fuel cells can very soon be made small enough, cheap enough and reliable enough to take the place of domestic boilers, they could provide both the heat and electricity our homes require. The natural gas pipes to which most of our houses are now attached would be replaced by hydrogen pipes. These are about 50% wider, but otherwise the system is much the same.

There are three means of making hydrogen without releasing much carbon dioxide: by reacting natural gas with steam and capturing and burying the carbon it contains, by passing steam and oxygen through pulverised coal (and catching the carbon) and by the electrolysis of water. The last option is the one beloved of both environmentalists (because the electricity can come from wind) and the nuclear industry.

But a hydrogen network will be viable only if it is cheap. According to a report by the US National Academy of Engineering, the wholesale price of hydrogen made from natural gas with carbon capture will, in “the future”, be $1.72 per kilogramme; from coal, $1.45; and from electrolysis $3.93. In other words, if a hydrogen economy is to be taken seriously, the fuel has to be made from gas or coal, rather than by either wind turbines or nuclear generators.

Even in my confessional mood, I cannot bring myself to support coal. I defy anyone who knows what opencast mining looks like to say the words “clean coal” without blushing. This leaves only gas. If my calculations are correct, the retail price of hydrogen made from natural gas will be around 50% greater than the retail price of gas itself. But because fuel cells supplying both heat and electricity are more efficient than gas boilers, the total cost would be roughly the same.

So it seems to me that a key environmental challenge, odd as this seems, is to ensure that gas has a future in the United Kingdom, by making its supplies more secure. I don’t mean invading Iran or sucking up to Saparmurat Niyazov.

Its a shame gas (even Russian gas) won't last forever, unlike wind...

For those who haven't seen it yet, Bill Clinton's recent speech in London touched on both peak oil and global warming.
The second thing that I would like to talk briefly about is global warming. I believe that it is the only existential threat that, those of you who are students here, your generation faces. It could literally undermine your ability to raise your children and grandchildren. A whole spade of new books and studies have come out in the last couple of months, and I will just cite two or three. A dig through the ice pac in Antarctica, deeper than any before it had achieved has enabled us to measure the pattern of climate warming in the last two hundred years. The climate is warming more rapidly than anytime in the last two hundred thousand years. Homosapiens stood up on the planes of the savannah in East Africa somewhere between 130,000-150,000 years ago. This goes back before the time when our species was on the planet. The last ice age receded 15,000 years ago that allowed people to move across the globe. They were five civilizations on earth five thousands years ago. We are playing with serious fire.

The Indians and Chinese are in this huge fight now to see who can get the most oil. We may be at a point of peak oil production. You may see $100 a barrel oil in the next two or three years, but what still is driving this globalization is the idea that is you cannot possibly get rich, stay rich and get richer; if you don’t release more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. That was true in the industrial era; it is simply factually not true. What is true is that the old energy economy is well organized, financed and connected politically. The new energy economy is underfinanced, under organized, entrepreneurial and in need of the type of research and development work that we routinely did when we were trying to sequence the human genome or go into space. But just with existing technologies for conservation and clean energy, we can more than meet the Kyoto protocols if we were remotely serious about the targets and in the process create jobs in the developed and developing world on a scale that is otherwise unimaginable to me. It is just a question of whether we accept this, but I can only tell you that I have studied this data seriously. I consider it an existential threat to your future. It may be the most remote security threat you face, but the only one who has the chance to change the life of everybody on the plant for the worst. And yet it is a phenomenal opportunity.

Regardless of your opinion of Clinton (and he certainly seems to drive both right and left tinfoil hemispheres crazy along with all the frothing masses of "values based" wingnuts), both he and Al Gore seem to get the current situation much better than most politicians. Gore has received yet more good press in Wired today - he seems to be becoming the darling of the clean tech set. Maybe we'll be seeing Gore-Clinton (Hillary unfortunately) back on the cards in 2008 ?
One evening last December, in front of nearly 2,000 people at Stanford's Memorial Auditorium, Al Gore spoke in uncharacteristically personal and passionate terms about the failed quest that has dominated much of his adult life. Save for his standard warm-up line - "Hi, I'm Al Gore, and I used to be the next president of the United States" - there was hardly a mention of the White House. Instead, during the next 90 minutes, Gore had plenty to say about thinning polar ice caps, shrinking glaciers, rising carbon dioxide concentrations, spiking temperatures, and hundreds of other data points he has woven into an overpowering slide show detailing the catastrophic changes affecting the earth's climate. The audience was filled with Silicon Valley luminaries: Apple's Steve Jobs; Google's Larry Page and Eric Schmidt; Internet godfather Vint Cerf; Yahoo!'s Jerry Yang; venture capitalists John Doerr, Bill Draper, and Vinod Khosla; former Clinton administration defense secretary William Perry; and a cross section of CEOs, startup artists, techies, tinkerers, philanthropists, and investors of every political and ethnic stripe.

Also in Wired, a shorter version of Alex Steffen's inspiring Earth Day outburst.
Green-minded activists failed to move the broader public not because they were wrong about the problems, but because the solutions they offered were unappealing to most people. They called for tightening belts and curbing appetites, turning down the thermostat and living lower on the food chain. They rejected technology, business, and prosperity in favor of returning to a simpler way of life. No wonder the movement got so little traction. Asking people in the world's wealthiest, most advanced societies to turn their backs on the very forces that drove such abundance is naive at best.

With climate change hard upon us, a new green movement is taking shape, one that embraces environmentalism's concerns but rejects its worn-out answers. Technology can be a font of endlessly creative solutions. Business can be a vehicle for change. Prosperity can help us build the kind of world we want. Scientific exploration, innovative design, and cultural evolution are the most powerful tools we have. Entrepreneurial zeal and market forces, guided by sustainable policies, can propel the world into a bright green future.

Americans trash the planet not because we're evil, but because the industrial systems we've devised leave no other choice. Our ranch houses and high-rises, factories and farms, freeways and power plants were conceived before we had a clue how the planet works. They're primitive inventions designed by people who didn't fully grasp the consequences of their actions.

Consider the unmitigated ecological disaster that is the automobile. Every time you turn on the ignition, you're enmeshed in a system whose known outcomes include a polluted atmosphere, oil-slicked seas, and desert wars. As comprehension of the stakes has grown, though, a market has emerged for a more sensible alternative. Today you can drive a Toyota Prius that burns far less gasoline than a conventional car. Tomorrow we might see vehicles that consume no fossil fuels and emit no greenhouse gases. Combine cars like that with smarter urban growth and we're well on our way to sustainable transportation.

You don't change the world by hiding in the woods, wearing a hair shirt, or buying indulgences in the form of save the earth bumper stickers. You do it by articulating a vision for the future and pursuing it with all the ingenuity humanity can muster. Indeed, being green at the start of the 21st century requires a wholehearted commitment to upgrading civilization. Four key principles can guide the way:

Renewable energy is plentiful energy. Burning fossil fuels is a filthy habit, and the supply won't last forever. Fortunately, a growing number of renewable alternatives promise clean, inexhaustible power: wind turbines, solar arrays, wave-power flotillas, small hydroelectric generators, geothermal systems, even bioengineered algae that turn waste into hydrogen. The challenge is to scale up these technologies to deliver power in industrial quantities - exactly the kind of challenge brilliant businesspeople love...

Continuing the Viridian theme, WorldChanging has a post on The Rise Of Bright Green Computers.
The modern world's greatest tool is among our most disposable and resource-heavy. Performance-wise, computer design has progressed staggeringly well and astonishingly fast. But looking at it from a green perspective, the work has barely begun. When our laptop dies and we toss it, it either rots in a landfill, or children in the developing world end up wrestling its components apart by hand, melting toxic bits to recover traces of heavy metals. Did someone forget to design for them? And of the $250 billion per year spent on powering computers worldwide, only about 15% of that power was spent computing--the rest was wasted idling. Did we really get what we paid for?

We've written about various aspects of green computers before, but here's an attempt to give a whole-picture view of what the bright green computer of tomorrow will be like: efficiency, manufacturing & materials, recyclability, service model, self-powering, and other trends.

...

All this is just the beginning. So far, consumers haven't cared about ecological impact when buying computers, they've cared only about speed and price. But as Moore's Law marches on and computers commoditize, consumers will become pickier about being green. (This means you!) Tomorrow's bright green computers will be different from today's in many ways. So far it’s rare to see a product that pulls on more than one solution, but the industry is starting to move forward--sometimes of its own accord, sometimes dragged kicking and screaming by regulations and consumer activism. Devices use less and less power while renewable energy gets more and more portable and effective. New green materials are developed every year, and many toxic ones are already being replaced by them. The greenest computer will not miraculously fall from the sky one day, it’ll be the product of years of improvements to this and that along the way. Designers can now make many small changes converge into a full rethinking of the industry, into directions as yet unknown. And when they do, we will have on our desk a machine that not only connects us to the world through information technology, but to a cycle of manufacturing that doesn't hurt us or future generations; to companies that consider both the people who make their computers and those who take them apart; and all in a product that is lighter, sleeker and more elegant than any we've yet seen.

In comparison to Gore and Clinton, Bush seems barely capable of understanding the politics of scarcity - not surprising for the worst president ever I guess (once again I'm going to rip off a vaste swathe of text from Billmon here, because he writes it so well - he even quotes Asimov and Foundation, subjects to warm any peak oil collapse geek's heart).
President Bush's approval ratings have sunk to a personal low, with only a third of Americans saying they approve of the way he is handling his job, a national poll released Monday said.

In the telephone poll of 1,012 adult Americans carried out Friday through Sunday by Opinion Research Corporation for CNN, 32 percent of respondents said they approve of Bush's performance, 60 percent said they disapprove and 8 percent said they do not know.


If this continues, cholera is going to end up with a higher approval rating. It looks to me like the only "five point" plan that could possibly revive Shrub's political fortunes is the star on the end of Tinkerbell's little wand.

By way of comparison, Jimmy Carter's lowest approval rating was 28%, during the last big oil price shock (before the Iranian hostage crisis temporarily made him popular again.) Nixon, of course, set the modern record for political revulsion, hitting 23% in the winter of 1974 — in the middle of the first big energy crisis, although Watergate probably had more to do with it.

A betting man would probably wager that Bush won't sink to Nixonian levels of unpopularity — even if his inner circle has long since left Tricky Dick in the dust in terms of sheer criminality. I don't think there are enough thinking Republicans left in this country to take Shrub into the low 20s, even though the bite at the pump appears to be drawing blood even among the regime's dead enders:
In the staunchly Republican community of London, about 25 miles west of Columbus [Ohio], Melinda Conley still supports President Bush and calls herself a "die-hard Republican."

But Conley, an interior designer and gift shop owner on Main Street, quickly says that she has done a lot of dying lately, a point driven home last week when she spent $100 on gas for her Ford Excursion — and that didn't fill the tank.


It's a little disconcerting to think that gas prices — not Iraq, not Katrina, not the extra-constitutional power grabs — could decide whether Shrub's presidency recovers or collapses into complete irrelevancy for the next three years. But the good Dr. Pollkatz has already plotted the relationship, and it's statistically suggestive, to say the least.

This should be enough to make any would-be president (Demopublican or Republicrat) extremely nervous, since it seems high energy prices are likely to be a major fact of life for years to come — and maybe forever. If that turns out to be the case, then an absolutely necessary condition for future presidential success, or even survival, might be making sure the go juice keeps flowing at prices that won't drive the average American SUV owner onto the war path.

But that isn't going to be easy — not in a world in which everybody and their Chinese cousin is scrambling to lock up the available supply, where a number of major oil producing countries are a coup away from becoming failed states (if they're not there already), and that is already producing about as much of the light, sweet cheap stuff as it ever will.

Given the political incentives, it's possible to look a ways down the road — not a long ways — and see a U.S. military policy (formerly known as a foreign policy) that begins and ends with the protection of the oil lifeline. This could leave America in roughly the same position as Trantor, the world city and imperial galactic capital in Isaac Asimov's sci-fi classics, the Foundation trilogy. (George Lucas later shamelessly ripped off Asimov's idea and turned it into his own galactic world city, Coruscant, in the last three Star Wars movies.)

Like Coruscant, the surface of Trantor is just one big urban 'hood, meaning the planet's inhabitants — including the imperial court — must rely on a ring of neighboring star systems for their food supply. In his mythical Encyclopedia Galactica, Asimov explains the strategic implications:
Its dependence upon the outer worlds for food and, indeed, for all necessities of life, made Trantor increasingly vulnerable to conquest by siege. In the last millennium of the Empire, the monotonously numerous revolts made Emperor after Emperor conscious of this, and Imperial policy became little more than the protection of Trantor's delicate jugular vein.

Substitute oil for food and Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Venezuela and Nigeria for the "outer worlds," and you can begin to see where our own dependence may take us. If you've read the Foundation trilogy, you know that the galactic empire soon crumbles, first at the edges, then the core, until only those precious agricultural planets remain.

But Asimov's fictional emperors actually had it easy by comparison. Trantor's jugular vein connected it to a handful of nearby star systems — the imperial backyard, in galactic terms. These could still be held, even after the rest of the empire had slipped away.

By contrast, America's oil lifeline spans the earth (our imperial "galaxy"). All of it has to be watched and guarded, stabilized and supervised. Even a partial loss of control could turn into a disaster, since in a global market supply disruptions anywhere can send prices soaring everywhere. And yet some of the most serious threats — like the separatist movement in the Niger delta — are outside the U.S. security "umbrella," traditionally defined.

What this implies, of course, is a terrible case of imperial overstretch, one which technology, firepower and Special Forces mojo may not be able to cure, no matter how much money gets thrown at the Pentagon. When the objective is to protect vital economic infrastructures, rather than blow them up, the U.S. military machine clearly lacks many of the right tools — like an adequate number of combat boots with soldiers' feet inside them.

For those who fear above all else the threat of hostile Middle Eastern regimes armed with WMD, this is potentially very bad news, at least in the long run. Unless stopping the (insert nationality here) Hitler can be done in a way that doesn't jack up the price of a gallon of regular, future U.S. administrations may be unwilling, or politically unable, to risk it.

Unfortunately, in the short run this could be even worse news for those of us who fear a wider war in the Middle East more than the future possibility of a nuclear Iran. Having seen what high gas prices have done to his popularity ratings, Bush may feel confirmed in his reported conviction that no future president will have the guts to take down Tehran. And having fallen into Jimmy Carter territory, he may also feel he has nothing left to lose, at least politically, by doing it himself.

But, assuming Bush can be restrained for the next three years, we may be due for a return to the days when U.S. presidents didn't go looking for opportunities to turn the Middle East upside down.

When your jugular is exposed to the world, it takes enormous courage (and/or incredible stupidity) to adopt an aggressive "forward" strategy. Especially when failure and defeat in one critical region can encourage defiance in another. As goes the Middle East, so goes Latin America? Future presidents may not be willing to put it to the test — not after seeing George W. Bush's second term flushed down the same sewer as Jimmy Carter's first and only one.

And to close, I can't resist quoting some text from the "worst president ever" link above either (and here's a tinfoil decoration for those who enjoy pondering propaganda systems - both ours and the Russian's - I'll resist the temptation to go and find something which says what I suspect about the much publicised Zarqawi video burbling away on the TV behind me, which is the obvious tinfoil hook for the day).
How extraordinary. Something is happening here that has never happened in America's history. A consensus is sweeping the nation. Not that the war in Iraq is wrong, or that oil companies are screwing us blue, or that the climate is going to hell, or that good-paying jobs are being replaced by low-paying jobs, or that our national health care system is a disgrace, or that that the rich are getting a lot richer while the middle class gets poorer.

While all that's true, and more and more folks are getting it, that's not the consensus of which I speak. Nope. This one is bigger, enormous, huge!

Here it is: The president of the United States is a moron.

Yes, stupid, dumb as common road gravel. And not figuratively, but literally. George W. Bush, president of the world's last remaining superpower, is a moron. Forrest Gump's evil twin.

7 comments

Anonymous   says 1:41 AM

'At the time people thought he was "frothing at the mouth or somehow abnormal", he says.'
I think that the line "People accept the reality that is presented to them" might have been wasted in the film Truman Show.
It also brings to mind that quote about new ideas first being rejected/scorned... then being accepted as self evident and finally that the wrong people get the credit!
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I'm not sure but solar doesn't seem to have found a way of getting itself into the mass-market. What do you think of solar (electricity) mainly being promoted as a lighting replacement in conjunction with lower power compact flouros and the new generation super bright LEDS. This is do-able. Would help if GST was removed on compact flouros.
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On wind farms it is totally ridiculous banning them as the Minister did. Shouldn't he now remove all coastal roads. Not to mention windows on buildings.
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Monbiot's comments on hydrogen seem rediculous on the face of them. First he discounts the alternatives on the fact that they are too expensive. However, he then states that the only source of hydrogen is natural gas, but he can only make hydrogen work at all as combined heat and power.

He seems to be implying that a home fuel cell with the infrastructure needed to transport hydrogen would be cheaper than an air-source heat pump.

anon - agreed on all counts - though solar isn't a great option in the UK (which is what Monbiot is analysing) simply because of their latitude and general lack of sun due to cloudiness.

Robert - I was very disappointed with that Monbiot article too - with the short on natural gas and Gazprom looking like a scary supplier in the longer term I would have thought natural gas was the last basket to be putting all your eggs in. And you have to sequester all the CO2 to boot.

That said, the UK doesn't have a lot of options - they'll go nuclear plus lots of wind farms in the long run is my bet.

Anonymous   says 8:57 AM

I was thinking of sunnier climes re the solar.
I was surprised by the Monbiot article too - his reaction seems similar to Lovelocks. A kind of sudden desperation perhaps? A grasping for the closest perceived magic techno fix.

Although I suspect (medium future) that some kind of mass 'home generation' may happen - I'm not sure that it will be hydrogen.
You only have to look at NASA filling the Shuttle tanks up to the moment of launch to get an idea of the problems.
-makes metals brittle (not sure if all of them)
- leaks
- do we have alternate catalysts to platinum => is there enough platinum?

That poor guy in the picture looks like he has got a fungal infection in the eye. I don't know when the picture was taken, but in a few days that eye will swell up and turn black and blue. Then the other eye will start to go and he will turn blind. The fungal infection will likely then spread into his brain through the sinus cavity.

Horrible what leukemia caused by radiation poisoning will do.

Anon: I think Monbiot's heart is in the right place - if the UK could secure a reliable gas supply that won't disappear for 50 years (and could come up with an efficient way of sequestering the CO2) then it would be a good option.

But I doubt any of these 3 criteria could be attained - I don't know why he can't see this - maybe he's just trying to find a silver lining (which is a little odd as he normally thrives on pessimism).

As for hydrogen, I'm largely skeptical - as you say, lots of issues still to resolve.

WHT: Well done - you have excelled at creeping me out - I thought the poor kid suffering from nuclear powered leukaemia was bad enough !

sorry to creep you out. It's first hand experience and its the only way that I can vent.

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