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"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
Sir Winston Churchill

1.21.2008

Does "Green" Mean Dumb?

Sure seems like it:

I am astounded by the naiveté of those folks who seem to think there is some magic, non-polluting energy source out there that “Big Oil” has been hiding from us until all of the petroleum runs out. As these reality deniers continue to drive cars and fly in airplanes, they deny the fact that mankind’s dependence on oil is not out of choice, but necessity.

It makes me cringe when I see bloggers and pundits say things like, “What’s the downside of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions? Even if we’re wrong about man-made global warming, we’ll end up with better energy technologies and cleaner air. And if we’re right, we’ll save the planet!”

The only problem is, no matter how serious you think global warming will be, our current renewable-energy technologies and conservation will make virtually no difference to future global temperatures.

These efforts might make us feel better about ourselves, but don’t expect them to come anywhere close to solving the problem.

The energy demand by humanity is simply too large — and it is growing rapidly in developing countries like India and China. Electricity in the United States is supplied by the equivalent of 1,000 one-gigawatt power plants. It would be a major feat, both politically and monetarily, to replace 50 of those 1,000 power plants with solar and wind generation facilities.

Then, once we have patted ourselves on the back over that accomplishment, we could start working on replacing the other 95 percent of our electricity needs.

And now the space-based solar power crowd has returned. These “experts” point to the increase in efficiency that could be achieved by putting solar collectors in Earth’s orbit and beaming the energy down to the ground.

And indeed you probably could get several times the amount of energy from a solar collector in space versus on the ground. Too bad it would be insanely expensive.

You might have heard of the problems NASA has had with relatively tiny solar collectors attached to the Space Station and Space Telescope. Now imagine putting a one-square mile collector in space. Even if we could get such a thing designed, built, launched, and working, it would replace only 1 of the 1,000 one-gigawatt plants I mentioned earlier that the U.S. alone needs.

The truth is, if you want to get away from petroleum and coal, we need radically new energy technologies. A massive and immediate program to start building nuclear reactors would help some, but this is unlikely to occur without a major change in public opinion.


In other words, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

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