Global Warming and You!

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Dutch guy
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Re: Global Warming and You!

Postby Dutch guy » 23 Jul 2012, 11:48

Lord Chrusher wrote:
Dutch guy wrote:
Lord Chrusher wrote:Actually the carbon tax in BC is 6.67 cents per litre.

Supposedly the use of carbon based fuels has decreased in BC while their use in the rest of Canada has slightly increased.

A carbon tax is the simplest way of making carbon more expensive which is effective way of making people use less carbon.


Carbon tax doesn't work. People still need to drive to work, people still need to heat their homes. The tiny bit you can save by having the general public turn down the thermostat a bit or driving a few miles less is paltry.

Want to seriously affect the amount of carbon dioxides we produce? Build much more nuclear plants, stop international shipping of "small commercial products", stop building with concrete, etc. THEN you can get an effect. Joe public can generally do didly squat when it comes to saving on carbon emissions.


Not everyone has to drive to work. If they still want to drive they can drive vehicles that get a hundred miles a gallon. Houses can be made much more energy efficient and there a host of ways to heat or cool a building that do not use carbon based fuels. A high enough carbon price would make nuclear power plants economic, make air transport horrifically expensive and force a different way of making cement.

Making something expensive is the best way to get someone to stop using it. Likely the best way to introduce a carbon price as was done in British Columbia is to introduce it at a low price (say $10 a tonne) then raise the price at regular intervals (say $10 a tonne per year). Thus there is no sudden shock and people are able to plan since they know what the future price of carbon is.



Vehicles that get 100 miles to the gallon? In what universe do we have those?? Certainly not in our world. (And NO electric vehicles don't come anywhere near that either) Nuclear power already IS economic. In fact, it is the most economic way we know of making energy. It's just a "tad" difficult with the misinformed masses screaming their heads off at the supposed dangers of nuclear plants. Air transport is not something we should WANT to make horrifically expensive. Per passenger mile or cargo ton mile, air transport over longer distances has a VERY low emissions footprint, and the overall aviation industry is only a tiny contributor to carbon emissions.
There IS no cleaner way of making cement, so the only option in that regard is simply using less of the stuff or accepting the emissions coming from that industry.
Carbon tax is NEVER going to work. Because while it might encourage slight savings, it severly punishes those that HAVE to produce large amounts of CO2. Turning down the AC is potentially viable for joe public (but again, small potatoes, it wont have any effect overall) but it's not an option for a hospital. Or a fish processing plant. Etc.
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Re: Global Warming and You!

Postby AlexanderDitto » 23 Jul 2012, 15:23

Dutch guy wrote:
Vehicles that get 100 miles to the gallon? In what universe do we have those?? Certainly not in our world. (And NO electric vehicles don't come anywhere near that either) Nuclear power already IS economic. In fact, it is the most economic way we know of making energy. It's just a "tad" difficult with the misinformed masses screaming their heads off at the supposed dangers of nuclear plants. Air transport is not something we should WANT to make horrifically expensive. Per passenger mile or cargo ton mile, air transport over longer distances has a VERY low emissions footprint, and the overall aviation industry is only a tiny contributor to carbon emissions.
There IS no cleaner way of making cement, so the only option in that regard is simply using less of the stuff or accepting the emissions coming from that industry.
Carbon tax is NEVER going to work. Because while it might encourage slight savings, it severly punishes those that HAVE to produce large amounts of CO2. Turning down the AC is potentially viable for joe public (but again, small potatoes, it wont have any effect overall) but it's not an option for a hospital. Or a fish processing plant. Etc.


Google's working on plug-in hybrids that get the equivalent of 100 mpg. No, we don't have those right now, but we will very soon. On the other hand, there's an easy way of getting the equivalent of doubling your MPG... virtually every car I see on the road has one person in it. It's ridiculous. Carpooling could help immensely.

But you're right. That's small potatoes.

What I don't understand is your argument that everything else is small potatoes. Aviation is small potatoes. Automobile traffic is small potatoes. Consumer electricity use is small potatoes. So where are the big potatoes?

The point is that a carbon tax ENCOURAGES INNOVATION. Nobody HAS to produce large amounts of CO2; they do because their current business model has factored in that dumping CO2 is FREE, so they've built up their businesses around that. The point is EXACTLY to punish those industries to make them change their business practices. Nobody's going to completely shift their business practices out of the goodness of their heart. It's just not a reality. You have to make it economically advantageous for them to do so, and the only clear way of doing that is by taxing carbon emissions as if they were a waste product, just like we "discourage" (fine) companies for every other type of waste they produce.

"There is no cleaner way of making cement." "those that HAVE to produce large amounts of CO2." "Electric vehicles don't come CLOSE to 100 mpg." None of these things have to be true; they're all closed-minded ways of thinking.

Ten years ago, bet you'd have said "Solar Panels are big, expensive, and impractical!"

Give it another ten years; I'll bet we'll be making better cement using nanoparticles that supplant traditional limestone-based cement. Then give it another ten years to become cost-effective.
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Re: Global Warming and You!

Postby Lord Chrusher » 23 Jul 2012, 15:27

Ignoring the image problem that nuclear power has, nuclear power is an incredably capital intensive way of generating power with long lead times. It is much easier to spend billions of dollars on building a nuclear power plant if you know that the price of electricty will remain high. This goes for any renewable power generation or power saving. It would be nice to see government go out on a limb and build nuclear power plants but I see it as less likely than carbon pricing.
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Re: Global Warming and You!

Postby Metcarfre » 23 Jul 2012, 15:31

I was talking to a guy I know who does software stuff for power companies. He was saying they have really exciting stuff planned as gas-supplemented electric vehicles like the Volt become more popular. Basically, if we can plan on a certain number of people using electric vehicles in the future, it actually solves a lot of problems that power companies have. Basically, electric vehicles can charge during non-peak consumption hours (overnight - apparently on a 240 volt circuit the Volt takes ~4-5 hours to charge fully), be driven in to work, and then be connected into the grid at their parking spot. Then, at peak demand times, the local circuit can draw on the car's batteries, reducing peak demand and reducing power waste from transmission distance. Anyways, cool stuff.
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Re: Global Warming and You!

Postby plummeting_sloth » 23 Jul 2012, 15:33

Yeah... there will never really be a growing nuclear industry in the same vein as solar or wind or even natural gas. The start-up costs are WAY to high. While public mistrust of the industry has certainly been unhelpful in, say, the acquisition of government financing, the heyday of the industry was the heyday of massive public investment into large-scale energy projects. Trying to keep an industry going that requires such a long lead time with the boom and bust cycle of of the bonds it needs is going to lead to trepidation on their part.
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Re: Global Warming and You!

Postby Merrymaker_Mortalis » 23 Jul 2012, 15:51

Nuclear power stations are only dangerous if you're cheap in building them (USSR and China).
You can't cheap development. One day it will all crash down and many lives will be negatively affected.
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Re: Global Warming and You!

Postby Lord Chrusher » 23 Jul 2012, 16:01

Although the design and construction of nuclear power plants is quite important so is their operation. Doing so safely requires a safety culture that can be a challenge even in democracies such as the case in Japan.
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Re: Global Warming and You!

Postby Dutch guy » 23 Jul 2012, 16:14

@Chrusher The point is that while nuclear energy does require large capital investment, long lead times and long-term waste management programs the price per kilowatt hour of energy is STILL cheaper than coal, or gas, or solar, or wind. And the price of nuclear energy is in fact so low, prices could halve and it would STILL be profitable. (Contrary to oil/gas/coal plants)

@Ditto,
The problem with solar is this: even at 100% efficiency (which is impossible, even with nano tech) you only get a maximum of roughly 680 Watt/m^2. This means, to equal a 200 Megawatt energy plant you'd need atleast 294.117 m^2 to get that power. And that is a tiny, tiny output level. (Most plants rate in the gigawatt output level). And then a solar plant can only generate that peak power at midday on a cloudless day. Energy output is even less in the evening or morning.

So yes, from an engineering standpoint solar power is big, expensive, impractical, inefficient and ineffective. (Not to mention not exactly clean, as there is no way to recycle a lot of those materials. End-of-life becomes even more of a nightmare once we start talking about those nano-materials)

While some vehicles might be able to achieve 100 mpg any decent sized car, with enough room for normal use, and suitable for use in "the normal world" is NEVER going to achieve that kind of mileage. Simply because "the real world" just doesn't have the conditions necessary to allow that kind of efficiency. (Yes we can make a lot of improvements but not that much)
And what google conveniently doesn't tell you about those mileage numbers is that they don't include any carbon emissions used when charging the battery. So they assume they charge 100% of the energy in the battery from the grid through a zero-emissions source (which can't exist) and then drive at a perfectly regulated snails pace while having to break or accelerate as little as possible. (Current hybrids or electric vehicles run around 1:19 to 1:20 liters:kilometer when charged by a gas or oil plant, as most would be, when you do the math)

"There is no cleaner way of making cement." "those that HAVE to produce large amounts of CO2." "Electric vehicles don't come CLOSE to 100 mpg." None of these things have to be true; they're all closed-minded ways of thinking.



Nope, thats reality. I'm an engineer, I know what I'm talking about right there. There will ALWAYS be industries that have to produce large amounts of CO2. There is no way around that. Look at how a lot of our raw materials are produced. Look at how they get transformed into half-products and then assembled into final products. There IS no cleaner way of making cement. There is simply only one way of making cement that is economically viable, and that method produces a lot of CO2. That is simply the laws of chemistry we are stuck with. There is no clever way around it, there is no way of doing it different.

I'm not saying EVERYTHING is small potatoes. I never said that. The biggest potato we would have to go after right now is one we can't go after. It's the industrial power use. While a 20 gigawatt plant can power tens of thousands of homes on the domestic market, that same 20 gigawatt power output will, in a lot of places, power maybe 2 or 3 factories. But you can't suddenly make a plant use half the amount of power. There are a few big potatoes out there (ocean-freight, deforestation in the tropics, old coal fired plants with bad scrubbers, to name but a few) The problem is, how do we tackle them? If there was a way to use less fuel to propel a ship across the world, the shipping companies would LOVE to hear it. If you can tell the countries in the tropics a better way to manage their land, produce enough food and have enough income not to starve to death, I'm sure they would love to hear it too. I've already given an immediate and viable solution to coal plants. Nuclear. But somehow people don't like that option either.

The point is that a carbon tax ENCOURAGES INNOVATION. Nobody HAS to produce large amounts of CO2; they do because their current business model has factored in that dumping CO2 is FREE, so they've built up their businesses around that. The point is EXACTLY to punish those industries to make them change their business practices. Nobody's going to completely shift their business practices out of the goodness of their heart.


And again your wrong. Carbon tax has NOTHING to do with innovation. Innovation isn't forced simply through monetary punishment. Innovation happens to stay the market leader in x. Innovation happens through massive investments of time, manpower and money. Carbon tax takes a lot of that money for innovation away. It's a bleed on innovation. Not an encouragement.

And there already is a clear motivator to reduce power consumption. The energy price itself. A lot of factories would LOVE to save 2% on their power use, and are already investing heavily on power saving measures. Not because of carbon emissions but because a 2% power save could mean 500.000 dollars/euros less cost over the year. Meaning they can sell their product cheaper or invest more in that whole innovation thing. In the end, a carbon tax is only going to have a negative impact on innovation. And I really dare say, anyone who says otherwise has never seen the inner workings of company R&D departments or the financial structure of a medium to large size company producing an actual tangible product.
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Re: Global Warming and You!

Postby Psyclone » 23 Jul 2012, 16:30

Just popping in to say that you're being a little ridiculous, Dutch Guy. We're doing amazing things with science and I bet you we WILL be able to do a lot of the things you're insisting are impossible. Do you know how many times over the years very educated people have said 'no, that's impossible' and been proven wrong?
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Re: Global Warming and You!

Postby Rikadyn » 23 Jul 2012, 20:00

Plug-In hybrids just move the emissions to electric plants. Plus let's not forget what goes into the making of the batteries.

Toyota has an interesting Capacitor-hybrid system in the works though, They tested it with their LMP program.
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Re: Global Warming and You!

Postby Dutch guy » 23 Jul 2012, 23:49

Hybrids are a stop gap measure at best. (And a pretty shitty one too) The only way to really reduce carbon would be to go full electric, but at this time our battery technologie just isn't up to scratch yet. This will improve however.

@Psyclone, I doubt many of the things I insist are impossible will turn out to be possible. A lot of those things are simply dictated by the laws of nature, thermodynamics and chemistry. So unless we find a way to bend physics, we're stuck in that regard.

For instance, do you have any idea how little energy expenditure 100 mpg actually is? A normal gallon of fuel contains roughly 33 kWh's of energy. That means you get to expend 330 watts to move a mile. You need extremely aerodynamic design and very low rolling resistance tires. Neither of which are conducive to a safe road vehicle. (The aerodynamic design means a lot of blindspots and impractical entry/egress. The low resistance tires mean reduced grip and increased wear. Again. Some of the problems can be solved, but they can't be removed completely)

That limit about solar I posted? Very real. It's just the reality we live in. You need a LOT of area to gather a rather piffeling amount of energy. Wind isn't much better either btw, but I won't go deep into that right now unless someone is interested.

My whole problem with the carbon tax improves innovation and "oh, we'll be able to solve that later" attitude is that this doesn't help us NOW. Any of those improvements talked are atleast 10 years out before any practical field use. Probably over 20 before there is widespread application. Most of what I consider impossible will be for another 50 years. Yet if we want to make an impact in our greenhouse gas emissions we need to do it NOW and within the next ten years.

And when looking at it like that, carbon tax doesn't solve any problems, it creates them. When looking for short term solutions, most of the "solutions" put forth by the green movement are actually damaging and counterproductive. When looking at a solution we can implement NOW, saying "oh I'm sure that some clever guy is going to find a solution in the future" is not going to help at all.

I'm a practical guy and an engineer. Which means I know what we have right now, and I know from looking at the "state of the art" what we can roughly expect in the next 10 years or so.
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Re: Global Warming and You!

Postby Lord Chrusher » 24 Jul 2012, 00:39

But no economist.

Also a large scale switch to nuclear power would likely take a decade even if you could magic away the political issues.

However, reading about a large hydroelectric project built fifty years ago in British Columbia I am reminded about of three things. One is that governments tend to be able borrow money more cheaply than companies. Two is that in many countries interest rates at record lows. Third we seem to be in a bit of an economic funk global. If there was ever a time where it would make sense for governments to borrow large amounts to build something capital intensive like nuclear power plants it would be now.

Although I think a carbon tax is the most efficient way to tackle climate change I envision any solution will turn out to be a mixture of carrots and sticks.
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Re: Global Warming and You!

Postby Metcarfre » 24 Jul 2012, 06:04

Only if you don't abandon Keynesian economics and favour austerity *grumblegrumble*.

He's right, the solution isn't one magic bullet. It will come from many different sources. BC is blessed by having the majority of our power needs provided by hydroelectric (though supply is strained right now). Hydro, wind, solar, yes nuclear, geothermal, methane-burning plants - some of these will be appropriate in some ares, some in others. Getting people back to using public transit (many more of us used trains prior to the '60s), reduced consumption... The hardest thing will be eventually learning how to exist in a post-expansion society. We can't afford to grow forever.
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Re: Global Warming and You!

Postby Lord Chrusher » 24 Jul 2012, 06:36

Even things like switching from coal fired power plants to combined cycle natural gas can significantly reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released as can cogeneration. A lot of small things can add up and gives more breathing room to make major changes.

Also if Wikipedia is to be believed the capital costs of nuclear power are not that bad compared to things like off shore wind and clean coal (which is a scam).
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Re: Global Warming and You!

Postby Drdiggit42 » 24 Jul 2012, 13:51

While I accept that there is no way to make cement with less CO2, I find it hard to believe there is no alternative to cement that also produces less CO2. The problem is that alternative most likely has to be developed and then it will likely be more expensive than cement.
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Re: Global Warming and You!

Postby gcninja » 24 Jul 2012, 16:18

So question, I just stumbled upon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uK367T7h6ZY&feature=related what's your opinion on this?
A lot more potent then Uranium, can beat out coal, and looks a lot safe. Thoughts?
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Re: Global Warming and You!

Postby Tally » 24 Jul 2012, 16:56

metcarfre wrote:...Getting people back to using public transit (many more of us used trains prior to the '60s), reduced consumption... The hardest thing will be eventually learning how to exist in a post-expansion society. We can't afford to grow forever.


There are a whole lot of things that have to come together, obviously, but on an individual level every single one of us needs to learn how (and expect) to have less, need less, want less and generally take up less space in this world.
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Re: Global Warming and You!

Postby AlexanderDitto » 24 Jul 2012, 17:07

gcninja wrote:So question, I just stumbled upon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uK367T7h6ZY&feature=related what's your opinion on this?
A lot more potent then Uranium, can beat out coal, and looks a lot safe. Thoughts?


Thorium has its own problems. Though a good number of them seem to be technical, and could be overcome. (Thorium reactors also use Uranium, though the speaker in this video seems to know that.) I'd like to see it tried at least once, might as well.

This guy lost me, though, (could have been the video editor) when he said "we could generate hydrogen by splitting water and combining it with carbon harvested from CO2 in the atmosphere." Yeah, no shit, we can split water with hydrogen right now. The problem with THAT is hydrogen fuel storage, and all the problems with hydrogen as a fuel. The second half of the sentence is ridiculous. The energy required to harvest carbon from CO2 will be more than the energy you get from the carbon you grab, which means you're using more fuel than you gain. You can't produce carbon-neutral gasoline from CO2. It's a simple chemical reaction: Carbon fuel + Oxygen = Energy + CO2 + (Waste Products e.g. soot). We currently go from left to right in that reaction. To go from right to left, you have to add in as much (usually more, due to waste) energy than you got out going left to right.
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Re: Global Warming and You!

Postby UnarmedOracle » 24 Jul 2012, 19:09

Not necessarily.

I've attended lectures where researchers have found novel and relatively low-energy reactions for synthesizing alcohols and long-chain hydrocarbons from CO2 and water, but these reactions generally require platinum group metals for catalysis. It's a longshot but depending on how asteroid mining goes these metals could drop significantly in price.

Two years ago I also read about a company in Massachusetts that had developed a bacterium that consumed CO2, water, and sunlight and excreted petroleum. So, if you can't access platinum, you can do what nature does and develop and enzymatic pathway. Plants photosynthesize all kinds of junk this way, and long chain hydrocarbons are pretty simple in comparison to proteins and sugars.

Edit: here we go, Joule Unlimited. http://www.jouleunlimited.com/ My bad, it was an algae not a bacterium.
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Re: Global Warming and You!

Postby AlexanderDitto » 24 Jul 2012, 20:04

In regards to the bacterium, then all you're doing is creating a new form of solar power; you're not cheating anything. The key is that the energy you're using to push the equation in the other direction is coming from the sun You're also using a bacterium as a medium for the reaction. Great! You could do the same thing with solar cells, though. You can reverse combustion reactions just fine, if you pump a lot of energy into the system. I recall a group that built a big solar collector dish and was basically able to do just that, turn carbon dioxide into gasoline with lots of energy and a catalyst.

I suppose low-energy reactions to synthesize alcohols from CO2 using Platinum might hold promise, but I wouldn't hold my breath on asteroid mining any time this century.
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Re: Global Warming and You!

Postby UnarmedOracle » 24 Jul 2012, 20:32

Then I'm not exactly sure what you want from the technology; this is exactly what's being alluded to in the video you posted. I understand that solar energy is being used to drive the reaction. Nowhere did I say that it was generating energy from nothing. The point is that this carries out the reaction at standard temperature and pressure with a high yield. The enzymatic pathway provided by the algae makes the process very efficient, whether it's more efficient than the 10ish percent offered by photovoltaics is something I'd like to know.

One of the barriers to efficient use of solar power is matching peak generation times and places to population centres. This stores the energy generated from remote locations and takes advantage of an existing energy infrastructure to transport it. You could also use it to synthesize sugars or proteins or the precursors to plastics (cyclohexanone to caprolactam to nylon, maybe) if synthetic fossil fuels aren't your thing or if all you want to do is sequester carbon. If nothing else it provides a way to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and turn it into a desirable product. It's not a magic bullet but there's no magic bullet for the problem we're facing.
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Re: Global Warming and You!

Postby Dutch guy » 24 Jul 2012, 23:20

@GCNinja, yes, thorium reactors are probably a good next step. The problem in the past was that the thorium-Uranium reaction requires a very very fine proces control and even more meticulous reactor design. Screw the pooch and the thing just doesn't work. Most LFTR designs are so called sub-critical reactors. They need an external input from a neutron source to reach criticallity and won't run unless that source is active. This makes them inherently much safer than current Boiling water or pressurized water reactors. Thorium as nuclear fuel has some problems of its own (As pointed out by ditto, although most of those are in relation to solid-fuel reactors, while most thorium proponents want to use a molten salt liquid fuel design)

@AlexanderDitto,
The whole point about creating fuels from CO2 and water is that with nuclear energy you can produce the needed energy SO cheap it becomes commercially viable to use it for that kind of thing. Especially with rising fuel prices at some point it'll be cheaper to synthesize our own fuels in this way.
I agree hydrogen is crap as a fuel. But methane or propane aren't. And those are relatively easy to produce if we can get the energy cheaply enough and without causing further heavy polution.
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