Thursday, August 07, 2008

Look How Clever We Are !

We assume our civilisation will go on forever , but why ? None of the others did, and we are running out of juice .The immediate problem, here , is that within seven years ,due to obsolescence and the enforced closure ,we are going to lose a third of our energy capacity . We have no answer to this local disaster, but I am thinking about life as we know it (Jim) . Lets go through the alternatives :
Coal - Too Dirty
I was explaining to a chum at work that climate change was a socialist plot .My killer blow was to ask why the ice at the arctic has got thicker .“ You mean ant-arctic", he said so we google duelled. Minutes later, I gracelessly agreed that he was right about the 'ant', but wrong about the hot . I was rather floored by this remark though:
“ Well that’s what you would expect its like turning a freezer off , the ant-arctic is a land mass so when you turn off the freezer it initially furs up. The arctic which is shrinking fast is like dropping ice in warm water . Its melting " . Eeek ..I can see the truth of that .So if we begin to accept that environmental damage might be a parameter coal is out .
Oil- Running Out
Back in the 30s we had Keynes, cars and planes, but they effected few . The annual consumption of oil was about 5m barrels a day. Now with countless cheerful Asians delivering elephant tusk fertility elixir on nifty three wheelers, we get through 85m .Compounding 2% growth a year confounds any oil reserves estimate . The highest are 3000 billion but no-one thinks that oil production can multiply to 1500billion barrels a year over the next 75 years . As a viable mainstay of a recognisable world Oil will not do.

Wind - The Joke
.It supplies 1% of our energy from 2000 turbines , less output than a single conventional power station but we are throwing a lunatic £100 billion at thousands more . To meet our EU target we would need to lower 7000 structures the size of Blackpool Tower into the sea , sheer fantasy obviously. Paul Golby ,the chief exec of EON, admitted that the wind was so variable a back up capacity would 90 % would be needed This means you have to also build as many coal fired and nuclear plants as before . Harnessing wind costs at least three times as much as traditional energy ,gas and Electricy bills are already rising by 37% and 13% to pay for the existing renewables . We have seen how quietly acquiescent everyone is about that!

Gas-Oh Those Russians
OK gas is cheap handy plentiful and ..sadly controlled by Vladimir Putin and we have already allowed his thumb far too near the jugular to think of any more reliance on gas. This is the 'war ' route to a new dark age.
Nuclear-Too Expensive
Clean plentiful and annoys both Ken Livingstone and Norman Baker , well what could possibly be wrong with that ? Nuclear fuel ,says Irwin Seltzer, is far dearer than the government likes to admit . High Construction costs together with long term liabilities mean that anyone with the Capital will want guaranteed profits . We are currently planning , mystifyingly , to sell our industry to the French and the future looks murky. Any way you cannot fill your car up at a Nuclear Power Station so the true changeover cost is unimaginable .
The Sun…..? Why not ?
I suspect there will be a solution, but it will suprise us . What about vast farms of solar panels in the Sahara . It would require a £35.7 billion European super grid but I like the logic of it and so do some serious folk .

If we don't come up with something, our belief that we have cured civilisation boom and bust ,looks like a hubristic Icarus saying, "Course these wings are heat resistant ...I never get my come uppance..not me oh no"...contd. Page 94 ..

45 comments:

Auntie Flo' said...

In the 1860s, there was widespread concern that, by the turn of the century, there would be an insufficient number of people to go round picking up all the horse dung from the carriages.

History sets itself only those problems it can solve.

Marx.

He was right there, where he was wildly wrong was in imagining that only communists could ultimately solve all humanity's travails.All they've ever done is make it worse.

Raedwald said...

Like many, whilst I accept climate change as a reality, I'm not wholly convinced it's man made. There's a possibility that it is.

Problem is, the prospects of the world voluntarily becoming zero-carbon are, er, zero. Our carbon policy is a complete con - taking no account at all of embodied CO2. Making steel 'costs' 2 tonnes of CO2 per tonne, and making cement 'costs' 1.25 tonnes of CO2 per tonne; A new block of flats may have 'cost' 10,000 tonnes of CO2 but we don't count it - we only count the wind turbines and PV panels on the roof that save 10 tonnes of CO2 a year and smugly pat ourselves on the back for having built a 'low carbon' building.

Construction of the Olympics site may cost millions of tonnes of CO2 - yet it's billed as 'the greenest evah!'What bollocks.

You see, the government's reasoning is that carbon accounting is done by convention in the place of manufacture. So if all our steel comes from India and all our cement from China, the carbon bills accrue on their accounts, not ours.

And curiously, though they accept that the only way to slow the drugs industry in Afghanistan or Columbia is to cut demand by consumers, the same reasoning strangely doesn't apply to carbon.

When you look at the concrete pavement outside your office this morning and realise that each square metre of slabs cost 50kg of CO2, which is the annual CO2 saved by a single PV panel, work out how many PV panels we'd need just to neutralise the new paving slabs laid every year, let alone actually save any CO2.

The whole thing's a con. You can't account for carbon on a national basis. And I'm personally not prepared to throw away our international competitive advantage by not using coal, for example, just because it accrues on our national account.

Nick Drew said...

a couple of additional pebbles in your pond, Mr M

Oil - no chance of 'running out' of oil in our lifetimes, at even $ 80 / bbl, let alone $ 130, there's a vast vast amount of the stuff that would be economic to extract. But it's increasingly in unfriendly hands so we're more likely to just stop using it so much, a bit like Flo's horse-dung point

Coal - one of those technology step-changes has happened which means that new coal plant will be 20-35% more efficient than the old plant it can replace. This is before anyone comes up with a viable carbon-capture system, and represents a huge reduction in CO2 if indeed the new coal does replace old coal. And there's plenty of scope for that.

the efficient coal thing has far more practical potential than yer daft wind schemes. The last such step-change was when gas turbines became 30% more efficient at the start of the 1990's, and look what happened next - with no subsidy or govt direction whatsoever

Newmania said...

Funnily enough Raeders , my first line before brutal editing was "I usually leave this sort of thing to a clever clogs like raedwald ".
I think they are starting to count displaced carbon are they not ( I mean when you stop production and import).
Carbon offsetting is a bit odd as well , in about 70 years the trees will die and release the carbon.
The country with the coal advantage is surely China asnd the carbon in concrete is in the production isn't it , not the fact of its existnce . If analternatuve energy was developed surely buildings could be built with far less polution.
The Pyramids are pretty big but carbon netral. Perhaps we should go back to slavery?

Newmania said...

Nick- Oil , I know what you mean but looking at 50 years and if we imagine the same sort of world we currently live in , you would need to produce half what the absolute top top estimnates of the total is every year . Now no amount of optimism can gainsay that equation . I am quoting Tim Congdon byt the way not some Moonbat from the Guardian.

I agree with you actually that the only option realistically is finding a way to make coal work but we are a long long way from that. Gas , is pegged to Oil and not disimiliar.
The sort of step change you are imgining is " Magic " , you might as well talk about cold fusion.

I `m not saying people will not survive but there is no way to go on even in the shortish terms as we are . Its the compounding of annual growth that defeats it .

It simply cannot go and I suspect our system is alot more delicate than you imagine

Raedwald said...

Fair points, Mr N. Yes, using solar power to make steel really would make it quite 'green'. And the best thing to do with trees as far as the environment is concerned is to burn them. Yes, I know this sounds counter-intuitive; an average tree will have locked-in about 4 tonnes of CO2 which will be released when it's burned, but leaving dead trees to rot releases methane, which is many times worse than CO2. This is a good argument in Lewes against the numpties who would ban your luvvly bonfires on 'eco' grounds; by burning all that waste timber rather than sending it to landfill to rot, you are actually saving the planet ...

The pyramids were a bit permanent, really. Modern buildings are designed for an economic life of 25 years. 2,500 years is probably over-design. Now sun-dried mud bricks are the jobbie - very green indeed, and if we avoid building on flood plains they will easily last 25 years if coated with a lime-mortar render. Or even better, timber frames like Oak that will lock in CO2 for 500 years or so with an infill of sun-dried mud bricks with a lime-mortar render. Oh. We invented those already. Back at the time they first started having bonfires in Lewes.

Auntie Flo' said...

Of course, history may have decided that the planet requires the extinction of our wasteful species. It may even have decided, as Raedwald implies that the cosmos requires the extinction of our - dying? - planet.

Good topic, n, and good points Raedwald. What gives me brain damage, is the complexities of the x tonne concrete equals x tonnes carbon expended.

For example, the new housing estates in my town are higher density concrete jungles than anything we've seen here before - hence our newly emerging flood problems.

However, can we say xtc = xtCO2 in respect of these when, for example, concreting over green wedge also implies an energy and emission saving in terms of lower grounds maintenance?

There's the issue of higher energy and emission expenditure for flood and gulley maintenance.

The reed beds and waste water reservoir SuDs on these estates must reduce the energy expenditure and omissions from pipe laying and water wastage. Though maintenance of the SUDs will mean extra energy usage and omissions.

And when the water filters out of that reservoir, saturates surrounding land and pumps out of fields around the estates onto our roads, flooding and eroding them, forcing thousands of cars to do U turns and to retrace their routes, that must be quite a high carbon cost exercise.

And how about the resultant frequent ditch and road maintainance, does that cancel out the savings in grounds maintenance of the new estates?

The whole issues of emission and energy use reduction is so very complex, have any formulas been produced to quantify costs against benefits?

I somehow doubt that. Or how could David Millionaire have told Paxman with an - apparently - straight face that as air travel 'only' increases our emissions by 6% (allegedly - and he's wrong, natch)it's a wonderful thing for the government to plan to double those emissions over the next few years by doubling air travel.

Newmania said...

The pyramids were a bit permanent, really. Modern buildings are designed for an economic life of 25 years. 2,500 years is probably over-design

....Excellent !!

All of this rather backs up my provisional view that I may as well pick my dark-age moniker now.’ Blood Axe Newmania Ravager of Virgins ?’ Not all bad then, I agree that there is lots of cant and posture of a green sort what I can`t see is quite how we are going to continue on the current trajectory. Why should we it is not that old and unusual in historical terms No doubt the Romans believed they would go on forever. A hundred years later our ancestors were peering nervously at fortification and assuming giants must have built them. I suppose I am saying that Malthusian doom is due for come back.

Of one thing I am certain clunking world agreements will change nothing only the ingenuity of mankind can do it and must be freed . Tax breaks for green technology, proper carbon and polluting costing paid out of reductions to tax on employment and endeavour. To me this all means we cannot afford socialism or indeed any coarse interventionist solution.

Newmania said...

Flo one of things that infuriates me is that with all this hot air sensible things the state could do like taking care of flood defence have been the subject of the usual renaming the agency and then cocking it up procedure.
I am mnad keen on "conservation2 and i see our salvation in the market and the little platoons ...well I would

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Auntie Flo' said...

Then of course there's this carbon offsetting con.

How can David Millionaire, despite his constant overseas junkets and visits - including his trip to G8 in Japan to make a SPEECH to 100 Japanese bloggers, would you believe, plus trips to and from the US re adoption of his new baby - claim that his carbon footprint is a below average and just over 3 tonnes per annum? One long haul journey alone can produce a tonne of carbon emissions.

Millionaire therefore presumably buys personal carbon offsetting and the taxpayer presumably pays for a huge amount of carbon offsetting on his behalf re his government junkets/travel.

One key problem with carbon offsetting is it's unquantifiable and therefore of questionable value.

Take, for example, the copse of trees planted near one of the large, new estates in my town. This is presumably to offset carbon emissions and to compensate for trees felled for this concrete jungle. These (300?) trees, horse chestnuts, have been planted at unsustainable one foot intervals.

You've never seen such a spindly, sickly, or less carbon offsetting copse in your life.

Auntie Flo' said...

Many of these allegedly carbon offsetting, tree planting projects are overseas.

How much of this money goes straight into the big spending, energy and emission intensive coffers of corrupt African dictators?

And what's Broon's ultimate screw out of all of this? The lucrative Chairmanship of a nice little charity/ good works foundation when he's sacked as PM?

Newmania said...

Letters From a Tory has a good post on Moon bat and the sortvof thing you are getting at Flo

asquith said...

We could always try solving our energy problems by consuming less...

I don't see what is conservative about reckless expansion, assuming that there'll always be more and there aren't any limits whatsoever on human behaviour.

I hope the credit crunch drives home to people that they have got to be responsible or there will be trouble. It is a basic principle of human life. "If you can't afford it, don't fucking have it".

Philipa said...

Yeh, solar power, like that option. Long way from here to the sahara but hey, I'd be willing to listen.

Nuclear is not the answer. Stupid solution. Cancer and catastrophy.

Coal - why not? It would solve many problems in this country and China is scoffing the stuff. worrying about our consumption is like trying not to fart in a hurricane lest it causes more wind. And there are now many vastly efficient ways to use coal.

One thing you haven't mentioned is lifestyle change and this should be considered. Government legislation has made things very difficult for farmers, obliterated markets and left farmers in chains to supermarkets. A lot of food has thousands of air miles (so why bleat about coal and oil huh?). Bring back local markets and growing for victory - our own. We don't need to rely on Russia, we have our own resources. If only the government would use them sensibly.

Newmania said...

don't see what is conservative about reckless expansion, assuming that there'll always be more and there aren't any limits whatsoever on human behaviour.


I quite agree with that, there is absolutely nothing conservative about a doctrinaire market knows best philosphy and consuming less has to be part of the answer

OR LESS PEOPLE !!

Newmania said...

Lifetstyle change sounds good to me Phillipa bettre gradual than a sudden collapse .

You point about air miles is wrong though. Comparative advantage works for tarde to happen and the energy involved is often couter-intuitively increased by forcing production to happen in the wrong place
Well anyway its not as straight forward as you imply

Auntie Flo' said...

I can't find the section of moonbat, n, any chcnce of a link?

Philipa said...

You point about air miles is wrong though.
Ok I'm listening..
Comparative advantage works for tarde to happen and the energy involved is often couter-intuitively increased by forcing production to happen in the wrong place
Wha.. ??
Well anyway its not as straight forward as you imply?
F'ing hell you're telling me!

Newmania said...

OK P something I read ages ago I `ll shut up

Flo , its on Letters From a Tory on the Blog roll

http://lettersfromatory.wordpress.com/

Auntie Flo' said...

Thanks,n, I was looking under moonbat- s'what happens when you blog at work

Bill Quango MP said...

...is like trying not to fart in a hurricane lest it causes more wind...

No comment,it just deserves a repeat.

electro-kevin said...

...but farting in a hurricane DOES cause more wind.

But let's not carry on repeating as it will cause MORE wind.

:-((

Newmania said...

Thats a Boris isn't it ?

Justin Hinchcliffe said...

I see that Dave's wind turbine may not be as good as he hoped for.

If only we could use hot air generated from politicians - like your Norman - then that would solve a lot of problems.

Philipa said...

Nope, not a Boris.

Philipa said...

As for electricity being produced by solar power in sahara desert: y'all do know you get losses due to resistance per length of cable don't you? And that's going to be a mighty long cable. So you'd have to over-produce in order to deliver a required amount. What those losses would be I would have no idea. But it's a big setting up cost, some maintenance, and just sit back and let the sun shine :-)

Newmania said...

Hi JH...hope all well. I have just heard a runour that Norman is not standing next time.

Phillipa Boris did use that farting i na hurricane metaphor about national scale enviromental Policy alluding to the fact that if shut down Britain entirely China would take up the slack in under a year.

Long cables you say , what would you ,a woman ,know of such things, best leave the practical stuff to men my pretty...

(ahem)

CityUnslicker said...

Now now everyone. It is not all doom and gloom. Progress is being made on nuclear fusion; the answer to everything and powered by water which we are unlikely to run out of.

Also I can easily forsee a time when we charge our cars and trains are all electrified. Magnetic trains can also go very nearly as fast as aeroplanes - they have them at something like 500mph in testing in Japan.

Pertol heads and those neanderthals who ride motorbikes will be most upset, but he ho.

So in the meantime we use clean coal and invest some further research into battery life and size. Storing electicity would be the best answer of all.

If you want to get me down, then talk about human population. The insanity of doubling ethiopia's population since 1985 and also of pakistan and and Nigeria becoming one billion citizen countries will denude resources and will bring unhappiness on a scale unknown throughout human history.

Philipa said...

CU - great about nuclear fusion, they f--- that up and it's a black hole and bye bye life as we know it, Jim. I hope the research isn't being done by Microsoft.

I thought the exciting future in vehicle propulsion was hydrogen power, made from sea water, by-product water.

I used to ride a CBR 600 FM3. Never hit a cutie with my club to drag 'em back to my cave though. Should've tried that. My ex was horrified I'd arrived at his place (living with his folks) on my bike. He said afterwards 'but you turned up on a motorbike!!!!!!!' as if I'd turned up in a see-through lace mini dress and showed the neighbours my labium majus piercing. So he preferred a nice cardigan and a polyester blouse - you can't wear an A-line skirt on a bike, get over it. Even the Landy was too butch for the bloke. It's dirty he complained. Awwww.

I take it you agree with him then CU? (those neanderthals who ride motorbikes)

Auntie Flo' said...

Raedwald said...

Or even better, timber frames like Oak that will lock in CO2 for 500 years or so with an infill of sun-dried mud bricks with a lime-mortar render. Oh. We invented those already. Back at the time they first started having bonfires in Lewes.


My cottage is almost 300 years old with walls a foot thick and a mass of oak frames and wattle and daub - made with lime and horse hairs that stick out of the mortar all over the place. I bet this place lasts another three hundred years at least - if the planet does.

Aside from the windows on three sides, which can't be double glazed, I should presumably soon be eligible for a reduction in my carbon tax for this?

Seriously though, perhaps we should be building less modern, allegedly zero carbon homes which aren't zero carbon at all, and build more homes with the materials our ancestors used?

Philipa said...

My cottage is almost 300 years old with walls a foot thick and a mass of oak frames and wattle and daub

I want to live in your house, Flo. Sounds gorgeous :-)

Newmania said...

Pertol heads and those neanderthals who ride motorbikes will be most upset, but he ho.


Sniffle...

Well I thought CU was just the bracing optimism required and it allsounds plausible when he puts it like that.

I would also like to live in Flo`s house

electro-kevin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
electro-kevin said...

I'd like to live in Flo's house too but I think I'd worry terribly about the listed status and maintaining the thatch.

The ecological advantage of such housing was in its localised production using materials which were in the range of horse and cart.

The longevity of new build housing is not in doubt and the markets have geared towards most efficient production already. To build pre-constructed roof beams in one county - where a fast, concentrated an specialised manufacturing system has been established - and use roads which have already been manufactured too makes perfectly good sense.

There is a bigger picture here and the issue which ought to be concerning us is not that there is increased global demand for limited resources but our entitlement to those resources.

Where it has all gone wrong is the Fiat system of economics. No one knows what anyone is truly worth in real terms - hence a worker in one part of the world can charge far more for making a cup of coffee (£2.50 Cafe' Nero) than a worker in another can charge for making a decent pair of jeans (£3.00 Primark) In fact, in Britain, the Primark worker is the outsourced slave even to feral, unemployed and uneducated slobs who buy their clothes with State subsidy.

Effectively the resources are unrealisitically distributed at the moment during this transitional period when 'Caucasia'* seems to be about to be usurped by Asia.

Global consumption will find its own level again ... after the war

(*Caucasia is my word for the globally dominant white culture of European origin established over a mere 500 years.)

Philipa said...

the Primark worker is the outsourced slave even to feral, unemployed and uneducated slobs who buy their clothes with State subsidy

I guess the fact I'm educated just makes it worse.

I think I'll just go and kill myself.

Still want to live in Flo's house though :-)

Philipa said...

PS: I've drafted a political policy in quite a fine speech, though I do say so myself, here and would love you to have a look please.

The way forward as per the existing intentions of the Conservatives (ish).

Newmania said...

Do you mean the last comment P ?

Newmania said...

Caucasia is a rather brillaint neologism EK I will use it and opretend I thought of it .

I cannot imagine any way to even out the world that , aside from pragmnmatic aid , would not be counterproductive though. Trade happens exactly becaue of differenccs in costs

electro-kevin said...

Costs are determined by all sorts of factors but ultimately trade exists because it is cheaper and more productive than robbery (or warfare as world leaders prefer to call it).

Back to roof trusses if I may ...

Elizabethan architecture may seem romantic and alluring but it was highly wasteful and in no way could these methods of construction have supported the populations we see today. Indeed, if it were not for modern methods of manufacture there would not be the population densities we now contemplate. Medicine, farming efficiency, manufacturing technologies ... have all compounded the demands we now experience.

Timbers are cut from logs using scientifically calculated milling techniques which optimise the usage of each tree - the Elizabethan cottage will have whole beams over-sized and set in place just as it came from the forest. The old style house, in short will have either been massively over-engineered (which explains why it's still standing) or UNDER-engineered in which case it probably isn't standing at all now. Incidentally, it was probably fitted with a chimney and hearth with which to burn deforested wood from nearby.

By contrast each modern truss and joist has been designed calculating stresses by means of computer with the sole aim of minimising material usage, minimising weight (meaning lighter walls) and maximising profit - you simply don't get more efficient use of resources than a well run modern manufacturer operating in a competitive free market.

Where Britain faces its greatest ecological challenge is the distorting effects on consumer demand of excessive and unfairly distributed welfare.

The effects of it because of its dependants and those employed in the industry are thus:

- over breeding
- over immigration
- distortion of earnings
- ergo distortion of spending including on energy bills

I quote Copper's Blog when he said that he'd entered a council house,"The house had that fuggy, overheated feel to it that only someone who's not paying the gas bill could afford."

electro-kevin said...

As for solar panels in the Sahara ...

More energy dependance on the Middle East ? Isn't that what we're trying to get away from in the first place ???

Newmania said...

quote Copper's Blog when he said that he'd entered a council house,"The house had that fuggy, overheated feel to it that only someone who's not paying the gas bill could afford."

9:43 AM


Zinger !!

Phillipa I do not approve of your comments now I have read it .
"Our first reform will be to support families to stay together by ending this ‘couple penalty’ so rather than give marrieds more money we’ll just take it from unmarrieds and make them lie on their forms, claiming their lover is in fact a lodger."

Noone "gives " me anything least of all unmarried and /or lone parents. The lying happens already, 200,000 pretending to be single but as noone is suggesting there will ever be any real tax benfit in being married theye will be no need for these thieves to continue to steal form working people in the future.

Sheer force of habit may do it I suppose.

Alfred the Ordinary said...

What about vast farms of solar panels in the Sahara . It would require a £35.7 billion European super grid but I like the logic of it and so do some serious folk .

I like the idea of reverting to an old style rural economy where we only worked from Can't see to can't see. That means long nights of sleep in the saharan winter months.

However, it sounds just like the sort of project that the E.U. would like to collect our taxes for. Starting estimates in the low 10bns and final costs in the astronomic bns, so large a cost that it becomes meaningless to mere electoral fodder. Another bonus. Lots of work for those who lobby The EU Commission best, and no trouble from the tax payers. They are just told to cough up, because they have no other choice.

Newmania said...

You may well be right A the O

Philipa said...

Newms, darling, most of that was quoted directly from Maria Miller.

I did try to enforce their wooley aims - the shooting bits were mine and if you're being pedantic about it (semantics!) read: 'so rather than take less money from marrieds we’ll just give less to unmarrieds and make them lie on their forms, claiming their lover is in fact a lodger to make up the shortfall' as that is essentially the same but in different words (and you know it).

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