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don

60 minutes did a story on
Sugar Cane Ethanol,
Brazil's Biofuel Success.
Where was T. Boone pickens then?
Now he is pushing Windmills?
I am sure he is going to make millions
from that investment like oil.......

blues

I read Raw Story every day, and some of it's amazing virtually unmoderated comments. The site went a tad screwy, and I found a comment I had posted a year ago appended to one of its stories. Now it's "stuck," and the very same stories that were posted 24 hours ago are still up. After reading today's Cult of Life article, I decided to revisit ' Life After the Oil Crash ' (Google it). It has expanded astonishingly, and now has a GREAT 'breaking news' section that covers everything! They even have 'Buddy the Spokesdog of Doom'! Their front page is a bit shocking:

|¯¯¯¯¯
Dear Reader,

Civilization as we know it is coming to an end soon. This is not the wacky proclamation of a doomsday cult, apocalypse bible prophecy sect, or conspiracy theory society. Rather, it is the scientific conclusion of the best paid, most widely-respected geologists, physicists, bankers, and investors in the world. These are rational, professional, conservative individuals who are absolutely terrified by a phenomenon known as global "Peak Oil."
|_____

Northing's going to be the same once the oil runs out. It looks to me that the only options will be fusion, geothermal, solar direct heat, solar electric, solar focused heat, and wind (in alphabetical order). Fusion would probably be the only source of hard (intense, focused) energy. It has the downsides of being centralized, generating radiation, and perhaps causing big explosions (and not being workable yet). The radiation is not as bad as that produced by fission reactors, because uranium is not involved. Uranium has an affinity for DNA, and the body cannot 'handle' it, so even a little of it heads straight for DNA. This is not the case for most other radioactive elements. But while there are significant problems for this source, it is presumably nearly the only way to get hard energy.

The utility of geothermal energy is questionable, as Elaine has described. Solar direct heat has always been important, and will be much more so in the future. I am not optimistic about solar electric power for various reasons. It might be useful for rooftops, but I wouldn't want to carpet the earth with them. If they are made of silicone (there are some new alternatives), they will be expensive to fabricate. The silicone doesn't have to be integrated circuit-grade, but it will cost a great deal of energy to make them, a lot of toxic materials are required, and they only seem to function for about 15 years. The fabrication cost is very significant. For example, each new automobile requires about as much energy to produce as it will consume as fuel during its period of use. It would be much better to make them out of wood!

Solar focused heat can produce somewhat hard energy, in the form of intense heat. But the mechanical issues of harvesting its energy will be significant. I prefer wind power. It does present aesthetic issues, but they can be minimized. I used to work with the old 'C band' satellite dishes, and people really hated them. But the newer small 'KU band' offset antennas don't seem to bother people. The color white proved to be annoying, so now they are all dark gray. If a significant amount of power is to be harvested, it will not be very useful to place them on mountain tops, even if there is more wind there. I believe energy storage will continue to be problematic, involving a lot of energy-expensive fabrication and pollution issues. Perhaps a lot of windmills could be rigged to 'raised weight' silos. However mechanical energy is much 'softer' that it appears to be. For example, it would take a lot of raised weight to heat a room for one day.

I am not very optimistic about bio-energy sources. They would either produce hydrogen, hydrocarbons, or alcohols, which are all problematic. It is very expensive to store hydrogen, which can leak through steel containers. Except for salt water algae, bio-energy will use up huge amounts of fresh water, which is subject to its own sort of Hubert's peak.

The biggest problem will be the virtually inevitable ruckus among the hard energy-addicted people of the 'developed world.' All modern military weapons depend completely on hard energy, and this looks like quite a big storm cloud up ahead. It would be nice if people could prepare themselves for a relatively soft energy future, but there's not much sign of that yet. The survivalists certainly seem to be on to something. The people over at ' Life After the Oil Crash ' claim that energy is virtually the same thing as wealth, and I think they are virtually correct.

JT

Geothermal energy works perfectly well, if there area has no earthquakes.
Here in scandinavia it costs aroun 20 000 € for a complete ground heating system for a new house (less if you change your old water circulation heating to ground heat).

It´s not free though the heatpump uses electricity, but it saves about 70-80% on the heating bill compared to direct electricity or oil heating.
As a failsafe it usually uses electricity for those nights when its below -30 celsius (-22 fahrenheit).
The heatpump lasts about 20-25 years and replacing the pump is around 3000€ euros.

You can drill either a directo hole (70-150 meters deep) or do a so called field installation (takes about 400 sqmeters of property about 1-1.5 meters deep).

On current prices of energy it takes about 15 years for the 20 000€ investment to pay back on an old house, 10-12 years on a new house. Faster of course when oil goes up.

It´s not a new invention, In Sweden they have been installed since 1980´s and they have 300.000 heat pumps installed so far (17.000 new ones installed every year).

In scandinavia you can get 15% back on the investment from government if you change to ground heat from oil or electricity and you can make extra deductions on the work involved.

don

Blues: Sugar cane ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emmissions by 90% compared
to gasoline, unmatched by any other bio-fuel. I still dont understand why T. Boone isnt underscoring Solar. Maybe as a boy he had a fascination with lego windmills.
I agree with the Uranium concept, Molecular
Carcinogensis Uranium can damage Dna.
While Dna is clonning animals today and humans next. Will we be like Target, make
parts to match the ones that were destroyed by Uranium sometime in the future?

JT

70.593 bbl/day per 1,000 peopl = USA
40.303 bbl/day per 1,000 peopl = Sweden

Those are the numbers from 2004. I guess everyone here is wondering when you will start? You don´t have to go all green: start riding bicycles, stop eating meat and live in a tent. Just start making some smart decicions NOW!

Just do the normal economically sound things by saving energy where it´s smart.

Here EVERYBODY already has energy saving light bulbs (from Ikea :)), low gas milage cars, mass transportation, energy efficient houses etc.

Small things in energy consumption make huge changes. Don´t speculate about should we do that or whatabout in 60 years time blah, blah.
It´s a lot of oil saved if you can come down to our levels. And I bet it has no effect on quality of life over there.
T. Boone is right about one thing, he´s for everything and right away.

Scandinavia uses almost half the amount of oil per capita and it´s f*ckin -15 fahrenheit here in the winter.

It´s not left wing or green to save energy.
People choose intercity trains here, because it´s cheaper, easier and more relaxing to take the train than to drive, not because they think "green".

Cheap oil was the birthright of your grandfathers. Now its the birthright of Middle-eastern nations, Russia, Venezuela and Nigeria etc, not yours anymore.


Elaine Meinel Supkis

The short-bore geothermal is great. I plan on installing that some day when I have the money. I have the hole already.

The combination of all systems is needed here. If we want our present civilization. I lived with virtually no electricity at all for several years, then with only one solar panel.

Frankly, you can survive. Heh. Seriously. And be 'civilized.' We read books and played chess, etc at night instead of watching the well-named boob tube for example.

We were actually more civilized than most people. We didn't have a climate-controlled life, of course. This meant we slept with goose down quilts and furs at night. The beds were cold when going to bed, of course. Humans of the last 50 have become totally spoiled by modern electrical appliances.

Stefan Stackhouse

Elaine:

Unfortunately, the aesthetic issues with wind are going to be a problem. Take my own state of North Carolina, for example. If you look at the maps of wind potential in the US, it is obvious that NC should be the Saudi Arabia of wind power for the southeast US. Unfortunately, all of that wind potential is concentrated in two places: along the Outer Banks in eastern NC, and along the mountain ridgetops of western NC. Guess where all of the tourism in NC is concentrated? Guess where everyone goes to retire or build vacation cottages? You and I might not mind seeing a wind tower on top of a mountain or off shore all that much, but a lot of people do. And it is not just a matter of people's preferences, we are talking about having to actually change laws. NC has a ridgetop protection law that presently totally prohibits erecting any wind generators on top of any of our mountains - ANY. The entire Outer Banks is also subjected to pretty tough land use laws.

We here in NC really need those wind towers, though. We have no oil, gas, or coal of our own. We have a little hydro, we have the potential for a little solar, and we do have some nukes (for better or worse). But we really need those wind towers. I don't know what it is going to take to overcome the resistance to them.

PhD

Hello there:

An individual solar system is great - I agree.

Germany has many, many now on roof tops throughout the country (and solar water heating systems also). This was achieved by the German government supporting this effort in many ways and it took 10 years or so to get to a decent penetration rate (still far from where it could be though). I am afraid that the US does not have that much time and money left.

What about starting with much better insulations for US houses?

In Germany some of the new houses practically do not require any more additional heating or cooling because they are so well insulated. Of course with the rising prices insulation costs are going up as well, but this is where to start I believe.

And by the way it is the law in Germany to insulate any type of building up to a certain standard or else the tenant is entitled to get a cut in the rent in the amount of the additional heating cots burdened with due to inadequate insulation.


Elaine Meinel Supkis

I have a heavily insulated house that also has passive solar energy in winter. Not that this matters. I have forests and can cut down firewood when I need it.

But yes, US houses have not been built to deal with any sort of climate problems. They are all built the same way, everywhere. With windows facing any old direction, too.


chux08

I mentioned to a friend the other day that in the not-too-distant-future having a roof-line with a clear shot at the overhead sun (or even having a steady wind for a windmill application) will be as valuable as present day views and/or being on the water-front. And just as important when evaluating a home's appraised value.
I just read in a alternative power magazine where they figure that adding a solar system is the same as getting a 10% return on your money, so according to them, in these days of high cost energy, it pencils out.

Ed-M

Elaine, you're absolutely correct about all those houses. Worse, they're scattered all over the landscape so people HAVE TO DRIVE in order to get anywhere, instead of walking to a town center and taking a train (which we absolutely must have more of, BTW). Because of this poorly insulated happy motoring utopia we've built ourselves, we've put ourselves in hock to every hostile country on the planet. Including our so-called "Allies."

PS, everybody: New fictional sign design at my blog which I'm sure you all would crack up over: http://ifpeakoilwerenoobject.blogspot.com

Elaine Meinel Supkis

Yes, Ed. Chux08, We live within an easy walk of our village of Berlin. We used to have a train station! And several grocery stores, doctors, lawyers, hardware stores, restaurants, several bars, etc. Today, virtually ALL are gone! It is rapidly evolving into a ghost town. All the factories closed. Very directly because of 'free trade.'

blues

Yeah. I used to live in Patterson, NY, not that far. The locals were a tad primitive, but they had that basic decency. The train used to go at least to Millerton. From my home town of Danbury, CT, the line from Brewster NY, was the best deal. The little 'bud cars' from Danbury to Norwalk were horrendous! It all followed the Housatonic River, hey! After that it was Highway Hell on the Saw Mill River Hellway. Oh, we are so f*cked!

Free trade my ass! National diarrhea is the truth!

The Scum! The Fucking Rotten Scum!!! Vote for fucking Nader, all you stupid asses!!!

blues

Sorry folks. Looks like Obama's chosen Joe Biden for VP. Another clunker!

Sorry to sound so rude.

I think I really will think of ways to get non-two-party people elected. They are giving us no real choices. We face an imminent financial/ energy/ social crisis. A major crisis. It might be helpful if people became a bit angry or scared.

I don't see a Bell curve here at all. I see a vertical descent. It feels like a tsunami of ignorance.

About eight years ago, we had this down-and-out black guy in town. He was a Vietnam veteran, and he would just walk the streets, never saying a word to anyone. Then on one desperately cold winter night he froze to death behind a little hill across the street from my friend's house. The tsunami of ignorance will claim many more of us, it appears.

Sometimes I get very upset about it. Maybe others should too.

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