Can Renewable Energy Replace Fossil Fuels?

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The modern obsession with Climate Change and its presumed primary cause in the burning of fossil fuels, has led to the unchallenged assumption that modern civilization can and must switch its energy production from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric and hydrokinetic (wave and tide) sources.

The question is rarely asked: “Can renewable energy sources replace fossil fuel energy sources to provide all of the energy that human civilization demands, now and into the foreseeable future?”

The usual technocratic response is “Sure. There is no technical barrier to producing all of our energy needs from renewable energy sources.”

The follow up question is never asked: What would be the environmental cost of attempting to produce present and future energy demands with renewable energy sources?”

While it may be *feasible* to produce all our energy needs from “renewable” energy sources, this technological infrastructure comes with large and severe environmental impacts. Mining minerals and rare earth metals necessary to build and maintain renewable energy systems results in habitat loss and natural resource depletion. The enormous physical sites required for wind and solar farms (see above) reduce the availability for natural ecosystems and their native species. Hydroelectric requires dams that inundate huge swaths of natural ecosystems and result in unpredictable seismic changes.

Here is an overview of the environmental impacts of renewable energy sources from the Union of Concerned Scientists:

The question is not “Which is best, renewable energy or nonrenewable energy?” The only question that is meaningful in terms of the full biosphere is: “How can we reduce our impacts on the natural world by reducing our energy demands?”

The Juvenile Climate Change Feeding Frenzy

studentsIn a disgusting fit of political correctness, Mother Jones, Truthout, National Geographic, NPR, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, LATimes and just about every other media source in the world are falling all over themselves touting “Kids Protest Over Climate Change.” (See my previous post, Student Strike … or Strike Out)

Not one of them has bothered to investigate who is organizing these demonstrations and what is their agenda. Nor is anyone in the global media circus bothering to fact check the claims displayed on posters during these gatherings, and blasted from loudspeakers amidst the giggling gaggle.

“There are two parallel counterrevolutionary confusionist tactics: the partial cooption of new values, and a deliberately anticultural industrially facilitated production, the latter being a natural continuation of the imbecilization of young people begun in their schools and families. We have arrived at a stage of ideological absence in which advertising has become the only active factor, overriding any preexisting critical judgment or transforming such judgment into a mere conditioned reflex.” Guy Dubord, The Society of the Spectacle, 1967

It chills my heart to witness such blatant ignorance and cynical exploitation of impressionable, ignorant and unaware youth, all in the name of capitalism and the economic status quo.

Climate alarmism in all quarters has become increasingly strident as we learn more and more about natural climate variability and the inadequacy of global climate models to account for contemporary observations of existing climate variation around the world. And isn’t it fascinating that climate alarmism reaches a screeching crescendo as we come closer to the next “Climate Summit“, September 23, 2019?

NGOs, Big Greens, the United Nations, major governments, energy corporations, think tanks, and government “leaders” down to thoughtless local governments, and unto the 23 hoodwinked elementary students who played hooky and gathered at the clock tower in Our Fair City on Friday … all of the them are willing and unwitting pawns of a global propaganda and public relations scheme to prop up global capitalism and for-profit corporations, including oil, coal, natural gas, oil shale and tar sands producers, and, let’s not forget, the nuclear power industry.

Yes, the youthful “strikers” are touting so-called “renewable” energy, which by the way they haven’t learned is in reality energy from renewable sources captured by non-renewable technologies. But this is not instead of fossil fuels. Oh no, the corporate oligarchy wants it all, renewable energy AND fossil fuels. Examples-of-renewable-and-nonrenewable-resourcesThey want to  control and profit from all energy required by 7.5 billion people and counting. And the politicians around the world want their share of the filthy lucre from energy production and consumption to fuel their future political campaigns.

Will the students strike again? Will global temperature exceed 2 degrees over pre-industrial levels? And what will happen to Greta Thunberg?

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Tune in next week for the next exciting episode of

Love of Climate Change.

Student Strike … or Strike Out?

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Today is the day of the much ballyhooed “Student Strike Against Climate Change”.

Well, the name says it all, doesn’t it?

We are told by the Fawning Press and the Big Green Mouthpiece that these children are fed up with government inaction on climate change and they are demanding … what? Stop climate change? Replace fossil fuels with solar and wind? Stop driving cars? Abandon our profligate consumer economy?

Reading mainstream news reports reveals little about specific demands of the stalwart students. All attention is focused on cute little Greta Thunberg, a Swedish student who, all by herself, sat outside her school on a Friday to protest climate change inaction. And we’re expected to accept the claim that students all over the world have rallied to her cause, all by themselves, because they too want us to stop causing climate change.

Really?

Enter investigative journalists Cory Morningstar and Forrest Palme, who have written an article series that reveals the players pulling the strings, and the goals they wish to achieve by supporting Greta Thunberg and the young people it is hoped she will inspire.

In The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent, the authors disclose that “Greta Thunberg, the current child prodigy and face of the youth movement to combat climate change, serves as special youth advisor and trustee to the burgeoning mainstream tech start-up, We Don’t Have Time,” and “partnerships between the well established corporate environmental entities: Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, 350.org, Avaaz, Global Utmaning (Global Challenge), the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Morningstar and Plame disclose that this seemingly youthful grassroots uprising is in reality a cynical exploitation of children to forward a global agenda of support for transnational corporate capitalism and the status quo energy economy, including oil, coal and nuclear interests that would capitalize on $9 trillion that could be invested in NGOs, professional environmental organizations and transnational energy corporations.

I’ve long puzzled over the impetus and incentives for climate alarmism by the United Nations, the global energy industry and corporate media. It just didn’t make sense that the wonky IPCC, a UN funded environmental policy organization, could have so much influence on global politics and popular culture.

Now I understand! Rather than calling for meaningful systems change in the face of global pollution, resource exploitation and habitat destruction, this new “Student Strike” movement is designed and deployed by the very international organizations and corporations that would profit from a change to so-called “renewable energy resources,” not instead of fossil fuels, but in addition to. It’s a whole new economic boom just waiting to be plucked from the hands of naive children and their unwitting proponents.

Read the series. Check out the references. Spread the word.

Climate Change and Road Congestion

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This is a post about cause and effect, or rather, the lack of cause and effect.

Climate change and road congestion are related, not in a causal relationship, as one might unthinkingly conclude, but as emergent phenomena in complex, chaotic systems far from equilibrium.

If you made it through that paragraph unscathed, I’ll explain further. If not, see my post on Chaos HERE.

Climate prognostication and traffic planning exist in a world of linear relationships, the “If you push something hard enough, it will fall over” world. Every effect has direct discernible cause(s), such that planners can always count on a predictable outcome from any given action. For instance, climate change is caused by human produced CO2 in the atmosphere; traffic congestion is caused by insufficient capacity in highways. Thus, the stories go, if we decrease human produced CO2, climate change will stop or at least decrease; if we add lanes to the highways, traffic congestion will decrease. It seems intuitive.

While this approach has served humans well for generations, in our modern world of 7 billions and counting, with our global societies and ubiquitous technological innovations, linear cause and effect is overcome by the complexity and chaos of our social and technological relationships.

Climate is an emergent phenomenon of chaotic nonlinear relationships among numerous variables and feedbacks, a spaghetti tangle of natural cycles on the Earth, in the solar system and beyond, including human industrial activity and land use changes.

We know that climate changed long before human activity had any other than very local effects. Assuming that modern observed climate variation is “caused” by human production of CO2 is not only factually wrong, it diverts attention from the reality of natural climate variation, misapplies enormous human resources and economies, and ignores the inescapable necessity that humans accommodate to natural cycles rather than attempting to control them.

We know from observation that traffic congestion is often the result of accidents or tailbacks at off and on ramps. Sometimes we run into a clot of cars on the freeway that has no discernable cause and that clears up for no discernable reason, leaving no car parts on the verge to reveal its dynamics. We also know that widening the highway may temporarily relieve existing traffic congestion, but in a relatively short period of time congestion returns in the newly created lanes and ramps.

These seemingly disparate observations are the result of increasing numbers of cars interacting within the complex system of individual driving habits and distractions, on and off ramps and local road conditions, resulting in non-linear responses to small changes in driving conditions. Increasing highway capacity only increases the complexity of these interactions and does not address the root causes of traffic congestion.

If humans fail to learn that we cannot control climate by reducing CO2 production, and that widening the highway will not reduce traffic congestion, then we fail to explore social changes that accommodate to natural climate variation, and reduce dependence on automobiles and truly reduce traffic congestion.

It’s time for a new approach to human growth and development, technology and society. It’s time to apply our growing understanding of chaos and complex, non-linear systems to everyday problems of moving about on a planet with highly variable and unpredictable climates.

 

Poor Abused Nuclear

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Dai Ichi Nuclear Power Plant, Japan.    (credit: DigitalGlobe) http://www.digitalglobe.com

In a recent email campaign, We need your help to end the discrimination against nuclear, Michael Shellenberger, the overreaching leader of Eco(sic)modernism and its acolytes, cried out in mock agony: “Together, we can end discrimination against nuclear energy”

Apparently, the nuclear power industry is feeling put upon by cruel environmentalists, who are discriminating against their ability to continue to profit from electricity supplied by aging nuclear reactors through the world. As many as a dozen pro-nuclear supporters (incorrectly identified by Shellenberger as “environmentalists”) have stepped forward as volunteers, so we’re told.

California even has its own Save Diablo Canyon campaign, touting the misleading and meaningless aphorism: “For our families and our future, a win-win: CLEAN ENERGY & CONSERVATION FOR CALIFORNIA.

Shellenberger and the California nuclear industry activists repeatedly describe nuclear energy as “clean” and “carbon free,” which is not just mistaken, it is an outright lie designed to compare nuclear energy favorably with wind and solar energy sources.

The truth is that no source of energy is “carbon free.” All energy sources produce CO2 in their full lifecycle, since all energy sources require mining, transportation, manufacture, construction, maintenance, dismantling and recycling or storage of waste products. Nuclear has the added disadvantage of producing vast quantities of radioactive waste and construction materials that must be segregated from all life for thousands of years.

But of course, none of this is considered in evaluating nuclear as a “clean energy” source.

Nuclear energy promoters are growing a last ditch campaign to save nuclear power plants before they reach the end of their usable life cycle. A Big Push for Small Nuclear Reactors tells the tale of efforts in Europe to develop “small” reactors to be used in urban areas, under the premise that smaller reactors are “safer” than large ones. This claim ignores the fact that small reactors produce less energy than large reactors, so more “small” reactors would be required to meet the same energy demands. Plus, the push assumes that reactor safety is the primary concern holding back their development, when in fact it is storage of radioactive wastes and spend reactor components that is the primary concern.

The truth is that nuclear energy is an attempt to throw a technological fix at the inevitable impossibility of providing energy to maintain societies based on unlimited growth. The truth is that no energy source is “clean,” “carbon-free” or “waste-free.” All energy production consumes resources, produces waste and is subject to the inescapable demands of entropy.

If the nuclear power industry is truly being discriminated against, it deserves it!

Pulling hairs over oil

Many stories about People giving hair off their heads for oil cleanup these days.

It was much the same during the Exxon Valdez oil spill. There were a dozen new schemes every day to clean up the oil, none of which worked very well. We received semi-loads of terry cloth towels for cleaning otters and birds. After the spill, there were no towels purchased in Alaska for over ten years.

Once the oil is out of the bottle, there’s no cleaning it up. No amount of hair, human or canid, will ever clean up all the oil. All we’ll have is tons of oily hair that will have to be disposed of.

What we found in Valdez is that people who see this from a distance feel a need to do something about it, anything, even if it doesn’t make any difference. It’s the doing of it that’s important.

Now if we could just get them to understand that everyone has a hand in causing these oil spills. Every time we start our cars, eat our fertilized foods transported thousands of miles, fly in our airplanes, heat our homes, we drive the energy industry that destroys habitat, pollutes the shoreline, the air and the water. The fires of the gulf drilling platform were lit in the cylinders of millions of cars, in the furnaces of millions of homes everywhere.

In order to stop the spills we must stop drilling, transporting and consuming oil. This will come, in its own time, but not until much more damage has been done.

Let’s strive for energy independence. We can grow all the horses we need right here.