Daily Digest

Daily Digest 12/24 - 8 States To Up Minimum Wage, Open-Sourced Blueprints For Civilization, The Myth Of Renewable Energy

Saturday, December 24, 2011, 11:43 AM
  • Trillion Dollar Asset Manager Says Get the Jelly, the World is Toast
  • New Nike Air sale leads to scuffle at Southland Mall
  • Marcin Jakubowski: Open-Sourced Blueprints For Civilization
  • It Takes a Brickmaker To Build a Village
  • Why 2012 Should Be Better Than 2011
  • Wage Floor Is Increasing in 8 States in New Year
  • The Myth Of Renewable Energy
  • Politics Stamps Out Oil Sands Pipeline, Yet It Seems Likely to Endure

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Economy

Trillion Dollar Asset Manager Says Get the Jelly, the World is Toast (art)

The package is not necessarily ideal for the ECB, who had to concede bargain rates to Euro banks in order to coax them for funding. On the other hand, the offer was good enough to garner nearly $500 billion from banks in relatively cheap three-year loans.

New Nike Air sale leads to scuffle at Southland Mall (Phil H.)

Approximately 100 people gained entry through two doors near JC Penny and Best Buy. The crowd forced its way in by pulling the main doors open. Once inside, there was some minor interior damage to decorations and benches that were toppled over during the scuffle.

Marcin Jakubowski: Open-Sourced Blueprints For Civilization (Chris M.)

Using wikis and digital fabrication tools, TED Fellow Marcin Jakubowski is open-sourcing the blueprints for 50 farm machines, allowing anyone to build their own tractor or harvester from scratch. And that's only the first step in a project to write an instruction set for an entire self-sustaining village (starting cost: $10,000).

It Takes a Brickmaker To Build a Village (Chris M.)

The project seems right up any survivalist's or prepper's alley in that it involves designing cheap and durable machinery for use after the collapse of civilization, using mostly only scrap metal or other junk. If successful, the end result is going to be an open-source database (and various CDs) containing schematics and instructions for the construction of at least 50 machines and vehicles.

Why 2012 Should Be Better Than 2011 (David B.)

The consensus expectations this year are for a serious recession in Europe that will drag the rest of the world, including the U.S., into a serious global recession, and that the U.S. stock market will roll over into its next bear market early next year on those fears.

Once again this year I disagree with the popular expectations.

Wage Floor Is Increasing in 8 States in New Year (jdargis)

The eight states, as well as 10 others and the District of Columbia and a handful of cities, however, have set an even higher wage floor, which in many cases is indexed to consumer price increases. How that floor changes, and when, depends on the state. Labor organizers are planning additional minimum wage campaigns in several other states next year, according to the National Employment Law Project.

Energy

The Myth Of Renewable Energy (cmartenson)

"Clean." "Green." What do those words mean? When President Obama talks about "clean energy," some people think of "clean coal" and low-carbon nuclear power, while others envision shiny solar panels and wind turbines. And when politicians tout "green jobs," they might just as easily be talking about employment at General Motors as at Greenpeace. "Clean" and "green" are wide open to interpretation and misappropriation; that's why they're so often mentioned in quotation marks. Not so for renewable energy, however.

Somehow, people across the entire enviro-political spectrum seem to have reached a tacit, near-unanimous agreement about what renewable means: It's an energy category that includes solar, wind, water, biomass, and geothermal power.

Politics Stamps Out Oil Sands Pipeline, Yet It Seems Likely to Endure (jdargis)

The tax cut and unemployment insurance extension approved by Congress on Friday included a Republican provision that requires President Obama to make a decision on the pipeline within 60 days. The State Department, which has authority over cross-border pipelines, said that it would not be able to complete the required environmental review within that short a period and would be unable to recommend that the project be approved. White House officials said Mr. Obama would honor the agency’s advice.

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16 Comments

yoshhash's picture
yoshhash
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 20 2008
Posts: 271
re-The myth of renewable energy

I have heard this argument before, but only from "denier" types who advocated business as usual so I really never gave it too much credence.  Does anybody here actually agree with the author?  It seems he completely dismisses the idea of using the renewable energy for mining, transportation, making more steel and concrete.  I know about energy density, without a doubt, peak oil is going to be a world of pain- but I think to describe renewables as a "myth" is horribly misleading.

Enough solar energy is received by Earth in one hour to power civilization for a year.  Even if peak oil meant the end of solar panels/turbines/steel/concrete, I think the key here is that we are wasting too much of our precious fluids on sunday drives and vanity purchases.

Tell me I'm wrong, but then please explain to me why renewables still isn't the best option we have right now.

Oh, and by the way, Merry Christmas everyone!

Damnthematrix's picture
Damnthematrix
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 10 2008
Posts: 3998
re-The myth of renewable energy

yosh, I suggest you read this...

http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/10/the-energy-trap/

and while you're at it, read all of this...!

http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/category/energy/

this guy is REALLY switched on (if you'll pardon the pun)

Mike

Matt Holbert's picture
Matt Holbert
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Posts: 118
The Myth of Renewable Energy

Based on my 17+ years of researching sustainable development, I think that the author pretty well nailed it. Since Chris M. linked to the article, I am assuming that he concurs... One way to get up to speed on the topic is to become familiar with the concept of emergy -- embedded energy.

The good news is that it is fairly simple for the average person to reduce energy use by 80%. I've done it over the past 11 years and my quality of life has improved a great deal. The trick is turning the "sunday drives" -- or any drive -- into a walk.

Mirv's picture
Mirv
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 30 2008
Posts: 105
Merry Christmas yoshhash and everyone else!

Yosh, I agree completely with you.  Perhaps the article merely provides us a healthy viewpoint/reminder to consider energy used by infrastructure for renewables.  I suggest a definition of "renewable" as follows: a. mined energy, which is nonrenewable (oil in ground, coal) vs b. manufactured energy, which is renewable (agriculture/photosynthesis, solar cells, wind).  Nuclear energy is an exception from this definition because  the cost is mostly all infrastructure and not from the mined substance.  The problem addressed with this definition is that most energy is mined and the mines are running out................. The definition helps us focus on replacing the mines.

best wishes everyone.  Thanks for teaching me so much this year!

 

 

   

Doug's picture
Doug
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Joined: Oct 1 2008
Posts: 3157
I think fundamentally she is correct, but...

Her disparagement of renewable energy is largely based on a model assuming boa in terms of energy consumption.  It should be very clear by now that we cannot continue functioning on that model.  We have to radically reduce energy consumption under any sustainable model, and renewable energy will play a large part in being able to do so.  Rather than thinking in terms of massive projects that will replace coal and/or oil, each of us, as Matt Holbert pointed out, can reduce our personal consumption substantially.

The problem, of course, is that there are few of us willing to significantly change the way we live and we few cannot make up for the vast majority who are oblivious.  I don't think it will end well, but there is no doubt in my mind that we will reduce our energy consumption.  The question is whether we are willing to take steps necessary to do so in a measured conscious way or we are willing to just let it fall apart around us.  Which do you think is the least painful?

Doug

Damnthematrix's picture
Damnthematrix
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
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Posts: 3998
The Myth of Renewable Energy
Matt Holbert wrote:

Based on my 17+ years of researching sustainable development, I think that the author pretty well nailed it. Since Chris M. linked to the article, I am assuming that he concurs... One way to get up to speed on the topic is to become familiar with the concept of emergy -- embedded energy.

The good news is that it is fairly simple for the average person to reduce energy use by 80%. I've done it over the past 11 years and my quality of life has improved a great deal. The trick is turning the "sunday drives" -- or any drive -- into a walk.

ABSOLUTELY.....  we too have reduced our energy consumption by 80% (or more) http://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2011/09/04/the-power-of-energy-efficiency/  with no reduction in living standard.  Like yours, our quality of life has dramatically improved too, the whole consumption thing is a myth and a con.......

This household runs at over capacity with 3.5kW of PVs, but a conventional home with aircon and everything that opens and shuts with gluttony would require ten times that much... at huge cost to both the hip pocket and the environment.

The Energy Trap will ensure that we never replace BAU with renewables, it will never happen.  We will have to adapt to a much lower energy consumption paradigm, whether we like it or not.

Mike

Damnthematrix's picture
Damnthematrix
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 10 2008
Posts: 3998
Energy in the Real World

Energy in the Real World

 
Energy in the Real World
Solar and Wind are not renewable. The energy from solar and from wind is of course renewable but the devices used to capture the energy of the sun and wind is not renewable. Nor are they green or sustainable.

An oak tree is renewable. A horse is renewable. They reproduce themselves. The human-made equipment used to capture solar energy or wind energy is not renewable. There is considerable fossil fuel energy embedded in this equipment. The many components used in devices to capture solar energy, wind energy, tidal energy and biomass energy – aluminum, glass, copper, rare metals, petroleum in many forms to name a few – are fossil fuel dependent

<MORE>

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
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Posts: 3936
A Merry and safe Christmas Everyone.

Try and stay off the roads.

Relax and live for the moment. Let us procrastinate for one day.

thatchmo's picture
thatchmo
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 14 2008
Posts: 456
good advice

Arthur.  Appreciate your comments on our forums.  Merry Christmas to you and to all of us!   Aloha, Steve.

razzor7's picture
razzor7
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Posts: 1
Open-Sourced Blueprints for Civilization

Marcin Jakubowski's ideas are very inspiring. http://opensourceecology.org/ for those who are interested, because the current link does not point very clearly to his work.

KugsCheese's picture
KugsCheese
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 2 2010
Posts: 1447
Renewables and Exponential Growth

This video series is long but worth the effort.   One good outcome of renewables is they will not support as many people:

youtu.be/F-QA2rkpBSY  Albert Barlett on Exponenetial Growth (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Bartlett)

Humans are vain animals who think linearly.   When I was a kid I always questioned the goals of economic growth and such (why do this that causes war?).   As I grew older I tended to believe the experts some.  But the sticky oil price seems to indicate Mother Nature is telling us something.   To think there will not be future war is naive as well.  The fact that Europe has armies of ineffectual size and tools puts the gold stored there at risk if war breaks out.

cbrer's picture
cbrer
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 23 2011
Posts: 1
Renewable Energy

The fact is, that there is a NASA video on you tube under this title:

Wireless Power Transmission 30kw over 1 mile at 82.5% efficiency Goldstone 1975

Over 35 years ago!

Proving that renewable energy is possible, efficient. Is the reason for not pursuing this avenue because of being thwarted by oil corporation (now unlimited) contributions to politicians? Oh, and now NASA has been shut down. Thanks Barak...

High efficiency panels in space. What a (old) concept!

philanderson's picture
philanderson
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 5 2010
Posts: 1
i think the article is

i think the article is reasonable. i think if you look at reality systemically, all power sources essentially resolve into *the same* phenomena, in the sense that any net benefit (power output) has to be paid for in environmental detriment in terms of systemic impact - the two always balance because reality must balance (no such thing as a free lunch).

e.g. in terms of burning finite resources, you can choose between coal (low toxicity / high volume pollutant outputs) or nuclear (high toxicity / low volume pollutant outputs) but you cannot choose zero "pollutant", as we are starting to find out with chernobyl and fukushima, there will always be some release of waste, absolute integrity of containment is impossible.

and in terms of what "pollution" (in a concentrated sense) actually is - really it's just systemic time-deferral of consequence, something which you need to have if you wish to create a continuous power output (which civilization needs). so if you don't pollute, you need to manually re-create this time deferral system, e.g. create huge power reservoirs for days the wind does not blow. this time deferral system has a huge impact on the efficiency of the system and always has finite capacities for time deferral.

i think in the next few decades any belief that there are "good" and "bad" power sources will be seen through, and instead we will realize we have to view reality as an interconnected interdependent system.

i think there is still a "way through" the situation, but only at a higher order of thinking complexity.

phil

yoshhash's picture
yoshhash
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 20 2008
Posts: 271
Matt Holbert wrote: One way
Matt Holbert wrote:

One way to get up to speed on the topic is to become familiar with the concept of emergy -- embedded energy

Thank you Matt and DTM, but it seems you both misunderstood me.  I am very familiar with both embedded energy and EROI, and by all means, I know that reduction is a key part of the strategy, without which none of these alternatives will work.  I know that "renewables" is a misnomer since we are relying on still relatively cheap oil for easy extraction of materials.   But my key question is SO WHAT?  Why should we slow down on producing solar panels and wind turbines, just because they aren't the "perfectly self renewing answer to all our problems"?  And what other energy source is better? 

I understand there are some amazing ideas being floated around, like thorium(?).  (I do not dare to even go further, I would only be exposing my ignorance).  But as I understand it, it is ony theory, right?  My key statement is- if there is a better solution then renewables,(right now) then what is it?  Solar and wind may be  temporary, but buying 40 to 100 more years is still way more intelligent than "drill baby drill".  The author does a great job of teaching us that "renewables" is not fully renewable, and I commend her for that but unless the conversation goes further to suggest alternatives, she is only giving ammunition to deniers.

KugsCheese's picture
KugsCheese
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 2 2010
Posts: 1447
Tesla!
cbrer wrote:

The fact is, that there is a NASA video on you tube under this title:

Wireless Power Transmission 30kw over 1 mile at 82.5% efficiency Goldstone 1975

Over 35 years ago!

Proving that renewable energy is possible, efficient. Is the reason for not pursuing this avenue because of being thwarted by oil corporation (now unlimited) contributions to politicians? Oh, and now NASA has been shut down. Thanks Barak...

High efficiency panels in space. What a (old) concept!

Tesla demonstrated wireless power transmission over 100 years ago en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikola_Tesla.   Tesla's life ended sadly, but he revolutioned our world with the theory of AC Power (Edison be damned; Tesla initially worked for him) and single-handledly built the core AC equipment under Westinghouse.

Damnthematrix's picture
Damnthematrix
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 10 2008
Posts: 3998
Therein lies the predicament.....
yoshhash wrote:

But my key question is SO WHAT?  Why should we slow down on producing solar panels and wind turbines, just because they aren't the "perfectly self renewing answer to all our problems"?  And what other energy source is better?

Therein lies the predicament.....  If we go all out to replace what we have with alternatives, we will inevitably deplete all the fossil fuels and other resources that are left. And of course there are no better sources either.

My son has just graduated with a double Science Degree.  He told me they are taught how to present arguments properly at University, the problem being that the vast majority of people are not convinced by evidence, but rather by what they are told, right or wrong, or even lies, as long as those telling these things are authoritative/famous/charismatic.  Sounds familiar doesn't it..... how can anyone be surprised we are now in such a pickle?

So I don't know how we convince the populace that we have to change everything... like stopping the manufacture of cars!  To go all out producing panels and turbines will require ALL THE RESOURCES left.... and cars are not on the list AFAIC.

Mike

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