Monday, August 1, 2016

Solving the Energy Problem

There IS a miracle answer to power needs. It's call 4th generation nuclear power technology, based on thorium reactors. Although in truth even the 3rd generation plants, like the ones that provide France with 75% of its national power grid, are safe, efficient, produce comparatively little dangerous waste. And the bugaboo of handling nuclear waste is silly past belief by now, you just fuse it into ceramic so even a truck or train collision during transport can't release it, and then you bury it deep in a tectonically stable region. Or you could do what the Russians do, which is get it into liquid form and inject it into dry oil well domes down a few thousand feet, which have been stable for millions of years, and then seal the hole…. Unless you create immense forests of wind turbines (goodbye birds and bats) or create thousands of acres of solar panels (ecological impact?) you can never generate a serious fraction of the world's energy needs, and you sure aren't going to fly planes with anything but liquid hydrocarbons.  You can make electric cars, maybe trucks too, but the kilowatts still have to come from somewhere. The dream of clean renewable energy from natural sources at sufficient levels to support the lifestyle of Western societies is a pipe dream, and it ain't tobacco in that pipe.

Right now there is a "charisimatic" teenager getting a lot of press about his demand that government come up with a program to abolish the use of all fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas.... apparently burning wood may be given an exemption), and he's not the only one, there are other kids suing Obama for not doing enough to protect their future by pushing anti-CO2 rules harder.  Apparently none of these children have any concept of what life was like when the only energy we could tap was burning wood, and they actually believe that solar and wind and hydroelectric between them can be made to generate the millions of megawatts that underlie all the conveniences of our modern lives.  And of course no thought to how any aircraft can fly with any kind of load across any kind of distance without engines that use liquid fuels.  Nor how international trade could be supported with ships using only sails to cross the oceans.  Back to a horse powered economy in many areas, which would be great since it would create tremendous numbers of jobs to breed, train, and care for horses, and require a large workforce to do farming since without huge combines and crop dusters and all that other modern stuff that makes farming so efficient, we'd be back to big plantations with dorms for all the people needed.  Of course food would cost more, travel would be much more challenging and time consuming, we'd all be a lot colder in winter and hotter in summer, and there would be lots of other details about a low energy lifestyle, but hey, we'd be able to cut the CO2 generation in the planet by at least 1%!  Wouldn't that be worth it?

Who the hell has been teaching these kids that they know enough about the world to have any opinions as stupid as these? --Del

1 comment:

  1. During the Fukushima nuclear crisis, I found two really good sources of information: a blog called Brave New Climate operated by scientist Barry Brook in Australia ( and the MIT Nuclear Physics and Engineering department. The thorium reactor mentioned above CANNOT melt down as the reaction is moderated by molten sodium, not water. Even if the sodium all leaked out, the only consequence would be that the reaction stopped. And, they can be made much smaller and more cost effectively than current designs. Nuclear power can be made safely. It would be far cheaper than other means are, if we didn't have the legal wrangling to contend with. Furthermore, we have proven resources of fuel for at least a few thousand years, NONE of which is owned or controlled by terrorists. Ron P.