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Congress' favorite alternative energy: their own hot air

When it comes to America's energy dependence, politicians treat it a lot like the weather: everyone talks about it, but nobody does anything about it.

For example, one of the safest, least-intrusive, most environmentally friendly forms of energy generation is wind power. It's simple: ya build a windmill, stick it up somewhere windy, and sit back and reap the benefits. Clean, simple, safe.

Unless, of course, that windmill is stuck somewhere where you like the scenery just as is.

Personally, I think windmills are lovely. The slowly-rotating blades cycling around, almost silent, is very tranquil.

But then again, I'm not one of the high and mighty in Washington. Nor, for that matter, am I Ted Kennedy. (Thank GOD for that.)

Considering the drawbacks of other forms of energy generation -- both actual and potential -- of coal, oil, nuclear, or hydro power, wind power should be a no-brainer. Nobody should have any problems with it.

Unless, of course, you're the rich and powerful and don't want anything intruding on your view of the horizon.


Comments (80)

I wonder if anyone has actu... (Below threshold)

I wonder if anyone has actually calculated how much heat is displaced from burning X quantity dollar bills, multiplying that be the amount needed to boil water, and that by the amount of steam needed to turn the turbine?

If we're gonna toss money out the window, why not eliminate the middle man? =P

"I think windmills are ... (Below threshold)

"I think windmills are lovely"

So do the birds, until...

But the windmills up in Was... (Below threshold)
plainslow:

But the windmills up in Washington DC, and use it to run the capital. It will also serve to keep low flying planes from having a clear shot at any buildings in the area, which should save some money on security.

Windmill power is not pract... (Below threshold)
Chris:

Windmill power is not practical. The amount of space taken up by a windmill farm doesn't produce enough power to substantiate the construction. Also without some major advances in batteries, the electrical energy would be useless. the cleanest source of carbon-free energy is nuclear power...but, that has been condemned as well.

I'm pro-windmill, but your ... (Below threshold)

I'm pro-windmill, but your comment about 'almost silent' doesn't appear to be correct, when they were talking about a windfarm in the Adirondacks there were all sorts of stories from people that live near them about how loud they are, enough that some people move to save their sanity.

I thought it was a little odd, but thought I'd throw that out there.

My problem with Windmills i... (Below threshold)
the Whistler:

My problem with Windmills is that I don't think they are very economical. After all even here in North Dakota (wind capital of the country btw) we only have enough wind to power them 38% of the time.

That means you need to have the coal plant standing by in case you need it.

It seems to me that we'd be better off with nuclear power that is always ready. Plus it's the most economical energy anyway.

Turbines are loud and have ... (Below threshold)
kim:

Turbines are loud and have recently developed increased effeciencies allowing greater use of them, economically. But who is down wind? Everyone.

I maintain that it is the height of foolishness to interfere in the natural processes with which the heat engine that is the earth regulates itself. That is, interfering, in the name of sustainable energy, in the wind, the sun, and the water. If we try to derive any more than historically done, specifically if we try to derive enough energy from them to satisfy the energy needs of the human race, we will probably interfere in detrimental ways in the regulation of climate by these processes, the wind, the water, and the sun.
========================

Wind turbines are really ve... (Below threshold)
kim:

Wind turbines are really very analogous to dams for hydroelectric power. There are only a certain number of places which can economically produce power, and there are always environmental downsides than can spin greenies dizzy.

Wow, now there might be a sustainable source of energy. Is it the perpetual motion machine: liberal cognitive dissonance?
======================

One bizzare thought is that... (Below threshold)

One bizzare thought is that the energy used for powering a wind turbine comes from (whooda thunkit?) wind, which is powered by thermodynamic processes. The less spare energy, the less wind. Which means, theoretically, wind turbines take thermodynamic energy out of the atmosphere. In other words, wind turbines could reduce global warming.

Of course, the surface of the planet plus floating ocean platforms would be necessary to reduce it any measurable amount. How about we just wait for the sun to cool down again? That worked before...

One deep seated problem for... (Below threshold)
kim:

One deep seated problem for wind power is that the sound of turbulent air is not comforting. Turbulent water, yes. Soothing streams, etc. Turbulent air is associated with storms. Not soothing.

And there it is.
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That energy taken out of th... (Below threshold)
kim:

That energy taken out of the wind by turbines would mutate through the grid to emerge as heat somewhere. The process is thermodynamically neutral, but would interfere with natural regulatory mechanisms, TO THE DEGREE WITH WHICH ENERGY WAS DERIVED BY TURBINES.

We should not mess with the natural regulatory mechanisms of the earth. Didn't you learn that in Kindergarten, or other low joints?
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My sister has power generat... (Below threshold)
Paul:

My sister has power generating windmills near her home in West Virginia. Everyone was for those windmills being constructed in a non intrusive area of the county so no one's view was disturbed. The problem was the bat population fell drastically within just a few months. This upset the bat lovers in the county. Since it's a federal program, the county residents do not have the votes to force the government to tear them down.

Moral: Power 1, bats 0

Whaddya bet she goes buggy.... (Below threshold)
kim:

Whaddya bet she goes buggy.
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Having driven through parts... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

Having driven through parts of the southwest with windmill farms, one windmill can be intriguing. Hundreds are an eyesore.

Wtf is EVERY Wizbang reader... (Below threshold)

Wtf is EVERY Wizbang reader East of the Mississippi?

Being a Californian myself, I disagree jpm100. Try driving on I-580 from Stockton/Modesto to the San Fran Bay Area, and you will see that the rolling golden hills are an eyesore that windmills sure do friggin help.

Not to mention the Tehachepi Pass on California State Highway 58. That wind farm produces plenty of energy. Note to kim, there are plenty of "out of the way places" where noise and such won't bother people. There's already enough noise from the infamous Tehachapi Loop, so the Wind Farm doesn't hurt your sore ears.

Wind Farms of the World

If I seem Like I'm plugging Tehachapi, California, I apologize. I should be plugging Bakersfield, California, my hometown. Bako gets enough bad rep as it is.

Thanks for the post. I'm w... (Below threshold)
Tom Gray:

Thanks for the post. I'm with you on wind--and have been since 1980. Wind turbines are elegant for what they do--generating electricity while creating jobs, providing income to family farms, and revitalizing rural communities across the U.S. With electricity demand rising and global warming dead ahead, it's time to give alternative energy some serious thought.

Regards,
Thomas O. Gray
American Wind Energy Association
www.awea.org
risingwind.blogspot.com

Wind power is a viable form... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Wind power is a viable form of renewable clean energy. No, it won't supply all the nation's power needs, but on average Denmark gets 20% of their electrical power from wind. That's 5,536 GWh in 2003. So much for the idea that it's not a viable form of energy.

Yes, you still need other forms of electrical production to supply peak demand, but that's nothing new as the base demand is only a fraction of peak demand regardless of how the electricity is generated. Power companies charge non-residential users for their peak usage as well as their overall consumption to pay for all the infrastructure needed to meet peak demand.

The nation need to develop it's domestic energy sources, not because of global warming but because of global conflicts that continually threaten the supply of oil. If the global warming scare lets us build nuclear power plants again, then maybe some good can come out of it.

Mac - good points. Oil wi... (Below threshold)
SoSo:

Mac - good points. Oil will run out (actually just become so scarce as to be less important), same with natural gas, and even coal has its limits. Short term, using wind and renewing/expanding nuclear are the answers to more energy. Long term solution is conversion to maximum solar, with the electrification of transportation.

It needs to happen anyway, might as well start today. Congress or not, the citizens of the US must move forward if the US is to have a future.

Incredibly, I completely ag... (Below threshold)
slingshot:

Incredibly, I completely agree with you on this one J, and even Mac Lorry, though I would hold that climate change/global warming is a real problem. but i'm a reasonable guy- if we're both for wind energy, who cares why? I do also believe that a very legitimate reason for doing this is also the oil isssue and its subsidiaries.

I also agree that wind is part of the solution, but not the whole solution. But, again, who cares? Part of the solution is still a step in the right direction. Seeing as there is no known panacea answer at this time, we need to at least start taking the initial baby steps.

Kim-
I seriously hope that some of your posts were satirical. Your post at 4:37 was so absurd that I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume it was satire. I assume you are not proposing to ban sailboats.

Jay,Windpower bein... (Below threshold)
Two faced politicians:

Jay,

Windpower being built in their neighborhood does provide an illustration of just how two faced politicians can be.

This does not change the fact that wind energy is highly subsidized and very few turbines would be installed if it were not for these subsidies.

As a general rule of thumb if an energy source requires heavy subsidies to exist it is not a viable technology in terms of either economics or engineering.

So enjoy watching the politicians squirm but don't let that substitute for a rational look at the economic realities of windpower.

Wind power is a result of r... (Below threshold)
serfer62:

Wind power is a result of resistence. The drive necessary to turn the sails (they are not propellers, but sails) actually slows the wind and therefore the rotations of the earth.

If enough wind generators are built the earth will slow down and we will all fall off.

The solution is to velcro all the sidewalks and issue special shoes thus saving the lives of billions of birds and making very long days...and nights.

Also if the recent cold record 30 year lows mean that global warming is happening can we now make ice cubes in our ovens?

Save the earth! Smoke a cigar...

Slingshot, did you notice t... (Below threshold)
kim:

Slingshot, did you notice that I said if we use more wind power than 'traditionally used'. That post was serious. People proposing sustainable power alway want to tap into the climate regulating mechanisms of the earth for that power; when we take world class amounts of energy out of the wind, we will inevitably disturb those regulating mechanisms. Who's downwind? Everyone. Harness the wind, and reap the runaway.
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SoSo, do you note that if y... (Below threshold)
kim:

SoSo, do you note that if you start trapping more of the sun's energy here on earth to do work, that you will raise the temperature of the earth?
===========================

Slingshot thinks its absurd... (Below threshold)
kim:

Slingshot thinks its absurd because he can't imagine a sailboat changing the weather. He's visualizing the amount of energy required to push a small object around. I'm talking about the amount of energy to run our civilization, and if we try to take that out of the wind, we will change the weather and the climate.

Whaddya mean burning these black rocks will change the weather? What druid told you that?
===========================

Watch that liberal cognitiv... (Below threshold)
kim:

Watch that liberal cognitive dissonance spin. What? Sustainable energy from the sun and the wind is not good for Gaia?

Look, folks, that energy is sustaining Gaia. We need to find our own source.
=========================

Look, even Mr. Green in Eng... (Below threshold)
kim:

Look, even Mr. Green in England says it's time for nuclear. It is not possible for the wind or water to satisfy, sustainably, our demand for energy. Solar energy, is possible, but runs the risk of heating the earth, see above.

That leaves nuclear, and I don't think we can build a bottle for fusion. So it's fission, and pebble bed reactors from China, which is developing them now because they know a little bit about sustaining large populations.
===============

TFP, the subsidies apply to... (Below threshold)
kim:

TFP, the subsidies apply to ethanol, too. Even with oil this high, ethanol, from the sun and containing contemporaneous carbon, is not economical for propulsion. And think of the rape of Gaia all that monoculture mandates.
==============================

Everytime someone buys a ga... (Below threshold)
kim:

Everytime someone buys a gallon of gasoline with ethanol added, you taxpayers are paying to have that gallon move him less distance than if he had paid for a gallon of pure gasoline all by himself.
============================

kim, Got coffee?... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

kim, Got coffee?

Gallons of it.======... (Below threshold)
kim:

Gallons of it.
======

This is one of my very few ... (Below threshold)
kim:

This is one of my very few original memes. Respect it. 'Struth.
======================================

Now, if you've gotten this ... (Below threshold)
kim:

Now, if you've gotten this far, you're infected. I would appreciate conscientious criticism. I reiterate that I see huge danger in large scale derivation of energy from the natural self-regulating processes of the earth.
=============================

Good comments Kim. I love ... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

Good comments Kim. I love how slingshot thought you were using satire. That was my laugh of the morning.

We should not mess with ... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

We should not mess with the natural regulatory mechanisms of the earth.
kim

Kim, you're mad. Human history wouldn't exist without messing with the regulatory mechanisms of the earth.

First and foremost - agriculture. This altered society from nomadic hunter-gatherers to stable, localized civilizations. It removes nature's carbon sinks by clearcutting trees, underbrush, and wildlife for the sake of human well-being.

Second - irrigation/dams. We alter the course of water to feed our agriculture/produce energy. Irrigation has numerous effects on environments by changing ecosystems downstream. Also, I believe all dams actually minutely slow the rotation of the earth because they store the earth's gravitational potential energy rather than allow it to be dissipated naturally.

Third - fossil fuels. We strip mine entire mountainsides for coal. We tap the depths of the earth to draw up its oil. They are multiple ways this effects the earth's regulatory mechanisms. Clearly, emissions of CO2 and other molecules from burning them have the potential (the extent of which varies depending on your point of view) to alter our climate. The earth may have mechanisms to correct it, but we are messing with them. Also, what effects these practices may have in the future are less clear. Does mining coal remove the earth's nutrients for growing plants millenia from now? Does drilling for oil reduce the number of volcanos in the future by extracting what may contribute to them? I realize these are just hypostheses, just they are not out of the realm of possiblity.

Your points about wind/solar, and similarly hydroelectric/geothermal, power may be valid. But these are not the only ways to "mess with the natural regulatory mechanisms of the earth" as you imply. By saying that, you sound like the guy from a post yesterday who wanted to reduce human population to 1 billion.

To put it simply, we already do mess with earth's systems in a variety of ways, it's what makes man so unique on this planet. We have the potential to alter and control our surroundings, unlike other entities which are, for the most part, under the control of the earth (and us). What we must try to diversify our energy sources so we do not tip the scales extremely in any one direction and do our best to reduce our impact through efficiency and conservation.

I remember driving past the... (Below threshold)

I remember driving past the windmill farms in Germany back in the 90s and just thinking it was an absolute no-brainer. We've got them on a limited basis here in Wyoming and down in Colorado.

I'm with you, I think they look fine.

I don't understand people who choose the needs of birds, mice, owls, etc. over the needs of human beings. What kind of self-hatred is involved with that? Beaver dams are cool but human dams are evil? I think I first got that thought from Heinlein, but it always made sense to me.

Yes, sean, so far our tappi... (Below threshold)
kim:

Yes, sean, so far our tapping into the natural regulatory mechanisms for our energy needs has been such a miniscule amount of the total energy that the earth processes that it has had a virtually inconsequential effect. As we tap more into those processes, we will have a greater and greater effect.

You make my own mad point. Thanks.
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And study up on the carbon ... (Below threshold)
kim:

And study up on the carbon cycle. Carbon's origin is vulcan. Little critters use the sun to virtually permanently sequester it underground. The insignificant amount we release in our hydrocarbon dependent time will have no long term effect, and very little short term effect.
=============================

"We have the potential t... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

"We have the potential to alter and control our surroundings, unlike other entities which are, for the most part, under the control of the earth (and us)."

This statement is almost the exact opposite of the truth. Most plants, animals, fungi, and practically all other life forms alter their surroundings to some degree.

sean, you are not mad, just... (Below threshold)
kim:

sean, you are not mad, just maybe citified or something. Petroleum deposits have little to do with vulcanism except that the carbon in their hydrocarbons came from volcanoes originally, and nearly all coal is sequestered from the biological ecosphere. If I didn't realize you are merely ignorant, I'd consider you mad.
=================================

Oil isn't melted dinosaurs,... (Below threshold)
kim:

Oil isn't melted dinosaurs, either, Sinclair City Boy.
============================

Oil isn't melted dinosaurs,... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

Oil isn't melted dinosaurs, either, Sinclair City Boy.
============================
Posted by: kim

Amen to that! I like Velikovsky's Venus hypothesis. Basically a Jovian influx. "Worlds in Collision". The book on Einstein's nightstand when he died. Circumstantial, I'm sure.

This statement is almost... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

This statement is almost the exact opposite of the truth. Most plants, animals, fungi, and practically all other life forms alter their surroundings to some degree.
P. Bunyan

Yes, all species effect their environment, but we're essentially getting into a vicious circle here as we try to say "what is nature/earth and what has an effect on nature/earth". What I'm saying is humans can build walls, dams, roofs, houses, tunnels, bridges, air conditioners, refridgerators, etc. to reduce the effect of nature/weather/climate on us, while animals and plants are more directly impacted by the earth and the other living species in its environment.

kim:

so far our tapping into the natural regulatory mechanisms for our energy needs has been such a miniscule amount of the total energy that the earth processes that it has had a virtually inconsequential effect. As we tap more into those processes, we will have a greater and greater effect.

We've only been utilizing agriculture for, what, maybe 20,000 years? Fossil fuels for only a couple hundred? Those timeframes are geologic blinks of the eye. While our impacts thus far have been miniscule, the effects may be building in intensity like tsunami reaching the shore, but will still not be seen for hundreds or thousands years. Or, you may be right and we have merely caused minor alterations. Only time will tell.

My argument is that relying solely on petroleum and coal is not the smartest thing, and not just for environmental reasons. We're already involved in a war to ensure access and security in the Middle East for their oil (read Saudi Arabia, not just Iraq). This will only continue as the Middle East reaches its Hubbert's Peak in ~15 years and other nations become more desperate. Coal can sustain our domestic electricity demand for hundreds of years but as we increase our demand for energy we will have to build more power plants, drawing on our resources even faster and increasing whatever effects (none to you apparently) emissions have. Diversifying, efficiency, and conservation do not solve all these problems, but they reduce the shock we will feel when petroleum does become a much rarer commodity.

Carbon's origin is vulcan.

Actually, carbon's origin is solar, you know, through the process of fusion of hydrogen, which was then expelled due to a supernova like event and gathered in one convenient location thanks to gravity.

Of course, I realize you mean earthly carbon after the planet's formation, I just felt like returning the snark.

Little critters use the sun to virtually permanently sequester it underground. The insignificant amount we release in our hydrocarbon dependent time will have no long term effect, and very little short term effect.

You seem awfully certain of this despite many other knowledgable people who disagree. You may be right, but don't fault me for not just taking your word on it.

Petroleum deposits have little to do with vulcanism except that the carbon in their hydrocarbons came from volcanoes originally,

You're probably right, I said my statements were just hypotheses. What I was doing was disproving your point by noting that drawing upon oil deposits are, in a way, "messing with natural regulatory mechanisms" (after all, nature decided to put them there and not necessarily for us to go tap) and doing so may have unintended consequences. I was not trying to make any specific points about the carbon cycle.

and nearly all coal is sequestered from the biological ecosphere.

Yes, and this disproves my point about removing the nutrients for future growth how?

Oil isn't melted dinosaurs, either

Did I ever say it was? I know very well it's melted dinosaur poop. /sarc/

Circumstantial? Not likely... (Below threshold)
kim:

Circumstantial? Not likely. Einstein dreamed up his ideas, and fixed the math around them.
============================

Ooh, good answers, sean. Y... (Below threshold)
kim:

Ooh, good answers, sean. Yes, I agree, energy independence, alternatives included, has greater usefulness geopolitically than environmentally.

So we'll take it one further step with the carbon. This 'supernova like event'. Tell me more.
===========================

There is an analogy here, s... (Below threshold)
kim:

There is an analogy here, sean. Just as the amount of energy we have classically used from the self-regulating processes of the earth is a miniscule and inconsequential percentage of it, so is the amount of carbon we are releasing into the atmosphere a miniscule and inconsequential percentage of the total carbon burden processed by the earth through the ages.

Granted, we have taken this bottle of champagne, shaken it vigourously, and popped the cork without regard for what was down range, but it is still just a popgun.
====================================

This 'supernova like eve... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

This 'supernova like event'. Tell me more.

I have a feeling this is snark, but just so it doesn't go unaddressed, I turn to our friend wikipedia.

The entry actually says our solar system likely formed due to the the accretion of a solar nebula (large gas cloud), but it does require the step of gust of stellar wind after the initial fusion reaction caused by the condensing of the nebula. This "explosion" is what I meant by supernova like event, even though it is nowhere near as powerful.

On a side note, this only hypothesizes the formation of our solar system, not generations of events, like supernovas, which may have preceded it and led to the formation of heavier elements present in our solar system (all elements with atomic weight above iron because iron is actually the most stable element which can be formed through solar fusion processes; anything heavier requires the influx of energy beyond that created by solar fusion, of which a supernova is an example).

Naw, sean, no snark; just t... (Below threshold)
kim:

Naw, sean, no snark; just trying to get into metaphysics.
==========================

But astrophysics will do. ... (Below threshold)
kim:

But astrophysics will do. That bit about iron was good; I didn't know that. Thanks.
===============

Now, surely you aren't goin... (Below threshold)
kim:

Now, surely you aren't going to leave the bit about messing with the earth's natural regulatory mechanisms unaddressed are you? I see you have the potential for honest rhetoric.
=================================

Kim, consider this:<p... (Below threshold)
Ben:

Kim, consider this:

Without any hope of moving to other stars, all life on Earth will die when our sun turns into a red giant. No species other than Human has any forseeable chance of achieving this- unless brought along by Humans.

All Earth life surviving the death of the Earth will therefore be dependent on Humanity's efforts towards this end.

Ergo, rather than Gaia's competition or, as some would have, an infecting virus, Humanity is Gaia's reproductive organ.

Reproductive organs get first dibs on energy. Gaia needs us to have a strong, economically and technologically advanced civilization so we can advnace towards interstellar travel. We'd never make it from mud huts. So she WANTS

Ben

Sure, Ben, probably inevita... (Below threshold)
kim:

Sure, Ben, probably inevitable.
===================

Kim,Sling... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Kim,

Slingshot thinks its absurd because he can't imagine a sailboat changing the weather. He's visualizing the amount of energy required to push a small object around. I'm talking about the amount of energy to run our civilization, and if we try to take that out of the wind, we will change the weather and the climate.

You know that every tree slows the wind and converts some of the energy into heat. If there really was some balance that needed to be preserved we would need to put up a small wind turbine for every tree we have cut down in the last three hundred years to maintain that balance. Of course, buildings would off-set a few percent of the turbines we would need to build, but we are way behind in letting the wind blow unrestrained.

If Earth's climate was fragile people would have messed it up when they started clearing land for farming.

Well, yes, but it all depen... (Below threshold)
kim:

Well, yes, but it all depends upon just how fragile the climate regulating system is. I suspect that, given the wide variation in physical parameters that have existed in the past, it is not fragile. But it has not been tested with man drawing large amounts of energy from it, and whatever effect there is, it increases with the amount we draw.
==========================

There is an analogy here... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

There is an analogy here, sean. Just as the amount of energy we have classically used from the self-regulating processes of the earth is a miniscule and inconsequential percentage of it, so is the amount of carbon we are releasing into the atmosphere a miniscule and inconsequential percentage of the total carbon burden processed by the earth through the ages.
kim

I'm not sure if your basic premise is true, that the energy we've been able to harness is inconsequential. In the grand scheme of things, it may seem inconsequential as life carries on and the earth keeps spinning, but look closer.

We're (relatively quickly - several hundred years) depleting every carbon energy source we can get our hands on, yet we keep looking and are having a harder time finding it. These will not return for millions of years, but we'd probably try and use them before they ever got a chance to fully form in the meantime (that's essentially what we're doing by using the tar sands in Canada).

Also, CO2 levels are projected to reach levels not seen since before the existence of higher life forms (of course, this depends on the earth's ability to take corrective measures and over what timeframe - ie, these measures may take millions of years and humans may not see it). And humans only continue to contribute to the cycle, by burning carbon, expanding agriculture, etc. which counteract whatever the earth may do to correct the fluctuations we cause.

So simply put, I don't agree. It may not make a difference in the immediate short term (let's call it 1000 years to be generous) or the extreme long term (1 million years if earth does take corrective measures as it has in the past), but there is a large middle area where it is definitely possible that humans may significantly alter our climate.

Whether this is enough to eliminate us as a species outright, or if there is even anything we can do about it, is uncertain. But again, this gets back to the question of environment and geopolitics, and that the latter can take precedence for the benefit of both us and the former.

Yes, and don't you agree th... (Below threshold)
kim:

Yes, and don't you agree that taking large amounts of our energy needs from the self-regulating climate mechanisms of the earth is likely to cause short, medium, or long term damage of undetermined amount? Were we to take this energy 'sustainably' might not that damage be permanent? And the more we take the worse the damage?

The same argument applies to your desire to tap natural processes as does mine with hydrocarbons. By the way, we'll stop using hydrocarbons soon, anyway, as they become more valuable for plastic feedstocks than as energy sources, and then all that excess carbon dioxide will dissipate even more rapidly than it has accumulated.
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Oh, God, please tell me wha... (Below threshold)
kim:

Oh, God, please tell me what a 'fully formed' hydrocarbon deposit is? Maybe a dinosaur?
======================================

Right there we hit the nail... (Below threshold)
kim:

Right there we hit the nail on the head. It offends your sensibility that we use tar sands before they have 'fully formed' into whatever you imagine as finished.

And you suggest that I am mad.
====================

don't you agree that tak... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

don't you agree that taking large amounts of our energy needs from the self-regulating climate mechanisms of the earth is likely to cause short, medium, or long term damage of undetermined amount?

Which is why I'm advocating diversification, efficiency, and conservation. Relying solely on any one source (including fossil fuels) has the potential to cause problems in other areas. There is no magic bullet which will solve everything and there is no way for humans to have zero impact, I've said all this already.

By the way, we'll stop using hydrocarbons soon, anyway, as they become more valuable for plastic feedstocks than as energy sources, and then all that excess carbon dioxide will dissipate even more rapidly than it has accumulated.

You may be right about plastics becoming the dominant use for hydrocarbons, but doubt that the carbon dioxide will dissipate so rapidly. Coal power generation is the largest manmade contributor of CO2 to the atmosphere. That will not stop whatever happens with petroleum.

please tell me what a 'fully formed' hydrocarbon deposit is?

Possibly not the best word choice - maybe "fully separated"? What I meant was hydrocarbon deposits that are not conjoined with soil, requiring extensive inputs of energy to physically separate them. Drilling for petroleum does not present this problem as the oil has naturally separated from the sand/soil over the course of millions of years and exists in a relatively pure form with natural gas capping the deposit to prevent remixing. It's not (necessarily) about the types of hydrocarbons present, but the purity of the find.

are there any non-idiots he... (Below threshold)
sad poster:

are there any non-idiots here? kim, your theories are such bullshit it's unreal. did you people even graduate from high school? Good God!

Drilling for petroleum d... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

Drilling for petroleum does not present this problem as the oil has naturally separated from the sand/soil over the course of millions of years and exists in a relatively pure form with natural gas capping the deposit to prevent remixing."

Again, completely wrong. This is a common misconception, however. Many people imagine large pools of crude oil and pockets of natural gas deep in the Earth which oil wells tap into.

In fact, the crude oil and gas deposits are contained inside rock- mostly sandstone. The tremendous pressures at those depths cause the crude to flow up the wells (the oil is not actually "pumped" even though the wells may look like pumps). When every last oil well on the planet stops flowing, it is extimated that we will have extracted about 30$ of the planets crude oil reserves. 70% will still be deep in the earth encased in sandstone.

OK, sean, again, excellent ... (Below threshold)
kim:

OK, sean, again, excellent answers. I say there is a nearly magic bullet, and it is pebble bed nuclear reactors. That said, there will be increased terrestrial heat with them.
=======================

Please don't tell my folks ... (Below threshold)
kim:

Please don't tell my folks I work in the oil patch; they think I'm a piano player in a whorehouse.

Right, PB, excellent except for the puerile conception of the petroleum industry. His point that 'fully formed' deposits are more easily extracted stands, however.
====================

sad poster, confederate wit... (Below threshold)
kim:

sad poster, confederate with us. Show me the foolishness.
======================================

You do understand, PB, that... (Below threshold)
kim:

You do understand, PB, that I meant sean's puerile conception of the petroleum industry. Note that I've quit calling him Sinclair City Boy?
=====================================

Many of those pump-looking ... (Below threshold)
kim:

Many of those pump-looking things, are. Pressurized wellheads need no pump.
=============================

In fact, the crude oil a... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

In fact, the crude oil and gas deposits are contained inside rock- mostly sandstone. The tremendous pressures at those depths cause the crude to flow up the wells (the oil is not actually "pumped" even though the wells may look like pumps). When every last oil well on the planet stops flowing, it is extimated that we will have extracted about 30$ of the planets crude oil reserves. 70% will still be deep in the earth encased in sandstone.
P. Bunyan

Yes, but how did they get that way? Do you think that from the outset of our planet's history petroleum was precisely locked in the exact stone where we find it? No, it bubbles up through volcanos, and slowly sinks back down over the epochs as volcanos continue to erupt and cover land. During this time, hydrocarbons which have mixed with other materials (sand/soil), decompose, react with bacteria, and separate slowly because methane is produced through these reactions, providing the agitation needed for separation. At some point, the pressure gets great enough that sandstone (it's called tar sands after all, so do you think it's just coincidence that we find oil in sandstone?) forms around the pockets of hydrocarbons and the natural gas serves as the counter-pressure, to prevent remixing, exactly like I said. If we weren't around to tap the shallow deposits, as we weren't for the first, oh 4 billion years or so of earth, they'd continue to sink as the process endlessly repeats itself, which is why some 70% as you claim is simply in deeper sandstone.

Perhaps kim should encourage you to review the carbon cycle as your attempt to disprove my statement did nothing of the sort.

Oh, and by the way, I never said we "pump" petroleum from the ground. Doing a quick check, I use "tap" most frequently, likely tapping a keg which is internally pressurized (although we do pump in gas underneath to increase the pressure of the flow, similar to when an oil well is nearly dry that we pump in gas to squeeze out the last bits of available oil). And I used "draw up" once. So you essentially are raising a strawman.

I got ya Kim,And I... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

I got ya Kim,

And I agree that the currently most used method of extracting oil (drilling a hole, letting the existing pressure force the oil out, and keeping the well from plugging) is the easiest and cheapest. It's just the "naturally separated" part of his comment that I most wanted to correct-that and the idea the oil in the oil sands was somehow different the the oil in the sandstone.

I say there is a nearly ... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

I say there is a nearly magic bullet, and it is pebble bed nuclear reactors. That said, there will be increased terrestrial heat with them.
kim

I agree with you here that nuclear is an option worth pursuing and should note that I purposely never raised nuclear as something which messes with nature's regulatory systems.

There are a host of issues with expanding nuclear production of course, but again, it should be part of increasing the diversity of our energy sector. I also believe we should work on processing our current nuclear waste to extract all available energy from them before their disposal as France does (this also falls into the category of efficiency). The biggest reason not to do so is that further processing leads to more plutonium production and raises terrorism concerns (a la Back to the Future), but we cannot shudder in the face of everything terrorism-related.

No Sean,The oil di... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

No Sean,

The oil did not "bubble up" through volcanoes. If it did it would have burned.

It was formed mostly in coral reefs which got buried. Maybe some were buried by volcanoes, but that is not the only way (I doubt it was even a significant factor. Through millions of years the inorganic parts of the reefs became sandstone and the organic parts become crude. Get it? It didn't mix with sand which became stone, it was formed in sandstone from the start.

And the 70% is not the deeper deposits. The natural pressures will only force about 30% of the crude from the sandstone. The "shallow" deposits that we are curently tapping will still contain about 70% of original crude after the natural pressure ceases to be enough to cause the oil to flow up the wells.

Also the oil hasn't been forming for 4 billion years as the creatures that eventually turned into oil haven't existed for the same amount of time that the Earth existed. It's more in the few hundred milllion year range.

Also, I never said you said the oil was pumped, I said it's a common misconception.

The oil did not "bubble ... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

The oil did not "bubble up" through volcanoes. If it did it would have burned.

It does, granted not as petroleum, but we're talking the end/beginning of the carbon cycle, not the petroleum stage. When I said "bubble up" I didn't mean like what you see in Beverly Hillbillys. Bubbles are pockets of gases in liquid, so by bubble up I meant bubbles of CO2/methane/other carbon gases in liquid magma/lava. This then reacts on earth with coral reefs, dinosaurs, forests, or whatever to serve as carbon sinks. Then the process goes on as I described. Don't global warming critics frequently say "volcanos release more CO2 than humans, so what difference do we make anyway?"

It was formed mostly in coral reefs which got buried. Maybe some were buried by volcanoes, but that is not the only way (I doubt it was even a significant factor. Through millions of years the inorganic parts of the reefs became sandstone and the organic parts become crude. Get it? It didn't mix with sand which became stone, it was formed in sandstone from the start.

Again, yes, but where does the sand for the sandstone come from? For the most part, all land areas were once covered with water and vice versa due to tectonic shifting. So what are sands now may become sandstone underwater a million years from now and oil deposits a hundred million years from now. There is no single explanation for all occurrences in nature.

And the 70% is not the deeper deposits. The natural pressures will only force about 30% of the crude from the sandstone. The "shallow" deposits that we are curently tapping will still contain about 70% of original crude after the natural pressure ceases to be enough to cause the oil to flow up the wells.

That not all oil is extracted from wells is true, but this does not mean there are not even deeper deposits we cannot reach. We just found another deposit deep in the Gulf of Mexico which increased our known reserves by something like 50%. So deeper deposits are out there, we just haven't gone looking for them as much because of the cost. But now that the price of a barrel of oil is increasing we will continue to expand the limits of where we search.

Also the oil hasn't been forming for 4 billion years as the creatures that eventually turned into oil haven't existed for the same amount of time that the Earth existed. It's more in the few hundred milllion year range.

This is true and I wasn't trying to imply that petroleum has been around that long. I was simply stating that humans have only been around a short time compared to the cycles earth has gone through. So what we have found may well be only in the few hundred million year range, but it does not mean there aren't deeper deposits composed of earlier life forms.

Let me try again. If you l... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Let me try again. If you look at some heavily wooded region like the eastern seaboard was 250 years ago, wind was restricted by tall trees which convert straight line winds into turbulent wind at a lower energy state. The missing energy ends up as heat. Even the noise of leaves rustling in the wind becomes heat when it's aborted. In the winter when many trees have lost their leaves the bare branches become very efficient solar absorbers that heat the air around them. The branches are even self-cleaning of snow that falls on them.

Then along comes humans who cut down the trees and clear the land for farming. Now the wind blows unimpeded and far more dust enters the atmosphere. In the winter the snow covers the fields and reflects the Sun's warmth back into space. During the little ice age the settlers along the eastern seaboard of the U.S. were sure that man was causing the cooling, but of course they weren't. It was just part of a natural cycle of climate change.

Up until the mid 70's the MSM was reporting global cooling and it was thought to be caused by human activity just as it was 200 plus years before. In the enlightened age of the 21st century we know that climate is always changing, yet many still believe humans are the cause of it. Even if it were true why do people think Global Warming is going to be a disaster? To think that you have to assume that current conditions, or lets say the conditions of 25 years ago were optimal. What evidence is there to support such a conclusion? Maybe it's that we like things the way they were and we fear change, even change for the better.

Anyway, I support the development of nuclear, wind, solar, tidal, and geothermal energy as replacements for coal, oil and natural gas in that order. I believe bio-fuels are a foolish use of limited soil and water resources.

You have an inventive and f... (Below threshold)
kim:

You have an inventive and flexible mind, sean, but you need a course in geology.
============================

You've not given me refutat... (Below threshold)
kim:

You've not given me refutation for my contention that the more we tap the earth's natural climate regulatory mechanisms for human power, the more likely we will upset those regulatory mechanisms.

You are probably on safe ground to at least tap the wind, for th time being for the same reason we are on safe ground burning a small aliquot of the world's total hydrocarbon burden. The amounts we are talking about are minimal.
============================

Mac's frustrated because he... (Below threshold)
kim:

Mac's frustrated because he knows I'm right, but probably have an inconsequential point. It will be until everyone downwind from a windfarm sues. And that point will come after there are damages.
===============================

Well I'm not an expert in g... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

Well I'm not an expert in geology either (but I did take a few classes many years ago), so I probably got some things wrong here, too.

I wonder if Jay Tea is disappointed that this didn't turn into a rag on Ted Kennedy thread?

lol

It is comforting to contemp... (Below threshold)
kim:

It is comforting to contemplate Kennedy's place in the carbon cycle.
====================================

If CERN's preliminary findi... (Below threshold)
kim:

If CERN's preliminary findings are borne out, it probably becomes feasible eventually to modulate temperature through manipulation of the magnetic fields around the earth. Perish the thought.
=================================

You see why I don't much ca... (Below threshold)
kim:

You see why I don't much care for horror shows, except Hitchcock?
=========================================

"It is comforting to con... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

"It is comforting to contemplate Kennedy's place in the carbon cycle."

And endlessly ammusing to contemplate his place in the bourbon cycle.

One of the biggest Hot Air ... (Below threshold)

One of the biggest Hot Air generator,Hot water generator manufacturer in India , powder coating plant manufacturer,Hot air,hot water Generator manufacturer in india




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