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Beyond the expected

CT ‘Earth Hour’ Magazine

By Deano 14 March 2008 24

Does anyone else think the Canberra Times’ idea of producing a 40 page ‘Earth Hour’ magazine sort of misses the point of the exercise?

What’s Your opinion?

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CT ‘Earth Hour’ Magazine
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RuffnReady 6:15 pm 17 Mar 08

Deano, good post, but I knew all that already (I presume you were explaining it for those who don’t).

Hydrogen, electricity, etc, as you rightly point out, have to be manufactured. As you said, the energy does not appear out of thin air. And if you want to run the world’s vehicle fleet on electricity, for example, you’d have to increase the global generating capacity by in excess of 100%. How are we going to do this? And more salient, how are we going to do this renewably when we currently can’t even generate 10% of our electricity renewably (through solar PV or thermal, wind, geothermal, tidal)?

I still think the scale of the problem, and the fact that there is no curbing of consumption of oil or electricity (or anything else for that matter) in sight (consumption of both continues to increase 2-3%pa in Australia alone) give rise to reasonable concern.

I did not seek out any of the information I have come across to “confirm beliefs” – I did just the opposite, knowing very little about this stuff up until this decade. In fact, I wish I didn’t know what I know because I’d sleep better at night.

And I am not a Luddite. I believe in progress, but not as it is currently constituted. We as societies need to address the rampant market failure of our current economies with regard to the environment and enact a triple bottom line philosophy. That might actually bring about the change we are talking about before the skyrocketing oil price cripples the world economy.

Ava 8:16 am 17 Mar 08

Bah why did this have to turn into a debate about global warming. This was far more fun when we were discussing the irony of the issue.

barking toad 11:19 pm 16 Mar 08

I was all for the bonfire until I read the scary prospect of the debster dancing naked around it – shudder with fear. The chance of a trip and fall is enticing though.

Anyhow, I’m all for earth-hour.

It will demonstrate the stupidity of the smug attention seekers.

Not that carbon dioxide, an inert trace gas essential for the plant growth, should in any way be curtailed, but the cessation of breathing by all the hippies and climate activists would benefit all of us.

They could practice what they preach and the real people wouldn’t have to put up with their crap.

Deano 3:47 pm 15 Mar 08

RuffnReady, my apologies for lecturing you but this environmental ‘the sky is falling’ shrill really gets up my goat.

First, let me challenge your statement that “the oil will be GONE in roughly 40 years”. No – we will never run out of oil. It will however become so expensive that we will stop wasting it by burning it in inefficient engines and making plastic pieces of crap. That process is happening right now. Remember when petrol was less than $1.00 per litre only a couple of years ago? We will never see prices like that again, ever.

Technologies do exist right now that are either a replacement for oil as a fuel or as a replacement for the internal combustion engine. Hydrogen is a replacement for oil as fuel. Yes, hydrogen is really just an energy storage mechanism (just like oil) that needs to be manufactured in a process that requires energy. The energy to make hydrogen has to come from somewhere but the advantage of hydrogen is that it can be made from energy sources that are impractical to have in your car like solar, hydro, nuclear or geothermal.

The other angle is to replace the internal combustion engine completely. Electric motors for powering cars exist right now. Have a look at what Mercedes Benz is doing with their ‘smart’ car in the area of purely electric powered cars. Again, electricity is just an storage and transport mechanism for energy that has to be produced elsewhere.

There are three abundant sources of energy available to us on this planet – nuclear (including solar, which is just a large nuclear reactor that isn’t even a safe distance away from us), geothermal, and gravity (incorporating hydro, wind, tidal). To date oil has been the most convenient method of collecting and using nuclear energy from the sun.

You are absolutely right that there are currently no substitutes for oil that are comparable in price. It is not a matter of the price of substitutes to come down to match oil but for the price of oil to increase until the substitutes become economically attractive. Once that happens, we will see a wholesale shift away from oil, the start of which I believe we are seeing right now. In time the price of these substitutes will drop to similar levels of oil today for exactly the same reason that we have cheap oil now – economies of scale. As consumption of substitutes increases, the costs of production will fall. Competition will see the development and introduction of new innovations that will result in even more cost reductions. It won’t happen overnight but it will happen and this will be the basis of the next modern miracle.

My reference to the Luddites is this implication in the environmentalist argument that if society continues to progress it is doomed and the only solution is to stop where we are right now. I suggest you research much wider for your answers and seek out solutions rather than confirmations of your beliefs.

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