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Nobel winning physicist takes on Global Warming

  1. May 2, 2007 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/indepth_coverage/science/globalwarming/

    I saw Dr. Chu at Stanford a few years ago where he gave a fascinating lecture and was most inspirational. I was thrilled to see him involved in this endeavor. And why not? He is in the business of "cooling" but on a slightly smaller scale. :biggrin:

    And 500,000,000 cheers for BP as well! This is the second time that they have stood out for me as the white hats. The other was during a conversation with the CEO on PBS. Unlike the CEO of Shell who claims that we shouldn't want energy independence, BP was completely dedicated to reducing our reliance on petroleum. I think this is what Toffler referenced as the classic battle between 2nd and 3rd wave industries.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2007
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  3. May 20, 2007 #2

    Mk

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    I say skip it and throw all that money into nuclear.
     
  4. May 20, 2007 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    The terrorists would love that.

    We have 100 plants operating in the US and only need 1300 more of similar size. If we can build 2 a year, it should only take about 650 years.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2007
  5. May 20, 2007 #4
    I think this is a great idea. Like all other areas of science, the more investigation, skepticism and critical thinking the better. It is trying to sweep the scientific investigation under the rug that bothers me.
     
  6. May 20, 2007 #5
    Berkeley has passed measure G which mandates an 80% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050.

    There is some opposition to the BP/Berkeley venture, overall I support the idea of companies funding public research, as long as the technology remains public. Or at least held jointly by the UC system and the corporate sponsor.

    I will talk to the opposition and get the skinny on what the deal looks like and why they oppose it.
     
  7. May 20, 2007 #6

    Evo

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    This just means that BP has recognized that they are currently relying on a source that is nearing depletion and that in order to survive long term, they need to be able to find something else to sell. They don't care what they sell as long as they turn a profit. If they get tax benefits from backing alternative fuel, all the better for them.
     
  8. May 20, 2007 #7

    chroot

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    I say skip that, too, and just ride a bike instead. All this time and energy spent making better cars just makes me cringe.

    - Warren
     
  9. May 20, 2007 #8
    There is going to be a big push for bio-fuels because cellulosic ethanol is being touted as having a small carbon footprint.

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/indepth_coverage/science/globalwarming/fuel_cost.php

    My major concern is what Alice Friedemann terms "Peak Soil".

    If we do not adopt an agriculture policy focused on topsoil health, we are in trouble. As oil field production plummets because of pressurization and topsoil is lost because of the high price a farmer can get from the cornstalks. Fertilizer and pesticides will become scarce the food supply will take a huge hit.

    Initially when land is switched there is a 50% reduction in yield. Once the soil and ecosystems health is restored yields will return to comparable levels, but this takes a few years. What will we do if suddenly our food supply is cut in half while we have millions of refugees from the low lying areas being inundated by sea level rise.

    I am all for research into ethanol, as long as there is comprehensive redress given to the unsustainable industrial agriculture. It has been demonstrated here that organic permaculture can feed the world while it restores the topsoil.

    If the big ag and chemical companies have their way it will be a disaster for the food supply. efficiency and renewable is key. Biomass in the short term would be better utilized as charcoal in conjunction with sequestration at existing coal plants.

    In the long run coal is the real problem. We will get to 450ppm by any scenario I have seen and oil and gas alone will take us there. Coal is where the most fossil carbon lies.
     
  10. May 20, 2007 #9

    Evo

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    Good points, and a good reeason to fear the overwhelming and skyrocketing use of coal in China.

    I think turning non-agricultural land into algae farms like Ivan suggests is a viable alternative. Corn cannot be planted in the same field for consecutive years without artificially enhancing the land. This is why you see corn fields planted with corn one year and soy beans the next year. I was reading an advertisement yesterday from BP about using soy as an alternative fuel. I guess if you can use both plants, you've got it made, but I don't want to see the prices of corn or soy continually increasing and the domino effect of either.
     
  11. May 20, 2007 #10
    I live in Berkeley and it is already becoming difficult to find a place to lock up my bike. The governator after wrapping himself in the greenman cloak, is cutting 1.6 billion from the public transit budget. 47% of GHG emissions are from transportation. Public transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure are the best ways to encourage people to get out of their cars. If you build it they will come. As long as we build more roads we will have more cars.

    If we remove parking spaces for bike lanes it will be easier to bike than to drive. I always enjoy grocery shopping as I glide by all the motorists sitting idling waiting for a space. :smile:

    Mayor Tom Bates got into a disagreement with some other Mayors at a regional transportation meeting. They were saying stuff like;

    You"ll get a bike parking station after I get my highway widened."

    Bates stood firm and told them; "Cars are no longer the top concern in policy decisions. Climate change will, from now on, figure in all our transportation decisions." or something to that effect1.

    1. Heard second hand at the measure G launch meeting.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2007
  12. May 20, 2007 #11
    Algae as a source of ethanol could be quite beneficial, harvest the stuff that is strangling other life in the Gulf of Mexico.
     
  13. May 20, 2007 #12

    chroot

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    Excellent post, Skyhunter... I'm glad to see that someone else here actually understands.

    There is no single more meaningful change we can make to our dependence on foreign oil, our environment, our waistlines, and our pocketbooks than simply riding a bike when possible. It's so dirt simple... and so incredibly easy. I just wonder why more people don't understand it.

    I guess it's just not trendy. Time magazine recently had a huge article on 51 things you could do to stop global warming. Amazingly, only one of the 51 entries included the word bicycle, and it was only in passing, in reference to London's policy prohibiting cars in the core of the city.

    I sent a letter to the editor of Time:

    Of course, they didn't print my letter. Instead, they printed a letter from some woman who convinced a few people at her office to switch to using coffee mugs instead of stryofoam cups. :rolleyes:

    - Warren
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2007
  14. May 20, 2007 #13

    Evo

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    Good lord, that's pathetic. I have never seen anyone in all my years at work use a disposable styrofoam cup, everyone has their own mug. Wow, I'll bet that letter probably encouraged one or two people in the world to switch.

    While biking to work and other places works for some, there are too many that can't do it. I can't because even if I didn't work so far away from my house, my knee was so badly damaged by that glass that went through it, I can't ride a bike for more than a very short distance, like down the street and back.

    I'm actually considering moving to a place that has everything I need within walking distance and would consider getting a tricycle (a regular size bike with threee wheels) that has baskets to hold groceries. My only concern is that there is no place to secure a bike anywhere and it would get stolen.

    The county I live in has added a bus line, but I have never seen a bus stop, seriously. All you see are these big buses driving around with one or two passengers. The waste of fuel is mind boggling. This is a community of companies spread around a large suburban area and there is no single point from A to B where a bus makes sense. I'm sure it sounded like a good idea when some politician pushed it.

    At least my company pays to have a restaurant in the building, it keeps a lot of people from driving to get lunch every day. You don't have workers in other countries going out for fast food every day like Americans. There are so many little things if we changed our habits that would add up in a big way, but Americans are just too spoiled to make the changes.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2007
  15. May 20, 2007 #14

    chroot

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    Well, I obviously don't advocate that people with disabilities ride 30 miles on a bike to work... nor do I advocate that people attempt to use bicycles to pick up a family of six from soccer practice. (Many people seem to think that my suggestion to ride bicycles is somehow a blanket statement that automobiles should never be used for any purpose.)

    The truth is that many people are perfectly physically capable of pedalling a bike to their local Blockbuster to pick up a movie, but simply choose to fire up the ol' long-block to drive five blocks instead. If they really stopped and thought about it, most people could use a bike instead of a car for probably half of their errands, without affecting their lifestyle in any other way.

    - Warren
     
  16. May 20, 2007 #15

    Evo

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    I absolutely agree and my edited post emphasizes that. I have always car pooled to work when it was feasable, something I don't hear about any more, perhaps it is just not popular in the midwest.

    If they made shopping places bike friendly a lot more people would use bikes, also bike paths along busy streets would make so much sense. Why can't people use sidewalks to bike on? No one walks on the sidewalks here and it's just crazy to ride in busy traffic when they could be on the empty sidewalk.
     
  17. May 20, 2007 #16
    Actually I went vegan 2 years after I started riding a bicycle, and now eat mostly locally grown organic produce. I can attest that the diet has had an equal impact on the environment to my giving up the car. And health wise it has had a much more profound effect than the extra exercise I get from riding a bicycle and walking.

    The key is to provide the infrastructure. If you build it they will come.

    I started riding a bicycle 6 years ago. What prompted me to do so was a simple sign on the street that said "Bicycle Boulevard". I thought; "Great, I don't have to hassle with driving or walking."

    Went to brunch with an old housemate today. The restaurant was 1.4 miles away and it was a pleasant 10 minute ride on a sunny day for 5 cyclists. If it is within 10 miles or close to public transit the car stays put. If we do drive it is rarely ever a SOV (single occupancy vehicle). Now I know first hand the benefits of riding as opposed to driving.

    If the city of Berkeley had not made it easy I don't know how long it would have taken me to get the idea.

    That is why I was just incredulous when after the state just passed a 22 billion dollar transportation bond that Schwartznegger is going to cut a huge chunk from non highway funds. I didn't vote for it, (the conservative in me is against borrowing for routine maintenance) but I though at least they wouldn't come after the meager allowance left for non highway infrastructure.

    Policy makers that do not see transportation infrastructure as the key to reducing energy consumption, need to be replaced by realists.

    What is the saying; "It gets real, when real people, do real things, in real time."

    Riding a bike is real action.
     
  18. May 20, 2007 #17
    There are electric assist bicycles and inexpensive solar chargers, the harder you pedal the less assist. Something to look into.

    http://www.gizmag.com/go/1285/
     
  19. May 20, 2007 #18

    Ivan Seeking

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    IMO, biodiesel from algae
    ...
    ...
    ...
    ...
    <<<<<<============ Red spots are the oil
    ...
    is the only practical option to petro that offers a real solution, today. Of course we should do everything else that makes sense and helps, but the core issue is the supply of energy.

    Since algae can be used to make biodiesel, and/or ethanol, and/or hydrogen, algae may be an excellent transition technology in pursuit of the ultimate goal of a hydrogen economy. And it doesn't pit food against energy as does corn or sugar ethanol.

    It can also be used to scrub emissions from coal power plants, to clean up industrial, agricultural, and municipal waste, and it can be grown in brackish water; and then used for the production of fuel.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2007
  20. May 21, 2007 #19

    turbo

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    My wife used to car-pool with another woman, until that woman decided she wanted to ride alone so she could do spur-of-the-moment shopping etc after work. My wife's car is definitely more fuel efficient than hers, so she must be spending more on gas (>$30/week), but she refuses to start car-pooling again, even with the increasing gas prices. We'd like to cut the wear on our car and save on gas (both for the money and to reduce emissions), but those really don't matter to some people. :grumpy:
     
  21. May 28, 2007 #20

    Andrew Mason

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    Try riding a bicycle in Saskatoon from November to April. Elderly people and people with small children are not likely to use bikes en masse. The solution will be a combination of things such as efficient public transportation, better design of cities to minimize sprawl, hybrid cars and other technological innovations that conserve energy, wind, solar (including wind/solar for hydrogen production) and bicycles for those who can ride them and in climates to which they are suited.

    AM
     
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