energy

simple science

There is one fundamental fact that is often forgotten in the discussion of energy security and carbon dioxide emissions. It is that the combustion of fossil fuels invariably has two consequences. It is the source of the energy that does useful work in industry in the process of being dissipated as waste heat. It is also the source of carbon dioxide that irreversibly increases the level in the atmosphere and the oceans. It is the source of carbon dioxide that has distorted the natural cycle. The ratio of the amount of carbon dioxide exhausted to the amount of heat generated is highest for coal and least for natural gas. But the principle invariably applies for the fossil fuels. There is an immutable duality between the use of these fuels to supply the concentrated energy used by industry, commerce or in the home and the carbon dioxide emissions that are powering climate change. Industrialized civilization is addicted to using the concentrated energy from fossil fuels. The Pandora box has been opened. This use has enabled the build up of the high materialistic standard of living for many. This use has enabled the parasitic urbanization. This use has enabled the reliance on mechanical transportation. This use has fostered unsustainable agribusiness to provide food for the vast population. This use has fostered decimation of biodiversity. But this use has also initiated climate change. This addiction cannot readily and in a timely fashion transform to a lesser dependence. Development of renewable and nuclear sources of energy can, at best, slowly provide a partial substitute in powering down the modern edifice. This means that severe climate change is irrevocable. No amount of rhetoric, obfuscation or bargaining by the powerful is going to change this irreversible devastating trend. And climate change is predicted to exacerbate other problems for the gross over population, like food production and water supply, particularly in the least industrialized regions. The die has been cast. Civilization is in senescence. The irony is that the supply of the exhaustible fossil fuels is becoming scarce so they will not be readily available to partially counter the problem they have generated for all, the impact of climate change. Denis Frith Melbourne Australia ‘What went wrong? The misdirection of civilization.’ ‘The Usufruct Delusion’ ‘The Dependence on Nature Law’ ‘The Immutable Duality’ ‘Unsustainability of civilization’ ‘Industrial civilization Pandora's box’

What is this thing called "Progress"?

Many people look forward uncritically to a future not too different from the cartoon-world of the Jetsons, where people have mechanical maids, whiz around in airborne cars, and take space-cruises to asteroids and far off planets. Politics continue benignly and poverty has no place. Political rank is preserved in the form of cheerful paternal talking heads, but the slave and servile ranks have been transformed into machines which cannot feel pain or humiliation.

China chokes on a coal-fired boom

China chokes on a coal-fired boom Michael Sheridan 31 December 2006 at the Times Online Toxic cloud of progress can be seen from space A GREAT coal rush is under way across China on a scale not seen anywhere since the 19th century. Its consequences have been detected half a world away in toxic clouds so big that they can seen from space, drifting across the Pacific to California laden with microscopic particles of chemicals that cause cancer and diseases of the heart and lung. Nonetheless, the Chinese plan to build no fewer than 500 new coal-fired power stations, adding to some 2,000, most of them unmodernised, that spew smoke, carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere. It is the political fallout of that decision that is likely to challenge the foundations on which Britain and other developed nations have built their climate change policy — even as there are signs that ordinary Chinese citizens are at last rebelling against lives spent in poisonous conditions. Cloaked in swirling mists of soot particles and smoke, cities such as China’s “coal capital” of Datong are entering the coldest period of winter in which demand for power and heating produces the worst pollution. It is often darkness at noon in Datong, just 160 miles west of Beijing, where vehicles drive in daytime with their headlights on to grope through the miasma. One of the four filthiest towns in China, it stands at the heart of the nation’s coal belt in Shanxi province, a region that mines more coal every year than Britain, Russia and Germany combined. Cancer rates are soaring, child health is a time bomb and the population, many of whom are heavy cigarette smokers, are paying the price for China’s breakneck rush to riches and industrialisation — an estimated 400,000 premature deaths nationwide because of pollution every year. Now, for the first time, the Chinese media have reported a revolt among the choking citizens of Shanxi. More than 90% of people surveyed by the provincial bureau for environmental protection said economic growth cannot go on at such an appalling cost. That puts them on a collision course with their rulers — the same survey, reported by the China Youth Daily, found that 90% of mayors and local cadres opposed any moves to protect the environment that might slow the economy. It is not hard to find the reason why. One mine boss in Shanxi named Zhang owns three Rolls-Royces of different colours plus a fleet of other luxury cars for his extended family, according to the Chongqing Morning Post, a daily newspaper. “While normal people die of polluted air and water, officials use mineral water to wash their vegetables and even their feet,” said Yue Jianguo, an analyst, commenting on the Shanxi survey. “People can’t tolerate the pollution any longer but officials only care about their political achievements of hitting targets for growth. If this policy isn’t stopped, China will become a land where there are only graves, no people.” Coal is king in China. The nation’s hunger for energy appears insatiable. Oil, costing more than $60 (£31) a barrel, is too expensive. Nuclear power is a distant option. Giant hydroelectric projects, such as the Three Gorges Dam, generate a mere fraction of the demand. Wind power and other alternative technologies make a minimum impact. So China is digging furiously and fast in more than 21,000 mines. Last Wednesday Zeng Peiyan, a vice- premier, disclosed that coal output had doubled in the past five years. The nation will use 2.5 billion tons in 2007.

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