FROM READERS.Is Our Outlook For Solar Energy solar energy, any form of energy radiated by the sun, including light, radio waves, and X rays, although the term usually refers to the visible light of the sun. Too Sanguine?
Although this letter is several months late, I would like to raise important questions about Chris Flavin's short essay, "Energy for a New Century," in the Earth Day 2000 issue. The essay (and, in fact, the whole issue) seems to be naively sanguine about the prospects that renewable energy Renewable energy utilizes natural resources such as sunlight, wind, tides and geothermal heat, which are naturally replenished. Renewable energy technologies range from solar power, wind power, and hydroelectricity to biomass and biofuels for transportation. can be generated, concentrated, transported, and used in sufficient quantities to drive the modern industrial economy. By contrast, I hold the prospects to be dim that renewable energy sources can support the present profligate prof·li·gate
1. Given over to dissipation; dissolute.
2. Recklessly wasteful; wildly extravagant.
A profligate person; a wastrel. , urban-suburban way of life of the wealthy, industrial nations. I also doubt that sufficient quantities of renewable energy can be made available to lift the 3 or 4 billion people of the developing world out of poverty even before their number doubles during the 21st century.
Few question the fact that the Earth's supply of petroleum is limited. Pessimists predict the shortages will begin to steadily reduce the amount of petroleum available on the world markets sometime between 2003 and 2010. The most sanguine optimists only postpone the shortage until 2050. In any historic time frame, the end of the petroleum age is drawing near. And unless there is some unexpected breakthrough in the discovery of new sources of energy, human beings will have to learn to live with the energy that the sun provides.
Flavin flavin: see coenzyme.
Any of a class of organic compounds, pale yellow biological pigments that fluoresce green. They occur in compounds essential to life as coenzymes in metabolism. states, "During the 1990s, wind power has grown at a rate of 26 percent per year, while solar energy has grown at 17 percent per year. During the same period, the world's dominant energy source-oil--has grown at just 1.4 percent per year." In view of the fact that the present economic system runs on cheap energy from fossil fuels, however, his statement ignores the question of the efficiency of solar technology. That is, he just assumes that renewable sources can supply a net surplus of concentrated and transportable energy for human use.
The case for switching the present economy from running on fossil fuels to running on renewable electricity cannot be made on the ground of the vastness of solar energy resources. It may well be that the overall efficiency of transforming, storing, transporting, and using the world's "vast supply of wind, biomass and other forms of solar energy" is less than 1. That is, the renewable energy gained may be less than the energy used to produce it. If so, renewable energy cannot replace fossil fuels regardless of the fact that solar energy is "6000 times as abundant on an annual basis as the fuels we now use."
To be specific, in a world that runs on renewable resources, energy costs cannot be subsidized by burning coal, petroleum, or natural gas. In such a world, renewable energy must be net energy--the total energy gained minus all energy costs. Here are some of the energy costs that will have to be covered by those vast wind farms and arrays of photovoltaic The generation of voltage by a material that is exposed to light in the visible and invisible ranges. See photoelectric and photovoltaic cell. panels: the energy costs of manufacturing the massive cranes and earth movers needed for mining minerals and ores; the energy costs of mining the ores and then refining them into metallic steel, copper, and aluminum; the energy costs of repairing the environmental damage caused by the mining; the energy costs of manufacturing vast networks of photo voltaic panels and wind farms and of moving them to and installing them at appropriate sites; the energy costs of storing the electricity generated in batteries or of transporting as compressed, liquid hydrogen Liquid hydrogen is the liquid state of the element hydrogen. It is a common liquid rocket fuel for rocket applications. In the aerospace industry, its name is often abbreviated to LH2 or LH2. ; the energy costs of growing the food, heating the homes, and transporting the workers who build and main tain tain
1. A type of paper-thin tin plate.
2. Tinfoil used as a backing for mirrors.
[French, alteration of étain, tin, from Late Latin stannum; see the vast wind farms and solar panel installations.
Surely mankind can and eventually must live on renewable energy. But it may well turn out that the centralized, high-tech equipment for generating electricity produces no net energy gain. Should renewable energy sources prove to be efficiently used only in the diverse and decentralized de·cen·tral·ize
v. de·cen·tral·ized, de·cen·tral·iz·ing, de·cen·tral·iz·es
1. To distribute the administrative functions or powers of (a central authority) among several local authorities. forms and in the low concentrations that occur in nature, then renewable energy can probably support only a relatively small human population at a simple and frugal way of life. As the subsidy of cheap fossil fuels dwindles, the belief that renewable sources of energy can replace the fossil fuels to power the modern way of life may well prove to be an ever-receding mirage.
Indeed, quantities count. After all, it is energy, not money, that runs the modern world and satisfies basic biological needs. A convincing, in-depth study needs to be made about the net quantity of usable energy that is technically possible from renewable sources. Should the overall process of generating, concentrating, storing, transporting, and using vast quantities of renewable electric energy produce no net energy gain, then renewable electric energy cannot drive the modern, global, high-tech, urban, profligate, consumer economy. Until the human numbers and the human use of energy and natural resources are both reduced to quantities that the Earth can sustain, the coming solar age may be an austere and violent one. Surely life in a world that runs entirely on renewable energy is likely to be very different from life in a world powered by cheap energy gained by rapidly burning up the world's finite stock of fossil fuels.
Barnard, Vermont Barnard is a town in Windsor County, Vermont, United States. The population was 958 at the 2000 census. Geography
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 126.6 km² (48.9 mi²). 126.1 km² (48.7 mi²) of it is land and 0.5 km² (0.
Christopherher Flavin replies:
"Net energy," also known as "energy profit ratio" or "energy return on investment," is an important concept that deserves more attention than it has received to date. The term is defined as the amount of energy that is produced minus the amount of energy used in the production process. As Mr. Elliott correctly points out, renewable energy and hydrogen will--as with fossil fuels-- entail energy costs via the technologies that are manufactured to harness these sources.
Cutler Cleveland, Director of Boston University's Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, has calculated the net energy profit ratio for electricity production. One clear lesson is that pollution control technologies significantly reduce net energy: U.S. coal-fired power plants averaged around 9, hut dropped to 2.5 for power plants with scrubbers. Another is that the fast pace of cost reduction in renewable energy technologies makes it hard to determine net energy: the ratio was estimated at 1.7 to 10 for solar photovoltaics (PVs), and between 1.9 and l3 for geothermal hot dry rock (no estimates were made for wind power). Furthermore, Cutler's calculation was first performed in the mid-1980s: since then, the average wholesale price for solar PVs has been more than halved.
What's important, then, is where net energy trends are headed. For coalfired power generation and gasoline-based cars, the "return on investment" is dropping due to expensive end-of-pipe technologies, price volatility, and prospective carbon limits; for renewable energy and hydrogen, the return is rising from technological advances and mass production. Factor in the relative environmental costs of each energy source, and the trends accelerate. I agree with Mr. Elliott's assertion that in-depth study of the net energy effects of renewable technologies is needed. But I disagree with Verb 1. disagree with - not be very easily digestible; "Spicy food disagrees with some people"
hurt - give trouble or pain to; "This exercise will hurt your back" his preconceived notion Noun 1. preconceived notion - an opinion formed beforehand without adequate evidence; "he did not even try to confirm his preconceptions"
parti pris, preconceived idea, preconceived opinion, preconception, prepossession that such a study will reveal no overall gain, which runs counter to current trends.
Process by which the experience of everyday life, marked by the diffusion of commodities and ideas, is becoming standardized around the world. Factors that have contributed to globalization include increasingly sophisticated communications and transportation " Gets a Make-Over
Since the international conferences in Seattle, Washington This page is protected from moves until disputes have been resolved on the .
The reason for its protection is listed on the protection policy page. , D.C., and Prague, "globalization" has almost become a dirty word. Therefore the CEOs of the multinationals, are frantically thinking how to replace the word "globalization" with something else that is acceptable to the world at large.
The public relations public relations, activities and policies used to create public interest in a person, idea, product, institution, or business establishment. By its nature, public relations is devoted to serving particular interests by presenting them to the public in the most consultants of the petroleum giant Exxon Mobil have come up with a new word, "openness," and--I am not making this up--suggested that King Solomon of ancient Israel had an "open" economy that brought great riches to his country. Exxon Mobil asked its consultants to design a chart to show the relationship between the level of openness of a country's economy and its per-capita GDP GDP (guanosine diphosphate): see guanine. . The chart appeared in an ad in the International Herald Tribune International Herald Tribune
Daily newspaper published in Paris. It has long been the staple source of English-language news for American expatriates, tourists, and businesspeople in Europe. .
I know nothing about the economy of Israel Israel has a diversified economy with substantial government ownership and a rapidly developing high-tech sector. Poor in natural resources, Israel depends on imports of petroleum, coal, food, uncut diamonds, other production inputs, and military equipment. during the reign of King Solomon, but some quick research on the web turned up the following keywords: absolute monarchy absolute monarchy: see monarchy. , barter trade, slaves, forced labor, wars with neighboring countries, religious conflicts, etc.
Another claim of this advertisement is that the importing of advanced medicine would improve health in a country that practices openness. How can they expect a person with an income of only one or two dollars a day (about 2.4 of the 6 billion people in the world) to take two capsules daily of an advanced medicine, when, those capsules cost $2.50 each?
The thesis of Exxon Mobil, that the import of technology and knowledge in an open economy is cheaper than the expensive tasks of improving education and infrastructure, is not realistic and will only delay development and waste a lot of money.
Patong Beach Patong Beach (Thai หาดป่าตอง) is a beach on Phuket's west coast, and to the town adjoining it. It is the main tourist resort in Phuket. , Phuket, Thailand
Wendell Berry's Vision Recalls Gandhi's
I was delighted to read Wendell Berry's vision of a viable local economy. I find it interesting that many of Berry's views are very much in agreement with the long-forgotten and ignored views of Mahatma mahatma (məhăt`mə, –hät`–) [Sanskrit,=great-souled], honorific title used in India among Hindus for a person of superior holiness. Mohandas Gandhi is the best-known figure to whom the title was applied. Gandhi on this subject. Much of India lived in villages in Gandhi's time (as a significant part of the population still does), and as the country stood at the threshold At the Threshold, whose son Lil E. Tee won the 1992 Kentucky Derby for W. Cal Partee, died March 23 of a stroke at Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine in West Lafayette, Ind. The 21-year-old stallion stood at Wayne Houston's Stoney Creek Horse Farm near Mooreland, Ind. of mass industrialization industrialization
Process of converting to a socioeconomic order in which industry is dominant. The changes that took place in Britain during the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and 19th century led the way for the early industrializing nations of western Europe and during the first half of the twentieth century, Gandhi believed that India's very future depended on the health of her villages. India already had a vast network of villages, a perfect structure for supporting viable local economies. While many villagers were poor and needed to improve their social and economic condition, they still survived on the basis of the same two principles that Berry identifies: neighborhood and subsistence.
Gandhi was concerned that industrialization on a mass scale would necessarily lead to exploitation of villagers and destroy the local economics. He believed that if production, distribution, and consumption of goods were all located within the same local area, the entire process would be self-regulating and there would be no room for speculation or corruption. Contrary to popular belief, he was not opposed to machines as such, but only opposed machines as a means of exploiting others.
Gandhi also believed strongly that nature produces enough for our needs from day to day--and that if only everyone took enough to meet his needs and nothing more, there would be no pauperism pauperism: see poor law. in this world. This calls for an uncommon degree of self-restraint with regard to consumption and lifestyle.
It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to sustain healthy local economies without some degree of self-restraint. And local economies are the key to retaining a sense of connection to people and place, something we have lost all over the world. Without this connection, it is no wonder that we inflict thoughtless violence (physical, economic, or otherwise) on others and the environment. The concept of voluntarily restricting one's material wants may sound archaic in this age of the global economy, but I don't see any other way of ensuring the long-term health of our planet and all its inhabitants
The game is based loosely on the concepts from SameGame. .
Does Taking Precautions Mean Fearing Everything?
Will there be "mandatory food irradiation Food irradiation is the process of exposing food to ionizing radiation in order to destroy microorganisms, bacteria, viruses, or insects that might be present in the food. Further applications include sprout inhibition, delay of ripening, increase of juice yield, and improvement of and chlorine dips for all fresh fruits and vegetables," as suggested in Brian Halweil's editorial, "Setting the Cheez Whiz Cheez Whiz is a thick processed cheese sauce or spread introduced by Kraft Foods in 1953. The bright, yellow, viscous liquid usually comes in a glass jar, and is used as a topping for corn chips, hot dogs, cheesesteaks, and other foods. Standard" (November/December 2000)?
An absolutely non-responsible public has long been taught to demand absolutely zero risk in absolutely all things, at absolutely any cost to somebody else. Consumer and environmental activists do well by the teaching. Lawsuit/lottery mavens rake in thousands. Why should such [an opportunity] fail to attract other hungry interests?
Do cheeses pose sufficient risk to warrant a ban? Hardly likely: a risk truly worth concern would long since be well known. But do they pose absolutely zero risk? Well, no. Does anything?
In this, as in much else, activists reap what they have sown. Unfortunately, innocents reap it too. Each drop of water engenders fear and loathing fear and loathing - (Hunter S. Thompson) A state inspired by the prospect of dealing with certain real-world systems and standards that are totally brain-damaged but ubiquitous - Intel 8086s, COBOL, EBCDIC, or any IBM machine except the Rios (also known as the RS/6000). : it inevitably carries a few atoms of lead, and today's technology can count them. What, then, about unpasteurized Adj. 1. unpasteurized - not having undergone pasteurization
unpasteurised cheese? After all, hypothetically, each crumb might carry God knows what.
Ultimately, as Brian Halweil notes, and all ought to notice, everything must be banned, or at least buried under trainloads of paperwork only a giant corporation could provide. The "precautionary principle," a European conceit M. Bove [the French farmer who drove his tractor into a McDonald's] himself may well have voted for, demands it. Everything must forever be feared, avoided, and postponed, eternally pending yet another study.
Oh, well, too bad for M. Bove. Too bad, indeed, for anyone authentically human.
The Editor replies:
The middle paragraph of your letter clearly acknowledges that there's a big difference between a risk "truly worth concern" and one that is not "sufficient" to warrant a ban. So YOU seem to agree that magnitude matters. But in the next two paragraphs you lump together risks of all magnitudes by mockingly warning that "everything must forever be feared," etc. Do you really equate the risk of, say, eating a piece of aged provolone pro·vo·lo·ne
A hard, usually smoked Italian cheese.
[Italian, augmentative of provola, a kind of cheese.] with the risk of drinking water drinking water
supply of water available to animals for drinking supplied via nipples, in troughs, dams, ponds and larger natural water sources; an insufficient supply leads to dehydration; it can be the source of infection, e.g. leptospirosis, salmonellosis, or of poisoning, e.g. polluted by pesticides, solvents, and heavy metals heavy metals,
n.pl metallic compounds, such as aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, and nickel. Exposure to these metals has been linked to immune, kidney, and neurotic disorders. ?
Never Too Young
Our daughter Sophe is already a fan of your publication.
Bad Bellingen, Germany