As the United Nations climate talks in Paris near their end, global activists on Thursday said people power needs to step in where governments are failing, and announced plans for upcoming mass mobilizations that aim to "keep fossil fuels in the ground and accelerate a just transition to 100% renewable energy."
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Are governments really failing to address climate change? Last year global carbon emissions did not increase despite economic growth, which was a first, and this year it appears emissions will actually drop. So somebody must be doing something right. Maybe governments (and others) should get some credit while the climate movement pushes for much stronger action.
AND THEN THERE IS FUSION!
There are a lot of serious research projects going on in terms of fusion. The fuel supply is practically endless I have heard it said that 1 liter of sea water holds the same energy potential as 300 liters of oil (?).
The only radioactive component is tritium (H3) with a half live of 12.5 years, which in most designs does never have to leave the plant. Compare that with a half live of Uranium, now used in nuclear power generation, of several billion years.
The big problem has been containment of the plasma at fusion temperatures (min. 40,000^C). That has been achieved at Wendelstein 7-X underthe auspices of the Max Planck Institute achieved today, Dec. 10, 2015.
That is a huge milestone!
. Here is my list of ongoing serious fusion research projects (probably not complete):
- Fusion Development Corp.
- Dynomac (Spheromac)
- General Fusion
- Helion Energy
- Lawrenceville Plasma Fusion
- IEC Bussard Physics
- Tri-alpha Energy
- Lougheed Martin
Today’s achievement is part of the ITER project, not my favorite (that is General Fusion), but a very important breakthrough nevertheless.
Yet another article concerning impending doom, and mankind's ostrich approach.
Well, how about we look at mankind's previous responses and use that evidence to plan thoughtfully? Plenty of evidence that global warming is real, is going to cause mass starvation, is going to eventually kill billions of people, and is going to expand mass extinction of wildlife. This is not the first time that mankind has been warned of impending doom. The "population bomb" was published in the 60's and largely what it predicted has come true, not the starvation part but the environmental degradation for sure. Today we live the life that resulted in relatively zero response to this dire warning. I for one am not dead, I will make the same assumption about you. What is important is that mankind had warning, had a clear way to avoid the disaster (cause affluence to the worlds poor) and did NOTHING. With this evidence, who using rational thinking would assume that the response to global warming would result in different responses than the population bomb did?
Assuming no change is rational. Failing to plan ahead so that the most survive is not. Very foolish to think some global morality will develop out of the ether with so many examples of it not existing already.
Ya, I would like to keep fossil fuels in the ground. My wish list is very long, and when we are children wishes seem a viable choice.
The cow has fled, now is not the time to think closing the barn door will resolve the loss of the cow.
I first heard of fusion when I was in high school, 1963. "unlimited free power" sounded nice then as well. 50 years later, fusion has been exactly the opposite of free.
How about we drop pie in the sky, and go for something we know without a doubt will work? We can resolve global warming, and millions of other problems, by increasing the living standards of the worlds poor. The more the wealthy improves the lives of the poor, the fewer children the poor have, the healthier the lives of the worlds populations, and the more productive each person becomes.
Yes, it is the rich who today produce the vast amounts of CO2, but it is also the rich who have the option to make changes, if changes can be made. All of the first world countries would be nearly empty without immigration, so it is unfair to suggest that they are polluters when they artificially increase their populations. Today for example if the USA had not allowed immigrants in, it's population would have fallen 12% since 1980 (thus producing 12% less pollution) making it the single conservation success story on earth.
Affluence results in negative population growth EVERY TIME. And yet all those diplomats in Paris ignore this fact.
Shoveling sand into the tide... What is warming the planet is not the few million tones of CO2 pumped into the atmosphere next year, but the 10 billion tones inserted over the last 100.
Your comment doesn't seem to have a point. Are you saying that nothing will work? Well then you are wrong. Solar installation is progressing far faster than thought possible. Wind as well. You can say it is a wish list but saying that is what is really childish. People are causing great things to happen whether you have kept up with those changes or not and it doesn't look like you have.
Old school thinking helps no one btw. Meanwhile big changes are happening world wide. It is a fight against oligarchy not a matter of convincing people. People are already convinced. It is a matter of putting up a fight. Don't be defeatist and such a wimp...lol.
Yay young people ( I think we should keep them... they seem useful...lol)
Me thinks, that you are confusing 'fusion' (still in the research stage), because the containment high temperature plasma has not been resolved, with fission, which has been used in nuclear power generation ever since you high school days.
So far we have had fusion only in the sun and in H bombs, where fusion was triggered by the high temperature created by the coupled (dirty) fission bomb.
The costs/kw/h is estimated by most research groups between 4 and 6 cents/kw/h.
while most think they are aware of the dangers we face, virtually nobody is prepared to face up to the alternatives that will be forced upon us---acting instead as though we have some kind of choice about it all.
Hence politicians offer what are essentially political solutions. (what alternative do they have?)
We in turn vote for the 'solution' that appears to offer the least disturbance to our existing way of life.
We call that human nature.
Obama is on the same fast forward as everyone else, no one can get off or slow down. Any slowdown forces people out of work---en masse, and that's bad political news.
But we are going to be slowed down, by a force that is not of our choosing.
Even the most vociferous CC protesters travel home on wheels, switch lights on , buy cheap food from overflowing supermarkets, cook it using cheap heat, choose from 100 rubbish tv channels, make 'free' video calls to anywhere in the world while deciding on the next demo to prevent any further use of hydrocarbon fuels.
Surely I cannot be alone in seeing the black humour of that situation ?
As to Germany being the poster child for the 'new way'---again, I can't be the only contrarian who is aware that Germany is using 'renewable' energy systems to 'freewheel' on an existing social/industrial infrastructure?
The fact remains that we cannot maintain our existing energy dense infrastructure with out hydrocarbon based energy .
Renewables produce electricity and electricity is virtually useless without all the machinery plugged in to use it.
We have spent the last 250 years believing our own delusions that there will always be more, We have reached the point where there is no more the be had, The party really is over folks
The book "the End of More' ( It's on Amazon) at least attempts to explain why there isn’t any more, how we got into this mess, and why the majority of people remain in denial of their cruel reality. There is no endless growth---yet we vote for politicians who promise just that, while denying the imminent catastrophe of climate change all around us, and the reality of economic chaos.
Solar and Wind produce electricity
the global economic system functions by making and selling 'stuff'
That is derived mainly from hydrocarbon based feedstock
electricity isn't fungible---you cannot make 'stuff' from electricity alone.
Neither can you make anything without using heat
"The "population bomb" was published in the 60's and largely what it predicted has come true,.."
Yes, however there is more than enough to take care of everybody in the world. The problem is...all the money is in the hands of a very very few people who's only agenda is more profit.
The problem cries for more socialism and the end of capitalism.
If beyond Paris is to actually "mean the end of militarism..." and the other problems you mention, mass mobilizations focused on fossil fuel is exactly what the 1% want us to do because those efforts will distract attention from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the other "trade deals" that the 1% are postured to enact during 2016.
TPP and the other "deals" will enable corporate tribunals to extort damages from governments that attempt to correct any of the problems you mention.
Mobilization against "trade deals" is the highest priority for 2016.
Wind and solar systems have very low energy capture effectiveness, are made of irreplaceable materials and supply only electrical energy. So they can only slowly make a small, transient contribution to some aspects of the energy demand for the operation of the infrastructure that society has become so dependent on. They cannot supply the liquid fuels required for land, sea and air transportation.
We have fusion. It is called solar energy. And solar is not just photovoltaics, but a potential mix of mirror-powered turbines, photovoltaics and assorted techniques of storage. However, if we leave it to private enterprise to mess around it will never be done efficiently. Governments are all too happy to mobilise public resources to fight wars and destroy things. About time the useless bastards were taught to cooperate and work for the public good.
Well, if we could all stop driving cars to the extent we do, needlessly............
There hasn't been close to 1 trillion tons of historical emissions let alone 10 trillion tons. These days annual emissions are in the billions. Since 2000 global emissions have been increasing by about 3% annually but last year there was no increase. Probably all the wind turbines and solar panels are making a contribution. Actually, if not for India there would have been a significant decline in global emissions last year. Emissions in the EU dropped over 6% last year and China had an increase of less than 1%. That seems to suggest progress.
Of course we have fusion power, originating in the sun but the collection of it requires huge areas of photo voltaic cells or as you pointed out large mirror arrays to collect the solar heat to deliver the steam for the turbines. These plants are also weather dependent and cyclical.
Here is what I like about concepts like General Fusion (www.generalfusion.com):
Their plants, if proven out, will fit into the sites now occupied by transformer stations. Their capacity (100 mw) will serve a population of about 25 to thirty thousand (my rough estimate based on overall national power consumption.) That is also the amount a transformer station usually serves.
Replacing local transformer stations with such small fusion plants will make those huge transmission lines, which now scar each continent, unnecessary and make the land and that is now occupied by solar power collection again available for reforestation and agriculture. Of course there will still be local cross linking needed for redundancy, but the land requirements will be minute compared to now.
That will be a huge benefit for our environment and it may not be as far away as most of us believe. General Fusion hopes to proof out the viability of their system as early as next year with market availability about 5 to 10 years thereafter.
Other applications would probably be for large ships and on airports, when battery technology allows electricity powered airliners.
Yeah, let's also terraform Mars while we're at it.
If you have anything worthwhile to contribute, by all means do it!