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 Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Food 


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Apr 13th, 2012 at 03:59:56 PM EST
Windfarms don't cause long-term damage to bird populations, study finds | EurActiv

The study by conservationists into the impacts on 10 of the key species of British upland bird, including several suffering serious population declines, concluded that a large majority of species can co-exist or thrive with windfarms once they are operating.

But the study, the largest carried out in the UK into the impact of onshore windfarms on bird life, also found strong evidence that some species suffered serious harm while windfarms are being built.

"It shows that there can be serious species-level impacts in the construction phase, so construction in the right place is absolutely key. But what it hasn't shown is that windfarms are 'bird blenders'. There is no impact from the turning of the blades," said Martin Harper, the RSPB's UK conservation director.

And what if the remaining problem of construction-time impact can be solved not by constraints on the place but the time (season) of construction?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Apr 13th, 2012 at 04:00:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo:
There is no impact from the turning of the blades

Who Could Have Predicted?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 11:53:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany Expects Installation `Rally' to Beat Solar Cuts - Bloomberg
Germany's solar industry expects an installation rush over the next six months as developers try to beat planned subsidy cuts in the second-biggest market for sun power.

...Lawmakers approved the cuts in a March 29 vote after the government had given developers of larger ground-mounted power plants until June 30 to complete projects. It had also pushed back reductions for solar plants built on sites such as former garbage dumps or former military bases until Sept. 30.

...Electricity from solar panels rose 40 percent in the first quarter compared with a year ago, the BSW said this week. Solar panels generated 3.9 billion kilowatt-hours in the first three months of the year, enough for about 4 million households.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Apr 13th, 2012 at 04:00:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
German Power's Slump Squeezes EON, RWE: Energy Markets - Bloomberg
German power prices are extending their longest streak of quarterly declines as record wind and solar output squeezes profits at coal-fed stations run by RWE AG (RWE) and EON AG to less than a third of their U.K. counterparts.

Germany is building solar, wind and coal capacity to replace the 17 reactors that supplied about a fifth of its electricity, following last year's disaster in Fukushima, Japan. Europe's biggest economy gives green energy priority access to the grid and has a greater share of renewables than the U.K. Solar and wind generation units cost less to operate than fossil plants, pushing down electricity prices and profits.

I considered new coal plants Big Energy's Mission Market Share Conservation, but that mission seems to be failing.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Apr 13th, 2012 at 04:00:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Solar, Geothermal Set to Boom in Japan

Japan could become the next boom market for solar after it rolls out feed-in tariffs (FiT) for renewable energy in July, and several large projects have already been announced.

With its nuclear plants shuddered there's a big energy hole that needs to be filled. Strict energy conservation efforts are helping, and the country will increasingly rely on renewable energy.

Solar projects could produce equity returns of as much as 44%, and wind 51%, if the proposed rates are finalized, says Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The Fit could result in 10 GW of solar and 0.7 GW of wind capacity by 2014, representing an investment of $37.5 billion. That would make Japan the third largest solar market in the world.

But the FiT rates have yet to be finalized, which could postpone the July 1 launch. Many proposed projects in solar, wind and geothermal are on hold, pending pricing decisions.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Apr 13th, 2012 at 04:00:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
so now japan will eat america's lunch on solar rollout, just like they did with the car business in the 80's.

plus ca change...

fracking crazy... 44% returns solar, 51% wind.

will most of those profits still go to BPtexacoexxon? will it be distributed renewables?

another nail in the nuke industry's radioactive coffin.

goodbye, we won't forget to water your little 'memorial gardens' for next thousand years.

lovely knowing you...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 04:57:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 04:14:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's impressively depressing.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 06:07:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's also Luddite doom porn. Most of the problems with adoption of sustainable technology that it cites are perfectly amenable to off-the-shelf, industrial-scale solutions, given adequate political will. They show projects of perfectly feasible scope for a modern industrial society, and then conclude that these are too vast to be implemented.

It wouldn't be cheap or easy - the Apollo program is chump change compared to a full wind, solar, grid enhancement and pumped storage rollout. But it would be simple and straightforward, and perfectly within our industrial capacity at the present point in time.

There are real problems which we do not yet know to be surmountable, but most of the problems discussed in this feature are not such problems. And if we dick around for long enough, our engineering power may diminish to such a point that what is feasible today becomes infeasible. But that is not the point the feature is making either.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 07:40:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is not Luddite doom porn, and it is not aimed at you. It is part of a struggle to produce the 'adequate political will' that will stem from voters. How do you reach voters (or children who will influence voters)?

Firstly, you use the language (and visual language) of the potential audience. Secondly you ensure that the 'argument' is relevant to any member of the potential audience's own life and behaviour, and thirdly you choose a channel to reach that audience efficiently.

A large proportion of European voters still don't get it, and you will not reach them if you are churlish.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 09:05:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's only true for the first half of the feature. The second half, where they talk about solutions and what you can do, is where they veer off into a counsel of despair.

Rather than saying "yes, we can do this if we put our backs to it," they say "we are past the point of no return - stock up on canned food."

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 09:43:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The majority of the somnabulant electorate is now incapable of listening to Kennedy-like exhortations for individual effort and commitment. But seeing anything truly disagreeable in their future is motivation to complain. We only need them to say, to their political masters representatatives: "What are you going to do about this?"

I don't know if this movie will do the trick, or whether it is/will be visible in the right channels (it looks like mid-budget TV programming to me). But I don't see any political will to look for radical solutions, only political cosmetology - unless the sleeping majority can be woken up.

It is not enough to be right. That rightness has to be conveyed to others, who do not possess the infrastructure of knowledge to solve complex problems, through the right messaging.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 12:01:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sheesh. As if I didn't spend enough of my time already looking up Finnish words, now you come along with this English one that needs to get looked up. Great word, but I think it could use another "m":  

Somnambulant

by sgr2 on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 01:45:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My apologies for sending you off course. I think I was cooking at the time. Drive-by comments tend to need proofreading.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 02:04:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
in bold:

It is not enough to be right. That rightness has to be conveyed to others, who do not possess the infrastructure of knowledge to solve complex problems, through the right messaging.


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 02:09:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I think the coming Growth Stop problem (or rather a predicament, as John Michael Greer would say) will be the father of all significant problems and mishaps on this planet. And I generously use the future tense here.

So first of all: the exponential growth is exponential growth. Technological progress and global productions can only double so many times within a planet.

Secondly, thermodynamics rules. Self-organizing phenomena like life, markets, civilization are still largely a mystery, and things like innovation, free exchange, democratic institutions do play a role. But energy flows is a silent key link in the progress loop. While energy flows are growing, you can have more and more amazing things, including wonder agriculture that feeds the planet with surpluses (even if consuming several times more calories then producing). But if energy flows are cut - especially if drastically - completely different processes start to take place. Look around...

Thirdly, even if it would be just enough to produce this energy level with the alternatives rather than oil, you can't cover half of continents with solar panels and wind turbines. Heck, you would need thousands of nuclear plants just to "replace" oil.

My read of the last decade events is not intellectually pretty, but it makes most sense. So here is what I guess: Certain elites took the "Club of Rome" report very seriously, and they took the transition quite into their own hands. Evidently they decided that public discussion is a no go. So their choice is apparently: information warfare, financial leverage of the collapse, and efficient though opaque grab of resources.

Political will?! How far would YOU and ME would like to go? We are just happy to be on the civilization goodies support a little longer than all those indebted folks.

by das monde on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 09:26:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thirdly, even if it would be just enough to produce this energy level with the alternatives rather than oil, you can't cover half of continents with solar panels and wind turbines.

You don't need to. Take a look at a map of North American or European wind and solar resources alone. You will run out of copper for the power lines before you even come close to exploiting half the resource, and you will satisfy current demand long before that.

Heck, you would need thousands of nuclear plants just to "replace" oil.

Define "replace."

If you want a plug-and-play replacement for gasoline, one that can fit right into our current transportation infrastructure, then you're shit outta luck because that's not gonna happen. But if you are prepared to settle for a replacement that will fulfill the same transportation need, then you can cut at least a full order of magnitude off the energy cost, just by transitioning from an auto-über-alles transport policy to a widespread rail rollout.

If you want to keep the sprawl (though, frankly, why would you?), then you're S.O.L. because that's not gonna happen either. But if you're willing to settle for slightly smaller gardens, mixed zoning, infill development, not trying to grow lawns in the desert and generally settle with just a little bit of care and forethought, then you can shave similar sorts of savings off of settlement patterns.

If you want to keep living in cheap shotgun shacks, then you're S.O.L., because you're gonna freeze your ass off in winter and cook in the summer. But if you're willing to settle for slightly more expensive houses built to proper standards of insulation and excess heat management, then you can have quite reasonable room temperatures on a fraction of the current residential energy budget.

If you want to keep tossing out perfectly functional furniture, clothes, vehicles and electronics less than a year after you bought them (or if you want to keep buying crap that breaks after less than a year), then you're S.O.L., because there's no way you can fit that into the available raw material budget. But if you're willing to settle for having stuff that isn't crap, using it for as long as it work, and then repairing instead of replacing, then you can still have furniture, books, computers and so on.

And the thing is: None of those solutions involves any perceptible drop in physical comfort. All they involve is planning ahead and discarding some of the sillier cultural superstitions we have created for ourselves (and which have been created for us by high-pressure advertising). In fact, the only first-round resource saving measure I can immediately think of that would negatively impact our material well-being would be to reduce consumption of meat and fresh produce that has to be flown in.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 10:02:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What are real numbers of the energy source replacement for the current demand? The video above (and some other) says that oil is such an exceptional energy source, that you would need drastic scaling (run out of copper indeed) to match oil's provisions.

And the problem of "Energy returns per energy invested" leads s back to thermodynamics. It may be still possible indeed to have an energy infrastructure based on renewables mostly, and change industrial and living habits. But that takes time, a lot of "know how", long term commitment from elites and most of the others, model coordination, enforcement, large investment of the current resources. These things do not come easily even in more perfect worlds. As (self)organizing go, they need a lot of input of the same energy just to establish and maintain the "sustainable" framework. Maybe we will have 20 billion people on the planet living quite comfortably at some point of the future - but not in this boom-and-bust cycle. This civilization is so self-indulgent, that it is not clear it would have enough resources to lift off to Type I status on the Kardashev scale. A sharp overshot is apparently settled for this population - and we can only talk about it.

by das monde on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 08:56:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What are real numbers of the energy source replacement for the current demand? The video above (and some other) says that oil is such an exceptional energy source, that you would need drastic scaling (run out of copper indeed) to match oil's provisions.

Only if you insist on using inherently inefficient technologies like the internal combustion engine in anything but niche roles.

And the problem of "Energy returns per energy invested" leads s back to thermodynamics.

Wind has an EROEI of around 20 on good sites - approximately double that of contemporary petroleum.

That may decline to ten, or even five, on marginal sites before we're done with the transition, but we're still in the same ballpark.

And wind EROEI is, for a given resource, only going to get better with time, not worse.

It may be still possible indeed to have an energy infrastructure based on renewables mostly, and change industrial and living habits. But that takes time, a lot of "know how", long term commitment from elites and most of the others, model coordination, enforcement, large investment of the current resources. These things do not come easily even in more perfect worlds.

I didn't claim it would be easy. I said it was straightforward.

Which is why we should be pushing for it rather than telling people that it's not possible and they should just give up. Doom porn creates apathy, not engagement, unless you present alongside it a positive, non-Luddite vision for the future. Nostalgic, sepia-toned bullshit about the virtues of the (early) 19th century just simply isn't gonna cut it.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 01:05:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To honor Sven, i watched the whole damn thing. To some degree, i think you're all right.

First, there's a host of facts, some reasonably on target, some questionable because of assumptions, and even some very questionable.

Second, the understanding of alternatives is ridiculously under-developed.

But the basic premises might indeed carry weight with uneducated or brainwashed people, but then they won't get the power of the alternatives.

I concur with Sven's analysis of this piece as a stepping stone to greater understanding, with the caveat i shudder that the masses have fallen so low as to need this form of direction.

To paraphrase Jake, the ending sucks.

i can envision much more effective propaganda.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 02:08:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I doubt if many of those 'fallen' would last 10 minutes with this presentation, let alone 30.

There's some background to the making of the program and its sources here.

I put up the video because it was interestingly different (mainly visually) in its approach to a complex subject, and there are several of us media watchers here.

Whatever the failings of this production, 'political will' can only be modified by changing the minds of the majority. How to reach them remains, imo, an enormous problem requiring a solution/s.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 02:38:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Iron Law of Exponential Growth: each year uses as much resources as all previous years combined and the little bit of growth.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 03:35:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually it's each doubling period, and it's exactly as much, including the growth.

But of course nobody in their right mind believes in exponential real growth. Which is why the question is whether we have inflation or liquidation, and right now the liquidationists are winning.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 04:18:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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