Lets fix global warming.

For the discussion of the sciences. Physics problems, chemistry equations, biology weirdness, it all goes here.

Moderators: gmalivuk, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
Blatm
Posts: 638
Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2007 1:43 am UTC

Lets fix global warming.

Postby Blatm » Thu Jul 26, 2007 7:20 am UTC

Inspired by:
Swordfish on global warming wrote:Paint your roof white.


I also had a much more far fetched idea that won't work of finding something that will bind with CO2 molecules and throw them into the atmosphere so they become heavier and fall out of the sky...or something. Maybe if we put our heads together, we might make some progress. Probably not, but we'll probably have some fun.

Would Swordfish's idea work? How badly would mine not work/backfire horribly? Do you have any crazy schemes that won't work?

Discuss!

User avatar
Hawknc
Oompa Loompa of SCIENCE!
Posts: 6986
Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2006 5:14 am UTC
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Postby Hawknc » Thu Jul 26, 2007 8:05 am UTC

I suppose if the entire landmass of the earth was white, it might work...my spectrum knowledge isn't up to scratch, sadly, so I'm not sure if white would sufficiently reflect the right wavelengths of light (from memory, most of the heat trapped comes from the IR side of the spectrum).

User avatar
Macbi
Posts: 941
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 8:32 am UTC
Location: UKvia

Postby Macbi » Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:29 am UTC

Kill 5 billion or so people.
Solves all the problems.
:D

User avatar
Arancaytar
Posts: 1642
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2007 12:54 am UTC
Location: 52.44°N, 13.55°E
Contact:

Postby Arancaytar » Thu Jul 26, 2007 10:43 am UTC

With roughly the same effect as ignoring global warming would have? :P

(Including the damage to wildlife and nature. Or how were you suggesting to do it?)

zenten
Posts: 3799
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 7:42 am UTC
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Postby zenten » Thu Jul 26, 2007 3:29 pm UTC

Create some sort of super green algae, and seed the worlds Oceans with it.

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Postby Vaniver » Thu Jul 26, 2007 3:51 pm UTC

If the Earth had a higher albedo (i.e. reflectivity), then it would radiate away more heat (or, really, reflect away more of the sun's radiation), and that would slow or reverse global warming. (White has a very high albedo)

There has been recent forest growth in the far north, which means places that used to be covered in snow now are covered in trees; as trees have lower albedo, this is making the problem worse.

I tend to prefer the "cover every surface possible with plants" approach to the "cover every surface possible with mirrors" approach, but they work rather differently.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

zenten
Posts: 3799
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 7:42 am UTC
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Postby zenten » Thu Jul 26, 2007 4:30 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:If the Earth had a higher albedo (i.e. reflectivity), then it would radiate away more heat (or, really, reflect away more of the sun's radiation), and that would slow or reverse global warming. (White has a very high albedo)

There has been recent forest growth in the far north, which means places that used to be covered in snow now are covered in trees; as trees have lower albedo, this is making the problem worse.

I tend to prefer the "cover every surface possible with plants" approach to the "cover every surface possible with mirrors" approach, but they work rather differently.


Mind you, the whole trees thing does help, as per your last paragraph.

Actually, now I'm wondering. Sure snow and ice reflect better than water and plants, but near the poles the amount of solar radiation you get is rather low (due to angles and whatnot), so might a plant that absorbs CO2 be more effective there than something reflective? Mind you also, we're not talking about trees, but small plants and algae, due to the horrible condition of the soil near the poles.

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Postby Vaniver » Thu Jul 26, 2007 4:42 pm UTC

Sure snow and ice reflect better than water and plants, but near the poles the amount of solar radiation you get is rather low (due to angles and whatnot), so might a plant that absorbs CO2 be more effective there than something reflective?
I would believe that the answer is no, but can't find the article that I was talking about earlier. It (hopefully) would cover the issue in more depth.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

User avatar
QuantumTroll
Posts: 158
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2007 12:00 am UTC

Postby QuantumTroll » Thu Jul 26, 2007 5:41 pm UTC

Trees in temperate and polar regions are at best carbon-neutral. They breathe out about as much CO2 as they breathe in. We need more tropical forests, but of course they're the ones that are disappearing...

This is why carbon offset companies that plant trees tend to be a waste of money.

The best immediate solution to global warming is driving less and consuming less power. Energy saving bulbs and appliances FTW!

Then we need to stop using fossil fuel for energy altogether. A difficult proposition...

zenten
Posts: 3799
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 7:42 am UTC
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Postby zenten » Thu Jul 26, 2007 5:46 pm UTC

QuantumTroll wrote:Trees in temperate and polar regions are at best carbon-neutral. They breathe out about as much CO2 as they breathe in. We need more tropical forests, but of course they're the ones that are disappearing...

This is why carbon offset companies that plant trees tend to be a waste of money.

The best immediate solution to global warming is driving less and consuming less power. Energy saving bulbs and appliances FTW!

Then we need to stop using fossil fuel for energy altogether. A difficult proposition...


Why? Just use nuclear plants. And no, not the same kinds of nuclear plants that Chernobyl and three mile island used.

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Postby Vaniver » Thu Jul 26, 2007 5:50 pm UTC

Trees in temperate and polar regions are at best carbon-neutral. They breathe out about as much CO2 as they breathe in. We need more tropical forests, but of course they're the ones that are disappearing...
I was under the impression that every tree took a considerable amount of carbon out of circulation while it was alive, and people were looking into what happens to the carbon once the tree dies / starts decaying.

The best immediate solution to global warming is driving less and consuming less power. Energy saving bulbs and appliances FTW!
Well, best for a limited set of criteria.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

User avatar
skeptical scientist
closed-minded spiritualist
Posts: 6142
Joined: Tue Nov 28, 2006 6:09 am UTC
Location: San Francisco

Postby skeptical scientist » Thu Jul 26, 2007 6:43 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
Trees in temperate and polar regions are at best carbon-neutral. They breathe out about as much CO2 as they breathe in. We need more tropical forests, but of course they're the ones that are disappearing...
I was under the impression that every tree took a considerable amount of carbon out of circulation while it was alive, and people were looking into what happens to the carbon once the tree dies / starts decaying.

Yeah, this makes no sense. Roughly speaking, carbon used by living things is either stored in energy storage molecules (such as fats and sugars), used for structural purposes (such as cellulose and proteins) or breathed in and out as CO2. So any time something grows or stores energy, they are net consumers of CO2, and any time they use stored energy they are net producers of CO2. Animals, of course, do relatively little growing over their lifespans, and expend lots of stored energy, which they get by eating things (rather than by converting solar energy into a stored form themselves, as plants do). By contrast, any plant (with the exception of carnivorous plants) essentially only uses energy they've stored themselves, spend very little energy compared to most animals, and often grow quite a lot compared to animals
as well. So any plant is a net consumer of CO2, although some are of course better than others.

Am I missing something here? How could any tree, tropical or not, be carbon neutral? (Of course if you consider the amount of carbon released after the tree dies this is possible, but since we're considering whole forests, new tree growth should at the very least cancel with decaying trees, so the only important consideration would be the change in size of the forest.)
I'm looking forward to the day when the SNES emulator on my computer works by emulating the elementary particles in an actual, physical box with Nintendo stamped on the side.

"With math, all things are possible." —Rebecca Watson

User avatar
Swordfish
Weathermaaaaaaan!
Posts: 954
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 10:39 pm UTC
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Re: Lets fix global warming.

Postby Swordfish » Thu Jul 26, 2007 8:39 pm UTC

Blatm wrote:Inspired by:
Swordfish on global warming wrote:Paint your roof white.



... That, uh... That was kind of a joke... :?

I'd like to note that, if my idea worked, it would be a stall at best. It doesn't really solve the problem, so much as find a way around it. The only real way to solve global warming is to get the greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

Glad I could be an inspiration, though.
"If I had a nickel for every time I was wrong, I'd be broke." Stephen Colbert

User avatar
nilkemorya
Posts: 170
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2007 7:06 pm UTC
Contact:

Postby nilkemorya » Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:12 pm UTC

Actually, the easiest way to fix global warming is to stop human caused sources of both CO2, heat, and other greenhouse gasses. Removing(I'm thinking to another planet, no killing :twisted: ) would probably be the easiet way, if some sort of strict population control were observed from then on.

User avatar
Blatm
Posts: 638
Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2007 1:43 am UTC

Re: Lets fix global warming.

Postby Blatm » Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:50 pm UTC

Swordfish wrote:
Blatm wrote:Inspired by:
Swordfish on global warming wrote:Paint your roof white.



... That, uh... That was kind of a joke... :?


Yeah, I know, but I thought it was clever. Of course the only way to really fix the problem is through being more environmentally friendly as a population, but I love these "miracle cures." They're interesting to me because of how the principle underlying them is often solid, but they break down miserably when the details are examined. This is sort of like the equivalent of the False Proofs thread in the math forum.

Xial
Posts: 185
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2007 2:01 am UTC
Location: California

Postby Xial » Thu Jul 26, 2007 10:17 pm UTC

I think that genetically engineering the major crops (soybeans, wheat, and corn) to be annuals as opposed to perennials would be a major help. As these plants grow they build extensive root systems which would sequester large amounts of carbon. Also, these root systems would decrease the amount of fertilizer needed thus reducing the energy input required to grow the plants.


However, I think that solar powered ships which spray ocean water into the air to create low lying ocean clouds would also be very useful in increasing the amount of light reflected back. I think I read about this in the Economist. The British scientist who came up with this idea estimated that it would take an additional 50 ships each year to offset the annual increase in CO2. Obviously not a long term solution but it would buy us some time.

Bizzi
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:07 pm UTC
Location: Zürich, Switzerland

Postby Bizzi » Thu Jul 26, 2007 10:34 pm UTC

uhm, don't you, too, see a problem with genetical engineering?
i mean it's always delicate to "play" with genetics because we cannot foresee all consequences of it (yet nature is to complex to be put in an algorithm, sorry to the IT guys)...

i know, i know, genetical engineering is solely the cotinuation of a long history of "breeding science" but it's still not quite the same, is it? a change in the genetical make up of all major crops all over the world would be more like a full scale attack (in very short time) on the system... who knows how long it would take to rebounce to an equilibrium.. i doubt it would mean the extinction of mankind but still i'm not comfortable with the idea as long as we still have so little knowledge about DNA...


btw: we should work on our energy efficiency, especially on industrial level... all of us... this contains recycling, enhancement of the degree of efficiency in household appliances and cars, etc... i think on the long run that's the only way to fight the underlying cause of global warming... everything else is merely fighting symptoms.

User avatar
Delbin
Posts: 472
Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2007 7:50 pm UTC

Postby Delbin » Thu Jul 26, 2007 11:07 pm UTC

There are several interesting ways to help with global warming.

One of the more interesting ones involves dumping iron dust into dead parts of the ocean. Testing suggests that seawater is anemic and adding iron to the seawater allows plat life to grow. The majority of oxygen comes from sea plants. We should be more worried about ocean pollution in that respect.

Of course this could lead to algae choking reefs or other ecosystems and essentially destroying them in the process.

Increasing the albedo of earth is also possible. According to... Popular Science(?), I forgot where I read this, we only need to increase albedo by 3% or so. It’s possible to ‘seed’ clouds by throwing seawater into the air. This increases cloudcover and therefore the albedo of earth. You could construct a small fleet of solar-powered, automated vehicles to troll the pacific and make clouds.

Even if you could infuse CO2 with something to make it heavier, you’d have to make millions of tons of the stuff to even make a dent. Plants have been doing it for billions of years and are rather happy continuing to do so. I’d like to see a plant that can survive in the arctic regions where little life exists already and humans probably won’t try to populate any time soon.

User avatar
QuantumTroll
Posts: 158
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2007 12:00 am UTC

Postby QuantumTroll » Thu Jul 26, 2007 11:20 pm UTC

I knew I'd read something about temperate forests being sketchy as a tool to combat global warming:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 162547.htm

I'm not crazy, I swear!

Using more nuclear power isn't a bad idea, either, except for the limited supply of fuel and the nuclear waste problem. Another power plant or two here and there would be okay, but it'd be a mistake to attempt to replace the world's energy supply with them.

Does anyone know what the IPCC suggests? Here's the webpage for Working Group III, whose job it is to work on "mitigation". Haven't read their stuff yet, though. The WGII report was too depressing...

User avatar
japanese_jew
Posts: 255
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2007 3:24 am UTC

Postby japanese_jew » Thu Jul 26, 2007 11:42 pm UTC

Anyone want to take a stab at ways to actually arrange some of this stuff getting done? The way I see it, there are two alternatives.

Government work
NGO

Now . . . for government work, with the Kyoto Treaty, we've clearly seen that some governments are ready and willing to avoid catastrophe. However, I suspect that there is a level of bureaucracy that we might be able to avoid by using an NGO.

Maybe . . . start the XKCD NGO? First step would probably be just to give good advice to keep energy consumption low.

I'm thinking . . .
A) Bike/walk. If it's too far, use public transportation. If you can't, carpool.
B) Turn off lights when you're not using them.
C) Turn off your computer when you're not using it.
D) Use Fluorescent Light Bulbs, not incandescent.
E) If you are going to buy a car, see if you can buy a hybrid. No, really. At least in the US, there are pretty hefty rebates, and if you consider how much you'll save on gas . . . it might even be cheaper. If you don't want to do the calculations yourself, you can post it in the math forum.

Here, this could be useful
http://powerscorecard.org/reduce_energy.cfm

Xial
Posts: 185
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2007 2:01 am UTC
Location: California

Postby Xial » Fri Jul 27, 2007 12:08 am UTC

Bizzi wrote:uhm, don't you, too, see a problem with genetical engineering?
i mean it's always delicate to "play" with genetics because we cannot foresee all consequences of it (yet nature is to complex to be put in an algorithm, sorry to the IT guys)...


Most of the wild versions of crops are annual. So really, we are returning our agriculture into something more natural. Also even if this weren't the case, the dangers of genetically modifying plants are incredibly minimal if you do testing.

User avatar
Vaelin
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 8:00 pm UTC
Location: Lost Angeles

Postby Vaelin » Fri Jul 27, 2007 12:37 am UTC

To cool the earth?

Lower the incident power density:
1) Move our orbit out. (energy/mass conversion requirement is beyond what humanity is at)

Block or reflect the incident power density:
2) Come up with a scheme to 'pollute' the upper atmosphere with particulates (Volcanoes are great! Just hard to set up an explosive volcano... I mean, we can release the pressure in existing active volcanoes easily)
3) We could blow up the moon! But the amount of energy required to cut/explode/bore/grind up the moon would be astronomical (pun intended) and would wreak havoc with Earth (we like tides).
4) Paint your roof white and black... flip to white during the day, and black at night... It's not sufficient to merely reflect the heat from the sun, we must also re-radiate absorbed heat at night! (I speak figuratively, white body-> black body type behavior)

To reduce the effect of human impact on atmospheric greenhouse gases?
1) Nuclear power, can't beat it. The amount of deforestation or natural destruction required to convert to wind/solar/hydroelectric would make even China shudder. (yes, it is that bad)
http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Renew ... t_999.html
Don't get me wrong, I LIKE the concept of renewable energy! I just don't like the environmental impact, or people that claim it is more than just a temporary solution.
2) Pandemic... simplest, safest, cheapest culling. (not that I advocate it, and likely the developed countries using the most energy will weather it the best, not really helping as much as a basic per capita percentage based culling)
3) Find a new organic battery (algae is great!) to start sucking out some greenhouse gases, and converting as much incident energy to chemical stored energy... basically reverse the fossil-fuel burning process.


Realistically? People just need to suck it up, start building nuclear power plants, buying efficient vehicles (as opposed to luxury SUVs and sports cars...), and turning off the freaking light... maybe even walking!


And STOP advocating fluorescent light bulbs... it's a marketing ploy. Just like wind and solar power, they'll help reduce our demand on fossil fuel based energy, but they're not 'green'. They are VERY efficient and contain a significant amount of mercury... If everyone switched to florescent light bulbs, we'd use less energy and likely pollute nearly all of our groundwater (though it may be considered a lost cause in some areas). I think companies that can be monitored and fined are great... they can dispose of them properly, but that lady who buys 15 florescent light bulbs for her house because she's guilty about the luxury SUV she drives around is just going to toss half of them in the trash because disposing of them properly isn't worth her time. If everyone has compact fluorescents right now... any area with save ground water would be a ticking time bomb.
Say it with me! L E D

(Sorry if I come off a little abrasive, I'm currently in LA... where the only reason anyone ever bought a hybrid was because it's 'trendy'. Most self-centered culture I've ever lived in... the ONLY reason people advocate what is conveniently environmental for them is out of some half-arsed attempt to lessen their own guilt over their own decadent lifestyle. ;) The only way you're going to get these people to change is to hit them where it hurts, in their image and in their pocketbook... and they're not afraid to be in debt up to their eyeballs!)
The difference between science and the fuzzy subjects is that science requires reasoning while those other subjects merely require scholarship.
Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat. -From books by R.A.Heinlein

User avatar
Swordfish
Weathermaaaaaaan!
Posts: 954
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 10:39 pm UTC
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Postby Swordfish » Fri Jul 27, 2007 1:25 am UTC

Vaelin wrote:1) Nuclear power, can't beat it. The amount of deforestation or natural destruction required to convert to wind/solar/hydroelectric would make even China shudder. (yes, it is that bad)
http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Renew ... t_999.html
Don't get me wrong, I LIKE the concept of renewable energy! I just don't like the environmental impact, or people that claim it is more than just a temporary solution.


Unless your wind farms are built at sea like those crazy dutch.

I still like nuclear power better cause you get more energy from it and we (the U.S.) have tons of uninhabitable desert mountain ranges to bury the waste.

Vaelin wrote:Say it with me! L E D


And go bankrupt replacing the lights in your house. Seriously, one flood light costs nearly $100. Though once the price on those babies go down, I'm all over it.
"If I had a nickel for every time I was wrong, I'd be broke." Stephen Colbert

Xial
Posts: 185
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2007 2:01 am UTC
Location: California

Postby Xial » Fri Jul 27, 2007 1:43 am UTC

In addition to the Dutch the Germans are building some serious wind farms at see. When I was driving through Germany once, I saw a disassembled wind mill. Each blade was 60m long...crazy. They are also doing a lot of investment in solar.

User avatar
parallax
Posts: 157
Joined: Wed Jan 31, 2007 5:06 pm UTC
Location: The Emergency Intelligence Incinerator

Postby parallax » Fri Jul 27, 2007 3:08 am UTC

About seeding clouds with seawater: water vapor is also a greenhouse gas. As far as I'm aware nobody actually knows exactly how clouds affect global warming, since clouds both increase albedo reflection and increase the greenhouse effect.
Cake and grief counseling will be available at the conclusion of the test.

User avatar
japanese_jew
Posts: 255
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2007 3:24 am UTC

Postby japanese_jew » Fri Jul 27, 2007 3:15 am UTC

And STOP advocating fluorescent light bulbs... it's a marketing ploy. Just like wind and solar power, they'll help reduce our demand on fossil fuel based energy, but they're not 'green'. They are VERY efficient and contain a significant amount of mercury... If everyone switched to florescent light bulbs, we'd use less energy and likely pollute nearly all of our groundwater (though it may be considered a lost cause in some areas). I think companies that can be monitored and fined are great... they can dispose of them properly, but that lady who buys 15 florescent light bulbs for her house because she's guilty about the luxury SUV she drives around is just going to toss half of them in the trash because disposing of them properly isn't worth her time. If everyone has compact fluorescents right now... any area with save ground water would be a ticking time bomb.
Say it with me! L E D


Mercury?
The amount of mercury required is very small, typically measured in milligrams, and varies by lamp type, date of manufacture, manufacturing plant and manufacturer.

Besides, I'm more worried about batteries than fluorescent light bulbs.

However, yes, LED is preferable. Interestingly enough, some of these looks decent. Y/N?
I was under the impression that they were expensive, but there's a four dollar one that doesn't look too bad.

Xial
Posts: 185
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2007 2:01 am UTC
Location: California

Postby Xial » Fri Jul 27, 2007 4:15 am UTC

parallax wrote:About seeding clouds with seawater: water vapor is also a greenhouse gas. As far as I'm aware nobody actually knows exactly how clouds affect global warming, since clouds both increase albedo reflection and increase the greenhouse effect.



Yes but if you could make the clouds short lived enough so that they would disappear during the night time I think that there would be a net cooling effect.

zenten
Posts: 3799
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 7:42 am UTC
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Postby zenten » Fri Jul 27, 2007 5:01 am UTC

QuantumTroll wrote:
Using more nuclear power isn't a bad idea, either, except for the limited supply of fuel and the nuclear waste problem. Another power plant or two here and there would be okay, but it'd be a mistake to attempt to replace the world's energy supply with them.



Why would it be a mistake? We'd have to build another [1] 500 or so reactors, for total human power consumption. That doesn't seem like a lot to me. Also would have to implement a system to distribute power to cars and other transportation devices, but there is technology for it. And even without that it would make a big difference.




[1]Based on 2004 figures, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_ener ... onsumption

User avatar
Swordfish
Weathermaaaaaaan!
Posts: 954
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 10:39 pm UTC
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Postby Swordfish » Fri Jul 27, 2007 5:42 am UTC

zenten wrote:Also would have to implement a system to distribute power to cars and other transportation devices, but there is technology for it. And even without that it would make a big difference.


I believe GM and Ford both said that they would be able to convert their factories to produce economical, and reliable (well as reliable as GM can be, haha!) hydrogen fuel-cell cars in a fairly short period of time (I think they might actually be able to do it in as little as a year). The only problem which prevents them from being able to do this is that there is no where in America to gas those things up. So if we run out of oil, there's your alternative. No bumper car-esque roofs over our roads.
"If I had a nickel for every time I was wrong, I'd be broke." Stephen Colbert

zenten
Posts: 3799
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 7:42 am UTC
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Postby zenten » Fri Jul 27, 2007 5:59 am UTC

Swordfish wrote:
zenten wrote:Also would have to implement a system to distribute power to cars and other transportation devices, but there is technology for it. And even without that it would make a big difference.


I believe GM and Ford both said that they would be able to convert their factories to produce economical, and reliable (well as reliable as GM can be, haha!) hydrogen fuel-cell cars in a fairly short period of time (I think they might actually be able to do it in as little as a year). The only problem which prevents them from being able to do this is that there is no where in America to gas those things up. So if we run out of oil, there's your alternative. No bumper car-esque roofs over our roads.


I just said several, as hydrogen fuel cells have other problems. Not insurmountable, but there none the less.

I just wish that the nanocapasitor technologywas closer to being viable.

User avatar
QuantumTroll
Posts: 158
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2007 12:00 am UTC

Postby QuantumTroll » Fri Jul 27, 2007 4:38 pm UTC

zenten wrote:
QuantumTroll wrote:
Using more nuclear power isn't a bad idea, either, except for the limited supply of fuel and the nuclear waste problem. Another power plant or two here and there would be okay, but it'd be a mistake to attempt to replace the world's energy supply with them.



Why would it be a mistake? We'd have to build another [1] 500 or so reactors, for total human power consumption. That doesn't seem like a lot to me. Also would have to implement a system to distribute power to cars and other transportation devices, but there is technology for it. And even without that it would make a big difference.


[1]Based on 2004 figures, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_ener ... onsumption


I was under the impression that 500 more reactors would consume more uranium than the world can muster. But apparently well over 17 ZJ worth of uranium has been discovered, and the IAEA estimates that 2500 ZJ of uranium energy remains. If IAEA is correct, we haven't even put a dent in the total uranium reserves. I'm a bit skeptical of their number, but it's clear that there's probably a lot of reactor fuel left for us to use.

So yes. More nukular power plants!

But what about the waste? Current disposal methods are clearly lacking...

Puzzlemaker
Posts: 175
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 4:16 pm UTC
Location: Maryland, Silver Spring, USA

Postby Puzzlemaker » Fri Jul 27, 2007 4:41 pm UTC

QuantumTroll wrote:
zenten wrote:
QuantumTroll wrote:
Using more nuclear power isn't a bad idea, either, except for the limited supply of fuel and the nuclear waste problem. Another power plant or two here and there would be okay, but it'd be a mistake to attempt to replace the world's energy supply with them.



Why would it be a mistake? We'd have to build another [1] 500 or so reactors, for total human power consumption. That doesn't seem like a lot to me. Also would have to implement a system to distribute power to cars and other transportation devices, but there is technology for it. And even without that it would make a big difference.


[1]Based on 2004 figures, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_ener ... onsumption


I was under the impression that 500 more reactors would consume more uranium than the world can muster. But apparently well over 17 ZJ worth of uranium has been discovered, and the IAEA estimates that 2500 ZJ of uranium energy remains. If IAEA is correct, we haven't even put a dent in the total uranium reserves. I'm a bit skeptical of their number, but it's clear that there's probably a lot of reactor fuel left for us to use.

So yes. More nukular power plants!

But what about the waste? Current disposal methods are clearly lacking...


Modern day nuclear power plants burn it off more efficiently and the remains are more unstable, so they don't last as long.

User avatar
solarchem
Posts: 439
Joined: Wed May 30, 2007 3:57 pm UTC
Location: Northampton, MA
Contact:

Postby solarchem » Fri Jul 27, 2007 6:31 pm UTC

Vaelin wrote:To reduce the effect of human impact on atmospheric greenhouse gases?
1) Nuclear power, can't beat it. The amount of deforestation or natural destruction required to convert to wind/solar/hydroelectric would make even China shudder. (yes, it is that bad)
http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Renew ... t_999.html
Don't get me wrong, I LIKE the concept of renewable energy! I just don't like the environmental impact, or people that claim it is more than just a temporary solution.


No offense, but that article is a load of garbage. I understand that everyone has their own pet projects, but the author could at least use relevant facts.For example, at current size and efficiency you can get 220W out of a 2 square meter solar panel. So 1 sq. Km is 1000000 m2 which equals 500000 panels per Km2 which would generate 110MW worth of power. In other words, 9Km2 is all that's needed to equal one nuke plant, not 150 as the author claims. Granted, there is some space that has to be accounted for between the panels, but not 141 km worth.

The storage and infrastructure are also not nearly the obstacles he claims. I've been to several large scale solar installations and the steel framing needed to mount everything is constantly getting scaled back.

Solar certainly isn't the only possible answer as a lot depends on where you live. But people like that who intentionally distort or cherry-pick data really piss me off. How will we ever get the average citizen on board with a useful energy program when idiots like that are running around spewing nonsense?
Never tell me the odds - Han Solo

User avatar
japanese_jew
Posts: 255
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2007 3:24 am UTC

Postby japanese_jew » Fri Jul 27, 2007 6:36 pm UTC

Good new for the future!

http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2007/07/p ... olar-.html

We'll see if actually pays off.

User avatar
solarchem
Posts: 439
Joined: Wed May 30, 2007 3:57 pm UTC
Location: Northampton, MA
Contact:

Postby solarchem » Fri Jul 27, 2007 6:46 pm UTC

japanese_jew wrote:Good new for the future!

http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2007/07/p ... olar-.html

We'll see if actually pays off.


That stuff is a long way off. From what I've seen the efficiencies are so low for organics that it'll be hard for them to be anything more than a niche player.
It's cool stuff though.
Never tell me the odds - Han Solo

User avatar
QuantumTroll
Posts: 158
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2007 12:00 am UTC

Postby QuantumTroll » Fri Jul 27, 2007 9:30 pm UTC

One advantage that distributed solar and wind power have over big, centralized installations is that the electricity doesn't have to travel as far. Unless someone invents very high-temperature superconductors, there is significant energy loss associated with power lines.

From wiki:
"Transmission and distribution losses in the USA were estimated at 7.2% in 1995 [2], and in the UK at 7.4% in 1998."

If you generate a portion of your electricity needs close to home, you have less of this sort of loss.

I think photovoltaics have a lot of potential. Personally, I want to figure out how to make true one-way glass. With that, I suspect efficiency would instantly climb to 50% or more. That would be amazingly awesome.

Nimblefinger
Posts: 58
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2007 7:00 pm UTC
Location: Cambridge

Postby Nimblefinger » Fri Jul 27, 2007 11:15 pm UTC

Solar powered, self sustainable planes with algae attached. Would need a system for removing overflowing algae and burying.

User avatar
japanese_jew
Posts: 255
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2007 3:24 am UTC

Postby japanese_jew » Sat Jul 28, 2007 12:27 am UTC

Or you could just dump it over depleted fields. But I'm a little skeptical of "Self sustainable" or "solar powered planes". Planes require quite a bit of energy, I believe.

User avatar
QuantumTroll
Posts: 158
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2007 12:00 am UTC

Postby QuantumTroll » Sat Jul 28, 2007 12:49 am UTC

The problem with planes is the whole "fighting gravity" thing. It's like having to keep the pedal pushed to accelerate from 0 to 22 mph in one second, every second.

This is why I like trains. They're like airplanes, but more comfy, more convenient, much more efficient, but also more slow...

User avatar
Kawa
Posts: 714
Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 12:24 pm UTC
Location: Melbourne, FL/New York City/xkcdia
Contact:

Postby Kawa » Sat Jul 28, 2007 12:50 am UTC

QuantumTroll wrote:The problem with planes is the whole "fighting gravity" thing. It's like having to keep the pedal pushed to accelerate from 0 to 22 mph in one second, every second.

This is why I like trains. They're like airplanes, but more comfy, more convenient, much more efficient, but also more slow...

Not so useful when the homeland is an island chain on the other side of the Pacific from where you are.
Kawa likes these things:
Spanish Ninja Bodyguard
math, anime, more!
Origami, Florida
New York, and xkcd.


Return to “Science”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 17 guests