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Author Topic:   Fusion Power on the way - at last ?
Jon
Inactive Member


Message 121 of 130 (742231)
11-18-2014 10:35 AM
Reply to: Message 119 by RAZD
11-17-2014 4:29 PM


Re: reality of fusion vs solar, wind and other renewable sources
It seems to me that you are the one claiming "massive energy requirements" without any definition of what those requirements are.

What is there to define? The Industrial Revolution was possible specifically because people had an ability to exploit large amounts of energy — exponentially larger than people had ever captured before.

No on needs me to point out that our societies use even more energy than during the IR and substantially more than at times before the IR. Nor does anyone need me to point out that developed nations capture astronomically more energy than undeveloped nations.

The feasibility of a world run on solar/wind rests on being able to demonstrate that either (1) these alternatives can generate the same amount of energy as current methods, or (2) the amount of energy that they can generate is enough to power modern, developed societies (i.e., that current standards of living can be maintained on substantially less power).

If we look at household needs, the typical house has lights, tv, computer, stove, dishwasher, refrigerator, AC and heat requirements. All of these systems can be powered by local 24vdc systems, and we know this because we can design mobile homes and yachts with such systems.

Mobile homes and yachts have the ability to move to where the power is to maximize solar/wind capture.

My 60+-unit apartment building is much less portable. (I think; I've never tried moving it...)

The only question then becomes how you generate the 24vdc power. Obviously batteries can be -- and have been -- used to power these, normally charged by a generator.

How to generate power is the point of this thread. And those batteries don't get power from the power fairies; so where does it come from?

Thus all you need to do is take the generator output and convert that to solar panel and wind turbine output. This has been done. Google off-grid housing.

Curiously I have a friend who lives on a sailboat and is totally self-sufficient via wind and solar generation.

You are still stuck with showing individual instances of the success of solar/wind without any attempt to prove their scalability.

Do you have any interest in showing how solar/wind generation can be used to power modern, developed societies or are you only interested in showing how great solar/wind power can be for hippy communes, nomads, and bums in sailboats?

Pharmaceutical companies aren't very good either; but I think we can all agree that the science of developing and using drugs is a pretty good thing.

Where they are bad is for the same reasons -- they hold people hostage for services considered necessary for minimal quality of life.

Sure. And just like the solution to that problem is not to have everyone create their own medications, the solution to electricity monopolies is not necessarily to have everyone produce their own electricity.

When you consider the total cost of fossil fuels, not just the corporation costs, but the externalized costs to the environment and cleanup of waste and spills, including global warming, their cost is significantly higher.

That's possible. But that's just a discussion of costs.

Now how about a discussion of results?

I notice you've been completely silent on that matter. In fact, you have intentionally avoided addressing the issue of solar/wind reliability and total output. I asked you specifically in one question about the energy needs of the people meeting 150% of those needs with solar power and you sidestepped.

I'm all for a world where we can produce our power with non-polluting inputs, but so far you haven't shown that such a world is even somewhat possible.

It's all anecdotes and flower power. Hardly convincing stuff, really.

You can choose to live in their shadow and breath their exhaust, or you can choose to go your own way.

Grid power is here to stay.

Find a way to make your solar/wind generation proposals work with the grid system or stop wasting my time.


Love your enemies!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 119 by RAZD, posted 11-17-2014 4:29 PM RAZD has acknowledged this reply

Replies to this message:
 Message 122 by ringo, posted 11-18-2014 11:36 AM Jon has not yet responded

  
ringo
Member
Posts: 14668
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 1.4


Message 122 of 130 (742240)
11-18-2014 11:36 AM
Reply to: Message 121 by Jon
11-18-2014 10:35 AM


Re: reality of fusion vs solar, wind and other renewable sources
Jon writes:

Grid power is here to stay.


That prediction is about as useful as "fusion is the only answer".

It's possible that our civilization will evolve a small-scale distributed system using solar, wind, etc. It's also possible that our civilization will collapse because of its dependence on big energy.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 121 by Jon, posted 11-18-2014 10:35 AM Jon has not yet responded

  
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005
Member Rating: 1.7


(1)
Message 123 of 130 (742280)
11-18-2014 3:06 PM
Reply to: Message 120 by Jon
11-18-2014 1:46 AM


Re: All the best!
So where's this 30% mass extinction?

It's the first sentence of the wiki link you just posted:

quote:
The PETM is accompanied by a mass extinction of 35-50% of benthic foraminifera (especially in deeper waters) over the course of ~1,000 years

As is obvious, organisms, especially deep water ones, are going to be most affected by warming due to physics, chemistry and biology (acidification, lower oxygen content etc).

The difference between now and then is that it is happening much much faster today than it did with PETM. As wunderground says:

quote:
Modern ecosystems are already struggling to adapt to their new, warmer environments. Penguins, polar bears, whales, seals, salmon, and orangutans are just a few of the mammals being impacted by anthropogenic climate change. Foraminifera have already decreased markedly in some areas. Coral is bleaching at a very rapid rate. While it was possible for land mammals to migrate to cooler regions in the PETM, manmade infrastructure (roads, railways, cities, etc) will prevent them from doing so this time around. Given the rate of warming the globe is experiencing, it is likely that many ecosystems will be totally incapable of adapting.

What I don't understand is where you get estimates such as "billions would be dead, and a few thousands or millions surviving".

Because we're talking 1,000ppm-1,600 ppm carbon in the atmosphere. Just living in that atmosphere would make us dizzy, sleepy and have permanent headaches, blurry vision etc it would probably be enough to kill us all even not accounting for the 15K rise in temperatures globally. I didn't think a formal study on this madness has been conducted, but here is one of the estimates.. And Climate sensitivity, sea level and atmospheric carbon dioxide, James Hansen et al. here is a paper that does some analysis on the notion.

quote:
The practical concern for humanity is the high climate sensitivity and the eventual climate response that may be reached if all fossil fuels are burned. Estimates of the carbon content of all fossil fuel reservoirs including unconventional fossil fuels such as tar sands, tar shale and various gas reservoirs that can be tapped with developing technology [114] imply that CO2 conceivably could reach a level as high as 16 times the 1950 atmospheric amount. In that event, figure 7 suggests a global mean warming approaching 25C, with much larger warming at high latitudes (see electronic supplementary material, figure S6). The result would be a planet on which humans could work and survive outdoors in the summer only in mountainous regions [115,116]and there they would need to contend with the fact that a moist stratosphere would have destroyed the ozone layer [117].
...
Burning all fossil fuels would produce a different, practically uninhabitable, planet. Let us first consider a 12 W m−2 greenhouse forcing, which we simulated with 8CO2. If non-CO2 GHGs such as N2O and CH4 increase with global warming at the same rate as in the palaeoclimate record and atmospheric chemistry simulations [122], these other gases provide approximately 25% of the greenhouse forcing. The remaining 9 W m−2 forcing requires approximately 4.8CO2, corresponding to fossil fuel emissions as much as approximately 10,000 Gt C for a conservative assumption of a CO2 airborne fraction averaging one-third over the 1000 years following a peak emission [21,129].

Our calculated global warming in this case is 16C, with warming at the poles approximately 30C. Calculated warming over land areas averages approximately 20C. Such temperatures would eliminate grain production in almost all agricultural regions in the world [130]. Increased stratospheric water vapour would diminish the stratospheric ozone layer [131].

...

More ominously, global warming of that magnitude would make most of the planet uninhabitable by humans [132,133]. The human body generates about 100 W of metabolic heat that must be carried away to maintain a core body temperature near 37C, which implies that sustained wet bulb temperatures above 35C can result in lethal hyperthermia [132,134]. Today, the summer temperature varies widely over the Earth's surface, but wet bulb temperature is more narrowly confined by the effect of humidity, with the most common value of approximately 2627C and the highest approximately of 31C. A warming of 1012C would put most of today's world population in regions with wet a bulb temperature above 35C [132]. Given the 20C warming we find with 4.8CO2, it is clear that such a climate forcing would produce intolerable climatic conditions even if the true climate sensitivity is significantly less than the Russell sensitivity, or, if the Russell sensitivity is accurate, the CO2 amount required to produce intolerable conditions for humans is less than 4.8CO2. Note also that increased heat stress due to warming of the past few decades is already enough to affect health and workplace productivity at low latitudes, where the impact falls most heavily on low- and middle-income countries [135].

The Earth was 1012C warmer than today in the Early Eocene and at the peak of the PETM (figure 4). How did mammals survive that warmth? Some mammals have higher internal temperatures than humans and there is evidence of evolution of surface-area-to-mass ratio to aid heat dissipation, for example transient dwarfing of mammals [136] and even soil fauna [137] during the PETM warming. However, human-made warming will occur in a few centuries, as opposed to several millennia in the PETM, thus providing little opportunity for evolutionary dwarfism to alleviate impacts of global warming. We conclude that the large climate change from burning all fossil fuels would threaten the biological health and survival of humanity, making policies that rely substantially on adaptation inadequate.


The planet now supports more people than ever before and that that number is only increasing.

I fail to see what now has to do with a hypothetical future in which we burn all the fossil fuels off.

Energy capture is directly related to standard of living. The competing technologies are less reliable than fossil fuels. For example, there is no existing storage infrastructure that would allow us to provide all our power from wind or solar, and there isn't even a feasible way to construct such infrastructure.

I understand, but you said 'should', which confused me. I mean obviously things have to change. Our current way of living that strives for eternal economic growth is simply not sustainable, so there's going to be a change in living standards one way or another. You also didn't discuss fission.

But it seems like we aren't going to put them in place before we deplete the fossil fuels.

12% of the world's power is nuclear.
20% comes from various 'renewables'.

That's a third of our needs.

Compared to 1920 this is a big change over the last 100 years.
We have centuries of coal left.
What maths leads you to think we can't put them in place in time?

If we switched as much of our energy production to renewable as possible, we'd still be burning fossil fuels because in many cases right now they are the only option.

Of course, it would be foolish to completely stop using fossil fuels, they're very useful.

We'd burn through them much more slowly, but we'd still be burning through them, and we'd certainly never meet the U.N.'s recommendation of being carbon free in 85 years.

Technically it's carbon emissions free. It may end up amounting to the same thing, but surprises happen.

Unless...

We accept major decreases in our standard of living (think unstable power supply, no steel, no cement, no plastic, etc.), or...

Or we improve technology such that more regions can stably rely on renewables which is still within the realms of reasonable expectations.

We develop fusion.

A theoretical idea, with many many hurdles that we've only gotten slightly closer to in the last 50 years of trying. If we're lucky we might be able to produce half as much as an average sized power plant for a few minutes by about 2030. If we're doubly lucky we might prove that to be stable enough to put into practice by 2035. If we get even luckier we might be able to get a commercial plant up by 2050, and we might be able to get 100 such plants in operation by 2060. That will require the results of experiments go exactly as we hoped every time from here on out (unlikely) and politicians are doing slightly better than normal at pushing this stuff through legislation and budget (unlikely), that planning permission at any given site is unresisted (highly unlikely - if people resist nuclear power, how many are going to resist living near experimental thermonuclear power, just because of the name?). Of course, the recommendations that we reduce carbon emissions to 0 by 2100 assume we'll be decreasing them every year, if we don't keep up we'll be in significant danger of overshooting the mark even if we get this far by 2060.

Another alternative is to increase our use of fission, a technology that is empirically functional and many of the engineering challenges involved are already well known, many man hours of design into reactors has been completed and trained construction workers for the contracts are ready to go.
If we get 40% of power from fission and 40% of power renewables then only 20% needs be coal and gas.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 120 by Jon, posted 11-18-2014 1:46 AM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 124 by Jon, posted 11-19-2014 10:56 AM Modulous has responded

  
Jon
Inactive Member


Message 124 of 130 (742365)
11-19-2014 10:56 AM
Reply to: Message 123 by Modulous
11-18-2014 3:06 PM


Re: All the best!
quote:
The PETM is accompanied by a mass extinction of 35-50% of benthic foraminifera (especially in deeper waters) over the course of ~1,000 years

Saw that. But 30% of a single type of organism that lives mostly in a single place on the planet is hardly a mass extinction. If you read the whole portion there (between your quote and mine) you'll see that many species diversified, there was little effect on land animals, and mammals did very well.

This was hardly the mass extinction you portrayed it to be; and its effect on the food supply of mammals like us (which is the context in which you made the original statement) seemed negligible if present at all.

Because we're talking 1,000ppm-1,600 ppm carbon in the atmosphere. Just living in that atmosphere would make us dizzy, sleepy and have permanent headaches, blurry vision etc it would probably be enough to kill us all even not accounting for the 15K rise in temperatures globally.

I was talking about climate change in general I guess (as in where we are at now and likely to be in the next half century or so).

If you're talking about burning through all the fossil fuels in the next hundred years, then I suppose the side effects of that might be pretty severe.

I fail to see what now has to do with a hypothetical future in which we burn all the fossil fuels off.

My point was that even with conditions worsening, population is still increasing. I wasn't so much talking about burning through all the fossil fuels but just about releasing the amounts of greenhouse gasses currently estimated if we decide to take certain measures before global warming completely fucks us (and not much sooner).

For several reasons (which we can certainly discuss) I honestly don't see us getting to a world in which all the fossil fuels have been burned. Do you?

I understand, but you said 'should', which confused me. I mean obviously things have to change. Our current way of living that strives for eternal economic growth is simply not sustainable, so there's going to be a change in living standards one way or another. You also didn't discuss fission.

Sure. I've discussed this very concept in several threads, notably the one on Replacing Consumerism and Economic failure because of productivity increases / excessive productive capacity.

You'll see I am all in favor of getting away from economies based on endless consumption and production.

Economic growth is probably good. Our current way of defining economic growth, though, is outdated.

Whether this change involves a change in living standards is another story. As you will see from reading those threads, people don't necessarily today consider their living standards any greater than people several decades ago considered theirs. There is likely a point at which increased consumption no longer increases living standards (unless there is a scientific discovery that involves the invention of new technology). We may be far past that point already; perhaps all that is required for a good standard of living is comfortable living arrangements (house, furniture, etc.), access to modern healthcare, heat in winter, food security, protection from foreign/domestic violence, etc.

These things, though, are also want suck up most of our energy.

We might be able to figure out how much we can cut of non-essentials, but then that will just be our opinion. Perhaps others find disposable butter packets from McDonald's highly essential to their standard of living; so it's a tricky road to navigate, and kind of involves the sort of totalitarianism (telling us what is essential and not) most of us in the first world find highly opposable.

Technically it's carbon emissions free. It may end up amounting to the same thing, but surprises happen.

Well, yes, I was talking about emissions. Even if we cut back entirely on our use of fossil fuels for energy, other essential industries still release huge amounts of carbon (and even use fossil fuels). Steel and cement come to mind, as well as the great environmental bane plastic (which does has valid uses).

A theoretical idea, with many many hurdles that we've only gotten slightly closer to in the last 50 years of trying.

Not entirely theoretical, but I think you know that. Our only problem with fusion now is getting the reaction to sustain itself without putting in more energy than it produces.

Another alternative is to increase our use of fission, a technology that is empirically functional and many of the engineering challenges involved are already well known, many man hours of design into reactors has been completed and trained construction workers for the contracts are ready to go.
If we get 40% of power from fission and 40% of power renewables then only 20% needs be coal and gas.

The problem is still disposal and management. I'm not talking from my ass here, of course. For example, whether we can rely on the existence of future institutions with the capability or interest in safely managing and monitoring the wast is an issue that even people involved in nuclear power agree is a serious matter warranting discussion.

Imagine the global catastrophe of people a thousand years from now unwittingly blasting or drilling into these disposals.

The potential for disaster in a world based entirely on nuclear fission just seems far greater than the potential for disaster in a world where improvements in renewable energy generation allow us to slowly move away from fossil fuels as we look for the next development to break through the current ceiling (likely to be fusion, but who knows?).


Love your enemies!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 123 by Modulous, posted 11-18-2014 3:06 PM Modulous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 125 by Modulous, posted 11-19-2014 3:32 PM Jon has responded

  
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 125 of 130 (742406)
11-19-2014 3:32 PM
Reply to: Message 124 by Jon
11-19-2014 10:56 AM


Re: All the best!
But 30% of a single type of organism that lives mostly in a single place on the planet is hardly a mass extinction.

There's more than one type of organism down there. Feel free to call it what you will.

If you read the whole portion there (between your quote and mine) you'll see that many species diversified, there was little effect on land animals, and mammals did very well.

You'll also read that mammals had time to adapt better surface area to body mass ratios (primarily through dwarfism) just as I said in Message 114. Life in general did OK, but do you know what typically accompanies rapid evolutionary change? Lots of premature deaths.

This was hardly the mass extinction you portrayed it to be; and its effect on the food supply of mammals like us (which is the context in which you made the original statement) seemed negligible if present at all.

The original time I brought it up was:

quote:
Think PETM (35% extinction rate) happening 100-500 times faster (thus prohibiting evolution from attaining dwarfism as a means to allow for diversification and extinction avoidance). Insects would collapse, and pollination would be more limited, grasses and grains would die off and the animals that graze on them would follow (if they aren't dying of hyperthermia) as would we. We might be able to survive in Antartica or Siberia or something.

and this was in context of

quote:
If we manage to burn all the coal that's thought to be left

My point was that even with conditions worsening, population is still increasing.

Right, we're below the carrying capacity of the earth which we have raised to unknown heights. Climate change is bringing that down, but we're still underneath it right now. I'm not sure what this demonstrates.

g. I wasn't so much talking about burning through all the fossil fuels but just about releasing the amounts of greenhouse gasses currently estimated if we decide to take certain measures before global warming completely fucks us (and not much sooner).

Well, I was responding to when you said:

quote:
And none of those solutions seem likely to replace fossil fuels before we burn through the whole damn works.

Perhaps it's ironic, but I think the saddest thing of all this is not that we will be forced to switch from fossil fuels (which have plenty of drawbacks) after running out of them, but that we will completely lose a part of history. It seems like it'd be cooler to teach 10th graders about the Industrial Revolution by showing them coal-fueled steam engines than simply telling them about this thing called 'coal' that no longer exists and never will again exist for the rest of their lives.


For several reasons (which we can certainly discuss) I honestly don't see us getting to a world in which all the fossil fuels have been burned. Do you?

quote:
Running out isn't the problem we once thought it was going to be.

quote:
That's because models for global warming tend not to include projections for burning all the fossil fuels (mostly because achieving this would take longer than any reliable projections we can make).

quote:
Burning all the fossil fuels at the current rate would be insane and I'm betting - pretty hard to do.

quote:
I didn't think a formal study on this madness has been conducted

So yeah, I've pretty much been saying its crazy since you first posted this hypothetical scenario.

We may be far past that point already; perhaps all that is required for a good standard of living is comfortable living arrangements (house, furniture, etc.), access to modern healthcare, heat in winter, food security, protection from foreign/domestic violence, etc.

Maybe we should look to Portugal or Switzerland. They have pretty low emissions, though Portugal and to an extent Switzerland probably doesn't have the heating issues of more northern countries. Mexico can probably be added to this list.

Denmark and Canada are places of a more cold persuasion that have fairly low emissions and pretty happy long lived affluent citizens too.

The USA and Australia is emitting about double or treble the above countries, so I think there is plenty of scope for cutting back there.

http://www.happyplanetindex.org/data/#table-view
https://en.wikipedia.org/...bon_dioxide_emissions_per_capita

Well, yes, I was talking about emissions. Even if we cut back entirely on our use of fossil fuels for energy, other essential industries still release huge amounts of carbon (and even use fossil fuels). Steel and cement come to mind, as well as the great environmental bane plastic (which does has valid uses).

Well, yes. Indeed as I said: It may end up amounting to the same thing, but surprises happen.

Not entirely theoretical, but I think you know that.

Here's the state of the practical:
Thermonuclear weapons.
We have some control over instabilities in fusion plasma courtesy of JET
16 MW from JET, but a Q of 0.7 (net loss of energy, 1 is break even).
JT-60 achieved 1.25 Qeq but not Q in practice. 5 is needed to be a self sustained power source, 10 is the aim for a power plant.
ITER is being built aiming for Q>5.

It's almost entirely theoretical. Some good theory, enough to get people investing an ass bucket of money into it, but right now, still theoretical.

Our only problem with fusion now is getting the reaction to sustain itself without putting in more energy than it produces.

Yes, but despite it being our 'only' problem, its magnitude is not fully known. We reckon we've cracked the principle, and I hope it pans out - but if everything does pan out it's still going to be a fair while before it can replace our energy sources. In the meantime do we build more coal or go with fission as a stop-gap?

The problem is still disposal and management. I'm not talking from my ass here, of course. For example, whether we can rely on the existence of future institutions with the capability or interest in safely managing and monitoring the wast is an issue that even people involved in nuclear power agree is a serious matter warranting discussion.

Imagine the global catastrophe of people a thousand years from now unwittingly blasting or drilling into these disposals.

I think we're in risk management mode here. We have to cut carbon emissions, quickly, and we want to maintain our quality of life. Fission seems the best thing to do, using breeder type reactors to minimize the amount of waste. I doubt blasting into a nuclear waste site would be a global catastrophe, it's ceramic/vitrified and has a high surface area. There'd likely just be balls of pretty hazardous glass scattered around. Depending how far in the future this happens, it's unlikely to be anything more than a local emergency.

On the other hand, burning fossil fuels until fusion can be rolled out globally, doesn't seem like a prudent course of action.

The potential for disaster in a world based entirely on nuclear fission just seems far greater than the potential for disaster in a world where improvements in renewable energy generation allow us to slowly move away from fossil fuels as we look for the next development to break through the current ceiling (likely to be fusion, but who knows?).

I say both. I'm not convinced the potential hazards outweigh the risks in the other direction. Renewables have room for growth still, but not enough to realistically fill coal's gap, not without supplementing with gas. There's likely to be less deaths in the short and medium term if we switch to fission from cleaner air in general and climate changes overall. In the meantime, we can figure out more long term plans for the material - there are already plans in mind.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 124 by Jon, posted 11-19-2014 10:56 AM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 126 by Jon, posted 11-20-2014 2:29 PM Modulous has responded

  
Jon
Inactive Member


Message 126 of 130 (742487)
11-20-2014 2:29 PM
Reply to: Message 125 by Modulous
11-19-2014 3:32 PM


Re: All the best!
You'll also read that mammals had time to adapt better surface area to body mass ratios (primarily through dwarfism) just as I said in Message 114.

That's one big difference. Another big difference is that the mammals at the center of things today (us) don't have to rely on evolutionary adaptation to survive changes to the environment.

Life in general did OK, but do you know what typically accompanies rapid evolutionary change? Lots of premature deaths.

Yes. But those deaths are likely to be in poor areas where people have always had limited access to resources and technologies for adapting their surroundings and premature deaths from living at the mercy of the environment are business as usual.

The unequal distribution of consequences from global warming and their burden on the poor and undeveloped is something you can find discussed pretty much anywhere climate change is discussed.

We could all get together and share, but that's hardly likely. And the fact that developed societies seem more suited to weathering climate change might be part of why they aren't as interested in dealing with it (despite pretty much being its sole progenitor).

So it's possible that life in general will still do okay; but lots of lives probably won't.

The original time I brought it up was:

quote:
Think PETM (35% extinction rate) happening 100-500 times faster (thus prohibiting evolution from attaining dwarfism as a means to allow for diversification and extinction avoidance). Insects would collapse, and pollination would be more limited, grasses and grains would die off and the animals that graze on them would follow (if they aren't dying of hyperthermia) as would we. We might be able to survive in Antartica or Siberia or something.

and this was in context of

quote:
If we manage to burn all the coal that's thought to be left

My point was that even with conditions worsening, population is still increasing.

Right, we're below the carrying capacity of the earth which we have raised to unknown heights. Climate change is bringing that down, but we're still underneath it right now. I'm not sure what this demonstrates.

g. I wasn't so much talking about burning through all the fossil fuels but just about releasing the amounts of greenhouse gasses currently estimated if we decide to take certain measures before global warming completely fucks us (and not much sooner).

Well, I was responding to when you said:

quote:
And none of those solutions seem likely to replace fossil fuels before we burn through the whole damn works.

Perhaps it's ironic, but I think the saddest thing of all this is not that we will be forced to switch from fossil fuels (which have plenty of drawbacks) after running out of them, but that we will completely lose a part of history. It seems like it'd be cooler to teach 10th graders about the Industrial Revolution by showing them coal-fueled steam engines than simply telling them about this thing called 'coal' that no longer exists and never will again exist for the rest of their lives.


For several reasons (which we can certainly discuss) I honestly don't see us getting to a world in which all the fossil fuels have been burned. Do you?

quote:
Running out isn't the problem we once thought it was going to be.

quote:
That's because models for global warming tend not to include projections for burning all the fossil fuels (mostly because achieving this would take longer than any reliable projections we can make).

quote:
Burning all the fossil fuels at the current rate would be insane and I'm betting - pretty hard to do.

quote:
I didn't think a formal study on this madness has been conducted

So yeah, I've pretty much been saying its crazy since you first posted this hypothetical scenario.

Fair enough. I do think burning through all the fossil fuels is unlikely given most plausible play-outs for the future. The planet may become uninhabitable long before that point. We may find a better energy source. Our governments may act to eliminate our use of fossil fuels.

But I've also been talking about economics and willingness. A world in which people are forced to give up fossil fuels isn't a world in which people are switching to solar and wind because they see it as a better option. All the arguments and evidence about global warming and the environmental benefits of renewable energy aren't changing anyone's opinion. For many things fossil fuels are still the economically best option, and will likely remain so for a long time to come.

Maybe we should look to Portugal or Switzerland. They have pretty low emissions, though Portugal and to an extent Switzerland probably doesn't have the heating issues of more northern countries. Mexico can probably be added to this list.

Maybe we should. I went investigating to figure out what the numbers might tell us. From Wikipedia (Countries by GDP, 2013, the E.U. has an economy of about $17,512,109 million and emits about 3,709,765 Kt of CO2 (Countries by CO2 Emissions, 2010); all of this in a single year. That equates to about $4.70 earned off every Kg of CO2.

From the same charts, the U.S. has an annual GDP of about $16,768,050 million and emits slightly more CO2 at 5,433,057 Kt. That's an efficiency of $3.10/Kg CO2. There is some error in the calculations, of course, because the numbers come from different years, but it is what it is. Same-year data is likely there, but I went the easy route.

Anyway, the two 'countries' are pretty close. They are lightyears above China, which has an efficiency of only $1.14/Kg CO2 (they burn more fossil fuels and get less benefit from them). This is probably related to China's use of coal (which is almost as much as the rest of the world combined: U.S. EIA).

There is room for improvement everywhere, but the world's economic superpowers seem to already be supporting substantially higher standards of living with relatively low carbon emissions.

One of the issues that I brought up earlier was the ability of solar and wind power to maintain such economies by meeting their massive energy requirements. RAZD all but laughed at me, but I have a feeling you can take the matter a little more seriously.

Energy consumption is essential to advanced societies; our alternatives to fossil fuels need to be able to meet the same demands for energy. Solar and wind seem incapable of this (unless they are, but I'm still waiting on RAZD to demonstrate as much). Fission can do the job easily due to its similarities to fossil fuels (convenience, reliability, etc.) but presents waste disposal issues of its own. Which I guess brings me to your last point:

In the meantime, we can figure out more long term plans for the material - there are already plans in mind.

That's kind of like 'in the meantime we can figure out ways to deal with global warming'.

Either path puts us into the situation of having problems that we hope can be solved somewhere down the line. The job is figuring out which problems are less severe and more plausibly solvable in the future. One of the downsides to fission is that it seems like generating enough power to replace fossil fuels entirely (with, for example, electric cars) will be tough. And it's not at all certain what a world in which all of our energy is produced by nuclear fission (with the resulting waste products) will look like or what problems it will present. One of the downsides to fossil fuels is that they are heating up the planet.

Where do we win?

Jon


Love your enemies!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 125 by Modulous, posted 11-19-2014 3:32 PM Modulous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 127 by Modulous, posted 11-20-2014 5:17 PM Jon has acknowledged this reply

  
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005
Member Rating: 1.7


(1)
Message 127 of 130 (742494)
11-20-2014 5:17 PM
Reply to: Message 126 by Jon
11-20-2014 2:29 PM


Re: All the best!
Another big difference is that the mammals at the center of things today (us) don't have to rely on evolutionary adaptation to survive changes to the environment.

Which is expensive and too often reactive rather than preventative.

All the arguments and evidence about global warming and the environmental benefits of renewable energy aren't changing anyone's opinion.

Well, not enough minds to enough of a degree to satisfy those arguing. It's still plays a significant role in energy production globally, but it's not a solution that can feasibly replace other energy sources entirely.

Maybe we should. I went investigating to figure out what the numbers might tell us. From Wikipedia (Countries by GDP, 2013, the E.U. has an economy of about $17,512,109 million and emits about 3,709,765 Kt of CO2 (Countries by CO2 Emissions, 2010); all of this in a single year. That equates to about $4.70 earned off every Kg of CO2.

It's an interesting measure, for sure, but I'm not sure where it's going. Are you using GDP as a proxy measure for quality of life? I'm not sure that necessarily follows. I pointed to some countries which had a relatively high happiness index score which seems at least related.

China, for instance, is using much of that power to produce cheap goods that the West marks up tenfold when selling domestically.

The per capita results should also be noted. 17.5t per capita in USA vs 7.4t per capita in EU (6t for China). My point was driving towards living a little more frugally not being a barrier to a decent standard of living - not on spending and emitting more to make the carbon we're emitting more dollar efficient.

That's kind of like 'in the meantime we can figure out ways to deal with global warming'.

No really. The waste doesn't have to be that big a problem. Certainly a serious one, but it's hardly insurmountable. Dealing with climate change is difficult by virtue of the size and chaotic nature of the system.

Where do we win?

There's also the pollution issue, that kills many people a year courtesy of coal. I think at this stage the plan moving forwards is to increase fission use, particularly the breeder type reactors. With luck a way to get clean and reliable energy will come along, but if not the effects to the climate will be mitigated.

We already have high level waste to deal with. Increasing the accumulation of this two fold is not going to present a significantly larger problem than we already have, and breeder reactors will produce much less hlw if we can get more of them up and running.

This is Kobayashi Maru without a cheat option, we'll have to dance with the devil in the pale moonlight.


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 Message 126 by Jon, posted 11-20-2014 2:29 PM Jon has acknowledged this reply

  
ramoss
Member
Posts: 3076
Joined: 08-11-2004


Message 128 of 130 (766267)
08-15-2015 11:01 PM


New MIT design for mini fusion reactor
MIT research folks made a proposal for updating the fusion generator , using the current 'tomak' design, but with more modern 'off the shelf' equipment.

http://inhabitat.com/...lear-fusion-industry-within-10-years


Replies to this message:
 Message 129 by ramoss, posted 04-05-2018 6:11 PM ramoss has not yet responded

  
ramoss
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Posts: 3076
Joined: 08-11-2004


(1)
Message 129 of 130 (830730)
04-05-2018 6:11 PM
Reply to: Message 128 by ramoss
08-15-2015 11:01 PM


Re: New MIT design for mini fusion reactor
ALthough this has been a OLD topic , there is some really good new information.

Lockheed Martin just put out a patent for part of it's fusion reactor.

http://denver.cbslocal.com/...-reactor-power-lockheed-martin

And, for the tech minded, here is a link to the patent details

https://patents.google.com/patent/US20180047462A1/en?oq=2...

Now, because of the nature of the work, I wouldn't be surprised if many details are considered 'secret' (It has military applications after all), and not being subject to patents. However, it does show they have been working on it, and being fairly quiet about it


This message is a reply to:
 Message 128 by ramoss, posted 08-15-2015 11:01 PM ramoss has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 130 by NoNukes, posted 04-07-2018 7:07 PM ramoss has not yet responded

  
NoNukes
Member
Posts: 10699
From: Central NC USA
Joined: 08-13-2010
Member Rating: 1.9


Message 130 of 130 (830826)
04-07-2018 7:07 PM
Reply to: Message 129 by ramoss
04-05-2018 6:11 PM


Re: New MIT design for mini fusion reactor
Lockheed Martin just put out a patent for part of it's fusion reactor.

What you have linked to is a patent application (i.e. not an issued patent, but an application that they hope becomes a patent.). Further, it draws priority from applications filed five years ago. I cannot tell if there is any newer technology described in the current application without making some effort to look at the older applications.

Edited by NoNukes, : No reason given.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

We got a thousand points of light for the homeless man. We've got a kinder, gentler, machine gun hand. Neil Young, Rockin' in the Free World.

Worrying about the "browning of America" is not racism. -- Faith

I hate you all, you hate me -- Faith


This message is a reply to:
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