[TAG] Hydrogen fuel (non-Linux)
mso at oz.net
Thu May 20 22:39:39 MSD 2004
On Thu, May 20, 2004 at 02:29:00AM -0700, Mike Orr wrote:
> First takes a critical mass of people to think out of the box and
> decide it's possible, then they have to pressure the politicians and
> companies to make it happen, and only then will it happen.
> We need something that's somewhat better now, and we can worry about
> perfect later.
To elaborate on these two points, the goal is not hydrogen. The goal is
a radical rethinking of efficiency. If you think of waste as
nonperforming assets, it all falls into place. Wasted
energy/emissions/garbage represent assets you've paid for but can't use,
a drag on the bottom line. If you design efficient use of energy and
materials into products in the first place, people can help the
environment without cramping their lifestyle one bit, and end up with
significantly more money too. It's the "kill two birds with one stone"
theory. Hydrogen is not the end-all, it's just the most significant
step in that direction available at the moment. Maybe we'll find
something better later. But moving in that direction now means we'll
get at least somewhere, whereas not doing anything leaves us in the
present situation or worse. If we'd invested in alternative energy
thirty years ago, it would be done now. The result would have been more
primitive, but it would have eliminated, oh, the war in Iraq, runoffs in
streams, global warming, asthma attacks, etc. All this combined
represents a much bigger cost than just doing it and getting it over
with. Even if we did nothing with fuel-cell technology but donate it to
China and India, we'd still be out ahead. They could get on with their
development without harming the rest of the world.
There's more about this in my favorite book, _Natural Capitalism_ by
Paul Hawken/Amory Lovins (http://www.natcap.org/, entire text online).
Our industrial and economic processes were formed during the Industrial
Revolution when resources were plentiful and labor was scarce. Now
we're in the opposite situation: labor is plentiful but natural
resources are becoming scarce. But we're still doing things the old
way, which is leading to frightening unemployment and ecological
situations. Waste -- meaning products nobody wants; e.g., used
styrofoam cups, exhaust, PCBs -- can cut by 50% without too much
inconvenience just by thinking creatively. It's even possible to reduce
waste by 90% and still come out ahead, as a few companies have done.
But it's much easier to build these features in during construction than
to retrofrit them later. For instance, putting windows on the south
side in northern climates cuts down on energy requirements. But most
developers don't take that into account; they just put windows wherever
they feel like it. In my last apartment I didn't need to use the
bathroom light half the time coz the window was sufficient. My current
bathroom doesn't have a window (even though it's an exterior wall), I
can't use a nightlight coz the outlet is tied to the wall switch, and I
can't use a flourescent bulb coz the builtin fixture is vanity lights
near eye level.
On Thu, May 20, 2004 at 11:37:48AM +0200, Ramon van Alteren wrote:
> Even then the majority of fuelcells will still be "filled" by using fossil
> fuel, simply because it's cheaper. Currently sustainable energy is not widely
> used because of the enormous costs of using these sources in a world with an
> energy infrastructure which is exclusively geared towards fossil fuel.
> Switching to hydrogen as a transmission medium will go a long way in reducing
> those costs and creating a level economical playfield for all kinds of energy
> sources. It is very likely that this will increase the use of sustainnable
> energy, especially because the pressure on fossil fuel companies, to pay the
> costs of the "side effects" associated with the mining, refining,
> transportation and use of fossile fuel, is increasing.
Our cost/benefit calculations are all out of alignment because people
and companies are able to externalize the cost of waste onto society, so
it doesn't appear on their balance sheet. If they had to pay that cost
themselves, alternative energy would look incredibly cheap by
Prob'ly the biggest example of doublethink this past century was nuclear
energy. Proponents said it would be nonpolluting and "too cheap to meter".
Too bad the "nonpolluting" waste has to be stored gingerly for 10,000
years, and the price of cleanup wasn't factored into the cost per KwH.
It's incredible there are still people in 2004 pushing for a revival of
"nonpolluting" nuclear power as a cure for global warming. Can't they
see the big purple elephant in the room?
In Washington, five nuclear plants were terminated in various stages of
building/production due to public opposition. The project was called
WPPSS, which the public pronounced "whoops" as in, "Whoops, the
utilities shouldn't have started these expensive projects without
ratepayer consent." The utilities thought conservation was a cuckoo
idea until the environmentalists convinced them to try it. So they've
been offering rebates and cheap loans the past several years for
weatherization, efficient appliances, and even light bulbs. And
discovered, ahem, that the nuclear plants weren't needed after all.
(OK, the *biggest* example of doublethink was nuclear weapons. Was it
really MAD that prevented WWIII? More likely it was NATO. "An attack
on one is an attack on all." The classic gang principle.)
-Mike Orr (aka. Sluggo), mso at oz.net (iron at sense-sea-MegaSub-1-465.oz.net)
http://sluggo.kicks-ass.org/ Cxu vi parolas Esperante?
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