Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Global Warming Wednesday

Last night I had an interesting conversation with several commenters on a libby blog I sometimes read. The thrust of the article was about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, but some of the denizens and I got into a discussion about the power crisis. The Chosen One is going on about alternative energy sources, specifically, you guessed it,wind and solar. "The president has long said renewable sources of energy, like wind and solar, will play a vital role in the nation's energy future. He is asking Congress for $9 billion in loan guarantees for renewable energy projects[.]" We discussed these topics to some degree but here is the gist of my argument.

Wind and solar do not pencil out, at least not without huge government subsidies. I know it will seem anathema to any and all conservatives for me to say this, but not all subsidies are a bad thing on their face. The problem with these technologies, and the attendant subsidies, is that without the government, or some other suitably rich entity, these technologies are not likely to be cost effective in my lifetime, if ever. Additionally, they are unlikely to solve our energy needs, ever. For starters the requirements of where you can put the blasted things is limited, and the complexes large and/or sprawling. Add that to the price gap to break even, and they are just not viable solutions. Geothermal and tidal power production are even more limited in suitable locations. On top of all of that, you cannot even spit without filling out, in triplicate, an environmental impact statement, and god forbid a few birds with lousy eyesight get hacked up in the blades. The Green Shirts would have you believe that this is worse than The Holocaust. To them I say, you are the ones that want non-polluting power, to get that, some birds are going to have to die, and some dirt roads are going to need to be built, you can not have it both ways, pick one, sit down, and shut up while the adults who are able to think rationally decide what to do.

So solar, wind, tidal and geothermal are out, at least for the time being. Nuclear power could solve most if not all of our power needs, but it too has issues of its own. The first issue with nuclear is the staggering PR problem. Most of the bad press for nuke plants is fear mongering on the part of the Green Shirts, and the Three Mile Island disaster. TMI happened over three decades ago, and since there has not been a nuclear accident, in the western world, since. To some that merely means that we are due, but in all of the history of American Nuclear power, we have TMI and the SL-1 accident in Idaho Falls, ID. Currently there are, or will be within ten years, roughly eighty-five American nuclear submarines of all classes, and thirteen aircraft carriers, each with a nuclear reactor, and some of the carriers have two, and thirty-three nuclear power plants, many with multiple reactors. If you throw in the addition test reactors and whatnot, you are looking at two hundred to two hundred and fifty reactors. There have been two accidents. Seems like a relatively safe technology to me, at least in that regard. The other big problem is what to do with the poisonous sludge left over from producing the power. That is easily solved, though slightly more expensive, to reprocess the goo back into nuclear fuel. This would reduce the amount of waste by around ninety percent for fuel rods, and sixty percent for other byproducts. Thanks to that idiot Ford, the even bigger idiot Carter, and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, this is no longer viable.

Unusually, I have no solution to offer. I despise pointing out issues without giving at least a hint of a way to solve it, but in this case it will take someone much smarter than me to solve the problem. What I do know is, the Luddite Paradise will not work, and the lefties do not understand, nor have the stomach for, the die off of millions (billions?) or humans. I also know that the "Green Energy Sources" will not fix the problem either. Some would say, why change anything? Petroleum is too useful a resource for us to be wasting it as a fuel, especially when we can not replace it once it is gone. Coal might work, but I do not know if "Clean Coal" is viable or a pipe-dream, but it will also not last forever. Resources are finite, even nuclear fuel, an argument for recycling the stuff, so we Must either find a new technology, or new stocks of resources. Can you say asteroid mining? This definitely feeds my belief that the future, and salvation, of mankind lies not just here on Earth, but in the stars. That however, is a post for another day.


Teresa said...

I think either natural gas or nuclear technology is at least part of the answer. But, yes, this is a most complex issue. There was a recent shale discovery in Western PA which could help with the power issue but now the Green Whackos are fighting against using this shale.

Right Wing Extreme said...

I think Natural gas is in the boat with coal, there is only a finite amount. Greenie-weenies will fight anything, even if it were to give them exactly what they want.