RE: fusion and the future (was ethanol from..)

From: Kenneth Piers <Pier@calvin.edu>
Date: Fri Nov 18 2005 - 07:08:38 EST

Friends: I have to agree with Chuck that fusion is a long-term thing if at all.
The fusion experiment now approved for France will not be ready to begin
testing for at least another 5 years and then they expect 10-15 years of
experiments. If all goes well (a fairly big IF, we have to admit) and they
manage to sustain positive net energy, the next step will be a demonstration
plant which will operate for another 15-20 years; if all goes well there, we
may finally be ready for a commercial plant (if we can scrounge enough energy
and money together at that time to build one).
My take on our energy future is that we will very likely have to make use of
much more coal energy (with either a global warming be d****d attitude or
carbon capture technology applied) for both power generation and coal to
liquids conversion; we will also likely need to develop new and improved
nuclear fission technology - either conventional or fast breeder. (I would
prefer that we transition to renewable sources (wind, solar) but their low
energy density and sporadic character with no really viable large-scale
electricity storage system on the horizon, will probably make them limited
sources for the time being.)
If we are able to make these investments before the competition for oil
becomes economically ruinous, or before such competition generates another
global war we have a chance to transition to something new without crashing. In
the meantime we should be discouraging oil consumption (probably by imposing
gasoline taxes or gasoline rationing (say everyone gets to buy N gallons of
gasoline/wk at say $3.00/gal, but the price doubles for each N gallons per week
after that - proceeds going to support new energy research and/or to displace
other taxes) as much as possible to conserve these resources for really
essential uses. To me this means transitioning to a new transportation system
using high-speed electrified trains for inter-urban transportation and shipping
freight, and greatly expanding mass transit travel opportunities for local
transit. Perhaps we could even develop an improved completely electrified
vehicle for local personal travel. It also means changing our food system to
one that is much more regionally based than nationally or globally based. I
would also encourage regional/national self-sufficiency (as much as possible)
in the manufacture of life-essentials - things like clothing, shelter, etc).
Unfortunately, I don't see anything like this on our discussion table much
less in the planning stages. So, like Glenn, I am not very optimistic that our
transition to a new and different future will be a soft one. I try to resist
the impulse to give in to despair, but I confess, I don't always succeed. I try
to reassure myself that the God of Scripture is ultimately in charge, but then
I remember that He was also in charge when other civilizations went into decay
so the comfort is brief.
I hope everyone has a good weekend.
ken piers

Ken Piers

"We are by nature creatures of faith, as perhaps all creatures are; we live by
counting on things that cannot be proved. As creatures of faith, we must choose
either to be religious or superstitious, to believe in things that cannot be
proved or to believe in things that can be disproved."
Wendell Berry

>>> Glenn Morton <glenn_morton@yahoo.com> 11/17/2005 5:08 PM >>>

Tjalle T Vandergraaf <ttveiv@mts.net> wrote:
> My question remains, how do we deal with this?

  We have GOT to solve the fusion problem, now! And that makes me rather
hopless.

glenn
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Received on Fri Nov 18 07:11:10 2005

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