[asa] Renewable energy

From: John Burgeson (ASA member) <hossradbourne@gmail.com>
Date: Thu Mar 26 2009 - 14:32:38 EDT

A FREE book on renewables!

No Hot Air Renewable Energy

Want a refreshing take on the role of renewable energy in our future?
Then you’ll want to download David MacKay's free book, Sustainable
Energy - without hot air. Using wry British wit and mathematics,
MacKay examines the realistic potential of solar, offshore wind,
hydroelectricity, geothermal and wave energy to meet the energy needs
of the planet.

Recognizing the wide divergence of opinions -- and hype -- on both
sides of this vitally important question, he writes in his

This heated debate is fundamentally about numbers. How much energy
could each source deliver, at what economic and social cost, and with
what risks? But actual numbers are rarely mentioned. In public
debates, people just say “Nuclear is a money pit” or “We have a huge
amount of wave and wind.” The trouble with this sort of language is
that it’s not sufficient to know that something is huge; we need to
know how the one “huge” compares with another “huge,” namely our huge
energy consumption. To make this comparison, we need numbers, not
Appropriately, he takes up the question of global climate change right
off the blocks, starting with castigating Independent reporter and
climate change skeptic Dominic Lawson for "irresponsible journalism"
that "deserves a good flushing" (page 21). But his is not just another
shoot-from-the-hip, knee-jerk reaction of an Al Gore acolyte, but is
one based on sound reason, science and "numbers, not adjectives."
MacKay, who is the professor of natural philosophy in the department
of Physics at the University of Cambridge, uses a very simple analogy
to demonstrate the problem: the passport control arrival area at an
international airport.
One thousand passengers arrive per hour, and there are exactly enough
clockwork officials to process one thousand passengers per hour.
There’s a modest queue, but because of the match of arrival rate to
service rate, the queue isn’t getting any longer. Now imagine that
owing to fog an extra stream of flights is diverted here from a
smaller airport. This stream adds an extra 50 passengers per hour to
the arrivals lobby – a small addition compared to the original arrival
rate of one thousand per hour. Initially at least, the authorities
don’t increase the number of officials, and the officials carry on
processing just one thousand passengers per hour. So what happens?
Slowly but surely, the queue grows. Burning fossil fuels is undeniably
increasing the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and in the surface
oceans. No climate scientist disputes this fact. When it comes to CO2
concentrations, man is significant.
Of course, there are still lots of folks out there who think all this
climate change, global warming business is just a crock, and I am not
going to waste time and words arguing with them. Download the book,
look at the numbers, not the adjectives. And to the central question,
"Can we live on renewable energy?" you'll have to read the book; it's
an eye opener and it's free.

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Received on Thu Mar 26 14:33:24 2009

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