This post outlines my current position on CO2 and renewables.
I dont accept that human sources of CO2 have a significant effect on climate. I consider solar activity the greatest climate factor. Human activity may have an influence, but it is so small compared to other factors that it gets lost in the scale of change.
Humans may be responsible for the recent doubling of atmospheric CO2. But not by adding a few percent to natural yearly CO2 production. Natural yearly CO2 production totally swamps human output. However, the rise of atmospheric CO2 can also be caused by the reduction of annual CO2 uptake. This is also done mostly my nature, as annual regrowth. The yearly cycles of fire and regrowth are massive compared to humans tiny contribution. However, humans can affect CO2 uptake by deforestation and “regrowth retardation” due to residual herbicides. The effect of human chemical use is not widely recognized, but it must be studied in order to understand the consequence of widespread herbicide use. It is worth noting that the start of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 coincides well with the start of widespread herbicide use after WW2.
Regarding the use of coal, my position is that im ok with the CO2 released, but im not OK with the other things released, which are toxic, even if they are in small amounts. Also, being a “non-renewable” resource, it is essential that humans try really hard to conserve it for future generations, rather than using it up recklessly. Current human use of coal and other mineral resources is extraordinarily irresponsible in this light. Humans waste energy so much. A great example of this is using airconditioning or heating unnecessarily.
ALTERNATIVE ENERGY AND RENEWABLES
I am totally opposed to the use of the current style of large wind turbines. People living within 10 km become sick due to the effect of low frequency noise. Birdlife is killed by the high speed blade tips. MORE coal is burned to keep coal fired plants running a little overspeed, to be able to cut in when the wind generated electricity suddenly drops out of the grid without notice. Regular and reliable electricity supply is vital for keeping the energy level of the grid stable. Im not opposed to generating energy from wind, but wind turbines have got to be stopped.
MOLTEN SALT SOLAR
Not a new technology, but newly applied to electricity production for “the grid”. A field of mirrors is used to reflect the sun onto a chamber containing salt. the outside of the chamber glows white from the heat and light. The salt melts and can absorb a large amount of heat before reaching its boiling point. Electricity is generated by using the heat to make steam and drive a turbine. Unlike wind power, energy is stored as heat at night and can still be used to generate electricity, if enough heat is generated.
However, a pilot plant in California is already receiving criticism for the large number of birds getting fried when they fly too close to the glowing tower/chamber. I havent yet heard of any ill effects on humans. Currently i neither support nor oppose this technology, but it must be changed in order to avoid killing large amounts of birds. I question if it is really an improvement over photovoltaic panels.
Photovoltaic (solar) panels are a proven technology that has a record of reliability and lack of harm to the environment. However it still suffers from inconsistent electricity production due to weather. It requires the addition of energy storage so that it can produce a smooth supply of electricity over 24 hours. The biggest problem with solar panels is that they take up a lot of space. They are also not so good in places that arent very sunny, or high latitudes where the sun isnt so strong.
A historically proven technology. It uses the energy stored in water according to how high it is above the turbines. The sun provides the energy to lift the water. Electricity can be produced as needed, and electricity is produced by using water to directly drive generators. It is one of the cleanest forms of electricity production. But it requires the reclamation of fertile valleys in order to store water. Also it interferes with river ecosystems by placing impenetrable barriers to the migration of living things. Generally, new hydroelectric projects are not built because of local resistance to the reclamation of land. It cant be used in flat or arid places.