Thursday, April 29, 2010

Drill, Baby, Dr--- Oops!

So, let's dig for more "clean" coal.

Oh, darn. Dead miners. That'll scotch that up. Oh, yeah, and the Christmas disaster of 2008. Whatever happened there?

So let's drill for oil off the coast of Florida.

Dangit. Oil well blew up in the Gulf. A billion dollars to clean it up.

Let's build more nuclear reactors.

The Chernobyl death toll has now roamed from less than fifty actual deaths up to a quarter million projected deaths from cancer. And the GAO has said that the likelihood of a nuclear plant defaulting on its investors in around fifty percent. So, kills people, and can't pay for itself. The old Catskills joke: "The food here is terrible." "Yes, and such small portions." And the Pres has decided not to use Yucca Mountain as a spent fuel repository due to the earthquake fault-line that someone finally (oops) discovered was right underneath it.

Find natural gas through fracturing!

Really interesting concept - you pump water down into stratified slate deep underground and find pockets of natural gas, which you then capture as it tries to come up out of the ground. Most of it, anyway. The stuff you don't capture somehow ends up in the groundwater, and folks have been lighting their tap water on fire - in their bathrooms and kitchens. Neat!

How about other technologies?

The good people of Hyannis Port, Mass., have been fighting against a huge windfarm that some commie-loving power company wants to install off the coast of Massachusetts (due to the high winds one tends to get on open ocean, vs. the not-so-high winds one gets inland), and they lost. Windfarm is going up, and everyone in this nice, little quiet seaport of multimillionaires is going to have to look at windmills instead of, well, the weather, I guess. 130 turbines on 24 acres of big huge windmills. I understand that the windmuills one can build out at sea are larger than the ones you can build on land.

The fights are over the view, the impact on the ocean floor (why do we never worry about such things when it's a monster oil rig, or a sunken ship? how do fish deal with a massive, sunken ship? do they get lost inside?), and that seabirds might not see the spinning tubines and get chopped into fish bait. This was the same argument used in Livermore, CA when they put up a huge linear windfarm on the hills to the east. Birds managed to fly around, with the occasional far-sighted bird getting mulched into a flying Seagull McNugget.

There are proposals to turn huge swaths of various desert-y areas into solar collection stations (big solar panels or big steam-driven plants using focused solar energy to heat the water - big mirrors sure are cool looking), and all anyone is worried about is whether this will unfairly impact gila monsters, endangered varieties of toads and plants - and off-road vehicles, which, of course, have no effect on gila monsters, toads, or plants.

There's also a cool-looking system that is essentially a buoy that uses waves to generate power. A piston moves up and down inside the buoy and generates electricity, which then must be carried back to shore via some system they've pretty much worked out, but I'm not smart enough to explain.

Plenty of alternatives, but is the political will there to push them forward? Ted Kennedy opposed the windfarm in Hyannis Port, even though he was considered something of a commie by the opposition. If a hardline Democrat can be opposed to something on the basis of ruining someone's view (not even his own view), how long will we be waiting to begin to fix this problem? When it becomes a necessity, and we can't adapt fast enough?

Great. Looking forward to Waterworld...

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