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Journal downhole's Journal: My take on Global Warming 1

All of the Global Warming threads these days seem to instantly generate over a thousand comments, which kinda kills my inclination to post my own point of view, so I'll just post it here instead. Why should anybody care about what I think about it? I figure I'm a smarter than average person, and though I don't have much particular background in climate science, I know a bit about general engineering, what it takes to power the world.

My summary of the actual science on it is that I'm not really sure whether it's happening and manmade or not, but I really hope that it isn't, because if it is, I'm pretty sure that we're screwed. Based on all of the numbers I've seen from the AGW people, I think that our chances of reducing CO2 emmisions by a large enough amount soon enough to make a difference are basically zero. If those guys are right, then reducing the rate of increase isn't going to do anything. We'd need genuine reductions in overall global output of over 10% a year, every year without fail, and we'd need that to start like yesterday.

The root of the problem is the total world population, which has grown massively in the last 200 years or so, to the point that there are now over 7 Billion of us. Keeping those 7 billion people fed decently and relatively healthy requires lots and lots of energy, because generating that much food requires mechanized farming, including mechanized production of fertilizers and transportation of them to actual farms, plus transportation of the products to cities and livestock stockyards, etc. Basically, you have to keep the modern economy, based on relatively cheap energy and transporation, active for all of those people to remain fed. There ain't enough land for them to all be subsistence farmers working with hand tools, because it isn't efficient enough. Even smallish cities can't feed everyone with only food produced less than 50 miles away or whatever it is that environmentally-conscious are trying to do now. Don't mistake what a handful of wealthy hippie-types do because they feel like it for a viable solution for how to feed the whole country. Not to mention all of the other requirements for keeping lots of people alive, like good water and sewer systems, requiring lots of industrial technology, and readily available healthcare, including drugs, which also requires lots of instustrial technology and highly educated people too. Speaking of which, such changes in how the population of the world is fed would undo most of the economic changes in the last few hundred years, eliminating probably something like 90% of the high-tech jobs and economy because everybody would have to spend most of their time figuring out how to grow their own food. Also creating a permanant class structure where most of the population is farmers and a only relative handful can afford to do other things.

What all of that means is that a massive reduction in worldwide energy usage is just not possible. Combine every war and genocide in the 20th century and you get something like a few hundred million dead. The world population is over 7 billion now, and the sustainable population using low-energy food production techniques is probably closer to 1 billion. Do the math, it'll be ugly. The only question would be which few billion people would die, and how.

The only way to cut CO2 emissions on the scales required while still maintaining the modern economy and the world population then would be to displace fossil fuels as an energy source. Any good AGW/Environmentalist type will surely go on and on about wind and solar power, and if you're really lucky, they'll bring up even more oddball stuff. The trouble is, I'm not convinced that any of them will be capable of displacing fossil fuels on a large enough scale in the timeframe that we need. The best I've heard is that a couple of small, wealthy European nations have claimed to be at around 15% wind power. I wouldn't mind seeing some numbers behind that, but even if it's 100% legit, it's still nowhere near enough. Looks to me like, at best, wind and solar are too little, too late, and everything else is a joke.

I believe that the only technology capable of actually stopping global warming, meaning meeting our energy needs without releasing lots of CO2 and being ready to go now, is nuclear fission. There's some stuff out there that looks interesting or has some potential, but it has to be ready to go now - if you can't design a 1GW plant today with whatever technology you're looking at, then you're already too late. Fission has its problems and dangers, but it's real, it works, and it's ready to go. If the people in charge of these things really believed the stuff that they're saying about global warming, they'd demand that we spend as much as necessary to start construction on hundreds of GW of new fission capacity yesterday. The actual worst-case scenarios of nuclear accidents still aren't as bad as what they say that global warming will do. Since nobody seems to be doing this, I can only conclude that everybody involved either 1. Doesn't really believe that global warming is happening or will be as bad as they say, meaning that they're lying to all of us either to increase their own personal power or make themselves feel better or 2. Doesn't really understand the issues of generating and using power, and are more concerned with reinforcing their own beliefs and preferences than in researching how to actually solve the problem. Either way, we're being very poorly served by the current global warming political movement - they're using all of their political capital pushing things that they know or should know cannot possibly solve the problem.

My conclusion - if Global Warming is real, then bend over and hold on, because it's going to happen and we aren't going to slow it down.

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My take on Global Warming

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  • 1 - We need massive investment in lowering portable battery costs.
    2 - We need lots and lots of cheap short range electric cars, any compact car can be easily converted into an EV with 20 mile range with cheap off the shelf batteries.
    3 - We need a lot of investment in wind generation in places that have reliable wind presence, and lots of Solar Panels in the mid lattitudes (where there is a lot of sun, but the temperatures aren't too high, since solar panels loose a lot of efficiency in very hot weather), so

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