(Probably) my last post of the day - found a slew of interesting articles ;) Nothing new (to me, anyways - after E's class), but still interesting. I find it interesting that fuel cells are promoted most highly as a transportation solution, when it seems unlikely that they will provide the easy solution everyone is searching. Why can't we use this technology for stationary sources? Wouldn't we still see benefits, even if we have to find some other technological improvement (or use ones we currently know about) to reduce emissions from planes, trains & automobiles?
Anyone have any thoughts on the accuracy of the stats in this article? I'm especially interested in the comparison between the Cato Institute's claim that "it takes the equivalent of seven barrels of oil to produce eight barrels of corn-derived ethanol" and the Argonne National Laboratory's finding that "for each unit of energy to grow, process & transport corn ethanol, it yields 1.35 units of energy." Seems to be a bit of a disparity there...
Read this opinion piece from the Boston Herald - not sure what I think about it. I guess that nuclear does pose fewer problems than increased reliance on fossil fuels, but I always come back to one question: what are we going to do with all the waste? This article doesn't even address the question of nuclear waste... which I think is pointed, since she's trying to get more people to support nuclear as a better option. All the same, though, the waste issue must be dealt with, especially using an environmental justice frame, if I am to become a supporter.
The article below was recently sent to a Green Party list. Admittedly, the prospect of being able to drive a car around town that takes only tiny nips at fuel is an appealing thought. On the other hand, this is clear evidence of many people's, even those you would think would know better, fasination with technological fixes for the energy "crisis."
The technology enabling the 8000 mpg car is nothing too surprising taking advantage of incremental improvements in engine, material, and aerodynamic design. The near-term direct applicability of any of this to the passenger auto market is going to be near zero, though. The conditions of the competition should be a clue where the vehicles are required to maintain a minimum average speed of 15 mph over 5 or 10 miles.
This isn't to say that events like TeamGreen do not have value. They offer exciting arenas to push the envelope with engineering creativity and technology. It is a concern, however, if the general public expects this same level of technology to be available to fix the problems with global warming, energy availability, and other miscellaneous environmental and social impacts. Disproportionate focus and obsession with technical novelties can be a dangerous distraction from real solutions.
BRITISH INVENTOR UNVEILS 8000 MPG CAR
By Julie Farby
May 12, 2006
LONDON, ENGLAND - A British inventor unveils the world's most fuel-efficient vehicle, a three-wheel ³TeamGreen² car capable of doing 8,000 miles to the gallon.
The 45-year-old inventor, Andy Green, from the University of Bath, built his budget eco-motor for just £2,000, and will be the sole British contenderfor the title of the world's most fuel-economic car in a global competition being held later this month.
It has taken Mr. Green more than two years to design and build the car, which will be the fourth eco-vehicle he has built. He holds the British record for fuel-efficiency, with 6,603 miles to the gallon in a previous car.
I finally took the time to sit down and read the 3 April, 2006 issue of Time magazine with the polar bear on the cover. The cover reads: "Be Worried. Be Very Worried." It didn't worry me too much - although it does answer the question of how long China will take to eclipse the United States in GHG emissions under a business as usual future.
Nothing novel really - India and China are going to be dumping more and more carbon into the atmosphere as they more or less follow the Western model. Time did consistently point out that the bigger problem continues to be the developed countries - specifically the United States.
They profile a number of innovators and movers in the field. Some are trying novel forms of gasification and others encouraging farmers to stop tilling and thereby sequester 3/4 ton carbon per acre.
Jim Rogers is the CEO of Cinergy and is now acting to prepare his company for a future of carbon regulation. He is worried about Cinergy's profits in the future if they don't prepare now.
The most interesting article has to the snippet called "The Greening of Wal-Mart." Apparently, the Wal-Mart in McKinney, Texas is an experimental supercenter looking at sustainability issues and featuring a 120 ft wind turbine.
Importantly, the wind turbine is a very small part of Wal-Mart's focus. CEO Lee Scott is apparently going to cut GHG emissions by 20% over "the next few years" and will be building stores that are considerably more efficient.
Wal-Mart's trucking fleet will apparently double its fuel efficiency by aerodynamics modifications and low friction tires (by 2015). That's 7000 trucks.
Much like they have leaned on suppliers to cut costs in the past, Wal-Mart will now also demand they cut emissions from factories. Similarly, they are rewarding those who use more efficient packaging.
Energista is alive. Like a newborn, it is quite useless. We'll see where it goes from here.