KYOTO. A PERSPECTIVE. PART 3.
In the last piece we looked at how clever marketing is being used to make something look palatable, when in actual fact it’s not really that at all.
Picture in your own mind the image of how these emissions are being portrayed.
Huge chimney stacks belching foul smoke into the pristine air. Eight lanes of freeway choked bumper to bumper with cars shimmering in the exhaust heat haze. See the marketing point there. It’s aimed squarely at the US, and it’s aimed to embarrass you. People get embarrassed, and without checking for themselves believe the spin, and then actively protest, saying what a good thing this Kyoto protocol really is, because it’s there to protect the environment.
I mean. Here’s the impression. The stock image is of every family in the US having a huge gas guzzling V8 powered SUV as their primary car, and a second car, also probably a gas guzzler to take the other family member to work. The only time these vehicles ever stop is to fill up with carbon based fossil fuel derivatives, and the by product is thousands of tons of Carbon released into the pristine atmosphere. On top of that, every US family lives in huge houses. Well, they have to be to contain every electrical item conceivably known to man, washing machines and dryers, dishwashers, air conditioning in Summer, heating in Winter, Plasmas, DVD’s Computers, Televisions and videos in every room. Huge sound systems, and on it goes. Then you all work in huge air conditioned buildings. The abiding image is of Americans deliberately destroying the Planet we live on to show the rest of the World that they don’t really care.
On the contrary, I might go so far as to say that per capita head, Americans would be more aware of the Environment, and do more in support of the environment than most people in those other 175 countries.
So then, why is it just so puzzling, The Americans are not deliberately destroying the environment, so where are all those emissions coming from.
The vast bulk of carbon dioxide greenhouse gas comes from coal fired electrical power generating plants. Coal is burned to heat water to turn it into high pressure steam to drive huge turbines that drive huge generators that produce electric power. Why coal? Because it is so cheap and so readily available, so easy to dig out of the ground and can then be used without processing. Those power plants are quicker to bring on line, because there are so many of them that the technology to build them is easier than for other methods. They are cheaper to construct, and the technology is already proven.
Right about now, I can see some of you thinking with furrowed brows.
Wait a minute.
It’s not that we are going about, purposely trying to destroy the environment. It’s a by product of civilisation, and in fact a by product of every day life. Every house in the US has electricity provided to it. Every building, every skyscraper, every workplace, every building. So, that’s 300 million consumers, all needing electricity, which in your Country, the US, as in virtually all Western World Countries, is a staple of life, now ranking similarly to water. It’s always there, so much so that if you think about it, we really take do it for granted. Try living without it for an hour or so, let alone a day, a week. Life would effectively stop. Nothing could get done. Think of the chaos a few years back when vast areas were blacked out for long periods of time, when some power plants went down for servicing, and the others taking up the slack crashed when there was faults with the wiring, and automatic sensors tripped off other plants. The demand became so high those plants struggling to take up that slack failed causing a cascading effect. The problem with something like that is that it goes down immediately, and suddenly, but to get back on line takes a huge time because it must be done slowly, and in a sequence. What happens? Chaos. Because nothing CAN happen. No work, gridlock. You all remember.
So right about now, I can now see those furrows in the brows deepening even more so.
Wait a minute.
What was it you said that wanted us to do?
Cut back emission of greenhouse gases to 5% less than 1990 levels. The bulk of those greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, and the largest producers are coal fired electrical power generators. The US emissions have increased approximately 20% since 1990 and they want 5% less than that, so that’s a reduction of 25%. So that’s one quarter of those coal fired electrical power generators taken off the grid.
The first thing you’ll say is this.
Well, Tony, that’s a pretty big simplification, and it may be, because the 25% is an overall figure for all greenhouse gases, so there’s a suite of things that will go towards making up that 25% reduction on today’s figures, you know things like driving tiny cars with 50 MPG, closing down some of those inefficient manufacturing plants that do belch pollution, but the vast bulk will be those power stations. Electric power is not something that there is huge overkill with, and taking one quarter of those plants out of the system will cause massive problems. Maybe, just maybe, the other plants could take up the slack, but that would be the wildest pipe dream imaginable. It just cannot be done.
There will be people out there who will say the obvious. Take up the slack with renewables, Solar, wind, wave, geothermal, nuclear, clean coal, and in following pieces I’ll deal with just that in some detail, but all I’ll say now is that this is a pipe dream also. It can be done, but not for another 30 to 40 years and I’ll explain that as well. People will say that we need to do this NOW, and that I’m being too pessimistic. Those who do say that have no concept of how difficult it is to get these renewables up and running.
Go back a couple of lines and see how many alternatives I named. Six of them. One of those, nuclear is already up and running but really, only on a limited basis compared to coal fired plants, but the other 5 are difficult to bring on stream in the immediate foreseeable future, and three of those, wave, geothermal, and clean coal are still only at the theoretical stage. Barely off the drawing board, if at all. So when all those green environmentalists rush around like chooks with their heads cut off spouting that we need renewables now, don’t get caught up in the fervour, because any electrical engineer will tell you, it’s not something that can be done in a short time. Also, they look at that big yellow ball in the daytime sky and say there it is free power from the Sun for all, forever. There is no such thing, and again, I’ll explain why.
However in closing for this installment, I want you to think about these last two things that I have deliberately left till last for effect.
1. Remember I mentioned how the US needs to go back to 1990 levels, and that you have increased 20% since then plus the 5% less figure, adding up to a total of 25% or one quarter.
Who gets to select the one quarter of the US population that will have to do without electricity, and just what would the cost be with regard to that.
2. Read this last paragraph slowly and then read it again. Remember I mentioned China as one country not subject to the Protocol. China is currently bringing their people into the Twentieth Century (NO. Not this one yet) and getting around to supplying SOME of their vast population with what we take for granted. Electricity. To that end they have to build Power Plants. Coal fired plants are the most readily built and to bring on line. So China is bringing on line (slowly now) One huge coal fired power plant per week, have been doing so for the last couple of years, and will be doing so for the next number of years. No figure was given but between ten and fifteen years is the conservative figure. That’s one per week for 15 years.