Kyoto – A Perspective (Part 34)

Posted on Sat 06/07/2008 by



Right at the start of this series, I was debating with myself whether or not to even start at all. The problem I had was this.
I come from a background of electrical engineering as an electrical trades technician in the Air Force. Over two years, I completed around forty intensely theoretical and practical subjects to learn the electrical trade, and to qualify to work as an electrician.
If something like this is a difficult thing to actually learn and understand, then trying to explain it in simple terms is even more difficult, and the actual hard part is trying to keep it interesting and able to be understood at all.
It’s a little like an adult asking a ten year old where milk comes from. The ten year old replies that everybody knows that milk come from the refrigerator.
The same applies with electricity, because it has actually got to that stage now.
Ask the ten year old where electricity comes from, and he or she replies that it comes out of the hole in the wall.
It’s like milk. It’s such a staple of life that we take it for granted.
Behind it however are complexities that are not easily understood. It’s like water. Turn on the tap and there it is. Flick the switch and there the electricity is. The light comes on, the item starts to work. Without it, life effectively stops.

The task I set myself was to try (and I repeat try) to make it interesting, and in trying to achieve that, to open up the significance of the implications of what the Kyoto protocol means. I don’t want to pour cold water on it. I just want to make people aware of just what it could lead to. This is not a case of radical people proposing this to stop you living your life with the comfort that we now all take completely for granted. This is an unintentional by product that they have not taken into account, and when the situation is brought to their attention, they sanguinely believe that something will turn up so that life as we know it now will just go on as usual. They believe that, not because they know it as fact, but that they have no comprehension of the technical side of what is behind the production of electricity. They seem to think that, hey presto, we can replace methods of the generation of electrical power like replacing milk with water, you just pour the water instead of the milk. However, it’s just not that easy at all, and that’s what these strident environmentalists think. They look at the Sun and feel the breeze on their faces, and think of those two things as boundless, unending, and free sources of electrical power that will immediately be substituted for coal fired power plants, along the lines on going to bed at night with the coal fired power plants supplying power, and then waking up the next morning with these renewable sources now supplying all electrical power.

When engineers try to explain what the result could actually be, those environmentalists then say that this is all doom and gloom on the part of those trying to explain that, without realising that they themselves preach their own version of doom and gloom, and without knowledge of just how difficult it actually is, they just say that we are stalling for our own petty interests.

I understand the concept is difficult to comprehend, but rational explanation can’t stand up to loud and ranting demonstrations saying that we need to implement something that will unintentionally decrease our quality of life. Just by saying decreasing our quality of life like that makes it sound like something that is akin to going without a luxury. Surely we can do things a little tough for a while. However, it’s nothing like that at all. No matter who you are, think about it. From the time you wake in the morning to the time you fall asleep at night, your whole day is governed by access to electricity.
You use it for lighting, for heating and cooling, for hot water so you can shower and wash. It keeps your food fresh. You use it for cooking. It entertains you. You work at a job that requires lighting for the building you work in, air supply for comfort inside that building. It is used in every facet of your life. Without it, your everyday life WOULD effectively cease. Then scale that up to the what the Kyoto Protocol demands. A reduction of 5% on 1990 levels, which is (conservatively) 30% less than what those levels are now.
I know I’ve said it often, but that’s a reduction of 15% of the total power generation for the whole of the US. That’s the equivalent of 45 million people going without electricity, spread across the whole country. It would necessitate the closing down of workplaces, whole towns and cities, households the lot. As I’ve also said before, this would lead to chaos, and even if it is worst case scenario, that is the fact of it.

Now, in just thinking about actually making conclusions, for me, it’s a bit of a futile thing.
Al Gore can stand there and espouse his version of doom and gloom, and make no recommendations other than to say that we have to do something and to start now. Al Gore is Al Gore. People look at him and listen, and encourage him, and give him money and awards, and say knowingly to each other how right on the mark he is, and how rationally he explains it all.
I am an absolute nobody from nowhere and no one will give a hoot what I say, because I have no ‘profile’.
So, why then actually even try and make conclusions. Just think to myself that yes, I have actually shown some readers an insight into the methods of producing electricity. Let those people who have a profile just leave it with the bland statement ‘yes, we have to do something.’

No, I’m not like that. I’m actually going to point out just what is being done right now, what might be some options that we can follow through on, and just how to go about doing it. You’ll also see how some people might not want to actually see it happen at all, and just why.
You’re going to see facts and figures, statistics, things that might seem to be in the realms of science fiction, and probably even some things you might not like to see.
My task again, is to make it interesting, to try and make it understandable.

Above all, you’re going to see one important thing that will stand right out.
The enormous cost of all this.

Environmentalists will only say the obvious, that there’s always someone who wants to make a (very big) buck out of it all, but if something has to be done as they demand, then we, as the people who ask for it, well, we have to be aware that it will cost us, and that it will not be a small cost.

I could just be like those others and say the one liner.
“Things are bad, and we need to do something.”

I’m going to make conclusions, and I’m going to do it in detail, but no one’s looking at a nobody like me.