A few months ago my wife and I were camping on the shores of a lovely lake in the Sierras Mountains.
It was just two hours drive from home. We fell in love with it last year when we, reluctantly, decided not to drive long distance to see one of my sons and his family in Idaho and later camp in our favorite place in Teton National Park. It was difficult to say goodbye to the visits to the family and Teton but we emitted so much CO2 on our way that we had to do it, at least for now.
It is so hard to grasp the essence of global warming. It is natural to reject the idea that our beautiful world is changing rapidly and for the worse. The very thought that the stable climate that gives us brisk mornings, beautiful sunsets, green, majestic trees, stable weather and food, is leaving us high and dry, is unacceptable. Even people, who agree that the globe is warming, and that it is human driven, do not fully, internalize this danger. It is simply too much for us. We can not accept it; we are just human after all.
Continuation from yesterday:
Example 4: STATE GOVERNMENT - SATISFY THE BOSS, not state needs
As part of my UCLA doctorate requirement, I developed on my own time a master plan for developing commercial wind energy in California. This was the first comprehensive wind energy plan anywhere and most wind energy developments in the world are following essentially this plan. There is nothing magical about it, it is simply a logical, professional plan similar to the many plans I have developed in the considerably more complex electronic field. When I was a manager of the Wind Energy Program for the California Energy Commission (CEC) I directed our entire budget to accomplish the crucial first phase of this plan -to ascertain that wind power can be economically viable. Many people, even the US Energy Dept, wanted wind energy, but no one tried to measure its viability on a large scale before. When we finally proved over a number of years of field measurements in several locations across the state that wind energy could be a highly successful commercial power, I proposed that the electrical utilities in California would develop commercial wind farms. However, most of the staff and management disliked the utilities, and instead pushed the Legislature to give substantial financial incentives to any private company entering the field. No capabilities, minimal restraints were imposed to get such a large state support. Most of the operators were not technically qualified and the corporations they formed were organized to milk the maximum amount of profit with minimal government oversight. This resulted in large waste of state money and many failed companies. The owners made a lot of money but infrequently produced sufficient electricity to justify state support.
The result was that after the state incentives expired, wind energy nearly died in California, and a quarter century later it is still essentially insignificant, while globally, and especially in Western Europe, wind has become a significant, professionally run, clean energy supply.
If the financial support had been given to the utilities instead, which have been supervised tightly by the Public Utility Commission, the utilities could have developed efficient large wind systems. It would be economically beneficial to the utilities to generate low cost electricity and they had the capabilities to develop and run them professionally.
Many of the staff who pushed to provide this financial incentive to private companies left CEC and started their own wind energy companies. How many of them pushed for private ownership to benefit themselves I can not say, but conflict of interest can be suspected.
Conclusion: Narrow, emotional views combined with self interest essentially destroyed the potentially large amount of wind energy California could have enjoyed for many years.
Example 5. SOCIAL ACTIVISM - FULL OF SELF INTEREST
This was a great disappointed to me since I assumed that most people leading social activism would be dedicated to the causes beyond self gratification, but it was not the case:
During the nuclear weapon escalation period of the 80's, I directed Target Congress, a nine year national grassroots lobbying effort to pressure swing (potential converts) congresspersons in several states to vote against nuclear weapons. Our Board included Dr. Benjamin Spock, Rear Admiral Eugene Carroll, several leaders of Physicians for Social Responsibility, actor Mike Farrell, the Mayor of Sacramento and more.
We were working full time with minimal income, coordinating our effort with national peace organizations, doing our work in the background and giving them added membership and fame. I personally talked with thousands of people while organizing active branches in New Jersey, California, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and supporting effort in other states. We worked with the leadership of Common Cause, SANE, the Freeze, and several more national organizations and I met with most national leaders of the nuclear disarmament movement, and several Congresspersons and their staff.
Across the spectrum, our exposure to the nuclear disarmament movement left a bad taste in my mouth. The individual egos, and desire for power of many leaders of that movement were very negative issues for most organizations. The smaller the individual power, the better the leaders performed. The most dedicated people were those at the bottom who did it for religious reasons or deep social belief.
I must emphasize that the problem of self interest is more pronounced at higher levels. At many organizations most people at lower levels were eager to follow sensible directions and often would go beyond the call of duty to contribute to our national wellbeing. But poor leaders frequently fail them
A friend of mine, reviewing this paper, suggested that I also discuss the fallacy of "clean coal".
He said: "I think you should add one more story: the blatant disregard for the truth by the coal industry, proclaiming that there is such a thing as clean coal. This proclamation has been supported by members of Congress because it may create or save jobs in their districts. It just isn't true:...there is no such thing as clean coal."
I agree, it will take at least a decade to find out about the possible viability of CCS , carbon capture and storage. But I will comment about it elsewhere.
In all organizations I have worked, in most projects I participated in, the ego of many participants minimized significantly the ability to solve problems, and to achieve the desired goals.
This national self-interest sickness, as I call it, is damaging the nation and causing untold suffering since immense resources are wasted needlessly. And we do not have spare funds, our national debt is immense.
In the past this excessive self interest might not have caused as much suffering as now because the amount and magnitude of our problems have increased much faster than the opportunities and resources to solve them.
We should not tolerate this national problem but it requires a change of culture. How do you do that?
As a minimum we need to be well aware of this reality and not ignore it.
This paper was long enough, took a lot of my time, and it is beyond the scope to suggest alternatives.
The short video below by PM Brown of the UK is worth seeing and grasping. We have little time for action to reduce the more serious impacts of GW. Up to now we have been talking a lot, but no real cutting of GHG has been done. So many promisses, so little actions.
Once the damage from unchecked emissions growth is done, no retrospective global agreement, in some future period, can undo that choice
Gordon Brown, P.M., UK
from the BBC:
Toyota announced recently that it will come up with plug-in electric cars that will have short mileage, just 10 miles per electric charge. Other car makers are talking about up to 40 miles per charge. Let's look at some of the issues involve and also ask some questions about the appeal of electric cars.
The key problem with plug-ins is their batteries must have huge energy capacity. Batteries do not have high energy density per unit weight, and will have to be very large and heavy to supply the energy needed for longer trips. Also, batteries can be discharged to just one third to one half of their capacity to have a reasonable life. That is, if you discharge the battery too deeply, the life of the battery deteriorates rapidly and this huge investment must be replaced frequently at very high cost.
You simply can not afford it. And this is the reason why Toyota was against self modification of their Prius to plug-in. Toyota can not afford to replace the batteries under this condition. It will cut their 100,000 miles life expectancy, and warranty, by probably three to one, depending on use profile.
There is something more important than the mileage issue here: what is the energy life cycle cost of these cars? Why are we attempting to replace gasoline driven cars by electricity driven cars? We assume that the electric cars will cause considerably less greenhouse gases that the oil driven cars. Hopefully that is the case, but we are not looking at the total picture.
We must be focused because we do not have time to spare. Because of the time-criticality of global warming we need to focus on the best techniques to reduce the maximum amount of greenhouse gases at the fastest rate. Nationally I would concentrate on efforts to replace the largest number of gas guzzlers by low gas consuming cars at the shortest time possible. Most of the public would not buy plug-ins for many years, until they have improved by a significant amount and proven themselves.
We need, however, to tax GHG- producing fossil fuels soon to change the buying habits of the public. We should increase the price of gasoline to levels approaching Europe, and start with a minimum of five dollar a gallon. In conjunction with this we need to compensate low income people along the way to reduce their economic pain during this necessary transition to low fossil fuels use.
We should continue to develop electric cars, but don't look at it more than an R&D effort for years to come. Battery technology is the limiting factor because, it is hard to replace gasoline since it contains considerable amount of energy in a very small volume. We need to cut our driving and not expect that by the magic of electricity we could continue our wasteful way of life, in my opinion. Please note that half of US electricity would continued to come from coal power plants, and PV solar panels can contribute just a miniscule amount of energy to the total national use. PV is window dressing and is not likely to generate much electricity until its price drops to one tenth of present level, according to Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu.
A word on the very important aspect of public transportation. This is an essential part of the reduction of our national dependence on private cars and all the negatives associated with it. I will only say here that we must enhance public transportation in a cost-effective way that benefits the largest number of potential riders. The desire for light rails and high speed trains is misdirected in many cases. Less dramatic and less "exciting" solutions, such as city busses, are often more useful to the community.
And what is the energy life cycle cost of these cars? It may be high. I attempted to find out but could not since Toyota refused to provide this information even under court orders to do so in both the U.K. and New Zeeland, according to what seems reliable internet information. Toyota agreed to reduce their green claims rather than answer the courts.
The batteries are high energy users, they are very costly since they use rare materials, (disposal problems?), are very complex to make, and it is also hard to achieve high safety levels with these complex batteries.
In summary, to find the real story we need to dig below the superficial level we normally approach most problems in the US.
Global Warming is unlike any other issue because we have
no previous human experience of this magnitude and it is
natural to minimize its significance.
To paraphrase Neil Bohr, if Global Warming has not shaken you up yet, you probably haven't understood it.
We must turn upside down our approach to fighting Global Warming because time is of the essence:
Instead of regulating Greenhouse Gases to a level that may have no negative economic impact, we must reduce GHG to the maximum that could be technically and economically implementable.
Some Key Points
1. Most scientific reports tells us that the current impacts of global temperature rise are worse than estimated earlier, that we are not sure how fast the temperature will rise, and do not know what is the maximum level of GHG nature can tolerate before a catastrophic tipping point could start. Therefore, we must set the tightest limits on global and national GHG levels that we are able to.
2. Early cuts of GHG have considerably more critical impacts than later reductions.
3. Most proposed cuts in GHG are based on the UN-IPCC, AR4 report. However, we can not rely on it to set limits to GHG emissions since it was politically constrained, ignored potential catastrophic events, and some of its negative predictions have already been exceeded. We now have more relevant data and more insight.
4. GHG level is already too high thus increasing global temperatures and damaging global Climate. We are not sure at what level we must stabilize GHG to prevent even more severe harm to the world population because the complexity of global climate is beyond our actual knowledge. Modeling is approximation. If we err, we must err on the safe side.
5. The natural self interest of most people distorts their ability to cooperate and follow the need of the larger society. Therefore, there is considerable uncertainty how the laws enacted will effect the actual GHG emissions in the US. And we are one the most law-abiding nations.
6. The self interest of nations and desire for power of the influentials could severely distort the compliance with global GHG regulations. Think of the oil exporting nations, as a minimum.
7. Tipping points: There is some low, but not insignificant, probability that increased levels of GHG could trigger catastrophic, massive, uncontrolled releases of GHG that could cause significant increase in global temperatures. That possible temperature increase, beyond 10 C or even 20 C degrees, could cause severe, unmitigated damage to the global climate that could render our Earth essentially uninhabitable.
8. Regarding the risk of Tipping Points - the catastrophic release of stored GHG. Because this is the only home humanity has, we can not take the RISK of destroying our climate. RISK is the probability times the magnitude of the event. Even with low probability, the enormous magnitude of the potential damage to our globe by catastrophic release of GHG makes the risk massive and unacceptable. Therefore, we must dedicate a high percentage of our global resources to reduce GHG as fast as possible and the largest reduction possible.
9. Humanity has never encountered a danger to its existence of this level before. We can not truly grasp the seriousness of GW. Even with all the high levels of scientific and technical powers we have, we are unprepared. We do not know what we do not know or understand.
10. We still operate by "we vs. them" laws. This simply can not work. We are all in the same boat. National and Global cooperation beyond any previous level is mandatory. We depend on one another, especially the US and China.
11. We, the US, will have to "give" more than other nations. We took the "most" to date. US is 4.5% of global population, occupying 1.9% of Earth surfaces, and emitted to date 30% of all GHG.
12. We have to be more honest and forward in our international dealing re. GW or we will not get the crucial cooperation required. We would not be able to cover up superficial regulations and minimal actions by public relation bluff, so common in our culture and in Congress. Foreign governments are not likely to buy into that kind of thinking that much of our own public does.
13. The complexity of global climate, the significant gaps in our knowledge, the uncertainty of GHG laws, their compliance, their possible impacts, global cooperation required, and potential high risk to our survival, put us in a dangerous territory. We do not know what the results of all GHG curtailment laws and effort would achieve. Therefore, we can not use the usual American approach: "don't worry, everything will turn up right in the end." We must aim towards minimizing global human suffering and maximizing the chance for human survival.
14. The initial GHG reductions that we should take now must be decisive, based on proven technologies and real knowledge, not experimental or unproven; that may or may not work, such as Carbon Capture and Storage. We can not take the risks of unproven technologies since the C02 that we did not cut will remain in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. After we accomplish significant GHG reductions, then we can bring proven new approaches on line too.
15. "We will pay for this one way or another. We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today, and we'll have to take an economic hit of some kind. Or we will pay the price later in military terms. And that will involve human lives." GEN. ANTHONY ZINNI, former head Central Command.
16. To paraphrase Jean Monnet: Global Warming can not be reduced without efforts that are proportionate to the danger which GW threatens humanity.
WE MUST CURTAIL GHG TO THE MAXIMUM LEVEL WE CAN POSSIBLY MANAGE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Dr. of Environmental Science, M.S. Electrical Engineering.
My brief free-style selective notes of Dr. Holdren presentation from the Web video of the MIT Energy conference 4/13/09, (All dimensions are metric)
Present, Congressman Ed Markey, Chair of House select Comm. On Energy Independence and Global Warming.
Dr. Holdren comments:
All negative impacts of GW are rising at or above the rates predicted by IPCC
Tipping points could occur rather sooner than later
Increase rise in desertification, more intense fires and timber loss
Increase ocean temperature
Business as usual: 2degrees C rise by 2050 and 3 C degrees by 2100
Arctic ice disappears faster than expected.
One to 2 meter rise in sea level in a century
Permafrost degradation increasing
More acidification of the oceans
GHG 515 ppm by 2065
We have three avenues:
1. Mitigation, reduce GHG,
3. Suffering, when the two above fail
There is no possible way that we can mitigate GW. We have to adapt, GW is here, now.
Adaptation becomes more difficult and costly with time
If we stabilize GHG at 500 ppm there is a 50% chance that we may stay below 3 degrees rise, and unlikely to avoid unknown critical events
At 450 ppm, we have a 50% chance of staying below 2 C degrees. A much more prudent approach but not guaranteed.
We need for US and other industrial countries to level off GHG by 2015 and reduce to 80% BELOW 2000 levels by 2050
To be below 450 ppm CO2 equivalent the world need to reduce its release by some 7 to 9 billion tonnes below current levels. It is a reduction of 20-25 % of current emission level.
Examples how to reduce one billion tonnes:
1. Two Billion cars fleet at 60 mpg
2. CCS on 800 One GW size coal power plants
3. 700 new wind farms with one million, 1 MW wind machines each
4. 2000 one MW photovoltaic stations
5. Deforestation cut by one half
If By 2030 we will be still in business as usual mode, all the more economical approaches to reduce GHG will be gone.
First - Improve efficiency- the fruits on the ground, After that cost rise. All other avenues are more costly to do.
1. First remove barriers to conservation
2. Incentives to overcome resistance
Cap & Trade
3. Supporting R&D by $150 billions over 10 years for energy and environment
Q & A of Dr. Holdren:
Congressman Markey Q to Holdren:
We should do it similar to President Kennedy and The Moon mission.
In 1961 I was a freshmen at MIT and remember the period.
This is a more difficult effort, more than Apollo, more than Manhattan project. More complex and vast technology.
From 1970 to 2005 we cut our energy use per GDP by half
Must have CCS - many think it is sure to work - we must have low leak rate and capacity for immense amount of CO2.
We need cheaper PV cells, cheap as paint.
Nuclear energy should be used.
Fusion is always 40 years away.
Many different technologies and approaches should be used to reduce global warming. Here I am talking almost exclusively on nuclear power. (For opposing views see at end)
We have to plan our electrical power needs realistically and devoid of emotionalism. We oppose nuclear power stations mostly because of our misplaced fear. Public misperception is the biggest hindrance to generating electricity by nuclear power, and misunderstanding impacts also many energy professionals. Environmental groups contribute to the problem.
I have been on both sides of this issue for decades. As an electrical engineer for 20 years I supported nuclear power. But I started to oppose it during my doctoral studies of Environmental Science at UCLA. Afterwards, when I was the manager of the Solar and Wind Energy programs at the California Energy Commission I continued to oppose nuclear power and worked very hard to advanced alternative energies. I continued to oppose nuclear power until the last few years because of all the concerns surrounding it. I was mistaken; I did not see the total story.
It took me a long struggle to realize that I was mistaken to oppose nuclear power. I saw only its potential negatives, I did not study the full global energy picture. I was also overoptimistic about the speed of adoption of energy efficiency and alternative energies. And most important, I mistakenly believed that Global Warming was a future event that would not impact global climate for several generations. Like many environmentalists I thought we had time to do things according to our dreams without pain: develop alternative energies, incorporate conservation and energy efficiency, take time to minimize our fossil fuels use, eliminate nuclear power. I also did not anticipate the explosion of energy demand in the developing world. I, like many, read about these problems but did not want to accept the full global reality.
GW is the overwhelming primary issue of our time, and it is time critical. It is now very clear that GW is already here, is causing unstable weather globally with much damage, and will increase its ravage of many areas of our globe. The final report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was quite specific about the coming increased damage to our global climate and the pending severe impacts on most nations, including the US. But that IPCC report was subdued to satisfy political demand of several large emitting countries. In the last two years after the IPCC report evidence is abound that the most extreme predictions of their report were already exceeded. We have a very limited time frame to make very drastic reductions in the emissions of the total GHG. We must look at the global energy picture to grasp the increased need for nuclear power, despite its limitations.
The most significant advantage of nuclear power is the potential to reduce carbon emissions: "A threefold expansion of [global] nuclear power could contribute significantly to staving off climate change by avoiding one billion to two billion tons of carbon emissions annually" (MIT panel). Twenty percent of the US electricity is produced by nuclear power. The accumulated saving of global warming gases over the last quarter century by this nuclear power is 20 billions tons!
No other technology that is viable currently has the potential to reduce GW gases so significantly in the same time frame. We do not have the time to wait in order to avoid some of the most damaging aspects of advancing GW!
The most serious limitation to nuclear power expansion is negative public perception. The public fear of nuclear power is misplaced. Safety record of the 104 nuclear power stations in the US is very high. In addition, improved design of nuclear power stations and strict government supervision can reduce markedly all limitations:
The main limitations and mitigations are listed below:
1. Danger of nuclear radiation from plant accident:
The only significant nuclear accidents have been the Three Miles Island in the US, which did not emit any nuclear material, and the Chernobyl in the previous USSR. The damage from Chernobyl was on a large scale, it was due mainly to lack of a containment building above the nuclear plant which is mandatory on all nuclear power stations in the West.
New fail-safe system to power down runaway reactor is superior to existing safety measures and does not require external machinery.
Also control technology has advanced markedly in the last thirty years with the advance in electronics, and will increase the safety margin of new plants. We can easily have redundancy of necessary controls which were not practical in the past. In addition new nuclear plants can be placed far from population centers and use high voltage DC lines to transfer the power with low losses.
2. Concerns about inadequate nuclear waste disposal:
Although we still do not have a final solution to nuclear waste storage, all the commercial nuclear waste is stored safely at each nuclear station site. It occupies extremely small space and operated safely for the last fifty years. In addition, a new technology has been proposed that extract many times the energy from the nuclear material thus reducing the quantity of waste by a major factor.
3. Fear of nuclear weapon proliferation:
Nuclear weapon proliferation is not effected by increased use of nuclear power in the US. Three quarter of the nuclear plants are operating outside of the US. Other nations have been developing nuclear power for many years, if we want it or not. If we work with them on global safety rules we will reduce the total danger more than if we stay on the side.
4. Impact of terrorism:
New underground design reduces the potential for terrorist attack on nuclear installation. Heavier steel reinforced concrete over all critical plant equipment will increase safety. Private security companies are inadequate, or worse. We should use National Guard to protect our national energy centers to decrease national vulnerability.
There are 440 nuclear power stations globally, 104 in the US. Nuclear power now supplies 16% of global electric energy thus reducing markedly CO2 emissions. Global nuclear power continues to expand, a fact beyond U.S. control; eighteen of the 27 nuclear power plants now under construction are in Asia. The US can not dictate how much nuclear power will spread around the world, but if we cooperate with global nuclear power development, and help create global safety standards, we will increase the global safety and most importantly, help reduce GW progress.
Here are some additional realities to consider:
1. Steady - human controlled base power is mandatory. It should be over 50% of the power mix, and is currently supplied by coal, natural gas, nuclear and large hydro. We must drastically reduce GW gases from fossil fuels by nuclear power and other avenues. Our hydro power is in danger; GW is expected to increase weather extremities, therefore reduce the availability of our hydro power in some locations, may be increasing it some other places. We do not know, but we do know it will change with time as GW intensifies. We should concentrate first on reducing our energy demands. In addition alternative energies should be incorporated into the power mix according to their effectiveness and ability to reduce GW. They are inherently limited by nature, for example: sun is only at daytime, wind is not steady. Alternative energies can not provide reliable base power. Corn Ethanol is not environmentally desirable. It will take time to develop and install practical technology for mass use of biomass.
2. R&D on CCS, Carbon Capture and Storage, especially from coal should accelerate but it may take decades to prove and incorporate. Also this technology may be unreliable, and take immense storage space. It will also be hard to control its leakage because the storage would be widely distributed in uncontrolled underground spaces of various natures. If some CO2 later escape it can kills immediately a large number of people and if the escapes are large, could also cause critical acceleration of GW.
3. China is adding one to two Gigawatts size coal plants a week. We can not influence them to reduce their immense CO2 emission, now higher than the U.S., when we in the US are pushing rapid approval of coal power plants to bypass impending limitation on CO2 emissions and carbon tax.
4. The American public will continue to demand more electricity and would conserve only in face of extreme events or if it was dictated by strict conservation laws. Our population continues to increase too.
5. Nuclear power generates by far the least GW gases of all alternative energies except wind energy.
6. Large scale electrical power can not be supplied reliably and economically from small distributed sources, such as the "Solar photoelectric on every roof." fantasy of the California Governor and Legislature. Buyers of these small systems are amateurs and as such subjected to price manipulation and unprofessional installation and repairs. These systems produce very little electricity at the highest cost of all alternatives, and as much as thirty to one costlier than attic insulation, for example. Central solar-thermal plants show considerably more promise for daytime solar power. Centralized power sources are bought, installed and operated by professionals that have both financial and technical acumen and therefore can generate the most cost effective, reliable energy.
Note: Both the German public and government support solar photovoltaic systems and spent over a decade and $60 billon to spread it across the land. Despite this intense and long effort by the summer of 2009 just 0.3% of the country electricity came from this technology, less than a third of a percent. If it was spread across more sunny places in the US it might have produced around 0.5% (half a percent). At the same time some 50 new coal power plants were being added to the rest o the coal plants in Germany.
Germany have very little nuclear power, historically it is in love with its vast coal resources, just like the US.
7. Capital Cost of nuclear power is very high. Price is estimated be around $10,000 per installed kW with essentially current technology. Improved, next generation design may be different, we just don't know yet. Nuclear would be one of the technologies used to reduce GHG and the market place will have its say on this technology. However, government legal support and streamlining of the approval process should be available - but not any reduction of vigilance of the quality, safety and security considerations. The nuclear manufacturing industry, not power companies, has very dismal past with these issues and should be carefully monitored.
My Conclusion: Global warming is a significant and time-critical danger to humanity. Therefore
nuclear power should be available to replace many coal power plants (and retiring nuclear plants) in the coming years because it could reduce significantly generation of GW gases. We need any practical tool available!
I recommend substantial government support of nuclear R&D but no financial support beyond that.
Written originally November 27, 2007,
Updated, October 2009
To read opposing views: 2008 world nuclear industry status report: Global nuclear power, presented by the respected Bulleting of the Atomic Scientists click: http://www.thebulletin.org/node/4364
There is a very strong desire to "convert" deniers of global warming to supporters. Many believe that our political problems is that not enough people are against GW. I do not beleive so.
I firmly beleive that it is a waste of time and energy to attempt to influece deniers to become supporters, and that besides giving momentary personal satisfaction by this effort, it chieves nothing.
Scientific studies shows that people basically remain in their own comfort zones and do not change. In the case of GW it is quite understandable that many people ignore the accumulated scientific facts since the danger to our globe is high and it is easier to deny this very harsh reality. Most are not “bad” people, they are either fearful or unable to grasp the danger.
Even if they respond positively to your “education,” most drift back to their past position.
This was also proven in extensive field work on liberal issues. I spent nine years developing national grassroots pressure on Congress to reduce nuclear weapons. My staff and I spent thousands of hours talking to all kind of people. Only people who already were liberals and leaning in our direction, listened.
They listened but did not act, since most of the time knowledge does not lead to action.
The essential problem we are facing nationally is that despite the fact that millions of liberal people, including true blue environmentalists, are grasping that GW is dangerous to the global climate, they are doing nothing effective to impact the situation. They may feel good by reducing their energy use, they may talk/read a lot about the subject, they may be even active members of liberal/environmental organizations, but that has an insignificant impact on GW!
These good people do not create any noticeable pressure on their members of Congress, or support them when needed, and only Congress can make a national difference. Everything else is self-pleasing window dressing. The occasional preformatted emails some send are useless too.
So, I suggest that the time we spent should be directed to move people already with us to create pressure on their three Congress members.
To do it effectively is not simple, nor easy, but without effective grassroots pressure what Congress does on GW will be marginal at best.
As a test of the my new blog I would like to call your attention to a letter I just sent.
Chairman, California Energy Commission
1516 Ninth Street
Sacramento, CA. 95814-5512
October, 5, 2009
Dear Chairman Douglas,
As an environmental scientist I am for using alternative energies where they are practical and safe. I would like to bring to your attention a possible danger for the public in San Francisco from an undesirable approach to alternative energy.
I read that Mayor Newsom of San Francisco wants to install small wind generators on top of buildings across this lovely city. This is a very dangerous approach. CEC should look into it and alert other state agencies to investigate this situation.
When I led the pioneering Wind Energy program of the California Energy Commission, when we broke the barrier to commercializing wind energy, we carefully analyzed all options. It was very clear that wind turbines should be used in large wind farms away from population to be cost-effective and safe too.
Wind turbines should not be placed near population both for safety and practicality. First, wind strength is unpredictable, and can gusts to very high levels sometimes breaking blades. Think about the people of San Francisco on the streets below. In addition, so much more green energy can be “obtained” by conservation that cost maybe one tenth as much. That means we can do ten times as much for each available dollar.
Again, I am all for alternative energies. It is critical to reduce greenhouse gases as fast as possible, and conservation is the fastest way possible while providing many local jobs for the multitudes of unemployed. But we should not endanger the public in this process to the extent that this program may.
Dr. Matania Ginosar
Environmental Scientist and Electrical Engineer