Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Good News For The Planet

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 15, 2009

One reason global emissions have gone up over the past decade is because even as other industrialized nations have pared back their pollution, China’s explosive industrial growth has dramatically increased its output of emissions. The global recession is cutting industrial activity and also emissions. In addition, China is working very hard to get off coal and onto wind — in three years it’s gone from have a thousandth of its electricity coming from wind, to 1.3 percent, a tenfold leap. It’s planning to step up the pace as well.

6 Responses to “Good News For The Planet”

  1. Charles II said

    It’s good news that they’ve made this commitment. The most important things for China are to (a) stop burning dung, which is horribly polluting, and (b) limit dependence on coal.

    One problem is that with their rapid development and the consequent rise in total electrical demand, it’s easiest from a bureaucratic standpoint to add capacity through coal plants. Another is that the capacity of wind plants is limited. In the long run, solar is probably the way to go, especially the parabolic collectors. Though the silicon-based collectors are good for areas that don’t have good transmission lines and are not ideal for wind.

  2. The main problem I see with solar as the main power source for the future is having to give up thousands of square miles of land as effectively as if we’ve paved them over. Wind towers at least allow the land beneath them to be open prairie. (Then again, if we could install weather-resistant solar PV strips on the shoulders of our highways, that would be very helpful and could likely forestall the need to take up unpaved land. Particularly if the strips were made of this material, which heals any tears in itself when exposed to UV rays.)

  3. Charles II said

    Actually, I wonder whether thin film solar over desert regions might not help to cool them enough to attract rainfall and vegetation. Especially if we could use the UV region efficiently while leaving intact the blue-violet and orange-red that photosythesis uses, it could be very positive for desert life.

  4. That might be a way to combat the effects of global warming (which tends to lead to desertification as the Aussies can tell us). We’ll definitely need to do something to combat the introduction of excess CO2 into the atmosphere — scrubbing it out isn’t yet possible on a mass scale save by encouraging the growth of vegetation.

  5. Charles II said

    Yes. The key to understanding the right way to go about dealing with global warming begins, I believe, in what are called the Onsager relations. The example given in the link is that when there is a hot spot, heat flows in the opposite direction as pressure.

    This obviously has a lot to do with weather. But it also tells us that the ideal place to extract energy (and convert it into work) from a planet that is overheating is where it is hottest. It’s not obvious where to site solar energy panels. Some of the greatest installations have been in Germany, hardly a hot spot. The Onsager relations caution us that that may exacerbate the problems caused by global warming (even though it makes economic or political sense).

    This is all very abstract. It may be politically infeasible or just meteorologically wrong. But it’s the simplest guiding principal that I can see to suggest where and what we should build.

    One idea for CO2 removal which seemed eminently workable to me was presented by Apache, if I recall. The idea was to bubble stack effluent from coal plants through algae farms. One could presumably convert the algae into biodiesel and use the refining process to remove heavy metals and other crap from coal.

  6. Bubble stacking would have the potential for being a twofer, as much of the crap being removed could be used in electronics and other areas, thus removing the need for mining the earth to get at it.

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