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Power Earth Technology

Giant Snake-Shaped Generators Could Capture Wave Power 432

Posted by timothy
Roland Piquepaille writes "UK researchers have developed a prototype of a future giant rubber tube which could catch energy from sea waves. The device, dubbed Anaconda, uses 'long sea waves to excite bulge waves which travel along the wall of a submersed rubber tube. These are then converted into flows of water passing through a turbine to generate electricity.' So far, the experiments have been done with tubes with diameters of 0.25 and 0.5 meters. But if the experiments are successful, future full-scale Anaconda devices would be 200 meters long and 7 meters in diameter, and deployed in water depths of between 40 and 100 meters. An Anaconda would deliver an output power of 1MW (enough to power 2,000 houses). These devices would be deployed in groups of 20 or even more providing cheap electricity without harming our environment."
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Giant Snake-Shaped Generators Could Capture Wave Power

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  • by jeiler (1106393) <.go.bugger.off. .at. .gmail.com.> on Sunday July 06, 2008 @07:38PM (#24078795) Journal
    I didn't see anything in TFA, but one wonders if they've considered sediment buildup around the device. Do they have some way to keep sand/sediment from burying the machine?
  • It's about time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zappepcs (820751) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @07:40PM (#24078809) Journal

    I saw this yesterday, and using nature to generate energy is absolutely right. Think outside the paradigm, generate energy everywhere, use less of it everywhere... this is the solution, no single answer will work, it takes all efforts and answers. Anywhere the universe creates energy, we should be able to harness and use it. This is the grail, holy or not, energy for nothing.... or close to that.

  • by John Jorsett (171560) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @07:55PM (#24078915)
    These devices would be deployed in groups of 20 or even more providing cheap electricity without harming our environment."

    I think this underestimates the ability of someone, somewhere being able to find a problem with anything. Hydropower dams wild rivers. Windmills smack birds out of the air. Photovoltaics pave over entire deserts. Probably Anacondas will interfere with the lifecycle of some species or other. One day we'll realize that any energy system is going to have some ill effects and say, "Intercourse the penguins, I need to microwave my popcorn."
  • by nfk (570056) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @08:09PM (#24079023)
    Well, if the boat captain finds himself at 40 to 100 meters depth, he has other things to worry about.
  • Re:It's about time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anpheus (908711) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @08:31PM (#24079175)

    Yeah, uhm, listen. You moving around causes a slight drag on the moon. The incredibly minute change in distribution of the Earth's mass thanks to civilization has changed the orbit of the moon. Sending satellites and people into space has altered the rate of rotation of the Earth.

    And yet, she still moves and we're all ok.

    You've obviously never run the numbers on how many waves we'd have to stop, how much mass we'd have to move in order to affect the Earth or the Moon in a detrimental way.

  • by moosesocks (264553) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @08:32PM (#24079181) Homepage

    Windmills smack birds out of the air.

    To be fair, a glass-faced office building will kill far more birds than a windmill.

    The "smacking birds out of the air" is due to birds flying into the windmills as if they were a stationary object. The blades don't spin nearly fast enough to do any "smacking."

    Actually putting a number on the rate of bird deaths is somewhat controversial, as its fairly difficult to count them, given that it happens so infrequently.

  • by reporter (666905) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @08:43PM (#24079231) Homepage
    In the long run, the only readily available sources of energy are renewable sources: solar energy and terrestrial energy (e.g., wind and waves). Each person consumes a minimum amount of energy to live, and the aggregate amount consumed by the entire population cannot exceed some fraction of total renewable energy. The reason for the fraction is that no conversion process (for, say, transforming solar energy into electrical energy) is 100% efficient. (A while ago, some genius in the SlashDot forums gave an explicit number for the "fraction".)

    Right now, the sky-high price for oil is useful in reminding us that there are limits to our resources. If we do not make a conscientious effort to control population growth, then nature will impose a solution on us. That solution will be poverty and likely starvation. If you doubt what I say, consider the huge amounts of energy that is needed to grow and to transport food.

    Right now, I suspect that our population is unsustainably large due to the fact that we still have plentiful supplies of non-renewable sources (e.g., oil and uranium). So, our energy consumption = (1) usuable energy from non-renewable sources + (2) usuable energy from renewable sources. After #1 is depleted by roughly 2100 (?), a global world war for resources will dwarf the calamity of World War II. (By the way, we will deplete our mineral resources like copper and iron ore long before we deplete our non-renewable sources of energy.)

    Will humankind wake up to the problem of overpopulation? In the USA, political correctness prevents us from dealing with the problem. The American mantra is that (1) expanding the population is always wonderful and (2) expanding the population by immigration is the best route.

  • More Energy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cdrguru (88047) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @08:45PM (#24079253) Homepage

    Sure, CO2 from generating electricty might be a problem. But no matter how you slice it, using energy contributes to climate change in various ways.

    If you believe that humans are causing the climate to change, the answer is fewer humans. Lots fewer. You can argue that before 1850 humans (all 50 million or so of them) had negligible effects on the climate. After that, well there has been an effect.
    Continued growth of human population is going to be having a greater and greater effect. There is no getting away from it.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday July 06, 2008 @08:55PM (#24079313) Homepage Journal
    Reducing carbon emissions is not a political agenda, it's simple common sense. CO2 acidification of the oceans is becoming a major issue and it's only going to get worse as long as CO2 is significantly over normal, as in the CO2 level that has more or less persisted through the last eight or so ice ages. Humans produce far more CO2 on average than natural sources which are believed to cause enough CO2 to have short-lived negative effects, like volcanism. Your assertions to the contrary don't change the facts. CO2 doesn't have to be a greenhouse gas to be dangerous. Of course, it is a greenhouse gas, but that's a whole separate discussion (the one you think is the only one.)
  • just go nuclear and conserve

    going nuclear should give us enough time to figure out fusion. and if we don't, it's curtains

    but renewables: geothermal, wind, tidal, etc... it's all tiny fractions of demand

    except for solar. but that's a huge infrastructure outlay

    nuclear is the best option before us to kick our hydrocarbon habit

  • by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @09:14PM (#24079467)
    Where "long run" means a thousand years, yes. Why are we looking that far forward anyway? Whaats the point about saying we have too many people while new methods of energy generation are constantly being built?

    While solar power in all forms is the only thing we know has a high probability of being around in a billion years, nuclear power will last us, at the least, 300 years. Even the pessimists can agree that we'll have nuclear fusion within 200 years. So thats it! nuclear fusion until nuclear fission is sorted out. All of man's energy needs in a simple two step plan!

    poverty! global war! starvation! calamity! our population is unsustainable!

    will you please stop mongering fear and get realistic!? And don't event start with the "nuclear waste" blather because nuclear power can safely generate enough energy to make chemicals to launch all waste into the sun and have all the energy we'll need left over!
  • by PinkPanther (42194) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @09:28PM (#24079571)
    My concern is more for the effects of taking away that energy from the coastline. Build up enough of these things and I'm sure they begin to affect tides, beaches, marine life, etc.
  • MODS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TapeCutter (624760) * on Sunday July 06, 2008 @09:34PM (#24079613) Journal
    "I'm interested in having the smallest foot print that we can reasonably do on the planet. Right now nuclear is that way but fear mongering has made it all but near impossible. Of the other viable methods out there fossil fuels is still has the over all least impact for major energy production....Many, if nor most, scientists do it for the funding."

    This contradictory pile of anti-science gibberish is insightfull, how?
  • by moosesocks (264553) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @09:35PM (#24079621) Homepage

    1700 to 4700 birds die in the windmill farm in Alameda County near the Altamont Pass. Now, that's a ridiculously vague number

    Altamont pass has over 4900 windmills. Even on the upper-end of that estimate, it's less than one per year. That's fairly "infrequent"

    Also, you're right that the estimate is "ridiculously vague". You can't draw conclusions based on data with a 50% margin of error. If you're getting that kind of error, there's something seriously wrong with your data.

  • by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @09:39PM (#24079641) Homepage

    enough energy to make chemicals to launch all waste into the sun and have all the energy we'll need left over!

    Will you please stop with this "nuclear waste" blather? "Nuclear waste" is just "nuclear fuel that we're too lame to recycle yet".

  • am I the only one? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zeroharmada (1004484) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @10:05PM (#24079803)
    Am I the only one who thinks arrays of these could be used to power trans-oceanic relay stations leading to a more robust internet backbone. The internet could be not only made of tubes, but powered by them too.
  • by TapeCutter (624760) * on Sunday July 06, 2008 @10:25PM (#24079905) Journal
    "GP's point wasn't about the birds,...."

    The only people still talking about windmills and birds are the misinformed, some of them may be environmentalists but the last windfarm to be scraped "due to birds" was here in Australia. The anti-environment minister [theage.com.au] who canned the project was from a conservative right-wing govermnent (note the Liberal party are not liberals). The environmental impact report did not back up his claims about birds and there was not a single protester in sight.

    "...it was about the fact that no matter WHAT we do someone will complain"

    Can't argue with that since all I see in the OP is someone without a clue complaining about two groups they obviously dont like, ie: environmentalists and scientists.
  • by smussman (1160103) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @10:34PM (#24079963)

    In the long run, the only readily available sources of energy are renewable sources: solar energy and terrestrial energy (e.g., wind and waves).

    Almost all of the energy we use comes from the sun, with nuclear and geothermal being (the) exceptions. The main difference is whether we're using the energy as the sun is producing it (wind, wave, solar) or we're using energy that's been stored from previous eons of sunlight (coal, oil). So I agree with what you're saying insofar as we shouldn't be using more energy than the sun is giving us right now, and we should strive to make that come from the current energy output rather than stored output.

    Right now, the sky-high price for oil is useful in reminding us that there are limits to our resources.

    (By the way, we will deplete our mineral resources like copper and iron ore long before we deplete our non-renewable sources of energy.)

    But I'm going to have to disagree with you here. We will never actually run out of copper or iron or oil. As the amount of these resources that is naturally occurring decreases, the price will rise to the point that: (A) It becomes cost-efficent to dig through landfills and recycle previously used resources, and (B) other materials that were previously too expensive for the application will now be cost-effective.

  • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @10:40PM (#24080005) Journal
    Oh, I completely agree! The resistance to nuclear is insane; we should be moving to it as quickly as possible.

    For renewables, though, hydro or tidal (or wave) are the way to go, simply because of the energy potential and mechanical coupling you get from falling (or rising) water. A single dam - like the Grand Coulee dam [wikipedia.org] can do 6.8 GW of power generation. That's a LOT of 5 MW wind turbines, and you know exactly how much and when you can generate the power - you have the water stored up months or years in advance.

    Wind or solar are, IMHO, a very distant second in terms of output potential and baseload use. Guarantee of supply and the amount of land required are big obstacles.

    Putting the generation under water - free-tethered in the center of the water column - could be a good way to satisfy the NIMBYs worrying about the view, and not have much impact on the environment because of their location in the water.

  • Re:no consequences (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 06, 2008 @11:09PM (#24080183)
    Sure. But nuclear power is a hell of a lot more responsible than both. If we use nuclear power, we don't need to impact the environment in *any* way other than mining it and warming it up. Every single renewable power approach saps energy that would be used to power our climate, which is great on a small scale, and absolutely fucking awful on a large scale. Powering all of human civilisation with coastal wave farms would alter the coasts immeasurably, carpeting deserts with solar panels is unforgivable, and wind farms are just ugly. All of these would be great options if there wasn't safe, clean, and practically free power staring us in the face in the form of nuclear fission. Advocating renewable energy over fission is irresponsible and anti-environmental.
  • Re:More Energy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by styrotech (136124) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @11:37PM (#24080311)

    The US ain't shit. It's CHINA.

    Don't get me wrong, Americans are using up resources like crazy with seemingly little regard for the future or for anyone else.

    However, CHINA is 100x worse. They are ramping up their economy ridiculously fast and they make us look like environmental super heroes.

    Yeah you're correct, but nearly all of that activity in China is to feed the wests appetite for cheap stuff. We've just outsourced (some or most of) our own environmental damage to China.

    The west has been more than happy that China had no environmental obligations - outsourcing our dirty stuff there allowed us to clean up our own back yards and pat ourselves on the back about how much we care for the environment. Out of sight, out of mind.

  • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @11:50PM (#24080371) Journal
    I don't know, how about penicillin? Aspirin? Antibiotics? Purpose-bred food sources? I think those may have a small impact on survival rates, which ultimately affect total population. It's not the advance and use of oil, it was the advance of technology which allowed the use of oil.

    Not to mention that in my post I noted we could supply ALL our energy needs with nuclear. No need for crude oil for basically none of our energy requirements.

    Oil was a cheap and high density power source; in the 1800s we used it because nuclear wasn't an option. Now we can use nuclear for most power needs, and use petroleum for whatever else (like plastics, high-density requirements like airplanes, etc).

  • by NormalVisual (565491) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @11:57PM (#24080389)
    Almost all of the energy we use comes from the sun, with nuclear and geothermal being (the) exceptions

    In fairness, nuclear comes from *a* sun, just not ours. :-)
  • by Kreigaffe (765218) on Monday July 07, 2008 @12:40AM (#24080571)

    Zimbabwe's a particularly good example; they once had a fairly decent country. Grew enough food for themselves and enough to export to other starving African countries.

    Let's solve that, seize all the farms, hand them to people who don't know a damned thing about farming or owning a business, let them rip up the irrigation and sell it as scrap metal and boom! you've got a few people making a lot of money, one time, rather than a good bit year by year, and instead of a fed populous exporting food you've got a starving populous begging to import food.

    I'd wager that Zimbabwe ALONE is more responsible for increased demand on global food supplies than biofuels.. so stop cryin about *that*.

  • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Monday July 07, 2008 @12:49AM (#24080609) Journal

    I'd say that most likely, we're best off pursuing fusion power...

    Hear hear. I doubt if we'll get the power density we need in the long run with anything less. Nothing like good ol' Mother Nature at her best.

    In the mean time, there will be a large and diverse effort to lessen the dependency on imported sweet crude, most likely depending on what you have available -- wave power for the North Sea, perhaps, broad acreage solar here in Australia, manufactured fuels from coal, nuclear-manufactured ammonia chemistry and similar sources elsewhere. Stopgap solutions until then will need to match the local geography, physical and political climate. They'll probably all be represented.

    In addition we'll need to exploit any energy differential we can tap as well, such as wave motion, any sort of temperature differential such as geothermal, oceanic wells, etc. Any place that's much colder or warmer than another place nearby is a candidate for a Stirling engine to tap into it.

    On top of that, we'll simply need to throw less energy away, and we're all working on that.

    By the time we run out of all the energy available to us, we'll all be somewhere else and the sun will be a brown dwarf surrounded by a photo opportunity.

  • Re:trawlers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 07, 2008 @01:03AM (#24080669)
    Better yet, just don't trawl. It is a disaster for the seabed, the coastal shelf equivalent of clearcutting forests.
  • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Monday July 07, 2008 @02:14AM (#24080993) Journal
    Sure, it does. I think Sir Winston Churchill explained it best:

    The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

    Consider that the US is the most open economy in the world. And that the poor in the US are much better off than the middle class or rich in most of the world. And yes, I have been to most of the world (well, 94 countries so far).

    While some people will gain hugely in a free market, even the bottom end gain when the economy grows - it's not a zero-sum game. And the free market inherently rewards those who grow it the most - the gain the most. But they also provide more income.

    Capitalism - the US, the EU - won. Communism - the USSR and China - lost. The USSR shattered. China is moving towards a free-market economy. Communism as practiced by men simply doesn't work.

  • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Monday July 07, 2008 @02:40AM (#24081089) Journal
    Well, if your ass is hairy, perhaps some Nair will help...

    I think you completely missed the point: the GP stated we were overpopulated, when demonstrably that is false. If you can support every single person in such a small area as Texas, and with the resources of just 40% of one continent, then how are we overpopulated? I guess that sailed right over your head...

    I wasn't advocating moving everyone to Texas, merely pointing out that there isn't a population problem. Provably so. Unless you want to show otherwise? Clearly we have the resources to support everyone.

    And if that is the case, then the fact that millions die each month from starvation must be because of some reason other than there are too many of them.

    Take a look at Zimbabwe. 25 years ago, they were a net exporter of food, and starvation within Zimbabwe was unheard of. Jobs were plentiful. Education was free and open to all, and the country was quite peaceful.

    Now? Zimbabwe can't even grow 20% of its own food. It's economy has been so wrecked that inflation is running at 10 MILLION percent annually. Prices double daily. Unless your wages increase at a higher rate - which they don't - you simply cannot survive.

    How to solve problems like that? Well, you can try trade. It works for most places that give it a try. Grow the pie, everyone wins. But many places don't want or care for free trade and you get Myanmar, and Zimbabwe, and Haiti, and North Korea.

    You want to solve those problems? You're not going to do it by talking. The rulers of those countries don't give a shit about the people. They are simply cattle to be used; in fact, in Haiti and Zimbabwe, cattle are worth more than people. I know, I've been to both.

    So how to you negotiate with those bastards? They have everything they want. They have absolute control, they have air conditioned palaces, plenty to eat, and people to shoot and flay for sport. What can we offer them other than a restriction in what they do now?

    You want to be humanitarian to the suffering people in those countries? You won't do it by providing food and money - that will just go to the thug running the place, guaranteed. You can support an insurgency, but that will take time, cost thousands - if not millions - of lives, and may not work.

    Or you simply send in a few teams and in the course of a day or two eliminate the thugs. Eliminate the threat. Set up a government, and work to rebuild the country. It's worked every time we've tried it: Philippines, Japan, Germany, Iraq. Yes, Iraq.

    You say I should grow up? I have, and I've been to those places. Ever run the pharmacy of a medical clinic in the hills around Dessalines, Haiti? Build water pumps in Kadoma, Zimbabwe? Distribute US Constitutions while teaching English in Hamheung, North Korea? Give out copies of the Declaration of Independence while teaching English in Dawei, Myanmar?

    What's your solution? Sitting down and talking? How did the talking go with Myanmar's rulers - refused to allow all US, and most foreign, aid after the typhoon which killed 500,000.

    How about talking with Saddam? Twelve years and still hadn't gotten anywhere - even talked for 5 years AFTER the US made regime change the official US policy. Of course, it didn't help that "pacifists" arguing for more dialogue - the UN, the French, the Germans, and the Russians - were skimming billions of dollars off their suggested "humanitarian" actions.

    Speak softly and carry a big stick only works if you actually are willing to use the stick. If you're too squeamish for that, then I suggest you move over and let the grown ups actually do what needs to happen.

  • by Keeper Of Keys (928206) on Monday July 07, 2008 @03:08AM (#24081191) Homepage

    Sure, it does. I think Sir Winston Churchill explained it best:

    The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

    Yes, because if a British conservative politician said it in the middle of the last century, it must be true today. Just because the first half of the quote is undeniably true, doesn't make the second part true as well.

    To Churchill looking at Stalinism, which was about all there was to go on then, it must have seemed that socialism inevitably led to misery, but with hindsight the "socialisms" of the 20th Century were no such thing. In fact, the "equal sharing of miseries" part is demonstrably false even as applied to the USSR, because it still had its rich elite.

    Capitalism - the US, the EU - won. Communism - the USSR and China - lost. The USSR shattered. China is moving towards a free-market economy. Communism as practiced by men simply doesn't work.

    I would agree with you if you'd said "Communism as so far practiced under that name simply doesn't work." Western economies in the early 21st century are more socialist than the USSR ever was in terms of wealth redistribution and state support of industry.

    Who knows whether Leninism could work today - probably not without some radical rethinking - but green issues are making this kind of discussion more urgent, as capitalism is inherently wasteful of resources.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 07, 2008 @03:29AM (#24081259)

    Off topic, but you missed an important part in the Iraq story. The US aren't hated do much for what they are doing now. Its what they did in the past that led to now. They put Saddam in power for their own selfish reasons. He brutally killed his own people and the US turned a blind eye. Then he stopped towing the US party line and decided he'd trade oil with those pesky Europeans instead of the USA. Next thing you know, Iraqs been invaded. Most of your point is good, but on Iraq you're missing some important details IMO.

  • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Monday July 07, 2008 @03:56AM (#24081343) Journal
    Sure, we screwed up in Iraq earlier; does that prohibit us from fixing the problem? If anything, we're being responsible unlike most of the old colonial powers from Europe - where are they in Southeast Asia, Africa, or the Middle East?
    .

    As far as oil goes, the majority of Iraqi oil was controlled by BP and Shell until 1972 when Iraq nationalized oil. And then cut deals with France and Russia.

    Note that BP is British Petroleum, a UK company. And Shell is Royal Dutch Shell, a Dutch company. The US had precious little stake in Iraq before 1972 or afterwards. And even the recent grants of oil rights saw US companies getting about 30% of the production leases.

    The US has never been a major consumer of oil from Iraq. Nor has the US been a major consumer of oil from the Middle East; rather, most of the oil goes to Europe or Asia. The US still produces 45% of its own oil, and buys more from Canada than it does from the Middle East. We buy more from Venezuela and Mexico than we do from the Middle East.

    If you want to say the war was about oil, then it was about the US ensuring a stable supply of oil for the EU, not for itself.

  • I call bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TapeCutter (624760) * on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:45AM (#24081501) Journal
    "Do we create massive amount of sulfur in the air rapidly killing everything with large scale geothermal?"

    Geo-thermal does not create massive amounts of sulphur.

    "Do we sterilize the oceans with tidal generators?"

    Your kidding right? - Any ideas on just how much energy is in the tides compared to say all the coal on the planet?

    "Do we cause massive upheaval that likes of which the most radical Global Warming people do not even think of with massive wind farms?"

    How is converting a large part of our generation to wind over 50yrs any more radical than the build up of coal plants over the last 50yrs?

    "Solar isn't able to meet our energy needs so it's not an option"

    Why is it "not an option", what other single method of generation "meets our needs"? Also I'm not sure what the German's would do since they are pumping a gigawatt back into the grid from the excess generated by roof-top panels.

    "You can list all the problems with CO2 and I agree, but outside of nuclear it is the smallest footprint out there that can meet our energy needs."

    Only for politically inspired definitions of "footprint".

    "Thus simply reducing CO2 does nothing and, in fact, tends to make things worse because we move to greater polluting methods."

    Please tell me you are astro-turfing and it's just your friends who think your insightfull.
  • by arstchnca (887141) <arst3chnica@gmail.com> on Monday July 07, 2008 @05:24AM (#24081655)
    I'm sorry, but did you just say that Haiti "doesn't care for" free trade? If I was a Haitian, I wouldn't care for free trade either.

    Haiti used to grow most of the food needed by its people. This is not at all the case today, and what free trade has done to local growers is a prominent cause.

    This is not to mention Haiti's problems from the Duvaliers' greed and the likes of the VSN. How functional would the society you grew up in be if you had to fear death squads?

    Even post-Duvaliers, Haitian politics had been in constant turmoil as the US constantly rallied support for the least-populist Haitian leaders, the one's for the free trade. I wonder why that was.

    You seem to think that the impoverished are at fault for attempting some communist scheme to avoid buying American products, a scheme that ultimately fails and leaves them the unfortunate "losers" to capitalism. You need to look at the big picture.
  • by arstchnca (887141) <arst3chnica@gmail.com> on Monday July 07, 2008 @05:32AM (#24081685)
    Your post is definitely an interesting way of saying:

    deposing Saddam and his party is like the United States' "apology" to world politics. More like a guilty ass-covering. Do you know why we were so tight with Mr. Hussein (by we, I mean older George Bush and his political)?

    It's because he ran Iraq as a secular republic. That's really the only reason. Iran was more "threatening" to certain persons and so the US became Saddam Hussein's PR machine.

    I really don't think you can consider the federal government's actions over the past several years as "fixing" the problem. Inasmuch as Iraq had a problem, the United States' heavyhanded politics of containment and fear of all things Islamic led to the way things are today.

    Where di the above poster say that the war was about oil? It was certainly for tenuous "political" purposes and shady economic ones. Look at those getting handed contracts for things like energy infrastructure in Iraq. When the people who cause the wars give massive business to the people payed to come and build things up, and these people were all friends to begin with, I call conflict of interest. But then, since when has that sort of thing had any bearing on US politicing?
  • by arstchnca (887141) <arst3chnica@gmail.com> on Monday July 07, 2008 @05:44AM (#24081731)
    Perhaps the population density in the US is low because, for one, its borders include in part huge tracts of land that anyone has yet to put a real use to? The fact is, it is functional population density that is important. Do you think that everyone lives around cities because they just love other people?

    In the game of capitalism, money is your score. This is unfortunate. As such, it's necessary for one to come by money, a metaphor for one's own worth, by some means in order to survive. As hard as you might try, there's only one way to get this money - from other people.

    Living far from other people in this country is a prerogative mostly reserved for the elite.

    Anyhow, the parent's comments about population that you quoted hold true, or at least moreso than your counterclaims. Look at American communities like, say, Los Altos Hills. Is that a community that is sustainable without the constunt influx of persons that serves to fill the ranks of the "working class?" No.
  • Re:Baby got back (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bkr1_2k (237627) on Monday July 07, 2008 @08:14AM (#24082649)

    You don't get out much do you?

    The GP post was clearly a joke.

  • by bkr1_2k (237627) on Monday July 07, 2008 @08:17AM (#24082691)

    I've said it before and I'll say it again; why pick one? The best solution is a combined solution in a small footprint. Each home providing some portion of it's own power through solar, wind, geothermal, or some combination of them all.

    Doing it that way won't require any huge infrastructure, it will drastically reduce hydrocarbon dependence, and it will reduce costs drastically on any one of the technologies listed.

  • You seriously put the population density of the SF Bay Area forward as demonstration the world is overpopulated? People CHOOSE to live there. It doesn't mean there's not plenty of space left in the world where you could have a pleasant life and plenty of land for a low cost. I choose to live in London, and as a result live in a tiny house compared to what I could afford somewhere rural, but I don't go around and delude myself into thinking that London is an accurate representation of whether or not the world is overcrowded. But then again I'm from Norway, where the population density is about 14 people per square kilometer and the total population is about half that of London.
  • by CFTM (513264) on Monday July 07, 2008 @08:37AM (#24082957)

    Hey, I have any idea; instead of being a troll who attacks people who have a differing view point, how about you engage in a real discussion. "You stubbornly cling to your imaged notions...", that is what is known as an appeal to ridicule, there is no real argument here. As is, "Frankly, you're the who doesn't care about Earth's disadvantages humans"; you have no evidence for this statement from the discussion above and it only adds to discredit you more. I'm not taking a side in the debate as I am not educated in the particulars but you seem ready to completely dismiss the GP without addressing his/her position in any sort of substantive form.

  • The evidence of the USSR and China and Vietnam show it to be true. Communism simply doesn't work. Why else would the USSR have collapsed economically, or China and Vietnam moved quickly (and continuously) towards a more free-market economy?

    Neither the USSR, China or Vietnam have ever claimed to be communist.

    That you seem to believe they are, demonstrate both a complete lack of understanding of what communism entails and a complete lack of understanding of the policies of the self-proclaimed socialist countries. Self-proclaimed because they certainly never followed anything resembling Marxist policies apart from perhaps the first year or two of the USSR.

    Excuse me? I thought the USSR had two levels of wealth: none or all. For the US, we have a large continuum from zero to massive. But here's the big difference: in the US you can actually MOVE along that continuum. In the USSR, once a peasant always a peasant.

    You completely fail to grasp the point you replied to. Lets read that again shall we "Western economies in the early 21st century are more socialist than the USSR ever was in terms of wealth redistribution and state support of industry.".

    In other words, he's saying there's more equality in countries like the US than there used to be in the USSR. You effectively state your agreement when you write that the USSR "had two levels of wealth: none or all".

    That makes the US closer to the Marxist idea of socialism that is centered on removing economic differences than the USSR where such differences was not only allowed to grow bigger, but where government policy actively increased the class divide. The USSR was at the extreme opposite of Marxist ideals, much closer to a feudal state than to capitalism in many ways, and even further from socialism or communism in structure.

    There were certainly elements of ideas shared with socialism in the USSR, when it came to a social support network etc., but then there were elements of such things in many feudal states in different forms for a very simple reason (and this comes straight from Marxism):

    In a feudal system, a person is a resource to the regime. If that person can't continue to produce, you've lost capital. It's in your interest to provide a level of support. In capitalism that economic interest in providing help is gone, as companies can just replace workers at will.

    Apart from that, your long rant about the joys of free markets is totally off base - nothing prevents a socialist community from utilizing markets to optimize allocation of resources as an alternative to planning. The issue is not market mechanisms, but creating markets that rewards the right behavior. That stalinist semi-feudal regimes chose to use outdated planning methods proves only that those planning methods didn't work or were poorly executed.

  • by celtic_hackr (579828) on Monday July 07, 2008 @08:48AM (#24083065) Journal

    While fusion is great, it shouldn't be our only goal. This is still a non-renewable fuel. Hydrogen is an important ingredient to life, use up all the hydrogen and everything will die.

    Also, fission produces some terrible byproducts with effectively infinite lifetimes. One really bad accident could destroy the entire planet. One failed rocket exploding in the atmosphere and we all die. So blasting the waste into the Sun isn't the miraculous cure-all supporters claim. Reprocessing has proven to be not "cost-effective". Hence we have these processing plants that haver been turned into storage facilities. Except, the waste has to be constantly stirred or it will explode. Unfortunately the stirring blades need to be replaced every 6 months or so due to the extremely caustic nature of the waste and the facilities have a projected lifetime of 300 years. What are we going to do with tons of waste in 250 years that have half-lifes in the millions of years?

    So in conclusion nuclear isn't as great as it appears, in either form. Truly renewable energy is the only correct and really long-term solution. Leaving fission and fusion as good for limited uses such as interstellar travel, or in combination with realistic plans to obtain alternate sources of fuel and properly de-activate the waste. Neither of which is likely to ever be commercially viable.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday July 07, 2008 @08:56AM (#24083159) Homepage

    Yeah, and the deadliest wind farm with all these disadvantages -- not the least of which being the old windmill designs which use scaffolding-like towers which birds find nice for perching and nesting as opposed to the single-pole towers used in new windmills -- kills at most about one raptor per windmill per year.

    All Altamont Pass shows is that, like pretty much everything else, wind power can be done badly. And even then, in the deadliest wind farm anywhere, it's far, far better than if you'd stuck a three story office building into the pass instead.

    Taller towers, towers that can't be perched or nested on, bigger, slower blades that are easier for birds to see and avoid, and then some cursory studies of bird migrations just to make sure you aren't going to be experiencing unusual amounts of traffic, and bird deaths are essentially trivial.

  • by bkr1_2k (237627) on Monday July 07, 2008 @09:08AM (#24083321)

    The point is, on a personal level, efficiency doesn't really need to be that high. You can lose efficiency because you don't have to pipe the power long distances. You can lose efficiency because you can adjust your personal consumption to accommodate it. Most importantly, you can grow your system as your needs change.

    Act locally and all that. It doesn't have to solve the world's power needs, it has to solve an individual's power needs. An individual doesn't give a shit about have high efficiency, just having enough to meet their own needs.

  • by DanOrc451 (1302609) on Monday July 07, 2008 @11:44AM (#24085469)

    Nuclear waste blather? Launch it all at the sun??

    Yes, let's take all these tons and tons of radioactive material, pack it on top of some of the most efficient chemical explosives known to mankind, and elevate it into the atmosphere's global air currents. Paging the what-could-possibly-go-wrong department....

    Okay, even disregarding this point, you and most people in this thread seem to be operating under a very common misconception about what "nuclear waste" is and the nuclear power industry as a whole. Most people will think of spent nuclear fuel as nuclear waste, when in fact there are many more kinds. The most often overlooked, and by far the largest source of volume in nuclear waste, is so-called "low-level waste," and is a very important window of insight into what actually goes on in a nuclear plant in reality.

    From wikipedia: [wikipedia.org] "Low-level waste (LLW) is a term used to describe nuclear waste that does not fit into the categorical definitions for high-level waste (HLW), spent nuclear fuel (SNF), transuranic waste (TRU), or certain byproduct materials known as 11e(2) wastes, such as uranium mill tailings."

    To put this into plain English, this usually consists of everything that has been exposed to radiation in the course of a nuclear plant's facilities. "Nuclear waste" isn't just spent fuel rods. It's hammers, it's protective suit coverings, it's old pipes that have had to be replaced. There is a --huge-- volume of things that get contaminated by radiation in a plant. More information than you could ever use on this subject is found here [osu.edu] Just to launch the low level nuclear waste alone in the state of Ohio alone (generated by only two nuclear reactors mind you) in the year of 1987 alone would require launching a satellite holding 50,000 cubic feet of material into space.

    The simple fact is that in a nuclear power plant, radiation is --everywhere-- and it, to some degree or another, infects --everything--.

    On an anecdotal note, of my family's grandfathers worked in the Pilgrim Power plant in Massachusetts for decades. He doesn't talk about his time at the nuclear plant much, even though it comprises pretty much all if his adult life. As more and more of his friends started dying of cancer, he just stopped mentioning it at all. While this is melodramatic, it's true: it reminds me in an uncanny fashion of how several other family members do not talk about their time in Vietnam.

    The few things he did say gave me an insight into the nuclear industry that is very different from anything that shows up in G.W.'s nuclear power proposals.

    He told me about how whenever he was working, he had to wear what he called a "dosometer." It was shaped like a security badge, and it changed color as it was continuously exposed to radiation, which was always present in some level at the plant. After a certain threshhold of accumulated radiation deemed "dangerous" was reached, the employee was supposed to stop working. Sometimes due to fiscal and work pressures, they just got a new tag. I'm sure safety procedures might be somewhat better nowadays, but humans are humans, and corners will always be cut on some level, by both management and by the employees, especially as economic times get harder.

    While he has lived to a ripe old age, literally every one of his friends from the plant died a horrible death due to every type of cancer imaginable. "Incidents" like Three Mile Island and Chernobyl grab the headlines, but the nuclear industry kills each and every day in a way that is incredibly hard to quantify.

    So, please. This "magic uranium" stuff is wishful thinking at best. If nuclear power truly is the only solution until humanity hypothetically masters fusion, that is a truly depressing option.

  • Re:Baby got back (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Monday July 07, 2008 @02:56PM (#24088181) Journal

    This technology maybe something which could be useful unlike the useless technologies of the past such as solar which cost too much and don't produce enough.

    200 meters long.

    7 meters wide.

    1 million watts.

    2000 homes.

    Totally unpredicted environmental impacts as we begin to take energy from the sea currents (did you really think energy came from nowhere?) and claim it has no effect on the real world, like a bunch of ninnies.

    Lemme point out we need about 500GW of power constantly to run this place, so 500,000 of these, 100,000,000 km of rubber tubes, more tubes than the internet.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday July 07, 2008 @03:18PM (#24088617) Homepage Journal

    On top of all the other problems with nukes (like dirty extraction that's dependent on an even tinier resource that's in even more unstable countries than oil is), we are now likely facing the rapid exhaustion of elements like indium and hafnium that are necessary for reactor control rods.

    Nukes are a hugely top-heavy tech. That produce a huge problem in their waste, as well as extremely difficult security problems.

    Geothermal is vastly more energy than even all the nukes we could produce. Other renewables can also vastly oversupply demand. If we'd subsidized any of them the way we've subsidized nukes for the past half-century and more, we'd already be well out of danger.

  • by DanOrc451 (1302609) on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:34PM (#24089975)

    I'm sharing anecdotal knowledge regarding the one plant that I know, and clearing up an incredibly pervasive misconception about the waste stream of nuclear plants. I sourced the factual stuff, and labelled the rest as anecdotal.

    My impression is that it's a much dirtier industry than its starry-eyed newfound fans want people to believe. There are very good reasons why people abruptly stopped building these things in the first place after the initial boom.

    If you have countervailing evidence/experience, please feel free to share that; I'd love to hear it!

    Anyone have any valid criticism that can't be boiled down to "I disagree, therefore Nazis?"

    P.S.--Adding Imperial Japan to your logical fallacy doesn't make it any less fallacious. ^.^

We will have solar energy as soon as the utility companies solve one technical problem -- how to run a sunbeam through a meter.

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