Gore the Dinosaur

We were just listening to Al Gore on Larry King live. What a carney. We wanted to phone in with this quote for his reaction.

You would need to replace 1,000 coal-fired power plants with 1,000 nuclear plants to change global climate even .15 of a degree … “This is the scale (of global climate) we are talking about.”

So says Dr. John Christy, a University of Alabama climate scientist. If Al Gore really believed what he says about climate change he would be promoting nuclear energy and yet he didn’t mention it once that we heard.

Nuclear is a no no, especially here in no-no nuclear Wolfville. So, IF as Gore says we have to replace coal fired plants with something else to get our pitiful 15/100 of a degree climate improvement, what can it be?

Alternative green [non-nuclear!] energy, he would say, which many, like Al Gore and like Bullfrog, hope to make money off of by convincing you, dear reader, to invest in it. What about that? This explanation by William Tucker is the best we have found. [Science alert!]

Most of what we are calling “renewable energy” is actually the kinetic flows of matter in nature. Wind and water are matter in motion that we harness to produce energy. Therefore they are measured by the formula for kinetic energy.[E=mv squared]

That isn’t too hard to follow.

Let’s start with hydroelectricity. Water falling off a high dam reaches a speed of about 60 miles per hour or 80 feet per second. Raising the height of the dam by 80 or more feet cannot increase the velocity by more than 20 miles per hour. The only way to increase the energy output is to increase the mass, meaning we must use more water.

Environmentalists began objecting to hydroelectric dams in the 1960s precisely because they occupied such vast amounts of land, drowning whole scenic valleys and historic canyons. …

Gosh we wouldn’t want that. Okay s0 what about those windmills?

Wind is less dense than water so the land requirements are even greater. Contemporary 50-story windmills generate 1-½ MW apiece, so it takes 660 windmills to get 1000 MW. They must be spaced about half a mile apart so a 1000-MW wind farm occupies 125 square miles. Unfortunately the best windmills generate electricity only 30 percent of the time, so 1000 MW really means covering 375 square miles at widely dispersed locations. …

That’s a whole lot of land in a small province like ours. But there’s the Fundy tides right?

Tidal power, often suggested as another renewable resource, suffers the same problems. Water is denser than wind but the tides only move at about 5 mph. [maybe more here ? but ...] At the best locations in the world you would need 20 miles of coastline to generate 1000 MW.

We do have a lot of coastline but not all of it is suitable for tidal power …. couldn’t we add some solar?

… Solar radiation is the result of an E = mc2 transformation as the sun transforms hydrogen to helium. Unfortunately, the reaction takes place 90 million miles away. Radiation dissipates with the square of the distance, so by the time solar energy reaches the earth it is diluted by almost the same factor, 10-15. Thus, the amount of solar radiation falling on a one square meter is 400 watts, enough to power four 100-watt light bulbs. “Thermal solar” – large arrays of mirrors heating a fluid – can convert 30 percent of this to electricity. Photovoltaic cells are slightly less efficient, converting only about 25 percent. As a result, the amount of electricity we can draw from the sun is enough to power one 100-watt light bulb per card table.

This is not an insignificant amount of electricity. If we covered every rooftop in the county with solar collectors, we could probably power our indoor lighting plus some basic household appliances – during the daytime.

This is pretty basic. Hard to ignore. Moreover –

There is no technology for storing commercial quantities of electricity. Until something is developed – which seems unlikely – wind and solar can serve only as intermittent, unpredictable resources.

BUT – and it is a big but, there is chemistry:

The great achievement of 20th century quantum physics has been to describe chemical reactions in terms of E = mc2.

When we burn a gallon of gasoline, one-billionth of the mass of the gasoline is completely transformed into energy. This transformation occurs in the electron shells. The amount is so small that nobody has ever been able to measure it. Yet the energy release is large enough to propel a 2000-pound automobile for 30 miles.

Isn’t that amazing? But gasoline is another no no right? Sooo00-

...would it be possible to tap the much greater amount of energy stored in the nucleus the way we tap the energy in the electrons through chemistry?

The release of energy from splitting a uranium atom turns out to be 2 million times greater than breaking the carbon-hydrogen bond in coal, oil or wood. Compared to all the forms of energy ever employed by humanity, nuclear power is off the scale. Wind has less than 1/10th the energy density of wood, wood half the density of coal and coal half the density of octane. Altogether they differ by a factor of about 50. Nuclear has 2 million times the energy density of gasoline. It is hard to fathom this in light of our previous experience. Yet our energy future largely depends on grasping the significance of this differential.

There we are. Back to nuclear. And yet our masters in their great wisdom put a moratorium on uranium exploration in the province and now plan, with no scientific basis, to ban it. We can imagine the howls which would go up if, heaven forbid, a nice little CANDU reactor was suggested. No no, and we can’t even mine it so others can do!

It seems it is too hard for Nova Scotians to believe that:

because of the power of E = mc2 …we [can] run an entire city for five years on six ounces of matter with almost no environmental impact …

No, they would rather believe that Bullfrog power will solve the world’s energy/climate problems . And they call US dinosaurs!!!


Europe’s France remains the world leader in construction with 80 percent of its electricity coming from nuclear power. As a result, France has the lowest greenhouse gas emissions of any European country except Sweden as well as the cheapest electricity. …Even more reliant on nuclear in Scandinavia is Sweden, which gets half its electricity from nuclear, 40 percent from hydro, and has the lowest carbon emissions in Europe. …The big news, however, is in China, which has bought technology from Russia, France and Japan and is planning to open 21 reactors by 2014.

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