Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Why Small-Scale Biomass Energy Projects Aren't a Solution To Climate Change

samzenpus posted 1 year,8 days | from the try-something-else dept.

Earth 178

Lasrick writes "Roberto Bissio has an excellent piece in a roundtable on biomass energy, pointing out that small scale biomass energy projects designed for people in poor countries aren't really a solution to climate change. After pointing out that patent protections could impede wide-spread adoption, Bissio adds that the people in these countries aren't really contributing to climate change in the first place: 'Why? Because poor people, whose carbon emissions these technologies would reduce, produce very little carbon in the first place. As I mentioned in Round One, the planet's poorest 1 billion people are responsible for only 3 percent of global carbon emissions. The 1.26 billion people whose countries belong to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development account for 42 percent of emissions. The rich, if they reduced their emissions by just 8 percent, could achieve more climate mitigation than the poor could achieve by reducing their emissions to zero. The rich could manage this 8 percent reduction by altering their lifestyles in barely noticeable ways. For the poor, a reduction of 100 percent would imply permanent misery.'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Madagascar (5, Insightful)

OglinTatas (710589) | 1 year,8 days | (#45125511)

Poor people may not have much of a carbon footprint, but if there is no alternative to deforesting your island home, then the impact on the environment would be larger than just how much CO2 you produce.

Re:Madagascar (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45125553)

Re:Madagascar (1)

fritsd (924429) | 1 year,8 days | (#45125887)

Is that the border between Haïti and the Dominican Republic, by any chance? I read about that in one of Jared Diamond's books.

Re:Madagascar (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126303)

Is that the border between Haïti and the Dominican Republic, by any chance? I read about that in one of Jared Diamond's books.

The policy of having a brutal dictator who considers the country his fiefdom and applies a shoot-to-kill anti-deforestation policy has few virtues; but the contrast along that particular border does illustrate one of them...

Re:Madagascar (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45126657)

That's what happens when you try to pay off the country from which you just won independence. You're much better off doing what the US did and fighting a 2nd war (the war of 1812) against the mother country.

Re: Madagascar (2)

Eugriped3z (1549589) | 1 year,8 days | (#45125821)

Contrary to what seems to be your belief, deforestation is a choice and it's not made exclusively by the poor. Nor are the poor resposible for the vast majority of habitat destruction such as deforestation. But it is universally the institutionalized quest for wealth in the hands of the ecologically ignorant that leads educated people to sacrifice the natural world without consideration for the concern for the consequences. In the words of Michio Kali, "Classical economics (in the absence of valuation of natural systems) is a form of brain damage.

Re: Madagascar (1)

Eugriped3z (1549589) | 1 year,8 days | (#45125865)

Sorry, the above quote was from Dr. Michio Kaku. (mkaku.org)

Re: Madagascar (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45126663)

Michio Kaku is a popular science educator, who trained as a physicist and not as an economist or environmental scientist (and who has spent the bulk of his career now making outlandish claims that some physicists feel do more harm than good). While what he says may be very true, quoting him to back up your point instead of a figure deeply involved in the economics/environmentalism debate just makes you look like a gullible simpleton.

Re: Madagascar (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126345)

Poor people do do a lot of the grunt work of habitat destruction, though, whether it be slash 'n burn agriculture or illegal logging.

It isn't the guy who earns less in a year than a teak shower seat costs (and at Lowes, we aren't talking the luxury stuff here) who is 'responsible' for the illegal timber market in any serious way, he couldn't afford to drive the destruction of much of anything.

However, if he were incrementally less poor and powerless, he'd probably be a much more useful ally for protection, or at least exploitation with an eye to long-term value maximization, rather than a convenient pawn for smash and grab extraction.

Re:Madagascar (2)

alexander_686 (957440) | 1 year,8 days | (#45125851)

And the main post also assumes that CO2 is the only driver in global warming. I have seen studies that suggest that soot from poor people's cooking stoves are just as much to blame. (Soot is very dark so is absorbs a lot of the sun's rays. Glaciers are shinny so they tend to reflect heat back into space. When soot lands on glaciers it darkens the glacier, causing them to shrink. A good example of a positive feedback loop. )

Re:Madagascar (2)

kraut (2788) | 1 year,8 days | (#45127137)

Positive in the negative sense ;)

Having better cooking facilities can improve the lot of people in poor countries in lots of other ways. More efficiency => less time spent gathering fuel. Less smoke and soot => fewer health problems. Etc. etc.

Re:Madagascar (3, Informative)

TapeCutter (624760) | 1 year,8 days | (#45127301)

The contribution of soot to climate change is dwarfed by our GHG and aerosols emissions [wikipedia.org] , however it would have been much higher in the mid 20th century before clean air laws were instituted throughout the western world. Some soot lands on ice and speeds up the melt as you describe but most of the soot falls directly into the ocean which absorbs the extra heat it is carrying. The ocean is a gigantic heat sink, it is steadily warming due to our efforts, it's temperature defines the type of climate we have. Due to it's sheer size it has an immense thermal inertia, even without humans it will continue to warm for at least another 50yrs just to reach thermal equilibrium with the current +/-ve climate forcing from humans. The rise in ocean temps over the next 50yrs will represent the human induced climate forcings of the last half of the 20th century.

The economic equation is fairly simple, spend the next 50yrs replacing the vast bulk of the dirty energy infrastructure built over the last 50yrs with clean infrastructure solar/wind/nuke/tidal/geothermal/did I leave someone's pet project out?). By mid-century we are no longer changing the climate, by the end of the century the climate has reached a new stable thermal equilibrium, which, all things being equal will slowly cool down to pre-industrial temps in a millennia or two by absorbing the extra carbon into the Earth's crust.

The ability of the Earth's crust to absorb the extra carbon would be severely curtailed if the oceans became too acidic for shellfish to grows shells, but at that point the Earth's surface will look like an overworked goat farm and it will make little difference to the goat herders who survive the rapidly accelerating "sixth great extinction" we are experiencing today.

Sure it will cost a gazillion dollars to replace that infrastructure but we've already spent that building the current infrastructure, and since coal plants don't last forever we will be doing it all over again in the next 50yrs anyway. Civilization has outgrown coal like we outgrew the horse and cart, it's time to push the luddites, vested interests and useful idiots back into the political wilderness where they belong. It's time to put engineers in the driver's seat, preferably arrogant showmen like Edison, Jobs, Gates, who can assemble other people's inventions into a viable industry.

My personal favourite is hydrogen fuel cells for most portable energy needs such as cars, you could also use you car to supply several homes with electricity, or just build a fuel cell generator into the home, we can get rid of a lot of the fragile wiring that blocks out the modern sky, no more wide area blackouts every time the wind changes direction. But there's not much point doing that unless you can produce bulk hydrogen cleanly cheaper than you can produce it the dirty way. Doing it with sunlight or wind is a great example of a closed loop. H2O + energy => H2 + O2 => H20, the troposphere is more or less chemically saturated with H2O so it simply falls back into the ocean within a week or two. So if we are really lucky the 22nd century will be warm and damp and the mass migrations inland will have ceased.

Re:Madagascar (1)

Princeofcups (150855) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126061)

Poor people may not have much of a carbon footprint, but if there is no alternative to deforesting your island home, then the impact on the environment would be larger than just how much CO2 you produce.

You are allowed to complain about them deforesting when we move everyone out of the suburbs and reforest our own country to what it was.

Re:Madagascar (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126319)

Considering that there is now more forest in North America today than when Europeans first arrived, I am not sure what your point is.

Suburbs are great for trees. Every house has 2 or 3. Owners actively planting them. Most cities have a urban forestry division, If you want a obvious example just look at any great plain city with satellite imagery. There should be no trees there yet that is all that you see. We can debate about old growth, the biodiversity, and habitat but the number of trees has grown.

Re:Madagascar (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126505)

Prior to the arrival of European-Americans about one half of the United States land area was forest, about 4,000,000 square kilometres (990,000,000 acres) in 1600, yet today it is only about 3,000,000 square kilometres (740,000,000 acres). Nearly all of this deforestation took place prior to 1910, and the forest resources of the United States have remained relatively constant through the entire 20th century.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deforestation_in_the_United_States [wikipedia.org]

You're just flat out wrong.
And this doesn't even take into account the heavy deforestation caused by Native Americans prior to Europe's arrival. There is significant evidence of terrible ecological problems caused by large populations of Native Americans and their changes to the environment.

Re:Madagascar (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126979)

Coming into the San Fernando Valley, especially through the Sepulveda Pass, it looks like you're driving into a forest. Most of the valley is filled with single-story homes and most of them have, as you point out, one or more trees that are taller than the homes. Mostly what you see is trees, with occasional tall buildings sticking up. And, considering that the area would be semi-desert without water being brought in from hundreds of miles away, those trees couldn't survive without human intervention.

Re:Madagascar (2)

kraut (2788) | 1 year,8 days | (#45127147)

If you think 2 or 3 trees on an American-sized plot of land makes a forest? Have you ever seen a forest?

Re:Madagascar (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126281)

Poor people may not have much of a carbon footprint, but if there is no alternative to deforesting your island home, then the impact on the environment would be larger than just how much CO2 you produce.

That's what confused me about this piece: I don't think that I've ever heard anybody sell one of the various 'new, improved, not-dreadful, biomass heat/power device' ideas as being about CO2 emission. It's (1) generally the case that biomass is treated as 'carbon neutral' for accounting purposes, since its fuels all pulled their carbon out of the air, mostly within a few decades or less (indeed, some first-world burning of sawdust and other low-quality woody stuff in otherwise fairly conventional power plants is treated a 'green') and (2) it's common knowledge that desperately poor people simply don't have the capability to liberate much carbon. Really, with our material culture as it is, 'poverty' and 'can't afford fossil fuels in more than negligible quantities' are practically synonyms.

However, poor people do tend to source the biomass that they can afford from places that really can't take it (whether it be some ecologically fascinating and delicate patch of rainforest, or a fairly banal chunk of woodland that just can't supply charcoal for the two million slum dwellers who live nearby without turning into bare dirt and washing away). and their reliance on low-tech burning technology produces some truly brutal pulmonary and related mortality from particulate matter and incomplete combustion soot, generally in ill-ventilated housing, around which women and children spend too much time, in addition to overall poor efficiency.

You'd have to be really dumb to sell just about any intervention targeted at the bottom billion as a serious measure against atmospheric CO2 levels, they are just too poor to be responsible for much; but there are a lot of issues with their fuel sourcing and use that can plausibly be improved for not much money.

Dependence (1)

Pseudonymus Bosch (3479) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126779)

And there is also the issue of dependence from imports.

False premise. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45125531)

This entire article presumes that "climate change" is something we should even care about. Talking about 'solutions' to a made up problem is idiotic, at best and at worst just goes to show that slashdot is a strongly liberal/statist enclave.

Re: False premise. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45125623)

Yes, I second scientific ignorance and unreserved faith in books written by men who didn't even know that a planet was much less an atmoshpere or the disciplines of ecology or climatology.

Be gone foul demon! Trouble me no more with your vapors or temptations.

I am a man of the book and have no need of your prattling.

Re: False premise. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45126073)

Ha ha fuck you and the usual self-important liberal moderators who are so busy censoring views they disagree with. I am an atheist, so fuck that god shite. But I also am very well read in philosophy, particularly the works of one Ayn Rand, whom you probably have never heard of because you are obviously an idiot and a moron. I guess basing ones views on RATIONALITY is frowned upon around here. Typical statist bullshit.

Re: False premise. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45126215)

I'm a self-important randroid!

Now there's a shocker.

Re: False premise. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45126723)

go read a book you liberal dumbass

Re: False premise. (1)

kraut (2788) | 1 year,8 days | (#45127183)

Now that's a remarkably asinine response from a self-proclaimed scholar of philosophy.

Re: False premise. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45127311)

Arguing philosophy requires an opponent who is versed in the subject at hand and can at least express some mild insight to keep things from becoming boring as I destroy you with pure logic. I ascertain from your insouciant response that you would not be that person.

Re: False premise. (3, Insightful)

kraut (2788) | 1 year,8 days | (#45127161)

If you think that Ayn Rand is philosophy, and that having read Ms Rand makes you "very well read in philosophy", we can only hope for your sake that you're only 15 and you'll grow up in a few years time.

In the meantime, you seem to be using an awful lot of words that don't mean what you think they mean. "Liberal", "censoring", the aforementioned "philosophy", and "fuck". Oh, and "statist".

You may want to politely enquire with your English teacher about the possibility of borrowing a dictionary; if it's not to "statist" or "liberal" for you, your local library may have one.

Now get the hell off my lawn!

Poor vs. Rich (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45125543)

I see a lot of class warfare going on here.

welcome to /., where the 1% complain about the 1% (1)

raymorris (2726007) | 1 year,8 days | (#45125919)

You must be new here. Welcome.

One of our favorite things to do is sit around and whine about the 1%, pretending that's not us.
Most of us make over $30K, so we're one-percenters, but we like to engage in class warfare anyway.

Re:welcome to /., where the 1% complain about the (1)

iggymanz (596061) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126775)

to Americans the "1%" means in the USA, that is $394,000 and above annual income.

On planet earth that's $34K and above

Re:welcome to /., where the 1% complain about the (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45126951)

I don't think using these absolute numbers makes sense: someone living say, in London will need a lot more income to sustain himself than someone in a village in India.

that's accounted for, elegantly (1)

raymorris (2726007) | 1 year,8 days | (#45127249)

This is the exact same statement, with different locations:

Someone living on 5th Avenue will need a lot more money to sustain himself than someone living on 8 Mile.

That is accounted for in an elegant way. The guy in London chooses to spend money to buy something - the London life. He does NOT have to spend any more to sustain himself because he could go live in India. If you can afford to buy the uptown lifestyle, you are more wealthy than someone who can't.

It even works for things like taxes. Taxes make the cost of living higher, but the money buys us things like keeping the wars thousands of miles away. So the higher cost of living buys a wealthier lifestyle. Unskilled wages in London really is far wealthier than India.

If you didn't believe paying more for London buys you a nicer life, you'd move to India. Of course there are minor differences due to efficiency. Texas might be cheaper per value than New York because in NY you're paying someone to tell you what size soda to buy, but those effects aren't dominant.

The Rich (3, Insightful)

Anon-Admin (443764) | 1 year,8 days | (#45125561)

Right, the rich. That is EVERYONE reading this.

The poorest 1 billion people on this planet do not have computers to read slash dot. As such they will not be taking part in the following discussion.

Re:The Rich (2)

Nrrqshrr (1879148) | 1 year,8 days | (#45125733)

i don't think that the richest 1 billion people on the planet read /., either...

you are almost certainly one of them (3, Insightful)

raymorris (2726007) | 1 year,8 days | (#45125807)

Do you live in India or China? If not, you're probably in that top 20%. I see you have a computer or mobile device , so that almost guarantees you're in the richest few hundred million.

I make at least $50K, so I'm in the top 0.5% and I'm on Slashdot.

Re:you are almost certainly one of them (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,8 days | (#45125949)

Do you live in India or China? If not, you're probably in that top 20%. I see you have a computer or mobile device , so that almost guarantees you're in the richest few hundred million.

I make at least $50K, so I'm in the top 0.5% and I'm on Slashdot.

So basically what you're saying here is that measuring personal wealth as a percentage of global finances is pointlessly asinine.

I recall that industrial operations are responsible for somewhere between 60-80% of global greenhouse gas emissions; let's start there.

14%, says the EPA. Electricity and cars are 68% (4, Insightful)

raymorris (2726007) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126155)

The EPA says industry accounts for 14% .
Electricity is 38% and automobiles are 31%.

You can reduce the emissions by cars primarily by increasing the production of electricity, while at the same time increasing other pollutants, so there's not much benefit working with cars until you have clean electricity.

You can get about 8% of your electricity cleanly through hydro and wind. That does mean you'll have to put up with windmills in your backyard.
Massachusetts had a big problem there - they wanted wind power, but refused to have windmills.

So where are you going to get the other 92% of your energy? Natural gas is cleanER.
Nuclear is really scary to the uninformed, but by FAR the cleanest. It produces an incredibly tiny amount of really nasty stuff and small amount of safe stuff that's scary because like our own bodies, it's "radioactive". Sun light is a billion times more radioactive, but for decades the "green" PR was so anti-nuclear that they are having a hell of time turning that around.

Re:14%, says the EPA. Electricity and cars are 68% (1)

kesuki (321456) | 1 year,8 days | (#45127055)

the real problem with nuclear is the spent fuel needs to be cooled to store it.that place in japan has 12,000 rods being cooled in holding tanks. it needs to be reprocessed into new fuel rods by breeding while the rest is stored as slag with other metals creating a stable alloy that doesn't need cooled storage.

What'it like? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45126131)

I make at least $50K, so I'm in the top 0.5% and I'm on Slashdot.

So, what's it like being a 0.5%'er? What are the Koch's really like?

kinda like a cucumber (1)

raymorris (2726007) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126647)

My health insurance just went from $430 / month to $950 / month. It feels kind of like a cucumber being shoved ...

Re:you are almost certainly one of them (1)

kesuki (321456) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126169)

yeah yeah but obama gave free cell phones to food stamp recipients. so that doesn't fly. also rich enough to afford a computer or a phone could reflect previous work prior to being sacked and unable to find work.
i know a few hobos and at least one of them also loved video games especially grand theft auto. also the internet boom is global now.
http://www.internetworldstats.com/top20.htm [internetworldstats.com]

Re:The Rich (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45125823)

I don't think the poorest 1 billion people on the planet need to be part of this discussion since their contribution will be minimal. The rich, which have internet and access to information, are likely the target of this discussion.

Re:The Rich (1)

fatphil (181876) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126105)

Pretty sure I'm in the top 100 million. Knowing what wages are like in the US compared to over here, I'd be surprised if more than a handful of those with technical IT-related jobs there aren't also in that top 100 million. Slashdot readers that aren't in the top billion would probably be in the minority.

Re:The Rich (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126771)

We won't be taking part in the discussion either. That gets decided by lobby groups and politicians, all of whom are playing hot potato with the future. No one wants to be in office or be leading the fossil fuel industry when carbon can no longer be written off as externalized costs. That's why you hear only discussions of non-binding resolutions to limit carbon on the next guy's term.

The voters and consumers themselves are also trying to convince themselves it's not real, so lobbyists and politicians can't take all the blame. Most of us too want someone else to make sacrifices. "WHAT? YOU'RE GOING TO RAISE GAS PRICES BY A WHOLE FUCKING CENT!?!? AND MY ELECTRICITY BILL!"

Honestly, I'm confused as to why we're not throwing money at researching iron fertilization. Seems like that's the lazy way out. I don't think that's the BEST solution, but it's just what I'd expect us to do, we avoid the problem and avoid having to limit carbon. Could really mess up the ocean, but the ocean is already going to be messed up. Reminds me of the anti-nuclear environmental movement back in the day: by rejecting imperfect solutions, we are basically limiting ourselves to no solutions, since a perfect solution doesn't exist.

Re: The Rich (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45126891)

They'll have to be satisfied reading the writing on the wind. (Unless MIT and Google ever succeed in their mission to connect the 3rd world to Amazon.

Re:The Rich (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45126905)

I've lived in Bolivia. An extremely poor country, its inhabitants are part of the bottom billion [amazon.com] . They are, as you say, too poor to own computers, but internet cafés are cheap, widespread and popular.

I wouldn't expect to see a poor Bolivian posting here, but that's not because they don't have access.

where rich $5K / year (2)

raymorris (2726007) | 1 year,8 days | (#45125585)

It should be noted that TFS uses "rich" in the global context. Here, "the rich" very much includes US beneficiaries of taxpayer subsidies such as aid to families and dependant children. If you're reading this on your phone, you are the 1%.

Re:where rich $5K / year (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45125629)

well, 86%, since we're talking about the not-poorest billion.

Don't you mean 'man made global warming'? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45125619)

Oh, sorry, you said 'climate change', how quaint... you missed out the WARMING part. I wonder why.

There is no such thing as 'man made global warming', the IPCC is a bunch of scammers whose very jobs depend on terrorising the public into submission.

www.climatedepot.com

Is that good enough for you? Why do the idiots at Slashdot keep running these 'man made global warming' - sorry - 'climate change' articles? Too stupid to THINK? Thought so.

8% reduction by chaning lifestyle (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45125637)

The mentality will be "why should I?"

Haven't we learned this already? Every single appeal along these lines is destined to fail before it even begins. Either come up with a way to make it economically beneficial or stop wasting time. Nobody will care until money is at stake.

Re:8% reduction by chaning lifestyle (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45125859)

Why is this modded down? It's the bitter truth!

Re:8% reduction by chaning lifestyle (1)

fritsd (924429) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126251)

What do you suggest, then? Maybe someone can calculate what the effect would be if the Americans paid as much petrol tax as the Europeans. (I mean: the effect on CO2 production; not the political repercussions).

Re:8% reduction by chaning lifestyle (1)

triffid_98 (899609) | 1 year,8 days | (#45127149)

Maybe someone can calculate what the effect would be if the Europeans lived and worked in countries that you couldn't drive straight through in a few hours and didn't have massively subsidized public transport infrastructure. (I mean: the effect on CO2 production, not the political repercussions)

Just built it (1)

aliquis (678370) | 1 year,8 days | (#45125641)

Just built those damn thorium reactors or solar cells on the moon.

40 (researching materials & systems for reactors) or 500(+?) billion dollar depending on which project you're doing is more or less nothing when it comes to energy production and consumption anyway.

You'd learn other cool stuff to, the later would get us to the moon and who knows maybe a moon base or more space stations and more eyes towards the sky and more belief in science and how awesome humans are, I guess less environmental impact here..

Space stuff are cool, lots of energy is nice.

Just pay.

Re:Just built it (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45125921)

Despite what Nike commercials have led you to believe, "just do it" is not a strategy. Either think, or admit that you don't want to. But don't pretend.

Re:Just built it (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,8 days | (#45125997)

Just built those damn thorium reactors or solar cells on the moon.... the later would get us to the moon and who knows...

Couple points:

A) it's l-a-t-t-e-r [LAH-ter], not l-a-t-e-r [LAY-ter].

B) the latter would be solar cells on the moon; I assume by "would get us to the moon" you mean as in, "would get us to the moon to install them?" Or did you mean to say the former, thorium reactors, would "get us to the moon?"

Interesting ideas, but your sentence structure and grammatical quirks make it difficult to derive just what exactly you're trying to say here.

Re:Just built it (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45126405)

but your sentence structure and grammatical quirks make it difficult to derive just what exactly you're trying to say here.

FTFY: but my dogmatic persistence to not understand what you said because of a spelling mistake, even though it is still perfectly understandable, means that I won't understand you, because I choose not to.

Re:Just built it (1)

aliquis (678370) | 1 year,8 days | (#45127009)

A) I didn't even know that word existed. "Senare" och "det senare" would be the same word in Swedish.

B) I obviously mean that it would give us a reason to get to the moon again (not necessary in meat-bag form) and do some space stuff which is always cool.

What I'm trying to say:
Start planning, researching and building those damn thorium reactors or just plan, research for and decide that we're going to build solar cells on the moon. Both are doable. We just have to decide we want to do them and put some effort into getting there. It make sense to do both / either. As for doing research the gains may not go to the one who did the research so as such I think it make more sense to do that on a government or cooperative level but whatever. Either alternative need some intense funding to get going to, which is also easier to do on a larger cooperative scale.

A magazine I've read mentioned we got the models for the molten salt thorium reactors but we need to have decent materials to build the pipes and (research?) the filtering equipment. They put the figure into getting that research done at 40 billion. Sure it also take some time but the sooner we start the sooner we'll get done with it.

The same magazine (different issue) also talked about solar cells on the moon, there was some guy arguing for it if I remember correctly (and if so he may have done that for some time), he put the price tag at 500 billion which of course is a lot of money but it also say about that was put into searching (? (building to?)) for new oil each year and if one look at it that way it's obviously very doable from an economical point of view.

Both options seem rather good and better than many other options at least.

Re:Just built it (1)

aliquis (678370) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126037)

... too press submit just as you notice built rather than build.

Re:Just built it (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45126243)

A wonderful idea except that it includes the possibility of polluting another world with the plague known as Man. NO, it's been decided that Man, if allowed to live at all will have to be confined to this planet in such numbers as will allow a sustainable presence.

Re:Just built it (1)

aliquis (678370) | 1 year,8 days | (#45127101)

Imho mans presence on another former dead space rock would be less of an issue than the current one.

The two issues I would have with it is that a) it of course transport more energy which will be turned into heat here but I guess the effect of that is at least smaller than the one of greenhouse gases and later on melting polar ices and such and b) possibly some issue with the electro-magnetic transfer of the energy over to the earth (but I don't know if that's an issue?)

Thorium we already mine whatever we want it or not. We need much less of it than we would need uranium, the reactors may be safer and supposedly you only needed to store the left overs for 300 years to make them no more harmful than regular granite. Which of course is a huge advantage over the uranium reactors too.

India for whatever reason (lack of developed reactors?) is instead building (at least one) reactor which will instead run on uranium (somewhat in the normal way I assume) made from the thorium they have. Which doesn't seem all that cool.

I don't see why it's better to fuck this one up sooner than we could use a lifeless (?) rock and help prevent messing this one up at least all that much.

But then again more energy and progress will likely consumer more natural resources and destroy things on this one regardless. If only we had picked ecological materials and construction for everything everywhere so what we left got turned into soil again and whatever wasn't organic we possibly let be.

Re:Just built it (1)

kraut (2788) | 1 year,8 days | (#45127297)

I'm all for cool long term research projects, but they're expensive and the outcome is uncertain. Otherwise it wouldn't be research.

Wouldn't it be more practical to start with things that we know work and are cheap to do?
* Stop wasting electricity on AC. Long term, you want to build self-cooling houses; short term, paint roofs white.
* photovoltaics. Proven. Works.
* Traffic.
    ** Stop using 2+ tonne hunks of metal to transport one person a few miles each day
    ** If you insist on using hunks of metal, #ffs at least make them more efficient. US cars are a disgrace. In lots of ways, but fuel efficiency is most relevant here.
    ** Seriously encourage cycling. It is way more practical for most journeys than you think, and e-bikes make it accessible to practically everyone.

Still Beneficial (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45125643)

Reducing their current emissions might not reduce overall emissions, BUT, it will certainly reduce future emissions, which is a lot better than doing nothing.

Most new technologies start off small scale, and there is nothing preventing these from becoming good enough to move back into the "first world". These projects should be celebrated not, put down because they don't do enough. There is no one thing that will do enough, so by that logic, we should do nothing. Which is obviously pathetic.

Small steps, any steps, are good.

Re:Still Beneficial (1)

kraut (2788) | 1 year,8 days | (#45127315)

It's all beneficial, but asking someone in the third world to burn less wood to cook their food while you happily burn gallons of gas to drive yourself to the mall is ever so slightly hypocritical.

Tell Al Gore to give up his mansion and car fleet (0)

TWiTfan (2887093) | 1 year,8 days | (#45125653)

That would be a good start, and a good example to others.

Re:Tell Al Gore to give up his mansion and car fle (1)

buddyglass (925859) | 1 year,8 days | (#45125873)

Supposedly he buys carbon offsets to bring his footprint down to zero.

Re:Tell Al Gore to give up his mansion and car fle (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126025)

Supposedly he buys carbon offsets to bring his footprint down to zero.

Yes, what a great message he could send the less-well-off among us: Don't Pollute... unless you can afford to.

Re:Tell Al Gore to give up his mansion and car fle (1)

buddyglass (925859) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126193)

That's the point of buying offsets. At least, if you think they work as advertised. Gore's lifestyle puts out X units of carbon; he buys offsets to bring that number down to zero so that he's not actually polluting.

Re:Tell Al Gore to give up his mansion and car fle (3, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126443)

he buys offsets to bring that number down to zero so that he can claim that he's not actually polluting.

TFTFY. The accounting on carbon offsets is totally bogus.

A windmill should not be able to credit any offsets until its manufacturing and operation costs are netted out, which can be 15 years of operation or more. Solar panels have only gone over unity in the past few years. etc.

People are getting credits for growing forests *that they were going to grow anyway*. No new behaviors are being created in these cases.

The primary value of carbon credits at this point are as an essential ingredient in greenwashing solutions. An honest market in carbon credits could exist (and there are probably a few small extant examples of this), but their primary purpose, currently, is not fulfilled by honest accounting.

Re:Tell Al Gore to give up his mansion and car fle (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45126519)

Gore actually buys offsets from himself!

He owns an offset company - he pays into the company to buy offsets, then takes the money back out again as salary.

But then, all greens are hypocritical serial liars

Re:Tell Al Gore to give up his mansion and car fle (1)

will_die (586523) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126355)

Has anyone actually proven that carbon offset actually do anything beneficial? All the items I have seen from various global warming groups is they are nice to have people focus on what they call a problem but overall are a distraction.
If you want to see something really interesting compare the following groups and see what they charge to plant a tree:
1) Arbor Day Foundation
2) TREE AID
3) A carbon offset company, like Al Gores.

Re:Tell Al Gore to give up his mansion and car fle (1)

buddyglass (925859) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126415)

Tree-planting is just one of the things they do. I'm not sure what the rest are, but last time I looked there's a whole range. But yeah- if the offsets don't do what they advertise then Gore buying them doesn't offset his lifestyle.

Re:Tell Al Gore to give up his mansion and car fle (1)

_merlin (160982) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126967)

Carbon offsets are the papal indulgence of the twenty-first century. The only thing they actually achieve is allowing affluent people to manage their guilt.

Re:Tell Al Gore to give up his mansion and car fle (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126361)

Don't forget hot showers. The carbon footprint of manufacturing solar hot water panels is even too high.

Cold water showers can get a person clean, at least if he cares about Mother Earth.

Why it doesn't matter that OP is right (2)

LF11 (18760) | 1 year,8 days | (#45125711)

I do not think there is a single answer to global energy needs. We need many answers, not just one magic answer. If this technology helps some people, then it is absolutely worthwhile. We need every bit of help we can get. If it's only a small fraction of a percent, that is fine; the technology is helping people and helping the earth. The least you could do is support it.

Dismissing ideas because they won't replace fossil fuels is foolish. Replacing fossil fuels is going to take a combination of ideas, probably in combination with production decentralization.

Re: Why it doesn't matter that OP is right (1)

Alex Cane (3296683) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126591)

People always seem to forget the ultimate renewable resource: the human mind. (Insight courtesy of Julian Simon)

Re: Why it doesn't matter that OP is right (1)

gnoshi (314933) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126769)

People always seem to forget the ultimate renewable resource: the human mind. (Insight courtesy of Julian Simon)

Based on what I've seen come out of some human minds, it might be more environmentally friendly to feed the biomass digester than the humans carrying the minds.

(No, I don't actually encourage starving people with whom I disagree)

ideological blinders (5, Insightful)

minstrelmike (1602771) | 1 year,8 days | (#45125719)

Most people have ideological blinders on. In politics, it is easy to see. The conservatives rail against the high cost of government (perhaps true although talking only about cost without considering benefit seems stoopid) yet spend their time complaining about the NIH or some silly program that is .000001% of the budget.

Same with energy solutions and climate change. Some folks think batteries are going to save us because apparently their thinking about energy generation stops at the electric plug.

One reason the cost of solar has yet to catch up to the cost of oil is because every time the price of oil goes up, there is more oil available. When the cost goes up, it is profitable to drill deeper and to keep marginal wells and refineries open longer. Basic economics.

We need affordable energy today. I think giving the poor people who need energy today a cheap and hopefully sustainable solution is addressing the issue (instead of increasing it by giving them oil wells and SUVs) but it doesn't address the big sunk costs of dams which are silting up or transmission wires which are growing old or energy generating plants which last for 40 or 60 years.

Same old same old. Most of the folks who present solutions can't even accurately describe the problem and the current situation.

Future growth (1)

Enry (630) | 1 year,8 days | (#45125795)

The reason gas prices are so high isn't because of low supply, it's because of high demand, from emerging markets (China and India in particular). While the amount of greenhouse gas used now by low-income countries isn't high, improving their electric grid and using renewable resources will not only decrease the rate of growth in CO2, but it will also be a good test bed for building a new grid. Eventually these new areas will ramp up demand and there will need to be something there.

Re:Future growth (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | 1 year,8 days | (#45127041)

While the amount of greenhouse gas used now by low-income countries isn't high, improving their electric grid and using renewable resources will not only decrease the rate of growth in CO2, but it will also be a good test bed for building a new grid. Eventually these new areas will ramp up demand and there will need to be something there.

This. The issue is not how little they produce today, but how can we tell them "no" when they want to produce more tomorrow? They won't want to wait for the zero-carbon final solution in a decade, they want to join the developed world today. Any attempt to tell them how bad it will be for the globe if they do would be viewed with the same disdain population control discussions are.

not targeting climate change (1)

green is the enemy (3021751) | 1 year,8 days | (#45125813)

It's not a solution to climate change and never was or will be. It's a solution to getting at least some energy infrastructure in the poor parts of the world. One thing we have to worry about is scaling this technology, since it creates an easy path deforestation (as others have pointed out). Biomass energy production should ideally use only waste biomass from agriculture and such.

another but.... (2)

TheCarp (96830) | 1 year,8 days | (#45125853)

> 'Why? Because poor people, whose carbon emissions these technologies would reduce, produce
> very little carbon in the first place. "

So far, haven't poor, third world countries, which were ramping up their industrial capacity, been among some of the larger sources of Carbon? I mean, its clear that we wealthy nations produce the lions share but.... isn't looking for ways to decentralize and get the poor of today thinking about green development.... isn't that part of getting ahead of easily predicted future compounding of the problem?

I mean, is it really fair to say to them "hey you know what...we need to cut our emissions so much that you....you can't have new technology"? Is it realistic to assume that those who have no carbon footprint today, will be happy continuing that way tomorow?

Is this a solution? No likely not, but, I don't think there is going to be A solution aside from embracing the power of "AND".

The best method of controlling climate change (0)

ozduo (2043408) | 1 year,8 days | (#45125931)

is to control the sun. Good luck to that one!

Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45126109)

The inevitable sea level rise will drown enough of the poorest so that the problem solves itself. Climate stability will be achieved after alll.

Barely noticeable ways? (1)

mveloso (325617) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126181)

What ways are that? The article gives no details, just a statement. I'm sure if the suggestions were 'barely noticeable' more people would do them.

You can't have that, it might reduce your CO2 (1)

DRJlaw (946416) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126247)

"[S]mall-scale projects -- because of their potential to mitigate climate change and support sustainable rural development, without undermining food security or incurring unmanageable expense -- deserve a great deal of attention."

Sorry, poor people, that tech potentially mitigates climate change. No sustainable rural development for you. Buy our industrial ethanol. Or perhaps you'd like a nice molten salt solar reactor.

"Bioenergy, the agency argues, can play a significant role in achieving global access to clean energy, notably among the rural poor. An array of modern, small-scale technologies can contribute to this effort. These include efficient cookstoves, biogas for cooking and village electrification, biomass gasifiers, and decentralized cogeneration systems that utilize bagasse (the fiber that remains after liquid is extracted from sugarcane). These biomass-based options, partly by reducing the carbon dioxide emissions that result from unsustainable biomass harvesting, could achieve a 1-gigaton reduction in annual greenhouse gas emissions. They could also reduce, by 60 to 90 percent, emissions of black carbon -- essentially, soot -- which is blamed for 2 million deaths each year."

Sorry, poor people, but you'll have to continue to import your electricity, liquid fuels, and cooking gas, as well as burn your own forests, because upgrading your technology potentially mitigates climate change. Hands off the first world problem, and nevermind those other benefits.

P.S. Pay no attention to the fact that black carbon emissions in the developing world are far larger than black carbon emissions in the developed world [climate.org] . Black carbon only makes things look dingy. It has no relationship to either climate change or lung disease. We'd could invest in small scale technologies to the poor, but instead we're going to ignore you and write Jeremiads about U.S. CO2 emissions.

Carbon? (3, Insightful)

nospam007 (722110) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126299)

Getting free Biogas for cooking, lighting or produce electricity plus a better fertilizer is nothing to sneeze at.

Re:Carbon? (1)

Incadenza (560402) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126549)

Where are mod points when you need them. By far the smartest answer in this post.

Basic falacy (2)

Daetrin (576516) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126357)

He's right that, on average, the people in poor countries aren't the immediate problem. He's also right that we should be doing something about the immediate problem.

However focusing _solely_ on quick fixes to the immediate problem is exactly how we got into this problem in the first place. If we focus only on reducing the carbon output of the rich, then by the time we've got that under control we'll find that those poorer nations have developed the same kind of ecologically unfriendly economies that the rich nations have now, and we'll have to go through the whole fight against the same entrenched interests all over again.

Unless of course he's proposing that the poor nations should not or can not become economically developed, which i just don't believe to be the case. (If we want any kind of long term peace and stability on this planet we're going to have to bring everyone up to about the same economic level, but that's an argument for another post.)

He's making the same mistake that many a slashdotter does when a story comes up about someone spending time and money on the "wrong" thing. (Most frequently "on space" rather than "fixing stuff here on Earth.") We are not in some giant 4x game where we have to focus all our research and all our industry on a single project at a time. We can invest on improving the efficiency of developed nations while at the same time improving the capacity of poor nations in an ecologically friendly way.

Disagree (2)

Solandri (704621) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126421)

Bissio adds that the people in these countries aren't really contributing to climate change in the first place: 'Why? Because poor people, whose carbon emissions these technologies would reduce, produce very little carbon in the first place.

That's an incredibly short-sighted and static viewpoint. Which two countries increased their greenhouse gas emissions the most in the past few years? China and India - both developing countries. Unless you intend to keep these poor countries poor for the foreseeable future, they're going to modernize at some point. The logical way to proceed is to get them hooked on clean energy from the onset is to prevent growth in carbon emissions in the future. If you just say they don't pollute enough to matter, you're eventually going to arrive at a state where the rich nations drop their carbon emissions to near zero but global emissions are still increasing because those formerly-poor nations are now burning coal.

There's a tremendous opportunity here in developing nations. Like many of them skipped landline phone networks and jumped straight to cellular, they can skip the coal and oil plants and jump straight to hydro, nuclear, wind, and eventually solar.

Rich people aren't contributing either... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45126431)

Bissio adds that the people in these countries aren't really contributing to climate change in the first place: 'Why? Because poor people, whose carbon emissions these technologies would reduce, produce very little carbon in the first place. ...because CO2 isn't causing any global warming in the first place.

Other than that, a pretty typical pointless greenist article...

3rd world becomming first world (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45126665)

They are doing it with out a big dirty coal power plant and large government investment.
Even poor people can afford 1Kw home solar systems. 3rd world businesses can too, enough to run a welder, or a mill . Most of the 3rd world are actually in sunny areas so its pretty viable to do this.

  Next 5 years we will see an explosion in solar power in the 3rd world. With this and cheaper electric peddle bikes, things will change with transport too. Instead of 4 million travelling about on 2 stroke bikes, some will commute on electric power.

  Biomass will still be used as it always has in heating and cooking gas.

  Look to 3rd world for the future. Not to the west, still driving around in hungry 4wd petrol trucks to work.

they can afford 10 years income for solar? (1)

raymorris (2726007) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126993)

> Even poor people can afford 1Kw home solar systems.
> 3rd world businesses can too, enough to run a welder, or a mill

At the average installed cost of $0.90 / watt, a 1 Kw solar system costs as much as most people in the world make in 10 years. Poor, globally, is under $1,500 / year.

A welder?!?! A little welder for auto repair is 200 amp @ 120V - 240V, or at least 24,00 watts. That's $21,600 of solar panels to run that welder.

Re:they can afford 10 years income for solar? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45127215)

Installed cost per watt is more like $3-4. Panels alone are $.90/watt

a welder is not rated at it's input, but at it's output, 200 amps at 24 Volt is a pretty decent welder. I have never seen a 24KWatt welder would be a 1000amp welder, that would be a BIG welder, only a plasma cutter needs that kind of power.

But in the end, the 2 mistakes even out, unless they are tig welding with DC, Solar ain't cheap.

Re:they can afford 10 years income for solar? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | 1 year,8 days | (#45127257)

Check your math and facts: 1Kwatt*.9$/watt=$900. My home MIG runs on 120V30amps. 3600watts. $3240@.9$/watt. Good enough to weld 3/16. Plenty for sheet metal.

Your 'little welder' is a monster good for welding pipelines.

Shouldn't the title be... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | 1 year,8 days | (#45126875)

...Why Small-Scale Biomass Energy Projects Don't Need To Be a Solution To Climate Change

...because that was not the intent, nor is a deliverable, of biomass projects in third world countries.

...or in any country, really. Biomass doesn't have the capacity to be a significant, centralized part of an industrial country's energy usage. But biomass solutions are a good fit to generate power in the third world, and the technology deserves to be pursued for this purpose. (It's also a good solution for small communities in industrialized nations who want "off the grid" for whatever reason.)

More to the point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45127111)

"Climate change" does NOT need to be "solved" and even if it did, for whatever reason, need to be, we're not the ones that are going to do it. The planet and simple economics will solve it for us, well ahead of any other well-intentioned path to hell.

It's become pure ideological agitprop at this point. There is no truly rational debate going on when an AGW advocate calls someone who disagrees with him/her a "denier" and any contrary argument is seen as nothing short of fanatical neo-religious heresy. Climate science is about as settled as the Kennedy Assassination is among conspiracy nuts. This has marked modern environmentalism from Rachel Carson onward, though even Carson's intellectual dishonesty and outright fabulism look rather tame compared to the current IPCC drivel. The UN wants us - the Western world, chiefly - to make mega-trillion dollar financial commitments based on a pack of lies so insincere, fact-challenged, and informed by fanatical cognitive dissonance that Joseph Goebbels could take lessons from the professional bureaucrats who come up with this nonsense.

This is not a puzzle. The only sustainability we should be remotely interested in is financially viable fuel production and generation of energy, period. Coal and natural gas are the most likely exponents of this today, especially in the U.S. where we're sitting on massive natural gas reserves that we could conceivably not exhaust for several hundred years. Nuclear is ironically the most viable for massive, cheap energy production yet it is a non-starter in the U.S. and much of the Western world as any new plant faces a 20-30 year quagmire of NIMBY lawsuits and harassing environmental legislation that in turn makes new plants financially untenable. It doesn't matter how "good" a reactor design is. Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima, all eminently avoidable (in hindsight) accidents that have soured nuclear energy perhaps for time immemorial. In fact in two of the three accidents if automated systems had actually been allowed to work would never have been heard of. Fukushima as it turns out was a bad design (well, technically, so was Chernobyl but you had engineers goosing the system beyond its limits and basically screwed a big chunk of Russia and the earth as a result).

Meanwhile, short of a Luddite return to the earth or a visit by the Borg, we need ever-increasing amounts of energy and we need it at a price point that won't bankrupt everyone. We need to concern ourselves with THAT reality and not whether the oceans are going rise 0.2cm over 100 years.

if they reduced their emissions by just 8 percent (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45127181)

The rich, if they reduced their emissions by just 8 percent

would reduce the GDP by more than 8 percent, and incomes of the poor by huge amounts. Cheap energy is how we afford our modern conveniences and manufactured products.

Article is total BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,8 days | (#45127205)

First off the poor make more CO2 than this guy thinks by doing things like not draining rice paddies and burning coal in inefficient stoves to heat their homes. Mainly this whole carbon thing does not work. Temperatures have been flat for 16 years and all the climate models were wrong. When will these guys stop smoking their own dope and come back to reality?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?