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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 04-15-08, 08:57 AM   #1
donrhummy
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The technology that will save humanity?

Well, personally I think the headline should really be: "The technology that could save humanity if big business would let it," but still a very interesting article.

It's solar thermal energy which is different from solar panels in that it creates heat not electricity from solar rays (and then the heat is used to create electricity and power).

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/20...ctric_thermal/

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Clearly, the world needs a massive amount of carbon-free electricity by 2050 to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions....

This electricity must meet a number of important criteria. It must be affordable...at most about 10 cents per kilowatt hour, a price that would probably beat nuclear power and would certainly beat coal with carbon capture and storage...The electricity cannot be intermittent and hard to store, as is energy from wind power and solar photovoltaics. We need power that either stays constant day and night or, even better, matches electricity demand, which typically rises in the morning, peaks in the late afternoon, and lasts late into the evening.

This carbon-free electricity must provide thousands of gigawatts of power and make use of a low-cost fuel that has huge reserves accessible to both industrialized and developing countries. It should not make use of much freshwater or arable land, which are likely to be scarce in a climate-changed world with 3 billion more people.

Solar electric thermal, also known as concentrated solar power (CSP), meets all these criteria.
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Old 04-15-08, 09:19 AM   #2
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"technology" itself could never save humans because we stopped living "with"
the planet instead tried to "control" the planet.

The modern mindset that technology can save anything is like an ant crawling up
an elephants leg thinking ****. All it does for the ant (and you) is keep the illusion
alive.
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Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 04-15-08, 10:03 AM   #3
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I've always liked the idea of solar power from heating instead of from solar panels. I did research in the area of microelectronic fabrication, and even did a little work on solar panels and I've come to the realization that simpler is better. Sure, turbine generators require a good deal of engineering (bearings, etc), but we've been using them since the beginning of the electric age and we know how to make them cheap and efficient. Solar panels, on the other hand, require exotic/toxic materials, extremely harsh chemicals, and massive amounts of ultrapure water to manufacture. I'd rather just point a mirror at a black tube.
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Old 04-15-08, 10:38 AM   #4
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"technology" itself could never save humans because we stopped living "with"
the planet instead tried to "control" the planet.

The modern mindset that technology can save anything is like an ant crawling up
an elephants leg thinking ****. All it does for the ant (and you) is keep the illusion
alive.
what's your definition of living "with" the planet? Hunter gatherer? Even that required technology and was exploiting the world. At what point do we go backwards in time/reverse technology to live in harmony with mother nature? Man has been controlling the planet from the first time they learned how to make fire and craft a spear.


Back to the topic, as with most forms of alternative energy, this works great in very specific, narrow circumstances. However, paired with hydro-electric dams, wind power (even wave power), we are getting closer to matching coal, oil and nuclear as a reliable, steady source of power. We are making a very slow, steady progression to these technologies which is what should be expected. As oil prices continue to skyrocket, more companies will jump in with both feet to exploit these other forms of energy.
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Old 04-15-08, 11:25 AM   #5
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what's your definition of living "with" the planet? Hunter gatherer? Even that required technology and was exploiting the world. At what point do we go backwards in time/reverse technology to live in harmony with mother nature? Man has been controlling the planet from the first time they learned how to make fire and craft a spear.
Think Amish.
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Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 04-15-08, 01:33 PM   #6
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Think Amish.
But with a computer, right?
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Old 04-15-08, 02:19 PM   #7
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what's your definition of living "with" the planet? Hunter gatherer? Even that required technology and was exploiting the world. At what point do we go backwards in time/reverse technology to live in harmony with mother nature? Man has been controlling the planet from the first time they learned how to make fire and craft a spear.


Back to the topic, as with most forms of alternative energy, this works great in very specific, narrow circumstances. However, paired with hydro-electric dams, wind power (even wave power), we are getting closer to matching coal, oil and nuclear as a reliable, steady source of power. We are making a very slow, steady progression to these technologies which is what should be expected. As oil prices continue to skyrocket, more companies will jump in with both feet to exploit these other forms of energy.

Or... they'll just keep building as many coal plants as they can get approved. One theory is reality and the other is just wishful thinking.
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Old 04-15-08, 05:01 PM   #8
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But with a computer, right?
NO, and I'm not Amish but we all can learn a great deal from them in the way of "right
earth friendly, living".

Always a smart pants in the group.
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I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 04-15-08, 09:49 PM   #9
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NO, and I'm not Amish but we all can learn a great deal from them in the way of "right
earth friendly, living".

Always a smart pants in the group.
While he was being sarcastic I think he has a point. If you really believed that was the right way to live, you'd be living that way. Perhaps you could be a bit more specific, then, about the aspects of their life that you think we should incorporate and how they'd mesh with the lives we're currently leading (internet community included).
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Old 04-16-08, 01:45 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by donrhummy View Post
Well, personally I think the headline should really be: "The technology that could save humanity if big business would let it," but still a very interesting article.

It's solar thermal energy which is different from solar panels in that it creates heat not electricity from solar rays (and then the heat is used to create electricity and power).

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/20...ctric_thermal/
I think the article is right. This is a very promising technology. It ranks right up there with a few other ideas for overcoming the primary drawback of solar power: What do you do at night and on cloudy days? (I've also read about other promising ideas for storing solar energy, including hydraulic storage systems, superheating sodium, and compressing air or natural gas.)

We must decide on one of these systems and implement it quickly if we want to save ourselves from a whole bunch of serious problems. I think we should challenge our next President to develop a comprehensive alternative energy policy within his/her first term in office. This could be done, but only if we the people put the pressure on our leaders to make it happen.

Bickering about who has the purest lifestyle will probably accomplish little.
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Old 04-16-08, 09:19 PM   #11
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This energy technology could of course be a scam, but it's unusual in that it was covered by '60 Minutes' NZ: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FW_LQqJk740
However, even if we did develop all these wonderful alternative technologies, humanity as a whole seems to be so rapacious of its environment, that I suspect we'd trash the planet beyond repair within the next one hundred years.
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Old 04-16-08, 09:49 PM   #12
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even if we did develop all these wonderful alternative technologies, humanity as a whole seems to be so rapacious of its environment, that I suspect we'd trash the planet beyond repair within the next one hundred years.
We seem oblivous to the Law of "No free lunch" Whatever miracle power source we discover next (assuming we last long enough to discover it) is going to end up having some downside, which we will ignore until it brings us to yet another twilight of humanity. Asimov's book "The Gods Themselves" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gods_Themselves should be required reading for all earthlings.

Of course the book does end in a rather rosy outcome, but I think the first two parts are quite an astute analysis of humanity's approach to energy and resources, i.e. USE USE ....

Frankly, considering the quite acurate quote from which Isaac took the books title, I am not filled with hope for the long term.
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Old 04-16-08, 09:49 PM   #13
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The technology that will save humanity is birth control.
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Old 04-17-08, 12:30 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by KrisPistofferson View Post
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Originally Posted by Tightwad View Post
Think Amish.
But with a computer, right?
Actually, I think there's something in this.
Just like in an oil-less future we may (probably) need to make some adjustments to our personal transport expectations, we may very well need to also make adjustments to other aspects of our lives. Perhaps there are lessons to be learnt from societies like the Amish, at least from a sustainability point of view. I'm not saying we should all adopt the Amish lifestyle, just that we should keep an open mind.... and lets face it, horse drawn buggies look like a heck of a lot of fun.
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Old 04-17-08, 02:54 AM   #15
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Actually, I think there's something in this.
Just like in an oil-less future we may (probably) need to make some adjustments to our personal transport expectations, we may very well need to also make adjustments to other aspects of our lives. Perhaps there are lessons to be learnt from societies like the Amish, at least from a sustainability point of view. I'm not saying we should all adopt the Amish lifestyle, just that we should keep an open mind.... and lets face it, horse drawn buggies look like a heck of a lot of fun.
Unless you happen to be riding behind one

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"Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred
Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
_krazygluon
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Old 04-17-08, 07:36 AM   #16
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lookup Stirling Engines....they are about 35% efficient when used with a parabolic solar collector, they are small, reasonably quiet, and easily buildable. They are already in use in many locations, and can be used in many more. This is far more promising than solar cells at the moment.
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Old 04-17-08, 08:08 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by donrhummy View Post
While he was being sarcastic I think he has a point. If you really believed that was the right way to live, you'd be living that way. Perhaps you could be a bit more specific, then, about the aspects of their life that you think we should incorporate and how they'd mesh with the lives we're currently leading (internet community included).
Amish have a community that is real and works together. Amish are not dependent on the grid
or the oil complex for their farming or to run their households. Amish live the real deal simple
life in a peace unknown to other lifestyles. Amish let their young adults "try" the modern world
with most who do try it going back to the Amish way of life.

Amish live just fine without a computer.
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I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 04-17-08, 08:17 AM   #18
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The technology that will save humanity is birth control.
No doubt. The human race is growing way too rapidly and needs to slow the hell down.
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Old 04-17-08, 10:04 AM   #19
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No doubt. The human race is growing way too rapidly and needs to slow the hell down.
You are correct but did ya ever notice that the only response you get is.......YOU FIRST!

The world is filled with brain dead people...............
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Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 04-19-08, 01:53 PM   #20
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We seem oblivous to the Law of "No free lunch" Whatever miracle power source we discover next (assuming we last long enough to discover it) is going to end up having some downside, which we will ignore until it brings us to yet another twilight of humanity. Asimov's book "The Gods Themselves" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gods_Themselves should be required reading for all earthlings.
Oh, solar thermal is quite old. Older than or as old as fossil fuel combustion depending on the context. I'm pretty sure that compared to the alternatives, the externalities are few and far between. As for the Law of "No free lunch" that's news to me.
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Old 04-19-08, 08:21 PM   #21
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Actually, I think there's something in this.
Just like in an oil-less future we may (probably) need to make some adjustments to our personal transport expectations, we may very well need to also make adjustments to other aspects of our lives. Perhaps there are lessons to be learnt from societies like the Amish, at least from a sustainability point of view. I'm not saying we should all adopt the Amish lifestyle, just that we should keep an open mind.... and lets face it, horse drawn buggies look like a heck of a lot of fun.
Of course, some of those "simple" Amish farmers are millionaires, at least on paper.

I rode a bus across Michigan today and saw a number of Amish farmers plowing fields with teams of four big horses. This looked like fun, but also a lot of work--especially for the horses! I also saw a big flat-bed wagon pulled by two horses, with a lot of suitcases and 5 or 6 little kids riding in the back. And of course there were the one-horse buggies that pull the whole family about as fast as a fit roadie can pedal.
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Old 04-25-08, 04:00 PM   #22
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We seem oblivous to the Law of "No free lunch" Whatever miracle power source we discover next (assuming we last long enough to discover it) is going to end up having some downside, which we will ignore until it brings us to yet another twilight of humanity.
The main downside to solar and wind power (as I see it) is that they're not plentiful enough.

High tech alternative energy solutions are no magic bullet, the main problem with them being that they are too difficult/expensive (and seemingly not in ways that technology can solve) to produce on a scale that will replace the many thousands of watt-hours per day per person that industrialized countries use. If neither fossil fuels nor nuclear power provide the necessary energy, it is very unlikely we'll be able to use energy so extravagantly for things like heating/cooling large single-family homes and luxurious apartments, 3000-pound "economy" cars that are carrying 200 pounds of human-being around, etc.

Mind you, the electrical grid of france is mosltly carbon-neutral even with very limited steps toward conservation, simply by virtue of the fact that they produce tons of nuclear power.
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Old 04-25-08, 09:57 PM   #23
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The main downside to solar and wind power (as I see it) is that they're not plentiful enough.
They seem to be plentiful. IMO they just aren't profitable enough. By the time we see a shortage of renewables it'll be a moot point anyway. Fossil fuels otoh, thanks to inherent limitations, will likely experience significant price spikes over their lifetimes allowing for significant profit.
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