Drowning in Energy: Part Two
In addition to energy sources discussed in a previous article, like superabundant “fossil” fuels, possibly abiotic in origin, and such exotic technologies as “cold” fusion (all of these opposed or ignored by the environazis who claim to support “green” energy), there are still other sources of safe and non-polluting energy — also effectively suppressed or simply ignored by the radical environmentalists.
Of course, they oppose nuclear fission, claiming that it is unsafe and that it produces deadly toxic and radioactive wastes. But look at the two worst nuclear disasters to date — the core meltdowns at Chernobyl and Fukushima. The Chernobyl reactor, in what was then still the Soviet Union, melted down on 4/26/86. The reactor was poorly designed, poorly maintained, and was being run through poorly thought out tests when the inevitable happened. Tragically, 32 workers died in the plant, but, despite predictions of global catastrophe, there is no evidence (not even statistical evidence based on cancer rates) that anyone died outside the plant. In the supposedly devastated zone near and directly downwind from Chernobyl, trees, plants, and wildlife continued to flourish, and still do. The disaster at the Japanese nuclear plant at Fukushima was far worse. On 3/11/11 it was struck by a massive earthquake, but emergency backup systems functioned; the reactors were shut down and water continued to circulate to cool the cores. But then came the devastating tsunami, and all three cores melted down, releasing large amounts of radioisotopes, including cesium 137, much of which flowed into the Pacific, where it dispersed, dropping concentrations to a supposedly safe level. Thyroid cancer rates in Japan have increased, but the rest of the world has not suffered. Both of these disasters could have been avoided; one lesson should be not to build reactors near the ocean and near sea level.
But now we have inherently safe designs, reactors that cannot suffer a meltdown, including those using molten salts to carry heat from the core. Breeder reactors, which can be made safe and relatively economical with this design, can create plutonium fuel from common uranium 238, or breed thorium into a fissionable isotope. America’s largest (but not our only) thorium deposit, in the Idaho-Montana border area, contains enough thorium to provide all of our energy needs (at current levels) for 128 years. That’s without counting uranium breeders and other thorium deposits. As for the supposed peril of nuclear waste, it is the environmentalists themselves who have opposed reprocessing these wastes (to both reduce the amount of waste and to get more fuel), and they have opposed storing wastes in deep mines away from groundwater. Thanks to our compassionate tree huggers, we now have vast amounts of wastes, often in liquid form, stored in barrels and tanks in or near the reactors, all over America. And doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
And with the two energy sources approved by the greens, solar and wind, they have supported building large and uneconomical power plants with current technology, and have done little or nothing to support more rational, limited development, like solar hot water heaters and passive solar heating for buildings. On our coasts we have undrinkable sea water, wind energy in abundance (especially around Alaska and our West Coast), and numerous large cities in need of pure, fresh water. It seems not to have occurred to the Sierra Club types to support the development of coastal or offshore windmills, not to produce electricity (difficult and expensive to store), but to pump sea water uphill into tanks on land and force it under pressure through semipermeable membranes, turning salt water into fresh with reverse osmosis. High energy costs have made desalination expensive, but this technology might bring the costs down considerably. No one knows for sure, because no large scale research has been done.
And there is the power of ocean waves, which are really an indirect form of wind energy (itself an indirect form of solar energy, as the Sun drives all our weather systems). This technology has been improved and may now be economically competitive, but, as with wind and solar, energy must be stored for those times when the sea is calm. Perhaps wave energy could also be used for desalination.
There is another form of green energy, one most people have never heard of. It is a little known fact that the ground is relatively more positively charged than the air above it, which is more negative; the reasons for this are not well understood. The charge differential averages an incredible 30 volts per foot, so a collecting wire on a thirty foot high pole connected to the ground could collect, on average, 900 volts. This potential varies, being generally greater in midday and in winter, but it is always present. But the amperage at any one point is microscopic, so what is needed is some kind of network of elevated antennae to collect a useful wattage (watts are power, volts multiplied by amps, and watt hours are energy). To understand volts and amps, think of this analogy: a garden hose. If even a thin hose has high pressure, that resembles volts. If the hose is thick and carries a large flow of water, that represents amps. A large, high pressure flow is real power. In 1923 in France one Jules Guillet built such an antenna, elevated twenty feet above the ground, and produced between two and a half and three thousand watts. Would such a system be economically practical? If so, what would be the optimum antenna design? So little research has been done, and that by private groups with little funding, that we don’t know. Rest assured that our government and the tree huggers will never invest in it.
And this is yet more proof (as if any was needed) that the ecofascists are not for nature or clean energy; they are against prosperity. But then all leftists are “againsters”; ultimately they are against Humanity.