Friday, April 25, 2008

Europe Turns Back to Coal, Raising Climate Fears

At a time when the world's top climate experts agree that carbon emissions must be rapidly reduced to hold down global warming, Italy's major electricity producer, Enel, is converting its massive power plant here from oil to coal, generally the dirtiest fuel on earth.

At this point we're pretty much begging for it. The shotgun barrel is in our collective mouth and our finger has started to twitch.


Katie said...

Oh, fuck it. At this point the only thing that will save the Earth is the total and complete annihilation of the human race, and honestly, I couldnt' give a shit anymore.

And isn't it this kind of thinking that will do us all in?

intense said...

"And isn't it this kind of thinking that will do us all in?"

Yes, it is. The question then, considering that just giving up will guarantee species annihilation within the next generation or two, imho, is what can practically be done to change the current, insidious, grim paradigm? Anything? Or, are we already doomed as a species?

Are there any real answers to being able to reverse this horrifying prospect in time?

Mac said...

Keep using those low-energy lightbulbs! Everything will be just fine!

intense said...

One possibilty: fusion power


Problem: it may or may not work.

Even if it does, related power generation and infrastructure technologies are not likely before 2035. And while the current cost estimate (sure to rise) for this one test/production reactor is $16.7 billion, that's around 2 or 3 months of the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Relatively "cheap"--and worth the risks and costs.

intense said...

Side note:

I did a little more reading about the ITER fusion test reactor being built in France, which apparently was scaled back to cost half of what was originally proposed, and then I found this:


"14 February 2008—The 2004 report “Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth,” from the U.S. National Research Council, sold Washington on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), a massive R&D project that proponents predict will be the breakthrough project for fusion energy. In its fiscal 2008 budget, however, Congress drove the United States’ role in ITER right into the ground, slashing US $160 million promised for this year to $10.7 million. U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) officials are expected to provide an update on how the United States plans to work around the budget shortfall at a meeting of the agency’s Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee next Tuesday. But the United States’ paltry participation has some wondering if fusion research, considered since the 1960s one of the great long shots for a sustainable and relatively clean energy supply, has run out of time."

Well, yeah, I guess it would be a long shot if you cut the proposal in half initially, due to cost, and then the US Congress, which had originally committed to 9% of the costs (the European Union will bear the great majority of the $16.7 billion cost) then reduces that $160 million down to $10.7 million. So much for federal support for science. But what else is new? Meh!

Mac said...

My obligatory Positive Idea: power satellites capable of harvesting sunlight and transferring it to Earth in the form of microwaves. Not only would it be clean, it could provide an economic incentive for getting off the planet in meaningful numbers.

Anonymous said...

I doubt that a coal power plant would be too much different in Carbon emissions than an oil one.
I'm not sure which is dirtier in other aspects. It kind of depends on type of coal and type of oil and whether the plant has modern scrubbers.
The issue is fossil fuel which both coal and oil are.