Henri, I do agree with we must change …

Comment posted Caithness wind farm rejection by John Sinclair.

Henri, I do agree with we must change the way we live and this ties up with Malcolm’s short video of energy out put from wind farms. In my opinion we are being sold an idea of no big change in life style just new form of energy production. When individuals stray from this path, the pack animals don’t like this. “transportation needs can be whittled down to almost zero” I am going away to try and get my head around this one.

John Sinclair also commented

  • I am pro wind energy, but Malcolm has put forward an argument about actual energy out put and financial cost of wind farms. Can anyone develop this argument in either direction.
  • Just watch your video, really good, could you make the colours stand out more and clearer text. I am pro wind farm, but I do totally agree with you about the misleading data being given out. I do remember people talking about smog in the major Uk cities, that’s no more but still happening in major cities around the globe. I have not seen this but people claim some parts of our oceans are clogged up with plastic, any views on this new “smog”.
    That video is really good, well done.
  • The 3rs
    Business loves the final option, recycling, big profits to be made, they hate the first two which saves us the most money.
    How would you power vehicles Henri.
  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-18435635

    “The costs of offshore wind farms could be cut by almost a third by the end of the decade, according to a new study.

    A report by the Crown Estate said measures such as building bigger turbines and improving design could reduce costs by 30%.”

  • So Alex wants to go to his ex-chums party, is it part of a kiss and make up policy.

Recent comments by John Sinclair

  • The independence campaign: personal gains and loss
    Read my older posts Karl, you might just get a inkling of were I am going from were I have come.
    And for you Richard grow up for once, grow a pair of yesticles, your antics no longer have any amusement value left, enjoy snuggling into your processions. And finally this comment is for Robert, just go out and buy a bigger car, and then buy a bigger car, you will never ever be happy, you have no love in you, no happiness. They are not my words they are from a man whose house is
    filled with happiness and caring and love for everyone.“I lost the friends that needed losing / found others on the way.”
  • The independence campaign: personal gains and loss
    Karl what do I deserve, come on spit it out, if I give it I should be able to take it. Come on then what do I deserve, let everyone known, is your true personality coming out now. Just say it you will feel a lot better.
  • The independence campaign: personal gains and loss
    “now stop your nonsense”
    Strange, the Yes movement has driven that change you are talking about, without it the ruling hands of Westminster would still have a firm grip round all our throats, we are prising them away to let us all breath clearly once again. Some people are so selfish, just me,me,me.
  • The independence campaign: personal gains and loss
    Got to go, enjoy working abroad and using Scotland as a hotel and play thing when you pop back. We want change, we want a good future for the generations to come. We will put a stop to the export trade of the youth because there’s no hope left in their home nation. This is due to the greed of Westminster. Change is here, the yes movement has driven it, there is a society here we need each other we are on that road.
  • The independence campaign: personal gains and loss
    “Remember the silent Jnr…which way will they vote YOU do not know…”
    Talk of 97% register to vote, talk of 80% plus voting, a big block of people who didn’t even have a voice have registered to vote, many for the first time in their adult life. They are not going to stay silent for much longer.

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67 Responses to Henri, I do agree with we must change …

  1. ‘Carbon materials are environmentally damaging’

    erm . . . what exactly does this mean? In fact GRP and similar materials are inert unless ground up into dust.

    Here’s a picture of kids playing in a Rotterdam playground that has been built using discarded wind turbine blades.

    What is ‘overriding the science’ I am afraid is Newsroom’s apparent willingness to publish any old guff to support her now full-blown turbophobia.

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  2. Wind energy has the lowest environmental impact of any form of generation on a per kWh basis according to industry standard lifecycle cost of energy approaches. Wind energy is a strong net positive for the environment and human health. Raising scares about wind energy when virtually everything else is much, much worse is a-factual scare mongering.

    Wind energy has no particulate emissions, causes no lung disease and no asthma.
    Wind energy has 1% of the CO2 emissions of coal, and 2% of the CO2 emissions of natural gas.
    New wind energy projects are directly cost competitive with new nuclear and hydro projects at 5-7 cents USD per kWh.

    Wholly irrational concerns such as those raised by this poor and alarmist article are what is over-riding science and reason.




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    • Infrasound must count as an emission from wind turbines – and its impacts have been shown by some studies to be damaging to health in a variety of ways for those within its range. This needs additional independent and serious research before we commit so widely to wind power; and certainly to where we site wind farms.

      This comment is actually an example of the sort of abusive response to rational concerns we were talking about.

      We note you make no reference to the undeniable environmental and human damage done by the toxic waste produced from rare earth separation; nor to the disposal issues around turbine magnets and carbon fibre blades and tower sections – but simply cry a blanket ‘rubbish’ without the need to provide any evidence for the stance.

      This is not good enough.

      Our own researches have so far not found any solution to the safe disposal of the toxic fluid wastes from rare earth separation processes; or to the safe disposal of carbon fibre blades and sections when decommissioning of wind farms becomes necessary.

      If you can cite research evidence for such solutions, we would be very glad to have it and, if it stood up to scientific scrutiny, would enthusiastically promote such knowledge.

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    • I take it these are generic comments ? environmental impact is agreeably lower in some areas, however this has to be on a case by case basis…you should also take into consideration “Base Load” provision and the co2 implications involved…also look at the environmental impacts of pumped storage facilities as batteries (storage etc)…for example: the output of the proposed Argyll aka Tiree Array is on par with the total output of all of Scotlands Hydro/Pumped storage…are you saying that we should not consider the environmental implications of flooding more glens ?
      We also have to take into consideration my solid NIMBY credentials in regards to the Tiree Array…
      Does micro climate change caused by large wind powerstations fall into the classification of polution or climate change ?
      Does displacement of species from heriditary breeding and over wintering grounds fall under the classifications of either: environmental destruction or environmental polution ?
      Electromagnetic discharge from sub-sea cables disrupts/disturbs aquatic species, again is this environmental distruction or polution.
      As was refered to in an earlier statement: flooding of Pacific atolls/flooding of lowlying land/global warming etc…There is every chance that if the Tiree Array goes ahead that Tiree will actually be the first island on earth to suffer from “warming or chilling” directly associated with industrial wind energy…this will make very interesting headlines for Joe public, but actually could have deep concequences for us out here on Tiree.

      A final point: Aesthetics inc: Noise/Light polution…placing these (some say beautiful) gargantuan structures in our wilderness areas (including inshore waters) is a kin to visual destruction in itself…and on par with placing a quarry in Glencoe or putting a huge landfill in Ardnamurchan Crater…

      Wind on an industrial scale is a bit like giving up alcohol for ones health and then becoming a smoker instead…
      Take your blinkers off…wake up and smell the coffee

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  3. Does the manufacture of steel actually involve less environmental damage than the manufacture of carbon composites? I’d be interested to see that analysis.

    As I have previously posted, it is fine to be against the use of rare earths in turbines because of their enironmental impact but then you must also be against the use of rare earths in pretty much everything otherwise your position is illogical.

    Last thought: trees are made of carbon….

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    • The issue of steel v carbon fibre is one of recyclability.
      We assume you are not claiming that carbon fibre turbine blades would, if buried, become peat beds over an age or two as trees have done?
      And the environmental and health damage from the toxic wastes from rare earth production are hugely multiplied by the massive demand for turbine magnets.
      The fact that the cost of rare earths has risen by 2000% in the period of the rise of wind power installations does not reflect the rarity of those earths. It reflects a massive rise in demand in a context where China currently controls the supply and, as is the pattern in developing economies, is prepared for the peasant communities on the outskirts of Baotou to take the hit.
      The volume of neodymium we needed before this period, to make magnets for things like shavers and laptops, was never at a level to drive such a price hike or produce such a volume of toxic waste as is now the case with the lake at Baotou. That demand and consequent price rise speak for the level of damage we are now running – if not yet in out own back yard – without stopping to think.

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      • I think you are a bit behind the times in regard to carbon fibre recycling:

        And remember that it is just not turbine blades that are made of carbon fibres: planes, boats and cars are increasingly made of carbon fibre By reducing weight without compromising strength composites allow significant savings in fuel in transport systems which in turn has environmental benefits.

        So, again, no problem with you being against carbon fibre (though it is difficult to see why anyone would be) but you then have to apply it equally to all other technologies that use them (and in larger quantities than the wind turbine industry).

        I don’t have time to check right now (children to feed) so I am relying on memory but I am pretty sure that if you check you will find that turbine magnets are not the major consumer of rare earths or even of neodymium.

        Price rises have a lot to do with China’s policy of both creating a monopoly of supply then squeezing availability to non-Chinese manufacturers rather than genuine supply problems.

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  4. First windfarm refused in 4 years? Er Kilchattan windfarm Kintyre refused by Scottish Ministers, January this year!

    I would have thought that For Argyll would know what happens in Argyll at least.

    And I’m assuming that the website will be going offline soon, because they cannot find a mobile phone, laptop or tablet (or indeed electricity from any form of generator) that does not involve the use of rare earths.

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    • Of course you are quite right about KIlchattan and we will amend the article as necessary. A blind spot for which we gladly apologise – although more frequent rejections hardly support the case for wind farms.
      In regard to the use of magnets in other products, the point is the degree of environmental damage, now and later, caused by a massive rise in the scale of demand – which has drive a 2000% price hike in rare earths.

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      • So is it the price or the environmental impact you’re worried about?

        And in any case, modern generators ALL use the same technology, so no matter what technology we use to replace our current power stations (gas, coal, nuclear, hydro, wave or tidal) we will still need the rare earths.

        The only rational approach is surely to compare lifecyle impacts of the technologies and not just cherry pick an issue which we think rules out the one we don’t like in the first place.

        Wind, like other technologies, has downsides, but it also has major advantages – virtually no CO2, no SOX, no NOX.

        Going home now on an electric trian which uses rare earths in the motor because it uses the latest technology which is much more efficient. And I know I’m having much less overall imapct that the drivers who lug a tonne of metal around with them everywhere they go.

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    • You’re quite right, Lowry.
      We conceded the point because the connection between Reporter and government might loosely be regarded as rejection at government level – but not, of course, formally so.

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    • Ah, the lovely Waubra Foundation, whose Board Members don’t live in Waubra. The closest is about 122 kilometres away.

      Ah, the lovely Waubra Foundation, chaired by a Dr. who oddly enough has let her registration lapse and isn’t bothering to renew it, yet still gives out medical advice.

      Ah, the lovely Waubra Foundation, with it’s deep ties to medium-sized fossil fuel companies, aka the ones that haven’t figured out that renewables are an opportunity for enhanced revenue, as opposed to a threat. The dumb ones, in other words.

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  5. Can’t comment on the manufacturing science but there is a human cost attached to wind farms in the Highlands – this ladies house has possibly become unsellable because of the huge profits to be made from turbines – in this case over £1 million every year guaranteed by us electricity users for 20 years. Has audio – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvlqCzwFX-8
    Incidentally – according to NETA’s figures for the last 24 hours, wind generation has contributed 0.6% of our daily requirements for electricity ( not uncommon recently),whilst we have imported 4.3% from Europe – self sufficient by 2020 – utter SNP nonsense ! Will be posting a graph showing the electricity produced by all of the UK’s wind farms over the first 12 days of June – hopefully later today.

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  6. Nice one doc – everybody please have a look – the pathetic green line along the bottom represents 6 months of wind generation that you are paying a fortune for – unclick the others to get a clearer view. Even I didn’t think it was that bad. I notice you have not commented on the Druim Ba video which I believe you have watched. And no, I am not being selective in the graph under construction,in fact it shows a considerable amount of electricity being generated from wind farms in the last week or so – IN ENGLAND ! Just as well we are all part of the UK so that we can share in it when our wee windy mills are stationary !

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    • I have certainly found the NETA graphs very useful and the ability to compare the different generating methods very enlightening. They obviously cover the UK as a whole rather than just Scotland but if you remove all of the other graphs other than wind and total demand we see that wind generates between less than 1% of total demand up to just over 10% of total demand. Given that investment in wind has only recently been vigorously pursued then that is a credible contribution. Looks as if wind provides a peak of around 3-4 GW. If you add hydro in we see that hydro (including pumped storage) provides a lot less than wind (though a much larger percentage of Scottish electricity production). Does this “tiny” amount mean that we should not have invested in hydro? Add nuclear in and we see that it provides a good and very stable contribution but how many billions (in today’s money) was required to produce that capacity? And how does that compare with the current investment into wind?

      I see you manage to merge your turbophobia and your anti-independence sentiments into your comment about wind farms in England producing “a considerable amount” of electricity while the ones in Scotland were quiescent. Passing quickly over the obvious point that if turbines anywhere are producing “a considerable amount of electricity” then that rather contradicts your line that their contribution is “pathetic”, the fact that wind turbines in one part of the British isles are producing while others are not demonstrates one of the strengths of wind in that it is rare for there to be no wind anywhere at any given time. The grid allows distributed production to be smoothed out and shared throughout the system The implied notion that we only enjoy this because we are part of the UK is laughable. So, on independence, the rUKis going to, what? blow up the interconnectors between Scotland and rUK? Have a look at continental Europe where national grids are all interconnected to allow different countries to distribute electricity throughout Europe (and to allow for periods when wind is weak in countries such as Denmark that produce a lot of their electricity by wind). So it will be for an independent Scotland

      SR’s spoof below is quite apposite. Although the internal combustion engine brought along its own set of problems, it removed within a decade the huge and literally stinking problem of the vast amounts of horse dung that used to choke the streets of cities.

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        • I hadn’t watched the video before but since you are so insistent I have now.

          Very nice it is too but I’m a bit puzzled as to how you think it will persuade people against either this installation or wind turbines in general Your main thrust seems to be that turbines are big, very big and so are a bad thing per se. Although you show some mock ups with them arrayed in Edinburgh (and one in Glasgow) they are in fact dwarfed by some of the recent buildings in London – the Shard London Bridge Tower is, for instance, twice the height of these turbines – and doesn’t produce much in the way of useful electricity!

          The Forth Rail Bridge was a behemoth in its day but is now an iconic image of Scotland. Fort George, the Caledonian Canal, the Blackwater Reservoir Dam and Cruachan power station are all examples of major pieces of engineering that changed their natural environment and the views of those living near them. Humans change things, often in a rather dramatic fashion. But then so will rising sea levels, loss of glaciers, changing weather and what we need to decide on is the balance of development set against its benefits.

          As I have said before, there is an argument over the siting of individual wind farms on the basis of visual intrusion,; so not all wind farms are “good”. There is also an argument over what should be the exact mix of electricity generation and what level of subsidies are needed to produce this.

          But in your desperate attempts to decry all wind turbines you really are the modern equivalent of the Victorians who opposed electrical lighting and the replacement of the horse.

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          • Glasgow ? Glasgow ? There’s nothing in the video of Glasgow – There’s the Scott Monument in Edinburgh, the Kessock Bridge at Inverness ,oh, do you think Trafalgar Square is in Glasgow ? You also avoided the serious mind bending noise problem evident in the vid. Those wonderful feats of engineering you mention have one thing in common – they are all there for our use 24 hours a day and therefore justify their cost – electricity from wind farms is inefficient,unreliable,intermittent and hugely expensive for consumers, whilst giving huge profits to the few. And not one Power Station can be, or ever will be, closed down because of them.

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          • My bad Malcolm – I had mistaken Trafalger square for George Square (I was watching it on a laptop and remember I have dodgy vision at present).

            As to the rest of your comments, I’m not going to rehash the arguments on them except to say that I. like the majority of people and governments, disagree with your interpretation. Each to his own.

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      • I think I’m right in saying that the NETA graphs only include the output from those wind farms which are part of the Balancing Mechanism – a few dozen of the largest farms which account for around half of total installed capacity.

        Of the remaining half, most are embedded into local distribution networks, and there is no mechanism for gathering and analysing output data from these. However, it is reasonable to assume that they will be generating somewhere in the order of as much again – i.e. the total output from wind will be somewhere around double that shown by NETA.

        The more subtle and interesting point is that the much more scattered distribution of small wind farms is likely to be helping to smooth overall wind output further, as pointed out by Douglas above. Of course no-one can be sure of this until a system is developed for measuring real-time output from all wind farms.

        Not only will our friends south of the border not be blowing up any interconnectors if Scotland becomes independent, they are about to start building a large new interconnetor (2.2GW) between Glasgow & Wirral in order to bypass some of the grid constraints currently limiting renewables development in Scotland.

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        • You’re quite right Tim – only about half the actual wind generation is displayed – as is stated below the graph on the NETA website. Also, when wind generation peaks at around 10% of UK supply, it is of course supplying a much higher percentage in Scotland of at least 30%. It’s not insignificant.

          Having said that, I believe that we do need to be careful in our siting of wind farms. the likes of caithness is a very flat county, and the benefits of new wind has to carefully weighed up against the cost and impact on local people. it is clear wind is not perfect – a big mix of different generation technologies and storage options is required. But neither is it the technology of doom that some portray it as.

          The problem is, no -one wants to accept any new generation:

          - coal – record number of objections for the new coal plant planned
          - Nuclear – we all know how nuclear stations are received by the local population
          - Gas – the cost is too variable and has been the main contributor to rising bills
          - Pumped storage / large hydro – many vocal mountaineers hate, see new plans for near inverness
          - wind – need i say anything
          - marine – personally i love the idea of wave and tidal energy but ti will not be mature for at least 5 to 10 years, costs 5 times wind presently (although that will come down) and is unlikely to supply more than 20% of our electricity at full development.

          If you hate windfarms, what’s the alternative solution? You can’t hate everything and build nothing and the status quo of coal and gas is no good due to climate change / increasing costs / reliance on unsecure imports.

          I doubt we’d be up for rationing our electricity! We need to pay for our modern excesses – our appliances, our emissions, our waste production – it’s just a question of what the best option is.

          What’s for sure is we can’t choose no option, no matter how difficult the various alternatives are.

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  7. ‘The Horse Is Here To Stay’ says Motor Opponent

    (Daily Mail, London, June 14th 1901)
    A colourful figure on his soapbox at the beginning of this new century, Mr. Kirk roundly condemns the stupidity and arrogance of those who seek to replace the horse.

    ‘They say these motor cars can go as fast and further than the horse’ he told our reporter. ‘Yet my figures show that they average only a quarter of their alleged top speed. Furthermore, ninety-eight percent of all journeys within our island kingdom are made by horse-drawn transport’

    To illustrate his point Mr. Kirk showed our reporter a most enlightening picture of a tiny motor car dwarfed by the huge horse standing next to it

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  8. You guys have got it all wrong. We must reduce our thirst for energy. Our attempts at maintaining our lifestyles is a lost cause. Wind farms and solar energy won’t save us. Eventually, we will have to turn off a few TV’s (you only need one, lights, etc. Electric cars, buses and trucks is a stupid idea.

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    • Henri: about the only thing we all agree on here is that energy conservation should be the number one priority. On electric vehicles, while the electricity to power them is coming from non-renewable sources then it makes more sense to focus on lean burn internal combustion engines than on making electric vehicles better. Good news here is that car manufacturers in particular are making great strides in petrol engine design and are delivering diesel like fuel efficiency whilst retaining excellent performance from comparatively tiny engines.

      Domestically, about 60% of the total energy consumption of an average house goes into heating it so heat conservation is both the easiest and most important target for conservation measures. Again, the UK and Scottish governments have been pushing insulation programmes hard but this becomes a game of diminishing returns for existing buildings. The new building regulations due in 2013 will push things much further and we will see a move to passive house technologies (that actually don’t require any heating at all).

      However, even if we reduce our energy consumption by 50% (which would be an ambitious target) that still leaves a lot of fossil derived power that needs to be replaced by either renewables or nuclear or a mix of both.

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      • It’ll be an even greater achievement if the next revision of the building regulations can manage to impose the next step in achieving increasingly energy efficient buildings without further adding to the opacity and complexity of the regulations.
        I can’t help thinking that – if the tightening of energy standards for buildings was matched in the vehicle construction and use regulations – the big high performance ‘gas guzzling’ 4WD car would be an extinct species by now

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    • The 3rs
      Business loves the final option, recycling, big profits to be made, they hate the first two which saves us the most money.
      How would you power vehicles Henri.

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  9. I hate to say this – but where is the proof that ‘ we must reduce our thirst for energy’. In my lifetime, since the 50s the atmosphere has never been cleaner. We used to have smokestacks belching out all sorts of nasties into the air we breathed – there are illustrations from centuries back showing chimney upon chimney polluting our streets, never mind whole cities.It may be that we can clean the air we breathe even further and I’m all for that, but why the doomsday scenario – its not fact. The atmosphere has warmed about 0.7 of one degree over the last several decades – this has happened before and in a few thousand years will probably happen again. OK – an atoll 1 metre above present sea level may disappear but eventually that atoll may very well reappear 2 metres above sea level. We can’t control these things – well actually we can. A thousand years ago a threatened island would have died along with its population – nowadays we would go in there with millions of pounds (actually probably US dollars)worth of equipment and ‘rescue’ them and give them a lovely home somewhere else – sorted !

    OOpps almost forgot – the new video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QX_3Hvkbw-0

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    • Just watch your video, really good, could you make the colours stand out more and clearer text. I am pro wind farm, but I do totally agree with you about the misleading data being given out. I do remember people talking about smog in the major Uk cities, that’s no more but still happening in major cities around the globe. I have not seen this but people claim some parts of our oceans are clogged up with plastic, any views on this new “smog”.
      That video is really good, well done.

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    • OK, so I just amend my earlier statement to: about the only thing we all agree on here is that energy conservation should be the number one priority (except Malcolm).

      It is true that one of the things that often disappears with age is a sense of balance. You rage against wind turbines because it will change the view out of some houses in rural areas yet you are quite happy to have entire nations lose the land that they have lived on for at least 500 years. Is that because they matter less than we who live in these hallowed isles? Is it because they are dusky skinned or just poor? I’m sure we would all like to know.

      I have been to these atolls, indeed I have friends and acquaintances who live on Tuvalu, the likeliest first nation to be abandoned to the rising waters. There are only 10,000 of them so they don’t matter much. Only the population of Oban and a long, long way away. So much easier to keep burning fossil fuels as if there is no tomorrow.

      But let’s look at that for a moment. If you don’t care a toss for your fellow human beings (albeit dusky skinned and along way away) what about your own self-interest then Malcolm. Unless you are (and let’s use the “n” word) a nutter, you must recognise that fossil fuels are finite and it is gross stupidity to advocate burning them as quickly as possible. Eventually the last hydrocarbon molecule is burnt then when where will you be without renewables? A long time before we exhaust fossil fuels we will hit peak oil where supply cannot meet demand and we see spiralling prices and fuel shortages. Surely it is prudent to conserve our fossil fuel supplies so as to put the evil day off as long as possible?

      Your air quality argument is fatuous. The problem we face now is not NOx or SOx (unless you have the misfortune to live in China) but CO2 which has risen relentlessly over the past almost 300 years to the extent that one in three molecules of CO2 in the atmosphere is of human production. You are correct in saying that both CO2 and temperature have been higher in the past but the worry at present is not the absolute levels but the rate of change. This gives little chance for Nature never less ourselves time to adapt.

      Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe all the climate scientists are wrong. maybe all the world’s governments are wrong and you are right. But given the option is between paying a bit more for our electricity and the presence of some turbines out of your window or the risk of extinction – what would the sensible person choose?

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    • Malcolm: ‘nowadays we we would go in there with millions of pounds (actually probably US dollars) worth of equipment and ‘rescue’ them and give them a lovely home somewhere else – sorted!’ No, Malcolm, we wouldn’t – going on our track record. If they’re a small population, in a remote place, we might just repeat our treatment of the population of the Chagos archipelago (Diego Garcia) where we drop kicked the people into a Port Louis slum in Mauritius so we could rent their atoll on a long lease to the US Dept of Defense. Hah! you might say, that was in the bad old colonial times; so it was, but we’ve denied those people their rights to live in their own homeland ever since – and even denied them decent compensation.

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      • I am pro wind energy, but Malcolm has put forward an argument about actual energy out put and financial cost of wind farms. Can anyone develop this argument in either direction.

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        • Most forecasts agree that onshore wind will cost the same as or less than nuclear or new coal per MW by 2016

          The electricity generated by wind is a matter of public record.

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        • Too late at night for a detailed argument but the latest projections suggest that the investment in wind power (and other renewables) will see a decrease in fuel bills relative to a “no change” scenario, largely because of increasing costs associated with fossil fuels. Wind power is only expensive because fossil fuels are cheap. If the latter statement changes then so does the former. The great thing about renewable technologies is that once the capital costs are sunk then the operational costs (or at least the fuel costs)are minimal. Not the case for fossil fuels.

          Fossil fuels are, in any case, a dead end technology. At some point the fuel runs out.

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  10. Like I said, you guys have it all wrong…..old thinking. By the way, I have lived 72 years in this world. I am also an engineer. We would like to believe that we can solve our problems by using more benign forms of energy but such energy sources hide some serious long term side effects as discussed above regarding recycling, mining, etc, etc. I am hoping that we can change the way we live by living in compact communities where transportation needs can be whittled down to almost zero. It will be impossible to generate energy in the amounts consumed today by replacing oil with solar and wind energy. Nuclear power has some serious issues as well as we all know. Can you imagine the wind and solar farms required to do this. Come on now, there must be some intelligent folks out there who can use a simple calculator. Doomsday or not, we are faced with some very serious choices, choices that will change forever the way we live. We have been living in an oil “dreamworld”. Had we not found oil, there would’nt be a single tree left on the planet which leads me to believe that there are just too many of us. If we can’t sustain ourselves without causing environmental damage, then we are not living right. Changes aren’t going to be legislated; nature will provide the impetus to change when the time comes. The earth knows how to take care of itself.

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    • Henri, I do agree with we must change the way we live and this ties up with Malcolm’s short video of energy out put from wind farms. In my opinion we are being sold an idea of no big change in life style just new form of energy production. When individuals stray from this path, the pack animals don’t like this. “transportation needs can be whittled down to almost zero” I am going away to try and get my head around this one.

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      • John, the city/town of the future will not require the type of transportation that we use today. We will live/eat/sleep/entertain ourselves all within walking distance. You are probably thinking how we will travel from town to town or from continent to continent. Don’t forget that oil has made possible all our current forms of transportation. When oil disappears, we will just have to walk.

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  11. John and Henri,

    We can’t even persuade the likes of Malcolm that we need to decarbonise our energy supply and use it more efficiently.

    Trying to persuade them to do without altogether is a complete fantasy. It is a vote loser par excellence, a student fantasy that is never going to happen.

    We will be back in the caves (or the trees) before we give up our personal transport, our warm homes and our endless gadgets.

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  12. Let’s put it this way. How many square miles of solar panels, square kilometres of wind farms and number of nuclear powerplants would we need to replace oil. By the way, when oil is gone, so is the plastics industry.

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    • Henri: humans are smarter than just oil.

      It is true that oil is a wonderfully easy and cheap feedstock for plastics but it is not the only route. Plastics are essentially different combinations of CHO (carbon, hydrogen and oxygen). Where else can we obtain CHO molecules from? Plants; indeed cellophane is a plant derived plastic. Another route is to have plants make oil that is then used to make plastics. There is a lot of work going on on algal feedstocks for plastics. There is also an alternative materials route using ceramics. Remember Bakelite and the such? Plastics supplanted ceramics in most applications except for high temperature materials but ceramics can be used to supplant a whole range of plastics if we needed to.

      So no fossil oil doesn’t mean and end to plastics. Nor to transportation. The railways (and indeed the internal combustion engine) predate fossil oil. Railways can be entirely electrified and powered by renewables and nuclear. For urban transport, decent tram networks can cope with large populations. For rural areas transportation is more of an issue and personal transports are required. Pre-oil this was the horse but, just as we can use plants to make feedstocks for plastics we can also use them to make transportation fuels (indeed an increasing proportion of the fuel you already buy at a filling station is biofuel). This can also power aircraft, boats and HGVs – none of which are very easy to power electrically. Speaking of boats, our ancestors had the globe completely circumnavigated long before oil or even coal came on the scene. The fastest clippers could give modern powered vessels a run for their money. Archaeology tells us that humans traded goods over pretty much all of Europe and all the way to China over two thousand years ago.

      So, post oil doesn’t mean a return to the stone age for humanity. But the transition to a post oil world cannot be made overnight and we will have to adjust to things being much more expeensive than they are now. Future generations will probably look back and shake their heads in disbelief at an age where people could travel by air across the globe for a few pounds.

      Must be off now and get on with creating the future!

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      • By mentioning clippers you’re tempting fate; wait for some luminary to point out that as the wind doesn’t blow all the time sailing boats are utterly impractical and would never catch on.

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        • Robert you’re indeed the ultimate ‘luminary’. There was a programme on telly just last week featuring Thames Barges – the programme makers got stuck for several days with ‘nay wind’. The camera boat was OK it was diesel powered.
          Incidentally somewhere above you claimed that we would not go into a situation to ‘help others’. You posted that on the day the remembrance service from the Falkland Islands was filling our television screens – explain!
          The Doc’s ‘holier than thou’ sermons are so boring and long winded, but I think he is in the renewables industry, so he is only defending his corner.
          Thought for the day – a neighbours house had solar panels installed last week – perfectly legal, etc. A baby born last week will go through all the stages of growing up, with all that entails. Certainly for most of us the late teens and through the twenties were the most difficult when it came to earning enough and paying all the bills. The baby born last week, going into its 25th year on this planet, will still be paying as part of his/her utilities bill for the subsidy allocated to my neighbour’s solar panels last week. As I understand it at the moment the factory gate price for one KWh of electricity as supplied from normal Power Stations is about 2.5p. The price of one KWh from solar panels is 43p – index linked – and guaranteed for those 25 years.

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          • I think the corner I was actually defending was the small atolls of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, not to mention the future well being of all of our children.

            Sticks and stones Malcolm, sticks and stones.

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          • It takes one luminary to recognise another, but I do try to get my facts right, Malcolm, because I think presenting stuff as fact when a little bit of checking would have proved it wasn’t is really rather tedious after a while. Thames barges seem to have been remarkably successful, and fit for purpose, in their time – the programme stated there were thousands of them. Your comparison of my comments on Diego Garcia with the defence of the Falklands isn’t comparing apples with apples, and unfortunately this is a habit of yours. A long time ago, when I was very young, my father was fond of reminding me that it’s better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and prove it, and while that was designed to deflect annoying questions it can be used in the context of some of your less well considered pronouncements.

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      • Interesting…but a point of note on a couple of issues, are you suggesting we turn over productive land to bio fuels etc instead of food ?
        I could be wrong but algal farming produces massive amounts of methane ? (but also eats CO2?)

        I still feel reducing our 40%+ wastage of energy reduces our CO2 output etcetera by 40%+ and throwing a mix of energy into the pot would obviously reduce this further.

        (The fastest clippers could give modern powered vessels a run for their money….Skipper: MacKinnon of Tiree/ship Taeping) Some interesting savings been made world wide with use of Para sails and incidentally solar sails)

        Good stuff…cheers


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  13. I leave our loyal followers to extract anything worthwhile from all the above. I’m off to watch England beat Sweden.
    PS – what we really need is someone to start a new topic – what about school meals

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