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September 22, 2005

Kyoto comments

The Kyoto Protocol is once again in the news down under (or Up Over if you're from Down Under! - No; let's not go any further with that analogy!)and G'day Mate has posted a wonderful rant from one of his regular reads on it. Under the title of Kyoto Protocol (Revisited)Ozguru points up that most of the supposed "alternatives" are unreliable and even worse, would do some major environmental damage. Oz is in fact quoting from Dave's Halfarsed Blog and the full rant can be read there under the title "It ain't bad, it just ain't that good".. It is well worth visiting.

In fact, I followed up some of the ideas that Dave mentions and I wonder if the Green Airheads who have proposed this have even given any thought to the long term effects of having every roof covered in radiant panels? Consider for a moment the implications of two important things about these - first the absorb a lot of heat in the process of operation, but secondly, the also are reflective. Focus the reflected heat and light and you can send some serious radiant heat straight up into the air - possibly creating some serious convective updrafts. Over the surface of a major city, this could create something not unlike a major atmospheric depression. Just looking at the convected air currents rising above several of these panels fitted on local roof surfaces, makes me wonder what 250,000 square kilometres worth would do to atmospheric air currents!

Another little point, since we now think we know that ice ages are effectively caused by the creation of atmospheric changes which result in cloud cover reflecting sunlight away from the surface and thus prolonging winter in either hemisphere, if we created a massive surface which reflects heat back into space in the way these huge arrays would appear to do, would we not be in danger of plunging ourselves back into a massive ice age?

As to wind farms, as both Dave and Oz point out, they only work when there is wind and require backing up for peak demands - usually at night or when there is no wind. Ergo, we need something like a whole lot of gas-turbine generation plants all on stand-by for the demand - and starting these up and running them causes atmospheric pollution.

Kyoto is, at best, a "political" solution. The science behind it is questionable and unreliable. The Protocol itself addresses only the "developed" nations and allows the "developing" nations to pollute to their hearts content. Another aspect that is not being considered in this is that as factories move to "developing" nations, so do the jobs. The "Developed" nations can only afford the expensive social packages they offer their citizens as long as they are able to generate wealth through commerce and industry - and the taxes that flow from these. Equally, they can only afford these expensive and often "experimental" "Green" solutions because they have both the wealth and technology to do it.

It is ironic that Australia, Europe, and the US are often pilloried by the Green lobby as "polluters" when, in fact, they pollute proportionately less than undeveloped nations - the difference is that because the undeveloped nations populations tend to be very large, the pollution per head tends to appear to be smaller than that for - say - Australia.

This is a serious debate, one that has become far to polarised and far too dependent on very questionable science. The last people who shopuld be determining what and how we resolve these issues are the half baked and frankly hysterical members of Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the politicians. Ozguru and Dave are right, there is a clean and very green alternative to coal, to wind farms and to solar panels. Its called nuclear fusion and nuclear fission and the sooner we recognise that it is a safe and seriously reliable alternative the better.

Posted by The Gray Monk at September 22, 2005 10:16 AM

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