Sunday, March 15, 2009

“Green” Energy the way out of Recession? Pt. 2

In my previous post I mentioned how issues Trasportation & Infrastructure Energies need to be dealt with for green energy to be practical. In this post the issue of Waste & Recycling is addressed.

Waste & Recycling

This is the clearest area where the divide between intelligent, practical environmentalists, and intelligent, idealist environmentalists is greatest. To eliminate (or at least drastically reduce) uses of fossil fuels and the accompanying CO2 emissions, there is only one practical solution that still allows for the use of combustion engines: hydrogen power. The difficulty arises in that (in addition to infrastructure issues previously discussed) mass producing hydrogen gas from H2O is energy-ineffecient. In other words, electrolysis requires energy to undertake. All of the proposals by idealist environmentalists, off-shore wind farms; tide-based water-power generators; solar panels; natural gas, don’t provide enough energy to support our current demands, much less enough energy to waste splitting water. The best possible source that could accomplish both supplying current demands and enough extra energy to split water is nuclear power. Not just a few plants will do, rather we would have to build a multitude in the next 5 years. To avoid the N.I.M.B.Y. issue, the plants could be located on old off-shore oil rigs that are reinforced against attack. Civilian guard units, created and run by the state, could be tasked to provide constant security.

Assuming the plants utilize non-breeder reactors, the amount of nuclear waste is far less than the waste produced by coal or oil power plants. With enough extra cheap energy, we could mix the waste with iron-rich glass and bury it in the deepest parts of abandoned mines, or bundle the waste up and launch it into space (preferably on a collision course with the sun). Since we are already using the power to separate water, the hydrogen and oxygen for the rockets would be readily available.

Although I’m hopeful, it is not likely a massive drive to build nuclear reactors will be initiated in the next 5 years. The idealist environmentalists hold too much sway over the environmental lobby; they are expecting some miracle discovery that will solve the global warming and pollution problem while ignoring the interim alternatives that could pull America out of its oil addiction and cement us as a premier energy provider for the world.

Performing Arts on the Web cont.

Today’s Selections come from the later parts of a documentary on
Sylvie Guillem.

Video Clip: Sylvie Guillem – Part 4

Video Clip: Sylvie Guillem – Part 5

Video Clip: Sylvie Guillem – Part 6

Video Clip: Sylvie Guillem – Part 7

Over the past few years, I have pondered what the best ways of chronicling performing arts are. Some documentarians focus on particular pieces or instillations of art. Other documentarians focus on the artists: choosing to isolate their focus on particular traits/characteristics of the artist or how the artist approaches his or her medium. The last major focus of still other documentarians is the performance art/artist in historical context: what does both the artist and the art indicate about the place and period the artist existed in; does the artist challenge, ignore, or support convention; what is the relationship between the particular artist and his/her art, and does that relationship help or hinder the presentation/acceptance of that art?

As I continue to post findings from my internet meanderances, I will (on occasion) comment on which of the above strategies the filmmaker chose, and my thoughts and that choice.

The Sylvie Guillem documentary seems to have focused on the second option: isolate focus on the artist and view how the artist approaches her medium. Without subtitled translation, I cannot parse exactly what the people said. Perhaps someone who understands French will translate for me someday. Regardless, both the nature of how the documentary was shot and the style of editing allow the former conclusion to be made.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Is 'Green Energy' the way out of the Recession

The topic of Green Energy keeps popping up in the news. Our President even mentioned it in his speech to the joint houses of Congress. But my skepticism is increasing regarding how practical these ideas of solar panels in the desert, off-shore wind farms, and tide-based water-power generators. There seem to be great sweeping statements by environmentalists and energy producers/providers that either ignore or fail to recognize the multiple aspects of energy needs. While I’m clearly not a chemical engineer nor a physicist, it appears that there are at least XX facets to this: Transportation Energy; Public Use Energy; Waste & Recyling; and Energy Infrastructure. For this post I’ll address Trans. Energy & Energy Infrastructure,in a later post I’ll address the other two facets.

Transportation Energy
Both our previous and current Presidents have spoken about Americans addiction to oil. With the exception of some buses and trains, the majority of both private and commercial transportation has its lifeblood on oil(gasoline and diesel). This remains so because there is no commonly available technology that is more efficient (with such a high power-to-weight ratio) for land vehicles than the internal combustion engine. What this means is that any ‘solution’ for our oil dependence must replace the fuel with an alternative, not eliminate it. Biodiesel may serve this function, but that would require conversion of many gasoline powered vehicles. If the government is going to push for vehicle conversion, it may be better to push for converting vehicles to hydrogen power instead. This removes the majority of the pollution emissions generated by vehicles on the road.

Energy Infrastructure
Unfortunately, without the improvements, developments, or refinements necessary to both the power grid and fuel grid, any type of mass vehicle conversion program will falter. American’s N.I.M.B.Y. issues have delayed or halted the production of many power plants (oil, coal, or nuclear). Without having an overabundance of cheap energy, the inefficient tasks—such as splitting water to get hydrogen or pumping water uphill into dams and reservoirs—cannot be undertaking if the power demands on the current grids are to be met. The lack of cheap energy may also effect the willingness of energy providers to expand the capabilities of gas stations to include hydrogen fuel. In other words, if there isn’t an efficient way to distribute the hydrogen fuel to your stations, and there isn’t a high demand for the hydrogen fuel, why invest in retrofitting your stations to carry it?

Performing Arts on the Web cont.

Today’s Selections come from what appears to be a documentary on Sylvie Guillem.

…from wikepedia: “Sylvie Guillem CBE (born 23 February 1965 in Paris, France[1]) is a French ballet dancer. She was the top-ranking female dancer with the Paris Opera Ballet from 1984 to 1989, before becoming a principal guest artist with the Royal Ballet in London. She is currently performing contemporary dance as an Associate Artist of London's Sadler's Wells Theatre. Her most notable performances have included those in Giselle and in Rudolf Nureyev's stagings of Swan Lake and Don Quixote.” (Wikipedia)

Video Clip: ">Sylvie Guillem - Part 1

Video Clip: Sylvie Guillem - Part 2

Video Clip: Sylvie Guillem - Part 3

The film clips are entirely in what sounds like French, which I don’t speak. Consequently, I do not know what they are actually saying throughout the film. It appears that the documentary is more about Sylvie Guillem, the dancer, ( than about a particular performance. I don’t know if it was the choice of the director or more the reality of the dancer, but the film shows how isolated a life Sylvie leads, even whilst she operates amongst the other people involved in the same productions. I wonder if that is characteristic of all high-level dancers.

There are 7 clips total to the documentary; the second half of which will be in a later post.