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Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Discussions of conventional and alternative energy production technologies.

Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby Newfie » Mon 30 Jan 2017, 08:59:30

baha wrote:
Newfie - Depending on how old your panels are you could probably replace them with new and get 1.5 times the power from the same area. .


OR you could adjust your lifestyle and not need that much power.

Technology is NOT (the fundamental) answer. You say you respect Mother Earth? Then lighten up the load.

A HUGE part of our problem in Western Culture is this idea that we are necessary consumer units whose job is to consume and grow the economy. THAT idea is death to our natural habitat and to our species.

And that is simple fundamental physics, there is no perpetual motion machine.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby onlooker » Mon 30 Jan 2017, 09:02:46

Absolutely, if wind and solar are ever really going to work it would work in the context of a downgrade in consumer expectations on the part of everyone. Also, much less people to boot.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby Revi » Mon 30 Jan 2017, 09:14:07

We might have a chance at a semblance of a modern life if we could live like people on a boat, with LED lights, small solar and wind systems feeding batteries that power a tiny, tiny fridge, a small propane stove (2 burners), a small heated living space, say around 250 square feet, and other systems that actually make energy instead of just consuming it. This is the big car of the future:
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby onlooker » Mon 30 Jan 2017, 09:19:37

I still remember the Archdruid Greer, saying that certain energy necessities like heating water and a few other really can be done with much less energy than we use now for such uses
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby Newfie » Mon 30 Jan 2017, 09:55:38

It's funny but when you live in a small space little things make a noticeable difference. Changing from halogen to LED lights was such a change. It made a big difference in our battery draw. We still have a couple of halogen lights that are used only very occasionally.

We took a bad of old incandescent and halogen bulbs to a nautical flea market and marked it FREE. No takers. That tells you something.

I am old school and use a pressure kerosene stove, one on each boat and one in the cabin. I know of one fellow who cooks with a microwave. He has a big solar installation and generates more than enough power. He kept track for a while and figured for him the microwave, using free electrify, was cheaper than propane.

We don't have the solar or, more importantly, the battery capacity. If I can figure out where to put it an additional 4-6V golf cart batteries would be useful. Double my bank.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Mon 30 Jan 2017, 10:36:04

Z - "...we're probably going to need Winker County". No problamo. Winkler County, at 870 sq miles, would just be another 0.3% of the total area of Texas. Relocation of the local 7,100 people a tad more expensive but just a tiny fraction of the total project cost. Of course if we want to build just a few dozen 150 MW solar farms there would be no need to relocate anyone. In fact the locals would be thrilled with a few new jobs. LOL.

The key to expanding the Texas solar footprint will probably be similar to the Georgetown plan to go 100% renewable electricity. It signed a 25-year deal with SunEdison, the world’s largest renewable energy company, to buy 150 megawatts of solar power . With a guaranteed revenue stream SunEdison could use it to establish a loan basis. That eliminates all the debates over theoretical economics and puts the cost/efficiency burden solely on SunEdison. If the Georgetown (poppulation 55,000) project, as well as others underway, prove themselves they could be used as a model by dozens of other Texas cities:

"Improving technology has driven down the price of solar power, making it more competitive with other resources­ — even without extra incentives. That trend has sparked what some industry experts describe as a small “land rush” in West Texas, and it’s increasingly convincing utilities that solar power is workable. San Antonio’s (population 1.4 million) CPS Energy, which plans to retire one of its oldest coal plants ahead of schedule, has set a goal of using renewable energy to meet 20 percent of its electricity demand by 2020, with at least 100 megawatts from renewable resources other than wind. Once completed, its Alamo Project is expected to deliver 400 megawatts of solar power to the area. And the Austin (metroarea population 2 million) utility signed a deal with a California company to build a 150-megawatt solar farm in West Texas, to help meet its ambitious renewable energy goal."

So CA can brag about rushing big time into solar before it became fully commercially viable. But Texas is currently showing the rest of the country how to do solar with 100% private capex. IOW no waiting on a crutch from the govt.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Mon 30 Jan 2017, 11:19:11

Looker - "if wind and solar are ever really going to work it would work in the context of a downgrade in consumer expectations". OTOH consumers in Texas are supporting both solar and wind (as described above) with expectations of UPGRADING their lifestyles as the Texas economy continues to grow with the projected significant INCREASE in electricity consumption. If fact not just expecting it to happen but demanding it.

I know it's strange: the population of the state that produces more fossil fuel then any other making long term energy decisions over short term cheaper options. Like the consumers in Georgetown voting for higher initial electricity rates so it can benefit from stable and lower long term rates. It's almost as if common sense is running wild in Texas. LOL.

I pointed out before how this odd cooperation between politicians, regulators, private industry and consumers has come about. It's a result of the power (pun intended) our electricity "csar" holds...ERCOT. And does so because of its internal structure: ERCOT is a membership-based nonprofit corporation, governed by a board of directors and subject to oversight by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Texas Legislature. ERCOT's members include consumers cooperatives, generators, power marketers, retail electric providers, investor-owned electric utilities (transmission and distribution providers,) and municipal-owned electric utilities.

So instead of just 3 musketeers it's a bunch of them essentially coerced to be "all for one and one for all". IOW minimal turf battles. LOL. Too bad the other 2 US electric grids don't have their own ERCOT's.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby Zarquon » Mon 30 Jan 2017, 17:42:52

Let's see. According to the EIA, residential use of electricity was 38% of total consumption in 2015. Lifestyle decisions have little impact on industrial and commercial use, at least not directly. Public transport was 0.2%, i.e. nothing. Where can you save some power, without going Amish?

http://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/inde ... ricity_use

Let me risk getting ridiculed for being clueless and just pull a few numbers out of my behind, just to see where I end up:

- Space cooling 13%
"For example, AC accounts for 60-70% of the average home's summertime power bill in Austin." (not from EIA, but seems reasonable)
No idea how efficient your typical air conditioning is, how over-dimension-ed or how many are running when not needed. Let's just guess and cut the number by 3%. A little less comfort, some investment in higher efficiency.

- Refrigerators and freezers 11%
Last time I measured our fridge's and freezer's consumption, they amounted to very little. Unless yours is from the 1950s, not much potential there. But let's cut it by 2%, just because you just could spend a little more the next time you buy a new one. Or empty the freezer and switch it off when you're on holiday.

- Lighting 11%
I guess CFLs and LEDs are pretty much standard by now. But let's cut this by another 2%. Switch off the light in the kitchen, and put real candles on the Christmas tree.

- Water heating 9%
Just guessing that there isn't much potential. Let's cut it by 1%.

- Space heating 7%
Surprisingly much. I'm just guessing (did I mention that?): if you use electricity for heating, then you probably live in a rather hot climate and have the cheapest heating system in terms of installation costs. Or it's a weekend house. What can we save there? A lot with better insulation, but I guess that idea won't fly in southern Florida. Let's cut it by 2% anyway.

- TV et al 7%
Stop watching TV would be a good idea, unless it's Better Call Saul. Watching it on a 12" screen would also save massive amounts. Not popular, though. We just say you'll switch the plasma screen off during advertising breaks and cut 2%.

The rest is from another page (slightly different year, so the numbers don't add up exactly to 100%):
http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=96&t=3

- Clothes dryers 4%
- Furnace fans and boiler circulation pumps 3%
- Computers and related equipment 2%
- Cooking 2%
- Dishwashers 2%
- Clothes washers 1%
Save a Wh here and there if you like. But in the grand scheme of things: no cuts. Or you could say I'm too lazy to research potential electricity savings in average US dishwashers.

So far I've invested thousands in this average US household to buy more efficient appliances, I've reduced my thermal comfort through less heating and cooling, I've installed LEDs everywhere. I haven't gone out of my way to save the Earth but I'm now much more conscious about my consumption. So far I've cut my electricity use by 12%. Fine.

- All other uses 28%
"Includes small electric devices, heating elements, exterior lights, outdoor grills, pool and spa heaters, backup electricity generators, and motors not listed above. Does not include electric vehicle charging."
The big catch-all. Impossible to guess, but I sell the electric outdoor grill and stop heating the pool. I charge the cell phone at the office and mow the lawn only every second month. Insert any number you like, but I'll cut it by another 8%.

(There's a lot of strange numbers everywhere. ~6% of US households are mobile homes?)
http://www.eia.gov/analysis/studies/bui ... ouseholds/

And now the miracle happens: I convince *everybody else* to change their habits and consumption. It costs a lot of money but it adds up to 20% of household electricity use. Maybe my numbers are so wildly off that the whole exercise it futile anyway. But maybe I've at least hit the ballpark. I don't see how we could save 50% without a lot of magical thinking, but I'm sure we can squeeze more than 10% out of every household. Not much from the unemployed, lots from the well-to-do (who have the least incentive to save).

Result: since residential use is 38% of the total, we've just reduced US electricity consumption by a little over 7%. You can call that what you like. Insert your own numbers. But what I wanted to find out was whether changing our lifestyle could be a real game-changer. Get a little greener here and there and save the world. I don't think so. Where in the above list do you get enough points to really change the game?

https://www.statista.com/statistics/201 ... ince-1975/

Another surprise for me: US consumption has almost doubled from 1980 to 2005 - and stayed essentially flat since then. A hundred reasons for the overall dynamic - better efficiency, population growth, more and more appliances (i.e. wealth), conservation... but I bet the big items are the overall economy. The lifestyle choices of a million people are insignificant compared to a thousand factories closing.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby Newfie » Mon 30 Jan 2017, 18:40:03

Z,
When I say we need to reduce its not just at the household level it's across the board. We live entirely ridiculous lifestyles and every facet needs to be examined.

Think about our infrastructure for a minute. Let's say you are in business and you need a factory to make Christmas widgets. Would you build a huge factory so that you would produce the daily requirement of widgets knowing that you will sell 90% of them in the 2 weeks before Christmas? No, you build a small factory, work it 24/7/365, and build up your inventory.

But that's not how we build our roads and highways. We. Hold them to meet peak demand, even though they never do. Why not even out the flow, think of them as a factory, by having people work 24/7/365. That would greatly reduce the infrastructure load. Instantly we would need no more new highways.

Now think about office buildings. You live one place, but also have another place where you spend a lot of time. Is that really necessary? And, those offices are only filled 40 out of 168 hours per week. What a waste of infrastructure. Bingo, no need for more new office buildings. Also fixes the parking lot problem. And now the trains have plenty of room.

Of course no one will actually do this, but between where we are and maximum efficiency is a whole lot of very low hanging fruit. I'm making a couple of kinda silly examples to point out the directions we need to go in, the kind of thinking that we need to apply.

But I have no illusion it will actually occur until too late, if then.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby Zarquon » Mon 30 Jan 2017, 20:54:01

Newfie wrote:We live entirely ridiculous lifestyles and every facet needs to be examined.

I don't. By the standards of, say Bangladesh, I do of course. And a lot of facets are being examined, and my gut feeling is that there are typically good reasons why very little changes.

Let's say you are in business and you need a factory to make Christmas widgets. Would you build a huge factory so that you would produce the daily requirement of widgets knowing that you will sell 90% of them in the 2 weeks before Christmas? No, you build a small factory, work it 24/7/365, and build up your inventory.

Instinctively, I'd say I'd try to make the entire bunch as close to Dec 10 as I can and produce plastic Easter bunnies and Halloween masks for the rest of the year. I try not to produce stuff in January that sells only in December.

But that's not how we build our roads and highways. We. Hold them to meet peak demand, even though they never do. Why not even out the flow, think of them as a factory, by having people work 24/7/365. That would greatly reduce the infrastructure load. Instantly we would need no more new highways.

Now think about office buildings. You live one place, but also have another place where you spend a lot of time. Is that really necessary? And, those offices are only filled 40 out of 168 hours per week. What a waste of infrastructure. Bingo, no need for more new office buildings. Also fixes the parking lot problem. And now the trains have plenty of room.


Reminds me of an old SF story: the world is so overpopulated that you get to live only one day per week. At the end of that day you step into a box, are vaporized, and six days later the machine puts you back together. Unfortunately, if you're a Tuesday person you can never meet the people from Friday. Turned into a corny love story, I think.

Anyway, there are so many reasons why the above examples don't really work, or hardly ever. You see the problems yourself. A lot of highways are work programs. Bridges to nowhere aren't being built because someone thinks we really need them. That's politically motivated waste. Fix politics and the problem disappears. I mean, fix *every* political system on Earth, because everyone does it.

Car sharing would be another example. It is being practiced, but only by a tiny minority. For the others, it's either not practical, or they don't mind the extra expense, or the car is a status symbol, etc. How many non-car-sharers are irrational? Having your own car is necessary for many with no other realistic transportation option, and very convenient for others. There's some fat you could trim, but not very much.

Sharing your apartment with a family of strangers: possible, but having my own is very convenient for me. Even though I don't use it 24 hours a day.

Most of what I see is not ridiculous waste. Some of it is organized like it is for good reason, because the alternatives are worse. Some is a symptom of being well-off. I don't have a pool, but I wish I had (and live in a climate where I could enjoy it most of the year). What in the world does KJ need his bloody Jeep for? One person's enjoyment is another's ridiculous waste. Al Gore has a huge carbon footprint because he's rich. If I were him, I wouldn't live in a hole in the ground and eat tree bark.

And then we get to the old question of who's going to be the engine of change, the free market or the state? Especially since they're both supposed to make our life better, i.e. help us consume more?
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby Newfie » Mon 30 Jan 2017, 20:59:35

And that's why we never will change. And we are doomed.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby Zarquon » Mon 30 Jan 2017, 22:20:36

Newfie wrote:But there you go, we are living on well less than 400 watt constant load energy budget. Roughly 6kWper day?

What is average for an American household? 30kW/day/person. So, for a family of 2, if we were average we would use 60kW. THATS where the potential savings are.

"In 2015, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,812 kilowatthours (kWh), an average of 901 kWh per month. Louisiana had the highest annual electricity consumption at 15,435 kWh per residential customer, and Hawaii had the lowest at 6,166 kWh per residential customer."
https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=97&t=3


400W * 24h = 9.6 kWh/d
9.6 * 365d = 3504 kWh/a

EIA numbers are for households (1 household = 1 utility customer). The average American household in 2015 consisted of 2.54 people. If 2.54 people lived on your boat, you'd use 4450 kWh/a. Make it 5000 for the occasional generator use. You use half of the average US per-capita consumption.

How do you factor in stuff like radar?
"Outputs for traditional pulse style recreational boating radars range from 4kW to 25kW"
I just googled "boat radar power". No idea if that's typical, or if yours is much smaller. But let's say 6kW power, run one hour per day, that's another 2000 kWh/a. It's part of your electricity use, whether you pull it from the grid or the engine. Now you're at two thirds of average consumption already.

How do you cook your food? Wash your clothes? Come on. Nudge, nudge. We'll soon get you to 10,812. We'll buy you an XBox if we have to.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Mon 30 Jan 2017, 23:16:41

Z - " US consumption has almost doubled from 1980 to 2005 - and stayed essentially flat since then". And by comparison Texas electricity consumption has increased almost 25% since 2000. And, perhaps not coincidentally, our population has grown about 25% over that same period.

Back to the entire country. From
http://www.vaultelectricity.com/texas-e ... tag/ercot/

"For the 5th time since the 2008 recession retail electricit­y sales have actually declined. The biggest declines were seen in the industrial­ sector. While the residentia­l and commercial­ building sectors were more or less flat. It's a result of a number of factors. In the residentia­l sector, the number of households­ has increased. Yet energy efficiency­ regulation­s and improvemen­ts the energy efficiency of newly constructed homes have offset the effect of having more households. For the commercial and industrial sectors the numbers reflect a continued sluggish economy and a shift of the type of manufacturing performed in the US.

...a report by ERCOT...showed an increase in electricity usage in Texas for 2015. Since the 2008 recession the U.S. has seen a general population shift to the South and West. Population growth in Texas has likely offset the effect of more energy efficient building and federal energy efficiently standards and appliances. Texas has also seen cheap electricit­y rates for a number of years which takes some of the pressure off of consumers to conserve energy and spend on energy efficientl­y efforts. "

And as pointed out Texas solar is about to boom thanks to lower costs and coordination by ERCOT. Total installed solar in 2015 was only 288 MW. But it's projected to see new projects planned for 2,050 MW by the end of 2017: 1,200 MW contracted with financial security posted and 570 MW contracted with no financial security posted. These include the projects mentioned earlier for Austin, Georgetown and San Antonio.

And electricity consumption is projected to keep growing as more population and businesses relocate to Texas. Oddly even a couple of European heavy industry companies relocated plants to south Texas to take advantage of our cheaper energy. All of which explains why the state that produces more fossil fuels the any other is pushing so hard for renewable energy.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby Zarquon » Tue 31 Jan 2017, 00:13:23

Just because it kept nagging me: the estimated land use of the Tumbleweed Solar Plant in Loving County. This time with better, i.e. even more credible, numbers (treating the county as one large roof and adding 30% underestimates land use a lot).

I'll leave the installed power at 275 GW and use 1-axis tracking. Standard modules, no concentrating arrays etc. That'll generate 580,181,250 MWh/a, which is 128% of current Texas consumption.

The NREL report gives us numbers on land use for *existing* solar power plants in the US. Average Total Land Use for larger projects (>20 MW), leaving ample space for roads etc., ranges from about 6 to 12 acres/MW(DC) of installed power. Average is 8.3. I guess we could pack them a little tighter, but what the hell. Now we need 3566 square miles.

Or we can go by energy yield: how many acres/GWh/a. Average is 3.3, but that doesn't factor in the actual location of the plant (you'd get less energy/acre in New Jersey). By that metric we'd need 2991 square miles. Same ballpark.

Damn. Wait... we generate 28% more than Texas uses. So 3566 reduce by that amount and we need 2785 sq mi. A little more than just Loving.

Loving County 669
Winkler County 841
Ector County 891
Half of Midland County 450
-------------
2851 sq mi

Given current consumption growth, just give me all of Midland. By the time the plant goes online, we'll need it.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby Newfie » Tue 31 Jan 2017, 09:03:08

Radar, used infrequently, power is the PULE power. The instantaneous peak power in a pulse of emitted uWave energy, which lasts microseconds and is NOT indicative of the steady state power drain.

We cook on a small kerosene stove.

We swim, we sail naked.

Joking on the last naked bit. We do about one or two loads of laundry at a laundrymat about once every 2 weeks. In the meantime necessities are hand washed.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Tue 31 Jan 2017, 09:25:54

Z - Great work...thanks. And given how much low value open land in west Texas we have you could probably go with the lowest cost infrastructure. Though less efficient we have a lot of room to spread out.

And again back to the big Texas advantage...ERCOT. Imagine instead of one agency having absolute authority over the entire process we had dozens of separate utilities and numerous local regulators. Take your example of New Jersey. You wouldn't need a single panel in the state let alone a plant. As long as the grid can handle it the solar field could be in Kentucky. Worked there once...lots of open spaces.

But there's probably the first big hurdle...the grid. It cost Texas tax payers $7 billion to upgrade our grid to get the juice from the sources to the consumers. Granted Texas is big. But not nearly as big as the eastern or western grids. And without each of those grids managed by its own "EXCOT" how could such an effort be coordinated among hundreds of utilities, state and local regulatory agencies, municipalities, etc? And then have to collect tens of $billions from all the states to pay for the upgrade. Obviously the taxpayers in west Texas didn't get much for their share of the upgrade bill...they didn't need it. So how will taxpayers in KY feel about contributing to a grid upgrade that primarily benefits other states much more it? In Texas it wasn't a problem...those folks in west Texas didn't have a choice: the state govt wrote the check from the general fund.

While all-powerful agencies such as ERCOT can seem a bit scary they can also be extremely efficient. As were the Nazis at the beginning of WWII. LOL.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby Tanada » Tue 31 Jan 2017, 09:43:50

Newfie wrote:Radar, used infrequently, power is the PULE power. The instantaneous peak power in a pulse of emitted uWave energy, which lasts microseconds and is NOT indicative of the steady state power drain.

We cook on a small kerosene stove.

We swim, we sail naked.

Joking on the last naked bit. We do about one or two loads of laundry at a laundrymat about once every 2 weeks. In the meantime necessities are hand washed.


In the sailing navy days they would rub powdered soap on the dirty clothes then drag them behind the ship for an hour or so in a mesh bag or wicker basket to wash and agitate them. Then it was just a matter of rinsing them in fresh water to get the salt out for the under garments so they wouldn't chafe. It doesn't take much speed at all to agitate clothes pretty good dragging them in the wake waves.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby Revi » Thu 16 Feb 2017, 21:33:46

I don't think that wind and solar are the wrong path, but I think that the way we use them is the wrong path. There is no way to keep up the kind of lifestyle we are living nowadays. We need to scale back all our activities. Then we might be able to live within the tiny budget and produce enough with a few solar panels.
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We had a power outage yesterday, and we were the only people in the neighborhood who had some lights, a woodstove going and the radio on. It was not bad at all. The electricity came from this one solar panel.
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Thu 16 Feb 2017, 22:00:40

Newfie wrote:
baha wrote:
Newfie - Depending on how old your panels are you could probably replace them with new and get 1.5 times the power from the same area. .


OR you could adjust your lifestyle and not need that much power.

Technology is NOT (the fundamental) answer. You say you respect Mother Earth? Then lighten up the load.

Or, that we are well over 7 billion in global population, and pushing hard to make that more like 10 billion by 2050.

Getting, say, me, to greatly cut my carbon footprint from before I had a clue about how bad the problem is, doesn't do ANY good as long as the population is growing rapidly AND the bulk of the new additions are likely to purse large carbon footprint lifestyles (large, as in all they can afford).

That's why I don't think it's fixable in time. Too much basic human nature to change. (And yes, a big part of my small carbon footprint contribution was the conscious decision not to have any kids).
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Re: Wind & Solar Are Wrong Path

Unread postby Revi » Fri 17 Feb 2017, 08:27:51

No, of course we are not going to become sustainable in the near future. It will take a hard crash to get us back in balance with nature, and that might happen.

In the meantime some of us are trying to not make things much worse.

It is the simplest, and most revolutionary act we can do nowadays.

And it seems to invite the most derision.
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