Archive for the ‘climate change’ Category

Solar Tech–what needs to happen

January 24, 2018

When I was a young man, idealistic and foolhardy, I attempted to start a newspaper.

I was in Asheville, a progressive southern town that was collectively trying to morph itself into a sort of Santa Fe of the South.

The year was 1977, and the gas-rationing effect of the so-called Arab oil embargo was still fresh in American minds. We, the generation who had convinced the gov. of the US to get the hell out of Vietnam, were convinced that we could also make a constructive impact on the way business and industry was conducted here in the USA.

Solar tech was a rising star in everybody’s minds, or so we thought at the time. With leadership from Mother Earth News and other early sustainability advocates, many of us free-thinking boomers thought we could shift American Big Business interests from dependency on costly oil to a widespread earth-changing acceptance of Solar, Geothermal and Wind technology.

Solari

So the fledgeling “newspaper” that we were promoting did a center-spread on Solar Energy and Solar Collectors. One of our fellows was a fellow named Jim Samsel; he was from Oregon, or had lived there, and seemed to know more about the subject than most us. He included some diagrams that, as I remember, helped us and the readers to get a visual on what solar collectors looked like and how they were supposed to work. We felt good about our tentative thrust into progressive energy conservation.

That was 41 years ago. Since that time, my life has shifted toward more down-to-earth activities such as loving my wife, raising the children, educating them and living as a Christian family. So my interests drifted away from quasi-experimental pastimes such as dreaming of solar tech, which was known to be expensive to install and maintain.

Since that time, my wife and I have purchased and lived in three houses. On none of them have we installed solar collectors. The expenses of of life and a growing family overtook my nascent interest in alternative, home-based, power installations such as solar.

Now we live in Boone, which is home to Appalachian State University.  Here at ASU, the alt-tech professors and students have put together a noteworthy Sustainability curriculum, with appropriate technology workshops and experimental projects that I occasionally hear about. I haven’t been keeping up with it, but I do know there’s a lot going on out there pertaining of improvements of solar collectors and storage cells.

And that is good. I say more power to them. I hope they can make a big  earth-friendly dent in the massive oil-based infrastructure that has for so long held us all in hydrocarbon bondage.

Solar1

Over the years,  I have occasionally pondered the plight of solar pioneers who have stayed with it, and I formed a little scenario in my mind that posits what needs to happen for solar to really get a significant foothold in our American infrastructure, by way of John Doe’s household and Jane Smith’s homestead.

My scenario starts with a fantasy: a widespread societal/economic attitude shift that inspires homeowners to install solar-panels on a massive scale—millions of homeowners thinking (believing) they can actually save money on their electrical bills by gathering energy from the sun on their very own rooftops. Makes a lot of sense if you think about it.

And the scenario works something like this:

Joe Blow has a few extra hundred bucks in his paycheck this week, so on Saturday he decides to go to the local Lowe’s or Costco or Sam’sClub and pickup another collector or two. He hauls them to the house and mounts them on the roof with a hardware system that has been patently engineered for simplicity of design and installation. The electrical connections below—hooking up to the panel and thereby the household electrical system—have previously been done by his electrician friends Wayne and Bryan.

Solarj

Then, after the connections and installation of the new panels have been accomplished in a half-day or so, he settles into an evening of relaxation with the surety that next month’s electric bill will be lower a a result of his incremental investments up on the roof. As time goes by, Joe uses a few extra bucks here and there to consistently repeat these simple periodic installations and thereby save $ by lowering his household’s power consumption.

Now what would it take for such a scenario to be reality instead of my tech-fantasy?

Starting with a look  back into history, back in the day, over a hundred years ago . . .

Henry Ford figured out how to actuate a new idea called mass production. Within a few decades, a Ford “in every garage” began to be a reality in American development and life. Every Joe Blow now understands that the reason this could happen was because Ford’s mass production assembly line enabled the company (and ultimately the wider automotive industry) to get the unit cost down to an affordable number that Joe and Jane Sixpack could actually spend to purchase a a car or truck for their family.

Now this is what we need for the solar industry in America–mass production and mass-market.

Who will take up the mantle? Who will heave the solartech excalibur out the stone of oil-dominance?

Tesla? GE? Some as-yet-unknown Startup in Phoenix, Detroit, Boone or Montgomery?

That remains to be seen, when and if it ever happens.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . .in a brand new 2018. . .

Now suddenly appears an Omen that  perhaps the previously-thought-to-be-conspiracy Industrial Establishment has finally gotten a hold of the Solar vision! The next new expansion manufacturing industry!

What omen is that? The President announces a 30% tariff on foreign-manufactured solar collectors (and washing machines.)

Does this protectionism portend a willingness of American Industry to, at last, leap into solar production because they can now, with a little gov. help, compete with the Chinese and South Korea?

Or, more cynically, does it indicate the continuing Establishment denial of Solar development on a large scale for the sake of continuing oil hegemony?

We shall see in the days ahead what the effects of this tariff will be on our still-nascent Solar industry in America.

SolarStLuke

  Glass half-Full

Advertisements

Hot and Cold

January 6, 2018

In 1920, Robert Frost wrote very this famous poem,  Fire and Ice:

Some say the world will end in fire, 

Some say in ice. 

From what I’ve tasted of desire 

I hold with those who favor fire. 

But if it had to perish twice, 

I think I know enough of hate 

To say that for destruction ice 

Is also great 

And would suffice.

Since I too am an American poet, I have taken the liberty to update his musing on the world’s imminent demise.

Here’s my 21st-century version; it’s called:

                    Hot and Cold

Some say the climate change is toward hot,

yet why are we so cold?

Our carbon emissions have increased a lot;

We thought we would be getting hot.

DryLand

But if we’re breaking record colds so old,

I think I know enough of change

to say this global warming’s  bitter cold

is within the range,

or so I’m told.

SnowCaps

Glass half-Full

Who Taught the Oceans?

October 21, 2017

Maybe four or five thousand years ago, some pondering poet raised these two profound questions:

Who taught the sun where to stand in the morning?

And

Who taught the ocean: You can only go this far?

In the modern world we know just how ridiculous it is to suppose that any one person could teach the sun anything, or that any person could establish the boundaries of the oceans.

So I hope you can accept that the words above, translated from the biblical “Job” represent a figurative, or allegorical, statement about creation.

In our modern, post-Copernican, post Galileo way of viewing the world, we understand that our evolving knowledge requires a different approach to answering such large queries.

Who has successfully explained to us where the sun stands in its solar system?

And

Who changed the ocean in a way that would cause sea levels to rise?

Having posed these ancient questions in a modern context, we could, in our vastly expanding database of knowledge perhaps answer them this way:

History shows that Copernicus and Galileo  figured out the centered position of the sun, and  concluded furthermore that the planets, including our earth, revolve around it.

And, as for the question of where and by what means the oceans terminate  their relentless wave action on our shores, I notice this: the question is currently up for debate.

Could it be that we ourselves are rearranging, by our consumptive habits, the boundaries of the oceans?

There are many studies now being done to determime  where the oceans’ coastlines are now shifting as a consequence of our Homo sapiens-generated emissions. Data-collecting scientists are finding that our Carbon emissions have a deeper impact on nature’s processes than any other elements.

This makes sense; it fits into a larger pattern.  Carbon, number 6 on the Periodic Table Table of Elements, is  the most essential and ubiquitous building block of life itself.

Therefore, the real question becomes . . .

What’s a human to do? Those danged Carbon atoms that float around like phantoms wherever they damn well please, like they own the place—you can’t live with ‘em, and can’t live without ‘em!

One ostensibly scientific scenario in particular—that one generally referred to as “climate change”— is moving, or appears to be evolving, toward a “scientific” consensus of some kind about the accuracy of our grim projections about what will happen to us in the future.

In the wake of a consensual international agreement to address this problem, we may work together to contrive a world-governmental  plan to minimize carbon (and other) emissions. We would begin thereby to arrest the human-generated heating up of our atmosphere,  and possibly prevent our polar ice from melting, and oppose the destabilization of our rising sea levels.

We do not want to see more flooding of coastal  cities. Otherwise,  in the wake of our global consequences . . . there could be trouble ahead.

   HawiSSet

Now when potentially cataclysmic trouble arises in human civilization, there are generally, among the inhabitants of earth,  three different ways of addressing such a huge conundrum.

One way is the way of positivism, which says: We can fix this damn thing if we’ll put our minds to it!

Another way is the way of fatalism, which says: This place is going to hell in a handbasket. We’ll never get around this!

The third way is simple to deny that there is a problem.

Now this writer’s perspective is located somewhere between these three viewpoint poles (or polls).

I have, since my youth, thought we should find ways to quit polluting our earth. Furthermore, I am not yet convinced that carbon emissions is the biggest challenge. There are other substances which are far more destructive and poisonous. I would like to think we can fix this thing, but on the other hand, human behavior, with its boundless abuses and thoughtless excesses, is so absolutely an irreversibly huge force of constructive destruction momentum.

We might have a snowball’s chance in hell, or

We might get it together as a species and solve the problem. Good luck with that!

My problem with the positive approach is this: a true fix (reducing carbon emissions from a 2% rate of increase to a 0% rate of increase) would require an oppressively extreme rearrangement of our institutions and our collectively escalating consumption habits. For the sake of the holy grail of saving the planet, a control-freaking totalitarian government would surely overtake our best intentions and thus turn the required regulations into a tyranny of police-state restrictions. By this means we would sacrifice our freedom upon the altar of saving the planet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ycj-bQXWRrQ

 Malicious manipulations of human ideology have already spoiled our postmodern aspirations at least once or twice in history. Stalinism and Maoism overtook Marxist Socialism and turned it into a systematic monster of human oppression.

With such dystopian historica precedent as  evidence, my hope of  establishing a human/governmental solution to neutralize our climate change problem tops off at next to nothing.

Furthermore, the revelation of the “faith” camp into which I was born, and then born again, acknowledges that we are all sinners on this bus (planet).

We need, both individually and collectively, someone to save us from our own destructive tendencies. But who might that person or entity be? I say it is the one who conquered death itself by rising from the tomb.

Consequently, my leaning toward the fatalistic position on climate change convinces me to turn to divine faith to solve my own problem of what to do with the life that was given to me. My conclusion is: Rationalism and its positivistic proposals will never save us from ourselves and our consequently rising oceans.

So count me in the irrational camp, more appropriately referred to as the faith camp, although I will, every day, in every way possible, assist in our our recycling and solarizing efforts in any way I effectively can. 

Now I conclude this little trail of assessment and analytical adventure with a video of Sister Nicole’s rendition of our condition.

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj-pZQ_XjyU  

Glass half-Full

The Fall of Man–Past or Future?

January 15, 2016

This world is a mess, isn’t it? It’s a screwed-up place. How in the hell did it get this way? Who’s responsible for this mess?

Among my people, the Christians, we generally attribute this world’s fallen condition to a collusion between the devil and a couple of homo sapiens named Adam and Eve. We read in our sacred book a story of how this presently messed-up arrangement of things originated in a place called the garden of Eden where the devil, shapeshifting as a serpent, tricked Eve and Adam into eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, whatever that is.

That book, the Book of Genesis, was written by Moses.

Moses’ impact on mankind has been huge. His writings have had more influence on human belief and behavior than just anybody else I can think of. His best-seller, the first five books of the Bible, is still more widely-read than any other written work. Moses’ ancient influence has outdone all the masters of modern storytelling, even heavyweights such as Shakespeare, Melville, Twain, Dickens, Hemingway, Tolkien, Crichton, Grisham, Rowling and even Stephen King.

But Moses’ chief contender these days for the role of Primary Explanator of the human condition is an Arabian prophet who has been around for 14 centuries: Mohammed. All around the world the advocates for Mohammed are giving Moses a run for his money. We shall see how this turns out.

As for me and my house–my money is on Moses. More importantly, my faith is in Jesus Christ. But I have to tell you–I think Moses was really onto something.

He, and his predecessor Abraham, had latched onto some pretty potent stuff. That is to say, some real truth. As for the Arabian, we shall see how all that plays out. Seems to me his deal is quite legalistic and compulsory, instead of being, say, benevolent and full of grace.

Consider Moses and his legacy.

His writings, and the writings of those who followed in his revelation, eventually became what we call the Judaeo-Christian heritage, generally associated with the Western World. When Mohammed came along, about 620 C.E., he sought to place himself into that Abrahamic/Mosaic stream of revelation. And as I said before, we shall see how that all works out. As for me and my house, I’m not into the Mohammedan thing, but the Mohammedans can do what they want. You go your way and I’ll go mine, okay?

Getting back to my original question of how or why the world got to be such a screwed-up place, I would have to direct you to an appraisal of some recent human history. About a hundred years ago, the whole damn world started to blow up with powerful new technologies that had been applied to human conflict. World War I was no walk in the park,  and World War II wasn’t either. In fact, both of those conflagrations were pretty horrendous blow-ups that caused, in an historically unprecedented way, a lot of damage and pain and strife among the peoples of the world.

I mean, looking back on it. The whole damn 20th-century–and even up to now in the 21st–is shown to be powerful evidence that the human race is fallen, depraved, or, as they say in the Red states, screwed-up, or as they say in the Blue states, dysfunctional. Something is wrong with us. Human history proves it.

So, as I pointed out above, Moses was correct in his assessment when he brought forth the story about the Fall of Man.

Now Moses was a Jew and that has gotten him into trouble.

The modern historical nemesis of Moses and all the Jewish people was a bestial man from Austria named Adolf Hitler. History has shown that Hitler’s diabolical hatred of the Jews, and probably his hatred of all the rest us who don’t measure up to his Aryan bullshit standards, turned the whole world upside down with war and destruction for a period of about five years, back in the 1940’s.

Hitler had spent his youth in artistic pursuits. He fancied himself an artist. During that first 20th-century decade before World War I, he had tried to break into the art world and become a recognized artist. While living in Vienna and trying to promote his art, he encountered some Jewish critics who did not appreciate his work. This became a big problem for Hitler. He acted out his inner resentment against them in such an extremely phobic way that his hatred for Jews became an obsession. One thing led to another, and, you know the rest of the story.

The point I am making is that Hitler blamed all the world’s trouble and dysfunction on the Jews. And he damn-near  destroyed the civilized world just to prove his point.

Look what happened as a result–another world war, millions of people dead. In some ways, it is still going on, although the names and the faces have changed.

But let’s learn from history. The problem is not with the Jews. The problem is with all of us.

As far as the present arrangement of things goes, in 2016,  there have been some interesting developments.

Take the Climate-bangers, for instance. They met in Kyoto, then in several other major cities, most recently Copenhagen, Lima, and Paris.

They’re working toward a worldwide implementation of their program to save the world by phasing out Carbon Emissions.

Good luck with that, Naomi.

Now some of their rhetoric is quite legalistic, even repressive. Sounds like it could even morph into a police-state kind of .gov program.

If they think they can correct this world by regulating everybody into enforced, low-carbon poverty, I have to say, respectfully, I beg to differ.

Over a hundred years ago, the Marxists were all hot and bothered with their new theory about what would straighten this mess out. They wanted to organize and equip the working people of the world to take control of the Means of Production–that is– to take all the resource-converting industrial/financial/gov infrastructure away from the Capitalists and let the proletariat run the show and this would evolve into the golden era of human brotherhood and thereby true communism.

History has shown, however, through the bloody regimes of Stalin, Mao, Pol-Pot, Kim Jong-Un and other delusionary demagogues, that their theoretical Plan for our deliverance from oppressive Capitalism, while it looks credible on paper, does not actually work according to plan.

Why not? The problem is Fallen Man. We screw it up every time.

Nobody, not even God Him/Her self, will ever get all homo sapiens together on the same page working together to correct our messed-up world.

Now consider the problem of Climate Change. This is a lot like the old problem of Capitalist Exploitation.

The Climate-bangers’ doctrine we see evolving among world-class Academics involves a strategy similar to the Marxist prescription that was supposed to render Capitalism obsolete. This new Regimen calls for Taking Control of the Means of Emission–which is, practically speaking, the same as the Means of Production. But this has not happened under the Communist banner and it will not happen under the Climate banner. It’ll never happen.

Men are emitters–always have been, always will be. We are guilty of flatulence every day, in oh so many ways, whether through an exhaust pipe, a coal stack, or an anal expulsion.

Men are sinners–always have been, always will be. We are guilty of murder every day, in oh so many ways, whether through the gun, the bomb, or the polluted environment.

Word from the Tower is if we don’t get a hold of this Carbon thing it will be the end of us.

So now the Climate-bangers have predicted an Apocalypse of Carbon destruction. It arises from Man’s inability to get his shit together and properly disposed of, based on the 2% increase Plan, or even the 1 1/2% plan. Our goose is cooked. The train is about to derail. The jig is up and that’s all she wrote. It’s curtains for us, unless we can get everybody together on the same regs to curb our carbon flatulence.

But there is another Apocalypse scenario that is just as likely to happen, if you think about it. For many centuries, we Christians have read and taught from our scriptures, the last book of which describes an Apocalypse that befalls us as a result of our depravity. Now, in the 20th-century, we religious types who warn of  a possibly impending Tribulation, which is a result of our human carbon emission sin– we are thought to be on the  lunatic fringe because we are seen as doomsayers.

So as it turns out–it’s history’s little joke on us– we Bible-thumpers are not the only ones on the street with a Repent the End is Near sign.

But hey, we’re all in this together. Come, let us reason together.

Just lighten up, and let’s all try to get along here. I’ll minimize my emissions if you’ll minimize yours.

And by ‘n by, we shall see how this all pans out. But be careful; try not to fall on your way out of this mess.

Smoke

A Question of Forsythia

December 19, 2015

The Question?

(by inspiration of William Blake’s poem Tyger Tyger, Joyce Kilmer’s poem Trees,  and also

by instigation:  Tom Ashbrook’s On Point radio show December 17 2015)

Forsythia

Flower, oh flower, blooming bright

right now, in December– can this be right?

What dreadful global warming scenario

bringeth forth thy blooming forsythia show?

Seeing thou art burst forth in such unseasonable way,

does this portend some looming climate change fray?

Tell me, as thou doest spring forth in this untimely glee,

did we who spew the carbon sprout thee?

Forsythia’s answer:

I think that I shall never see

a human so clueless and careless as thee.

The world is fouled by fools like you,

but only God can explain what the hell you do.

Glass Chimera