8/7/12 questions and discussion

From: Jon A.
Sent on: Friday, August 10, 2012 4:30 PM
8/7/12 questions and discussion

1-have we mis-analyzed the issue about guns and these mass shootings?5
2-are there too many swimming medals being given at the olympics?2
3-do we know if we're crazy?5
4-if this is global warming what should we do about it?6
5-how might we reconcile a free will philosophy when reality seems to have so much control over us?5
6-was humpty dumpty pushed?3
7-is no government preferable to bad government?5

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if this is global warming what should we do about it?

Phillip: it's been mighty hot this summer! I speculate it's been caused in some measure by us. I most of all advocate using special Windmills in the ocean to generate ammonia, which is a safe fuel.

Jon: how long would that take to be a real relief from our current levels of dependence on oil and coal?

Phillip: 15-20 years. We ought to start out now. We can also go with thermal (apparently Iceland generates almost all of its electricity via geothermal sources), solar too. 

Lynn: introduction of new/better kinds of energy should occur incrementally.

Jim: the real problem is that there are real political problems with all the alternative energy sources. Windmills are killing birds. There are a set of political conflicts in the debate. Nuclear energy was great until 3 mile Island and -- very recently -- Japan. We ought not penalize ourselves for our presently cheap energy. Politicall correctness as concerns any solution to greenhouse gases would harm our competitiveness. We've always had a lot of fuels available to us and it wasn't a problem until we started worrying about pollution. Pollution is a  legitimate concern, but the idea of a risk free society is never going to be real. Then our energy policy wrongly would mirror all the failed planned economies.

Jon: the solution will need to be unique because, as Jim mentions, we were humming right along with whatever energy sources we were using, then rather all of a sudden (1970s) we noticed that several of our energy sources were polluting the air/water and making us sick -- even killing us. Unlike that gradual awakening and the changes we adapted to as a result, this global warming thing seems all of a sudden. Plus the scale is now global, not just national. 

John: the first thing I'd do is a carbon tax, this would not be the end of the world as Jim likely thinks. It won't hurt rich people -- it is a broad based consumption tax. I think Jim's argument is that the best way to have cheap energy is to get it from wherever you can get it cheaply. Pollution is an important thing -- the benefits of paying to limit it are worth it. The energy industry itself has done more to clean the air than any other. They used it as a selling point for their particular energy sources -- but they did not advocate pollution reduction for any virtuous reasons. We haven't really talked about how bad global warming is. It's not obvious what is and isn't human caused or that everything about it is bad. Finally there are speculations of engineering solutions to affect weather/block the sun.

Jim: we have been successful at pollution reductions; we're now at 1992 air quality levels according to a recent study of carbon output. Recession has also prevented greater successes in this field.

Brian: very obvious: power is ultimate, coal is king, no denying. It's now becoming possible to filter energy plant output a bit but we're still polluting like crazy. There's no retrofitting it. Mmy brother lives in southwest Minnesota where "the Saudi Arabia of wind generated energy" is, but the energy being created there is small and it can't be stored.

Jim: My main point is that we have conflicting objectives. It's hard to reconcile all these objectives for a perfect society.

David: technology is always a bit behind these problems. We will remain there with Phil's question. Humans don't respond to new things well. It will take lots of time. I'm a pessimist.

John: the environmental Left used to be big against power lines. People don't want that electromagnetic stuff due perhaps to bad research. None of the alternative forms make sense unless that power can be transmitted. Food: consistent droughts would be devastating. Genetic crop breeding might help increase/maintain production. I'm optimistic about our adaptive potential. 

David: deforestation?

John: the US is back to the 1900s forestation levels. 

Jim: in Australia the had an irrigation project. They took major water sources and redirect them inland. Lake Superior! Get that water somewhere where it can help. This problem may not necessarily bad. Perhaps warming will bring a net benefit to us. 

Jon: my uncle will soon be plowing under his 800 acres of corn due to Illinois' drought this Summer. We've all admitted to the NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) politics. There are lots of worthwhile ideas but nobody is lining up to volunteer their states/cities/neighb­orhoods as places to try the possibilities. I'm pretty sure, too, that our wealthiest citizens will not be bearing any of this load.

Jim: to Phillip's point. Robotics -- we're going to need robots to compensate for our shrinking workforce. I have also read about small gas powered generators (home by home) so that individuals literally become responsible for their energy use.

David: our Navy has had nuke powered ships for decades without a problem. I know nukes can be safe.

Jim: there is a possibility of using small-scale nuclear machines that are more stable and would be used to power smaller populations.

Phillip: the solution is there, the political will and the money may not be there. 

Kevin: we need to make it profitable, then I become an optimist.

 


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