What Happens when America can no longer feed the world?
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14-07-2014, 07:58 PM
RE: What Happens when America can no longer feed the world?
(14-07-2014 07:56 PM)sporehux Wrote:  Tidal power is the best option I can think of, while it has some environmental impact, its free kinetic energy while the moon continues to orbit.
Fuck the fish, plenty of ocean for them .

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15-07-2014, 01:03 AM
RE: What Happens when America can no longer feed the world?
(14-07-2014 07:47 AM)Revenant77x Wrote:  
(14-07-2014 04:46 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  Radiation has other effects besides immediate death.
Cancer, birth defects etc..

And what happened in Japan shows the vulnerability of nuclear power. Besides, even without what happened in Japan my point still stands.

And it's not the best cleanest energy source we have. It produces nuclear waste so to call it clean is a stretch.

Nuclear power is a quick no hassle fix. If governments were smart (which they're often not) they'd make solar panels on new houses compulsory and subsidize home owners who wish to purchase solar panels for their houses as well as subsidize things that effect power consumption such as home insulation.

You need a combination of reform aimed at more efficient use of power and a switch from dirty coal and oil and nuclear plants to solar/thermal/wind/hydro where possible. There should be little need for coal/oil and no need for nuclear.
In the long run it's the better option (as opposed to full nuclear) because it's cheaper, it's cleaner, it's easier to build and develop and it's safer. It's not an overnight solution, it does take time obviously, but it's entirely doable. You can't say "nuclear power is good now" because you need to look into the future and what's best for the future and green energy (solar/wind/thermal/hydro) is the way to go.

I see facts be damned. The anti-nuclear nonsense is just leftist hysteria nothing more. Nuclear power is viable right now and would cause a massive decrease in death if it was switched to immediately. Solar power as it stands right now is not, it's not just the lack of infrastructure it is just not efficient enough. So we could massively push back climate change now or we could hope and pray that a miracle will somehow save us because science is scarry.

It's not hysteria. You want to talk about facts being dammed? Does radiation kill? Yip. Is nuclear power 100% safe? That is, safe from all unforeseeable occurrences, everything from a hijacked plane to a meteor? Nope. Are the consequences extreme when something goes bad? Yip.
That's the facts.

Quote:Compare that to the literal mountains of corpses coal mining has generated: tens of thousands in this millenium alone.

I'm not denying coal and oil are crap sources of energy. I'm saying solar/wind/thermal/hydro is a better alternative than nuclear. Which it is.

Quote:That just means you don't have a point. "X because Y, and nevermind Y!"

I thought you were a professor or something? That comment is stupid.
My point about nuclear power still stands regardless of what happened in Japan.
Nuclear power is dangerous, even if the chances are remote, we cannot account for every unforeseeable circumstance etc.. these are all valid points with or without Japan.

Quote:Nuclear waste on the order of grams. Which is dangerous if you eat it, but properly disposed of has the advantage of not dramatically altering the climate of the entire planet.

I dare you to carry around a couple grams of nuclear waste, I don't imagine you'd be too keen to do so. And solar/wind/thermal/hydro doesn't produce any pollutants. And I never said coal/oil was a good option, I do agree that they are polluting the world and the pollution is deadly.

Quote:Exactly.

It's not a long term solution.

Quote:We have both those things. What we don't have is time, which they'll both take lots of.

By time you mean money. And I agree we don't have the money to do it. Does that mean we do nothing because it's not a short term solution? No, you need to be doing things now (reform, incentives etc..) and plenty of them.
There isn't enough focus on long term solutions.

Quote:Solar panels are too expensive and inefficient to supply the entire grid.

This isn't 5-10 years ago. Solar panels are increasingly affordable. If you create more demand for them (via reform and incentives and legislation) than companies will pour more researches into developing them. You can have something as low tech as a mirror and tube of oil to very high tech solar plants.

Take the combustion engine for example. At the time the car was being developed oil turned out to be very cheap and so there was demand for the combustion engine and so that's where the research and development went. The result is well what we have today. They had electric cars back than but the combustion engine won out and so the electric car did not have the research and development that the combustion engine did.
Solar is the same thing. They had solar power back than but oil won out and that's where the research and development went.
If you require demand for solar and electric etc.. than the research and development will be poured into that making them cheaper and more efficient than they are today.
If you require a demand for nuclear than that is where the research and development will go and that is not where it should be going.

Quote:Also they don't work at night, which is a problem without a great solution as of yet.

Not entirely true. Firstly though, I'm not talking about JUST solar... wind, thermal and hydro all work perfectly well at night.
But back to solar. They have developed/developing a oil type of substances that is able to hold heat for a very long time, that is it can hold heat throughout the night. I don't remember what it's called but basically you take this gunk and combine it with heat efficient tubes (vacuum between two glass tubes and special materials) and you have a solar power plant that's liquid (that is heated by the reflective panels during the day and turns the turbines that produces the electricity) will remain hot during the night, able to power the plant.

Quote:A purely solar grid is unworkable.

I never said it was. I'm talking about all forms of clean energy, not just solar.

Quote:Nobody, ever, has said "nuclear power forever!".

That's the way it will head though. Just like the combustion engine or oil/coal power plants.

Quote:The Japanese reactors were built in the 1970s. It has not been politically viable to build new ones since then.

Another factor that needs to be considered along with natural disaster, terrorism and war.

It's like there needs to be a huge disaster for people to wake up and say "hey, maybe this other option that was the better option to begin with was the better option...".

I'm sure they made all the same arguments you are making about coal and oil plants when they were first being made. "it's a solution now" "the technology just isn't there for alternatives" etc.. etc..

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15-07-2014, 09:34 AM
RE: What Happens when America can no longer feed the world?
(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  It's not hysteria. You want to talk about facts being dammed? Does radiation kill? Yip. Is nuclear power 100% safe? That is, safe from all unforeseeable occurrences, everything from a hijacked plane to a meteor? Nope. Are the consequences extreme when something goes bad? Yip.
That's the facts.

Facts, you say? Here are some:
(14-07-2014 09:16 AM)cjlr Wrote:  And another thing:
The better estimates I've seen for deaths due to the Fukushima accident are ~130 excess deaths due to radiation exposure (ie, over the next 60 years or so). More people than that die in coal mines every year. Sometimes more people than that die in coal mines in a single day.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  I'm not denying coal and oil are crap sources of energy. I'm saying solar/wind/thermal/hydro is a better alternative than nuclear. Which it is.

Except not yet.

So there's that.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  I thought you were a professor or something? That comment is stupid.
My point about nuclear power still stands regardless of what happened in Japan.

No, it doesn't. You can't say "it's dangerous" when it demonstrably isn't. And you can't substantiate "it's dangerous" with an example you then retract and expect the claim to stand independently.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  Nuclear power is dangerous, even if the chances are remote, we cannot account for every unforeseeable circumstance etc.. these are all valid points with or without Japan.

If the danger is due to human error it is not intrinsic.

Even Chernobyl was less lethal than a single coal mine. And that's the nadir of Soviet incompetence.

Or here's another fact for you:
In Canada, more people have died building wind turbines than have died in our nuclear facilities. Whoops!

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  I dare you to carry around a couple grams of nuclear waste, I don't imagine you'd be too keen to do so.

Wut? What kind of deranged false choice is that? I dare you to surround yourself with two tonnes of carbon dioxide. We'll see who dies first.
(it'd be you, actually; suffocation is faster than radiation poisoning)

Nuclear reactors aren't, like, the Great Escape, dude. The techs don't wander out at the end of the day and turn out their trouser cuffs to dump the waste by the side of the road when nobody's looking.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  And solar/wind/thermal/hydro doesn't produce any pollutants.

And nothing is without consequences. Hydroelectic power is one of the single most ecologically destructive things humans have ever done.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  It's not a long term solution.

Such was never the claim.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  By time you mean money. And I agree we don't have the money to do it. Does that mean we do nothing because it's not a short term solution? No, you need to be doing things now (reform, incentives etc..) and plenty of them.
There isn't enough focus on long term solutions.

No, I literally mean time. Wishful thinking doesn't make technology develop faster. It will take many years for a fully renewable power grid to be viable. End of story.

Obviously we need long term solutions. Except we need short term solutions until then. We can't put all our eggs in one basket when the basket doesn't exist yet.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  This isn't 5-10 years ago.

And it isn't 20-30 years from now, either.

At the risk of being pretentious... the specialisation of my degree was photonics. That's quantum optics. The traditional application of which is lasers, but the more current is optoelectronics. That includes photovoltaics. My final year project was literally a literature review of the state of solar panel technology. My partner in that project went on to work in the field; I wanted to try something new for a while.

I do know a bit about these things.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  Solar panels are increasingly affordable. If you create more demand for them (via reform and incentives and legislation) than companies will pour more researches into developing them. You can have something as low tech as a mirror and tube of oil to very high tech solar plants.

You can't just magic up new infrastructure through hopes and dreams.

Distributed generation would require a massive reconstruction of the entire existing grid. But that's necessary, because renewables don't concentrate and aren't amenable to the centralisation of large traditional power plants. Nor is their output constant; wind and solar are highly variable, and therefore one needs massive overinvestment to meet peak demand under minimal production. In theory one can create a baseline reservoir through batteries, but again - that technology does not exist yet. And it's not a matter of "but if we had moar moniez we could make it TOMORROW lol".

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  Take the combustion engine for example. At the time the car was being developed oil turned out to be very cheap and so there was demand for the combustion engine and so that's where the research and development went. The result is well what we have today. They had electric cars back than but the combustion engine won out and so the electric car did not have the research and development that the combustion engine did.

Combustion engines were not just cheaper but way better in almost every way. They were faster, more powerful, had longer range, and were easier to maintain. Only in very recent times did that begin to change. In the near future the pendulum will finally pass the other way, but that's simply not possible without modern materials and electronics technologies.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  Solar is the same thing. They had solar power back than but oil won out and that's where the research and development went.

That is not what happened.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  If you require demand for solar and electric etc.. than the research and development will be poured into that making them cheaper and more efficient than they are today.

And I could give Maxwell infinite money back in 1860; he still wouldn't have been able to build a moon rocket.

R&D is not that simplistic.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  If you require a demand for nuclear than that is where the research and development will go and that is not where it should be going.

R&D is not that simplistic.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  Not entirely true. Firstly though, I'm not talking about JUST solar... wind, thermal and hydro all work perfectly well at night.
But back to solar. They have developed/developing a oil type of substances that is able to hold heat for a very long time, that is it can hold heat throughout the night. I don't remember what it's called but basically you take this gunk and combine it with heat efficient tubes (vacuum between two glass tubes and special materials) and you have a solar power plant that's liquid (that is heated by the reflective panels during the day and turns the turbines that produces the electricity) will remain hot during the night, able to power the plant.

Wind is even more erratic. Thermal is highly geospecific. In a perfect world we would use very little if any hydro. You can extract useful energy from simple heat differentials, and that's one way to smooth generation curves. That's less efficient than straight photovoltaics in the best case.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  Another factor that needs to be considered along with natural disaster, terrorism and war.

It's like there needs to be a huge disaster for people to wake up and say "hey, maybe this other option that was the better option to begin with was the better option...".

I'm sure they made all the same arguments you are making about coal and oil plants when they were first being made. "it's a solution now" "the technology just isn't there for alternatives" etc.. etc..

No, they most assuredly did not. A hundred years ago they did not know what the consequences were to fossil fuel combustion. How could they possibly have? How does that even make sense? Not that anyone then alive had ever so much as dreamed of solar or nuclear power... They knew there were risks, of course, but they saw the occasional mass death in the mines as the price of progress. We can pretend otherwise, today, because we've exported the frontline deaths to China and India.

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15-07-2014, 12:57 PM
RE: What Happens when America can no longer feed the world?
(15-07-2014 09:34 AM)cjlr Wrote:  
(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  It's not hysteria. You want to talk about facts being dammed? Does radiation kill? Yip. Is nuclear power 100% safe? That is, safe from all unforeseeable occurrences, everything from a hijacked plane to a meteor? Nope. Are the consequences extreme when something goes bad? Yip.
That's the facts.

Facts, you say? Here are some:
(14-07-2014 09:16 AM)cjlr Wrote:  And another thing:
The better estimates I've seen for deaths due to the Fukushima accident are ~130 excess deaths due to radiation exposure (ie, over the next 60 years or so). More people than that die in coal mines every year. Sometimes more people than that die in coal mines in a single day.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  I'm not denying coal and oil are crap sources of energy. I'm saying solar/wind/thermal/hydro is a better alternative than nuclear. Which it is.

Except not yet.

So there's that.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  I thought you were a professor or something? That comment is stupid.
My point about nuclear power still stands regardless of what happened in Japan.

No, it doesn't. You can't say "it's dangerous" when it demonstrably isn't. And you can't substantiate "it's dangerous" with an example you then retract and expect the claim to stand independently.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  Nuclear power is dangerous, even if the chances are remote, we cannot account for every unforeseeable circumstance etc.. these are all valid points with or without Japan.

If the danger is due to human error it is not intrinsic.

Even Chernobyl was less lethal than a single coal mine. And that's the nadir of Soviet incompetence.

Or here's another fact for you:
In Canada, more people have died building wind turbines than have died in our nuclear facilities. Whoops!

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  I dare you to carry around a couple grams of nuclear waste, I don't imagine you'd be too keen to do so.

Wut? What kind of deranged false choice is that? I dare you to surround yourself with two tonnes of carbon dioxide. We'll see who dies first.
(it'd be you, actually; suffocation is faster than radiation poisoning)

Nuclear reactors aren't, like, the Great Escape, dude. The techs don't wander out at the end of the day and turn out their trouser cuffs to dump the waste by the side of the road when nobody's looking.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  And solar/wind/thermal/hydro doesn't produce any pollutants.

And nothing is without consequences. Hydroelectic power is one of the single most ecologically destructive things humans have ever done.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  It's not a long term solution.

Such was never the claim.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  By time you mean money. And I agree we don't have the money to do it. Does that mean we do nothing because it's not a short term solution? No, you need to be doing things now (reform, incentives etc..) and plenty of them.
There isn't enough focus on long term solutions.

No, I literally mean time. Wishful thinking doesn't make technology develop faster. It will take many years for a fully renewable power grid to be viable. End of story.

Obviously we need long term solutions. Except we need short term solutions until then. We can't put all our eggs in one basket when the basket doesn't exist yet.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  This isn't 5-10 years ago.

And it isn't 20-30 years from now, either.

At the risk of being pretentious... the specialisation of my degree was photonics. That's quantum optics. The traditional application of which is lasers, but the more current is optoelectronics. That includes photovoltaics. My final year project was literally a literature review of the state of solar panel technology. My partner in that project went on to work in the field; I wanted to try something new for a while.

I do know a bit about these things.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  Solar panels are increasingly affordable. If you create more demand for them (via reform and incentives and legislation) than companies will pour more researches into developing them. You can have something as low tech as a mirror and tube of oil to very high tech solar plants.

You can't just magic up new infrastructure through hopes and dreams.

Distributed generation would require a massive reconstruction of the entire existing grid. But that's necessary, because renewables don't concentrate and aren't amenable to the centralisation of large traditional power plants. Nor is their output constant; wind and solar are highly variable, and therefore one needs massive overinvestment to meet peak demand under minimal production. In theory one can create a baseline reservoir through batteries, but again - that technology does not exist yet. And it's not a matter of "but if we had moar moniez we could make it TOMORROW lol".

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  Take the combustion engine for example. At the time the car was being developed oil turned out to be very cheap and so there was demand for the combustion engine and so that's where the research and development went. The result is well what we have today. They had electric cars back than but the combustion engine won out and so the electric car did not have the research and development that the combustion engine did.

Combustion engines were not just cheaper but way better in almost every way. They were faster, more powerful, had longer range, and were easier to maintain. Only in very recent times did that begin to change. In the near future the pendulum will finally pass the other way, but that's simply not possible without modern materials and electronics technologies.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  Solar is the same thing. They had solar power back than but oil won out and that's where the research and development went.

That is not what happened.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  If you require demand for solar and electric etc.. than the research and development will be poured into that making them cheaper and more efficient than they are today.

And I could give Maxwell infinite money back in 1860; he still wouldn't have been able to build a moon rocket.

R&D is not that simplistic.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  If you require a demand for nuclear than that is where the research and development will go and that is not where it should be going.

R&D is not that simplistic.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  Not entirely true. Firstly though, I'm not talking about JUST solar... wind, thermal and hydro all work perfectly well at night.
But back to solar. They have developed/developing a oil type of substances that is able to hold heat for a very long time, that is it can hold heat throughout the night. I don't remember what it's called but basically you take this gunk and combine it with heat efficient tubes (vacuum between two glass tubes and special materials) and you have a solar power plant that's liquid (that is heated by the reflective panels during the day and turns the turbines that produces the electricity) will remain hot during the night, able to power the plant.

Wind is even more erratic. Thermal is highly geospecific. In a perfect world we would use very little if any hydro. You can extract useful energy from simple heat differentials, and that's one way to smooth generation curves. That's less efficient than straight photovoltaics in the best case.

(15-07-2014 01:03 AM)earmuffs Wrote:  Another factor that needs to be considered along with natural disaster, terrorism and war.

It's like there needs to be a huge disaster for people to wake up and say "hey, maybe this other option that was the better option to begin with was the better option...".

I'm sure they made all the same arguments you are making about coal and oil plants when they were first being made. "it's a solution now" "the technology just isn't there for alternatives" etc.. etc..

No, they most assuredly did not. A hundred years ago they did not know what the consequences were to fossil fuel combustion. How could they possibly have? How does that even make sense? Not that anyone then alive had ever so much as dreamed of solar or nuclear power... They knew there were risks, of course, but they saw the occasional mass death in the mines as the price of progress. We can pretend otherwise, today, because we've exported the frontline deaths to China and India.

I love it when you talk dirty. ... No homo.

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15-07-2014, 01:13 PM
RE: What Happens when America can no longer feed the world?
(15-07-2014 12:57 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(15-07-2014 09:34 AM)cjlr Wrote:  Facts, you say? Here are some:


Except not yet.

So there's that.


No, it doesn't. You can't say "it's dangerous" when it demonstrably isn't. And you can't substantiate "it's dangerous" with an example you then retract and expect the claim to stand independently.


If the danger is due to human error it is not intrinsic.

Even Chernobyl was less lethal than a single coal mine. And that's the nadir of Soviet incompetence.

Or here's another fact for you:
In Canada, more people have died building wind turbines than have died in our nuclear facilities. Whoops!


Wut? What kind of deranged false choice is that? I dare you to surround yourself with two tonnes of carbon dioxide. We'll see who dies first.
(it'd be you, actually; suffocation is faster than radiation poisoning)

Nuclear reactors aren't, like, the Great Escape, dude. The techs don't wander out at the end of the day and turn out their trouser cuffs to dump the waste by the side of the road when nobody's looking.


And nothing is without consequences. Hydroelectic power is one of the single most ecologically destructive things humans have ever done.


Such was never the claim.


No, I literally mean time. Wishful thinking doesn't make technology develop faster. It will take many years for a fully renewable power grid to be viable. End of story.

Obviously we need long term solutions. Except we need short term solutions until then. We can't put all our eggs in one basket when the basket doesn't exist yet.


And it isn't 20-30 years from now, either.

At the risk of being pretentious... the specialisation of my degree was photonics. That's quantum optics. The traditional application of which is lasers, but the more current is optoelectronics. That includes photovoltaics. My final year project was literally a literature review of the state of solar panel technology. My partner in that project went on to work in the field; I wanted to try something new for a while.

I do know a bit about these things.


You can't just magic up new infrastructure through hopes and dreams.

Distributed generation would require a massive reconstruction of the entire existing grid. But that's necessary, because renewables don't concentrate and aren't amenable to the centralisation of large traditional power plants. Nor is their output constant; wind and solar are highly variable, and therefore one needs massive overinvestment to meet peak demand under minimal production. In theory one can create a baseline reservoir through batteries, but again - that technology does not exist yet. And it's not a matter of "but if we had moar moniez we could make it TOMORROW lol".


Combustion engines were not just cheaper but way better in almost every way. They were faster, more powerful, had longer range, and were easier to maintain. Only in very recent times did that begin to change. In the near future the pendulum will finally pass the other way, but that's simply not possible without modern materials and electronics technologies.


That is not what happened.


And I could give Maxwell infinite money back in 1860; he still wouldn't have been able to build a moon rocket.

R&D is not that simplistic.


R&D is not that simplistic.


Wind is even more erratic. Thermal is highly geospecific. In a perfect world we would use very little if any hydro. You can extract useful energy from simple heat differentials, and that's one way to smooth generation curves. That's less efficient than straight photovoltaics in the best case.


No, they most assuredly did not. A hundred years ago they did not know what the consequences were to fossil fuel combustion. How could they possibly have? How does that even make sense? Not that anyone then alive had ever so much as dreamed of solar or nuclear power... They knew there were risks, of course, but they saw the occasional mass death in the mines as the price of progress. We can pretend otherwise, today, because we've exported the frontline deaths to China and India.

I love it when you talk dirty. ... No homo.

Well maybe a bit of homo. Bowing

(31-07-2014 04:37 PM)Luminon Wrote:  America is full of guns, but they're useless, because nobody has the courage to shoot an IRS agent in self-defense
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15-07-2014, 01:33 PM (This post was last modified: 15-07-2014 01:37 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: What Happens when America can no longer feed the world?
(15-07-2014 01:13 PM)Revenant77x Wrote:  
(15-07-2014 12:57 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  I love it when you talk dirty. ... No homo.

Well maybe a bit of homo. Bowing

Blush

(15-07-2014 09:34 AM)cjlr Wrote:  And nothing is without consequences. Hydroelectic power is one of the single most ecologically destructive things humans have ever done.

Could you expound on this. I realize that dams require reservoirs which disrupt entire ecosystems but they often result in ecosystems more diverse and prolific than the ones they displaced. Beavers do this all the time.

#sigh
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15-07-2014, 01:39 PM
RE: What Happens when America can no longer feed the world?
(15-07-2014 01:33 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(15-07-2014 01:13 PM)Revenant77x Wrote:  Well maybe a bit of homo. Bowing

Blush

(15-07-2014 09:34 AM)cjlr Wrote:  And nothing is without consequences. Hydroelectic power is one of the single most ecologically destructive things humans have ever done.

Could you expound on this. I realize that dams require reservoirs which disrupt entire ecosystems but they often result in ecosystems more diverse and prolific than the ones they displaced. Beavers do this all the time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Gorges_Dam

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aswan_Dam

Those are probably the 2 worst examples.

(31-07-2014 04:37 PM)Luminon Wrote:  America is full of guns, but they're useless, because nobody has the courage to shoot an IRS agent in self-defense
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15-07-2014, 02:20 PM
RE: What Happens when America can no longer feed the world?
(15-07-2014 01:33 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(15-07-2014 09:34 AM)cjlr Wrote:  And nothing is without consequences. Hydroelectic power is one of the single most ecologically destructive things humans have ever done.

Could you expound on this. I realize that dams require reservoirs which disrupt entire ecosystems but they often result in ecosystems more diverse and prolific than the ones they displaced. Beavers do this all the time.

Beavers couldn't exactly have dammed the Colorado.
Tongue

Speaking ecologically is to neglect impact on humans directly; altering watercourses has forcibly displaced people by the tens of millions. So leaving that aside...

Beavers are part of the local ecology (though, not in most of the world) and part of a cyclic mechanism. Human works are larger, more disruptive, and more permanent. I have never heard work to the effect that it produces a net gain in productivity or diversity, although there's no a priori reason that's not possible. Still, the scale is so disparate that's not much of a comparison.

The small-scale projects are a bit like invasive species; the changes are not necessarily unprecedented nor can they simplistically be called "bad", but most existing hydroelectric infrastructure was built with no foresight or consideration at all, which seems just a little irresponsible.
(and we might also consider the intangibles - Brazil and Paraguay teamed up to destroy one of the world's most spectacular series of waterfalls back in the 80s)

Beyond inundation, one notable change is in sediment flow. Dam structures block sediment as well as organisms, so upstream silt builds up and downstream erosion picks up. So the effects propagate all the way to coastal estuaries (not just the vicinity of the reservoirs). And there are effects that are not immediately obvious, either; the clearer, cooler water from within a hydro reservoir is actually more conducive to stuff like algal blooms (because more sunlight penetrates).

And actually, one more surprising consequence is that in tropical and subtropical regions (such as Brazil) the construction of large dams results in submerging a great deal of biomass, the decomposition of which may under some circumstances produces greater hydrocarbon emission than fossil fuels would have (!).
(though this is negligible in higher latitudes)

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15-07-2014, 02:29 PM
RE: What Happens when America can no longer feed the world?
(15-07-2014 02:20 PM)cjlr Wrote:  
(15-07-2014 01:33 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  Could you expound on this. I realize that dams require reservoirs which disrupt entire ecosystems but they often result in ecosystems more diverse and prolific than the ones they displaced. Beavers do this all the time.

Beavers couldn't exactly have dammed the Colorado.

We underestimate the beaver at our own peril. Big Grin

[Image: beaver.jpg]

#sigh
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15-07-2014, 02:33 PM
RE: What Happens when America can no longer feed the world?
(15-07-2014 02:29 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(15-07-2014 02:20 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Beavers couldn't exactly have dammed the Colorado.

We underestimate the beaver at our own peril. Big Grin

[Image: beaver.jpg]

Beaver's got nothin on Quebecois.
[Image: La_Grande_map_2.png]

That's the James Bay project. Orange represents redirected water flow. That's reshaping a hundred thousand square kilometres.

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