Jitske Saves The World
There is an unwritten law, that one may not bitch unless one has an alternative. This is getting thrown in the faces of “greens” these days, who dare use the occasion of the Fukushima disaster to actually dispute the nuclear industry experts, and cause riots and election upsets, to get nuclear power shut down for good.
First I need to make one thing perfectly clear: we cannot afford nuclear power. It is not cheap, at all. The costs of cleanup are huge and ongoing. The evidence of this is Chernobyl, and this documentary on Youtube has all the gory details:
And if you need more evidence, just ask what it’s costing Japan, and what it will cost them (because they’re far from done). Billions of rubles plus billions of yen means we can’t afford nuclear power. And that’s just being callous and talking only about the money.
But, here we go and the point of today’s blog, whenever you point out all nuke plants should be dismantled immediately, “they” say, Yeah but what’s your alternative? Green technologies are inefficient and expensive, you will not be able to meet demand, CO2, dependence on foreign oil, blah blah blah.
Right. First off, this CO2 stuff is bullshit, sorry. I am somewat of an expert in conspiracy theories and so I also recognize when someone is trying to put one over on me with a good back story and a lot of pseudoscience. Compared to a hundred years ago, when all factories were unregulated coal and oil wells weren’t regulated either, and everybody burned coal and wood for home heating, and compared to fifty years ago when every car belched lead and every truck belched black smoke, we really have cleaned up our act. And can clean it up some more, and invest more in better electric cars, or other ways of mass transit using electricity. From coal and oil plants that have lots of equipment to clean the smoke before it leaves the stack, these days. The pollution is really not so bad, and much less than it used to be. Really. Feel free to check. So whatever it is that’s causing global warming, it’s not CO2 emissions. Or we would have hit tropical temperatures globally in 1886 or so.
Also, the word “expensive” should not be used as an objection, see the first paragraphs. It could cost what Chernobyl cost and still be half or a third cheaper than nuclear power, because its price includes Fukushima as well. If you imagine an accident at a nuclear plant near you, which in many countries is literally too close for comfort, add the costs of it, as well. For it can happen and it’s really only a matter of time. Every plant is just waiting for someone to fall asleep at the wrong switch and backup systems failing. So, back to alternatives, and money is not a problem, for if it were, we would shut down all nuke plants yesterday.
My alternative is not that expensive though. My alternative already exists, including advanced technologies that will boil just as much water as a nuclear power plant does. It’s just not being implemented, because the powers that be, the same ones keeping the real numbers from Chernobyl and Fukushima getting out to the public, have an interest in the advancement of their industry and stock portfolios and associated bonuses. To have it spread around that there’s a good alternative already being used by millions of people worldwide, that would cost a fraction of a Chernobyl disaster to implement as mega-energy source, would cost them their business.
That alternative is solar. It’s been 40 years since I saw my first example of it, a metal “windmill” spinning in a globe, and the technology has come a long long way, since then. I hear regularly of houses that have solar panels on the roof and have so much energy left over, they can sell it back to the power company. Instead of getting a monthly bill, they get an annual check. They pay no VAT or any other tax on their delivery or power usage amounts. Lots of buildings and remote locations use solar power panels for their energy. It’s not a secret that it works, and will supply local power needs.
Furthermore, I have seen documentaries on the various “educational channels” (Discovery, RealTV, etc) about large-scale solar energy plants, which can generate a lot of electricity. They use lenses and mirrors to concentrate the rays on a tube of running water, which is superheated in no time. But even a big array of common solar panels will generate a good power supply, you will just need a lot bigger field than you would for an advanced plant.
But space is not a problem, anyway. Two locations on Earth spring immediately to mind, one, the Sahara, two, the Gobi desert. Too barren for human habitation, lots of sunshine every day. If enough solar power plants were built to supply all the energy of the world, how much of that land do you think we would need? I bet not even ten percent. Also in every country there is space for solar panels, if not in meadows, then on rooftops. Already many rooftops sport them, but I’ve already pointed that out. How hard is it to get them on every rooftop? It’s not. No architect needs to come to see if the house can bear the weight; all it takes is putting them on and then some rewiring, and you’re set for years to come. We could even take a shortcut and make solar panels roofing material. They can be put up in public gardens and fields, in small quantities, to supply neigbourhoods and apartment buildings.
And it gets better. Nothing can ever go wrong with it. The worst risk is your panel stops working. Other than that it irradiates neither man or beast, does not pollute, and does not use up non-renewable resources. Tsunamis or earthquakes might break them but that will be all, they can be put right back up, and built right over faults or on beaches, who cares. People will be without electricity for a little while (can get it from elsewhere too, since most everyone will be a power supplier), and that’s that.
The other problem the world has, is that we’re running out of fresh water. This is a problem that should not exist, on a planet that is mostly covered in water. Yes, I know that’s salt water. I also know that desalinating salt water using the sun is simple, which is why it ties into this subject. I will give a description of a very small scale-device, and will leave it to engineers to figure out how to scale it to a large floating barge that delivers its product to tanks or a lake onshore.
Take a bowl and fill it halfway with salt water. Float a cup on it. Put a see-through plastic bag over the bowl, attaching it to a frame attached to the bowl, and put a marble on it so it pushes the plastic down over the cup in a funnel-like shape. Put the contraption in the sun. Wait. In a few hours, there will be drinkeable water in the cup, having dripped down from the condensation on the plastic bag. This process can be made more efficient, as with the solar power banks that use mirrors and lenses. Have the plastic higher and larger, have better ways of catching the condensation. Just as with the Sahara, there is no lack of room, the ocean is very big. Tankers could carry the water away, and if one of them has an accident, that would not harm any creature or ecosystem. Siphoning and using capillary tubing can keep the use of pumps and machinery to a minimum.
So there you have it. We should be looking to solar for our energy needs, and this is not a new idea, it’s an expansion of what already exists and has already become a way of life for many many people. They make their houses energy efficient and use sunlight directly and indirectly to heat and power it all. We do not need anything else for our home power needs, and if we need more power, we can construct larger solar power banks in or over public fields and spaces. Oil and coal energy will only be used by industry, but even they can rely on solar power for much of their needs. And, there will be no lack of drinking water for anyone; irrigating any spot anywhere will be just a matter of a pipeline inland from any port or offshore solar condensation collector array.
I now own both utilities on the Monopoly Board and I say NO! to nuclear! Go directly to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect 200 dollars. I have saved the world, all that’s left to do now is find a way to go solar yourself and pressure your local, state, and federal authorities to stop paying for Chernobyl and Fukushima and all their future equivalents, to invest in power that is widely available, reliable, and non-polluting, with evidence of successful implementation all over the world. And find people willing to invest in condensation collection barge technology; it’s a sure bet in a world that is losing its fresh-water resources. Those investors might not be hard to find, as I hear that many are taking their money out of nuclear energy enterprises, so they would be looking for someplace else to put it. They might also get their hands on the people that own the patents to the supersolarpowerplants and invest in their projects. Let’s all save the world; let’s, please, learn this good lesson from the awful tragedy that is Fukushima, from the horror that was Chernobyl: Never Again.