|Behind every silver lining, there's a cloud...
When I discovered this article on a CNN Fortune Magazine page, it really excited me.
Wow... take the CO2 from a coal plant, run it through some special algae and out the other end comes petro-chemical-equivalent liquid motor vehicle fuel! Wow!
I created a link to it on current.com at this location. Nineteen views, no responses.
Now another link to a similar article has appeared here at Wired.com.
And one of the quotes in that article knocked me over... from Don Anair of the Union of Concerned Scientists: "Ramping up to that level of production without killing the algae can be tricky, one expert said, and the environmental impact of green crude remain to be seen. Even if it is carbon neutral, the algal fuels will emit pollutants that contribute to smog and ozone,"
While the article goes on to quote or paraphrase: "You're still going to get combustion emissions. You aren't eliminating those with algal fuels," he says, echoing a point the California Air Resources Board made. Still, Anair is cautiously optimistic. "The fact that there is a lot of interest in finding a better way to fuel our transportation system is encouraging," he says. "This is one avenue to pursue that has very good potential.", this strikes me as a very close to a No-It-All response. "There are NO completely safe solutions, so let's be REALLY careful about ANY and ALL of them.
|No Safe Nukes...?!
In much of today's media, especially internet blog-sites, a large number of people seem to be chanting the same mantra:
"Spread the word that nuclear energy and weapons kill our own, poison the earth and can not be safe." Charleen Touchette [email address]
...recently posted on Current.com.
The underlying belief is based on an extreme lack of critical thinking and objectivity, compounded by lack of scientific or engineering experience, objectivity, knowledge or thought processes.
The basic assumption of these kinds of rants is that nuclear power or energy is inherently completely unsafe, and that no possible amount of knowledge, experience or improvements in engineering can possibly do anything to alleviate the threat of complete doomsday annihilation or "end of the world" scenarios.
...Sorry for hyperbolic description, but I didn't want anyone to miss the point, though I'll bet that most "No-It-Alls," won't get it.
The refuting arguments are pretty easy and simple: To make an argument that nuclear reactors can never be made safe is not based on fact or experience, but only on emotions, feelings and wishes. While there have been a few disastrous examples, like the Chernobyl meltdown in Russia and the nearly-dangerous problems decades ago at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, to extrapolate from these events to the conclusion that it is impossible to create a "safe" nuclear power plant is irrational.
All things come with risks, whether it's a nuclear power plant, a trip to a space station, a ride in your car or taking a shower. Sitting in a chair and reading has its risks. But the risks have been addressed through the decades to the point where they're measurable and many of the dangers can be handled or reduced to the point where many people are willing to participate in the activity and accept the risk. There is no shortage of astronaut candidates. Few teen-agers are reluctant to try to overcome the hurdles to get a driver's license. Grab-bars have become available for showers and bathtubs. Sitting and reading all the time might bring an increased risk of heart or other circulatory failures, but there are medicines which can lower the risk. People do these things every day, and are willing to abide by the inherent risks involved.
So, to make a statement that there's no way that nuclear power can [ever] be safe is a logically impossible, religious-belief-based statement that, in its essence, can't be defended other than by invoking other irrational, "religious" argumenst. They're based on belief in "facts" or feelings not supported by real-life observation.
|No Safe GM Plants...?!
Jeremy Rifkin and his ilk are sadly misinformed religious fanatics, too...
No, I'm not talking about General Motors' plants, I'm talking about Genetically Modified plants.
Jeremy was a screamer some years back against deliberate genetic modification of plants. His "reasoning" was essentially based on the conjectures that if humans were to genetically "engineer" plants [such as corn, wheat, rice, etc...] the results would immediately lead to disaster and complete starvation for the entire human race. Basically.
His theory was that if a GM plant "got into the wild" there was no telling what might happen to it or other similar crops if there were any accidental cross-breeding [cross-fertilizaton] between the two species. There are just a few things wrong with this theory: first, this problem has never shown up since corn and wheat and rice were domesticated by human beings [several thousand years, at the least, I'd venture...]. Humans began selecting strains of grains like these and crossing them and re-crossing them to breed out undesirable traits and to maximize the chances of desirable traits [insect or fungus or blight resistance, for example.] We've been doing this for more generations than Rifkin could count, but in his fearful mind, any time a scientist ventures near a plant with intent to "change it" all hell is about to break loose.
An interesting magazine article a few years ago described lawsuits and government regulations that were being pursued by several hysterical groups in order to prevent this madness from damaging the ecosphere. There was only one thing missing from the entire article: there was no mention of any damage to any crops, any farmers, any agricultural industries, or anybody because of anyone's genetic engineering of any crops. It was entirely a "No-It-All" response: if there's ANY chance of ANYTHING happening, it can't possibly be allowed.
Back to the hand-cranked engines of the Model T Fords.... stupidity compounded by desire to control, in the absence of any critical thinking or understanding of science. Makes me sick. One of the unfortunate side-effects of these No-It-Alls is that they've effectively blocked the development and sale [or even donation!] of higher-yielding strains of these valuable and essential food crops to the people who need it most... the undernourished and starving people around the world today! Thanks one whole hell of a lot, JR...