This story has just come to my attention while developing my next post for the Brexit campaign. I have come to realise another reason for leaving the EU with a story that deserves it’s own post. When I was 18 I took an interest in the popular science of global warming and climate change. It was a great time to be a science geek that I was getting hot in society as the Sun. I started to actively read about climate stories and the TV schedules were full of them. The BBC actively made a number of programmes on green technology, climate change, global warming and campaigns for CO2 reduction.
There was a film based on some real science about global warming which I really enjoyed called ‘The Day after Tomorrow’. This film was based on a popular science book called ‘The Coming Global Superstorm’ which details the ethics and science of climate change. I quite liked the book and it had some interesting stories about how politicians of the time had a mixed view of the subject. It showed both sides of the argument had some interesting insights into how mankind could evolve from the current state of the planet. There were some people in Washington who didn’t believe in global warming and some politicians who sponsored the belief from the politicall active scientists who supported their campaigns. Most of the research that the government had on climate change came from climatologists and natural scientists who worked for the government in departments that researched centuries old climate models that prooved the existence of ice ages, world wide droughts, geological changes in Earth’s ecosystem and the currents in the oceans. They applied these studies to the way the Earth was behaving today and foresaw potential catastrophic disaster made by man’s impact on the world from industrial progress. Climate change was widespread in the media that it became a household topic. It was so well endorsed by the media that it became fashionable to be eco-friendly. Former US vice president Al Gore used his passion for ecology in a feature length documentary called ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. So enthralled with the natural wonders of the world in his politics that he swiftly persecuted any climate and weather scientist who refused to accept global warming. Some scientists felt that the work they were doing into climate research was misleading the public and was only being used for political will. Did you know that in 2009 the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit leaked data revealing inaccuracies in the current predictions of climate change? This was the so-called Climategate Scandal and left a stain on the trustworthyness of green issues that we began to doubt the scientists once again. As a scientist I feel annoyed and ashamed that someone from my field would go that far to make his paymasters happy. I was a student at the UEA for a while and considering how bad they go to manipulate data with their liberal and leftist ideas I am glad that I left them behind and I distanc myself from natural science studies.
Pseudoscience made for biased policies
Now not all scientists are avid supporters of the green stuff that politicians endorse. I turned my back on global warming issues when I realised that fractions of governments and the left were using the concept of global warming as a way of replacing scientific analysis with political ideology to suit their own agendas. I also changed my field of study for my academic career in science changing from natural sciences to engineering so that I could use my brain for creating a better world with my hands rather than create ideas for policies for the government to suit their own agendas to ensure the backing of their donors and voters. Not all scientists and academics support global warming and some of them are from other fields of science like engineering, chemistry, physics, biology and astronomy. We believe that the climatologists have got it all wrong and that we are doing wrong to tackle climate change. Instead of preventing climate change we are exagerating it and helping the government to invent ways to help them grow big for their own agenda. The governments even keep tabs on scientists with climate change scepticism and their is even a list of these scientists on Wikipedia. It’s just about the same as a Stalinist watch list trying to persecute innocent liberal minds. Among these sceptics include Apollo 17 astronaut and geologist Harrison Schmidt, Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore and James Lovelock, author of the Gaia hypothesis.
Despite this sceptism I am all for new innovation in developing renewable energy production. Let’s consider the way the alternative forms of producing energy are being used. They are clever and not so expensive to run when you are in a developing community with small groups of people to provide energy for. Starting with wind turbines.
Hot air with no profits
In 2012 the German people discovered that going down the renewables route in an aggressive manner leads to chaos in an unprecedented way. The politicians haven’t produced renewables in a responsible way and it is affecting the townsfolk badly. Now my friends have often said to me that wind turbines don’t produce electrical power because they are switched off most of the time, even when it’s extremely windy. I can understand them as a person with technical expertise. The reason the wind turbines were switched off was because they were unmanageable. There are two technical problems with renewable energy supplies. The first is that they can’t supply power to the national grid in a controlled way. They have to be balanced by the output from other stations that use coal power and nuclear energy because otherwise the grid will overflow with too much current and the whole system will blow a fuse and the power goes out. The second problem is that by keeping a back-up supply of power to keep the grid active means that they need to run much of the time while on standby and that means that eventually you neglect the supposed CO2 savings in energy production.
Green economists have vastly exaggerated the usefulness of renewable energy just in the same way as the scientists employed by the government make it out to be. I’ve spoken to scientists working in academic posts who don’t have any connections to the government and they don’t believe that global warming is actually happening because of their studies of the Earth’s climate over the last thousands of years. As an engineering student and science geek I can tell you there is even more technical flaws that make wind turbines useless. Most of the wind that a turbine catches isn’t harvested at all, instead it’s used to make the blades go round. In 1919 a German physicist called Albert Betz discovered something that demonstrates the efficiency of wind power. As it happens only 59.3% of the motion energy of the wind is captured by a turbine, this is known as Betz’s limit. The other 40.7% of the wind energy is used to make the propellers go around. Because of the weight of the blades a substantial amount of power is needed to get them going. Also practical turbines like the ones that supply power to the national grid are only able to achieve just 75% – 80% of the Betz limit. Now that means that only as much 40% of energy is ever made from wind power. That just goes to show just how useful wind energy is. It’s only useful for micro communities like small villages, but not big cities.
The real problem here is that the politicians are pushing through technology that is currently in a primitive and experimental state. It’s like taking the motorcar in it’s early years as a horseless carraige and putting out on sale to the masses as a commodity well before petrol stations and traffic laws have been invented. For that it should be withdrawn and a broad range of infrastructure systems put in place.
The trouble with science in politics is similar to what the left use it for satisfying their actions to make an impact on society. Al Gore said in 2006 that by 2010 all the ice at the Arctic would be gone, yet here we are six years later and the ice is still there. Those climatologists they hire base their predictions on ancient studies of the Earth’s climate. Although I do believe in global warming some of their ideas for taking action on the situation are unrealistic and anti-social on the cost of living and production. For a start how do you expect to create a world without any dependency on fossil fuels when the population is increasing every year? There are 7 billion people on this planet and it’s expected to reach to a point where there will be so many mouths to feed you will have to start implementing policies like China’s one child policy or India’s mass sterilisation programme to save the world’s food supplies. You would have to make a tenth of the world’s woman give up their wombs and get 20% of all the world’s men to be sterilised to make them infertile. Every child born marks a human footprint. But now I think it’s time for some constructive thinking. Although the academic scientists and those that work for the government think themselves lucky, for me there are some scientists that are much more valuable than others. We’ve got too many boffins and not enough builders.
What green technologies can deliver is a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future. Well I prefer hydrogen powered fuel cells, tidal power for localised communities and geothermal energy. Let’s take a look at some of these ideas in detail.
Hydrogen powered cars
Hydrogen is a useful fuel that is associated with a terrible disaster that destroyed the airship industry. In 1937 the German airship Hindenburg exploded as it came into land at New Jersey. The disaster that was captured on film shocked the world and attracted criticism of the aviation industry from all corners of the globe. The accident investigators into the disaster never reached a proper conclusion into the cause of the disaster but everyone knew that the hydrogen fuelled balloons that transported people across the world couldn’t be made safe enough to travel without catching fire. It spelled doom not only for the airship industry but hydrogen production as well. Today the people in the fossil fuel industry still continue to make people wary of this to put people off buying hydrogen fuelled cars and energy sources. But there is a side to the Hindenburg disaster that isn’t properly circulated amongst that iconic picture of a burning airship. In December 2012 a TV programme hosted by engineer Jem Stansfield showed that the cause of the ignition was due to a stray spark of static electricity caused by the lightening that came as the ship landed. Early aircraft like the Hindenburg were coated in a layer of plasticised laquer to cover over the ships cotton skin known as ‘aircraft dope’. It makes the fabric skin of the ship stiff and makes an airtight seal in the woven fabric. But dope is flammable and that makes it a lethal cocktail when mixed with hydrogen bags. When the Hindenburg came into land it had to vent hydrogen from it’s bags so that it could be heavier enough to fall to the ground and drop it’s mooring lines for the airport crew to catch. When this happened there was a ground terminal of static charge wired up to the airship that created a state of potential energy harvested onto the Hindenburg’s metal frame. The humid weather conditions created a spark at the airship’s hydrogen vent which in turn caused an ignition and set the ship on fire.
Now recently there has been a resurgence in airships using much safer and more effective materials in their construction. These ones float into the air by helium instead of hydrogen and they are currently in a state of experimental development. One day there will be regular passenger services by airships across the world. But that’s another story. Hydrogen is also capable of fuelling cars using technology first developed well before airships existed in 1838. NASA first used them in 1965 to prolong space missions with little oxygen and fuel in a machine known as a fuel cell. In an hydrogen fuel cell you have three segments sandwiched together: an anode, an electrolyte and a cathode. The hydrogen is in the form of compressed gas which is channelled into the anode where it reacts with the electrolyte and releases hydrogen ions and charged electrons. The fuel cell’s membrane structure allows the hydrogen ions to pass through to the cathode but they channel the electrons through to an external circuit on the car enabling it to drive. So basically the hydrogen powers electrical energy to the car and hence it’s a hydro-electric car. The added advantage of this is that there is zero emission of carbon. This is because in the electrolyte the hydrogen atoms are split. Hydrogen is composed of a single atom and when you react it with oxygen which has two atoms in the catalyst it creates water. So the only exhaust you get is water vapour! Interestingly enough when you get a hydrogen explosion from a reaction with oxygen it releases so much water vapour that it can extinguish itself without burning the car. You’d get a nasty explosion but you won’t catch fire.
Britannia taps the waves
Now let’s take a look at tidal power. According to physicists there is more than enough energy in all the world’s oceans to meet the world’s energy demands. Some consider tidal power to be more powerful and effective than wind power. They are right, water is 100 thousand times heavier than air and unlike wind turbines they can be managed to cope with extreme weather variations. The UK has the advantage of using these as we are an island nation that understands the nature of the sea and we have a history of conquering it to sustain our power in merchant shipping. Now we can use it to maintain the power demand for our homes and businesses. Off the coasts of Scotland are a number of experimental wave machines generating power for the small local coastal communities and in the islands around the mainland. Edinburgh based Pelamis Wave Power is currently testing wave technology for the Orkney Islands. They have a power generator that looks like a red metal snake. It flexes as it rides the waves and the motion moves hydraulic cylinders in the joints that attach the body’s sections together. These cylinders drive a power generator inside the snake to make electricity which is then channelled through a cable to dry land. In Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland the world’s largest tidal machine catches the current running through the loch to generate power from the stream. This machine called SeaGen provides 1.2 megawatts of electricity for the nearby town of a thousand homes. It has minimal environmental impact and because it is constantly submerged it doesn’t interfere with the local wildlife and doesn’t spoil the view at all. Making it more effective than an offshore wind turbine. Scotland is leading the way for Britain in tidal power and it is doing a far better job of providing energy better than wind turbines.
Solar Wind Funnels
There is also a much practical and highly charged form of renewable energy that I find really exciting. It’s so magical that it is like tapping into the power of the sun with a net at the North and South Pole. You may be familiar with wind power and that for me is weak but is there is a wind power far greater than what the Earth’s wind can provide and it could be led from the Scandinavian and Canadian frosts of the Arctic Circle where the mystical aurora keeps us spell bound by it’s colourful displays that dazzle sightseers who venture there. I’m talking about solar wind energy funneling.
Up above the polar caps is the northern and southern lights. These are called aurora and they shine brightly to the eyes of those who live there. They are caused by the solar wind which comes from the Sun and collide with our planet’s electromagnetic field. This collision results in energeticly charged particles being released to create the aurora. The particles are a combination of negative electrons and positive ions emitted by the Sun which is plasma (ionized gas) and there some of this is trapped in the Earth’s electromagnetic field. This results in a event where the particles conduct electricity and hence it creates the aurora. Now believe it or not it could actually be possible to tap the aurora for a supply for energy that is greater in magnitude than sunlight itself. In 1859 the Earth experienced a massive explosion of plasma in the form of a geomagnetic storm. This caused the aurora to stretch it’s visibility right down to the latitudes of Florida and North Africa. But it also caused a massive blowout of power to the electricity and telegraph systems. The magnetic power of the storm caused them to blow a fuse and cause untold chaos. Some telegraph stations recieved such a heavy boost of power that they were able to transmit messages without any batteries!
This might sound frightening for us as technology dependent society and power station have to be wary of this space weather to prevent their operations from being distrupted. I however think we can use this to our advantage. Imagine if we could funnel the solar wind from the Arctic Circle into a magentic collecting mechanism of some kind. We could absorb the Sun’s energy at such a phenomenal rate we could power the whole of the Scandinavian countries without producing it. You can get up to 10 kilo-electron volts of energy from the solar wind. Electron volts are particulary useful in nuclear and atomic plants to produce electricity. If we can absorb the solar wind to work like an atomic power station then we can produce energy without nuclear material or even coal power for that matter. There isn’t much material that I can find on the subject matter but I think it is worth investigating.