Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.
 

Re: Unsubsidized solar competitve with fossil fuels by 2015?

Expand Messages
  • Arthur C.
    Yes, I have read the book more than once. Some areas were recycling all organic matter very carefully, canals were dredged for sediments. But even when these
    Message 1 of 29 , Feb 29, 2012
      Yes, I have read the book more than once. Some areas were recycling all organic matter very carefully, canals were dredged for sediments. But even when these measures were taken, and in every other case looked at, people were cutting grass in the hills for more fertilizer. They were needing to take nutrients from plot A to feed plot B, because the recycling of annuals was not efficient enough.

      As for your list, sure, though I'm not sure what you mean by rotating perennials. And planting trees, shrubs, perennial grasses,on sloping land could be ok. I've always been ok with many ideas with permaculture, though I think the idea of everyone trying to create their own miniature ecosystem on private property, is ridiculous. And most permaculturalists I've tried to communicate with, have refused to talk about social structure and how values are measured. I'm a bit amused that they think they are going to have permanent culture without considering these problems. But that is another issue.

      Arthur Noll

      --- In energyresources@yahoogroups.com, "pmccleery5" <pmccleery5@...> wrote:
      >
      > Arthur, you point out some unsustainable practices in Chinese agriculture.
      >
      > This is not the same thing as saying that Chinese agriculture is unsustainable.
      >
      > This is an important distinction. Let's take an imaginary group of people. Some of these people farm sustainably, while others don't farm sustainably. Is it fair to say that the whole group isn't sustainable? Maybe you would say yes. I would say, "it's only true of part of the group." Or, suppose some practices are sustainable and others aren't. Is it fair to say that the system as a whole is unsustainable? I would say "it's only true of part of the system."
      >
      > So, the mere presence of some unsustainable practices does not negate the claim that, as a whole, Chinese farming is sustainable.
      >
      > So to address some of these unsustainable practices, the following could be done:
      > -farm on flat land only
      > -plant trees to prevent erosion
      > -rotate perennials
      > -allow for a certain amount of insects and other "pests."
      > -plant polycultures instead of monocultures
      >
      > Also, I was wondering if you've ever read the following:
      >
      > http://www.amazon.com/Farmers-Forty-Centuries-Organic-Farming/dp/0486436098
      >
      > -Patrick
      >
      > --- In energyresources@yahoogroups.com, "Arthur C." <arthurcnoll@> wrote:
      > >
      > > China has not been farming the same soil for 4,000 years. The population of China that long ago, was relatively small, the whole area currently being farmed, was not all being farmed. A lot of the original soil has also eroded, and places where people once lived and farmed, were abandoned. Erosion is a continuing problem there. In China, soil that erodes from highlands can end up being farmed for awhile in lowland rice fields, where it is more stable, but a lot still ends up in the ocean. Syria has similar problems with erosion on sloping land as well, and also has areas that have been abandoned to erosion. But the soil that comes off the slopes and ends up on flatter areas, can be farmed there. They have had problems in the past with erosion creating marshland and good conditions for malaria. In theory rice could be grown in such places, but apparently this has not been done. Soil that reaches the flatter areas is still lost at elevated rates by cultivating annual crops, but slower than on the slopes.
      > >
      > > Places that have young mountains of soft sedimentary rock or volcanic ash, can be fed with new soil washing down off those mountains, and mountains also tend to capture rainfall. Not all areas of the earth have such conditions. Both China and Syria do have such conditions for some parts of their area. Egypt had a similar situation before the Aswan dam was built, but with the dam, rich sediments are now trapped behind the dam.
      > > Some places, as in Iraq, have in history been overwhelmed by sediments from farming in highlands, choking irrigation canals in the flatlands faster than slave labor could clear them, with disasterous results. This kind of thing has been a problem in other places- erosion from highlands to lowlands can be difficult to keep to controlled amounts. What was originally a large area of productive but sloping land, can become a small area with a lot of the soil buried deep in valleys. This has happened.
      > >
      > > China has a serious sediment problem with the Yellow River. It is called the Yellow river for its large load of sediments coloring the water. Some of that is from farming, some is natural erosion. The soil this river flows through is very fine soil that erodes very easily. When the river gets out of the steeper geography and into flatter land, it slows down, sediments fall out, raising the river channel and causing it to flood easier. Centuries of work to constantly raise the levees containing the river and prevent floods, have ended up with this large river now flowing many meters above the surrounding land- and still requiring the levees to be built ever higher. It is not a sustainable situation and floods in the past when it got loose have killed very large numbers of people.
      > >
      > > Very large areas currently farmed, do not have young mountains of rich former seabed, or volanoes nearby. They very easily lose more soil than they can expect to gain. And where such conditions exist, people really do not do themselves any favors to clearcut trees in the hills and mountains and plant crops, have serious erosion, destroy productive ecosystems in the process, and then say, oh, well, we lost all that but now we have more soil on river floodplains and deltas. They keep up some agricultural production, but the cost can be very high.
      > >
      > > Other problems with farming is that irrigation in many areas has destroyed soil with salination, and this is a continuing problem, putting significant land area out of production around the world. Also, some significant areas of irrigated land have waterlogging problems from poor drainage. And finally, nutrients leached away by rain is also a common problem. It is not enough to give glib words about replacing all nutrients, the problem is to do it. I'd probably do as well talking to a wall to say this again, but annual plant root systems are not as efficient as perennials at recycling nutrients, nor is the smaller amount of total vegetation as effective as generally larger perennials for holding soil.
      > >
      > > Then there are the problems of defending crops from diseases, insects, and wild animals. Farmers generally like to try to exterminate all the competition, and often do pretty well at exterminating large animals and a tremendous variety of wild vegetation, but do not have such great success with rodents, insects, and disease. It costs them a great deal of energy to strictly control domestic animals. Fencing being so expensive, areas of land fenced are almost never big enough to support the animals put inside, and food for them must be cut and hauled to them, water brought to them, and manure hauled away, and the animals are more susceptible to parasites, which evolve around controls. They also trample and eat vegetation to death in these too small areas, leaving bare ground which is then subject to erosion. Piles of manure often get leached out by rain before they can be spread, losing fertility.
      > >
      > > Putting it all together, it really is not a very impressive system to me. Looks like people trying to force it to continue working, could be finding they traded functional ecosystems for a moment of glory and then ashes and death. Similar to drug addiction. But go ahead and plan to make it work in the ruins if you must.
      > >
      > > Arthur Noll
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > --- In energyresources@yahoogroups.com, "pmccleery5" <pmccleery5@> wrote:
      > > >
      > > > "I have continually invited you to find people to help you build an example of a small city or town, whatever size you feel will work, and show how this works. I've told you I'm not interested in pursuing such an experiment, and why. For some reason that seems to be mentally undigestible to you."
      > > >
      > > > Well, if this is all your objection amounts to, then I can accept it.
      > > >
      > > > It would be very hard given the current climate to find enough people for a working model. I suspect around 100,000 would be needed. Then there is the issue of finding enough land to support the population. For that, you'd probably need more than 500 square miles.
      > > >
      > > > "The open source designs freely use materials mined, refined, and partially formed with fossil fuels,"
      > > >
      > > > For the model to work, initially, society would need access to parts manufactured with fossil fuels. These can be foraged from the remains of a collapsed civilization. After the first generation of machines is built, replacements could be made with locally available resources.
      > > >
      > > > "Forging a leaf spring from an automobile with a charcoal forge, to make a knife, machete, ax, etc, is the kind of thing I'm thinking of. That is nothing like your vision of building these open source designs, building large wind generators, large solar electricity generating plants."
      > > >
      > > > I'm saying that 100,000 people working together could accomplish these things, like building a solar thermal collector to provide electricity. Probably a community half that size could still do it, if you assume ~80% of the population will be farmers. They will need access to an abandoned city in order to salvage the parts they need (initially) and will need access to good land and water.
      > > >
      > > > "With regard to the issue of farming"
      > > >
      > > > Farming can be sustainable if all the nutrients used to produce the crop are returned back to the soil. The Chinese have been farming the same land for 4,000 years. Syria, one of the first places where agriculture was developed, is still a grain exporter today. What is your definition of sustainable?
      > > >
      > > > -Patrick
      > > >
      > > > --- In energyresources@yahoogroups.com, "Arthur C." <arthurcnoll@> wrote:
      > > > >
      > > > > There is no dilemma. People build prototypes of ideas. Some things require risking your life to see if they work. Lots of people have died over the years, testing prototypes of various things. Test pilots of aircraft, for example. You think that an industrial society running on wind and sun is possible. I have continually invited you to find people to help you build an example of a small city or town, whatever size you feel will work, and show how this works. I've told you I'm not interested in pursuing such an experiment, and why. For some reason that seems to be mentally undigestible to you.
      > > > >
      > > > > The open source designs freely use materials mined, refined, and partially formed with fossil fuels, they take tools and machine tools completely built with fossil fuels and use these tools and materials to build these designs. And somehow all this is supposed to be sustainable? The system of values they are using is money-market values. As I've said over and over, money market values do not consider sustainability very seriously. If someone ignores conservation of resources, they can very often produce things cheaper than those who do not ignore conservation. Rockefeller, for example, was not concerned that using fossil oil was not sustainable. He was able to sell a lot of it to people who were also not concerned about that issue, and piled up a great deal of money doing that. Alternatives to using fossil oil, did not compete in the market. Kerosene, then gasoline, were much cheaper than alternative products produced at sustainable rates. Similar things have happened with coal, natural gas, agricultural products, all kinds of things. Money market valuation is the reason the open source designers have lots of metals, plastics, machines and machine parts to work with. But these fundamental parts of their designs cannot be considered to be sustainable. If you want a sustainable society, then using money market values does not make any sense.
      > > > >
      > > > > "Small use of materials", is the critical thing. Forging a leaf spring from an automobile with a charcoal forge, to make a knife, machete, ax, etc, is the kind of thing I'm thinking of. That is nothing like your vision of building these open source designs, building large wind generators, large solar electricity generating plants.
      > > > >
      > > > > With regard to the issue of farming, ok, be specific about what practices you consider to be sustainable. I've been very specific about problems that I, and others, see in farming, and am willing to talk about specific practices.
      > > > >
      > > > > Arthur Noll
      > > > > [SNIP]
      > > >
      > >
      >
    • Arthur C.
      I have a much easier way to look at it. Is everyone fed and sheltered, and nobody feels worked too hard, nobody is losing weight doing too much work and not
      Message 2 of 29 , Feb 29, 2012
        I have a much easier way to look at it. Is everyone fed and sheltered, and nobody feels worked too hard, nobody is losing weight doing too much work and not getting fed enough? And then if that is true, then are all resources being used at rates estimated to be sustainable? Food EROEI and the sustainability of that ratio, is what is being considered with this.

        As far as pumped hydro storage, here is a closer look at it.
        http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2011-11-16/pump-storage

        Arthur Noll

        --- In energyresources@yahoogroups.com, "pmccleery5" <pmccleery5@...> wrote:
        >
        > Arthur: "You lost me when you said that the energy to support an individual was equal to the energy to support the society. I think that was just a simple mistake. But then, "extraneous energy"? I have no idea what you are talking about."
        >
        > Okay, I'll try to explain it again.
        >
        > Let's find the energy cost of supporting one person. Does the person have clothes, food, healthcare, education, housing, etc, etc? Then you need to find the energy cost of the clothes, food, healthcare, education, housing, etc. Let's just go with clothes for now. Were the clothes made involving human labor? Check yes - do the people making the clothes have clothes, food, healthcare, education, housing, etc? Check yes - do the people making THESE clothes have clothes food, healthcare, education, housing, etc? Yes - and it keeps going. Okay, go back to the first person. Do they have food? Who makes the food? Do the people making the food (for this one person) have clothes, food, healthcare, education, housing, etc? Then you have to include that. Etc, etc. Repeat this process ad infinitum.
        >
        > So, energy cost of any single item = energy cost of running the whole society. This is what happens when you finally account for ALL the inputs required for just one thing.
        >
        > This is why EROEI only makes sense if you are trying to make a comparison between two things. You can arbitrarily stop your accounting somewhere, and so long as your "stopping point" is the same for both things being compared, you can get a valid comparison of the relative efficiency of two things.
        >
        > "extraneous energy" = energy that is not muscle power.
        >
        > There are other ways for storing energy besides molten salts. Pumped hydro is a good option. But, you say, it requires a river or lake, which greatly limits the available sites for pumped hydro stations.
        >
        > To this objection, I reply that pumped hydro storage does not rely on natural rivers:
        >
        > http://poppware.de/Storage_for_a_secure_Power_Supply_from_Wind_and_Sun.pdf
        >
        > -Patrick
        >
        >
        >
        > --- In energyresources@yahoogroups.com, "Arthur C." <arthurcnoll@> wrote:
        > >
        > > Patrick, the article says energy can be usefully stored for a week. It does not say anything about the size of the storage needed to keep power coming at the same rate for a week. All current plans that I've read about, involve enough storage for a few hours. Building storage big enough for a week would be enormous and have enormous expense. Materials capable of standing up to those temperatures, and the insulation, as well, are not going to be cheap.
        > >
        > > As far as what you say about the cost of manual labor, you need to be a lot more clear about what you are talking about. You lost me when you said that the energy to support an individual was equal to the energy to support the society. I think that was just a simple mistake. But then, "extraneous energy"? I have no idea what you are talking about.
        > >
        > > Building these things is going to require reliable power for good chunks of time, though possibly not 24-7. What I was thinking about was the output. I'm not sure why you would bother to build all these generating plants if you couldn't reliably have power when you needed it, for lights, refrigeration, water. Certainly you can set up how you live so you don't need electricity, but if you are going to do that, why bother making all these big power plants? If you can make them at all. I'm still not seeing an example of even rudimentary calculations for a specific design fitting a specific place.
        > >
        > > Arthur Noll
        > >
        > > ~~~~~~~~~~EnergyResources Moderator Comment ~~~~~~~~
        > > Folks:
        > > The above and a lot more show the need for better intellectual tools for managing the complexity of the systems we live in.
        > >
        > > A running start on such complexity management is the 14 symbol, graphic systems language component of the Systems Ecology analysis process (minus in my view, the "emergy" concept.)
        > >
        > > Among other things my experience with that graphic systems language came in part from showing a K-3 grade class how it works, and having most of them working in teams, being able to diagram most of the energy and associated systems around their lives.
        > >
        > > ~~~~~~~ EnergyResources Moderator Tom Robertson ~~~~~~
        > > [SNIP]
        >
      • Arthur C.
        Thanks, Denis. It is indeed a horrific thing to look at, such amazing amounts of damage done in so many places. And so little awareness, so little willingness
        Message 3 of 29 , Feb 29, 2012
          Thanks, Denis. It is indeed a horrific thing to look at, such amazing amounts of damage done in so many places. And so little awareness, so little willingness to confront the issue. That is an equally horrific thing to consider.

          That recent exchange I had with Jay comes to mind, the article he posted of how some human beliefs seem to be off limits to negotiation. How people live seems in general to be sacred to them, most will not negotiate giving it up.

          Arthur Noll

          --- In energyresources@yahoogroups.com, Denis Frith <denisaf2000@...> wrote:
          >
          > Arthur C
          > You provide below appreciable insight into what civilization has done wrong in respect to making use of one of the major components of natural capital. (INMR - irreplaceable natural material resources). Our CSIRO have estimated that in 200 years of agriculture, logging and urbanization about 50% of Australia's soil fertility has been lost. We have also seriously damaged our only major river system, the Murray-Darling.
          > The UN has provided similar figures for around the globe. The decline in Asia's major rivers, over and above the Yellow River, is really horrific.
          >
          > It is ironic that the oil supply predicament receives that greatest attention from the powerful when the decline in fertile soil and associated water supply is hitting the masses very hard.
          >
          > Denis Frith
          >
          > --- On Wed, 29/2/12, Arthur C. <arthurcnoll@...> wrote:
          >
          > From: Arthur C. <arthurcnoll@...>
          > Subject: [energyresources] Re: Unsubsidized solar competitve with fossil fuels by 2015?
          > To: energyresources@yahoogroups.com
          > Received: Wednesday, 29 February, 2012, 7:21 PM
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >  
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > China has not been farming the same soil for 4,000 years. The population of China that long ago, was relatively small, the whole area currently being farmed, was not all being farmed. A lot of the original soil has also eroded, and places where people once lived and farmed, were abandoned. Erosion is a continuing problem there. In China, soil that erodes from highlands can end up being farmed for awhile in lowland rice fields, where it is more stable, but a lot still ends up in the ocean. Syria has similar problems with erosion on sloping land as well, and also has areas that have been abandoned to erosion. But the soil that comes off the slopes and ends up on flatter areas, can be farmed there. They have had problems in the past with erosion creating marshland and good conditions for malaria. In theory rice could be grown in such places, but apparently this has not been done. Soil that reaches the flatter areas is still lost at elevated rates
          > by cultivating annual crops, but slower than on the slopes.
          >
          >
          >
          > Places that have young mountains of soft sedimentary rock or volcanic ash, can be fed with new soil washing down off those mountains, and mountains also tend to capture rainfall. Not all areas of the earth have such conditions. Both China and Syria do have such conditions for some parts of their area. Egypt had a similar situation before the Aswan dam was built, but with the dam, rich sediments are now trapped behind the dam.
          >
          > Some places, as in Iraq, have in history been overwhelmed by sediments from farming in highlands, choking irrigation canals in the flatlands faster than slave labor could clear them, with disasterous results. This kind of thing has been a problem in other places- erosion from highlands to lowlands can be difficult to keep to controlled amounts. What was originally a large area of productive but sloping land, can become a small area with a lot of the soil buried deep in valleys. This has happened.
          >
          >
          >
          > China has a serious sediment problem with the Yellow River. It is called the Yellow river for its large load of sediments coloring the water. Some of that is from farming, some is natural erosion. The soil this river flows through is very fine soil that erodes very easily. When the river gets out of the steeper geography and into flatter land, it slows down, sediments fall out, raising the river channel and causing it to flood easier. Centuries of work to constantly raise the levees containing the river and prevent floods, have ended up with this large river now flowing many meters above the surrounding land- and still requiring the levees to be built ever higher. It is not a sustainable situation and floods in the past when it got loose have killed very large numbers of people.
          >
          >
          >
          > Very large areas currently farmed, do not have young mountains of rich former seabed, or volanoes nearby. They very easily lose more soil than they can expect to gain. And where such conditions exist, people really do not do themselves any favors to clearcut trees in the hills and mountains and plant crops, have serious erosion, destroy productive ecosystems in the process, and then say, oh, well, we lost all that but now we have more soil on river floodplains and deltas. They keep up some agricultural production, but the cost can be very high.
          >
          >
          >
          > Other problems with farming is that irrigation in many areas has destroyed soil with salination, and this is a continuing problem, putting significant land area out of production around the world. Also, some significant areas of irrigated land have waterlogging problems from poor drainage. And finally, nutrients leached away by rain is also a common problem. It is not enough to give glib words about replacing all nutrients, the problem is to do it. I'd probably do as well talking to a wall to say this again, but annual plant root systems are not as efficient as perennials at recycling nutrients, nor is the smaller amount of total vegetation as effective as generally larger perennials for holding soil.
          >
          >
          >
          > Then there are the problems of defending crops from diseases, insects, and wild animals. Farmers generally like to try to exterminate all the competition, and often do pretty well at exterminating large animals and a tremendous variety of wild vegetation, but do not have such great success with rodents, insects, and disease. It costs them a great deal of energy to strictly control domestic animals. Fencing being so expensive, areas of land fenced are almost never big enough to support the animals put inside, and food for them must be cut and hauled to them, water brought to them, and manure hauled away, and the animals are more susceptible to parasites, which evolve around controls. They also trample and eat vegetation to death in these too small areas, leaving bare ground which is then subject to erosion. Piles of manure often get leached out by rain before they can be spread, losing fertility.
          >
          >
          >
          > Putting it all together, it really is not a very impressive system to me. Looks like people trying to force it to continue working, could be finding they traded functional ecosystems for a moment of glory and then ashes and death. Similar to drug addiction. But go ahead and plan to make it work in the ruins if you must.
          >
          >
          >
          > Arthur Noll
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.