Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Revolution is Here?

I have a belief, which is that all this fretting we have over the depletion of oil reserves, coal, and other fossil fuels, and global warming caused by the spewing of CO2 in the air, etc., etc., is unfounded. Yes, we should be concerned, but Al Gore notwithstanding, I believe we are leaving the gas-burning phase of our existence, and moving into the next phase, which is -- what? Nuclear? Fusion? Geo-thermal? Fuel Cell? I don't know what, but it will come.

One thing that is a constant in the history of humans is that we always find a way. We have a fear that we will over-heat the planet, that we will run out of gasoline, and/or that we will over-breed and deplete the food that exists (see Malthus for this latter view). My view is that we will find the answer and prevail, without turning the planet into a billiard ball. That's what we do.

The coming breakthrough that moves us from fossil fuels to the new paradigm is something that I have been calling "The Revolution." The Revolution is cheap, almost free, energy that will move us -- all of us -- to a new level. When you think about it, we have very fancy cars that are driven by 19th century basic technology: explosions in a cylinder that drive a piston to make a shaft turn, which then makes wheels turn. We are very good at making these explosions happen in more and more efficient manner, but we still use at most 40% of the total energy contained in a gallon of gas -- we waste more energy that we use. Here is a way-to-erudite explanation of this.

This is one reason that I am for SUVs, Big Trucks, and huge 20' Caddies: If we use up the gas, we will be forced to get to the answer sooner.

Come the Revolution, gasoline will be obsolete.

Now, comes news from Ireland, that the Revolution just might be here. It sounds pretty far-fetched -- energy is created, violating the law of physics that says this is impossible. The company that is claiming this, Steorn, laid down the gaunlet, challenging physicists to test and disprove the process.

Now, this could be a stunt. But -- what if? I am game. I'll keep you posted.


Eclectrix said...

The Revolution is already here, and has arrived and been discarded by many. Its Nuclear Energy. It is the only energy source which viably workable for the amounts of energy this planet needs and environmentally clean. People got freaked a few decades ago about a poorly built nuclear reactor, and most countries stopped building them. However, they have much better designs now days and those kinds of accidents are virtually impossible. You are right, that oil has peaked as an energy source, and is on the downhill from now on. However, there is a huge burgeoning middle class coming online in China who are demanding appliances and cars and such. A quarter of the world's population. And India is in the same boat right behind them. Demand for energy is just starting in a huge exponential surge. We need a solution now, or 10 years down the road its out with the lights. Both China and India have new nuclear reactors in the works, but its not enough. Only France, who has about 80% power from nuclear sources is sitting good. Another benefit is that the source of this energy, uranium is found predominantly in Western friendly countries Canada and Australia. Contrary to oil, there is enough uranium in the ground to last for many centuries, even at the new accelerated rate. No more energy wars, or kissing Arab butt, are necessary. Another benefit is that a byproduct of nuclear energy production is hydrogen. The hydrogen can be used in fuel cells to provide power to an already existing technology to run our vehicles. Even environmentalists are starting to get on board. The former head of Green Peace has come out in favor of nuclear energy. There is no need to put huge amount of crap into the atmosphere. Coal-fired electricity produces 960 grams of Carbon Dioxide per KiloWatt/Hour of electricity, for example. These devices that create more energy that you put into them have been getting ‘invented’ for the last 100 years or so. None of them (for whatever reasons) have ever worked out. We already have the solution; we just need to use it.