Tuesday, March 27, 2007

On contradictions, and other rabbit-chases...

OK. There's been a bee in my bonnet about this for a very long time.

I find it laughable that in (this is my own generous estimation) 4 centuries of fine-instrument-recorded global weather phenomena, people have extrapolated they know so much about our planet's internal thermostat that they can definitively state we are on an out-of-control trajectory toward being burned to a crisp.

My understanding was that the position of a "scientist" is to observe and not to be swayed by emotion, politics, or the hubris that is endemic in human nature. Yet we are told scientists are all agog over the havoc industrialization has wrought on our environment.

Well, I would say to you, if the earth is 5000 years old, as strict adherents to a biblical time-line claim, then yes, 400 years is long enough to detect a trend. However, if the earth is millions or billions of years old, then the millennia of modern bipedal humanoids are but a blip on the map and can't be considered substantial enough to indicate any type of trend. The fact is, before humans crawled from the primordial ooze, there was a cycle in which the whole of the planet was alternately covered in ice and sultry, rotten swampiness. These pre-human aeons of meteorological extremes can't be blamed on the use of fossil fuels or on Al Gore's monthly $30,000 electric bill in his Tennessee mansion. (By all means, stay comfortable, Al!)

I predict that in very short order, if we continue to use electricity the way we do today, all our electric bills will vastly outpace the cost of rents and/or mortgages.

What baffles me is that having been born in the 60s, solar energy collection for domestic use has been available my whole life, yet has not developed into more common usage. Oh, sure, we have light-powered calculators, but ask yourself why solar energy on larger scale has not been developed. I can tell you why, and you only have to look in your pocket or handbag for the answer: the cell phone industry is a great illustrator of a loss-leader. Cell phone companies give away what can be a very expensive little appliance, because the net gain with a one- or two-year contract with the user will reap many more thousands of dollars than the actual expense of the appliance. However, if you buy and maintain your own solar collection system which helps you to be off-the-grid in your home, the sale is a one-shot-deal for the manufacturer, and after that, you'll not be paying anyone for the countless thousands in electrical savings you'll reap by simply converting the brutal sun that will be hammering down on your property anyway. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that electrical companies have bought copyrights to any evolving solar technologies to keep the public dependent on using the energy they provide from lignite-coal-burning facilities. Remember, they want to keep the money rolling in, and we've hastened to accommodate them at every juncture.

I'm not saying everyone needs to rush out and convert their home systems, but I think we have to be smarter in the way we build homes, and in how we use electricity. The fact is we have to find some balance between the manifest-destiny-plunderer mentality and the lesbian-seagull-neo-hippie.

Just don't come between me and my hairdryer and my precious, precious deodorant.

Actually, we'll know it's the end of the world as we know it when we all start to smell like ourselves again. Perish the thought!


none said...

Scientists risk losing all funding if they go against the political fashion of global warming.

Solar is good but expensive and inneficient. It would take at least 10 years to realize savings and the life span of the panels isn't often that long.

Within 5 years they are supposed to have solar paint that turns your entire house into a solar panel. I hope it works out.

Zelda said...

Being of a somewhat conservative nature, I am inclined towards conservationism and moderation, especially seeing as how our energy excesses have led to a precarious international position. There is no reason not to reduce our energy consumption and cut down on pollution. But I think half the battle is ignoring the shrieking Lesbian Seagull hysterics who manage to reduce even the most important things to one monotonous Cause.

Anonymous said...

oooh...home power...one of my favorite things.

Short of a Mr. Fusion, I've given a lot of thought to going solar/wind combo and either getting off the grid completely or (horrors!) making surplus and selling it back (take that TXU! Bastages!) For what my electric bill was during a couple of months last year, I could get a fine start on buying panels.


FHB said...

well said. Gore is becoming the Chairman Mao of global warming.

J.R.Shirley said...

Hm. I thought "Biblical" extrapolation placed the earth's age at around 10,000 years? Anyway, that's what they fed me in my church and school growing up...but they lied a lot. (Where's the Biblical injunction against premarital sex, for instance? The only one I really find is about rape.)

Anyway, solar power has indeed increased in efficiency, and gone down in relative price, but your comments re loss leaders are spot-on.

Anonymous said...

I think you have to cultivate a kind of zen attitude that appreciates simplicity and harmlessness. Then ask yourself if you are in the best place where you can express those, and other qualities you wish to express, while you learn to grow your own power!I know there are a lot of primers available to learn what is available. I once built an underground house to experiment with ideas and one of the strangest things I did was to create a heat wall in the room behind my kitchen stove. It was so efficient, I had to make a chimney running down hill to get rid of the smoke. It ran down hill!!The truth is that you don't have to be a hobbit; if you have the cash to surround your self with lovely things and still can go off grid, all the more power to you! but first you have to want to do it!