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Old 09-06-2011, 04:10 PM
 
555 posts, read 579,978 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
I fully agree with Bob's post, but I will add a little more. The most cost-effective thing we can do in the whole energy picture right now centers on one word: CONSERVATION. This is not what the sheeple want to hear, and it flies in the face of the "grow ourselves to prosperity crowd" who blindly think it's still 1900 and we have endless natural resources to sustain both population and economic growth. We don't and it won't. So, we--both in this state and this nation--had better get cracking on figuring out how to be a hell of lot more efficient. That doesn't mean going out and buying a Prius to commute in and buying a solar panel for your exurban McMansion. It means downsizing houses, cutting miles driven, learning to get by a lot less energy-sucking stuff and toys, and--most of all--over time, abandoning our automobile-centric energy-inefficient lifestyle. Most of all, it means accepting the hard truth that additional population growth is only going to diminish our material standard of living even more drastically if growth continues on its present path. Any fool that says otherwise exhibits a complete ignorance of some basic fundamentals of physics, economics, ecology, and simple mathematics. None of that sounds fun, and it probably won't be, but it will be necessary and it will come whether we want it to or not.
I agree, with regard to the conservation aspect. I try to limit my annual miles driven to @ 5,000 - 6,000; buy as few products made in China as conceivably possible, etc. With regard to the "limit population growth" that's a bit more of a challenge. Mandatory sterilization after 1 child (take the Chinese approach)? Ask for the Constitution to be changed so people are no longer free to move to Colorado if they prefer to be here than wherever they are currently located? Force people to move back to their state-of-origin if they've moved here in the past 10 years? 50 years? If their families weren't "original" settlers in the 1870's, like my great-great grand-daddy? Ask all non-indigenous native americans to leave?

Are you absolutely certain that population growth over time is the root of all geographic-demographic evils? Or is it the apparent fact that we, as a national people, have turned over the model for growth to the urban-sprawl developers which is the real problem? 5 Million for a state the size of Colorado seems pretty-darn middle-of-the-road ideal. Doesn't a place like New Jersey have 5x the population density?
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Old 09-06-2011, 06:39 PM
 
2,205 posts, read 3,587,411 times
Reputation: 2414
Wink As Pitkin County goes Colorado

Insofar as population is concerned that of Pitkin County has mushroomed of late. Kind of. At about 7,000 in 1900, it had actually shrunk to roughly 1,600 in 1950, inching up to but 2,300 in 1960. But, thanks to skiing, it able to shift from ore to mining tourist dollars, quadrupling in size to over 10,000 by 1980. However Pitkin County remains one of the less populated counties in Colorado, at about 17,000 souls in 2010. It is also, not coincidentally, the home of Aspen, CO.

Pitkin County is geographically one of the smaller counties in Colorado, at 973.23 square miles. But it is still larger than the 778.06 square miles of Jefferson County. At about 9,300, that county had a population not much higher than Pitkin in 1900. Of course now rather different, with a 2010 population of roughly 530,000.

More than just geography separates these two counties and their respective populations. Pitkin is of course well within the mountains and isolated, with Aspen its only town of any size. Jefferson is home to Arvada, Golden and Littleton among others, not to mention being part of greater metro Denver. Something else as well: while growth is probably welcomed throughout Jefferson County, Pitkin County has long since instituted various measures to control and limit its growth. This is helped in no small measure due its native charms and being favored by the rich and famous, and it can afford to be picky. But also, as its near loss of population at one time suggests, that as with many other locals in Colorado, not exactly the best suited to business beyond that of tourism.

Colorado as a whole somewhat mirrors this. Per capita income in 2010 was $51,940, placing Colorado 11th in the nation. But this is somewhat deceptive. While population density in Jefferson County was 683/sq. mi. in 2010, for the state as a whole it is but 48.31/sq. mi., with urban areas such as Jefferson County throwing off the bell curve. Contrast this with a state such as New Jersey, with a population density of 1,185/sq. mi. In geography far more people live east of the Mississippi River than west of it to the Pacific Ocean because of greater overall rainfall and a more fecund land which can support the greater density. While absolutely true in agricultural terms, this also applies to the size of cities in general.

As far as European development is concerned, Colorado was established as a collection of mining camps, with Denver as a supply point, and a little agriculture thrown in. Some questionable mining in the form of uranium continues, but that initially based upon gold and silver is largely long gone (witness Leadville). Agriculture could continue if not all its water diverted to subdivisions, but in the best of circumstances ranching and farming as businesses in this semi-arid state would always be small potatoes to enterprises where it actually rains a good deal. So one is left with what has emerged in the interim, in high tech, education, etc. All the many services basically do not count, as they are reliant upon the underlying economy, and cannot exist without it. Moreover, most anything beyond agriculture, and even that to various degrees, is highly dependent upon the broader economy of the United States and the global market. If strictly reliant upon the Colorado market alone, much of it could not exist.

So Colorado is far more like Pitkin County than Jefferson County, in as a state not being as ideally suited to human habitation as other locals. If limited to what could be derived from this state alone in a sustainable manner the population might not even be 800,000. Jefferson County and Denver are in geography more suited to the growth they have, but only to the extent reliant upon outside markets. For its disproportionate size in comparison to the rest of largely rural Colorado, the Denver metro area is still but about 2.5 million. Compare that to metro Philadelphia, PA, with a population of almost 6 million. Then that this does not include most of New Jersey, or the 8 million of just New York City proper alone.

In any of these places the reality is of the ecological footprint of each and every human extant. NYC can only be at the size it is, or Denver at the size it is, due the resources consumed from a much larger geographic area. Just in food alone this is highly dependent upon industrial agriculture which in use of fossil fuels and degradation of farmland is unsustainable in practice. In such things no city is an island unto itself, nor the better part of any state.

Something even Aspen would discover to its chagrin should the bottom fall out of the tourism business.
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Old 09-06-2011, 11:32 PM
 
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
2,220 posts, read 3,424,686 times
Reputation: 1625
Quote:
Originally Posted by Idunn View Post
The upper atmosphere of the Earth receives 174 petawatts (PW) of solar radiation. It is possible vehicles such as the orbiting space station, with its large solar arrays, might capture, focus, and transmit a good deal of this energy to the Earth's surface.

But little need as that reaching through our atmosphere is still more than plenty. Solar energy absorbed by this Earth's oceans, land masses and atmosphere are approximately 3,850,000 exajoules (EJ) per year, or more energy in one hour than mankind used in 2002. Combine all non-renewable resources such as coal, natural gas, oil, and uranium, and all of it equals only half the solar energy falling upon this planet in a year. [1]

While true that electricity derived from solar voltaic panels is still more expensive than from sources such as coal, that is only in absolute monetary terms. One might remember that mankind and his extravagant use of fossil fuels are directly responsible for the millions of acres of forest dying in Colorado. Also that the subsidies solar energy has thus far received in the United States pale in comparison to those lavished on fossil fuels in a large variety of ways. Just the oil industry, which is hardly poor, receives annual subsidies from the American taxpayer of $4,000,000,000 per year. In part.

The bottom line is use of solar energy in just solar voltaics alone is a perfectly feasible technology. It can be successfully employed by most any residence, and has been as the sole source of electricity by more than a few for decades. There is also far more than enough of this freely available resource for all 7b some odd people on this planet to use. It is a resource that can be used in any climate, but to all the more effect in one with as much direct sun as Colorado's.

One might also consider that the per watt cost of tapping into this resource has continued to fall as incremental improvements to the technology have been made. That it makes far more sense now then even a decade ago. That for the additional upfront costs, that the homeowner in a position to amortize installation costs over a period of very roughly ten years or so will be money ahead.

That also the United States, for having seen so much of this technology developed here, continues to be a laggard in the science and implementation compared to countries such as Germany. With that European nation concerned that it may be eclipsed by China, who is deadly serious about being a world leader in this technology.
1) 'Solar energy,' Wikipedia
Solar energy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Of course these cursory numbers completely fail to account for the energy needs of billions of acres of vegetation, the impracticality of harvesting energy over the world's oceans, which cover more than 60% of the earth's surface, radiation losses to space, the second and third order consequences of shadowing large parts of the surface with solar cells, transmission losses inherent from collection over wide areas due to limited power densities and low/unreliable duty cycle, pollution caused by chemical by-products of storage technologies (i.e. heavy metals in nearly all batteries) etc.

Solar may be the sole source of electricity to a small number of houses, but it is not the sole source of energy to many at all, and those tend to be located in a relatively narrow temperate climate band where heating and air conditioning are unnecessary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Idunn
One might remember that mankind and his extravagant use of fossil fuels are directly responsible for the millions of acres of forest dying in Colorado.
This is an unprovable theory stated as if it were a fact. A million Birkenstock-clad lemmings chanting it in unison still won't make it a fact.

Much of the sun's energy falling on the earth is already spoken for in nature. Much of the rest of it is unreachable. That limited amount which is reachable can only be harvested at great cost and complexity. It's no panacea.
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Old 09-07-2011, 07:26 AM
Status: "CSU P football at the NCAA national championship!" (set 6 hours ago)
 
Location: Pueblo - Colorado's Second City
10,360 posts, read 11,942,277 times
Reputation: 3124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob from down south View Post

Solar may be the sole source of electricity to a small number of houses, but it is not the sole source of energy to many at all, and those tend to be located in a relatively narrow temperate climate band where heating and air conditioning are unnecessary.
That is today with today's technology. Fast forward 10 to 20 years and it will not be the case with how technology is improving at a exponential rate. I would not be surprised to see some solar fields around the region by then providing most of the power.
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Old 09-07-2011, 09:08 AM
 
8,177 posts, read 16,209,860 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josseppie View Post
That is today with today's technology. Fast forward 10 to 20 years and it will not be the case with how technology is improving at a exponential rate. I would not be surprised to see some solar fields around the region by then providing most of the power.
That flies in the face of what I have heard from every energy and electrical generation expert I know--and I know several--including some who work directly in the solar power industry. Even they admit that solar generation has very limited applications and will never generate more than a small percentage of our electricity needs. Bob is absolutely right about that and you are absolutely wrong.

What the experts I know DO say is that we could likely reduce our electricity demands by nearly half simply by adopting a lot of the energy-saving technologies that are already available, and by getting over the idea that we have to live in multi-thousand square foot McMansions inefficiently scattered about the countryside. Of course, nobody wants to hear that latter point, either, so rather than a relatively smooth transition away from that living arrangement, it's going to get jammed down our throats whether we want it or not--with a whole lot of collateral economic damage along the way.
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Old 09-07-2011, 09:45 AM
Status: "CSU P football at the NCAA national championship!" (set 6 hours ago)
 
Location: Pueblo - Colorado's Second City
10,360 posts, read 11,942,277 times
Reputation: 3124
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
That flies in the face of what I have heard from every energy and electrical generation expert I know--and I know several--including some who work directly in the solar power industry. Even they admit that solar generation has very limited applications and will never generate more than a small percentage of our electricity needs. Bob is absolutely right about that and you are absolutely wrong.
More then likely they are not taking into account the fact information technology grows at a exponential rate. There is a reason private sector companies like GE are spending so much money in solar technology and its not because of the government its because they can see the tipping point coming and they want to be at the fore front of the new technology. A good example of that is the solar plant GE is going to build in the Denver area. The funny thing is most people are going to think solar came out of no where when in fact it has been growing for decades just early on doubling a very small number was still a small number so no one noticed.
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Old 09-07-2011, 10:42 AM
 
8,177 posts, read 16,209,860 times
Reputation: 8261
Quote:
Originally Posted by Josseppie View Post
More then likely they are not taking into account the fact information technology grows at a exponential rate.
So, the people who actually work in the industry don't know anything about the technology, but you do? Gimme a break.
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Old 09-07-2011, 11:07 AM
Status: "CSU P football at the NCAA national championship!" (set 6 hours ago)
 
Location: Pueblo - Colorado's Second City
10,360 posts, read 11,942,277 times
Reputation: 3124
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
So, the people who actually work in the industry don't know anything about the technology, but you do? Gimme a break.
Not me but the experts I have read articles from like Ray Kurzweil.
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Old 09-07-2011, 11:31 AM
 
505 posts, read 327,240 times
Reputation: 572
^How is Ray Kurzweil an expert on solar power? His area of expertise is in speech and music synthesizers; not energy production.

Solar power technology is not experiencing an exponential increase in conversion efficiency, nor will it. Instead, it is experiencing incremental increases in efficiency. Commercially produced PV cells are still hovering around 10%-15% efficiency with the latest advances in the technology pushing the conversion rate slightly above 20% efficiency. But, solar power still costs three times as much as other power sources and is uncompetitive w/o subsidies and will remain so for at least the next two decades.

Wind power, on the other hand, has reached the threshold where it is competitive with other sources of power without subsidies, and that's why you see it being manufactured on a large scale. The subsidies there are just pure gravy at this point.
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Old 09-07-2011, 11:39 AM
 
51 posts, read 57,904 times
Reputation: 115
Josseppie, as one who is currently studying IT at Colorado State University and who will be going into the field, I find it appalling that you would take Moore's Law out of context in the way that you have. Moore's Law explicitly states that the amount of memory doubles every eighteen months or so. When this law stated back in the 1960's it was expected to hold true for the next 10 years or until 1970. The fact that CPU memory has continued to increase the way that it has is something that not even industry experts can explain, much less how long it will continue. Moore's Law only applies to computer and CPU memory and processor speeds, which has absolutely nothing to do with extracting energy from the Sun or other sources. To take the law out of context in the way that you have is to the uttermost degree of foolishness. I have talked with my Computer Science professors about the said topic the response I got from them? Laughter at the sheer stupidity of the argument. Moore's Law only applies to CPU memory and processor speeds, which are dependent on very specific types of conductors which are known as "Rare Earth" elements. Every iPhone, iPod, Computer, Cell Phone, and CPU uses the said elements and there is expected to be a major shortfall very soon as demand outstrips supply in the near future.
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