The Earth is Full

2 03 2012

Just found this great video from TED dot com.  Paul Gilding is one of my Australian heroes, and everything he says here is EXACTLY how I feel about things, as I turn 60 on Wednesday…..  Time is now ebbing fast, the time to get ready was yesterday, I hope you’re into it.

And make sure you share this video far and wide….

Mike

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6 responses

4 03 2012
fireofenergy

Thank you for distributing this video… It’s got to be the best for everyone to see.
As for resources, why not use the land beneith us to mine what we need. Use the minerals and elements from Earth’s crust to sustain us, not to make the “economy” fat with non needed junk items. How? Well we have advanced nuclear (search LFTR, also here at TED talk), we have advanced GaAs solar (which needs to be concentrated to save a 1,000 x on material and to emit less infrared), and we have al the other “lessor” energy options which, if added up (and with conservation), can also do thwe job. All the material needed does not have to interfere with Earth’s natural ecosystems other than the mining operations. Bty, thorium (for LFTR) is already in the coal ash (and the energy content is more than the coal it came from!). We don’t need to build houses out of wood either.
We don’t need to tear down mountains for coal. We don’t need to engage in deforestation. We don’t need to drive cars. We don’t even need refrigeration. But we still need clean electricity and electrified cable for transportation, so as to maintain the sewer system, the water system and the power lines and the internet. We may not even need batteries!
If we use solar, we will need almost FOUR times the capacity (to make up for its 25% capacity factor) and thus a storage capacity capable of storing 3/4ths of that for at least a day (assuming built over vast regional distances).
If we use LFTR (or similar advanced nuclear), we can do away with all these intermittency issues. The trade off is about 5,000 tons of fission products that decay back to safe levels in 1/500th that time as conventional (un)spent waste from light water reactors (LWR) and their kind. Of course, with efficiencies, conservation and the entry into a solid state (non junk) economy, that total global power supply should be reduced by a factor of about ten. LFTR does NOT need high pressure containment either, just fancy chemical reprocessing (which was proven AND demonstrated 50 years ago at ORNL).
So, the hardest part is not the tech, it’s figuring out HOW to exit this global “get rich off of junk and others” economy in order to convert over to the right one where we mass produce ONLY what we need (and make it last).
Only in that way can Earth easily “afford” 10 or so billion of us.
It takes ALL uf us to make that change!

5 03 2012
mikestasse

Do you realise that Thorium in coal ash is at a 4 ppm concentration? That’s FOUR PARTS PER MILLION! Good luck with that one……

The element gallium is in very short supply and the world may well run out of it in just a few years. No way will it have a solar future. All of these so called “alternatives” are scraping the bottom of the barrel I’m afraid.

And regarding refrigeration, you obviously don’t live in the tropics where milk goes off in six hours.

The only solutions, in my ever so humble opinion, are those we have undertaken here, use less, waaaaay less, to do more. I mean why on Earth would you refuse anyone refrigeration when it can be done for just 20% of the energy consumption we all think is “normal”? We don’t need four times the capacity if we use just 20%, or better still, 10% of the current consumption as we do……

Mike

5 03 2012
fireofenergy

Mike, except for refrigeration, I beg to differ…

http://photovoltaics.sandia.gov/docs/PVFSCGallium_Arsenide_Solar_Cells.htm
and
http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/gallium/460303.pdf

About 50 to 200 millionths of a meter is needed, and concentrating optics reduce required size by about a thousand. from the link, “World resources of gallium in bauxite are estimated to exceed 1 billion kilograms, and a considerable quantity could be present in world zinc reserves”. At 5.91 grams per cubic centimeter, 1,000,000,000,000 grams / 5.91is 169,204,737,732 cubic centimeters or a square 411,345 km per side and one centimeter thick. We only need up to 1/50th of that…

Thorium…
http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/rev26-34/text/colmain.html
There is about 13 tons of it in the coal ash, would it be easier just to extract it from rock?

I KNOW that we can do a whole lot more, using a whole lot less. I also agree with you that we have to conserve beyond just efficiency. I totally forgot about milk (even though it can be dried) and other stuff when I was assuming that “everything can be smoked or dried”. I assume that led lighting, small amounts of refrigeration, and laptops can be powered by much less (normal) solar and lead acid batteries without the need for inverters for a vast amount of homes.

Excuse me for replying so late (but I had to find the links and do the math).

5 03 2012
fireofenergy

Sorry about the typo’s…

5 03 2012
fireofenergy

And the fact that my math was WAY wrong (against my favor). Should be ONLY 17 square km one centimeter thick, and that “just a few microns are needed” (in my favor).
Still, I believe there is enough material.
At 10 microns, that yields 17,000 sq km, and at a thousand “suns” concentration, would become another thousand fold, plenty enough to power ten billion people at an efficient, non fossil fueled standard.

5 04 2012
Justin Nigh

Technology is 10% of the problem, human behaviour made up of consumer culture and growth principles is 90%. Until we realize this, no amount of technology will “save the day.”

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