Archive for the 'energy' Category

Some Texas news

October 3, 2009

Who would have guessed that the State of Texas would put an innocent man to death? Sadly I’m not surprised. I used to support the death penalty until I actually took the time to read about all the cases where people have proven they were wrongly convicted. You would think more effort would be put into a case where someone’s life is on the line. But that just wouldn’t make good headlines. No, we have to look tough on crime.

From the article:

In what some opponents say looks like a political move and Gov. Rick Perry says was “business as usual,” the governor replaced the head of the Texas Forensic Science Commission and two other members on Wednesday, just 48 hours before the commission was to hear testimony from an arson expert who believes that Mr. Willingham was convicted on faulty testimony, a conclusion that has been supported by other experts in the field.

Mr. Perry’s decision to shake up the commission and put one of his political allies in charge has, at the least, delayed the inquiry into the Willingham case. While Mr. Perry says he has no political motive for the move, his opponents have called for the commission to finish its inquiry.

Playing politics with someone’s life; how very Texas Republican of Perry. I guess he’s trying to follow in Bush’s footsteps. After all, Bush played politics with millions of people’s lives around the world, and we all know how that worked out. Everyone sure loves the US right now.

But what really stands out is that bad science is to blame. Well of course we use bad science in Texas, just look at our school board. The right hates science. Hell, I’m more surprised they did any investigation at all. Would have been easier to just tie a rope around the guy’s neck with a rock on the other end and then throw him in a river. If he floated, burn the witch. If he drowned then innocence proved. See how easy this is. All that money wasted on investigations when the Dark Ages provided us with the simplest tests for finding out people’s true nature. I hear thumb screws save a lot of litigation time.

Hank Gilbert calls out Perry’s bullshit:

“Governor Perry’s decision to remove and replace three very competent members of the Texas Forensic Science Commission with three partisan ideologues should surprise absolutely no one.

This was a political decision by a Governor who wanted avoid criticism of the horrendous record Texas has regarding the execution of the innocent. The Governor’s decision should make it crystal clear to every Texan that justice in this state is controlled by the whims of an out-of-control Governor desperate to retain his grip on power.

Governor Perry’s actions were wholly unacceptable. Texas deserves better.”

I would say that humanity deserves better.

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In other news, a Dallas judge has ruled that same sex married couples should be allowed to divorce in Texas. Oh the horror. What is so bad about this? Well, we don’t like them gays in Texas, even though the only things that come from Texas are steers and queers (at least that’s what my drill instructor said in basic training, how original).

Although the case is far from settled, and the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage is a long way from being thrown out, Dallas state District Judge Tena Callahan’s ruling says the state prohibition of same-sex marriage violates the federal constitutional right to equal protection.

No shit. But we wouldn’t want something as silly as constitutional rights to get in the way of religious justice. We should burn the witches! Seriously, the whole same sex marriage ban is based on far right religious fear mongering; the lies that churches will be forced to perform gay marriages and that traditional marriage will suffer because we will all have to marry a gay person.

Two things; one, marriage is not controlled by religion. The state marries people all the time. Two, allowing states to vote against people’s basic rights is insane. We all know there’s a couple of states in the southern part of our country that would vote back in slavery if given the chance. The whole state’s right argument is crap; the Constitution trumps any state’s decisions. I know Governor Good Hair hates to hear that. Might explain his desire to start his own little fiefdom.

A study has been released showing that “there is no significant difference in emotional problems experienced by children adopted by heterosexual and gay or lesbian parents.” But this won’t stop the right from screaming that gays are a threat to families!

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On a good note, Texas just become home to the largest wind farm in the world.

The farm contains 627 wind turbines on almost 100,000 acres of land near Roscoe, Texas.

Wind energy is big business here in Texas, generating more energy with wind than any other state. The Texas grid is the 10th largest in the world, and 12 percent of our electricity currently comes from the wind. We are set to double that in the next 5 years.

To harness all that wind Texas created the CREZ program, committing to build 2000 miles of transmission lines to bring the energy to market. This is creating a lot of jobs right now which are sorely needed. And the towers being built are made from recycled steel.

We should place a wind mill in front of Governor Perry every time he opens his mouth.

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Scary Stuff (Update)

January 26, 2006

In today’s energy installment, Jerome gives us a somber thought to consider: the dinosaur juice is running out. And as we have yet to figure out a way to replace this energy source, it means we are all in real trouble.

As the oil fields run dry, prices will climb, and governments will be pressured to get more fuel for their countries. Tensions will grow. The world needs to address this as a community now before it gets out of hand. We need to be shifting the resources we waste on military buildup to deal with energy. Because fighting over oil won’t make more oil appear.

On another note, I am wondering if pumping all this oil out will have any effects on the upper crust of our planet. Besides the pollution in the air, does pulling out this substance have other consequences? The planet is a system, and changing one variable changes the whole. Its just a thought, but I still wonder if all this could change how heat is transfered to the surface, or some other effects on the weather maybe. The world we live in today exists because of a long series of gradual changes. Does a sudden change like draining so much oil create enough change to cause a faster reaction that may not be good for us?

I have created a new catogory on the left called “energy” to better reference these energy posts. There is a lot of information in them that I think most people are not as aware of as they should be. Check them out if you haven’t already.

Update- found some effects of drilling in the comments:

1. Subsidence. The shrinking of the rock can result in reduced elevation of the land above, which can lead to long-term flooding problems. This can also happen if too much water is drawn out of an aqifer. Go here for a brilliantly documented example.

2. Geological Fracturing. In carbonate (limestone) reservoirs, the rock is not flexible and can crack. If the well is shallow, the crack too large, or an aqifer is nearby, the ground water can become contaminated. This ususally happens at the site of the well, which forms a weak spot for cracks to start. It can be controlled by propper well abandonment procedures which include filling the well with cement under high (3000 psi) pressures. Of course such procedures are only required in industrialized nations like the USA and UK. Also of course, the requirments are seldom enforced by Texas, and now federal, authorities.

I said I would

January 25, 2006

And I will continue to link to Jerome’s posts on energy because people need to read these things. Today’s post:

You are not going to escape energy issues in the coming months and years, so you might as well get ready to talk about them.

* Peak Oil. All major oil companies have now acknowledged it.
* Nuclear. It’s making a major come back.
* Carbon emissions & global climate change.
* Geopolitical conflict everywhere. Iraq. Iran. Russia. Venezuela. China.
* Domestic politics

He goes into detail about these topics.

The next world war will be about energy.

Energy Needs Continued

January 16, 2006

I am going to keep linking to Jerome a Paris’ diaries on energy issues because they are so informative. Today’s topic is coal.

As before, the conversation continues deep into the comments. Personally, I am not a big fan of coal usage because of the strip mining used to get it.

More On Energy Needs

January 12, 2006

Well holy shit:

Energy guzzlers China and India are often blamed for some of the world’s environmental problems, but a new study says the two most populous nations may well set the stage for a clean and green Earth.

The two countries are mastering energy-efficient technologies, implementing cheap and environmentally responsible transportation systems, and adopting new water harvesting techniques as models for a sustainable economy, says the annual report of the Worldwatch Institute.

“China and India are positioned to leapfrog today’s industrial powers and become world leaders in sustainable energy and agriculture within a decade,” said Christopher Flavin, the president of the US-based environmental research group, in Washington.

China’s solar industry already provides water heating for 35 million buildings, and India’s pioneering use of rainwater harvesting brings clean water to tens of thousands of homes, according to the 244-page report.

I find this wonderful news after the conversations that went on in Jerome a Paris’ thread mentioned down the page. Too bad its not the good old US of A thats leading the way here. No, we get this instead:

While China and India have often been blamed for driving up the price of oil and other commodities, Flavin said one of the most striking conclusions of his group’s analysis was “how dominant the United States still is when it comes to resources and pollution.”

With oil, for example, the United States imports nearly four times as much as China, despite having only one fourth as many people.

“Americans wondering why the price of oil is so high need only to look in the mirror,” Flavin said.

So keep on driving those SUVs covered with yellow ribbons and flags fuck holes. God, this article pisses me off and makes me happy at the same time.

Energy Needs (Updated)

January 9, 2006

Found a good diary over at DKos by Jerome a Paris about nuclear energy. Good info and some good comments (for once).

I have been reading more about nuclear energy and energy production in general lately. Seems to be the issue of the day in the engineering magazines I read. I think that with our increasing energy needs we have to consider all possible sources.

I just want to add two things to Jerome’s diary. First, I am still convinced that disposing of nuclear waste off-planet is best. Now, I know current technology makes this unlikely, but I feel that if we put more effort into space flight it would work quite well. Its time we used the furnace in the sky to clean our planet. And I have spoken with a physicist who said the sun wouldn’t even notice. If we shifted some of the money we waste on war to civilian space flight development, I think this idea would be realized in our lifetimes.

Second, I read an article (not online, sorry) about GE doing windmill tests in North Dakota. They found that up to 20% of our power usage could come from wind there. Of course this means improving the grid, running more lines and actually building the windmills, but it could work.

What I like most about this idea is that it pulls us a away from middle east oil, creates less pollution and creates jobs in an area that has lost most of its work. In many of the areas considered the economy is shit. One of the biggest problems with windmills in other places is that people bitch about having to see them. Fine. Let’s put them where no one is at, improve the local economies and create jobs for our citizens while keeping our money here.

I still think conservation would go a long way to fixing energy needs, but it is not enough. We need to also shift from fossil fuels as much as possible.

Update- Well, Jerome’s diary generated some amazing comments. It was actually a pretty good discussion. I learned more about renewables, and about an element named thorium.

It seams thorium can be used in place of uranium in nuclear reactors. Thorium is four times more abundant then uranium and produces less radioactive waste. So why isn’t it used today? Because it doesn’t produce enough of the plutonium needed to make nuclear weapons. If you think about the cold war, you can see why our government pushed uranium over thorium. Need more nukes dammit!

That aside, I also learned that we don’t recycle our nuclear waste. Seems France uses breeder reactors to get the most out of their uranium. We on the other hand just let it site at our reactor sites. The US not recycle? Go figure.

My “Waste to Space” (I claim the name!) idea got mixed results. Some thought I am crazy, while others agreed that we have no idea what future technologies may develop, and that the idea is a good last resort if nothing better comes along.

I think in the end most people agreed that there has to be a multi-energy source solution. With China and India using more energy everyday, the human race needs to get busy on this subject. And if the US wants to be a player, we need to develop green energy technology now and then sell it (at affordable prices) to developing nations. This serves two purposes: It gives citizens here jobs and it helps developing nations skip the nasty coal and oil stages in their own industrialization. And we still have to remember that eventually Africa and South America are going to get there too, so what better way to go then get them green from the start.