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Carbon Reduction Imperative 

 

 

Due to improving living standards in developed and some developing countries (China India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore etc) the worldwide demand for energy for electricity generation has been growing by around 2% pa worldwide.

 

Worldwide electrical energy is predominantly based on the combustion of fossil fuels (carbon and a proportion of hydrogen). The carbon is released as atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). The consequent exponential release of CO2is believed to be threatening the climate of the planet. This is compounded by the release of methane and other air, water and land pollution (associated with industrialisation) and the widespread disruption of the natural carbon cycle by tree clearing and broad-acre farming and grazing monocultures and damage to marine ecosystems (as a result of exponential population growth).

 

In response, carbon mitigation strategies are in place throughout the developed world to attempt to contain the growth of atmospheric CO2. To facilitate these strategies, renewable energy technologies are projected to make an increasing contribution to world energy consumption. The stronger these carbon mitigation strategies are; the more competitive low carbon and renewable energy becomes.

 
Although there are various experimental and speculative alternative (low carbon and renewable) electricity solutions, this article focuses on those that presently make a significant contribution, or may do within the next 20 years. For the purposes of this analysis these alternatives are:
 
  •  Hydro
  •  Wind
  •  Solar
  •  Geothermal
  •  Biomass/Biogas (including wood, algae and bio/solar)
  •  Marine (tides, waves, currents)
  •  Nuclear (including fusion)

 

Some of these involve more 'whole of life' carbon production in their manufacture; installation; maintenance; demolition; and recycling than others.  The following analysis is based on the assumption that they actually run, and produce useful electricity, for their estimated lifetime.  If they become ‘white elephants’ their carbon footprint becomes very large indeed.

 

 

Comparative Carbon Footprints

 

 

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Source: UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology - Carbon Footprint of Electricity Generation

 

 

 

 

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Travel

USA - middle bits

 

 

 

 

 

In September and October 2017 Wendy and I took another trip to the United States where we wanted to see some of the 'middle bits'.  Travel notes from earlier visits to the East coast and West Coast can also be found on this website.

For over six weeks we travelled through a dozen states and stayed for a night or more in 20 different cities, towns or locations. This involved six domestic flights for the longer legs; five car hires and many thousands of miles of driving on America's excellent National Highways and in between on many not so excellent local roads and streets.

We had decided to start in Chicago and 'head on down south' to New Orleans via: Tennessee; Georgia; Louisiana; and South Carolina. From there we would head west to: Texas; New Mexico; Arizona; Utah and Nevada; then to Los Angeles and home.  That's only a dozen states - so there are still lots of 'middle bits' left to be seen.

During the trip, disaster, in the form of three hurricanes and a mass shooting, seemed to precede us by a couple of days.

The United States is a fascinating country that has so much history, culture and language in common with us that it's extremely accessible. So these notes have turned out to be long and could easily have been much longer.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

Chappaquiddick

 

 

 

'Teddy, Teddy, I'm pregnant!
Never mind Mary Jo. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.'

 


So went the joke created by my friend Brian in 1969 - at least he was certainly the originator among our circle of friends.

The joke was amusingly current throughout 1970's as Teddy Kennedy again stood for the Senate and made later headlines. It got a another good run a decade later when Teddy decided to run against the incumbent President Jimmy Carter for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

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Opinions and Philosophy

Discovery of the Higgs boson

 

 

Perhaps the most important physics discovery of my lifetime has finally been announced.  I say 'finally' as its existence has been predicted by the 'Standard Model' for a long time and I have already mentioned this possibility/probability in an earlier article on this website (link).

Its confirmation is important to everyone, not just to physicists working in the field of quantum mechanics.  Like the confirmation of the predictions of Einstein's Theory of Relativity we are now confronted with a new model of reality that has moved beyond an esoteric theory to the understanding that this is how the Universe actually is; at least as far as the Standard Model goes.

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