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Earth Power Technology

Why Sustainable Power Is Unsustainable 1108

Posted by timothy
from the what-will-the-market-bear dept.
Urchin writes "Although scientists are agreed that we must cut carbon emissions from transport and electricity generation to prevent the globe's climate becoming hotter, the most advanced 'renewable' technologies are too often based upon non-renewable resources including indium and platinum — resources that could dry up in 10-15 years if they were widely used in the renewable energy market."
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Why Sustainable Power Is Unsustainable

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  • Wrong Premise (Score:3, Insightful)

    by davebarnes (158106) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @10:46PM (#26768709) Homepage

    "Although scientists are agreed that we must cut carbon emissions from transport and electricity generation to prevent the globe's climate becoming hotter"

    They are NOT agreed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hardburn (141468)

      That's some top notch marketing tactics, there, Dave.

      Back in reality, lakes are drying up [wikipedia.org] and deserts expanding [wikipedia.org] due to human activities.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jack9 (11421)

        There is no more evidence of that, than carbon emissions affecting pirate population.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 08, 2009 @12:02AM (#26769267)

          than carbon emissions affecting pirate population.

          Funny you should mention pirates. We get pirates seizing tankers of oil and boatloads of weapons, and London gets a blizzard.

          Coincidence? I think not. This is simply additional data points to demonstrate the centuries-old connection between pirates and global temperatures.

          • by RazzleDazzle (442937) on Sunday February 08, 2009 @01:35AM (#26769895) Journal

            London gets a blizzard? Sorry. I've been in London for a week now and coming from Minnesota I find it very hard to relate to all of the sentiment by everyone about "oh no, there are some flakes and falling and now no one can drive". It boggles the mind I tell you. A friend of mine here in London (who is from Singapore originally) said he did not have anything to scrape the snow off his car so he had to pull out a broom dust pan. I told him to just use his hand, it's only snow after all not poison. Also stop bitching about the COLD... it's BARELY below freezing so I was able to go with just an insulated flannel shirt whereas everyone else is walking around with several layers and what not.

            Oh yeah... renewable energy is a myth so please just vote for clean coal everyone because it must be clean right? I mean it has "clean" right in the name of the energy source so how can you refute its cleanliness, you fickle commies!

      • Re:Wrong Premise (Score:4, Insightful)

        by LingNoi (1066278) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @11:31PM (#26769025)

        That's some top notch marketing tactics, there, Dave.

        Stop being a hypocrite, correlation does not equate causation, especially when we're talking about the globe. Picking two places off the map doesn't mean jack shit.

        • Re:Wrong Premise (Score:5, Insightful)

          by hardburn (141468) <hardburn@wumpus-cav e . n et> on Saturday February 07, 2009 @11:57PM (#26769221)

          Desterification is happening in California, Africa, and Madagascar. Lake Chad drying up is directly attributable to human activity, though not necessarily due to CO2. It's a form of anthropogenic climate change, in any case. And it's also happening to Lake Superior [thedailygreen.com].

          Meanwhile, Oceans are acidifying [wikipedia.org] all over (the chemistry involved is directly attributable to CO2). Polar caps are melting, putting pressure on the polar bear population. Being the alpha predator of the region, this will remove the ecosystem's ability to keep prey species in check, causing far-reaching problems elsewhere.

          None of this is from some sketchy model formed up by some graduage student as a doomsday scenario. It's stuff we can go out and directly observe right now.

          • Re:Wrong Premise (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday February 08, 2009 @12:16AM (#26769407) Homepage Journal
            The observations aren't in question. It's the CONCLUSIONS that are debatable. Man most certainly has affected the biosphere in adverse ways. But, to claim that man is solely responsible for global warming is preposterous. To claim that man has contributed to global warming is a reasonable statement. But, now we need to determine HOW MUCH he has contributed. For those who have missed it, Mars is also undergoing global warming. There have been a couple articles regarding warming on other bodies in our system. Jumping to conclusions is NOT IN THE PROVINCE OF SCIENCE, but rather it is a tactic of politicians, and grant chasers.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              The whole "Mars is warming" thing is crap. You are looking at a tiny amount of data, from a couple of spacecraft that aren't even really designed to measure that.

              The data we have on the Earth presents a pretty good picture of warming, and the scientific consensus is that it's human caused. The trend in scientific consensus is also increasingly towards it being human caused.

              • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Sunday February 08, 2009 @01:02AM (#26769701)

                The data we have on the Earth presents a pretty good picture of warming, and the scientific consensus is that it's human caused. The trend in scientific consensus is also increasingly towards it being human caused.

                So not only all do all true scientists agree [wikipedia.org], but the percentage of scientists agreeing is increasing every day.

                Does that mean the true scientists are breeding or something? Should they all believe that overpopulation is a problem, just like global warming?

                • Re:Wrong Premise (Score:4, Interesting)

                  by beckerist (985855) on Sunday February 08, 2009 @02:40AM (#26770229) Homepage
                  I've decided that the Matrix (and Joe Rogan for that matter) were correct: humans are no different than a virus. Think about it; what we consider "intelligence" or "sentience" is nothing more than a certain threshold of organization crossed.

                  Now take that level on a macro level. What virii are most successful? The ones that A) don't inhibit their transfer B) the ones that keep their hosts alive long enough to be transferred (or at least enticing to another organism in death) and C) the ones that evolve when A or B fails.

                  YES there is a point to this! I just think that we as humans need to find our balance. How much of a fever(1)/the runs(2) can we give the Earth? I still say the chances are the earth is going to be shot(3) or some other form of brain death(4) first anyway [/eeyore]

                  1. Global Warming
                  2. Volcanism
                  3. Asteroids
                  4. Humans exterminated due to lack of evolution/war/general stupidity
              • Re:Wrong Premise (Score:5, Informative)

                by rk (6314) on Sunday February 08, 2009 @07:41AM (#26771425) Journal

                But, now we need to determine HOW MUCH he has contributed. For those who have missed it, Mars is also undergoing global warming.

                Let me tell you something about the Mars climate change. Its cause is due to albedo changes due to dust on Mars, and has nothing to do with climate change on Earth.

                I happen to know the gal who write that Mars global warming paper. In fact, she's one of my best friends. So I certainly didn't miss it. I also didn't miss it when she told me that people who hold up her paper to deny anthropogenic climate change on Earth are "clueless" and probably didn't read past her title, either.

                The whole "Mars is warming" thing is crap. You are looking at a tiny amount of data, from a couple of spacecraft that aren't even really designed to measure that.

                Sorry Charlie, it's not crap, either. Those couple (three actually... was four for a while until MGS died) of spacecraft are designed and used to measure surface temperature, albedo, and all kinds of other nifty properties. It's amazing what you can do with spectrometers, IR imagers, and bolometers. And the data we have on Mars isn't exactly tiny, either. But as I said above to the other guy, the reasons are albedo change due to dust patterns and have nothing (NOTHING!) to do with the Earth.

    • Re:Wrong Premise (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shma (863063) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @10:53PM (#26768747)
      Scientists who study climate are in agreement. Some non-experts who study unrelated fields disagree. I'll stand with the people who know what they're talking about, and whose arguments I find sensible.

      Feel free to review the evidence yourself, and come to your own conclusions.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by slimjim8094 (941042)

        Feel free to review the evidence yourself, and come to your own conclusions.

        But we won't care, because he's not an expert on climate...

      • Re:Wrong Premise (Score:4, Informative)

        by EdZ (755139) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @11:09PM (#26768881)
        Scientists who study the climate agree that the climate is changing. What is not yet agreed upon is if the specific 'why' this time is due solely, or even partly, to human-introduced CO2, or if it's business as usual like the last few millions of years of records indicate. Heck, the jury's still out on whether CO2 leads or lags temperature rises, whether the simulations of a chaotic system are accurate enough, etc.
        • Re:Wrong Premise (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anspen (673098) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @11:34PM (#26769047)
          Bull, the IPCCC report says that it's "very likely" [time.com] that human made CO2 results in climate change. That's about as definitive as you're likely to get from a very large group of scientists. Yes the precise details are not clear yet, but most of the uncertainty is about how *bad* it could/would get. That human activity is vastly increasing the CO2 levels is clear. That this has a significant influence on the climate is pretty much as well.
          • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot AT hackish DOT org> on Saturday February 07, 2009 @11:49PM (#26769169)

            Agreeing on the cause is one thing, and as you point out, there is pretty good agreement on it. There is much less agreement on the proposed solutions. What effects would lowering carbon dioxide emissions starting in 2009 have vs. not lowering them? And what amount would they have to be lowered by to have some particular desired outcome? Is lowering emissions going forward even a useful option at this stage, or do we need some sort of active reversal of existing damage in addition (or instead)? The answers to all those questions seem pretty up in the air.

            I'd personally like to see an IPCCC-like document outlining proposed best practices, which currently available scientific evidence suggests would, if followed, have some desirable outcome or prevent some undesirable outcome. Or at least giving some odds on each of the major proposals. But we still seem to be a bit off from that.

          • Re:Wrong Premise (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 08, 2009 @12:06AM (#26769309)

            Of course the IPCC says that humans are the cause, it is their job to say that:

            The IPCC's job is to study human-induced climate change, so their jobs depend upon finding human-induced climate change.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Scientists who study climate are in agreement. Some non-experts who study unrelated fields disagree. I'll stand with the people who know what they're talking about, and whose arguments I find sensible. Feel free to review the evidence yourself, and come to your own conclusions.

        I have to say, I've heard some of the most ridiculously bad physics in arguments from the climate-change deniers. Now, not all of the climate change deniers argue physics, but the ones who do have pretty much made me lose respect for the position. My overall opinion is that if they can't bother to understand physics, I'm not interested.

        • Re:Wrong Premise (Score:4, Insightful)

          by fluffy99 (870997) on Sunday February 08, 2009 @12:35AM (#26769549)

          "Scientists who study climate are in agreement. "

          Of course. Because any climate scientist who isn't in agreement suddenly finds he has no govt funding, and loses credibility in his field. That's how most research grants work. If your final results don't support the underlying theory that the sponsor wants proved, then that sponsor doesn't use you the next time. Same deal for "independent" pharmaceutical research.

          It's undeniable that the climate is changing. It has been for as long as we've kept records, and archeological evidence suggests even bigger swings in the past. What is debatable is how large of a role humans are playing in it.

          • Re:Wrong Premise (Score:4, Interesting)

            by orzetto (545509) on Sunday February 08, 2009 @07:32AM (#26771387)

            Because any climate scientist who isn't in agreement suddenly finds he has no govt funding,

            Ever heard of Bjørn Lomborg [wikipedia.org]? He is a nutcase who published a book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, in which he (who has only one peer-reviewed publication in an unrelated field) said that all environmental scientist were were wrong about pretty much everything.

            So, what happened to his career? While he was denounced by Scientific American and Nature, he was defended by The Economist [economist.com], not exactly a climatology publication. The Danish government gave Lomborg the chair of a newly created "Environmental Assessment Institute", he published further books, and ended up in TIME's list of the 100 most influential people of 2004.

            So, that's what happens when one is not in agreement with the scientific consensus, but says things that governments want to hear: lots of money, media attention, skyrocketing career. Lomborg was just a mediocre associate professor with only one peer-reviewed paper from 1996, who was looking at a very boring and uneventful career. By cherry-picking and fabricating data, he's a world star of climate-change denial now (note that last time I checked, he did not deny climate change outright, or even that it is anthropogenic, only that it is "inefficient" to do something about it, in practice reaching the same conclusion as deniers).

            If anything, it amazes me that so few scientists do the same.

    • Re:Wrong Premise (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 07, 2009 @11:02PM (#26768829)
      Maybe so, but here's a hypothetical situation to consider. A comet is crashing towards the area you live in. Scientists have a raging debate as to whether or not it will completely disintegrate before hitting your house. Do you stay in your house till they reach a "consensus" or get the hell out of there?

      Whether global warming is true or not really doesn't matter much. We still need to take precautions to prevent pollution and switch to cleaner energy sources. It will benefit our own health and safety as well as be a matter of prudence.
      • Re:Wrong Premise (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LingNoi (1066278) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @11:44PM (#26769131)

        Whether global warming is true or not really doesn't matter much.

        YES IT DOES, RTFA!!!!

        Also the UK government didn't buy any salt for the snow we had this week because they thought global warming wasn't going to make it cold enough. Another example of why it matters when people lie about global warming.

        To say repeating the same bullshit line has no consequences is just moronic.

        Please stop turning the global warming debate into a religion, you're being part of the problem including your silly little precaution speech.

        Here's another speech, Why not believe in God just to be sure you're going to heaven even though there is no data either way?

        See how you're saying the exact same thing?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PaulBu (473180)

        A comet is crashing towards the area you live in. Scientists have a raging debate as to whether or not it will completely disintegrate before hitting your house. Do you stay in your house till they reach a "consensus" or get the hell out of there?

        Add an "insurance company" selling "anti-comet credits" into the picture, with payments to said company quickly adding up to about twice what your house is worth now, and *then* think if you should be following special interests-induced paranoia so blindly...

        This

    • Re:Wrong Premise (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MrMista_B (891430) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @11:12PM (#26768905)

      Those that bother to look at the math instead of the politics, at the history instead of the hype, are agreed.

    • by T.E.D. (34228) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @11:35PM (#26769053)
      Dude, Christian Scientists [tfccs.com] don't count.
    • Re:Wrong Premise (Score:5, Informative)

      by mollymoo (202721) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @11:47PM (#26769155) Journal

      They are NOT agreed.

      Yes. They. Are.

      According to this recent study [uic.edu], 97% of specialists and 82% of scientists in general agree with anthropomorphic climate change.

      So, what's your evidence that scientists do not agree? Put up or shut up.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by blueg3 (192743)

        Obviously, the 3% and 17% are right.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Here, try actually getting a clue before spouting the party line. You may want to believe that you are so important that you can start and stop climate change but no, You're not.

        I know your next move will be to discredit and belittle the people that believe other than you do so I included all their names and credentials.

        I know it's long, so try really hard to focus and concentrate and you might be able to make it through the whole letter.

        The following is the Dec. 13th 07 letter to Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-Gen

      • Re:Wrong Premise (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Silverhammer (13644) on Sunday February 08, 2009 @12:50AM (#26769633)

        If I'm reading that study correctly, the list of potential respondents was drawn only from academic institutions and government agencies, and from that list, the actual respondents essentially self-selected.

        And you think that's an accurate reflection of reality?

        The argument all along has been that the scientists with the most to gain from government action -- through grants or regulation or whatever -- are the ones most likely to agree on anthropogenic climate change. In that much, the study seems right on target...

        EDIT: If other users can keep posting the same study, then I can keep posting the same reply. Bite me, asinine Slashcode spam blocker.

  • Wind? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tubal-Cain (1289912) * on Saturday February 07, 2009 @10:47PM (#26768715) Journal
    For things like solar, sure. But I don't see wind or tidal power generation needing anything more advanced than fiberglass.
    • by MarkusQ (450076) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @10:54PM (#26768759) Journal

      For things like solar, sure. But I don't see wind or tidal power generation needing anything more advanced than fiberglass.

      Take it even further. Neither nuclear nor geothermal suffer from this supposed problem. And not even all solar power systems face it--molten salt and biomass-mediated systems, for example, won't suffer either.

      So really we're down to a potential problem with photo-voltaic solar power, and only then on the assumption that no systems based on plentiful materials are waiting in the wings.

      Bah.

      --MarkusQ

  • by hardburn (141468) <hardburn@wumpus-cav e . n et> on Saturday February 07, 2009 @10:50PM (#26768733)

    The article points out Indium in some of the better solar cells in the lab (40% efficient), and Platinum as an important catylist in a hydrogen fuel cells. Both of these are already valuable metals for existing applications, and will easily see minable reserves dry up if you add on renewable energy applications.

    However, this is why you don't focus on one and only one solution to this problem. Solar reflectors, wind, tidal, and nuclear all have roles to play.

    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @11:05PM (#26768851)
      Not to mention as another poster pointed out that most rare minerals are mined in only a few locations because it isn't yet profitable to mine in other locations, when we start (really) running out, there will be more surveys and more of the metal will be found.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aliquis (678370)

      Also what the fuck do they mean with non-renewable? It's not like they do any radioactive stuff with them is it? So obviously they are "renewable", just recycle whatever you trashed. Sure they may not be easy to come by but that's a totally different story.

      Oil = Abundant, non-renewable in a short time perspective.
      1 TW solar panels the size of a propeller cap = Rare but would give renewable energy as long as we have the sun close alive and kicking.

  • by Silvercloud (691706) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @10:53PM (#26768753)
    I disagree categorically with the article title. Sustainable energy is the only sane way to exist and make tradition upon. If in the short term, we find we can't implement some energy catching machine because of a scarity of an earthbound resource, someone will find another way. Human innovation is invincible.
  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @11:00PM (#26768803)
    as it's not economically viable to prospect for new sources unless and until the existing supplies are nearing their end of life.

    Who would pay for an exploration team to go around, looking for new sources of a material that was already abundant? Answer: no-one. As a consequence, a lot of "rare" minerals only have a known source that will last a couple of decades - or less. Until they become scare and the price rises, there's no profit in spending money looking for new reserves.

    In the 70's the big scare was that there was only 15 years worth of (known) oil reserves left. Hey, we didn't run out. When the price went up, that incentivised people to go out and find new sources.

    Same when I was doing electronics design in the early 80's - there was a scare that we'd run out of tantalum (for capacitors).

    Scares aren't new and tend to have a way of working themselves out. Even if one metal did become to prices - i.e. scarce, no doubt processes will be invented to use a different material.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bjourne (1034822)
      Even if none of the scares so far has come true it doesn't mean that their conclusion is not inevitable. The amount of raw materials on earth is limited, we consume raw materials at an exponential rate (x % increase pear year). As a consequence, there will not be enough raw materials available in the future.
  • by pottymouth (61296) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @11:16PM (#26768931)

    .. is suitable for realistically providing power for the typical modern life.

    Nuclear is clean, safe and practically inexhaustible. The latest advances could provide small nuclear "batteries" the size of a hot tube that could provide power to an entire neighborhood decentralizing much of the power systems (and huge networks of wires) we've come to think of as unavoidable. Making our power systems virtually fool proof. For too long we've lived in the fear from the propaganda of the illiterate press. It's time to start using the miraculous energy source we uncovered and made practical nearly 3/4 of a century ago. It's there, it's understood, it's completely doable and for a hell of lot less money than the democrats want to steal from the people of the US right now.

    Go nukes! Go nukes! Go nukes!

    • by Spit (23158) on Sunday February 08, 2009 @03:25AM (#26770433)

      Uranium is non-renewable energy. It would deplete very quickly if world usage were ramped and it's peak even is not to far away [wikipedia.org].

  • by waveguide (166484) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @11:20PM (#26768949)

    We need research into different energy sources, it's true, but what boggles my mind is why people don't address the simple things in their own lives, if they're concerned about energy conservation. The funniest thing I can see in this particular arena is the moron who rails against the oil companies and middle eastern governments, terrorists, and whatever else, then gets in his Explorer to commute to work by himself, getting 3 mpg, while babbling on his phone about how bad the energy situation is. If you drive a truck (no, I don't use the euphemistic 'SUV'), then shut the F up- you're part of the problem.

    There is so much BS going around about alternative energy sources, but we could make a big difference now. I haven't ever owned a car that got less than 25 MPG, and I work half of my time from home; when I don't, I often ride a train. I doubt there are many alternative energy advocates that are close to my carbon footprint, but they put their faith in technology that doesn't exist instead of getting their supersized butts out of their trucks. And people listen to them anyway.

  • by Sabriel (134364) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @11:21PM (#26768967)

    Ok, IRTFA. Sheesh, talk about using bazookas to swat flies. Is this anything more than FUD to scare people back to coal? Let me spell it out:

    Solar-thermal plants using mirrors, steam turbines, and if you want 24/7, underground heat reservoirs. Completely buildable using some of the more common materials on the planet: sand, steel, concrete, copper, salt, etcetera. Who cares if they're inefficient compared to the super-fancy super-rare stuff in TFA, just build lots of them.

    Maintenance? Bugger all in comparison to a coal plant, the bloody things run on sunshine. There's no toxic+radioactive coal dust/ash/soot getting into everything, no gas-guzzling trucks and trains leaving said dust billowing in their wake over nearby towns and farms as they go between mine and plant... blah blah bloody blah.

    There are only three real reasons that the countries with plenty of sunshine (e.g. my own) haven't gone this route long ago: vested greed, common ignorance, short-term thinking.

    /rant!

  • non-re-new-able (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fermion (181285) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @11:38PM (#26769081) Homepage Journal
    When we burn a bunch of fossil fuel, we are burning mass that was laid down a very long time ago, and take a long time to recreate. This time is not measured in hundreds of years, but hundreds of thousands years. This means two things. First, once it is consumed, it is consumed. Second, we are raising carbon levels bu reintroducing carbon that was removed perhaps a million years ago.

    The situation with renewable energy is different. Yes when it takes energy to manufacture biomass into fuels. But if is done right, we are taking carbon out of the atmosphere one year, and putting it back in the next, creating a steady state. Clearly there are some issues now, but that is political. In the US, instead of using weeds, the corn growers, which have been pushing the US for years to a deadly philosophy of monoculture, is using food crops. On the other point, I don't think that biofuels is causing food prices to increase any more than lack of oil is causing the current high prices at the pump. demand for luxury food is increasing, the economic expansion of the past several years means that people are buying more, and there is much less focus on the needs of those that have no food.

    As far as rare metals, these are not consumed. All these products can be remanufactured. The issue is political. In my US town, trash is picked up once a week at every house, but recycling is picked up only every other week at some houses. Houses are allowed to throw away dangerous materials without any fine. The only way to send electronics for remanufacture to go to the drop off on a work day. Of course a lot of this has to do with the costs involved. it is cheaper to mine new material rather than reuse old. for these materials the economics might be reversed, and we might the trend reversed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 07, 2009 @11:47PM (#26769147)

    TFA is complete BS, at least in terms of platinum.

    I work for a company which is in the process of adding several centuries' supply of PGEs (platinum group elements) to proven reserves. Platinum and fuel cells are going to get a lot cheaper, within 10 years.

    We know where PGEs are, but it's often in politically unstable places, or those that are busy strangling their domestic exploration industry (e.g. Canada).

    This global recession will likely help finally unjam a lot of political roadblocks. When people are hurting, they don't tolerate environmental protests as much, and aren't as willing to turn a blind eye to eco-terrorism, which has wracked the industry in the last decade. Even the first world is finding it harder to ignore potentially adding a hundred billion to one's GDP for decades.

  • Asteroids (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AJWM (19027) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @11:58PM (#26769231) Homepage

    One small nickel-iron type asteroid will also yield plenty of platinum, iridium and similar metals. Heck, there's still some disagreement over what they're mining in Sudbury, Ontario, [wikipedia.org] is there because of magma upwelling after the original impact (circa 2bya) or remnants of the original impactor.

    Separating them out can be done in space with a number of processes using large reflectors and solar heating. (Zone refining, fractional distillation, carbonyl extraction, etc..)

    If we'd had the guts to start moving towards that when some people first started suggesting it seriously, we'd be there or nearly so by now.

  • One word (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macraig (621737) <mark@a@craig.gmail@com> on Sunday February 08, 2009 @12:14AM (#26769393)

    Duh!

    Anyone who has believed otherwise has been caught drinking too much of the spiked Kool-Aid.

    We live in an effectively finite ecosystem with finite resources. Had we not allowed human population to explode as it has, particularly in the last 200 years, virtually none of what we consider "crises" would even be problems worth noting yet. We would still have had to address them eventually perhaps, but we would have had centuries more to learn before then. Unfortunately the species is very adept at burning the candle at both ends. What we're experiencing now is not much different than the crash of withdrawal after binging on some hallucinogen. The morning after is always a bitch.

    Again, human overpopulation is the 800-pound Samsonite gorilla in the room. Until we deal with that, none of the rest is anything but posturing.

  • by RichMan (8097) on Sunday February 08, 2009 @12:27AM (#26769493)

    The WWW is the solution.

    Wind, waves and water can be harnessed for renewable enegy without exotic metals.

    The premis of the title is wrong as it makes the assumption that the only way to get good energy is through current solar cell technologies.

    No exotic metals here
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power
    or here
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wave_power
    or here
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydroelectricity
    or here
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tidal_power
    or here
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_power

This place just isn't big enough for all of us. We've got to find a way off this planet.

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