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On The Great Green Meltdown

Why nuclear vs renewable energy? Each type of energy has its pros and cons. We should be looking at energy sustainability. Diversification will ensure sustainability, because we do not know what our future holds. If we rely heavily on one energy source, something happens to that source, we are cooked!

As each energy type is suitable for different locations, we could look at it from that perspective rather than turning against each other. For example, we cannot expect to rely on hydroelectric power in a desert, or solar energy near the poles and so on.. 

How do we balance the different energy source or types is the question we should be debating on.

December 24, 2013    View Comment    

On What Would it Take to Get to a Steady State Economy?

I recall having read something similar many years ago. Someone wrote something to that effect, where population growth overshoot the resources/food supplies. As we know, technology has enable us to continue to grow. Thus, in this case, it should not based on resources but on the innovativeness of the people to keep a steady state. Once our innovation cannot keep up with out growth, we shall collapse.

May 25, 2013    View Comment    

On A Fusion Reactor Hollywood Could Love

Thank you for the numbers.  Numerically, it sure looks good.  I am excited about fusion too.  If numbers are all that counts in engineering, then something is wrong here.  I believe this assumption dates back many centuries...and it works then.  

The world today is very different, if you notice. Before the idea of fusion leaves the scientific community, it is still within the grasps of the community to do something.  Once it is out there, the politician, businessmen, and layman, different system...dictatorship...extremist.., it becomes nobody's business to clean up the mess, and the scientific community is at a loss, like what they are dealing with the global warming, pollution, etc..

In addition, the ocean is not just an ocean in terms of volume/ numbers. Besides the precious water, it serves more than the ecological system, it also helps to cool and heat and guess where does the oil comes from? The volume may looks good, just like the air now. How much CO2 are we talking about?  i am sure we have learn some lessons from global warming. Relative to how big the atmosphere is, it was unthinkable that CO2 emissions would ever matters at all.  Afterall, we breathe CO2 everyday, and nature has taken care of that.  What was then and what was now is only a few centuries away, and there is no issue with the atmosphere then.

But, we cannot look at the ocean the same way we look at the atmosphere then.  First it looks like it is less than the atmosphere in terms of volume.  Second, the ocean is already at a fragile state with the current pollution, global warming, overfishing...By the time, fusion is in full swing, say a few decades from now, it will be in a worst state, so where is the tipping point? So we cannot assume that it is going to be 30,000 years before something happens.  My point here is that the combination of all these factors will be the tipping point, and we cannot take a one on one ie. fusion and ocean basis...that sounds like an economic theory ...ceteris paribus.....all else remains the same! 

It will looks like much less.

If the energy experts do not do anything about the open ended issue, because it is insignificant, then are we waiting for it to be significant to do something about it?  Ever heard of prevention is better than cure?

 

 

December 3, 2011    View Comment    

On A Fusion Reactor Hollywood Could Love

Thanks. The number looks good. I am very excited about the success of fusion.

However, we cannot apply this assumption that this number is insignificant to everything under the sun.  Particularly, if this involves water.

We need to look beyond the numbers. There are lessons we can take away from global warming.  Was the number on CO2 emissions insignificant when we burn fossil fuel? I bet no one ever thought that it was anything significant. Afterall, we breathe out CO2 everyday!  The earth has taken care of it for millions of years, it is part of nature.  Why should it be diferent? Now, we know about global warming and we try to hold back with little success, as we are addicted to oil and coal and so forth.  Some damage is already done, so how soon can we hold back further damage?  Your guess is as good as mine.

Now, water is an even more delicate issue than CO2 because it is the essence of lfe.  Worst, the ocean is smaller than the atmosphere.  But, we are already having problem with CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. In addition, the ocean is already fragile, due to pollution, global warming, and so forth.  Are we learning anything from the global warming, or are we going to repeat the same mistake with the water as well, and compound the global issues?

Let's not leave something manageable until it turns into something unmanageable before we start looking to deal with it. Do you agree that this would be a better approach?

December 3, 2011    View Comment    

On A Fusion Reactor Hollywood Could Love

"There is no chance of us depleting any substantial portion of them at a 700 to 1 ratio (or even a 7 to 1 ratio for that matter)." I like your confidence.

I sure do know there are ONLY seven oceans and the world population is now hitting 7 billion.  Like everything things else when it started, it is also not a realistic concern then with oil. The proliferation of energy use with 7 billion people will not be something you can imagine now......guess how soon can it hit 14 billion...28 billion...I guess you know the effect?  

Understand your enthusiasim that this can get us over the next energy crisis.  I think there should be a cap before any damage is done beyond redemption....we may have to start looking at how this damage be contained, and not leave it open ended.  

December 2, 2011    View Comment    

On A Fusion Reactor Hollywood Could Love

Pardon my ignorance. Are you saying that hydrogen the same as H20?
December 1, 2011    View Comment    

On A Fusion Reactor Hollywood Could Love

Wonderful. '1 barrel of seawater equals that of 700 barrels of oil.' This would resolve the energy crisis.  

But how about the sea water?  Will it disappear for good as in depleted like the oil? I cannot imagine if the ocean would disappear for good.

November 30, 2011    View Comment    

On Energy Policy by Crisis

Good Post!   I think The Pickens Plan has got a good start to get away from oil dependence, and hopefully in time to avert the oil crisis that is just around the corner.

 

August 13, 2011    View Comment    

On When Falling Oil Prices are Bad News

This is depressing.  But I believe something can be done.  

A market economy is ultimately driven by money.  While the Gov’t has to cut spending, there are more than two trillions of dollars (if I have not mistaken) sitting on the sideline with the private corporations.  All we need is the right motivation for the money to invest in the economy to boost its growth.  Tax incentives are not enough because being private corporations, their own projects depend on the market or economy.  With such a bad economy, they are wise enough to hold.  So it is a chicken and egg issue that leads us to a tougher times ahead. 

 

In the past, this is when the gov’t comes in with its many capital projects, especially infrastructures, like the interstate highways and bridges connecting the various cities.  China is doing the same thing to spur its growth so far.  Unfortunately, now the US gov’t has no money to spend on these projects.  Thus the next option is for the US gov’t to privatize its capital projects and make them viable for the private corporations to get their money to pour into the economy.  (I did not say this is going to be easy, that is why it is always the gov't that take up these capital projects).   

August 8, 2011    View Comment    

On Do EV's and CAFE's Mix?

Well said!  I like how Jim concluded.   "The structure of CAFE standards needs to be rethought.  CAFE standards should address separately the two energy policy goals that they were designed to achieve: energy efficiency and energy diversity.  One goal should not be a trade-off for the other.  As CAFE standards and other mandates become increasingly important policy tools in a budget-constrained environment, energy security and electrification supporters must be careful that their interests are not subordinated and forgotten in the battle against greenhouse gas emissions."

I shared the same thoughts when I commented on Goeff's post, "The Next Big CAFE Loophole", but from a different angle/approach, which is not from an engineer's perspective, but from a strategic perspective. Ed Reid commented that we need numbers as goal/plan.  But that is after we have established a strategy to approach the issue.  When your strategy is wrong, no amount of numbers can help us. Here are my comments:

"We should try to separate oil dependence and emission as separate issues, just like vehicles and power plants are separate entities.  Each requires tremendous amount of investments.  By taking them on at the same time, we are taking on two monsters as one.  What is possible for one is not possible for the other because they are two almost entirely different monsters.  One is driven by regulation and the other by market forces.  One is portable and the other is not, and so on. Therefore we need to take on them separately, and we need to use a military strategy of "divide and rule".  

In divide and rule, the strategy that works for one must not obstruct or interfere with that that works for the other.  In combination, these two combined strategies is the long term strategy that we should go with.  Otherwise, as it is, everything seems to go all over the place, and we are making very very slow headway in resolving the oil dependence, energy crisis, and global warming.  I just hope we can make it at this slow pace before it is too late. We are dealing with two major world issues!  We need a strategy to tackle how we should move forward, before we can deal with the monsters themselves. " 

We cannot rely on gov't Agencies to lead us out of this.  Using CAFE is a matter of convenience and funding, because their motivation is driven by politicians, who may have political agenda that may be at odds with the energy experts.  Just look at the recent "debt" debate, that comes to a compromise, and now credit downgrade.  The people who can get us out of this is someone from the energy community.  Jim is leading the way now. So far, knowingly or unknowingly, the energy industry is trying to look for a perfect solution that "kills two birds with one stone".  That is ideal. In this case, the issue is too big for us to chew.  We need to reduce the size.  Let's look at it this way, when the car is right, the energy is not and vice versa. 

By treating both issues as one together, we let global warming issue put a drag on the oil crisis or energy crisis issue. Oil crisis is a very much smaller as well as much more manageable and also much more imminent than global warming. BEFORE global warming hit us, we may be already drained by the oil crisis and its consequences, like world conflicts, which we could have resolve but did not.    By separating them, both will become smaller for us to chew. 

Thank you Jim.  Sure hope something comes out of your post on the CAFE.

 

August 7, 2011    View Comment    

On The Next Big CAFE Loophole

Geoff

I think the idea is there to encourage more EVs without funding it with tax money.  From your statement on dminishing returns, I suppose you are refering to Gasoline powered vehicles.  In this respect, it seems that you do not think you can apply CAFE to EVs, is that right?  

August 3, 2011    View Comment    

On The Next Big CAFE Loophole

Ed. I share your thoughts and understand your frustrations.

We have not been able to forecast the local weather with pinpoint accuracy, so I do not expect anyone to do so for climate change, which is many times bigger than the local weather. On the other hand, oil crisis is smaller and more confined, and if we reduce the issue to oil dependence, it becomes even smaller, and more manageable. But why do we end up with what we have today? Geoff's post has the answer below.

 

“In this case the problem starts with the evolution of Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards from a tool intended solely to improve US energy security by reducing the consumption of petroleum products in transportation, to one encompassing the greenhouse gas emissions implicated in climate change.”

 

The key word is “evolution”. What really happens is that, improving fuel economy happens to coincide with the reduction in footprint. Ever since then, without giving it much thought, the bond is getting stronger with the passage of time, as more people treat them as such (herd instinct) and CAFE evolves into that thinking. Let me use an analogy. If you put a frog into hot water, it will quickly jump out, because it can feel the heat. But if you put it in a room temp water, it will stay. Then you can heat it up slowly, and it does not know the difference. In this case, you know what happens to the frog.

When the start point is wrong, where do you end up? Rephrase it: if your assumption is wrong, …....  

August 3, 2011    View Comment