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Old 07-28-2014, 01:00 PM   #21
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I think the question is cost vs environment. Where those fall on the scale.



Neither coal nor the alternatives are ideal, so it is what it is, as the saying goes

My $10,000 of stock buying fund is flush again after a recent sale... Funny, as I have been eyeing over the weekend Peabody as a beaten down buying opportunity for my play money.


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Old 07-28-2014, 01:07 PM   #22
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These are good points to consider.
However, the study ignores health benefits and I am uncertain if it includes the fuel costs for coal. I'd does include a cost for dealing with spent nuclear fuel as well as operating costs for power plants. So I would hope price of fuel is also wrapped into that.

A major tunnel here in Minneapolis is closing down for two days for cleaning. This cleaning is mainly due to vehicle exhaust. This is just one of those things people tend not to think about because it isn't something they see while it is happening.

This calculation will change dramatically if an effective method of storing energy is found, or as the grid improves and renewable energy becomes more reliable.

That applies mainly to wind, as wind generators cover a greater geographical area then some level of wind energy will be more reliable, as the wind is always blowing somewhere
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Old 07-28-2014, 01:29 PM   #23
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Is coal the only energy fuel associated with mercury in fish?
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Old 07-28-2014, 01:39 PM   #24
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... The major glitch in the solar/wind model is that the production can't be counted on to be available, so backup baseline generation is required. When you add those costs in (and that's entirely realistic), then they are incredibly expensive ways to reduce greenhouse emissions...
As much as I like wind and solar power generation, the fact remains that they are susceptible to weather variations, and consumers of electric power, green power advocates and environmentalists included, do not want to have black outs on calm and cloudy days. As wind and solar power capacities become a larger and larger percentage of the total demand, this problem becomes more and more acute.

Germany already has to face this problem. See: German Utilities Bail Out Electric Grid at Wind's Mercy - Bloomberg.

Excerpt:
Germany’s push toward renewable energy is causing so many drops and surges from wind and solar power that the government is paying more utilities than ever to help stabilize the country’s electricity grid.

Twenty power companies including Germany’s biggest utilities, EON SE and RWE AG, now get fees for pledging to add or cut electricity within seconds to keep the power system stable, double the number in September, according to data from the nation’s four grid operators. Utilities that sign up to the 800 million-euro ($1.1 billion) balancing market can be paid as much as 400 times wholesale electricity prices, the data show.
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Old 07-28-2014, 01:45 PM   #25
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Some other recent articles said that in Germany, on weekends when demand slacked off, the power generated became excessive and had no place to go. We still have no way to store this excess energy for literally rainy days. As the results, many European nations have scaled back on solar subsidies.
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Old 07-28-2014, 02:14 PM   #26
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Is coal the only energy fuel associated with mercury in fish?
Coal has been a significant source of environmental mercury release, as mercury naturally present in mineral deposits such as coal are released as mercury compounds in the combustion process. Coal-fired boilers in the United States are required to have control devices to reduce the emissions released. The mining, cleaning, and transport process can result in the release of additional compounds.

Oil fired power plants may also release mercury compounds, with the level depending on the amount present in the oil being burned.

The uranium mining process used for nuclear fuel may release relatively small amounts of mercury into the environment from the disturbance, exposure, and weathering of rock.

Municipal waste burning may release trace amounts of mercury as well as other toxins.

Construction of any facility which exposes 'raw' rock to weathering may result in the release of mercury compounds.

Detailed data can be retrieved from the data files here:
eGRID | Clean Energy | US EPA
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Old 07-28-2014, 02:40 PM   #27
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It's a little like telling someone to buy a big bulky expensive portable computer in the 1980's, because someday in the future they will be light and cheap.
Didn't that already happen?

The cheapest alternative energy source is the energy not used by eliminating waste and inefficiency and using other forms of conservation. Personally, I try to bundle trips together so as to use less gasoline.

Some studies I have seen indicated that alternative sources of energy will take their biggest toll on the world's poorest people, who need cheap energy to move from poverty to a more secure lifestyle. Another complication.

Remember the paper versus plastic issue? All of those people eschewing plastic bags at the store because they weren't recyclable (at that time). Several studies showed that paper bags use far more resources to make and transport than the plastic ones, and even when recycled they still use more resources overall. That's why we really need to be careful when looking at alternative energy resources.
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Old 07-28-2014, 02:43 PM   #28
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FWIW, burning coal does release some radiation into the atmosphere. Each pound of coal release far less radiation than a pound of uranium, but since so many more pounds of coal need to be burned to equal the energy output of the uranium, coal may actually put more radiation into the environment than nuclear power plants.

Nothing is ever easy, is it? That dang law of unintended consequences will get you every time. Will Fusion Power save us?

Oh... Personally, I don't smell any bacon. It's a good discussion .
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Old 07-28-2014, 03:12 PM   #29
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It's a little like telling someone to buy a big bulky expensive portable computer in the 1980's, because someday in the future they will be light and cheap
.Didn't that already happen? ...
You missed my point. It made sense to buy an expensive, bulky 'lugable' computer in the 1980's if you had a need for it that justified the expense and relative portability - IOW, if it was a 'value proposition' for you. And that was a niche market, relative to today's cheap, high performance, light laptops. It does not make sense to buy something today, because the future versions will be better. Buy them when they meet your needs, not before.

Same with many of these green technologies. Use them when they provide a good value, not based on some future improvements.

And I might as well proactively address the expected response about early adopters pushing the state of the art: it is largely a misnomer. Tech doesn't work that way. Portable computers didn't get better because of early adopters, which then led to wider adoption. They got better because technology advanced, which led to better value, which led to wider adoption.

For portables, batteries got better because lots of products use batteries, and lots of development went into making better batteries, not because of a few thousands of lug-able computers were sold.

Likewise, screens got better, micro-processors got better, manufacturing techniques got better, materials got better, etc, etc. A few lug-able early adopters could not bend that curve much in so many fields. Wide adoption happens when value improves, it isn't early adopters driving the price down. For example, if the govt decided to subsidize lug-able computers to increase sales, it would hardly have a dent at all in all those different technologies. They move at the pace they move at, micro-computers went through each die-shrink in succession, there was no 'fast track', it took time to advance each step in the state-of-the-art. And computer companies would have less incentive to improve, as the subsidies create a false demand for their relatively low-value product! Why improve when we can sell this crap today!

-ERD50
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Old 07-28-2014, 03:22 PM   #30
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Paper vs plastic bag. I got a freebie bag made out of 100% recycled plastic bottles from my insurance agent. That's one of my favorite bags. Not because it's a freebie but the bag actually is quite sturdy and waterproof (after all, the bag was once plastic bottles). Sorry to digress
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Old 07-28-2014, 05:26 PM   #31
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Paper vs plastic bag. I got a freebie bag made out of 100% recycled plastic bottles from my insurance agent. That's one of my favorite bags. Not because it's a freebie but the bag actually is quite sturdy and waterproof (after all, the bag was once plastic bottles). Sorry to digress
The paper versus plastic rivalry a few years ago may be a good example of how these things work out. Initally, it was paper (renewable resource deemed more environmentally friendly) versus plastic (less resources to make and transport, but no way to easily get rid of). Ultimately, the solution seems to be for all of us to take our own grocery bags to the store and reuse them over and over again for many years. Paper versus plastic is no longer an issue.

FWIW, I find my reusable grocery bag a lot easier to lug around and store in the trunk. It doesn't fall over, spilling out all the groceries like those flimsy plastic bags so often do. And, unlike a paper bag, it does not rip and spill my groceries onto the ground.
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Old 07-28-2014, 09:30 PM   #32
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Is coal the only energy fuel associated with mercury in fish?
As a PSA reminder, it's easy for us to forget that the "environment" isn't naturally pristine:

Mercury in the Environment
Quote:
Natural sources of atmospheric mercury include volcanoes, geologic deposits of mercury, and volatilization from the ocean. Although all rocks, sediments, water, and soils naturally contain small but varying amounts of mercury, scientists have found some local mineral occurrences and thermal springs that are naturally high in mercury.
For instance, did you know that asbestos is a naturally occurring fiber in the air we breath every day? Sure, it's worse when you're wrapping a pipe joint with asbestos insulation - but even if the mineral ore was never mined in the first place, asbestos fibers are all over the place naturally.

And when scientists were studying fish in the Gulf in the years after the BP spill, they had to admit that the fish they found with obvious effects of exposure to oil could not be automatically linked to the oil spill. Why? Because there many oil deposits naturally seeping "up" into the ocean from below the ocean floor.

Yes, there can be quite large impacts to the environment from various pollution from industry, but remember that everything exists pretty much everywhere to a certain, small amount just from natural random distribution as the earth formed.
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Old 07-28-2014, 09:35 PM   #33
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I remember hearing that they could link mercury in fish in New England specifically to coal plants in China.
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Old 07-28-2014, 09:46 PM   #34
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Just this morning read in one of the Pittsburgh papers that since the administration has been dissing coal as energy source in the US. The US has been exporting increasingly larger tonnage to outside. To be burned as energy source in a far less efficient manner than the US coal fired plants.

Next thing, will the EPA ban coal mining?

I live in an area where many of the locals I know are coal miners. They are not happy campers.
This is a major issue in the Kentucky senatorial race.

Ha
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Old 07-28-2014, 10:03 PM   #35
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The unfortunate problem with mercury is that it is a toxic heavy metal prone to bioconcentration (accumulation within a living organism over time) as well as biomagnification (accumulating in food organisms to higher concentrations, which further concentrate in organisms eating that food.).

We manage to raise the concentration significantly with coal fired power plants, gold production, nonferrous metals production, heating limestone to make cement, and some other processes, mostly involving heat that vaporizes off mercury compounds.

The mercury compounds accumulate over time in us (bioconcentration again), and interfere with selenoenzymes that restore antioxidant compounds in our bodies (vitanin C, E, and other compounds) to their reduced form. This makes cells with higher oxygen use more susceptible to damage. Brain cells are a good example of susceptible cells. Chronic longer term exposure leads to the brain cell failures that ultimately result in death.

A small amount of mercury present in the environment generally doesn't cause a problem. Exposure to higher concentrations inhibits selenoenzyme activity, resulting in bad, bad things happening to one's brain. That's why occasionally eating swordfish, in spite of the bioaccumulation and biomagnification of mercury in the fish, is not harmful for mature adults, but making it a frequent part of your diet is not a good idea.
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Old 07-29-2014, 10:18 AM   #36
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The unfortunate problem with mercury is that it is a toxic heavy metal prone to bioconcentration (accumulation within a living organism over time) as well as biomagnification (accumulating in food organisms to higher concentrations, which further concentrate in organisms eating that food.).

.......
Never seemed to hurt the hatters.
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Old 07-29-2014, 10:29 AM   #37
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The paper versus plastic rivalry a few years ago may be a good example of how these things work out. Initally, it was paper (renewable resource deemed more environmentally friendly) versus plastic (less resources to make and transport, but no way to easily get rid of). Ultimately, the solution seems to be for all of us to take our own grocery bags to the store and reuse them over and over again for many years. Paper versus plastic is no longer an issue.

FWIW, I find my reusable grocery bag a lot easier to lug around and store in the trunk. It doesn't fall over, spilling out all the groceries like those flimsy plastic bags so often do. And, unlike a paper bag, it does not rip and spill my groceries onto the ground.
I go to Aldi for my groceries so bring my own bags anyhow as it's a bag your own groceries place. I've got my recycled bottle bag which is the largest and use that to hold my other bags in the trunk. The others are a combination of bags that are about the size of a regular brown grocery bag plus smaller insulated ones for the frozen/cold foods. Bringing the own bags seemed cumbersome at first but now from habit, is second nature.
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Old 07-29-2014, 10:44 AM   #38
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Meanwhile down under, the Aussies have decided that enough is enough of meddling by the environmentalist.

The properly killed off the carbon tax. Apoplectic noises nothwithstanding.

Lessons from the Death of the Aussie Carbon Tax - Reason.com


"Environmentalists had a global meltdown last week after Australia scrapped its carbon tax. They denounced the move as "retrograde" and "environmental vandalism.""

It is really tiresome to listen to the constant whining about climate change. Yes climate change is happening and has been going on ever since there has been climate. And will continue so long as there is climate.

I do wish the whiners would alway present their claim fully as to 1what the claim is: Man Made Climate change. Which is IMHO total bunk. and has been debunked properly.
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Old 07-29-2014, 11:39 AM   #39
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There is a better was to burn coal. It's going to come when the technology can be supported by higher energy prices someday.

Coal Gasification Could Unlock Coal’s Future | EnergyBiz
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Old 07-29-2014, 12:33 PM   #40
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Never seemed to hurt the hatters.
Yup. Totally harmless.



Pay no attention to those pesky scientists, doctors, and other fearmongers. They're just trying to keep all that grant money flowing.

Don't believe me? Try this experiment at home!

1) Make sure your will, trust, medical power of attorney, and living will are up to date.
2) Put on some latex gloves.
3) Dip a gloved fingertip into a bottle of dimethyl mercury. Not too much, now! Be careful, as it does stain so...
4) Take off the gloves.
5) Spend the next several weeks telling your friends how harmless low levels of mercury are.

Pay no attention to the growing abdominal discomfort, weight loss, vertigo, and slurred speech. Once you lapse into a vegetative state, these won't bother you any more.
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