posted on December 01, 2006 07:57
This article is an excerpt from Chapter three in my new book The Chicken Little Agenda – Debunking Experts' Lies. This is the second of seven parts for Chapter three that will be presented here sequentially. Read part one here.
The Sun and the Atom: The Only Sources of Electricity
The Solar Energy Cycle
Solar energy plays two direct roles: it evaporates water and, by warming the atmosphere, increases its ability to carry more water vapor. Solar energy also plays a significant indirect role. Some places are warmer than others. By a relatively complicated mechanism, these differences in air temperature result in pressure differences. Air located in an area of higher pressure will naturally flow towards areas of lower pressure. The exact path the air takes is a function of many things, including the shape of the land and the rotation of the Earth. The net result, however, is wind. When you think about it, therefore, the motion of the air – the wind – is a form of solar energy.
We can directly recapture solar energy from the wind by placing a windmill in its path. Many Western windy ridges host armies of wind generators. These farms of tall, single-mast, high-tech windmills suck a significant amount of solar energy out of the passing air. The hardware is simple but still relatively fragile. As more and more of these systems come into use, the technology will become increasingly robust.
We have been indirectly recapturing solar energy for millennia using flowing water. Remember all that water vapor that found its way into the atmosphere through the action of solar energy? Much of this water eventually forms into water droplets that make up clouds. Under the right conditions, these droplets coalesce into raindrops that fall to Earth, either back into the ocean to undergo the cycle all over again, or on land somewhere. When they fall, they give up something called potential energy. In effect, each raindrop contains a level of potential energy exactly equivalent to the amount of total solar energy it took to get the raindrop from the ocean where it originated to the point from which it begins to fall. When a raindrop falls into the ocean, it has given up its entire store of potential energy; every bit of solar energy that it took to create the water vapor, coalesce it into a droplet, and transport it to the rain location is gone. When the landing spot is higher than sea level, however, the raindrop sitting on the Earth’s surface still contains some potential energy.
So here’s the whole story. Melting snowfields, rainstorm runoff, brooks, streams, rivers, lakes – all this massive amount of water eventually finds its way back to the ocean. Sure, some of it evaporates and gets recycled locally, but eventually all of it comes home. Every inch of descent represents a surrender of potential energy.
Click here to read more book excerpts and hear radio interviews with the author.
(Part 2 of 7 follows)
© 2006 – Robert G. Williscroft
Thursday, January 4, 2007 1:06 AM
Chapter 4 of my book addresses the matter of "nuclear waste" in some detail. You need to understand that "nuclear waste" is a term-of-art, rather than something concrete. Back in the Carter administration of the late 1970s, breeder reactor technology was abandoned because it can produce weapons grade plutonium. Congress, in its infinite wisdom, added to the problem by prohibiting the reprocessing of nuclear reactor byproducts, since they – too – could produce plutonium.
And as everybody knew in those heady days, plutonium was bad.
Consequently, we began to accumulate significant amounts of stuff that we defined as nuclear waste, and so had to do something with it. There are only two options: store it or dispose of it.
Any knowledgeable scientist will tell you that, in this scenario, disposal is the best solution, and the best way to do this is to dump the encapsulated waste into one of the deep ocean trenches to be subducted deep into the Earth's interior, where it would join the other radioactive stuff there – a micro-drop in Nature's mega-bucket.
This was not to be, however, since the sensitive Green folks didn't want to "contaminate" the Earth's interior. Never mind that the material we would send there would not even be noticed in the seething cauldron of the Earth's interior.
Since the History Channel is owned and operated by politically left wing people, you are bound to hear "that" side of this matter with little, if any, discussion of the points I have raised here.
In our society, however, more often than not ignorance prevails, and so we store this highly useful material because we don't have the courage to redefine it as a raw material resource. Perhaps at some future date Congress will redefine nuclear waste and allow us to make use of this significant resource.
But don't hold your breath!
Thursday, January 4, 2007 11:17 AM
Hello Dr. Williscroft,
I just finished your book. I have a great interest in alternative energy, but I had some questions about nuclear waste. I just saw a program on History channel, and part of it was about nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain. It seems that long-lived radioactive waste is an inevitable byproduct of nuclear fission, but in your book, it seems this might not be so? If you have any references or links that would be helpful, I'd really appreciate it. Although I am a proponent of nuclear power and other alternative sources of energy, I feel that I am especially ignorant of the nuclear fuel cycle, so anything that would help would be great. Thank you in advance.
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