Brad Roth: “I think you are overly optimistic about cold fusion. See Bob Park’s recent newsletter:”
Last Sunday’s edition of the CBS News program 60 Minutes was titled “Race to Fusion.” It was 1989, Fleischmann and Pons are shown with the “cold fusion” test tube that would have killed them had they been right. Because they lived, the race was called off. Michael McKubre of SRI apparently didn’t get the memo; he just kept doing it over and over for 20 years. Lucky for him there’s still no fusion, but he says he does get heat – except when he doesn’t. How does it work? He hasn’t a clue, but he showed a video cartoon of deuterium defusing through palladium and said it might be fusion. In fact McKubre called it “the most powerful source of energy known to man.” Whew! But wait, Dick Garwin did a fusion experiment 60 years ago [the hydrogen bomb]; it worked all too well. Garwin thinks McKubre is mistaken. Just about every physicist agrees, so the American Physical Society was asked to name an independent scientist to examine the claims of Energetics Technology, according to 60 Min correspondent Scott Pelley. An APS statement issued Wed. says this is totally false, and the APS does not endorse the cold fusion claims on 60 Min.
Mark Klein: “The cold fusion breakthrough has been just around the corner for 60 years. Every claim has turned out to be false or flawed. CBS has removed the video clip. They also have removed the part of the transcript where they claimed (incorrectly) that the American Physical Society endorsed the claims presented.”
☞ Well, the amended clip is here. I would be first to acknowledge I tend toward too much optimism(it’s a curse). But what does one make of this part of the report: “Scientists today like to call it a nuclear effect rather than cold fusion. At least 20 labs working independently have published reports of excess heat – heat up to 25 times greater than the electricity going in.” If you watch the whole clip, it’s hard to see how this is not something to be pursued and – very – guardedly hopeful about.
CHINA ON FIRE
Richard Factor: “Whine as we may about anthropogenic [human-caused] CO2, there is an enormous amount generated naturally about which we can do nothing, and another enormous amount being created unnecessarily about which we (or at least China) MIGHT be able to do something. This paragraph about fires in coal mines stunned me when I first read it: ‘Today, uncontrolled fires burn fiercely in many nations; more than 100 million tons of coal are consumed by fires annually in China, contributing as much to world-wide carbon dioxide emissions as all the cars and light trucks in the U.S.’ It came from a book reviewed by the WSJ, and, as far as I know the problem is being ignored now just as it was when the book was reviewed a couple of years ago. This despite the fact that I commented on it in my blog.
“There are so many things that CAN be done to help the CO2 problem (if problem it be – I am in good company with Freeman Dyson in my uncertainty) that ruining the economy needn’t be one of them. [That said,] I’m deeply skeptical of one of Huber’s points: ‘Even if solar cells themselves were free,’ he writes, ‘solar power would remain very expensive because of the huge structures and support systems required to extract large amounts of electricity from a source so weak that it takes hours to deliver a tan.’ Gimme them free solar cells! I already HAVE a structure – it’s called a ‘house.’ Arguing against photovoltaic solar power is really counterproductive even if he isn’t entirely wrong about the economics. But I guess that’s how advocacy articles are written. Notwithstanding those quibbles, he’s probably right that nothing can be done to prevent increased carbon burning. The real problem, as it has always been, and of which we’ve always been aware, is the burgeoning human population. Maybe a bumper sticker ‘real environmentalists don’t have children’ would make the point, but it won’t do it in the majority of the world where people do have children but don’t have bumpers.’”
☞ Fewer people would definitely help, but it will be more feasible to plant more trees. (And to stop deforesting the Amazon!) It’s expensive to plant big trees; but can you think of a place you have influence – your home, your school, your sidewalk – where you could plant a sapling or two?
Huber seems to discount the speed with which China and others countries may find the will to confront these problems. (China is not likely to want to see Shanghai submerged any more than we are to lose South Florida.)
He also seems to discount what may be continuing technological advances that could continue to narrow coal’s cost advantage. I hope so, anyway.
Margaret Koppen: “In your quests to be green and cheap, have you installed one of these on your shower yet? It’s (rather unfortunately) called the Ladybug, from evolveshowerheads.com – when you turn on your shower and are waiting for it to heat up, it automatically stops the flow of water when it gets hot, thereby saving water and the energy to heat the water which would otherwise be pouring out of your shower – brilliant. It’s thirty bucks, and there are tons of 25%-off coupons on the web (such as TB25). Takes about five minutes to install on your current plumbing. I’ve had one on my shower for four months, and it’s great – just ordered more for other baths.”
☞ Evolve’s nice demo lady asks, “Do you multi-task while waiting for the shower to get hot? Brush your teeth? Make the bed? Pick out your clothes? We all do it.” Well we all do not do it – I don’t. But if you do, then this will indeed save water and energy. Check it out, check it out, check it out.