Dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

I grew up on a remote cattle ranch in the middle of miles of forest in the northern Sierra Nevada mountains of California. We had our own hydroelectric power plant. It was built by my father and my brother-in-law. They put a two-foot high dam across the creek (blue line), and diverted the water into a mile of ditch that they dug from there to a lake that they built by the house.

Figure 1. Renewable energy, circa 1952

Then they built a penstock and dropped part of the water back to a powerhouse by the creek. Inside the powerhouse was a Pelton Wheel that drove an alternator. Poles carried the power (4,000 volt, 10 kilowatts) to the ranchhouse. That was the only power for the ranch, and there was only us to keep it running. That was my introduction to renewable energy.

When I was a kid, our grade school took a field trip and toured Shasta Dam, in Northern California. I was astounded by it. I loved the idea that it was just a bigger version of our little powerplant.

Figure 2. Shasta Dam, Northern California. Note the five large penstocks at the lower left leading to the powerhouse. MORE PHOTOS

These days, of course, it is almost impossible to build a small dam in the US, much less something on the scale of Shasta Dam. People raise hundreds of objections, any project is stalled before it starts. This has always seemed extremely foolish to me, since hydroelectric power is proven, 24-hour, baseline power. Despite that, there’s a whole branch of the environmental movement that considers dams as forces of evil.

Which is why I laughed out loud when I saw the latest numbers on the CDM. The CDM is the “Clean Development Mechanism” of the Kyoto Protocol. The CDM is the foundation of the carbon emission credit system in use in Europe. Companies which emit more CO2 than the regulations allow can purchase credits. The companies pay the money to sponsor an emissions-reducing project in a developing country, so in theory everything balances out.

There’s a New York Times article on the CDM here. This is the part that I found to be hilarious (emphasis mine):

Since it began operating in 2006, the board has validated 2,918 projects, 40 percent of them in China, according to the U.N. Environment Program’s database at the Risoe Center, in Denmark, which tracks every project in the C.D.M. pipeline. The center’s data show that 1,668 projects are in hydroelectric power and 1,060 of those are in China.

So the effect of the Kyoto Protocol is that it is OK for the West to burn fossil fuels, as long as the West is also subsidizing hydroelectric dam construction in China …

Does anyone but me find that truly and bizarrely hilarious? I’m sure the Chinese are busting up laughing, and saying “Give us 20 Kyoto protocols, this is great, we’ll let you well-meaning Western fools build all the hydroelectric plants China can hold” …

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109 thoughts on “Dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t

  1. The Chinese have taken to this capitalism lark very well. Watching the western industrialised nations implode their economies through the fear of CO2, building coal fired powerstations, without worrying pointlessly, and getting the west to provide them with subsidised hydro electric power. Very clever people.

    Willis, many british rivers are canalised, obstructed with weirs with drops of about 6ft. Is this drop sufficient for small scale hydro schemes?

  2. “hydroelectric power is proven, 24-hour, baseline power”

    Hydropower is much better than just baseline power. It can be turned on almost instantly, removing the need for spinning reserve to cope with spikes in power demand.

  3. Cannot find a laugh in me where you did, Willis — that clip from the NYTimes simply caused a deep, tired sigh.

    The story from your youth, however, put fire in my veins. Wonderful! How have we ever been so foolish as to allow our personal actions, our pioneering spirit at work, to be stripped from us by small minds and mean spirits?

  4. It’s just the modern version of roman catholic indulgence. Except that this time, the money doesn’t pay for local infrastructure or wonderful cathedrals, but for Chinese infrastructure.

  5. Given the buckets of cash – billions – that China gleaned from the CDM system to make excess HCFC’s then get paid $100,000 per ton to destroy them, I am wondering how many of the dams have actually been built.

    It has become fashionable for nations to declare all water to be a mineral resource and require the equivalent of a mining license to use it. There are good and bad consequences of this, micro-hydro dams being one fatality. It is an interesting thought that large countries might rather be forced to create offsets ‘in-house’ making the anti-dam pundits face reality, freezing in the dark – a prospect relished by Albertans pondering the fate of those at the Center of the Universe (Toronto).

    I have constructed dozens of ram pumps (water powered water pumps). Getting permission to have the water for primary (domestic) consumption is easy, but not so easy to get permission to build a 6 inch high diversion to the sump right in front of a 10 foot waterfall.

    It is interesting how pre-regulation constructions, from hydro dams to flour mills to Old City centers and cave houses are the most desirable things, declared heritage sites and preserved, but you cannot build them now. It is a form of extremism that inevitably provokes an extremist backlash. Inevitably, positions are in error.

  6. I think this article very succinctly sums up the situation regarding China and western subsidies.

  7. Actually I am starting to get a little bit worried about all these activities. I think that we are busy changing the surface of the planet by creating large square areas of shallow waters, mostly for irrigation and consumption but also for hydro power.
    Nevermind the countless swimming pools and small artificial lakes we created for recreation. The problem is that shallow water easily gets heated up and therefore a lot more water evaporates then would otherwise be the case. In my 50m2 swimming pool I measured an evaporation rate of 2500 liters in one week (clear blue skies all week, max. temp. 31-34C during the day, water temp 25-26 C) . Compare this to my 40 liters of patrol (gas) that I use in one month.

    Apart from that we have massive planes, trucks, cars, rockets, ships , etc. putting enormous amounts of water vapor in the air, in many factories we have thousands of water cooling plants, we have countless nuclear plants, that all put water vapor in the air.

    now is water vapor not a much stronger greenhouse gas than CO2? (if CO2 is a GHG)?

  8. So, in the western world, wind turbines are symbols for “renewable energy” but in China, hydroelectrical power plants are.
    Well that makes sen… Uh… No, it doesn’t make sense.

    Btw, interresting to read about your childhood experiences in this area. :)

    We have a case here in Sweden right now, where a private land owner has built a tiny hydro-plant in a small creek. The sport fishers and the ECO NGO:s here have raised havoc over this and I guess he will be forced to tear it down pretty soon.

  9. Yes, I do find it absolutely hilarious that the bankrupt Europeans have financed 1,060 hydroelectric dams in China. The coal the Chinese saved can be diverted to coal-to-liquids plants.

  10. Good post, Willis – the Chinese must think Westerners are truly mad!
    New Zealand’s elctricity is generated mainly by hydro, somewhere near 70%, the main industries are grassland farming, viticulture and forestry, with huge tracts of land covered with native forests sealed off as national parks, Yet Fred Pearce, the warmist ‘science’ writer for the Guardian condemned it as being quite dreadful. The problem? New Zealand exports huge tonnages of fruit, sheep and beef meats and wine to the rest of the world, much of the milk products to poorer third-world countries which are desperate for affordable protein solids! He has a problem with the country exporting comparitively large amounts of coal to China.
    My grandfather installed a small hydro plant on his sheep station just prior WWI and planned to reticulate electricity to the district, but the wartime shortage of copper wire killed that idea. The NZ government, which had begun an ambitious and foresighted programme of public works during the Great Depression, including building large (for the time) hydro dams, made the reticulation of electricity from private schemes illegal after WWI. This stayed in force for many years and severly delayed and small private initiatives. Now all kinds of enterprises have built a range of power generation plants which feed their excess power into the national grid.

  11. agreed Willis, it is insane that we arent allowed to use in passing and return water to our systems for free clean power.
    Aus at the moment is in a huge uproar over the Govt wanting to CUT water allocations to all, from 27 to 37% More, just as we emerge from 13 yrs of drought.

  12. Willis, we need a new textbook of Basic Science.

    It needs to be simple enough for fools, and friendly enough to sustain interest, but double the length of the previous primers, because now we not only need to teach the basics all over again, eg “CO2 is plant food” but we also need to flag down and spike all the New Dark Ages superstitions that have been appearing in the place of classic orthodoxy and Scientific Method, eg “CO2 is a pollutant”.

    I think you’d do a fine job of such a textbook. Get a posthumous Nobel Prize too, in company with Anthony, Steve, Lindzen, Akasofu, etc, when all your work of due diligence has restored meaning to the Nobel Prizes.

  13. Hydro too destructive for us but okay for China? Similar to our domestic oil-drilling policies which preserve US environment at the expense of rest of the world. We’ll buy foreign oil no-questions-asked as to how, or by whom it is produced just nimby.

  14. One of the interesting uses for sporadic and/or off-peak energy generation is the Dinorwig Power Station http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinorwig_Power_Station in Wales… it is not very efficient as it uses 33% more electricity than it produces… but it does have some practical benefits… first it uses off-peak nuclear generated electricity… this electricity is used to pump water uphill into a holding lake… secondly the water in the lake is then released to generate hydro-electricity to meet spikes in demand… and thirdly it helps power the famous glow-in-dark Welsh sheep – see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6KXECVl3lc

    Some would say: Cymru Am Byth – Wales Forever

    Others might say: Nuclear is Forever http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_controversy

  15. Golf Charley,
    The drops of 6 feet could produce electricity but there would need to be more flow than some rivers have – during drought times some only have enough flow to keep the locks going for navigation.
    But there are a couple of British companies who specialise in small “domestic size” hydroelectric plants and they have, I think, got access to subsidies for installers.
    Try Google etc..

  16. I agree. A long-planned project for a tidal generator on the river Severn would generate about 5% of UK total demand, but has been bogged down with people following a green agenda.

    Micro hydro systems also have their place, but the red-tape involved in getting permission makes it difficult to get them built.

    We will just have to rely on fossil fuel/nuclear power in the UK for the foreseeable future.

  17. Torque is the desire of power generation as the resistance increases the amount of power you can get to change into electricity.
    Current hydro power has to be exact in location for an exact flow rate as this was created 150 years ago or it will no run.
    Interesting enough, if you mesure the speed of the water before the turbine and after the turbine, there is very little difference of speed. Yet it is suppose to be pulling 92%of the energy? If this WAS true then only 8% of energy would be left in the water.
    Actual energy taken is less than 2% based on torque to energy tranferance.
    Why is that???
    Also, water is gases that have been pressurized giving us stored energy.

  18. Golf Charley I live next to a river in France. There is an hydroelectric scheme on every barrage (weir) here and the drop is about just 2 metres apron 6ft6inches. The joke is my electric bill states 87percent nuclear 7 percent renewables6percent carbon, but the price is going up because of an Eu carbon tax. Politicians don’t you just love them?
    If you want to see how to protest watch the French this weekend.

  19. Malaga View says:
    October 14, 2010 at 4:02 am
    … and thirdly it helps power the famous glow-in-dark Welsh sheep – see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6KXECVl3lc
    Some would say: Cymru Am Byth – Wales Forever

    Ah yes – The Baa-Studs! My daughter farms sheep in wales and the video was the highlight of last Xmas day.

  20. Alexander K says

    “…programme of public works during the Great Depression, including building large (for the time) hydro dams, made the reticulation of electricity from private schemes illegal after WWI. ”

    +++++++++++++

    Typical! Wherever the Brits were, monopolies followed.

    The largest single sugar producer is (I recall) Simunye in Eastern Swaziland – about 145,000 t/a. They had masses of biomass and generated power for their own use, as most mills do. Because of the pro$pect of CDM credit$ they wanted to upgrade their boiler (better efficiency) but had to first prove that it was uneconomic to do so without the CDM credit. A few fancy strokes of the accountant’s pen accomplished that easily: free money.

    But it was illegal to distribute the excess power to the town that surrounds the sugar estate. It was also illegal to sell (very different from ‘distributing’) the electricity even if distribution was permitted. Almost all power (75%) is supplied by imported coal-fired electricity from highveld plants in RSA. The only companies in a position to meaningfully supply electricity generated from plentiful waste biomass were prevented from doing so by legacy laws that created parastatal monopolies.

    It required the passage of three pieces legislation to make this project happen. Thankfully sane heads prevail in the sector in Swaziland and now it is possible to generate power and distribute it (‘reticulate’ is the word they like) and sell it to willing buyers.

    So all is not lost. Let the ‘underdeveloped’ lead the way out of the colonial shackles, be they iron or green.

  21. It sure does appear to be a Global Issue when some of the most vocal opponents to a “Green Project” just happen to be the Greens themselves. Remember the story of the fight in California between one neighbor who erected a solar panel and the guy next door whose Redwood tree blocked all the sunlight – and had been doing so before the solar panel was even installed…?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/07/science/earth/07redwood.html

  22. Tenuc says:
    I agree. A long-planned project for a tidal generator on the river Severn would generate about 5% of UK total demand, but has been bogged down with people following a green agenda.

    Tidal power is not renewable. It takes rotational energy out of the Earth-Moon system. At 1970s human usage, humanity was using twice the natural energy loss. At current or future values, this energy loss would be multiplied many times. The effect is to push the Moon away from the Earth, lengthen the day, and reduce the tides. Flow-on effects could happen the Earth’s geomagnetic dynamo, continental drift, the Van Allen belts, and who knows what else. In summary, tidal power most likely shortens the life of the Earth as a habitable planet.

    Humans are not very good at evaluating distant consequences of their actions – which is why, for example, westerners cheering about banning DDT fail to care about ten million Africans killed each decade from malaria. And so humans are even less capable of assessing the really long term damage in some distant future from terminating the planet’s life earlier than it would otherwise happen. But at some future time, the descendants of living beings here now will be wiped out as a consequence of tidal power. We need to get past our psychological limitations, recognise that tidal power is a planet killer, and never, ever make use of it.

  23. Some more advantages to hydro…….cheap, low maintenance, (compared to other generation techniques), and very durable! I’m with Roger Carr, though, no laugh, just a deep dismayed sigh. I understand some parts of the country are contemplating pulling out the power dams in favor of the windmills.

  24. Interesting, Willis. But you must be careful of telling the Green Folk that you have hands-on experience of renewables. I recently dined with a French geothermal electrician, who explained to me that the technology was old and well tried, good for heating and cooling in certain places, and usually lousy for energy applications. You think anyone wanted to know his opinion on renewables? He made it seemed so old…so sexless…

    Alexander, I had no idea the NZ hydro figures were so high! Love it.

    Across the ditch here, stopping the damming of the Franklin and Gordon Rivers in Tassie was pivotal in the ’83 election which brought Bob Hawke to power. Australians frequently make Tasmania the focal point of their enviro activism. It’s a safe way of being concerned and rad, even if you’re a conservative type; and Tassie is way off in the distance, so what the hell.

    In fact, I came to feel that the dam campaign of the early eighties was a way for conservatives to take a holiday from themselves. When I asked some of them why they felt so aggrieved by a distant hydro scheme, none could really answer me. (These were the same people who were raised on the glories of the Snowy River Scheme.) Gradually, people began to find a vocabulary to justify the emotion. One soon heard talk of the “life of rivers”, “environmental flows”, “species diversity”, “eco tourism” and all the now familiar cant. Of course, the people turning on their taps in Sydney weren’t worried about the “entropy” etc caused by their own infrastructure.

    Until we recognise, both philosophically and in our laws, that a measure of entropy is inevitable and justified in applying all potent technologies, we will be playing pretend. You know: pretend that the bloody Prius isn’t overloaded with aging batteries; pretend that the bird-chopping turbine isn’t supported inefficiently both by subsidy and coal; pretend that entropy sent offshore is no longer entropy; pretend that a few cents added to a Virgin fare will sanctify our air-borne tonnage; pretend that Australia’s insane anti-burning policies don’t lead to conflagrations which, in one murderous day, can waste a million petty economies of carbon.

    Pretend, pretend, and pretend: the true essence of being green.

  25. Ron House says:
    October 14, 2010 at 5:02 am
    recognise that tidal power is a planet killer, and never, ever make use of it.

    I think the sea might have eroded all the land and we are six feet under water before we need worry about the moon… although a couple of asteroid impacts on earth might make a difference to the balance… but if all else fails perhaps we could build a few nuclear powered wave machines…

  26. At the end of a rural highway just up the from where I live, Pacific Power apparently snuck one smaller hydro-electric into a stream before the area became Wilderness just a little higher up. It’s got a “head” of about 1200 ft. before it reaches the Power House below, and an ~2.5 ft. diameter pipe which is almost totally underground. I know why there aren’t more of them, but it doesn’t make much sense because there’s not even much water diverted once the pipe is filled. The “head” is what makes for the power, so the outflow from the Power House is not very large. This could be done in many other areas, imo.

  27. I built three small hydro plants in the 1980’s. I exited the business when it became virtually impossible to get past environmentalists’ intervention. While hydro is on the extreme end of environmentalists “hate list”, no proposed electric power plant, regardless of the technology employed. escapes their ire. I once spent several years getting permits to build a closed-loop, zero-emissions, binary geothermal plant in a remote location. The same “environmentalists” who publicly promote renewable energy will then fight any developer’s actually building one, particularly if there is any chance of financial profit being made.

    Claude Harvey

  28. On the money.

    The US Congress, hose of Representatives have already past their version of the law that would tax farmers and ranchers for each head of livestock.

    The Little Green People want to shut down America.

  29. Good post Willis.
    As I pointed out in an earlier commsent to Mr. Fuller, dams are not counted as renewable in many states that have renewable energy laws.

    And we get national TV advertisements run be American Express with some guy saying he wants to get rid of dams. A CEO of some company I believe. He is shown rock climbing. AmericanProjects is what I think it is called.

    I live in a city with an old Union Carbide built hydro plant. A lovely old building with wooden bearings for the turbines. An African wood that gets harder under water.

  30. [Tenuc says:
    I agree. A long-planned project for a tidal generator on the river Severn would generate about 5% of UK total demand, but has been bogged down with people following a green agenda.]

    Ron House says:
    October 14, 2010 at 5:02 am
    “Tidal power is not renewable…”

    Sorry Ron, but tidal power is a renewable energy source. Tides dissipate the same amount of energy whether they are harnessed to produce energy or freely move tons of water around. Using this waste energy has no long-term dangerous effect.

  31. Two hundred years ago New Englanders built a thriving economy on such small hydropower plants. The remains of old mill sites still exist on thousands of small streams and rivers. There are five within a half mile of my house.

  32. Lucy Skywalker says:
    October 14, 2010 at 3:53 am

    I wholeheartedly agree. One of the things I used to do every January was man a stand at the Young Scientists Exhibition here in Ireland. These were 13-18 yr old pupils who would do a science project and then exhibit it there. In all, there might be 500 different projects at various levels of sophistication. This year’s winner also won the European version. I used to get a great buzz out of the enthusiasm that the pupils had for their projects.

    Yet, by the time it comes to them doing their Leaving Cert (around 18 yoa), very few are picking science subjects. Something along the way kills their passion for it. Very sad, and it will have consequences for us in the future.

    Those Welsh sheep are amazing.

  33. I’m almost certain that tidal energy use would shorted the panets uselful life by atleast a thousanth of a percent of the planets expected life. A 3 billion year expected life would be reduced to 2,999,970,000 …

  34. Espen says:
    October 14, 2010 at 3:11 am
    “It’s just the modern version of roman catholic indulgence. Except that this time, the money doesn’t pay for local infrastructure or wonderful cathedrals, but for Chinese infrastructure.”

    Moreover, the indulgences were voluntary.

  35. Ron, that actually makes more sense then carbon forced warming and feedback multipliers, you should apply for a grant.

  36. Ron House

    I’ve got to have a little more proof than your take on tidal power to believe that it would send the moon hurling into outer space and dooming us all.

  37. “The effect is to push the Moon away from the Earth”
    How, exactly does this work?
    I missed something.

  38. “Tidal power is not renewable. ”
    Sun power is not renewable, everytime the sun fuses some hydrogen, it’s a bit of power lost forever. We need more government taxes to help conserve solar hydrogen.
    Sun power is a sun killer, so never ever make use of it.

    Back on topic,
    Anyone else find it’s all too simular to history?
    Anglo-americans funded germany’s rise to power through 1920s and 1930s while claiming to the anglo-american public their countries were bankrupt. Next up, big war with germany. Then anglo-americans banks funded the soviet union from 1940s till mid 1980s ( steming from 1917 counter revolution funded by britain ) . Cold war with russia.
    Tons of minor cases like this aswell.
    Now china.

  39. Oregon has Governor Hayduke, er, Kitzhaber D-retread, who, if re elected, wants to blow up dams not build them. Close down our only coalfired plant too. Solar and wind have serious drawbacks, but they are ignored, until it’s too late…
    Thanks Willis.

  40. China does like water power, they are now claiming the South China Sea as historically theirs. While we help build their economic power and they buy our debt, they are building their military power and they are flexing it. China is indeed smiling.

    On the dams that can’t be built here, environmentalists have no power without our elected representatives who write and pass the laws and appointed judges who accept the cases, and make their own laws. who get their power from, well you can exercise that in November or not.

  41. For a fun and learning excercise, Google “excluding hydroelectric”. You will learn another trick put on the public by the mean greenies. When they give numbers of electricity consumed, they include hydropower. When they give numbers of renewable and “clean” power produced, they exclude hydropower. Through this manipulation, hydro is counted as a non-renewable energy source.

  42. I think there is a baby in this bathwater. The important lesson is one that all farmers take for granted, out of necessity. That is the virtue of self sufficiency and the power of harvest.

    Willis having been raised in such environment, retains this pioneering mentality, and it can be easily detected, by his close to earth analytical thinking and essays. This world would be better off, if we all thought and acted as harvesters and retained the good sense of farmers. These are the leaders we should desire. GK

  43. Companies which emit more CO2 than the regulations allow can purchase credits. The companies pay the money to sponsor an emissions-reducing project in a developing country, so in theory everything balances out.

    The important thing that this ‘balances out’ is wealth between countries. The redistribution of wealth, both within and between countries seems to be one of the ‘solutions’ of AGW.

    So the effect of the Kyoto Protocol is that it is OK for the West to burn fossil fuels, as long as the West is also subsidizing hydroelectric dam construction in China …

    Does anyone but me find that truly and bizarrely hilarious? I’m sure the Chinese are busting up laughing, and saying “Give us 20 Kyoto protocols, this is great, we’ll let you well-meaning Western fools build all the hydroelectric plants China can hold” …

    No, this isn’t bizarre and hilarious at all. According to Cass Sunstein, the US could have paid up to 80% of the costs of Kyoto and he also said that China’s view was that this transfer of wealth go in particular to China (and India).

    Does anybody remember the issue with the Clinton admin and the DNC in the ’90’s with the Chinese government? Clinton and the DNC were caught taking illegal contributions from the communist Chinese government. Kyoto was payback as was PNTR (permanent normalized trade relations) and a few other things. Kyoto could have resulted (according to Sunstein) in a huge transfer of wealth from the US to China. PNTR, signed in Oct of 2000 has resulted in us closing over 40,000 manufacturing plants and sending millions of jobs to China over the last 10 years.

    Gotta hand it to the Chinese, their ‘investment’ in Clinton and the DNC has yielded fantastic results for their country. They would have really scored if the Senate have ratified Kyoto.

    Sources:
    -Wealth redistribution and climate change:
    1) http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/other_comments/345226/nothing_will_happen_at_copenhagen_until_the_11_hour.html
    2) http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/other_comments/363369/we_shouldnt_expect_a_single_copenhagen_treaty_to_solve_things.html (This one from Mike Hulme of University of East Anglia)

    -Cass Sunstein, Kyoto:
    1) http://www.georgetownlawjournal.com/issues/pdf/96-5/Posner-Sunstein.PDF (pages 1573, 1577)

    -PNTR:
    1) http://www.nytimes.com/2001/01/15/opinion/essay-riady-cops-a-plea.html
    2) http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=the_plight_of_american_manufacturing
    3) http://lieberman.senate.gov/assets/pdf/off_shoring.pdf (page 7 at top, notices he says from November of 2000 right after Clinton signed PNTR)

  44. The greens are only against hydro power if it is effective and only support it where it can’t work.

    In Washington State, which gets 90% of its electrical power from hydro, hydro power is hobbled and costs increased each time a license is renewed. Although in most cases this is done in the name of what are in essence marginal (at best) improvements for marginal fish populations, in a recent renewal kayakers (presumably an important voting block) were accommodated so that water releases for them were given precedence over the power needs of the community. This was on a stream that is not high up on the list of important kayaking streams (Sultan River near Everett, WA).

    Several years ago the Washington State legislature passed a law mandating that 20% of all power be generated by “renewable” sources. They appear to have forgotten that 90% of the power was already provided by hydro. In fact they specifically left out hydro from the definition of what is renewable. Wind mills now blot out the sky in Eastern WA, far from the vistas of evergreens enjoyed by the greenies in Western WA.

  45. On reflection, Crispin, I liked the era in NZ when us taxpayers owned the national grid, the hydro dams, the Post and Telegraph department, the Railways department, the National Airways Corporation, the Education department (which dispensed free university education) etc ad infinitum – it seems far better, in retrospect, than the current reality of the plethora of foreign businesses that bought everything for a song, milked it all to husks and now extort the taxpayers for what was once our birthright. All ‘privatisation’ has done has been to create the Consultant, a class of men and women in suits who neither spin nor sew, but utter endless mindless businesspeak as they add another layer of extortion and continue to make us peasants in our own country.

  46. @willis

    A lake is generally considered to be over 5 acres and/or deep enough so that no light can reach the bottom. The “lake” pictured appears to cover about one acre and (just a guess) probably isn’t anywhere deep enough to prevent light from reaching the bottom. It’s a pond.

    A really cool setup nonetheless. Davey likes it! Does the race ever need dredging? Any problems with flooding? Does the pond have a spillway?

  47. Ron House says:
    October 14, 2010 at 5:02 am
    tidal power most likely shortens the life of the Earth as a habitable planet.

    Will the Moon leave Earth orbit before the Sun goes red giant & envelops the Earth? Seriously, if you have such a long-term view of the future, you’d do better spending your time considering how humanity will survive the next 90ky glacial. The ice should be arriving in the next 2-20ky.

  48. It is the same people that stops us from building more dams in Norway.

    And believe me, we could build a LOT of small power-plants. Thousands of them.

  49. Peter whale says:
    October 14, 2010 at 4:26 am

    Ah the wonderful carbon equivalence, whereby nuclear is not considered renewable and is given a carbon equivalence number so you pay carbon tax.

    They seem to have thought of everything. ;-)

    DaveE.

  50. Lucy Skywalker says:
    October 14, 2010 at 3:53 am

    “Willis, we need a new textbook of Basic Science.”

    I think we need a Web-based Tree-of-Knowledge.

    Which could be used to produce school-books for Science classes.

    But how to keep the Connolleys away?

  51. @willis

    In case you didn’t know, as a “developing” nation China is exempt from the CO2 restrictions in the Kyoto protocol. A couple of years ago China also took the title away from the United States as the world’s largest single emitter of anthropogenic CO2. It probably has the number one title for methane too given that rice paddies account for about half of all anthropogenic methane emissions.

    Little wonder that the United States refused to ratify Kyoto – it would have been economic Hara-kiri when it gives a free pass to the largest GHG sources. Adding insult to injury is the original protocol granted credits (emissions offsets) for reforestation. The US is very active in reforestation efforts and when it came to light that the US could meet all its potential Kyoto obligations for reducing CO2 through reforestation credits the next revision of the protocol practically negated all reforestation credits under the rubric the latest “science” had determined that reforestation doesn’t help all that much in sequestering CO2. I remember at the time (about 10 years ago) Scientific American ran an article on it and actually defended both Clinton and Bush for refusing to sign off on Kyoto for the very reasons cited above. I doubt Scientific American would have the cajones or integrity to run the same article again today.

  52. Dams are evil because man is evil, and dams benefit man. That’s enough reason to be against them. Gaia will punish those wicked Chinese for there sin of murdering the sacred river dolphin with their evil dams.

    BTW, my main interest is freshwater ecology. I grew up in Arizona. Arizona has a lot of dams. Arizona also has more species of native fish on the endangered list then some states have in total. Dams are usually blamed. Dams are blamed for a lot of things. I have been listening to the Anti-dam arguments for 30 years. Most of them don’t hold water.

    The populations of most endangered fish have not changed significantly in 20 years. The main pressure on native fish populations are from the introduced centrarchids, Morone, and that damn darling of the enviro-wacko left, Gambusia afinis.

    The temperature thing has some validity, but every workable solution ever proposed has been vehemently opposed by the greenies. Its as if they don’t really want to solve the problem.

  53. Hydroelectric has its challenges, but comparatively, it is clean, reliable and well-understood. It is even possible to deal with many of the concerns of dams: nutrient levels downstream, fish spawning upstream, etc. I don’t think it is any coincidence that places like Idaho where hydroelectric is used extensively have cheap reliable electricity (about half the average price we pay in California). No doubt there are places dams should not be built, but what amounts to an outright ban is ridiculous — and foolish. Hydroelectric should be embraced by anyone concerned with the environment and emissions.

    BTW, very cool to hear about your home hydroelectric project growing up. That is true ingenuitiy at its best!

  54. I live on a creek and have been toying with designs for hydro-power without a dam. It would be impossible to implement though, since the county is hassling me just to replace a garage within 35′ of the creek, where the old one sat for 40+ years. Seems in the new county land-use code, they don’t want anything done within 35′ of the creek, in spite of there being many residences within that space.

  55. Joe Lalonde says:
    October 14, 2010 at 4:23 am

    Torque is the desire of power generation as the resistance increases the amount of power you can get to change into electricity.
    Current hydro power has to be exact in location for an exact flow rate as this was created 150 years ago or it will no run.
    Interesting enough, if you mesure the speed of the water before the turbine and after the turbine, there is very little difference of speed. Yet it is suppose to be pulling 92%of the energy? If this WAS true then only 8% of energy would be left in the water.
    Actual energy taken is less than 2% based on torque to energy tranferance.
    Why is that???
    Also, water is gases that have been pressurized giving us stored energy.

    The energy comes from the difference in water pressure (not velocity) between the turbine inlet and outlet.

  56. EIKE recently published an analysis to address the fantasy that pumped storage driven by wind power could fulfill Germany’s energy requirements during e.g. the typical 3-day lull in winds. It turns out that 3 cubic kilometres have to be pumped up to an altitude of about 3000 metres to store sufficient potential energy for hydro-electric recovery to power the nation during a lull — if no other source of energy is permitted.

    How much water is that? EIKE point to the Starnberger See, Germany’s 4th-largest, about 20 km (12 miles) long and almost 130 metres (425 ft) deep. Pumped to the top of Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze.

    Calculations that anybody could replicate, using 10th-grade physics. Germany’s Chancellor has a PhD in physics.

  57. Yeah, it’s really funny to watch the “environmentalists” destroy the economy. We are REMOVING hydroelectric facilities in the Pac. NW. Next thing you know, we will have to buy carbon credits for this completely insane nonsense?

  58. HenryP says: “…In my 50m2 swimming pool I measured an evaporation rate of 2500 liters in one week (clear blue skies all week, max. temp. 31-34C during the day, water temp 25-26 C) . Compare this to my 40 liters of patrol (gas) that I use in one month.”

    And compare it to the 5 milliliters of eyedrops I use in one month! Whoa-ho!

  59. Sustainable source of energy. There is no renewable energy – if there was we would have perpetual motion machines!!!

  60. “Does anyone but me find that truly and bizarrely hilarious? I’m sure the Chinese are busting up laughing, and saying “Give us 20 Kyoto protocols, this is great, we’ll let you well-meaning Western fools build all the hydroelectric plants China can hold” … ”

    …and they call *us* the crazy ones for criticizing the UN/Kyoto madness…

  61. What can I say? We have lost our freedoms to a bureaucratic state. There is no reason why every year five thousand new laws are passed, each one a thousand pages thick and unread by representatives who vote for them. But water power is something the environmentalists, despite being greenies, hate. Not just here but everywhere in the world. Chile is planning to a huge hydroelectric project in Patagonia in the south. Nobody lives there so they need a long transmission line to bring it north. The land where it is to be built is entirely empty but the environmentalists went in and discovered a previously unknown coral that would be endangered by that project! These are Americans who have started a branch of their organization in Chile just to oppose that hydroelectric project. Chile happens to be sovereign country and Americans have no right to tell them what to do with their own natural resources. They have succeeded in stopping other hydro projects in South America and in Africa while at the same time agitating against coal fired power plants as well.

  62. Steve Keohane says:
    October 14, 2010 at 8:57 am

    I live on a creek and have been toying with designs for hydro-power without a dam. It would be impossible to implement though, since the county is hassling me just to replace a garage within 35′ of the creek, where the old one sat for 40+ years. Seems in the new county land-use code, they don’t want anything done within 35′ of the creek, in spite of there being many residences within that space.

    Got beaver? They’ll build a dam for you and once it’s there the same laws that stop you from building a dam will stop you from removing theirs. Kind of ironic that beavers have a right to build a dam and you don’t. That’ll solve at least one part of your problem.

  63. My great-uncle had a ranch in Igo, CA, just west of Redding, Willis. We went for a week almost every summer as a kid. Been to Shasta Dam many times (tho not recently). Very impressive.

  64. There’s a romantic, almost hypnotic notion about returning Mother Earth to her most natural state. I get that. When we humans divert or dam-up a natural waterway, COMMON SENSE dictates (let alone scientific study), there is a price paid to the natural process.

    It is our responsibility to weigh that price against the benefits.

    This is where the Environmentalists come off the rails. They see literally ZERO benefit to the human side of the equation! I have no problem forcing a contractor to provide alternate (maybe expensive) pathways for fish, or the like. That’s responsible resource management. If we’re building a dam, some people may have to move, lest they be buried under the upstream lake! “The needs of the many far outweigh the needs of the few.”

    The final decision is still up the democratic process, right? oops…nvm…the Environs are running this thing after-all, and we voted them in there. I guess everything’s working exactly as it should.

  65. kramer says:
    October 14, 2010 at 7:06 am

    “Companies which emit more CO2 than the regulations allow can purchase credits. The companies pay the money to sponsor an emissions-reducing project in a developing country, so in theory everything balances out.”

    The important thing that this ‘balances out’ is wealth between countries. The redistribution of wealth, both within and between countries seems to be one of the ‘solutions’ of AGW…..

    http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/other_comments/363369/we_shouldnt_expect_a_single_copenhagen_treaty_to_solve_things.html (This one from Mike Hulme of University of East Anglia)

    Hulme, on “Copenhagen”: and whatever happened to making poverty history?

    Finally, and most importantly, we need to tackle head-on the elephant in the background – the need for huge redistribution of wealth from North to South. The questions of economic development and human welfare in a world of scandalous inequality….

    Feckless Communists that they are, Hulme and Sunstein have apparently never created any wealth to begin with, so they think it’s impossible and that the amount of wealth is fixed at a certain amount as a veritable Law of Nature, and therefore that it never decreases either. They also think that “fairness”= wealth redistribution to accomplish a mythical and undefineable “equality” – without a market, no less -will influence Natural Processes so that we’ll never have to deal with them again and, “Behold, the Horn of Plenty Shall Provideth!”

    We can only hope that GM has also noticed these obvious examples of “ecological overshoot”, because it does seem clear that we can certainly not achieve “sustainability” with these kinds of parasitic mental midgets anywhere near the controls – which instead is where they presume without question is their rightful place!

  66. We used to get American visitors commenting on the lack of dams on our rivers in the south of New Zealand.

    “Why, back in the States, we’d have that danged river dammed up every mile generatin’ electricity.”

    “We can’t do that here,” my father would reply.

    “Why not?”

    “Well, we have to let the water run for 25 miles to get its electricity back!”

    Good post, Willis, and parellels my youth as well. Brought up on cattle farm, generated our own electricity (1,800 feet of 4″ pipe, 600 feet of head, 1/2″ nozzle driving a 15″ Pelton wheel producing 21 kW.)

    Went fishing, like you, and wound up in the tropics also like you. And indeed, I think we’ve met – think car turning over after Cyclone Kina January 1993 :)

    Cheers from Pacific Harbour

  67. Golf Charley says:
    October 14, 2010 at 2:57 am

    Willis, many british rivers are canalised, obstructed with weirs with drops of about 6ft. Is this drop sufficient for small scale hydro schemes?

    I don’t think that’s enough head for conventional turbines (could be wrong about that though!) but if there’s sufficient flow rate a slow rotating water wheel shaft can be geared up to generator shaft speed. It takes one horsepower to lift about 55 gallons of water one foot in one second. One horsepower is 750 watts. If you know the flow rate and the height of the drop you can calculate the potential energy available then subtract efficiency losses from tranmission gears and generator which is largely a matter of how much you want to pay for them (especially the transmission gears!) but I’d figure around 50% (more or less) efficient conversion of potential energy to electrical energy.

  68. As the Sun ages, it gets brighter. It’s estimated to be 30% brighter now then when the Earth formed. In about 500 million years, it will have brightened enough that the habitable zone will move past Earth’s orbit, rendering Earth lifeless.

    Renewable doesn’t mean eternal, or indefinite. Eventually, even the Universe dies.

    FYI How tides enlarge the Moon’s orbit and slow Earth’s rotation. The Moon is still comfortably within Earth’s Hill Sphere, the Mood will still orbiting the Earth long after the seas have boiled away. Which will be long before the Sun leaves the main sequence.

  69. what really annoys me is the environmentalists who use China as an example of a Green country – “China is right into renewables” they say – “China has 30% of it’s power from renewable energy” they spout.

    That’s because China has 196GW of Hydropower!! That’s Canada’s hydro and the total US hydro combined.

    China’s solar and wind is still in the low MW range, just enough to test wind generators and solar cells so they can master the technology and sell them to the west.

  70. Ok here is a thought. Lets just say the U.S. government is more or less banning development of energy sources, oil, gas, coal, inside its borders under the guise of enviromentalizm. We know the U.S. has more than enough energy reserves to be self sufficient. So under the guise of enviromentalizm the idea is to save the reserves in the U.S. for the future while using everone elses.

    Just thinking, haven’t had breakfast yet.

  71. Hydro electric power basically utises gravity. Now there’s an underestimated supply of cheap endless renewable energy. It’s probably green enough for the ecofascists too.

    Isn’t it?…

  72. Golf Charley 2:57am –
    My old home town of Blairgowrie in Perthshire used to have several flax mills powered by water. One of them had the biggest water wheel in the country. Several of the weirs and mill lades are still functional and a micro generation plant is to be built, theoretically producing income of £30k pa.

    http://www.thecourier.co.uk/News/Perthshire/article/2841/work-begins-on-blairgowrie-hydro-project.html

    You will see that even when the basic infrastructure is there the company requires up-front funding of £500k, and various bureaucratic hurdles have had to be overcome.

  73. R. de Haan says:
    October 14, 2010 at 7:34 am

    …And Agenda 21 too:

    http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/?utm_source=OldRedirect&utm_medium=redirect&utm_content=dsd&utm_campaign=OldRedirect

    But my hopes rest in the fact, which you pointed out long ago, of the big consumption by these “kids”of a certain white powder, which, inevitably, will render them useless for the main purposes of their master. (HE must be very worried watching the “aspirations” of their beloved sons and daughters). :-)

  74. Prof. Richard Muller explanes why what we are doing is nonsense if you believe that CO2 is a problem. It´s the China (and India) problem.


    Berkeley Prof. Richard Muller on Copenhagen and Global Warming

  75. In my country most of the mid to large streams and rivers got dammed up and put to hydro electrical production. Then came 1968 and the the go’damn hippies, on the far left side, and put a stop to all the hydro electrical craziness. To save all the local environments (’twas a “local shop for local people” perhaps). Since the 70’s and 80’s, and even though the nuclear power scare at those times, it was enforced to even ban enlargement of the streams and river hydro plants. And imagine if you will a the stupidity of spending literally billions on wind power (that really is like a viral disease on the “local shop”) to produce what the installed hydro power can produce without breaking a sweat if the maniac greenies would’ve allowed for a enlargement of something like 10% of the modern largest dams with 5% (and that was compared to our wind power’s installed capacity if memory serves.)

    The oddest thing is that getting those 5% more is just utilizing a bit more of the hydro generators installed capacity (what with they’re not using 100% but is in effect more like nuclear reactors at 80-95% which seem to mean limitation on the dam itself rather than what the turbines in optimal reality can handle) which can be had by allowing something like less then a yard higher water levels in the dams, which wouldn’t really eat up all that much land (since dams aren’t exactly located down below in the flat field lands, but higher up and tend to have natural barriers that protect that “local shop”.) It’s odd because the evil hippies think it is more rationale to chopping “local shop” down totally for wind power rather than making it a little wet for hydro and getting vastly more electricity produced for a fraction of the price which spells money saved is even more money earned (in less tax’s too.)

  76. Joe Lalonde says:
    October 14, 2010 at 4:23 am

    “Torque is the desire of power generation as the resistance increases the amount of power you can get to change into electricity.
    Current hydro power has to be exact in location for an exact flow rate as this was created 150 years ago or it will no run….”

    Take your meds, boy! And then go learn something about the conversion of “potential energy” and its relationship to hydroelectric power production.

  77. In the US, new hydro is something of a moot point. During those long-lost years when humans mattered more than fish, most of the good locations were dammed, and nearly all of them have continued in operation.

    Not just in the Northwest, but even in Kansas, for example:

    http://www.bowersockpower.com/

    Now the important mission is not to build new dams, but to prevent the fish-worshippers from tearing down these national treasures.

  78. Claude Harvey,
    I wish you would stop reading the fantasy books and get real.
    Water is energy already in stored pressurized gases rotating at 1669.8 km/hr.

    Any energy NOT touching a blade is inefficient as deflections and interference occurs.
    A turbine uses a full circle in which to turn and any energy in that circle NOT being harnessed is wasted. LOOK AT THE WIND TURBINES!

  79. The green’s hate for hydro is irrational for the most part. I live by a big hydro project that has a couple of big lakes and about 10k acres of wild land. It is a great spot to play, and it makes power too.
    When a Chainsaw Al Duncan type threatened to dismantle the power co for the land, we got the state to turn it into a state forest. We had to reopen the dam license with FERC, the DNR, USFW, and endless other agencies. There were endangered species surveys adnuseum, cultural surveys on and on. The dam license was about 40,000 pages and took 8 years to get past the first time. A small hydro project could never get through the government.

    A lot of people around here really like our hydro projects, but the harassment from the riverhuggers is endless.

    The craziness has gone beyond the rivers. In my state they blow up every beaver dam that gets built, and the beavers are trapped. A view of the land shows that it used to be bejeweled by little lakes, and now there are just scars.

    http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=45.426407,-88.487148&spn=0.049154,0.108662&t=h&z=13 .

    In my opinion it has actually changed the local climate draining all of those wetlands. The trout fishermen are mostly behind that.

    I have a little stream about 600′ behind the house. I’d love to put in a small paddle wheel and make a couple of KW, but the notion is absurd in the current regulation environment.

  80. @Lucy “Willis, we need a new textbook of Basic Science.”
    If science was easy, we’d all be doing it, so this is an ambitious project, if the intention is to foster critical thinking in the lay population. As a member of that lay population, aghast at the degree to which shoddy climate “science” is blithely accepted by the general population, can I suggest that a much more readily achievable objective would be to create a textbook of The Scientific Method, which is readily grasped by anyone properly instructed in it. It could start with this quote from Darwin “To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact”.

  81. Joe Lalonde says:
    October 14, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    “Claude Harvey,
    I wish you would stop reading the fantasy books and get real.
    Water is energy already in stored pressurized gases rotating at 1669.8 km/hr.”

    Joey,

    My eyes have been opened! Thinking of all those hydro plants I built over the years (and one 1,740 MW pumped storage project) without having discovered the “1669.8 km/hr factor” just makes my ears burn.

    Take your meds, Joe.

  82. “This has always seemed extremely foolish to me, since hydroelectric power is proven, 24-hour, baseline power. Despite that, there’s a whole branch of the environmental movement that considers dams as forces of evil.”

    It has never been about “clean” electricity or renewable electricity or any of the other myriad of slogans and icons of the Green movements. It has always been about and will always be about political power and money.

  83. Just to add – not only does there seem to be widespread misconstruction of the Scientific Method, there seems also to be an even more worrying inability to distinguish between the Scientific Method and the science itself. The most common example of the thinking to which this gives rise is the warmist retort that “x has disconfirmed y’s hypothesis. But x has done no original work in y’s field. Therefore x’s disconfirmation of y’s hypothesis in invalid”.

    “A Layperson’s Guide to The Scientific Method” would preempt this and similar canards. And seems to be eminently doable. I would particularly like to see a chapter where Willis deals with post-normal science.

  84. FijiDave says:

    Went fishing, like you, and wound up in the tropics also like you. And indeed, I think we’ve met – think car turning over after Cyclone Kina January 1993 :)

    Cheers from Pacific Harbour

    After Cyclone Kina, the roads were all trashed. I was moving too fast when I came upon a very bad patch … my car ended up rolling. I remember thinking about Newmans Law as I went over. Named after the actor Paul Newman, the Law says “There’s no use putting on the brakes unless your wheels are one the road …”

    Anyhow, Dave was the first person to stop, and he gave me a ride back to town. Many thanks, Dave, good to hear from you after all these years.

  85. polistra says:
    October 14, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    In the US, new hydro is something of a moot point. During those long-lost years when humans mattered more than fish, most of the good locations were dammed, and nearly all of them have continued in operation.

    While that is somewhat true for conventional hydro, there is still a huge resource of mini, micron, and nano hydro. In addition, we are just starting to build turbines to run off the energy of the flowing river. So no, the day of new hydro is far from over.

    Finally, there are a number of good sites which are not economical because of transmission costs. Obviously, this may change in the future, as new transmission technologies come online and people move closer to the sites.

  86. Ike, I wish you were right, but the number of players for whom “environmentalism” is about “power and money”, is small, if influential. It would lack all influence, however were it not for the fellow travellers for whom it’s all about punishing western civilisation for being so successful and benign.

  87. Malaga View says:
    I think the sea might have eroded all the land and we are six feet under water before we need worry about the moon… although a couple of asteroid impacts on earth might make a difference to the balance… but if all else fails perhaps we could build a few nuclear powered wave machines…

    Just as long as you know you’re joking, good one.

    [Tenuc says:
    Sorry Ron, but tidal power is a renewable energy source. Tides dissipate the same amount of energy whether they are harnessed to produce energy or freely move tons of water around. Using this waste energy has no long-term dangerous effect.

    Sorry Tenuc, but you are mistaken. “Freely moving tons of water around” is largely a conversion to and from kinetic and potential energy. When the water piles up at high tide, the system energy is potential energy, and when it is rapidly flowing in or out, it is kinetic energy. Only the frictional losses (viscosity, flow against rocks, etc.) represent lost energy. Increasing the frictional losses, which is what tidal power does, drains additional energy from the system. This is very basic physics: increase frictional forces and you increase energy loss. But besides, if you were correct, then the only energy that could be removed would be the energy currently being lost by the tides, which is only half the 1970s energy usage of mankind. That would make it a largely useless idea anyway.

    This article:
    http://www.science20.com/chatter_box/pushing_moon_away_victorian_machinery quotes a figure of 3 Terawatts natural tidal frictional losses per year, and gives the USA’s 2002 usage as 3.3 Terawatts.

    jack morrow says:
    I’ve got to have a little more proof than your take on tidal power to believe that it would send the moon hurling into outer space and dooming us all.

    Then this is your lucky day! You get a chance to actually prove it for yourself, which is the most valuable kind of knowledge you can have, by doing the calculations, just as I did. All you need is something on the level of grade 9 maths to solve the relevant equations.

    Look up the formula for the moment of inertia of a sphere (approximating the Earth by a sphere), plug in the Earth’s mass and radius. If that is not accurate enough for you, then represent the Earth by concentric hollow shells and put in the actual measured densities for the Earth at the various appropriate depths. But to see the basic idea and since a precise answer isn’t necessary, that latter step is probably overkill. But one way or another or by looking up the net, get yourself a figure for the Earth’s moment of inertia – call this “I”.

    Now you need the formula for rotational kinetic energy:

    Krot = 0.5 * I * w * w

    where w is the angular speed.

    And you need the angular momentum, which is:

    L = I * w

    Now you need to add up all the rotational kinetic energy. For simplicity ignore the orbital Krot of the Earth around the Moon and only consider the Krot of the Earth’s rotation (calculate as above) and add the Krot of the Moon’s orbital motion around the Earth; for this, use I = m * R * R, where m is the Moon’s mass and R is the Earth-Moon distance.

    The total Krot in this sum is the value that is reduced by drawing energy from the tides.

    Now for the momentum equations, the angular momentum L = I * w, with the same I and w as above. Add up the angular momenta of the Earth’s rotation and the orbit of the Moon around the Earth. This formula represents a conserved quantity that cannot be changed.

    That means that if you change any quantities in the total Krot formula that you now have, you must do so in a way that conserves the result of the total L formula which you also have.

    You will find that the way the conservation has to work is as follows: If an amount of energy E is removed from the Krot formula, then it has to be done as follows: 2*E must be removed from the Earth’s rotation component, and E has to be added to the Moon’s orbital component. Nothing else will balance the L equation.

    As for the “dooming us all”: there are lots of things we don’t know about the Earth” Why does Earth have continental drift, which is a heat release mechanism, and Venus doesn’t? Venus builds up heat within and occasionally it all bursts forth and churns over the entire crust in one huge volcanic episode; even if Venus had a habitable temperature, that would put paid to life anyway every 500 million years or so. Does the Earth’s continental drift depend on the lubricating effects of the Moon’s tidal squishing? I don’t know if anyone knows. Perhaps we are just a hair’s breadth away from having continental drift suddenly stop? Maybe we are at a TIPPING POINT!!!!!! Do you know? I don’t. The damage from weakening the tides and lengthening the day are largely unknown, so why play with it?

    Gene Zeien says:
    Will the Moon leave Earth orbit before the Sun goes red giant & envelops the Earth? Seriously, if you have such a long-term view of the future, you’d do better spending your time considering how humanity will survive the next 90ky glacial. The ice should be arriving in the next 2-20ky.

    I am concerned about the next glacial, in which, were it not for human emissions of CO2, the CO2 content of the atmosphere would be in danger of falling below the critical value necessary to sustain plant life, thus causing the end to most life on Earth. And to answer your question, I have given you all the formulae you need to get the answer just up above.

    Fred H. Haynie says:
    Are these original thoughts or did you get them from somewhere? Has anyone attempted to quantify the effect?

    Nothing much in this world is truly original, but I have indeed done the calculations for myself as explained above. This sort of thing is a typical student’s exercise in physics courses.

  88. Hydro power is great, provided there is an area for water storage and sufficient head is available to drive the turbine. Mountainous areas provide the best places and should provide sufficient snow melt and rain to maintain the water supply.

  89. Claude Harvey,
    What a waste…
    Never trying to harvest the energy into individual molecules.
    Doing the brain dead robot…follow the leader thing.
    Use your head.

    Turbines were created for bulk harvest and NOT efficiency.
    If I was that stupid, why was I invited before a board of directors of a major hydro-electric company? Why would a secratariat at the UN for energy give me the time of day?
    Engineers can ONLY tell if the mechanics are sound and nothing else. The science is beyond their field…says an engineer at a college that advanced technology was shown.

  90. Hello. My name is Albert. I am from Armenia. If somebody wants sponsoring to built hydro power plant I have all documents and license for it. If you interested in my suggestion,please, write on my mail, I`ll answer. Thank you.

  91. Hello. My name is Albert. I am from Armenia. If somebody wants sponsoring to built hydro power plant I have all documents and license for it. If you interested in my suggestion,please, write on my mail, I`ll answer. Thank you. albertpetrosyans@gmail.com

  92. There was an old saying once, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” Today, of course, it’s a basic basis for pleading innocent. Anyway, if I wanted to build what you and your family had way back then in the middle ages, you mean I gotta ask someone for permission? And they’ll probably say I can’t? And they don’t have to live next door, but anywhere they wanted to, and they can still say no? Hmuuum….. that does change the color of the grapes doesn’t it? You know folks, history seems to support a complete re-write of every law on the books about every 250-500 years. Of course, the chances for a civil war or two seems to crop up more frequently. I’ll bet it’s the air. Something in the air. Let’s see… 1776…. 1861…

  93. @Ike says:

    It has never been about “clean” electricity or renewable electricity or any of the other myriad of slogans and icons of the Green movements. It has always been about and will always be about political power and money.

    How about we call the environmentalists what they really are, a religion, and then follow the constitution in making no laws respecting religion.

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