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Saturday, December 12, 2009


A. Dakota

Its not like we are leaders in the green revolution. There are other countries to look to for an example. Those countries are finding success. (I would like to know why we went ahead with the geothermal drilling, when it was already proven that deep drilling causes earthquakes.) You've killed off any current idea for alternative energy. What is your inexpensive alternative, to keep going with the status quo? Your fine with the way things are now? Or are you just going to keep knocking down any idea that comes along?


Already available: Crack in the World, 1965. SD Public Television used to play this movie -- I loved it! Probably fueled my passion for destroying the earth with future energy technology. ... just so I could save Janette Scott. ;-)



Ken, you are absolutely correct. I agree with you that green energy kills life and destroys the planet. We should STOP scientific innovation now, for the betterment of society, and continue to burn the endless supply of fossil fuel. Actually, we should find ways to make internal combustion engines LESS efficient, because that would INCREASE our dependence on oil, both foreign and domestic. Increasing domestic production will produce jobs. Increasing foreign oil dependence will produce wars, which ultimately produces jobs. Scientific experimentation should always result in immediate, positive results, otherwise it should be halted! Just imagine how more perfect a world this would be if, for instance, we ended the ridiculous practice of experimentation with new drugs and cancer cures that did not immediately produce our desired results!


Cory: I loved "Crack in the World"! I am amazed I didn't think of it when I did this blog. A long moving tear in the Earth's surface, now there's a monster for you. So far I am not too worried about geothermal energy. But I ain't investin' either.

A. Dakota: Sorry, but "those other countries" aren't "finding success." Studies in Holland, Spain, and Germany, all tell the same story about wind power. It leads to an increase rather than a reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases. This is largely because coal fired plants have to make up the shortfall when the wind dies down, and powering them up and down is inefficient. Wind power also requires massive subsides. That wealth has to be generated elsewhere, using fossil fuels. Finally, a technology that consumes more wealth than it generates means fewer jobs over all.

I am sorry, but there simply aren't any "green" technologies that are, in the near future, likely to replace the burning of fossil fuels. Ignoring that fact doesn't help the environment one bit.


"A long moving tear in the Earth's surface, now there's a monster for you."

EXACTLY! Let's scare them there folks in the backcountry into believin' that there "alternative energy" is the Devil's work that's gonna split the Earth and release the demons! Yee-ha! And let's also tell them that wind power causes an INCREASE in greenhouse gas emmissions (really KB? really? Even my 8 year old neice would laugh at that one... you gotta find a better line than that!!)


Dan. Your eight year old niece has an excuse for incredulous laughter in the face of an obvious but unpleasant truth: she is eight years old. It might be hard for a child of that age to recognize that just because something sounds like a good idea doesn't mean it is a good idea. She also might not recognize that sometimes the things we do to try to solve a problem end up making the problem worse. It might not occur to her, for instance, that over-prescription of antibiotics makes people sicker in the long run.

Moreover, being eight, she might think of this as a simple matter of investing in new technologies or not investing, without recognizing that the difficult question is how much to invest, when, and in what? Being eight years old, we shouldn't fault her for thinking that opposition to massive investment in one kind of technology means an opposition to science and technology in general. We expect children to think and behave in childish ways.

But in fact, large national investments in wind power does lead to an increase in green house gases. This is not speculation about what might happen, it is what has happened. I give some of the reasons. I don't think they are too much for an eight year old to handle.

George Mason

The "greens" call for green energy (non-carbon based) yet abhor the green energy sources that are efficient and reliable, hydro and nuclear, while demanding more of the green sources that are inefficient and unreliable, solar and wind. How exactly do they propose to maintain the base load required for essential services with the generating sources they prefer?


Yes KB, we do expect children to think and behave in childish ways. We do not expect children, however, to ask questions like "..why did AltaRock stop its exploration of The Geysers?", and then hypothecate a story based on unsubstantiated conjecture which fits in with their own political ideology. As unsophisticated and uneducated children are, we do expect children to use common sense and reason.

Now, as an adult... I hate to burst your bubble with reason, but the suspension of operations at The Geysers was not due to earthquakes, but rather do to drilling problems inherent in felsite, a very brittle rock which is very difficult to drill. The earthquake hysteria you quote originated from a NY Times article referencing a barely perceptible quake (yes, 3.4 is barely perceptible) that occured due to a similar, albiet poorly managed, geothermal research project on the other side of the globe. The Geysers project never reached the target depth to even begin the experiment. And yes, The Geysers, as well as much of California, experiences earthquakes every single day. Most residents understand that process, even children. A very few create hysteria blaming earthquakes on everything from weather to homosexuality - the adults do that, not the children.

But I digress. Research the history of your most favored energy source, oil, and you will find that for most of the 100-plus year history of oil exploration, twenty "dry holes" were drilled for each "successful" well... not one single well as in The Geysers, but TWENTY unsuccessful exploratory oil wells are drilled for each successful one. And you advocate that after the first (single) geothermal well utilizing a new technology does not reap huge profits, we should abandon all geothermal exploration and innovation. Brilliant. Google the Spindletop well of Texas fame - successful but a huge environmental disaster. Also do some more research on the tens of thousands of unsuccessful "dry holes" drilled in the US alone, in the search for oil. Tens of thousands is OK for oil, but one is the death knell for the entire geothermal industry? Based on your logic, oil and gas would not exist as an energy source today.

I know it's difficult for an adult like yourself entrenched in the belief that your beloved oil is the end-all/be-all of US energy, to open your mind to the possibilities of another (or mix of) energy source(s). But, I hate to break the news... it's already happening. The Geysers you speak of? It's tiny 25 square miles of clean reservoir steam produces enough energy to power over 500,000 homes... and makes a nice profit for its production company.

A child might realize that one dollar would constitute a "..massive investment in one kind of technology..", compared to the previous administration's investment of zero dollars in alternative technologies. That same child might question why that same administration "invested" hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars in old, proven, mega-profitable industry that requires no financial assistance. That same child might even question the connection between those huge governmental subsidies and that administration's family's personal investments in the same industry. Or... that child might not. That child may someday see the glaringly obvious connection between war and oil, and a military-industrial complex which syphons trillions of dollars out of taxpayers pockets and provides a political party the financial backing to stay in power.

But then that child may one day get a taste of unbridled political power or vast sums of wealth, and abandon his or her innocence and wonder of what could be... or become a blind follower of fear mongering or the status quo.

Or that child may start a blog which seeks to spread hysteria and stifle wonder and innovation which may someday lead to a better world for his own children.


From the Scientific American

"only 13 U.S. states have identified geothermal resources"

"There are a number of assumptions in the geothermal figure. First, there are the tax incentives, which save about 1.9 cents per kilowatt-hour. Those won't necessarily last forever, however—although the stimulus bill extended them through 2013.

Second, the Credit Suisse analysis relied on what is called the "levelized [sic] cost of energy," or the total cost to produce a given unit of energy. Embedded within this figure is an assumption that the money to build a new geothermal plant is available at reasonable interest rates—on the order of 8 percent.

In today's economic climate, that just isn't the case. "In general, there is financing out there for geothermal, but it's difficult to get and it's expensive," Geothermal Energy Association director Karl Gawell told ScientificAmerican.com recently. "You have to have a really premium project to get even credit card interest rates."

That means very high up-front costs."


Dan: I got a little testy with you in my note, and I apologize. I reply to your last note in a new post. Thanks for the comments.


The call to reduce the use of coals is valid for western countries but unfortunately, coal reports show developing economies are more likely to increase their use of coal in coming years because of its affordability and to meet increasing demands for electricity and steel for the coal industry. www.coalportal.com

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