Good day. We are entering a time when it is growing more unlikely that oil production capacity will exceed current levels. If indeed aggregate fossil fuel production is entering a period of decline, then it may be prudent to recall some lyrics within the Woody Guthrie song about the Grand Coulee Dam. The song went "...Roll along Columbia. You can ramble to the sea, But river while you're ramblin' you can do some work for me..."
My thought is - expand that concept. River while you're rambling, you can do some work for me; sun while you're shining you can do some work for me; wind while you're blowing you can do some work for me; tides as you're rising and waves as you're rolling you can do some work for me.
I thought perhaps I would just take one of those modes - the sun - and include links to some video clips about solar energy applications. Obviously, this is nothing comprehensive, but I hope this illustrates some of the devices out there.
First I would like to start with a clip of Richard Heinberg and his partner as they discuss the Peak Oil situation, and how that may affect us.
Next is a clip of an interview with the owner of a solar energy devices store, based in California. I think this helps illustrate the challenge faced in going for the higher cost but more efficient silicon based panels, versus buying some much lower cost selenium based materials which are much less efficient. On the other hand, with the lower cost materials, you can afford to cover a much greater area.
Next is not a video, but simply a text link. Even the best photovoltaic panels at this time might have a sunlight to electricity conversion rate of around 19% efficiency. One theory that has made the rounds over the past couple years is the so-called "avalanche" theory, where an incoming photon from sunlight would cause the flow of not just one electron in the solar panel, but numerous electrons. Very recently, this link shows that this concept has been proven in the lab, so that in a few years time, you might get solar panels which are around 45% efficient. That would really be something.
Next is a link to a British solar energy firm. The discussion is interesting enough. But another piece of information is that the firm is headed by Jeremy Legget, who was formerly employed in the oil business. He became convinced of the threat of global warming, and after talking about that problem decided to found a firm that would help provide a product which could be used post carbon fuels.
There are two broad areas of solar panel applications. One is for heat generation. At the residential level, the most common usage is to have heat gathered by solar panels used to heat incoming cold water, so that the household hot water heater does not have to work so hard, or perhaps even not at all for certain periods. During sunny winter days, if the hot water demand is not too great, some portion of the heat exchanger capacity can be shunted towards warming incoming furnace air, so that the furnace does not have to work so hard. Hopefully, such panels will help defray natural gas or heating oil use within a household.
One thing at the household level is that the systems are not designed to cope with steam buildups. Hence, they often have a shut off feature once water in the cold water/return line from the solar panels mixing tank exceeds 170 degrees F.
But at the commercial power generation level, they want the solar panels to provide such steam to power turbines.
The next link is to a slide show type page for a company that uses solar panels in such manner. This would be an example of Concentrated Solar Applications, where if you started to cover several acres of sun-prone desert land with panels you could generate lots of electricity.
And in kind of a cousin to the previous link, this next one is to a system used in the greater Las Vegas area.
OK - back to the electricity side of the solar panel equation. Aside from the classic, but rather expensive silicon photovoltaic panels, another application which is not as efficient but much less capital intensive is thin film photovoltaics. Here is a link showing such thin film materials being put on a house.
Sun generated electricity is made in the DC mode. Hence an inverter is needed to convert the electricity to AC. You could either have the electricity go back into the grid to help defray your utility costs (the usage wheel turns slower), or you could store the energy. As of now, storage devices they would sell to you (at least in the Chicago area) are basically lead-acid batteries, and you would need a room full of them. My personal opinion is that for storage, it might be best to wait for another generation of batteries to be commercially available.
Well, guess that will do it for now. May as well have a song or two to close things out. Back to the song about the Grand Coulee Dam:
Well the world has seven wonders, the travelers always tell,
Some gardens and some towers, I guess you know them well.
But the greatest wonder is in Uncle Sam's fair land.
It's that King Columbia River and the big Grand Coulee Dam.
She heads up the Canadian Rockies where the rippling waters glide,
Comes a-rumbling down the canyon to meet that salty tide
Of the wide Pacific Ocean where the sun sets in the west,
And the big Grand Coulee country in the land I love the best.
In the misty crystal glitter of that wild and windward spray,
Men have fought the pounding waters and met a watery grave.
She tore their boats to splinters but she gave men dreams to dream
Of the day the Coulee Dam would cross that wild and wasted stream.
Uncle Sam took up the challenge in the year of '33
For the farmer and the factory and all of you and me.
He said, "Roll along Columbia. You can ramble to the sea,
But river while you're ramblin' you can do some work for me."
Now in Washington and Oregon you hear the factories hum,
Making chrome and making manganese and light aluminum.
And there roars a mighty furnace now to fight for Uncle Sam,
Spawned upon the King Columbia by the big Grand Coulee Dam.
And since we've invoked the sun doing some useful work, maybe a song about the Sun
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DCW Senate Forecast: 56.1 No change from our previous forecast, but our two most Democratic projections, Electoral-Vote.com and 538.com both moved a little but towards the Republican side, making our spread, over all projections, now 1.5 seats, the smallest since we've been tracking the projections. Also, two seats we've been tracking, NJ and GA, are now unanimously safe. We'll leave them on the chart for now, in case that changes.
The DCW Senate Forecast is an average of the projections of the Democratic held seats in the 2009 Senate. (We count Sanders and Lieberman as Democrats in the Senate Forecast. Feel free to subtract one if you so desire!) A history of the Forecast going back to November 2006 is at bottom and in the left sidebar.
For analysis of the races, be sure to check out the latest installment of Sunday with the Senators.
Be sure to also check out our Presidential Forecast and our House Forecast.
The following seats are unanimous strong and are not shown in the table below (We do show VA as it is a pickup):
Solid Democrat: AR (Pryor), DE (Biden), IA (Harkin). IL (Durbin), MA (Kerry), MI (Levin), MT (Baucus), RI (Reed), SD (Johnson), WV (Rockefeller)
Solid Republican: AL (Sessions), ID (Open), KS (Roberts), MS (Cochrane), NE (Open), OK (Inhofe), SC (Graham), TN (Alexander), TX (Cornyn), WY (Barraso), WY (Enzi)
The sources are sorted by each sources Senate Projection:
Back on Monday, Josh wrote about how the Versailles press grades McCain on the curve:Out of general[...]
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There is a rumor reported by the Rocky Mountain News that Jolie and Pitt may host a fundraiser during the convention.
I doubt I am on the invite list or have the money to get it... but if Angelina or Brad are reading this, please hook me up.
You can read about this and other happenings by Penny Parker, On the Town Columnist, for the Rocky Mountain News at http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/aug/09/parker-jolie-pitt-may-host-charity-fete-during/
This post also appears at Jeff's Denver Bound Blog at http://jstrater.blogspot.com/ . Jeff is a National Delegate from Texas.
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Responding to reader complaints about Washington Post columnist DanaMilbank's use in a July 30 column of an "anonymous secondhandquotation from Sen. Barack Obama" to characterize Obama as"presumptuous," Postombudsman Deborah Howell chastised Milbank for citing the source anonymouslyand for imputing a particular interpretation to a quote he did not witness.Howell wrote in her August 10 column: "Anonymous quotes should be usedsparingly; this one wasn't worth it. If you weren't there, be careful[...]
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Lloyd Gray, editor of the Daily Journal, compared this years race between Ronnie Musgrove and Roger Wicker to the 1988 race between Trent Lott and Wayne Dowdy. Using the results from the 1988 race as a backdrop, Gray illustrates the importance of the first congressional district in the Senate race. It looks like the Republicans are giving up on Greg Davis and concentrating on trying to salvage a win in the Senate race.
My advice to the Musgrove campaign. Go populist in north Mississippi. Listen to the message of Travis Childers and internalize it. By all means point out the special interest money that fuels Roger Wicker. Don't forget to point out his anti-veteran votes as well as anti-worker votes. That line of attack is a winner in north Mississippi.
The first thing Wicker has to do is carry the 1st District, and carry it big. In 1988, Lott and Dowdy basically split the rest of the state 50-50. But Lott had a higher national profile than Wicker, having been minority whip in the House and a visible member of Ronald Reagan's team, and Dowdy did not enjoy Musgrove's statewide name recognition. Additionally, there was no pull for black voters at the top of the ticket - Michael Dukakis, the Democratic nominee that year, didn't exactly excite them.
All these factors helped Lott outside his home base. Wicker will face more daunting challenges, so it is even more important that he get a huge 1st District margin - including a massive turnout in DeSoto County - as well as piling up votes in populous Republican strongholds like Rankin County scattered around the state.
As Stephen Soldz, one of the supporters of an anti-torture referendum resolution now being mailed out to members of the American Psychological Association, reports:The APA has launched a strong effort at spin and disinformation regarding the referendum.[...]
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One of the most contentious issues surrounding a long-term U.S.-Iraq security agreement is whether private security contractors should receive blanket legal immunity from Iraqi laws. However, buried today in a Washington Post article, reporter Karen DeYoung reveals that negotiators have agreed that security contractors “would be subject to Iraqi law,” a setback for the Bush administration. Negotiators are still working out the dates for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. (HT: The Crypt)
The next President has a problem on his hands, known to public health officials and non-partisan flu bloggers, but all too rarely discussed in the general press. Indonesia, the world's most populous Moslem country, and the epicenter of H5N1 infections in humans (135 confirmed human cases and 110 deaths) has decided that the H5N1 virus should be owned by Indonesia, and sold to whomever they deem worthy. In the meantime, Indonesia has stopped reporting human cases in a day-to-day basis, rebuffed WHO requests for a shared approach, and condemned humanitarian assistance fro the US by demanding NAMRU-2 (a Navy health lab stationed in Jakarta for many years) leave the country and let Indonesia manage its own internal problems.
Richard Holbrooke and Laurie Garrett write up the folly of this approach today in the Washington Post.
Here's a concept you've probably never heard of: "viral sovereignty." This extremely dangerous idea comes to us courtesy of Indonesia's minister of health, Siti Fadilah Supari, who asserts that deadly viruses are the sovereign property of individual nations -- even though they cross borders and could pose a pandemic threat to all the peoples of the world. So far "viral sovereignty" has been noted almost exclusively by health experts. Political leaders around the world should take note -- and take very strong action.
The vast majority of repeated avian flu outbreaks the past four years, in both humans and poultry, have occurred in Indonesia. At least 53 types of H5N1 bird flu viruses have appeared in chickens and people there, the World Health Organization has reported.
Yet, since 2005, Indonesia has shared with the WHO samples from only two of the more than 135 people known to have been infected with H5N1 (110 of whom have died). Worse, Indonesia is no longer providing the WHO with timely notification of bird flu outbreaks or human cases. Since 2007, its government has openly defied International Health Regulations and a host of other WHO agreements to which Indonesia is a signatory.
Moreover, the Indonesian government is threatening to close down U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit Two (NAMRU-2), a public health laboratory staffed by Indonesians and U.S. military scientists. NAMRU-2 is one of the world's best disease surveillance facilities, and it provides health officials worldwide with vital, transparent information. The Indonesian government has accused NAMRU-2 scientists of everything from profiteering off its "sovereign" viruses to manufacturing the H5N1 bird flu in an alleged biological warfare scheme. There is no evidence to support these outlandish claims.
For those of us concerned about tracking emerging infectious diseases, be it by government agency or private citizen networks, Indonesia's approach to intellectual and sovereign property is both dangerous and short-sighted. Viruses know no international boundaries, and as the Toronto experience with SARS shows, an infectious disease problem in Asia can quickly become an infectious disease problem in North America. There are great sensitivities about such things. By international agreement, there'll be no "Hong Kong flu"designation in future. All H5N1 flu viruses will be known by a boring and bland string of letters and numbers:
The initiative, which was encouraged and approved by 3 international agencies (the World Health Organization [WHO]), the World Organisation for Animal Health [OIE], and the Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO]), set out to unify the nomenclature system to simplify interpretation of sequence and surveillance data from different laboratories and to remove stigmatizing labeling of HPAI virus (H5N1) clades by geographic reference.
Many other positive things could be accomplished by international agreement, including tracking and mitigating the next influenza pandemic, which could easily start in a remote village in Indonesia with a story just like this from the IHT on aug 8, 2008:
JAKARTA, Indonesia: Health workers rushed to a village in western Indonesia to test for bird flu Thursday after 13 people were hospitalized with symptoms of the disease and dozens of chickens died, a government official said.
It will take days for test results to come back, said Memed Zulkarnaen, spokesman for the National Bird Flu Commission, adding that the condition of those suffering from high fever and respiratory problems "appears to be improving."
The 13 were admitted to two hospitals in the past week after chickens started dying in Air Batu, their village on Sumatra island, 680 miles (1,000 kilometers) northwest of the capital, Jakarta. The birds tested positive for the H5N1 virus.
This is what Holbrooke and Garrett and public health officials and countless flu preppers are worried about. Preliminary reports are that these suspected cases are negative, but the lack of transparency about reporting, coupled with Indonesia's stated hostility to international cooperation make this an extremely pertinent and timely WaPo column.
The pandemic threat has not gone away just because other stories supercede it in the media. Alas, it sees that it will take a crisis to break through the indifference, and in that, we are no different than we ever were. And that is a public health problem and an international shame.
George Lakoff wants to give to truth all the advantages that propagandists have bestowed upon the lie.[...]
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