Archive for April, 2008

Rooftop solar power is actually more dangerous than Chernobyl

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

Next Big Future analyzes the risk of various power sources.    By and large, a single big source of power kills fewer people per terawatt than lots of small sources of power.

Oil peak

Friday, April 18th, 2008

World oil production is about eighty million barrels per day,  four billion tonnes per year.  The world has been stuck at that level since 2003, while demand has been increasing at about four percent a year.  As a result, prices are going through the roof, largely because Chinese want to drive cars like Americans do.

All the remaining oil in the world is in places that are politically inaccessible – partly because greenies in developed countries have banned oil wells, but most of the remaining oil is in undeveloped places like Iraq, where anyone who drills a new well will probably have his well confiscated, and quite likely he will be murdered in the process.

Just to stay where we are now, for oil to stop rising, we need to increase oil production at about four percent a year, which is around one hundred and sixty million tonnes per year per year, or three million barrels per day per year.

Biofuels made from food are too expensive, and government subsidized biofuel made from food is causing starvation among poor people in poor countries.  It is worth while making biofuel from sugar cane waste and paper mill waste, but the total amount we can get from those sources is not going to help us much.

So it has to be oil from shale, oil from tar sands, and oil from coal.

People are just pottering around with small experimental shale oil plants and coal to oil plants.  Only Canadian oil from tar sands is being developed full speed ahead, as fast as physically possible.   There are other oil sands in the world, but again, insecurity of property rights is a problem.  If you try to develop oil sands in most countries, your plant will be stolen, and you will likely be murdered.  Oil from tar sand in Canada is increasing at about four hundred thousand barrels per day per year, which about twenty million tonnes per year per year, about one eighth of what we need.

It is often said that the Chinese are developing coal to liquids in a big way, but compared to what is needed, not so big.  They are building coal to dimethyl ether plants with a capacity of three million tonnes per year.  If these plants were going to fix the problem, we would need around forty of them every year, rather than one or two every couple of years.

Typically people are building dimethyl ether pilot plants that do a few hundred tonnes per year, small scale plants that do a few hundred thousand tonnes per year, and a few big plants that do three million tonnes per year.

To match supply and demand at reasonable prices, the world needs to build sixteen ten million tonne per year plants each year, or fifty of the three million tonne per year plants the chinese contemplate.

The obvious solution is UCG-GTL – underground coal gasification followed by gas to liquid conversion.  Digging the coal up is too messy to be done on the enormous scale needed.  At present there is ONE such plant under development.  Linc energy systems proposes to build, some time in the next several years, a UCG-GTL plant that makes seventeen thousand barrels per day of synthetic diesel, eight hundred and fifty thousand tonnes per year, about one two hundredth of the increase we will need every year.

Further, their coal gasification is air based, as befits the comparatively small scale of their proposed operation.  For the really gigantic facilities of the future, oxygen based underground coal gasification is the way to go.

China and Estonia are rapidly expanding their oil from oil shale projects, but again this looks something like one hundred thousand tonnes per year per year, insignificant.

Coal to oil plants are highly profitable at present oil prices, but the trouble is that the obstacles to conventional oil production are political.  People fear to invest in coal to oil plants, for an improvement in the security of property rights in oil rich countries could cause a huge drop in the price of oil.  But with the steadily rising tide of hostility to capitalism, and the increasing propensity to murder people with property, this seems unlikely to me.

World wide drop in support for free market system

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

Pollsters report a world wide drop in support for the free market system.

This was apparent in the US presidential party primary, where the most anticapitalist candidate of each party won or appears to be winning his party’s nomination.  Recently in Nepal, Maoists won democratically, an almost unprecedented event for communists.

I have no idea what is causing this problem.  Perhaps the problem is that with the collapse of communism, the constant reminder of how dreadful the alternative to capitalism is has gone away.

The Iraq war from inside

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Here is a blog by an American officer that tells us the Iraq war from inside.

The war cannot easily be summarized. If it could be, he would summarize it for us. But we are clearly winning, it is clearly costing, Iraq remains all @#$%^&*, and is likely to rapidly become more @#$%^&*, the moment US troops leave. Clearly Iraq is not going to become a Jeffersonian democracy any time soon, but looks increasingly probable it will not be overrun by Islamic radicals the moment US troops leave.

On the one hand, nation building has not been a total failure. On the other hand, it is taking a lot longer, costing a lot more, and producing a lot less than had been promised.

The problem is that after this experience, it is not a credible to threaten that tyrants who attack Americans, or sponsor terrorists who attack Americans, are going to suffer overthrow followed by nation building

voting anti capitalist

Monday, April 14th, 2008

“The Fly Bottle” reports on the relationship between voting patterns and employment.

Observe: Support for the Democrats is high and rising amongst those who derive their wealth from state regulation and state imposed monopoly. Oh what a big surprise

I bet we would see the same support for the Democrats among accountants as amongst doctors and lawyers. And where the state makes it a restricted privilege to do people’s hair, a similar swing amongst hair dressers.

This fits pretty well with the standard Marxist account of people voting their self interest, though I suspect it is more complicated than that. Rather, people whose wealth and power derives from government regulation need to believe that government regulation is wholly good, so come to believe in the Democrats.

The more socialism we have, the more socialism people are apt to vote for.   The Road to Serfdom.

More pussy for Muslims: It’s the law!

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

The state of Texas has just engaged in the mass abduction of wives and children from Christian polygamists because of the alleged bad conduct of one Christian polygamist – though strangely they seem unable to find the person who alleged this bad conduct.

Evidently, although Muslim polygamy is multicultural, Christian polygamy is not.

Scientific Status of Anthropogenic Global Warming

Friday, April 11th, 2008

It is an open question, though with the evidence mounting against a substantial anthropogenic effect.

I often write as if Anthropogenic Global Warming was disproven or obviously false. Global Warming is an open scientific issue, one which more information is needed – and in due course will be forthcoming. The position among real scientists is that Global warming is a conjecture – not a conjecture very likely to be true, but conjecture that could be true.

Over the next decade or so, the truth, or more likely the falsity, of Anthropogenic Global Warming should become more apparent. We have plenty of time to discover the actual situation before taking big dramatic actions. If human are warming the world, it is pretty obvious we are not warming it very fast.

In 2007, there seems to have been a dramatic change in the weather on the sun. The abnormally active sun of the past several decades is most likely changing its ways. If global warming is cosmogenic, the next decade or so is going to get mighty cold.

“Brutally Honest” goes pinko

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

“Brutally Honest” complains that Christianity is immoral because it does not hate capitalism enough – no of course that is not what he complains. He complains Christianity is immoral, because it teaches that God gave us the world, and commanded us to be fruitful and multiply, to take dominion over the world, to fill it and subdue it. He is worried that we are going to run out of oil, and there will be no oil left for our children.

But Christianity, at least the old fashioned kind, has faith in capitalism, and so long as we have capitalism, we shall have fuel for our cars

Old fashioned, unecumenical, not-in-the-slightest-bit-multicultural Christianity commands private property, and prohibits coveting, let alone stealing other people’s stuff. You are allowed to look at your neighbors house and think

“That is a nice house, I should build a house like that.”

But you are forbidden to look at your neighbors house and think

“That is a nice house, he must have some how cheated me and done me wrong to have a house like that, there is some conspiracy of people like him out to get me, he should be punished and I should have his house.”

The stone age did not end for lack of stones. Oil at present costs about a hundred dollars a barrel. Supply is restricted politically. Most oil companies have been nationalized, and are run by Sheiks or the like, who are incapable of getting the hot water connected to the hot water tap, let along maintaining and upgrading oil rigs. Most remaining oil is located in places where if you find oil, build an oil rig and a pipeline, your rig will be nationalized in violation of the agreement that the government signed when you went looking for oil. Paying off the thieves is, as he points out, not working, irrespective of how much oil remains in the ground, and indeed is funding terror.

But we can make oil substitutes from coal for a cost equivalent to thirty five to forty dollars a barrel – possibly a good deal less, if we were to convert our fuel systems to use methanol, and our fuel distribution system to distribute methanol by the tanker instead of by the drum. China is slowly converting to methanol, and expects to be about ten percent methanol in five years or so.

The main thing slowing the conversion is that businessmen fear that high oil prices are temporary, that the prices are the result of political obstacles to oil extraction which will be politically resolved, which would leave expensive investments in coal to liquid plants high and dry.

The major alternatives to oil based fuels are synfuel, which is good for jets and diesels, not so good for ordinary engines, methanol, which is good for ordinary petrol engines (with radically modified carburettors), but only gives you half the mileage, and dimethyl ether, a good substitute for LPG, good in diesels, no good in regular engines. We should be converting. If oil prices stay high, we eventually will be.

How not to fight IslamTerror

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

“Back Talk remarks

Because everyone pretty much accepts the idea that Osama bin Laden is hiding in Pakistan, it might sound sensible to send more troops in that general direction if you don’t think about it too hard. But it isn’t sensible because no matter how many troops we send to Afghanistan, they are not going to invade Pakistan, and that’s where Osama bin Laden is.

So everyone accepts that the guy who brought down the two towers has safe haven. And everyone accepts that Christian polygamy is a crime against women and children, while Muslim polygamy is muticulturalism. And everyone accepts that we pay off terrorists to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

That is not war on terror, or war on the axis of evil. That is acceptance of defeat.

Cooking the data

Monday, April 7th, 2008

Steve’s Climate Audit has found yet another entertaining example of carelessness or dishonesty by the Anthropogenic Global Warming holy Gaia rollers, as he does ever week or so.

I think the underlying mechanism of all these many errors is that the holy Gaia rollers massage the data one way, then they massage it another way, then another, and another, until they come up with a result that is on message, without ever bothering to think about what these various data massages mean.

“Global” means “let us throw any data into the pot that we can find, without regard for accuracy or even relevance, and if we cannot find any data sufficiently global, let us just make it up”, and “analyze” means “let us find obscure statistical excuses for chucking out any data that is off message, while pretending we are still taking account of it rather than rejecting it”.