Tag Archives: energy

On the Beach

31 Jan

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There is no clean coal America…That’s like saying that my shithole has clean shit in it. Coal is not clean. According to the U.S. Energy Department, more than 83 percent of all major air pollutants including sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, mercury and dangerous soot particles from power plants are from coal, even though coal makes up only 43 percent of the power generation.

Power plants are the No. 1 source of those pollutants and coal produces nearly twice as much heat-trapping carbon dioxide per energy created as natural gas. In 2011, coal burning emitted more than 6 million tons of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides versus 430,000 tons from other energy sources combined. That’s over 14 times the amount!

Does one actually think that we have taken old coal and now clean it with a scrub brush to make it clean coal and then when we burn it it doesn’t make soot any more? Memo to self: Could be?

In any event the Polar Ice caps are melting at an alarming rate and as the land ice in Antarctica melts the sea rises…and when the land ice in Greenland melts the sea rises…not just in Antarctica but all over the world. Water has a way of flowing all over our planet like that. I guess it’s like, smart, huh?

So enjoy the beach while you can. If you are old like me then you shouldn’t have any trouble doing just that during the rest of your lifetime but if you have grand children then take them to the nearest beach today and tomorrow etc…because it won’t be there when they grow to be your age. It will be some other where.

And where those beaches will be, well, your guess is as good as mine… but at least we now have good ole wonderful clean coal to burn and burn and burn like…

there’s no tomorrow.

Can You OD on Energy?

14 Sep

There’s a new drug on the market…and it’s as old as coffee. That’s because the new drug is caffeine!

It seems that there are a whole slew of new products on the market that promote energy and sustained physical and/or mental activity and they all feature caffeine as a key ingredient. But these new products are apparently leading Americans to an alarming public health development: a rash of thousands of overdoses and reports of addiction and withdrawal…and sometimes even deaths…related to caffeine!

In the United States, 85 percent of people are estimated to consume caffeine at least once a day. This number includes children under age 18 who mostly get their caffeine in sodas. Even preschoolers are ingesting it, with the likely culprit being chocolate milk but in recent years, hospitals have reported an uptick in cases of caffeine overdose in emergency rooms and nearly two-thirds were in children 18 and younger.

The most dangerous problems appear to come when people use the pure powdered caffeine that is now being sold. Just add it to any drink and you’ve got instant energy. The trouble is that the difference between a safe amount and a toxic dose of caffeine in its pure powdered form, is very small and a safe amount can be almost impossible to measure accurately.

But remember when you were a young rambunctious child and your parents tried to wear you out during the day so you and the rest of your family could get some sleep in the evening? The big question for me is, why are kids taking caffeine anyway? A cup of coffee or a can of soda is one thing but powdered caffeine??? What for?  And It’s gotten so bad that, would you believe, “caffeine withdrawal”, is now a bona fide mental health disorder!

So parents beware! It’s great for you and your children to feel energetic and to always be ready for that brand new day but as in all things American these days it seems that it is always possible to have too much of a good thing no matter the thing and no matter how good it already is…including energy!

Best to just stick to finding your energy in natural places and in natural forms and foods…and if you can’t find your get up and go…just get up and go take a nap.

Signing Bonus?

30 Jul

I was driving down the New Jersey turnpike today as I have done quite often over the past 40 years and I am constantly amazed by the incredible array of power plants, smoke stacks, oil tanks, refineries, generating stations, fire belching exhaust stacks and the miles of conduit pipes that seem to connect them all.

It’s the stretch of the Turnpike that most New Jersey-ans like to call “cancer alley” most probably because it smells like and looks like what could be the Devil’s workshop if the Devil indeed had one! And on this day it looked just like it had on any other day of driving through this hellish landscape… except for one small difference.

And that was a giant new sign on one of the largest power plants that read: ” Energy Efficient and Environmentally Advanced”

And I thought to myself, Really? What’s new and different? Have changes been made? Is our country moving in the right direction and are our energy systems finally becoming more efficient and advanced? And if so why does everything still look, smell and belch exactly as it always had before?

So I did a little research and discovered that a new study of the world’s largest economies has ranked the energy efficiency, policy and programs of each, and Germany is ranked #1 with the United States ranked at lucky #13…but worse than that, China is ranked #4 and India #11! We’re behind India and China!

And those are the 2 countries that are always mentioned by U.S. politicians whenever they attempt to explain why America can’t and shouldn’t join in the fight against global warming and climate change…because India and China, the 2 most populous countries are ruining the planet with their energy inefficiency so why should we bother…but we’re doing worse than they are!

Anyway, it turns out that that power plant on the turnpike with the big sign is one of the top polluters in the state of New Jersey. And our Governor recently pulled our state out of a multistate initiative known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change.

Those in favor of the program see it as a model on how the nation can curb pollution from power plants that increase global warming. But Critics, like our Governor say that such efforts are ineffective and just another tax on utilities.

So, I guess it’s much more environmentally advanced and efficient to just get a big sign and put that on top of the power plants instead

…yep, that oughta do it…a nice, big, fat sign!

Circuit du Soleil?

11 Nov

Usually on the day after every great storm there follows sunshine…bright beautiful sunshine! Wouldn’t it be nice if we could use that sunshine to power our homes? I recently read a book about how much energy the world’s population is consuming on a daily basis and about how our energy consumption is growing exponentially in an effort to power all of the new electrical gadgets that we have all come to know, purchase and love. And our need for energy is growing so rapidly and so voraciously that it is even silly for us to think that we are ever going to reduce our energy needs or replace them with alternate energies.

In fact the reality of our greedy consumption is that in the future we are going to need not just all of the fossil fuels that we have left on the planet but new alternate energies like wind and solar and water and even nuclear, in addition to those fossil fuels, just to keep up…if we can keep up. It’s a moot point! We are going to be drilling and digging and fracking and mining and ripping this world apart until there is nothing left. that’s what we do. Humans never, in the history of humans on the planet, downsize. Let’s face it. Humans never go without, unless it’s gone.

A few months ago my son and I were walking down an old railroad right of way in Edison, NJ when we happened upon a PSE&G power plant that was surrounded by large solar panels for as far as the eye could see (maybe I exaggerate but it was a pretty big solar field. We even have names for them now) and I thought, Hmmmmmmm what does the power company know that we don’t?

What I think it is, is that solar panels work pretty darn well these days… but unfortunately I think the trick will be in how we can charge people for using the sun and make it into a big business? After all up until now (hopefully into the future also) sunshine has been free and available to all on a simply, just go outside, basis! It is truly the one and only completely democratic energy source in the world! Sunshine knows no greed.

Maybe we could privatize living! Free the people of Earth by giving them dominion over their own homes allowing them to hoist solar panels onto every inch of their roofs until each home is it’s own energy powering station wired into their own power grid and free from the tyranny of power companies. We the people could lay off the power companies! Wouldn’t that be cool? People laying off companies because it would make business sense?! And we’d have 8 billion more years of fuel (Until the sun burns out…sorry, apparently nothing lasts for ever) to waste!

I know, I’m crazy. Too expensive! Never happen! Can’t be done! It’s Beyond the limits of human imagination and ingenuity… like harnessing the power of the atom in a nuclear reactor, or creating remote control flying killer robot drones, or communicating with people on the other side of the world from a small devise held in your palm, or sending people in a tiny vehicle to the moon… and back.

Oh well, what was I thinking? No sense in dreaming such dreams. Maybe someday we’ll be able to smog over the entire world (See China)  so that the sun can only be seen in space. Then we can hoist giant solar panels into space, collect the energy, send it back to Earth and then charge people money for it! Problem solved! I think smogging up the world with good old gas powered generators and coal fired mega-plants is definitely the way to go…only until of course we finally blot out the sun (See China) and can then build sunshine factories in space and sell sunshine by the gallon, or whatever, to whoever has the time to stand on line and the money to pay for it.

“I’ll take a halliburton of sunshine please! And fill up this can while you’re at it too.”

But sunshine knows no greed. It’s a pity that people do. Will we ever learn otherwise? Perhaps if we just put good old human ingenuity and our tenacious spirit into figuring out how to provide solar power cheaply and benevolently to the world we could use the next 8 billion years to work on the greed thing.

Sweet Home Alabama!

10 Nov

     Another 44 hours without power and this time because of snow…and only a few inches…but they say the snow was heavy… as in heavy snow. So that makes 122 hours without power in the last 12 days. I have never experienced anything like this in New Jersey in the US of A in all of my 57 years. Maybe I’m just lucky, or maybe we’re all, country included, getting a little too old. And we sure picked a fine time to show our age: Now in the 21st century when we need power and electricity more than ever! One minute I’m on the computer, accessing the internet, charging my cell phone, watching television, recording another show on the DVR, texting a friend, tweeting on my iPhone while blow drying my hair. The fridge, washing machine, dryer and dishwasher are all happily doing their thing. The yard and driveway are lit up like a CIA compound in a third world country…and then poof! It’s suddenly the 18th century…for 6 days!!!

     Thankfully electricians from Alabama showed up and fixed our wires and got our neighborhood back up and running. Alabama?! I never, in a million years, thought I’d ever be thanking Alabamans for bringing me back into the 21st century!

     And Speaking of the 21st century…under New Jersey’s energy deregulation law, the supply portion of our electric bill is now separated from the delivery portion. However, it appears that thanks to deregulation we now have more energy suppliers in New Jersey than we have energy road crews! I can hear Glen Campbell now, “I am a lineman for the county and… I’m the only lineman left!”

     I googled energy companies in New Jersey and got tired after counting over 60 different suppliers from all over the country. How do they do that you ask? “Oh we just supply your energy but the same company you’ve always had delivers it through the same wires and from the same place!”

“Really?…but who fixes the electricity when the power goes out?”

“Oh it’s the same company that you’ve always had with the same great service!”

So nothing changes and I just have a new supplier and it costs less? That sounds great…and magical too! Everything I’ve always wanted in a power company! Until the power does go off and then we all sit around in the dark waiting for help from Tinkerbell because our “real” power company has been downsizing and laying off workers so that my old reliable lineman is now really in Wichita looking for a job because Kansas hasn’t deregulated yet.

I know it sounds like I’m just bitching and moaning because I lost my electricity in a freakish storm that will probably never happen again (fingers crossed) BUT, I live in a brave, new world where electricity is now more important than ever and we all use more of it than ever and we all need more of it than ever before.

So you’d think that in an advanced civilization and country such as ours that would translate into having more educated electricians and more skilled linemen and more expert and well trained power crews than ever before but sadly when I walk outside my home during a power blackout these days I am more likely to be stopped and accosted by someone who wants to sell me electricity than someone who knows how or wants to fix it!

We 21st century Americans know that the money is in the selling of things not in the fixing of things. Just ask Wall Street and Enron who came up with the idea of energy deregulation in the first place. You remember Enron don’t you?

On power deregulated Long Island they do. They haven’t had electricity for almost 2 weeks.

Yet on that wonderful truck that pulled into my neighborhood one cold clear November day it simply said “Alabama Power”. Sweet home Alabama, lord please don’t let them deregulate heaven!


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