Soup posted a map this morning of the land area necessary to power the world with solar panels. If there were collectors on some small-looking percentage of the Earth’s land mass, it would be enough. Some researchers have calculated world roof-top area, and it’s close to the right number.
I was looking through the responses and noticed that someone reblogged and asked why we weren’t doing this. It is a good question.
I am an energy scientist—more specifically I am an electrochemist, which means I study the conversion from electricity to mass. This is what happens in batteries, fuel cells, solar cells, etc.
World energy use (2001 numbers) is 13.2 TW. TW = tera-watt, and means a trillion watts. (The USA was 3.2 TW of that, or about 25%.)
These are watts just like in a light bulb. A watt is a measure of energy required per time. So if you need more electricity faster, then the watts go up.
Here are the numbers for energy you can get out of many common renewable energy sources:
Hydro-electric: 1.5 TW (how many rivers are there?)
Geo-thermal: 11 TW (hard to get the energy though)
Wind: 2-4 TW (where is it windy enough?)
Biomass: ~5 TW (water and land will limit)
Solar: 120,000 TW
So that shows why solar power has such potential. Massive amounts of sunlight hit the Earth every day, the sun is free, the sun is plentiful, and the sun will not go out (soon anyway).
i.e. There is a shitload of sun.
Plants are geniuses, and photosynthesis makes about 90 TW all the time. They do it all by themselves. How can we do that?
So, why do we not do that already? Here is how much it costs to make energy in several different ways (2002 numbers):
Coal: 1-4 cents per kW-hr
That’s why. Production, operation, and maintenance of solar cells needs to become about ten times cheaper. This will happen both by research for new designs, and by experience gained operating the solar cell systems we already use.
If you wonder why we still use coal, and why solar is still only something for people to put on their roofs, those cents-per-kW-hr numbers are why. If someone asked you to pay for 100,000 kW-hr (for example), you would use coal, too.
“Of course they say that! Of course they talk about welfare mothers and drug addicts and lazy people, because how could you SLEEP at night knowing that there’s a family of four who is struggling to put dinner on the table because their father, a miner, got cancer and is bankrupt from the medical bills. How could you SLEEP at night thinking of those children?”—
Truly, the legacy of Ronald Reagan – dehumanizing those in need so thoroughly that we are able strip away their basic human rights without the crushing moral weight of knowing that we have chosen to let innocent men and women die. Ingenious though, as it plays on Americans’ greatest hopes and fears - the hope that they’ll one day be wealthy enough to benefit from policies such as a flat tax, corporate welfare, estate tax, private schools, private healthcare… and the fear that that creates these archetypes – the “welfare queens” and drug addicts that they could never become, that no matter how bad things get, their mothers, their sisters, their friends, themselves, they will never end up like that.
But no one wakes up one morning as a drug fiend, shifting hopelessly through the streets in tattered rags and matted hair. Those drug addicts we’re all so quick to dismiss as “not like us” were exactly like us. At some point the people close to them looked on with denial - this was their son, friend, student, father – this was a human being, not one of those demons… until one day when he/she wasn’t anymore, when they no longer resembled a person but instead a thing that we can watch die in front of us and are still able sleep at night.
“Dude, if you look like a Parisian clown when you leave the house each day, I’m not sure you’re right for the job when it comes to passing judgement on how the rest of society looks, specifically women.”—Morning Glass
I know there’s plane flights, and hotels, and probably some document costs, but I’d actually like to see the line by line costs for a $400,000 story. Not to churlish, and it’s a pretty good, one, but I think that number was dropped either to prove old media can still do it (which is actually a lie, since old, for-profit media didn’t do it), or to prove that old media needs to protect it’s resources. This was a hard to write and research story for sure, but when people traditionally write blockbusters like this, they do with some risk assessment that there’s a big payday on the back end (book deal! movie deal!). So my questions are:
1. This was sponsored by a company that solicits donations to pay reporters. Why does the Times get an embargo? Did they pay for rights, and if so, how much? Because if the Times pays $50K (or more) for a blockbuster cover story, I would hazard that might incent some writers to do something beside fuck a coworker and start a blog in hopes of landing that deal (though, really, maybe not, since you have to admit that upfront costs of that model are pretty low).
2. Does the writer retain book and film rights, or is ProPublica getting a cut?
Because even with all the hand-wringing, you have do admit once you get past all the nepotism and social climbing to get a Times job, you have to admit it’s a pretty sweet deal — an editor is willing to write a $400K check to write a story that has six figure book/movie deal written all over it? I’d take that in a trice*.
*That is your old school ref of the day. No money, but big ups to anyone who knows that source.
“It was Sen. Grassley himself who rammed the GOP’s most astonishing pro-death policy through the Senate in 2001. The estate-tax revision he championed reduces the estate tax to zero next year. But when the law expires at year’s end, the tax will jump back up to its previous level of 55 percent. Grassley’s exploding offer has an entirely foreseen if unintended consequence: It’s going to encourage those whose parents and grandparents are worth anything more than a million bucks to get them dead by midnight on Dec. 31, 2010. This would be a great plot for a P.D. James novel if it weren’t an actual piece of legislation.”—It’s Republicans, not Democrats, who are trying to kill the elderly. - By Jacob Weisberg - Slate Magazine (via indefensible)
“In every aspect of your business (and personal life) try to allow others to build their success around your own success. If you run a hotel, what can you do to permit others—airlines, luggage retailers, tour guides—to be part of your network? Rather than viewing their dependency on your success as a form of parasitism, or worse, as a rip-off, understand this tight coupling as sustenance. You want to entice others to create services centered around the customer attention you have won, or to supply add-ons to your product, or even, if it is a new-fangled idea, to create legal imitations.”—
One of the reasons Old Media will go away is precisely because they do NOT view working with the people that create the material as part of “their” success; they view creatives with contempt and distain and they resent spending THEIR budget on these “necessary evils”. It isn’t always like this and didn’t used to be like this at all, but there is a large amount of Old Media executives that feel like every check they write is money out of their pocket instead of seeing a budget as something they may use to hire and pay the best they can find.
Brandon and I pay half that for a two bedroom townhouse with close to 1,800 feet of living space, a full washer/dryer and a backyard. I am 30 minutes from DC by train, less than that by car and only 25 minutes from Baltimore.
I guess it depends what you want out of life. Do you want a yard, lots of closets, a large-screen high-def TV, and the treasures of Baltimore and DC less than an hour’s drive away when you get bored? Or do you want 375 restaurants, bars, and galleries filled with the most fascinating people on earth and the entire social/intellectual/artistic/professional landscape of NYC at your doorstep? Do you want to live where a new coffee shop gets everyone excited, or in a center of change where the future is being reinvented? Do you want to live in a place that’s only of interest to the people who live there, or in a city the whole world is watching? New York is for people who want to play on a big stage, and for those of us who care about that, there’s nowhere else and you could mark up my living costs tenfold with no complaints from me (like, what else is the money for?). If that doesn’t concern you, I agree you’re better off saving your money.
Well said, although it could have used a less arrogant tone.
1. Julia is stupid and likely has superficial reasons for living where she lives and paying so much, but i admit new york is an expensive town. Expensive because of what you are exposed to, and reasons explained above.
2. If you wanted to live in NY you could easily live in the suburbs and find an affordable place to commute from.
3. For some people, NY wont carry the same kind of value as a nice quite city where you can actually have a home, and live a comfortable life. Doesnt make one place better or worse, just different.
My god, how many assholes do i know that live in new york, have no job, and just go from meaningless party to meaningless party so they can rub elbows with “important” people. Its complete bullshit. Yes new york is an important place in the world, but how many of these people that live here are actually playing a role in it? How many of these people have the financial means to eat at all the great restaurants? How many are not hungover and have the desire to see all the great art in the city? its like talking about the VIP section of a club that you’ve never been in, only stood in line at.
Nudawn nails it.
I can enjoy all that the city has to offer and actually own my apartment in Hoboken for the same price Julia pays to rent in one of the worst neighborhoods in Manhattan. Meanwhile it’s easier for me to get to most parts of Manhattan despite being on the other side of the Hudson and get there in less time than the people who actually live in it.