For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Home is Where the Central Cardio-pulmonary Organ Is, and see what else has been going on.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth Hour in context

So this evening, we're being told to turn our lights and electrical devices off at 8pm for an hour (though at this writing, Earth Hour has already passed in some parts of the world).

Earth Hour, we're told, is supposed to help reduce our energy consumption and cost. It's supposed to help reduce CO2 emissions. The Earth Hour website tells us

Join people all around the world in showing that you care about our planet and want to play a part in helping to fight climate change. Don’t forget to sign up and let us know you want to join Earth Hour.
The implication, of course, is that if you *don't* turn off your lights, you don't care about the planet.

Problem is, it's hogwash and poppycock. The reality is, turning off our lights for an hour - or even a day - will accomplish nothing. The amount of energy that would be "saved" is so low, it's statistically insignificant, with a very real possibility of overloading power grids at the end of the house, when so many people turn their lights back on. Then there's the suggestion to use candles instead. How silly is that? Let's burn candles (most of which are made of petroleum products in the first place) or lamps, with the smoke and fire risks, instead of using clean, safe light bulbs? Hopefully, folks with small children in the home will exercise stronger supervision! In essence, Earth Hour is nothing more than a feel-good measure.

Worse, the promotion is instilling a backlash. Just a few links.

Boycott Earth Hour - a blog post with several links worth following.
Unearthed Hour
Earth Hour - turn your lights on at 8pm

Even Google's use of a black background today is being panned.


Speaking of Google, a search with the term earth-hour is bullshit gets you more than 6000 links.

Then there's this article

March 30 Earth Hour Should Be Renamed 'Dark Hour - A Sign of the Times'

The Queensland, Australia-based Carbon Sense Coalition today came out in support of "lights out" during Earth Hour (Saturday, March 30), but recommended the time should be renamed "Dark Hour" and suggested consumers also should forgo the consumption of gasoline and diesel during this period.

Viv Forbes, chairman of the Carbon Sense Coalition, said consumers should spend the hour they sit in the dark--with no transportation, no heating or air conditioning, no television, radio, or Internet, and no coffee or cold drinks--remembering the contribution that carbon fuels have made to modern society.

"And while contemplating this hour of darkness, they should steel themselves for the hour when, if the global warming alarmists have their way, this will become a necessity not a nicety," Forbes said.

Forbes continued, "The only thing that lifted mankind from the Stone Age was carbon energy from coal, oil, and gas--for heating; for steam power; for electricity and water; for mining, smelting, and refining of metals; for transport on land, sea, and air; for lighting, heating, cooling, and communications; for production of food and chemicals; and for power for processing and manufacturing."

He added, "All of this comfort, safety, convenience, and prosperity are now threatened by hysterical claims that man's carbon emissions can and should be stopped. Even though the weather records and the science deny the doomsday forecasts, the politicians, like lemmings, are leading us over the Greenhouse Cliff."

The Carbon Sense Coalition is a voluntary group of individuals concerned about how carbon is incorrectly portrayed in Western societies, particularly in government, the media, and in business circles.

For more information, contact Viv Forbes, chairman, Carbon Sense Coalition,, or visit the group's Web site at

The Carbon Sense Coalition was a cosponsor of the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, which attracted more than 500 scientists, economists, and policy analysts to New York City March 2-4, 2008. For more information and audio from the conference, visit

Reading the comments at many of these sites is also enlightening. These are fairly typical.

I guess I'll run my washing machine, drier, big TV etc at that hour to make up for all the loons on my block. Sorry to be blunt, but I hate these f***ing c*** suckers!!

This “Earth Hour” sham has nothing to do with saving the planet. Rather it is a disgusting “feel good” example of the absolute hypocrisy of a percentage of the world’s wealthy - and if you live in Australia you are enormously wealthy on a world scale. While billions in countries around the world sit in darkness every night, drinking filthy water, dying of malaria, AIDS, without electricity, dental or even basic health care, the trendy few turn off their lights for an hour and walk around congratulating themselves on “We’re doing our bit”!

Blind hypocrits! People in developing countries are needlessly dying every day and we will all be dead from natural causes long before global warming (if real)has any significant impact. If you want to make a difference stop navel gazing and do something for your fellow man NOW!

I'll turn on all the lights, do the laundry, and go on a meaningless one hour drive ;-)

So what are we doing for Earth Hour?

Nothing different. We already make it a practice to turn off lights that aren't needed. These days, we don't even have the heat on at all and have already been needing to open windows to cool down the apartment (summer's going to suck again!) because it gets too warm. I'm planning to do some photography while I'm out this evening, so I'll probably be on one of our two computers, uploading pictures and checking them out with the family.

And I won't be feeling the least bit guilty about it, either.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Link dump

A few articles of interest, with credit to Tom Nelson's blog for most of them.

Argo's cool reception - editorial from the Washington Times

Letters from Sixth Grade Students reveal Global Warming Indoctrination - American Chronicle
Source with the actual letters (names covered for privacy, of course) at Heartland
related - Are you smarter than a 6th grader indoctrinated into the Church of Global Warming? - American blogger addresses the issues brought up in the letters.

Challenging ABC News' Attack on Climate Scientist, Fred Singer - SunHerald

Vast Antarctic Ice Shelf on the Verge of Collapse - msnbc article blaming the collapse on global warming.

more info:

Global warming cleared on ice shelf collapse - The Register
Surprise! There's an active volcano under Antarctic ice - Watt's Up with That
Antarctic Temperature Trend 1982-2004 - Earth Observatory, NASA (note the temperatures fluctuations range from -0.2 to +0.2 C per year)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Thinking about Argo

There's been quite a stir over the data collected from the Argo buoy system. You can visit the Argo website here. My inner geek is loving these buoys! A fascinating and valuable project.

Unfortunately - at least to those who believe the alarmist view - the data collected doesn't match AGW theory, and counters what the models predicted. Nothing unusual about such contradictions in science under normal circumstances, but when it comes to AGW and catastrophic climate change theories, science is often sacrificed on the alter of alarmism. I found this opinion piece from the National Post an interesting take on the situation.

Perhaps the Climate Change Models are Wrong
(note: it's a 2 page piece)

When they were first deployed in 2003, the Argos were hailed for their ability to collect information on ocean conditions more precisely, at more places and greater depths and in more conditions than ever before. No longer would scientists have to rely on measurements mostly at the surface from older scientific buoys or inconsistent shipboard monitors.

So why are some scientists now beginning to question the buoys' findings? Because in five years, the little blighters have failed to detect any global warming. They are not reinforcing the scientific orthodoxy of the day, namely that man is causing the planet to warm dangerously. They are not proving the predetermined conclusions of their human masters. Therefore they, and not their masters' hypotheses, must be wrong.

In fact, "there has been a very slight cooling," according to a U.S. National Public Radio (NPR) interview with Josh Willis at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a scientist who keeps close watch on the Argo findings.

Dr. Willis insisted the temperature drop was "not anything really significant." And I trust he's right. But can anyone imagine NASA or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- the UN's climate experts -- shrugging off even a "very slight" warming.

A slight drop in the oceans' temperature over a period of five or six years probably is insignificant, just as a warming over such a short period would be. Yet if there had been a rise of any kind, even of the same slightness, rest assured this would be broadcast far and wide as yet another log on the global warming fire.

Just look how tenaciously some scientists are prepared to cling to the climate change dogma. "It may be that we are in a period of less rapid warming," Dr. Willis told NPR.

Yeah, you know, like when you put your car into reverse you are causing it to enter a period of less rapid forward motion. Or when I gain a few pounds I am in a period of less rapid weight loss.

See the whole thing here.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Monday, March 10, 2008

More on solar panels

Solar Energy Firms Leave Waste Behind in China


In China, a country buckling with the breakneck pace of its industrial growth, such stories of environmental pollution are not uncommon. But the Luoyang Zhonggui High-Technology Co., here in the central plains of Henan Province near the Yellow River, stands out for one reason: It's a green energy company, producing polysilicon destined for solar energy panels sold around the world. But the byproduct of polysilicon production -- silicon tetrachloride -- is a highly toxic substance that poses environmental hazards.

"The land where you dump or bury it will be infertile. No grass or trees will grow in the place. . . . It is like dynamite -- it is poisonous, it is polluting. Human beings can never touch it," said Ren Bingyan, a professor at the School of Material Sciences at Hebei Industrial University.

This next part bring up questions for me...

Made from the Earth's most abundant substance -- sand -- polysilicon is tricky to manufacture. It requires huge amounts of energy, and even a small misstep in the production can introduce impurities and ruin an entire batch. The other main challenge is dealing with the waste. For each ton of polysilicon produced, the process generates at least four tons of silicon tetrachloride liquid waste.

When exposed to humid air, silicon tetrachloride transforms into acids and poisonous hydrogen chloride gas, which can make people who breathe the air dizzy and can make their chests contract.

While I've long known that the manufacture of solar panels is far from being environmentally neutral or safe, and required tremendous energy in production, I haven't known a great deal about the details involved. The paragraphs above apply to solar panel manufacturing in general. I hadn't realized is was quite so dangerous. Even with other manufacturing in other countries that recycle and otherwise treat the waste to render it safe, the process itself seems to be quite dangerous.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A word on solar panels

If you're thinking of solar panels as a way to reduce CO2 emissions, you may need to think again. Especially if you live in a northern climate like, say, Canada.

courtesy of Tom Nelson

The ugly side of solar panels.

Solar panels don’t come falling out of the sky – they have to be manufactured. Similar to computer chips, this is a dirty and energy-intensive process. First, raw materials have to be mined: quartz sand for silicon cells, metal ore for thin film cells. Next, these materials have to be treated, following different steps (in the case of silicon cells these are purification, crystallization and wafering). Finally, these upgraded materials have to be manufactured into solar cells, and assembled into modules. All these processes produce air pollution and heavy metal emissions, and they consume energy - which brings about more air pollution, heavy metal emissions and also greenhouse gases.

For myself, my concern with solar panels has been more with how they're made and what they're made of. My big surprise in reading this was the efficiency of solar panels. I hadn't realized it was so poor.

The researchers investigated 4 types of solar cells: multi-crystalline silicon (with an efficiency of 13%), mono-crystalline silicon (14%), ribbon silicon (11.5%), and thin-film cadmium telluride (9%).
Only 9-14% efficiency??? Yikes!

In the best case scenario, one square meter of solar cells carries a burden of 7,527 kilograms of CO2. In the worst case scenario, that becomes 31,416 kilograms of CO2. An average household needs at least 8 square meters of solar panels for electricity generation alone (make that 10 in the US), which boils down to a global warming debt of a whopping 60,000 to 940,000 kilograms of CO2. These numbers equate to 12 to 188 intercontinental flights.

If you've gone to the link and read the article, you'll note that the report is based on a 30 year life expectancy in a Mediterranean climate. It's a different story if you live elsewhere, and the life expectancy is a supposition - there are many reasons for life expectancy to differ, ranging from inability to withstand a harsher climate, to accidents, to simply wanting to upgrade to better panels as technology improves.

In conclusion...

All this does not mean that PV solar energy should not be promoted. ... But some facts have to be faced. First, solar cells are far from a zero emission technology. Two: solar panels can be a doubtful choice in less sunny regions. Three: solar panels mounted on gadgets are completely insane. Four: solar cells should be recycled. Five: some law or incentive should be introduced to guarantee a life expectancy of 30 years. And if possible, solar thermal power should have priority over solar PV power.

It should be realized that solar panels first raise the amount of greenhouse gases before they help lowering them. If the world would embark on a giant deployment of solar energy, the first result would be massive amounts of extra greenhouse gases, due to the production of the cells.


I did not do the calculations for air pollution and heavy metals, but since these are mainly produced by energy use for production, the conclusions must be similar.

© Kris De Decker (edited by Vincent Grosjean)

See the whole thing here.