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The Forum > Article Comments > Net Energy Analysis - what are we using? > Comments

Net Energy Analysis - what are we using? : Comments

By John Barker, published 27/10/2008

We need to fire up the experts to follow the energy trail across the economy to work out where and how much energy is being spent.

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I agree that lifecycle emissions analysis should be the main performance measure. While some people are clearly pleased with themselves driving around in a new Prius they might have done more good keeping a geriatric Datsun 180B on the road or taking the bus. Not so many conspicuous greenie points however. There are so many tradeoffs between agriculture, transport and electrical generation I think it is best to set an upper limit on an emissions time path and let the players fight over it. For example natural gas can be made into urea fertiliser or to drive power turbines with less CO2 than coal. Set a CO2 cap and let the market sort out the priorities. However there are ominous noises suggesting this may not happen without being politically undermined.

If emissions lifecycle comparison becomes the standard approach the next requirement is that it should not be based on fantasies such unproven technology and decimating some industries overnight.
Posted by Taswegian, Monday, 27 October 2008 8:48:34 AM
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Very interesting information. Given my lack of specialized technical knowledge I have to take your conclusions as correct besides which the ultimate (logical, non technical) conclusion is similar to my often stressed point. Our science isn’t yet up to the point of ACURATE prediction.

The flaw that underpins all sciences is the assumption that things happen in isolation or that our area of specialization is able to determine/measure all the inputs. Logically it isn’t so much of what we know that ‘bites’ us but what we don’t know.

Clearly this is amplified in those ‘sciences’ that rely on aggregation and ‘judgement’ particularly when it comes to human behaviours it that the further you refine from the generalized abstract the less accurate and applicable. They become a bit like trying to herd feral cats with a buggy whip. Good luck! And there is no way that it’s going to end well.

Notwithstanding that you article raises important issues all of which flow from the over riding point that no current method is absolute:
• Because of the inaccuracies should we then say “She’ll be right” and continue unabated…business as usual?
• Or as I suggest take the trend and assume the logical that
1. The earth is a limited environment/resource.
2. Implement harm minimization strategies.
3. Conserve resources.
4. Continually refine our lifestyles from the individual to global levels including Methods of wealth generation.
5. Continually work towards predictability.

Until we have the definitive answers our actions can only be matters of prudence and balanced judgement influenced by these inherently incomplete and improving theories. History shows that criticism with out a positive purpose tends to like ideological war always ends the same….Badly for all
Posted by examinator, Monday, 27 October 2008 9:50:10 AM
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Keep repeating anything long enough and people will believe it. The ‘wide acceptance’ of the carbon-burning theory could very well be one of those things.

Scientists ‘know’ about these things we are told. We should listen to them. But when well qualified scientists dissent from this easy, populous theory of man-made climate change, we are NOT to listen to THEM for some reason.

Given the divergence of opinion between groups of equally qualified scientists, the arguments usually boil down to two things: the dissenters are wrong (even if it’s just because their opinions don’t suit the media, and they don’t get much coverage) or ‘most’ scientists agree with the man-made theory. Perhaps it’s just a majority rules thing.

On the other hand, if scientists are supposed to know about such things, it would seem to be wrong not to listen to the qualified scientists who dissent from the theory of carbon, man-made climate change.

Perhaps the solution to the dilemma lies in ignoring all scientists. After all, none of them have experienced climate change of the magnitude we are seeing now. They are starting from scratch.

Australia’s biggest problem is water/drought, particularly in the Murray Basin. There is no evidence that CO2 has anything to do with it, according to Stewart Franks, hydro climatologist at the University Of Newcastle School Of Engineering. We are still suffering from the El Nino/La Nina phenomenon which has been around long before climate change and the CO2 theory.

It is rather premature to get excited over ‘alternative’ energy sources - most of which are not capable of being taken seriously yet – and handing out money to vested interests while we are in peril of running out of water.

We should be adapting to climate change, not pondering on more unproven theories
Posted by Mr. Right, Monday, 27 October 2008 10:48:58 AM
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Another aspect of net energy analysis is whether it is actually better to just let the net energy output increase or strive to reduce it.

In other words; should the rampant and still rapidly increasing burning of fossil fuels continue unabated or should we make profound efforts to reduce it?

Is this a silly question? Not at all.

How do we know that the latter would be at all better than the former?

If we just burn the bloody stuff with gay abandon until it is essentially exhausted, thus creating a huge but short-lived atmospheric CO2 peak, we may very likely have a much lesser impact than if we manage to slow the rate of CO2 emissions down somewhat and continue pouring it into the atmosphere over a longer timeframe.

Do we really think that we’ve got a snowflakes chance in hell of reducing the burning of fossil fuels down to a level that allows CO2 emissions to stabilise, let alone drop considerably? No way mate! Not within the timeframe that is necessary to prevent major climate change.

Could it be that the best environmental strategy with climate change is to just give up and let business as usual run its course?

Should we be putting all our energies into adapting to it rather than trying to prevent it or reduce its impact?
Posted by Ludwig, Monday, 27 October 2008 1:50:05 PM
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Interesting Ludwig,
There have been suggestions that rather than spend considerable lots
of money trying to stop global warming it would be a lot cheaper to
just mitigate the effects as they occur.

I don't think anyone could put a dollar figure on that, but it might
be possible to put a ratio onto it.

If it turns out that the Chinas and Indias of this world do not apply
the suggested emission controls then really mitigation is the only
path available. Of course the peaking of oil & coal may make the
whole debate redundant.
Posted by Bazz, Monday, 27 October 2008 2:31:45 PM
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there is a real problem [a problem of belief]

all science ISNT in agreement [most scientists ARNt studying the co2 problem ,thus wouldnt DARE to speculate for or against] this use of most is a buzz word.
5 years ago it was global WARMING warnings[then when the past 5 years numbers reveal COOLING so the buzz new word becomes climate CHANGE ,

at least if 'most' agree define if they agree

its getting WARMER or COOLER [you that want a NEW global TAX must get this most that agrees to reveal what they are agreeing to]

so now we get to where the earth is passing through a cycle [noting the sun pours more energy INTO the earth in one day that all the fossil fuels do in a year [huh?]

How come usa [the global warming DENIER passed the carbon tax in its recent bail out legislation !

[thats right usa ALLREADY passed the carbon tax [big buisness future cash cow]

look at europe [it has had the tax for years now]
it hasnt worked

[the buisness 'carbon reductions ' are because buisness was CLEVER enough to over state their carbon OUTPUT in applying for carbon-credits
[thus cleaned up big time by SELLING their over generous allocation [gift] of carbon credit on the market ,while getting the peoples carbon credit to build bigger buisness
[the carbon tax acts like a huge EXTRA tax on the con-sumers]

so we move the bases again [over 100 of our biggest POLUTERS get exemptions ,HUH?]

the lie of peak oil is farcicle ,[russia and indonesia just found huge reserves [and it seems the oil wells are refilling [empty is a relitive term]

but i see the sheeple keen to join the green [sold out left] who now are selling us out by self intrest for buisness intrest[just as the real poluters arnt poluting co2

its all a new tax [that will have its price set by the market forces]
its treasonous and clearly special intrests are being not only served but serviced
Posted by one under god, Monday, 27 October 2008 8:38:00 PM
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