Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Wee Design Flaw

The BrightSource Energy plant, a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert, works on the principal of focusing sunlight on a bunch of towers full of water until the water boils and drives a series of steam powered generators.  Unfortunately, the reflected sunlight also focuses on the areas around the towers, and when flying animals like insects, bats and birds pass through that area, they spontaneously ignite into "streamers", to use the industry jargon.  Possibly as many as two a minute, or 120 an hour, or 2,880 a day, or 1,051,200 per year. So something's gone all fucked up.

And, if anyone has followed the story of this particular plant, they will know that California abused and/or ignored any number of its own enviro laws to get it up and running.

This is something that must be fixed.  The U.S. media coverage, thus far, can be seen hereGreen Power Plat Sends Flaming Avians Falling From Skies!!!  And it will continue, and expand, if for no other reason than interests opposed to renewable energy projects will make sure it does.

That is all.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Clean Coal Does Not Exist

...or at least is a deceptive term, according to the UK Advertising Standards Authority:

The ASA understood that the phrase "clean coal" was the term given to a branch of research and innovation aimed at reducing the environmental impact of using coal, such as filtering out particulates and preventing or neutralising the emission of waste gases. However, we also understood that this technology was not able to prevent CO2 from being emitted during the use of coal, relying instead on carbon capture and storage, and that although emissions such as sulphur dioxide were reduced, they were still produced. We also noted that the line immediately following this claim stated "We call it Advanced Energy for Life. Because clean, modern energy is the solution for better, longer and healthier lives" and considered that consumers were likely to assume that this referred to Peabody Energy's 'solution' of "clean coal". Although we noted that the ad stated "clean coal" technologies would "improve emissions", we considered that this was not sufficient to make clear the nature of this technology, particularly in the context of the word ”clean”. Notwithstanding the fact that "clean coal" had a meaning within the energy sector, we considered that without further information, and particularly when followed by another reference to "clean, modern energy", consumers were likely to interpret the word ”clean” as an absolute claim meaning that "clean coal" processes did not produce CO2 or other emissions. We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.

The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading Advertising), and 11.1, 11.2 and 11.3 (Environmental Claims).

...which is interesting in light of the fact that "clean coal" has not been ruled out as a possible source of green energy here in Ontario.  Although you might argue that while the province might hypothetically approve some form of coal-with-carbon-capture facility, it isn't terribly likely.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Canadian Environment: Who Can Speak?

News of this paper  arrived on my twitter feed last evening, and one of the author's was kind enough to email me the entire thing.  It takes a look at the practical effect of the Candian  government's attempts to narrow who gets to participate in environmental assessments.  The results are profoundly unsurprising:
So, guess who typically benefits these narrowed criteria:
Of course, not everything has gone the government's way:
So there you have it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

On King Horton's

Dear Mr. Horton,

Although I never drink the plonk that mascarades as regular joe at your outlets, and though your specialty donuts are nothing but sub-standard attempts to cash in on whatever aspect of "Canadianness" seems most exploitable at the moment, and though your iced-coffee is a caffeinated abortion,  and though the youth of today refer to your product as "Tim Horkin's" for very good reasons that I will not go into here, and though giving somebody a "flavour shot" is about as appetiszing as it sounds (please note: a blob of caramel dropped into lukewarm coffee in only technically a flavour), and though the plebian dorks that frequent your restaurant engage in conversations that consist entirely of Boy!  Look at all that snow, eh?, and though I know nothing about your new business partner other than that they are not the guys who make the rectangular burgers, I nevertheless wish you well in this new phase of your corporate existance.  May your coffee, in particular, out perform McD's one day.  And to all you folks relocating from Miami, Florida, Oakville is so called for its trees. Next to it is Milton (forming "Oakville-Milton") and it is named after some guy named Milton, who founded it.  Not John Milton, the guy who wrote Paradise Lost.  Just some other guy.  And no more beaches for you; in winter, the women of Oakville-Milton dress like sofas at a funeral home.

I hope you like  it there.