Oct 272011
 

The most powerful energy source affecting this planet is the sun. Energy from the sun arrives on earth in the form of heat and light. Ultimately the plants and animals that populate this planet absorb this energy in some form or another. Since the first creatures crawled out of the primordial soup they have been consuming the suns energy, some more efficiently than others, which is why they evolved at different rates and into countless forms.

In prehistoric times the planet was sparsely populated. The majority of the plants and animals had evolved into giants in comparison to the creatures that populate or world today. It stands to reason that such huge creatures had huge appetites in order to consume enough resources to provide the energy they needed to function and continue to evolve.

It is generally accepted that these magnificent beasts died out during the ice-age, which may have been caused by an asteroid strike, volcanic eruptions or normal climatic change. Whatever the cause, the result was the same. Energy from the sun was unable to penetrate the atmosphere and the giants it supported were unable to survive without it. The only creatures that did were the tiny ones with meagre resource requirements.

Fast forward to modern times and we find our planet heavily populated, not with giants but millions of smaller species, which have all evolved from the small creatures that survived the ice-age. One of these is known as “Mankind”. Like the giant dinosaurs before us, we still consume energy to maintain our relatively tiny bodies, we just take smaller bites.

With the onset of global warming the earth is absorbing more and more energy from the sun. This energy has to go somewhere and without the giants of prehistoric time the small creatures that remain are the only things that can absorb this extra energy the sun is providing. This process of absorption is manifesting among mankind as an obesity crisis.

If energy absorption by the planet was increasing you would expect all creatures, including mankind, to expand proportionately. However, we don’t all absorb energy at the same rate, just like the dinosaurs, some of use naturally evolve faster than others and fuel this evolution by storing more additional energy as and when it’s available.

Therefore….

I’m not fat, I’m evolving. If you’re not, you’re a dinosaur.

Oct 172011
 

Let me start by stating, “I like wind farms”. This is just as well because we have one of the largest being constructed just offshore and you can’t get in or out of the area I live without passing numerous hillsides littered with wind generators. Nevertheless, I like them. I think they look good, tumbling over the landscape like cart-wheeling giants. Renewable energy is a goal well worth striving for and I accept we aren’t going to get there quickly or get it right first time. There will be lessons to be learnt on the way.

I’ve heard the so-called “facts” that building wind farms generates more greenhouse emissions than can ever be recouped by renewable energy. It will be the most expensive energy we’ve ever generated and the country will be littered with new pylons connecting them all to the national grid. Whether all this is true or not, I don’t know. Time will tell I suppose, but I’m certainly not anti-wind farm.

But…. (you could tell there was going to be a ‘but’ couldn’t you.)

I don’t understand why we seem to have put so much investment into wind power. We have no control over the wind, it blows when it wants to. We need to generate energy to meet demand. What’s the point of generating when the wind blows if we don’t need it and what happens when we all put the kettle on and the wind isn’t blowing.  Wind Power, Solar Power, Wave Power, all share the same problem, they only perform intermittently and unpredictably.

We live on an island surrounded by sea. Twice a day, every day, the tide comes in and then goes out again. It’s predictable. You can even buy a little book of tables which tell you when the next tide is due and how high it’s going to be. Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t prevent it happening and it goes without saying that a tide is a powerful force. Why then, aren’t we investing in tidal power as our primary source of renewable energy?

With the money being spent on our giant wind farm off Walney we could have constructed a barrage across Morecambe Bay which would not only generate energy from every incoming and outgoing tide, it would do amazing things for the local economy by improving transport links and also save the huge amounts of energy currently expended in getting goods and people in and out of the Furness peninsula every day.

Conservationists say it would destroy important natural habitats. Why? The tide will still come and go, albeit in a more controlled manner. The habitat would not disappear, it may change, and it may even change to become an even more important habitat. I appreciate the need to protect the environment, it’s all part of the renewable energy argument too. To not do something for the same reason as wanting to do it, means we end up doing nothing at all. Doing nothing is no longer an option.

I’m sure there are many other areas of our coastline that could benefit economically from being straightened out a bit and in the meantime contribute to our energy needs.  I think this is where we should be concentrating our investment, even if I do like wind farms.