Science in Society Archive

Science in Society #49 - Letters to the Editor

Science in Society 49

Cancun and carbon capture and storage Scam

The trends cited in How the Cancun Conference Failed to Save the Climate (SiS 49) are confirmed in other sources I'm using for a study nearly completed on carbon capture and storage (CCS).

While CCS is promoted as a climate protection measure, it is actually having the contrary effect. Most obvious is that it condones continued coal usage by promising a remedial technology sometime in the dim future, which in actuality can never be retrofitted at most power plant locations for financial and geological reasons, points you have made in your Carbon Capture and Storage A False Solution, SiS 39). Less known is the fact that CCS technologies are being subsidized with EU funding primarilyto perfect CO2 separation technologies, for which there is a great future due to the increasing value of carbon dioxide in Enhanced Hydrocarbon Recovery. In the United States, CO2 injection by the oil industry is claimed to be a climate protection measure. In actuality, one ton of CO2 enables 6 additional barrels of crude oil to be extracted which, when subsequently burned, emits 2.6 tons of CO2.

Finally, climate protection delivers the excuse to develop coal gasification technologies that can be used for pre-combustion CO2 separation, but which, in any event are desired for burning lower grades of coal that are increasingly prevalent because of the fact that coal is running out more rapidly than previously expected. BP speaks of 122 years of remaining reserves, but that figure assumes stagnant growth. Under current demand increase by contrast, I have found that global coal reserves may endure only until around 2070. Adding CCS would accelerate consumption, but even if coal usage limitations were imposed at the same time, we would still be running out of coal around 2070. There's not much time to implement the required substitutes on a global scale.

The consensus here in Germany is that CCS will remain largely at an experimental level due to widespread resistance to CO2 storage. Some people's property values have reportedly fallen by 20 percent after the geological suitability of their area as a greenhouse gas repository was made known.

Jeffrey H. Michel MSc., Energy Consultant,, Hamburg, Germany

Legislation for distributed generation

Re Renewable Energies Cost Less (SiS 49) you’re into my area of work, California renewable energy policy. I recently submitted, with my client the Feed-in Tariff Coalition, a draft legislation to a key legislator who has agreed to take it up this year in Sacramento. This bill will codify Governor Brown’s plan for 12 GW of wholesale distributed generation.

Tam Hunt, J.D., Community Renewable Solutions, LLC,, Santa Barbara, California, USA

Timely for greening my world

I would like to reprint How Green is Solar? (SiS 49) for my husband, who is a roofing contractor with an environmental organization working to protect Cape Cod’s environment. Your timing could not be more perfect as I have been pressing towards passive solar upgrades to my small Cape Cod cottage with attached 1950s style sunroom. I currently use it for three seasons as a greenhouse and in the summer months, shade it for food preservation and drying (garlic, herbs, etc). My husband suggests solar panels with skylights. My instincts say to go with upgrading the cedar shingle wall to a breathe-able, cement block, clay covered thermal mass wall to work in conjunction with the cement floor for maximum passive solar conductivity. As well I want solar domes with Fresnel lenses and they are all telling me that is not the way to go.

Also, I am not sure if the metal roofing system is the way to go for harvesting rainwater to convert to some kind of potable water for edible gardens and/or other uses. I am concerned about any contaminants that may be in those materials.

Christine VanHooft,  Dennisport, Massachusetts, USA

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho replies
Not knowing the details of your cottage, a rule of thumb is to do the minimum to make it ecological, otherwise you are in danger of wasting energy and increasing your carbon footprint, hence architects like Janis Birkeland recommends “eco-retrofitting” existing buildings. The same applies to harvesting rainwater. You should not drink rainwater unless you have to. The best use is for watering crops and gardens, flushing toilets, washing, etc. Plants and soil microorganisms are pretty good at breaking down and making safe toxins and contaminants, unless you have acid rain from power generation, car exhausts and factories.

Fail-safe GM mosquitoes?

Re  the fail-safe tetracycline requirement for killing the mosquito larva offspring from GM mosquitoes described in Can GM Mosquitoes Eradicate Dengue Fever? (SiS 49), correct me if I’m wrong but I seem to remember that tetracycline was developed from cultures gathered from the mud of stagnant ponds. I remember reading the story about a biologist who noticed wounded racoons sniffing the mud and coating open wounds from one patch in particular. He later observed wounded muskcrats using the same patch. But of course, mosquitoes are never found breeding in stagnant ponds (!) so there is of course no danger of naturally occurring background levels of tetracycline undermining the fail-safe mechanism designed by the genetic engineers.

Todd Millions, Cypress Hills Range, Saskatchewan, Canada

Prof. Joe Cummins replies
Your comment on the presence of tetracycline in the soil and surface water that will cause the offspring’s of mating between terminator male mosquitoes and wild females to survive and spread the dengue virus is well taken. That is an important point and one that should be investigated before further releases such as those in Malaysia are contemplated. The scientific literature documents the presence of tetracycline in soil and surface water samples. Low levels of the antibiotic have been observed in soil, surface and ground water in locations with temperate climates but no studies have been reported for tropical or semi tropical climates.

Renewable energies for enriching the poor

Grameen Shakti for Renewable Energies (SiS 49) is a great development for a developing country and I think Nigeria should take a cue from this. The situation of women in Nigerian rural communities may even be worse than Bangladesh. With the Nigerian Government’s push for increased sustainable agricultural development, efficient and sustainable energy sources need to be researched and provided for the teeming poor rural communities who produce over 70 percent of our food. I’m interested in collaborative projects between GS and Nigeria, firstly to provide green energy for fishing and fish post-harvest technologies (processing, preservation, storage, transportation etc) for coastal fishing communities.

Francisca George (PhD) Department of Aquaculture & Fisheries Management, University of Agriculture, Nigeria

Grameen Shakti for Renewable Energies is a wonderful example of altruistic humanitarianism directed at helping some the poorest people around. However, this work in progress also indicates what could be done in the richest nations where every marketable commodity has been taken over by profit-driven companies. Money is like manure that stinks when kept in a big heap but does a lot of good when spread around.

Dr. Michael Godfrey, Whakamarama, Tauranga, New Zealand

Homeopathy is great science

Your articles 'Homeopathic' Signals from DNA and Electromagnetic Signals from HIV (SiS 48) describe a fantastic discovery. Dr Montagnier may well end up with a second Nobel Prize for this work. Ultimately, this discovery could lead to in vivo, noninvasive imaging, quantitation, and therapy of many diseases that have plagued mankind. The physics of these energy transfers needs to be fully described and understood. The structures of these EMS-emitters need to be described. Where is the energy coming from? Light waves? Perhaps EM signals could be used to detect, quantitate, and localize DNA hypomethylation, and human epigenetics in vivo. Can EM signals be used to distinguish in vivo between endogenous, e.g. HERVs, and exogenous viruses?

Pharma needs to “get a grip” and “just accept it”. Mankind’s survival rests on homeopathy, not allopathy (xenobiotics). It begs the question as to whether electromagnetic fields, e.g. pulsed magnetic field gradients, might one day be a viable non-invasive therapy. Your concept of energy transfer at a distance with water as the concertmistress and lead player (see Cooperative and Coherent Water and other articles in the series, SiS 48) is simply brilliant. I once did a fair amount of multinuclear organic magnetic resonance spectroscopy as a bioorganic chemist. So naturally, your thinking “resonates” with me.

Robert Davidson MD PhD, Internal Medicine Physician, Texas, USA

Article first published 28/02/11

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