Earth day today
By bnitz on Apr 22, 2005
A few weeks ago when my parents visited, we took the cheapest flight we could find to Europe, which was to Copenhagen...the most expensive city in the world. So much for being penny wise. We visited Hamlet's Kronberg castle in Elsinore, took a canal tour, walked around Nyhaven and reintroduced my parents to the snowy weather and Kringle they left behind in Racine Wisconsin. We built our daughter's first little snowman while we were waiting for a train. On the short train ride between Copenhagen and Elsinore, we saw this offshore wind park. I thought it was interesting because I once suggested a Lake Michigan offshore wind park as replacement for one of the three coal power plants being planned near Racine. The map above shows class 2 wind onshore, only 200-300W/m2 on a 50m platform but class 3-5 offshore which could be up to 600W/m2 (well above the "break even" point for wind energy.) On certain windy winter nights, Denmark produces more than 100% of its energy from wind, so it is certainly possible.
I spoke with a power industry expert about the rising consumption and the industry's belief that electricity demand will continue to grow rapidly. I have some doubts about that. Between 1970 and 2005 the economy of Wisconsin grew rapidly and baby boomers came of age. Now nearly every Wisconsin home has an electric clothes dryer, an electric dishwasher, air conditioning, halogen lights, color television(s), desktop PC(s) and outdoor lights. None of these devices were common in 1970. A few trends have gone in the opposite direction. CF lights use less than 1/2 the energy of incandescents, microwave ovens use less than ordinary ovens. Modern water heaters, televisions, furnaces and air conditioners are much more efficient than their mid 1970s ancestors. In Ireland and Japan I encountered energy conservation technology I'd never thought of such as tankless water heaters. I'm optimistic that an offshore windfarm could make coal plant #1 unecessary and energy conservation and technology could make coal plant #2 unecessary...unless someone thinks of another really inefficient way of using electricity. John Muir, a Scottish-born Wisconsin naturalist, helped inspire president Teddy Roosevelt with the idea of a national park system and Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson founded earth day on April 22, 1970. I don't think we're out of ideas for improving our relationship with the world we live in.
"The ultimate test of a man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard." -- Gaylord Nelson
"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe." -- John Muir