Re: NANFA--Skeptical Environmentalist/Sewage Problems & Solar

Jeffrey Fullerton (
Wed, 27 Aug 2003 16:40:24 -0400

Here we go again.
Only this time let's try to remain civil.

I'm actually surprised that global warming advocates took so long to put
together an effective rebuttle of Lomborg's book. So call me an
appologist- maybe he didn't take intp account the overall costs of
building and maintaining sewage systems for the whole third world- but
he did point out that alot of money would likely be wasted as it usually
is when government gets involved in something. Plus the economic
sacrifices that might not be worth the outcome of the policy decisions-
which are too often the case of centralized economic planning.

Ironically there are alot of great ideas floating around that could
revolutionize sewage treatment or provide affordable housing that would
get a green seal of approval- indeed it was the greens who invented alot
of them- and they can work at both large and small scales. Only catch is
in most cases they are illegal. Entrenched state and municipal officials
and civil engineering bias stands in the way. Sort of like the NASA
approach to spaceflight- it must be big, complex and expensive or else
it won't fly.

And the same goes for other alternative technologies- like energy
efficient affordable housing- you have to go thru alot begging
permission for a permit to do an experimental design or as suggested by
Mike Ohler- author of the $50 & Up Underground House Book- become an
outlaw builder in the great American tradition of civil disobedience on
the sly!
I cheered the first time I read that!

I know progress is being made in this feild it because I've followed up
on some of the older projects and visited a number of web sites about
sustainable housing in developing countries. Teaching people how to
build these kind of systems using local resources and recycled material.
Alot of these concepts were created in the 1970s. Since then our
technology has improved quite a bit so it would be even more practical
to use new materials to upgrade the performance of simple low tech

Presently I am tinkering with the use of water containers for passive
heat storage in my greenhouse. My goal is to attain enough to store 3
gallons of water per square foot of (fiberglass) glazing surface using a
combination of 15 gal barrels and 5 gal square jugs that origionally
contain detergents for sterilizing surgical instruments at the hospital
where I work. Would be nice to find a second hand source of black
containers of similar size so I would not have to paint them. Will need
20 barrels which will stack two high against the back wall- plus 4 rows
of jugs on top of them and 20 more barrels under the bench near the
front to get close to the 1000 gallons required to attain efficient
thermal mass.
That is 540 on the back wall and 300 up front for a total of 840 plus
200 or so gallons in the greenhouse pond. And I'll collect some clear
plastic gallon jugs with a little rit dye to darken the water inside and
stack them along the sidewalls and under the steps at both ends.

Water is one of the best materials for mitigating extremes of
temperature. It helps Earth maintain a stable environment for living
things and can be used to improve the energy efficiency of our homes.
The big drawlback is that so many of us are locked into preexisting
designs and it takes alot of capital to upgrade and in many cases it
might even be necessary to scrap and start over again which is even more
designing water storage containers that are efficient solar collectors
as well as asthetically pleasing would also be desirable.

Since Moonman has reintroduced the the space colony arguement- I will
urge him not to be so hasty to give up on Earth. I think moving into
space and establishing colonies is kinda like buying an insurance policy
against planetary catastrophes but like you would get a home owner's
policy- you still wouldn't want your house to burn down in order to get
a new one becuase of the potential of loosing things with irreplaceable
sentimental value.

Space does offer a great hope for creating new wealth and technologies
that can mitigate alot of problems on our own planet. Just having beamed
power from orbit could to a significant degree make the world cleaner
and more secure. Of course there are some problems rooted in the human
condition that cannot be solved by material improvements- like militant
fundamentalists who like to blow up buildings and vandals who like to
blow up mailboxes- many of them come from relatively well off families.

However a more stable society which has ample resources to fall back on
and a good mix of both hard and soft technologies is more likely to
weather the inevitable disruptions and get back of track quicker than
one that is totally one way or another. And a little old fashioned
pioneer spirit is always a plus.


> Malthusianism is scientifically bankrupt- all predictions made
> upon it have been wrong, because human beings are not mere
> consumers of resources. Rather we create resources by the
> development of new technologies that find use for them.. The
> more people, the faster the rate of invention. This is why (contrary
> to Malthus) as the world's population has increased, the standard
> of living has increased , and at an accellarating rate.
> Never the less, in a closed society Malthusianism has the
> appearance of self-evident truth and therein lies the danger.
> Robert Zubrin -The Case For Mars.
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