Thursday, August 21, 2014

Smoke in the Desert - A Fryer In the Sky

.
A literary tip of the hat to the musical group, Deep Purple, without whom, today's post title would not be possible...  And if I have to explain it to you, you most likely won't get it any way, so let's just leave it where it is for now.

Okay, for a teeny tiny CLUE, click the following link:  Deep Purple

We now re-join today's post where we left off, at the absolute, complete, and total - beginning...  

As in, the post begins NOW.



. The classroom is dark save for the light emitted by a small LED from a laptop located on a desk in the front of the room.  The children seated in neat rows of desks find themselves too soon done with their summer vacation.  They sit nervously as the man in the gray suit points a hand-held remote towards a projector mounted to the ceiling, a subtle click is heard, and an electric fan begins churning within the device.  The projector chugs to life as the lamp within begins tossing a grayish light onto the screen at the front of the classroom.

.
"So kids, did you all have a good vacation?" the man in the suit asks.

.
"It would have been better if it was longer." responds the boy in the front row directly in front of the man.

.
A girl toward the back of the room raises her hand and says, "I couldn't WAIT to get back to school!"

.
"Why is that young lady?" he asks.

.
"Because it was so hot at our house this summer!  We don't have air conditioning, we don't have a pool, and even when we had the fans running in the window at night, it was just plain old HOT.  You know what I mean Mr. Moos?  Do you?" she asks this as the man drops his jacket over the back of the chair at the front of the room.

.
"I guess you're saying that it was hot?" he smiles as he asks this.  "Why Stephanie, have you looked at the subject for today's lesson online?  Did a little birdie tell you what we're talking about today?" as he asks this last question the projector jumps fully to life and throws an image on the screen to his left.  "Kids, today's lesson is all about heat, air conditioning, time, AND little birds, but the little birds we'll be talking about?  Well, let's just say that their respective geese are pretty much 'cooked'."

.
"Why's that, Mr. Moos?" asks the boy whose vacation we already know was much too short.

.
"Because well-meaning people have done what they've always done, they've created a whole host of problems where only one existed to begin with." he says.  "And the problems they've created are really quite impressive, although not in a 'good way'.  Let's look at the problem they were looking to solve and then we can review what they've actually done." he clicks the remote and an image and an article appears on the screen at the front of the classroom.

.
... 


.
Weather.com:  The state-of-the-art Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS), which opened in February, is the world's largest solar plant to utilize "power towers,"  skyscraping structures that receive beams of focused solar rays to generate electricity.
.At Ivanpah, the sun's ray's are redirected from a sea of more than 300,000 mirrors on the desert surface below to hit water filled boilers atop three 459-foot "power towers."  Temperatures near the towers can climb to 800 degrees, which causes the water to produce steam that turns turbines which generate energy.
.
All told, the facility at Ivanpah generates enough electricity to power 140,000 homes and eliminates carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to 72,000 vehicles a year, according to a press release from Bright Source Energy, one of the trio of investors behind the solar plant.
  


.
...

.
"Hey, Mr. Moos, well, that's GREAT right?  My Mom and Dad tell me that we need to reduce greenhouse gases so the Earth will have time to heal from all the damage we've done to it because we use gas, coal, and scary nuclear power to make electricity!  Little by little we're poisoning our air, our land, and in some cases even our water supplies by drilling, fracking, mining, burning and accessing these fuels," Billy, the boy now speaking, is seated in the back row of the class and pumps his arm up and down because he's so happy that he's able to repeat (pretty much verbatim) what his parents and last year's Science Teacher taught him about the evils of 'fossil fuel generated power'.

.
"So, um, Billy, let's take a look at something which you just mentioned.  I believe that you said that we need to give the Earth 'time to heal' from the use of these fossil fuels?  Is this pretty much what you said?" the man asks this while looking at Billy all the while scanning the faces of other students in the classroom.  "We're 'saving the planet', and all that, have I got that right?"  

.
"Yeah, well, I guess so..." Billy's voice trails off when he sees that Mr. Moos is now standing with his arms crossed at the front of the room.

.
"I heard that too!" Melissa says as her arm flies up over her head.

.
"Anyone else hear something similar to this from your parents, or teachers in the past?" asks the man in the front of the room.

.
One by one, each child's hand raises his / her hand tentatively over their head.  The man in the front of the classroom shrugs, pulls out the chair behind the desk and sits heavily into his seat.  "Okay kids, let me ask you this, how do YOU describe 'Saving the Planet'?" he asks as he spreads his hands wide apart and looks around at the kids in the classroom.

.
A hand slowly goes up in the middle of the room and a boy of about eleven offers the following answer, "I'm thinking that we will save the planet by doing our part to make it safe for all of the creatures who live on it to be unharmed - right?  You know, by not messing up their environment in which they live - is that it?" he asks tentatively.

.
"Okay kids, if this is the goal, how do you explain the portion of the article from Weather.com which you haven't seen yet?" he hits the remote button again as the image on the screen at the front of the room changes and additional text appears...

.
...

.

.


That sort of renewable energy source might seem like a triumph for the environment, but the same super-heated skyscrapers that generate renewable electricity are also taking a toll on wildlife in the area.
.
According to the Associated Press, up to 28,000 birds per year might be meeting an early death after burning up in the focused beams of sunlight, with birds dying at a rate of one bird every two minutes. The burned-up birds are being dubbed "streamers," after the poof of smoke produced by the igniting birds.

.
A report by the USFWS states that most of the birds are dying from various levels of exposure to "solar flux" which causes "singeing of feathers."

.
"Severe singeing of flight feathers caused catastrophic loss of flying ability, leading to death by impact with the ground or other objects," the report states. "Less severe singeing led to impairment of flight capability, reducing ability to forage and evade predators, leading to starvation or predation."

.
A quasi-food chain is being established around the solar plant, with predators eating birds and bats that burn up in the plant's solar rays chasing after insects which are attracted to the bright light from the sun's reflected rays. That prompted wildlife officials to refer to Ivanpah as a "mega-trap" for wildlife.

.....
.A spokesperson for NRG Solar, another one of the companies behind Ivanpah told the Associated Press that "we take this issue very seriously." So far, the only remedy appears to be cash. BrightSource has anted up $1.8 million to compensate for bird deaths and the trio of companies behind the project is looking into potential solutions to stop wildlife from colliding with the solar plant.
.
.
...
 .
The kids in the classroom sit at their desks shaking their heads in disbelief.  A hand goes up in the second row and a girl asks the question which most of the kids are asking themselves, "Mr. Moos, how can this be GOOD for the environment, when almost 30,000 birds per year are dying because of this?  I mean, I thought solar power was supposed to SAVE the Earth, instead of killing parts of it?  And what good does paying millions of dollars do to fix it?  Do birds have checking accounts?  Who's getting that money?"
.
The man stands and looks to the screen before answering her.  "Marsha, it appears from your questions that you may not believe that this is such an 'Earth-Friendly' solution to our power generation needs?"
.
"Mr. Moos, this is terrible.  Don't birds and bats eat insects?  It says in the article that bugs are attracted to the light thrown off by this thing and the birds follow them into this giant toaster oven.  So what happens when insects, like mosquitoes, carrying diseases lose their natural predators?  And, with this summer being as hot as it was in California, how does generating enough 'heat' to boil water at over 800 degrees help in stopping Global Climate Change?  These things are nightmares." Marsha says.
.
"Would you feel any better knowing that the same group who built this facility is planning on building another which is roughly TWICE the size of this one?" with this comment the man hits the power button on the remote and the screen goes dark.  He walks to the wall and flips the light switch in the classroom.  "Have a nice day kids," he says as he puts his suit jacket back on.
.
"Hey, wait a minute Mr. Moos, you can't tell us about this and just leave it there - what are you going to do about it?" Marsha asks.
.
"Me?  What am I going to do about it?  I'm just one guy.  My job is to get out the message, which I believe I have just done.  You kids are going to be stuck with this mess long after I'm gone.  You want to 'Save the Earth'?  Start at home by not wasting electricity, setting your air conditioning thermostat at 78 vs. 72, and then ask your parents to call the people who approve lunatic schemes like this one and tell them to study their environmental impact just like they've demanded of Hydraulic Fracturing.  You cannot chose one technique over another just because it 'Sounds friendlier to the Earth'.  Power generation should not be decided based upon its perceived political correctness."  With this the man walks back to the desk, closes his laptop, picks it up, and begins walking to the door.
.
"Mr. Moos, that's it?" Billy asks.
 .
"Yup, that's it.  Billy, class is over for today, our time is up for now, but we'll talk again, trust me."  The bell in the hall rings and the kids leave the classroom slowly, speaking to each other as they walk out.  "Hey kids, look at the bright side, there's always 'Wind Power', right?" he says with a smirk.
 .
Yeah, there's always Wind Power...  

But from an environmental perspective, it kind of blows too:  Cuisinarts of the Gods 
.
Post a Comment