Those damned martians and their SUVs! : LUSENET : Freedom! self reliance : One Thread

Study Suggests Mars Ice Caps Eroding

By PAUL RECER, AP Science Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Vast fields of carbon dioxide ice are eroding from the poles of Mars, suggesting that the climate of the Red Planet is warming and the atmosphere is becoming slightly more dense.

Experts say that over time such changes could allow water to return to the Martian surface and turn the frigid planet into a ``shirt-sleeve environment.''

Michael A. Caplinger, a scientist with Malin Space Science Systems, said that if the rate of carbon dioxide erosion from the Mars poles continues for thousands of years, ``then it could profoundly amend the climate of Mars.''

``You would go from having to wear a spacesuit to just wearing a coat and an oxygen atmosphere,'' said Caplinger.

Caplinger is co-author of a study appearing in the journal Science that analyzes photos of Mars taken by an orbiting spacecraft. The photos were taken in 1999 and in 2001, a period of time that represents one Martian year. Mars is farther from the sun than the Earth and it takes the Red Planet about 23 months to complete one year, a single solar orbit.

Observers have long known that in the Martian winter there is a snow of carbon dioxide caused as temperatures plunge and the gas freezes out of Mars' thin atmosphere.

But the new study suggests that a dense cap of frozen carbon dioxide thought to be permanent at each of the Mars poles may not be all that permanent, said Caplinger.

``It is eroding away at a rapid pace and is going to continue to do that,'' said Caplinger. ``This is not a seasonal change.''

He said the photos suggest that the polar caps are dense slabs of frozen carbon dioxide that may have been deposited over centuries, much like the way seasonal snow on Earth accumulates to form a glacier.

``This stuff has been there for quite a while,'' he said. ``It is packed down and very smooth. We don't see evidence that it is blowing around or drifting.''

Instead, said Caplinger, the glacier-like carbon dioxide ice is eroding, rather like the way a glacier melts on Earth.

The key clue, he said, comes from examining the light patterns on pits at the Martian south pole. Comparing pictures taken a Martian year apart show that the pits are getting wider and deeper as a result of the retreat of the carbon dioxide ice, said Caplinger.

As the C02 ice erodes, it adds carbon dioxide to the Martian atmosphere, causing the ``air'' to get thicker over time. This would enable the planet to hold more of the sun's heat and, perhaps, eventually warm the whole planet enough for water to return to the Martian surface.

Caplinger said it is not known if there is enough carbon dioxide in the polar caps to bring about such an atmospheric change.

But his co-author, Michael C. Malin, said in a statement that if the atmosphere of Mars becomes dense enough, it would ``permit liquid water to persist at or near the surface.'

' Other studies have shown that Mars was once awash with great basins of water, but the water is thought to have disappeared or become subsurface ice as the planet cooled and developed a thin C02 atmosphere.

Some experts suggested that any speculation about a Martian climate change is premature.

``This is a really neat observation,'' said Allan H. Treiman of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston. But he said the pictures span a time too short to make predictions about permanent changes in the Mars climate.

``We don't have enough data on Mars to draw any clear conclusions about climate change,'' he said.

-- William in WI (, December 07, 2001


Probably due to all those Mars probes??? ;>)

-- diane (, December 07, 2001.

Interesting. Could this trend be in any way parallel to global warming here on Earth?

Could be part of it. Then again, this needs colloboration. This is just one odd source off in left field.

If this story is a fabrication in order to advance an agenda however, I will become very angry indeed. I'm not a fool, I see the partisan implications here.

-- Nexar (, December 07, 2001.

How can we have global warming on Mars?? Mars doesn't have anti- environment people and greedy corporations, which we all know is the cause of the so called global warming on earth.

Oh wait a minute, it is probably the sun causing global warming if it exists. The same things astronomers have been saying about the earth for quite a while. Nature can change things faster than humans ever dreamed of.

Talk to you later.

Talk to you later.

-- Bob in WI (, December 08, 2001.

Of course, there is such a thing as Positive Feedback.

The ice caps of Mars are supposedly made of frozen CO2. Here on Earth its a greenhouse gas. The temperature rises, causing CO2 to evaporate in the atmosphere. The increased CO2 increases the greenhouse effect, raising the temperature, evaporating more CO2 which raise the temperature even more, evaporating more CO2, well, you get the picture. That's Positive Feedback.

Of course, the situation is quite different on Earth. Here, Carbon Dioxide is normally a gas already. Simply warming the Earth will not in and of itself release more CO2 (unless it was to the point to where Carbon based compounds combust, in which case we'd be in DEEP trouble!).

There are 3 ways, to my knowledge, that more CO2 can be introduced in the atmosphere.

1. Volcanic activity. 2. Combustion of carbon based substances (through both natural and man-made processes) 3. Extra-terrestial objects (Comet, meteors, and such)

Factor #3 is basically too small to consider, unless taken into account over millions of years.

Factor #1? Possibly. But things don't add up the global warming here. Due to increased particulate matter in the atmosphere and another gas called sulfur dioxide, increased volcanic activity normally results in global COOLING.

Which leaves Number #3. Of course, natural fires occur all the times, but are rarely widespread and persistent enough to effect a change in the overall CO2 content in the atmosphere.

Of course, there are MILLIONS of man-made fires everyday. They happen in every household, under the hood of every automobile, in most conventional power plants.

-- Nexar (, December 09, 2001.

Still, it seems awfully suspicous that the global temperature and CO2 levels began to spike right around 1850, when the Industrial Revolution truly got underway.

Even if there is NO connection with fossil fuel usage and global warming, it is still very imprudent to continue running on a fossil fuel based economy. The reason is simply that one day, the fossil fuels will run out. If we continue our dependence on it, then one day, possibly sooner than you think, our energy production will grind to halt for a lack of fuel availibility. As it grinds to halt, so will our economy, our lifestyles, our mechanized agriculture, and ulitmately our very "civilization" itself.

Simply going along on faith that they will always find more, is kinda like driving down a mountain highway on a moonless night with your headlights turned off....

-- Nexar (, December 09, 2001.

Hello Willam, Very good post!

As for global warming on planet Earth. It is common knowledge that we are in between Ice Ages. What has speeded up the melting of the polar caps on this planet IS in my opinion the advent of the Idustrial Revolution. That is why they are melting at a faster rate then in the prehistory. But, we as a primary species of animal on this planet FEAR that we will become extinct if either a warming or a cooling occurs. It think that no matter what we do to prevent them, they will eventually come. We just have to deal with the consequences, just as early man did during the last Ice Age. Hopefully, with "all this technology" we will be better adapted then our furbearing ancestors.



-- (, December 09, 2001.

Nexar, I never thought about tthe Positive Feedback you refer to, other than a slightly esoteric theory that a certain amount of warming would cause glacial melting, the run-off from which would possibly screw up the Gulf Stream, which would start a feedback loop. Sorry; I'm unable to describe this theory better; I didn't pay enough attention, because it seemed so far out.

However, when you said, "Here, Carbon Dioxide is normally a gas already. Simply warming the Earth will not in and of itself release more CO2 ", it got me to thinking. (shut up, you doubting Thomases:)

Did you know that in the tropics, the Carbon Dioxide in the surface of the ocean is often in a super saturated condition? Well, it is. In fact, that's the reason we have coral reefs, and the reason we have Oolitic sand beaches.

What happens is the amount of CO2 which can be dissolved in water is greater at both lower temperatures and at higher pressures. So the water which upwells from great depth has lots more CO2 it can sustain in solution. It's in an unnatural "supersturated" condition.

When the water is shaken up, e.g. by wave action, the CO2 comes out of solution. Sort of like shaking a bottle of Coke.

The result of this, in addition to adding CO2 to the atmosphere, it that the lowered CO2 level means a reduced level of Carbonic acid (H2CO3). This raises the pH, which causes the dissolved Calcium Carbonate (CaCO2) to precipitate. This results in either Oolitic sands (which are a lovely, pure white, little ball of almost pure calcium carbonate. They are about the size of bb's, normally, and are formed around a tiny nucleus of a different mineral, whatever's bopping around in the surf.

OR the CaCO2 is taken up by the reef building plants which use it for building coral.

This is all kindof off subject, but I wanted to share it because it's so cool.

The way this relates to your Positve Feedback statement, though is that it got me to thinking about the CO2 in solution in the warm sea water. If the sea water were to get even warmer (e.g. through global warming) it would be capable of holding even less CO2 in solution. Thus, we'd get either more coral, or more oolitic sands and/or more free CO2 in the atmosphere. If enough free CO2 were added to the atmosphere, we'd get further global warming, causing even warmer water in the oceans, and even more CO2 being let loose into the atmospher.

I've never seen any data on this in respect to global warming, and perhaps it would only get certain people even more excited. But there ya go.

-- joj (jump@off.c), December 10, 2001.

Sounds sort of like the old theory I heard years ago about Venus. It was supposed to have a runaway greehouse effect. The CO2 cycle was like the everyready bunny. It just keeps going and going. However I haven't heard much about that theory lately in my astronomy magazines. I don't actually know what the prevailing theory is on the atmosphere of Venus.

Talk to you later.

-- Bob in WI (, December 10, 2001.

Of course, Venus has no indication of having any CO2 sinks like the Earth does. Most of the carbon on Earth is either involved with biosphere's carbon cycle, or locked away in fossils (that carbon is being liberated at an incredible rate now, by guess who?), and in rocks such as limestone (which in some cases are fossils as well). Mars doesn't have appear to have any CO2 sinks either, other than the extreme cold which keeps a significant portion of the planet's CO2 frozen.

Also, remember, they say that it's so far too soon to tell if there is a climate change occuring. Before you say anything about Earth, we've only been observing Mars only a few short years as opposed to the literally centuries of observations and data that have accumulated about the goings on of Earth.

So, you think that our fossil fuel burning and CO2 production has only a minimal impact on the climate? Wanna experiment and back up that claim? No cheating and running off to another planet in case things get too hot here now....

Deny it all you want, but we are indeed playing a hand in our own fate. This Earth was not created solely for our benefit and was DEFINITELY not meant to be toyed with and abused as Man sees fit.

If I wasn't stuck on this rock with you, I'd just leave you in your denial and let the consequences of the CO2 warming roast you alive, but since I'm stuck here with you, I have to make the best of things here and make sure that your kind doesn't foul things up even more that they already are.

-- Nexar (, December 11, 2001.

It seems odd to me that the temperature should spike in 1850 because of the industrial revolution. The temperature of the earth has only risen only about 1 degree over the past 100 years, with 70% of this rise occurring before 1940. That is before the amount of CO2 was raised by any large volume by our lifestyles. Actually water vapor is a much more effective greenhouse gas than is CO2 anyway.

There are many variables in this issue. It is very shortsighted to blame everything on carbon consumption. Changes in water vapor, variations in solar output, changes in the earths tilt in orbit, variations in our orbit around the sun ,and the location and magnitude of the jet stream all play important parts in the weather on earth. Short term and long term.

Global warming will be a boon for farmers in the future. The crops are expected to grow faster and larger with the extra water vapor and available carbon dioxide. This will ensure food for a growing population. Also growth of forests is expected to increase. This will partially slow down the global warming effect and will also aid in natural reforestation of barren regions. It should be great for homesteaders.

In 1995 the UN-IPCC (2700 scientists) stated that” there is discernable human influence on the climate”. This statement was challenged by 17000 atmospheric scientists. I guess if you were to go with the consensus you would find yourself with the second group.

Got to go.

Talk to you later.

-- Bob in WI (, December 11, 2001.

OK, I admit. The jury is still out on that one. I still think that it's unwise though to continue to depend on non-renewable energy sources such as fossil fuels. There is no arguement on this issue. When they're gone, they're gone.

A warmer planet COULD be a boon in some aspects, but a bane in others.

1) Coastal flooding: There is no denying it. The ice caps are melting. If it continues, the oceans will rise by a few feet. Doesn't sound like much, but it's enough to put many of the world's major cities at risk.

2) Regional climate shifts: Changes in temperature could cause changes in the world's ocean and air currents, which means some places may end up warmer than before, some COOLER than before (paradoxically), some drier, other wetter. If these changes are sudden and they occur in the world's major food producing regions, that could be very bad news for the world's food supply.

3) Increases in frequency and intensity of storms: Actually, were seeing this already. Think of this way. Think of a pot of boiling water with all of its rolls and boils. Then think of what our atmosphere looks like from space. See some resemblance? You should, because the same forces in that pot of boiling water are at work in our atmosphere, namely the forces of heat conduction and convection. Now turn the heat up under that pot of boiling water. Notice how the water is now rolling more violently? Think in the same terms with our atmosphere, and well, you get the picture....

4) Spread of disease: Longer warm seasons and higher temperatures mean more time for disease carrying pests (such as mosquitoes) to breed. This means there will be more disease carrying insects and they will become more widespead. Malaria outbreaks in New York? The idea isn't so preposterous anymore. Malaria is the least of our worries, as these same creature also spread even nastier diseases such as dengue and West Nile fever.

Also, there are many other variables that we DON'T know about that could deliver us some very unexpected (and NASTY) surprises. The increased CO2 and water vapor can and will help our vegetation, UP TO A POINT. I'm not a biologist and have no Ph.D, but I do know that there can be too much of a good thing. You may find your greenery flourishing, until a certain point of tolerance is passed, then the CO2 could well have the OPPOSITE effect. Instead flourishing now, your vegetation may end up dying.

Even though there is no conclusive proof that our fossil burning activities are changing the world climate, that does not mean we shouldn't be concerned about it. Anyone who deals with complex systems (i.e. doctors, engineers, computer programmers) can tell you that when dealing with certain critical variables, it does not take much of a change to trigger catastrophic conquences.

Besides, if the temperature of the human body was raised 1 degree, that person would be considered to have a fever...

-- Nexar (, December 12, 2001.

Glad to hear you say that the jury is still out on fossil fuels causing global warming. Too many people believe things they hear without doing any research to see if it is true or even reasonable. You abviously have done some research on the subject.

1) Coastal flooding theis is not necessarily what will happen when and if globlal warming ever occurs. I read about the fact that since the relative humidity is raised greatly if the temperature goes up it will in fact cause lowering of the ocean levels, by causing a large amount of this water to remain airborne, and to be deposited in the form of snow at the poles, thus reducing the level of the oceans. Flooding could go either way.

2) regional climate shifts. We have had climate shifts in the past and we will have in the future, whether there is global warming or not. Were you aware that somewhere around 1600 give or take I don't recall the exact date. There were over 20000 people farming in Greenland. This fact is verified by records of the Catholic church, because the church kept track of its members all over the world. The climate in Greenland today will not support dairy farming as it did then, so obviously we have had some type of climate change since then. Actually I guess you would have to say it was global cooling.

3) increases in intensity and frequency of storms. The biggest reason for this is not the amount of storms, but the reporting of them an TV etc. Years ago no one heard about a twister somewhere unless they were in the vicinity. I have never seen any evidence to warrant the assumption of more or atronger storms. If hyou can show me I will believe it.


-- Bob in WI (, December 13, 2001.

However, it seems we have a difference in philosophy. Our activities might not be responsible for global warming, but until I know for sure, I'm not taking any chance. Besides, addressing the fossil fuel? CO2 issue now may actually help better prepare us for the inevitable Post-Petroleum age. The sooner we act on this, the easier the transition will be.

-- Nexar (, December 13, 2001.

Right on Nexar, as far as the post petroleum age. I'm sure you're aware, aren't you, that we have the capability right now, to go purely solar? It's all politics, now. You are also, I'm sure, aware of the impediment in the road to conversion (I won't mention any names, but the initials are GWB and Co.

-- joj (jump@off.c), December 13, 2001.

I'm pretty sure that the Oil Industry is aware that it's days are numbered, but still, they are determined to make as much profit as they can for as long as they can.

To be sure, and I won't lie (I might get things wrong, but not lie), making the jump to solar and other energy sources might cost a bit, but as far as I'm concerned, it's either pay now, or pay later with interest.

-- Nexar (, December 13, 2001.


What world do you live in? "We have the capability to go 100% solar at this time."

At what cost. 50 cents a kwh or more. It is only a dream at this time. I have no problem with solar, but you know as well as I do that it is not a viable solution until the price approaches what we currently use.

Solar would be useless in the northern tier of states, especially in the winter. We have many more days of clouds than clear. If you have to use storage systems like batteries, the cost will be prohibitive. No doubt about that.

Seems like research in the area of solar has slowed considerably in the recent past. I for one, have not heard of many breakthroughs in the field for quite some time. It seems that if it were not for the space program we would not even have solar at all, at least to the point it is now.

What we need is multiple types of electric generation. Seems we can't use hydroelectric because some snail may lose its home. We can't use nuclear power because many are paraniod that the reactor will blow up, just like they have seen many times on tv. Seems we can't use coal because it is dirty. Geothermal is considered a blight on the landscape. We have a RIGHT to see thses geysers and vents. We are doing this to ourselves. No one is to blame for the situation other than us. When you eliminate the other options what do you have left? Solar and wind. Wind generation is already having trouble with environmental disciples. They are trying to stop further spread of this scourge to birds, who occasionally fly into the blades. As long as those people are on a crusade, this type of power generation will not expand, because everyone is afraid of lawsuits etc.

There is obviously no one answer, but until solar comes of age natural gas may be the cleanest form of energy production. I know that Joe thinks that President Bush will get rich from this, but we all know better than that. We either need to cut back on electricity use of we have to live with what we have, until someone can develop an alternative. At the present time solar is not the answer.

Talk to you later.

-- Bob in WI (, December 14, 2001.

Bob, you're partially right. Solar will cost at least 45 cents per kwh, IF, and this is a big if, you are using solar independently. That is, if you are not grid connected, and are trying to avoid connecting to the grid.

Second, the cost of solar is expected to come down if it is mass produced. But guess what? Bush and his ilk DO NOT WANT solar!

As far as bush getting rich on oil, are you serious? He's an "oil man" for chrissakes! He owns "Arbusto (shrub in spanish) Oil company. Of course he'll get rich from oil. I understand he was holding large numbers of Enron when Enron was sucking all the money out of the Californicators. I wonder if he was one of the big losers of money when Enron turned belly up? I suspect not. How much money did Enron contribute to bush's presidential campaign? I believe it was one of his biggest contributors.

Right now, in parts of Southern Calif, you can actually make money by installing photoelectric cells. Yes, it's subsidized. So is oil. So is nuclear. So are lots of things. Why not subsidze a form of energy which is almost totally clean, and eliminates the need for more smoke belching power plants, and more transmission lines? I think it's because bush and his buds can't make enough profit, personally.

By the way, you don't need batteries to store energy produced by photoelectric cells. You use the grid itself. Solar power being produced in one area, on a clear day, is used in another area, which is cloudy. The grid becomes a defacto battery.

No, it's not feasible to rely totally on solar, because it's dark half the time here in this country. So we need t o convert solar power into another form of power for night time use. Also for transportation. lots of possibilites here; one that's looking encouraging is to produce hydrogen from electrolysis of water. The hydrogen is burned, or used in fuel cells, when the sun isn't shining, and in autos and trucks. Also can be burned in "conventional" power plants during the night. Clean, efficient, and uses existing technology.

You mention not hearing about any solar breakthroughs lately. Gee, I wonder why. If the government cuts off all research for solar, and continues throwing money at oil, gas, etc. of course you won't hear much about solar breakthroughs.

Are you seriously AGAINST using clean energy, Bob? or are you just being a doubting Thomas?

By the way, there has been one major breakthrough lately. If you hadn't already made up your mind, you'd have known about this, and many other advances, I suspect.

According to the DOE, "solar troughs", which have been receiving government subsidies for some time, now have been developed. Even at current costs, they are capable of generating electricity at 15 cents per kwh. According to DOE's lead scientist, if we were to dedicate an area in the Arizona desert, ten miles by ten miles, and filled the space with these solar troughs, we'd generate ALL the power requirements for the entire country!

Yes, I'm sure there would be people who would object to desecrating the desert in this way, but it would seem a lot better than covering the entire country with air pollution!

What was our new administration's reaction to this exciting news? Guess! They cut the funding to the whole program, sayinig "it's time you paid your own way. Duh.

Bob, I agree with you that there is no one answer. But there is a need for one attitude: work for a good, clean solution.

By the way, if I lived in a city, I'd be bopping down to buy a small electric vehicle. You can now buy them for not much over five grand, and they seem perfect to me for cruising down to the store, visiting a friend, taking the kids to school, etc. They typically have a fifty to seventy five mile range, which is reportedly within the distance of 80% of "normal" families' trips.

Save the big SUV for road trips, folks, and drive this clean, silent car to the store! When you get home, just park it in the garage, plug it in, and it'll be anxiously awaiting you when you next need it!

These cars are even being made by Ford Motor Co now. They are here, and they are now.


-- joj (jump@off.c), December 14, 2001.


I have one question to ask you about electric vehicles.

The electricity to recharge them comes from the power company. And since solar is not yet viable, are you not causing as much pollution to use them as you would with an efficient intenal combustion engine?

The amount of energy lost from production to final use is reasonably high when converted from one form of energy (coal) to another (electricity) and then to a third form (mechanical).So in other words the energy consumed may be just as high or higher to produce the electricity to run the electric car. (Don't have numbers on this yet).

You mention taking the kids to school. All of the electric cars I have seen so far are lucky to carry two people, and those people must be not too big. With all the trips many people with kids make in a day electric cars would not work, since they take too long to charge. I have to agree that the idea of electric cars may be nice in some circumstances, but what about all the pollution from batteries etc?

Talk to you later.

-- Bob in WI (, December 14, 2001.

Very good points, Bob. I personally preached against electric vehicles for the reason you mentioned for quite a while (the inefficiencies going from power plant to electricity to battery to electric motor in the car). But I'm now of the understanding that there is a net saving in electricity though the process, when compared to the inefficiencies in internal combusiton engines, the losses in the refining of the oil, and the transportation of gasoline from the refinery to the filling station. Perhaps there are other factors, too. I don't remember them all. However, I am convinced, barring new information, that these small electric vehiles are a viable alternative to other cars, for short hops.

I recommend that you do a search, in google, for "electric vehilces", or similar. Another search could be for NEV, which stands of Neighborhood electric vehicle, I think. There are lots of models being manufactured, and my understanding, from memory only at this point, is they are capable of running on a penny or two's worth of electricity per mile.

The Ford model is called "TH!NK". This one is easily found in a google search, as well. Yes, that is an exclamation mark, not an "I" in its name.

Another advantage that electric vehicles have over internal combustion (this is also true in hybrids, btw) is that they don't run at all when the car is not in motion. How much fuel, how much air pollution is created by gas guzzling cars sitting in grid lock? Or just sitting at traffic lights?

Many of these small electric vehicles are four seaters. That's a good point about lots of trips per day, and obviously these cars won't work for every person or every situation a person has, but they sure seem like a great solution for lots of people for lots of situations. Hey, for the cost, you could buy five or six of the darn things for the cost of a full size size SUV!

I hate batteries. They are the real weak link, in my opinion. But not a weak enough link to make me think they render the small electrics impractical. Hell, my mother in law has been driving her darn GOLF CART for years, just to run around town, because she loves driving it so much. I haven't asked her, but she has never complained about battery problems.

I'm also told that batteries have come a long ways recently.

If I could talk the County Public Works department to finish the bike lane along the old highway, I'd buy a NEV or somesuch, and drive it to town. I'm not about to drive a NEV on the highway, though. There are highway worthy electric vehicles, btw, though thats' a totally different animal, and I can't address it with any real understanding.


-- joj (jump@off.c), December 14, 2001.

Natural Gas is cleaner. But like Oil, eventually it too will run out.

Or could it? I've heard tell of proposals concering the production of methane from methane-producing bacteria in piles of decomposing biomass.

Question, can THIS be a viable energy source?

We should be trying to make preparations for making the transitions NOW, while the research is still easy to subsidize. Waiting until we're feeling the full force of the energy crunch will make the task much more diffcult.

I have found a document from another website that I found quite enlightning. It discuss our energy options and the pros and cons of each including relatively exotic options such a Solar Ponds (which to my understanding, is a very different animal from the type of solar Joe discusses)

Yes, the price of solar is still relatively expensive, but the price is dropping fast. I won't lie to you. The change is gonna hurt a bit, but in IMHO, the alternative is MUCH worse.

-- Nexar (, December 14, 2001.


You seem to compare electric cars with suv's. I can't afford either at this time, and probably never will. I also feel that being as small as they are, you would have 0 chance of survival in a major accident. I think you would be about as safe in most of these as if you were on a bike.

You mentioned not having trouble with batteries. What I meant that I was wondering about is the pollution and environmental impact of making this acid, hauling the acid on public roads, mining the lead and copper, making plastics etc. I know that these things are not all made from recycled materials. It seems there is no way do live without pollution, but electic cars are advertised as "pollution free", a major misnomer.

Your mention of neighborhood electric vehicles sounds good to me, but they would require special steets or paths to run on. What would be the cost of planning, building and maintaining these extra roads? I really can't see that electric cars will ever really be a viable option for most people in the US. I guess my money is on the fuel cell hydrogen powered vehicle. It has limited aspects at this time, but sounds more realistic to me than electric.


Yes gas may run out some day, but I don't know how long that will be. I have heard estimates of from 100 to several thousand years. That difference in estimates tells me there is a lot of politics involved, rather than scientific analysis. I have recently heard of some huge gas finds. I just saw something not too long ago on the Discovery Channel, ot one of those other learning channels. I talked about a find that could easily heat all of Europe for over 100 years. If this is true there is one heck of a lot of gas out there to yet find.

On the other hand I am in complete agreement with you both that we need to find an alternative while we still have the gas. I don't agree though that it always needs government funding or subsidies. Knowing how inefficient the government always is with money I think private investor funded projects would probably yield better results.

Methane could easily be a future energy source. I remember hearing about a community that gets methane gas from the local landfill. They use this gas to generate electricity which is used to run all the street lights in town. Maybe not the worlds biggest project, but using the materials available to the fullest. This is the type of thinking that will get us through the future shortfall of energy production, not government programs.

Nexar, where is the site about solar ponds, sounds really interesting.

Talk to you later.

-- Bob in WI (, December 15, 2001.

This is really interesting info about the solar ponds and the troughs. If they ever get this new ISP working well I will have to check it out.

Bob, I agree on the private enterprise part, but the major problem is all of these mega corps always are lobbying and making things so difficult for upstarts that they virtully insure no competition from new non monopolized factions. If Corporations were tossed out on their butts then we might stand a chance independently.

-- Doreen (, December 15, 2001.

I'm having trouble posting it. Let's see if I can break it up.

-- Nexar (, December 17, 2001.

The site is

The name of the article is "Renewable Energy: Economic and Environmental issues"

I must warn you that the site does have a left-wing slant.

I found this article pretty enlightening myself, though you might not find yourself in agreement with everything.

On another note, while it is true that the actual amount of the oil and gas reserves remaining is still unknown, what is known is that when the easily accessible oil and gas deposits are gone, prices will go up due to the simple fact that it will take more energy and resources to find and tap those new reserves (human greed notwithstanding). Such a situation is bound to cause an economic crunch if viable alternatives are not availible.

Or government is not exactly the best about handling these affairs, but I am very leery of leaving these issues solely to the influence of free market forces. So far, in my understanding, long-range planning doesn't seem to be the forte of most corporations. But then again, when our government is already in the pockets of said corporations, does it really make any difference?

-- Nexar (, December 17, 2001.

Bob, I'd certainly rather be in an SUV (or a Greyhound bus, for that matter) than a NEV if I were to have a head on with a large car. But two NEV'S running into each other would be on equal footing. I suspect, but cannot demonstrate, that two NEV's hitting head on woud be safer than two SUV's hitting head on. No gas tank, for one thing.

I do ride a bicycle, so maybe I'm just bold or dumb.

As far as acid, lead, plastic, copper, etc from batteries being a form of pollution, sure they are. Nothing's free. But the current battery technology is producing batteries that last far longer than the regular car batteries we're putting in our internal combustion engine cars. The lead is all reused; I assume the copper is as well. Don't know about he plastic. But if it's plastic you're concerned about, how about let's put some energy into the elimination of the millions of tons of plastic wrapping material which is consumed every year.

Certainly sufphuric acid is hazardous, but it's not concentrated acid that's used in batteries, and suphuric acid is a relatively simple compound, H2SO4; it's not some kind of heavy metal or PCB with a jillion year half life (not to mention plutonium with a 25,000 year half life!)

I agree with you 100% that there are lots of folks who call electric cars "pollution free", and they are totally wrong. Some probably know better; some are too shortsighted to realize that electric cars don't smoke only because the smoke is being generated a state or two away. In someone else's backyard.

I don't envision, nor recommend, building a whole set of new roads. I recommend these NEV's for use on existing city streets. Most cities have 25 mph speed limits anyway, at least the cities I've lived in. NEVs go 25. Other electric vehicles can go a lot faster. I'd recommend going to and reading about these cute little cars.

They are cited as being "zero emission" as far as requirements under California air board requirements. I'd say that's stretching it, although there are some parts of Calif that have variable rate electric metering. I read in Homepower Magazine that one guy down there sells his solar power to the power company at peak hours (peak hours there are midday, apparently) for forty odd cents per kwh, then charges his electric car during the off peak hours (at night) and only pays 4 cents per kwh.

This sounds great for the electric car owner, and for those who have photoelectric panels connected to the grid, but at first I thought it was a rip off to everyone else. Turns out I was wrong; it is a win/win situation, because the 40 cents per kwh was actually less expensive than the power his power company was paying on the open market!

Bob, I agree that there is a lot of fossil fuel still remaining in the ground. That's not my biggest issue. Have you ever heard of Orimulsion? My Venzuelan friend was incredulous when she learned I had never heard of it a few years ago, since it's the largest fossil fuel source in the world. Venezuela has about 1000 times the amount of btu's stored in Orimulsion than Saudi Arabia's entire oil reserve.

I felt better (or maybe worse, on some levels) when I learned that my neighbor, a retired oil co. VP, also had never heard of it. The name, by the way is a construct from "emulsion" and "Orinoco" (after the Orinoco Belt, in the Orinoco River basin.)

I also agree that fuel cell vehicles have promise. I must point out, of course, that they, like electric vehicles, require a source of fuel to run. Electric vehicles can have their batteries charged by solar panels. Fuel cell powered cars need hydrogen. This can come from either electrolysis of water (which requires more fuel than it generates) or some other fuel, such as natural gas or propane. These latter two fuels are already the problem, imho, not the solution.

Perhaps we'll eventually be able to created hydrogen through electrolysis by utilizing photo electric cells. This puts us right back where we started: we need more solar capacity.

I'm not all that confident in government efficiency, either. But if the gov't is subsidizing all these other fuels, in order t o compete with photoelectric, I don't think it's a very intelligent path to follow to energy independence.

I am also concerned that private companies, at least the big ones who are now controlling politics in the world, will do everything they can to PREVENT development of photoelectric power, for the simple reason that they would lose their monopolies in the energy field. I hate to sound cynical, but my neighbor (the reired oil co. vp) gave me a book about the history of the oil companies, and the oil industry in general. I believe it is called "The Prize". If you read it, you will see that there is virtually no limit to the dirty politics which the oil giants are willing to stoop. The book begins with Charlie Drake at he first oil well, and continues up to almost the present.

he was given this book as part of his retirement present!

A "sanitary landfill" in the county adjacent to mine, is about to construct a methane plant. This is an excellent energy source, for capturing energy which would otherwise go to waste. but clearly, there is no net gain: you can't get more energy from decomposing materials than it took to make them in the first place.

Thanks for sharing your url, and your wise conclusions re corporations and government collusion, Nexar. Doreen I share your concerns about big corporations.

-- joj (jump@off.c), December 17, 2001.

Thanks for the link Nexar, and thank you to everybody who contributed to this post. Got to agree with some of the stuff you posted Joe. I have learned a few things I didn't know before. I guess that is what this forum is about.

Talk to you later.

-- Bob in WI (, December 19, 2001.

Bob, glad you've learned a few things, as have I. Hopefully, we all are open minded enough to learn from each other.

Interesting post, no?

-- joj (jump@off.c), December 20, 2001.

Those stupid Martians are up there right now causing all this and laughing at our confusement!!!

-- Dragonheart (, April 23, 2002.

It's the end of the world!!!!!

-- Help!!! (, April 23, 2002.

Hi, Miss Petro.

-- G.T. (, April 23, 2002.


Im suspicious of the last 3 posts. That certainly wasnt me posting above. Might want to take a look at the other threads...

-- William in WI (, April 23, 2002.

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