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Offline Cut Chemist

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African Industrial Revolution
« on: 16/05/2006 04:04:22 »
My little brother is an environmental science major and we had a discussion the other day on the industrialization of thrid world countries in Africa.

The Industrial revolutions of Europe and the United States placed an overwelming burden on the ecosystems of these places and the world in general mainly from the burning of coal.

Coal is one of the crudest means of gaining energy.  It has the worst effect on the environment of any fossil fuel.

However, it is relatively cheap to implement and maintain.  
Apparently the third world countries of Africa which have an abundance of coal are trying to build coal burning powerplants to provide electricity to their villages and increase their standard of living.

It's their coal, do we have a right to stop them from burning their coal, based on the effects produced by the many previous industrial revolutions??

Should there be world agencies created or are there any in place, to provide them more advanced means of obtaining electrical energy??  Or prevent them from burning their coal??

Is coal really that bad or was my brother overexagerating??


 

Offline realmswalker

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Re: African Industrial Revolution
« Reply #1 on: 17/05/2006 01:13:57 »
hmm well if they didnt burn coal they would burn oil...
and we already got dibs on the oil...
so let them have their coal, we got the good stuff, the oil
 

another_someone

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Re: African Industrial Revolution
« Reply #2 on: 17/05/2006 02:33:08 »
We have learnt a lot about burning coal since the 19th century, and although it will never be the cleanest of fuels, but it need not be as bad as it was 100 years ago.

As for yet another world agency, to add to the UN, the WTC, and endless others are they really the way we want to go.  Do we really want world Government that after all is the only way to enforce worldwide law, but it will also run the risk of worldwide tyranny.

Do worldwide organisations always provide the right answers, or just create more political intrigue?



George
 

Offline Cut Chemist

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Re: African Industrial Revolution
« Reply #3 on: 17/05/2006 07:12:40 »
I agree that there are too many world organizations in place as it is, and it is true that many of them are either overrun with red tape and litigation or bought by the highest bidder.  

Is there any way other than world organizations to ensure that African Industrialization will utilize the new coal burning technology of the 21st century???

It is much cheaper for them to not worry about environmental hazards of burning coal.
and Africa is home to thousands of endangered species.

There has been many studies on the effects of the European Industrial Revolution and the Industrial Revolution of the United States.  Both seemed to drastically alter the climates of both areas.

Also the population of Africa is much greater than that of either Europe or the Untied States during their Industrial Revolutions.  Much more electricity will have to be provided than back then, all through coal.  

Obviously Nuclear power is out of the question.  We can't have third world countries with nuclear capabilities.

What about solar panels in the Sahara???

Or get them to stop warring with neighboring counrties and put that money to good use...  (The USA would never alow that) j/k

Is this industrialization really a threat to the environment??

Come on environmental science majors!!  Some one has to know...
 

another_someone

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Re: African Industrial Revolution
« Reply #4 on: 17/05/2006 18:08:23 »
quote:
Originally posted by Cut Chemist
Is there any way other than world organizations to ensure that African Industrialization will utilize the new coal burning technology of the 21st century???

It is much cheaper for them to not worry about environmental hazards of burning coal.
and Africa is home to thousands of endangered species.

There has been many studies on the effects of the European Industrial Revolution and the Industrial Revolution of the United States.  Both seemed to drastically alter the climates of both areas.



In what way did coal alter the weather?  I am not saying it had no effect on the weather, but like most real world issues, the effect was complex, so what exact effect were you thinking of.

High sulphur coal probably did contribute to acid rain, and while this is an environmental issue, it is not really a weather issue.

The burning of coal did increase particulate matter in the atmosphere, culminating in the production of smog.  Smog did create a health problem, and did effect the weather, but its effect was to cool the weather.

quote:

Also the population of Africa is much greater than that of either Europe or the Untied States during their Industrial Revolutions.  Much more electricity will have to be provided than back then, all through coal.  



But Africa also covers a very large area.  The issue is as much about population density as population size.

The other thing to bear in mind is, as I said, Africa is a large area, and will never respond homogeneously.  Even China, which is one country, but still a very large area, is finding that it takes many decades for industrialization to reach from one part of the country to the other.  Africa is not even a single political entity, and you would have to expect the process to be much slower.  You cannot compare where South Africa is to where Chad is.

quote:

Obviously Nuclear power is out of the question.  We can't have third world countries with nuclear capabilities.



Can't we?

The point is that if they are industrialised, then what right have we to demand different standards from them than we would demand of ourselves?  Is it not rather hypocritical to demand that the US, UK, and a handful of other countries are allowed these tools, but some other countries are second rate and cannot be trusted with these technologies.  Even if we do genuinely believe that these countries are second rate, and untrustworthy how do you think such a blatant statement of such an opinion will seem from their perspective?

I am not saying that I would wish every Tom, Dick, and Harry possessing nuclear technology; I am merely asking whether we have a right to develop a two tier world, where we claim privileges for ourselves, and demand that others be denied that privilege.  Not only is this morally dubious, it also sets nuclear technology as standard by which people can judge whether they belong to the upper tier or the lower tier of nations; and ofcourse, every country will seek, if at all possible, to become one of the upper tier, the one's with nuclear power, simply because no-one wants to be seen as second rate.

One of the very few countries to have actually chosen to give up nuclear technology is South Africa; while in the mean while ever more countries join the nuclear club, and it is very noticeable that when they have joined the nuclear club, they can immediately command more respect from the existing members of the nuclear club (Pakistan is a very obvious example whose standing in the eyes of the world has risen since attaining nuclear status, although it standards in democracy and human rights have not noticeably improved in that time).

quote:

What about solar panels in the Sahara???



Certainly, if there was anywhere in the world where solar cells should be able to deliver substantial amounts of electricity, the Sahara should be that place.

The Sahara only covers North Africa, so it is not an issue that would have much application in the Congo, or Kenya, or most of Africa.

Nonetheless, North Africa is itself a large area, and so may be looked at in terms of its own needs, even if that will not address the needs of the rest of Africa.

In order to utilise the potential of solar power in the Sahara, you would need to be looking at covering thousands of acres of desert with black silicon.  This will itself have an environmental impact on the desert.  Whether this is a positive or negative impact may be subjective, but an impact it will have.

Another factor will be economic and technological.  I suspect that the amount of solar powers that would have to be manufactured would far exceed the present manufacturing capacity of the present industry.  Are we talking about the US and Japan manufacturing these solar panels, and selling them to North African countries, or are we talking about building up a native manufacturing capacity in these countries, and then looking to dominate the future world production of solar cells?  One advantage they will have is that they have plenty of sand from which to extract the silicon for the manufacture of all these solar panels although using all that sand to produce silicon will itself have an environmental impact on the desert.

quote:

Or get them to stop warring with neighboring counrties and put that money to good use..



You mean they should do as the USA and UK do, and declare war on countries on the other side of the world, rather than neighbouring countries.  Certainly, one advantage of declaring war on the other side of the world is that the likelihood of the war spilling over onto home ground is far less (a hand full of terrorist actions is scarcely comparable to the impact of having large foreign armies fighting over your land).  The trouble is that fighting wars in remote parts of the world costs money these countries don't have.

But, those matters aside, what most of these countries really suffer from is not wars with neighbours, but civil war and the failure of the authority of central government.  In part, this is because of the tribal nature of many of the societies; but is even more due to a lack or roads and transport infrastructure.  This is not only a problem for Africa, but Latin America, and much of Asia.  In order for the writ of central government to be effective, it must be possible to move resources rapidly around the country to address both the security and humanitarian needs of the whole country.  In the absence of such an infrastructure, central government can only effectively rule (and provide welfare for) the population that it can easily reach with the infrastructure it has available.

The USA only because a genuine unified country, covering millions of square miles, with the advent of the railway.





George
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: African Industrial Revolution
« Reply #4 on: 17/05/2006 18:08:23 »

 

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