Naked Science Forum

Life Sciences => The Environment => Topic started by: science4life on 27/11/2020 15:27:51

Title: Politics and sustainability
Post by: science4life on 27/11/2020 15:27:51
Should politics draft laws of sustainability that create an environmentally friendly lifestyle?

Or does that speak against the rights of a consumer society?
Title: Re: Politics and sustainability
Post by: alancalverd on 27/11/2020 19:26:49
It is within the gift of politicians to promote effective sustainability, but at the expense of growth economics. Unfortunately very few politicians have intelligence to understand the question, let alone the guts to answer it.

Every animal alters its environment. There is a difference between environmental friendliness ("let it all hang out until the country is covered with trees again") and sustainability (maintaining the human population at a level that doesn't require the use of exhaustible resources).
Title: Re: Politics and sustainability
Post by: evan_au on 27/11/2020 21:35:33
Quote from: alancalverd
effective sustainability, but at the expense of growth economics.
Sustainability and economic growth are often presented as being in direct opposition.

However, transition to new technology offers lots of opportunities for new jobs (with new training) and new income streams.
- But the people who have the ears of politicians now are the ones who have the income streams now, not the ones who will have the income streams in 10 years. And the ones who vote now are the ones who have the income now, not the ones who will have the income in 10 years.

Here in Australia (and USA), the coal industry and their lobbyists have monopolized the attention of the politicians, who are (or in the case of the USA, were) promoting the coal industry.
- But the financiers can see the writing on the wall, and no-one is likely to fund a coal-fired power station today
- Meanwhile, solar panel installations and wind-farms are growing, despite the government talking it down...

Certainly the power industry is concerned about grid stability and the ability to meet the evening peak load as renewables expand; part of the solution is authorizing smarter algorithms for grid stability in the solar panel controllers.
- Another (unpopular) part of the solution is exposing consumers to the true cost of electricity, which varies over time...
Title: Re: Politics and sustainability
Post by: alancalverd on 28/11/2020 00:47:22
- Another (unpopular) part of the
solution is exposing consumers to the true cost of electricity, which varies over time...

That was all the rage in the Fifties and Sixties. Engineering principles favoured nuclear and very large coal-fired power stations for maximum efficiency, but neither like to be shut down, so you could get electric storage heaters that charged up on  "economy seven" power from 10 pm to 5 am. 

More recently as an  "intermittent heavy industrial" user I had to pay a premium rate for electricity used at peak demand times. This was a worry to the accountants as our biggest  MRI installation could burn 300 kW in the summer but fortunately there was so much demand for the service that we kept the clinic open 18 hours a day 7/7 to spread the cost of the peak stuff over a wider catchment of patients.

Right now I'm testing solar powered runway lights. Great in summer, but the neighbors object if the airfield is busy after 10 pm pm, and so far useless in winter because 8 hours of weak diffuse daylight won't keep the lights on for more than 2 hours after sunset and there's nothing to be seen before the sun rises anyway at 8 am. So we looked at adding a wind generator.The time you really need the brightest lights is when there's a bit of mist, which of course is when there is no wind. Fortunately it's a somewhat historic airfield, and one of the sheds is reputed to contain swan-neck paraffin flares as used by the Resistance for landing SOE operatives. And there's a 1942 Fairchild Argus in the hangar. If you want to learn WWII covert ops, we have the technology, but if you want to get home after 4 pm, take the train.