Fill ‘er up with H2

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For the environmentally aware among us, I just saw on AOL News that Honda is going to offer for lease ($600/mo) next year a car that is powered by fuel cells, requiring only hydrogen as a fuel. They recently test drove it from Santa Monica out to Malibu, but said that, since there are so many sports cars and high dollar foreign jobs on the PCH that the Fuel Cell car didn’t get a second look. It’s supposed to get 68 miles/kg, which is about three times better than the gasoline model – if you don’t mind the idea of sitting just ahead of a tank of hydrogen stored under 5,000 psi.

Any thoughts on alternative fuel cars, green house gasses, Global Warming (pro or con), melting glaciers, drowning Polar Bears, submerging cities, or any other current gloom and doom predictions?

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8 Responses to “Fill ‘er up with H2”

  1. alsturgeon Says:

    Definitely not in my field of expertise, but I will throw out a liberal observation. Caught some of the Iowa Republican presidential debate, and found the environmental question amusing.

    The moderator asked for a show of hands concerning global warming, and none of the nine candidates seemed to appreciate the request. 🙂 After the refusal to cooperate, however, most of the speakers basically said, “Sure, global warming is real.” The most popular response was Huckabee’s which said, “Okay, even if it isn’t real, the worst-case scenario would be that we started taking better care of the planet.”

    #1: Thought the Republican shift to that position was interesting.

    #2: Could tell Huckabee was a preacher with that logic (the old, “well, if there’s no afterlife, least we didn’t lose anything” argument – was that Pascal?)

  2. captmidknight Says:

    Al said:
    Definitely not in my field of expertise, but I will throw out a liberal observation. Caught some of the Iowa Republican presidential debate, and found the environmental question amusing.
    The moderator asked for a show of hands concerning global warming, and none of the nine candidates seemed to appreciate the request. After the refusal to cooperate, however, most of the speakers basically said, “Sure, global warming is real.” The most popular response was Huckabee’s which said, “Okay, even if it isn’t real, the worst-case scenario would be that we started taking better care of the planet.”
    #1: Thought the Republican shift to that position was interesting.
    #2: Could tell Huckabee was a preacher with that logic (the old, “well, if there’s no afterlife, least we didn’t lose anything” argument – was that Pascal?)
    _________________
    Al,
    After all the alarmist stuff I’ve heard, from scientists and celebrities alike, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s really anybody’s field of expertise. There’s plenty of rhetoric from both sides, but you see very little hard data. There seems to be a lot of the “trust us – we’re experts” attitude around.

    With all the discussion of the Global Warming problem, you never hear what seems to me to be the most relevant question discussed. That would be: “If we implement all the measures you say are vital, regardless of the economic impact, what real results can we expect to see?” From some actual numbers I’ve seen recently, I can understand why some of the “Sky is Falling” crowd doesn’t talk about that question much. The Anthropogenic or manmade component of the total Greenhouse Effect is much less than we are led to believe.

    As for the Republicans shifting positions, it doesn’t surprise me. It’s what politicians do. I do tend to understand their attitude about the question, though. It was an ambush question, designed to get a quote or sound bite. I understand that Fred Thompson ask if he would be given a chance to explain his answer, When told “No,” he declined to put his neck in the noose. There was actually no right or safe answer for a Republican. If they said “Yes,” then they were a flip flopper. If “No” then they were an ignorant redneck. Win/win for the press. A headline either way.

    Yes, Huckabee’s “preacher” genes show through fairly often. He once said that when he was ask to bring a religious symbol to school, being a Southern Baptist, he brought a tuna casserole.

  3. msmiranda Says:

    My understanding regarding global warming among scientists is that there is as close to unanimity on it as you ever get. (See, e.g., evolution, ha ha). Among industry types and the public, much less so. I certainly can’t pretend to be a scientist or to have a great deal of knowledge, still haven’t gotten around to watching An Inconvenient Truth even though I have it on DVD … but it doesn’t seem like a huge controversy.

    In terms of getting results, that’s an interesting question. If you find out more on it, please report back.

    There are some things I like about Huckabee — his answer here is one. Indeed, what would be so bad about taking better care of the planet?

  4. urbino Says:

    That’s my understanding, as well. The science is pretty clear; the politics of the science, not so much.

    Here’s another option Cap’n. All you need is 3 other people to carpool with.

  5. captmidknight Says:

    JU and Msmiranda,

    The average temperature of the planet may indeed be rising. Actually, the atmosphere of the planet is such a large and complex system that I doubt you could take any reasonably long time span and not see a change in temperature in one direction or the other. My point is that, if they – and by”they” I mean the groups who are urging immediate and relatively drastic measures – are sure enough that the current situation requires such a measures, they should be willing and able to support their position with pretty solid data.

    Again, My question is:

    Exactly how much of the Greenhouse Effect, which they assume is causing the rise in global temperatures, can be shown to be caused by things over which humans have any control?

    The logical follow on question would be:

    If we implement your suggested remedies, how much of an improvement can we expect to see?

    These seem, to me, to be very reasonable questions, without any bias either liberal or conservative. What I seem to hear a lot is “Well, we can’t just do NOTHING!” which may be emotionally satisfying, but is no answer to the questions. It makes me wonder if they don’t know, or just don’t want to say.

    Here’s what I’ve read recently – most of the figures are from 2000 or later, and come from either the DOE at Oak Ridge, TN or the EPA.

    What are normally called “Greenhouse Gasses” are divided into 4 classes: CO2, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, and Misc (CFCs and other lesser gasses). By volume (parts per billion) the group breaks down like this:
    CO2 – 99.438%
    Methane – 0.471%
    Nitrous Oxide – 0.084%
    Others (CFCs, etc.) – 0.007%
    Man made contributions to the above total – 3.298%

    That doesn’t tell the tale, though. Some of the gasses are much more effective at holding the heat than others. When you correct for the effectiveness factor, you get the following, based on the real effect of each components:
    CO2 – 72.369%
    Methane – 7.199%
    Nitrous Oxide – 19.000%
    Others (CFCs, etc.) – 1.432%

    According to the same sources, the total combined anthropogenic (man made) component of all the above components, based on effectiveness, is 5.53% – a small, but possibly significant figure. None the less, it does say that almost 95% of what we call greenhouse gasses comes from other than human sources.

    But that’s not the whole story.
    What we are seldom told by the activists is that by far the biggest contributor to the “greenhouse effect” isn’t even considered in the above figures. According to the same government sources, fully 95% of the “greenhouse effect’ is caused by naturally occurring water vapor in the atmosphere. When you consider water vapor as a component, the greenhouse gasses break down like this (by effectiveness, not concentration):
    H2O vapor – 95.000%
    CO2 – 3.618%
    Methane – 0.360%
    Nitrous Oxide – 0.950%
    Misc. (CFCs etc.) – 0.072%

    Given that human contribution to H2O vapor is negligible and that human contribution to the remaining 5% is only 5.53%, you are left with a figure for the total human contribution to the “Greenhouse Effect” of about 0.28%.

    I can’t say how accurate these figures are – they do come from the government, after all – but they would have to be off on the low side by almost two orders of magnitude before even the most draconian reductions by us Homo Sapiens would even be measurable against the vast effect of natural factors.

    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe in trashing the planet. I make my weekly runs to the recycling center, and I want something left for my grand kids. I just want to know that, if I, as an individual, and America, as a nation, are ask to make huge changes and sacrifices, it will have a real effect on the problem and not just advance some political agenda.

    Is that too much to ask?

  6. captmidknight Says:

    JU,
    I might go for a hydrogen powered car, but I doubt that I’ll be rowing down to the Mall anytime soon.

  7. urbino Says:

    Okay, but you’re going to regret it when all the cool captains are doing it.

    As for the global warming thing, I guess I have a couple of reactions; one brief, one not as brief.

    Brief: it is unfortunately the case that citing government data on this issue is a circular argument. One can’t really cite government data to demonstrate that the science is fuzzy when the very issue we’re discussing is that the science has been politicized. There have been so many whistleblower scientists in the past 7 years that it’s necessary to check and double-check any government-approved data on this issue.

    Less Brief: Regardless of what the scientific consensus on global warming is, my own view doesn’t change, and it goes something like this:

    We know for a 100% guaranteed fact that fossil fuels are going to run out.

    We know we’re already past the halfway point.

    We know worldwide demand for fossil fuels is ramping up and will continue to grow even faster as the economies of China and India continue to fill out.

    We know that, one way or another, fossil fuels are going to become increasingly expensive. (Either by simply paying market price, or by paying for some kind of armed invasion and occupation.)

    We know that we and all modernized nations are, at some point along this supply/demand curve, going to start looking for other energy sources. We’re not going to go back to the 18th century. (Not without a fight, anyway.)

    We know that finding another energy source (or set of sources) that will meet our demand is going to be a difficult scientific challenge.

    We can be pretty certain that whichever nation meets that challenge and productizes the solution first will be in the catbird seat in the new energy economy.

    Now, points 1 and 2 alone are enough to convince me that the time to start developing, investing in, and moving to non-fossil energy technologies is yesterday. It’s the right thing to do as energy policy, as economic policy, and as national security policy. I know conservatives argue that the invisible hand of the market will create all the necessary incentives at all the right times to make all that happen and produce a solution just when we need it, and any interference with the market is just money wasted and possibly even counterproductive.

    I just don’t share their absolute faith in markets. And I think this problem is of the kind and scope of other problems that this nation (like pretty much all nations) solved rather successfully through public sector “interference” in the markets (e.g., the railroadification, electrification, telegraph/phonification, interstate-ification of the country).

    Anyway, the upshot is: I honestly don’t care what the scientific consensus on climate change is or isn’t, when it comes to this country’s energy policy. We should be moving off of fossil fuels ASAP, regardless, because it’s overwhelmingly in our national interest.

  8. captmidknight Says:

    JU said:
    I honestly don’t care what the scientific consensus on climate change is or isn’t, when it comes to this country’s energy policy. We should be moving off of fossil fuels ASAP, regardless, because it’s overwhelmingly in our national interest.
    __________
    On that and your points 1-7, I agree.
    My point in putting up all those figures was that, at least from what I’ve seen of the data, you can’t justify all the changes and restrictions some interest groups propose on the basis that they will somehow appreciably slow or even affect the natural cycles the earth is now going through – and has gone through before. If that’s not so, I’m open to another set of data showing a greater man made influence.

    Arguing for some of those things on the basis of any or all of your points 1-7 would at least make more sense, whether it effects “Global Warming” or not. I’m afraid, like so much else, that it will take some national or even worldwide crisis before folks really get serious.
    I personally think that an important breakthrough will be the technology to produce a workable and affordable engine that burns hydrogen directly as a fuel instead of using it to run a fuel cell for an electric car. Don’t know how far away that is or what price oil has to hit before it happens. We’re also going to have to find alternate ways to generate electricity and use it more efficiently. EVERYTHING is electric now. There are other energy sources too, but for them to get widespread use, it will take a pretty big cultural shift as well as technological breakthroughs.
    Again, I’m afraid it will take some sort of shock. My guess is that it may be something that comes out of left field instead of some of the stuff we argue so much about today.

    You work for an aviation company huh? Small world.
    What’s Jet “A” going for these days?

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