Green Energy, Sunny Roof Tiles and Boring Tunnels

Written by Dr Klaus L E Kaiser

Well, on the surface, the recently touted “solar roof tiles” sound like a great idea, a roof with photovoltaic cells embedded in the tiles, barely distinguishable from ordinary roof tiles.

So, for the moment, let’s forget about the cost of the tiles and their installation, neither of which is exactly “peanuts.” There are other problems as well, like:

Not Everyone Lives in Sunny CA

The simple fact that not everyone lives in (perennial ?) sunny southern California is just one problem that comes to mind. Passions aside, some of us — hapless creatures as we are – have to contend with the seasons — like winter — meaning snow, ice, and frozen terrain for a long part of the year. An old joke here goes like:  “There are two seasons – winter and construction.”

Indeed much of the population on this continent is exposed to wild swings in temperature, precipitation and other outdoor conditions, including the occasional tornados and blizzards. Most of us call it “weather” and watching the weather forecasts for the next days is a prime objective of our daily TV entertainment.

TV Entertainment

Besides watching the occasional soap opera, the daily weather reports are most entertaining. For a large part, the latter tell you how the weather WAS, somewhere, some of the time. I do not doubt that there is also lesson to be learned for the weather HERE over the next while. Clearly, that is my problem though, that is of not being able to interpret the charts with low and high pressure zones, the jet stream’s meanderings, and everything else of concern. Not to forget, the detailed descriptions of the weather to come, like a “40% chance of rain,” etc. They are most useful in deciding whether or not to undertake some outdoor painting…

Perhaps, I’m a bit harsh on the weather frog: this geographic strip of land is right at the boundary of the (common) southern and northern weather systems and, therefore, slight shifts in that boundary can change your comfyness feelings  in a hurry – and without warning.

No, I don’t’ wish to blame the messenger, far from it. The problem are the (expletive deleted) weather caprioles. Apart from larger and longer periods of one kind of weather or another, there are occasional squalls that are hard to fathom. One minute it’s dead calm and then, out of nowhere, comes a gust of 50 mph wind with nearly horizontal-driving precipitation, only to be followed by more dead calm and sunshine a little later. There is no super-computer able to predict that – and never will be.

The Weather

It happens to be what it is; one it’s day hot, the next day cool or cold. However, one thing is for sure, it (almost) never appears to be right, at least not for everyone. Is it the forecast, the weather-(wo)man, or is it the “climate” that’s to blame?

How could that possibly be? Hasn’t the UN prescribed (and many nations agreed to promote), henceforth, “Climate Justice?” Just look at the poor folks in Quebec whose riparian domiciles are suffering from higher than common seasonal floods, or the drought-stricken farms in Ethiopia that suffer from a severe lack of precipitation? How could there be such an “injustice?”

Climate Justice we Seek

The COTAP.org (Climate Justice to Alleviate Poverty) has the answer to the injustice:  Supporting them, you will be “… addressing global economic inequality too.” For a wider definition of this “injustice,” see also the report on “The Geography of Climate Justice,” published in Sep. 2015 (http://www.mrfcj.org/pdf/Geography_of_Climate_Justice_Introductory_Resource.pdf ) under the imprimatur of the U.S. EPA, the Royal Irish Academy, and the Mary Robinson Foundation.

Just as an aside, don’t try to find this document on the (claimed) website of the Academy that claims “This resource is available to download from:  www.ria.ie/climatejustice.aspx ).” Instead, you’ll get a 404 error message; that document is no longer available at www.grida.no at the Norwegian outfit GRID-Arendal that states on its website “GRID-Arendal was established in 1989 to support environmentally sustainable development by working with UN Environment and other partners” and “We transform environmental data into credible, science-based information products, delivered through innovative communication tools and capacity building services.”

I take it then that the “Geography of Climate Justice” can be changing just as fast as our weather, or are the “climate justice laws” being rewritten to enable more “capacity building?” Clearly, that’s a must!

“Capacity” is the new Noun

The sunny roof tiles are being promoted by the same fellow who has just brought us other great news, like the “electric sled” underground commuting systems he wants to build with the Boring Company (picture below). Presumably, these high speed (projected to be 125 mph) commuting systems will be powered by the electric power to be generated by the sunny roof tiles.

Of course, many big cities have underground commuting systems, some already for many decades; nothing new with that idea. Moreover, most of such systems run on electric power; nothing new there either. What’s new, it seems, is the proposed speed and WHAT is being transported by those sleds.  It’s not for you and fellow passengers, no; it’s only for you and your E-powered car, i.e., capacity: ONE.

Imagine that, a multi-billion (taxpayer-funded) high-speed underground transportation system for the rare occasions that the proponent might actually want to use it, instead of driving on the sunny roads.

It must be gratifying to have such admirably boring ideas for one’s own benefit.

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Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser

Scientist and author, has been conducting research for more than four decades. After receiving his doctorate in chemistry from the Technical University Munich, he joined Environment Canada’s National Water Research Institute where he served as research scientist and project manager for several research groups. He represented the institute at a variety of national and international committees, gave numerous presentations at scientific conferences, was editorial board member and peer reviewer for several journals, adjunct professor and external reviewer of university theses, and was the Editor-in- Chief of the the Water Quality Research Journal of Canada for nearly ten years.

Dr. Kaiser is an author of nearly 300 publications in scientific journals, government and national and international agency reports, books, trade magazines, and newspapers. He has been president of the Intl. Association for Great Lakes Research, and is a recipient of the Intl. QSAR Award. He is currently Director of Research of TerraBase Inc., and is a Fellow of the Chemical Institute of Canada.

Dr. Kaiser is widely recognized for his expertise in environmental chemistry and his “no-nonsense” approach to issues.