Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: Great moments in Prime Ministerial Speeches

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  • David Haywood,

    Juha Saarinen wrote:

    If we're going to ban incandescent light bulbs in favour of fluorescent ones containing mercury, why worry about something like nuclear power that won't be anywhere near as hard on the environment?

    The issue about mercury in fluorescent light bulbs isn't as clear-cut as you might think. I recently read an interesting article about it which I can't find right now (in New Scientist maybe?). The same information seems to be on Wikipedia here.

    The argument is that the lifetime mercury emissions of fluorescent bulbs is actually less than the equivalent incandescent if the electricity is derived from coal-burning (burning coal releases mercury into the atmosphere).

    Your nuclear options would solve the problem of mercury from coal-burning, of course, but so would renewables (and probably much more cheaply in New Zealand).

    Mercury is much easier to handle than nuclear waste. If you collect the light bulbs you can remove and recycle the mercury. This is commonly done in other countries.

    Note that Philips make a low-mercury fluorescent. This is the type that I always buy.

    But I agree that mercury pollution can be a concern. Here's an interesting article on mercury in New Zealand (although I can't necessarily vouch for its accuracy):

    http://www.zerowaste.co.nz/default,765.sm

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 973 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen,

    I'll be honest and admit that until recently, I didn't know that the incandescent lightbulbs I bought to be environmentally sound contain mercury. Will have to check next time if the packaging states this. I remain bothered by there not being an easy way to recycle batteries as well.

    Non-volatile mercury is easier to handle than nuclear waste but it's still poisonous. We should think twice before introducing more of the stuff.

    Renewable energy sources - I presume you mean wind and wave generators for instance - are somewhat dubious environmentally. The huge windfarms in California are downright scary, and while they don't kill as many birds as say traffic does, they seem to butcher bats en masse. Apparently the fix for that is to relocate them out into the sea where they also produce energy in a steadier fashion, but the trade-off there is the added cost.

    Likewise, damming rivers isn't sound environmental practice. Doing so even generates greenhouse gases like methane apparently.

    Since Nov 2006 • 523 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Cellphone batteries, what happens to them?

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Juha Saarinen wrote:

    Renewable energy sources - I presume you mean wind and wave generators for instance - are somewhat dubious environmentally.

    Dude, did you read my post?

    Every human-made object has an impact on the environment. But I would strongly argue that renewables have less impact than other alternatives.

    Yes, hydro dams do initally release methane but eventually (time-dependent on the type of dam) they 'pay back' their greenhouse gas emissions in comparison to fossil fuel burning generators.

    You really can't compare the California wind farms with the case in New Zealand. Russell interviewed me in my (other) job as an energy engineer a few years ago, and we discussed some of the wind energy myths. You can find an MP3 of the interview in this post:

    http://www.publicaddress.net/default,2247.sm#post2247

    P.S. As you point out, Thorium is a very cool name. But how about Odin's AKA? Wotanium does have a certain ring to it -- particularly when said aloud.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 973 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen,

    I did your post and since it wasn't crafted in Learning English with the Browns style, I thought I got it. Listening to the David Debunking David now, but what is that noise in the background? A wind turbine humming away? (Just kidding.)

    Anyway, I won't Bellamy away here, but I remain unconvinced that we don't need a nookolear reactor or three to our energy mix.That particular technology has also developed over the years.

    Oh, Te Ara has an animation of poor little birds heading straight into some windfarm propellers. Luckily, we're spared the gore.

    Since Nov 2006 • 523 posts Report Reply

  • reece palmer,

    I like the name. "Thorium". Very heavy metal, totally high fission. It resonates with power, it does. Odinium wouldn't be half as cool.

    Odious?
    The nuclear issue would require a quantum shift in enzuds philosophy to infrastructure, the cheapest is best ethos currently apparent would have to go or we'd all end up glowing, which would solve problems of lighting I suppose.

    the terraces • Since Nov 2006 • 298 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen,

    "Wotanium."
    "Huh? Oh, Thatanium?"

    Good point. Imagine if they built reactors here like they built the Harbour Bridge... the clipons will apparently fall off in a decade or less.

    Since Nov 2006 • 523 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Not if the All Blacks built it mate. Seriously though, the taxpayer could fund it, then it could be sold to a couple of merchant bankers who invite competitor suppliers into the market, who then realize they must buy their wotanium from the bankers at wholesale first, who then charge the taxpayer huge sums in a monopolistic duopolistic kind of way and to keep everyone quiet we'll sponser a big boat race or something...
    Then the bankers leave the country to avoid paying tax and we are left with a dangerously active pile of wotanium that needs billions to be upgraded to safe levels.
    Trev Mallard says we can safely house it on the waterfront.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen,

    Hmm... so what you're really saying is that we need a Thorium-Wotanium Casino?

    OK, I'm cool with that.

    Since Nov 2006 • 523 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Precisely, and a great big melting pot. Actually The Thorium-Wotanium Casino Melting Pot will be the clarion call to all great exiles of the last great leap forward. I for one, will find my old red socks! We will need a ballad, Call Me Boiled Half Way Down Dominion Road. I'm phoning Kevin right now! I can see JK in the teeshirt now!
    NB: always be wary of the exclamation mark factor, but don't be fooled!!! This is bigger than Telethon and could attract Holmes out of retirement.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen,

    Since Nov 2006 • 523 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Excellent, if we crush the coal really really hard we can make diamonds like Superman!
    How much coal do we send to China each year?

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

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