The earth's environment is rapidly changing. What ARE the issues, resources and solutions? ... Part 1

Sent: April 24, 2005 9:03 PM

By way of introduction

For the past few months I've been meeting with/working with a local ad hoc alternative energy/renewable energy work-group/think-tank lately. I was dragged into it more or less kicking and screaming, but I have been having enough fun that I keep going. We just did an energy roundtable - an all-day open discussion - that was surprisingly successful: it was well attended, it reflected a significant cross-section of the community, people who came were surprisingly well-prepared, and we cooperated quite well, on the whole.

At most of our meetings I have had to be the one who plays the bad guy role where I have to stick pins in people' balloons, or have to go home and do the math, and/or have to research the analysis and figure out if it contains fatal errors or show stoppers.

The group recognizes that someone has to do it, since just about everyone else is there in hope of finding an answer or a cause or a following. In preparation for this afternoon's forum, I decided to try to organize the sets of what I know and what I do not know - to segregate one set of knowledge from the other and look at HOW what I know and what I do not know intersect.

Because the deployment of search engines based on ever-expanding indexes of internet pages has allowed me to let go of my hard library, I have taken the liberty of expanding the set of "what I believe I know" to include what I can find data to support or that is clearly well documented, more or less immediately. And to include in "what I do not know" anything that I think I know but that I cannot document using that process.

So I decided to prepare for the roundtable by creating a "snapshot of what I know" in order to have both a clear understanding of the ontology or at least the hierarchy of the issues on the agenda and an onboard a portable reference shelf. I began with the outline that was provided to all of us by Steve Hamm, the group's de facto sparkplug and the discussion's moderator, and as I discovered missing stuff or what appeared to be structural problems in the approach taken in that document, I forwarded them to the list, so others would be at least prepared when I took issue with the structure or the agenda.

In fact, solar energy is one of the areas where my expertise is most limited, and I knew that there would be 3 serious players at the table - two photovoltaic installers Jonathon Clemson, Olympic Energy Systems and Andy Cochrane, Power Trip Energy and one "old hand" in the renewable energy game, a wind-power expert named Bob Lynette.. So I left the solar stuff to last and focused on the stuff I have the most trouble with: "the hydrogen economy" and "biofuels" as paths that we can follow to make the economic system I tend to refer to as "shopping-mall America" available to the rest of the world.

So what I produced was a bit like those "day in the life of ..." photo-essay projects. I literally allowed myself 24 hours from when I began (a virtual Le Mans Start) to create the mechanical structure of what I believe that I know in MSWord, in its Outline mode, and then start "fleshing it out" by pasting in, as body text, links and then came back through and added the relevant excerpts from the linked material - in a sincere effort to find out if that stuff that I thought I knew was actually "true" or at least compatible with primary source material on the subject. Until, of course I simply ran out of time

To this end I stuck to my outline and avoided quoting jumpsites like or Ted Trainer's excellent compendium from Australia (both of which appear to represent similar efforts) until the very end, when I felt the need for succinct text or graphics to illustrate the issues. Looking at it now, after the dust settled, I would reorder my structure a bit. I chose to re-order the groups Issues list alphabetically in the beginning, in an effort to avoid the appearance of rank ordering by priority, and the artifacts of that arbitrary and unfortunate decision haunt the current document, though I have reordered it in some areas.

I believe that I will continue to develop this piece and attempt to populate it with primary source material and would very much welcome your input at any level. It is my intention to post it to the web in Wiki format, so that it can be edited by anyone who cares to correct errors or add information ... Joe Breskin

My main jumpsite to the stuff that interests me is here ...
I have posted the document described above to the web at the following location and will update that file occasionally as I make changes to it: whataretheissues.doc

©(mostly) Joe Breskin 2005
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