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So I’ve been doing a little travelling lately. I’ve been hanging out somewhere in western Europe. I’ve spent years of my life here in the past, and it’s always striking how things change when I return.

One of the big things I’ve noticed over here is the sheer number of power windmills and solar panels on people’s roofs. Governments over here are pretty serious about renewable energy sources, green energy is heavily subsidized and energy use is taxed to the gills.

So I was pretty interested about an article I came across today about a possible re-entry into a “solar minimum,” and its possible impact upon the Earth’s climate.

Look, I’m not going to wade into the debate over “climate change.” Not going to happen. I will, however, state that the Earth’s climate has changed quite frequently over geologic time, and it will change again one way or the other. After all, it’s pretty tough to debate that the Ice Age never happened, or that the Earth wasn’t considerably warmer when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. The debate you hear now is like monks in the middle ages arguing over how many angels can dance upon the head of a pin.

Our climate will change in the future. You can take it to the bank. The argument is over how much humans impact or drive the degree of change, and what consequences that entails for national and international energy policy.

Another cool article on this subject by the US Geologic Service talks a little about emissions from volcanoes, and the relative impact of natural CO2 vs. man made sources. Interesting reading, and the USGS is a gold standard for scientific inquiry.

You guys are pretty smart, you can draw your own conclusions.

FYI, a pretty good solar panel kit at Harbor Freight costs 189 bucks, US. I use one myself, they are easy to install and you see similar Chinese rigs in various places in the world. Not enough (by a long shot) to power a house, but you can do a fair bit with one of these kits, certainly enough for a small outbuilding.

I dunno, I kinda like the idea of generating my own power. Better than handing over huge wads of cash to my electric company. What’ll be really cool is when the price of solar and storage drops enough that it’ll be economically feasible for everyone to be their own little power company.

That day will be fine.




5 thoughts on “Climate

  1. This is actually my area of expertise. One of the main reasons for the uptake of renewable energy in many European countries is security. Most can’t provide the level of fossil fuels they needed to power the country so were often held to ransom by the Russian gas pipeline or the whims of the Saudis. Increased solar, wind and tidal in the future provides a level of autonomy they need.

    Much like yourself I like the idea of controlling my own destiny, solar and a small battery will let me control at least a part of it.


  2. Agreed. Same reason we have a small garden and some odd farm animals. It’s nice to control at least a small part of the supply chain. If you ever get a chance, you need to see the wind farms over here. Watching the turbines turn can be hypnotic.


    • I used to drive along the coast of western Victoria as part of my old job and it was full of slow moving wind turbines. I found myself staring at them and not paying anywhere near enough attention to the road. People say they ruin the landscape but I think they are just beautiful regardless of the energy benefits.


  3. I was listening to a PHD talk about a US program that pays individuals in 3rd world countries to not cut down forests. It seems we pay even if they went ahead and clear cut. He also talked about the horror of the loss of the trees because of the lost capability of absorption of CO2.. But then he said something really strange. He was kind of happy the trees were gone because the dark color of the leaves cause them to absorb solar radiation which heats the atmosphere. Trees, can’t live with them and can’t live without them.


  4. Back to the original blog point. I too saw lots of wind mills and solar farms in southern Germany. The panels in fields were high enough that the ground under them could still be farmed. Barn roofs and alpine houses also were covered with panels. I think the country plans on renewable energy meeting 40% of the need by 2025.


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