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Scientific American used to be a great magazine — before it became intellectually unsustainable.
Scientific American used to be a great magazine but like any publishing venture headquartered in New York, it has gradually drifted into liberal never-never-land. .
Over the years the magazine has run several lead stories encouraging complete nuclear disarmament. At one point it had O.J. Simpson’s attorney explaining why DNA technology would never be accurate. Now it’s become a shameless, uncritical cheerleader for a world run on renewable energy.
This month’s cover story, “A Plan for a Sustainable Future: How to get all energy from wind, water and solar power by 2030,” is a prime example. Authors Mark Z. Jacobsen and Mark A. Delucchi are respectively, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford and a research scientist at UC Davis — which makes you wonder what’s going on in academia these days. The article is so full of half-truths, absurd omissions and blue-sky fantasy that it is hard to know where to begin.
The authors premise is this: In order to free ourselves from fossil fuels and nuclear power, the authors postulate, all we need to do over the next 20 years is build the following:
• 490,000 tidal turbines of 1 megawatt apiece (<1 percent of which are now in place).
• 5,350 geothermal plants of 100 MW (< 2 percent in place).
• 900 hydroelectric dams of 1300 MW (70 percent in place),
• 3,800,000 windmills of 5 MW (1 percent in place).
• 720,000 wave converters (ocean turbines driven by waves rather than the tide), 0.75 MW (< 1 percent in place).
• 1,700,000,000 rooftop solar voltaic systems, 0.003 MW (< 1 percent in place).
• 49,000 solar thermal plants (mirror arrays that heat a fluid), 300 MW (< 1 percent in place).
• 40,000 photovoltaic power plants (sunlight directly into electricity), 300 MW (<1 percent in place).
That would make a nice stimulus package, wouldn’t it? Let’s hope Congress doesn’t take this too seriously. Offhand, I would say that if we undertook one-tenth of these tasks over the next twenty years we would be very ambitious. Even then, the authors have had to do a lot of fudging. For example:
• 900 hydroelectric dams, 1300 MW, 70 percent in place. There are only 94 dams in the whole world that produce more than 1300 MW, eleven of them in the United States. Even Glen Canyon (1296 MW) does not quite qualify. Around the world there are few dam sites left untamed. Even building 70 more dams of this size – let alone 800 — is unlikely.
• 3,800,000 windmills, 5 MW, <1 percent in place. The largest windmills now designed generate 3 MW. These are “the length of a football field,” as President Obama recently mentioned. A windmill generating 5 MW would probably be the length two football fields and stand 80 stories high. Imagine the landscape covered with 3 million these.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?