I wish people would consider the implications of their statements. I'm all in favor of sustainable energy but it must be founded on reality.

July 17, 2008 — Al Gore

Quote from Al Gore's speech:

Scientists have confirmed that enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth every 40 minutes to meet 100 percent of the entire world's energy needs for a full year. Tapping just a small portion of this solar energy could provide all of the electricity America uses.

A few details he forgot to mention

  1. 40 minutes per year — 0.008% of the total yearly.
  2. The area of the two-dimensional shadow of the earth — 50,240,000 sq miles
  3. 500 sq miles — area of Los Angeles
  4. 0.008% = 4,020 sq miles = 8 times the area of Los Angeles at 100% efficiency
  5. Likely to be only 1% efficient = 800 times the area of Los Angeles. This is 5 times the area of Kansas.
  6. This huge area will likely be 10% in shadow every day due to the solar panels. Will this have any environmental impact?

Important questions

  1. How much land? How long will it take? How much will it cost?
  2. Who owns the land that will be used?
  3. Will this plan itself be detrimental to the environment?

From an article in Scientific American, A Solar Grand Plan (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=a-solar-grand-plan) — By Ken Zweibel, James Mason and Vasilis Fthenakis

The U.S. is lucky to be endowed with a vast resource; at least 250,000 square miles of land in the Southwest alone are suitable for constructing solar power plants, and that land receives more than 4,500 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of solar radiation a year. Converting only 2.5 percent of that radiation into electricity would match the nation's total energy consumption in 2006.
The technology is ready. On the following pages we present a grand plan that could provide 69 percent of the U.S.'s electricity and 35 percent of its total energy (which includes transportation) with solar power by 2050.
The federal government would have to invest more than $400 billion over the next 40 years to complete the 2050 plan.
Without subsidies, the solar grand plan is impossible.

Important questions

  1. What impact would spending $10 billion per year have on our lifestyle?
  2. How much in additional costs is needed to switch to an electricity-based infrastructure?
  3. Al Gore says we can meet the goal in 10 years. If it's even possible it would take $40 billion per year.

Another quote from Al Gore's speech:

Enough wind power blows through the Midwest corridor every day to also meet 100 percent of US electricity demand. Geothermal energy, similarly, is capable of providing enormous supplies of electricity for America.

From an article in Wikipedia, Wind power in the United States

American wind farms will generate an estimated 48 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of wind energy in 2008, just over 1% of U.S. electricity supply.
Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center is the world's largest wind farm at 735.5 megawatt (MW) capacity. It consists of 291 GE Energy 1.5 MW wind turbines and 130 Siemens 2.3 MW wind turbines spread over nearly 47,000 acres (190 square km) of land in Taylor and Nolan County, Texas.


  1. This only includes electricity generation.
  2. 47,000 acres = 73 sq miles
  3. This one wind farm generates a small percentage of all wind energy in the U.S.A.; wind energy totals only 1% of all electricity use; and electricity provides a small percentage of energy used. Perhaps 200,000 sq miles would be needed to power America using wind energy. That comes to 400 times the area of Los Angeles or two-and-a-half times the area of Kansas. The area of Kansas is 82,000 sq miles. (These estimates are likely to be very low, I did them quickly without accurate data.)

Important questions

  1. Can we really convert an area 2.5 times the state of Kansas for wind power?
  2. Who owns all this land?

Ice Age vs. Global Warming

Some speculate that the extra CO2 humans release into the atmosphere will delay or prevent the next ice age from occurring. I am not advocating this view. See Global Warming: A Chilling Perspective (http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/ice_ages.html) |
Not by Fire but by Ice (http://www.iceagenow.com/) |
Climate Change - Is CO2 the cause? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOLkze-9GcI)

Similar articles:  The End of Civilization  | The Future of America |
Sustainability | Oil Wars