Tag Archives: energy

Fracking – A nation of experts

Hi readers.  Everywhere people gather with no television playing and no cell phone calls to attend to the US citizenry conversations eventually get around to fracking.  Drilling oil and gas wells horizontally into shale and fracturing the deposition to release energy producing minerals.

Heck, I’d never heard of it until a couple of years ago, when my neighbor began telling me about the amazing oil discoveries in Texas now reaching production.  Oil reserves larger than the combined deposits everywhere else on the planet.

At first I was skeptical, and I couldn’t imagine what fracking was.  But one thing I discovered immediately was the fact everyone who knew the word was possessed of a certainty about whether it was a dangerous risk to one or another environmental facet.

When I visited Eddie Brewer in Andrews, Texas while waiting for the VA to try figuring out what manner of health problems I’d given myself I found he’d educated himself about it.  A neighbor was drilling a number of wells so’s to sell water to drilling companies for use in fracking.  And Eddie was concerned about depletion of his household water well.

It was through Eddie I first became fundamentally acquainted with what’s involved.  And with him I watched a number of television documentaries on the subject of fracking and groundwater contamination.  I didn’t come away with a deep understanding of the risks, and I doubt anyone actually can lay claim to a thorough understanding of those.  But at least I was able to comprehend the basics.

And gradually became cognizant of how much BS was coming from the mouths of people who didn’t understand those basics in the form of almost religious opinion, either for, or against fracking.

So, even though I don’t have a good reason for doing so beyond curiosity, I recently decided to devote some time to learning about it.  Just enough to decide whether I’d have an opinion if I were smarter and better informed than I am.  I started by watching two movies currently streaming on Netflix:  Gasland, and FrackNation.  What would appear at first glance to be a way of getting both sides of the viewpoints.

Unfortunately, Gasland turns out to be a fraud.  Which doesn’t mean a strong stand opposing fracking mightn’t be valid.  All it means is that Gasland was a deliberate nest of lies and misrepresentations intended to propagandize unfavorably about fracking.

However, here are some other videos giving both sides of the subject.  I’ve watched them carefully and learned a lot.  But I still can’t figure out whether I have an opinion.  Or, if I have an opinion, what it might be.  I’ve graduated from not having an opinion out of total ignorance, to not having an opinion knowing a good bit more, and being more acutely aware of how much a person with an opinion ought to know.  Which most of us don’t.

FrackNation vs Gasland

The Director of ‘FrackNation’ Fights Back!

Dr. Ingraffea Facts on Fracking

FrackNation the documentary that exposes Joshua Fox as a liar?

WARNING Fracking An Inconvenient Truth Watch Learn about Fracking Shale Gas what they dont say

If you watch it all and discover yourself to be without an opinion, I’d guess you’ve learned a great deal more than you knew beforehand.

Old Jules


Inventing it and patenting it wasn’t enough – Timing is everything

Hi readers:

Jeanne’s uncle Dr. Philip Carlson patented this thing back in the 1960s.  Got himself and it all written up in Popular Mechanics.  So you’d figure when they put it together to serve a need of civilization, quid pro quo, wouldn’t you?

Well, there ain’t.  They’re building it though, and someone’s going to get rich off it in a timely manner.

Brings to mind the story of my ex-wife, Carolyn’s uncle Arthur, who invented the forklift while serving in the Army during WWII.  General Eisenhower visited his mom and dad in Comfort, Texas when he died, but they never saw a penny for the forklift.


The Not-So-Crazy Plan to Build a Colossal Energy Skyscraper In Arizona

The Not-So-Crazy Plan to Build a Colossal Energy Skyscraper In Arizona

This week, a small town near the U.S.-Mexico border gave an unusual company the right to build a 2,250-foot-tower, destined to become the tallest structure in the U.S. The company, Solar Wind Energy Tower Inc, is only three years old. But the idea it’s hocking dates all the way back to the 1960s.

It’s called an “energy tower,” or in the words of Forbes, an “energy skyscraper:” A massively tall hollow concrete structure situated in a warm, arid climate. The sun’s rays super-heat the top of the tower, and a cool mist gets sprayed across. The water evaporates and the cool, heavy air is then sucked down into the base at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. At the bottom, the whooshing gusts of air push through a circle of wind turbines—producing energy.

Solar Wind, which is based in Maryland, wants to start construction on the first major energy tower in the country, in San Luis, Arizona, by 2018. The town of 26,000 has also agreed to sell the company the water it needs to continually spray a fine mist over the 1,200-foot wide top of the tower. This mega-structure will sit on a 600-acre piece of desert near the Mexican border where the temperatures regularly reach 106 degrees—perfect for the technology, which relies on hot, dry climates.

So, where does this fairly incredible-sounding idea come from? It turns out that the energy tower dates back to the 1960s, when an engineer names Dr. Philip Carlson floated the idea. In a December 1981 issue of Popular Mechanics, Carlson, then an engineer at Lockheed, describes how the idea came to him while working on a desalinization plant in the 1960s:

We ran some calculations and found that, theoretically, we’d get out eight times the energy we put in to pump the water to the top of the chimney. But, in 1965, there didn’t seem to be any need for new energy sources.

Carlson did patent the concept in 1975, but it seems the idea was tabled. Since then, two engineers named Professor Dan Zaslavsky and Dr. Rami Guetta from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have resurrected the idea, studying it extensively and publishing a number of papers on the topic.

The Not-So-Crazy Plan to Build a Colossal Energy Skyscraper In Arizona

Image: Popular Mechanics

So, why isn’t the American Southwest dotted with 2,000-foot-high energy towers? First of all, there are considerable challenges involved in actually building them—including not only funding the construction of such a huge tower, but also the cost of pumping water up to the top at a constant rate. Building Solar Wind’s tower, in Arizona, will require $1.5 billion in capital, according to Businessweek.

It’s also easy to imagine that communities aren’t excited to welcome huge, industrial-looking towers that would loom over their homes. But as a San Luis city official told Forbes, it’s also an economic driver and an opportunity for smaller, struggling cities:

In Arizona you do get a lot of dreamers who say, ‘You could really do something with this.’ With (Solar Wind Energy), they have already gotten permission and concurrence from federal agencies in Washington. They weren’t starting with the Air Force, they weren’t starting with BLM. They were starting at the top. It isn’t a guarantee of success, but it is a lot more feasible than a lot of the other things I’ve seen.

The deal with San Luis no doubt hinges on the fact that the construction and upkeep of the tower would bring thousands of jobs to the area—not to mention producing 1,200 megawatt-hours of power in the hotted, driest months.

Still, there are plenty of questions about how their plan would work—starting with who’s going to put up the $1.5 billion to build it. But Solar Wind doesn’t seem to be letting that slow it down: Beyond putting up a tower in San Luis, the company reportedly wants to license its technology to developers all over the world. For now, winning approval from the small town is a huge step forward. [SMH; Businessweek; Forbes; Solar Wind Energy Tower]

Old Jules

4-5 amp solar collector for recharging batteries

Hi readers:

Eddie’s made me another generous offer of a solar collector he had lying around, complete with controller.

solar collector

solar collector controller


I have a smaller one back at Gale’s, but I think I’ll be able to just add the wires to those going into the controller.


powerline helper

I’d have gotten more done Friday if I hadn’t come across this on the way into town.  I’d seen them doing the same thing the previous day, but didn’t have the camera.

powerline helper3

Can’t help wondering what the dingle dangler and helicopter pilot do for excitement on their days off.

powerline helper4

“So, how was your day, honey?”

“Same old same old.  Boss looking over my shoulder all the time.”

Seems the advantages of being out of sight and out of mind for most of the population aren’t necessarily advantages when the out-of-sight geography includes something a multi-national corporation wants. All those city folks needing to keep the air conditioners turned down to 70 and to be able to light up the hair dryers every morning probably never ask themselves where the electricity popped out of the ground and hopped into the wires they plug things into.

One more bug on the windshield of civilization.  Old Jules


Beyond the Mesas

[The following letter was written by former Hopi Tribe chairman Benjamin H. Nuvamsa from Shungopavi.  He presented the letter to the Hopi Tribal Council on Friday January 13, 2012]

January 13, 2012
Hopi Tribal Council
Hopi – Tewa Senom

It is time we have a serious discussion about coal mining on our reservation, our water rights and our environment.  For far too long, we have pushed these issues aside, not willing to talk about how these issues impact our lives.  We must talk about how the Peabody Western Coal Company and Navajo Generating Station are affecting our lives.  Since the mid 1960’s, Peabody Coal has been mining our coal, pumping our precious Navajo Aquifer water and paying us pennies on the dollar in return.  Navajo Generating Station is emitting dangerous and harmful particulates into the air we breathe.  Our coal resources are being depleted.  Our Navajo Aquifer has been damaged…

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This is Zuni Salt Lake

It’s about forty miles south of the Zuni Rez, almost in AZ.

There’s a ghost town you can barely see in the pic…. used to be a considerable community down in there when it was private land, from the mid-1800s until the 1950s, evaporating salt from the huge concrete beds.  Most of the buildings are still intact, though they’re going away rapidly.

Today it belongs to the Zuni tribe, one section of land, but it’s not in the national trust as part of the Rez.  Tribes have been acquiring a lot of land from casino monies and other ways during the past decades, making the lands acquired ‘tribal’, but not Rez, which puts them into an interestingly ambiguous position insofar as road maintenance and county taxes.

Salt Lake was acquired as a piece of a lawsuit against the US government involving an airplane with a hydrogen bomb aboard that crashed on the Rez, with first responders being Zunis, but which the feds didn’t bother telling them about the bomb, leaving emergency workers exposed to hazardous materials without knowing it.  The tribe got a few million out of that, which they used to purchase 60k acres of land to the south of the Rez, but Salt Lake was thrown in as a bonus.

Salt Lake’s a sacred place for the Zunis, home of Salt Mother.  If you are willing to risk hopping the fence and wandering around down there ….. it’s a volcano crater with a hollow secondary plug you can climb, then a spiral trail leading back down inside … that’s where most of the rituals for Salt Mother are held… but all over that section you’ll pass over various religious items from recent times you’d be well advised to leave untouched.

Salt Lake used to be the place all the warring tribes got their salt throughout history.  A place where a constant truce between enemy tribes existed.

It’s also part of what the power companies would love to strip mine.   The great percentage of the desert surrounding it, from north of Springerville, and Saint Johns, Arizona is government land with shallow coal deposits comparatively inexpensive to ‘recover’.  They’ve already converted the desert on the Arizona side to a wasteland.  Still desert, but more in the moonscape vein than the usual, regular arid country mode.

The people in El Paso and Phoenix need electricity so they can fire up their hair dryers every morning, and keep their homes refrigerated.   Those places have climates uncomfortable to the human skin most of the time and they’d rather savage a few million acres of country they’ve never visited and never will than suffer a few degrees of discomfort and use a towel to dry their hair.

Which the Zuni believe would thoroughly piss off Salt Mother, with considerable resulting pain for the Zunis, and all the rest of us.

They might be right.

The Zuni and a few commie-pinko-obstructionist greenie environmentalists are the only people who give a damn, and the other desert-dwellers in the area would welcome the jobs helping ravage the country around them would bring to the area.  The last time I looked the Zuni tribe was burning up a lot of tribal money trying to stop the mine expansion into New Mexico.  The prospects didn’t appear promising because the New Mexico government, the feds, and the mining interests were stacked up singing songs of human progress and greater good.

Heck, it’s been a few years now.  Maybe they’re already mining it.  Probably easier to ask someone in Phoenix or El Paso whether the hair dryer worked this morning and if it did, assume that desert has gone to the moon.

Old Jules


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