Saturday, July 11, 2009

Indulgence (on a Global Scale)

The Sunday Scribblings prompt is "Indulgence". Follow link to participating blogs.

Yesterday was my son Stan's birthday. He and his wife, Dianne, have been here visiting - actually taking care of me - shopping, meals, gardening, taking out the trash etc. - and I suppose that I could count that as a kind of personal indulgence. When they leave tomorrow for their home in Denver, they will also be driving Lorelei, Otto's and my beloved 1968 Mercedes SEL 300 6.3. Lorelei would be too hard for me to maintain. As a birthday gift for Stan I treated us to a visit to the new Academy of Sciences building in Golden Gate park. Stan and Dianne wheeled me around in a wheelchair - another kind of personal indulgence. I was pleased to see that the newly constituted building has a large section on global warming - better called climate change, since some areas will be colder, wetter or drier, or everywhere subject to increasing violent weather.

This giant graph shows the reason that we should be
VERY, VERY worried

This devastating increase in the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can be explained by another type of indulgence by civilized and developing countries as they increase their standards of living beyond what our planet can support. Fortunately the Academy building itself displays some ways of mitigating our increased use of carbon-producing energy for lighting, heating, and air conditioning. The rather industrial appearance of the above photo is due to the building's dependence on light admitting panels (offset in most parts of the museum by living exhibits of rain forest, swamp, stream, and aquarium). For temperate control there is a "living roof".

The living roof,
with domes with skylights that also open for ventilation.
The plants are all native to the area.

Another way to fight climate change on larger scale is one that I may suggest on this blog time and time again.

My husband Otto proposed building solar-turbine power plants in such places as the Gran Desierto of northern Mexico, the Yuma desert of Arizona, the Sahara and Gobi deserts.

The power plants, of his improved design, would be the conventional steam turbines now used, with the schematic below showing a more economical design than any current solar plant. Low-cost parabolic trough concentrators would boil water. The wet steam would then be dried and superheated by the focused solar light of tracking heliostats.

This would significantly reduce dependence on fossil fuels. It would be a first step toward slowing the accelerating pace of global warming before it reaches the point of no return.

This is an example of the single-axis parabolic collectors
that would be used for the pre-heat.
These are at Kramer Junction in the Mojave Desert.

Their are improved versions of the above type of pre-heat collector using Fresnell lens for even greater efficiency (i.e. lower cost).

This plant, CPS 10 in Spain is an example of the
tracking heliostats that would provide the super-heating
for the seccond stage.

And there is that indulgence that I have enjoyed for years, doing my part to add to the CO2 buildup in the atmosphere. Her name is Lorelei, Otto's and my 1989 Mercedes 300SEL 6.3. Well, it's Stan's car now. Here we are in Golden Gate Park yesterday.


Lucy said...

hi Gran! Stan looks so much like Otto.
I am happy to know you have had Stan and Dianne by your side.
Otto's ideas were so ahead of the times.
I love when you share your wonderful stories of the past and the present.
sending big hugs xox

bunnygirl said...

Thanks for the thought-provoking information and pictures. I worry that humanity is quickly losing a window of opportunity to make a smooth transition out of the petrofuel economy.

That's a lovely car you've passed on to your son. It's found a good home.

Take care. You deserve to indulge yourself.

Tumblewords: said...

My brother built an earth house in the early 70's and tried to interest locals in conserving. It didn't take then, but his current shop is creating some discussion as it's 'off the grid' with solar and water collection. We're so far behind. Wonderful post! I'm happy that Lorelei is in good hands and that you had a great visit combined with a bit of indulgence...

Rinkly Rimes said...

Yes, we've all been self-indulgent. But I suppose we can be forgiven because we knew not what we did! It's cutting-back that's hard. I didn't understand all your science, but you've obviously lost an extremely clever partner. I'm very keen in the idea of Hot Rocks. I always say I'd donate money to Hot Rocks experimentation if I won the lottery.

Granny on the Web said...

I can't pretend I know what the techno stuff means, but it looks very impressive. Anything that will preserve this lovely earth we are guardians of, must be encouraged. Otto was some awesome being, his contribution to this world uncountable.
I am glad to hear you have had such a lovely visit from your son, he looks very like Otto on the photograph. Super looking car he has inherited!
Love Granny

Marja said...

I am happy you had such a great indulgent and interesting day.
That looks like a very clever invention Because of all the CO2 problems we have in NZ a big hole in the ozon layer I wonder why here? But anyway we can't therefore go in the sun about longer than 15 minutes in summer

Maggie May said...

That was a thought provoking post but then I think many of your posts are!
You did a great thing there, giving your on, Stan the car. I am sure Otto would have approved.
Otto's plans were very advanced and I do hope that the desserts can be used for these wonderful schemes as I am sure they can & will be.
Glad you had such a good time with your son & his wife. You need to be indulged every now & then.

leks said...

It is an inspiration to visit and read on your blog every time.I whish you a great day :O)

Dee Martin said...

Back in 1980 we visited the solar plant in the Mojave - very impressive. I hope we will see more of that kind of technology. Glad you had a lovely visit :)

Understanding Alice said...

Hey its so good to see someone blogging about climate change :) and I susspect, that in the light of your lives, yours and ottos car has not been so much of an indulgence. Thinking of living roofs, you might find this interesting:

Winifred said...

That was a very interesting post. It's sad that more people don't take an interest in climate change.

When you see the disappearing rainforests, decimation of some animal species and our obsession with gadgets that damage the environment you wonder how much your own little contribution makes. However if everyone did just a little it would help. We don't have much time before it's too late.

One way to look at it is, at least the car is being recycled and going to a very good home.

Giggles said...

Very informative post! In Canada children are strongly educated and urged to conserve and recycle. I have the recycle police living in my home....Funny I have a few friends who were that way long before it was fashionable....the fuel issue is long overdue. Seems like there has been an economical shift forcing this change, not to mention strong words from your government! I think Otto's dream will be realized sooner than later!! Glad your kids are there for you!! Love the recent photo of you!!

Hugs Giggles....great post!!!

linda may said...

The academy of science building looks really cool.Not being technically minded, i can't comment on the other power system you have described here, but really....... why aren't we doing more to expand on the use of power systems that are environmentally sustainable. I know one reason, in this country coal(brown here)generated power is big business and the govt supports that because in return it makes money for them too. It is cheap, easy, a big employer and dirty. Not far from Canberra's doorstep they are developing a large number of wind turbines for power generation on the shores of Lake George.

Life with Kaishon said...

Oh my goodness. This made me cry a little for you Granny Smith. I love that you shared this. I know that it will make me more conscious of my choices ivolving things I can do to care for the planet. I pray for and think of you often. I always thought people that named their cars were very cool. You have prove me correct : )

Janie said...

I'm glad Lorelei is going to a good home.
Otto has left the world with a lot of ideas that I hope will be implemented soon.