LETTER: MU should seek cleaner alternatives for fuel

Sunday, September 13, 2009 | 3:19 p.m. CDT; updated 9:17 a.m. CST, Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Columbia is a beautiful city. From my fifth-floor residence I can see the tree line on the horizon, the blue sky, the top of Jesse Hall and…two huge smokestacks.

The smokestacks come from MU's power plant. I was stunned when I found out we get 80 percent of our campus energy in that plant from coal. It seemed like such an old-fashioned figure for a school that’s at the forefront of so many social justice movements.

Coal plants are a serious contributor to global warming, emitting 40percent of the nation's carbon dioxide emissions (The Department of Energy reported that in 2006, coal-fired power plants produced approximately 36 percent of the total U.S. carbon dioxide emissions). Coal is flat out dirty and damaging to our community.

But the great thing is that at MU we have the means to change that. Because we own the power plant, not only can we be self-sustaining in energy production, but we also have complete control over the kind of fuels we burn on campus. We need to switch to a clean energy source for the sake of our students, our city and the world.

I love MU, because every day I see students and faculty advocating important issues and really making an impact. Let’s take the next step and invest in coal-free, sustainable energy on our campus.

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John Schultz September 14, 2009 | 7:48 a.m.

And how much do you want to jack your tuition to switch MU's power plant to clean fuel? Or will you wave your want and make it happen without any costs? Are you aware of some of the improvements and renewable fuel that has been burned in the power plant in the past?

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 14, 2009 | 4:06 p.m.

My sentiments exactly. Many people today believe green power is at our fingertips and is affordable. They believe it because Washington is snowing them, I mean, telling them.

I'd say, put your money where your mouth is and invest in green energy if you think it's the right thing to do. Pickens did with wind, and then pulled out. WHY???

Has anyone noticed how successful subsidized Bio-Diesel is? NOT. Plants are closed or closing. WHY?

80 nukes in 5 years. Cheap, clean energy, American jobs. Zero Carbon. To hell with Iran and Venezuela. It has success written all over it, but that doesn't matter to Washington.

What Washington doesn't want you to know, (because Washington is not connected to nukes builders), is, a non-polluting low maintenance fission reactor the size of a refrigerator could power your school for 40 years. That's right!

Another Factoid Washington is keeping from you: The total non-recyclable waste from France's entire nuclear power usage since its inception would fit in a room less than the size of a small house. France recycles their waste, we do not. How green is that??

Washington wants you in wind because GE, who owns Congress, wants to build them for you. MSNBC trashes the republicans because MSNBC is owned by GE. But of course wind is tens of times more expensive then coal, so look at your power bill and multiply by at least 10. And, OOPS! Washington passed the stimulus bill, spent all we had, and now we have zilch for green energy.

Oh, and your grandkids will owe Washington tens of thousands of dollars each, the day they are born.

Simple Ideas for Simple Minds.

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 14, 2009 | 4:17 p.m.

An inconvenient truth is, the world is actually cooling.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking September 14, 2009 | 4:26 p.m.

We couldn't build 80 nukes in 5 years, because the large castings required are only produced by one company (in Japan).

I tend to like nuclear power myself, but it has limitations like everything else.

Also, nukes produce electricity, which is not generally useful for transportation now. They would not allow us to reduce oil imports significantly.

The grid is built to take power in one direction, from absolutely controlled sources. Refitting it to accept large amount of intermittent generation is a very expensive proposition, and will require significant energy storage, which does not currently exist (except on a trial basis) anywhere in the world.


(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 14, 2009 | 4:31 p.m.

("Here is the text of Newsweek’s 1975 story on the trend toward global cooling. It may look foolish today, but in fact world temperatures had been falling since about 1940. It was around 1979 that they reversed direction and resumed the general rise that had begun in the 1880s, bringing us today back to around 1940 levels.")

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 14, 2009 | 4:34 p.m.

Mark, awesome input. The types of nukes you talk about are NIMBY, and hard sell. I also think I hear you about smaller ones, or do you mean wind?

When I think Nuke, I think plug in hybrid! Nuke is the only way to go for hydrogen as well.

You would think somone would find away to use tidal power, nut maybe it's the small rise that doesn't pay.

I envision large ocean-based algae farms for bio-diesel, and of course, my favorite snack, Soylent Green. Algae would be te most efficient way for BD, because low waste, easy to mash.

Hey pretty soon a burger will cost $15 due to the methane tax!!

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 14, 2009 | 4:50 p.m.

Thanks Ray, I recall that and reviewed it recently. the trend you say I think you mean 1980s, but have you looked recently? We're going back down now.

That's why it's no longer Global Warming, it's "Climate Change".

I'll say one thing, I never put a dime in Michael Moore's pocket! But I foolishly bought the VHS version of JFK.

Ray, I liked your other post on religion vs political views. You da Man!

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 14, 2009 | 5:10 p.m.

@Brian N:
I was watching a meteorologist the other day, (not our local "Doppler Dave"), and he explained how the fires in California are actually being caused by Global Cooling and not global warming. (Next summer, I plan on using my fireplace.)
I was trying to find a copy of that presentation on the internet and found the Newsweek article which I copied and pasted. While I make typos, probably more often then the pros, the 1890 typo was Newsweek's. Lack of glasses aided in my not catching it.
Thanks for the correction.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 14, 2009 | 5:19 p.m.

Not to offend Newsweek, the typo came from copying and pasting the entire site I posted. Read it for yourself.
(Hate to have Newsweek joining in on this pissing match.)

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 14, 2009 | 5:29 p.m.

Ray, that was accuweather's Joe Bastardi, who I believe was on O'Reilley, about the cooling, to debunk Greenpeace.

Shame we're likely not near each other. I'd like to buy you a drink and shoot the breeze.

It's refreshing to know intelligent life on earth still exists.

Ray, were you always conservative, or were you truly converted as you mentioned earlier?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz September 14, 2009 | 5:30 p.m.

Ray, check out Media Matters for the clip I think you are looking for. It was probably Joe Bastardi (chuckle, snort, guffaw, etc.) on the Bill O'Reilly show. Very odd that Media Matters put it up without comment and that Greenpeace didn't want to send someone to offer a counterpoint, but oh well.

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 14, 2009 | 5:33 p.m.

Mark, we still burn a lot of oil and gas for electricity and heating. all that could go to cars. Electric house heat would be cheaper if we nuked up.

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 14, 2009 | 5:42 p.m.

John, Doh! We all need to get together and imbibe some green beverages. I suggest Vodka from the freezer!

We can all laugh at the Trxx Hxggxrs and Praxrxe Fxxries! well, that would be stooping (chuckle, snort, guffaw, etc)!

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 14, 2009 | 5:43 p.m.

I think warmers are like religious zealots. They believe in something with no proof out of guilt.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 14, 2009 | 5:55 p.m.

The presentation I viewed was with Joe Bastardi and that smart, good looking fellow, Neil Cavuto.
Last time I spoke to O'Reilly was to thank him for having the courage to expose "culture wars."
Is that Irish Long Island New Yorker still on FOX?
(chuckle, snort, guffaw, etc)

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 14, 2009 | 6:03 p.m.

Cavuto it was!!!

Spoke to O'Reilley? He may be on fox....doubt many people watch him though. He's so unbalanced and boring.

I'll confess to being Megan Kelly fan, bright and beautiful, and love her voice/accent.

Actually I respect O'Reilley, and trust his judgement for the most part. I'm no Kool-Aid guy though.

Aren't there 2 long island irishmen?

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 14, 2009 | 6:23 p.m.

No big deal speaking to O'Reilly.
You just need to get through his switchboard.
Speaking with Gary Nolan's a lot easer.
Heck, I've even spoken with my ex-wife's uncle.
He's been the Borough President of Brooklyn for years.
(Although speaking to people and having them believe in you are two very separate things.)
And as for being a convert, one only needs to take this test to find out...

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 14, 2009 | 6:33 p.m.

If we want to look at smart Nuclear options I prefer this here:

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 14, 2009 | 7:03 p.m.

Interesting technology.
If an "off the grid" approach proves to have no lethal effects on the environment or living critters, this could prove to be a viable alternative power source.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking September 14, 2009 | 7:05 p.m.

Brian Nitsllaw wrote:

"I also think I hear you about smaller ones, or do you mean wind?"

I meant wind and solar. The small nukes would be a continuous source, and would be integrated the way we integrate cogeneration facilities today.

The fundamental problem with replacing petroleum with biofuels is that petroleum is basically thousands of years of stored sunlight. Biofuels have to capture their energy in real time, and require a lot of real estate to support our energy "needs".

Brazil (for example) is only energy self-sufficient because ithey use 1/10 the energy per capita that we do. If you talk about running our society on biofuels, you're also talking about conservation and efficiency measure that Americans would not enjoy.


(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 14, 2009 | 7:51 p.m.

Wow Charles, you surprise, or maybe you weren't aware I was involved in this thread. Thank you, I think. A few less drive-bys by you and you might seem civil.

That's exactly what we should be doing, so where's Barack on this? Listening to Green Peace, George Soros, and the trxx-hxggers at the Sierra Club.

How people treat people, and how well they present an idea, and how well thought out it is, is how I appreciate their ability to contribute, whether or not they use a pen name.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 14, 2009 | 7:54 p.m.

ray shapiro I've posted that same link to that same info not only here,on the Tribune,old Trib Board,Beat Board and my own community forum too many times to count and now you finally look at it?

Whenever this topic of Nuclear Power to run our homes and businesses comes up this is the best solution I have come across yet.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 14, 2009 | 8:05 p.m.

You've verbally told me about it. We spoke about it.
Never bothered to click on, until now.
Finally got curious to see the picture, which was pretty much like I imagined.
You got a problem with that?

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 15, 2009 | 6:49 a.m.

Excellent, Charles.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 15, 2009 | 9:20 a.m.

ray shapiro no but as I stated I have posted that link far too many times to remember and it is just now you look at it.

(Report Comment)
Christopher Foote September 15, 2009 | 10:24 a.m.

Re: Global cooling?

That entertainment weeklies (Newsweek, Time etc...) posited that the Earth was cooling in 1975 is immaterial to the actual question of whether global warming is occurring or not. I seem to recall that the Right was quite upset with Newsweek for reporting that guards at Guantanamo flushed the Koran down the toilet. Here's retired Col. David Hunt on Fox news:
"It's outrageous, I think it's accessory to murder,"
"This is a lie. This is [a] criminal act as far as I'm concerned. People died,"
"It's treasonous at worst..."
Looking at the 1975 story in more detail, one will find that actual climate scientists in the 1970s predominantly held that the Earth was warming at the time:
Thomas Peterson of the National Climatic Data Center surveyed dozens of peer-reviewed scientific articles from 1965 to 1979 and found 7 supported global cooling, while 44 predicted warming (20 were neutral).
Thus of 71 articles pertaining to global temperature 7/71 argued for cooling = 9.9%,
44/71 predicted warming = 62%.
The latter is quite a bit larger than the former, indicating that the prevailing view between 1965-1979 was one of global warming amongst experts in the field.
That the Right would continually cite Newsweek's 1975 article would suggest that for them, Newsweek's veracity is assessed not on the quality of their reporting, but rather upon which talking points they embrace.

(Report Comment)
Brian Nitsllaw September 15, 2009 | 7:01 p.m.

@ Mark F

I agree entirely. I see the ocean as the only efficient source if any for bio fuels.

(Report Comment)

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