2016 TEDx Tryon Talk

How we generate and distribute electricity are technological and scientific questions.
The answers to those questions suggest that "not in my back yard" isn't a helpful strategy. Not if we want to keep the planet habitable.


Sources

Earth photographs
The first photograph was taken in 1972, during the Apollo 17 mission crew. It is the last photo of the Earth taken from halfway between the earth and the moon. The second photograph is a 2012 composite of satellite photos.

Power Line Route
The map is from the Foothills Modernization Plan, no longer online through Duke Energy, but a good source is:
https://www.southernenvironment.org/news-and-press/news-feed/duke-energy-backpedals-on-controversial-expansion-in-western-carolinas

Public meetings
Coverage of the public meetings was extensive in the local media. The Tryon Daily Bulletin's story on the Saluda meeting is at: http://www.tryondailybulletin.com/2015/08/26/saluda-community-meeting-draws-large-crowd/

The figure of 400 attendees in Saluda comes from comes from meeting organizers, who had attendees sign up. The 1,100 figure for the Blue Ridge Community College meeting comes from a personal estimate/count and http://www.app.com/story/news/local/2015/09/03/duke-burying-power-lines-costly/71672718/

Several variations of the Sagan quote can be found online, as he used it several times in his books. I recommend The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

Methane's global warming potential:
The figure of 86 times as powerful as carbon dioxide is a recent update of previous estimates, which were lower, but this figure has now been widely accepted. See:
http://www.eeb.cornell.edu/howarth/publications/f_EECT-61539-perspectives-on-air-emissions-of-methane-and-climatic-warmin_100815_27470.pdf

A serious scientific debate persists over how much emphasis we should put on short-term "radiative forcing" (the technical term for the effects of greenhouse gases and other factors that change how much heat the atmosphere can hold). This review in Nature is a good place to start for an overview of the problem, It is also the core issue behind the argument in favor of using natural gas a "bridge fuel" (see this analysis, for example). But in my opinion, and that of many climatologists, the precautionary principle means we cannot affort to risk triggering a positive feedback loop in which short-term heating leads to long-term changes in the planet's thermal equilibrium. Perhaps this could have been a viable option 30 years ago, but we are too close to critical thresholds, or "tipping points," now.

Fugitive estimates
A Google Doc with links to each of the journal papers in the bar chart can be found at: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1yRbMX02JpoBA2AeLdSfmGSFlqTzzL04OA
iSLostrU7I/pubhtml


Cartoon equation
The math here is a simplified calculation that omits several factors, such as the effect of aerosol pollution from coal plants, which actually offsets some of the warming effect of carbon emissions. But for the purposes of a rough estimate, the figures are useful.

Coal = 100%
Gas = smokestack emissions + fugitive emissions
@1% leakage = 40% + 1% x 86 = 126% of coal's global warming potention
@0.1% leakage = 40% = 0.1% x 86 = 48.6%

The 2016 northern Alberta forest fire was the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history at $CDN 3.58 billion.
http://globalnews.ca/news/2810070/top-10-most-costly-disasters-in-canadian-history-for-insurers/

Estimates of the recent damage to the Great Barrier Reef vary, but a third dead or dying in 2016 is a common scientific estimate:
https://www.coralcoe.org.au/media-releases/coral-death-toll-climbs-on-great-barrier-reef

More background is available at:
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/science-sushi/2016/05/29/bleaching-killed-upwards-of-35-percent-of-great-barrier-reef-corals-so-far/

Mirtabah, Kuwait:
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=54559

New generating capacity addition between 2015 and 2029: Duke Energy Integrated Resource Management Plan 2015:
http://starw1.ncuc.net/NCUC/ViewFile.aspx?Id=badec175-5e4f-4bea-a267-80e113db8c16

The Jacobson plan
http://www.pnas.org/content/112/49/15060

Compact pylons
http://www.electranix.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/CompactHVDC.pdf

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