Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Heat is on....

...for the moment, anyway.

The Cogeneration Stopgap
Posted by Engineer-Poet on February 26, 2008 - 10:00am
Topic: Demand/consumption

...The prospect of going through a cold winter with inadequate heat is a real one. More and more Americans are putting their winter heating fuel on credit, increasing their level of debt and the burden of servicing it. This cannot continue indefinitely. When the ARM resets or the credit cards max out, the whole house of cards (including paying the mortgage) falls down. Foreclosure is the problem in the mid-term, but freezing strikes as soon as there's no fuel for the furnace.

This problem is made much worse by fuel shortages and the consequent price spikes. As fuel supplies go down, prices go up. The alternative is rationing, but this has costs too; if commerce is shut down, employees don't get paid and the problem of paying for heat is much the same.

The problem comes down to affordability. Whether there is a limit to the gas available, or if incremental supplies command unaffordable prices, the alternatives are to do more with less, or do without. As N. American gas supplies are already shrinking, any good solution has to involve getting out in front of the problem and staying there....

...How do we do it? In the longer term, we replace natural gas with electricity. But this takes a relatively long time to plan and build generators, transmission lines, and so forth. In the short term, we do jiu-jitsu with entropy...

...Summary: A large part of the USA needs heat in the winter, and much of this is supplied by natural gas. N. American gas supplies are shrinking rather rapidly, so we must do something about it for both the long and short term. While we wait for the building stock to turn over, the combination of cogenerating furnaces, heat pumps and other grid-connected devices can shrink our total fuel demand, allow us to make substitutions much more easily and turn big problems into minor inconveniences. If we want a warm, clean, secure and affordable future, this is a good place to start...

Solutions like these require cooperation among all the neighbors in an area regardless of what shul they go to, tolerance of everyone's halacha even if it is less than the stringencies our rav insists upon, and a willingness to do with a little bit less ourselves so that everyone all together in the community will have enough without resorting to thuggishness and intimidation (and without cutting off people who insist on their freedom of religious observance within halacha) - not exactly things we're known for, to say the least.

Unjustified hatred tore our people apart before, and it is doing so again. Can we not stop this and position ourselves realistically to deal with each other and the outside world? Is that really so hard?

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