Follow

As an Italian (even if living abroad), I'm very worried for the winter that is awaiting my country.

Italy is the EU country that relies the most on Russian gas, after Germany and some eastern European countries.

And France just announced that it may cut its energy exports (which constitute about 4-5% of Italy's mix) amid concerns about the capacity of its aging and strained nuclear plants.

Algeria promised to make up for the losses by exporting more gas, but Eni just confirmed its serious doubts about Algeria's capacity of supplying so much gas.

Overall, Italy really faces the risk of getting 15-20% of its energy supplies cut over this winter.

But I also see a silver lining.

This is the occasion for people to soberly acknowledge that there's no such thing as a painless green revolution, and whoever promised such a thing was nothing but a hollow piper.

There's no such thing as migrating to a sustainable energy mix while we keep burning gas, while people keep moving around in cars that burn fossil fuels, and while Italy's energy mix is completely based on the import of fossil fuels. And if your house still relies on gas for cooking and heating, and you've never consider buying an induction cooker or a heat pump, then you're part of the problem.

My country of NIMBYs may also finally realize that there's no point in opposing nuclear plants while a lot of the energy we import comes from nuclear plants just across the border. They may also finally realize that nobody should give a fuck about their opposition to wind turbines because of concerns about noise or landscape views, when the alternative is thousands of homes lit up by candles.

There's a lesson to be learned here, and it's a lesson that I've been trying to convey for years: changing the way we produce and consume energy will require change and sacrifices at all levels. Opposing the construction of plants that help a country be less reliant on energy imports, or have a greener energy mix, is just going to harm a whole country for the narrow interests of a small minority of selfish NIMBYs. And expecting somebody else to "migrate" while we don't care about making our houses more energy efficient/self-sufficient, or making sure that our way of moving around is more sustainable, is pure idiocy.

I wish that these lessons were conveyed without the pain that my country will soon face. But sometimes pain is a required step towards acceptance.

@blacklight are you suggesting that societies have to partially suffer for the transition to sustainable energy?
Have you thought about the lifecycle of wind turbines ? Do you know the vast energy used to produce , transfer, install them? Are also aware that they are being left on site after their life cycle, or even buried since they cannot be recycled?
Should firstly the storage of energy be solved by developing high capacity energy collectors ie batteries, since 1/2

@blacklight there is no evergy produced at night and no energy when there is no wind ? I think we should carefully examine the total systemic life cycle of evergy productions and then propose what and how such transition could take place, of course without any suffering for the people. 2/2

@oros

> are you suggesting that societies have to partially suffer for the transition to sustainable energy?

Kind of. I mean, I wish we didn't end up in this situation, but now we all have to be responsible adults.

We've known about the upcoming climate crisis at least since the 1970s, and the steps we've taken on a global scale amount to little more than rounding errors, and in the meantime our emissions of CO2 keep rising.

Private citizens expect the government to take steps first. Businesses expect other businesses to take steps first. Governments expect other countries to take steps first, amid fears that they would lose their competitive advantage if others don't do the same investments, or expect their own citizens to take steps first, by decarbonizing their lives and reducing consumption, even if they have no incentives to do so.

In the meantime, the planet is burning, whole countries are ending up under water, Siberia is experiencing temperatures >30 C for the first time in million years, and this summer the arctic circle was almost completely ice-free.

So we should just accept the fact that the migration needs to happen right now if we don't want to doom our species to self-extinction, and that sacrifices will be required at all levels.

@oros

> Should firstly the storage of energy be solved by developing high capacity energy collectors ie batteries,

I don't think there's a "first this, then that" order. All these innovations need to go in parallel. Wind energy will help the transition, but it can't fulfill the energy demands of the whole world - so it needs to be paired with solar, geothermal, nuclear, hydroelectric, and more. And, of course, we need the battery technology to step up and act as a proper buffer for forms of energy that are variable by definition. So far only Elon Musk and a few other billionaires with their private companies are investing in this field though. We should be outraged at our politicians for not stepping up their game, and never vote again for those that don't come with a credible plan for energy production and storage.

@oros all in all, we are faced with a simple choice: either we drastically reduce our consumption of energy, or we think of how to completely replace every single fossil fuel with renewable alternatives.

This can't be done if people keep opposing the construction of wind farms, solar farms, nuclear plants and dams. It can't be done if people insist that they don't want to give up on their gas stove, on their private car, or don't want to install a heat pump in their houses. It can't be done unless every single new building is built with energetic self-sufficiency in mind. It can't be done if we keep buying gasoline from petrol stations and contribute to the profits of companies that should have gone bankrupt years ago.

Either we go all in on the change (and we do it all together, at all the levels), or we must accept that we must drastically reduce our energy footprint in order to ensure the survival of our species.

Most people didn't get that they were faced with such an existential choice so far, they kept voting for hollow pipers that kicked the can down the road, and maybe a winter with sky-high gas prices and energy rationing is the right way to finally ensure that we're all on the same page.

@blacklight @oros While I support renewable energy, I think that it's going to be a slow process. We can't just undo years and years of fossil fuel use in a matter of months. I am unopposed to all you just mentioned; I don't drive, and up in NH, there is a wind farm near my lakehouse residence.

@cambridgeport90 @oros the more I look at recent data, the more I'm afraid that we just don't have that much time. Most of the estimates about the climate tipping points so far have actually been quite optimistic and better models are painting a much bleaker scenario.

The Arctic is warming at higher rates than expected. The minimum extension of the Arctic ice cap is getting lower and lower every year, and if we go on like this we may see an ice-free Arctic already by the next decade.

At that point, the domino effects of feedback loops will be almost irreversible. An ice-free Arctic means a lower albedo and more heat being absorbed by the oceans. It will mean a much lower salinity because of the freshwater dumped into the northern Atlantic, which will act like a salinity gradient that will prevent ice from forming again above the polar circle. The Gulf Stream that powers the northern Atlantic is likely to stop without a sufficiently high temperature gradient. Most of Greenland is likely to melt within the next 3-4 decades already - with an added 5-6 meters to the sea levels. Not to mention what happens if the Thwaites melts within our lifetimes.

It seems to me that we don't have much time, whether we like it or not. And I personally prefer to make a few sacrifices now, even if the cost is an economic recession, rather than risking a scenario where our planet may be hostile to life for the next hundreds of thousands of years.

@blacklight @oros What do you suggest? Particularly for those such as myself who rely on technology as it is to communicate for the majority of the time?

@cambridgeport90 @oros I think all of us should think of how to minimize our carbon footprint as much as we can. Ideally, we should stop adding CO2 to our atmosphere right now. Practically, we should make that transient as steep as possible.

A lot goes through voting politicians that give the climate crisis the maximum priority, as well as rewarding sustainable businesses - it can be as easy as buying km0 stuff in some cases.

And then we all need to think of how to reduce our footprints by quantifying it as much as possible. Some examples: I have an almost 100% green energy contract, even if it costs me a bit more. I don't own a car, I bike or skate when moving nearby, or rent an electric car or move by train when I need to move over longer distances. I don't eat meat, I don't use a gas stove, and I'm planning to migrate to a heat pump asap to cut even the last direct dependency on natural gas. And energy self-sufficiency should also become the new normal.

And, when it comes to technology, it can actually help a lot to quantify and optimize our impact. I have plugged smart Zigbee plugs behind every power-hungry appliance, and have the consumption plotted on individual graphs so I can more easily optimize consumption. And I have made a network of smart sensors that detects when people are actually at home or in a room to automatically switch off appliances that are not required.

With all these things taken into account, each of us could reduce our carbon footprint by at least a half. And, if we eventually reward politicians and businesses that think along these lines, the feedback loops could really enforce themselves.

I know it's a lot to ask in some cases, I know that not all of these actions will be cheap, but I don't think we have much choice. If our house is in an area that is at risk of hurricanes, we makes sure that it's resistant against strong winds and rains, even if that costs sacrifices.

@blacklight

Ι think you overreacting man..good for you following that path it's your choice but lemme ask you something.

Is CO2 bad for the environment?
Are you using Chinese products? You know that china is the biggest polluter.
Do we have a climate crisis or climate change?

@cambridgeport90

@oros @blacklight After all, look at what happened during Viking times in C.E. 536... The three-year long winter that many equate as being part of the Ragnorok myth... it happened without humans interfering... without machines, cars, and even very good technology... climate change cycles seem to happen every couple of thousand years or so.

@cambridgeport90 @oros some of my references to the collapsing Arctic ecosystem have been summarized in this recent video piped.platypush.tech/watch?v=h (references to the papers are in the description).

No matter how far we look back at our geological history, we can't find times where the average temperature increased as such a high rate as today's. Yes, the earth goes through complex geologic cycles, but those cycles usually span over (at least) thousands of years - not a few decades.

Then, of course, there are outliers. The long winter of the year 536 was most likely due to a large scale eruption (most of the evidence nowadays points to Iceland) that ejected massive amounts of sulfur in the high atmosphere. Sulfur increases the earth's albedo (i.e. the amount of light it reflects back into space) and therefore it dropped the global temperatures by at least 2 degrees for a couple of years. And eruptions can also go in the other way when exceptional events happen: according to a recent research (scientificamerican.com/article), the massive Siberian Traps eruptions (which occurred 250 million years ago and probably lasted thousands of years) burned so much of the methane and carbon deep under the Siberian crust that the overall increase in greenhouse gasses caused the global average temperature to go up by 8-10 C, triggering a lot of devastating tipping points that eventually led to the Permian-Triassic extinction - the most serious one in earth's history.

So far, however, no natural events can justify such a sudden increase in temperature, nor do astronomic events such as the sun's spots cycles, nor the precession of the earth's axis.

@blacklight @oros Interesting... I'll be watching that later on when I'm not sitting at the office.

@oros @cambridgeport90 the "environment" relies on a very delicate chemical balance in order to sustain life as we know it.

None of those chemicals are bad for the environment in small amounts, but all of them are bad when their concentration exceeds a certain threshold. No CO2 in the atmosphere, and the earth becomes a snow ball. 220-280 parts per million, and you have enough to sustain life as we've known it for the past hundreds of thousands of years. 1800 parts per million, and the temperature of the earth increases by 8-10 degrees - as it happened in the events that lead to the Permian-Triassic mass extinction: nature.com/articles/s41467-021. 96.5% CO2, and you have an atmosphere like that of Venus.

We are now at about 415 parts per million, at most of that jump has occurred over the past 5 decades alone (climate.gov/news-features/unde) - nothing in comparison to the expected geological times. You can just do the math to see where we're going.

@blacklight @oros Remember my comment aboutt not driving earlier? that's because I'm visually impaired, as I've mentioned in the past. I normally just grab a Lift or something in order to get to work or wherever else I'm going. though I prefer to walk where I can when I can. What else should I be doing?

@cambridgeport90 @oros something I do when I really need a cab is to opt for those that offer electric cars - at least here in the Netherlands the Uber Green option is becoming quite popular.

With such small actions taken on a large scale, we give businesses an incentive to move in the right direction by creating demand that goes in that direction, even if initially it may cost a bit more.

I think however that each of us should think about quantifying their own carbon footprint and start tackling whatever tops the list and can be more easily fixed. For some it may be red meat consumption; for other it may be making their house more energy-efficient by fixing fixtures or loose frames, or installing a solar panel; for others it may be minimizing their number of trips; for others it may be some piece of hardware or software that optimizes their energy consumption, or replacing old filament lightbulbs; for others it may be biking to work instead of driving; for others it may be installing a heat pump or an induction cooker.

I think that it's quite important that all of us slash our carbon footprint by at least a half within the next few years. In order to slash it effectively, we first need to quantify it and then take decisions - which may be different for each of us.

@blacklight @oros Are there tools one can use to figure out exactly how much the appliances and technology in your house is using? That's actually one of the reasons why I love Dell computers and technology because they make an effort to pinpoint their environmental impact and reduce it every itteration.

@cambridgeport90 @oros I personally use a bunch of Zigbee smart plugs - they are as cheap as $15-25 nowadays. Most of them come with power measurement circuitry, and the data is pushed back to the Zigbee bridge. I plugged a Zigbee->USB adapter into a RPi to act as a bridge, installed zigbee2mqtt and Platypush, set up a script that reacts on Zigbee events with power data attached and persists them on my database, and then set up a Grafana dashboard to plot them. At the end of the month, you can even run a simple SQL query to group the appliances that consumed the most. And, if you know the energy mix of your energy provider, you can even easily estimate their CO2 footprint.

@blacklight @oros What about HomeKit supported stuff? I want to get some of those eventually, though I don't know if any of them have that sort of thing. And I'm familiar with that brand, though. Not sure where.

@cambridgeport90 @oros personally I've never used Apple products besides the MacBook Pro that my employer forces me to use, but I think that nowadays most of the smart home devices should report their power consumption over some API - and, if they don't, you can always plug them into a smart plug that does.

@blacklight @oros I'm assuming that you could theoretically get Platypush to report those sorts of data?

@cambridgeport90 @oros as long as there is an API to query or report things, the scripts should work the same way - you just need to change the source you query.

@blacklight @oros Interesting. I might have to play with that on my local workstation at home. I don't have a server that could support that as of right now, though.

@oros

> Have you thought about the lifecycle of wind turbines ?

Of course, and I'm well aware that wind energy is far from being 100% sustainable. But right now we have a problem with the high amount of greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere, not with scarcity of cobalt, nor with excess of nuclear waste. So we should first solve the most pressing issue, and then move on and solve the other issues, sorted by impact.

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Mastodon

A platform about automation, open-source, software development, data science, science and tech.