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Thread: Predictions, especially about the future

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Having multiple recycling streams with their own processing is multiple times as expensive to run. Money makes the recycling world not go 'round.

    Water (or lemonade) bottles can be made of fairly flimsy plastic, of several varieties. A carbonated drink needs a stronger material, a low level pressure vessel, to withstand shipping.
    Which is very true, investment should be made towards reducing the costs involved for recycling. Shifting the problem down or up stream which you often see does nothing to solve the root causes and problems.
    Recycling is important and sensible, but it needs to be practical and actually makes a difference. There are certainly things we can do to reduce waste and make the environment better.

    The company I work for has invested heavily in reducing waste, energy saving. There has also been considerations for our material & service providers and the end user of the product we produce. I've been involved quite a lot in this and can see the benefits, but at the same time the cost and unpracticality of making changes along with how some of the problems are offset to others to take up the responsibility.

    But yes, in the spirit of this thread I see either big changes in the way we mange our waste or a destructive influence to the current environment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    You cannot expect manufacturers to do the right thing in open competition, nor can you expect consumers to make responsible decisions.
    Just caught this.

    It seems unrealistically pessimistic to make such a blanket statement about consumers... which in practice means all people. Everybody buys stuff, and most people have some sense of responsibility and judgement in their decision making. Not all and not perfectly (whatever perfect is), but what you say is generally untrue. Otherwise nothing good would ever get done. Many societies even have responsible actions as an explicit cultural imperative.

    If people think there's a good reason to do something, most of them do it. Grumble and whine about the inconvenience while they do it, but they do it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Just caught this.

    It seems unrealistically pessimistic to make such a blanket statement about consumers... which in practice means all people. Everybody buys stuff, and most people have some sense of responsibility and judgement in their decision making. Not all and not perfectly (whatever perfect is), but what you say is generally untrue. Otherwise nothing good would ever get done. Many societies even have responsible actions as an explicit cultural imperative.
    I think the point was that if one company makes an ethically good decision that makes products more expensive, then they will win out in competition if consumers buy the products but will lose out if consumers do not. So it requires a combination of manufacturers doing the wrong thing and consumers doing the wrong thing for a bad thing to happen. And of course, consumers don't simply make the bad choice because they are bad people. In many cases they simply don't have enough financial leeway to make the better choice.
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    I think the point was that if one company makes an ethically good decision that makes products more expensive, then they will win out in competition if consumers buy the products but will lose out if consumers do not.
    A truism. A company needs people to buy their products period, no matter what the company's ethical stance.

    So it requires a combination of manufacturers doing the wrong thing and consumers doing the wrong thing for a bad thing to happen.

    Profloater said you can't expect responsible decisions from consumers. I disagreed, and showed why.

    And I disagree with the quoted statement you made. Any company can make a shoddy cheap product and pass it off as a good one. And then bad things happen, without the customer's "bad" decisions.

    And of course, consumers don't simply make the bad choice because they are bad people. In many cases they simply don't have enough financial leeway to make the better choice.
    No one mentioned "bad people". I was trying to show that most people given the option, tend to choose the "good" less damaging path even if it means paying or doing more. Not having the option (the wherewithal to buy better products) takes the choice out of one's hands.
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    Anyway. Back to predictions.

    The pandemic has led to major disruption with many effects that will echo for decades. For instance, the resulting mental health crisis, or massive financial damage. In particular, kids have been heavily affected socially and educationally, especially special education students whose entire learning process has been overturned, and those from low income families who didn't have daily access to computers and video classes. I often say that any school record of 2020 should just say "Covid year, automatic do-over".

    This generation's unfair burden will stick with them for a lifetime. The economic results will exacerbate already hard times, and the results of the social injuries to the vulnerable in their formative years has yet to be quantified. So for a generation at least, we'll see some significant problems as the aftershocks of last year/this year continue to have an impact.
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    We tend to take it for granted that computers will only get better and "smarter". We are now developing an Internet Of Things to keep everything connected all the time. We call and text and Zoom and Meet and transfer money on a regular basis.

    However.

    The recent massive upswing in professional, business-scale hacking, cracking, viruses, and ransomware reminds us that hardware advancement and ubiquity is only half the story. I think security and digital fortification is going to come to at least partially dominate over the current convenience and openness, as things get more dangerous for connected devices and accounts. Banks and monetary transactions will probably be particularly affected. And cracking blockchain and crypto-currencies will also shatter a few techno-utopians'* illusions about the future of money. (I say will not might, though a few people will stubbornly hang on to their almost religious proselytizing about the Great Blockchain and how it'll make everything all better, more secure, and smell like blueberry muffins.)



    * I'm a recovering techno-utopian myself, it's all right for me to say that.
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    In another thread there was a recent discussion about population growth and shrinkage. The population of major industrial nations are now dropping and likely will continue to drop, causing changes in the workforce as older workers age out and are not replaced, and altering demographics as more foreign workers must be brought in.

    This will in the short term boost wages and possibly job benefits in many fields, but probably contract many national economies overall from having fewer wage earners and buyers. But it'll also drive more automation as robots get cheaper and employees get more expensive.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    In another thread there was a recent discussion about population growth and shrinkage. The population of major industrial nations are now dropping and likely will continue to drop, causing changes in the workforce as older workers age out and are not replaced, and altering demographics as more foreign workers must be brought in.

    This will in the short term boost wages and possibly job benefits in many fields, but probably contract many national economies overall from having fewer wage earners and buyers. But it'll also drive more automation as robots get cheaper and employees get more expensive.
    A common business model shows how cash is generated by shrinkage. The population decline is because more women are working. Until the population is too small to be defended, that trend is good for more wealth all round. If all countries educated women, the gross pop. Would fall for all our benefits, wages rise etc. With current (not requiring future) technology, the shrinkage could continue till we had the number of people we actually need, all better off and all doing less damage to the environment. A ray of hopeIMO.
    sicut vis videre esto
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    Is it too soon, or just the right time, to predict that cyber attacks are now the most pressing problem for the world, even as whole countries heat up to fatal temperatures?
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2021_in_climate_change

    We seem to keep getting worse instead of better on human contributions to the climate. Our greenhouse gas releases are accelerating, we're still actively adding to current damaging activities like new coal burning power plants and increasing deforestation, there's been not much mitigation let alone reform to the ongoing causes.

    We are at or may have already passed the point where carbon neutral would have been enough. Now we're going to have to not only stop net emission, but actively remove carbon to avert long term overheating and consequent worsening of floods and droughts, wildfires, sea level rise, heat waves, hurricanes, food shortages, and ecological collapses. Carbon removal is possible using known methods but so far, it looks like few are actually implementing these methods on a large scale.

    There's a lot of inertia to overcome, and so far humanity as a whole is not doing very much to slow the damage. Even if we do manage a U-turn soon, it'll take years to see the effects of things getting better, so plan accordingly. We will be going through hard times.
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    The population decline is because more women are working.
    I'd not heard that one. Can you give a citation?
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    Is it too soon, or just the right time, to predict that cyber attacks are now the most pressing problem for the world, even as whole countries heat up to fatal temperatures?
    It's certainly a pressing issue. But the failure of our life support system is more urgent, I think.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    ...

    We are at or may have already passed the point where carbon neutral would have been enough.
    ...

    Even if we do manage a U-turn soon, it'll take years to see the effects of things getting better, so plan accordingly. We will be going through hard times.
    Hi Noclevername,

    My understanding is that we are are decades beyond the point where carbon neutrality would have helped. Admittedly, neutrality would have slowed Climate Change. And, even if we cut emissions to zero, it would take decades for accelerating effects to slow.

    Nothing short of unprecedented development and planet wide deployment of Climate control measures (Carbon Scrubbing?) will impact the coming changes.

    Whether related to Carbon or other, I believe our environmental footprint will continue to grow. We continue planning and implementing a bigger, better and faster future in every way, whether in our personal lives or societally. While the changing environment is our doing, I can not see that any past or future policies will slow this.

    Cheers,

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    Quote Originally Posted by 7cscb View Post
    Hi Noclevername,

    My understanding is that we are are decades beyond the point where carbon neutrality would have helped. Admittedly, neutrality would have slowed Climate Change. And, even if we cut emissions to zero, it would take decades for accelerating effects to slow.
    There's not a consensus on the timing, but there is a consensus in climate science that there's no time to waste.

    Nothing short of unprecedented development and planet wide deployment of Climate control measures (Carbon Scrubbing?) will impact the coming changes.
    No argument here.

    Whether related to Carbon or other, I believe our environmental footprint will continue to grow. We continue planning and implementing a bigger, better and faster future in every way, whether in our personal lives or societally. While the changing environment is our doing, I can not see that any past or future policies will slow this.
    I can't agree. The generation of young adults coming into power are much more concerned about the environment than about a big, fast, shiny future. They want a less disastrous future. And the generation of kids that will follow them is even more dedicated to that goal.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    I'd not heard that one. Can you give a citation?
    This is one of several on this subject.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3744382/

    It covers italy and Poland where women working is linked to lower childbirth rates and population decline. This is linked to educating women, making them able to earn more n better jobs.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    This is one of several on this subject.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3744382/

    It covers italy and Poland where women working is linked to lower childbirth rates and population decline. This is linked to educating women, making them able to earn more n better jobs.
    Thank you.

    Though I'd bet the education itself may play a large role in addition to the resulting job status.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    A truism. A company needs people to buy their products period, no matter what the company's ethical stance.




    Profloater said you can't expect responsible decisions from consumers. I disagreed, and showed why.

    And I disagree with the quoted statement you made. Any company can make a shoddy cheap product and pass it off as a good one. And then bad things happen, without the customer's "bad" decisions.



    No one mentioned "bad people". I was trying to show that most people given the option, tend to choose the "good" less damaging path even if it means paying or doing more. Not having the option (the wherewithal to buy better products) takes the choice out of one's hands.
    I have experience with the introduction of consumer recycling in the UK.
    Consumers do not respond to simple pressures with the exception of their children who get taught at school.
    Consumers do respond if recycling is made easy and checked upon,
    The collection service can refuse to take bins with the wrong stuff.
    Spot inspection to actually write to households also gets the word around.
    Most councils now offer free recycling with staff to advise and check.
    Fly tipping (dumping rubbish by the road) has got worse . I would say maybe 80% consumers do try to keep to the rules, but landfill continues to be both an issue and espensive.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    Fly tipping (dumping rubbish by the road) has got worse . I would say maybe 80% consumers do try to keep to the rules, but landfill continues to be both an issue and espensive.
    80% sounds like "most people" to me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    80% sounds like "most people" to me.
    Well it does but the percentage has grown over, what, forty years of recycling? The situation now is better regulated and I guess peer pressure works for the 80% . I think other countries may do better with more technology like several bins in each household. Just here corrugated cardboard is now different from cardboard and again from plasticised cardboard as often in food packs. That I think is a direct result of huge increase in online deliveries in cardboard boxes. For me it is still plastic food packaging, a large fraction, that needs technology. It goes to landfill.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Interesting, well I found it interesting, episode this morning on the life scientific from the BBC. The guest was Hannah Cloke, Hydrologist, about predicting floods. Apparently, there is a global system now, and she was instrumental in getting it started, for all the major rivers of the world and it makes good predictions of likely floods, and their severity.

    The problem is that when authorities are advised of these floods coming, they failed to make adequate provisions for evacuating people, getting helicopters on standby and stuff like that.

    Cassandra had that problem too. It’s not enough to make a good prediction, you’re not only have to be believed, but people have to expand their resources and they can always wager that the prediction is an exaggeration.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    I find it interesting to go back to Popular Science magazine articles from my childhood and youth years in the 1950s and '60s, and see some predictions of technological innovations that did not pan out. Some examples:

    Electrification of western railroads: As told in a 1952 article about electrification of the Cascade Tunnel, the chief engineer of the Columbia River hydroelectric authority was bullish about prospects for electrifying all of the main lines west of the Continental Divide. Apparently he underestimated both the high cost of installing and maintaining the wires on routes where the traffic was much less dense than in the northeast corridor, and the continuing advances in efficiency and reliability of diesel-electric locomotives. Within four years the Great Northern had taken down the wires and installed powerful ventilation in the tunnel. The electrified route on the Milwaukee Road in Montana bit the dust a couple of decades later. Of course all of this could change if we successfully get away from combustion power for climate protection.

    Vertical takeoff and landing airliners for direct service to downtown terminals: Did not happen.

    Gas turbine engines in cars: An article in the early '60s predicted that they would be in regular production in a few years. Another no go, because car-sized piston engines still cost much less to make and maintain than do turbines of the same shaft horsepower.

    There are many more. You can browse here:
    https://books.google.com/books?id=ii..._issues_anchor

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornblower View Post
    Gas turbine engines in cars: An article in the early '60s predicted that they would be in regular production in a few years. Another no go, because car-sized piston engines still cost much less to make and maintain than do turbines of the same shaft horsepower.
    Isn’t efficiency also an issue? I thought they were less efficient as well.

    I read Popular Science in the ‘70s and ‘80s. I remember an article on LEDs in the ‘70s that did turn out to be more or less accurate in its predictions: They were talking about multi color LEDs and predicted they would eventually be used for home lighting. It took awhile, but it happened.

    In then ‘70s too, the oil shortages were big news and PopSci seemed to have alternative energy scheme articles practically every month. Most of those did not pan out, but it was fun reading them. Remember back then that PV solar was incredibly expensive for the electricity produced, so lots of alternatives were discussed. Articles on PV solar focused on attempts at lowering PV costs and that would take until after the turn of the century for costs to start getting competitive. Articles on synfuel production from coal or ways to use oil shale were also pretty common. In the ‘80s when it was no longer thought oil was going away soon those types of articles disappeared and PopSci wasn’t as much fun for me to read anymore. I haven’t kept track of it in recent years, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they have a lot of alternative energy articles again, with the focus now on reducing CO2 production.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornblower View Post
    I find it interesting to go back to Popular Science magazine articles from my childhood and youth years in the 1950s and '60s, and see some predictions of technological innovations that did not pan out. Some examples:

    Electrification of western railroads: As told in a 1952 article about electrification of the Cascade Tunnel, the chief engineer of the Columbia River hydroelectric authority was bullish about prospects for electrifying all of the main lines west of the Continental Divide. Apparently he underestimated both the high cost of installing and maintaining the wires on routes where the traffic was much less dense than in the northeast corridor, and the continuing advances in efficiency and reliability of diesel-electric locomotives. Within four years the Great Northern had taken down the wires and installed powerful ventilation in the tunnel. The electrified route on the Milwaukee Road in Montana bit the dust a couple of decades later. Of course all of this could change if we successfully get away from combustion power for climate protection.

    Vertical takeoff and landing airliners for direct service to downtown terminals: Did not happen.

    Gas turbine engines in cars: An article in the early '60s predicted that they would be in regular production in a few years. Another no go, because car-sized piston engines still cost much less to make and maintain than do turbines of the same shaft horsepower.

    There are many more. You can browse here:
    https://books.google.com/books?id=ii..._issues_anchor
    My bold: Yet. Ok, large capacity VTOL downtown airliners are unlikely at best, but smaller ones to take people to the airports are probably coming. And they'll be electrically powered.

    And speaking of electric power, gas turbine cars will probably never happen because they'll have been overtaken by electric cars. I live just outside a small town; and see 3-10 electric cars every time I go in. Of course, I pretty much live in Priusville, but still!

    I've never been through the Cascade Tunnel but have visited the surprisingly small dam that powered the electrification. There were some impressively sized fish behind it!
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    Hybrid cars seem to be a passing phase but there a gas turbine with its narrow efficiency band makes sense. It should be easy to integrate a turbine with an alternator too to make a neat package, reducing battery size. At the moment the drive to zero carbon trumps greatly reduced carbon. But that ignores the whole production cycle, so the argument may not be over.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    In then ‘70s too, the oil shortages were big news and PopSci seemed to have alternative energy scheme articles practically every month. Most of those did not pan out, but it was fun reading them. Remember back then that PV solar was incredibly expensive for the electricity produced, so lots of alternatives were discussed. Articles on PV solar focused on attempts at lowering PV costs and that would take until after the turn of the century for costs to start getting competitive. Articles on synfuel production from coal or ways to use oil shale were also pretty common. In the ‘80s when it was no longer thought oil was going away soon those types of articles disappeared and PopSci wasn’t as much fun for me to read anymore. I haven’t kept track of it in recent years, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they have a lot of alternative energy articles again, with the focus now on reducing CO2 production.
    If they’d put more of those plans into practice, perhaps we’d be better off now. Sigh…
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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves View Post
    If they’d put more of those plans into practice, perhaps we’d be better off now. Sigh…
    If by “better off” you mean less CO2 being produced, remember that the focus then was on energy production, not CO2. Some of the schemes would have meant more CO2 production, like synfuel plants going beyond prototypes into serious production. Those used coal and water to make lighter hydrocarbons, and produced a lot of CO2. A lot of the proposed schemes simply weren’t practical or anywhere near economic. The one option that PopSci occasionally discussed that was economically feasible then and could have made a real difference was nuclear. They had a fair number of articles on it including advanced reactor research. Unfortunately, that faced political opposition. If the US had done something similar to France, we could have been using much less fossil fuels by now.

    But ultimately, the market responded like it typically does - the oil shortages were artificial, due to OPEC restrictions on supply, so production was increased outside of OPEC and OPEC members later decided they had to back off on restrictions or lose to other producers, so the shortages didn’t last that long. That doomed anything that would only make sense in the face of continuing very limited oil availability. This despite many serious claims that oil simply wouldn’t be available in quantity in the near future. I guess today we would call that “fake news.”
    Last edited by Van Rijn; Today at 12:41 AM. Reason: typo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    If by “better off” you mean less CO2 being produced, remember that the focus then was on energy production, not CO2. Some of the schemes would have meant more CO2 production, like synfuel plants going beyond prototypes into serious production. Those used coal and water to make lighter hydrocarbons, and produced a lot of CO2. A lot of the proposed schemes simply weren’t practical or anywhere near economic. The one option that PopSci occasionally discussed that was economically feasible then and could have made a real difference was nuclear. They had a fair number of articles on it including advanced reactor research. Unfortunately, that faced political opposition. If the US had done something similar to France, we could have been using much less fossil fuels by now.

    But ultimately, the market responded like it typically does - the oil shortages were artificial, due to OPEC restrictions on supply, so production was increased outside of OPEC and OPEC members later decided they had to back off on restrictions or lose to other producers, so the shortages didn’t last that long. That doomed anything that would only make sense in the face of continuing very limited oil availability. This despite many serious claims that oil simply wouldn’t be available in quantity in the near future. I guess today we would call that “fake news.”
    It’s just very frustrating, as someone born twenty years later, to read publications from the 70s with these very contemporary-seeming concerns and the enthusiasm they produced— a movement to bike to work, advocacy for better public transit, President Carter putting solar panels on the White House roof— and wonder if our contemporary problems might be somewhat less if that enthusiasm had continued for forty years. Obviously I’m treading on the no politics line here, though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves View Post
    It’s just very frustrating, as someone born twenty years later, to read publications from the 70s with these very contemporary-seeming concerns and the enthusiasm they produced— a movement to bike to work, advocacy for better public transit, President Carter putting solar panels on the White House roof— and wonder if our contemporary problems might be somewhat less if that enthusiasm had continued for forty years. Obviously I’m treading on the no politics line here, though.
    I can sympathize to an extent, but I think having lived through it, and having considerable interest in energy issues gives me a different perspective. For instance, PV panels back then were hundreds of times too expensive to provide electricity for regular use. It wasn’t obvious they would ever get down to a reasonable cost regardless of investment. Solar applications were usually limited to water heating or passive solar building heating then. Wind was a bit better, but still relatively expensive and could only be used in limited geographical areas. In that case, it took a massive scale up as well as making them more durable so they could be more practical (the much larger, taller turbines can provide useful power in locations the smaller ones could not). And then there was (and still is, but the situation is much better and improving) the issue and cost of storing energy from these intermittent energy sources. So there is a danger of looking at how things are now and projecting back when things were very different.

    And then there simply wasn’t the focus on global warming we have now. The priorities were not the same at all.

    But I do have some sympathy, and if it weren’t for the politics rule I would discuss more of my views on global warming and nuclear power and how things could have been very different today with a sensible approach and where I think politics failed us.

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