Quirks and Quarks: Talks reality

The CBC's excellent radio show Quirks and Quarks had a guest who wrote a book "Physics for Presidents" and it got people in a bit of a tizzy. Listen to it in MP3 or OGG.

So much was the reaction, the host Bob MacDonald wrote about it in his blog.

Read it, then check the responses from people. My favourite:
Dave from Ottawa
"A kilogram of coal, on the other hand, contains about 1,000 times more energy than an equivalent volume of air blowing past a windmill."
Now subtract the energy it took to extract and transport that coal to the power plant.
My point is that energy density is a misleading measure. Update the article to compare net energy output of the sources.

My comment to Dave from Ottawa:
Now substract the energy it took to mine the iron, refine it into steel, bend and melt it into a turbine and alternator and transport it from Europe to Ontario. My point is that energy density is not the only measure but the single more leading indicator of a fuel's viability.

I repeat my theorem:
For an energy source to be viable, it must be produced from raw materials using only that fuel source.

If wind power is so great, produce more wind farms from raw materials using only wind power.

This test passes for coal, natural gas, petroleum, and nuclear power. It does not (yet?) pass for wind, solar, hydrogen, or ethanol. Biodiesel is on the fence.

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