This surprised me, because surely you get one molecule of CO2 per atom of carbon in the coal, regardless of the kind of coal. But it seems there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in my stoichiometry - lignite has a higher moisture content than other coals, so more of the energy liberated goes into boiling that water, so there is less energy produced per unit of carbon, which means more CO2 per unit of energy:
The response they gave me was “it’s like burning dirt.” Man, lignite is nasty stuff.
Burning freaking dirt. Can’t wait for this stuff to be outlawed.
Bring up google maps for West Virginia, zoom out so that the entire state is visible in the browser window, and you can see all the scars.
I assume Germany has a modern program of mine rehabilitation, so you're only able to see the parts that are currently part of the active mine. The historic mine footprint of an old mine is probably twice or thrice what is visible; much larger but invisible from satellite because it has been rehabilitated.
Eg, the area just north-west of Tagebau Hambach is probably mine rehab; you can tell because it is a deeper green than the surrounding farmland and if you look closely the massive contours of the waste emplacement areas might be visible.
RWE recently bulldozed a centuries-old church and surrounding town. They get away with it because of a fuckup by local politicians a while back. RWE was supposed to pay for the right to exploit that land, and local councils agreed to an offer to pay them in shares instead of in money. Now local council budgets are dependent on RWE dividends and therefore although technically they co-own RWE, in practice RWE owns them. The saddest thing is that lignite mining is not even commercially viable anymore - so these mines only continue to operate because of state subsidies (federal subsidies, which then partially end up in local councils via said dividends). The terrorists operating the mines claim that it's critical to keep them running because of the jobs that would be lost, but a couple years worth of the subsidy would be sufficient to pay the entire workforce (around 20k people nationwide work in that industry) their salaries for life. Meanwhile solar subsidies got cut for being "too expensive", shrinking that sector by 4x as many jobs. The fuckers now want to accelerate the pace of extraction because they have to shut down by 2038.
That is the biggest political hurdle here, it's not solely RWE being greedy, a lot of it has to do with nobody being able to offer these miners any job alternatives once their mines are closed.
Yet these miners make up a substantial part of the population in certain German states, thus the result that majority of Germans want to exit coal but in those places where coal actually matters there's vehement opposition to closing them down .
I find it somewhat implausible that whole German states could have such vastly different opinions on the coal exit when those directly affected supposedly only makeup 20k-50k people.
Because those kinds of numbers regularly embezzle where these people are spending their money. Wouldn't be the first time whole German communes suddenly become underdeveloped due to the biggest employers in the region shutting down/leaving.
That's why I can fully understand the people in those regions, they are presented with a choice that has no apparent advantage to them, only disadvantages.
Would you vote for your own job/income getting regulated in non-existence, when nobody offers you an alternative? Because that's the current situation: Nobody is offering alternatives to those people, yet everybody expects them to just give up their livelihoods.
> Der Bundesverband Braunkohle wies auf Anfrage darauf hin, dass seine Unternehmen auch für Beschäftigung bei Zulieferern sorgten und spricht von insgesamt etwa 50.000 Arbeitsplätzen.
> The German lignite coalition pointed out on request that their companies also provided employment for suppliers and speaks of a total of about 50,000 jobs.
Of course all of those jobs are concentrated around the mines. For those communities closing the mines is hard. But imho getting rid of lignite ASAP and just giving the affected people as much money as they got from working is the right way forward.
In all fairness, Germany lost about four times as many jobs when we destroyed our solar industry.
But afaik we didn't really destroy the industry, we just lost our edge , which has in part to do with industrial espionage , and in other parts with China simply out manufacturing anybody else as soon as they get the gist of building something.
The reason saving these coal jobs is more important than the solar jobs, is because the former are NOT RENEWABLE.
Of course coal can and should be replaced by something better but thats gonna take a while and Germany has chosen to phase out nuclear before coal so this is a consequence of that decision.
And I think the math is off there - if Germany cuts 24% of its energy production over a couple of years, energy may become more expensive, driving away the factories using extreme amounts of electricity. It would not result in losing a lot of jobs, and may even force some industries to become much more efficient (thus generating an advantage over competitors).
 eg, Aurubis in Hamburg using 1 billion kw/h per year with less than 7000 employees to refine copper
Their competitors are also becoming more efficient over time and if you have no capacity at all in a region no new factories can be built there. High paying jobs could be replaced by low paying jobs.
Not saying it shouldn't be done but I understand it's a political balancing act. Ideally a global carbon tax, making it the same for everyone, would help but i've given up hope on that.
I recall some of their neighbors were annoyed a year or two ago because Germany was dumping surplus and destabilising their grids.
That is one of the most ridiculous statements I have ever heard.
It is mined because it enables people to do things. It creates material wealth. It is completely reasonable to say that there are ramifications to shutting down coal. Germany has not increased their access to electricity through the Energiewende . Apparently that is intentional, which shows remarkable political will; I can't see it flying in most countries. Wouldn't want to be poor in Germany.
There are another 1200+ megawatts of mostly-idle CCGT capacity at the Knapsack and Herdecke sites:
Here's a map that shows the area before mining began in 1978: https://www.bund-nrw.de/fileadmin/nrw/bilder/Braunkohle/1975...
So the rehabilitation area is in fact only the very prominent forest directly to the northwest of the active mining, a third to half its size rather than twice or thrice.
I assure you, it is a hill and it is not natural. It is clearly mine rehabilitation. I've been responsible for a very similar looking hill, in fact. Not quite as nice looking from a satellite photo I must admit, they've got a better shade of green.
Edit: The pit looks like some lunar surface from one of the vantage points - it's wide enough to be larger than your field of view. Also, I'm not sure whether rehab is the right word for it, it's an area they built out of the non-coal material they had to dig out. IIRC the pitch for the pit was to turn it into an artificial lake.
The only benefit is the quick ramp-up enabling them to jump in to gaps where e.g. atomic power ramps up to meet demand.
This is happening in Eastern Germany, too, near Spremberg. If you turn off labels and zoom out a bit, you can see spot them in several places. Impossible to hide global destruction like this.
It's interesting (and scary) to watch us gobble up the Earth. Have a look at Merauke in Papa New Guinea and the surrounding ~100km. Mostly the jungle getting turned into farms, but there are also huge palm oil plantations that are cropping up in the middle here and there. They are huge too.
What's most crazy is when you compare it to the nearby city of Köln (1+m inhabitants). It's almost the size of the city center!
Also fear mongering for infrasound etc.
It is practically never the case that a forest is cut down for wind power. You cut down a couple of trees for the turbine grounding and for some ways to reach them. But really if you look at the numbers it's not that much.
The forest is still there afterwards. That's very different from "cutting down a forest" like it's done for opencast mining where nothing is left afterwards.
A bonus would be that the cars don't heat up as much/get packed with snow.
And the land isn't wasted, because there is no reason not to have a roof over a paved parking lot other than the fact that a roof costs money to build and maintain, which isn't an issue with solar. You already can't use the land for plants/nature, so you might as well put your solar there instead of some open field/grassland that can be used for something else.
You can put plants on rooftops, we just don't.
Subsidization of coal would of course be equally wrong.
Whether that is true or not: How do you expect it to become viable when coal is subsidized?
> And the problem of storing energy is still not solved.
"The energy storage problem" really never was an energy storage problem. It is a political problem of paying for it, because everyone calculates the costs of building storage systems and pretends that the future costs of continuing the burning of fossil fuels are zero, and then decides to go the "cheaper route" that simply has future generations pay for everything, and potentially orders of magnitude more than building storage systems now would cost.
As for technological solutions that do exist, the most important thing is that there is not the solution. If your topology allows for it, pumped hydroelectric is great. If you are the Netherlands, maybe not. Or rather, it's still useful for peak loads, but not for any kind of long-term storage. Batteries have become cheaper and are great for really fast reaction times to be able to deal with fast fluctuations in production, plus they are very efficient, so they are great for daily cycling. Also, just controlling demand better ("smart grid") can solve part of the actual problem (imbalance between demand and production), so you don't actually need as much storage. Or rather, you can even use the demand side for storage: You can, for example, cool down warehouses a degree or two more when you have excess energy in the grid, thus reducing demand later. For long-term storage, Power to gas seems promising: It's pretty inefficient, but it can achieve a high energy density, and efficiency doesn't matter that much for the exceptional case of extremely low renewable production over a large area. Plus, chances are the efficiency can be increased.
Ths point is: There is no silver bullet, but lots of solutions that can be combined to achieve a stable electricity supply from renewable energy sources.
Cutting subsidies to coal and/or increasing subsidies to solar just raises the cost of energy for end users, which does not affect the average HN user, but will affect the average citizen.
Germans already paying a ridiculous amount of money per kilowatt hour (in fact, we are the first world country with the highest electricity price, 40 US cents as compared to 12 US cents you would pay in the States).
Raising subsidies is an antisocial move that will lead to increased public unrest, at a time when we see right-wing politics raising it's ugly head again.
In the end, the pot goes to the spring till it breaks.
Source? And does that include the future costs of the environmental impact for the end users that will still be alive by then?
> Germans already paying a ridiculous amount of money per kilowatt hour
What exactly is ridiculous about a price that reflects the actual costs?
> (in fact, we are the first world country with the highest electricity price, 40 US cents as compared to 12 US cents you would pay in the States).
If you are paying 40 US cents per kWh for electricity in .de, then that's because you chose to, not because that's the market price.
> Raising subsidies is an antisocial move that will lead to increased public unrest, at a time when we see right-wing politics raising it's ugly head again.
So ... we should implement right-wing politics so that right-wing politics doesn't win? What's even the point of that argument?
"Source" is not a magic incantation that invalidates a statement. When subsidies change, price goes up, we have seen that repeatedly happening in the German electricity market, most prominently with the EEG.
> environmental impact for the end users that will still be alive by then?
You try to derail my point by underhandedly claiming I want more coal, which is false. I am pro-nuclear until we get fusion (also technically a nuclear technology) working. "But the costs are hidden, deconstruction will have to be paid by the taxpayer". Maybe - but when we were nuclear and before we installed bird-shredding and insect-killing wind farms, before we made everyone pay for large amounts of money to gift to rich homeowners to put solar on their roofs, electricity was considerably cheaper.
> What exactly is ridiculous about a price that reflects the actual costs?
The actual cost of power generation apparently can be a lot lower, because the hypercapitalist US pays about a third of our price.
Also, if you need to prop up an energy source with money, obviously it is not cost-effective.
> If you are paying 40 US cents per kWh for electricity in .de, then that's because you chose to, not because that's the market price.
I pay about 46 Eurocents per kilowatt hour, or around 52 US-Cents, with EnBW (900 kw/h per year, fixed costs factored in). Arguably, I could lower that to about 42 Eurocents per kilowatt hour if I change to Yello, who are famous for buying large amounts of nuclear electricity. Which, btw, is about to end here. With my low consumption, savings of about 36 Euros are just not worth it.
 So here I am - a single who moved to a small flat, all the lights are LEDs (which are considerably more expensive than the old ones), cooking rarely, enterntainment coming from a low-wattage laptop, actually turning off everything before leaving the flat ... I have done my part. I won't be painted as some kind of environmental monster or a right-winger because I do not support risking the social cohesion of our society to provide for some people's green renewable fantasies.
> So ... we should implement right-wing politics so that right-wing politics doesn't win?
So, what exactly is right-wing in not making the price of electricity rise to appease some crypto-right-wing Greens?
That is correct. The statement is already insufficiently justified all by itself. "Source?" simply points out this pre-existing problem.
> When subsidies change, price goes up, we have seen that repeatedly happening in the German electricity market, most prominently with the EEG.
So, if we were to completely subsidize electricity for all citizens ... the price paid by citizens would go up? And that is because when we forced utilities to buy certain forms of energy at a fixed price, they passed that cost on to the customer? Are you really sure that that is your argument?
> You try to derail my point by underhandedly claiming I want more coal, which is false. I am pro-nuclear until we get fusion (also technically a nuclear technology) working.
You seemed to object to cutting subsidies for coal. But well, I guess your plan then is to increase the share of nuclear energy by continuing the subsidy for coal!?
> "But the costs are hidden, deconstruction will have to be paid by the taxpayer". Maybe - but when we were nuclear and before we installed bird-shredding and insect-killing wind farms, before we made everyone pay for large amounts of money to gift to rich homeowners to put solar on their roofs, electricity was considerably cheaper.
Erm, what? So, maybe the costs are hidden and will be paid via taxes ... but the prices that didn't include those costs were considerably cheaper? And that is supposed to be an argument for what exactly? That we should pay rich homeowners with taxes rather than increased energy prices?
And shredding birds somehow also magically kills the insects that those birds don't get to eat? Or what is that argument about?
> The actual cost of power generation apparently can be a lot lower, because the hypercapitalist US pays about a third of our price.
So, how much of the long-term costs of electricity generation in the US are included in the retail price? We don't want to be comparing apples to oranges, do we?
> Also, if you need to prop up an energy source with money, obviously it is not cost-effective.
How does that follow?
> I pay about 46 Eurocents per kilowatt hour, or around 52 US-Cents, with EnBW (900 kw/h per year, fixed costs factored in). Arguably, I could lower that to about 42 Eurocents per kilowatt hour if I change to Yello, who are famous for buying large amounts of nuclear electricity. Which, btw, is about to end here. With my low consumption, savings of about 36 Euros are just not worth it.
Well, that's certainly not representative. I pay ~ 0.27 EUR/kWh effective, though at ~ 3000 kWh per year, which makes a big difference for the effective price--and as such, I doubt you can reasonably compare your 0.50 USD to some average 0.12 USD in the US.
> So here I am - a single who moved to a small flat, all the lights are LEDs (which are considerably more expensive than the old ones)
If we assume your typical "60 W" LED lamp lasts 10000 hours, that's 3 EUR for the lamp (if you buy reasonable quality somewhat cheaply) plus (assuming 6 W) 60 kWh of electricity, which at 0,46 EUR/kWh costs 27.60 EUR, so a total of 29.60 EUR.
The same amount of light from incandescent lamps is 10 60 W bulbs at ~ 0,40 EUR each, plus 600 kWh of electricity, that would be 276 EUR, so a total of 280 EUR.
What kind of LED lamps do you buy where LED lamps are "considerably more expensive"?! Even if we assume cheaper electricity, or terrible lamps that blow out after 1000 h, or that the incandescent bulbs were for free ... how do you manage to make LED lamps more expensive?!
> I won't be painted as some kind of environmental monster or a right-winger because I do not support risking the social cohesion of our society to provide for some people's green renewable fantasies.
I don't care whether you are a right-winger, your suggestion amounted to implementing right-wing policies.
As for whether those "fantasies" are bad policy or not, your arguments so far have not been particularly convincing.
> So, what exactly is right-wing in not making the price of electricity rise to appease some crypto-right-wing Greens?
The unjustified assumption that this is about appeasing anyone, and not about finding the best solution for an actual problem.
Dr. Franz Trieb of the DLR institute of technical thermodynamics has found some interesting correlations about the decline of insect populations and the creation of windparks, and considers them a major factor (next to pesticides) in what we call the "insect apocalypse":
"Fluginsekten - Studie zu Wechselwirkungen von Fluginsekten und Windparks"
Do you have a clear concept of a viable solution? (Hint: Killing the ecosystem that sustains humans is not it.)
Nuclear. Solar farms take 450 times more land than nuclear to produce the same amount of energy (source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2018/05/08...)
Also, I don't see how you could build sufficient nuclear capacity in time to sufficiently reduce carbon emissions without compromising safety (after all, nuclear energy is inherently extremely dangerous--the fact that we so far have been able to operate it very safely does not mean that that is an inherent property of the technology that we could maintain if we tried building hundreds of gigawatts in a decade). Nuclear (fission) energy might have been a sensible route in the past, but it doesn't seem so right now.
After all, "solving climate change" is technologically a solved problem. Humanity has all the technological knowledge to switch to carbon-free energy production. The problem are the costs of that switch based on current technology. But if we can't reduce the costs further, that still does not invalidate the demand of protesters who don't want to be stuck with paying the massive price of having to deal with a broken ecosystem later. It's still a perfectly justified demand that current generations pay in order to avoid costs for future generations.
You do the same. You claim it is "technically a solved problem". It really isn't. You are just naive about "renewable energy".
> They believe everything could just be switched over to renewables at no cost,
> in fact, they think it would be cheaper to do so.
So, how do you know that is not the case? (And no, pretending that climate change won't cause any costs is not how this works. If your stance is that climate change won't have any costs, that's on you to demonstrate.)
> You do the same. You claim it is "technically a solved problem". It really isn't.
So, which part of it is not technically solved?
Please do review and follow the site guidelines: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.
Heh, nope, everyone does reap the consequences... That said, nuclear power is no viable long term solution and if we imported uranium from Russia, everybody would start to cry again.
Being anti-nuclear isn't necessarily anti-scientific. It is a risk assessment. While I tend to have favored nuclear power, especially towards the current energy setup, I don't think it was a catastrophic decision.
I would also be okay with building some nuclear, put nuclear and renewables don't go very well together, and I believe it's much harder to build enough nuclear plants quickly enough to replace all fossil energy consumption than it is to build enough wind turbines.
And how would you propose to remedy the problem?
I mean by starving a couple of million people, as it is wont to do, Socialism could help curb the consumption of resources. I give you that.
And again, lols for the downvotes. You are ridiculous.
Yes, someone else started it, but users here are asked to follow the guidelines whether someone else is or not.
If you have something genuinely new to say, that might be ok—but then an internet forum is not a good medium for that; you should write a book or a scholarly essay instead, and maybe link to it here.
Afaik a lot of stories repeat on HN, so the "newsworthiness" criterion seems a bit arbitrary. Also, shouldn't it make a difference if it is a top level thread? I wouldn't submit a story about "socialism starving millions of people".
I know, your "new" policies have been in place for a while, but I think you really kind of destroyed Hacker News. I don't understand why you worry about curbing discussions in deeply nested threads, as they would be easy to ignore by people who don't care. I don't think you worry about SEO or anything like that, so really, what is your incentive?
Also, there are lots of "boring" and repetitive threads on HN (like on global warming), I think you may actually single out "capitalism vs socialism" for ideological reasons. I don't believe you that nobody is curious about capitalism vs socialism anymore. On the contrary, the "battle" is more relevant than ever, with socialist having a real shot at the US elections. It is a question that affects most of us a lot more than most topics would.
We can't be passive about such effects. They can quickly develop into a vicious circle that destroys the site. HN will only survive as an interesting place for thoughtful people if it avoids that, so this is an existential issue and why I (we) moderate that way. I'm sad you think I've destroyed Hacker News, but would submit that if moderation doesn't evolve as a community grows, one ends up with the default dynamic of internet forums: decay followed by heat death. HN was actually started as an experiment in avoiding that dynamic , so in my view we're aligned with its original spirit when we do this. "Our hypothesis is that by making a conscious effort to resist decline, we can keep it from happening." 
You're right that the threads about global warming are almost as repetitive. The same logic applies to those.
Really though, if you want to make a case about the quality of the site, you shouldn't be posting things like https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20419652.
What would be a good comment on Socialism, in your opinion?
I know you have a policy against politics, or used to have it. It doesn't seem to be strictly enforced, though (see global warming, feminism and so on).
I know why you have your policies, but I am not convinced that they are optimal. Have you ever even tested them against alternatives?
I've been on HN since it was called Startup News. I actually almost hate it now, because of some of the policies. Sure, maybe you don't want people like me on the site. Your call. I know several oldtimers feel the same, though.
You have actually found some ways to make users hate you, which is an achievement in itself. For starters, how about a warning that you are beyond your posting limit BEFORE people spend time and effort to write comments?
And it feels very one sided now, so not as interesting as it used to be (is it really the quality of my comment, or just criticism of Socialism that is the issue?). Still, I keep coming back, admittedly. But grudgingly so.
Edit: looking through the policies again, I still don't see how my comment is supposed to break the rules: "Essentially there are two rules here: don't post or upvote crap links, and don't be rude or dumb in comment threads.". It's not a crap link, and it is not rude or dumb. Imo, of course. That the same argument has been made before can hardly be a deciding factor, because then you'd have to shut down the site right now.
So please think about that number. Deaths solely due to a lack of profitability.
Also, from your linked article from random space cadets: "Unless people can see broad vistas of unused resources in front of them, the belief in limited resources tends to follow as a matter of course."
Sorry, but O(2^n) is going to grow faster than O(n^3), which is the fundamental limitation of the speed of light for a space-faring civilization expanding in a shell from its origin.
Exponential growth just does not scale.
This specific strawman comes up so often that it ought to have its own name. Just because one guy underestimated the carrying capacity of the Earth a long time ago, and failed to predict farming practices that would eventually wreak havoc on the environment, doesn't make the population variable off-limits for discussion. Is it any more realistic to expect billions of people to voluntarily revert to an ascetic lifestyle?
This dates back to the bronze age even and technically stone age in mesoamerican and neighboring southern native american cultures.
I don't like it either, but I never trust anyone who says he had no self-interest.
And the current growth fetish isn't innate to capitalism.
Capitalism saved the planet if not the people on it and has will continue to improve the lives of everyone it touches?
why, because it an economic system based on private ownership over means of production and profit. by that reasoning it implies your right to your own person is guaranteed.
how is that important, well the easiest way to understand it is that anywhere in the world where private and personal property rights are not respected by the government the people are put at risk. go look where the greatest tragedies of our current world are and you will see that.
can capitalism lead to some bad outcomes, yes, but overall it is the basis for many forms of governments with good outcomes. it has reduced death by starvation and disease simply by the abundances created.
when you respect the rights of your people it is far easier to respect the rights of the Earth you live on.
I'm astonished by this hypocrisy. Not only have they squatted on someone else's property, they did it not just to live in a forest, they did it as activists: with the exact purpose of creating the image of police brutality to create public backlash and affect the parties involved.
Even if their cause was completely just and good (which is a different conversation that I'm not prepared to have), they're getting at it by manipulating the media and purposefully creating the coverage they planned. This exact destruction was the main purpose of them building these houses, in this spot, to begin with.
'The old Immerath is ... demolished for the Garzweiler II opencast mine. Since 2006, the former residents have been partially relocated to the newly formed village. ... "When I was at the construction site, everything was in ruins. That was a shock. A man from outside approached me and said why we gave up the village without a fight. We resisted for years. People should not think wrong. "'