LETTERS & COMMENTS
One reader raises questions
about global warming. An-
other extols the virtue of clear
writing. And Disney is praised.
questions the value
of solar power.
To the Editor: I loved the reference to Walt
Disney’s Carousel of Progress in your December 2014 editorial. My wife and I were
on it (again) recently at Walt Disney World.
We have loved Disney for decades, and
the old attractions still provide a lot of
pleasure. I still marvel at the science and
engineering of the technologies shown in
the Carousel of Progress, as well as the
engineering that went into Disneyland and
Walt Disney World.
Brad Buecker, Lawrence, Kans.
To the Editor: I have to thank you and
Mechanical Engineering magazine for the
quantity and quality of the articles I have
been reading and saving related to electric
energy generation, high temperature materials, QA/QC inspections, and of course gas
turbines/jet engines over the last few years.
Even though I am semi-retired the last
two years (only work 20-25 hours per
week!), I still greatly enjoy all the new
things I am learning from ME magazine.
Keep up the good and enlightening effort.
Ron Natole, Houston, Texas
To the Editor: Congratulations to Tom Par-
rish (Letters & Comments, August 2014) for
pointing out important points in the ongoing
argument over “climate change.”
First, it is indeed interesting that the
supporters of this issue have quietly
renamed it from the intimidating “global
warming” to the more palatable “climate
change.” The name changes but the cru-
saders stay the same.
I am prepared to accept whichever side of
the argument turns out to be correct—based
on convincing scientific evidence. So far I
have yet to see anything that rises above the
level of “trust me, I’m a trained expert.”
The problem is not whether the earth is
warming up, cooling down, melting down,
or drying up. Any and all may be possible
and one may even be happening as I speak.
The problem is that we really do not
know. The problem is too big to be amenable to reliable modeling and prediction.
It took a comedian on the Blue Collar
Network just this week to make the point.
He said that you can identify scientific
statements because they invariably contain
words like “probably” or “likely.” Real science is modest in its claims.
Bill Bryson’s account of the history of
science, cited by Mr. Parrish, is full of
examples of the scientific establishment,
meaning the college of self-appointed
“experts,” being wrong and a minority,
or even a solitary heretic, turning out to
be right. Can you say Galileo? The fact is
that science is not a majority vote and 97
percent of voices in support of a position do
not make it true.
A study was conducted some years ago
to test the reliability of alleged pundits and
experts. These are people in the public eye
who gain reputations by predicting future
events that are too massive to evaluate in
their entirety, and therefore rely on healthy
doses of interpretation to fill in the gaps.
More than 8,000 predictions that had
been given time to mature, made by about
280 of these individuals, were examined.
The success rate was less than 50 percent.
As yet “climate change” advocates simply
don’t know enough to be so sure, and their
certainty is a pointer to how wrong they
might be. The truth is that they don’t know.
Douglas L. Marriott, South Lebanon, Ohio
To the Editor: Thank you for the concise
presentation on CSP in “By the Numbers:
Concentrated Solar Power Makes a Come-
back” (Trending, April 2014). However, I am
“confused” by “the numbers.”
CSP was listed as somewhere between
1. 9 and 3. 7 times more expensive than the
other technologies, although “[the] industry
claims that the newest CSP plants produce
power for as little as 13 cents/k Wh.,” or only
1. 4 to 1. 9 times more expensive than the
other non-solar technologies.
The variable in the equation that I com-
pletely don’t understand is whether the
costs quoted already include the value of the
last statement in the article: “if subsidies for
Maybe we could even pay them for all
the electricity with enough subsidies. If we
taxpayers offer enough subsidies for the
technology, will they reach 0¢/k Wh?
What is the wean-off timeline for the
subsidies for solar (PV & CSP)? How are the
subsidies comparable for fossil fuel scrubbing costs and advanced fossil technologies such as coal liquefaction? How are the
subsidies comparable for nuclear programs
to burn the spent fuel on-site at the plant
rather than trucking it thousands of miles to
throw it in a hole?
I am completely in favor of researching
new technologies and I believe that many
renewable technologies, including CSP,
may prove viable and should be subsidized
through its research phase until it is matured enough for commercial release.
Jay Cameron, P.E. Agawam, Mass.
To the Editor: The letters “Basic Foundation” by Marion Leithead and “Lan-guage Challenge” by William Vanek in