We read this to mean that adding an amount of heat (ΔQ: negative if removing heat) will result in a concomitant increase in entropy (decrease if negative) with the bath temperature as the proportionality constant. Looking at this equation, the units of J/K for entropy (S) should make more sense.
Wait a minute! Did I just allow for the condition that entropy could decrease? Isn’t one of the fundamental rules of thermodynamics that entropy can never go down?
Almost right. The entropy of a closed system cannot decrease. But it can easily decrease locally at the expense of an increase elsewhere. You can re-stack books on the shelves after an earthquake, restoring order. But via exertion, you transfer heat to the ambient air in the process—increasing its entropy.
I was observing at Palomar Observatory with an amazing instrumentation guru named Keith who taught me much. Keith’s night lunch—prepared in the evening by the observatory kitchen and placed in a brown bag—was a tuna-fish sandwich in two parts: bread slices in a plastic baggie, and the tuna salad in a small plastic container (so the tuna would not make the bread soggy after hours in the bag). Keith plopped the tuna onto the bread in an inverted container-shaped lump, then put the other piece of bread on top without first spreading the tuna. It looked like a snake had just eaten a rat. Perplexed, I asked if he intended to spread the tuna before eating it. He looked at me quizzically (like Morpheus in the Matrix: “You think that’s air you’re breathing? Hmm.”), and said—memorably, “It all goes in the same place.”
My point is that the stunning presentation of desserts will not have universal value to society. It all goes in the same place, after all. [I’ll share a little-known secret. It’s hard to beat a Hostess Ding Dong for dessert. At 5% the cost of fancy desserts, it’s not clear how much value the fancy things add.]
I always wondered the same thing about growth, but I never thought to frame the argument in terms of energy development/costs.
Randy Thompson watched the government stand by, largely idle, while TransCanada bullied him and his neighbors with threatening letters, stonewalled about the effect of leaks on the fragile Sandhills region of Nebraska, and on the Ogallala aquifer, the massive underground reservoir, already imperiled by drought in some places, that services most of the arable farmland in the country, and through which the proposed pipeline will pass. He’s laughed at the preposterous promises of an economic boom; at one point, TransCanada promised that the pipeline would provide 100,000 new jobs. It later was revealed that these jobs included employment in the “entertainment” industry that would spring up along the pipeline’s route. “Strippers,” Randy says. “They’re talking about strippers. And temporary strippers at that.”
He’s had his eyes opened, Randy has, to the nexus of money and power that has corrupted our politics and led to the estrangement of the government from the people who are supposed to govern themselves. “The people who were supposed to be looking out for us,” he says. “They were looking out for them.” Once, while waiting to testify in Washington, he fell into conversation with a Native American man from South Dakota, where the various tribes have been resisting attempts by TransCanada to drive their trucks, and run their pipeline, through reservation land. “It was kind of ironic,” Randy says. “We were talking and this Indian gentleman said, ‘Well, now you know what it’s been like for us for 150 years.’ And, you know what? He was right, too.”
Never really gave the energy cost of my food much thought. Makes sense. Though now those stupid vegans have something actually real to lord over me.
What We Talk About When We Talk About the Decentralization of Energy - Maggie Koerth-Baker - Technology - The Atlantic
My problem with buying a house, is I don’t have enough money to do all the fun energy-related things that I would like to do.
If the United States were to eliminate all its imports of refined gasoline, then the price of gasoline would fall, and some other country, like China or India, would be able to use even more of it. Global emissions wouldn’t fall much, if at all.
Sinn calls this the “green policy paradox,” and you can see it pop up in a variety of sectors: For example, U.S. power companies are shutting down many of their coal plants right now, but that just means more coal is getting exported abroad, often to countries with fewer pollution controls. That’s a different type of rebound effect, but one that’s just as important to consider.
We could do a lot of things with renewable energy, but it would necessitate a huge investment, and also a major cutback in consumption, because they just don’t work as well as fossil fuels do. You’d be very disappointed if you ran your car off your solar array outside your garage. There’s a reason people don’t have solar-powered cars—they’d give up on them very quickly. Any switch to renewable forms would require real sacrifice. Increases in energy efficiency would make it possible for us to regain the losses. If we could constrain consumption of fuels, getting more from energy we use would be a very good thing. We could live a good life with a much smaller footprint. But the limits have to come first, before the efficiency gains.
Dylan Ratigan explains how “vampire industries” like oil and coal have forged “an unholy alliance with government based not just on the money that they contribute to political campaigns and spend on lobbying, but on their ability to hypnotize us with false prices.”
Industry gets tax breaks, subsidies, military support in volatile regions, the right to use our air and water like a sewer, and assurance that the government will clean up its environmental messes. Politicians get campaign contributions, a steady flow of dirty energy, and a talking point to brandish about how they kept gas affordable.
But the American public just gets screwed.
Fracking: Is there really 100 years’ worth of natural gas beneath the United States? - Slate Magazine
Some calculations about Tidal energy.