Salient White Elephant

May 2, 2009

Climate Change

Filed under: Brash Environmental Commentary — Salient White Elephant @ 11:55 am

I suppose it would not be untoward to declare the Salient White Elephant the most dazzling inventor of our time, indeed, of the recent 2 centuries. 1,000 years of human innovation have produced, what… 4 or 5 different kinds of wind turbines? And of these, only one – the massive upwind 3 bladed horizontal axis machine – has survived the economic slugfest. And this megalosaur has seemingly incurable obesity issues. Given the brightest minds of the millennium have a track record of wind turbine innovation that is foppish at best, how is it that the Salient White Elephant has been able to make – count ‘em – 107 salient white posts to this indubitable blog, a great many of which describe the most startlingly original ideas and inventions imaginable?

Most inventors hold their cards pretty close to the vest. Not so the Elephant. With intellectual property piled around like towers of smushed rusty cars in a junk yard, the Elephant will profit more by giving these ideas away and writing them off his taxes than by hiring a lawyer to encircle the premises with an electric fence powered by the Department of Justice. So gather round technopundits and industry heavyweights, and act civil – no pushin, no shovin. Remember, you are the public face of the renewable energy sector. There’s room for all if the young and more flexible will sit on the floor. For I, the Great and Illustrious Salient White Elephant, the Enigmatic, the Inestimable, will heretofore describe one of the key abstractions I employ to spin a most dizzying array of original and out-of-the-box designs!!! The key is to realize that facts gleaned from disciplines like fluid mechanics, industrial revolution, power electronics, and so forth, have a strong tendency to constrain design options. To make sure these limitations don’t creep into Salient White Wind Turbine Innovations, I usually keep the workspace clean – conspicuously devoid of aerodynamic textbooks and journals of structural design. And if anybody ever tries to tell me a theorem or a corollary or somethin, I just cover my ears and put my head down on my desk.

Given the stellar success I’ve had utilizing this principle to create the earth’s most superlative wind machines, I see no reason why it won’t work for socioeconomic slicin and dicin of things like national security and climate change. And in the spirit of this wisdom, I want to comment on these issues before I accidentally learn something about them. You never know when you’ll glimpse a newspaper headline in a convenience store, or get a Google ad with a graph that shows natural gas consumption. And so I’d just like to ask why the use of petroleum is discouraged with an abstract argument about global warming. Don’t get me wrong, I see nothing wrong with saving humanity from certain death and destruction. But given only our grandchildren will still be living by the time this happens, stories of flooding oceans and disappearing food supplies can only educe a resounding “ho-hum”. If you want to sell a world that depends less on petroleum, you need something more immediate… something we care about. A single candid photo of a guy returning from Iraq without his legs would do it for me. Of course, a picture of an Iraqi man who was blown to smithereens by a rocket propelled grenade while selling fruit from his cart near the city square would be equally effective.

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