Ken Fabian

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About Ken Fabian

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    Climate Science: Climate Politics: Energy technologies: Human Evolution

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  1. Nitrogen - N2 - would be the biggest component of combustion exhaust gases but passes through mostly unaffected. Some NO(x) is produced but only a small portion of N2 that passes through is effected. I was surprised that CO2 exceeds other waste by such a large margin but I suppose I should not be surprised that the quantity of waste CO2 is so great - nothing about this is secret; more like it has been going unnoticed and unremarked whilst in plain sight.
  2. I tried to find better sources for assessments of how much waste we make - again I have done this from an Australian perspective, but expect the overall conclusion won't be much different in other developed nations. Looking at Australian National Waste Report 2016 (the most recent I could find) I didn't find wastewater per se or CO2. It does appear to include 'biosolids' from wastewater treatment - which would be less than if they counted the actual urine, faeces and other materials fed into that wastewater, both because the initial water content of them is not counted and a lot of the organic materials are broken down. Some of that material will be released as Methane and CO2 along the way. The report does take account of methane that is collected and burned (but not that which isn't) as fuel and mentions that it becomes CO2, to be added to Australia's emissions inventory, which, like methane emissions, is not part of the report; it's there as a form of waste treatment - "energy recovery" - alongside recycling or disposal (landfill). A lot more construction waste (726 kg of masonry) than I expected - and had thought was counted as municipal waste but wasn't - and a lot of fly ash from coal burning (760kg) which, given the CO2 emissions, didn't surprise me. I used 15 metric tons of CO2 per capita but it is actually over 17 tons The total waste for an average Australian before recycling, energy recovery or disposal (up to 2014-15) is given as 2705 kg per capita - which makes my previous estimate of CO2 being 7 times more than all other waste combined an overestimate; seems like it is only 6 times more. But that doesn't leave me feeling any better about it.
  3. These are 'back of envelope' type estimates, not definitive. I may have been thinking of daily rather than annual wastewater volumes, so wastewater probably does make up the largest volume of human waste - I'll have to go back and look for the right numbers, but my point is, it is still mostly water. Actual waste content is harder to pin numbers to - 500 litres of urine per person per year. Less than 200kg of faeces. Solid waste for Australians, about 1,500kg. Other waste? There will be some, but it still looks like about 7 times more waste CO2 than all other waste combined. Exhaled CO2 is about 1 kilogram per day or 365kg per person per year, ie 1/40th of an Australian's emissions is from breathing - and as long as we don't count the associated emissions from agricultural production and supply chains exhaled CO2 all came from atmospheric CO2 converted by plants into food to give (approximately) a zero contribution to raised CO2 emissions. The associated emissions from food production don't round out to anywhere near zero though. I don't think I've ever heard CO2 spoken of as our largest single waste product, but unless someone can show my estimates are way off it looks like it is.
  4. If wastewater - usually considered the biggest single human waste product by weight - is waste plus water but we only count the waste, and exhaust gases are air and CO2 but we only count the CO2... would that mean it is actually Carbon Dioxide that is the largest single human waste product? By weight? By volume I suspect it could be CO2 anyway - and more confidently suspect exhaust gases containing CO2 would be more by volume than wastewater. It has struck me before just how much CO2 we actually make, mostly oblivious - a more average Australian than me makes 8,000 cubic metres/280,000 cubic feet of CO2 per year. 180 times my own body weight of CO2 per year, 1,800 times my weight per decade, enough I suspect, to make column of pure CO2 with my body's cross section that reaches halfway to the ISS each year. This is going on largely unnoticed in open sight, through an abundance of exhaust pipes and smokestacks, but it looks to me like CO2 is our single most abundant waste product.
  5. Ah, that makes sense. Mystery solved, thank you.
  6. I touched the vote widget on your reply post to me - more than once, just messing about with it to see what happened. Count the final tally of that as an upvote, for helping out.

    1. StringJunky


      OK. Cheers.

  7. I hadn't noticed the time limit - mostly I do edits fairly soon or else post another comment. Or possibly I had known and forgotten; I find that happening more and more, sigh. A correlation with grey hair growth but not necessarily causation. I had noticed a bunch of blank lines ahead of some random symbols in the follow up post in 'Australian Politics' and wanted to edit that out, but too late. I understand that the up/down vote option is absent on my own posts, but I thought the tally of votes posts receive normally remains visible to the poster. It is absent for the post linked above but present for the follow up comment (sitting on zero when I just looked ). Looking further back at random posts, I find that tally is absent. Does that disappear with a time limit too? It seems odd that I can't know the tally of votes for things I post, to get a sense of how they were received - and I keep thinking that I previously had been able to.
  8. Just wondering why I can't edit my posts - the edit thingy just isn't there. I hadn't noticed a time limit and most recent post appeared immediately without the edit option. Also I got notified of 'react to post' but that display is absent on this comment. (could have been on the later one, which does have the display ... an up and a down to give zero, possibly?) Reloading pages doesn't bring these up. It's not that serious - but I had wanted to do minor edits.
  9. Australian Politics:

    I don't have any great issue with how the political party selects the Prime Minister in Australia - or that they can change PM without calling an election; if their own team can't work with the leader it seems reasonable that they be able to replace him/her - and Australians know, or should know, that is how things work. It comes with high electoral risks and normally political parties don't do this to popular Prime Ministers, rather, reserving it for unpopular ones - although not always - but there are deep divisions within the LNP that don't appear to be resolvable by changing the leader. ik],
  10. Australian Politics:

    Divided opinions over climate and energy were at the heart of this blow up; the conservative right leaning Liberal and National party coalition (LNP) appears to be deeply divided between the pro-coal and gas climate science deniers who don't know any better and the pro-coal and gas climate science deniers who do know better. The ones who do know better lost. Flippancy aside, it's a serious division within the LNP, that has not been resolved by this change of leader. I don't think there is any will within the LNP to tackle the climate problem head on with eyes open but a significant proportion could still be counted as climate "lukewarmers" - in my view, this is just a variant of denial; the link between climate and emissions being considered real but, unlike actual mainstream climate scientific advice, they believe it is not that serious or significant. ie they believe the mainstream science is wrong. Practically speaking it means the lukewarmers are framing support for fossil fuels and opposition to a renewable energy led transition to low emission in ways that don't involve denying climate science - and done in ways the climate science denying faction can live with. Had Dutton won the leadership, we may have seen subsidies for new coal power stations and withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement - bringing that essential debate about acceptance or rejection of climate science, that the ones who know better know will go badly, back to the fore. The ones who know better are almost certainly correct - the votes that climate denial will win from the extreme right will cost them the support from the centre. Now I'm not sure how PM Morrison will play it; he was the one who brandished a lump of coal in parliament, as an unmistakeable declaration of support for fossil fuels, but he looks like a pragmatist who surely knows that - electorally - climate denial and anti-renewables rhetoric doesn't have great public appeal. My prediction is his approach will be much the same as Turnbull's - he will not withdraw from Paris agreement and will not be caught saying outright that he rejects climate science. He will play the energy issue like a three shell game, where every bet on emissions reductions or renewable energy comes up empty. Oh, too bad. Play again?
  11. Interesting, but there is so much more to DNA than DNA - the ribosomes and spliceosomes and other molecular 'machinery' that assembles, splits, copies, transcribes; a much larger cross-sectioned molecular chain may present problems for the development of the complementary chemistry to do these or equivalent functions. Just because I found the imaging of some of these processes so stunning I'll provide a link to a video showing a selection -
  12. If (illicit) drugs were legal.

    We have roadside drug testing in Australia - it's a saliva test. It doesn't cover every kind of drug. Methamphetamines, cannabis, and MDMA but not opiates - (latter could be problems with tests distinguishing between opiate based analgesics and heroin - or consumption of poppy seeds). Anecdotally the results appear to vary widely, with people who had smoked weed sometimes, to their surprise, passing the test and others claiming it picked up usage from days prior. Supposedly it should show usage within the past 12 hours but I'm not convinced the test used is consistently accurate and I'm not sure what the minimum concentrations detected are or if that minimum relates to any trialled and tested 'safe' versus 'unsafe' levels for driving ability. In my view it's primarily been a political move, to appease the many drinkers who are subject to testing and who want to share that experience with weed smokers and 'iceheads', and it works as yet more 'tough on drugs' style politicking. Back to the question - I support legalisation across the board, ie legally available for sale to adults. Policing dealing with problem behaviour will go on, much the way they deal with drunks but burglary and theft by addicts supporting their habits would be much reduced and 'drug enforcement' will focus on a much reduced illegal supply chain. 'War on drugs' resourcing can be turned to education and rehabilitation. I'd also support ongoing research into addiction and searching for biochemical means of short-circuiting addiction's feedback loops; an effective medical means of dealing with addiction would be very welcome.
  13. can you make borax by boiling salt water?

    I would think that lakes that accumulate borax must exist within regions where boron compounds will be washed out of rocks and soils - and less sodium. Likewise for lithium salts and other evaporites - they are specific to particular regions. I use borax for woodworking as a preventative for lyctus (powderpost) borer, which otherwise eat out the sapwood of the natural poles and sticks I like to use -
  14. Mars: huge underground lake discovered

    If bits of Mars have reached Earth as meteorite fragments, it seems likely (even if less commonly) that fragments of Earth also reached Mars. If life is found in underground water on (in?) Mars and it has enough biochemistry in common to conclude a common origin we will still be left with the question of which planet it originated on (in) - or if they both came from elsewhere. I'd still put my bets on Earth over Mars and both over interstellar - but that could be my Earthocentrism. Or just the abundance of life on Earth in comparison to Mars. A mile/1.6km down will need a serious (custom engineered) drill rig plus what it takes to get it there. Could be a very long time before any samples can be examined. I doubt I'll be around to see, but luck to any future efforts to find out if there is life in that water.
  15. Land Octopus

    Maybe electrolytic processes could work for refining and making metals under water. It might be an important early step, preceding 'dry' processes.