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Ken Fabian

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Everything posted by Ken Fabian

  1. Do you include the externalised costs - climate and health - as part of the cost calculation? I don't think any estimates of the costs for various energy sources will be valid if those externalities are excluded; if, as some efforts to quantify those costs show, the costs are likely to be quite high (above US$40 per metric ton of CO2 emitted) then there are sound economic reasons for turning to alternatives. Do we consider the opportunity cost as well? If productive agricultural land is diverted to biofuel production the production of other things gets curtailed. None of this looks simple to quantify or the results anything but estimates with wide error margins. If we choose to leave aside climate and respiratory health costs and look purely at the highly misleading immediate monetary values and act like those other costs don't exist, then it sounds like ethanol from corn is still a lot more expensive than fuel from crude oil. Sugarcane based ethanol costs look better but are still high. Yet the difference is not so great that a price hike for oil could not change the balance in favour of ethanol - Brazil produces ethanol for around 80c per US Gallon, which in many parts of the world (but not the US) would be considered cheap. If we choose to look at Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROI or EROEI) then oil looks like this (with rising costs as easy reserves get depleted and more difficult ones get exploited) - The losses are covered by using more crude oil and fuels made from it than hits the open market, times five - producing fossil fuels is a big source of global emissions. Add in climate change and we could choose to look at total energy, including the climate system's heat gain - in which case each MJ of energy from all sources (ultimately as waste heat) is eclipsed a hundredfold. If we faced an imminent ice age that might be useful heat - except the quantities of CO2 (arguably, it is more than any other substance we make) already exceed what would be needed to do that.
  2. Doesn't gravity connect what is inside the event horizon with what is outside?
  3. Maybe it's easier to comprehend rocket thrust as coming from pushing those gases away (like pushing against rocks as you throw them) rather than (incorrectly) the stream of gases pushing against something external (which is like the rocks hitting something after you throw them).
  4. I'm inclined to let discussions play out so long as no-one is being rude or offensive. I found the topic already closed when I looked; very likely it would end up that way and no genuine breakthroughs would be revealed yet there is always opportunity to learn or teach. Or amuse. I would have asked if, having found a means to make low cost low emissions energy that could save the world from climate destabilisation, should an inventor withhold all knowledge of it? Saving the world isn't enough?
  5. There have been efforts to quantify emissions from deforestation. I had a quick internet look and it doesn't appear to be simple - and some studies look purely at deforestation without consideration of reforestation and forest growth - or other GHG output like Methane - giving about 10% of global CO2 emissions between 2000-2005. Historical emissions will be more difficult to quantify. Not precise enough maybe, but deforestation has occurred in addition to great increase in fossil fuel burning; I don't see how, given the amount of fossil fuel burning, for which we do have good estimates, that deforestation would be the primary source of raised atmospheric CO2 in the present.
  6. I think the sexual urge in humans is not precisely targeted - perhaps cannot be given that there is not a clear fertile oestrus period and a lot of sex is needed to result in reproductive success. There are a variety of potential triggers that have little or nothing to do with fertility - and yet it is a strong urge that can also be socially disruptive, especially for those who do not have socially sanctioned mates; outlets for that sex urge that do not provoke conflict include masturbation and homosexuality. I think homosexuality reduced sexual conflict and aided overall social bonding within groups of early humans. It seems clear that homosexual inclination or preference does not necessarily prevent hetero sex - lots of 'gay' people have and want to have children and can have hetero relationships to enable that - so only more extreme forms that prevent successful hetero sex would be unable to reproduce; less extreme forms do not get written out of the genome.
  7. Environmental change can be good or bad depending on how much of a stake we have in stability and the absence of excessive or too rapid change. Australia's mountain pygmy possums are unlikely to survive global warming - were they equipped to think about it and tell us they would say that is an environmental change that is bad. Humans who accept that climate change is real and serious mostly appear to conclude it is bad for humanity and things we cherish, such as remnant natural ecosystems. We are still learning just how far reaching and persistent the consequences of micro-plastic waste are on marine life - and other environmental change is being found to have serious downsides. Take a very long view - and ignore the near term - and it becomes possible to conclude it is not bad. I would disagree.
  8. Huh? What you mean is still not clear, but it sounds to me like you expect the occupants to experience less G-force than the overall acceleration of the spacecraft? If so, no - if you get acceleration, that makes (is?) the G-force - and the G-forces the ship and occupant experience will not be "equalled out" by putting the spacecraft in between two nuclear detonations. The idea of using nuclear pulse rockets has been around a long time but they will operate within the known laws of physics, which doesn't include a means to accelerate without the acceleration.
  9. I don't understand what kind of beneficial "difference would equal out" effect you expect to occur. I don't seen how anything would be gained from detonating anything inside a spaceship. Designs exist for nuclear pulse rockets, such as "Orion" that detonate nuclear bombs behind a deflection plate with shock absorbers. Other kinds of nuclear pulse spacecraft have been proposed. Like above ground nuclear testing, proponents insist there is insufficient evidence that this could have harmful consequences in Earth's atmosphere. Not convinced this is a safe space technology, in or out of the atmosphere, but others may disagree.
  10. Sounds like my mistake is thinking that the slice through a cone must be asymmetric top to bottom - that the part of the curve closest to the point of the cone would be different (tighter curve) than the part of the curve closest to the 'base' - and that it must be a different shape than what you get when you slice through a round cylinder. It seems counter-intuitive to me, that a slice through a cone makes the same shape as a slice through a cylinder. I had always thought an ellipse was like this - And if this is not the shape of a slice through a cone and is not an ellipse - what shape is it? (besides 'egg' shape)
  11. No point trying showing me the equations - my algebra crashed and sank very early, on the rocks of factorisation. Is the shape made by an angled cross section of a round cylinder the same shape as the angled cross section of a cone? I have to say they look different to me - and my confusion about what is and what is not an ellipse is not being relieved so far.
  12. My confusion is not diminishing. My command of correct terminology is poor, but yes, I do understand that there will be a range of angles within which a cross section through a cone that make a 'closed' shape called an ellipse - that at other angles it will make hyperbola and parabola, or at 90 degrees, a circle. (Although it makes my head hurt thinking about the precise angle, parallel to the side of the cone, where it stops being 'closed'.) 'Oval' can loosely describe a variety of shapes but I was thinking specifically of the closed curve you get with an angled cross section through a round cylinder - which I say is what the "sum of distances" definition of an ellipse describes - a curve that is symmetrical both ways. A cylinder may be seen as a special case of a cone - one with a 'point' of zero degrees - but a slice through a cone with other than zero degrees does not produce a curve that is symmetrical both ways. If you like, when I think of an ellipse I think of a shape where the semi-major axes are not equal - only the semi-minor axes are equal. I would call this eccentricity (like in an eccentric orbit) except the term looks already taken, for describing the difference between major axis and minor axis. I don't see how that shape can be made with the "sum of distances is constant" definition - seems like an additional parameter is required. What I think of as an ellipse resembles the cross section of an egg - but I would think an ellipse is it's very own, unique curve, not a combination of parabolic and transitionary curves; that will only be an approximation. Are you saying the conic section version of an 'ellipse' does not actually have a fatter 'bottom' than top? ('Top' being the part of the curve nearest the point of the cone) ie it will be mirrored top to bottom as well as left to right, and my belief that it resembles the egg cross section is just wrong?
  13. The closed curve described by the definition given for an ellipse - sum of distances to two fixed focal points is constant - is symmetrical in two directions; the left mirrors the right and the top mirrors the bottom. However an angled section through a cone is symmetrical in only one direction - it has a large curve at the 'bottom' and tighter curve on the top; the left mirrors the right but the top doesn't mirror the bottom. The sum of the distances to two fixed focal points is NOT constant for every point on such a curve.Therefore the conic section shape being called an ellipse is not an ellipse by that definition. It must be some other kind of shape. What shape is it?
  14. Wikipedia starts with this definition - but that looks to me like it would define an oval shape, ie one that is symmetrical. Elsewhere I have encountered the same kind of definition - taking two pegs with a length of string longer than the distance between and scribing a line with a third peg whilst pulling the string taut makes an ellipse shape. To me this looks like it describes only very specific sort of ellipse and is not a universal description of all ellipses. Rather than a cross section through a cone shape, this looks to me like it describes a cross section through a round cylinder. Am I missing something obvious here?
  15. There can be a big gap between knowing something brutal is being done and witnessing it first hand. And a bigger gap between knowing others are doing it and being a participant. Easier to tolerate or get satisfaction from brutality from a safe distance. I think it might have been thescienceforum.com where I started a thread on squeamishness and what benefits it's evolution might bring - me being subject to it. Lost with most of the last few years posts at that site. Our ability to feel empathy can short-circuit hatred and pleasure in the pain of others but when we hate, there is not much room left for empathy. Or logic or reason.
  16. One of humanity's most problematic traits is our ability to take satisfaction from the harsh treatment of others - as long as we think they are BAD and, therefore, believe they deserve it. When it comes to TV and movies the establishing that someone is BAD sets the viewer up to get enjoyment from seeing them become the victims of violence. (Yeah, put the alleged child molester into that cell with the giant brutal man-raper! Beat a confession out of that suspect - because in the scene before, we got shown that he's BAD and know he's lying.) Back in reality no trial or weighing of evidence or camera eyes view of the perpetrator in action is required to believe someone is BAD, but we are prompted in a similar ways to accept the goodness of harsh treatment because of the BADNESS of those getting subjected to it. Often we see it done in ways that associates BADNESS with ethnicity, religion, political or other characteristics, which has made this ability to enjoy it a major part of many of the most horrific instances of mass human violence. The ability to divide violence into BAD violence and GOOD violence might be an evolutionary trait that makes necessary violence possible without driving us crazy, but it is not so well suited to civilised rule of law that seeks to minimise the urge to do violence.
  17. I think an "inflection point" might be a reasonable way to define it - but it may resist definition. I've encountered compelling arguments that CO2 driven global warming became clearly detectable above the natural variation in the 1970's, and that is when modern global warming 'starts'.
  18. I think plant displacement will more significant than plant adaptation/evolution. To some extent many plants that already do better with warmer winters already co-exist within existing ecosystems, taking advantage of conditions that were previously exceptional but will become commonplace. The relative dominance of different species will be changed long before there is significant adaptation or evolution. Others species will come as "weeds" or even as deliberate introductions. Very likely natural area "restoration" efforts will become pre-emptive transformation or even relocation in efforts to preserve ecosystems and habitat - and prevent species losses. I will say that living in a region that historically experiences extremes of summer heat gives a very different and more alarming perspective on a few degrees of warming than living in somewhere that is historically subject to extremes of cold.
  19. Sending detectors/drones ahead of the spaceship would give more warning and more opportunity to either evade or divert debri along the ship's course. Not that I think interstellar trips are likely to ever be within our technological capabilities; more feasible would be slow, uni-directional "colonisations" of deep space objects - presuming true self sufficiency, without loss or degradation of initial technological capabilities is possible under such circumstances. Each stop allows supplies to be refreshed and each new target is never beyond the support of the previous colonies.
  20. Naitche, the feedback loops amongst and between commerce, governments, media and public mean public opinion remains subject to significant manipulation. I can see, where I am, that public opinion has shifted enough that political rhetoric is changing - but even that change has been much harder and slower in coming than it ought to have been, because people in power turned aside from the mainstream expert advice and sought, persistently, over decades, using unethical but legal means, to take public opinion with them. Apathy, ignorance and anti-environmentalist sentiment were advantageous to those pursuing Doubt, Deny, Delay politicking so as to not to have this burden of responsibility land on them - so I think the expectation was that not enough popular opinion could be mobilised on the issue to change the status quo and this became a tactical reason to throw this back on the public. Doing "the will of the people" has tended to ring hollow on this - and those who made it a justification to oppose strong climate action will be unlikely to change because of "the will of the people" has changed; rather, they can and have turned back against that public opinion, portraying it as an unthinking populist fad. It has been a remarkable effort by people taking the expert advice seriously to swing public opinion to the extent that political parties fear to openly reject the expert advice - but that is a long way short of real commitment to fixing the climate problem. Popular opinion demanding more action is a positive thing but when the people with power and influence continue to want to avoid climate responsibility it tends to lead to renewed efforts to misinform and confuse the public as well as lip-service appeasements of those community concerns - like making in principle statements that are not backed by actions or giving support to feel-good projects that aren't expected to lead to substantial change (subsidise some solar power for example, back when it really was low power and very high cost - with it's expected failures becoming the ammunition in turn to oppose more ambitious schemes - no-one expecting solar energy prices could come down so far so fast). In practice, with respect to actions that could be expected to be effective, like carbon pricing or emissions limits, opponents can continue to oppose and obstruct whilst saying how important addressing the problem is - there are too many ways to hide opposition behind rhetorical demands that the policies be better. Yes, public opinion has shifted and that is both necessary and good, but as long as overt and covert institution opposition continues the actual commitments made will be inadequate, the actual policies will be compromised and delayed action will let a cumulative, irreversible problem of unimaginable scale to continue to get worse. I think it takes the threat of legal liability to induce institutional change - based on long running legal principles around responsibility and accountability, not even introducing anything climate change specific. Including holding that people holding fiduciary duties of care are negligent by failing to give full consideration to expert advice. If our institutions of law and governments continue to provide loopholes and exceptions - ie they are corrupt - then our chances of fixing this problem in any reasonable time frame are so greatly diminished as to make me concerned that failure must become inevitable.
  21. Surface temperatures - rising. Ocean heat content - rising. Global sea levels - rising. Sea ice extent - reducing. Glaciers - retreating. Antarctic and Greenland ice sheet loss - accelerating. Of all the expected and measured indicators of global warming, storms and storm damage are amongst the most uncertain (and widely acknowledged as uncertain) - so starting there looks less like the overwhelming hit that proves global warming to be a scam than a distraction from the surface temperatures, Ocean Heat Content, Sea Levels and changes to land and sea ice. Or from the radiative properties of atmospheric gases for that matter. We get pseudonymous pseudo-experts much like you dropping in here, convinced of your own certainty - I could debate the points you make but I don't think you will give my responses any real consideration - you appear so filled misinformation I don't expect there is room for real information. The US and other nation's intelligence services can pick out guarded exchanges between would be terrorists but can't find evidence of a global conspiracy amongst tens of thousands of climate and related scientists, who mostly don't use encryption and do their work mostly on government run computer networks? A conspiracy with a burden of costs of trillions $US that successive conservative governments utterly failed to unearth? When all the work climate science does involves open record keeping and open publication and open scrutiny, secrecy is impossible and no grand conspiracy can be sustained. Whether commissioned by left governments or right, the expert advice keeps coming back the same; not because it is a conspiracy to produce the desired results but because it is not. Rather, they keep saying the same things because they are true. the climate problem is about responsibility and accountability (for the unaccounted consequences and costs of excess fossil fuel burning) - qualities that are not just compatible with Free Enterprise, Democracy and The Rule of Law, they are essential ingredients. Nations entering knowingly into agreements for mutual benefit - or avoiding mutual harms - does not undermine sovereignty. The best options we have for dealing with this unprecedented global problem involve innovative entrepreneurship - capitalist entrepreneurship - and opportunity for profit in the process; attempting to make this about socialism versus capitalism is not unusual, but it is wrong, from both directions. If the Climate "movement" appears to lean left that is because those who lean right keep refusing to join and participate.
  22. I think those in positions of trust, responsibility, power and influence throwing this issue back onto the public is responsibility avoidance written large. Making it a matter of individual lifestyle and purchasing choices or a matter of popular public opinion and voter choice to address (or not) collectively through our society's institutions - whilst being active participants in misinformation to influence that opinion and choice is doubly problematic; rejecting the mainstream advice may be an individual's "free" choice but it is textbook negligence for those with broader fiduciary duties of care. But to actively misinform ("educate") the community or use their reach and influence to endorse and give respectability to campaigns of disinformation is a much more serious kind of negligence. And we are going to continue to struggle to get Joe Public well informed enough to make rational and ethical choices. And still the widespread ability to know better but do things that are not in our longer term best interests anyway (personal experience here) makes personal choices an unreliable means of addressing this, whether by our individual actions or our voting choices. Especially if the voting options themselves are skewed.
  23. I disagree. Responsibility and accountability, especially on the really big things, where there are big vested interests, only really get dealt with through legal precedent and regulation - making it a personal choice whether to act responsibly never really works. Especially when a lot of people with power and influence really, truly don't want to be held responsible on this; we may all be shareholders in this mess but we are not, individually, the majority shareholders. A lot of the big decisions that need to be made are institutional ones, not individual ones, and our institutions of government, law, engineering and commerce have heavy investments in doing things the way we have been, without counting the externalised costs of fossil fuels, which turn out to be very large; the lengths they have been going to to avoid being held responsibility should not be underestimated. Nor the effectiveness of the techniques available to well resourced opponents of climate responsibility to influence the thinking of the Right People as well as Enough People, to sway voting options as well as voting choices. It is a toolkit that includes Lobbying, Strategic Donating, Tactical Lawfare, Post-Politics Payoffs, Advertising, PR and Tankthink. Also I think a lot of people are too engaged in living their lives within the opportunities, obligations and constraints of their individual circumstances to be able to push past what their preferred news and current affairs programs might tell them about these issues. It isn't only scientists and elected or appointed officials that have an obligation to act responsibly - news editors and journalists have repeatedly shown themselves to be active participants in those efforts to influence public opinion on climate change - which ought not be a surprise when their biggest commercial customers tend to be strongly opposed to climate responsibility adding any burden of costs on their activities. Doing the Advertising and PR and Paid-for Opinion on the issue is a big commercial opportunity for media companies. ( A "campaign" by a leading Australian newspaper is currently active, slandering the Bureau of Meteorology over how they process temperature records, despite unprocessed data shows the warming trend as clearly as the processed. Plus other persistent misinformation continues to be prominent - all more shrilly than previous campaigns; exposure to extremes of drought, heat, fire and flood are exacerbating the growing trend towards community acceptance of it's reality - and to a more limited extent, it's urgency - their influence and persuasion is losing effectiveness).
  24. I think it may have more immediacy but I think not more urgency. Not necessarily less urgency - and these are connected, but whilst better efforts at preserving natural areas won't have a major impact on the climate problem, the climate problem will have a major impact on those efforts at conservation. Reforestation can help with climate but isn't capable of significantly compensating for ongoing, unconstrained emissions - although maybe important carbon draw down after we approach zero emissions. Global warming will drastically alter the climates for natural ecosystems and be a long running cause of effective habitat loss even in well protected and managed areas, through change in vegetation types, spread of pests and diseases - and vulnerability to fire. If we haven't fixed the climate problem the fundamental requirements for saving or recovering existing remnant natural ecosystems won't be in place.
  25. I'm in a "Watch and Act" fire warning situation as I type - conditions eased a bit today but without substantial rain (we've had less than 10mm since mid-December, with a lot of very high temperatures in that time) any reprieve is going to be temporary. Having blackened leaves falling from the sky - from a fire 20km away - is sobering; ember fires have started many kilometres ahead of large fire fronts. Another fire is much closer, but that other one is probably the bigger threat, given the inevitable return of hot conditions and being West of us - where the hottest winds come from. Even well prepared homes will be in danger (6 homes confirmed lost around here in the past 2 days) - we know we will have to leave and hope the volunteer firefighters have the resources to defend individual homes; they do try wherever they can. Beyond the call of duty very often. The thought of these circumstance but with another 3-5 C of warming is genuinely terrifying; those who live in cold climates may imagine that as an improvement but a large portion of the world's population live in places that already get extremely hot in summer.
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