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Ken Fabian

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Everything posted by Ken Fabian

  1. I think space is a lot harder to colonise successfully than people like Pr Hawking are saying. I also don't think "preserving the species" or preserving our civilisation is a motivation that will work; colonies will arise as a flow on consequence of economically viable exploitation of space resources by a successful, not a failing, Earth economy; those economic activities have to be the enabling motivation and some form of self reliant colonisation may, in time, be an emergent outcome. Outposts are one thing - everything they rely on is a product of a large, successful, resourceful Earth economy. Self sufficient colonies are something much larger and more comprehensive - they need to be the large, successful, resourceful economy. If they aren't then they won't be able to make the high tech essentials survival in such places requires and they won't thrive. If they aren't economically viable outposts - and I don't think there is any resource on Mars that cannot be mined, refined and delivered to customers more easily and cheaply here on Earth - then they won't become the successful economy they need to be to survive without support. And I wonder if even a multitude of space colonies would still be more at risk of extinction than people on Earth and besides being reliant on a lifeline from Earth, there is a strong likelihood they could end up calling upon Earth for rescue; we cannot ignore just how extremely harsh and unforgiving the destinations on offer really are. Unlike the historic examples of colonisation, this grand dream relies on exceptional, purpose built - yet to be achieved - technology, rather than the thoroughly proven sort that was in every day use. With some extraordinary technological leaps, perhaps the economics of using space resources will shift from being prohibitive to become compelling but I'm not sure it's something that can be achieved incrementally; the giant steps require a huge pre-investment and that level of investment is unlikely without the compelling economics of a compelling business plan.
  2. Any presumption that climate scientists are incompetent and that the science linking greenhouse gases to global average temperatures and climate is fundamentally flawed is going to fail - because they are not incompetent and there is no evidence they dismiss or reject any genuine and demonstrable influences on climate. Take care that you do not fall into the mistake of dismissing out of hand any genuine and demonstrable influences - like Greenhouse Effect and atmospheric aerosols and surface albedo changes in order to support your hypothesis, which you have not yet demonstrated to be a significant, let alone more significant influence than they are.
  3. Perhaps it's a cunning plan - fan the flames of conflict around the world in order to fix the US deficit by increased exports of military hardware.
  4. Of course the doctor tells the patient; if the PSA levels are indicative of potential prostate cancer then it's important that follow up tests are done. To withhold such information would be negligence/malpractice. I suspect anyone who has gone through the sex change thing would be well informed about the medical implications, including the ongoing potential for prostate problems.
  5. Well, I wouldn't hire Zeno as a running coach! "See where the competitor in front is? That's your finish line... no, where he is now! Dammit, he keeps moving! Where he is now, Now! Now, now, no-, n-, n- ... Oh, you've passed him! And I thought that wasn't possible!" I never thought it was much of a paradox - more an example of a mis-stated problem leading to a mis-taken conclusion.
  6. TenOz - I'm not serious in the sense that I doubt anyone who has any actual responsibility in this is interested in or will be influenced by my 2c worth. I freely admit to a lack of relevant expertise and, usually, I prefer to defer to experts who know a lot more than I do. No doubt there is an element of Dunning-Kruger in my simplistic alternative solutions - that if I knew a lot more maybe I might see why they can't or won't help. And yet it doesn't take an expert to see there is an enduring absence of expert solutions that do work. Where there is a high level of disagreement amongst experts I suspect there are things that are, if not overlooked are overshadowed - most of all that there are competing and incompatible motivations at play; retaining power and keeping up appearances internally are not the same as securing enduring solutions. Kim Jong-un's posturing is for internal consumption, as is Donald Trump's. I suppose helping North Korea economically in order to ease them towards more normalised international relations is too counter-intuitive despite the regime having come to depend on the existence of outside enemies for legitimacy and solidarity. I doubt there is any genuine plan to attack the US or, with the exception of South Korea, it's allies - although I suppose passing on WMD's to crazies that would use them is a real possibility - yet that threat would also be reduced by improved economic circumstances and more normal relations.
  7. The concerns about climate mitigating actions have always been much broader than those directly involved in fossil fuels. The prospect of more expensive energy motivates all kinds of ordinary people and business leaders to oppose strong climate actions - Tar's winter heating for example. A whole new range of regulatory requirements around emissions motivates all kinds of ordinary people and business leaders to join in opposition to emissions regulations - without any direct consideration of the validity of the science on climate. Those concerns flow through business associations and lobbyists to political parties and politicians and through their own workforce as fears for job security within businesses with rising costs and reduced profitability. The concerns about energy costs and reliability as well as government regulation in an area formally free of it are shared by those with no direct involvement with fossil fuels. These mostly economic concerns tend to have more direct and immediate impacts on choices than longer term and broader concerns about climate consequences, no matter that over the longer term the accumulated and irreversible climate impacts will include significant and accumulating economic costs. Studies of the relative costs seem to agree that prevention, even with more expensive energy is more cost effective than adaptation. It's never been up to environmentalists or manufacturers of solar panels to solve the climate problem - that has tended to happen by default, by the failures of more mainstream influences to lead and act decisively. And I think to some extent perceptions of climate change being a "green" issue has been created and reinforced through deliberate efforts to discredit legitimate concerns by associating the issues with extremist ideology and irrationality that has tended to be viewed as impediments to economic growth and the benefits that delivers. That climate change has serious and enduring economic consequences, affecting long term prosperity and security is a truth that can always be put aside in the face of more immediate business and living cost concerns. Except that it does have consequences and costs. Those associated with political environmentalism or who are optimistic about the use of solar power do not have a monopoly on solutions. What I often see is disagreement with the solutions some offer as reason to reject strong actions to reduce emissions - including by misrepresenting the fundamental science about climate change and expert consideration of the consequences - rather than as reason to strongly promote alternative solutions.
  8. Rather than dropping bombs maybe we should be dropping aid packages. Rather than closing off trade maybe we should be dumping low cost consumer goods into their economy. If changing this enemy's mind is the objective then anything that changes their mind can be considered a weapon. Not that I am being entirely serious or expect anything I say will change any minds but I can't help but think that it's the sense of being a state under siege that unites the North Korean people behind it's leadership and ennobles their hardships and sacrifices , so actions that reduce that siege mentality should deserve consideration. Action to deal with them look like the exact opposite of that. I do remain sceptical of the long term effectiveness of instigating insurrection and arming insurgents as a solution, as I do with enduring interference by outside powers in the internal affairs of nation states; the legacy of doing so in the Middle East does not fill me with optimism about the outcomes.
  9. I have reservations about massive global expansion of use of nuclear around the world as a primary emissions reductions strategy but that's for another thread; enough to say I think the dominant environmental, security and weapons proliferation concerns won't apply to use at a moon base. Or the same level of concern over cost. Safe and reliable launch would be important. I believe the USSR put 40 or so small fission reactors into orbit over the years. There are probably some still up there, but dumping them back into Earth's oceans when done isn't something I'd like to see emulated but that wouldn't apply to this. It would also not be up to me! I don't know about the waste heat issue - it would be a serious consideration during 340 hours of continuous sunlight, where temperatures can get over 120 degrees C, with another 340 hours of night with temps down to minus 150 C. But I'm not sure it would be insurmountable. If radiative cooling is directed to open space and it is shaded and insulated from radiant heat from sun and surrounding sun heated lunar surface that might be sufficient. Building them on site seems problematic - these are complex technologies with exacting standards. It's unlikely they even can be built entirely or even mostly with locally obtained lunar materials - I would expect modular reactors, probably purpose built to handle the changes from Earth gravity to high G acceleration to zero gee to, finally, low lunar gravity. But we are discussing a base or outpost, not a colony expected to be able to make it's own equipment.
  10. Frank, I think bringing along a nuclear power plant would be a serious contender for powering any Lunar base. For one thing it means the base can be sited where it's best suited for it's purpose rather than sited for utilising solar power. Solar could still be a useful additional power source, with high energy projects scheduled for Lunar day periods. I'm not sure what to think of the tethered payload delivery system. Wouldn't the capture of moving mass result in significant instabilities? Can the payloads be delivered in the right direction with the right amount of momentum? I suspect there will be more straightforward ways to deliver payloads.
  11. I got pulled up before on another forum by suggesting this - because of axial tilt (1.5 degrees I think?) and the moon wobbling in it's orbit (nutation) the poles are not constantly sunlit. I have heard claims that some polar mountain peaks may be constantly lit (named Peaks of Eternal Light) but I don't believe any have been identified. But having several solar arrays at different longitudes, close to the poles, could be linked by much shorter power transmission cables than doing that near the equator. My scepticism that lunar bases or colonies can pass any kind of benefit vs cost analysis remains strong, but as thought experiments I still find these questions interesting.
  12. Studiot, it's not that I think reducing the packaging isn't a better option, just that I think it's a less achievable option. Just as making things that last is less achievable. It seems to me the degree of change within manufacturing, food distribution and retailing to achieve those better outcomes involves a greater degree of regulatory intervention; the potential for retailers to raise the PR profile of their businesses by adopting different packaging is greater than the potential for getting the major retail chains, that like the way pre-packaging streamlines things, to greatly reduce packaging. I still think you are missing a lot of what I have been saying. I did mention methane utilisation, more than once. But that it's far from universal - as a source of atmospheric methane it is not from the landfill that utilises it but the landfill that doesn't; it probaly will increase in use but I think it is better that the food waste not be incorporated into the landfill to make landfill a methane source. Which I think is greatly impacted by ease of separation; if the past-it's-use stuff can just be thrown into a bin for biorecyclables, without needing to be unpacked, less of it will go by default into the bin for landfill. Deplore the waste all we like; it's a fact to be dealt with. Also think that civil engineering projects, like flood mitigation, as a secondary use for landfill can be done even better if that biological material - and toxic material content - were reduced. If such projects have a sound basis they ought not be reliant upon landfill to get done.
  13. studiot - We may be more in agreement than not. I understand dismay and frustration with those in positions of public trust and responsibility letting us down, engaging in gesture politics rather than well considered and well implemented policies; here in Australia for example, the national climate and energy debate is currently heading towards farce - only, given the seriousness, I don't find it funny. Why food packaging? Leaving aside the GHG contributions - which many people are surprised to learn far exceeds in weight and volume that of 'solid' waste - the largest component of our own household's waste is food packaging. Chickens, worms and garden deal with our food waste but we are not typical. A lot more is, supposedly, recyclable, but I still say 'downcyclable'; a couple of re-uses at lesser quality at best and it ends up in landfill. Very little aluminium for us (and less glass as plastics replace it for many food items) but, like I say, we are not typical. I spent time with my mother in Sydney in her infirmity and food waste separation was not even an available option within the "retirement village"; the amount of food waste going unseparated surprised and shocked me. Yes, it often is commonly an option, with separate bins for recyclable plastics and metals as well as those for food and garden waste but my understanding is that a lot of that plastic packaging makes it's way into food waste, food in the recyclables and both in the 'general waste' that goes to landfill. Good intentions and even good implementation are hindered by that. It's all very well to say much of that packaging is not necessary - absolutely I agree; I just suspect that choice of packaging at the supplier level is simply more achievable than eliminating it and would lead to ease of and higher rates of separation at the household level. Like I said, what comes out of composting - and liquid waste processing - can and does have economic value. And costs for processing it of course - but reducing costs of processing at the waste end is worth some attention. I don't know about globally but a quick search showed the US landfill is it's third largest source of atmospheric methane, because of food waste - which is on top of better managed sites where methane is a spin off that is utilised. I don't see reducing it as insignificant. John - Where the materials have sufficient monetary value there is motivation - and better rates of recycling. Where they don't is where it isn't done so well. Not so sure that heat is or should be the primary means of dealing with residuals in metal or glass containers - rinsing and incorporation into liquid waste streams would be more usual, with heat for final residues - air pollution issues? It may be that no viable and cost effective replacements for metal, glass or, increasingly, plastics will emerge - and recycling methods for those will continue to improve, even to seeing less of it being 'downcycling' with more reuse at the original quality. I still think it's worth some efforts to explore new possibilities.
  14. John, I'm interested in whether that line can be redrawn, for ease of separation. Aluminium is, yes, amongst the most recyclable of materials and drink cans get recycled more than most other recyclable materials around here because scrap metal businesses will pay money for them. People and charitable organisations collect and cash them in so the sorting is better done. But a lot of food packaging is widespread, not well sorted and is commonly mixed with food remnants. Some is already compostable but a lot of it isn't.
  15. Reading back over this thread I think I pointed out more of the benefits of landfill than you have - flood mitigation through, I thought by land reclamation, although I'm ready to be corrected, as a spin off benefit is about it. Nor have I suggested it does not serve a valuable function or that we not use it. Have I been a loudmouth, know it all environmentalist by asking if we can improve the management of waste by suggesting we may be able to improve recycling of food packaging by preferentially using biological materials that can be recycled biologically into economically and environmentally useful products? I would suggest that, whilst use of methane from landfill - a product of large amounts of those materials in it - is being utilised more, it is not a good reason to fail to consider methods for making better use of those materials. I have no problem with people campaigning about environmental concerns. I think that an absence of people who do would, given the capacity for political systems to neglect important issues in the absence of political activism, be a net step backwards. The capacity for policy makers to put populist gestures ahead of well thought and effective policy remains significant but that is not the fault of political activism.
  16. studiot - precision in language has it's place but did my more colloquial use of "organics" actually result in misunderstanding or is it pedantry? Biological? Bio-recyclable? "Biodegradable" has been stretched to plastics - err, particular kinds of polymers? - that break down into smaller bits but not necessarily into foodstuffs for organisms. Are you just playing devil's advocate or do you really believe criticisms of landfill waste disposal - as commonly practised - are not rationally based but are principally grounded in political ideology? Doing things "better" can depend on how you define "better" but I don't see this issue as inconsequential or those urging improvements as engaging in a witch hunt. There are, of course, genuine benefits to landfill disposal compared to absence of landfill disposal but for a lot of waste it is not the only available let alone best option. Concentrating and containing waste has public health benefits - better that broken glass, waste food and other biological or hazardous materials is there than scattered across the landscape. Spin off benefits such as land reclamation or methane production have to be balanced against the downsides but look rather dubious as grounds for using it rather than other options. Methane from landfill is primarily from the inclusion of unseparated food waste. I don't think elimination of landfill disposal is possible but it can be reduced significantly, perhaps improving it's suitability for land reclamation as a side benefit. Is it really the best we are capable of? Energy costs do matter but the downsides are not intrinsic to energy use but to the way that energy is produced; processes like chipping and grinding hard biological materials to speed the breakdown process as well as that of remaking glass or metals or making food packaging from biological materials do take energy but there are better and worse options for making energy. Endy, the agar materials look interesting, thanks. Cellulose and cornstarch looks good for film type wrapping. Paper/cardboards with wax coatings have been around a long time and bee, soy and other waxes look better for bio-cycling than mineral based paraffin waxes. Agar seems to be good for liquids at least for shorter storage times. Long term storage of liquids is probably going to remain difficult.
  17. Two issues - a) Ease and simplification of keeping different kinds of waste separated. That flows through to making other kinds of recycling simpler, by reducing the organics content within metals and plastics waste streams. b) Biologically based materials are potentially 100% recyclable without loss or degradation of the essential components, into materials with economic values and environmentally sound uses. I think the more of that we can do the better. I have been influenced by the writings - and real world achievements - of McDonough and Braungart that I first encountered in the doco "Waste Equals Food". Their book " Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things" further impressed me when the local library kindly sought out and provided a copy for me to read; it is made of polymer "paper" that can (in principle) be recycled to it's original quality rather than into a degraded, lesser quality. Even the inks, which are not toxic, can be separated out and re-used. But in practice our collective efforts to create a circular economy for the materials we use, that can eliminate the continuing loss of resources to intractable waste, lags so far that I'm not sure it counts as a real goal.
  18. So much food comes in some form of packaging - from supermarkets and food outlets - that it represents a huge waste stream. A lot of it is - technically - recyclable, but a lot of food packaging ends up contaminated with food residues and almost all recycling, even when it's done well, is more correctly downcycling. ie materials can be re-used only at lesser quality and usually only a few times before ending up unusable. Separation of biological waste from other kinds of waste seems to me to be the most basic kind of separation and biological waste is the kind that can be most completely and efficiently recycled, via biological means. I can see that the kinds of foods that come in cans and glass, for long duration storage would be the most difficult to repackage, but is it technically possible? What might be the technical problems with all the short lived packaging being made of biological materials that can be composted or fed into sewage waste streams that can recover safe and usable biological materials?
  19. I have wondered about island populations that began with small numbers - human and animal. Starting with single pairs may not be an absolute guarantee they will die out; perhaps depending on which specific minor mutations they carry?
  20. Scherado, you have offered nothing except your opinions. Certainly not anything that even indicates the basis for that opinion. No references, no links, no reasons or reasoning. Not any qualifications that would show you are capable of doing a genuine critique of climate science. The US National Academy of Sciences, UK's Royal Society have had people with relevant expertise and deserved reputations for competence and probity look closely at climate science - you don't get to be Fellows in these institutions without. Lacking that competence myself I have no hesitation in taking their carefully considered conclusions ahead of your opinions. Yet even without that level of competence I have not found it that hard to gain a broad understanding. And develop the capability to differentiate unfounded opinion from that of people with genuine expertise.
  21. Trying to find ways your hypothesis could be wrong, before you publish and have the errors pointed out, is a good way to avoid making a fool of yourself even if it sounds less noble than "I applied scientific scepticism to ensure the highest scientific standards" as motivation. Scientists are human too; that your peers will read, review and critique what you publish, and not hesitate to call out any mistakes is a cornerstone of science
  22. I think the sailing ship analogy is very misleading - exploitation of asteroid resources will be nothing like it; those sailing ships were economically viable technologies already, making profits servicing existing markets. If they had not been economically viable the competition that enabled their ongoing improvements would not have taken place. Utilising resources in space is a whole different situation in that it requires technologies that don't yet exist, and thus does not have that kind of competition to prompt it's ongoing development. A whole lot of pre-investment is needed and it has to be done without any incomes from the desired activity itself.
  23. If rare and valuable metals are found at ppm within nickel-iron alloys - my understanding is that this is so but I could be misinformed - then they are going to be very difficult to extract in any efficient manner, no matter that platinum group metals have been found in meteorites at above 100ppm, which would be worth mining on Earth were they oxides or other chemically bound ores. Until sampling has been done we won't know if they will be in forms more amenable to extraction - a significant cost if the Osiris-Rex mission is a guide; $US500M per kilo to collect and return small samples to Earth. The presence of abundant metals and other resources isn't in dispute; it's the costs of extracting them that makes them uneconomic.
  24. Beecee - Generation ships face effectively the same problems that genuinely self reliant space colonies do; having an internal population and infrastructure - aka economy/society - of sufficient size and complexity to be capable of remaking every bit of tech that it uses and continue that capability through multiple generations - generations who won't necessarily come with the same levels of ability. With the added constraint of doing so without any outside resources, simultaneously with carrying the least possible mass.
  25. Who is trying to prevent these grand project? I've even suggested a means by which humanity might reach another star - even if I think the many steps along the way must be economically viable in their own right for it to occur and it hasn't been demonstrated convincingly that they are likely to be. I do think some devil's advocacy isn't out of place in these discussions although I could hope for better, more content filled responses than "camels were cutting edge tech". Or "exploring is what humans do" for that matter. Exploring also finds places that are uninhabitable and resources that are not economically viable to exploit - which is about the stage we are at with space.
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