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Ken Fabian

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Everything posted by Ken Fabian

  1. It can make space programs less wasteful of taxpayer funds but it doesn't produce anything. Upstream eddies in a flow of taxpayer funds that goes downhill is how it looks to me; there is no market for manned launches except taxpayer funded and I am not convinced that doing it more will create commercial opportunities. It comes back to colonising The Moon and Mars as objectives - and those are hype driven populism, not rational or reasonable objectives. Possibly some extreme priced sightseeing might happen but that is servicing purely Earth based opportunities, a very limited market. It doesn't look like a foundation that serious self supporting space enterprise can be built upon. I see Mars colonies as a pointless waste and see bulk asteroid resources for the Earth market as the best opportunity there is (beyond near Earth purposes using Earth resources) - and I would probably start with crude, minimally processed nickel-iron and even that will still be very, very difficult and ambitious goal. Making it economically viable will mean putting the least equipment into space, with the least human presence. Some work for astronauts may be necessary - but it will be an emergent outcome of making a mining/transport/delivery operation least cost, ie astronauts will be used to save costs, not be a underlying goal, that adds costs. Most enthusiasts have putting the most equipment and most people into space as a principle goals and I think that is putting cart before horse.
  2. Resident space enterprise sceptic here - It looks like a private enterprise achievement but American taxpayers paid for it. If a business depends on taxpayer funded programs for it's commercial viability is truly Private Enterprise? It doesn't look like a big step from private contractors developing and supplying the components for NASA. As is standard space enterprise PR, it is presented as a significant step towards The Moon and Mars - which offer no commercial opportunities and that look like money sinks for no real purpose. To me it looks like those programs are the commercial opportunities, not The Moon or Mars. Which leaves us without any commercially driven space activities beyond communications and ground sensing, neither requiring or even benefiting from putting astronauts in space.
  3. Post coronavirus investment decisions could involve significant divestment from coal but I think that is more a continuation of pre-pandemic changes. Renewable energy can be a beneficiary of governments providing short term economic stimulus - projects tend to have relatively short planning and build times and that will make them appealing, whilst avoiding the opposition that new coal or gas investments will attract. A big element of gesture politics; I remain doubtful it will be deep political commitment to the transition to low emissions driving such choices. The growth of RE hasn't been built on deep mainstream political commitment; imo it looked more like a combination of "give em enough rope" and gesture politics, both of which tended to reinforce the popular (and politically expedient) perception that the issue was driven by fringe politics, and especially by unreasonable and unreasoning Environmentalists. Very few pundits expected wind and solar to deliver useful electricity, let alone do it at costs competitive with fossil fuels but once that line got crossed all presumptions that electricity producers would not willingly take it up went out the window. Certainly no cost comparisons (and predictions) based on historic data - even more than a few years old - remains valid in the face of that. Myself, I think Environmentalists have done what Environmentalists should when science confirmed we have a serious problem with modern humanity's biggest waste stream - CO2 waste; ie made a huge fuss about it. It is mainstream politics that has been unreasonable and unreasoning and has failed to live up to minimum expectations for trust, responsibility and accountability.
  4. Spotting the fallacies on the fly - during a heated debate - is not my strong point. Face to face is not my strong point and expect that dealing with any experienced debater with a full bag of rhetorical tricks would go badly for me. I can only suggest that doing your homework - including being familiar with the commonly used but false arguments as well as knowing the subject itself - will be essential. But be aware of the fallacy of the fallacy - ie that just because someone uses a fallacious argument it doesn't mean the conclusion is wrong, eg it may be a logical fallacy to argue that something is true because expert authorities say so, but it is also a logical fallacy to presume those experts are wrong; what the expert authorities say is most often correct, and will be based in turn on evidence and reason with more substance.
  5. Perhaps - But perhaps the most significant reason to engage in affirmative action is selfish - a society with unresolved conflict and division incurs significant costs, from higher levels of policing and home security all the way to riots causing widespread property destruction. Social division is expensive - potentially a lot more expensive than affirmative action. I don't know that missed out potential, from people living without straightforward pathways to educational and economic opportunities, strictly counts as a cost but it adds to everyday costs.
  6. I may not have worded it well, but I was not condoning police doing non-judicial "punishment"; quite the opposite. It is more evidence of failure of good governance. I expect that because of the primary reason for the protest there is a lot of ill will, more than many protests for other causes, no doubt from both directions - loyalty and sympathy to the police involved, irrespective of circumstances by many of their colleagues amongst police, distrust and anger at the police amongst protesters. That is not a good start, even for those intent on peaceful but determined protest or for police who think they have a point. There will be hotheads, even where there are not organised provocateurs or smash and grab criminals or police who think a show of overwhelming force - which is likely to be as ill aimed as random rocks thrown at police lines - is the correct response. Which can inflame rather than quell. If police want to operate with a de-facto blanket immunity from prosecution - and from the outside it looks like they do - they have to police their own internally, with zero tolerance that, if they cannot stomach criminal prosecution of their own, forces the unsuitable, incompetent and criminal out before they do too much damage. I have not seen much evidence of that in the police where I live, nor in the USA.
  7. I doubt there was intent to murder and likely the cop thought what he was doing would not kill the man - especially with bystanders recording. A bit of time honored unofficial "teach the scum a lesson", perhaps intended for the bystanders more than George Floyd, but gone wrong? Perhaps every attempt George made to struggle and shift to get a breath was taken as defiance - and so he was held down harder and longer? The rioting and destruction of property is counterproductive of course - and it won't matter that the vast majority of protest was/is peaceful. I don't know how Americans will reconcile their own history re Boston Tea Party being celebrated with property destruction as protest being innately wrong now; my own view is it WAS wrong back then too. I tend to see social unrest as inherently chaotic and easily incited to destruction and violence and it is potentially hugely expensive - that if legitimate and widespread grievances are not dealt with that kind of outcome becomes more likely. Not that property destruction is legitimate or that it will get the results wanted, but that it is a predictable outcome that good governance prevents.
  8. @drumbo For the most part mainstream plan or policy for transition to zero emission is NOT based on enforced energy poverty; high emissions infrastructure is not being prematurely closed without alternatives in place. Better policy, that accounts for potential inequality, is the best result emerging from studies that show potential for inequality. Climate policy, for all the lies that are made about it by climate responsibility denying opponents, is not about reducing prosperity, it is about preserving it in the face of accumulating and economically damaging global warming. I note that it is often people who have shown no enduring interest in reducing poverty or inequality who argue against climate action on the basis that reduced fossil fuel use increases them - many of whom, from lives of extraordinary plenty, fiercely oppose accountability and affordable carbon pricing on their emissions. Justified very often by claims the science on climate must be wrong. Assumption that the consequences and costs of continued rising emissions are not significant and therefore emissions reductions are not necessary requires turning aside from the mainstream science based expert advice. For people in positions of trust and responsibility to fail to heed the expert advice is dangerously irresponsible and negligent. But Alarmist - as in unfounded - economic fear of reducing and ultimately reaching near zero fossil fuel burning - has been a potent argument used to impede the legitimate policies and actions of those seeking ways to net zero emissions and the OP looks like an example. If you believe that a shift away from high emissions energy to low is a threat solely because it introduces change then that is an alarmist position. From the linked article - I would have to disagree with that last sentence from McGee - not using fossil fuels in the first place means avoided future emissions by alleviating energy poverty in those communities by other means than fossil fuels.
  9. For climate scientists, finding the inescapable conclusions of their studies that global warming and the changes that will bring will be global, damaging, costly and effectively irreversible, to fail to raise alarms would be unprofessional and unethical. Whether commissioned by Conservative or by Progressive leaning governments the conclusions have not changed - not even the studies called for because they didn't like what the other studies said. This is evidence to my mind that science is not blindly following pre-determined conclusions or the bidding of political masters or involved in global conspiracies. Drumbo, your casually tossed out allegations that they are incompetent or driven by nefarious motives - are profoundly insulting and slanderous besides being wrong. But not unusual amongst the climate science deniers of my experience. No point in further discussion. Goodbye Drumbo.
  10. @MigL I wasn't suggesting runaway CO2; the releases will be finite, but some carbon feedback tipping points are capable of raising CO2 levels beyond what we presently have, bringing damaging climate changes over decades and centuries, whilst the natural processes that can reverse them are more like centuries to millennia. Beyond the lifetimes of children now living, to whom - I think - we have ethical obligations to minimise forseeable harms from our actions. The "ratchet mechanism" as I describe it is of course, rhetorical - applicable to the shorter term, like the scale of human lifetimes. If you are aware of viable and cost effective means to bring CO2 down on decadal timescales - disengage or reverse that ratchet - I'd be interested.
  11. Within the human related timeframes that this round of warming is occurring it is a lot like a ratchet; processes like CO2 uptake by oceans and vegetation can bring some reductions to raised CO2 fairly quickly in the absence of continuing emissions from fossil fuel burning but not nearly enough to bring us back down to pre-industrial; centuries to millennia for that and still highly dependent on what humans are doing. My understanding is that a rapid switch to very low/zero emissions would see enough CO2 (in the process of reaching a new equilibrium) taken up by oceans and vegetation to nullify the increased warming from reduced atmospheric aerosols and "in the pipeline" committed warming from CO2 ... but not much more. And that only so long as significant tipping points are not passed - things like soils and permafrost releasing a lot of additional GHG's due to warmer temperatures or ice sheet collapse - http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/03/climate-change-commitments/ Impacts like sea level rise are likely to continue for a long time after surface air temperatures stabilise - and that will be all cost and loss; the rise in value of "new" coastal property cannot offset the permanent loss of old coastal property, plus all those people who have to move somewhere. And a lot of that "new" coastal property is going to get inundated in time as well. I don't know think examples from warmer conditions of geological ages past provide any reason to believe the warming and changes we are experiencing will turn out being harmless or easily managed - nor that periods of stable warmer climates of the past in any way are representative of rapidly changing climate; for most of the species, rapid climate change has been cause for extinctions. I am also of the view that repeat opportunities for global civilisation will be hard to come by if things go badly; there won't be the readily accessible high quality mineral ores used to make our first attempt for example and I am not convinced the buried waste of our age will be quality resources enough to compensate.
  12. I understand what "alarmist" means and the mainstream expert advice we've been getting and the experts giving it on climate change is not alarmist. Human civilisation arising under such conditions, maybe. This human civilisation survive conditions changing that much? No. I don't believe our global population and civilisation and the infrastructure and global economy that supports us can survive the change into the kind of environment the dinosaurs had. The conclusions that the effects of the change global warming introduces will be bad for people, infrastructure, agriculture and remnant natural ecosystems emerged out of science based investigation to understand how it will proceed and what impacts it will have. The grandfather of global warming, Arrhenius - living in a climate with freezing winters - thought like you that warming would be good, but had not - was not capable - of climate modeling and was guessing. Me, I live in a climate where adding 3 or 4 or 5 degrees is truly terrifying - drought and heatwave would kill livestock and crops and forest and the fires would turn the remnants to ash every summer. A large part of the human population lives in places like that. Your belief that only downsides were considered is false; global warming really is overwhelmingly damaging. Scientists are raising alarms because it is seriously alarming - and it has already gone beyond any "might happen" to "how much and when". We are way past holding out for scientist to come up with different answers; we aren't going to get any. And it is a cumulative problem; waiting just makes it worse, in ways that we can't ever get back from. CO2 is a thermostat with a ratchet; we keep turning it up just by keeping on as we are and we can stop it from going up further by stopping emissions (so long as carbon feedback tipping points aren't crossed) but we can't turn it back down. People are legitimately alarmed.
  13. I don't think there is anything inevitable about interstellar travel and it is living on Earth, not space, that is "in our genes"; we will be remaking the environment around us to mimic the conditions of Earth wherever we go. I suspect the urge to seek new horizons when opportunities appear constrained may be in our genes - a primitive urge that worked well when humans were not yet spread across a world that was overflowing with natural and readily exploitable resources. I don't think it is so well suited to extremely hostile environments; we need well made plans with high levels of confidence for things that complex, not primitive urges and optimism. I also have serious doubts about colonising any planets that have their own life - even unicellular "primitive" life; not only because that biology and biochemistry, uncontaminated, may be the most valuable resource such a planet has, there is a high likelihood of biochemical incompatibility, poisons and allergens. And any mission that can reach another star ought to be capable of builing operating space habitats - and probably find that easier than attempting a colony on a planet. I agree that carrying enough fuel and other essential resources will be very difficult, however I think the "most possible" means of crossing interstellar space as I see it will rely on fuel found along the way and it will not be anything like a one shot trip; if self reliant colonisation of deep space objects becomes possible and new colonies are preferentially chosen further along a line to another star then in a distant future humans could reach there. Each colony would have to grow large enough to be a large industrial economy - nothing less being capable of the high technology requirements for survival, growth and providing the technology for the next colonisation. I have serious doubts about any direct travel across interstellar distances in one go; any ship itself (or fleet) would have to carry the equivalent of a large, advanced - and working - industrial economy to sustain itself over the extreme distances and multigenerations of time. I am not convinced that will be possible. Gravity as a way to get ships to where you want? The difficulties of interstellar travel are enormous and gravity is not a space 'drive'. There is no known way to get it to preferentially attract any spacecraft in a chosen direction to the exclusion of existing local gravitational fields and unlikely such technology will be possible.
  14. I disagree; the products of combustion of fuels are waste, just as food scraps and sewage solids are - which are also (potential) nutrients for other living things. They are especially problematic waste products when the flows of them exceed the capacity of natural as well as technical cycles to recycle and re-use them.
  15. So the world's number one waste product - about 5 times more than all other waste combined but a gas not a solid, ie CO2 - is not included? It does get it's own studies, lots of them but the enormous scale of that waste stream does leap out when you list it together with the rest.
  16. Used that way, yes, but falsely about people taking decades of consistent top level expert advice - alarm calls - seriously; sounding an alarm when the threat is real is not "alarmist". Climate scientists expressing alarm are not "alarmists". According to dictionaries it is variants of "someone who exaggerates a danger and so causes needless worry or panic." MigL - I think the meaning is clear and has remained unchanged (other than by misuse) over time; the changing of definitions that alarms me is using it to denote a political extremist irrespective of whether there is real cause or not to raise an alarm.
  17. It may not be intended that way but "alarmists" usually means people making exaggerated or false claims of impending doom. Being alarmed because multiple (independent) studies all show we face a real problem of unprecedented scale is not the same as being "alarmist". That aside, the impacts of current warming are expected to harm people now living in ways that look ongoing and irreversible; our responsibilities to "the planet" or it's remnant natural ecosystems may be unclear and not universally accepted but our responsibility to people generally is. I am one who think we do have that broader responsibility - and that issues like climate stability and unsustainable land use practices are inextricably linked to enduring human prosperity and security. It doesn't matter what the CO2 levels and global temperatures were millions of years ago or how much life (but not humans) thrived under those conditions - the life and lives of humans now living would be ruined by a return of similar conditions.
  18. Not all shells are calcium carbonate. Radiolaria and Diatoms as counter examples, make their shells/skeletons out of Silica - SiO2.
  19. We can have a lot of confidence in the things we know about the things we can observe and examine, directly and indirectly. The things we cannot observe and examine are less significant. Purely hypothetical things, having no known existence, can be completely insignificant; rather than being reason to doubt everything we know that lack of observable existence of things we cannot observe is reason to doubt the existence of things that are purely hypothetical and cannot be observed.
  20. At the end of all the energy production the mass of the fission waste products will be less than the mass of the nuclear fuel. That missing mass will equal all the energy produced, waste heat included, ie m= E/C2, aka E=mC2. There is no energy from nothing and fission is not over unity.
  21. These kinds of schemes have been proposed again and again - some in great detail; they are not failing for lack of imagination. But I would not call assessing such plans on their merits and finding them wanting defeatism; that very ability to use foresight and understand what will and won't work before committing valuable resources is important progress. And besides the many schemes that are found wanting there will be projects that do pass, potentially more as engineering capability advances. Flood mitigation dams do work in many events that would cause flooding even if they can still be overwhelmed. The most effective solution - and most ignored - is to use foresight and stop building vulnerable infrastructure in flood prone areas. I would call that realism from applying intelligence and foresight to planning, rather than call it defeatism.
  22. This is hardly a new idea that no-one has thought of before. There are archives full of proposals for diverting flood water long distances to more arid but potentially agriculturally productive areas. They almost always fail on grounds of engineering difficulty and the high costs of overcoming them. Simply, the volumes of water during floods is enormous, far exceeding what any pipes or canals could manage. Leaving aside the transporting of that water to other regions and just looking at pumping water away as flood control we face the issue of just how much volume of water that will be. Consider a flood - how that volume of water flow compares to the normal watercourses. A smallish river will have much more flow than a large pipe or canal can carry and the volume during a flood far exceeds that capacity. Dams up stream are often used (and preferred) for flood mitigation - they catch a large part of the water before it reaches vulnerable cities and towns and bleed it away more slowly after the rains stop. These also work well for other water uses - at higher elevations it can be delivered for irrigation or town water supply to places downstream. As soon as you try to deliver it to higher elevations - or over them if intended for more distant regions - the costs and engineering difficulties rise. From US Geological Survey, (USGS)an example of how much more water flows due to rain events, in this case a modest 2 inches (52mm) in one day. Flow rate increased over to 150 times of base flow rate - Serious floods make that look small change. There are environmental consequences to flood mitigation and diverting water for agriculture - flood plains with ecosystems that rely on those floods are often much changed by human uses, uses that are disrupted by flooding. Human uses almost always take priority. But even all those mitigation efforts are routinely overwhelmed during serious rain events.
  23. I think we can expect a lot of normal activities to get suspended but I have no doubt that ideological agendas will get pushed through under the guise and cover of this emergency. With governments often inclined towards authoritarianism - getting stuff done so much easier without those annoying checks and balances - the potential for those tendencies to come to the fore looks obvious; it can be an opportunity for dissent and opposition and alternative views, legitimate or not, to be eliminated. As someone deeply concerned about global warming I fear that people who don't understand or accept the seriousness of climate change - most conservative-right leaning governments - will see pressing forward with a low emissions transition as frivolous and wasteful whereas keeping coal and gas and oil mining viable will be seen as essential, (as they currently are, for all they do need to be non-destructively phased out) - this despite use of low emissions energy already at "essential" levels in many places and new build costs being competitive or having shorter build times making their potential for future energy security look more important not less. And perhaps because they present a growing commercial threat to fossil fuels, we will see support withdrawn or diverted back to prop up fossil fuels.
  24. @AviiPk You are suggesting we wreck the biosphere, atmosphere and climate of planet Earth and increase exposure to radiation so you will be better adapted to live in places much less livable than Earth? Please, NO! If your suggestions were being undertaken they would be serious crimes against humanity. Not to mention crimes against the environment - and I like trees and the life that lives in them as well as liking wood as a material to make things with. The ability of biological organisms to adapt to extreme conditions is greatly exaggerated - no ordinary evolutionary adaptations are going to make the biology we are built of survive and thrive in the below freezing temperatures and near vacuum conditions of Mars. The adaptations needed are technological - making artificial environments that suit humans. Perhaps, if the technology is successfully developed, genetically engineered adaptations - but only for environments that are not too different to what we have.
  25. GM just committed 20 billion USD to new battery electric vehicles, including a joint battery plant with LG Chem. They hope to bring down battery costs with reduced Cobalt/reduced cost chemistry in pouch cells. They intend to build battery electric vehicles with plug in (level 2 240V?) charging as well as Fast Charging. They are talking "could be" 400+ mile range. Whoever invents seriously better batteries will become rich beyond all imagination and there is a lot of active R&D.
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