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Ken Fabian

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Posts posted by Ken Fabian


  1. 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.


  2. 23 hours ago, StringJunky said:

    "Alarmist" is used by people who don't believe a threat is real; with dismissive connotations.

    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."

    23 hours ago, MigL said:

    That interpretation is in the 'ear of the listener'.
    An alarmist, by definition, sounds, or voices, an alarm.

    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.


  3. 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.


  4. 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.


  5. 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.


  6. 19 minutes ago, studiot said:

    Yes indeed, but there is another viewpoint about this, other than defeatism.

     

    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.


  7. 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 -

    Quote

     

    On Dec. 24, 2002, about two inches of rainfall fell in the Peachtree Creek watershed. This provides a good example to describe streamflow characteristics during a storm since the rain fell for only a few hours on that day and Peachtree Creek was at base-flow conditions before the rain started.

    The chart below shows rainfall, in inches, during each 15-minute increment on Dec. 24th and the continuous measure of streamflow, in cubic feet per second (ft3/s).

    Bar/line chart showing streamflow and rainfall for Dec 24, 2002 at Peachtree Creek, Atlanta, Georgia.

    On Dec. 24, 2002, about two inches of rainfall fell in the Peachtree Creek watershed. This provides a good example to describe streamflow characteristics during a storm since the rain fell for only a few hours on that day and Peachtree Creek was at base-flow conditions before the rain started.

     

    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.


  8. 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.


  9. @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.


  10. 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.

     


  11. @Moreno With EV's nudging 5% of new passenger vehicle sales - and the strongest growing section of the market - they are well ahead of MHD powered vehicles at 0%. This would not be the case if battery powered vehicles did not work satisfactorily now - and they will almost certainly work even better and be cheaper in 10 years time, let alone 50.

    Battery technology is still improving and does not need to approach the energy densities of hydrocarbon fuels to work more than well enough. EV's also complement growing levels of Renewable Energy very well and are likely to become fully integrated into home energy systems as well as electricity grids;  a single connected EV can be backup power to a home but a million connected EV's can be backup power for a city. Just responsive, smart scheduling of charging makes them a means of load levelling for stability for electricity networks.

    If it is to be zero emissions MHD needs fuels that are zero emissions - renewable Hydrogen or bio-ethanol? Synthetic fuels made with RE? Higher efficiencies for fossil fuel use has serious limits with respect to emissions reductions - it can be a transitional option but is not a solution. I'm not convinced bio-ethanol is going to be a significant fuel replacement and Hydrogen (if/when MHD beats fuel cells, that are also subject to continuing improvement) as transport fuel is struggling to gain traction.

    Our transport technology choices cannot be independent of the need to reduce emissions - and that requirement is running on a shorter time frame than 50 years.


  12. What do the proposed MHD devices use as fuel/energy? The Wikipedia description fails to say where the energy required is coming from; they must be powered with something. I admit I don't really understand how these are expected to work as automobile "engines".

    In any case I think it is not ICE vehicles that it must prove significantly better than; MHD will struggle to compete with battery electric - which, for all the well known limitations, appears well capable of delivering enough range for most practical purposes, with fast charge stations becoming common enough and fast enough that long trips are not being found to be problematic. Everyday commuter use charging is mostly a matter of plugging in when garaged, saving time, not adding to it - and added up, most ICE vehicle users spend more time refueling than EV users spend waiting at charge stations.

     300 - 500 km range is common (not far short of range with many ICE cars) and over 600 km (390 miles) is already commercially available; any significant improvements in battery energy density (and I think we will see improvements) will extend that.

    I think the range "problem" for EV's, like the related battery energy density issue, is getting overstated. 

    It does seem likely that most Tesla EV's will manage more than 500,000 miles/800,000km with reduced but still useful range without battery replacement - longer than we could expect an ICE drive train to last. Tesla is claiming improved batteries are being developed - not greater range if I understand it, but longer life, up to 1,000,000 miles/1,600,000 km.

    Any competing technology has a high - and continually rising - bar to get over.


  13. Punishment is more popular than rehabilitation because lots of humans get a sense of satisfaction and pleasure from knowing people they believe are bad being made to suffer. And conversely, the idea that someone who commits crimes should be treated humanely and helped to become a more capable and productive citizen is unpopular. Rehabilitation can be perceived as about the best for the offender, despite preventing further crime, and that offends sensibilities of those who have been victims. I think popular opinion - often deliberately encouraged, through dramatic entertainment and political debate - has more to do with supporting punishment over rehabilitation than studies about recidivism; the good cop beats a confession out of someone bad or the nasty sex offender gets put in a cell with the biggest, nastiest sex offender of all. How satisfying! But our society's institutions and systems can put the issues into a context where it is not about how it makes people feel; facts are sought, wider consequences are considered, including genuine efforts to rehabilitate offenders and prevent recidivism.

    The ability to feel good about something bad happening to someone, so long as we believe they are bad and therefore deserve it is one of humanity's most problematic traits. It doesn't require investigation and weighing of evidence to believe someone is bad and deserves harsh treatment; just being told they are bad can be enough. Worse, just sharing the religion, ethnicity, political ideology or just appearance as people deemed bad can be enough. It means brutal treatment is not automatically and intrinsically considered bad, but is dependent on what we think of the victims. What we think of the victims may have nothing to do with any direct or actual knowledge.

    I suspect that in evolutionary terms this protected homo sapiens sensibilities in the face of recurring violence and conflict; we can support and participate in brutal acts but not have our sanity destroyed by it.


  14. Promoting less taxes through not having "socialist" welfare makes a voter winning slogan but is not a good way to run a nation. Some nations do have political parties and governments that manage to look further than simplistic ideas about presence of welfare/health/education programs being an unnecessary burden on the productive people, meaning them not paying makes them - and the economy as a whole - better off. I don't think that is true.

    My own view is the presence of an underclass of unemployed poor that gets none of those kinds of support comes with costs that may be difficult to predict and quantify but don't stay neatly confined to society's losers and, on the contrary, impact the whole society and economy in costly ways. Those costs can be as simple as more policing and enforcement to prevent beggars and homeless camps messing up the streets and more security measures to prevent petty and not so petty theft. Not having such programs becomes an absence that can lead to costs that can blow out spectacularly, when social discontent becoming social disruption; social disruptions can be incredibly destructive. Extremist ideology as well as criminal gangs can thrive amongst people who have few options to better themselves.

    People who get little or no access to education or health services may never become productive employees, let alone paying consumers of products and services that grow the economy; they represent lost opportunities at least as much as they represent a drag on an economy.


  15. I am not aware of any actual program to teach climate science denial in Australian schools. If that is not the case I would like to see a link. Perhaps within the non-government private schools sector? The disgraced Cardinal George Pell certainly encouraged climate science denial within the Catholic school system, despite the current Pope's position - he consistently portrayed concern about climate change as a kind of paganistic false belief and pricing on emissions as false offerings to false heathen Gods.

    The idea that toxic stuff from the bowels of the Earth, that burn fiercely with a notable brimstone fragrance, that offers wealth and power beyond all prior imagination might come with a catch was apparently as outside his reckoning of how the world works as the idea that thousands of scientists could be conducting their studies honestly and presenting the conclusions that observation and data and reason led them to without bias or ulterior motives.

    There has been a proposal by Senator Pauline Hanson - one of those "I'll fight for what I believe in and fight for the right to not examine or think deeply about what I believe in" nationalistic jingoistic populist type politicians - to introduce such an "education" program in Australian schools (with a strong anti gay rights component) but, despite the current Australian government being dominated by climate science deniers who would probably wholeheartedly approve, the Morrison led government prefers to maintain an outward pretense of taking climate seriously, to avoid having to debate the issue and look stupid; I suspect they find obstructing climate and emissions actions easier that way. Which position supporting Hanson's bill openly in parliament would jeopardise. It is currently unlikely such a program would get sufficient support to get introduced.


  16. It is becoming common in Australia for homes to divert "grey" water (pretty much all waste water barring that with faeces and urine) to storage for garden use and sometimes toilet/bathroom flushing, with separate pipework. It does come with potential health risks. I don't expect community infrastructure for that to be widely deployed but I am sure there are people proposing it. Reducing demand for water, especially during periods of drought, makes it worth doing; municipal water supply usage can be tightly capped during dry periods. Although such restrictions can be lifted during times of water abundance.

    Salt water would have limited uses and is likely to present difficulties - any that gets into soils will contaminate them and kill plants and soil life and cause corrosion to anything metal; in effect it would need to be managed as if it were toxic. Which, for practical purposes, outside of ocean and salt rich environments, it is.


  17. Thylacyne skulls are quite distinct from Canine - competent experts won't have any trouble telling them apart. Especially the teeth, which for a Thylacine, are distinctly marsupial. Thylacine teeth are not well evolved for crunching bones.

    It is worth keeping in mind that marsupials and mammals do share much in common; evolution will make variations around what already exists and works.


  18. 19 hours ago, guidoLamoto said:

    because it wouldn't fit the narrative to say otherwise

     

    On 2/8/2020 at 10:04 AM, guidoLamoto said:

    But if they don't make the claim, then no more research funds

     

    Bluntly, I think these are the conclusions you start with and the facile sciency sounding but substanceless arguments are chosen to fit the narrative. You need to try them on an audience that has poor comprehension of climate science and are more inclined to take those arguments as true without checking.

     

    19 hours ago, guidoLamoto said:

    Before we let dictatorial govt regulations force us to return to an 1880s lifestyle with an inability to feed 7.5B people at a cost estimated to be $4 QUADrillion (that's 50x the  Gross WORLD Product), we probably ought to make sure we have the science right

    Alarmist economic fear of the costs of acting appropriately in response to decades of consistent top level science advice has been one the most potent Doubt, Deny, Delay arguments of all. Which works best if doubt is thrown on that science based advice - allowing the economic costs of not acting appropriately to be left out entirely.


  19. 40 minutes ago, jenb said:

    wouldn’t increased atmospheric CO2 result in so much less energy arriving at the earth’s surface during the day that it should at least partially offset the increase in trapped radiation from the earths surface at night?

    What incoming IR that can reach the surface directly will be mostly short or "near" IR, which is less absorbed by greenhouse gases than long IR. A lot of the re-radiation from sun warmed earth back upwards is long IR. Any short IR that is absorbed along with long IR (which is more strongly effected and doesn't penetrate all the way through, going up or coming down) is absorbed in the atmosphere and will be retained within the climate system, not lost. Bulk air movement will carry it around and mix it.

    So, no it isn't going to offset the warming from raised CO2.


  20. On 1/29/2020 at 11:31 PM, jenb said:

    how much of the infra red radiation from the sun is prevented from reaching the earth’s crust and inner atmosphere

    Not sure my attempted explanation will be better than all the other explanations out there but I think that many of the attempts to keep it simple result in passing over important aspects...

    IR coming in can be reflected back to space or absorbed by the atmosphere, with about half of that absorbed to be re-radiated up and half down and none of that is changed much by changing greenhouse gas concentrations. Swansont's linked schematic is quite good. If it showed before and after changed CO2 it would be that "Radiated to space from clouds and atmosphere" figure that changes the most.

    It is only when high in the troposphere and into the stratosphere that long IR will make it directly back to space. It can get there by the radiating up and being absorbed and re-emitted - about half going up and half down each time and of what makes it that high (and stays up their long enough) about half of that will radiate to space. But it is bulk air movement - wind and convection - that moves most of the atmospheric heat that gets to the top of the atmosphere.

    Swansont's linked diagram -

    image.png.f3b5c7f85a5a26350daf6a7a345d4661.png

     

     

     


  21. I would begin with a ramping carbon price, that starts low but at a rate that rises consistently and predictably - slow enough to avoid immediate disruption but inexorably enough that no planning ahead can get away with ignoring it. It is not about imposing a cost on end consumers to change their choices but making a clear price signal for energy providers, that induces change in their forward investment decisions. Where that results in higher consumer costs, those costs will, I believe, still be smaller than the costs of allowing externalised climate costs to accumulate by allowing emissions to continue without counting them.

    Living in the midst of Australia's current fire crisis makes the prospect of 3 to 5 C hotter look utterly terrifying; not a small difference or one that makes a cold region a bit milder, but a region with extremes of heat with life threatening consequences getting more extreme - I do not see addressing the problem effectively as optional, let alone, as some in very cold regions might think, beneficial. That makes the idea of putting things off to avoid disrupting what we have now look very shortsighted.

    The thing about carbon pricing is that if it works no-one pays them - by energy providers choosing the low emissions energy production options that do not attract them. Such options do exist. What the revenue gets used for is not as important as having a price that induced energy providers to choose low emissions options over high - I am not a fan of tying specific taxes to specific spending but prefer governments have flexibility; reducing other taxes would be an option, or support R&D or support for those with low incomes with higher energy costs.

    Unlike some here I think it does not impose a cost that doesn't already exist. It just makes more explicit a cost that we have been, by tacit agreement, institutionally cheating on. CO2 is our single largest waste product - very nearly the most abundant "commodity" humans make; I think only crushed rocks is made in larger amounts - and crushing rocks doesn't make more rock although it does make more CO2!

    Maintaining that absence of accountability in order to not disrupt business as usual sounds like the very epitome of what must be changed. If not by pricing, then how do we induce change? Subsidy involves diverting money from elsewhere, probably unfairly burdening those with low responsibility ahead of those with high. Regulation and penalties? These all have costs, but they are more likely to be imposed on consumers rather than producers. Pricing is something economists generally agree is the most cost effective approach.

    As for specific technologies - policy makers picking and choosing can get perverse results, especially if they see their obligations to supporters as more important than getting an effective low energy transition. Opposition to that transition is a consequence already. I don't oppose nuclear, I just think it comes with complications that mean it will continue to struggle to compete without a lot of direct government intervention and subsidy support.The World Nuclear association thinks nuclear could do 25% of global electricity by 2050 - with strong climate policies, including carbon pricing and subsidy support. Solar and wind will exceed 25% before 2030, without it.

    I think solar is still a long way short of it's full potential - it will keep getting cheaper because of mass production. The intermittency is a significant issue but is not insurmountable, by geographically extended transmission, by storage of various kinds, by the presence of other energy sources and by demand management that encourages reduced demand when unavailable.

    One backup to solar and wind option I think may emerge as very significant is gas generation that can transition to Hydrogen produced by renewable energy. A lot of existing gas plants can take significant proportions of Hydrogen, above 90% in some cases. Gas generators sit right where electricity grids converge and on site Hydrogen production (from excess solar and wind) and on site storage sidesteps the economy wide infrastructure needed for H2 as transport fuel or H2 for transportation. Storage can be at lower pressures, with easier engineering requirements than those other uses require. I think the economy destroying potential of having high levels of intermittent energy are greatly exaggerated; besides the times of low or no output there are times of abundance; businesses that can remake the way they work to take advantage of those periods of low cost, abundant energy will find opportunity.


  22. On 1/20/2020 at 10:55 PM, Prometheus said:

    How common would plastics be in an off-Earth economy? I've had a quick look around and it seems that plastic manufacturing heavily relies upon organic materials, from hydrocarbons to bioplastics.

    How hard would it be to make plastics from the materials found near Earth? Apparently Titan has an abundance of hydrocarbons, but i couldn't find anything closer to home.

    There should be abundant carbonaceous chondrite materials in asteroids that could be a raw material for making polymers. Given carbonaceous meteorites can have significant amounts of nickel-iron - mixed in as grains or chondrules - as well as oxides and sulphides, they have hypothetical potential for asteroid mining


  23. 13 hours ago, Alex_Krycek said:

    said that policies from the Australian Green Party have lead to the increased magnitude of the fires.  Instead of allowing forestry workers to carry out controlled burns of land to control tinder build up, or to let livestock roam free in certain areas, thus trampling down underbrush, foliage in certain areas has been allowed to grow unchecked thanks to protections from environmental legislation.

    Australia's National Parks and Forestry and community Fire authorities use controlled burning and have never been prevented by "green regulation" from using it. Leading fire experts and former and current heads of fire authorities reject the claims that green regulation preventing burning off is to blame.

    Blaming environmentalists is a nasty political claim that has no actual substance. The forestry industry has long been antagonistic to those calling for forest protection and regulation that limits their access to State owned forest resources - hating greenies comes with the job. But I think conservative right politics has become especially antagonistic and inflaming those hatreds because those are the loudest voices on climate change, the message is cutting through and that issue is gaining popular support.

    Australian Greens have no policies that prevent hazard reduction burning - tending more towards promoting indigenous practices of controlled burning. They have never had enough representation to force policies on this. Livestock have been excluded from National Parks because their purpose is for native flora and fauna, not private grazing (a privilege widely abused when and where it was or is permitted); lots of Australians who are not "greenies" fully support that purpose.

    Reduced opportunities for burning off are more to blame for inadequate hazard reduction burning, as well as poor resourcing of National Park and Forestry management, that have to have teams and equipment on the ground to do it. Record and near record warm winters are making what was previously a relatively predictable and relatively safe activity - hazard reduction burning - unpredictable and dangerous. Fire authorities have always had all the authority needed, to conduct burning off but they also have authority to call a halt to burning off when conditions are making it too dangerous.They decide, not The Australian Greens.

    My own observation and speculation is that one of the crucial things that is changing with climate change warmer winters is lack of dew; my own observation was that previously, winter burning was often self limiting because cool conditions caused dew to form late in the night or early morning. Fires were lit in the previous afternoon or evening with a reasonable expectation they would go out. With warmer conditions there can be no such expectation; these activities are requiring ever greater vigilance, more people on the ground and more equipment.

    Around here - in the middle of recent fires - the last few winters would have allowed no more than 1 month of opportunity to fires to burn slowly with low likelihood of escaping containment. That is actually too short a time for large areas with high fuel loads; six weeks can be considered the minimum for a fire to burn out sufficiently to be declared "out" and slow burning trees and tree roots can still restart fires for longer periods than that.

    When I consider warming of 3C (at best I think) and possibly more than 5C (with the minimum levels of climate action that would be welcomed by Australia's current government) - it is properly terrifying.

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