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Ken Fabian

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Posts posted by Ken Fabian

  1. 22 hours ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

    I can see why people who built their homes in the middle of nowhere could reasonably be considered at fault,

    To be fair, many would have been unaware of the full extent of the risk - some of which has grown as a climate change consequence.

    12 hours ago, dimreepr said:

    we could mitigate by clearing some areas

    That does happen. Just as hazard reduction burning is a priority around the edges of vulnerable towns and cities. Like most options it still involves costs - acquistion as well as maintenance; cleared areas don't get that way or stay like that by themselves. Bare dirt is welcome when a fire is approaching but at other times it invites erosion and environmental degradation. Forests and parks have positive values in their own right and widescale elimination of vegetation has significant downsides, even leaving aside conserving natural biology and ecosystems. And I do not think we should leave those aside. Firebreaks - including wide ones around the interface of towns and forests are one element of mitigation but they are not ever going to be an absolute protection.

    It is hard to overstate how flammable the bush in Eastern Australia has been - not just lighting fires is prohibited, but so is outdoor welding, grinding, using tractor grass slashers. Metal bulldozer tracks have started fires. Even mechanical grain harvester cannot be used in extremes of heat and low humidity. The sight of a cigarette lighter becomes as alarming as someone waving an assault rifle around.

  2. 1 hour ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

    Enough people prioritize the environment over human lives to prevent thinning and firebreak-grids?

    It is more a case of people building homes in fire prone locations then expecting the environment to be made safe around them afterwards, ie prioritising human choice over the environment - mostly it is choice not need in nations like the USA or Australia. Active hazard reduction measures require funding, equipping and organising - and citizens can be complacent at the personal level and can vote against giving governments the authority or capabilities or funding needed at larger levels. Climate change is increasing the dangers and the challenges and the costs.

    4 hours ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

    What if they created a large criss-crossed pattern of permanent firebreaks such that the larger "forest" is then divided into a set of smaller forests,

    I think this overestimates how effective fire breaks are. Under mild conditions and for cool weather hazard reduction fires they help contain fires with good levels of success. During dangerous conditions with major fires they are used where possible to fight fire with fire by 'backburning' back towards oncoming fires, but with only limited success - even when heavily resourced with firefighting personnel and equipment to prevent the fire jumping. Australia's fires are dropping burning embers that start new fires many kilometres  ahead of fire fronts.

    There is no simple let alone low cost preventative measure. Eradication of vegetation is neither feasible nor desirable. Management involves government and statutory authorities that need to be resourced. On the ground individual landowners are going to have some of what they consider their "rights" overridden to reduce the broader risks.


  3. 25 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

    It's relative. Green is just the least efficient but not unusable. See: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/green_light_is_it_important_for_plant_growth

    That is interesting. I had thought green wasn't used at all. I'm not convinced it means evolution of full spectrum for efficient photosynthesis is inevitable, that the chemistry that will support it can be presumed to be possible or that biological evolution can produce it.

  4. 1 hour ago, StringJunky said:

    Vegetation will evolve photosynthetically  to the average wavelengths of their light source.

    Depends on the chemistry that is capable of doing it. It is complex enough that having it happen at all looks remarkable. My understanding is that not all wavelengths of light are capable of supporting photosynthesis - or at least the kinds of chemistry around chlorophyll cannot. For all that life has been around for billions of years, we still do not get photosynthesis using green light.

    Life elsewhere may develop other photosynthetic chemistry but assuming it will do it better than what Earth biology can do is a stretch. Perhaps the kinds of photosynthesis we know - using blue and red light - are approaching as good as it gets.

  5. We are not so much defying as deferring natural selection. The exceptional survivability of humans under current conditions is allowing more genetic variability to become part of our gene pool. Much of that will not add to survival and will, under harsher circumstances, be selected out, yet we do not know what will survive best in the future and there could be surprises. For humans that survival is often less about individual fitness than group fitness; having allergies but belonging to a group that manages itself better may still be better than having no allergies but belonging to a group that fights amongst itself.

  6. Most solar panels are made to cope with some hail - ours have survived numerous storms with hail, occasionally large enough to damage vehicles. Very large hail can still damage them - but we need to put that in perspective; very large hail damages all manner of things and replacing a few solar panels is not so common or such a big deal as to require a rethink of how solar power is done.

    My understanding is that solar installers did a lot of removal of panels after serious hailstorms in Brisbane Australia in order that roofers could fix damaged roofs - only to put the same panels back. Very few were damaged.

    Interesting to note that heat pump hot water systems are now similar in cost to passive solar hot water systems, have very low power usage and are reliable. Homes with solar electricity would probably not need extra solar power if they are used; our home already sends several times more power back to the grid than we consume and hot water systems are well suited to scheduled operation during the middle of each day or whenever solar electricity supply is exceeding usage.

  7. When you have a successful way of life in a harsh and unforgiving landscape making fundamental changes to how things are done is neither necessary nor especially attractive. It is not a matter of resisting progress or lacking intelligence. Most people even now are not inventors or innovators; sit someone in front of chunks of flint, with a finished stone blade for an example and they probably still will not make the connection.

     Observing food plants growing where food scraps are discarded is more likely to prompt hunter gatherers to return to those places and/or engage in re-planting seeds/roots/shoots to make those plants more likely to grow and be productive the next time they visit than to prompt people to stay there permanently and become gardener/farmers. This occurred in Australia and in some places where more reliable harvests could be obtained more sedentary lifestyles arose but more often it was supplementing nomadic hunting and gathering than the other way around. Incorrect assumptions were made, mostly after those practices were disrupted - despite early observations of cultivation practices - about primitives who grew no crops, that flattered European settlers. https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/archived/bushtelegraph/rethinking-indigenous-australias-agricultural-past/5452454

  8. There are some serious attempts to do so -

    Australian company 1414 Degrees is developing energy storage based on molten silicon. Time will tell if their projects will prove cost effective. These include a plant using bio-gas from wastewater treatment to heat the silicon, then use that for heat provision and electricity generation (see quote below) and have bought a failed solar thermal project, intending to bring it to completion and include their molten silicon storage.




    • – 1414 Degrees’ GAS-TESS is operating as an embedded generator on the National Electricity Market (NEM)
    • – Electrical energy can now be exported and sold to SA Water
    • – Heat energy continues to be supplied to SA Water site


    SA Power Networks (SAPN) has officially recognised the 1414 Degrees GAS-TESS as an embedded generator, allowing it to connect into the distribution grid supplying SA Water’s Glenelg Wastewater Treatment Plant. The electricity will be sold to power the site until SA Water obtains an export licence.

    The GAS-TESS has been returning heat energy in the form of hot water to the Glenelg Wastewater Treatment Plant since 25 May. The pilot project has also been exporting electricity to the site for test purposes, allowing our team to refine operational processes and procedures in the lead up to approval of the SAPN connection.



  9. 16 hours ago, Sensei said:

    @Ken Fabian

    ..yet another unknown is what governments will do with this way gathered money from CO2 emission taxes... will they by themselves build powerful solar power plants, solar furnaces, etc. competing with (perhaps state owned) traditional coal power plants, or "as always" waste money on something unrelated, or give away money to people to buy their votes.. , sooner or later will happen, and I am afraid that they will simply waste this way gathered money..

    History learns that money from targeted taxes are later abused and misused.

    This sounds very much like the good governance issue I think is so central to our (in)ability to manage the climate problem - and not only the climate problem. Oversight and review of government finances are - or should be - stage centre, always.

    I am not inclined to tie government hands in a misplaced desire to limit the ability of poor governance to respond badly to complex problems and changing circumstances; I think poor governance can squander tax money no matter how many specific provisions are attempted and the solution is not tying revenues to specific spending but in improving governance. If we cannot improve governance then all those problems - Budget deficit, economic slowdown, worldwide collapse of economics - which climate change will exacerbate but are serious regardless, will be more likely and more damaging.

    Taxes on emissions are only directly linked to specific spending choices if the policies are set up that way - and I am not a big fan of prescribing where specific revenues go, preferring that ongoing oversight of the whole rather than excessively focusing on particular elements; having revenues tied to specific purposes tends to limit the ability to review and redirect them according to current or projected needs. Directing taxpayer money to specific projects or to R&D or to subsidies - or to tax relief - can be part of such schemes or not but I favour pricing of emissions that is sufficient to be a real incentive in and of itself, irrespective of where the taxes go.

    Also, Emissions taxes should be designed to be avoidable - the incentive to choose investments and activities that don't have to pay them is their purpose; if they get treated as sources of essential, ongoing revenue then they are set up wrong.

    There can be built-in tying of funds to make those low emissions options cheaper and easier and more desirable - ie subsidies - and that may be a compromise to allow lower emissions taxes to be applied but if that is not working and companies simply raise price revenues on fossil fuel energy rather than change then the tax settings as well as spending (subsidy) options are wrong.

  10. 2 minutes ago, Sensei said:

    Tax, fine, fee on corporation, especially in monopolistic or oligopolistic environment, is almost always passed on customers of what they sell to people. So direct tax on corporation is actually indirect tax on ordinary people who are end users of the product. CO2 emission contracts in situation where significant amount of energy is fossil fuel based, and energy users are unable to change its source, will end up in increased price of energy for domestic and business uses (perhaps pushing them into troubles with lower competitiveness of their products which have nothing to do with fossil fuels industry!), completely not addressing CO2 emission issue.

    I disagree - the presence of taxes on carbon changes the investment decisions corporations make, thus the emissions of the products and services they offer and that customers buy. It should do so in ways that apply across whole economies. In any case we are talking about real and significant costs from emissions - even if they are difficult to quantify; failure to apply any accountability for emissions ultimately adds costs to ordinary people, just indirectly. 

  11. 13 hours ago, YJ02 said:

    I don't think we can spend our way out of this situation--and corporations will always find a way around fines, fees and taxes.

    If corporations can always find their way around fines, fees, taxes and regulations then we have a profoundly serious problem with governance that needs addressing - and not only for climate policy reasons. Even the presumption that governments are incapable of dealing with the avoidance of accountability by corporations is an issue that needs addressing - so it does not persist as the excuse for politicians to fail to act.

    It raises the issues around the role of journalism and news media as actively partisan players - a role that the essential amorality of a business model based around getting paid to influence the choices people make, both their purchasing choices and their votes, through advertising, PR and editorial opinion makes into a small step to take. Isn't the USA's constitutional protections for news outlets the enshrined right of media owners to use newspapers as a means to do just that, ie to engage in partisan politics? Whilst there are legal remedies for people being slandered (if you can afford it) the right for the voting public to know the truth looks more like a marketing slogan than a journalistic ethic.

    I think the capacity for good governance to address the climate issue is very much dependent on where the balance between Integrity vs Corruption sits; if corporations or other powerful vested interests can consistently game the system to prevent governments from acting effectively in the face of such a grave threat to continuing prosperity then it is easy to feel pessimistic. However, I think the lengths the opponents of strong policy go to to reinforce the public's sense of helplessness and pointlessness suggests that when push comes to shove they know governments do have sufficient power to act.

    Climate change is not the only issue where good governance matters, but I think it does make the significance of where governance sits on the Integrity vs Corruption spectrum stark and clear. If we cannot deal with climate change effectively we are in deep trouble We have codes of conduct bound by the rule of law because humans will choose their own interests first and will try to find ways around having to be responsible and accountable (and obey laws, pay fines, fees and taxes); governance that seeks to enable "free choice" about matters of responsibility and ethics is not good governance as I see it.

  12. 7 hours ago, Phi for All said:

    Unfortunately, our media is about entertainment, not information.

    And it is funded by promoting goods and services - and less directly, opinions and attitudes that will, due to the overlap of self interests, tend to support those of their principle customers. The customers that really matter are the advertisers and the requirement to be entertaining is for bringing viewers to the ads.

    In some of the the OP's list of fake science/anti-science there is no direct interest in the content but the viewer drawing entertainment but other issues like climate change can involve quite strong interests in what the viewers think and media companies tend to be amoral about the opinions they promote - including in how they present moral and ethical issues.

    Captains of commerce and industry do not want climate responsibility or accountability impacting their businesses and have a political interest in promoting opinions to support that desire. Businesses and political parties that are closely aligned to business interests and see themselves as advocates for those interests will find the self interest of media companies to overcome any lingering notions of morality and ethics in accommodating their desire to influence public opinion against climate concern and climate action advocacy.

  13. 9 hours ago, Xeno said:

    However, Homosexuality no longer means your genes can't be passed on directly as we can use in vitro fertilization with a sperm donor or using Surrogacy.

    Lots of people who have "come out" as homosexual have had heterosexual relationships and borne children the traditional way. The notion that a preference one way means having it the other way is not possible and being homosexual means no children is false; I suspect a great many strictly hetero people are quite capable of having sex with their own gender if social mores and circumstances were different. And homosexuals can and do engage in hetero sex specifically for the making of children.

    I think bi-sexuality is probably the majority, with hetero sex merely being the most popular as well as socially acceptable and ultimately, through engendering of children, the most satisfying. Those teenagers, as their sexual urges are emerging, that could feel no arousal through physical touch or aided by fantasizing - in either direction - will be the minority. Don't is not the same as cannot.

  14. On 12/7/2019 at 1:01 PM, MonDie said:

    Spandrels are an interesting concept in this regard.

    I'm not sure "spandrel" is the correct term for it, but I'm inclined to see the absence of a distinct fertile season as having favoured a stronger sex drive that is not clearly targeted.  The change enabled homosexuality as a side effect to increasing the overall urge for more frequent sex that is required to better ensure conception in a species with low fertility and fecundity.

    Strong sex drives without a specific trigger or target may have led to raised rates of homosexuality, which might have been detrimental but because our ancestors were social - as per my previous comment - I think increased variability and flexibility for sexual attraction helped prevent that heightened sex drive from exacerbating conflict over mates by allowing other outlets for satisfying it.

  15. 2 hours ago, Sebasfort said:

    It would be irrational to always assume |data in scientific papers = true|.

    Not as irrational as assuming data in science papers = false.


    2 hours ago, Sebasfort said:

    You just quoted an authority.

    Unless you are a scientist working in the field of study in question - ie you are an authority yourself - the assumption that people who study something know better than you is an excellent one and both logical and reasonable.

    Real scientific sceptics say "I don't know". They don't say no-one else knows; if they don't know then it would be illogical for them to assume that what others know is false! It is fake sceptics that argue that anything they do not, cannot or choose not to understand is wrong until and unless they are personally convinced.

  16. 5 hours ago, Prometheus said:

    That's interesting, but i thought there was a viable amount of thorium on the moon? For instance, this blog, makes a case for liquid fluoride thorium reactors.

    From that site, it looks like Thorium has been identified by remote sensing at up to 12ppm. Monzanite is the principle mineral ore on Earth at 2.5% Thorium content  ie 25,000 ppm. Even so, the Thorium is produced as a byproduct and is not usually economic to mine by or for itself.

    On Earth the ores are mostly found as sands and placer deposits, which the Moon will not have, ie relatively easy to mine on Earth. It is not clear what mineral form Lunar Thorium is, as mapped at that blog, but a few sites at 12 ppm does not sound like viable ore bodies to me. Mars could have better Thorium resources but they have not been identified.

    Then there is the refining - which is going to require an extensive variety of other mined and refined and manufactured materials. Then there is manufacture of thorium reactors and associated plant - which looks like requiring very exacting standards. Self sufficiency is a seriously complex business.


    5 hours ago, Prometheus said:

    ...even if you have the raw materials, how much infrastructure do you need to make the micro-processors, and how much more so for the industries required in the pipeline before you can even think about making a micro-processor? 

    This is an issue that I think gets overlooked in the optimism - advanced technologies involve the intersection of multiple, complex specialised activities. Thousands of specialties? Tens of thousands? I don't know, but I think that extent of specialisation cannot be sustained by anything short of a very large, advanced industrialised economy - and it probably needs an economy with a sustained history of consistent excess. That is very different to a colony that begins at (well below?) the borderline for viability in an extreme environment with high technological requirements, where small mistakes and problems kill people.

    I think the advanced economies we do have were built from an existing base of abundance of resources, including abundance of basic things like food, water, biological and mineral materials that were cheap and easy to move around and trade. Prolonged economic abundance made the advances possible and each advance depended upon advances elsewhere.


    4 hours ago, Sensei said:

    Solar furnace just needs enough area of mirrors reflecting light toward focal point.

    I was thinking more generally, for a reliable power supply given Mars gets dust storms that can go for weeks at a time; solar power alone will be inadequate without serious, high capacity energy storage. I expect solar furnaces would work most days, when the sky is clear of dust, although I think they will still need some precision technology - and need serious dust protection.

    On the Moon? Better solar furnace opportunities there - during the two weeks daytimes - however I think the Moon is going to miss out on a lot of minerals and ore bodies that require a prolonged planetary history of geological activity to form.

  17. I suspect when the word Habitable gets used most people think it means "planet suitable for colonising". Finding evidence of life beyond Earth is a big deal but it is not going to give humanity a new planet to occupy.

    A lot of space related hype taps into a primitive human urge to look to new horizons and open up new opportunities but I think it is too often gratuitously misleading to present these kinds of discoveries as opportunities for anything beyond a better understanding of the universe around us.

  18. 8 hours ago, studiot said:

    Do you have references for this?

    Apparently we have assumed this since the first measurements a couple of hundred years ago.
    But the latest figures show that full reversal could occur in less than 100 years.
    The short answer is - we just don't know.
    But we do know that the magnetic field is currently declining rapidly.

    I was mostly going by a Space.com and a PhysicsWorld article, the latter featuring Brad Singer discussing the recent Singer et al paper "Synchronizing volcanic, sedimentary, and ice core records of Earth’s last magnetic polarity reversal" (2019). A 5% or 7% per century decline in magnetic field strength is mentioned, is significant and might be indicative of impending pole flip. Or it might not.

    From Physics World  -


    "Singer and colleagues found that the final reversal was relatively rapid by geological standards, taking less than 4000 years. However, it was preceded by two individual excursions within a period of instability lasting 18,000 years – more than twice as long as recent research had suggested reversals should take. "

    I interpreted this as 2,000 years for the actual reversal and that is considered rapid - whilst the period of instability is considered long. The Space article suggests any flip of polarity would be thousands of years away according to Monika Korte, head of GFZ Potsdam's working group on geomagnetic field evolution in Germany and -


    "Regarding increased radiation, that would go along with decreased shielding, [but] it seems that the atmosphere would still provide sufficient shielding at Earth's surface that humans and animals would not be significantly affected," she told Space.com in an email. 

    "However, all the effects we currently only see during strong solar/geomagnetic storms would likely increase and occur ... during moderate solar activity," she added. "This includes satellite outages or damage to satellites, increased radiation doses on long-distance aircraft and the ISS [International Space Station], [and] distortions of telecommunication and GPS signals."


    On that basis I think ongoing study is indicated but I see no cause for alarm.

    Whereas for climate change, the US National Academy of Sciences is saying -


    Climate change is happening today. Scientists have known for some time, from multiple lines of evidence, that humans are changing Earth’s climate, primarily through greenhouse gas emissions.

    The evidence is clear and compelling. Earth’s atmosphere and oceans are warming, the magnitude and frequency of extreme climate and weather events are increasing, and sea level is rising along our coasts.

    Climate change is increasingly affecting people’s lives. It is having significant effects on infrastructure, agriculture, fisheries, public health, and the ecosystems that support society. It is also changing the environment in ways that affect the distribution, diversity, and long-term survival of species of plants, animals, and other forms of life on Earth.


  19. On 11/27/2019 at 3:18 AM, studiot said:

    In particular climate change is not the worst or most imminent disaster we are facing.

    From the side of Natural forces, the Earth's rapidly declining magnetic field is more worryring and may be impossible (for us) to fix.

    From the side of own goals (self inflicted disasters) the destruction of arable land is also more imminent and harder to fix.

    Studiot - Climate change is what we facing right now - an ongoing, cumulative and irreversible change to the global environment we depend on, with serious consequences for people now living. Geomagnetic pole reversal - if increased movement of the pole is in fact a precursor to pole reversal - does not present a clear and immediate danger. If I understand correctly, these reversals take thousands, if not tens of thousands of years. If our economy and environment are messed up from climate change we will be less capable of coping with other things; it is quite reasonable - imperative - that we take climate very seriously and give it priority.

    As for destruction of arable land, it is quite closely linked to climate change, both causative and as a consequence as well as being significant in direct, economic and environmental terms; rather than being something that is neglected because of the focus on climate change I think it reinforces the overarching significance of climate change.

    Seeking a better understanding and modelling of our planet's internal workings to should continue but I see no equivalency or even real relevance to efforts to better understand and address the climate problem


  20. 2 hours ago, naitche said:

    Carbon tax makes this work more expensive.

    Carbon pricing will change the investments choices energy producing and energy using companies make - those behavioral choices are more critical in this than what end consumers choose. In many ways those will define what end consumers choose. Where the money goes is less important than the value of that price signal, which favours investment in low emissions options over high. In a lot of places the cost difference is not that large or can already tilt towards firmed wind and solar. My own view is that taxation should, like expenditure, be public knowledge and subject to ongoing oversight. I have no special problem with taxes on emissions going into general government revenue - and considered as one element amongst many. Whether it goes to assisting the poor with power costs or aids more R&D or just reduces tax burdens elsewhere, a carbon tax revenue is not anything that is so special that it cannot be managed - and when it works the revenue stream should diminish, as companies choose the low emissions options in order to not have to pay. Proposals to tie carbon tax revenues to specific uses are more about marketing, to make it appear more palatable.

    Ideally carbon pricing should reflect the best estimates of the cumulative costs of emissions - but accurate estimates are probably going to elude us; I will settle for carbon pricing sufficient to favour specific low emissions projects over high emisions ones. Fortunately those look both easier to quantify and are probably much less than the costs will turn out being; we will endure significant climate costs, like it or not.


    2 hours ago, naitche said:

    Fear of doomsday and helplessness seems more counter productive.

    I don't think we can skip the doomsaying - to fail to make clear how deathly serious the consequences are (the top level expert reports and studies, note, not activist interpretations) is to allow complacency to persist. Complacency may be a bigger impediment in this than all the denial and opposition obstruction added together. Making clear how serious is not the same as promoting helplessness; I see that latter more often as part of obstructionist activism, ie that taking action is pointless or counterproductive. We are better placed now to deal with this than every before; even 1 decade ago who would believe we would be adding more new solar capacity than new coal and gas and nuclear combined, because that is cheaper? The doomsaying we need most to be countering is that shifting to low emissions will destroy prosperity.

  21. I don't think personal emissions purity is even possible as a viable lifestyle choice within the societies and economies we are part of; zero emissions cannot be achieved and still be a functional member of society. It will take economy wide change for that to be a genuine option and it needs to be attractive enough to become the default choice. I know that personal choices - even if I were not the type susceptible to knowing better but doing things anyway - are insufficient; we use regulation because, given a choice humans so often will choose immediate gratification over thoughtful, ethical choices.

    No-one should have their personal lifestyle examined and judged to have the right to call on governments to take climate change seriously - governments that have stacks of reports and studies telling them about the climate problem and already know how serious it is. In any "knowing better but doing it anyway" competition, those holding positions of high trust and responsibility who ignore all the expert reports and studies on this are grand champions; climate activists can't compare.

    Refusing to listen because climate activists drive cars or fly would be like in the face of an invasion, the government insisting they will only listen to your calls for a national response if you are on the front line, making personal sacrifices. But in this case they still deny it even when you are and you do ... and further, call you a danger to the nation, even a traitor for alarming people as well. Any surprise I see the problem as one of poor governance and of governments failing to apply guiding principles like ethics and integrity, responsibility and accountability? I think it is a profound test of the moral fundamentals of our systems of governance as much as a test of our technical abilities and efficient management, more a test of collective, institutional ethics than as a test of individual morals and commitment. The religious might see that as a test set by God; the scale is certainly Biblical but I see it as an inevitable consequence of living within a finite world and coming up against it's limits. Either way those guiding principles ought to be something we can agree on.

    It so happens that I want my cake and I want to eat it too; I support chasing technology based prosperity with zero emissions through a technology transition, not enforced technological poverty. I'm not convinced it is helpful to promote personal emissions choices as the principle response; it reinforces the "take the world back to the stone age" outcomes the stereotyped climate activist are alleged by opponents of action to be seeking. Those who don't care feel no obligation, no matter they are as responsible for their emissions as any climate activist is. I don't even have a serious issue with the outspoken wealthy having high personal emissions if their business and investment decisions support emissions reductions; those are much more significant in the greater scheme of things and can advance the economy wide changes that make everyone's choices low emissions ones in ways their sacrificing personal jet travel cannot.

    The limits I want placed on our extravagant wastefulness are not arbitrary or ideological except in the sense that long running principles around accountability and responsibility impose are ideological; including the full costs, including the externalities we currently don't pay (ie cheat on) in the prices we pay is not socialism and dodging them is not capitalism. I don't even want to stop people from choosing to engage in high emissions activities - so long as equivalent negative emissions are part of the costing of them. If high octane motorsport is your thing, go ahead, but you pay for negative emissions to compensate for the emissions you are responsible for.

    I can be a techno-optimist who thinks we have all we need to take emissions down a lot and with a reserve of improvements still in the pipeline - when I am not despairing for the enduring failures of governance. For all the reasons I have to feel pessimistic I think that a political tipping point is possible, where Doubt, Denial and Delay becomes untenable, the Conservative-Right Wall of Denial comes down and those on the mainstream Right apply themselves to solutions instead of preventing them. The lengths opponents of strong climate action have gone to to mislead and confuse the public says to me they know that they can lose this fight and effective policies are possible through democratic processes and applications of the rule of law, all supporting responsible free enterprise to make and profit from low emissions technologies.

  22. I would expect many of the heavier elements to be rare on the moon or in asteroids - or, rather, only found mixed in with other minerals at low concentrations; on Earth there have been active geological processes that lead to concentrated ores and many of these are absent in the places we are looking to for space resources.The moon for example has an abundance of lighter element - Silicon, Aluminium, Calcium, Magnesium, Titanium but you will struggle to find elements like Lead or Thorium or Uranium at anything but very low concentrations. Nuclear fuels will be difficult to supply except from Earth. Mars would have had the kinds of geological processes needed to make better ore concentrations in it's distant past but fissionable elements are radioactive and will have undergone radioactive decay and may not still be viable.

    Mars, like all space locations, presents serious difficulties for mining and refining. I suspect nuclear power would be a minimum requirement for a Mars colony but I don't see how any colony could build and fuel one from local materials without an industrial economic base that is more comprehensive and advanced than an advanced industrial nation on Earth.

    It seems to me any colonisation of space will require a lot of advanced technology, which will depend on a wide range of materials made to exacting standards. Producing each of them tends to be an advanced specialty that is itself dependent on other advanced, specialised materials and products. Making life in space simpler looks needed. How much can be done with crude nickel-iron? It is one of the materials that exists in great abundance and could be a basic building material but I cannot imagine building a nuclear reactor or rocket motor out of it.

  23. Trust is not the same as faith. Trust in the institutions, practices and ethics of science is not religion. Given that the work of scientists is documented and widely accessible it is available for sceptical review and critique - but this takes knowledge and expertise. Being wrong is bad for a scientist's reputation - and when they are wrong it is documented. There are sound reasons to have trust in the error correcting nature of those practices and - because it is so thoroughly documented, misconduct or conspiracy is difficult to sustain.

    If, as a sceptic, you don't actually engage in actually doing the work of critiquing - which involves studying, in this case, climate science - any conclusion that it is wrong is a mere personal preference, a belief that lacks any sound basis. It is not up to people who trust science based advice to convince the doubters, nor the scientists either; it is within the body of their works that scientists present the evidence and reasoning.

    Meanwhile, as the initial post notes, we are experiencing weather events that are in keeping with a world with AGW. I suggest that when examined closely these are within the range of what climate model based projections have "predicted" - the middle of the spread outcomes may be being exceeded. That doesn't make it wrong any more than outcomes that are at the high end of the range not occurring - the worst case ones that, rightly and wrongly get extra public interest and attention - makes climate science wrong.

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