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Ken Fabian

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Posts posted by Ken Fabian


  1. 11 hours ago, mistermack said:

    I don't deny any religion. I'm just waiting for decent evidence. And the burden of proof is on the believers. 

    This sounds like faux scepticism rather than any kind of genuine and appropriate application of scientific scepticism. In effect you are saying the conclusions of the world's climate scientists including, in this case, panels of accomplished experts picked for their appropriate skills and their scientific integrity by world leading institutions like the US National Academy of Sciences and UK's Royal Society to review climate science, are wrong until and unless you, personally are convinced otherwise.

    Surely scientific scepticism starts with the position that you don't know, not that no-one else knows or that entire bodies of established and accepted scientific knowledge are wrong. Not even as you check to be sure. It is a very useful error checking technique but one that requires a degree of actual expertise - and I suspect is most of all used by working scientists to avoid embarrassing themselves.

    It is the armchair sceptic that holds that anything you do not, cannot or choose not to understand is wrong until personally convinced; which makes it a way to reject absolutely anything you choose to reject; it is as far from being sound science as it gets.

    You can - of course - disbelieve anything you like, however I think people holding positions of responsibility and trust to have no such "right". In their case it is, at best negligence. At worst it is a result of corruption. Either way it is dangerously irresponsible.

     


  2. 2 hours ago, CharonY said:

    Homology us above the species level. I.e. if you see a trait in two extant species that is derived from a common ancestor it would be considered a homologous trait. The important bit is the inheritable (I.e. genetic) aspect of the trait. Many traits are require many genetic elements, there are variations of the said gene and a the actual phenotype can also vary based on environmental input. However if the relevant genetic elements are shared between several related species (and therefore likely derived from the same ancestor) they are considered homologous.

    Thanks CharonY. I had thought the term was more widely applicable than that. That answer leads me to ask what the correct term is for a trait that is unique to - and shared by all members of - a species? I would expect such traits to come down from a common ancestor.


  3. I've managed to get confused about terminology around evolution and am not sure I have it correct. Is a trait Homologous if all descendants from a common ancestor have it? Or do all members of the species have to have this trait?

    For the example I have in mind - human "hairlessness" (this misleading term referring to smaller hairs than related apes, not actual absence).

    All juvenile humans are "hairless" before puberty (except for head hair, which they also share in common)  but adults vary from male to female (dimorphism) as well as vary across different populations. The hairless juvenile trait is universal within our species and is therefore homologous? But patterns of hairiness in adults are not all the same so is not homologous within the species, though it may be homologous within a sub-population? Whilst dimorphism may have predated the hairlessness, the extent of variability should be evidence of genetic changes that came after the change that made juveniles "hairless" and adult overall less hairy?


  4. Witness accounts that agree very closely can get viewed with suspicion by investigators, without being firm grounds for rejecting them - but it can and should be cause to investigate further... although perhaps not always done if the accounts support police suspicions and a case they are making for prosecution. I'm not sure about courts; a jury might be more inclined to accept close agreement as indicative of being true, whilst a judge/magistrate that makes a judgement without a jury may be more suspicious.

    Eyewitness testimony has always had it's problems but we have no option but to use it and deal with it's limitations. Some of the issues are known - like asking "is this the person?" rather a witness having to pick one out of similar looking people. Or if a witness has seen the suspect previously they may misidentify them simply because of their familiarity; there were cases where police "innocently" walked a suspect past a potential witness who would then be more likely to pick that person out of photos or a line-up.

    Clearly the circumstances around how eyewitness testimony is obtained is crucial to assessing it's credibility; explicitly examining those circumstances has to be part of the process.

     

     


  5. 1 hour ago, Raider5678 said:

    This means you can Areobrake in the atmosphere as you're coming in for a landing, further reducing the Delta V required to land.

    But if you want to retain any abort or return capability then Mars requires much more equipment and fuel than Deimos or Phobos.

    As a staging base they may provide resources (eg water for cracking to H2/O2 fuel for powered descent and return) that can be useful - although I remain unconvinced that, absent the hype and fiction, Mars is a desirable let alone a viable place for colonisation and think asteroid mining and space habitats, (whilst still not viable either) make more hypothetical sense to prioritise.

    As far as Mars as an object of scientific study goes remote controlled and autonomous equipment will probably continue to be more cost effective and I can see a human presence on a base orbiting Mars - or dug into one of those moons - as more achievable than any base on the planet itself. Including the capability of launching small payloads of samples from the surface to that base - which could turn out better with re-usable rockets fueled with the resources from those moons rather than attempting to do that by mining and refining on Mars.

    24/7... err, 30.3/7 or 7.4/7 solar might be quite viable by siting tracking panels at or near their poles. Any base or colony on Mars will find that extended dust storms will make solar and overnight storage unviable - nuclear will probably be required.

    If there is continuing interest in asteroid mining (and at least it offers the potential of a genuine economic base to build on) it seems likely to be an interest in bases/space stations for servicing them, ie there will be continuing efforts to resolve the issues that apply to Deimos or Phobos. Or conversely, solving them for Mars' moons can apply to asteroid mining elsewhere.


  6. I'm still (not) waiting for Lockheed-Martin's "Fit in a shipping container" fusion reactors - solar and wind and storage have moved further in the time since the first announcements than Skunk Works Fusion has.

    I am cynically skeptical of Johnson's announcement and cannot help but suspect it is part of a "don't worry, we don't need climate policy or low emissions energy plans" position on global warming.


  7. 8 hours ago, Endy0816 said:

    Moving towards more prehensile feet, perhaps even tails again, would definitely make sense though.

    I wasn't really thinking Science Fiction, although I may have subconsciously been influenced by some; we can find examples of genetic modification for zero gee dwellers - it was Lois McMaster Bujold's four armed "Quaddies" (Falling Free and other stories) that came first to my mind but I recall others, including where they don't look much like humans at all.

    I do think working and living in a zero gee environment must involve rethinking how we use our bodies - and our habits and prejudices should be explicitly examined. I posed this question of using feet on Quora and an astronaut with experience aboard the ISS responded with "Gross!" Which seemed a bit narrow minded to me. It may be they can function well enough to see no great advantage in more deliberate use of feet, but I do think it is a lost opportunity to dismiss it out of hand.


  8. On 9/30/2019 at 9:29 PM, Endy0816 said:

    Read about this idea as a low-G adaptation in scifi, in Integral Trees by Larry Niven. Good read if interested.

    Off topic but ... that is not a story I could recommend to anyone - mostly for it's major inconsistencies between how the peculiar environment is described as working and how it didn't work like that at all within the storyline; eg how many times does (vs should) that "tree" orbit past Goldblatt's world before breaking up? I wanted very much for it to all hang together enough to set aside my disbelief, although clearly he managed with many readers - which is credit to Niven's ability to evoke a sense of wonder, I suppose.


  9. 14 hours ago, mistermack said:

    From Wikipedia, made me smile : 

    "In August 2019, Thunberg sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from Plymouth, UK, to New York, US, in a 60 ft racing yacht equipped with solar panels and underwater turbines. The trip was announced as a carbon-neutral transatlantic crossing serving as a demonstration of Thunberg's declared beliefs of the importance of reducing emissions. France 24 reported that several crew would fly to New York to take the yacht back to Europe. "     

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greta_Thunberg    

    The hypocrisy of demanding climate activists go all stone age or else they have no right to call for change is another kind of rhetoric that should be called out for the misleading nonsense it is. No-one should have to go stone age to expect their governments to take seriously a problem they already know is serious. And would these same critics take anyone who uses no modern technology and does go 100% emissions free any more seriously because of it? I seriously doubt that - because, quite frankly, those critics are hypocrites!

    As an analogy it is like a nation being invaded but the government will not take calls for nationwide responses seriously - won't even accept that there is any invasion - except from people fighting on the front line, using their own resources. But just as governments have Intelligence and other agencies to tell them if an invasion is real they have science agencies telling them the climate problem is real; it's seriousness is not based on how we think concerned people should act in response, it should be based on the expert advice, directly.

    If we take the self appointed hypocrisy police seriously we could end up thinking that by the simple expedient of not caring people are magically absolved of all responsibility for their emissions. I think that in any knowing better but doing it anyway stakes, climate activists using electricity and driving cars and using air travel whilst advocating for the kinds of change that lead to zero emissions electricity, cars and air travel are not worse than those who don't care. And a lot less worse than those who seek to undermine public confidence in climate science in order to prevent those kinds of changes or to advance the very activities that make global warming worse.

    I'm not convinced that Environmental advocacy has done us any great favours by making personal lifestyle choices and voluntarily going without stuff the principle response to the climate problem. Whilst reducing emission by every possible means, including voluntary sacrifices, is desirable and arguably, may ultimately be essential, I don't believe that advocating going without stuff is going to win the necessary levels of support - or properly reflects what that advocacy is trying to achieve.

    Ultimately the whole point of addressing the causes of climate change is to prevent enduring and irreversible loss of economic prosperity; forcing people to go without stuff is a false and misleading caricature of what mainstream climate activism is about. No-one should have to dress up their activism with personal sacrifices - even though most people who do take it seriously do make some personal efforts, if only for the sake of their own self esteem and sanity.


  10. 3 hours ago, Ghideon said:

     Will future leaders, young today, be inspired by the message, the delivery and/or the messenger? Enough to make a difference in the long run?

    I think the lengths climate action opponents and obstructionists have been going to to undermine trust and confidence in science based expert advice - including attack anyone that can cut through their interfering noise is indicative of how vulnerable they are to growing popular opinion that does have confidence in it being capable of turning government policy. I do think that we will either see good policy overwhelmed by misinformation and ignorance and serious climate action made ineffective, with all the downsides that will haunt humanity beyond the lives of people now living, or else we will see the issue treated with a lot more seriousness  - even enough seriousness that people will accept that some sacrifice, rather than holding to "no regrets" policy that depend on taking action being cheaper than not taking action to be supported.

    I think the issue is approaching a political tipping point; I would like to think that when the tide turns the Doubt, Deny, Delay politicking will cease to have potency and, without that constant source of misinformation and doubt we will see a level of popular support grow strong enough to make a real difference.

    Whilst I think leaders throwing it back to the voting public was a means of delaying decisions and avoiding responsibility - an unforgivable abrogation - the same people are showing they are not above claiming unthinking populism driven by extremists (anything but the science) is behind that continuing growth of public concern, concern that is on the cusp of forcing them to action - and turn to claiming that therefore they should not base policy on what the public thinks it wants. Any surprise people, young and old, who do take the expert advice seriously are getting angry? But the young do have more to lose and more to endure.

    I don't think Greta was necessarily especially insightful in choosing to keep calling for world leaders to have policy consistent with that advice - it is kind of basic and obvious. But it is a simple, direct message that is difficult to argue against - which is why there is so much effort to make the argument about something else. Her youth for example. Her associations with Environmental Activists or anyone deemed "extremist" for example.

    Whatever her personal views on what appropriate policy should look like they will be used offensively against her, and by implication, the whole climate "movement". Doesn't like nuclear? We don't need to look beyond this forum for how that argument degenerates into deadlock by re-framing the debate along entrenched Left vs Right lines - although I understand Greta has not expressed outright opposition to nuclear or claimed it has no place.  Which won't matter; just look at how her calls for policy consistent with the science degenerate into claims her taking the science seriously is evidence of being influenced by partisan extremists!

    Getting angry that policy is not consistent with the science (that is advising us of a problem of extreme, real world seriousness) looks like righteous and appropriate emotion to me.

    I think that the absence of clear commitment to solving the problem and not any specific policy and technology options are the fundamental cause of anxiety - that is turning to legitimate anger.


  11. I did mean barefoot inside, for example the ISS - I'm inclined towards Outside spacesuits that have no legs at all, to free those feet and toes for foot operated controls inside the space "suit". That is also because I think it is appropriate to make best use of feet in an environment where they are freed up for other uses than standing and walking.

    I can't see hygiene as a serious issue - where would feet be used on the ISS that gets them dirty? The "gross" response to bare feet is, in my view, unnecessary and inappropriate, but if people do find the sight of naked feet a problem there are such things as foot gloves. Or they can get used to them.

    There are apparently issues with dead skin on feet peeling and flaking from lack of use - a legitimate hygiene issue - so wearing socks can be more than an issue with nakedness. But foot gloves are equally able to deal with it.

    11 hours ago, swansont said:

    Is there any evidence that they don't use their feet when appropriate?

    They apparently use bars they can slip feet behind, to anchor themselves, but mostly socks are worn. That is certainly a reasonable use of feet which being barefoot doesn't change - but they could be used in other ways, for which feet and toes would be entirely appropriate. I could reach for small items that are out of reach of (occupied) hands and arms. I could get a (light) steadying grip without any dedicated foot bar . Or, if I have been keeping my body flexible - a lot more flexible than I am now - I could possibly hold something I am working on with one or both feet so both hands can still be used. Ultimately we could and probably should develop foot specific tools and aids.


  12. 3 hours ago, mistermack said:

    it's the evidence and quality of the argument that does it for me.

    Which is one of the reasons Greta Thunberg has been successful with her message that climate policies should be consistent with the science based expert advice. It is not brimstone and fire, but sea level rise, extreme weather, more extreme droughts, refugees, based on mainstream expert advice, not myths - plus all the extra problems that mismanagement will add.

     


  13. It seems to me that whilst feet and toes are not as dexterous or strong as hands they are still capable of gripping and holding - and that would be useful in zero gravity. Those with no choice but rely on feet show how versatile feet and toes can be with practice. Down here on Earth I will use my toes to pick things up off the floor and pass them to my hands when I am barefoot, usually without conscious thought.

    I think not using feet in space is a wasted opportunity. Should astronauts be training to use their feet and toes to maximise their body's versatility?


  14. 3 minutes ago, Sensei said:

    your "masses" are easy to be manipulate by anybody.. e.g. politicians will scary them with immigrants (emotion: fear)..

    I think this is reality, as it actually is. Politicians using emotion based arguments to engage the public with the truth is fine with me - it is not the use of emotion to engage with the public that makes the examples you give problematic, but that they are promoting false fears.

    4 minutes ago, Sensei said:

    "masses" should be intelligence.. who understand, being able to analyze provided data, being able to gather their own data, being able to make their own decisions..

    That is not reality, as it actually is.


  15. 39 minutes ago, Sensei said:

    ..there were emotions when D.T. withdraw US from Paris agreement..

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/01/trump-withdraw-paris-climate-deal-world-leaders-react

    ..emotion is bad advisor..

    (reminds me hitler's speeches.. full of emotions)

    ..absolutely everything is wrong if you use emotions instead of logical thinking...

     

    ..opposite side have self-made "experts" from flat-Earth, anti-climate deniers experts, anti-vaccines, and so on, so on..

    Self-made experts are booked by their TV channels to express their s**t to audience and stupefy them..

     

    I disagree - and with extra added emotion.

    Greta's anger is well grounded in facts and it is effective - as, I believe, mine is well grounded. Not nearly so effective, but perhaps it takes someone who has no power besides their voice - a child whom adults should feel obligated to protect and offer hope of a better future to - to induce a modicum of shame in those sitting in the very Offices where decisions with far more weight than personal lifestyle choices are made.

    I don't see how getting well informed can, let alone should result in an emotionless response; the fears about our future are justified, based on non-emotional assessments of the state of our climate system and engaging with that emotion is how to engage with a complacent (due to ignorance and misinformation) public. People who are, for the most part, ill equipped to assess the science directly.

    There is a big difference between promoting falsehoods by preying on emotional and intellectual vulnerabilities and using emotion based appeals based on true and scientifically verifiable concerns.

    I don't see how we can move the masses without engaging emotionally with their hopes and fears.

    Getting that engagement is a different task to developing policy. But is nothing new or unique to the climate problem.


  16. 7 hours ago, Danijel Gorupec said:

    if you can find any way to engage masses without involving much emotion, you will be my hero.

    That world leaders and mainstream political figures, faced with this most serious global problem fail to feel or show any real concern - expressed with emotion - and fail to engage the public using it just demonstrates a lack of concern that is deeply disturbing. That so many have no apparent difficulty with raising alarmist fears of extremist politics and economic disaster from taking the climate problem seriously - using emotion to engage the masses in the cause of opposing strong climate action - is doubly disturbing.

    There is nothing wrong with politics and advocacy using emotion to engage with the public - but the assessments of the problem's seriousness that concern is grounded upon still needs to be based in science based expert advice that is not emotion based.


  17. 26 minutes ago, mistermack said:

    It's easier than looking up evidence.

    Yet Greta Thunberg repeatedly asks that world leaders to (my paraphrasing) look up the evidence and base their policy responses on it. Which, if they are not already (and most especially those who are holding hard to their doubts are not - willfully and deliberately are not) is an extreme indictment on their competency and fitness.


  18. 44 minutes ago, MigL said:

    It is the fact that she is 15 yrs old and not even of voting age, and she is telling democratically elected world leaders what to do.

    She is telling elected world leaders to do something they already should be doing, that I would argue they have a fiduciary obligation to do - to take a known serious threat to enduring prosperity and security, that approaches 100% likelihood, seriously. Because she is 15 years old and cannot vote, all the more reason to speak out and ask that the adults act and choose responsibly.


  19. On 9/26/2019 at 5:44 AM, mistermack said:

    the raising of CO2 levels would aid photosynthesis in the ocean, pumping more oxygen back into the atmosphere. 

    I don't think this is true because it is not as simple as more CO2 equals more photosynthesis; other factors come into play.  Changed pH impacts algae - and algae impact pH; if algae health declines the ability to (via enzymes they release) break down CO2 to carbonate ions and an important regulating factor in ocean pH is impacted negatively, in ways that are not good for algae. Water temperature is also a factor.

    https://askabiologist.asu.edu/plosable/algae-ocean-acidification

    Back to the Amazon - oxygen supply was never a problem that knowledgeable sources brought up; like a lot of poor information, News and Entertainment organisations -  for whom viewers/readers and clicks are more important than accuracy - are often responsible. They are inclined not to bother much with experts and fact checking.


  20. 10 hours ago, mistermack said:

    The backups still have to be paid for, whether they are used or not.

    Being paid to be on standby is not anything new - and is not usually seen as a subsidy. Backup supply should not need to be subsidised to support wind and solar; they will either be paid a premium price to supply power when wind and solar supply is constrained or be paid for being on standby as part of reliability obligations. Which could end up looking like financial support from wind and solar, rather than fossil fuels financially supporting wind and solar.

    I see the matching of variable demand with variable supply problem as an issue with market mechanisms and pricing - it has and will always be an issue for energy supply networks; it is not unique to those with wind and solar, even if the extent of variability is going to be much larger. I think ideally, we should move to a variable, time of use pricing model - the higher price for power when other power is constrained makes a market based incentive to invest in various kinds of backup supply and, conversely, for consumers to reduce demand. We are partway there in Australia with the National Electricity Market and will move from suppliers bidding at 30 minute intervals to 5 minute intervals. We are also seeing more requirements on new solar and wind projects to include storage or other "firming". But that is not at levels for 100% 365 day a year supply, but sufficient to smooth supply so more expensive backup options are not called on unnecessarily at short time scales.

    It would be unreasonable to expect backup/storage to be the specific obligation of wind and solar energy providers; every kind of generation spends time off-line. Increasingly in the (increasingly common) extreme heatwaves in Australia, it is coal and gas that is proving unreliable. I think backup/storage is going to be it's own market sector, that will have to argue for the regulatory arrangements that ensure they are economically viable should overarching foresight and planning that makes workable market frameworks remains politically elusive.

    Meanwhile there are pumped hydro projects going ahead that should add a lot of on demand backup capacity in Australia - whilst others, already in existence are not yet being used to best effect, due to continuing political resistance to market rule changes that disadvantage coal and gas generators, as part of a climate science/climate responsibility denial political agenda.


  21. We are currently engaged in empirical testing of renewable energy in multiple locations and climates. It doesn't look like a failure to me - more like just emerging from it's early stages.

    If massive growth of Nuclear were a well supported plan, with demonstrable recent successes then arguing that investments in wind and solar should be curtailed might make sense, but it is not. There is no such plan. To blame opposition to nuclear for that is oversimplistic -  given the refusal of large parts of mainstream politics (lots that like nuclear) to even concede the climate problem is real and as a consequence withhold their backing for things like carbon pricing - that the World Nuclear Association counts as the most significant single policy nuclear needs.

    Storage, in most cases, is not even required until certain thresholds are passed and large scale investments in it won't happen until that need is impending. Or there is a clear plan that foresees and requires it. I see no serious problem with high levels of wind and solar reducing demand for high emissions energy periodically and intermittently. It requires a different way of looking at energy supply and use but does not look anything like the certain disaster the economic alarmist doomsayer opponents make it out to be. Nor is it somehow pointless to invest in enough solar and wind to relegate fossil fuels to backup - that is something renewables in their current iterations can do and should. That helps create the incentives for the solutions needed for displacing fossil fuels as backup - becoming an exercise in market economics.

    That renewables are growing rapidly in the absence of any overarching plan is a good thing and the pressures that growing levels puts on energy systems to change are a necessary thing. But expecting renewables to exist entirely independent of fossil fuels from the word go is unreasonable - as long as there is no carbon pricing I think that would only enhance the unfair advantage fossil fuels get through not being accountable for their emissions. It isn't a case of fossil fuels subsidising renewables by being needed in the manufacturing chain or energy backup, it is a transition.

    On 9/23/2019 at 9:02 AM, mistermack said:

    If countries were actually serious about eliminating carbon emissions

    If that were so then things would be very different. Let us all fervently wish for that.

    Had that happened 2-3 decades ago I expect nuclear would have featured highly - and the absence of mainstream denial would have seen popular opposition to nuclear crumble in the face of demonstrated need. Lots of "green-left" voices were showing willingness to consider nuclear, because of that need - by no means a majority but not a small minority either. That was an opportunity that was lost when the political Right turned away from facing up to the issue and chose denial and obstruction in order to not face up to it - and happily pushed nuclear under a bus. That they chose hippie painted bus to push it under should not distract from the fact that it was those holding those positions of high office and responsibility who abrogated that responsibility - in the face of the greatest threat to enduring prosperity we have ever faced. It ought to be unforgivable - but, by relying on the broader inclination of all of us to reject our small share of responsibility they can get us to forgive their much bigger share.

    Where countries getting serious happens now we get renewables - because they do work. Not because of the overwhelming power of Green politics. For all the focus on the extremists this issue is not primarily driven by green populism, but by decades of top level, science based expert advice.

    Long running power companies now choose wind and solar - increasingly in the expectation of no subsidies. They are looking to storage - they aren't stupid - but they aren't going to invest heavily in it until the overall energy mix requires it. And we should not ignore the use of demand management - of reduced demand by agreement in place of expensive storage. Nor ignore the opportunities that >100% RE - even periodically and intermittently - will make.


  22. 4 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

    If this all seems complicated compared to "just build lots of nuclear" - I think that underestimates how difficult "just build nuclear" actually is and overestimates   underestimates our ability to manage complicated systems. Solar and wind and storage and efficiency and demand management and etc are forging ahead now because they are easier and cheaper.

    Oops - got it backwards and did not notice before the edit time limit ran out.

    4 hours ago, Sensei said:

    Every country has access to the Sun, and wind, but not every country has access to Uranium ores, or other fissile material which can be used as fuel in nuclear plants. It might be used/misused for influencing country i.e. you will get/not get fuel if you do/don't do this or that..

     

    I think nuclear is for nations with sustained histories of operating within the rule of law; there are nations and regions that probably cannot be trusted to operate them competently or abide by non-proliferation agreements. If a lot of the world can't be trusted with nuclear then a lot of the world does not have nuclear as a low emissions option. All the more reason to push ahead with other solutions.


  23. As long as the externalised costs of fossil fuels are omitted from calculations of relative costs the alternatives will look more expensive than they actually are - or rather, not using alternatives appears cheaper than it actually is. A lot cheaper if credible estimates of Social Cost of Carbon around US$40 per ton of CO2 are anything near correct - doubling or tripling the cost of coal.

    I do see great potential in solar and wind with storage to take us a lot further than we are now without expecting it to reach a 100% threshold easily, especially were existing patterns of energy supply and use to remain unchanged. But I also see the way we use and distribute energy changing in ways that do moderate the impacts of variability of supply. Some regions would find it harder, but a large portion of the world's population do live in places that get lots of sunshine all year round.

    I see gas plant being relegated to backup to solar as a step forward - because that reduces overall emissions, a circumstance where it does not compete with solar but competes with batteries and hydro or demand response (reducing load by agreement). Relatively small amount of storage (compared to the amount needed to do it all) can change the mix from gas or other fossil fuel plant running every night to switching off for days at a time during sunny periods: I think batteries appear to be capable of doing a lot of that. Dedicated pumped hydro is only just getting started - like other elements, they tend not to happen until the need is there. ie wind and solar penetration grows and other options for moderating the variability and demand are not available. Once through hydo can also be adapted to more responsive variability.

    I am increasingly of the view that renewable Hydrogen, using excess solar and wind, is going play a big role; for one, it offers the best non-fossil fuel option for iron and steel smelting. But with respect to an RE heavy energy system, having gas plant that can transition to H2 offers another kind of storage and backup. I think that gas plant ought to be built to be H2 capable (a lot of it should be already) and thus able to utilise Solar and Wind during it's periods of abundance to make fuel for when it is not. On-site production and storage bypasses the need for economy wide H2 infrastructure and would not require the very high pressure storage (and related costs) that transporting - and transport fuel use - requires.

    Demand response - curtailing loads by agreement when demand is more than supply should not be underestimate either. As should opportunistic industrial batch processing, that can be flexibly scheduled; periods of overabundance of electricity, ie very cheap, is a huge opportunity. I would be very surprised if ways to exploit it aren't developed. Presuming industry cannot adapt seems shortsighted. They won't if the don't have to - which is why seeing governments and leaders accommodating that desire to not have to is so dismaying.

    If this all seems complicated compared to "just build lots of nuclear" - I think that underestimates how difficult "just build nuclear" actually is and overestimates our ability to manage complicated systems. Solar and wind and storage and efficiency and demand management and etc are forging ahead now because they are easier and cheaper.

    I see a lot of this happening despite a continuing absence of comprehensive, overarching planning, let alone appropriate pricing of emissions. I can't see nuclear happening at the scales needed without carbon pricing as well as high level of government planning and intervention. Whereas RE proceeds with projects with short build times, with changing course always an option; even legislated 100% RE commitments are never going to be truly binding and can be changed relatively quickly in response to emerging problems and constraints. I think a big nuclear approach requires a level of planning and commitment that cannot yet be achieved - and must wait on the Wall of Denial to come down and let the largest bloc of support for it come out from behind it.


  24. 1 minute ago, dimreepr said:

    there's no reason to think the weapons were cheap

    No doubt they were military hardware and by civilian standards, expensive. Yet compared to "conventional" missiles or aircraft capable of inflicting the same damage they probably are cheap. Compared to the damage inflicted they almost certainly are cheap - and conflicts can be lost because of the cost. It may be that Great Powers won't be at heightened risk of invasion or destruction, but their capability to "project" power, to invade or intervene elsewhere, could be severely curtailed.

    Like I say, it is a question.


  25. 23 hours ago, swansont said:

     Is there any indication that such devices actually exist and fit the description of "cheap"?

    My fictional example was indeed fictional, yet I think it remains illustrative - civilian autopilot system + GPS possibly could guide a cruise type missile to a specific target. Most of the components needed to make such a thing probably can be obtained legally - although such purchases may set off Intelligence alarm bells.

    Journalists are increasingly writing articles like this https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-09-18/drones-changing-war-fare-like-ieds/11520196 and cite incidents like a drone attack on Russian aircraft on the ground in Syria -

    Quote

     

    In 2018, a number of resourceful Syrian rebels were able to stage a "drone swarm" attack against a rear-echelon base that housed Russian bombers.

    Up until this point, these warplanes had been able to strike insurgents with impunity, but the attack overwhelmed the base's defences and left several airframes in ruins.

     

     We now have a "drone swarm" attack that did serious damage to well defended oil installations in Saudi Arabia. Journalists are describing the drones as low cost but details are still absent. Very likely these are military drones and compared to civilian ones they are probably expensive. Compared to the aircraft destroyed they may be cheap. It sounds like they are something that some State player is happy to sell to militias in war zones.

    In any case I am asking whether especially effective low cost weapons could emerge that well equipped militaries could prove vulnerable to and how that might impact major military powers such as the USA?

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