Carbon jump, Nuclear dreams, Opportunity, Laotian rock rat, serval cat, OOAfrica, longlines,Zombies
Despite all of our protestations about the threat of catastrophic climate change, world oil use surged 3.4% in 2004 - the fastest rate of increase in 16 years, according to the Worldwatch Institute's new Vital Signs 2005.
David Bellamy gets it all wrong...
So last week I telephoned the World Glacier Monitoring Service and read out Bellamy's letter. I don't think the response would have been published in Nature, but it had the scientific virtue of clarity: "This is complete bullshit." A few hours later, they sent me an email: "Despite his scientific reputation, he makes all the mistakes that are possible."
Brand goes critical...
Brand vs. Romm
In Environmental Heresies, Stewart Brand argues against four of the environmental movement's longstanding positions. Former Dept. of Energy official Joseph Romm begs to differ. The two square off in this special TechnologyReview.com blog.
[Technology Review is Free - I recall it wasnt recently...]
Non-Nuclear will do:
And for the opposition view
Nuclear is nice:... includes Chernobyl radiation is good for you
(nb Belarus will sue if you say it aint so)
Letter to Niece doing an eco-thesis:
I notice in the NewYorkTimes this morning that Stewart Brand (the Whole Earth Catalog chap) is now advocating Nuclear Power generation
"It's not that something new and important and good had happened with nuclear, it's that something new and important and bad has happened with climate change," Mr. Brand said in an interview.nyt
[if NYT asks you to register, go to "bugmenot.com" and get a signon from them]
One figure I saw recently said that if coal power stations construction costs are 100 then fuel costs are 150 ie the coal is 60% of the entire lifetime cost of electricity. Which is a lot less than I would have guessed. That is, construction costs are a high. Which means that the relative advantage of nuclear electricity is less.
If coal was 80 or 90% of the lifetime cost, it would make more sense to consider nuclear, which we presume to have a relatively small fuel cost. (figures?)
My thoughts about Nuclear ie Uranium 235 fission plants
1) there isnt that much U235 around (estimates?) I believe there is decades, not centuries worth.
2) Breeder reactors can make Plutonium but
a) breeders have terrible accident stats, they use Liquid sodium coolant,
in France, Japan USA England I believe that breeders have almost been abandoned
(check this? is the French breeder still operating?)
b) Plutonium is dangerous, it would require a "Security State" with many guards everywhere and loss of civil liberties - this goes to my main objection to nuclear.
3) Uranium itself is dangerous, when dispersed, as is currently happening in Iraq, Afghanistan. (check the total curies, Several reports say there is more radioactivity in Iraq than in Hiroshima.) [ US troops in Australian exercises carry Uranium munitions, and presumably fire them] This point is weak, not because "depleted" uranium is safe, but because there is probably enough around that more reactors wouldnt signify
4) we need energy-costing on concrete, steel and other construction. ie how many Joules
we also need Joule costing on mining, refining, transportation, and, importantly, a Joule costing on the dismantling of reactors.
5) the 23,000 year guardposts required on the spent fuel would seem to me to defy any accounting tally. on a discounted cash flow, any rate of interest at all would effectively make this cost infinite, in cash and Joules.
The principle objection I have is that nuclear power is the archetype centralised system.
We need a decentralised, household scale system. Mainly because all centralised systems now are carbon-based and cant be relied on for more than a few years.
One standard is "can 2 men lift it?" - my place in Luzon was down a steep path which only a motorscooter could navigate (avoiding the gaping holes in the path where the drain cover had collapsed) all the steel and cement and HollowBlocks were carried on mens backs.
One Australian chap, Pritchard, is very keen on steam engines. He has an external combustion burner, biomass powered, which generates electricity and can be lifted by two men. Steam is nicely quiet, compared with internal combustion.
Biomass is widely available, but low energy density. So it cannot be effectively trucked to a central generator, because of transport costs.
But: if Pritchard steam generators are trucked to farms, the transport cost is once only, for the generator. The biomass thereafter is only moved a short distance from field to generator. In addition the electricity is not transmitted far. All over the world farmers burn the stalks in the field. Burning in local Pritchard steam generators seems like a great idea. The world needs a hundred million of these, starting now.
In a truly cold place, like Manhattan, fuel for heating becomes a life-or-death concern. I recall standing on the flat roof of my apartment building in Bay Ridge and marveling at how little noxious fumes were evident from the oil burners that were working in the basements of every building to the horizon. No heat would likely mean death in those winters. Note that it is not proposed to replace heating oil with electric heaters. But I'm fairly sure that no combination of in-situ solar thermal, PV, heat exchangers etc could heat New York apartments.
On the other hand, Amory Lovins grows bananas in his snow-bound Colorado house with a fire burning only because he likes it.
Opportunity stuck axle deep
..long whiskers, stubby legs and a long, furry tail, they are rodents but unlike any seen before by wildlife scientists..they often show up in Laotian outdoor markets being sold as food.
..Laonastes aenigmamus, or Laotian rock rat a .. ..previously unknown family .. called .kha-nyou (pronounced ga-nyou). diverged from others of the rodent order millions of years ago... could be the last remaining mammal family..
..bodies a foot long, with a six-inch tail
....eastern edge of the Khammouan Limestone NBCA..
Eve's Bold Tiny band legs it OOAfrica along the beach...
..analysis of mitochondrial DNA,..Vincent Macaulay of the U Glasgow.
emigration from Africa 65,000 years ago.. along the coastlines of India .. Australia by 50,000 years ago..
The Orang Asli .."original men" in Malay ..have several ancient mitochondrial DNA lineages that are found nowhere else.. 42,000 - 63,000 years old..
..could only have been one migration, not two, because the mitochondrial lineages of everyone outside Africa converge at the same time to the same common ancestors. Therefore, people from the southern migration, probably in India, must have struck inland to reach the Levant, and later Europe..
....no evidence of modern humans outside Africa earlier than 50,000 years ago ..
the coastline sites occupied by the first emigrants would now lie under water, since sea level has risen more than 200 feet since the last Ice Age
.. the population in Africa..a maximum of 550 women, but the true size may have been considerably less..
FOREST KNOLLS, CA 6Jun05..new book Striplining the Pacific: The Case for A United Nations Moratorium on High Seas Industrial Longline Fishing ..UN Law of the Sea meeting June 6-10th...Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin’s call on May 1st to end the "pillage" and "rape" of the ocean ....
..end the pillaging of the Pacific by longline fishing," said Robert Ovetz, PhD, Coordinator of the Save the Leatherback Campaign.
longline fishing is rapidly pillaging the Pacific..the decline of large predatory fish such as tuna, shark and billfish by as much as 87% since the 1950s but also warn of the extinction of the leatherback sea turtle in the next 5-30 years and the extinction of the loggerhead sea turtle and black-footed albatross ..
Costa Rica has submitted a plan.. calls for a moratorium on high seas longline fishing until such time that these species are no longer threatened with extinction
* A pre-release copy of the new book Striplining the Pacific can be downloaded at www.seaturtles.org/pdf/Striplining.final.2.pdf.
.. .. .. Non Science...
The Best page in the Universe has a series of 'Unintentionally sexual SF covers'
k5 has a long discussion on Zombie defence... the best solution seems to this grenade gun..
35lb serval cat in Manhattan