Weekend Open Thread

Opine away.  Or pine away.  Or pie away?  Or pi away?  Or”¦.

57 Responses to Weekend Open Thread

  1. Tom says:

    Are we ever going to act to reverse the mess we’ve made of the climate with all our CO2 and other pollution (oil, plastic-filled gyres, methane, coal ash, god it seems like the list is endless), depleting the top soil and other problems with industrial farming, over-fishing, etc. or are we on our way out as a species? It just seems like we’ve long passed the point of no return with regard to the effects on the climate and that we’re on an exponential ride out (where we’ve just begun to see what’s coming). We haven’t changed anything – as a matter of fact it’s gotten significantly WORSE since the Kyoto Protocols. Now we’ve got nuclear radiation spewing out all over the globe (as a result of wind currents) which will have at least SOME negative effect, despite the “feel good, don’t worry about it” attitudes from the lamestream media. China and India are just two of the many countries that want to adopt our mis-informed, totally unsustainable lifestyles, so we can’t expect anything to get much better in the coming years.

  2. paulm says:

    Methinks Obama has a big chip on his shoulder?

  3. paulm says:

    Are we at a stage where things are basically transiting from extreme event to extreme event?

  4. “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” – William Ward

    I like to mix my perusals of Joe’s blog and other sites keeping us on the look out for pig-headedness and slow progress with sites which focus almost exclusively on solutions:

  5. madcitysmitty says:

    Is this really a better mousetrap for tar sands oil? Science Daily published the following summary. Comments?

    ScienceDaily (Mar. 20, 2011) — An environmentally friendlier method of separating oil from tar sands has been developed by a team of researchers at Penn State. This method, which utilizes ionic liquids to separate the heavy viscous oil from sand, is also capable of cleaning oil spills from beaches and separating oil from drill cuttings, the solid particles that must be removed from drilling fluids in oil and gas wells.

    Tar sands, also known as bituminous sands or oil sands, represent approximately two-thirds of the world’s estimated oil reserves. Canada is the world’s major producer of unconventional petroleum from sands, and the U.S. imports more than one million barrels of oil per day from Canada, about twice as much as from Saudi Arabia. Much of this oil is produced from the Alberta tar sands.

    However, the production of petroleum from tar sands causes environmental damage. Part of the damage comes from the storage of contaminated wastewater from the separation process in large open air ponds. Wastewater from the ponds can seep into groundwater and pollute lakes and rivers. In addition, the requirement for large amounts of water can deplete the supply of local fresh water resources. The Penn State separation method uses very little energy and water, and all solvents are recycled and reused.

    Paul Painter, professor of polymer science in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Penn State, and his group have spent the past 18 months developing a technique that uses ionic liquids (salt in a liquid state) to facilitate separation. The separation takes place at room temperature without the generation of waste process water. “Essentially, all of the bitumen is recovered in a very clean form, without any contamination from the ionic liquids,” Painter explained. Because the bitumen, solvents and sand/clay mixture separate into three distinct phases, each can be removed separately and the solvent can be reused.

    The process can also be used to extract oil and tar from beach sand after oil spills, such as the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon incidents. Unlike other methods of cleanup, the Penn State process completely removes the hydrocarbons, and the cleaned sand can be returned to the beach instead of being sent to landfills. In an experiment using sand polluted by the BP oil spill, the team was able to separate hydrocarbons from the sand within seconds. A small amount of water was used to clean the remaining ionic liquids from the sand, but that water was also recoverable. “It was so clean you could toss it back on the beach. Plus, the only extra energy you need is enough to stir the mixture,” said Aron Lupinsky, a researcher in Painter’s group.

    The researchers work with a group of ionic liquids based on 1-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium cations, a positively charged material with high chemical and thermal stability, a low degree of flammability, and almost negligible vapor pressure, which makes recovering the ionic liquid relatively simple. The team has built a functioning bench top model system and is in the process of reducing their discovery to practice for patenting.

    In addition to Painter, team members include Bruce Miller, senior research associate in the EMS Energy Institute, and former students Aron Lupinsky and Phil Williams.

  6. Wes Rolley says:

    My first step toward climate activism came from participating in a NY Academy of Sciences / A.I.A. sponsored webinar featuring Dr. James Hansen and Dr. Ed Mazria, founder of Architecture 2030. Mazria had an approach that would, if followed, more than satisfy the energy efficiency wedge. Even now, they continue to update their work (maybe they need to change the name to Architecture 2035).

    Given his “fact, By the year 2035, approximately three-quarters (75%) of the built environment will be either new or renovated there is no fundamental reason that we can not to this other than an excess of technological hubris or a failure of the imagination.

    Those who want to effect change from the grass roots need only start going to local planning commission meetings and demanding that they begin to enforce energy efficiency standards at every building sector intervention point.

    How to succeed without a big government bureaucracy.

  7. Michael T. says:

    Earth Hour 2011 Official video

    This Earth Hour 2011: 8.30pm, Saturday 26 March, celebrate your action for the planet with the people of world, and add more to your Earth Hour.

    From its inception as a single-city initiative — Sydney, Australia – in 2007, Earth Hour has grown into a global symbol of hope and movement for change. Earth Hour 2010 created history as the world’s largest ever voluntary action with people, businesses and governments in 128 countries across every continent coming together to celebrate an unambiguous commitment to the one thing that unites us all — the planet.

    Sign up to, switch off your lights for Earth Hour 2011, and share the positive actions you will sustain for earth beyond the hour.

  8. Andy says:

    This link bears reposting. A call by the Royal Society for energy rationing to lower carbon emissions.

    I believe this is the best way to make the public realize that wind and solar are absolutely reasonable ways to reduce our carbon emissions. Faced with paying an extra $5 a month for electricity or going without; I think most folks would go with paying the extra.

    A broad push for rationing would make the Markey carbon emissions trading bill look like the Republican solution that it is and it could finally be embraced by congress.

    I know that such rationing would never occur, but I believe seriously proposing it would push the right to adopt emissions trading.

  9. rob says:

    the tar sands burn a lot of C02 to produce an oil that is in turn burnt to produce more C02. Super whoopie ding dong if you can figure out a way to use next to no water in its extraction.

    What’s hot now are Thorium reactors. Too bad all those nuclear engineering degrees don’t apply to this type of reactor. Here is a link to a quick 16 minute video on all you need to know about Thorium reactors. The end of the video is interesting in explaining the history of how we dropped the ball on this — not a weapons friendly technology.

    It’s estimated that in about 20 years we will trip the light fantastic
    into accelerated extreme global heating with the irreversible perma-frost meltdown. C02 begat C04 (methane) which will finish most of the 7 billion of us off. Especially near the equator. Ocean acidification will finish off the marine life that will dwell near the poles. Society will devolve into armed camps around the poles. I think Thorium reactors may be their salvation. I agree with Lovelock that we need to research on how to manufacture our own food as the confluence of peak resources dawns on humanity. Driving a Prius or turning off the lights one night a year is not going to change anything, especially our denial. Link below.

  10. Brad Pierce says:

    According to Dennis Bushnell, chief scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center, in

    The Great Salt Lake could conceivably be turned into an algae pond to produce something on the order of $250 billion a year in biofuels.


    Biofuel from algae could be a direct petroleum replacement and is an extremely practical fuel source from a production standpoint. The refining process for algae is much simpler and less expensive than the current process for refining oil. […] A global transition from oil to algae wouldn’t require the construction of an expensive, complicated new infrastructure, as a transition to a hydrogen economy would.


    Halophytes and algae are only part of the overall solution space. We’ll use many approaches to combat global warming. However, the potential of this fuel can’t be stated forcefully enough. If humanity were to plow a portion of the Sahara Desert, irrigate it with saltwater from the Mediterranean, and then grow biomass such as algae, we could replace all the fossil carbon fuel that our species uses currently and provide food for a growing global population at low cost.

  11. K. Nockels says:

    The first and best solution to Climate Change is the reduction of energy use by all the Corporations,Companies,industries and people of the United States. Until the mentality that promotes growth as the only economic solution to maintaning our society is overturned, the rest of the world will follow us right off the cliff. Until we all understand that we no longer live on the planet of plenty, that we have used and abused it for to long, that we have to change the way we live and stop looking for the ever promised quick fixes, can there be progress toward repairing the damage we have done and are continuing to do. Humans as a general rule are not very good at excepting limits volintarily and when limits are imposed upon us the knee jerk reaction is to look for someone, other than ourselves to blame for them. It seems we have become a people that are seriously lacking in the “I take reponsiablity for my own actions department”. We are all to blame for the situation we are in, every one of us. It is so counterproductive to spend our time assigning blame, without admitting to our own part in creating the problem. Most people want a solution that reqiures nothing of them, because that way they don’t have to admit they are part of the problem.
    Once we have gotten past that, the problem becomes just a matter of changing the choices we make because we know we have been wrong and will work to make it right. A very tall order, maybe to tall for those unwilling to own up and be a team player. I know my children and grandchildren would appreicate it though.

  12. Sunflower says:

    A new coal boiler costs $1.00/Watt(thermal). A new solar boiler costs $0.20/W(t). Solar energy is cheaper than coal even if coal is delivered and burned for free.

    One square meter of sunlight in Colorado is worth more than one barrel of oil per year. One square meter solar concentrator costs $150 and lasts longer than 30 years. Solar energy is cheaper than cheap oil.

    Who cares? Not Obama, not GE, not DoE,… it is a long list of not caring. I’ve talked to a thousand people who do not care. So I sit in Seattle under ionizing rain and wonder what to do.

  13. espiritwater says:

    What really concerns me is the fact that the Arctic will soon be ice free during summer months (some glaciologists say by 2012 or 2013). In his book, “The Last Generation” Fred Pearce states…

    What would the world be like with an ice-free summer Arctic?

    “…World without polar bears or ice-dwelling seals, Inuit way of life would come to an end; the influence would spread: no reflective shield of ice would mean– the whole world would warm several more degrees, ocean and air currents (driven by temperature differences b/w the poles and the tropics) would falter, methane would break out of the permafrost, raising temperatures further; ice caps would melt, sea levels would rise; much of the world’s population would have to move or drown, and if the Arctic is especially sensitive to climate change, the whole planet is especially sensitive to changes in the Arctic!”

    Still our “leaders” often do the opposite of what is needed…

  14. Tom says:

    Michael T. mentions the Earth Hour event this evening. I know Joe doesn’t care for it and others, including myself, or ambivalent about such events. Andrew Watts at WattsUpWithThat has been promoting an essay by Ross McKitrick in which he accuses Earth Hour as “demonizing” electricity – which I find ridiculous.
    I wrote a response to McKitrick’s position over at

  15. espiritwater says:

    The following is from the Orion (essay by Derrick Jensen):

    “… why is this important? Because those in power destroy sustainable communities– not just sustainable indigenous communities– If people develop new ways to live on their land more sustainably, and those in power decide that land is needed for shopping malls or roads and parking lots, those in power will seize it. That is how the dominate culture works. Everything and everyone must be sacrificed to economic production, to economic growth, to the continuation of this culture.

    How sensitive are the members of this culture to the whole, to the needs of native forests (98% gone), native grasslands (99% gone), ocean life (90% of the large fish gone)? How sensitive is this culture to indigenous land claims? …able to anticipate the consequences of destroying forests, grasslands, oceans, or denying indigenous land claims? With sea levels already rising and glaciers already disappearing, how capable are this culture’s decision makers of anticipating the consequences of global warming?

    Whenever I attend some “green” conference, I feel heartbroken, discouraged, (etc.)… It’s not the inevitable talk about farmers discovering (again!) organic farming; about plastic forks made from corn starch; of simple living; about grieving the murder of the planet; about “changing our stories” and most especially about maintaining a positive attitude that gets me down. It’s that no one, I mean no one mentions the psychology. “Mom stayed with her abusive husband because she hoped he would change.” False hopes bind us to unlivable situation, and blind us to real possibilities

  16. madcitysmitty says:

    Rob #9. Thanks for the tar sands response. I sent your thorium reactor video to a friend who is promoting the technology.

  17. Clive says:

    Further to the post of ‘Espiritwater’, who ended:

    “False hopes bind us to unlivable situation, and blind us to real possibilities”

    Imagine the one had a magic wand. Imagine that the nature of that wand was that when waved over the Earth, it undid all the damage Mankind has done. It restored the forests, it cleaned up the oceans of all the rubbish and contamination. It restored the rivers and lakes to their original pristine state. It healed the scars of the land, did away with air pollution, brought back the pure richness of the soil. It cleaned the excess carbon dioxide from the air. And so on.

    What would be the point of waving the wand; we would be back to our present position in 20 years or so?


  18. Raul M. says:

    Energy balance as a google search shows
    Some basic considerations about how
    weather on a daily basis turns into climate.
    It’s nice to know that the world has had many
    areas that have had a wonderful climate for
    thousands of years. We should say grace
    as our ancestors had not ruined such before
    our time.

  19. Raul M. says:

    “Power from Above” by Dan Berggren,
    says much in a song.

  20. Fr. Tom says:

    As a non-scientist, I would love to know what the impact on atmospheric CO2, the burning of 2.35 billion tons of coal would be if, say, it would all be consumed by 2060 and the rest of the world did nothing to change their current coal/oil/gas consumption? Any intelligent estimates out there?

  21. denim says:

    Revenge is a dish best served cold. Since the “electorate” voted the Republicans into power, perhaps Obama is giving them what they voted for.
    Tell me,is your Obamastew cold enough?

  22. Grist has it right — since US coal generating is declining (Deutsche Bank has called it “Dead Man Walking”) the push to radically increase the amount of coal mined in the Powder River Basin only makes sense in the context of the industry’s push to open coal export facilities along the Pacific Coast. That’s why Bill McKibben recently called the push to build these facilities in my home state of Washington “an epic fight” which may “may make as much difference to the future of our climate as anything that happens in Washington, D.C., and one that may also serve as a decisive battle in defining the U.S. relationship with China.” I have been surprised to see little on this so far in my favorite climate blog.

  23. madcitysmitty says:

    Joe (or anyone else)

    To address GW problems on a scale that’s necessary, I assume we need conservative leadership (political, media, religious, corporate, and military) at the forefront.

    QUESTION: In the U.S., who are the CONSERVATIVE leaders on GW–people who genuinely “get it”–in each of these categories?

    How about a blog on this? You blogged on Lindsay Graham (there must be be more–at least on the “science” (even if not on solutions). And, a while back you featured 3 conservative scientists. Fine, but, we need some more attention to finding allies among identifiable conservatives in these other fields.

  24. John Mashey says:

    re: 23
    In California, George Schultz (@ Hoover @ Stanford) was a strong leader in the fight against the Koch-funded Prop 23, which was soundly defeated. Schultz is a conservative of the old school, not the modern version.

  25. David B. Benson says:

    A Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) comparison exercise

    WindCo runs a big wind turbine farm while AtomCo run nuclear power plants; both are independent generating companies. PumpCo runs a big pumnped hydro facility as backup to the intermittent wind power. DistCo distributes the wheeled power to the retail customers; the same amount of electric power is assumed to be required at all times, just for simplicity.

    WindCo sells power @ 9.2 cents/kWh[1]. This power is wheeled to DistCo and PumpCo, both receiving at the same price. The Capacity Factor (CF) is 32%[2], so 32% of the time PumpCo is pumping and 68% of the time, PumpCo is generating and selling to DistCo @ 18.8
    cents/kWh[3]. So the levelized cost to DistCo is the average of 0.32×9.2 + 0.68×18.8 = 15.728 cents/kWh.

    AtomCo sells to DistCo @ 12.0 cents/kWh[4].

    [JR: nuke costs way too low.]


    Having a very large WindCo means a lower average CF which requires ever more pumped hydro, a dis-economy of scale.


    [1] This is an actual contracted price from a new wind producer selling to Idaho Power. It is in good agreement with the EIA estimated LCOE for on-shore wind. The price includes the transmission charge.

    [2] The CF of 32% is from the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NWPCC) 6th Power Plan, Chapter 6, for the Columbia Basin wind location.

    [3] Existing pumped hydro stations in the USA have an incremental cost of around 1 cent/kWh. However, costs have dramatically increased since the last pumped hydro was constructed. A recent study by Doty Energy indicates an incremental cost of 5.6 cents/kWh to which a transmission chage of 1.7 cents/kWh has to be added. The “fuel” cost is the cost of electric power from WindCo of which but 80% is recoverable, that being typical of pumped hydro stations. That means the selling price is 7.3 + 9.2/0.80 = 18.8 cents/kWh.

    [4] Using the NREL simplified LCOE calculator with a 30 year 10.8% loan and technical data about advanced nuclear from the NWPCC 6th Power Plan, Chapter 6, the LCOE is 9.2 cents/kWh to which a transmission charge of 1.7 cents/kWh must be added. The NREL simplified LCOE leaves some matters out, so another 1.1 cents/kWh is added to cover those expenses.

  26. Sailesh Rao says:

    I highly recommend Charles Eisenstein’s book, “The Ascent of Humanity” for a holistic perspective on our current civilizational conundrums:

  27. Colorado Bob says:

    Reports from Japan say radioactivity in water at reactor 2 at the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant is 10 million times the usual level.

    Workers trying to cool the reactor core to avoid a meltdown have been evacuated, Reuters news agency says.

  28. Colorado Bob says:

    ScienceDaily (Mar. 25, 2011) — The freshwater content of the upper Arctic Ocean has increased by about 20 percent since the 1990s, according to a new large-scale assessment. This corresponds to a rise of approximately 8,400 cubic kilometres and has the same magnitude as the volume of freshwater annually exported on average from this marine region in liquid or frozen form.

  29. Colorado Bob says:

    Officials acknowledged there was radioactive water in all four of the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex’s most troubled reactors, and that airborne radiation in Unit 2 measured 1,000 millisieverts per hour, four times the limit deemed safe by the government.

    Those high airborne readings — if accurate — would make it very difficult for emergency workers to get inside to pump out the water.

  30. Prokaryotes says:

    MIT Lab Creates the World’s First Feasible ‘Artificial Leaf’

    A practical artificial leaf that can turn sunlight and water into energy as efficiently as the real thing has long been a Holy Grail of chemistry, and researchers at MIT may have finally done it. Today at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society researchers from MIT’s Nocera Lab, led by Dr. Daniel Nocera, claimed that they’ve created an artificial leaf made from stable and–more importantly–inexpensive materials.
    The artificial leaf looks nothing like the natural leaf that it mimics, but its inputs and outputs are the same. Made of silicon, electronics, and various catalysts that spur chemical reactions within the device, the artificial leaf uses sunlight to break water into hydrogen and oxygen which can then be used to create electricity in a separate fuel cell. Placed in a gallon of water and left in the sun, these artificial leaves could provide a home in the developing world with basic electricity for a day, Nocera said.


  31. 6thextinction says:

    to k. nockel’s “a matter of changing choices…and working to make it right”; sunflower’s “talked to a thousand people…and wonder what to do”; espiritwater’s “false hopes…blind us to real possibilities”, i ask, a) what choice did you change?”; b) did you come up with an act to do?”; c) what possibility are you suggesting–the green party as a valid alternative in the voting booth, or becoming a candidate?

    i’ve asked for the past 2 threads to hear what contributors’ have done, beyond sharing knowledge here, which is not unimportant, but we all know there’s plenty of knowledge already about climate change. it’s action that is in dire need of happening. so once again i will list my meager actions of the week and beg you to list yours: i have found a 20X40′ plot at a church community garden to increase my vegetable output; i bought a tree; i have found 2 volunteers for a riparian buffer project (won’t help gw much, but will build personal connections among activist enviros, who represent the rarest breed of activism); talked to one person re’s latest effort in combatting the us chamber of commerce’s power in d.c.; and went to a fundraiser for a group that does amazing recycling work providing jobs for previous longtime unemployed.

    none of this is impressive; it’s to show how easy individual action is. please tell us what you are doing along with what you are learning or sharing.

  32. davidgswanger says:

    Oliver Morton, science writer & currently Environment editor at the Economist, has tweeted that Mueller has confirmed that the BEST study shows that the effects climate change skeptics cite are marginal, and that their results differ at most by 0.2 from the GISS & other results.
    Does anyone have any other information on this?

    Joe, I know it’s a Sunday and you deserve some time off, but you’ve posted on this before, and there should be considerable egg on the faces of certain notorious deniers. Up for some Schadenfreude?

  33. davidgswanger says:

    Colorado Bob @ 27: The asociated Press is saying that the report of radiation levels 10 million times the normal level was a mistake.

  34. davidgswanger says:

    That’s Associated Press, of course. Typing too fast doesn’t save time when you have to go back and make corrections. Apologies.

  35. davidgswanger says:

    Never mind; upon checking, Morton is referring to the same comments Muller made that Joe was a wek ago. Nothing new here. Apologies again
    (I’m clearly batting a thousand today.)

  36. Michael T. says:

    Radiation in Mass. rainwater likely from Japan

    BOSTON – Health officials said Sunday that one sample of Massachusetts rainwater has registered very low concentrations of radiation, most likely from the Japanese nuclear power plant damaged earlier this month by an earthquake and tsunami.

    John Auerbach, the Massachusetts commissioner of public health, said that radioiodine-131 found in the sample — one of more than 100 that have been taken around the country — has a short life of only eight days. He said the drinking water supply in the state was unaffected and officials do not expect any health concerns.

    Nevada and other Western states also have reported minuscule amounts of radiation, but scientists say those presented no health risks.

  37. paul says:

    So here’s my idea: Kid’s raise money for green projects for school and in their local communities. Kids — in schools, scouts, 4-H clubs and other “eco” groups — ask local business owners to place attractive little “donation globes” (beautiful earth globes) at POS locations where folks can donate some “spare change” — hence our campaign slogan, “Spare-CLIMATE-Change”. Research shows these donation boxes can bring in $50/mo. With 20 placed for 1 school year = $10K! Teach students to design solutions themselves, develop entrepreneurial skills, and educate adults stuck in denial! Please check out this video to see how our campaign would work. Feedback and support welcome. Thanks!

  38. Prokaryotes says:

    Fear grows near another nuclear plant in Japan

    The images of smoke rising from a nuclear reactor are chillingly familiar to the tens of thousands of people who live a short drive from the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, the world’s largest in terms of output. A fire broke out in an electricity transformer following a 2007 earthquake here, sending black smoke billowing into the sky and sowing panic among residents who had to wait hours to hear any kind of explanation of what was going on.

  39. Prokaryotes says:

    ‘Fukushima no global disaster unless fuel discharged’ – Chernobyl engineer

  40. Prokaryotes says:

    A comment from above video i highly recommend

    “stop shitting in your space suit, planet earth” – RealBulldust

  41. John Lonergan says:

    Green Party wins governor ship in Baden-Wurtenberg, the first time the Greens have held a governorship. Nuclear energy was a major factor.

  42. Prokaryotes says:

    Japan quake spawns very small tsunami

    A tsunami triggered by a 6.5-magnitude earthquake Monday morning was a minor event.
    Authorities issued a tsunami advisory Monday morning for coastal areas of Miyagi Prefecture in northeastern Japan after a quake struck the region at 7:24 a.m. local time. Less than 90 minutes later, CNN’s Kyung Lah reported that the “tsunami has already reached the shore and the tsunami was very small.”

    Now have in mind that the waters around the fukushima plant are highly radioactive loaded. Which means that the toxic is spreading from the water faster to the land areas and possible easier contamination of groundwater and makes cleanup affords harder. Of course only local radiologic test can assess the damage.

    This is just another reminder how dangerous the nuclear technology is. Domino chain reaction of contaminated areas, for a very long time. In terms of human lifetime, forever.

  43. Prokaryotes says:

    Btw is there any science about alcohol consumption and radioactive contamination of people? Akimov in above video, briefly mentioned something along.

  44. Prokaryotes says:

    How Western Diets Are Making The World Sick

    In an essay published last November in Canada’s Maisonneuve journal, physician Kevin Patterson described his experiences working as an internist-intensivist at the Canadian Combat Surgical Hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

    One detail he noticed: The Afghan soldiers, police and civilians he treated in Kandahar had radically different bodies from those of the Canadians he took care of back home.

    “Typical Afghan civilians and soldiers would have been 140 pounds or so as adults. And when we operated on them, what we were aware of was the absence of any fat or any adipose tissue underneath the skin,” Patterson says. “Of course, when we operated on Canadians or Americans or Europeans, what was normal was to have most of the organs encased in fat. It had a visceral potency to it when you could see it directly there.”

    In a conversation on Fresh Air, Patterson tells Terry Gross that the effects of urbanization are making people everywhere in the world both fatter and sicker.

    “Type 2 diabetes historically didn’t exist, only 70 or 80 years ago,” says Patterson. “And what’s driven it, of course, is this rise in obesity, especially the accumulation of abdominal fat. That fat induces changes in our receptors that cells have for insulin. Basically, it makes them numb to the effect of insulin.”

    For a long time, the human body can compensate — the pancreas secretes even larger amounts of insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. But over time, the pancreas begins to fail to secrete enough insulin, and that is when diabetes develops.

    He explains that the increase in abdominal fat has driven the epidemic of diabetes over the last 40 years in the developed world — and that he’s now seeing similar patterns in undeveloped regions that have adapted Western eating patterns.

  45. Prokaryotes says:

    German Nuclear Plants Not Immune to Security Risks,1518,753158,00.html

    And then there are many behind the border, waiting for a malfunction.

  46. David B. Benson says:

    Joe Romm — Here is the link to the Sixth Power Plan:
    Here is NREL’s “Simple Levelized Cost of Energy Calculator”,
    You will discover that I performed the calculation correctly and the cost of about $6.4 billion per Westinghouse AP1000 seems to be somewhat higher than recent utility expectations:

    [JR: NREL’s numbers are too low for nukes. Good luck getting that price guaranteed.]

  47. David B. Benson says:

    NREL’s calculator works fine so long as one is careful; the problem was in the 6th Power Plan. So I used the 6th Power pLan’s construction cost of $5.5/W [wherein one obtains about $6.4 billion for a Westinghouse AP1000] but Nuscale’s fully worked out analysis for O&M, fuel + fuel waste costs and decommissioning reserve to obtain $252/kW-yr. With that the LCOE calculation gives 11.1 cents/kWh.

    I made a mistake regarding transmission costs, which are actually to small to bother with in this analysis. Therefore WindCo power + PumpCo power averages out to 14.572 cents/kWh.

  48. JK says:

    Paul Krugman, posted late in the evening on March 27:”American Thought Police”

  49. Prokaryotes says:

    Robotic Clouds Will Provide Shade During Qatar World Cup

    Read more:

  50. Mickey says:

    Two elections, two different results or projected results for the environment. Before going into this, I should note despite being almost April, there is still snow on the ground here in Toronto and daytime highs have been below freezing this past week. That being said after having 11 of 12 months above normal last year and the warmest spring on record, no real surprise. A cold week in one part of the world doesn’t disprove AGW.

    The governing Conservatives in Canada fell on a non-confidence vote, thus paving the way for an election on May 2nd. Right now the Conservatives have a solid lead nationally, are well ahead in Ontario which is the battleground province, well ahead in the West as expected, doing well in Atlantic Canada (one should be careful here as the poll samples are quite small in this region) and tied or ahead in Quebec amongst the federalist parties, but well behind the Bloc Quebecois. Barring a major blunder, it looks like they will win, the main question is will it be a majority or minority and if a minority, a weaker one or similiar one. On climate change, they are without question the weakest and considering this is one of their weak spots, I expect them to avoid the topic where possible.

    The Liberals are the main alternative, but have a steep hill to climb if they even plan to win a weak minority, nonetheless elections are unpredictable and this is Ignatieff’s first election so a strong performance may be enough for a narrow win. I doubt climate change will be their main plank, but considering his strengths on foreign affairs, I expect Canada’s role in the world and how it has diminished under the current government will be an issue brought up and under this issue climate change will be mentioned as one of the reasons albeit not the only.

    Bloc Quebecois are quite strong on climate change, but considering they only run candidates in Quebec and should win the majority of seats in that province but not all, it won’t make much difference. Besides Quebecers have always been far more progressive on climate change than English Canadians.

    NDP will probably bring it up, but they really have no chance at winning the election. Some have suggested if the Tories win another minority, the Liberals will form a coalition with the NDP backed by the Bloc Quebecois as they tried to do in 2008 and in that case the NDP will probably get the minister of environment. However, considering how unpopular this was, I have a tough time believing the Liberals will be stupid enough to try this again, although I am sure the Tories will use this as one of their lines of attack. Besides the economy is the biggest issue now and this is one of their weak spots.

    Green Party may be the strongest on the issue but I doubt they will be included in the debates this time around and they won’t be campaigning nationally as their leader Elizabeth May is just focusing on winning her own seat which will be a major uphill battle.

    On the positive side for those concerned about AGW there were two state elections in Germany today. In Baden-Wurttemberg, the CDU lost for the first time since 1953 and there will be a Red-Green coalition with the Greens supplying the governor, the first ever in Germany. In Rhineland-Palatinate, the SPD lost their majority, but most of that went to the Greens, not the CDU or FDP so also a Red-Green coalition. And since the Bundesrat is determined by the state election results, this means more Greens in the Bundesrat, which all legislation must go through in order to become law nationally. Also with the Black-Yellow coalition being only around 40% in the polls in Germany and the Greens rising, there is a good chance that they will be in the next government whether it be one with the Social Democrats or Christian Democrats.

  51. Prokaryotes says:

    Another topic for CP

    How to deal with news of doom on a personal level?
    What are the psychological consequences if you devote a certain time with studying doom?
    What are the possible steps a climate hawk could take to deal better with climate change coverage?

    The goal is to keep up the spirit and hope :)

    I’d say compensate with artistic work, music, dancing and having a hobby which is unrelated.

  52. Colorado Bob says:

    davidgswanger @ 33 –
    The Wall St Journal reported the corrected number to be 100,000 times “normal”.

    I feel so much better now.

  53. Prokaryotes says:

    Another way to think of multiplication

  54. Prokaryotes says:

    The german governor is now under heavy critic, especially the Chancelor Merkel. The stance on libya and the extension of nuclear plant runtime are some of the recent developments, which many criticize, even from her own party.

    A 3 month moratorium has been declared and some nuclear plants have been shut down. This in light of the fukushima disaster and with the chernobyl impact in mind, which somewhat affected parts of germany back then.

    Last week the Business Minister Brüderle openly admitted infront of a meeting with germanys top business corporate people, that the nuclear moratorium was just because of the recent poll. This was outrages and helped to influence the outcome for the greens and many demand his resignation now.

    Actually there have been not much progress in regards to climate action in germany within the last 24 month. All what has been done was from an earlyer government, with the greens, which even supported the US intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    And things have been cut back, the solar boom might be slower now, because there are less financial support. And coal plants are still heavily subsidized and more then 20 plants are either in construction or planed!

    You really don’t know what to make out of this current government. All this played a roll to influence the green comeback. My hopes are now that germany will try to get back to dominate the renewable sector.

  55. Prokaryotes says:

    Grass-to-gas firm lands Google capital

    CoolPlanetBioFuels claims it can make carbon-negative gasoline with a process that turns plant tissue into fuel and a charcoal-like soil additive called biochar that would sequester carbon. The firm is developing a machine that uses heat, pressure and mechanical force instead of the fermentation process that produces most of today’s biofuels.
    CoolPlanet’s machine works more like cracking, where complicated hydrocarbons like crude oil are broken into simpler ones like gasoline and kerosene. CoolPlanet’s machines will fit into standard shipping containers and can be linked together at a feedstock site.

    “It’s a micro-refinery,” Mike Cheiky, co-founder and CEO of CoolPlanet, told the Business Times.
    Google Ventures did not disclose the amount of the investment, but regulatory filings indicate that it was up to $17.7 million. GE Corp., NRG Energy, ConocoPhillips and Northbridge Venture Partners are also investors in CoolPlanet. Cheiky said the money will go toward fueling CoolPlanet’s expansion. It has outgrown its 7,500-square-foot lab space into an 80,000-square-foot testing floor where it will build its first micro-refinery prototypes. One module would provide about a million gallons of fuel a year, “which sounds like a lot, but that’s the flow from a shower head,” Cheiky said. The goal is to gang together at least 10 units per site for a 10-million-gallon a year source.

    Is this a Game Changer?

  56. Prokaryotes says:

    “I’m very concerned about climate change and the American dependence on foreign oil, which is endangering our national security and causing a huge outflow of capital out of the country,” Cheiky said. “I kind of progressed up to the biggest problem with the biggest impact. At $2 trillion, this market is your ultimate super-green company.”
    The next step for CoolPlanet, Cheiky said, is a recruiting drive to hire engineers.

  57. Brad Pierce says:

    According to

    For instance, Denny’s Restaurants recently announced it was going green by replacing all of its downlights nationwide with LED versions.

    “LED lights will generally last 25 to 50 times longer than your standard incandescent light, but with the same color of light and same quality of light—and only use 20 percent of the power, on top of all that,” said Paul Scheidt, LED marketing manager at Cree Inc. (Durham, N.C.), maker of the downlight chosen by Denny’s .