Weekend Open Thread

What’s on your mind?

61 Responses to Weekend Open Thread

  1. Climate progress?

    Consider that:

    • Climate deniers have taken over the U.S. House of Representatives.
    • It is widely agreed that legislation to limit U.S. greenhouse gas emissions is dead for the foreseeable future.
    • EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gases is under threat.
    • The nuclear mishap in Japan has made increased reliance on that carbon-free energy source less likely.
    • Faster economic growth will mean increased greenhouse gas emissions.

    These developments surely have reduced the likelihood that we will hold the eventual increase in global temperature increase to 2 degrees C. Even if by some near-miracle we do so, scientists tell us that the global warming which is bound to occur will have effects that can only be termed disastrous. These include:

    • The extinction of one-sixth or more of all the terrestrial species on earth.
    • Catastrophic impacts on marine species and habitats.
    • Major losses in food production.
    • Droughts that will cause horrendous wildfires and loss of human life.
    • Severe shortages of fresh water.
    • Calamities in poor nations due to sea-level rise and more intense hurricanes.

    It follows that it would be highly desirable to have the option of cooling the earth via geoengineering, and not just as a “last resort.” As Britain’s Royal Society recommended in 2009, we should move rapidly to establish a robust, well-funded, internationally coordinated program of geoengineering research, and to negotiate the global treaty that will be required for major geoengineering experiments and for possible use of geoengineering to cool the earth.

    Of course, it’s essential that we act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But with the fate of our planet at stake, surely we can walk and chew gum at the same time.

    The case for moving quickly to make geoengineering an available option is set forth on my website,

    Thomas B. Stoel, Jr.

    [JR: Nothing wrong with research, as long as it does not delude people into thinking that 1) we have any reason to believe there are actually any plausible, practical, and affordable geoengineering strategies that can avert the coming multiple catastrophes and 2) that the few (one or two, really), semi-plausible, semi-practical, and probably politically untenable geoengineering strategies are all but hopeless without aggressive mitigation. Oh and 3) that geoengineering can stop ocean acidification and the destruction of marine life.]

    Of course, the bigger problem is that the same driving forces behind your bullet points at the top render it exceedingly unlikely that the United States would launch even a modest geoengineering research effort. If your Congress is run by people who don’t actually believe humans are changing the climate, indeed don’t believe in science at all, people who oppose not merely mitigation and adaptation funding, but even R&D into mitigation (!) why would they support R&D into geoengineering.

    So job one is messaging on the very real dangers of unrestricted emissions of greenhouse gases.]

  2. DRT says:

    There’s a good interview here in the not-quite-the-main-stream-media:

    The sea level at North Carolina’s coast will probably rise one meter by the end of the century thanks to global warming. With about 2,000 square miles of the coast just a meter or less above sea level, state residents can expect radical changes. The Outer Banks could be cut to pieces, water might threaten thousands of homes and buildings and the coastal ecosystem would never be the same. Host Frank Stasio talks about global warming and its impact on the ocean and the coast of North Carolina with Rob Young, director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University; John Bruno, associate professor in the department of biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Naomi Oreskes, a professor of history and science studies at the University of California, San Diego, and author of “Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming” (Bloomsbury Press/2010).

  3. Chris (from Vancouver) says:

    I have some comments and questions:
    1) Last week I saw Michael Pollan author of The Omnivore’s Dilmemna and Food Matters. His food revolution is all about using the sun to grow our food rather than the current food industrial complex which requires vast amounts of oil to fertilize, cultivate and transport our food. (Return to the traditional manner of food production – this is a revolution?) I also watched on Thursday Dirt the Movie. Our fertile soil is disappearing quickly. At least 20% of greenhouse gases emitted is a result of our food production. 13 lbs equivalent of CO2 is released for every hamburger produced. Very little of the fertilizer is actually taken up by the plants, the rest runs off into the rivers and oceans to form vast dead zones. Nitrous oxide is produced in the ocean, another potent greenhouse gas. I would like to see some action taken here. Changes to the farm bill, changes to eating habits. But also I’d like to see some integration of action across different departments (food, transportation, environment, finance etc – I see this as one and the same, yet these are separate gov’t agencies)

    2) Will there be a time when we return to taking ships across an ocean instead of an airplane? How much CO2 is released per passenger per kilometer for a gasoline car, electric car, diesel train, electric train, bus, ocean liner, airplane?

    3) We are in another Canadian election. There are many who are predicting that this time Stephen Harper will get his majority. This pro tar sands developer and climate change denier will continue his assault on the environment. Last November the conservative majority lead Canadian Senate killed the climate bill that had passed in the lower House. If you know anything about Canadian politics you’ll realize that this is outrageous because the Canadian Senate is unelected; apppointed and stacked with Harper conservatives.

  4. DRT says:

    Here’s a good article from not-quite-the-main-stream-media.

    The sea level at North Carolina’s coast will probably rise one meter by the end of the century thanks to global warming. With about 2,000 square miles of the coast just a meter or less above sea level, state residents can expect radical changes. The Outer Banks could be cut to pieces, water might threaten thousands of homes and buildings and the coastal ecosystem would never be the same. Host Frank Stasio talks about global warming and its impact on the ocean and the coast of North Carolina with Rob Young, director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University; John Bruno, associate professor in the department of biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Naomi Oreskes, a professor of history and science studies at the University of California, San Diego, and author of “Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming” (Bloomsbury Press/2010).

  5. David Smith says:

    What is the gas volume equivolent of a ton of CO2 (as it occurs naturally in the atmosphere)?

  6. Joe Immen says:

    Have any Climate Hawks heard of Pecha-Kucha?

    It’s a Japanese phenomenon that has spread to many cities around the world, where hundreds of people turn out to hear a series of short, 6 minute presentations, by regular folk on any topic, comprised of 20 slides that change every 20 seconds.

    I think it could be an effective way to deliver short, punchy talks on Climate that reach a large, general audience.

  7. Snapple says:

    Maybe you will report on this weekend’s climate change conference at the Vatican. Famous climate scientists will be attending. I teach in a Catholic school and told the students that the research of one of the leaders of this conference, Academician V. Ramanathan, is in their Environmental Science text.

    The Pontifical Academy’s Working Group is having a workshop at the Casina Pio IV on April 2-4, 2011. The Prologue of the program, which was written by Pontifical Academician P.J. Crutzen, L. Bengtsson, and Pontifical Academician V. Ramanathan, states:

    Mountain glaciers in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and the largest of them all in the Himalayan-Tibetan region are retreating, some at alarming rates. The hypothesized causal factors include global warming, atmospheric brown clouds, land surface modification, recovery from the mini ice-age, and large scale drying of the air among other factors. Some glaciers are expected to disappear during this century and others are predicted to experience significant loss of spatial cover and mass. The downstream consequences include glacial lake outburst floods, disrupted availability of water for agriculture and human consumption, changes to mountain eco systems, increased frequency of forest fires, loss of habitat, and other potential catastrophes. A holistic study covering the physical science, social science, and the human dimension sides of the problem has not been attempted thus far. It is our hope that this first of its kind workshop organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences will lay the foundation for studying and monitoring this potential disaster that will impact the entire planet.

    The workshop will also explore avenues available for mitigating and adapting to this potential tragedy.

    P.J. Crutzen, L. Bengtsson and V. Ramanathan

  8. John McCormick says:

    Dae Smith

    From the International Carbon Bank and Exchange

    One ton = 1000kg
    One cubic meter = 1000liters
    One mole CO2 = 44.0g (CO2 = 12.0g + 32.0g = 44.0g)
    One ton contains 22730 moles of CO2 (1,000,000g / 44.0g/mole)
    One mole is 24.47L (Boyle’s law at 25°C and 1 atmosphere pressure)
    Volume of one ton CO2 = 22730moles × 24.47L/mole = 556200L = 556.2m³

    Think of 556.2 cubic meters/ton of CO2 when you are thinking of carbon capture and sequestration from a 1000 MW coal burning power plant.

    John McCormick

  9. John McCormick says:

    Tom Stoel……a long time advocate for the environment, so I respect your comment.

    However, you failed to mention how geo-engineering is an answer, any answer, to ocean acidification. It is not only about cooling the earth that we must devote research and resources.

    How about addressing increasing ocean acidification as the ultimate show stopper? Then, your comment will be comprehensive.

    John McCormick

  10. paulm says:

    Oh dear….$30 per ton === reduce emissions by 5% by 2020. Buckle your seat belts…

  11. Leif says:

    Thank you John @ 6. That 556.2m3 is about 1/2 the volume of my 1300 square foot home. In addition, one gallon of gas burned will produce ~ 20 pounds of CO2 or 100 gallons for a ton.

    Looks like we got our work cut out for us.

  12. paulm says:

    Just reading his book….”Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth.” Mark Hertsgaard.
    Highly recommended.

  13. Mark says:

    Joe, the “not delude into thinking that” in your comment under #1 is far away from some your points. I had to read it a couple times to get your meaning.

    Tom (#1), I’m opposed to geoengineering research instead of devoting those resources into talking about the existence of limits. Climate change is a symptom of unrestricted nonstop growth. Any solution to climate change that does not address our addiction to growth simply builds the house of cards higher, IMO.

  14. George Ennis says:

    I found it interesting to see how a majority of Republicans now believe that the climate disasters we are witnessing are evidence (drum roll please) not of Climate change but of “end of times”. What this essentially means is that this group is beyond reach now and probably for years if not decades to come in terms of any willingness to accept the science. Each piece of evidence would only strengthen their “faith”.

    The question is whether politically it is even possible to win elections with the remaining portion of the population?

  15. Leif says:

    Correction on #10. My house volume is ~1/2 of that 556 cubic meters. (Senior Moment.)

    On a side note $15- $50 dollars does not seem an outrageous price for disposal of that much CO2.

  16. paulm says:

    Time for a real cup of tea….

    The Real Story of the Original Tea Party – From an Eyewitness participant « Climate Denial Crock of.

  17. Colorado Bob says:

    One small bit of good news –
    Japan tsunami dog rescued after three weeks at sea

  18. TomG says:

    Majority of Republicans are now using the end of times excuse?
    Usually people put off doing something with the excuse that there’s always tomorrow…this time it’s because there is no tomorrow.
    I guess that doesn’t surprise me, but has anybody else besides myself noticed that there seems to be no end of “end of times” and tomorrow always shows up right on schedule?

  19. DaveE says:

    Credit where due:
    In Obama’s energy speech he says:
    “President Richard M.Nixon made a strong case for energy independence. So has every president since Nixon, but nothing has happened”

    In all fairness, Jimmy Carter made a strong start down the path of energy independence–only to have all his policies reversed by the following administration. In retrospect, I believe that Carter was a much more effective president than I believed at the time. We built a passive solar house in 1982–claiming the Solar Tax Credit just before it was eliminated the next year by the Reagan administration. Reagan also strong armed the Saudi Arabia into lowering oil prices to weaken the Soviet Union. The combination of the two policies was fatal to the nascent, but thriving, solar industry. A few year ago, we needed to replace a 4×8 piece of glass–we could no longer find low iron glass and had to settle for regular glass which transmits significantly less light–enough so that the difference is striking.

    As Joe Romm has said–the real problem is that the Republicans are dead set against making nay progress in this area.

  20. Cynthia Franklin says:

    Alarming news from my hometown of Bellingham in the beautiful Pacific Northwest:

    SSA Marine is partnering with Peabody Coal to build a terminal with the capacity for shipping 48 million tons of coal per year to Asia. Also, a rail system to accommodate 125-car coal trains, expanding to 150-car trains over time. As many as 12 additional mile and a half long trains filled with coal will be rumbling all the way from Monatana, through Seattle, up the Pacific coast right through our downtown each day!

    If it succeeds, SSA will have a port nearly twice the size of Westshore Terminals at Vancouver, B.C., currently the largest dry bulk facility on the West Coast of North and South America.

    It is now apparent that US corporations will stop at nothing to ship every bit of available US coal to China – which will pay top dollar, and which burns coal for electricity without the environmental standards we are trying to establish here. How is that going to impact climate change projections?

    48 million tons per year – just from this one proposed shipping terminal!! And, other large coal shipping terminals are on the books for the west coast.

    When I brought this up to a top aide of our Dem. WA State Senator, Maria Cantwell, she said, “The senator supports this. Our state desperately needs the jobs!!” Outrageous!!

    Our community is gearing up to stop this one. But, it will be a huge fight. Just wanted to let the rest of you know what is happening out here.

  21. Lou Grinzo says:

    Just finished watching a review copy of the documentary Climate Refugees.

    Excellent piece of work, which I’ll have much more to say about on my site shortly. Experts interviewed include Stephen Schneider, Lester Brown, Yvo de Boer, Achim Steiner, and many others.

    I’m stunned by how quickly we (meaning all of us, not just my fellow CPers) seem to be converging on the views that [1] it’s the food and the failed states, stupid, and [2] it’s a moral issue. Schneider was particularly forceful and moving in some of his quotes; it drives home yet again what a painful, costly loss his passing was.

    The filmmakers went out of their way to include quotes from Newt Gingrich, who sounded more than sane and apparently has an evil twin who gets much more media coverage of late, and some military experts. [Joe: No need to remind me how fruit loops Newt has become on CC; I almost stripped a mental gear watching the film.]

    Very highly recommended, but not something you should watch if you’re in an emotionally weak state. Parts of it were tough viewing, even by the usual standards of CC documentaries.

  22. Heraclitus says:

    I’ve asked this more than once before, but I’ve not seen an answer to it yet. Given that there is a significant possibility that we may be facing a partial collapse of our technologically dependent civilisation in the coming decades (and given the magnitiude of this outcome any possibility is significant)what happens to nuclear power stations if they are not maintained? Would they become a significant danger or could they be closed down to moulder away quietly to themselves causing at worst local problems? If we turn to nuclear are we bequeathing yet another burden on future generations who may already be stretched beyond breaking point?

  23. Chris Winter says:


    I think the only thing that would save us from seeing more plants in the state Fukushima Daiichi is in is the slow encroachment of climate change. Given that both the reactors (even when shut down) and any spent-fuel pools must be actively cooled for multiple years, there’s a significant chance that some won’t get the needed attention for long enough if civilization begins to break down.

    Of course, that assumes the same sorts of reactors and spent-fuel storage still extant at that decades-distant time. There’s a decent chance that all such reactors will have been decommissioned by then, and all spent fuel stored in dry casks.

    That’s probably not a very sensible answer. Maybe I should have quoted, “Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.”

  24. Chris Winter says:

    Blast. s/sensible/satisfactory

  25. lizardo says:

    What’s on my mind (at the moment? it’s been a busy day)… Just finished reading an article about Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina (and have saved a copy for later of an article about Jeffery Immelt, Obama’s adviser from GE) and my hair is standing on end. The Messina article pretty much omits any discussion of the total fail on a climate bill, yet totally explains it.

    We need a draft (somebody, Feingold?) movement.

    [JR: Sadly, accomplished would be to increase the chances that a climate zombie became President. It wouldn’t move Obama to the left, certainly not on this issue.]

  26. Robert In New Orleans says:

    I noticed some where that production of black painted automobiles may halt due to the shortage of a key component to the black color paint that is sourced from a Japanese supplier who’s factory was damaged by the earthquake.

    Maybe fewer black cars and trucks will reduce the rate of global warming?

    At what point in our warmer future will consumers stop buying dark painted (both exterior and interior colors) vehicles because they are simply too hot to live with during the summertime?

  27. paulm says:

    George does a good job of explaining his decision…
    One of the worlds leading environmental writers George Monbiot joins Lateline to discuss why the Fukushima disaster has convinced him to support nuclear power

  28. scas says:

    What’s on my mind…

    I keep recalling the presentation by Natalia Shakhova to the U.S. DOE in December 2010 stating that enough methane is coming from the Siberian Sea (3.5 GtC) to cause abrupt climate change.

    “Methane Release from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) and the Potential for Abrupt Climate Changes”

    And then the president of a geoengineering research firm saying it is enough to cause runaway climate change.

    I wonder how come no climate websites have commented on that?

  29. David B. Benson says:

    Cynthia Franklin @19 — Suggest teaming up with Micki Johnson via
    [although, of course, you may already know her.]

  30. Sou says:

    There is talk that Fukishima Daiichi will take decades to fix. What happens as the sea level rises over the coming century?

  31. Tony Broomfield says:

    I am curious to know how many people have seen the film “The age of stupid”
    Its a british film, and very good too but I am concerned that its not getting “Out There”
    And it deserves too.
    As a brit living in Holland it was almost impossible to access as it was screened at “Selected Cinemas”…none of which were anywhere near me.
    Is it known in the US?

  32. Please check out my song for the electric cars and solar panels:

    Hope you enjoy it,

    Jack Lucero Fleck

  33. Colorado Bob says:

    It was 92F at my location Saturday , breaking the old record of 90F set 8 years ago. Sunday we’ll go for 93F, also a new record.

    The data page is down till next week , but some of the records set the last few days will be eye popping :

    ” Springs residents got their first taste of summer on Saturday, when a record-high temperature of 80 degrees hit the city. The temperature broke a record of 73 degrees set in 2007 ”
    It is very warm south of the jet stream.

  34. Mickey says:

    In terms of the Canadian election, very little brought up on climate change although there was strong debate as to whether the Greens should be included in the leader’s debates or not. The TV Consortium decided to exclude them since they don’t have a seat in the House of Commons, but many argue they fact they got over a million votes last time around is enough for them to qualify. Also the leader Elizabeth May has been far less visible as she is just focusing on winning her riding which is an uphill battle. The one time it was brought up was ironically by the least environmentally friendly party on funding the development of Churchill Falls. Although I suspect this was more politics as the Conservatives want to win a majority and every seat they can pick up counts and after being shut out of Newfoundland & Labrador last election, they are hoping to regain seats there. They simply mentioned climate change as an issue since the Churchill Falls development is deeply unpopular in Quebec where it could cost them seats so they are hoping by mentioning this it will stem their losses in Quebec. Either way, if politicians have to bring up the issue of climate change to win votes it will ensure more action is taken while if those against taking action are not punished at the ballot box, don’t expect them to do anything.

    Colorado Bob – Could you send some of that warmth up north. Much of the country still have snow on the ground and although not unusual for early April, many of us are sick of winter and want spring and summer like conditions soon.

  35. John McCormick says:

    Joe, your response to Comment 27 says it all.

    I am constantly wrestling with my loyalty level for President Obama.

    Yes, he has taken on too many global and dangerous issues to be able to concentrate on any one to a successful conclusion.

    That said, we are left with an even greater threat in 2013. Its Obama or repeal and gutting of CAFE standards, clean air regs, Roe v Wade…..I leave it to you to fill in the rest.

    John McCormick

  36. Ed Hummel says:

    Tony Broomfield #33, I own a copy of the Age of Stupid and have shown it to various groups around my region of central Maine. Every showing has produced a very sober realization of what the possibilities for disaster are. I was very impressed with Pete Postlethwaite’s performance in this film and we should all mourn his passing at too young an age since he was a very passionate spokesman for doing something real to mitigate the problem of carbon emmissions and everything else we’re doing to mess up a civilization friendly climate. But even more powerfull were the non-actors in this brilliant film who helped explain by word and deed why we are in this mess and what we should be doing about it. But the one quote from Postlethwaite that remains stuck in my brain has to do with trying to explain why the human species might go down as the first one to bring about its own demise while knowing full well what it was doing. He speculated that perhaps at some deep, subconscious level we somehow knew that we might not be worth saving. Even though I don’t quite feel that we’re doing it knowingly, I do feel strongly that we are in fact a flawed species that is constantly fighting two extremes of behavior as philophers and mystics have been saying for centuries. Sadly, the destructive tendencies are now obviously winning out over the more sublime tendencies of our nature. There seems to be a critical mass of humanity that is letting the reptilian brain over-rule the cerebral cortex, and the result will be the destruction of us and quite a few other species in the process. Looking at the situation in a very broad context, we seem to be accomplishing in just a few hundred years (the mass extinction of a large percentage of extant species) what took other destructive species, such as cynanobacteria which poisoned the early Earth with oxygen, many millions of years to accomplish. But such is the power of “intelligence”.

  37. Leland Palmer says:

    Hi scas (Post #30)

    What was on my mind was thin tempered glass for solar mirrors. There is a German company that can produce optically homogeneous thin tempered glass at 1 mm thickness or less. They produce thin glass mirrors using 1.9 mm thin tempered glass.

    I was thinking that if some enterprising company were to take a 1 mm thin tempered glass mirror, and bond a 1 mm thin glass backing to it using PVB (polyvinyl butyrate) as is done with automobile tempered glass, it might make a very durable solar mirror, with the reflective silver and copper layers sandwiched in between glass layers, preventing corrosion and allowing the mirror to function even if broken. Corning also makes a very tough and thin glass, specially formulated to be extra tough, for LED laptop screens, and such, that they call Gorilla glass.

    Corning Gorilla Glass

    LiSEC Flexible Thin Tempered Glass Solar Mirror

    Using PVB as a tempered glass sandwich material is an old idea, and tempered glass and PVB auto glass is known to have survived decades of use, without much apparent damage or loss of transparency.

    After seeing your post, though, I have been thinking about methane. Damn, that is a scary presentation, linked to in your post. Two point five gigatons of methane per year?

    We’re cooked, I think.

    I was also thinking unhappily about the hydroxyl radical, which is responsible for degrading methane into CO2 in the atmosphere. Would it be possible for humans to intervene to keep the hydroxyl radical concentrations high? This may not be possible- the lifetime of a hydroxyl radical in the atmosphere is less than a second, since it is so reactive it reacts with other molecules almost as soon as it is formed.

    Could solar powered aircraft flying around in the stratosphere generate hydroxyl radical? It doesn’t seem very feasible.

    We’re so damned stupid! We’re destabilizing a system in balance, and what we’re breaking may be impossible to fix. And we’re betting the future of the human race and the only intelligent life we know exists in the universe on it.

  38. Adam R. says:

    Re. Obama: his disappointing performance to date notwithstanding, it is critical that he be re-elected in 2012. Any Republican alternative is too horrible to contemplate, not least because it might mean another Antonin Scalia or two on the U. S. Supreme Court. Send in your checks and put on the bumper stickers next year, Climate Hawks, this one is a must-win.

  39. John McCormick says:

    Adam R.

    What a sad commentary…we are all passengers on a ship of fools but, at least, we are still afloat and we’ll need Captain Queeg in 2013.

    John McCormick

  40. K. Nockels says:

    There is one thing we here know for sure will happen, “Global temps will continue to rise and the Climate will continue to change and in the near future CO2 emissions will continue to increase. Until these facts become hugh events so destructive that everyone becomes a Climate Change believer or End of Days believer we will not acomplish the change needed to even slow it down. TIME is the enemy now>>>> and the state of our political system does not bode well for future action. So WE all better get busy developing the local systems of supply for food and skills that will be needed. The whole thing will really be a learning on the fly kind of reality, most poeple I’m afraid will not coup well with it.

  41. dbmetzger says:

    new old news from the Gulf and the oil spill…
    Health Concerns Persist Over Gulf Oil Spill
    The 2010 BP oil spill is still affecting communities along the US Gulf coast. A recent survey in the state of Louisiana found a high number of people who say they are getting ill more often and that their sickness is consistent with chemical exposure.

  42. phil says:

    The barges may need to riskily traverse away from the immediate reactor site before unloading water. Would be akin to not stacking reactors beside eachother.
    If the maintenance pit crack is what it appears to be from the pics, a few inches below the pit top, a metal sleeve may provide an outside cover sufficient to allow diaper or other types of patches to heal/form. I envision an upside-down “letter u”, that resembles the cover of a dictionary, except rigid. It is to be slid over the side of the wall where the leak is. It could contain an interior space suitable for diaper polymers. Possibly the corners could be drilled right through, through both metal corners and the concrete wall, for inserting bolts (for load support). If the “wall sleeve” is a threat to the structural integrity of the wall, it could be reinforced against a nearby rigid object.
    If the primary problem is water draining into the pit from the soil/reactor-foundation (say the soil absorbs enough of the radiation that only the exposed water is a problem), exisiting two tries appear good but lack volume or suitable snagging geometry. Absorbants are shaped to maximize surface area, not aspect ratio (ie length to width). I’d guess rod-shaped particles or even rebar, could be jammed into the crack to provide a “permeable wall”, within a metre inside the crack surface. That way scarcer materials would have something to “latch on to”. Need more details for this.

  43. Heraclitus says:

    Chris #25, thanks for the response. From what you say it sounds like current reactors would be a significant burden on any low-tech society that might emerge from a climate-induced crisis, but are the next generation going to be more stable if left untended? Are they being designed for this eventuality? Yoda knows.

    God is … surfeit and hunger.

  44. Prokaryotes says:

    After decades of sputtering starts and stalled hopes, the electric vehicle is poised to enter the mainstream.
    Tesla Roadsters, Nissan Leafs and Chevy Volts are already on the market, and every major automaker has at least one electric model in the pipeline, giving consumers an array of choices in the coming years. The new wave of EVs just beginning to hit American highways is not the first — they were popular a century ago until cheaper, gasoline-powered cars gained dominance after World War I. But experts say the stars now appear to be aligned for an alternative to the internal combustion engine.
    “This time it feels real,” said Roland Hwang, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s transportation programs. “Automakers are serious. There’s oil price shocks. The long-term trends are very positive. There will be potholes in the road as this rolls out, but there aren’t any showstoppers.”
    Advocates argue that EVs are not simply another type of car but a game-changer for the country. They say that widespread adoption of electric vehicles will help cut the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming and enhance national security by reducing the country’s dependence on foreign oil.
    The transition to EVs won’t happen overnight, however. Current models have a limited range and are more expensive than most comparable gas-powered cars, making them unappealing to many drivers. But EV prices are expected to decline as
    high-volume production pushes manufacturing costs down. And Silicon Valley startups are racing to improve battery technology, which should allow the cars to go farther between charges. When that happens, manufacturers and enthusiasts hope electric cars will become a viable option for millions of Americans.
    Overcoming challenges
    Tech-savvy early adopters such as Felix Kramer and Rochelle Lefkowitz, of Redwood City, are already sold. The couple outfitted their Toyota Prius, which operates on electricity as well as gas, with a larger battery pack in 2006. In December, they bought one of the nation’s first Chevy Volts, which runs on electricity for about 40 miles before its gas engine kicks in. In January, they added an all-electric Nissan Leaf to their household fleet — making them the only family in the nation known to own three plug-in vehicles.
    “I drove the Volt to get a haircut the other day, and people on the road were waving at me and giving me the thumbs-up,” said Lefkowitz, who has grown used to strangers stopping her to talk about cars.
    For EVs to enter the mainstream, the auto industry has to reach beyond enthusiasts like Kramer and Lefkowitz and appeal to a mass audience. The potential market is huge: Last year, Americans bought 11.6 million new cars and light trucks, and some analysts project sales of 16.3 million in 2015. If EVs can capture even a modest slice of that market, experts say, they could reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.

  45. Prokaryotes says:

    Transocean hails ‘best year’ in safety, gives execs bonuses, despite Gulf spill

    The company that owns the now-infamous Deepwater Horizon, the oil rig that caused immeasurable damage to the Gulf, recently applauded itself for the “best year in safety performance in our Company’s history.” The company, Transocean Ltd., rewarded its executives millions in bonuses for the achievement, according to the annual report it released yesterday.

    Steven L. Newman, Transocean’s president and CEO, awarded himself $4.3 million in cash bonuses, stocks and options.

    Eleven people died as a direct result of the disaster in the Gulf, nine of them Transocean employees, according to Forbes.

    That’s what you get without regulation.

  46. Frank Zaski says:

    Someone needs to unite the political arms of all liberal groups. The April 4 events show some coordination, but still, a strong umbrella coordinating committee is needed. : WHY?

    A Princeton professor found senators (and probably representatives) don’t listen to individual voters. But, they will listen to groups (and probably bigger the better).

    However, there are far too many environmental and other liberal groups to have much impact with their splintered efforts, individual messages, multiple bureaucracies, competitiveness and many other inefficiency. Liberals need to take lessons from the secret handlers of the Tea Party, and previously the Evangelicals.

    The same people (including BIG Business and the Koch Brothers) who are trying to crush the unions are also trying to cut environmental programs and regulations, education, social security, Medicaid, Medicare, social justice, NPR, Planned Parenthood, and many other, usually liberal causes.

    We need to unit with labor and other oppressed groups to make a change. There is far more strength in unity.

  47. Tony Broomfield says:

    Well Said Ed Hummel
    I too have a copy of the film and have been showing it around with much the same results, and my personal reactions are just a cc of yours. No need to repeat here.

  48. I was surprised about our using a Ponzi scheme on our own children, but after some thought I saw that we are, indeed, living off the income of our children and grandchildren. We used to borrow $1 Trillion a year, now we borrow $1.5 Trillion a year.
    With Global Warming becoming more menacing from better studies, perhaps it will not be a Ponzi scheme, there may not be enough survivors to pay our expected $100 Trillion debt to China, et al.
    But few see things that way. Few can accept that we were buying $1 Billion, each day, more than we sold to foreign countries and, surprise! We now buy $1.5 Billion a day from overseas than we sell. Is that because US salaries are too high? No union official would ever admit to that truth, therefore how can they participate in the formulation of the best solution, if any? Can any solution be adopted without them?
    We simply ignore the fact that our salaries and economy are “Priced Out” of the world market.

  49. Ziyu says:

    How efficient (both energy and cost wise) would the following type of solar generator be?
    It is a cylindrical tube with the bottom 4/15 of it filled with a volatile fluid like carbon disulfide. Another 1/6 right above the fluid would be filled with air. Right above that is a weight that also takes up 1/6 of the tube. Above that is 4/15 of the volatile fluid and above that is 1/6 air. Mirrors would concentrate sunglight on the bottom part. Carbon disulfide boils at 46 degrees so it should expand fairly quickly, pushing up the weight. The air is to allow for compression so the weight doesn’t get stuck trying to compress liquid. The tube would get top heavy and rotate to the other side. The liquid, being more dense than the air, would sink to the bottom and the process would repeat. The top half would always be covered by a large semicircle that would keep it cool and allow the fluid to cool.

  50. Ziyu says:

    Whoops. The weight should be 2/15 of the tube not 1/6.

  51. The new Economic Advisor in the White House advocates “Incoming Tides lift all boats” which may imply a new tactic that “leaves no one behind” and starts by pushing up those at the bottom, like low Income Workers. In contrast with the “Trickle Down Economy” of the Reagan years and financed with 100s of Billions to the Bankers that nearly ruined the world economy. Evidently, stealing is a crime only if it is less than a Billion.
    Nobody admits that High Schools train ALL students to try to enter a college they cannot afford and ignore teaching any work skills. Yes, I know the obvious question is ignored: What were they thinking?
    Only the Low Income Worker using computer-controlled Assembly Lines, could restore long term growth by producing products in the USA that could be affordable to most Americans.
    This was demonstrated by America’s most advanced Hi-Tech corporation that build a $1 Billion factory in Vietnam, why? “Because salaries in India and China are high and increasing rapidly!” The USA was not even in the running!

  52. paulm says:

    We are in deep poo poo….
    For that, more than $1 billion is needed. The state allocates about $1.2 million a year for communities to plan and design sea wall repairs. State officials acknowledge the sum is woefully inadequate, but it is unlikely to increase, given the budget crisis.

  53. Jeandetaca says:

    What is in a CO2 ton? (Question by David Smith, answered by Mc Cormick and Leif). 550 m3, that is 10mX10mX5m high, the volume of an average house I think.
    For me, the more interesting question is What is in a Carbon kilo?
    1 litre of gazoline chimically contains 0,7 kilo of carbon, but you can add around 0,1 kg of carbon for delivering the gasoline since thewell to the gas station, and you have to add 0,2 kg of carbon for building and maintaining the car (or the plane, or the ship) burning the fossil fuel for our travel.
    1 carbon kilo is just the equivalent of using 1 litre of gasoline.
    this basic correspondance is key to effectively involve every citizen in the huge carbon reduction we need to perform.
    So let us forget the O2 mass, and like geologist let us count Carbon only for our ghg emissions (the problem is in the carbon accumulation in the atmosphere, not in the O2 depletion).
    This is not a secondary topic; I am sure it is very important for an effective communication and the business lobby uses the phony CO2 unit to muddle the water.
    Let us keep our eyes on the concrete fossil fuel and not on the invisible CO2.
    I also agree that Age of stupid is an important movie (I have still not be able to organise a screening here in Bordeaux), and that sea level rise is a powerfull threat to raise people incolvement into action against GW.

  54. Snapple says:

    Perhaps if addressing climate change were not constantly characterized as a “liberal” issue and coupled with the pro-choice issue (see the comment above) climate change activists would have more success convincing ordinary people that we need to change for moral reasons.

    I am not so liberal, but I accept climate change. It kind of discourages me when I see climate change lumped in with the abortion issue because climate change and protecting the unborn both seem to be related issues.

    Cuccinelli is trying to close abortion clinics by claiming that they are unsafe (for the woman), but if he valued human life he would not be persecuting climate scientists and undermining the science of climate change.

    Hypocritical politicians like Cuccinelli can see that ordinary people relate to the abortion issue because they can relate to the ethics of terminating a human life.

    Ordinary people can’t relate to the slow-motion
    Holocaust of climate change, but many liberals seem pretty dismissive of the unborn.

    When “liberals” think abortion is just fine, but they say they want to save the planet for future generations, it seems disingenuous to many people.

    Environmentalists seem hypocritical to ordinary people if they seem to care about animals and plants more than people. That is a perception you need to consider.

    Personally, I don’t think that abortion can be stopped by laws, and people want it to be legal. Saving the unborn takes education, personal responsibility, and good morals.

    Even Catholics get abortions. I once read that Jewish people don’t get abortions as often as other people. Perhaps they are more educated. Perhaps they are taught to be more responsible. Perhaps they value a every precious Jewish life.

    I don’t have a very good opinion of Planned Parenthood, based on a personal experience. Many years ago, I went there to get a quick pregancy test. They would not give me the test unless I agreed to “counseling.” This was really some pressure on me—asking me if I was really sure that I could manage another child, if I had enough money, etc. It was really none of their business. A doctor would never have undermined my confidence like that. If I had been a young, financially insecure single woman, the counseling might have swayed me. As it was, they only made me feel insecure and really angry with them.

    I thought the lady was really trying to exploit those feelings of doubt and uncertainty that all women have even when we have a planned pregnancy. I really did feel that they wanted me to have an abortion so they could make money. I didn’t think it was about “choice” at all. It was not about my plan to have a baby. She tried to undermine my confidence.

    Dr. Hansen wrote a book about the environment and related it to the future of his grandchildren. I can relate to that.

  55. phil says:

    If internal environment of Fukushima reactor sites aren’t managed by December, freezing water might further damage the plants. Right now an offshore wind is good. But for the winter it might be wise to plan blowing warmer wind on to the plant site during the coldest nights. Or enacted something like what grape farmers use to warm their crops during a frosty night.

  56. Chris Winter says:


    Related to the ever-growing problem of storing radioactive waste is this 2000 book by physicist Gregory Benford:

    The link is for the Table of Contents, which has the best description.

  57. Glenn Fieldman says:

    I would really like to know more about the potential of biochar to sequester carbon–not as a substitute for mitigation but as a supplement to it. Joe, perhaps your new energy expert could cover that?

    [JR: Yes!]