Archive for the ‘climate’ Category

Now We are Seven Billion! La, La, La

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Despite the evident threat to the well being of our descendants some idiots keep asserting that the “Population bomb theory is a myth“.

What complete nonsense! For one thing China’s “economic miracle” comes after 30 years of having a one child policy, for another, despite improvements in some areas we still can’t provide decent standards for a substantial fraction of the world’s population, and for a third, to maintain the standards of those who do now live in luxury is already having environmental consequences (eg ocean acidification and global warming) that appear to be beyond our control. It is thus grossly irresponsible to keep betting on future technology to provide an acceptable standard of living for a population that keeps growing faster than we can bribe it into satiated infertility. Shame on those who continue putting all of our children at risk!

Sustainable Energy Choices

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Barry Brooks at ‘BraveNewClimate’ has made a brave effort at summing up the need for nuclear power as part of the CO2-free mix in a brief video, but parts of it still felt to me like “industry propaganda” – to the extent that I might be a bit embarrassed if anyone seeing my earlier references to the BNC site should subsequently come across it.
My first concern is that very little argument is given to support the claim that non-nuclear options won’t suffice. No-one is likely to be convinced that just because Denmark has not yet displaced anything close to the major part of their coal use with wind that they may not eventually do so (though I suspect that in fact they won’t), and the use of that as an apparent argument will just make the case seem weak and forced. Another point that troubles me is at the conclusion where the video compares the golf ball sized lump of nuclear fuel that is capable of providing enough energy to meet the needs of a typical western human lifetime with the many tons of coal that it would “displace”. I suspect that this will seem obviously “unfair” even to those who cannot say why (The only comparison that really matters is with volume of ore rather than volume of fuel).

Of course is hard to tell the full story so briefly, but if it can’t be done well enough then it were better not done at all. The BNC site has a lot of credibility but the video actually undermines it so I actually hope  it doesn’t “go viral”.


Blog Action Day

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

This year’s Blog Action Day is devoted to the theme of Climate Change and an understanding of mathematics is certainly essential for anyone involved in making making decisions about how to respond to this issue (which in a democracy is presumably all of us).

The choice of Math and Climate as the theme of this year’s Math Awareness Month emphasized this connection, and Murray Bourne at squareCircleZ  today points to a number of articles in which he has used related topics as a source of examples for teaching mathematics.

A good source of background on the science of CO2 related climate change is this excellent history prepared by Spencer Weart at the American Institute of Physics, as is also the RealClimate site managed by a team of well-reputed climate scientists, and the question of how to compare the effectiveness of different policy choices is addressed in this on-line book by UK physicist David McKay (reviewed by theRegister).

The fact that no amount of restraint or conservation can counterbalance the harmful effects of increasing population is not often noted in the CO2 debate so I was a bit disappointed that Murray did not include his discussion of that topic in his list.

David MacKay: Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

In Sustainable Energy – without the hot air UK physicist David MacKay presents plausible back-of-the-envelope estimates of the scales of action needed under various strategies for reduction of global carbon fuel combustion. The numbers he uses are easily checked and his analysis can be re-run with revised parameters if needed. Only when a significant fraction of humanity is capable of actually doing both those things will we have any chance of making the right decisions.

Don’t Drink the Nuclear Kool-Aid | AlterNet

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Don’t Drink the Nuclear Kool-Aid | AlterNet

Typical knee-jerk anti-nuke article but comments actually worth reading

Dyson on Global Warming

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

The Question of Global Warming – The New York Review of Books

CO2 Reduction Scenarios (UK example)

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Heavyweight physics prof weighs into climate/energy scrap [printer-friendly] | The Register

AlterNet: Environment: Exposed: The Truth Behind Popular Carbon Offsetting Schemes

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

AlterNet: Environment: Exposed: The Truth Behind Popular Carbon Offsetting Schemes

Jim Motavalli at AlterNet on the Nuclear Option?

Monday, July 9th, 2007

AlterNet: Environment: Is Fear About Climate Change Causing a Nuclear Renaissance? provides a balanced review including summaries of a number of people’s positions but doesn’t really add any new information.

Climate change: A guide for the perplexed – earth – 16 May 2007 – New Scientist Environment

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Climate change: A guide for the perplexed – earth – 16 May 2007 – New Scientist Environment

Kudos to Fox News ?

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

Thanks to Theodore Labadie who posted the link on the ‘Transforming Langara’ listserv, but this is not surprising. The interview subject is promoting the purchase of “carbon offsets” and the opportunities for fraud in that are so magnificent that no self-respecting greedy mogul could possibly hold back for long.

AlterNet: EnviroHealth: Renewables Can Turn the Tide on Global Warming

Monday, February 12th, 2007

AlterNet: EnviroHealth: Renewables Can Turn the Tide on Global Warming

What Al Gore Hasn’t Told You . . .

Thursday, January 11th, 2007

What Al Gore Hasn’t Told You About Global Warming is a review on Alternet by David Morris of George Monbiot’s book ‘Heat’

Carbon Footprint

Sunday, December 24th, 2006

Carbon Footprint includes a “calculator” for estimating one’s personal contribution of CO2 to the atmosphere and suggests various ways of reducing or offsetting it. But the encouragement to “plant trees” (or pay for same) may be misguided, since it seems clear that it is the lifetime carbon sequestration that is being assigned for each tree so the instruction “plant 5 trees” means plant 5 trees every year AND make sure that they all grow to maturity and are never used for fuel.

RealClimate – Climate Science Blog

Sunday, December 24th, 2006

RealClimate is a blog about climate science maintained primarily by Gavin Schmidt. It appears to be a forum for active discussion of current issues with input from a wide cross section of those active in the field.

The Carbon Dioxide Greenhouse Effect

Sunday, December 24th, 2006

This is a balanced complete and well referenced account of the history of our understanding of CO2 in the atmosphere.