andygates: (Default)
There's a proof-of-concept test being started in which a big balloon will be used to tether the high end of a hosepipe, and water will be pumped up to be dispersed in a spray. It's a fair old engineering challenge, and the water is just a placeholder for speculative future compounds to cool the atmosphere.  I have a problem with the whole notion of geoengineering: we're already doing it.  We're very successfully engineering the atmosphere to be hotter and wetter, right now. 

There's an analogy with driving towards a precipice: our carbon emmissions are the accelerator; the cliff is, say, 4 degrees of warming (=catastrophe).  What do you do when you are driving towards a bad thing?  You let go the accelerator.  You do not really apply the brake as well... and you sure as hell don't apply a pedal labeled "probably a brake: untested".  There's a reason that the brake and accelerator are worked with the same foot.

I have yet to be swayed by geoengineering.  It strikes me that adding more inputs to a chaotic system in a transitional state is just asking for trouble.  I worry that the gee-whizz relief of being able to "do something" will make it attractive to the people who make such decisions.
andygates: (Default)
Against the backdrop of another top-five-ish* hottest year ever, with a heaving Atlantic hurricane season (intense and also weird), polar ice continuing on its death spiral and everything going exactly to hell just as the boffins (not the cranks) predict -- I'm being gnawed by good solid green guilt over driving up to Scotland.

Not the trip**, just the mode.  It would have been greener and cheaper and less hard work to do it any other way than driving up solo. Lots of fuel.  Lots of CO2.  Lots of pterodactyls fermented down to slurry and simmered for a gajillion years for my pleasure.  Lesson learned, and unless necessity tips my hand (in its many guises, mostly the "sudden dash" and "shed full of gear" variety), I'll stick to the train for the long haul from now on. 

Next time I head up there, it could be en route to John O'Groats, after all.  That one will be on a bike.



* It's not quite done yet and different groups have different methods of calculating it.  If you had a cold summer, remember that Russia didn't. If you think this current snow disproves global warming, roll your copy of the Express up tightly and jam it up your arse, you cretin. Words are wasted on you.

** Whee! Vibram footprints in the snow! And beer and jelly and rabbids and oh yeah, good peeps.  :)
andygates: (badger)
The DEFRA bovine-TB-and-badgers consultation is online.  Responses are invited.

Grink, no ranting. )

I believe that unacceptable (ie, healthy) carcasses will be disposed of quietly, passed-off as roadkill and so on, so the monitoring is likely to be ineffective.

I strongly urge the Department to reconsider the cull.

Badgering

Nov. 16th, 2010 08:18 pm
andygates: (badger)
So, the Tories are in power and their special friends in the NFU are after some sweet sweet blood, or so it seems.  There's only one bit of large-scale science done on badger culls here -- and it says, unequivocally, that it'll suck: it won't be effective in stopping TB, it won't be cost-effective, it'll mess with an apex predator and that's never straightforward, it's basically dumb knee-jerk thinking.

So, of course, the government will do what it always does with science it doesn't like, and ignore it utterly.  The author's even turning up to campaign meetings now.  The RSPCA are doing the big sane campaign thing here (sign up! write in!); there will doubtless be less calm campaigns from the usual suspects as the whole thing gets momentum. 

Instead of vaccination and movement restrictions (the NFU wanted those lifted, talk about petards), it'll be a spasm of head-taking, cull sabbers getting in fights, and no reduction in bloody TB in cattle or sodding badgers.  Pathetic.  
andygates: (Default)
So, the Plans are Afoot to build a new reactor at Hinkley Point.  Reactor C would be an EPR, a new design which is, apparently, "an evolution of the PWR" and there's tons of bumf at the wiki.  The Finnish and French early adopters are having problems: some of these are to do with safety-control systems (which I'd say are non-negotiable!) and some to do with workmanship (is this a "big project tendering for the lowest bidder" problem, because it seems common?).  Would a Westinghouse AP-1000 be any better? 

I'm of the reluctant opinion that nuclear power is a necessary stopgap in our decarbonisation of energy; it's just a scale thing, really, and very much a lesser evil: I want to see the inherently-safe Generation IV designs in play until the Energy Revolution is completed (and we all have fleets of replicating windmills and space solar and fusion anna Gwendoline), and then mothballed with a "thank feck that's over," like some sort of horrid mecha we no longer need (too much Evangelion before bed) but the evolution of this kit isn't like versions of mobile phone OS.  It takes time, and a gigawatt or two of nuke power is a gigawatt or two that can be not-coal power.  Fundamentally I want to see the death of Drax and something clean to feed these leccy cars.  Scale, see.

Given that opinion, what do the great and good think?  Is Hinkley C a smart step -- safer cleaner and all that -- or just another dangerous boondoggle in a chain of boondoggles?  Would a Westinghouse AP-1000 be any better? 

Do I need to get a badger suit?  ;)

(posts about technical sciencey stuff are fly-paper for the Dunning-Kruger effect: citations always needed)
andygates: (polarbear)
David Barber, Manitoba Uni's big frosty boffin, went out looking for multiyear ice, and instead just found rotten, half-metre thick one-year stuff that an ice-capable ship can apparently crank through at thirteen knots.  This is navigable.  Forget the Northwest Passage, just ice-belt your boat and go for it, chew out a frasilicious sea-lane and make your millions.

1: Investment niche!  It's the coming growth area for shipping.  It'll take a while for ice-happy oil rigs to get ROI but shipping's faster. Go go gadget exploitation machine.  Ah well, it'll be good for Iceland.

2: This is another pile of scary to add to the pile of scary.  The exact pattern of melt each year is determined by weather - wind, for example, can pile ice up against land (slowing melt) or push it through straits into the open ocean (accelerating it).  In a melty year, though, the single-year ice goes away almost entirely.  In a non-warming Arctic some single-year ice persists and is built up; in the warming Arctic (3x global average, as both observed and modeled) it seems to have reached a critical tipping point.  This observation correlates well with Pen Haddow's hike'o'hell.  Massive Arctic summer melt now looks a lot like a dice-roll for weather each summer.

3: That single-year stuff is crap for polar bears.  I has a sad.

I wonder what Northern Hemisphere weather is going to do with all that extra dark absorbing surface and all that extra humidity?  Place bets now!
andygates: (Default)
Politics and religion start from a priori assumptions and go from there to their conclusions, methods and so on.  Science starts with observations; this, I think, is why political and religious types often fail to grok science: they're starting on arbitrary foundations and they know that it's really all opinion.  Thus, when they hit a scientific consensus that is unpalatable - such as climate change and the responsibilities and requirements that come from it - they have great difficulty in parsing what to do.  An ecclesiastical-religion viewpoint would find accommodation; a political one would just shout it down or use rhetoric to get around it.  It's only the fundamental, dogmatic, wild-eyes-and-beard religions that are as implacable.

And thus, this accusation of "global warming religion" -- it's nothing of the sort, but the accuser can't think of anything in their plastic worldview that's as immobile.  They've likely never come across something as immovable that is also unpalatable (gravity, after all, never offended anyone).  The only mental model that's available is religion. 

Science always wins, because science is based on facts.  No amount of wishful thinking would make Lysenko's comradely wheat grow.  No amount of snark will stop CO2 absorbing heat.

it makes me wonder if the cognitive dissonance and plain dumb fury that the denialsphere are feeling is similar to what geocentrists felt when Copernicus presented, and Kepler and Galileo later confirmed, that the Earth goes around the Sun.
andygates: (polarbear)
Good news: (because Sad Polar Bear Is Sad is getting stale even if it is always true): The EPA have changed stance on greenhouse gases, saying that they are a health risk.  They were basically prevented from doing this under the Bush administration by political pressure, so this is exactly the bounce back to reality from dogma that the scientific community has been hoping for.  By classing CO2 and its buddies thus, the EPA has powers over it.  Currently, they're holding fire while Obama pulls national-scale levers, but it's another step in the right direction.

Bad news: The current la Niña has ended and March 2009 ends up as the tenth warmest on record.  NCDC have the tale of the tape and it's the same sorry one we've been expecting: warming continues to fit the models, Arctic ice is still doomed.  Sad Polar Bear Is Still Sad.
andygates: (Default)
Are there any climate models that show no climate chance with increased CO2?  Only I'm tired of playing whac-a-mole with deniers, and before I say "there are no models that show it because it is in defiance of bloody physics!" I need to be sure of it.
andygates: (polarbear)
This is the response to a recent survey, the question being, 'do you agree with the statement, "human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures"?'  ("pubishers" = publishing scientists)

See that big spike in "no"? 

That's the uneducated masses voting with their guts.

That's why democracy isn't enough to save the day.  Nearly half of these respondents are as dumb as rocks.  And they vote.

(source)

andygates: (polarbear)
Here's a bit more flesh on the bones of this summer's "methane bubbling up in the Laptev Sea" stories from Grist.  Semiletov, the boffin whose annual expedition spotted wide-scale bubbling this year that wasn't previously there, said, "I think we have to tell people that something is happening now with the subsea permafrost." 

Runaway methane emission from under the permafrost could trigger runaway warming, which is a whole bundle of glee. 
andygates: (Default)
Is power-station saboteuring the new black? 

If the government aren't willing or able to cut emissions, people who see sites like Kingsnorth and Drax as great evils will take matters into their own hands.  The protest argument has been won, but the powers that be look to be speaking with forked agenda: plenty of declared commitment but the praxis seems to be lagging dangerously far behind.  Hardly surprising then that the next thing to be done is direct shutdown action.  Prediction: There will be more of this. 

Mostly, though, this sab is a warning shot.  What this says, very clearly, is that any construction of the new coal plant at Kingsnorth will not go unopposed. 
andygates: (Default)
Morrison's have started selling B30 biodiesel on most of their forecourts.  That's 30% biodiesel, 70% dinodiesel, with the bio part being made from recycled veg oil and from UK-sourced rapeseed oil.  No palm oil drama, and at that low blend, pretty easy to adopt (your first tank may feel rough: stick it out for two, because the first tank of bio flushes some crap from your tank and that needs to work through).
andygates: (Default)
Recorded while preparing for debates: 'Well, the truth is, we can't solve global warming because I f---ing changed light bulbs in my house. It's because of something collective'.

I almost dare to think that he gets it.
andygates: (polarbear)
You know that theory about how methane's trapped under permafrost and it could be a Bad Thing if it was to be released?  Well, it looks like it's happening.

Orjan Gustafsson of Stockholm University, in an Independent article:  "An extensive area of intense methane release was found [in the Laptev Sea, North of Siberia]. At earlier sites we had found elevated levels of dissolved methane. Yesterday, for the first time, we documented a field where the release was so intense that the methane did not have time to dissolve into the seawater but was rising as methane bubbles to the sea surface. These 'methane chimneys' were documented on echo sounder and with seismic [instruments]."

"The conventional thought has been that the permafrost 'lid' on the sub-sea sediments on the Siberian shelf should cap and hold the massive reservoirs of shallow methane deposits in place. The growing evidence for release of methane in this inaccessible region may suggest that the permafrost lid is starting to get perforated and thus leak methane... The permafrost now has small holes. We have found elevated levels of methane above the water surface and even more in the water just below. It is obvious that the source is the seabed."

Oh, crap.

andygates: (polarbear)
Well def Jeff (Masters, that is) has a really good summary on his current Weather Underground blog, so rather than just repeating it here, follow the shiny link.  Summary: It wasn't worse than the worst thing evar.  It was second-worst.  W00t. 

Ike wrapup

Sep. 14th, 2008 06:28 pm
andygates: (Default)
Yay, not many people died.  The partygoers on the Poop Deck scurried home while the waves destroyed nearby bars.  Lots of power is out - can someone tell me why the US has so much power infrastructure aboveground?  And the story of the storm probably has to be the freighter Antalina, which was definitely in peril on the sea: she lost power and the crew just had to ride it out and hope real hard.  That's not a place I'd want to be.  The pic after the cut is a synthetic aperture radar shot showing Antalina in the eye - she's the white dot.  "Ball-shrinking dread" is about the right description for the situation they were in.

Big pic... )
In unrelated disaster-relief news, did anyone else see Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson piloting a charter jet to rescue XL holidaymakers from their company's collapse?  "I'm here for the catering, I brought along a few bags of croissants."   Truly surreal.

Huff, Puff!

Sep. 6th, 2008 08:20 pm
andygates: (Default)
The Atlantic is having a larf.  Tropical Storm Hanna is about to lash New Jersey, before curling up the rest of the US Eastern coast, joining up with the raggedy remnants of Gustav, and re-empowering as an extra-tropical windstorm to menace Britain, Ireland and Northern Europe in general in about a week -- and us with this sodden ground, that's a recipe for a remake of the Great Storm of '87 that had a lot of trees down or the Burns' Day storm that, as I recall, led to much tree-dodging hilarity for Bristol students who had to cross the Downs on foot that night...

Meanwhile Hurricane Ike is skirting Haiti and the models show it blowing between Cuba and Florida, into the Gulf of Mexico where, you guessed it, it'll intensify in the warm water and curve North into the central Gulf Coast, with about half the models suggesting that really, New Orleans is getting to be a dumber place to live than Etna or Hackney.

Ike tracks behind the cut )
andygates: (polarbear)
Six Greenpeace protesters are on trial this week. They're taking a ballsy defence: that damaging Kingsnorth (a coal-fired power station and proposed site of a new coal power station soon) is not an offence because they have a lawful excuse.

"Lawful excuse includes preventing damage to other property; an example, said the prosecution, would be breaking "a window to pull a trapped child from a burning car".

The defendants will claim, he said, that it was "lawful for them to damage the chimney in order to protect other property - other property, you'll hear, in Kent and all around the world, other property said to be at the risk of much more serious damage: threatened by the consequences of climate change which is caused by the substantial increase in what are generally termed as greenhouse gases, to which it is said coal fired power stations make a very large contribution."

Also interesting, the prosecution isn't seeking to dispute the reality of climate change or its impacts:" [greenpeace.org.uk]

It could set an interesting precedent.  You can follow trial updates on the Greenpeace blog.
andygates: (polarbear)
So say the BBC - "open to ordinary shipping".  That's only twice in recorded history, 2007 and 2008 (Scientific American).  Time for the next stage in that particular dance: Canada has a moneyspinner if it can convince the world that the Passage is theirs; generally it's considered international waters but Canada's PM is having a go at establishing control over vessels.  This is just the beginning of the politics of the ice-free North: just wait until they launch the first oil rig.

The Passage has been navigated before, by a variety of vessels - notably the icebreaker supertanker Manhattan and shallow-draught boats.  When Amundsen did it, it was in a shallow-draft, ice-armoured motor sloop (Gjøa) and he was a Nordic ninja.  None of these are "ordinary shipping".  This is new.

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