Discussion in 'The Octopus' Den' started by sorseress, Mar 5, 2006.
I just read this article and thought I should post the link. Depressing, very depressing.
I think you should, too :)
An additional little tidbit of gloom and doom.
LOL...although the article is rather bleak. ah well, what did we expect? Time to eat more veal! 'sides, the President has assured us that global warming is a myth.
Well, relax and remember that the earth will recover. Its history is dotted by global catastrophes..."snowball Earth," the Permian/Triassic mass extinction, K/T impact, Paleocene/Eocene thermal max... Given that recovery time is often measured in millions of years, life will continue even if we do our worst.
Now, given that, the reason many folks don't care is they just think we're talking about some kelp going extinct and not us!
Unrelated but you gotta love that "Ads by Google" bar at the top of each thread.
For this specific thread, i get ads for shark cartilage and shark liver oil
Nice... just plain nice...
The collection of the byproducts of shark fin soup is horrible!!!
Bleh! Shark liver is in my top ten most disgusting smells list!
I wonder of google could be convinced not to accept ads for snake-oil products that cause horrible environmental consequences?
edit: I gave "ad feedback" to google, and pointed out that these ads may violate the adwords policy against "miracle cures." I referred to this thread as an example of reactions we have to these ads, so if google folks are reading this, a summary of the issue can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shark_cartilage (and the related link about shark fin soup has more details about the absurdity of shark fishing practices for gourmet and alternative/quack medical claims)
I tend to not worry too much about things like this. Global climate change has been around for ages - and at the end of the day, its probably gonna happen/is happening and no-one's gonna stop it.
The thing is its a gradual process - if the sea leval rises - people will move.
It sucks about the more unstable weather though, lots of problems with that.
We have the luxury to be able to worry, because if I was in the amazon and chopping down trees to make a living, a small shift in global temperatures probably wouldnt make much of a deterrant.
So don't feel too depressed, if were all going to hell in a handbasket :
Terrible music, but on the money.
Actually, I don't worry too much about those of us in the industrialized world who are a/the major causative factor. I just feel guilty as (bleep) that our activities are wreaking such havoc on the rest of the earth... The extinction of species, and the eradication of groups of people who have at best been living on a subsistance level isn't something to be very proud of, and frankly, I get very, very angry!
Regarding shark cartilage, I always thought it was used for arthritis. I'm sure it is. I've even seen dog treats of shark cartilage for old dogs to ease arthritis pains. Unbelievable. I'm so glad that there is not scientific proof, because it is such a stupid practice. I'm all for alternative medicines, strong believer in them and regular user. I totally acknowledge that some don't work scientifically, but if it makes the person feel better just because they are taking it, is that such a bad thing? However, I draw the line when what you are taking is serious impacting the environment. Herbs are one thing but sharks and seahorses and an entirely different story.
On Global warming/climate change, it is true, it has happened before and will happen again. Conditions change, life adapts, that is the way of things. However, when we (humans) are the ones speeding the problem, then thats wrong. Sure, it might naturally be warming up right now, but what if it isn't? What if all that is happening is because of us? Are we just going to shrug it off until its too late? Beside, its not just like increasing temperature is the only thing to worry about in regards to emissions. TONS of other pollutants that may have nothing to due with global warming are released during combustion, or as a result of our combustion practices, that do a host of other bad things. Cutting emissions to prevent global warming is like a hook to get people to cut back on emissions for a host of other reasons as well. People are just to uncaring or stupid (or both) to listen to all the reasons to cut back. Just some of my thoughts.
Ironically, I see things from almost the reverse point of view-- labeling CO2 as "emissions" in the same category as, say, ozone, CO, and other smog components has always struck me as disingenuous... maybe because I've been in California most of my life, where these byproduct emissions have been causing unhealthy smog for years, so people are used to them being a serious issue. The difference, though, as I see it, is that smog emissions are mostly the results of things like incomplete combustion or bad fuel-air ratios in the engine (and sometimes impurities in the fuel), so it's possible to make clever engine control systems and require fuel additives and yearly "smog checks" to make sure that engines aren't out of adjustement. For CO2, on the other hand, it is the normal, expected, invevitable result of burning hydrocarbons. This was accepted as fine for a long time, because there's normally CO2 in the atmosphere, and all animals produce in from respiration, and plants need it for photosynthesis, and it's "OK" in some sense to dump a bunch of it into the air. Although a well-tuned engine burning pure fuel should produce almost no carbon monoxide, ozone, or hydrocarbon emissions, it is inherent in the idea of burning octane, ethanol, diesel, or biodiesel that the carbon in those fuels will be emitted as CO2 (and the hydrogen will become water vapor). Fundamentally, the problem is burning hydrocarbons in general, and CO2 emissions aren't some sort of "out of adjustment" thing you can optimize away. The only way around it is to not burn hydrocarbons, or to burn less of them. Unfortunately, although burning hydrogen produces no CO2, it has a lot of its own problems, primarily that it takes so much energy to make it that you pretty much need to burn hydrocarbons to make the hydrogen, so it's just moving the problem to another domain.
What I'm getting at is that CO2 emissions are directly tied to fuel efficiency, and pretending that they're in the same category as smog emissions leads people to think that if their catalytic converters and smog pumps are OK, it's not a problem that they're driving a hummer that gets 6 MPG or whatever.
Yes, carbon dioxide is a given. What I was hinting at with reducing emissions is switching off hydrocarbons altogether. Well, not all at once clearly, but we're clearly going to need to sooner or later. Having engines that completely combust their fuel is really important, but you're only choosing the lesser of two evils and that will eventually not be enough.
Too bad about the hydrogen engines, eh? Right now people who've got them think they're doing such a good job for the environment. Unfortunately, most hydrogen gas these days is produced by stripping the hydrogens atoms off hydrocarbons, producing....can anyone guess....carbon dioxide! I guess they are atleast doing a public service announcement letting people know about the technology's potential and future. Thats always a good thing.
Personally, I think we should all go the way of the Danish with wind, wind, and more wind power!! Unfortunately, there are some unbelievable rules in place to protect "union brothers" in the energy industry preventing citizens from becoming self-reliant. At least thats how it works in Canada. Stupid politicians.
Fate of the Ocean - sloppy research on Witty's part
I read the Julia Whitty article in Mother Jones ("The Fate of the Ocean," which I presume was the originally-intended subject of this thread). She's a decent writer but I found most of the info to be the same stuff we've been reading elsewhere for a few years. She's also sloppy:
In the passages in which she uses the usual similes (trawling=bulldozing, etc.) to describe how various fishing gears are destroying the oceans, she writes that there are "driftnets" set in the North Atlantic for shark and monkfish that are 150 miles long, and that these nets routinely get lost and continue to ghostfish for years. I checked the nature.com story which Witty used to gather these facts, and then the actual report that nature.com used as its primary source. Turns out the typical vessel has about 150 miles of gillnet deployed at any one time. That's the total length if one were to add up all its nets––not one single net that is 150 miles long. According to the DEEPNET report, the actual average length of a single string (a series of net panels tied together) is actually 10-15 miles.
Now, this certainly doesn't mean we needn't worry about lost gillnet panels and ghostfishing, but it would appear that Witty's 150-mile-long nets exist only in her essay and as a result of some sloppy reading.
It's also a bit hyperbolic to call these deepwater shark and monkfish gillnet gears "driftnets" that "sail and randomly ensnare life." The sinkline is leaded, meaning it's heavy enough to keep the gear fishing on the bottom. Moreover, according to the report, because the gears are set in deep water there's very little current to make these gears start sailing about.
Of course, we should all be worried about what many thousands of miles worth of gillnet gear may be doing to the deepwater ecology of the northeast Atlantic (which the report makes quite clear is a realistic estimate of this relatively unregulated fishery's sum of deployed gears), but it's too bad Witty and Mother Jones' fact-checkers got this wrong. Slopp sloppy sloppy.
Yeah, some combination of unions and politics killed off the solar panel initiative in California last year; it was pretty sad.
Even if you make the hydrogen with solar/wind/hydro or nuclear power and electrolysis, there are still serious unresolved safety issues... pressurized hydrogen tanks are prone to exploding, and hydrogen leaks very easily because it's such a small molecule, and if you have a pinprick leak in a pressurized hydrogen line and it gets ignited, it will burn at some very high temperature and become a little blowtorch with an invisible flame! There may be some solutions to this, like storing the hydrogen in some solid or liquid buffer where it can be released slowly through some process, but it's still not really ready for public consumption.
A lot of people seem to be unclear on the concept of energy generation versus energy storage-- hydrocarbon fuels happen to both be a reasonable way of safely transporting high chemical energy in a vehicle, and also be something you can pull out of the ground that already has a lot of chemical potential energy. Ethanol, for example, that you make from corn or something, is a similarly good way of transporting energy in liquid form, but the energy to make it has to come from the sunlight used to grow the corn, and the energy it took to convert the corn to ethanol, and such. Hydrogen is not as good a way to store the energy, except for the fact that burning it doesn't produce CO2, and you still have to put a bunch of energy into producing it... And if you're needing to use solar/wind/hydro/geothermal or nuclear to not burn hydrocarbons to get the energy in the first place, it's important to ask whether for your particular task, what the trade off is between using that to make some chemical fuel like ethanol or hydrogen, or just putting the electricity directly into a battery... Hybrid cars are great, but they should *all* be able to be plugged into electric car charging stations so that they can avoid using the chemical fuel when they can! If you hack your prius to plug into the wall at home, you can make short trips without needing to start the engine at all!
Several years ago I attended an alternative energy conference in Washington DC, and at that time there were several innovations in Solar in the works, some of which are now available. One of the things that was discussed was how much enegy could be generated if every rooftop was considered to be a potential solar site. Cities in much of the US. could generate a large percentage of their own energy needs. THere doesn't seem to be the political will in most of the country to take any steps in that direction. Arizona recently mandated a certain percentage (I don't remember how much) of all power in the state to come from alternative sources bya date maybe 15 or 20 years from now (don't remember that either ). Immediately there were lots of op-eds and columns nay saying the idea. Everyone seem to be thinking in terms of the vast arrays of solar panels out in the desert, but by utilizing rooftops in the cities and towns of the state a lot could be done. There are reverse meters, after all. In suburban communities across the country the new solar shingles could be used unless a home is in deep woods. If the country gets serious about it, and offers rebates for homeowners who will retrofit on existing homes, or include it in the planning of new homes we could make huge strides in the direction of energy independence.
Yeah, a good friend of mine has been working at a company that installs solar panels on private homes up in Marin County. He was really, really mad that the bill subsidising that in California (I think it was called "million solar roofs" or something, and even Governator Ahnold was backing it) got killed. It's still not clear what happened, but at first glance, it looks like a greedy electrical workers union forced an amendment that only some very restricted class of certified contractors would be allowed to do the installations, regardless of the fact that there are whole companies of better trained installers who don't have the certification, or that there wouldn't be enough certified people in the state to do the work, or that the certification doesn't actually include any training in solar panels anyway. However, it may have had little to do with the union's clout, and been more of a poison pill attached by Democrats so that Ahnold wouldn't get credit for doing an environmentally good thing that he could use to swing moderate Democrats to vote for his reelection. In either case, it's pretty darned stupid.
My friend has also said, though, that, at least as of last year, there was a major shortage of good solar panels; apparently, solar roofs are very popular in some European and Asian countries lately, so the panel manufacturing isn't keeping up with the demand... although I suspect that if the market expanded (say, if the bill mentioned above had passed) the manufacturing sector would eventually find a way to expand production. I really hope that mass production of good solar panels becomes much cheaper and higher yield sometime in the very near future, too.
As an aside do yall remember the dustup where the rich people living on (the name of the island escapes me it was the one from the show Wings) had a problem with a wind farm12 miles out to sea because it would mess up their view? we should build wind farms everywhere on the planet the winds make such feasible and build tide and solaras well. and what is keeping us from building a solar sat at L5? so it costs 100 billion the power is free and it will pay for itself in 20 or 30 years
Microwaving it back without baking an entire state is still an issue. I think L5 is a less than ideal place for a solar sat, geosysnchronous orbit would be better because it wouldn't have to be constantly tracking and switching receiving stations on the ground. Something that big in GSO would probably be an eyesore, but I could get used to it for clean power :)
Now that NASA is building a heavy-lifter again, something like this is back on the table, but serious talk is probably another 50 years distant. Even today it would probably cost a lot more than 100 billion. Maybe between 1 and 10 trillion?
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