Posts Tagged global warming

Nice weather for dying of thirst

Posted by on Saturday, 25 April, 2015
Climate: Not All Bad



Scientists in Zurich and in California and in North Carolina have been working to understand what the future holds for us. You’ll be glad to hear it isn’t all bad.

That business about storms getting worse and worse?

It seems  to be wrong. Scientists at ETH Zurich and the California Institute of Technology say their work shows the opposite. As things get hotter, they get more boring and less extreme. The future should have less in the way of  crazy weather variations.

That’s good right?

But Dr.  Anthony Parolari (Duke University) says sales of dehydrated water will be going up out west.

(That’s me, being witty. Don’t go looking for dehydrated water on Amazon. This is just my way of saying that water could get scarce in the western part of the US.)

Parolari says that he and his colleagues have re-run some of their models and have drilled down through some theoretical work and found a surprise. Rather than expecting things to get more and more extreme, they now expect the opposite. Things in the mid latitudes should be less variable and we don’t have to worry about so many fierce cold snaps.

They will come less often, not more often.

No one’s saying things won’t get hot. The warming trend is well established. But the expectation of increasing variation seems – for now, at least – to be off the table.

Here’s the thing. Predicting is part of how science works. If the predictions of a scientist turn out right, this supports the idea that he’s/she’s onto something; it is considered a form (more or less) of evidence. But these are just computer models. They’re only right if the assumptions that went into them are right and the model itself isn’t flawed. We don’t know that.

I wouldn’t move or stay based on a computer model.

Would it hurt to stock up on dehydrated water?

Why not?

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The drawing? That’s mine.

New light bulbs – climate savers?

Posted by on Sunday, 30 November, 2014
The light bulb that will save us

The light bulb that will save us


Lights use up about a quarter of our electricity; they emit about 10% of all greenhouse gases. Newer LED bulbs, which are gradually replacing incandescents. use way less energy –  about 90% less.

If we replace everything with LEDs, we reduce greenhouse gasses significantly.

President Obama reached a deal with China that’s supposed to start lowering the actual level of greenhouse gases by 2030. New kinds of light bulbs are one way to get those levels down.

Are LED bulbs the best we can do?

You’re not going to believe this but Norihiro Shimoi. from Tohoku, University, has been showing around a new kind of light bulb that makes LED bulbs look like energy pigs. He and his team have a light that’s made from flat nanotube panels. It uses about a tenth the amount of energy as LEDs.

That’s right. a tenth of the energy of LED lights. A hundredth as much as incandescent lights.

The Shimoi light consists of ultra miniaturized nanotube diodes with phosphor screens. Not only are they ridiculously efficient, they can be made with a very low defect rate so they might turn out to be practical to manufacture. Mister ScienceAintSoBad doesn’t know how soon these things can show up on the shelves at competitive prices. For now, it’s all science, no impact.

I’ll keep one eye on these for me and the other for you.

ScienceAintSoBad Rating = FT for Fascinating and Too early to say.

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The drawing is mine.

Adjusting Climate Change Away

Posted by on Thursday, 26 December, 2013
Cute Cartoon About Climate Change

Turn Off Climate Change



The planet you were born on is in trouble. When we take its temperature, we walk away shaking our heads.  The patient is burning up with a fever.

No matter who’s at fault (some say it’s not us humans), the seas keep rising and the storms keep getting nastier.

What to do?

Getting emissions cut back to neutral is a pipe dream.

And pointing fingers is a waste of time. It’s too late anyway.  The horse is out.

So some are asking if we can’t take a few risks.  What about all that scientific know-how we supposedly have? Could we engineer our way out of this mess? Maybe do something to the oceans so that more carbon gets captured by plankton? Change the clouds so that more sunlight gets reflected? Would  it be ethical to do stuff like that? Could we get all the countries in this huge world to go along with it?

Most of all, would such crazy and unprecedented projects work or would they blow up in our faces?

The Journal Of Climate Change thought this would be the right time to figure it out. Its December issue is a “special”. Twelve papers on the subject of geoengineering.

Maybe getting so many ideas under one cover and so many authors in one room (for a separate conference) could start the process of thrashing out some of the differences. At least, that’s the hope.  Ethicists and political scientists are in the mix. They’re supposed to help the techies to see the bigger picture. These aren’t, after all, exactly backyard experiments. If one or more of them actually gets the go ahead, it would be the first time anyone had the goobers to deliberately tamper with the planet in that way.

If it makes you feel better, a set of guiding principles (the Oxford Principles) has already been worked out to, maybe, guide the hand of future world wide climate experiments.

Just in case.

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The drawing is my own.

To leave a comment, click “comments” which can be found at the top right of each article just beneath the headline.


Posted by on Sunday, 26 December, 2010

THAT DARN URANIUM! (Antinuclear Protest, Paris)

Thorium fueled nuclear power plants may the answer (part of it, anyway) to our energy needs.


The thing about nuclear power? It is fueled by uranium. Which is considered kinda dangerous. And, because it’s rare, uranium is expensive and supplies are finite. We’re already running low.

I can’t say that the radioactive waste from nuclear plants is that DESIRABLE either. The only state that actually wants to store it is Itchybottom. Which, come to think of it, isn’t, officially, a state.

By far, the worst byproduct of nuclear energy is plutonium which remains highly radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years.

That’s what I said. Hundreds of thousands.


If you’re a terrorist who loves God, but not God’s children, you do like plutonium. Although making a“true” nuclear weapon’s probably not practical for terrorists, believe me,  the toxicity and radioactivity of plutonium’s plenty bad, all by itself. Our current nuke power stations make plutonium like chickens make eggs. If the stuff got into the wrong hands, the yoke could be on us.  This scares a LOT of people over at “Homeland”.


That’s the crazy thing. There is.

It’s called thorium. Thorium’s an element  (its symbol is Th). It’s named after Thor. And Thor is a God.

That should tell you something.

In an article for CNBC, Trevor Curwin of beausejourgroup describes how thorium could REALLY change the way we think about energy by replacing the uranium in our nuclear power stations with thorium.

Thorium is radioactive. Only a little though. Easy to shield against.

Although thorium isn’t common, there’s lots more thorium than there is uranium; you can MAKE uranium from thorium. Not only is thorium more common than uranium but a little thorium goes a long way. You get 200 units of uranium from 1 unit of thorium.

The US has 16% of the world supply of thorium, by the way.

As far as safety is concerned, that’s a point in its favor too.  The molten salts of thorium can’t sustain a chain reaction.  You can’t GET a thorium reactor to melt down.

Even with an appointment in advance.

That’s good,right?

But that’s the least of it. Get this! You can feed the radioactive waste you had been planning to store for 100,000 years into it and the thorium cycle will consume the waste and make it nice.

Nicer, anyway.

After a “mere” 300 years of storage, no byproduct of a thorium reactor is more dangerous than a lump of coal.

Okay. That IS a long time. But 300 years is short compared to hundreds of thousands. You’ll give me that.


Why thorium? Well, aside from “why not?” there are several good reasons.

1. It’s much safer than uranium and neatly solves the problem of nuclear waste as well as potential terrorism.

2. It’s much more abundant.

3. It’s cheaper.

4. It doesn’t require “refining” with centrifuges. Which makes thing much simpler and easier.

5. Like uranium based nuclear power, it doesn’t contribute to global warming.

6. Unlike solar, wind, hydro, and tidal, it doesn’t require very special conditions (like high winds or tides) to work.  So it can be located in a lot more places.

7. It can operate round the clock so storage of energy, which is a big problem for wind and solar, isn’t required.

8. It’s named after a god.


How long would it take to develop a thorium power station? It’s already been done in a couple of test reactors (since abandoned). And India and the Czech Republic are actively pursuing thorium .  If we get serious, we could probably build a modern thorium power plant in five to ten years.

The LAST thing MISTERScienceAintSoBad wants to do is make you feel all competitive. But DO you want India or (maybe) Iran to beat us to this very neat technology?

Do you?

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