Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

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The reason some popular posts are tagged ‘no title’ is not because they have no title—they all do—but because the old Blogger embedded the title at the top of text, and the new software does not see that. You can see the titles in capitals at the start of each snippet. (It would be nice if Blogger introduced an upgrade program that could fix this little problem.)

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Saturday, 31 December 2005

BUSINESS PLAN OR PLANET PLAN?

Traditional thinkers, the pointy-headed, the bean-counters, the short-term quarterly-results 'thinkers' insist on what they call a business plan before they will move even the tiniest investment muscle. No one should mock planning, for as King Solomon rightly said, 'Victory is the result of long planning.' But there is planning and planning. The traditional business plans, with their optimistic statements or outright lies, their futile attempts to forecast an uncertain future, their notion that everything will be AOK if it has all been set down in black and white in approved textbook style fit to be perused by approved textbook bankers, venture-capitalists or vulture-capitalists, is a notion way out of kilter with reality. Even the textbook method admits that the 'business plan' has to be continually updated. If that is so, why spend six months translating your common-sense, doable, detailed plan of action into Bean-Counter-speak? Only to have to redo it every five minutes?

It is that kind of thinking, that emphasis on BC-speak to the exclusion of all else, which has got us into this global mess. What we need now, first and foremost--what we have always needed--is a planet plan. Is the proposed business good for the planet, and how do you intend making it a better place? The rest is just getting the message out to the people and simple arithmetic. Making a big mystery out of it, and insisting on a certain style of presentation, is nothing but a pathetic substitute for thinking, analysis and the ability to judge ideas and people on their merits.

The Romans had a wise saying about people: 'Two men may do the same thing and it is not the same thing.' So look first at the idea. Is it good? No? Stop there. Yes? Good, now look at the person. Is he the right stuff for the idea? Yes? Go with him.

Most of the world will have heard of Peter Jackson, the New Zealand film-maker whose latest creation, the remake of King Kong, is now roaring across the world. The CGI (computer-generated graphics) for his films were done by a New Zealand company called Weta (named after a native New Zealand insect of largish and fearsome aspect).

Back in the early days the founder of Weta needed $5 million to make his dream a reality. He went to the bank. The bank manager wanted a business plan. The Weta man, who as it happened had gone to school with him, said 'You know I hate business plans.' So the bank manager, instead of flinging him out the door on his non-business-plan head, said, 'OK, let's go for a walk.' As they walked and talked he saw that the Weta man knew what he wanted and how to get there. He had the brain, the skill, the passion, the drive. So the wise young banker said, 'You have your $5 million.' The superlative results you can now see on screens all over the world.

No 'business plan.' But he knew what to do. Too many business plans disguise a lack of ability, imagination, drive, passion, enthusiasm, skill. His real plan was where it counted: in his head and his heart. What was on paper would not have meant anything to a bean-counter. Please, please, look to the man, not the paper.

And look, in particular, at how the man looks at the planet you live on. If you are wise, you will not hand a cent to someone whose enterprise will wreck the ground under your feet or foul the air you have to breathe seventeen times a minute.

Thursday, 29 December 2005

PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE IS HISTORY

And therefore, to quote Henry Ford (sort of), it is also bunk. There are 775 million FFVs (fossil-fuel vehicles) on the planet, aka SMCVs (serial Molotov-cocktail vehicles). We need to replace the whole lot if we are to make a dent in global-overheating and avert the worst of the looming climatic catastrophe. That will take a while. So there is no need for carmakers to carry on another minute with their dishonest practices of making cars out of steel that rusts into dust-piles and deliberately changing design-fashions so that people will want to rush out and buy a new model every year or two.

They can make good, honest products. Cars that last for years and years and years.

Like EStarFuture's EStarCar, which is designed, and will be built, to last. If people really cannot live without a new shape every so often, they can get the old body recycled and a new one fitted to the same chassis; or retire the old one to secondary uses, or sell it on eBay, or put it aside to appreciate in value as a vintage for their grandchildren, or turn it into a hi-tech pad for all the little guys from Alpha Centauri that drop in from time to time.

Tuesday, 27 December 2005

IBM, SONY, FCVs AND THE ESTARCAR

Back in 1974 IBM decided to get into the market for telephone exchanges. To achieve that it wanted a computer--'The Telephone Machine'--that could handle 300 calls per second, which needed 12MIPS of processing power (millions of instructions per second). That was then a huge number--IBM's mainframes chugged away at only 2MIPS on a good day. IBM set up a team under Dr John Cocke at its Thomas J. Watson Research Centre in New York, and the result, astonishly (because IBM had never before had the technology to match its brutal marketing muscle), was a world-beating chip, using what we now call RISC technology (Reduced-Instruction-Set Computer). Even in emulation it ran faster than a System 370 mainframe; it zapped along at 4.5-6 MIPS. But IBM then went off the idea of making telephone exhanges, so it stopped calling the chip the Telephone Machine and renamed it the 801, the number on the research team's building.

By 1978 the team had on paper, and could have launched in 1979, a 3MIPS RISC PC. But to their dismay, and fury, IBM cancelled the project. No wonder. That machine would have outrun its mainframes and midrange machines, and thus would have killed its golden goose. The fact that it would have created a platinum goose did not dawn on IBM's purblind bosses. One person, Joel Birnbaum, was so angry that he left IBM and went to Hewlett-Packard, which a few years later launched what it called Precision Architecture, later renamed PA-RISC. A 3MIPS IBM PC would have wiped out Apple, DEC, and a heap of other companies. But IBM's hierarchy could not see past the outrageous profits they were making on their mainframe/midrange junk.

Then when that same hierarchy saw that Apple was making zillions out of little machines, then called microcomputers, or micros, because IBM hated seeing someone else making money that it considered its own, they decided to make their own micro. They ignored their world-beating 801 chip, and because they wanted a machine that would not, could not, threaten, their mainframe/midrange empire, they deliberately built what they subsequently called the Personal Computer from off-the-shelf, low-power, third-rate bits. They used a chip made by Intel, the 8086, which was only a tweak or two away from the chip that had been invented by Victor Poor, Harry Pyle and Jonathan Schmidt in 1967 at a Texan company subsequently called Datapoint. Datapoint had given the building of the chip to Intel, which explains why other companies can make clones of x86-based chips: Intel did not invent the thing.

And for an operating system IBM went to a boy called Billy Gates--because the then chairman of IBM, Thomas Watson Jr, knew his mother. Billy Gates had a miniscule company called Microsoft, because it wrote software for microcomputers.

To IBM's astonishment when the little machines were launched in 1981 they took off, but because they were built from other companies' products, other companies could use the same products to make better IBM-compatible PCs than IBM. IBM ended up bleeding multi-billions. It resurrected its RISC technology, but it was too late. The world had run after mediocrity.

I IBM had made and launched its RISC PC in 1978-79 the whole Intel/Microsoft thing would never have happened, and the PCs we would have now would be far ahead of what we do have. The world went after IBM PCs because they had IBM on the front, not because they were good. So the world is being held back to the level of its stupid decision in 1981, a decision built on IBM's stupid, greedy decision in 1978.

Big companies get caught up in their own existence, their lust for good quarterly results, their fear of making a loss, their legacy pension-schemes, their self-induced short-sightedness, etc. They lose sight of the real world, they lose sight of aiming for the best, they make things just good enough to con enough people to keep Wall Stree happy this month. Sooner or later they die, because a small company comes along which sees that what the Big Iron is putting off can be done now.

Big Iron is also lazy and greedy. When Sony launched the first portable CD player it was powered by Motorola's 68000 chip. Why not the 68003, which was then the latest version? Because the thing had been born in the Sony's labs about ten years earlier--and if you launch on old technology you then have an easy, cheap upgrade path, and you can keep making the old products obsolete and thus making zillions out the poor suckers who trail along after you buying new models every year or so.

Which is all a roundabout way of leading up to the EStarCar. A fuel-cell vehicle (FCV) can be built now. The Big Iron carmakers pretend it can't, but it can. All the necessary bits and pieces can be bought off the shelf, from here there and everywhere. So watch for an Apple, a small unknown that zooms past the Big Iron, look for a small Walter-Raleigh type of ship that sails nonchalant rings round the big, unweildy Armada monoliths.

Which is exactly what EStarFuture intends being. It has the designs, the mockups, the passion and a vast amount of research under its belt. It lacks only the dollars, which is why it has gone to the people of the planet, because it is their future that is being maimed and broken by the Big Iron carmakers for the sake of corporate bottom lines and blind greed.

Friday, 23 December 2005

A NIGHTMARE OF A BLACK CHRISTMAS

The 2006th Christmas is about to dawn (2005 plus the first one), and still nothing has been done about the ineluctable advance of global-overheating. It is as if people have decided that they want its lethal consequences.

The oil companies are still looking for lakes of black stuff of the liquid kind, black stuff of the solid kind is still being mined in vast quantities, countries are still so looney that they reckon their material wealth on both, long pipelines are still being built here there and everwhere, 775 million machines powered by serial Molotov Cocktails are still being driven about fouling the air on the only planet we can live on in the entire univers... and so on and so on and so on.

The crooner's dream of a white Christmas will become a distant memory as rising temperatures make snow less and less likely anywhere. The skies will grow ever fouler, and ever more likely to erupt with extreme weather.

But, in spite of that, have a merry and blessed Christmas wherever you are, and a happy New Year. Preferably a year in which you do what you can in your small corner to help this tired old globe and its self-beleagured inhabitants.

Wednesday, 14 December 2005

WHICH FUEL-CELL?

If you are going to buy a fuel-cell, or and FCV, or set your company on a course to use the technology, a PEMFC is the leading type, for very good reasons. Your first question when deciding which PEMFC to go with is 'What are its bipolar plates are made of?'

If the answer is 'graphite', stop talking to that supplier. Graphite plates will most definitely not win the day in fuel-cell technology. Any company making them or using them is going down a technological and financial cul-de-sac, flying into a commercial black hole.

If the answer is 'metal', carry on. Metal plates are cheaper, very much easier to mass-produce, tougher, easier to keep cool, etc. They beat graphite hands down.

Next determine efficiency, the efficiency of output, the efficiency of the cooling and humidification systems, the lifetime of the PEMs (proton-exchange membranes), the output in kW per litre, etc. Cost is the last consideration, and a comparatively minor one, because technical superiority will inevitably result in the best price. Even if the product were the most expensive at the start that disadvantage would not last.

Friday, 9 December 2005

TEN YEARS TO CERTAIN DOOM

Which is a headline that sounds like the cry of some nutter leading his accolytes up a mountain to contemplate the fluff in their navels and wait for The End. But the sentiment comes from the scientist who discovered 'global-warming' (better called global-overheating) back in the 1970s. A radio report has just quoted him as saying that if we get a one-degree rise in the average global temperature in the next decade, irreparable harm will have been done to the planet (sadly, his name escaped a Google News search). Which is a nice way of saying that we have passed the point of no return, because human beings are obviously not going to kick their deep-seated addiction to the Black Stuff in less than ten years.

His sentiments are echoed by the Dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University, Professor James Speth, who was reported at this site, which might be a bit hard to get into (you might have to click Refresh a few times to kick it into gear). Dr Speth says we cannot now escape negative global consequences. The best we can hope for is to ward off catastrophe.

Meanwhile, one of the Biggies from the Black Stuff, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, Claude Mandil, has just the world that we cannot expect to have more than 30% of the world's vehicles running on hydrogen by 2050--a 30% that is predicted to be 700 million, which would mean that there would be twice as many ICVs on the roads as there are now. Just what we wanted. More of those damned things. The present 775 million have killed the planet. Twice as many does not bear thinking about.

Here is the full article on Mr Mandil's vested-interest prognosis.

Also from the Black Stuff vested interests, on the 2nd of September 2004, Niel Golightly, director of environmental strategies for Ford Motor Company, told USA Today, "Clearly, the entire industry could build nothing but zero emissions cars today if it wanted to." so the whole world is forced to go heavily.

Underlining the planet's peril, and the fact that although computer modelling of climate-change is dire it underestimates the speed at which things are going pear-shaped, is this BBC News item. 14 kilometres a year is 1.6 metres an hour, 26mm a minute. You could stand there and watch it moving.

The problem with computer modelling is that although its accuracy has been proved by running the models backwards and comparing their results with historical records, the predictions based on the extrapolations forward take the mid-line. They do not predict the worst possibility, or the most optimistic. They go through the middle. But the readings are tracking along the top. And as the man says, there are things we have not taken into account.

So we are in for a rough ride, and we are going to get to the rough bit far faster than most people think. It is not a question of avoiding it--we have gone to far for that--it is just a question of how bad we are going to make it before we get sane.

Monday, 5 December 2005

NOT ALTERNATIVE ENERGY

Energy from the sun, the wind and the tides is often referred to as 'alternative energy.' The implication is always that it is some kind of fringe alternative to the real energy, the primary energy, the mainstream energy, which is, of course, of oil and coal. It is only some inferior breed of energy, it is 'alternative-lifestyler' energy, it is hippie stuff that serious people look down on (but which we might one day take seriously when we are forced to).

Bunkum. It is the Black Stuff energies that are the alternatives. And very bad ones. So bad that we should never have used them. Real energy, mainstream energy, is clean. The alternatives are therefore dirty and should be looked down on by any human being worthy of the name.

The wise course is always to take the best way as the main way, and label inferior ways as alternatives that we might use at a pinch. With energy we got it back to front.

The real, the main, the primary source of energy was and always will be the sun. Solar power has always powered the earth. Try switching it off with a nuclear winter (the effect of blotting out the sun with a global nuclear war) and see what happens. It is also the power behind all weather-based energy, such as hyro-electric and wind generation.

Saturday, 3 December 2005

BEYOND PETROLEUM!?

BP's greenwashing advertisement in the latest National Geographic highlights this: 'It's time to go on a low-carbon diet.'

Wrong. It's way past time to go on a no-carbon diet. So far past that if we don't go on a negative-carbon diet we shall never get this planet back to being as perfectly balanced for human life as it was before all the Boys from the Black Stuff like BP ever led us astray. But even if we did manage to get into negative-carbon it would take many generations to get 380ppm of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere back down to 280ppm.

BP (which once stood for British Petroleum) stands for Beyond Petroleum. But so far all that has meant is a lot of petroleum and very little of the 'no-carbon'-beyond.

Wednesday, 30 November 2005

GLOBAL OVERHEATING = WEAPONS OF MASS-DESTRUCTION

Lord May of Oxford, President of the Royal Society, and formerly the UK's Chief Scientific Advisor, has put it very bluntly. The effects of climate-change (what an innocent-sounding euphemism!) can be likened to WMD.

Which, truly, says it all.

Amongst other things, he pointed out that last time the planet had 500ppm of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere, which is what the level is expected to have reached later this century (it is now 380ppm), the sea was 100 metres higher. Factor that into real-estate projections. And into the height the dikes will have to be in New Orleans, New York, London... Just 10 metres would be curtains. Will we get 5m? 10m? 20m? 50m? 100m? We don't know. We have never done this experiment before--the biggest, unplanned, uncontrolled experiment ever done on earth. All we know is that it is not turning out very well, and that it will get worse. Why do we refuse to stop?

Habit. Stupidity. Greed. Blindness.

We could, we choose not to. We would rather die.

We have clean technology (such as this, which uses nothing not freely available). But we prefer dirty. We do not have to use the sky as an open sewer. But we prefer to. We must; we keep doing it.

And THIS is one of the predictable, and predicted, results--the most destructive hurricance season on record. The in-denial crowd say is all just part of a natural cycle, but it cannot both be a record, an off-the-scale event, and an ordinary, natural event.

Monday, 28 November 2005

PEOPLE-POWER & PEOPLE-PENNIES FOR A PLANET-FRIENDLY CAR

This posting is a modification of EStarFuture's global press-release on Monday the 28th of November 2005. It is a call for a technological 'Orange Revolution'--but Green.

EStarFuture, unwilling to wait while the oil-barons and car-barons carry on wrecking the planet, is taking a novel, Gordian-Knot approach in its bid to develop its advanced electric vehicle as soon as possible. It is appealing for 'pennies' to the people of the planet.

EStarFuture's managing director Nobilangelo Ceramalus (pronounced noble-arn-jillo kerra-mar-liss), a native-born NZer, the scientist and mechanical engineer heading the EStarCar Project, says the predicament the Earth is in from our addiction to vehicles running on 'Black Stuff' makes the development of a truly green replacement a matter of urgency--'The monthly data from earth-watching satellites and from a myriad of scientific studies shows how dire things are getting.'

'It is imperative that we end the reign of the oil-barons and set about cleansing the world of their black stain,' he says. 'We cannot wait for the self-serving, oil-addicted carmakers whose promises of electric vehicles have a constantly receding horizon, except for a few outrageously-expensive, handmade prototypes to keep the California Air Resources Board off their backs. They are just "greenwashing" while they carry on manufacturing the same old highly profitable, planet-wrecking devices.'

He has nothing but scorn for their pretence that decades of time and billions of dollars in R&D are needed before mass-production of FCVs (fuel-cell vehicles) can begin.

'People-power and people-pennies can cut through all that nonsense. Traditional methods of raising capital are too uncertain, and too slow, and they are driven, and therefore distorted, by short-term financial greed instead focusing on the true bottom line, which is life and the quality of life--both critically dependent on the planet we live on and the sky we live in.'

The EStarCar does not just begin with people-power. That is also how it carries on. It is designed to be manufactured by small teams all over the planet rather than huge plants. Traditional vehicles--'powered by serial Molotov Cocktails'--have an inherent need for massive manufacturing infrastructures because of their complexity, but an electric vehicle is far simpler, so its manufacture can and should have a fundamentally different approach.

There is a recent historical parallel in the computing industry. When personal computers replaced the mainframe, manufacturing and support moved from a few massive monopolies to a horde of small companies and individuals, and from massive costs to small ones. He thinks the 'Big Iron' carmakers realise that their enormous power and wealth will be destroyed by the electric vehicle, and that that is the real reason why they are putting off mass-production. They naturally want to keep making vehicles that they, and only they, can make. They are like the corrupt governments who cling to their selfish ways--until people-power topples them.

The EStarCar Project is a people-power Green Revolution to end the poisonous reign of the Black Stuff.

The design of the EStarCar (outlined here) has been kept simple to minimise the cost and complexity of development and manufacture, but the fact that it gathers nine off-the-shelf sources of power into one vehicle, with a tenth being considered, underscores its advanced nature. There is no legacy thinking in it. It began with a bare patch of road. It does not follow the hidebound EV efforts of the Big Iron carmakers, who just adapt what they have always done, instead of recognising that an EV is fundamentally different to an ICV (internal-combustion vehicle) and therefore must be entirely rethought.

Vehicles are first and foremost for people and the planet, not for carmakers. The lives of the driver and passengers must be of paramount importance, but that does not just mean keeping them safe by careful ergonomic design and good engineering while they are on the road. It means protecting at all times their planet and their sky--unlike present cars, which have airbags for the occasional crash, but pollute every breath we all take.

The EStarCar is very definitely for the planet and the people of the planet, so it is logical and appropriate that people-pennies should fund its development. The return will be a better world.

The remaining development of the EStarCar is expected to take one to two years. It might be possible to do it in one but 'two' avoids a prediction that may prove uncomfortable. Development is costed at $US500,000, using off-the-shelf or easily-machined parts and straightforward software. The modest cost and two-year maximum timeframe prove how much the Big Iron carmakers have hoodwinked us into believing that billions and decades are needed.

Putting the EStarCar on the road with people-power and people-pennies needs only $US100 from 5000 people, $50 from 10,000, $20 from 25,000, or $10 from 50,000.

There is an old saying, 'Many a little makes a lot.' In this case, a lot for the planet.

Friday, 25 November 2005

CARBON-DIOXIDE LEVELS: WORST IN 650,000 YEARS & GET PATHOGENS GOING

Oh dear! Researchers at Duke University Mecical Centre, Duke University and Cornell University have found that the level of carbon-dioxide is a trigger for pathogenic behaviour in some fungi.

That indicates that the soaring increase in atmospheric carbon-dioxide caused by human folly will alter our disease-landscape for the worse. Which should hardly be a surprise. We know that the nature of the atmosphere in a room makes it healthy or unhealthy. The planet is a very large room, but the same thing applies, so we have something else to look forward to as global overheating worsens--more disease.

Ice-cores drilled from deep in the Antarctic show that the present level of carbon-dioxide is higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years.

The same report shows that the sea has been rising at a faster rate in the past 150 years than at any time in previous centuries. It is now 2mm a year.

Don't invest in any long-term waterfront developments.

Tuesday, 22 November 2005

HORRID FACT & BUTTERFLY FACT.

Every ten litres of petroleum fuel burnt in an ICV (internal-combustion) vehicle produces one kilogram of pollutants--which wreak havoc on the planet for years, or decades, or centuries, or millenia (different pollutants last for different lengths of time: carbon-dioxide averages a century). Happy motoring!

(In non-metrics the ratio is a pound of pollutants from each gallon of fuel.)

For a complete change of subject, moving from the nasty to the wonderful (and humbling), ponder this page.

Saturday, 19 November 2005

FCV+

Although EStarFuture‘s projected EStarCar is primarily a fuel-cell vehicle (FCV), the company has dubbed it an FCV+ because it is to have no less than nine sources of power. It is not unusual to have more than one source in an FCV, but nine has so far been unheard of (and a tenth is being considered). For example, it was not long before the same idea occurred to other FCV designers as it had a number of years ago independently occurred to Nobilangelo Ceramalus (pronounced kerra-mar-liss), the principal designer of the EStarCar, that putting an ultracapacitor buffer between the fuel-cell would enable the motor or motors to draw power far faster than a fuel-cell (or any battery) could deliver it, thus removing the limit on acceleration pickup.

An FCV plus an ultracapacitor array makes two main sources of power, but the EStarCar goes much further. It has three main sources and six secondary ones. By that means it gets as much power as it can from as many sources as possible, thus minimising the demand on the fuel-cell and extending the range of the vehicle.

No, the seven unnamed sources are not all going to be named here (there have to be some commercial secrets), and two are pretty obvious (conceptually at least--such as regenerative braking, albeit in a unique form), because they are used in FCV systems elsewhere. But the rest are not from Alpha Centauri, there is no weird stuff oozing green slime, they are all perfectly ordinary, off-the-shelf sorts of things that have been round for yonks. What makes the EStarCar unique is that it has interpreted them uniquely and put them all together into one transportation system. Here, the whole is definitely more than the sum of the parts.

The EStarCar has been rethought from the ground up. Take a bare patch of road and build a vehicle on it, one that will not harm the planet or its occupants (unless they drive into something solid, like a power pole or a mountain). Follow Descartes' dictum: 'Question everything.' So don't do something just because that is the way it has always been done. Don't copy the carmakers (unless they are doing something sensible).

What is astonishing is how simple an FCV+ is, compared with an ICV (internal-combustion vehicle). No one in his right mind would attempt to build one of those from the ground up. But although it is not exactly a walk in the park, an FCV+ is comparatively straightforward. No complicated metallurgical variations across a zillion bits and pieces. No grill, no radiator, no cooling fan, no fanbelt, no engine, pistons, valves, conrods, crankshafts, etc., no gearbox, no driveshaft, no differential, no axles (each wheel has a stubby strut, but there is nothing stretching right across the car), no steel to go rusty (all-alloy construction), no mechanical linkages to speak of--and motors with just one moving part delivering pure rotary motion and lots of torque, right from zero revs. The wonderful list goes on and on; the horrible list is empty.

Click to see the EStarCar page. Two mockups are shown, a four-wheeler and a six-wheeler (four- and six-wheel steering). But the EStarCar's bolt-on body can be customised to any shape that fits its chassis, so those are only two of an infinite number of possible four-metre shapes. The chassis is also extendible, so longer vehicles can be configured, with more wheels if necessary for more traction and/or more power (all-wheel steering no matter how many wheels).

Thursday, 17 November 2005

FIGHT FOR THE RIGHT; FIGHT ON

'It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out where the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood. At best, he knows the triumph of high achievement; if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.' -- Theodore Roosevelt.

This poem on a parallel theme, by Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861), was a favourite of Winston Churchill:


Say not the struggle naught availeth,
The labour and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
And as things have been they remain.
If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
It may be, in yon smoke conceal'd,
Your comrades chase e‘en now the fliers,
And, but for you, possess the field.
For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
Comes silent, flooding in, the main.
And not by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light;
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly!
But westward, look, the land is bright!

Monday, 14 November 2005

MURDEROUS LIARS & FOODCHAINS MELTING DOWN

Some may think the phrase 'murderous liars' used in earlier posts, aimed at those who are doing nothing about global-overheating, was a bit much. Sadly, no. Those who carry on doing nothing to stop it, whilst having habits such as driving internal-combustion vehicles (ICVs), are participating in the biggest act of mass murder ever seen on earth. The bodies are not yet lying all over the place, and the speed at which the murder is being committed is slower than the slowest snail in bottom gear, but the result, ultimately, will be billions dead. And the perpetrators are in denial, which is a fancy way of saying that they are lying to themselves about what is happening and what they are doing.

The phrase is blunt, yes, but precisely true. Would that it were not so.

The point is underlined by yet another story in the increasing avalanche of global-overheating stories, this one published today, showing the accelerating effects of the way we have been trashing the planet by shifting the black stuff out of the rocks back to the sky.

We humans are at the top of a disintegrating food-chain.

If you add to that the results of another study published today, that shows temperatures accelerating due to the increased amount atmospheric moisture, particularly in places where there is water on the ground (which obviously includes the oceans), and you can see a very nasty feedback mechanism beginning to kick in.

Friday, 11 November 2005

THE 'ENERGY-CARRIER' MYTH

How often do you read nowadays that hydrogen is not a fuel or a source of energy, just an energy carrier? The ultimate version of that nonsense has been reported in the Korean Herald (4/11/2005), where Kim Yeon-ji is quoted as saying, 'Actually, hydrogen is not an energy source, but an energy carrier largely dependent on fossil fuels such as natural gas.'

The woman is barmy, misinformed or ignorant, or all three. First, if hydrogen is not a fuel, how is it that it burns (at 2000 degrees Celsius)? And how is it that we can put it through a device called a fuel-cell and get electricity and heat? And how is it that in both cases it oxidises, to form hydrogen oxide (commonly known as water)? How is it that the Space Shuttle blasts off on a tank of hydrogen, a tank that NASA calls a fuel-tank? That's no carrier. That's a fuel. A carrier is a carrier. It carries, but is itself unchanged--like a truck carrying a parcel or a wire carrying a current. But the hydrogen becomes a compound: water. That's no carrier. That's a fuel.

The 'carrier' myth is just misinformation on steroids. After all, we knows that it's only da Boys from de Black Stuff what can supply us with fuel. Right?? ;-) So anything else has to be called something else. ;-) Right? Not a fuel. Never a fuel. No, no, no. So, enter Giant FUD, stage-left. Surprise, surprise...

But what makes her version even worse nonsense of the ultimate kind is that Kim Yeon-ji says the main source of hydrogen is natural gas (which will earn her a big kiss, or ki$$, or both, from the Black Stuff Boys), which means she is ignoring the recent discovery of the electrolyis of water (actually it was 1800, but perhaps she is bit behind with her reading). She also overlooks/ignores the small-but-important fact that if hydrogen is extracted from natural gas, petrol, coal--any hydrocarbon, even methanol--you get carbon-dioxide as a byproduct, and we need more of that on this planet like we need bullets in the head. Even worse, the hydrogen made that way combines with the oxygen in the air thus further reducing its present percentage of just under 21%. If we keep reducing it, as we are, we will get down to 18% or below, at which point we all die of asphyxiation.

Which makes it very dangerous misinformation on very nasty steroids.

Remember that old joke/urban myth about the man who invented a car that would run on water, but the oil companies bought him out so that it would never get to market? But it is no joke and no myth for us all to be living the middle of a situation in which the Bad Boys from the Black Stuff ARE trying to buy a monopoly on the hydrogen future that will be far more damaging to the planet and all who live on it than their present insane monopoly on global energy (they're insane to want to destroy the planet and we're insane to support them while they do it).

Wednesday, 9 November 2005

BOYS FROM THE BLACK STUFF THROW MORE FUD AT HYDROGEN

A report that originated in the South African Business Times and has been copied in various other places quoted Jeremy Benthan, the Chief Executive of Shell Hydrogen, a division of one of the Big Black Stuff multinationals, as saying that 'Vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells would become affordable and widely produced between 2015 and 2025. But he also cautioned that a decade ago respected commentators predicted there would be mass availability of fuel cell vehicles by 2005. He told the 18th World Petroleum Congress that that had not yet materialised, although hundreds of prototype vehicles had been developed.

The newspaper added that the emergence of hydrogen as an 'energy carrier' had particular relevance to South Africa, which has about three-quarters of the world's known global platinum reserves (the most efficient catalyst in converting hydrogen to electricity).

[FUD stands for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Throwing it at any threat to your corporate wallet is an old defensive trick. An infamous example in the bad old days of IBM, years ago, was for its salesmen to say 'Nobody every got fired for buying IBM', a line that frightened decision-makers enough to turn away from the superior products offered by other companies and cling to 'safe' IBM.]

Tuesday, 8 November 2005

PEOPLE WISER ON FCVs THAN GOVERNMENTS & CARMAKERS

A recent report in the New Zealand Herald said: 'Sixty-five per cent of Americans believe the US Government should make a major funding commitment to transform the automotive industry from a petrol- and diesel-based system to a hydrogen-based system.

'Fifty-nine per cent identified hydrogen-powered vehicles as those with the best chance for long-term success, compared with 23 per cent for hybrids and 18 per cent for traditional petrol-powered engines.

It would be astonishing if 65% of New Zealanders even knew about FCVs, let alone realised that they were THE future, but it is encouraging that even in the most profligate nation on earth, 65% believe in hydrogen. Sadly, though, not for today--only 'long term.' And sadly, they are not pushing the technology like the Moon-shot, so as to get if for themselves and the rest of the planet ASAP--as if without out there was no tomorrow. But, even more sadly, the US government is not listening to the people. Or to the planet. True, it is working on the technology, but not at the breakneck speed, not on the war-footing that we need. Far more money is going on status-quo stuff.

Nor is Honda listening, because it is now trumpeting a system that will produce hydrogen for its FCX from natural gas. But that still makes carbon-dioxide as a leftover, chaps, which is doubly bad, because it increases the level of the major greenhouse gas, and because it still keeps taking oxygen out of the air it keeps us heading down the 17.5-18% at which we would all be asphyxiated. It still clings to the Black Stuff monopoly.

Nice fuel-cell stack, Honda, and 5000psi bottles, and ultracapacitors between the stack and the motors, but, oh dear, why of why are you waiting till you can get get the thing can start at minus 30 degrees Celsius before you think about masss-production? Vast swathes of the planet never go down to anything like that, so stop making feeble excuses. There is no need to have a car that will start at the South Pole before you release it to the rest of the world. Especially with global-overheating hotting things up.

The real reason why carmakers are in no hurry to get FCVs rolling off their production-lines is that it would dump them on the scrapheap of history. Their empires would quickly cease to exist. Electric cars are easy to build, so countless companies could build them, but with ICVs (internal-combustion vehicles) the car companies have the monopoly. With FCVs they would be just another player--and others would be better at it because they would not have all that legacy thinking holding them back and distorting their designs into pretzels.

Friday, 4 November 2005

CO-GENERATION: PHOOEY! PEOPLE POWER :-))

In recent years there has been much talk in backward-looking power-utility circles of 'co-generation.' By which they mean that all the little dummies like you and I will be allowed to help the clever Big Iron blokes a bit by generating a smidgen of power at your place and mine to add to the Real Power being generated in the high and mighty National Grid.

Wrong. The new national grid will be everyone's place interlinked. And that is not co-generation. It is generation. It is to electricity what the PC and the Internet were to computing, eliminating the rule of the Big Iron mainframe. It is millions of Little Iron generation-sites all hooked together replacing a few Big Iron sites way out there. Unless those Big Iron sites are hydroelectric sites, or wind, or geothermal or some other natural means of generating power. In that case they will become feeders to the Little Iron sites, which will store their power as hydrogen. But all the consumer generation will be done at the point of consumption.

Whichever way it works, Little Iron will be king. That is where the true power will lie, in every meaning of the term.

Just as you once had to have a dumb terminal hung off a distant Big Iron mainframe if you wanted computing on your desk, but now you have your own PC connected to the Internet through which you can access whatever data you want or need, and through which you can pool whatever data you generate, so we now have the technology for you to generate all the electric power you need, and via a pooling/sharing national grid access other repositories of power large and small from which you can store what you need or what may later be needed to be shared with/sent to others in your electricity village (like the global village, but smaller).

Every point of consumption of electricity will also be a point of generation, and thus generation will automatically keep pace with consumption instead of always trailing behind it by a country-mile. No longer will we all vulnerable to the failure of some humungous national grid.

Instead it will be a zillion silicon solar cells on a zillion roofs( silicon is the second-most plentiful element in the earth's crust and you can drink the water off it), and a zillion electrolysers and fuel-cells in a zillion basements. The electrolysers will split rainwater using the solar-generated power off the roof, plus the power off the hydro-electric resource, thus ensuring that not a drop of that capacity is wasted. Thus the latent power from lakes will be stored in every basement in the country, where the resource cannot evaporate and does not need to be poured away over spillways during heavy rain. Likewise all the power from wind-farms, tidal generation, etc., will be stored for use right where it is consumed instead of wasted.

Generation will be everywhere generation is needed. No more generation at a distance from consumption. The national grid will be there to link us all together instead of there to link us to Big Iron. Which is how things should be.

That generation will not be just the generation of electricity. It will also be the generation of transportation energy. The hydrogen-making resource in every basement will also be making the fuel for the fuel-cells that will power all the fuel-cell vehicles on our roads.

The only pre-requisites are: (1) Shoot the oil and coal companies; (2) Cure the global addiction to the Black Stuff. Hmmmm...

Wednesday, 2 November 2005

2020 VISION :-((

A media report that came in via Google Alerts this morning said we are unlikely to see FCVs (fuel-cell vehicles) mass-produced before 2020, and that GM, which used to say it would be doing that by 2010 now only says that it will have a validated FC power-train by then. Toyota has already said that it does not expect to be making FCVs en masse till 2030.

Why?

Because they do not care sufficiently for the planet or their children. They care more for the profit they can make from mass-producing the death-machines that by their very nature they have a monopoly on. They must have realised that once electric cars, specifically FCVs, are THE form of tranpsort their monopoly on vehicles will evaporate. They day they switch from ICVs (internal-combustion vehicles) to FCVs is the day they sign their death-warrants. So they would rather sign ours. The tragic irony of course that they are also signing theirs. Global-overheating is global: car companies will be just as affected as their victims.

Dead people cannot make cars. They cannot buy cars. They cannot contribute to the economy. They cannot work. They cannot buy things. They cannot sell things. All they can do is lie about under ground or sit in urns. The true bottom line of all human activity is human life and the quality of human life. Not money. You can make money from life; you can make it only if you are alive. You cannot make life with money. If life and the quality of life are not regarded as the bottom line the ultimate consequence is always death--the death of countless people, the death of your company.

We have the technology to make FCVs now. We know they work; we have proved them over and over again with hundreds of test vehicles. For instance, the small world-wide fleet of FCV buses running on Ballard fuel-cells (which are not the best because they have graphite bipolar plates) has just clocked up a million kilometres. How many million does it take to prove the point while global-overheating accelerates?

We licked the problem of making bipolar plates out of metal, and thus also the problem of mass-production. We licked the problem of high-pressure storage bottles. We have had electrolyte membranes, the PEMs (proton-exchange membranes), for years, and Du Pont has announced even better ones, as have other manufacturers. So we can get all the bits off the shelf, which means we can--right now--make fuel-cells by the zillions. Why aren't we? Because profit, profit-by-death, is preferable to life and the quality of life.

Insane but true.

Monday, 31 October 2005

JOURNALISTS!!!

It is easy, under the subject of global-overheating, to wax wroth about politicians being murderous lying fools (murderous, because murder is not only a deliberate action that causes the death of another human but also deliberately not ceasing an action that causes death.; lying, because they pretend innocence and pretend to be doing something about global-overheating; and fools, because to be a murderous liar is also to be a fool--and a most damnable one).

But journalists, all too often, are in the same class. Firstly because they should be working overtime to get the global-overheating message out so that the democratic tipping-point is reached ASAP and we can at last vote all the murderous politicians on to the scrapheaps of history. Secondly because they treat a global-overheating story as just another story, to be treated like all other stories. Just something to fill the gap between advertisements, to stir up a bit of controversy, a chance to rake up some muck (real or invented)--nothing more than the normal presentation of a viewpoint spectrum then yawn on to the next story.

But global-overheating (GOH) is NOT just another story. It is the future of the human race. It is the most important story on earth, the biggest and the most important story on this planet that there will ever be. It has to be treated differently. Uniquely. It is not a time for dredging up opposing viewpoints. It is not a time for a so-called 'balanced' article. It is a time to concentrate on the planet and its inhabitants, a time to be as biased for them as possible, and therefore a time to get the message out hot and strong all the time, a time to do everything they can to mitigate the catastrophe we have brought on ourselves by our chronic addiction to the Black Stuff.

Any story on global-overheating that does not strongly fight it is helping to make it worse. The writer of a such a story is yet another murderous lying fool. Such are the shallow-hearted, ignorant, irresponsible journalists who write GOH stories that are negative, or even just neutral. So too are the editors who encourage such stories and suppress positive action.

Only if they take positive action against this massive, catastrophic problem can they show that they care about the planet, that they care about their children, that they care about their grandchildren, their great-grandchildren... Anything else is murder.

Saturday, 29 October 2005

SUFFER THE CHILDREN

Parents who say they love their children cannot expect to be believed if they are doing nothing against global-overheating, especially if they own cars, and most especially if they own gas-guzzlers. Bluntly, they are liars. Murderous liars. Because they are helping to kill millions of children. Perhaps their own. At very least they helping to make them suffer.

Why are most people, and most politicians, doing nothing? Because they don't care. They don't care enough for the planet, they don't care enough for their own children or anyone else's. They prefer the familiar habits of destruction to unfamiliar care.

Thursday, 27 October 2005

BOLDLY GO -- TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE ON-LINE!

People who care about the planet and want to save it from being ruined are very stupid. Don't they know that after we have ruined this one there are plenty of others for us to live on? They should know that from seeing them on Star Trek. And there is a whole fleet of starships sitting at LAX waiting to take us all there.

Oh goody! ;-) ;-(

Tuesday, 25 October 2005

No REALLY MEANS NO

Those who say 'No' to doing anything about global-overheating are really saying, 'We don't need the planet. We can live without it.'

Which ranks up there with the famous last words of that general who, when an aide who suggested that he should stay behind the parapet of his fort instead of walking about openly exposing himself to the fire of the enemy, replied, 'Don't be silly. They couldn't hit me at this r....'

The new addition to the links list--'House of Circumlocution' (below, right)--may enlighten or amuse those who like to read about insights into the ways of government and related matters.

Friday, 21 October 2005

BOMBS AWAY!

A petrol car moves by setting off a series of explosions. Petrol explosions. It explodes petrol thousands and thousands of times. So your pride-and-joy is nothing but end-to-end petrol bombs. Just a serial Molotov-cocktail on wheels.

To paraphrase Archimedes: 'Give me a place to drive and I will blow up the world.' (He actually said, after discovering the principle of the lever, 'Give me a place to stand and I will move the world,' but you get the gist.)

Wednesday, 19 October 2005

'NEW' GOVERNMENT?
Oh, goody, goody! New Zealand has a new government! Nah, all we have is yet another variant on the dishonest, do-nothing, puffed-up bunch of con-artists that we perpetually delude ourselves into calling a government. Or, if we are even more deluded, into calling a democratic government. Each one worse than the last. None of them do a blind thing for the planet or its inhabitants.

Meanwhile, there have been so many tropical storms this year that the bods who give them names are up to the last on the list--Wilma, which is now taken the prize for the most powerful ever recorded. The number of storms and and hurricanes this year has already equalled the worst year on record, and there are still many weeks to go in the season.

Monday, 17 October 2005

CHAINS OF UNREALITY

We have chained ourselves to the belief that the only people who can make cars, the only people from whom you can buy a car, are Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, GM, DaimlerChrysler, Ford, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Renault, Ferrari, etc., etc. Nothing else is a real car.

Not true. A real car is one that doesn‘t trash the planet. Theirs do.

FCVs can be built by thousands of companies and individuals, they can even be supplied as kitsets. The makers of ICVs (internal-combustion vehicles) do not want you to know that. They are terrified of a world in which they are unnecessary.

Saturday, 15 October 2005

AAHHH--PEACE! ICE, HEAT & ANOTHER ICE LIE

Imagine--cities with no internal-combustion engines. No vehicles banging away all the day and night. Not a single one. Instead, the quiet roll of electrics. Peace, blissful peace.

It is a tragic irony that the ICEs are melting the worlds ice.

This month the planet was the warmest September on record. Red dots almost everywhere. Aren't we doing well!? All the planet-wreckers can have a big party to celebrate. Yay!

There was a Big Iron lie left out of the last posting--the one they give us about having to spend billions before mass-produced FCVs are possible. But an FCV is just an electric vehicle with a fuel-cell stack at the start of the powertrain, and precise costings show that you need just $NZ500,000 to develop the prototype of a vehicle that would have everything but the actual fuel-cell. It could then be niche-produced and sold for $NZ100,000 [$US70,000]. Obviously once the car and fuel-cells were mass-produced you could expect a new car to get down to about $NZ25,000.

Tuesday, 11 October 2005

DENIAL IS SUCH A PLEASANT DELUSION (AND SO PROFITABLE)

Victor Hugo said 'The malicious have a dark happiness.' Those who live in denial, who wilfully spurn the truth, however hard it may smack them in the head, have a dark happiness of a different kind. Not for them the happiness of malice, or of schadenfreude, or of savage delight, or of sadistic thrills. No, they revel in their unenlightenment, the bliss of their self-created ignorance, the manufactured joy of the artefacts they construct as their bulwark against reality, and in their lust for planet-killing profit. They are like the murdering billionaire tobacco-pushers, who for decades refused to believe, pretended to disbelieve, the mounting, and finally the overwhelming scientific evidence that smoking causes disease and kills. Not that any science was needed. No one in his right mind could ever have said that instead of breathing air it was good for human health to breathe pungent smoke, smoke that made people cough and short of breath, smoke that caused nasty sputum, smoke that stained fingers and ceilings.

So now we have those who deny the melting of the world's ice, even though their own eyes tell them, when they defrost their fridges or plunk ice-cubes into their drinks, that ice melts when the temperature rises, and therefore if ice is melting the temperature must be rising. The ice
IS melting.


So the only question, the only point of disagreement, is how fast? How soon will vast tracts of real-estate vanish under the waves? The optimists say we will get a rise of 2 degrees Celsius in average global temperatures this century, the pessimists say it may be 10-14 degrees. The truth is we do not know. What we do know is that at the moment the oceans are rising at about 2mm per year--on a rise of just 0.6 degrees. We also know that the reliability of the computer models has been proved by comparing them with the historical data and that the present data is tracking along the top of the model (page 66, National Geographic, September 2004). Not the middle, where the predictions are placed--so they do not predict the worst case, they do not predict the best, they stick to the middle ground. But if the data continues to track the top, the pessimists will be right. We shall get the worst. Prudence would do something about that. We are doing nothing.

O de nigh happiness!

If the worst happens the ice will melt at a furious pace. By doing nothing we continue, heedless, to conduct the biggest unplanned, uncontrolled experiment ever--an experiment on the only planet we can live on in the entire universe. We do not know how it will turn out. We know only that it is not turning out well. If we were doing it in a laboratory we would stop it. We are so stupid that even though we are living inside the experiment we refuse to stop.

Articles and books are being written praising that refusual and pushing the party line of the Boys from the Black Stuff. Some are wiser. But look at the sprinkling of loony comments at the end of the article. Some people never learn.

Friday, 7 October 2005

LIES, DAMNED LIES AND THE CAR INDUSTRY

The car industry--the Big Iron carmakers--would have us believe that they cannot yet mass-produce fuel-cell vehicles, because there are technical problems to sort out, and that years of effort and billions of dollars of R&D are needed before they can.

Bunkum. The only problem they cannot sort out is how on earth they are going to survive and keep making megabucks in the age of the electric vehicle--the age of Little Iron. Only Big Iron can make ICE vehicles for a reasonable price; therefore so long as the ICE is king they have the very profitable monopoly. But electric vehicles are comparatively simple to make and support--just as PCs are comparatively simple to make and support compared to the old mainframes. Little Iron would therefore annihilate Big Iron.

So Big Iron keeps spewing out a mix of green-washing (environmental pretence) and tired old lies. They pump out a few prototype vehicles, to keep the Californian Air Resources Board happy, and they talk about mass-production sometime (we promise, really and truly, cross our greedy little hearts and hope never the day), but they carry on making ICEs by the millions and trashing the planet. They pretend there are technical obstacles in the way of making FCVs (fuel-cell vehicles), they pretend those cannot be solved quickly (not enough brain, guys?), they keep inventing new obstacles, new excuses. First they said they needed hydrogen-storage bottles that could run at 350bar (5000psi). But those have been round for years--on the backs of firefighters. Then they said they needed 700bar (10,000psi). Those have now been there for a while. So now they say they have to develop metal hydrides, or nanotechnology.

Bunkum. Arrant damned lies. The storage problem has been licked. Long ago. Unless, that is, you swallow their line that a vehicle needs a range of 800 kilometres (500 miles) between refuelling stops. Since when did anyone need that between petrol or diesel stops? Since when were fuel-stations that far apart? Even if a fuel-cell vehicle could only go 150km, trading that for an untrashed planet would be to trade the occasional minor inconvenience for a global catastrophe. That range 'issue' is just one more in the army of straw men that the Big Iron boys keep setting up to con us all into thinking that there is a good reason why we are not driving planet-friendly FCVs, or at very least hydrogen-burners.

They also pretend that hydrogen-production is a problem. More bunkum. Yes, it is if you insist that you have to build a nuclear power-station first in order to get clean (!!!!!) electricity to drive your electrolysers. Or if you insist on using the electricity from coal-burning power-stations. Or if you are twice as insane and insist on extracting hydrogen from coal or oil (a process that spews out huge amounts of planet-trashing carbon-dioxide).

They are thus pretending that sunlight does not exist; they are thus pretending that solar power off solar cells, or wind power, does not exist. They are wilfully ignoring the perfect solution. Sunlight splits the water. Fuel-cells join it back. A pure cycle. At Humboldt State University, California, they have doing it since 1991 (not long enough, Big Iron?).

Then there is the current doozey of a lie, the one about having to have an interim step, i.e., the 'need' for those pathetic hybrids, which do nothing to reduce the total amount of carbon-dioxide we are spewing out. Individual vehicles spew less, true, but it is the total spew that is trashing the planet. But hybrids perpetuate the ICE status-quo, the Big Iron profiteering. They are not even green-washing, they are only sooty green flag-waving.

If you Big Iron boys and girls were not a greedy bunch of environmental Nazis you would have given us low-cost electric cars long ago. So stop being planet-trashers, stop spewing out weapons of mass-destruction, stop being mass-murderers, stop making the planet uninhabitable, start being responsible human beings. Or is that too much to ask.

Where there‘s a will there‘s a way...

Tuesday, 4 October 2005

'SAVING' SUNLIGHT

[See the 2008 footnote at the end of this post]

This is the time of year when New Zealand once again begins 'daylight saving.'Interest rates are going up, so now we can get a much better return on what we save. With care we might make so much extra daylight that we will get to live an extra year or two. If, that is, Inland Revenue doesn‘t get us for darkness evasion and zap us with a penalty payment. Then we will drop dead before our time. Doh!

Seriously, it is amazing what the choice of a term can do. 'Daylight saving' was accepted with hardly a murmur. It sounds so positive, so noble, so doing-my-bit right. But what it really is is mass compulsory early rising. You are all ordered by Parliament to get up an hour earlier for the next six months whether you like it or not. That would not have sold. Big Brother is waking you. No, but sugar the pill with marketing mythology, with a meaningless assembly of words, and everyone meekly swallows it.

Would that we had the same attitude to saving the planet. Save it, or else. Yessir. Now sir. Three bags full sir. We are willing and eager to jump to it to 'save' some daylight, while we let the planet go to hell in a handbasket and us with it.

But we saved some daylight we cry as we get buried under yet another Force 5 hurricane, yet another drought, yet another metre of rising ocean.

Then there's the far-from-small matter of messing up our circadian rhythms twice a year--i.e., getting ourselves out of sync with the planet in our own bodies and brains (see Science Daily in 2007.) Out of sync with reality too.

When daylight saving first began here a woman phoned a Christchurch talkback show to complain that the extra sunlight was fading her curtains. Which sums up the amount of sense there is in how we think of the planet.

We think we control it. We think we can define when midday comes. It comes, we declare, when the big hand and the little hand are on the twelve, and we decide when that is. Scientific rubbish: it comes when the sun is at its zenith. What we do with our puny clocks, with any of our puny technology makes not a jot of difference to a single universal truth. The physical universe does what it does. Which includes an equal and opposite reaction to our every action. We trash the planet. It trashes us.

'Save' the daylight. Damn the planet. Yessir.

In October 2008 ScienceDaily published Swedish research that shows the incidence of heart-attacks rises in the first week after 'daylight saving' comes into force. So now we know the price of this habit.

'Save' the daylight. Kill a few people while you are at it. Yessir.

Wednesday, 28 September 2005

BRRMMM-BRRMMM: BANG GOES THE WORLD

The insane global addiction to cars powered by an internal-combustion engines(ICE) includes a pathetically childish addiction to the noise they make. Oil-heads think that if it doesn‘t go bang under the bonnet (under the hood if you are American) it isn‘t a real car. Like little kids they love making a big hullaballoo. Flick your foot and howl the neighbourhood down. If you can‘t do that it isn‘t a real car. It isn't a REAL car. IT ISN'T A REAL CAR.

A few months ago a British developer launched a fuel-cell motorbike. Yay! Like all fuel-cell vehicles it makes very little sound. Double yay! But the British Motorcyclists Association dismissed it as not being a real motorcyle. Why? 'It doesn‘t go brrmmm-brrmmm.'

Getting from A to B on a series of explosions is crude. Disgustingly crude nineteenth-century technology. Refined a tad, yes, but in its black heart it is still the same crude old banger. Still only an ICE (Infernal Combustion Engine?)

It is still the same old bomb. 775 million of them banging away every day and all day all over Planet E add up to a far more destructive explosion than a few nuclear weapons.

There ARE weapons of mass-destruction in Iraq. They are called oil-wells. And cars and trucks. Ironically, there are far more of those in America...

Forget the ICBMs. Get rid of the ICE Brrrmmms.

Monday, 26 September 2005

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE INSANITY

The problem with global overheating is that billions of people are addicted to it. America's love-affair with the car is endlessly talked about, but it would be better to call it an addiction to the wrong type of car--an addiction that the whole world has caught. But cars are not the problem. It is what they run on. Cars that burn petrol and diesel are the problem. Or, more accurately all the machines that burn hydrocarbons, from mowers to power-stations.

And it is an addiction. Neuroscience has in recent decades identified what we have always known intuitively--that the primary part of the brain in decision-making is the emotional centre--and thus that when the emotional centre is damaged our ability to make decisions in our own best interests or in the best interests of society is also damaged. The damage may be physical, such as from a tumour, but the most insidious is microscopic damage--bad wiring caused by bad conditioning and bad choices. That is why the abused abuse. Bad actions towards them, reinforced by their bad choices within, create, and worsen, the bad wiring. It is the classic feedback loop--the decisions that emerge from bad wiring constantly intensify addiction to the bad behaviour.

In short, we make decisions, first and foremost, with our emotions. If we attach them to something bad for us, the consequent addiction to that bad behaviour makes it worse. The bad behaviour, even though recognised in logic to be bad, is repeated and repeatedly reinforced. Cold logic is turned awry by damaged warm logic; the logic of external reality is turned awry by the distorted logic of internal reality; the artefacts of life are made to dominate the facts of life. The artefacts get further and further from the facts until the facts become irrelevant and the insane artefacts rule.

Thus, although people know they are trashing the planet with their hydrocarbon-burners they keep doing it because of their addiction to them and all that they mean to the gratification of their damaged emotions. They are hydrocarbon-junkies. Oil-brained. Literally, petrol-heads (how odd that we often speak more truly than we know!).

Like drug-addicts they cannot kick the habit. They keep acting in ways that are killing them and their society and the whole planet. They refuse to stop. They deny the damage that is happening right before their eyes, because their selfmade bad wiring diverts the images into denial. The bad wiring constantly impels them into decisions that are not in their best interests or the best interests of society, and their addiction is constantly reinforced by those bad decisions and by the fact that almost everyone else is doing the same insane things. There is such comfort in insane company.

They are so comfortable with killing themselves that they cannot bear to give it up. Not even a series of force-five hurricanes can impress on them their own insanity. They escape the storms in the vehicles whose emissions gave them their terrible power. They are trapped in a traffic-jam of their own habits, and all they can do is think of how soon they can get back to 'normal'--to the same insane addictions.

Tuesday, 20 September 2005

THE SUNLIGHT-AND-WATER ECONOMY

Silicon is the second-most plentiful element in the earth's crust (after oxygen). Hydrogen is the most plentiful element in the universe. If we went on to a war-footing globally, with the aim of putting silicon solar cells on every roof and fuel-cells into every dwelling and vehicle ASAP, we could wipe out global pollution. We are too late to end global-overheating, because we have passed the point of no-return, but at least we will no longer be contributing to it. The fuel-cells would run on the hydrogen produced by splitting water with the electricity from the solar cells. The emission from fuel-cells is water, which would then rain on the roofs, and be split again, and so on.

We must produce hydrogen by splitting water. We must not, as the Boys from the Black Stuff want, produce it by splitting hydrocarbons. If we did that, the carbon in the hydrocarbons would, in forming carbon-dioxide, take more and more oxygen from the air. If we got down from the present 21% to 17.5-18% we would all die of asphyxiation. But taking hydrogen it from water means we would have a cycle: the water is split, passed though a fuel-cell and remade, then cycles round again. No net loss of oxygen. Truly a life cycle.

If we monumentally raised production of solar cells and fuel-cells all over the world we would force the price down to the point where it would cost no more than $US5000 a house to provide it with an average of 50 square metres of solar cells (538 sq ft) and a 15kW fuel-cell. The only thing standing between us and the sunlight-and-water economy is the law of supply and demand. If we keep using that law as a catchment area, as we usually do, the prices will keep creeping down, but that will take far too long. We do not have the time. So if instead we use it as a sword, by putting in huge orders from entire countries, and sharpen it by giving silicon foundries 100%-plus tax-breaks, we will force the prices down right now. The need is global. The bottom line is the quality of life of the whole human race.

Thursday, 15 September 2005

NORMALITY, AND SCIENCE 101
Climatic normality has gone, because we have destroyed it. We have to get into our heads that the twentieth century, impaired though it was, is the last normal century we humans will ever see. So this not a time for normal action, for acting the way we have always acted--slow, late or never. We must act at war-speed. The numbers show that we are decades too late to stop global-overheating, but we can at least stop global pollution. We can stop using the sky as an open sewer. Then there will not be quite so many atmospheric vultures coming home to roost.

Carbon-dioxide is rising at about 2 parts per million a year. We are now at 380ppm. Last year the scientific community said we must not go past 500ppm. That gave us a maximum of 60 years to get ourselves off the Black Stuff, the coal and the oil, not counting the lag between cause and effect. Later in the year that was revised down to 450ppm. Not so good. Then the international conference in London at the beginning of this year revised that down to 400ppm. So now we have 10 years to give up our Black addiction--which obviously means that we passed the point of no-return decades ago.

As Einstein said after the first atomic bomb was exploded--'Now everything is changed, except man's thinking.' The climate has been changed for ever; the normality of the past 10,000 years has gone, because we have destroyed it by burning hydrocarbons--and it doesn't matter if that means fossil ones, bio ones, whatever. If it raises the level of carbon-dioxide on Planet E it is bad. BAD.

It is even more basic than science 101 that the Black Stuff is all the surplus carbon-dioxide that was taken out of the sky millions of years ago, and that if that ancient carbon-sequestration had not happened the human race would not be here. But instead of seeing that its continued presence in the ground was essential to human existence, we thought it was there for us to make a buck, so we have been pumping it out of the ground into the sky as if there was no tomorrow--thus making sure that there will be no tomorrow for millions of us. We have been winding the clock back hundreds of millions of years to a time before we could exist. Vast numbers will pay the ultimate price for that folly. Some say billions will pay it--that the global population will be cut to about a billion.

Even our much self-vaunted buildings will suffer from our ingrained habit of driving about in fossil-mobiles. The natural protective coating that forms on the steel rods in reinforced concrete is destroyed by carbon-dioxide. Concrete is of course porous to carbon-dioxide, so the more of it we put into the atmosphere the more we threaten countless buildings. We are, literally, crumbling our civilisation.

We have to recognise that normality has been destroyed, that we can no longer predicate our public and private decisions on what we have been predicating them on for 10,000 years. We have to move at unusual speed if we are to salvage anything. We are decades too late to stop global overheating, but we can roll back pollution, noise, and the diseases they cause. But to achieve that in time we have to go on to a war-footing to produce clean technologies, in particular the huge amount of silicon needed to make solar cells at speed all over the world (and to power silicon foundries with solar cells so they are not increasing greenhouse-gases).

Wednesday, 7 September 2005

NEVILLE CHAMBERLAINS GALORE!
In the late 1930s the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain waved a piece of paper at everyoone with Hitler's signature on it--the infamous Munich Agreement--and proclaimed 'Peace in our time.' Hitler‘s promise was worthless. We got war. Now the politicians and bureaucrats of the world have waved another piece of paper at us--the infinitely worthless Kyoto Agreement--and have tried to con us into believing that it will make a blind bit of difference. We have made peace with global-overheating. Yay! It will all be all right. Yay!

Bunkum.

Kyoto is Munich on steroids. And global-overheating is not the Nazis. This is not a comparatively piddling little fracas like World War II., where if you come in late (as usual) it just takes a bit longer to beat it before we have the brass bands and the credits roll. With global-overheating too late means we never beat it. And we ARE too late. We passed the point of no-return decades ago. Look at the data coming off the satellites every month. Look at the results of studies all over the world in a myriad of scientific disciplines. We cannot roll back global-overheating. We are stuck with it, we are stuck with the catastrophic consquences. The best we can do now is perhaps make the worst not quite so bad. And get rid of global pollution.

For that we need a Churchill. Because we need to put production of clean technologies on a war-footing. And that means truly clean, not nuclear-waste clean, or 'bio'-fuel clean, or 'carbon-sequestration' clean, or some other 'clean' delusion or great con. It means sunlight-and-water clean. The only thing that should be coming from the sky is sunlight and water. What goes up must come down. We have been using the sky as an open sewer for 150 years. Now all our filth is coming back on us. To get even a fraction of the mess off we have to act at war-speed. But we won't. We never do. Look how fast we reacted to the New Orleans debacle. After ignoring the fact for decades that building a city below sea-level in hurricane alley was not a very bright idea, and putting faith in puny dikes and godlike American power, when the inevitable happened the reaction was Dithersville. The order to evacuate was given too late, hordes ignored it, the authorities who had given the order failed to make sure that everyone could comply, and did. So hordes died, corpses floated in drowned streets and bobbed in countless drowned houses, people behaved worse than animals--and the marines did not come galloping over the horizon and save 'em all before the commercial break.

Oh well, they want to rebuild the place, so maybe they'll get there quicker next time. There will be a next time, so let's call this one just a practice run. Next time, then, or the time after that. How often will they rebuild the place before it will get into their dim brains, as it did into King Canute‘s courtiers, that you cannot stop the tide coming in. Especially when it has a 300kph wind, a massive storm-surge and giant hurricane swells behind it.

Pieces in our time.

Monday, 5 September 2005

TODAY NEW ORLEANS, TOMORROW THE PLANET
The disgusting New Orleans saga sums up why we are staring down the barrel of a global-overheating catastrophe and the hammer has fallen. We think we can live any way we please and ignore the way the planet functions, then when it knocks our stupidity for a loop all we can talk of doing it picking ourselves up and getting back to the same old stupidity ASAP. As Winston Churchill neatly put it: 'Men often stumble over the truth, but most of them manage to pick themselves up and carry on as if nothing had happened.'

So now they are planning to rebuild New Orleans. NO! Let it slid back into the swamp where it belongs. Only monumental insanity lives below sea-level in hurricane alley. And when the inevitable happens, and it gets flattened and drowned, only stark raving hubristic lunacy wants to rebuild it.

There are going to be many parts of the earth that global-overheating will make uninhabitable. With the ice melting and thermal expansion getting steadily worse, the sea will be rising for thousands of years, even if we stopped the greenhouse-gas emissions right now, so we will just have to get used to the sight of big coastal cities being hacked out of civilisation. It is nicely ironic that America, where the internal combustion engine is king, and which is thus responsible for a large chunk of the lethal problem, should have been the first to cop a Grade A1 climatic smack in the head.

And it IS global-overheating, not 'global-warming.' 'Global warming' sounds so safe and comfy. Everyone likes being warm. But the term is scientifically inaccurate, because the earth has been warm, it has on average been at a good human temperature for 10,000 years. 'Global warming' is also dangerous, because its comfortable sound lulls us into a false sense of security; we see no cause for urgency. So then we get smacked right in the middle of our Big Easy. And it becomes bog easy, in nothing flat.

Friday, 2 September 2005

THE LINUX CAR?
Neil, who as it happens has seen and been told more of the design of the EStarCar than anyone else, and was impressed by how extraordinarily flexible and customisable it is, and thus how infinitely it could and would be modified once out on the road, observed that it was rather like Linux. Which may be true-ish. The heart of the car, what makes it go and stop and change direction is fixed. It has to be for safety, but the rest--the shape, the look and feel of the user-interface, the dimensions, the number of wheels and motors, the accoutrements, etc--can be whatever owners want to make them, or have made. Traditional cars are customisable, true, but for them it is the exception. With the EStarCar it is the rule.

So if the Linux kernel does not change much, and most of the enhancements are more out in the user-interface areas, speaking extremely broadly, Neil's analogy would be reasonable. Up to a point, hence that 'true-ish.' For with a car, you cannot publish any old enhancements and download them. Try that with a wheelcap, for instance. Difficult. Not enough bandwidth ;-) Even with the software it would be problematical, because a hacker could kill people. So the only software that that could ever apply to would be in add-on entertainment systems--only the stuff that does not power, steer, stop or otherwise control the vehicle.

But people could certainly share, build, enhance, download designs for bodies, right down to tiny structural details, designs in which certified engineers and engineering companies could share, so that you could go to a body-maker and get your desires turned into alloy in the comfortable knowledge that it would get the official stamp.

At the top of this posting I said 'out on the road.' Ooops! The EStarCar is so morphable that the road, or solid surfaces, are not its only beat. So revise that. Out there...

Thursday, 25 August 2005

THE ESTAR CAR
If you are in despair about the state of the planet, wish you could buy a car that did not add to the mess being made of it, but feel helpless in the face of the big carmakers' refusal to stop producing millions of fossil vehicles, then make a paradigm shift to people power. The Big Iron carmakers do not want the world to go from fossils vehicles to electric, because fossil vehicles are complicated things to make, so they can only be made at an affordable price by Big Iron. Electric vehicles are far, far simpler, so manufacture would escape from the hands of the powerful few and fly over the wall into the hands of the many. If the world turns to electrons the reign of the Big Iron boys will be over. People power will have replaced it.

A parallel happened in the computer industry. Once computers were mainframes--big, complicated and hard to make. Only big, well-heeled companies could make them and support them. Then the PC was invented. It was small, it was people-sized, it was made from off-the-shelf bits. And oodles of people could make them. The Little Iron machines ended the reign of the Big Iron.

It is the same with cars. The Big Iron boys are dragging the chain on planet-friendly cars as long as they can. They pretend that billions of dollar and years of effort have to be consumed in R&D before all the problems have been sorted out and mass-production of vehicles running on electrons can start. Bunkum! A very profitable bunkum for them, but still bunkum. Detailed costings show that a prototype electric car, with a good range, can be produced for $500,000. Not billions. Just $500,000, and at most two years of development. A powerful BEV with a good driving range and superb performance and driveability, and FCV-ready.

People power can make it. Many a little makes a lot. If 500,000 people chip in $1, the project would be on its way. Or 250,000 people $2. Or 100,000 people $5... One person chipping in $500,000 would be good, but people power is far, far better. Once the prototype is on the road, mass-production can start using dispersed teams. No big factories. Teams using small premises to assemble modules. People power again.

Please click on the Donate to the E*Car link in the Links section on the right-hand side of this page to see the specifications overview. Then send a small donation, either by crediting to the bank account shown on the E*Car page, or mail a small cheque or a small-denomination United States, British, Euro, Australian or New Zealand banknote (folded in a sheet or two of notepaper for a tad of security) to 'The EStarCar, 2-4 O'Brien Road, Rocky Bay, Waiheke Island, New Zealand 1240.' Then watch the total figure on the E*Car page grow. Thank you for caring about the planet.

Click on the About EStarFuture link in the Links section if you want to know more about the company. In summary it is passionate about the planet, and determined to do something about it. With a little help from a lot of friends.

Wednesday, 24 August 2005

BUREAUCRATS AND POLITICIANS!
This is a newborn blog, in New Zealand, which makes it new twice over. Being newborn it has nothing much in it yet, but it intends being very human and very passionate about the state of the planet, and what we should be doing about it, and what the prats we optimistically call politicians are doing about it. The problem is that politicians are really nothing but bureaucrats who make speeches, bureaucracies tend to attract people with low self-esteem, and people with low self-esteem tend to act in ways that are not in their best interests or the best interests of the society in which they live. Which explains a lot. Their main interest is in survival--keeping the emblems and perks of the rank we were foolish enough to give them--but not doing anything good. Survival is the base instinct of all bureaucrats, so they work the system to achieve that. The problem is that subconsciously, because of their low self-esteem, they tend to act self-destructively. Which also explains a lot.

It explains, for instance, why the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark, bluntly told a New Zealand scientist that she did not have time to spend two hours considering the solar-hydrogen technology that is the only viable solution to the biggest problem facing the human race, the biggest problem that has ever faced it, the peril we have brought upon ourselves from what is euphemistically called global warming--global overheating is the correct description. The PM did not have time for that. She wastes hours of her time considering trivia. But she has no time to set about trying to save her country from being part of a global catastrophe. If you set a low value on yourself you set the same value on everyone else...

While you are here, if you live in Enzed (aka NZ, New Zealand, Aoteoroa), you may find some interesting stuff in the rest of EStarFuture's site. Click on EStarFuture's Homepage under links near the top of the right-hand column.

Parents and teachers in particular who are interested in trying to save this poor old planet from being battered completely to death will get value from scrolling down to the foot of the homepage and clicking on the orange E icon, or click on the Science Education link in the Links section at the top right of this page. That takes you to the science education pages, where you can see, and buy, the equipment that gives students hands-on experience of 'sunlight and water' technology--the combination of solar and hydrogen technology which alone is non-polluting. No carbon-dioxide, no methane, no nitrous oxide, just electrcity, heat (about 80 degrees Celsius) and pure water. That is all you get out of it (unless you are stupid enough to run the factory that makes it on power from coal/oil-fired power-station). The ideal solution.

Just don't waste your time talking about it a politician. Unless it is that rare exception, a Winston Churchill. He was a real politician, a statesman, not just a jumped-up bureaucrat on steroids.