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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Wednesday, 29 November 2006

MASSIVE ICE-SHELF COULD COLLAPSE ANY TIME

This New Zealand Herald article spells it out. The whole Ross Ice Shelf could collapse at any time, with a significant effect on global sea-levels, and the huge West Antarctic iceshelf could follow it. The latter would raise the oceans at least 5 metres--perhaps as much as 17 metres.

Meanwhile, as the BBC reports, carbon emissions have been increasing two and half times faster since 2000 than in they were towards the end of the twentieth century.

We never learn. We refuse to connect the dots.

Saturday, 18 November 2006

THE MYTH THAT BIO-FUEL IS SAFE


There is an old Roman saying, 'When men cannot change things they change words.' In our age there are countless examples of that arrant dishonesty. 'Bio-fuels' is one. It sounds good, because 'bio' means life, so it looks as if we can have our cake and eat it too: we can carry on with that abysmally crude nineteenth-century technology--the internal-combustion engine (ICE)--we can carry on getting from A to B on serial explosions, but without messing up the global environment.

Really? The test of whether something really does have human life at heart is to see if you can breathe, drink or eat the exhaust. If you survive, and healthily, you know it was good for you. If you end up sick or dead it was probably a bad idea.

What comes out the exhaust-pipe of a bio-fuelled vehicle is certainly not going to make you delirious with joie de vivre. Depending on the fuel, you may have no vivre at all. And the planet is unlikely to benefit one iota. For example, the incomplete combustion you get in ICEs gives you soot, which fouls the sky; and the particles are so fine they can pass straight through the walls of your lungs and lodge in your tissues, such as heart tissues. The label on the tank may say 'bio' but the soot is just as ruinous, not matter what the label says.

Then there is the notion that 'bio-fuel' is 'carbon-neutral.' True? No. The theory says that the next crop of the bio-fuel feedstock will remove from the atmosphere all the carbon-dioxide and carbon-monoxide produced by burning the fuel from the last crop. That assumes that it goes into the atmosphere and stays there. But it is not intelligent, it does not understand English, so it may not. It may go into the oceans. If so it will stay there for a thousand years, making them more acidic; then it will come out into the atmosphere and stooge about for an average of a century.

There is also a lag between when the fuel it burnt and when the next crop reaches maturity, and it is only at that point that could take out all the carbon produced from the previous year's mature crop. There may be some evening-out over the globe, but in that long lag there is a vast amount of carbon busy having its greenhouse effect. So the 'neutral' bit, even if it is there, is not there constantly; it goes up and down, like any feedback effect. There is no instant subtraction to blance the addition.

The blunt, inconvenient truth is that we have to stop pumping carbon into our sky, in any form. We already have far too much for optimal human life.

A major problem with adding more is that the effect is cumulative,; volcanic eruptions add yet more; and major ones add huge quantities. That means adding a huge amount on top of whatever we have put there. So the more we put there, the greater the peaks that we make through our additions, the more likely it is that anything added by Nature will take us over a climatic tipping-point, known or unknown.

Then there is the very tiny, very unimportant fact that human beings have to eat. Every square metre of land that is producing 'bio-fuels' is a square metre not producing food. But don't worry about starvation. So long as your bang-bang car can run you'll be fine. Dead behind the wheel, but still mobile, so you'll be fine. Yessir, fine. O goody! There is not way we have enough land to supply more than a fractio of the fuel we need.

On top of that, producing 'bio' fuels takes a huge amount of water. A lot is needed to grow the plant feedstock and a lot is needed to process it into whatever fuel you want.

If the process of producing the fuel involves fermentation that produces a lot of carbon-dioxide, the very gas we should not be producing. You also have to transport the feedstock and the fuel to where it is to be burnt, which consumes fuel, adding to the carbon-neutral falsehood.

Then if the fuel produced is ethanol or butynol or something else that can only be used as a blend with fossil-fuels, you will only have saved 10-20% fossil-fuel.

And having gone through all the process of getting the stuff to the pumps, you then put it through your bang-bang engine which the laws of physics in the form of the Carnot Cycle says cannot possibly be more than 33% efficient. Add to that all the losses in the mechanical linkages getting the power out to the wheels and you get only 16% where the rubber meets the road--you lost 84% of what you put in the tank. A huge effort and energy-investment for very little return.

'Bio-fuel', in short has nothing to do with life. It should be called 'morifuel' (mori means death).
HUMAN ENEMIES NUMBERS ONE AND TWO


China, which is fast overhauling the Number One Enemy of Humanity (the world's worst polluter, the United States of America, in case you haven't heard), is adding a new coal-fired power-station every week, according to the BBC World Service. Goody! Just what we needed: a second USA on filthy steroids.

Friday, 10 November 2006

ANY MURDEROUS FOOL CAN MAKE MONEY


Only the wise can make a habitable planet.

This article by James Hansen, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Adjunct Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University's Earth Institute, lays out the stark horror of what all the murderous black-stuff addicts have unleashed upon this planet.

And unless draconian action is taken against them, such that they are stopped in ten years at most (hah!), we shall thus, amongst other things, have set the world's oceans rising unstoppably to where they were three million years ago, the last time the global temperature was the least we are now heading for. They will be 24 metres higher (80 feet). And they could get there at up to a metre every twenty years, which has happened in the ancient past: half a metre a decade for centuries.

A metre rise every twenty years till the water is 24 metres higher might even make a few thieving murderers sit up. Might...

Of course, all that will start with a trickle. Perhaps the fact that the sea has risen 45mm since 1995, more than double the rate in previous decades, is the trickle starting to gather pace...

Monday, 6 November 2006

OCEANS AND GREENHOUSE GASES STARE DOWN THE BARREL


Collapse Of Ocean Fisheries Looming:

If we keep abusing the oceans the way we have been there will be no wild fish, no fish in the open oceans, worthy of mention by the middle of the century. That is the conclusion of a major, four-year, international study.

Different Trading World:

Global-overheating plus the inevitable end of the oil-supply will mean a huge change in oceanic trade, unless the thousands of ships plying the trade-routes get a different source of power. Without that, any country that cannot import and export over land will have to produce all its needs itself, or go without.


But Two Things Are Universal: Hydrogen and Stupidity

In spite all that, the greenhouse emissions from rich countries are rising and rising and rising and rising.... BBC News

Friday, 3 November 2006

DNA IS FAR MORE THAN WAS THOUGHT


Genetic researchers have long dismissed as 'junk' stretches of DNA that were not genes, a view I always refused to accept. But during the past year it has been found that the 'junk' has been faithfully reproduced generation after generation after generation, thus showing that it has an important function. Nature would not bother to take great pains to replicate junk. Also during the past year other researchers built a simple computer from DNA.

It is therefore obvious that DNA is not what the traditional view would have us believe. To see it only as genes is, literally, like seeing a computer as nothing but program and dismissing the rest as junk. Genes are only part of the story. DNA is far, far more. It is integrated processor, data-storage, program and power-source. It can therefore be seen as intelligent; it has design-intelligence; it is design-intelligence: stored design with the intelligence and power to manufacture it.

That applies not only to DNA: cell-proteins in general are processors. Which explains why the folding that is so critical alters the way that protein processor functions. Folding affects the shape and therefore the function of the processor; it also affects its internal power-level because it alters the electrical potential of the molecule. When the processor and its level of self-power are different the function of the molecule are different.

It has been found that bacteria communicate with chemicals and by that means intelligently co-ordinate their actions. Therefore DNA and other complex proteins also communicate using lesser chemicals, thus forming processing molecular networks, just as computers communicate with packets of data over networks; there is also electrical communication. Thus there is an intelligent processing network at the level of complex bio-molecules, literally making the cell; on top of that is the network of cells, together making up simple organisms, or organs in higher organisms; on top of that is the network of organs together making up the organism.

A computing analogy is that the complex molecules are the components in a computer, with DNA being the CPU; on top of that computers are formed into local networks; on top of that they are formed into the global Internet.

DNA is not only a programmed computer, complete with memory, data-storage and a power-source, it is self-programming, self-improving, exploring, like T-cells, for a better 'fit' to the external needs of the organism.

The few-percent different in genetic instructions between chimps and humans (although significant in such a huge total) is therefore only a fraction of the story. The processors are different, so the resulting organisms are different. A different design-intelligence, a different level of processing power, implements a different design. The DNA processor of a human being is far more intelligent and complex than the DNA processor of an insects or bacteria, so we are far more intelligent and complex. Even when the same code or data is processed the result is different. To adapt Marshall McLuhan, the processing is the organism.

That is true not only of the making on an organism it is also true of its behaviour and activities. For instance, a bird is not taught how to build a nest or rear young, etc.. It just knows, because its molecular processing informs its actions. There is behavioural intelligence, stored behavioural design at molecular level.

The same applies to memory--indeed to thinking in general. It is essentially molecular. Above that is the neural level, the functioning of neurons; above that is the functioning of the brain, all the neurons acting in concert, firstly in the sub-networks that are the discrete areas of the brain, then in the complete network.

A thought or a memory may thus be a unique network of neurons identified by marker proteins stored only in that neural set. Then to recall the memory would just be a matter of re-establishing the same network by establishing the start of it, or sufficient of it to begin the trace, then that starter neuron would interrogate all the ones linked to it to establish which have that protein, and so on, till that entire 'thought-net' has been searched out, retrieved and be firing. Any neuron could be in thousands of thought-nets, each very different, because each cell can have thousands of different proteins; it would just be linked to a different neural set characterised by the marker protein unique to that set. Modification of a thought or memory would be then the addition or deletion of neurons from a thought-net by making or eliminating the relevant marker neuron specific to that net.

The only argument left between the ungodly and the godly is whether that fundamental DNA and molecular intelligence arose spontaneously from nothing or was put there. If put there, was it processed into being by the quantum computer called Earth (Gaia, if you prefer), a subset of the quantum computer called the Universe? Or was it all put there by God?

But both sides of that puerile ID argument (i.e., 'intelligent design' versus evolution) have to accept that absolute proof, and also therefore absolute disproof, of the ultimate source are beyond the reach of human science. Neither side can absolutely prove the existence of anything, not even their own existence.

Relative proof, however, which is knowledge of communication, or knowledge of sensory awareness both internally with oneself and externally with others, is another matter. We all do that every day. And as Winston Churchill neatly put it: Men often stumble over the truth. Most of them manage to pick themselves up and carry on as if nothing had happened.

Thursday, 2 November 2006

BUSINESS IS NOT THE ECONOMY, STUPIDS

These five paragraphs by the BBC's Science Corrrespondent, Richard Black, should be required reading for every politician, especially those with their heads in the Arabian sands on the subject of global-overheating, more especially those who refuse to act because it would be 'bad for business,' such as George W et alia:

'And while [Blair] warns of "catastrophic" consequences of climate change in one breath, in the next he can say, as he did at the Davos economic forum last year and again last week, that no climate action will be taken which damages business.

'There are two big problems here. One is that Mr Blair is mistaking "business" for "the economy"; the other is that he is neglecting the trans-generational nature of climate impacts and solutions.

'Business is not the only driver of a healthy economy. It is affected by war, disease, storms, global events: even (if you live in north Africa) by plagues of locusts.

'Stern's fundamental message is that business as usual is doing a certain amount of harm to the economy - not too much now, but much more later unless things change.

'If a mild pinprick for business now will save it from wholesale cauterisation later, we surely need a level of politics rather more subtle than a simple ban on moves which are "bad for business".'

The economy is the planet, life, society. Business is only money.

The full text of Black's item can be found by clicking here.