It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Open Thread 4

Open season. Any topic you like.


The Age of Stupid

or maybe

the McIntyre vs Jones kerfuffle

or some

comedy from Mr. Carlin.

Yes, that's a grackle on my head.


gravityloss said...

I don't think Roger Pielke Jr is worth talking about here.

Joe Romm is. I think he mostly drives for good causes and is a positive force, although I dislike the yellow press style personally. I never really read him, though I did read back with the Exxon funding things he was investigating.

But there are things like nuclear energy where he is wrong and also uses unfair tactics. This does a lot of damage to efforts to fight global warming and to people suffering directly from coal use.

Straining at the millirem while swallowing a gigaton, or how it goes?

Especially his natural gas advocacy is strange. It is probably the first fossil fuel to run out.

I disagree with Michael about CO2 storage, but I'm not cast in concrete in this position - I admit I don't know much about it. The amount of CO2 for the generated amount of energy is just so huge that it doesn't make sense on a first engineering guess to me to compress it and put it anywhere.

I've looked the world's energy future hard since 2004, and I'm afraid breeder reactors are the only large scale solution. Energy efficiency helps, and wind power is something we can do now. But there need to be large scale industrial solutions for the masses. Traditional U-235 nuclear can be the industrial scale transitional thing in the intervening twenty to forty years.

During that time we (most industrialized countries) end up with Thorium reactors for the majority of energy generation.

Dano said...

Part of the art of policy prescriptions is not just equity but cost. Nukes cost a lot, and who pays.

Nonetheless, these are the things we should be talking about, but are not. Rather, we still have the small minority of denialists controlling the conversation. If they were ignored (I know: API funding astroturf ops makes this hard if not impossible), much progress could be made.



climatesight said...

Natural gas is basically what if we captured methane from decomposition of landfills/livestock waste/wetlands? It would prevent those GHG from reaching the atmosphere as well as be a source of energy....essentially carbon netural.

PS Is that the same kind of grackle we have here in central Canada? It looks much browner...ours are kind of iridescent black with hints of purple and green in the right light. Pretty birds, but not very nice.

Michael Tobis said...

The bird came up on an image search on grackle. That's all I know. I really don't own rights to the lovely picture and will take it down soon. Enjoy it while you can.

The grackle is my mascot for denialists.

Texas grackles are very much as you describe. I did not know them from the midwest US or the southern Quebec/eastern Ontario.

Regarding your serious question, I recently had a similar thought. Could we raise cattle indoors and capture the methane? I think it would be too expensive to contemplate, given the way we use beef nowadays. Perhaps if beef goes back to being a luxury it might be possible.

Capturing methane from bogs would be even harder.

But this one strikes me as conceivable: growing rice in greenhouses, maybe even at very high latitudes. Imagine Canada as a net rice exporter.

Any idea like this takes a very long time and a very serious commitment between initial brainstorm and actual implementation. The problem is that what is a lot of methane for the planet is really not a lot in the local environment. You don't see people suffocating on cattle ranches or in rice paddies. Very diffuse sources like these are not viable economic sources of fuel.

On a related note. There are definitely people with plans to mine ocean clathrates. I have an inquiry pending with one such group to find out how they would prevent inadvertent release of huge amounts of methane. No answer as yet. I find the prospect of clathrate mining alarming and would like ot be reassured.

Paul said...

Cliff Mass, University of Washington meteorologist, has posted a good quick response to denier meme: "If you can't forecast the weather, how can you forecast the climate?"

Cliff has written a very successful book on Pacific NW weather. He is a very effective communicator and tireless lecturer. I am hopeful that this post marks a move by Cliff toward addressing climate change in his public education efforts.

Paul Middents

thingsbreak said...

In keeping with your wishes in terms of meta-discussions of motives and the like, I'll note this here and if you feel like not allowing it, so be it.

Over on the Klotzbach thread at RPJr's it seems that at least the victim bullying has begun in earnest. This is, as I've noted before, a person who has absolutely no problem with making and reprinting incredibly vicious and ultimately baseless attacks on the character/motives/intelligence of scientists who have hurt his feelings by pointing out when he's gone off the reservation.

His attempt at working the refs, so to speak, in light of this should be either ignored (my vote) or rightfully discussed in its broader context.

We've seen time and time again with the Lomborgs, the Palins, et al. that when one side relies on falsehoods and personal attacks they can always win the "debate" against those constrained by the better angels of their nature.

There is a difference between stooping to their level and not letting them push you around. I'm not advocating the former, but I'd like to see a hell of a lot more of the latter.

Hank Roberts said...

Michael, when you decide to revisit the issues of development/energy/local/global, here are two references, one old:

and one new: