Well, in the fine and tedious tradition of various huge Hollywood movies (perhaps most recently Batman Begins), in showing the following picture I probably should have used the blog post title “I gotta get me one of those”, or some slight variant:
… but I’ll spare you the clichÃ©. This car is part of a fantasy that I (and some others) […] Click to continue reading this post
Tuesday saw the official agreement between a consortium of countries to construct a fully functional fusion reactor, at a cost of 12.8 billion dollars, or thereabouts. The project is called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, ITER. It is indeed a huge undertaking, and we could end up with nothing to show for it, but on the other hand it would be a miniscule price to pay if we were to get the scheme off the ground. The promise of an abundant source of energy that is (supposedly) less polluting and safer to run than fission and does not add to our upcoming woes caused by climate change is too tantalizing not to pursue.
In case youâ€™re wondering, the image to the right (click for larger) is a schematic representation of the 500MW reactor. It is of the classic â€œTokamakâ€ type, in which there is a torus (doughnut) shaped region where the plasma will be magnetically contained, at a temperature of 100 million K. To learn more about fusion, you can go to the article from the UKAEA here, and the article on ITER here at their website. From the latter, you can learn about the specific scientific objectives of ITER:
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Those are the words of Kofi Annan at the UN conference on Climate Change earlier today (see AP story by Charles Hanley). His speech emphasized the “frightening lack of leadership” in forming strategies for how to tackle the huge task that lies ahead for our planet with regards emissions. Getting … Click to continue reading this post
Well, as you can tell by looking in the â€œenvironmentâ€ category here, Iâ€™m likely to be pleased to hear about the Stern report, released yesterday (Guardian article and links to report here) and also pleased to hear that the UK government is taking the report seriouslyâ€¦. more or less.
Iâ€™d have a lot more to say, but Iâ€™ve said so much about this already, and Iâ€™m not really up to a long post on this right now. But I could not let this excellent (and hopefully landmark) event go unmarked. The point, as has been said before:- Nobody is going to get going on this because it is â€œthe right thing to doâ€, since it is difficult for individuals and businesses to act in a way that makes things less than convenient for yourself for a cause that seems so abstract. Pure market forces will not do it either. We need actual leadership from the scientists -which has more or less happened for a while now- and action and structure put in place by the people who will really get things going: economists and then governments (because they follow the money).
Well, Stern is a major figure in the â€œeconomistsâ€ group, and so this is good news. I must admit though that it really did make me cringe every time I heard the announcers on BBC Radio 4, while trying to emphasise how significant the reportâ€™s findings were, saying things like […] Click to continue reading this post
Iâ€™m still excited about the news that Branson has joined the fight to put money aside to lead the way in fighting global warming issues. I blogged about it here a month ago, youâ€™ll recall. Well, of course the Onion has a take on this. Itâ€™s mean, but it is funny:
Analysts are predicting that the $3 billion Sir Richard Branson has pledged for developing energy sources to combat global warming could come close to matching the amount the entrepreneur, adventurer, and Virgin CEO has already spent on elaborate balloon-based excursions.
Thatâ€™s the main joke, but to me, even funnier is the ending line of the artice: […] Click to continue reading this post
I’ve previously mentioned examples of the manipulation or suppression of scientific information by organisations such as the Bush Administration. See for example a recent post on hurricanes and global warming. Various scientists have made it their business to speak out against these types of wrongs, either as individuals in the line of fire, as individuals noticing it in the news and blogging about it to as many as care to read, and as part of organisations here and abroad.
Well I’d like to point out a new organisation I heard about* called “Scientists and Engineers for America”, and I am pleased to share with you that their website says:
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In more news from the battle to get action on Global Warming, from Reuters a short while ago: Billionaire Virgin Group Chairman Richard Branson on Thursday committed an estimated $3 billion over the next 10 years, or all of the profits from his airline and rail businesses, to combating global … Click to continue reading this post
When the President of the Union of Concerned Scientists, Kevin Nobloch, spoke to an audience at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies earlier this year (July) on the subject of Global Warming, he very much emphasized the initiative of individual states as a means by which progress can be made while the Federal Government spins its tires, and does all that it does to suppress supporting scientific information. He did a very good job of talking about the spectrum of effects that global warming has on individual states, and the spectrum of activities that individual states can […] Click to continue reading this post
You’ve probably heard the news wherever on the planet you are. California’s legislature is commiting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels (so, by 25%) by the year 2020. I’ve got a class to prepare, and so can’t spend a huge amount of time writing a long cheerleader-type post … Click to continue reading this post
Apparently the hole in the ozone layer above Antartica is stabilizing. Some of you will remember the late 80s, when the hole was discussed a lot in the popular press. It was a huge problem. The hole we made meant that we were losing our protection from the sun’s ultraviolet … Click to continue reading this post
Some days I’m optimistic, and I think we’ll change our behaviour in time. We’ll be able to stop destroying our environment quite so recklessly. We’ll stop our dependence on oil and other fossil fuels. We’ll stop fighting ridiculous wars over such fuels…. etc. Other days, stuff like this happens, and … Click to continue reading this post
People are excited about ethanol as an alternative to gasoline. You can just grow the basic sources needed as grain, for example. Can this solve all of our problems? Careful now: Do you know how much grain it takes to make the ethanol needed to fill up the 25 gallon … Click to continue reading this post