Coiled

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:

tesla electric car

… but I’ll spare you the cliché. This car is part of a fantasy that I (and some others) […] Click to continue reading this post

Fusion In Our Future?

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 you’re wondering, the image to the right (click for larger) is a schematic representation of the 500MW reactor. It is of the classic “Tokamak” 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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Out of Step, Out of Arguments and Out of Time

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

Government Gets Stern

Well, as you can tell by looking in the “environment” category here, I’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 seriously…. more or less.

I’d have a lot more to say, but I’ve said so much about this already, and I’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 “the right thing to do”, 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 “economists” 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 report’s findings were, saying things like […] Click to continue reading this post

Ballooning Costs

I’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, you’ll recall. Well, of course the Onion has a take on this. It’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.

That’s the main joke, but to me, even funnier is the ending line of the artice: […] Click to continue reading this post

Looking for a SEA Change?

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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Well, That’s a Novel Approach

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

Why I’m Sometimes Sure We’re Doomed

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