Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Whatever you do, I can assure you it will be much less fun than playing with crabs for two weeks- for which, I offer my sympathy.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Word. I wonder where Noam's political compass lies?
The Media Lens massive are pretty rad too:
"In the last decade of corresponding with journalists we have found that they often do behave as though they were living in a police state, or at least in a state policed by corporate power. Many are privately supportive and helpful. Indeed, many journalists who might be expected to be fierce opponents of our work, are in fact enraged by the mendacity and destructiveness of the media employing them. But they tell us their comments must be off the record; that they are not willing to comment over the internet (which is surely monitored); that they will help us only on condition that their names be concealed. Could it be more obvious that journalists do not feel free to write the truth about Alton and Kelner, and much else, because of the likely professional consequences?"
I've had a shit day and to come home to face this neo-classical economical, ecocidal mania is just too much for me. I need a drink.
And a spliff. I'm really not much of a reefer-fiend, preferring a glass of good rum when I'm in company. But tonight I just feel the need for that warm fuzziness and the welcome absolution of short-term memories.
I changed the epithet in the title. I regret my original term, which was designed for maximum offense and was a product of my earlier bitterness.
Anyway, how's this for an interesting observation:
" . . . arable land would store more carbon year on year for many decades if just left to revert to a natural ecosystem . . . . If we grow biofuels "on previously unfarmed land" we will obviously incur the opportunity cost that the land would (or already does) store more carbon if we DON'T grow biofuels on it than if we DO."
It was a comment from SteelyGlint below Mandletwat's article. I'm not sure how right it is but it certainly rings true to me. Carbon fixed in biofuel production on arable land is rapidly released back into the atmosphere. The obvious problem is that letting arable land 'return to nature' results in a loss of food production capacity, just as the conversion to biofuel production does.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
More lies and propaganda from the little shit in this CiF post. Read the 3rd comment. Word!
The possibility that this was, in fact, a nuclear plant, is a little remote. Why would Syria start a nuclear program? The US and Israel clearly have the country infested with agents and have satellite imagery of every inch of its surface. Syria stands to gain nothing from a nuclear program- whatever its purpose. I think this is an outright fabrication by the US to perpetuate ill-feeling towards the Arab states of the Middle East (anyone remember the "Iranian weapons" being supplied to Iraqi militia that were labelled with Roman characters, instead of Persian). Syria offered an olive branch to the US and they flatly refused it. The US has everything to gain from falsifying these allegation and Syria has nothing to gain from them being true.
The IAEA has now waded in to the debate, pointing out rightly that the US and Israel should have shared any intel on a nuclear reactor with them first and foremost. Another example of the hell-bent unilateralism of these two states.
Just for a moment here, lets pause and review what enormous and genocide-promoting gaffs US intelligence has provided us with in the past.
- "Iraq is building nuclear weapons"
- "Iran """""""""""""""""""""""""""""
- A refusal to confirm or deny whether Israel has a nuclear weapon
- that the reactor is "good to go"
- this is clearly such utter bollocks that it should instantly invalidate any further posits from them. The "reactor building" didn't even have a roof when it was bombed!
- "Syria had built the plant "carefully hidden from view""
- so 'carefully hidden' that a commercial satellite operator could get images of it? What utter shite!
- "the reactor was designed to produce a small amount of plutonium, which can be used to build a nuclear bomb"
- sorry, what? How did they know this? If the North Koreans have spent the last twenty five years running a reactor similar to the alleged one here and haven't built a working warhead I don't think there's much to fear here. Building a nuclear powerplant and building a nuclear bomb are quite, quite different kettles of fish.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
One of them presents balanced perspectives and attributes its sources. The other is hysterical and makes extensive use of unattributable, unnamed sources.
Which do we think is the most accurate? Hmmmmmmm?
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Take the economic point Lawson makes: That the economic downturn turns people's concerns away from environmentalism and towards economic stability. What he has missed completely is that the economic system itself is sick and in dire need of reform. The banks, whose idiocy and greed produced the economic crisis, aren't mentioned at all. Neither is any proposed changes to the system that might allow economic concerns to be mitigated.
That's just one example of an elephant in Dominic's room. Another would be his justified assault upon micro-generation. Damning David Cameron's poxy little turbine is entirely correct and Dominic throws some good figures in there. But this is after he has slated the EU's proposals for renewable energy generation, observing that they will cost the consumer £10 billion in total. The fact that such capacity will produce essential reductions in carbon emissions, increase energy security, generate thousands of jobs, shield us from subsequent rises in fuel costs and another million good reasons also pass mention, as does the fact that we should not be footing the bill for it- the government should be using our tax money to stabilise our economy and energy security!
But the worst piece of misdirection is Lawson's observation that "the British public . . . need educating about [the inconsistency of wind generation]" using the Texan example. His tone implies that, if the public knew about this flaw in the technology's reliability to generate electricity, they would reject such technology whole heartedly.This implication that renewable generation is flawed, uneconomic and inappropriate runs through the whole article. And, of course, it is entirely incorrect. As I have demonstrated time and again on this blog, renewable generation is perfectly capable of powering the world as long as it is applied intelligently.
Finally, and most damning of all, Lawson fails to extrapolate from his condemnation of renewable generation and covert endorsement of unsustainable development to the future: If we don't move to a sustainable society then catastrophic climate change will be inevitable and millions will die, our society will be crippled by food-poverty and mass migration of climate refuges and the economy will collapse. Dominic seems to imply that this is an acceptable alternative.
“The burning of fossil fuels sends about seven gigatons of CO2 per year into the atmosphere, which sounds like a lot. Yet the biosphere and the oceans send about 1900 gigatons and 36000 gigatons of CO2 per year into the atmosphere – ... one reason why some of us are sceptical about the emphasis put on the role of human fuel-burning in the greenhouse gas effect. Reducing man-made CO 2 emissions is megalomania, exaggerating man’s signiﬁcance. Politicians can’t change the weather.”
Monday, April 21, 2008
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Therefore- they reason- if it is clearly unrelated to real-life success, why is it enforced with such zeal and conviction?
Seriously, kids are way more perceptive than most people give them credit for. I am reminded of a quote from The Guide:, that one where the guy who runs the universe is explaining how he interprets things he sees . . . the exact one escapes me but its all about saying what you see, not what you think you see. Its a perception thing, yeah? Like seeing a British soldier shooting an Iraqi youth and thinking "wow, he just shot a kid", instead of "wow, he just saved me from a terrorist".
Final comment: Yes, I am drunk.
Friday, April 18, 2008
At least she brought this to my attention. Plymouth Marine Laboratories are a partner in the project, which contains noble objectives such as "To assist in the national aim of reducing UK CO2 emissions by 60%, by decoupling economic growth from energy use and pollution". It also contains some fucking stupid ones, such as "To assist in bridging the gap between the present day fossil fuel economy and the future hydrogen economy". Anyone who knows the slightest bit about "the hydrogen economy" knows its a fucking pipe dream for at least a century. Someone ought to point this out to George Bush.
Incidentally, did anyone else know that the word 'news' originates from an acronym of "North, East, West, South"?
Anyway, I'm impressed with this access thing but remain ambivalent towards Ubuntu, despite my early hopes for it.
BTW- Lethal Weapon (the first one) is probably one of the best films ever. Its depiction of '80s society and its failings is poignant and touching, despite Rigg's homophobic lines.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
But then Ruth has never been a fan of rationality or truth, has she? Let alone science!
This woman has more power than any of you realise. Her malignantly irrational influence and mediaeval morality need to be removed from any position of authority, now!
Peter Ainsworth is no better. He's a dirty Tory pig who wants to push poverty stricken children further into destitution and ignorance, as Johann makes clear:
"The Tories, by contrast, want to move in the opposite direction. They have kicked [Ed] Balls for trying to make these schools take more poor kids, with David Cameron calling it “crazy”. Instead they want to imitate the Swedish model, where parents can set up their own schools and receive funding from the state. But this has actually increased social segregation in Swedish schools, and even their centre-right government is backing down. On top of this, the Tories are committed to ending the educational support that already exists for the poorest kids, by shutting down SureStart centres, and cancelling the Educational Maintenance Allowances which give £30 a week to skint students to stay on at sixth-form college."
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Saturday, April 12, 2008
A personal example: I have to be on an island in the Netherlands next month for a research cruise. I could get there by flying with FlyBe (£30) direct from the city I work in . . . OR I could get the train to London, Eurostar to Brussels, Thalys train to Amsterdam, a local train to a coast town, a bus to the ferry port, a ferry to the island and a taxi or bus to the ship. Guess which I chose?
Ha! BOOOOOOM, sucker!
I am the ultimate responsible citizen, because I chose the train marathon. Actually its only a full day's travelling, leaving on a 5am train and getting there as the sun sets. But the cost? A cool £250. I really can't crow about this too much because the money comes from my budget but I really do try and get everywhere I can these days via the Eurostar. Its not just that I hate airports and flying generally- besides the trauma to my conscience its a god-awful mess standing in lines to be patronised by blank security robots with hand-held metal detectors- but I just hate the process of taking off and flying over hundreds of miles of obscured countryside. I'd rather have my soul connected to the land I'm traversing through the medium of my eyes.
Anyway, this is not a first. In the past couple of years I have only flown to Lanzarote. I have been on the Eurostar to the continent twice. If I have to go anywhere other than Europe- I will fly and I will make the most of the experience. But if I am heading into the civilisation of the continent, where trains, trams and efficient bus services exist in abundance, why scorn it? Why not experience life as it should be!
"Whirlpools created by currents as they flow over obstacles are powerful enough to tear apart bridges and offshore rigs. So why not use them as a source of renewable power?
Previous attempts to harness energy from the flow of the world's rivers and oceans have had limited success, at best. Tidal flow can only be tapped at certain times of day, while underwater turbines are only viable if they are mounted in rapid currents.
Now researchers led by Michael Bernitsas at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, are preparing for the first outdoor trials of a technology that makes use of the slow-moving currents down rivers and across the ocean.
When water flows over an underwater obstacle, whirlpools or vortices form alternately above and below it. The vortices create a tugging effect, so the result is an alternating force that yanks the object up and down
In his lab, he took a cylinder 10 centimetres in diameter and 91 centimetres long with the same average density as water and suspended it horizontally in a bath. Then he generated currents of between 0.5 and 1.0 metres per second - speeds that are common in rivers. The vortices generated by the flow moved the cylinders up and down, and by attaching the cylinders to springs that turn an electric generator he was able to convert the motion into 10 watts of electrical energy. Bernitsas calls the technology Vortex Induced Vibrations Aquatic Clean Energy, or VIVACE, and plans to commercialise it with his company Vortex Hydro Energy.
He has also come up with an idea for squeezing more energy from VIVACE. At the Offshore Mechanics and Arctic Engineering conference in Estoril, Portugal, in June this year, he will show how roughening the surface of the cylinders allows them to capture more energy. The idea was inspired by the fact that fish that use energy from vortices to help propel themselves forward also have rough skin.
VIVACE's big test will come next year, when the team plans to deploy a larger version in the Detroit river. They expect it to generate 3 kilowatts, enough to power lights on a nearby pier, and claim that still larger versions could produce megawatts of power at a cost of around 5 cents per kilowatt-hour. This would make it competitive with coal and gas-fuelled generators.
These projections are contested, however, by commentators who point out that the performance has yet to be tested in the fluctuating current of a real river. They also have doubts about the claimed cost of the power it produces, since it is not yet clear how much the system will cost to maintain. "It is very new and very different to existing devices," says Walter Musial of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. "There are a lot of questions still to be answered."
Thursday, April 10, 2008
The Corner House and Campaign Against the Arms Trade are both awesome!
Friday, April 04, 2008
If Flint wants to see land available for development in these eco-towns, she need only get in a helicopter and fly over them. They have the lowest residential densities in Europe, the most road-space and, incidentally, the greatest problem in generating communal cohesion. They can and do handle more people each year, even if it does mean more flats and fewer gardens."
"Any fool can build in what remains of the countryside and call it eco-something. It will not save life on Earth, but merely drive ever more people into hypermobility.
The way to preserve the green of the countryside and maximise the carbon-efficiency of human habitation is to make today's cities work better. They are full of useable land. They have suffered enough insults from politicians for the past century. Cities are the new green."
"[Caroline] Flint wants between 30% and 40% of houses in her eco-towns to be for the poor. Her boss, Hazel Blears, wants "half the households" not to be allowed cars, presumably also the poor. She does not say who will live in these ghettos. The idea that they can be made both privately financed and "affordable", whatever that means nowadays, for locally employed families is laughable. A 6,000-house eco-town cannot begin to sustain a full range of services, nor would any developer touch an estate where nobody can have a car.
To be poor without a car in a British new town is hell. That is why the last census showed only 14% of residents in Bracknell and 19% in Milton Keynes as car-less, against a national average of 27%. People have to get out of these planners' dream towns. Anyway, it is only big cities that do without cars: 37% of Londoners and 48% of Mancunians. Wild horses would not get Flint or Blears to live in their new towns, yet like city builders down the ages, they inflict them on the poor."
Thursday, April 03, 2008
I could do the same ofr the corporate world but I'm bored now- I think you get the gist.
Seriously- a million! I won't earn that much in my entire life in research, unless I work myself like a bitch to make it to professor one day- and believe me, that ain't worth it! It seems that, if you want to earn megabucks these days, discarding any ethics and scruples you may have is the first step. Which is a victory in the first place for those who wish to perpetuate the sordid status quo of our little planet.