Archive | Planet survival RSS feed for this section

78. Science Forges Ahead of Citizens

2 Dec

Scientific knowledge and achievement is moving so fast that it is leaving the average citizen behind and a little confused.  Most ordinary people have a poor understanding of scientific principles.  So when important functions like voting arise, the lack of understanding can lead to serious consequences.  Here are three relevant issues, and there are many more:
.
1.  Clean Coal.  Some dangerous toxins can be removed while burning coal, but coal-burning is NOT free from producing dangerous levels of CO2  (carbon dioxide).  CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere reflect heat back to the surface of the earth and cause a general heating effect (climate change).  The key factor is that the history of burning fossil fuels is closely related to CO2 levels and to a small degree (so far) of general warming.  It is clearly man-made because the changes are much too fast to be a natural earth cycle.
.
2. Understanding Climate Change.  Please see above, and also my blog-34 that gives more detail on this topic.
.
3.  Nuclear Power.  This is a valuable source of clean energy that is under-used because people really do not understand it.  It does take a certain amount of scientific knowledge to assess safeguards and other progress in this field.  Industrial use of nuclear reactors has been around for at least 50 years and has developed into a very safe system.  It is only scary because humans cannot detect dangerous radiation.
.
Understanding science also plays a major role in such areas as: abortion legislation, stem cell research questions, different types of pollution, and funding for research projects.  The world could function better if government leaders (such as congressmen) and citizens were better educated.  I would venture to guess that education will gradually improve and reach a good level at about the same time that Florida is submerged by warm and rising oceans.
.
And even if people were not required to learn a lot of science, at least there could be more emphasis on learning to evaluate and use reliable sources of scientific facts and other information.  A good start in this endeavor is to consult scientists about science and not politicians.

34. Climate Change: Simplified

6 Jan

I was inspired to write this after watching a political discussion program in which an otherwise intelligent participant stated in effect: “whats all this fuss about carbon dioxide, it isn’t a poison, we breathe it in and out all the time.”  I  would guess that half the population in the USA would agree with this.

Of course carbon dioxide is not a poison, it affects the global temperture of the earth by blocking heat energy radiating upward; the more carbon dioxide  (and other gases, such as methane)  in the atmosphere, the greater the blocking affect.

CARBON DIOXIDE IS LIKE A BLANKET HOLDING IN ESCAPING HEAT

Energy from the sun in the form of light passes through the atmosphere (about 50%) and warms the earth and waters of our planet.  Just like a greenhouse, light goes though the glass, but the same glass, (like certain gases) tends to hold in the heat energy, which is in a different form — light energy comes in, heat energy goes out.

LIGHT COMES IN, BUT RESULTING HEAT ENERGY IS ABSORBED.

Without humans, these energy transfers tend to be stable processes, which only change over long periods of time – like thousands of years. Humans affect this process by industrial and transportation factors that release large amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, mostly by burning fuels.  Here is the key factor: Climate changes over the last century or so are HIGHLY CORRELATED with the increased amounts of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, etc) in the atmosphere and is also correlated with the development of industrial activities.  The changes are happening TOO FAST  to be a part of any natural cycle.

CLIMATE CHANGE IS HIGHLY CORRELATED WITH INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENTS THAT RELEASE GASES INTO THE AIR.

The science of heat and light trasmission and absorption is  well-established.  Global temperatures are easily recorded and averaged. All of the scientific principles that govern the above processes are firmly established and reliable.  If this were a hoax, thousands of scientists all over the world would have to be involved, and that is not possible.  I have personally known hundreds of scientists,  and I can testify that the vast majority are obsessed with finding truth, and many will attack fellow scientists that they think are wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18. Energy, Food, Water and Our Survival

25 Apr

An intelligent alien from another planet might see the great surge in human population in the last couple of centuries as similar to an infestation of locusts. Evolution of life on Earth has resulted in a species with an ability to survive and reproduce so effective that it is now straining the resources of the entire planet. We are gobbling up all the fish in the seas, we are creating huge heards of cows that consume massive amounts of energy and give off climate-affecting gases, and in many places we are running out of water and resources for electricity.

Although I have been aware of all these problems for a long time, an excellent article in Scientific American by Michael E. Webber (Feb. 2015) clarifies these issues and points out often neglected interactions. He states that:
ENERGY <> WATER <> FOOD
are the three most important factors for our survival, and that the interaction between these factors is of critical importance.

Here are some examples. To increase necessary food production, overuse of water pumps has often used up electrical energy resources causing massive black-outs. Producing drinkable water by desalination of sea-water consumes too much of available energy. Planting more crops for food uses up water and energy resources. Using oil for increased energy produces atmospheric gases that lead to droughts in some areas and floods in other places. Nuclear power-plants, great for energy, squander available water required for cooling processes.Food production and distribution can consume massive amounts of energy.

There are solutions to all of our energy, water, and food problems, but we must carefully consider how each factor affects the other. Times have changed. 50 years ago, all three were plentiful, but now we must make unbiased adaptations. “Deciders”, such as congressmen, need to be well-educated (particularly in science) in order to make the best decisions. Special interests can support short-sited legislation that will make our survival even more hazardous.

A final thought: terrorism, ISIS threats, and wars in general, are all stimulated by large populations of poor people. Desperate people are easy recruits for anti-social acts. Inefficient handling of the three factors clearly promotes these desperate situations and poverty.