Tag Archives: energy

201. Current Issues, Briefly #7

20 Jan

This is the 7th of a series of blogs with brief discussions of current issues. The material is based on my Tweets (@RichardLeeWB), unpublished thoughts, and descriptions of various publications that I feel are valuable and worth emphasizing.

I just listened to Alan Dershowitz, stating that “abuse of power” is not a high crime. His extensive research trying to understand the thoughts of early leaders is really pointless, and not a justification for this confusion of issues. His problem is that he does not recognize different levels of abuse. Trump’s abuse was very serious, involving elections, delayed military support, and making Ukraine more vulnerable to Russia. Ukraine is like a buffer zone for us, limiting Russian expansion. It is frightening to think that Trump aids in Russian efforts to dominate.

.   Dershowitz Fails to Recognize Different Levels of Abuse-of-power

Famous attorney Alan Dershowitz says that Trump is King, in fact, even more powerful. Well, if Trump is King, then Dershowitz is the court jester. Trumpism is like a disease that infects everyone near him. Star Ken Starr is also participating.

The NY Times just endorsed Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren. For many years I favored Warren, but recently her arguments with Bernie were a little discouraging. For the last year or so, I have been impressed by Klobuchar, who has high intelligence and good judgement.  I also think that Tom Steyer could make a good candidate and president, if elected. Note, any of the Democratic candidates would be a great improvement.  In the end, whoever gets the most public support is probably going to be our best choice for beating Trump. Another four years of him would be a catastrophe for all Americans.

Rachel Kleinfeld in a 2019 TED talk looks at the relation between politicians, gangs, and police; in an effort to understand high murder rates in certain surprising locals. She writes that several major US cities have very high murder rates. For example, in “New Orleans, more people per capita are dying than in war-torn Somalia.” Throughout the world, there are many small areas that have very high murder rates, surpassing those in wars. The ultimate cause for this, is various patterns of corruption. This TED talk is well constructed and fascinating, and the analysis is impressive.

It seems that every human system in existence for some years becomes corrupted. I just read that drug companies are manipulating patents to limit competition and raise prices.  See this December 2019 TED talk by Priti Krishtel.

Don’t be fooled by the RISING stock market. The market rises when investors believe that major corporations will be profitable. Increased corporate profits generally have little or no effect on middle-class wages. Most important: does a full-time salary cover reasonable expenses?  Also, under President Obama, the market was rising at a steady rate and when Trump took office the market simply continued this rise. Obama had major financial problems when he took office, while Trump had the benefit of Obama’s policies.

Imagine a president that encourages and supports scientific methods for improving our lives; rather than growing military, insulting our allies, withdrawing from worthy treaties, and using government for private enrichment. We need a President that works well with scientists and innovators.

Trump is desperate to win in 2020 because when he leaves office, he is very vulnerable. Briefly, the problem is that investigations of criminality will be easier and likely, tax returns will be revealed. Desperation led to the Ukraine extortion, aberrant  military actions, and other mistakes.

A sure sign of a dictator is that he uses government systems to attack his political opponents. Trump and Republicans have had numerous investigations of Hillary Clinton. The latest three-year investigation found nothing. Six Republican Benghazi investigations found nothing. These unethical investigations are not consistent with our traditional American values.

Major World problems are: climate-change and food-supply. Both can be solved with improved laws and methods for ocean fishing and policies. See TED Talks by Johnson & Davis: “Underwater farms vs climate change“.  And, see Savitz: “Save the oceans, feed the world.” National leaders must understand and use science to solve many of our problems, like depletion of fish and acidification of oceans. The same methods for increasing ocean food-supply, also help with global warming.

To Adam Schiff: Dedicated people like you should be proud to receive Trump insults. I would like to see a website that provides a medal for the most vicious Trump abuse. Adam, you are so effective and patriotic that he must attack. Keep up the great work.

Candidate Tom Steyer is becoming a top contender for US President. It is true that he has 1.6 billion and is spending much on his campaign. But that isn’t a negative because he has spent the last 9yrs on worthy causes, like climate-change and health care. Tom Steyer is a good choice.

How many Republican voting citizens have essentially said that domestic factors are great under Trump and the international policies don’t matter much. Well, Trumps disastrous dealing with Iran, which started with withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal, brings us close to a major war.

If you like people that really tell it like it is, then Steve Schmidt is your man. Earlier, he was a major Republican strategist. Starting June 2018, he has forcefully denounced the Republican party and Trump, in graphic terms. I also like the honesty in Morning Joe, and others.

Considering all aspects of the Iranian military leader assassination, it seems the dangers somewhat exceed the benefits. First, killing one official does not change government goals or policies. Second, Trump acted alone, ignoring Congress and allies. Third, major retaliation is likely. 
The Iran Nuclear Deal according to those involved, was working properly. But Trump, who is obsessed with winning and proving his superiority, decided to abandon it and impose more powerful sanctions. As a result, military actions are increasing and we are closer to war. Trump should have worked with allies on improving the treaty, rather than abandoning it. One reason for this serious mistake is that Trump’s unethical history requires him to find loyalists rather than competence.  Note that money given to Iran was mostly frozen assets that belonged to them. Some money was interest on a debt.

 

 

 

187. Climate-Change: Worthy Research Projects for Support

13 Sep

Our US government is ignoring Climate-Change dangers. I am hoping that wealthy people and corporations will make up for this by supporting research in this area (and in other ways). Below, I have listed some worthy projects.  

Briefly, global warming is dangerous and can result in fires, floods, and starvation. It is caused by increased amounts of heat-trapping greenhouse-gases (mostly carbon dioxide and methane) in the atmosphere. Almost all solutions are directed to reducing these gases, which occur naturally, but are increased by human burning of fossil fuels (coal, gasoline, etc.) in power plants, cars, planes, and by other human activities.

Seehttps://climate.nasa.gov/solutions/adaptation-mitigation/

Here is a summary of basic solutions:  

1. Reduce the flow of greenhouse gases into the air, where they trap heat and cause global warming. Limit burning fossil fuels, like coal and gasoline, for power. It is vital to stop these gases from increasing. Small increases in average global temperature have a profound effect — just a two or three degree increase can cause colossal effects.

2. Enhance the absorption of greenhouse gases by oceans, forests, and soil so that they are removed from the atmosphere.

3. Remove the greenhouse gases from the atmosphere by the development of industrial processes.

4. Work on the efficiency and cost of alternate energy, such as wind and solar, so that fossil fuels are not needed.

Some specific solutions:

Improved batteries will enhance the use of wind and solar methods for production of electricity. If wind speeds drop and the sun isn’t shining then batteries can be used to store power for use under negative conditions. Good batteries will also promote the use of electric cars. There is considerable research in this area and much is supported by auto industries.

Planting trees and preserving forests are very helpful for absorbing carbon dioxide in the air, but other methods are still required.

Black carbon (soot) results from incomplete burning of fuels or wood. There is research that suggests it makes global warming worse, and solutions are being studied. Also studied are the effects of ozone in the air. Reseachers believe that reducing soot and ozone could be very effective in conjunction with other methods.

There is research on reflecting light from the sun to reduce heat, by pumping aerosols  into the stratosphere. Similarly, reflections of sunlight could be accomplished by making  the earth more reflective. Vegetation (trees, plants, etc) could be altered to make them  reflect more light. There are various other similar solutions that are being considered.

A University of California biogeochemist, Asmeret A. Berhe, has suggested that
alterations of soil could affect its carbon-trapping power. Many human activities have led to the degradation of soil so that its ability to help with climate change is affected. The solution would be to vary farming and forestry practices.
See: https://www.ucmerced.edu/content/asmeret-asefaw-berhe

It is argued by researchers that using “restorative ocean farming” could help with climate change and also provide safer and better seafood. Most current seafood farming methods are generally harmful to the oceans. Avoiding sea “pens” for fish, and using more natural ocean enhancement could be good for health and climate-change.
See TED, June 2019: Ayana Johnson and Megan Davis: “Could underwater farms help fight climate change?”

Joanne Chory (https://www.salk.edu/scientist/joanne-chory/) has been researching how improved plants could be helpful. Adaptable “supercharged plants” could be developed that absorb more carbon, deeper underground, and for many more years. The program is the Salk Institute’s “Harnessing Plants Initiative.”

It has been proposed, that climate-change could be attacked with a method that creates useful energy. Natural gas could be used to generate electricity in a way that takes carbon dioxide out of the air. (See TED April 2017, Tim Kruger)

“Chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox previews some amazing technology to scrub carbon from the air, using chemical reactions that capture and reuse CO2 in much the same way trees do.” This TED talk (April 2018) provides an excellent summary of many efforts to develop massive reduction in atmospheric CO2. It should be noted that researchers generally consider that any one method dealing with climate-change will not be enough, and that a combination of several of the best methods is required.

Ted Halstead (TED talk April 2017) describes a plan that would break through various  barriers to climate-change solutions, and would appeal to businesses and Republicans. The “carbon dividends” plan involves a gradually rising carbon tax, and dividends given to the public. This plan was presented to Pres. Trump two weeks after his  inauguration. It was widely endorsed at that time, but apparently, after two years, it was not implemented.

 

 

185. Current Issues, Briefly #6

31 Aug

This is the 6th of a series of blogs with brief discussions of current issues. The material is based on my Tweets, unpublished thoughts, and descriptions of various publications that I feel are worth repeating and emphasizing.

I have been following the career of Elizabeth Warren for many years and have always felt she would make a great President. Now she is rising rapidly as a candidate, and may well succeed. Biden is a nice guy, and would make a good president, but not great. Warren could successfully debate Trump!
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Great news! Fox Broadcasting is even more serious now in its independence from Trump in factual reporting. And his association with John Bolton seems to be eroding. An increasing number of Democrats is favoring impeachment. A few weeks ago I was feeling the stress of his administration, now I feel much more positive.
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It is great to see more Republicans becoming presidential candidates. These provide more voices that are critical of Trump’s attitudes and actions; and will help the Democrats. It shows that it isn’t only Democrats that think he is unpresidential,  untruthful, and dangerous.
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The following is a summary of one of my recent TED comments:
Brief answers to serious global problems: World-wide food supply can be increased thru scientific methods. Shortages of land space can be solved with vertical farms in city buildings and by improved crops.  Sun, wind, and similar can supply all the needed energy for the entire world. These methods are constantly improving. More difficult is this: well-educated voters can elect excellent leaders, but education tends to be controversial.  Here is a sardonic thought: Presidential candidates must be examined and pass IQ, science, and history tests before being able to run.
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Trump “loves” the  North Korean leader, Kim. But all his “negotiations” have not stopped their nuclear development. Now it appears that they are developing a submarine that can launch missiles, a great danger to the USA. Kim’s many short-range missile tests are a danger for Japan and South Korea, but ruthless Trump has ignored these. Obama warned Trump about N. Korea. Meanwhile, Trump plays with foolish tariffs.
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According to a variety of sources (e.g. University World News) American Science is in decline, while in China it is rising. Trump has been diminishing and interfering with science throughout his presidency. It appears that he has no interest in long term benefits for our country. He is only concerned with his personal needs and in supporting rich donors. He is also responsible for a general decline in USA world leadership.
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It would take only a very small percentage of our national budget to stop the torture of immigrants. Confining large numbers of persons in a small area for long periods of time is a major torture. Often basic needs for food and sanitary items are not met.  It does NOT matter what political goals are applicable, the USA doesn’t use torture for ANY reason. President Reagan (a Republican hero) believed this and he ratified the 1984 United-Nations Convention on Torture. How can Trump’s supporters not see his cruelty (or do they have the same flaw).
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A Febuary 2016 TED Talk by Ken Lacovara is brilliant and so applicable today. In his talk, he argues that a few chance events in evolution, like dinosaur extinction, led to brain development and eventually to our human species. Dinosaurs could not stop their extinction, but the destruction of our planet and human populations can be corrected by responsible citizens and leaders with integrity.
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Trump lives in a dream world. His trade policy is tit-for-tat. I raise your tariff, then you raise my tariff. Many farmers and manufacturers are negatively affected. He acts like an impulsive child, refusing to listen to experts and alienating our allies. Trade and other agreements must be a group effort! His Iran “deal” and his negotiations with N. Korea have failed. Ignoring climate-change will have catastrophic consequences for his children and all others throughout the world.
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Trump lied about and failed to produce any new wall on our southern border, and of course, Mexico refused to pay for it. His current efforts to get something done likely involve crimes and violations of law. The wall is so important to him, that at one time, he shut down the US government for weeks to force its support.
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On a happier note: “flash Mob” movie clips illustrate how universal the joys of life are. World-wide, you can see the music, dancing, and acrobatics of flash-mobs in, for example: US, Brazil, Russia, UK, Hungary, Azerbaijan. We have so much in common with people in other countries. Sad that the greed and ruthless ambition of national leaders screw things up.
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Jay Inslee (Washington State Governor) has ended his candidacy for President. This man would have made a fantastic president. His ideas, his record as governor, speaking ability, and his promotions regarding climate-change are exemplary. He simply was not well known, but I admired him for several years. Maybe next election will be his time; or maybe he can be part of the next Democrat administration.

 

179. If the Economy is Good, then Trump Can be King?

15 Jul

I talked recently to several Republican folks who were so impressed with the rising stock market and low unemployment rate, that all else did not matter. Trump said that if he had not been elected, the market would have crashed — ignoring the fact that the market rose steadily under President Obama. Obama took over when the US economy was a disaster and Trump benefited from Obama’s successful recovery program.

The scary thing is that many people look at the world in a superficial way and just accept what leaders like Trump tell them. Several years ago, before he became President, I wrote in a blog that Trump’s worst trait is the rewriting of history, so his terrible record is obscured. This makes it possible for him to form a political “base,” with lies about his successes.

Several of my blogs have detailed the dangerous policies of Trump and the reasons why he must not continue is office. He is clearly moving towards a tyranny. These previous blogs are most relevant:

171. Why We Must End Trump Now.

170.  1000 Prosecutors Can’t be wrong.

169. In the USA, an Emerging Tyranny?

Here are the most important ideas from the above and some of his current actions. It is important for people to recognize the gradual progression towards tyranny, so that they can fight these dangerous steps.

Here are the usual steps in the transition from president to king. Trump has done all of the following:

Step 1. Form a “base” of poorly-educated gullible citizens that can be manipulated. Trump’s base was formed by exploiting already existing racism and scapegoating. The base can be violent and aggressive, to create fear and submission by others. Later, better-educated opportunists may join the base.

Step 2Get elected, using the base, intimidation, scams, illicit coalitions and whatever else works. Trump benefited from help by Russians.

Step 3. Make the appointments of all government leaders, judges, generals and admirals based on loyalty rather than competence.  This cadre of loyal officials helps to keep a tyrant in office, but produces serious mistakes.

Step 4. Change the law to benefit rich friends. An example is a reduction in pollution safeguards that help manufacturers, but put the citizens at risk.

Step 5Fight all actions against you. This can be done by attacking and limiting the press, by re-writing history, emphasizing your successes, suppressing investigations, ignoring subpoenas, and other negative legal actions. Trump viciously attacks political rivals like Hillary (“lock her up”).

Step 6. Most dangerous is any attempt to increase term limits or in any way prolonging the stay in office. All of the worst despots were able to find an illicit way to win elections or abolish elections so that they remain in power indefinitely. He has proposed that the first two years of his office were ruined by investigation and he should be given an extra two years to compensate. Thoughts like this are vile and dangerous.

As this pathway continues, the abuses increase and can be devastating. 

Here are some very recent facts. The Mueller Report finds 10 examples of Trump’s obstruction of justice. Mueller stated in a speech that his report did not exonerate the President in any way. Trump attacked four female House Reps of color (the squad) and told them to go back to where they came from. He attributed to all four, the questionable and inexperienced statements of House Rep. Omar. Trump claims transparency, but ignores subpoenas and will not release tax records. Perhaps worst of all, he still is not supporting vital efforts to limit global warming. Although the US is only about 15% responsible for the world-wide  production of greenhouse gases, it can make a big difference in leadership and financial support of relevant climate research.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

168. What Stands Out, in This Complicated World

7 May

For an ordinary citizen of the USA, I would guess that there are so many political events and ideas reported by the media — that it may be difficult to decide what is important and what to focus on. I see my role as a blogger, to help explain important current issues in a clear way. And, of course, I admit that I see the world in my own special way and with my own set of beliefs. Maybe I should explain just a little more. I believe in the following: Kindness wherever possible, a strong and prosperous middle class, the spirit of the US Constitution, respect for 99% of the law, and that the vote of every citizen should have an equal effect. To further explain the last point, a very wealthy person should not have extra influence on elections.

Here are my choices for the most outstanding and important current ideas and issues.

Climate-Change disasters are already here and we must make every effort to work on this problem, including considerable research and construction of “green” devices. This effort will take some money, but next to nothing compared to the expense of neglecting it. Briefly, numerous populated lowland areas will be permanently flooded, there will be massive migrations, and increased fires and hurricanes. Actual global warming is increasing faster than previously estimated. Climate change work must be funded, just like our military, government and other necessary agencies without asking where will the money come from.

We must put much more effort into protecting our elections from Russia and maybe other meddlers. Generally, our voting system must be hardened and reliable. Trump has put little effort into protecting our election system, but there are some efforts by various agencies and state governments to help. Our President has little interest because the meddlers have helped him.

Our government must support scientific and tech research, which can improve our lives and help with increasing population. For example, we must stop condemning GMO foods (see my blogs) and do sufficient research to improve trust in this valuable method. Nature is constantly modifying the DNA of all living things, and does not inform us of changes. GMO changes are known and we can test their safety. Humans have changed DNA for many centuries by animal and plant breeding; GMO is a similar, but quicker and more effective.

We clearly need improvements to our health care system. Abolishment of ObamaCare without a good replacement would be a catastrophe for millions of US citizens. ObamaCare provides more citizens with insurance and more safeguards for insurance loss due to various limits and pre-existing conditions.

We must maintain good relationships with our traditional allies: Canada, Mexico, members of the EU (and UK), Australia, India, Scandinavians, Japan, and others. We must very carefully work out an appropriate relationship with China and Russia. International relationships are very complicated and require the participation of many experts. Our current gov is simplistic and often resorts to coercion when good diplomacy is better. It also uses trade policies without considering all the possible effects.

Although sanctions can be useful in forcing more responsible government, they can be ineffective because the leaders of a country will always have plenty of food and various  luxuries. It’s the ordinary citizens that suffer the most. Sometimes really good, intelligent negotiation is better.

Immigration issues at our Southern border must be worked out in a reasonable and humanitarian way. This, of course, is a very complicated issue, with many valid interests to consider. Repubs and Dems must work together and form a viable plan. Our current gov has ignored real solutions and has taken action for purely political purposes, causing needless suffering for many.

The Robert-Mueller-Report makes NO statements of innocence, and includes facts related to many administration crimes, illicit actions, various wrongdoings, and suspicious activity. Ignoring these findings would be a disaster for our country. In order to satisfy certain rules and traditions, conclusions have been ignored, and left to Congress. The evidence provided in the Report can be used for various legal actions and when appropriate for articles of impeachment.

Our new Attorney General, William Barr, is a Trump sycophant who lies, and cannot be trusted. He must be nullified in some way.

Those who believe in democracy always include a free and independent press as one of the most important requirements. The best reporters, like those who work at major newspapers, don’t attack anyone without good cause. If a leader hates the press, then likely he is corrupt and making big mistakes.

Many writers have tried to explain the bizarre behavior of our President. Here are my thoughts: his desperation to keep voters leads him to contradictions, such as supporting both Israel/Jews and Neo-Nazis (Charlottesville conflict). He has no ideals or patriotism, and is only motivated by self-interest. Like most older people, he is somewhat affected by Alzheimer’s disease, which produces memory loss, repetition, and confusion. Stress and sleep loss may be other factors.

For more ideas, please read my other blogs and my tweets,   @RichardLeeWB.

 

162. Tired of Gridlock? Explore Easy-to-Read SCIENCE

16 Apr

Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump.  Tired of Trumpism, never-ending gridlock, endless speculation, and deranged  government??  To avoid this frustration and engage in something both beneficial and practical,  I suggest exploring recent findings of science. I have listed some fascinating and easy to read sources for doing this.

But first, here are some good general places to find current science facts. (Note: anything you read has the possibility of error or bias. If your research is important, use several sources.)

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), “today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues”  Sign up for free emails.

Scientific American and other science magazines. Scientific American has both easy to read and more technical articles. Its reputation is tops.

The New York Times Science section is excellent and tops. Many other good  newspapers have similar sections. The online NY-Times costs very little.

Kurzweil Newsletter. This is an excellent source for many science topics and has much special info on artificial intelligence. There are many other similar newsletters. Do a search on “newsletters on science topics” to see what might interest you. Most are free.

Curiosity Stream. For a small fee, this service has many interesting lectures for the layman.

Khan Academy is a free source of excellent tutorials for the layman. It started very simply as some rough tutorials by Salman Khan for his cousins. It was so good that it eventually got great financial support and now is much improved.

Wikipedia is a free source for everything, including science. I have used it many times and found it to be generally authoritative. The articles submitted are examined by a board of editors.

Here are some very excellent entry points for studies of science.

Manned vs un-manned space exploration is a current issue. First of all, for several years, the SETI program (see Internet) searches for electronic transmissions from intelligent species on other planets. Recently, it has been established that there are many more stars with planets than originally thought. Most recent space exploration (beyond our planet) has been done with un-manned space-ships and have provided very valuable info. This method is much cheaper and safer than exploring with astronauts. Non-scientists unfamiliar with this issue may support only manned missions.  Here is a good reference: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/robots-vs-humans-who-should-explore/   I should also add a fantastic tour of the international space station: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doN4t5NKW-k   The NASA website has much more information and inspiring pictures.

Studies of DNA and gene editing are producing incredible results. To see a broad range of topics for the layman, go to the “TED” website and select DNA (and/or CRISPR) as the topic. There are several wonderful presentations on gene editing for curing diseases and improving crops, super computers made with DNA, and studies of derived new life made with a modified (un-natural)  DNA structure. The advances are amazing and are already in progress. If you really study gene-editing you would support GMO foods, which will be more important Earth’s population increases. Nature modifies genes all the time (that is how evolution works). Scientist modifications of DNA are immediately known and can be tested, whereas natural changes could be harmful and go undetected.

Some of the most amazing findings are in the area of physics known as quantum mechanics. There is so much happening here, that I have decided to mention only one topic, “entanglement.”  This is seen with studies of the tinyest particles, such as electrons and photons.  Two electrons could be entangled: a change in electron A is also seen in a distant electron B. Recent research has eliminated any possible field interaction between the two electrons, which could be miles apart. See Wikipedia: “quantum entanglement” for a discussion. Also, there is a recent Scientific American article, December 2018, page 58, Hanson and Shalm, that supports the basic notion.

Meat can be grown from animal stem cells so that animals do not have to be raised at great cost, and then killed. See Scientific American, December, page 33, by Owen Schaefer. Currently, it is very expensive but research will bring the costs down — and people like it.

Here are some other exciting topics that can be explored using Wikipedia, TED, and general Internet searches:

Battery improvements that can enhance electric cars and green electric power grids. When green sources like windmills and solar panels are at low levels, energy stored in advanced batteries during peak functioning can fill in gaps.

There are many interesting studies of the human brain. One fruitful area is the way in which the brain recognizes human faces. Do a search on “biologist Doris Tsao” for details.

There is always something exciting in astronomy.  The latest is the very first  picture of a “black hole.”  (Search “picture of black hole.”)  Also read about “supernova.” This is an extremely powerful explosion of a star, which causes the production and distribution of heavy elements, necessary for human life and many structures.

There are many other topics for exploration, depending on your interests.  I suggest the following, for people that have little science education (see above). For interesting lectures, subscribe to the very inexpensive “Curiosity Stream.” Or, for actual education, the free “Khan Academy” works well.

Finally, studying science helps with understanding very important issues such as “climate-change”, health factors, green resources, stress reduction, and safety regulations. In practice, science is not always perfect, but it is devoted to finding truth and to rejecting bias and self-serving interests.

 

 

 

 

 

132. Latest Climate Change Info: Simplified

29 Dec

It is vital that our government supports climate change programs.The dangers are serious and some harmful effects are already happening. Helping people and leaders to understand the science is my contribution. Here are the fundamentals, briefly:

Light from Sun >> Heats earth >> Heat energy Rises /\ /\  from earth
Some rising heat is blocked ]]]] from escaping by gases like CO2
Burning fuel increases CO2 causing more ]]]]]] blockage & warmth

More Detail:
Light from the Sun passes through our atmosphere and warms our planet. The resulting heat rises and some is blocked from escaping into space by “greenhouse” gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, water, and others. Small quantities of these gases are naturally in the atmosphere, and the amount is relatively stable.

But when we burn fuel and create more heat-blocking CO2, there is excessive planet warming. CO2 and other “greenhouse gases” are like a blanket around our planet. See below for more scientific detail.

How do we know that planet warming is caused by human activity?
1, The carbon dioxide emitted by burning coal, natural gas, and oil has a unique chemical pattern — and the additional CO2 in the atmosphere bears that signature. (See below for more detail.)

2. The CO2 and warming are closely correlated with the history of the industrial revolution, which involved the burning of coal and gasolene. As the usage of fossil fuels increased, the warming increased. During the history of the Earth, there were temperature cycles, but these natural cycles are very much slower than the current rapid temperature warming. No other “natural” factors could have caused this increase. See this NASA reference for actual data:  https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

What are the dangers of global warming? Warming causes arctic and other northern ice to melt. This is already well established by photographic evidence. The consequence is warmer oceans, rising sea levels, and changes in ocean currents.

The warming of oceans increases the strength of hurricanes. In recent years, hurricanes are worse than before. Changes in ocean currents shift land temperatures and rainfall so that some lands (like California) are drier and other places are flooded. Inhabited land that is close (or even less than) sea level is starting to flood, due to a slight rise in sea level. A good example is flooding in Venice, Italy, where the sea level has consistently risen by a total of 26cm since 1870. Many highly populated coastal areas of the USA are vulnerable. Some ocean islands are no longer habitable.

Scientists have spent thousands of hours recording and studying these factors. All of these facts are published in reputable scientific journals and magazines, such as Scientific American and Science. All reputable scientists support these findings. A recent official government report and NASA report supports all these facts. Politicians sometimes dispute these facts because their donors might need to spend money to correct their operations. Scientists are not political with respect to science.
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Added scientific clarifications
Rising heat energy (infrared radiation) is effectively  “blocked” by CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Most of our atmosphere consists of oxygen and nitrogen, which are small molecules and have little effect on rising heat. Greenhouse gases like CO2 have larger molecules and can absorb heat energy. Shortly after absorption, the heat energy is re-emitted in any direction. The part that goes downward tends to warm the earth. Long before humans inhabited the Earth, greenhouse gases were in the atmosphere at an almost fixed level as a result of opposing processes that produced an equilibrium. These gases warmed the Earth enough to make it habitable for humans and other animals. Burning fuels has increased the heat, causing harmful effects.

CO2 from fuel burning can be identified because it contains tiny amounts of certain inert (noble) gases, Other “natural” CO2 has a different pattern of these inert gases. This is often referred to as a “fingerprint.

Scientists have been working diligently on the problem of added global warming. There are basically two types of solution:  1. Reduce the burning of fuels by producing alternative energy like windmills and solar arrays, and 2. Develop industrial processes for removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Number 1 is already in major use. Number 2 is being developed by researchers, but the effectiveness is not yet known . Our gov needs to support BOTH of these efforts, trying to remove CO2 (etc) from the atmosphere will not be enough.

Valuable References
Here is a scientific reference on CO2 effects
https://scied.ucar.edu/carbon-dioxide-absorbs-and-re-emits-infrared-radiation
 Bibliographies for climate change (here are 2 of many):
https://www.fs.usda.gov/ccrc/library/biblio (USA Forest Service)
http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Climate_Change_Bibliography1.html  Government Report: https://nca2014.globalchange.gov/report
 NASA info:  https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/  (this is excellent)

131. Tech Advances Needed for Survival

8 Dec

I read a wide variety of publications and often find that great technological advances are met with fear and inappropriate limitations. Our planet is rapidly changing by increasing populations and by ignoring important factors like climate change. People are afraid of GMOs, automation, robots, vaccines, DNA innovations, and even medical pills. All of us on Earth are facing very serious problems, and we must rely on reputable science to provide solutions. Below is a brief discussion of three out of the many major issues, which I hope will serve as a stimulus for further research.

GMOs.  I provided detailed info on GMOs in a previous blog (number 87). The simple fact is that nature (without warning us) is constantly changing plant and animal DNA. Evolution selects for survival, not for the human health of a food source. On the other hand, when scientists develop a GMO, we know about it, and it can be tested for health factors. Lets promote GMO evaluation and research, and not abolish them.

CLIMATE CHANGE TECH.  Failure to deal with man-made global warming (see my blogs number 34 and 126) can lead to changes in ocean currents and wind. The consequence will be new patterns of flooding and some normal areas will become deserts. These changes will cause serious hunger problems and horrible mass migrations, unless we deal with these issues in advance. There is research on technology that could reduce the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and there are other tech innovations that can help  us. Let’s encourage and financially support tech and scientific research in this area.

ROBOTS AND AUTOMATION.  Many people (particularly workers) are fearful of advances in this area. Consider this: robots and AI are now used extensively in many industries (e.g. auto manufacture), and unemployment in the USA is way down, and there are no other problems of note. Like any other  tech, robots must be programmed and used carefully. In the future, robots could help shorten working times and improve worker safety. 

CONCLUSION: TWO PATHS.  We have serious choices to make. We can put money and effort into new tech and science, or take the negative path. It is very interesting that some in our current gov do not trust experts in climate changes, but do trust experts in military details and weapons development.  Could it be that climate solutions negatively affect greedy rich manufacturers, while the rich and powerful enjoy better weapons to preserve their enterprises.  

Here is what I think! Any tech innovation has some element of risk, which can be minimized by hiring top experts for evaluations. On the other hand, I think discouraging innovation can be much more dangerous.  Worldwide current thinking, if not corrected, can lead to major wars, starvation, worse mass migrations, and horrible increased poverty. Encouraging science/tech education and support is crucial.

 

 

129. Trump vs Hillary Administration

24 Nov

I often think about how the USA would be different if Hillary Clinton had won the election. Here is my comparison of the real Trump and my speculation about Hillary, based on her extensive experiences: first lady, Senator, Secretary of State, and a successful candidacy for POTUS (won popular vote by 2.7m).

Trump: Because of a questionable history involving fraud (Trump Univ, etc), failure to divest (hotel revenue from foreign leaders), and election irregularities, and other failures, Trump could not hire top cabinet members and advisory personnel. His primary concern had to be loyalty, rather than ability.
Hillary: Her varied experiences and association with Pres. Obama would have enhanced her ability to hire top personnel. There would be no loyalty limitations. She could hire top university professors, top scientists, top officials, top economists, and experts in many areas. Look at Trumps turn-over rate.

Trump: A horrendous record of thousands of lies and extreme exaggerations.
Hillary: No need to lie. She would value a reputation for truth and reliability.

Trump: Efforts to fulfill ridiculous campagne promises, like a South border wall to prevent illegal immigration.
Hillary: Realistic campagne promises that could be worked on during her office.

Trump: Petty name calling and childish conflicts, often with very respectable people.
Hillary: She would treat good people with proper respect, even if they made critical remarks.

Trump: He tried to break up NATO and destroy our valuable relationships with traditional allies.
Hillary: She would have preserved NATO, the UN, and other international organizations. We would have maintained our powerful and helpful, long-term allies.

Trump: No respect from foreign leaders.
Hillary: Her past experience as Sec of State and many other relationships with leaders would have engendered great respect.

Trump: Refuses to respect and believe our intelligence agencies. This promotes distrust by many parties and bad international actions.
Hillary: Always respected the intelligence agencies.

Trump: Makes impulsive decisions, not considering all the implications that are relevant. Example is our trade policies that have resulted in job loss.
Hillary: Trained to make careful decisions based on real gov experience.

Trump: Does not believe human-influenced climate change, that all reputable scientists confirm.
Hillary: Would have promoted responsible actions to avoid climate disasters. She also would have encouraged many energy-saving plans.

Trump: Gave us conservative Supreme Court justices that could undue numerous valuable laws and regulations.
Hillary: Better justices in all courts.

Trump: Withdrew the USA from several important treaties. This makes the US appear unreliable and discourages agreements with other nations.
Hillary: Most existing treaties would be maintained.

Trump: Is influenced by countries such as Russia likely because of financial entanglements. He clearly favored actions by Putin. Also he supported Saudi leader that murdered a Wash-Post associate.
Hillary: No foreign influence. Decisions only made which are for the good of our country.

Trump: Developed a policy of reducing gov regulations. Some of the regulations provided pollution safeguards. People will die from toxins.
Hillary: Would keep all appropriate regulations and would emphasize health.

Trump: Promotes seriously bad immigration policies such as separation of parents and children. He does not care about human suffering. He also moved thousands of troops to the border for only political purposes.
Hillary: Would never make such policies.

Trump: Our various agencies have been gutted and the Secretaries often sabotage the agency traditional goals; example EPA.
Hillary: Just the opposite.

Trump: Promised to drain the swamp but hired extremely rich agency chiefs that have wasted money and misused various funds.
Hillary: Would have hired responsible leaders.

Trump: Inappropriate in dealing with many important situations. For example, he said that bad forest management was responsible for the fires and promoted a ridiculous plan of raking 33 million acres of forest.
Hillary: would have been appropriately concerned and would have provided financial assistance.

Trump: Was tricked by the North Korean leader. He is still working on bombs and inter-continental missiles. Kim raised his international position at our expense.
Hillary: Knew that Kim would not be reliable and would have anticipated his tricks.

Trump: Ignores experts at our gov agencies, like the State Dept. He does not coordinate well which his agency secretaries so that foreign leaders don’t know what to believe.
Hillary: Would have made great use out of experts throughout the gov.

Trump: Press is enemy of the people.
Hillary: Not enemy.

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I could add more, but I think I will stop here. You get the point. Hillary Clinton would have provided responsible and reliable leadership (no short-sighted tweet decisions), would have enhanced respect for the USA, and would have gathered around her the very top-most experts to guide her decisions.

126. Checklist for Personal and Planet Health

7 Nov

For many years I have been studying (1) human health and (2) planet health. I have a strong scientific background so I can learn and understand the relevant concepts, which are constantly changing. This essay is a summary or checklist of things we must do to improve both 1 and 2. I have combined these two, as they are inter-related. All of us can fail to deal with important factors so I have tried to list those that are easy to forget. Everything listed is like the beginning of a path to further knowledge, which you should to explore. Some of the ideas presented are controversial and possibly imperfect, but all are based on published reputable investigations, and extensive personal experience. (In many areas, consultation with doctors and other experts is advised.)

1. Human Health
a. Pay careful attention to what you eat. As you get older, this will become more important. The availability of healthy foods will depend on planetary health discussed below.
b. Limit consumption of all sugars, sugar substitutes, and simple carbohydrates, which the body can rapidly change to sugar. Briefly, the possible dangers are weight-gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, migraine headaches, cognitive ability, aging of organs, energy loss, etc. Simple carbohydrates include bread, cereals, pasta, rice, etc. Processed foods often contain harmful ingredients. The internet provides much info on this subject.
c. Limit or eliminate all dairy products, as these will affect your joints. This includes milk (use almond milk instead), cheese, sour cream, yogurt, etc. There are excellent non-dairy substitutes for these. This is most important for people in their 40’s and beyond.
d. Concentrate on eating vegetables and decrease your intake of meat and fish. Too much animal consumption can lead to gout, acid reflux and other problems.
e. Study vitamin supplements and determine what you need. If your doctor says that vitamins often just run through your body, suggesting non-use, ask him/her if they understand what a “catalyst” is.
f. Drink plenty of water, which is vital for health and energy. Water is a key factor in almost every system of the body. For most people, water makes up most of the body. Don’t forget to keep you eyes moist.
g. Most vegetable fats are good for you, while most animal fats should be limited. Olive and some other oils have many health advantages. Sufficient fiber in foods is important.
h. Remember to exercise and stretch major muscles on a regular basis. This muscle work has a profound affect on many aspects of health, including: stress reduction, emotional control, sleep, proper glucose utilization, weight control, many diseases, accident prevention, etc. Even if you are old like me and have bad knees, there still are ways to get good exercise.
i. Most pains in the skeletal system (arms, legs, back, etc) of the body are fully or partially due to inflamation, which is the collection of certain body fluids that aid in healing. Generally, the best method for most areas is application of ice. Other areas, like the back, for example, benefit most from drugs, like Aleve. Back pain often is best resolved with careful, full stretching. I have written several blogs on this.
j. If you have dry skin, rub on moisterizing and restorative lotions.
k. Make sure everything that your body comes in contact with stays clean to avoid bacterial infections.

2. Planet Health for Humans
Your health and survival actually depend much more on planet health than you might expect. Immediately, we can see some common factors. Clean water and air are important for both. Trees provide conversion of CO2 to Oxygen, which is important for humans. Here is a list of environmental factors to work on.
a. Support laws and efforts to avoid water and air pollution. Under appropriate leadership, I think most manufacturers would agree with this.
b. Discourage the abolition of regulations that improve air and water quality. It is easy for rich people to move to safe areas, but many others can really suffer from various types of pollution. One must study history to be aware of these factors.
c. Burning coal and gasoline for warmth and transportation must be limited. We need solar panels, windmills, etc for energy. Cars must be gradually converted to battery operation. This is already possible, it just needs responsible leadership.
d. We need to plant and save more trees, as humans need the oxygen they provide, and they remove the CO2, which affects global warming.
e. GMO’s (genetic modification of plants) must be promoted, along with relevant safety regulation. The Earth’s population is quickly increasing so we will need more food. (Please see my blog on GMOs.) GMOs will also help with climate change problems as they will require less farm equipment energy. Remember that nature is constantly changing the DNA of animals and plants, without notification to us. On the other hand, if scientists develop a new GMO, it is known and can be tested. Our long-term survival will depend on the innovations of scientists.
f. The Oceans of the world are immense and yet they still need our attention. Large populations of fish have substantially decreased due to over-fishing, and oil spills (and pollution) have had great negative effects. Waste matter is filling the oceans and is damaging sea animals.There are many books and essays on this subject.
g. There are many ways to conserve energy, which will become more and more important as population increases and new tech requires increased energy. In our homes we can use low energy light bulbs, efficient furnaces, good insulation, etc. Our cars, factories, farms, etc must be designed for low energy use.
h. Meat requires much more energy to produce than vegetables (about 25 times as much). Scientists are developing methods of growing meat in the lab using DNA manipulations. Eventually, it will be more energy-efficient and less costly than using cattle. I have no problem with this, but some will object. Actually, humans need only a small amount of animal food for good health.
i. Vegetables can be efficiently grown in vertical structures so that they use less land and can be integrated into cities. Use of “vertical farming” buildings will require much less transportation cost and energy, and people will enjoy extra fresh food.
j. Failure to deal with climate change is already producing more hazards like severe hurricanes, droughts, forest fires, and flooding. Climate change causes alterations in worldwide air and sea currents. This can profoundly affect rainfall, so that some areas with normal rainfall will change to deserts and other areas will get too much rain. This will affect food production and will cause massive migration problems, that will make today’s migrations seem trivial.

3. Conclusion
Our planet will not suffer because scientists and technicians have failed to provide better systems to help with adjustments. It will be greedy, callous, and ignorant politicians that will cause disasters for Planet Earth and its inhabitants. There is enough food, clothing, and shelter, for all, and even some room for moderately rich people. Responsible leaders would be able to deal with all the adaptations that are needed.