I’m still stressing out over the project I’m working on and various health matters that are annoying, time-consuming but OK-ish. John D has helped as always, but don’t blame him for the fourth one, the one on Rupert’s WSJ.
Australian solar project to be the world’s tallest building
Hyperion believes their so-called “solar updraft tower” would provide much needed power to mining operations in Western Australia, and could also connect to the grid. It hopes to go live by 2014. The company is currently seeking approval for the $1.7 billion plan.
Unlike many solar projects, this one would keep the generators humming day and night, as the ground continues to give off captured heat from dusk to dawn.
Outlook for electric cars
I’ve included this one because of the insights it gives to the views of various players on the outlook for electric cars v the continued use of oil.
BP expect expect 87% of transport fuel in 2030 will still be petroleum-based, with the remainder coming from biofuels, natural gas and electricity. This seems to be typical of oil companies.
Car makers are not much different:
A survey of 200 auto industry executives conducted by KPMG released earlier this month gave an average forecast for electric vehicles to account for 6-10 percent of global auto sales in 2025 – more bullish than Exxon and BP but hardly a revolution.
Some governments such as NZ and the UK are looking for much higher penetration, but not the US where electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are expected to account for only 1.3% of the fleet in 2030.
The value of urban landscapes
Trees drop temperatures by up to 8°C, reducing air conditioner use by 12-15%. They reduce strong winds, remove air pollution and absorb water during intense rainfall events. Furthermore there are health effects:
Vegetated landscapes, especially those containing trees, improve human heath, extend life spans, reduce violence and vandalism, and lower blood pressure. Vegetation humidifies the air, easing breathing and reducing the need for medication in those with respiratory difficulties.
Black Saturday killed 172 people directly, but the heat wave surrounding it was responsible for a further 374 deaths.
Besides they look good and lift the spirits.
Rupert’s Wall Street Journal ramps up scepticism over climate change
Via The World Today we were told that the WSJ has just published an article warning presidential candidates not to panic about global warming. You see, it’s “a multidecade international campaign to enforce the message that increasing amounts of the “pollutant” carbon dioxide will destroy civilization”. Just follow the money trail. We’ve seen it all before. Scientists bucking the orthodoxy are treated like honest scientists were in the Soviet Union when Lysenko held sway.
John Quiggin in his column in the AFR reveals that the WSJ refused to publish a letter co-signed by 255 scientists and members of the US Academy of Sciences who support mainstream science.
Skeptical Science give a run down on the qualifications of the signatories and their publishing record.
Quiggin suggests that Republican voters are looking for a candidate with attributes such as sanity and at least a minimal level of honesty. Problem is, he says, that such attributes in today’s Republican Party mean automatic disqualification.
Some ocean currents warm faster than others
Again from The World Today, scientists have studied five western ocean currents off the east coasts of Africa, Japan, the USA, Brazil and Australia to find that they have been warming two or three times faster than the rest of the world’s oceans.
They don’t yet understand the significance of what they’ve found, but the warmer currents are likely to affect the weather on adjacent land.
Learning from climate history
Professor Tony McMichael of the ANU has looked at climate change over 7000 years and related it to major civilisational events, like the decline of the Mayan empire, the Black Death and the Great Famine in medieval Europe, and the collapse of the Ming Dynasty. He finds climate change implicated.
Most of the shifts that have caused the increases in hunger and deaths or the outbreaks of infectious diseases or other stresses leading to conflict have been within a band of about plus or minus one degree centigrade.
If that is what happens with one degree, we should worry about the prospect of two, three or four degrees, he says.
NASA looks for greener aircraft
Leaner, greener flying machines for the year 2025 is what NASA is seeking. Specifically they want technology:
that would allow future aircraft to burn 50 percent less fuel than aircraft that entered service in 1998 (the baseline for the study), with 75 percent fewer harmful emissions; and to shrink the size of geographic areas affected by objectionable airport noise by 83 percent.
Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman have come up with designs that meet the second objective, go close on the first, but with varied outcomes on noise reduction.
Just shows what is possible if you seriously put the challenge out there.
Understanding climate effects on species
Huffington Post looks at a new study that adopts a different position on the effects of climate on species. The usual way is the “climate envelope” model:
which describes the temperature, humidity, precipitation and other climate variables characterizing the conditions under which a species is found. Once the climate envelope of a species or habitat has been modeled, you can then project where that climate envelope will exist under future climate scenarios, and you assume that is an approximation for where species will need to go to survive.
The new approach takes account of the reality that species will be brought into conflict and will interact in various ways. As far as I can see, this has even more dire implications for species extinction.