links

2016-Jul-30, Saturday 14:08
mindstalk: (Default)
Time for another dump.

Israel's massive desalination project.

Messing with prices works: 5 cent charge cuts UK plastic bag use by 85%.

Smoking gun found in North Carolina: voter ID laws are explicitly racist in their intent, aimed at disenfranchising black voters.

Long piece on Hillary's climate policy.  The DNC pro-gay rights platform.

Houston Chronicle endorses Hillary, way early. They went for Romney last time.

Story on how Hillary helped a constituent with cancer.

Trump claims a tax exemption for people with income <$500,000.  Bit odd for an alleged billionaire.

Apollo http://observer.com/2016/07/space-radiation-devastated-the-lives-of-apollo-astronauts/observer.com/2016/07/space-radiation-devastated-the-lives-of-apollo-astronauts/ dying off of heart disease.

GOP thinker thinks modern GOP is doomed, by its original sin of Goldwater and racism.

Trump blames GOP for RNC ratings.  What a leader.  Such responsibility.  Wow.

Trump talks about a http://www.ifyouonlynews.com/politics/trump-may-have-just-leaked-classified-info-on-his-first-day-getting-intelligence-briefings/www.ifyouonlynews.com/politics/trump-may-have-just-leaked-classified-info-on-his-first-day-getting-intelligence-briefings/ or secret base in Saudi Arabia.  Neither one reflects well on him.

Hillary's DNC speech, annotated.  Trump's speech, annotated.

Another article arguing dieting doesn't work.

Hillary's paid speeches in context.

"Why should I *like* Hillary, rather than fearing Trump?"  A list.  A similar list -- haven't checked to see if they're kept in sync.  Not included: what she did for trans people.

America's gridlock. "What if D's won every place w/ electorate less than 75% white, lost everywhere else? D's would win 292 EV's but just 36 Sen/191 House seats."

Green Party platform calls for something that was done in 2009.  Such updating.

"what if Hillary accepted the nomination with 5 children by three different men, like Trump?"

mindstalk: (Default)
Oregon Democrats pass a big new clean energy bill http://www.vox.com/2016/3/17/11252280/oregon-clean-energy-bill

Which is playing catchup to California's green revolution (long article) http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2016/03/california-cuts-greenhouse-gas-jerry-brown-growth-energy
To be fair, that owes some to Arnold. And some Republicans are getting on board with wind and solar when it means business for their districts. But mostly, Democrats.

(As I say, Hillary with a D Congress would be far more progressive than Bernie with an R one, even ignoring the fact that they voted pretty similarly in Congress.)

How to fuck up green energy: Venezuela's socialist government is turning off power for a week. Drought is the trigger, but low investment and subsidized prices have set the stage. http://www.vox.com/2016/3/17/11254860/venezuela-electricity-crisis

Interesting thing on the complex interaction between electric car prices and oil prices. http://www.vox.com/2016/3/4/11161758/electric-cars-oil-crisis
mindstalk: (thoughtful)
Number of cattle: 1.5 billion in the world.

Weight, I dunno. A newborn calf can be 25-45 kg, as much as a small woman on the upper end. 700 kg for an adult cow or steer, 1100 for an adult bull. I don't know how many are meat vs. working animals, and presumably meat animals don't stay as adults for long. Let me guess an average mass of 300 kg.

Say an average human is 75 kg. That means the biomass of cows today could instead be another 6 billion humans, for a total of 13 billion. They wouldn't even have to be strict vegetarian humans, just need everyone to replace beef with vegetables; chicken and pigs and such would still be around.

Of course, that replacement might not be trivial, if most of the cattle are eating grass; you'd have to turn pasture into farmland. But still.

(ETA: USA has 90 million cattle, suggesting we could feed another 360 million Americans.)

***

So, potatoes are crazy. The Dutch produce 44.7 tonnes per hectare. You can feed someone for a year with about a ton of potatoes, or less, so that's nearly 4500 people per square kilometer of potato farm. Maybe 5000. The Dutch are top, but other northwestern European countries also produce similar amounts. Italy and Spain are down at 25-28 t/ha, eastern Europe around 13, for only 1300-1500 people per km2. I don't know why the differences. Climate, water, fertilizer?

There's about 14 million km2 of arable land (out of 48 million km2 of agricultural land), so if that all was growing potatoes at similar rates, that could support from 18 to 70 billion people, vs. the 7.1 billion of today.

Why so much? According to Charles Mann, potatoes produce 4x the edible dry biomass that wheat does. Why that, I don't know; I'd guess being able to put most mass into the tuber, rather than stalk. Of course stalks can be fed to livestock or furnaces or industry, so wheat chaff can turn into useful things. But for straight food production I'm guessing root crops rule.

Another source gives 189519 hectograms per hectare for the world in 2012, or about 19 tons per hectare, vs. 4.5 tons/ha for rice. Maize is 4.8, other cereals less than rice, with wheat at 3; taro is 7.6, cassava 13. Those numbers aren't so far apart in calories: potatoes are 22% dry biomass, wheat 88% (Mann again.) The gap's narrowed since the 1760s, when Andrew Young found eastern England producing 1500 lbs/acre of wheat, but 25,000 lbs/acre of potato, for 4x the calories per acre. (That, or England's just better at producing potato.) If maize is like wheat, it's slightly more food per land than potatoes. (Though I think potatoes are a more complete food.) Of course, most US corn is fed to livestock, bringing us full circle.

Potato land is given at 193,000 km2. Maize, rice, and wheat add up to about 5.5 million km2, leaving a lot of arable land growing other stuff. Soybeans are another million.

Arable land is 9% of land. Scaling somehow up to 33% of land, and using the highest number, that'd support 250 billion people. Trillion person Earth would need 4x the highest national level potato yield. Challenging.

***

So, between a vegetarian diet and more optimal growing conditions, there seems to be room for a bunch more humans. Possibly a lot more humans.
mindstalk: (Earth)
Look at the red line.



From 1974-1986, high prices, with cliffs on both sides. Ignoring the OPEC (and post OPEC?) shenanigans, I eyeball $20-25/barrel before 1974, and $25-30 from 1986 to 2002. Some higher, some lower, but mostly in that range. Since then, though... can't quite call it a steady climb, since there's the huge swing around 2008, and the line of the past few years looks disconnected from the previous line. That said, it does look like a robust and ongoing increase, with current real gas prices being at least 3x the 1990s average, and 5x the 1960s average. And the price has roughly tripled in roughly 10 years. If the trend continues, we could expect maybe $180/barrel in 2020, or $270.

It seems a failure of governance, and cultural self-preservation, that this graph isn't more widely known or salient. Granted, people care more about pump gasoline prices:



which have been a lot more stable, and quite low in the 1990s. That said, they've climbed rapidly since -- competitive with OPEC crisis peaks, and higher than historical levels since the 1930s.

"The average price of a gallon of gas from 1918 to the present is $2.60 in June 2013 inflation adjusted dollars."

The site also compares oil and gas prices directly



Looks like gas prices haven't kept up with crude oil prices, suggesting either a coming crash in oil prices, a rapid catchup in gas prices to $7-8/gallon, or some mechanism keeping them separate now.




Some other inflation charts while we're here: college costs (up nearly 3x since 1985, if I divided things properly), electricity (only since 1990, but once again 2000-2002 was a golden age of low prices, but the variation is about 10%) and gold (as I type this, gold is $1220/oz; we could still see prices fall nearly in half.)
mindstalk: (Earth)
In online debates, I've often seen some doom-laden people say "maybe solar can meet our day to day needs, but there's all the embedded energy in stuff, we'll never make that up." The classic example is the claim that solar panels don't pay for their own creation, which I'm fairly sure is false by now, if ever true. But today I'll talk about cars: how does the energy of a car compare to moving it around?

Say the cas lasts 100,000 miles, and is particularly efficient at 40 mpg, so uses 2500 gallons in its lifetime. A gallon is about 4 liters or 4 kg of water, so we're talking about 10,000 kg of gasoline. The car probably weighs 1-2 tonnes, toward the lower end if it's getting 40 mpg. Even if the car were made of air-synthesized gasoline, it'd still be a small fraction of the lifetime energy cost, and it's not, it's made of stuff like "turn iron oxide into iron". Ideally speaking, nothing in a car is going to compare to the energy density of gasoline, though it's possible processes aren't ideal.

A factor of 10 is close enough to be worth more precision. A gallon of water is actually 3.7 kg, and oil is lighter than water -- 70% the density, even. So 2.6 kg/gallon gasoline, and 6500 kg for the total. And this gives 1.3-1.6 tonnes for the weight of compact to midsize cars. So, the lifetime gasoline weighs 4.3x as much as the car, and is still probably a lot more energy intensive.


Another thing that gets brought up is moving parts around in shipping and manufacture, how components of something might have made a few trips across the Pacific or world among them. Mexican iron ore to China to become steel to become a car in the US, say. For other goods that might be significant, but here we're talking about a car, which by assumption already moves 100,000 miles under its own inefficient power. If we grant a round trip across the Pacific, of maybe 19,000 miles, that's still 1/5 the distance, and container ships are far more energy efficient than a car's engine. I'd guess 10%, making the parts-transportation energy more like 2% of the car's lifetime total. Which suggests it might be significant for things that aren't cars. Then again, Without Hot Air says shipping can be 1.5% the energy of road transport, far smaller than even my guess.


Wait! One last check. Without Hot Air again says a car's embedded energy is 76,000 kWh, which would be 2.7e11 Joules, or the equivalent of 6750 kg of gasoline. That's way more than my estimate, directly comparable to the amount burned moving the car around. Wikipedia says the same thing, but it's quoting the same source (Treloar et al.) OTOH, says "the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), pointed out that a common life-cycle assessment calculation is that 85 percent of embodied energy use associated with a conventional vehicle’s life cycle is attributable to operation and 15 percent is attributable to manufacturing and disposal". This says "on average, every kilogram of steel you add to a vehicle will add about 5 kg of associated carbon emissions." and "Total embodied energy can account for 15 to 30 percent of a vehicle's total emissions over its lifetime." and gives a table of energies, such as 38 MJ/kg for galvanized steel, which is pretty much the same as gasoline. Aluminum and plastics or rubbers are even more. And this gives a longer table, with slightly but not hugely different numbers.

So that's a range of estimates, from maybe 1:6 to 1:1. Looks like my naive chemistry failed and stuff is a lot closer to gasoline density in manufacture than I thought. Not surprising for plastic (it's solid oil) but I thought steel would be cheaper than that. Of course, at less than 40 MPG the notional car would be burning more gasoline, but still; for cars of that weight that's likely no more than a factor of 2.

Except for one last complication: I was using the chemical energy density of the physical gallon of gasoline. Total energy cost of operating a car would include mining the crude oil and refining it into gasoline, which adds at least a bit.
mindstalk: (riboku)
Fun fact of the day: the US uses 300 billion Watts of electricity. Bulk solar power is getting down to $1/Watt. So, converting the entire US electricity supply to solar would cost $300 billion, which is like half a war.

It's not actually nearly that simple because of the storage problem (night, winter). But hey, coal is 35% of that, so about 100 billion Watts. If solar + 24/7 storage cost $5/Watt [disclaimer: pulled out of my ass], closing all the coal plants (well, duplicating their capacity, anyway) would cost $500 billion.

Of course, lots of solar might need a smarter grid. "Deployment of smart grid technology from U.S. utility control centers and power networks to consumers' homes could cost between $338 billion and $476 billion over the next 20 years,"

Did I say half a war? "The U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest" -- Reuters

So full solar or coal-replacement solar + smart grid might cost, indeed, half a war.
mindstalk: (CrashMouse)
This is a book I just heard of, so clearly haven't read. The reviews I found were interesting:

http://www.ethicurean.com/2011/01/31/meat-a-benign-extravagance/

Monbiot changes his mind about a lot of things:
http://grist.org/article/food-meat-eating-can-be-an-environmentally-friendly-choice-a-geoge-mo/
'This will not be an easy column to write. I am about to put down 1,200 words in support of a book that starts by attacking me and often returns to this sport. But it has persuaded me that I was wrong.'

Long, and seems to downplay the message compared to the first two, but is also a lot more detailed about what Fairlie says:
http://letthemeatmeat.com/post/2773863502/meat-a-benign-extravagance-book-review

Some themes of "free meat", or default livestock production, manuring plants and eating waste or grass; VeganWorld as a sterile one of humans cut off from animals or nature; irony of slow/organic food vs. very heavily processed fake meat products; bad statistics behind "X gallons of water per kilogram" or greenhouse gas accusations; meat production as a built-in cushion against overpopulaiton or bad harvests

Essay by Fairlie himself:
http://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/meat-eating-vs-vegetarian-or-vegan-diets
'In short, Happy Valley was producing, from the grass that we all walked on, a substantial proportion of the protein and fat that we required for our nutrition, but we weren't eating it and instead were import-ing it from countries where people go hungry.'

'The authors use it [UN FAO report] not (as one might expect) to argue for a reduction in meat consumption, but instead for a doubling of meat consumption through intensive agriculture and factory farms.'

http://www.mofga.org/Publications/MaineOrganicFarmerGardener/Winter20112012/Critique/tabid/2057/Default.aspx
' Fairlie compares the productivity and sustainability of six cultivation options:'
'strictly in terms of calories, 2.5 acres of arable vegan organic land feeds 8 people whereas 2.5 acres of arable organic land plus 3.75 acres of pasture for grazing feeds 7.5 people.' ...I'd like to know how that was figured.

'With industrial processing of pea, bean and grain protein into artificial meat and milk, a semblance of an animal-based diet could be provided for about 200 million people (in Britain, using the same land take as the other models).”' (Livestock-free chemical fertilizer/pesticide model)

This review also describes Fairlie talking about the phosphorus limit, and argues for more realistic organic productivity limits... generally this reviewer seems be a more aggressive defender of meat than Fairlie.

' Protein is of signal importance in maintaining a full term pregnancy and having a baby of normal birth weight. A vegan diet is ill suited to this task. Animals don’t need to be told this. Even the slow moving panda bear, which eats only bamboo shoots most of its life, prepares for breeding by eating birds’ eggs.'

Rabbits turn grass into meat faster than beef, but take more human labor. (And if your concern is killing sentient beings, you kill a lot more rabbits than cows.)

links

2013-Jan-21, Monday 12:59
mindstalk: (kirin)
Annals of a banana republic:
Texas under Perry:cut school budgets, give corporate welfare, get campaign donations
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/03/us/winners-and-losers-in-texas.html?hp&_r=1&
bright note: Daimler says it avoids incentives out of school budgets
"our workers send their kids there"


Cambodia propaganda state via karaoke and comedians. Sounds like something out of Transhuman Space Broken Dreams
http://latitude.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/18/song-and-dance-hun-sens-other-power-play/?hp

MLK day poem
http://squid314.livejournal.com/353114.html

what's good for American Airline isn't good for their execs
http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/01/18/amr_corp_s_creditors_should_listen_to_the_airline_s_unions.html

government can't save
http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/01/17/government_can_t_really_save_it_can_only_invest.html


Several from the Economist:

Indian genes in Australia; stone tool upgrade
http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21569688-genetic-evidence-suggests-four-millennia-ago-group-adventurous-indians?fsrc=rss|sct

soot pollution worse than thought
http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21569686-soot-even-worse-climate-was-previously-thought-new-black

American embassy reported on Beijing pollution
http://www.economist.com/news/china/21569743-measures-air-pollution-go-scale-public-impatience-rises-something-air

Austrialia had 40 degree national average temperature , high of 50
http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21569440-uncomfortable-time-australians-especially-climate-change-sceptics-up-eleven

global warming governance: geonengineering, migration
http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2012/12/anthropocene

safe asset shortage
http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2012/12/finance

China nuclear power
http://www.economist.com/news/china/21569774-china-wants-more-nuclear-plants-anyone-else-will-it-build-them-safely-back-front

four winged protobird
http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21565922-why-microraptor-became-extinct-four-wings-good-two-wings-better
mindstalk: (Default)
http://www.thenation.com/print/article/secret-history-lead

Really long, but really good if you want to read an appalling tail of corporate malfeasance. GM and Sloan knew full well lead was poisonous, and they already knew of a fine anti-knock additive, ethanol. But you couldn't patent ethanol, while with patents on tetraethyl lead GM could make a profit on every gallon of gasoline sold. And there's conspiracy, and Caltech involvement (good) and companies still denying danger to this day. Quotes:

Read more... )

As for General Motors, Du Pont, Standard Oil, Ethyl, Associated Octel and rest of the lead cabal, it's conceivable they'll be hauled into court sooner or later, which is one reason these companies all take such an active interest in so-called tort reform legislation. You would too, if you had been a key actor in one of the most tortious episodes of twentieth-century industrial history.
mindstalk: (glee)
Privilege as difficulty level: straight white male is playing life in easy mode
http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/15/straight-white-male-the-lowest-difficulty-setting-there-is/

Argument that libertarians should be friendly to train, which were fine and profitable until crushed by government subsidies of roads and airports. It notes a 1935 law barring US electric utilities from owning streetcars, despite their natural connection.
http://keephoustonhouston.wordpress.com/2011/12/15/all-good-libertarians-are-pro-transit/
Tangentially, I've amused myself for a long time with the thought that US libertarians tend to be rural or suburbanites fantasizing about dispersed living, but actual 'Libertopia' would look like a handful of zoning-free megacities with few and expensive services in the rural hinterlands.

me on libertarian countries
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2012/05/the-administrative-state-vs-the-soc
ial-insurance-state/#comment-529769358

On balance bikes. Also links to an old book on bicycle and tricycle designs, and bicycle physics. http://www.slate.com/articles/life/family/2012/05/training_wheels_don_t_work_balance_bikes_teach_children_how_to_ride_.single.html

witch fighting fertility cult
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benandanti

George Lucas to build low income housing in revenge
http://www.movies.com/movie-news/george-lucas-grady-ranch/7883

lighting efficiency
http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2012/05/spectral-extravaganza-the-ultimate-l
ight/

break up sitting
http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2012/02/22/dc11-1931.abstract
mindstalk: (glee)
Solar zoning for cities, defining solar envelopes such that terraced buildings could be built to maximize solar access (for light and heating) while attaining high densities. High as in 100 1000-square foot apartments per acre in LA, which at 2 people per units maps to 128,000 people per square mile. Manhattan overall is 65,000/square mile. The idea of an even more environmentally friendly Manhattan justifies the icon.
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/9074
Long, originally published as 3 articles on Lowtechmagazine.

Which also informed me of the Chinese wheelbarrow, a highly efficient device for transporting loads (vs. the European wheelbarrow, which is convenient on a construction site.) Europe didn't have it, though a comment suggests Europe had enough waterways to not need it.

A Mormon flow chart is amusing. Lemba African Jews are interesting.

On the topic of cities, Jane Jacobs's 1958 essay on city design and streets vs. blocks.

Article from last year on health care systems around the world. Actually several linked articles, but I think you can figure it out. "Communist" China has totally fallen down on the health care front and is trying to reinvent universal health care. Oddly for once it's better to be rural.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/healthcare-network/2011/may/11/european-healthcare-services-belgium-france-germany-sweden


But not all links are awesome. On Israel Independence Date (don't save the date, it's set by the Jewish calendar), I learn of hunger striking prisoners being punished for their protest of indefinite detention without charge and ill treatment. Also, water cannon being turned on peaceful protest villagers. Which is probably a good thing for the overall cause, getting away from failed terrorism to the moral high ground. (Of course, I've been told one of the intifadas started out peaceful, until soldiers shot them.)

Someone's been leaking about Catholic church corruption. The Pope's response? Send in Opus Dei to hunt down the whistleblowers.


BTW, Pinker says pretty much every terrorist movement has failed to achieve its goals; the few exceptions had military or government targets, not civilian. (And if you have military targets, are you really terrorist?) Though he doesn't mention bin Laden wanting US troops out of Saudi Arabia, and didn't we eventually oblige?

Peak peat

2012-Apr-20, Friday 00:41
mindstalk: (12KMap)
http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2011/09/peat-and-coal-fossil-fuels-in-pre-industrial-times.html

This lowtechmagazine website seems to have a lot of interesting articles. Also long articles, it's not a site for casual dipping. The linked article is about the use of fossil fuels in medieval Europe -- mostly peat in the Low Countries. We think of Olden Tymes as renewable, wind and water and muscle, but that's kinetic energy. Thermal energy, for heating cooking and industrial processes, is a bigger component, and people have long been using coal or peat for those. But sometimes at bigger scales than others.

Article argues that Flemish then Dutch 17th century prosperity was fueled by massive use of peat, with 10% of the farmland ending up cut, burned, and replaced by water. Peat fueled industry and heated homes, meaning that imported wood could be reserved for construction. Prosperity was also helped by all that wind power, and also by the easy transportation of a coastal flat windy country with a high water table. Many canals were cut for transporting peat, then used for transporting agriculture. And the act of cutting the peat often created the canal.

Then the cheap peat ran out, while the English had figured out how to use coal in industrial processes despite the contaminating sulfur, the Dutch imported English coal at unfavorable rates, industry shrank, and urbanization reversed.

At one level it's really interesting. At another it's depressing: we've been dependent on fossil fuels for longer than realized, and now I can't think about falling back to 19th century levels, whether due to peak oil or due to some post-apocalyptic scenario, without wondering about how much coal was being used for those levels.

(Modernity: steam engines and turbines -- and why do we keep using steam boilers, and not turbines turned by coal combustion gases? -- convert from thermal to kinetic energy, while electricity can convert kinetic energy into heat and light. So can friction, but surprisingly badly.)
mindstalk: (robot)
So, say you acknowledge that the lifestyle Western culture pushes you toward involves a lot of life at the expense of other people, from environmental damage to benefiting indirectly from land theft and labor exploitation to I'm sure other things as well, and you'd like to do something about it. But you're not going to walk away from Omelas, with or without the ForsakenChild on your back, because you're not a saint, or because you've done the math and think living like a hermit isn't wide-scale sustainable either. So what can you do?

Donations get mentioned, but I think one thing would be to scale your donations directly to your harmful activities. In an ideal society we'd have taxes on fossil carbon, congestion, and other externalities, privatising such costs. In our society you'll have to do it on your own. Like, say, you estimate the social cost of driving is about $2.50 per gallon. Then for every gallon you buy, you could donate that much to carbon offsets or some environmental or helping developing nations charity. Though really it can be anything altruistic, since the main thing is to raise your own awareness and effective price.

If you live in one of the many countries where the gas tax is already more than that, you could defensibly skip this, even though the tax is mostly going to your country's general revenues; your gas price is already higher than it would in an ideal society with externality-taxed gasoline and income tax-funded government.

But of course there's also the natural gas for heating, and coal/gas fueled electricity, to be price offset.

And then other goods. Sometimes there's a fair trade, or organic, or "not made in China", or sustainably harvested option to go with, at a higher price of course. Sometimes there isn't, but you can still apply the principle. Research or guess what you should be paying, and donate that. Again, the difference from charity as usual is that you not just giving "what you can give", you're deliberately offsetting or pricing higher your own side effect-laded behavior.

Do I do this? No, I just thought of it today. Will I? We'll see.

Thoughts?
mindstalk: (Void Engineer)
There are 149 million square kilometers of land, including all the desert, mountains, jungle and tundra. There are about 7 billion humans. This comes out to 2.12 hectares per person, or in snowflake units, 5.2 acres. An American football field with endzones is 5353 square meters, or 1.33 acres; a pro football/soccer field is 7140 square meters, or 1.76 acres. So, depending on where you live, everyone gets 3-4 football fields of their own.

I strongly suspect that with fire and metal tools, let alone power ones, even a wimp like me could totally deforest all that area. Probably not keep tree shoots and saplings from springing up -- that'd be what goats are for -- but chop down all the multi-year large trees and keep new ones from growing far. Also expect that with guns I could kill all the large animals I didn't want. So basically, humans evenly distributed could make all large animals and many trees go extinct, or undergo severe selective pressure.

As for terraforming in the most literal sense, you can imagine how much dirt you could schlep around your five acres. A deep grave is 2x1 meters x 2 deep, and seems doable in at least a day, if not a few hours. (2x2 x 1 deep would probably be easier.) 28 years to dig out your land at that rate. Non-trivial, but conversely the human race could turn over the Earth's whole surface two meters deep in half a lifetime. That's pretty geological. And that's people with shovels, not backhoes.

Also you get to imagine staying alive by farming 5 acres. Or, probably half of that or less, what with the mountains and deserts and tundra and such.

Earth's atmosphere is 5e18 kg. We breathe roughly 10 liters a minutes, or 15 kg/day. So the human race breathes 3.8e13 kg a year, or about 1/100,000 of the mass of the atmosphere. Okay, that doesn't seem huge.

A human's metabolic energy is about 100 Watts. An American uses 10,000 watts via various means, as do Canadians and Scandinavians. So an American is using the energy of 100 humans -- and the 300 million Americans are using enough energy for 30 billion people, and 4x the metabolic energy -- and respired air -- of the whole human race. Humans as a whole are using 1.7e13 watts, vs. American 3e12 watts, and world metabolic 7e11 watts, so with fossil fuels we're "breathing" 1/3,000th of the atmosphere per year.

There's about 3e15 kg of CO2 in the air, vs. the roughly 1e15 kg of air that we "breathe" industrially.

Average land rainfall is 72 cm/year, leading to about 14,500 m3 of water on your 5 acres. Americans use 1880 a year, about half of which is for power plant cooling. Collecting all the water that falls on your land may be a challenge, depending on terrain and climate. So, not using all the water, but definitely making a dent.
mindstalk: (atheist)
Romney: I have great friends who are NASCAR team owners.

GOP fears it's 2012 or never, as demographics moves conservatives toward permanent minority?

Matt Taibbi views GOP primaries as their worst tendencies come to roost.

"The place where Canada figures most prominently into US history is as the ultimate destination of the Underground Railroad. Why does 1812 feature more prominently than that in Canadian patriotism?" http://www.filibustercartoons.com/index.php/2012/02/21/justins-least-favourite-pm/#comment-163151

Krugman latest reference post for the euro crisis.

Latest global warming data: 1998 is still warmest individual year, but otherwise the coldest year in the 2000s in on the order of the warmest years of the previous 20.

Huh, I don't remember when my mother told me Chicago had had a 70 degree December, to my shock. But it was while in San Francisco. 1999 could be a good candidate, and reflecting the 1998 heat. Not that local variations mean much.

Jayne Austen book and gun club. That's not a typo.

The failed attempt to wean D&D covers off of white males.
mindstalk: (science)
The Do The Math blog has been going through the numbers on various forms of alternative energy, mostly with an eye to how abundant they are, e.g. solar is abundant, wind is useful, tides are niche (locally useful, globally irrelevant.) I'd been planning on summarizing and linking at some point -- but he went and did it himself, with table and links:

http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2012/02/the-alternative-energy-matrix/

His whole schtick, by the way, is back of the envelope calculations on growth, energy, and sustainability issues, fed by and sometimes checked against looked up facts. It's all pretty near. And depressing/alarming. Posts outside this series have included "if exponential economic growth continued, what would that mean?" and "is there enough lead to power the US for a week from lead-acid batteries"?

Connect the dots

2011-Dec-15, Thursday 10:43
mindstalk: (angry sky)
imagining DC without public transit
http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2011/12/imagining-city-without-its-public-transportation/690/

Tea Party attacks urban planning
http://www.theatlanticcities.com/politics/2011/12/how-tea-party-upending-urban-planning/718/

methane clathrates bubbling
http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/giant-plumes-methane-bubbling-surface-arctic-ocean-163804179.html

Added: Possible reassurance on the methane front: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/14/methane-time-bomb-in-arctic-seas-apocalypse-not/

Still, I wrote my GOP Senator Scott "I oppose cap and trade because jobs" Brown asking how many risks conservatives feel like taking with the environment. Odd that gay marriage is a major social threat, but Russian roulette with the atmosphere is hunky dory.

links

2011-Jan-19, Wednesday 13:44
mindstalk: (Default)
Yeah I'm never catching up. Time to just post stuff.

US claims to opposed Israel's illegal settlements, but also opposes doing anything about it, even mostly toothless things like a Security Council resolution.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110119/pl_afp/israelpalestinianpeaceun
Meanwhile there's been a burst of recognition of the Palestinian state: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and other Latin American countries, joining a wide range of Mideast and African countries. I.e. no one with real weight yet, or willing to use that weight effectively.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_relations_of_the_Palestinian_National_Authority

Spokane pipe bomb for MLK
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/fbi-pipe-bomb-found-spokane-washington-mlk-parade/story?id=12642275

Amish growing at 4-5% a year; 85% retention rate
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/29/amish-population-growth-n_n_663323.html
Move over vampires: it's Amish romance time!
http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2010-08-09-religiousromance09_CV_N.htm

Phoenix as future Detroit?
http://actsofminortreason.blogspot.com/2011/01/what-i-learned-in-arid-zone.html

Boston colleges picture
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/76/Boston_area_college_town_map.png

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/01/gop-senator-calls-federal-laws-child-labor-unconstitutional/

ghost rockets of Sweden
http://passingstrangeness.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/the-ghost-rockets/
Seattle windshield pitting epidemic
http://www.washington.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&File_Id=5136

new cornucopian oil bet a la Julian Simon
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/28/science/28tierney.html?_r=2

flaws of and changes to AP biology and history
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/education/edlife/09ap-t.html?ref=general&src=m
e&pagewanted=all
hey, I forget, were Whitney Young AP science (or just AP) classes
double-period?

Pakistan's young lawyers support Islamic killing of liberal politician
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/11/world/asia/11pakistan.html?pagewanted=all

law school fraud
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/business/09law.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

Senate conservatives out to make US safe for pollution
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0111/47450.html#ixzz1AowLSPEc

links

2010-Jun-21, Monday 14:51
mindstalk: (Default)
Political
* Sharing and tracking net worth online
* Venn diagram of British parties. Not labeled for foreigners, but from the positions I infer that red is Labour, blue is Conservative, and yellow is Liberal Democrat. Of course,, there's stated policy and then there's raising tuition fees in coalition
* Thomas Jefferson letter advocating a 19 year limit to laws and national debts, on the grounds that one generation cannot encumber another, and that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living. Life expectancy is longer now, so his calculations might extend that number somewhat.
* Socialist fast food in Venezuela. Red-shirted waiters with such slogans as "Chavez is a winner" attend the diners. Speaking as a leftist myself... he's doing it wrong. In Boliva, socialist Coca Colla
* Crisis in California's marijuana economy


Geeky
* Testing natural selection via island lizards
* Weird magnetic slopes optical illusion. And tunnel house
* PICS: Nanoha time travel fan thingy. SAN loss Fantasy physics. Doctor Who x Green Lantern. She's One of Ours!
* Element Girls
* World's largest lightning storm. link
* Virtual reality used to transfer men's minds into a woman's body
* Artificial light causing sleep problems?. Doing without electric light

Sadface
* Woman strip-searched, abandoned at US border.
* Bloomberg wants British-style surveillance for NYC">
* School attacks
in China
* Disappearing jobs
* Hawaii vs. Birthers
* Alabama candidate denounces lie that he believes in evolution
* Arnold out to cut health programs. And The governor unveils a proposal that would cut the welfare-to-work program and reduce child care for the needy.
* Global warming and mass extinction of lizards
* Urban inequality, social mobility, and poor education
* CO2 inhibits plant uptake of nitrates
* Maine GOP searches classroom, steals labor poster.

When Clifford returned to school on Monday, he found that a favorite poster about the U.S. labor movement had been taken and replaced with a bumper sticker that read, "Working People Vote Republican."

Later, Clifford learned that his classroom had been searched. Republicans who had attended the convention called Principal Mike McCarthy to complain about "anti-American" things they saw there, including a closed box containing copies of the U.S. Constitution that were published by the American Civil Liberties Union.