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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Comment for Comment - Open Letter to D.Bradley_Sciencebase

Comment for Comment,

Indeed David,
It would be most enlightening to read your own Technological- to do List.

David, you have a good start with "Solar vs. Nuclear Fusion".
Easy now vs maybe some day!
This does not alter the demand for very high level research in fundamental physics and materials. For scientific credibility to remain higher than just fund bickering or stealing under false pretense, whatever the lobbies, little "big" projects such as nuclear fusion-decided, I believe?- must keep the books clean and prove added value at every step, eg. by economically viable spin-offs, furthering teaching and education, energy distribution HVDC -high voltage direct , at first site favouring decentralised energy sourcing.

I am glad you reminded us of "the nitrogen cycle" -mostly air, reported as getting hotter.

Your link to Socolow allows us to get his rough skeleton of the "fertilisers -water pollution problem" (presumably in the highly intensive farming model in use over the last few decades). At current rates of population growth some consider this model to have reached it's limit and no longer a viable response to human global requirements and benefit.

It could be "amusing" to compare Socolow's 4 main categories (well presented on the whole via your link on Sciencebase with Dale Carnegie's list of Human Desires (from around the time of the great depression 1929) The first four are given here.

1 Health & the preservation of life.
4.Money & the things money can by.

"Better to be rich and in good health than poor & in ill heath!" according to the late Shultz's "Charlie Brown" in the famous Snoopy Comic Strips & Posters.

To your remark on Virtual Reality & Exploring Natural Frontiers -you made a point, alluded to in my previous post and reply to your question-comment, on real world problems. Let's add a high mark for the good use of VIRTUAL REALITY from the free magazine Scientific Computing[LINK] (commonly called computer modeling, "sexed-up?" cf. Carnegie's full hit-list of Human Desires) and a black mark for the games version of virtual reality and its influence on fragile minds (unable to differentiate the real world of common human perception from virtual-digital world. (I trust engineers "safely engineering for safety are, indeed, not in this category). It is perhaps not too much to expect that, this highly lucrative activity, contribute to objective study in these fields.

On climate change & CO2, scepticism, I repeat, as on my blog,(previous post & comment reply to David Bradley, I simply cannot follow the sceptics down this lengthy "never ending" path, at least on engineering policy. The role of global dimming (atmospheric particles-repiratory problems - not the best way to cool things down) is also recognised. Of course no single individual nor country can properly address the magnitude of GHG mitigation required estimates. CO2 is a focal point, it could be Cost too(Stern Report). There is a special free supplement to Nature on supplement to Nature on Supplements/Collections which I'm sure you know. (Coal ref. Page40-43). Faced with a local finding of the reported biggest reserve in Europe(EU), I first shuddered, wrote a poem on Coal in an previous post, then got involved in this possibly “depressing” topic, Coal, Combustion, CO2... My sceptical nature made me check rapidly what others were saying. On the whole even in company websites no major discrepancy was found to contradict Nature's German correspondent’s article. Capture & Sequestration is a must by common accord for this most abundant fossil fuel. Now speed with which "the industrial-financial system can swing into full play is shatteringly slow - Commentators at my Institute -The Institute of Material, Mining & Minerals [IOM3-link]) - often refer to the efficiency of development (Research to Market),in wartime compared with the luxurious pace enjoyed by our post WW2 generations.

It is well worth looking at Steel production growth since 2000 and its related CO2(calculated by a fixed conversion ratio 1.7 IISI,(Eurofer 1.8): T Steel Prod X 1.7=Tonnes CO2)

(MT million metric tons), CO2 factor 1.7

1995 - 1950 (45y) : Increased Steel 567 MT, Increased CO2 963.9 MT.

1996-2006 (10y) :Increased Steel 489 MT, Increased CO2 831.3 MT.

cf. International Iron & Steel Institute (IISI) Steel in Figures, World Steel in Figures 2007 [link] much of it for car production whose steel is produced in coal combustion powered economies where CCS-Carbon Capture and Sequestration is embryonic not even in it’s infancy.(large scale “pilot” plant is Mega Tonnes MT (CO2)when Giga Tonnes (CO2)- CCS is required)

A Strong valuable protest:
NB. The open letter by the Royal Society in UK-GB, complaining about slur on the reputation of on perfectly respectable highly competent climate scientists such as those seconded to IPCC, worse, underhanded specific financing of certain scientists notably by Exxon-Mobile, in order to discredit the Climate-Change Science and IPCC.

My own feeling is that after 20 to 30 years of painful research and modelling, as perfectly transparent as one comes across these days, IPCC and the International Scientific Communities, not overly attracted to open political-media bickering and no-holds-barred campaigning, preferring the “comfort of study, erudite, codified, publishing and teaching” finally pluck-up enough courage to triple underscore the fears they were living with intimately under the political pressures of economic growth, GNP and the short electoral time span, and the longer human life span, for that matter. This should be praise rather than scorned.

As you pointed out, the original Tech-to-do- list you presented (for want of the original report) does appear very wishy-washy indeed.

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