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    • CommentAuthorCassius
    • CommentTimeFeb 2nd 2009
    I'm trying to cut back on meat myself. Not so easy when my family is as carniverous as they come.
    • CommentTimeFeb 5th 2009
    Energy Secretary says climate change could end agriculture in California.
    In his first interview since taking office last month, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist said his home state would suffer some of the most devastating effects of global warming if the nation did not act to slow its advance.
    Brew up your own biodiesel - via
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2009
    New turbine runs off waste heat.

    As a quick example, concentrating PV solar panels get very hot and use water or air to cool the panels. Around 10% of the energy transferred to that coolant can be recovered by this system boosting the whole system output by something like 3-5%.
    • CommentTimeFeb 15th 2009
    Orbital carbon counting.
    The new satellites will work as carbon accountants by keeping a close eye on how the Earth breathes and returning regular audits ... With the additional data that the satellites provide, researchers hope finally to shed light on the Earth’s complicated carbon cycle.
    Germany will generate 30% of electricity renewably by 2020 (but still 40% by coal!)
    Germany's reliance on lignite-fired power plants have led many to call for a return to nuclear power.
    Climate change 'beyond anything we've considered'.
    Professor Chris Field, an author of a 2007 landmark report on climate change, said future temperatures "will be beyond anything" predicted.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeFeb 19th 2009
    Australia's CSIRO seems to be pretty far advanced in bringing printed solar cells to market:

    link 1

    link 2

    The CSIRO's Gerry Wilson says once the printable cells reach the market in about five years, the cells will probably be much more efficient.

    "The print trials that we were conducting today, those printers typically run at 200 metres a minute, which is 100 kilometres per day.

    "If you were printing a solar cell that had only 10 per cent efficiency say, then we calculate that over five months, you'd be able to print enough plastic solar cells to generate a gigawatt of power."

    Total annual solar cell output currently is around one GW.
  1.  (4859.26)
    I don't think I've posted the following public-domain invention for fending off rising sea levels while generating lots of renewable power. But just in case things start to get grim for anyone reading this, and you need to build some immense coastal structures with virtually no resources or relevant expertise...

    Well, here it is. A cheap, simple way to build massive seawalls and vast means of electrical generation, with almost no resources. Without a doubt, this is definitely a post-crash, emergency-rebuilding innovation. Make of it what you will.

    Oh, and regarding the following -- yes, it is a toy compared to my windpower invention, and yes, if the tidal-redirection concept doesn't work out, you'll have to move water by a more conventional (but still very simple) means, such as a reciprocating pump attached to a piece of your tidal barrage that generates no electricity, just kinetic energy (spinning the pump around and around). (At early stages of the project, the tide alone will be a more than adequate water source, and you will only need pumps of whatever description if you intend to build a truly towering structure.)

    Chains of the Sea
    Titanic Seawall Construction with Minimal Resources

    One of the great uncertainties of climate change (aka global warming) is how fast the land-based polar icecaps will melt and consequently raise sea levels. One thing we do know is that with even modest increases in ocean levels, most of our coastal cities and towns will be gravely threatened. If you had a simple, inexpensive method for building massive seawalls, with an implausibly minimal expenditure of energy and raw materials, you would at least have an optional method for protecting major cities, or even minor towns.

    On the other hand, there are existing demands for megascale seawall projects today. The city of New Orleans might well rest easier if her citizens could quickly and cheaply raise up a wall facing the sea capable of withstanding the mightiest hurricanes, the people of the Netherlands might also feel better if they could further reinforce their nation’s already formidable levy system, and there are those individuals who would simply like to wall off a small estuary as part of a tidal-power project.

    While any of these options (and particularly the last one) should be weighed carefully from an environmental perspective, I have decided to include the following invention because any of these applications could prove necessary to people facing a dire emergency. Whether protecting newly flooded lands, reinforcing existing flood defenses or seeking a new, vast source of renewable power, societies may find themselves in need of this technique.

    The core invention behind this process, incidentally, is not mine, and has in fact apparently been in public domain for some time. But I have added two potentially key modifications to the process to increase its utility for megascale projects. The system itself – if the original inventor’s observations and calculations are correct – should prove incredibly useful in the right circumstances, even without including my ideas in its operation.

    “Sea-ment” is a cement-like material formed when you apply an electric current to a metal grid in seawater. Mineral ions dissolved in seawater (such as calcium carbonate) bond electrochemically to the charged metal, forming a kind of cement coating. Calcium carbonate is extremely common in surface waters, and is a positive ion in seawater. If a positively charged anode and a negatively charged cathode are suspended in seawater with a current flowing between them, ions of calcium and carbonate will combine and accumulate on the cathode. These ions and other minerals will continue to build up as long as the
    current flows.

    Typically you use a sheet of metal mesh, supported by conductive reinforcing bars, to serve as the cathode. These wires will become steadily more encrusted as your current flows through them. The gaps in the mesh eventually fill, creating a solid slab of what is essentially reinforced concrete. By putting sheets of this mesh within ½ inch of each other, you can create slabs of sea-ment of any thickness you choose.

    The stronger the current, the faster this material accumulates, but ironically, the weaker the sea-ment that will result. The concrete used in sidewalks has a strength of 3,500 psi (pounds per square inch). Ordinary sea-ment created on ½ inch hardware cloth is about 20% stronger. The strongest form of sea-ment is created by very slight flows of current and is accumulated over long periods of a year or more – resulting in strengths of up to 8,000 psi.
  2.  (4859.27)
    Titanic Seawall Construction, Continued...

    According to sea-ment’s inventor, Wolf Hilbertz, at a current density of 189 mA/ft2, a tenth of an inch of sea cement will accrete on ½ inch wire mesh in 170 hours. At this pace, .0005 inches/hour, the space in ½ inch mesh will be completely filled in after 500 hours, or about three weeks. At 12 volts, a kilowatt of power can generate a current density of 189 milliamps per square foot over an area of 441 square feet. In theory, then, 400 or so megawatts of electricity devoted to this work could produce several million tons of sea-ment over the course of a year. Clearly a tremendous investment of energy, though not so
    much when you consider the raw energy (and material) costs of creating several million tons of slightly less durable conventional concrete and then shipping it to a seashore for construction. But where would you get that kind of power?

    Well, leaving aside other inventions for now – and we may have something far more powerful and sustainable to share with the world in the not-too-distant future – you can always manage generate a substantial fraction of the above power using a tidal barrage system. Such systems typically effect turbidity, salinity, sediment movements and kill some fish in their turbines. But they also generate a great deal of power. (Of the three operating, the largest on the Rance River can generate up to 240 megawatts at peak production.)

    The principle behind tidal barrages is quite simple. Essentially, the tide is allowed to flow through sluices into a walled-off stretch of seashore. Then the sluices are closed, and the water flows out through the system’s turbines. Quite a bit of energy can be thus generated every time the tide recedes, particularly if you have a large (and therefore more ecologically disturbing) project, and, of course, the working turbines to tap all that power.

    Again, given the environmental concerns, tidal barrage systems are not to be undertaken lightly, if at all. (I prefer environmental impacts of effectively zero, myself.) But if you are confident enough in the measures you have taken to compensate for these problems, or certain enough that the coastal environment can not be effected by them (because you have, for example, already turned it into a barren waste incapable of supporting any sea life), or – let’s be blunt – you’re already desperate enough due to an energy collapse or global-warming meltdown that these potential problems fade in importance compared to the ecological and/or human devastation sweeping in your direction… well, then here is a simple blueprint for how to create this system rather cheaply.

    It’s assumed most organizations undertaking the construction of a megascale seawall backed by tidal-barrage electricity have limited resources in terms of energy, assuming they are not facing some kind of global disaster (like rapidly rising sea levels). After all, if you had a great excess of energy, you would not need the tidal barrage system in the first place. In that case, start small and build your way up – walling off a very small estuary, cove or what-have-you to begin with (using sea-ment, of course), and use the energy created by the ebb and flow of that particular tide to create the sea-ment-based seawall for the next, larger
    stage of your project – another, even larger tidal barrage.

    Eventually, you will have enough local power to handle whatever level of seawall construction you need… and if you’ve been clever, your tidal barrage seawalls can probably be included into whatever set of city or general coastal defenses you are working on.

    Finally, part of the point of your megascale structures may be to protect you not only from existing sea levels, but from the risk of an extremely rapid rise brought on by a sudden glacier slide-off or an unprecedented storm surge associated with a major hurricane. How can you use sea-ment to counter such problems without falling back on the crude solution of producing slabs of the material underwater and then setting those sections on top of the primary sea-ment seawall you have already created beneath the waves? That plan may work if you have a crane and many workers, but ideally you would prefer a single powerful structure more or less grown together, not a set of slabs bolted together atop an impressive, well-integrated foundation.
  3.  (4859.28)
    Titanic Seawall Construction, Continued...

    Once again we turn to my hydraulic water pump system, in this case the tidal hydraulic pump, for assistance. By setting up a robust system (as described earlier in this series) that takes in a considerable amount of water and kinetic force from the incoming tide, you can then direct a portion of that water to rise to the top of your wall, spilling carbonate-saturated seawater over your structure with every movement of the ocean. A gentle but near-continuous flow of seawater should give your electrical mesh the raw materials it needs, especially if you can shape your piping and layer your mesh to slow down and break up that flow as it descends, increasing the amount of time that water spends in contact with your cathode. At worst, you should at least be able to create a partially accreted mass of seament to serve as a framework if the structure is abruptly drowned or if you have to add something manually to that above-surface mass.

    I have not seen other assessments of Wolf Hilbertz’ figures for this slow-paced, low-energy accumulation of sea-ment, and would suggest experimenting on a very small scale to see how well his method works in your waters, regardless. If, for example, you have no environment to threaten with tidal barrages because tremendous acidification of your seawaters have killed off all native life… well, a further downside may be the impact of high acid levels on your sea-ment and wire meshes. Hopefully, most builders will not be in that position, but a small amount of inexpensive testing seems a wise precaution, regardless.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeApr 12th 2009
    Solar cell costs should drop below $1 a watt next year.

    That's the point where it becomes as cheap as coal.

    The company in question is targetting an eventual cost of 75 cents per watt.
    • CommentTimeApr 12th 2009
    Apropos of this - I used to be the original domain registrar for on behalf of the original inventor. Back in 1997 or so, it looked like the work of a total crank. I parted ways with the inventor/patent holder (for a new type of cheap photovoltaic cell) after getting paid. Now I'm kicking myself. It isn't the same domain holder anymore, but I'm sure he sold it off in the early 00's before the crash for a nice sum.
    • CommentTimeApr 12th 2009
    climate change is not an abstract future environmental problem, but that it is affecting humans now, and it is hitting the poorest first and worst.

    more info?
      CommentAuthorcity creed
    • CommentTimeApr 12th 2009
    • CommentTimeApr 12th 2009
    Here's an example: Vietnam, climate change, adaptation and poor people (Oxfam International, 2008). Nb: pdf.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeApr 12th 2009
    Scientists have produced more evidence of a strong link between climate change and the spread of malaria.

    A study in the highland parts of Kenya has identified a significant increase in cases of malaria over a 30-year period, apparently caused by a rise in temperature of just half-a-degree Celsius.


    Evidence that human-induced climate change may be affecting the Asian monsoon cycle has been published by a Chinese-US team.


    Monsoon rains in Asia are behaving ever more strangely, often with catastrophic effects, an Indian official has told climate experts at the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP) meeting in Beijing.

    The monsoons always have the capacity to cause flooding, and often do. But when the rains strike at an odd time or in the wrong place they can be devastating. A late onset of monsoon rains in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra state this year caused a mix-up that resulted in 400 drought-struck villages being wiped away by floodwaters, along with more than 700 deaths, Nagpur legislative member Devendra Fadnavis told conference-goers on 11 November.

    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeApr 12th 2009
    Climate change is already affecting people across Africa and will wipe out efforts to tackle poverty there unless urgent action is taken, a report says.

    Droughts are getting worse and climate uncertainty is growing, the research from a coalition of UK aid agencies and environmental groups says.

    It says that although climates across Africa have always been erratic, scientific research and the experience of the contributing groups "indicates new and dangerous extremes".

    Arid or semi-arid areas in northern, western, eastern and parts of southern Africa are becoming drier, while equatorial Africa and other parts of southern Africa are getting wetter, the report says.

    The continent is, on average, 0.5C warmer than it was 100 years ago, but temperatures have risen much higher in some areas - such as a part of Kenya which has become 3.5C hotter in the past 20 years, the agencies report.


    In West Africa, annual rainfall has decreased 20 to 40% from the period 1931-1960 to 1968-1990.


    Good thing it's all just a hoax perpetrated part of Obama's commie/fascist/capitalist/globalist conspiracy to take away Americans' cars - just ask Alan Martin.
    • CommentAuthoroga
    • CommentTimeApr 12th 2009
    What do you think of the hypothesis that the earth is actually emerging from an ice age and is moving into a warm and wet cycle? Antartica could melt and we'd discover the ruins of Atlantis . . .
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeApr 12th 2009
    "What do you think of the hypothesis that the earth is actually emerging from an ice age and is moving into a warm and wet cycle?"

    The current interglacial has already lasted longer than the average and we should in fact be heading back towards cooler weather - and current temperatures are already higher than in any of the previous interglacials going back about 700,000 years.

    Plus if there is an underlying warming trend, the last thing we want to do is make it worse.
    • CommentTimeApr 13th 2009 edited
    What I'm finding interesting at the moment is this. Which of your cities are going to be how far under water, depending on the predicted range of sea-level rise? Whoops, there goes Sydney Airport...

    I wish I'd found this site as a teenager because back then I was trying to write a post-apocalyptic story and decided to get realistic and find a sufficiently detailed topographical map of Sydney so I could estimate which bits of the city my characters could live in. The actual story detoured into an epic quest to find said map, which proved entirely nonexistent despite a very thorough and exasperating search of Sydney Uni's library. Now I know!
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeApr 25th 2009
    For more than a decade the Global Climate Coalition, a group representing industries with profits tied to fossil fuels, led an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign against the idea that emissions of heat-trapping gases could lead to global warming.

    “The role of greenhouse gases in climate change is not well understood,” the coalition said in a scientific “backgrounder” provided to lawmakers and journalists through the early 1990s, adding that “scientists differ” on the issue.

    But a document filed in a federal lawsuit demonstrates that even as the coalition worked to sway opinion, its own scientific and technical experts were advising that the science backing the role of greenhouse gases in global warming could not be refuted.

    “The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied,” the experts wrote in an internal report compiled for the coalition in 1995.

    The coalition was financed by fees from large corporations and trade groups representing the oil, coal and auto industries, among others. In 1997, the year an international climate agreement that came to be known as the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated, its budget totaled $1.68 million, according to tax records obtained by environmental groups.

    Throughout the 1990s, when the coalition conducted a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign challenging the merits of an international agreement, policy makers and pundits were fiercely debating whether humans could dangerously warm the planet. Today, with general agreement on the basics of warming, the debate has largely moved on to the question of how extensively to respond to rising temperatures.

    Environmentalists have long maintained that industry knew early on that the scientific evidence supported a human influence on rising temperatures, but that the evidence was ignored for the sake of companies’ fight against curbs on greenhouse gas emissions. Some environmentalists have compared the tactic to that once used by tobacco companies, which for decades insisted that the science linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer was uncertain. By questioning the science on global warming, these environmentalists say, groups like the Global Climate Coalition were able to sow enough doubt to blunt public concern about a consequential issue and delay government action.

    • CommentAuthorGWillow
    • CommentTimeApr 25th 2009
    Wow. Osmosis, we are of one mind.

    If this works out well, I think I'll make it a regular May Day thing:

    Whacky as it is, AIR is a book with a message. So, for every copy of AIR bought this May Day (Friday, May 1st), I will donate $1 to the Koru Foundation, a UK-based charity that helps impoverished communites the world over develop low-cost renewable energy projects, bringing climate-friendly electricity to villages without a single light bulb. Ironically, the people most threatened by climate change are those who had the least responsibility in creating it. I saw this firsthand in North Africa, where desertification is already destroying ancient farming cultures. By acting now, we can help ease the burden on our planet while bringing power to communities without it.

    Here is what to do:

    1. On Friday, May 1st, click here to purchase a copy of AIR: Letters from Lost Countries from
    2. Email info [at] gwillowwilson [dot] com. Write ‘May Day AIRlift’ in the Subject line. In the body of the email, copy and paste your Amazon order number. Do NOT include any financial information, your address, or anything else! Just the order number. [Note: you can also buy from your LCS; if you do, send a scan or photo of the receipt instead. Black out any account numbers/addresses first.]
    3. Sit back, wait for your book to arrive, and feel good about having done something for our planet.

    More info here. If this is an issue you guys are passionate about, I'd appreciate your help spreading the word.