Showing posts with label global warming. Show all posts
Showing posts with label global warming. Show all posts

Monday, November 10, 2014

Solar freakin' roadways!

What if . . . ?

Yeah, what if we built solar freakin' roadways?

What if our roads produced power? What if they never needed to be plowed or salted in the winter?

What if they were simple to repair, one panel at a time?

What if?

Yeah, what if we built solar freakin' roadways? The technology is here. Now. Maybe.

What if we produced enough power from our roads that we never had to build another coal-fired power plant? What if we produced all kinds of clean energy . . . from . . . our . . . roads?

What if our roads and parking lots eventually -- perhaps -- paid for themselves?

WHY CAN'T some city start experimenting with solar roadways? Why can't we find out, even if the developers' claims are complete pie in the sky, what the real power output is and what the real, practical benefits are in real-world conditions? Let's get some real data.

Why can't, for instance, Omaha experiment with them? We're doing major streetscaping and urban renovation in several older parts of the city. We're building major new developments around the city. Why not incorporate some solar streets and parking lots into them?

Why not apply for federal grants or matching funds for a large-scale demonstration project?

This country is staring down any number of global-warming, power-generation and infrastructure problems as we stumble forward into an uncertain future. Why not look for ways to help ourselves out of a worsening jam? Why not try this as one potential solution? We have to start somewhere. Why not here?

Well, here and in the Netherlands.

Solar roadways just might be a big part of the solution. And they look cool, too. Let's try it and see what we've really got here.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Because we're so #*@!& brilliant

This is the part of the blog where I commit cultural suicide in the Age of Political Correctness by acting like a Catholic who actually believes all that sh*t.

This self-immolation moment was prompted by Rod Dreher's blog post correctly calling out "progressives" who have the gall to disingenuously hector social conservatives that if they'd only been nicer in opposing same-sex marriage. . . .

Yeah, right. Now we're getting lectures on civility from folks whose default position involves employing the word "hater" or "bigot" when referring to people like me who think marriage may be many things, but that none of them involve, nor ever in human history has involved, a union of two men or two women.

Human dignity is one thing. But recognizing the inherent dignity and rights of persons never has precluded society denying them any number of heart's (or groin's) desires for the sake of the greater good. Throughout history, sometimes "the greater good of society" has meant something as simple as not cracking open Pandora's box.

The long span of human history has taught us a few things about what works in building a stable, healthy society . . . and what doesn't. Sometimes this wisdom comes to us through the mists of time as part of the teachings and taboos of our great religions. Think of the Ten Commandments, for instance, as God's way of telling His children "Don't put your hand on the hot burner of the stove."

Eternal 2-year-olds that we are, this is rarely compelling. Likewise, as we see today, rarely do we find ancient religious teachings and societal taboos against any manner of things -- like homosexual activity and, now, gay marriage -- compelling.

FOR A COUPLE of centuries or more, we've treated the earth itself as another thing with which we might do as we will. As if all creation belonged just to us, to use as we will and to abuse as we might, laying aside the consequences for another day.

Another day has arrived. The consequences now asserting themselves include a radically warming climate, which we now know is a direct result of centuries of wantonly belching carbon emissions into the air in pursuit of industrial might, ever more creature comforts and three automobiles in every garage.

In 1870 or 1912 or 1957, we merely thought we were building a better life through industry. Prosperity through petrochemicals. Greater happiness from greater consumption.

In 2057, our children and grandchildren will be paying for our ignorance -- and arrogance -- with brutally hot summers, vicious storms (and more of them), wilder winters and coastal cities slipping under the whitecaps of the swelling seas. Who knew?

Well, 60 years ago, we certainly had no idea. We possessed more hubris than knowledge and more optimism than ecological imagination. This was reflected in our actions, and actions have consequences . . . which someone will have to pay.

REGARDING society's wholesale acquiescence to the "gay agenda" and the acceptance and normalization of same-sex marriage, we're now hell-bent on turning taboo and societal norms upside-down within a generation. What we today proclaim as normative and just, 25 years ago was deviant and unthinkable.

With that kind of overturning of the wisdom of the ages -- with that kind of societal rush to judgment -- what could go wrong?

What could have gone wrong with the explosive growth of no-fault divorce? The normalization of procreation outside of marriage? The resulting explosive growth of single-parent households?

What could have gone wrong with the attempt to fix some of the above with more and more legal abortion? With creating a contraceptive mentality instead of a let's-build-a-family mentality? Yes, we have our "freedom," but someone has to pay the bill for it. Oftentimes, that would be our children.

Every time, it's the taxpayer. If there's a recipe for widespread poverty and social instability, "First, you have a kid but not a husband . . ." is the sociological equivalent of "First, you make a roux. . . ."

But in 1960, or '65 or '72, who the hell knew? Well, yeah, those religious nuts, but they're hardly an objective source.

"Haters" never are . . . until we're counting on them to help us clean up one of those "Who knew?" messes we've made for ourselves and now can't escape. Not only are we arrogant and ignorant, we're also presumptuous.

Good thing those Jesus-freak Gumps are too hatefully stupid to catch on to that, right?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The extended forecast: Ice Ice Baby???

It's below freezing outside, I live well above the Mason-Dixon Line, and now I read this.

"This" is from, and I think one could synopsize
the article in two words -- "Oh s***!"

In the film, "The Day After Tomorrow," the world gets gripped in ice within the span of just a few weeks. Now research now suggests an eerily similar event might indeed have occurred in the past.

Looking ahead to the future, there is no reason why such a freeze shouldn't happen again — and in ironic fashion it could be precipitated if ongoing changes in climate force the Greenland ice sheet to suddenly melt, scientists say.

Starting roughly 12,800 years ago, the Northern Hemisphere was gripped by a chill that lasted some 1,300 years. Known by scientists as the Younger Dryas and nicknamed the "Big Freeze," geological evidence suggests it was brought on when a vast pulse of fresh water — a greater volume than all of North America's Great Lakes combined — poured into the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.

This abrupt influx, caused when the glacial Lake Agassiz in North America burst its banks, diluted the circulation of warmer water in the North Atlantic, bringing this "conveyor belt" to a halt. Without this warming influence, evidence shows that temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere plummeted.

Previous evidence from Greenland ice samples had suggested this abrupt shift in climate happened over the span of a decade or so. Now researchers say it surprisingly may have taken place over the course of a few months, or a year or two at most.

"That the climate system can turn on and off that quickly is extremely important," said earth system scientist Henry Mullins at Syracuse University, who did not take part in this research. "Once the tipping point is reached, there would be essentially no opportunity for humans to react."

Monday, June 29, 2009

That sinking feeling

You know the exotic dancer in Independence Day -- the best friend of Will Smith's girlfriend?

Remember how she's convinced the aliens and their gigantic spaceships pose no threat, and how she and a hundred or so other like-minded folk in Los Angeles go up on a high-rise's roof to throw a big party, pass a good time and welcome the little green men?

Remember what happened to them?

Dat's Loosiana for you!

Because that, my friends, is the perfect metaphor for my home state. Anybody with half a brain can see that it's not benevolent forces bearing down on Planet Louisiana, and that somebody better do something quick or everybody's gonna die.

SO WHAT DO Louisiana's leaders do when the state's revenue model has blown up, the exodus of its best and brightest continues with no letup and, now, scientists say the Gulf of Mexico is going to swallow a Connecticut-sized chunk of the state and no one can stop it?


HURRICANE CHRIS -- the rapper, not some future south Louisiana apocalypse -- wants to do unspeakable things with Halle Berry when he's not serenading the Louisiana House. Meanwhile, the death ray is charging up.

Dollars to doughnuts, the Gret Stet has about as much chance against the economy, demographics and rising sea levels as Independence Day's rooftop hoochie mama had against the space aliens.

Let's look at the burgeoning Gulf of Mexico, shall we? From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

Even under best-case scenarios for building massive engineering projects to restore Louisiana's dying coastline, the Mississippi River can't possibly feed enough sediment into the marshes to prevent ongoing catastrophic land loss, two Louisiana State University geologists conclude in a scientific paper being published today.

The result: The state will lose another 4,054 to 5,212 square miles of coastline by 2100 -- an area roughly the size of Connecticut.

The reason: The Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers today carry only half the sediment they did a century ago -- between 400 million and 500 million tons a year then, compared with just 205 million tons today. The rest is now captured by more than 40,000 dams and reservoirs that have been built on rivers and streams that flow into the main channels.

Yet even if those dams were to be torn down and the river's full sediment load employed in restoration efforts -- a politically impossible scenario -- it would not be enough to turn back the tide of coastal erosion, write authors Michael Blum, a former LSU geologist now working for ExxonMobil Upstream Research Co. in Houston, and LSU geology professor Harry Roberts.

GET THAT? A huge chunk of the state, a chunk where hundreds of thousands of people now live, will be in the drink by the end of the century, if not sooner. And that's according to rising-ocean estimates not nearly as drastic as some.

None of this is any surprise. Scientists have been saying variations of this for years, and the Times-Picayune has been reporting on it all. For a while.

I wonder what wisdom Hurricane Chris -- or Halle Berry, for that matter -- might have for the masses as that economy-sized can of Whoop-Ass looms on the horizon?

Increased rates of sea-level rise spurred by human-induced global warming, when combined with the state's rapid rate of subsidence, or the sinking of soft soils, will inundate vast swaths of wetlands over the next century, according to the study.

The paper predicts water levels will rise between 2.6 feet and 3.9 feet along the coast by 2100.

If the researchers are right, such land loss can't be stopped, or even substantially slowed. That means the cause of "restoration," as efforts to build new wetlands and barrier islands are termed -- creating the impression that wetlands lost over the last 70 years can be reclaimed -- is a lost one.

Roberts said he recognized the paper's conclusions would be controversial.

"Louisiana is facing some really tough decisions here," he said in an interview. "You can't do this restoration all over the coast because the whole coast is not sustainable and it never has been."

AND LOUISIANA'S future "tough decisions" inevitably impact tough budgetary decisions the state faces in the here and now.

How much infrastructure money do you think the state ought to be wasting on places like Morgan City, projected to be in the deep blue sea in a few decades? Do you think Louisiana ought to be supporting a state university -- Nicholls State -- in as precarious a place as Thibodaux is going to be?

And what about New Orleans? Can it be saved? At what cost to the rest of the state?

Will the federal government pay to do it? Or will it cut bait?

Some small communities along the coast already are being abandoned. Many more towns -- and probably a few cities as well -- will be abandoned long before 2100. Where will those people go?

Who will pay for them to go?

DOES HURRICANE CHRIS have any suggestions for what hundreds of thousands of Louisianians might do for a living after the seafood and oil-and-gas industries have been devastated? Any clues about how to find those answers when the state's universities are being hammered by budget cuts that only promise to get worse?

So far, the only answer the administration of Gov. Bobby Jindal had for the New Orleans newspaper was that things probably aren't as dire as the geologists' report says.

Garret Graves, an adviser to Gov. Bobby Jindal on coastal issues, said that while the study's conclusions seem to him overly pessimistic, the state recognizes it will not be able to restore the state's historic coastline.

"If we can extract 80 percent or greater amounts of sediment from the river and put it in strategic places, we can be more effective in replacing land," he said.

"But we are going to have to prioritize," Graves said. "Will Louisiana look like it did in 1930? No, probably not.

"But is it possible for us to sustain a significant part of the coastal area in light of protected sea level rise and the erosion we're experiencing today?" he said, "Yes."
BECAUSE THE only thing the Gret Stet has to fear . . . is thinking negative thoughts. Surely the worst won't happen, so why think about how to deal with it?

Why try to help yourself, after all, when you can throw a crawfish boil instead? Or maybe stick your fingers in your ears and whistle a few bars of "Dixie."

And that's where we now find the Gret Stet. Atop a metaphorical L.A. (or LA) skyscraper, gazing expectantly at the spacecraft hovering above its head.

Isn't it pretty? Surely the spacemen didn't come all this way to hurt us. They've come in peace! Yeah, that's the ticket! Let's party!

Hey, what the. . . .

Monday, April 06, 2009

Nobody ever listens to Cassandra

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If somebody had warned the citizens of ancient Pompeii that Vesuvius was about to blow its top, they probably would have accused him of fear mongering.

Whole towns and cities just northeast of Rome lie in ruins today, victims of a powerful earthquake. Scores are dead. They needn't have died, because they had been warned.

An Italian scientist predicted a major earthquake around L'Aquila weeks before disaster struck the city on Monday, killing dozens of people, but was reported to authorities for spreading panic among the population.

The first tremors in the region were felt in mid-January and continued at regular intervals, creating mounting alarm in the medieval city, about 100 km (60 miles) east of Rome.

Vans with loudspeakers had driven around the town a month ago telling locals to evacuate their houses after seismologist Gioacchino Giuliani predicted a large quake was on the way, prompting the mayor's anger.

Giuliani, who based his forecast on concentrations of radon gas around seismically active areas, was reported to police for "spreading alarm" and was forced to remove his findings from the Internet.

Italy's Civil Protection agency held a meeting of the Major Risks Committee, grouping scientists charged with assessing such risks, in L'Aquila on March 31 to reassure the townspeople.

"The tremors being felt by the population are part of a typical sequence ... (which is) absolutely normal in a seismic area like the one around L'Aquila," the civil protection agency said in a statement on the eve of that meeting.

"It is useful to underline that it is not in any way possible to predict an earthquake," it said, adding that the agency saw no reason for alarm but was nonetheless effecting "continuous monitoring and attention."

EVEN TODAY, an Italian science-o-crat still was blowing off the tragically obvious: "As far as I know nobody predicted this earthquake with precision. It is not possible to predict earthquakes."

Except that someone just did. The man who, as it turns out, was

That dynamic worked out well for Troy, too.

But don't go picking on the Italians. They're just as human as the rest of us -- a motley lot who never want to hear the bleedin' obvious when the obvious involves bad tidings.

After all, who'd a thunk that, someday, a major hurricane would hit New Orleans, swamp the whole place and kill more than a thousand?

Uhhhhh. . . .

HISTORY TELLS US no one much cared to hear what the New Orleans Times-Picayune (and all its scientific sources) predicted, either. Faced with the sure knowledge more than 100,000 poor people would be completely unable to flee an oncoming hurricane, the city's best response was to settle on telling them they were on their own.

But something happened before the official notification to that effect. Her name was Katrina.

The weird thing is that Katrina missed New Orleans, landing only a swiping blow. And look what still happened.

Of course, lots of people still try to stick their heads in the sand about climate change and the rising oceans. And all they get is a snootful of salt water. Every time.

Hey! Big spender! Nothin' like rich Uncle Sam throwin' the big money around to help whole cities that have been wiped out.

From Agence France-Presse:

The United States said Monday it would donate 50,000 dollars in emergency aid to Italy after a powerful earthquake killed at least 100 people.

"We send our heartfelt condolences to the families of those killed in the earthquake. Our embassy in Rome will provide 50,000 (dollars) in emergency relief funding," State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters.
Remind me not to bother trick or treating at the Obamas' house.