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AdLib On May - 9 - 2011

There are powerful and ridiculous issues that dominate our news week to week. For example, in the past few weeks:

  • The announcement last week by Pres. Obama that Osama Bin Laden had been caught and killed.
  • The Royal wedding
  • Donald Trump’s rise as a potential GOP candidate due to his questioning of Obama’s citizenship as an American.
  • Pres. Obama’s release of his birth certificate
  • American Idol eliminations
  • NBA Playoffs
  • GOP plans to destroy Medicare
  • Pres. Obama’s plan for reducing the deficit
  • The Arab Revolutions

This is not intended to diminish the importance of any of the meaningful issues above but what do any of the above matter in the long run if the Earth becomes a dangerous and inhospitable place to live?

No tree-hugger chest pounding here, just a practical consideration that if we can’t prioritize Climate Change, that is, the future survival of our race and society on this planet, all other issues that are important today could pale in the future compared to Climate Change.

Tonight, the overflowing Mississippi River is anticipated to crest, plunging many more homes and communities underwater, inflicting suffering and possibly death to our fellow citizens in several states and adding huge amounts of debt for the communities, states and this nation which will need to repair the damage.

We’ve seen one of our major cities destroyed in the aftermath of an enormous hurricane.

Each winter seems to break records for cold, or snowfall and each Summer seems to break records for heat and heat-related deaths.

Droughts have become more widespread globally, the lack of potable water is growing and the resulting problems with smaller nations growing sufficient food for their populations are increasing.

The rainforest continues to be swiftly slashed and the southern and northern ice caps are melting at faster-than-predicted rates.

Yet, while the seas rise in coastal areas around the world and weather related disasters multiply in their frequency and lethal force, we as a society have moved on from the days of “An Inconvenient Truth” and addressing climate change as a priority.

The landscape of the American psyche is not unfamiliar. The public responds to that which is most provocative and evocative in the short term over that which is a long term issue needing to be solved.

For a while there, a few years back, the public was gripped by the threat of global warming and the urgency to reverse it before it’s too late. With oil industry execs in the White House at the time, that momentum was successfully ignored and the public moved on to other issues.

In fact, according to a CBS News/New York Times Poll from April 15-20, climate change isn’t even on the list of issues that matter to Americans:

“What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?” Open-ended

Economy/Jobs – 39%
Budget deficit/National debt – 15%
Health care – 6%
Fuel costs – 5%
War/Iraq/Afghanistan – 4%
Partisan politics – 3%
Moral values/Family values – 3%
Other – 20%
Unsure – 5%

I’d suggest that today more Americans would actually support greater pollution if it would reduce gas prices in the short term by 20-40 cents.

Climate Change isn’t as “sexy” right now as it was and to a national audience out there that has been conditioned by tv and society over their lifetime to have full permission to gratify themselves above all else, this is not surprising.

Politics and the news have been transformed into highly polished circus sideshows, meant to get the rubes in the tent and spending their money. That’s not to say that there aren’t quality politicians and news out there, just that what works best in both fields has little to do with substance and doing what’s best for the public.

The world of politics is important, it genuinely impacts us and deserves our participation and attention. There are many other issues that are critical too. The thrust here is to say that we as a society need to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, even when that gum has lost a lot of its exciting flavor.

There is an inordinate amount of focus on the short term and short term problems and so little focus on the long term.

Climate change is one of those long term issues where there is no quick finish line and the benefits will nebulous because there’s no way to quantify things that don’t happen.

Imagine though if America and the world had begun to tackle Climate Change decades ago and Katrina never happened, many incidents of torrential rains and flooding, droughts and other weather related destruction just didn’t occur. The benefits to our nation and the world, over decades and centuries would be incalculable.

Yet, like most of the long term issues we face as a nation, making long term commitments is very difficult for America mainly because of politics. For example, if the GOP ran in 2012 on “Drill, baby, drill!” and “We’ll lower gas prices!”, the Dems would have a losing hand by running on “Shared sacrifice on reducing carbon emissions can help us prevent ongoing destruction to our country and planet from Climate Change”.

Promoting what’s best for our nation in the long run over what would gratify Americans most in the short term would simply be bad politics in today’s US.

So, here we are, in conflicts over birth certificates and how much credit Bush should be given for Bin Laden’s killing…fiddling while Home burns.

From the LA Times:

The greatest increase in surface air temperature has happened in autumn, in regions where sea ice has disappeared by the end of summer. This suggests that the sea is absorbing more of the sun’s energy during the summer because of the loss of ice cover. The extra energy is being released as heat in autumn, further warming the Arctic lower atmosphere. Over land, the number of days with snow cover has changed mostly in spring. Early snow melt is accelerated by earlier and stronger warming of land surfaces that are no longer snow-covered.

These processes are termed “feedbacks.” Snow feedbacks are well known. The sea-ice feedback has been anticipated by climate scientists, but clear evidence for it has only been observed in the Arctic in the past five years.

Sea levels are expected to rise by 35 to 63 inches by 2100, far more than the 2007 projection of 7 to 23 inches made by the IPCC, the report says. Temperatures from 2005 through 2010 have been the highest since records began in 1880, the study shows.

The melting will not only affect sea levels; it has the potential to alter sea currents that regulate climate, the report warns:

All the main sources of freshwater entering the Arctic Ocean are increasing — river discharge, rain/snow, and melting glaciers, ice caps, and the Greenland Ice Sheet. Recent calculations estimate that an extra 7700 km3 of freshwater -– equivalent to one meter of water over the entire land surface of Australia -– has been added to the Arctic Ocean in recent years. There is a risk that this could alter large-scale ocean currents that affect climate on a continental scale.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/05/climate-change-arctic-ice-melting-faster-sea-level-to-rise-more-report-says.html

Just because the MSM has decided an issue isn’t important enough to talk about anymore, that doesn’t mean it’s true nor that we should allow them to influence us on caring about it. All of the problems we face now would become hugely inflamed by the growth of Climate Change. The deficit, jobs, gas prices, food prices, the price of water becoming an issue, etc.

It will be a huge task to push Climate Change back up the ladder as an important concern to Americans. If we can’t, it will be an unavoidable concern down the line which will affect everyone but one which no amount of effort will be able to reverse.

Written by AdLib

My motto is, "It is better to have blogged and lost hours of your day, than never to have blogged at all."

171 Responses so far.

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  1. bito says:

    This is what a Government can do-part two (see below)
    Create Demand

    Obama orders shift to alternate fuel vehicles in federal fleet

    President Obama Tuesday gave agencies their marching orders on revamping agency motor vehicle fleets to save energy and curb pollution.

    In a presidential memorandum following up on Executive Order 13514 of Oct. 5, 2009, Obama informed agencies that by Dec. 31, 2015, “all new light-duty vehicles leased or purchased by agencies must be alternative fueled vehicles, such as hybrid or electric, compressed natural gas, or biofuel.”[…]

    Effective within 180 days of today’s memorandum, the president said, any executive fleet vehicles that are larger than a midsize sedan or do not comply with alternative fueled vehicle requirements must be disclosed on agency websites.

    http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0511/052411federal-fleet.htm?rss=getoday&oref=rss

    The US government has the worlds largest vehicle fleet in the world and as in the example below, it will create demand for the R&D of fuel efficient/cleaner vehicles, fueling stations, and production of them.

    There is a process that Congress can take to fight an EO, and while it is rarely used, this Congress will probably do it protecting “Big Oil’s interests.
    What will be their argument(s)? Big Government intrusion, costs (when it will save money), kowtowing to the Union auto workers…..?

    Presidential Memorandum--Federal Fleet Performance

    The Federal Government operates the largest fleet of light duty vehicles in America. We owe a responsibility to American citizens to lead by example and contribute to meeting our national goals of reducing oil imports by one-third by 2025 and putting one million advanced vehicles on the road by 2015.

    Living up to that responsibility means the Federal fleet should operate only as many vehicles as needed to work efficiently, leveraging Federal purchasing dollars to build manufacturing capacity for more alternative fueled vehicles, and reducing petroleum consumption through efficiency and alternative fuels.

    • AdLib says:

      That is very good news, indeed. Something meaningful that can be done without dealing with the Repubs in Congress.

      This and EOs should be Obama’s focus, use his leadership of the government to steer that major infrastructure into the direction we want public industry to go. As you point out, building an infrastructure to service this huge fleet will establish it for all.

      • bito says:

        Yes, AdLib there are good EO’s and then Bush EO’s and this is a good one. The cost is minimal, if not cost saving, and the demand for it will benefit everyone and the earth. It may be seem small now but it will create a wave of development.

  2. bito says:

    This will never work! It’s too bloody smart, too simple!

    Japan eyeing plan for solar panels on all new buildings
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/22/japan-solar-idUSL3E7GM00M20110522

    There was a move afoot in Tucson, AZ to do this,but it was defeated by the political powerful (R) Building Association, too costly, meanwhile peoples utility bills go up, new power plants, transmission stations and power lines are built. Of course, Tucson has 9-10 cloudy days a year, so it wouldn’t here, right?

    OK, you business brains: What happens when a demand is created? More innovation, more efficient products, lower manufacturing costs, more jobs…..?

    I read an article a while back (did I post it?) that if you take the costs of building additional power plants, transmission line and their upkeep, solar power is on near par cost-wise. Oh, and a bit less climate changing pollutants.

    Too smart, too simple, won’t work!

    (sorry Kalima if you already posted this article, I missed it)

  3. PatsyT says:

    Careful -- Spicy language alert -- !!!! Very funny!


  4. PatsyT says:

    Has anyone run across this ….


  5. Khirad says:

    A little taste of more problems to come, and how it’s not all unrelated.

    http://ecocentric.blogs.time.com/2010/12/14/what-if-yemen-is-first-country-to-run-out-of-water/

    This could have incredibly destabilizing effects in numerous countries, particularly the Arab World.

  6. funksands says:

    EAT KANGAROOS!! Ozone-depleting methane could be significantly cut if we simply stop eating cows and start eating kangaroos.

    The don’t emit methane!!

    Not only that, they don’t tear up the environment like other stock animals do, due primarily to their large, soft feet.

    They also don’t eat plants down to the stub like cows and sheep do, and require less water to survive, making them ideal candidates for farming.

    The fencing think is a bit of a challenge though.

    I’ve had kangaroo before and it is DEEEEELicious! I wonder if we could get Americans to start eating Mr. Hippity-Hop?

  7. funksands says:

    I think the City of Berkley has found THE best way to get every homeowner involved in renewable, efficient energy.

    “Berkeley FIRST

    Berkeley FIRST (Financing Initiative for Energy Efficiency Renewable and Solar Technology) allows property owners to install solar systems and make energy efficiency upgrades with no upfront cost.

    Berkeley pays the upfront costs through the issuance of a new kind of municipal bond. The bonds are repaid from a new line item on participating property owners’ property tax bills over 20 years. Participating property owners pay for only the costs of their energy project.

    The program is 100% “opt-in” and property tax expenses remain unchanged for those who choose not to participate.

    The result: solar and energy efficiency projects are paid for over a long period of time, in bi-annual installments. The interest rate is fixed. Property owners do not need to access their own capital or credit. And if the owner sells the property, the repayment obligation transfers along with the property itself.”

    Genius. This could be done in every city in the nation. Your solar panel costs are simply bundled into the cost of operations for the city, bank, manufacturer and homeowner.

    http://www.grist.org/article/berkeley-rules

    • bito says:

      funk, this sounds great from what you posted! Now off to read the article and PPOV will tweet it!
      http://votesolar.org/

      (btw, yes ‘roo is quite tasty as is ostrich.)

      • funksands says:

        Bito, this is probably better and more current. I liked the first article because it compiled everything in one spot.

        http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ContentDisplay.aspx?id=26580

        • bito says:

          funk, thanks, that’s the thing, there are many solutions to the energy questions staring at us that don’t take the new ‘sliced bread/iWhatits’, by increasing the demand for solar will reduce the price and further development to cheaper and better PV cells and storage. I cannot tell you how many times I have mentioned solar hot water heaters here and elsewhere and they are cheap and easy. This plan reduces the upfront costs for the average homeowner, which is most often the blocking point.
          We often refuse to see the obvious while looking for easy or better. What, as old as Sherlock Holmes, hen all the leads are gone only the obvious remains.

  8. ADONAI says:

    The comments section for this post is a great read. So many good, even great, ideas for dealing with climate change.

    Just a shame it is already far, far too late.

  9. 2garden says:

    All the illusions make me wonder what type of nasty thing is being played out against the population while they are being distracted.
    We still aren’t going after the criminals that brought this economy to it’s knees.

    • AdLib says:

      There won’t be any big criminal prosecutions of the criminals who destroyed our economy and are destroying our planet.

      They have bought an insurance policy, namely the House of Representatives and the SCOTUS whose Citizens United ruling has given corps massive powers of intimidation against any elected officials who dare to challenge or threaten them.

      It’s going to take a populist movement in elections and a change in the SCOTUS majority to even have a chance at righting some of the major wrongs in our nation.

  10. PatsyT says:

    They call this E Cat!! Planet friends -- What do you think of this?
    Please put on your tech/science hat.
    Is this like the Bloom Box?
    Is this for real?

    The first two videos are dramatic --






    Cold Fusion Device E-Catalyzer Granted Italian Patent
    WEDNESDAY, MAY 11, 2011
    Andrea Rossi’s revolutionary new cold fusion technology, the “Energy Catalyzer” which is in full production at this moment, has been granted an Italian patent.

    The Italian Patent Office granted a patent for Rossi’s energy catalyzer on 6th April. The patent runs out on April 9th 2028. The granting of the patent is yet another significant step in the acceptance of this legitimate technology on it’s path to worldwide acceptance.

    Rossi’s energy catalyzer or “e-cat” as it is also known, has a power density to cost ratio which beats all fossil fuel sources hands down, is completely safe and has the added benefit of being scaleable from 2.5Kw to Multi Megawatt facilities. If you couple that with the fact that it’s fuel supply (powdered nickel) is so cheap and abundant you can quite clearly see that the energy catalyzer has the ability to revolutionize the world.

    There is no longer any reason to burn oil, coal or gas, except for the fact these fuel sources are already heavily integrated into our existing infrastructure. The biggest problem for the e-cat at the moment is that most people have not came to terms with the fact that it is a real technology and is not a hoax. This only goes to prove that as a species we are so highly conditioned to reject anything that goes contrary to accepted physics and beliefs. Those people who still remain sceptical of the validity of the energy catalyzer should re-examine the validations that have occurred to date.

    http://freeenergytruth.blogspot.com/2011/05/cold-fusion-device-e-catalyzer-granted.html

    • AdLib says:

      Folks here know how enthusiastic I am about the Bloom Box which is fuel cell technology (using chemical catalyzation to generate energy). This E-Catalyzer though claims to have made the cold fusion breakthrough that science has been pursuing for decades.

      I am skeptical about this, I read up on this at Wikipedia and they have yet to have a single peer-reviewed study. Also, they were originally denied a patent in Italy because of serious deficiencies in both the description of the device and in the evidence provided to support its feasibility.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_Catalyzer

      Years back there was a Cold Fusion fraud, whether intentional or due to incompetence.

      The same kind of lack of scientific data was the case then too.

      I’m not saying this is a fraud but right now the end result is being presented without a complete explanation of the science behind it. Legit scientific achievements are peer reviewed and confirmed by third parties.

      So, we’ll see. Apparently, he has been contracted to provide a 1 megawatt heating plant using this technology, the proof will be in the pudding.

      • bito says:

        Pretty elaborate hoax if it is one. And with the effort by some right wing “Think Tanks” on editing wikipedia, is it to be trusted on this topic?

        • AdLib says:

          The more objective issue is that he apparently will not submit the device for peer review.

          In the scientific community, all scientific discoveries that are legit are submitted for peer review.

          On the flip side, frauds never submit their inventions for peer review.

          There is no legitimate reason for not doing so only questionable reasons that go to the veracity of the one claiming a breakthrough and the claims themselves.

          Also, the hype in the videos and press release feels more like circus than science.

          My instinct is that this is likely a fraud but as I respect the scientific process, I wouldn’t categorically say that it is.

          Let’s see if he can deliver this 1 MW generator and if it works as promised.

          • Artist50 says:

            AdLib -- You mentioned spelunking -- I know absolutely nothing about this topic, but I had a really good friend that built his own house underground (all but one side which opened on to a beautiful pool and valley) and it stayed cool all summer with no air conditioning. I don’t remember what type of heat it had but I know it had solar panels partially for the light. The home was built into a hillside and not gorgeous from the outside, but was fantastic inside. I don’t know how energy efficient it was but I know that was his point when building.

            • bito says:

              Artist, I don’t know if AdLib mentioned spelunking but I did in when talking about geothermal energy and yes, underground homes and and homes built into hillsides are huge energy savers. The largest expense of energy is spent on heating and cooling of homes and buildings.
              I have both built and lived in both those types of dwellings and even wrote a short whitepaper on it many years ago. The non use of natural, clean geothermal energy amazes me when a 60% reduction in energy costs is but 5-10 feet below our feet.

              (no spelunking? You didn’t go to IU-Bloomington, did you? :-) )

          • bito says:

            AdLib,

            Interestingly, Andrea Rossi has announced that an E-Cat unit will be sent to both the University of Uppsala and the University of Stockholm for extended testing. Perhaps after working with the device themselves, skeptics such as these two will eventually change their minds.

            http://pesn.com/2011/05/02/9501822_NyTeknik_Validates_Rossis_Energy_Catalyzer/

            On January 14, 2011, Andrea Rossi submitted his “Energy Catalyzer” reactor, which burns hydrogen in a nickel catalyst, for examination by scientists at the University of Bologna and The INFN (Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics). The test was organized by Dr. Giuseppe Levi of INFN and the University of Bologna and was assisted by other members of the physics and chemistry faculties.

            http://freeenergydocs.com/cold-fusion-lenr/specifics-of-andrea-rossi-energy-catalyzer-test/

            Yes, AdLib, It could be another BigFoot siting, agree, but it’s worth following, I think.

            • AdLib says:

              Bito, this is very cool…and hot.

              It does have limited application but makes enormous sense. Not everyone lives in houses so those who live in condos, apartments, etc. wouldn’t be able to utilize this.

              The one qualifier on this though is their use of “comfortable” with regards to temperatures. I wonder just how warm or cool this system would would keep a home and how hot it would heat water.

              Still, it makes a lot of sense indeed!

            • bito says:

              AdLib, Condos and apartments have large footprints and a central supply system could be used with simple HUAC & plumbing design. Once the piping is installed it can be covered over for parks and parking lots and the comfortable range depends on the efficiency of the heat pump like any building, not “comfortable” enough for you, install small helper/auxiliary units, same with hot water. No, it’s not 100% replacement, but a 60% reduction in heating and cooling costs and it’s ignored, because it can’t be sold, financed and money made off of it. It’s just too simple free and clean and not “new.” BTW, it works NOW.
              Click on the “watch on You-Tube” and you will see many videos and applications.

              Edit: one more thing, have you ever gone spelunking? I have and winter or summer it was shirt sleeve comfortable in all the caves I was ever in.

            • AdLib says:

              Hey, I would be thrilled if Cold Fusion was discovered!

              To show you what a nerd I am, I occasionally fantasize about certain huge technological breakthroughs that could occur that could save our nation and the world.

              Cold Fusion is one of those dreams (as is a massive breakthrough on converting solar energy).

              Cheap, plentiful and non-polluting energy is what some futurists view as the catalyst for human society’s next big leap forward.

              The solutions and technologies that could blossom from massive amounts of cheap energy are many.

              So, until peer reviews are completed, until this device is proven to do what the inventor claims it does, I will remain skeptical.

              However, if it gets the thumbs up, I will become an enthusiastic supporter and promoter of it.

              What it represents is exactly what we need now, what would solve so many problems.

              I’ll be looking forward to the results…

            • bito says:

              How’s this for cheap, clean energy and it’s already developed. Imagine if this was under every parking lot suppling every Wal-Mart, Target, mall and office building combined with solar panels? No new power grids to run to the buildings with onsite power source. Cooling and heating buildings is a major user of all energy in the US.


              Not high tech enough? Not enough money to be made off of it? Too simple?

      • kesmarn says:

        AdLib and Patsy, my alarm bells went off, too. Partly because of the way the invention was presented in the vids. The dramatic music, the whirling, hazy images, the vagueness of the statements. And in the final one — I know this sounds way too “girlie-intuitiony” — but there was something about the way Rossi looked at the camera when he said “Stable. Everything is stable,” that looked “off.” I’ve seen that look on salesmen’s faces before.

        So I did the same thing: hit Ye Olde Google. And found the same lack of peer review.

        If I were Rossi, and were on the level, I would supply one of these things to MIT, now that it is under patent. I wouldn’t wisecrack that “if they want one, they can buy it.” MIT’s stamp of approval would mean a lot.

        It would be nice if it were the real thing. I hope so. At this point we’ll just have to do what one article I read suggested and “let science be science.”

        • KillgoreTrout says:

          Yeah kes, I thought the MIT crack was a bit suspicious. I would think he would be clamoring for MIT’s stamp of approval.

          • kesmarn says:

            Yes, KT, that would actually be a selling point, wouldn’t you think?

            Then again, I am far from being an entrepreneur!

            • KillgoreTrout says:

              A stamp of approval from MIT would absolutely be a great selling point. Those folks are some of the smartest people on the planet.

        • PatsyT says:

          Those bells went off for me also with all the drama and music in the vids.
          Of course Italians do have a lot of style.
          Then on the other hand, my father was an inventor and I could see him making a wisecrack statement like that, or worse.
          My dad got very frustrated if you did not understand his explanations about how to fix something.
          I could follow his logic but you had to listen up the first time.
          He hated repeating himself.
          So I will remain curious and skeptical
          and look forward to the next video.
          What music will they use?
          and by the way
          Who is making these videos?

          • kesmarn says:

            I’m gonna go with this Italian guy — and his music and special effects, too, Patsy! 😆


            • kesmarn says:

              I love that European flavor in film, too, b’ito. There’s a stop-action one called “Village au Panique” (they translated that as “A Town Called Panic”).

              It’s really weird and funny and charming. Totally unique.

            • kesmarn says:

              Are you serious, b’ito? Did Brambilla really do the Rossi vids?

              I was totally kidding on this!

              That’s hilarious!

            • bito says:

              k’es, I was agreeing with you. I have no idea, but it sure did sound/look like it.
              (when I worked in the film industry, we would do experimental shorts, many from Europe, they were fun to work on and sure beat doing another Kellogg cereal commercial, thanks for the memory.)

            • PatsyT says:

              Truly Amazing Kes!
              But it could use
              a little more drama and mystery. 😉

            • bito says:

              He has quite a few videos on You-Tube and some really “interesting” stuff it is, Marco Brambilla and yes k’es he did the Rossi ones!

          • bito says:

            Patsy, they, the music, reminded of the De Vinci Code and the sequel.

    • bito says:

      Wow, Patsy, I remember reading a little bit about this awhile ago when it was still under development. Thanks for this update. Quite a breakthrough.

      Meanwhile, the coverage from mainstream media has been zero (especially strange when you think of recent events in Fukoshima, Japan). To date only a handful of blogs and sites including this one are regularly reporting the news of these world-changing events and recently I asked Rossi if he had any interview requests from major media to which he answered an emphatic “No”.

  11. Haruko Haruhara says:

    In the Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park, they have a fascinating exhibit along this long hallway showing how the glaciers in the park looked in 1910, and how they looked in 2010. It was startling!

    I honestly don’t know how any right-winger could look at this photo exhibit and say with a straight face that global warming isn’t for real.


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