Tuesday, April 23, 2019

CO2 is garbage not plant food

Is there a bunny so sheltered that he or she has not seen myriad repetitions of denial starting with CO2 is plant food?

Eli is a patient bunny, but has decided to take up arms against this nonsense.

CO2 is garbage.  It is recycled by photosynthesis using renewable solar energy

Go forth and spread the word.  It annoys the hell out of those in denial about how people are changing the climate for the worse.  Even better it is accurate.

The bleats you will earn are your blessings.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Yes, Eli has been on sabbatical, but he really has been thinking of the bunnies, especially with Easter coming up.  Well, sometimes it just gets hard to think of something new and interesting and life, or at least Twitter, has become a series of re-runs where all that is needed is a link to some old Rabett Run post (there are some goodies there the Bunny will tell you:).

In any case there has been recent discussion about a chart posted by the Lawrence Livermore Lab folk about US Energy consumption and copied to TwitterSeveral are trying to use this as an argument against fossil fuels pointing to the fact that rejected energy is a large part of electricity generation and more.

This is tied together with a basic confusion first discussed by RayP on Real Climate, that the problem with fossil fuels is not the rejected energy, but the fact that the greenhouse gas emissions remain in the atmosphere and slow the emission of heat to space over centuries.  In a letter to Steve Levitt, Ray dispensed with Nathan Myhrvold's argument that
. . . in effect, that it was pointless to try to solve global warming by building solar cells, because they are black and absorb all the solar energy that hits them, but convert only some 12% to electricity while radiating the rest as heat, warming the planet. Now, maybe you were dazzled by Mr Myhrvold’s brilliance, but don’t we try to teach our students to think for themselves? Let’s go through the arithmetic step by step and see how it comes out. It’s not hard.
Interested or, as in the case of Eli, those with the dread forgetting disease, can follow Ray through the calculation, but the point is that all energy eventually (may take the age of the universe, but eventually) degrades to heat, but some of it can be used in the meantime to do work (move things non-randomly, including electrons).

The reason that fossil fuels are heating the Earth is not that they produce heat as well as work, but that their CO2 emissions continue to increase the amount of thermal energy in the atmosphere, on the surface and in the oceans, over centuries.

Sunlight heats the Earth and is degraded to heat which radiates into space by IR emissions from the surface and the atmosphere.  Increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere slows the rate of radiation so that the Earth has to warm, increasing the rate of radiation to return the system to balance.  Energy added on the surface by fossil fuel combustion or nuclear energy or wind or solar, or whatever is soon degraded to thermal energy and radiated to space.  It's a small one time charge.

The ratio between the work, W that can be done and the energy input U, W/U is the efficiency, and the heat produced is Q. 

Thermodynamics sets the upper limit to efficiency.  Engineering sets the actual limit.  It turns out that renewables like wind and solar are not very efficient, but that the heat that they generate in creating work does not lead to a continual warming of the system over centuries.  The same is true for heat generated in fossil fuel combustion, but, as RayP pointed out a decade ago, that is irrelevant, because the CO2 produced in fossil fuel combustion DOES heat the Earth for centuries.

That being said, it's good to be efficient.  For one thing, it costs less over the long run in the building, operation and maintenance of stuff.  Also, rejected heat is local, which can be both good and bad, depending if you can use the heat for other things like industrial processes, or heating the home.  That gets deep into the weeds and Eli will leave it there

Friday, April 05, 2019

The clip that Republicans will play if Biden's the nominee - "Mr. President, my suggestion is don't go"

Unfortunately I don't see an embed option, but if he's nominated, then a shortened clip of this CNN video will get rotated heavily next year, starting about 55 seconds in, where Biden says his response to question of whether to attack the bin Laden compound was "Mr. President, my suggestion is don't go".

Expect to see that heavily played if he's the nominee. Also, if Republicans want him to be the nominee, I expect it won't be played at all by the Republican elite prior to the nomination, although they can't control everybody on their side.

They will cut off the video right before he adds "there are two more things you should do first." The Dems can point that out; it won't help them very much.

He can also point out how he backtracked in 2015 as he was considering running against Clinton, and announced the secret and contradictory advice he supposedly later gave the president:

 I don't think that will help him that much and may actually hurt him.

More here at The Atlantic on the questionable quality of his foreign policy advice in general.

Having said that, if he's the nominee he will be light years better than Trump, Pence, or whatever other disgrace the Republicans choose, and I'll give money and time to get Biden elected.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Putting down a marker on eating the ICE infrastructure away

Been looking for data like this for a long time:

Turns out that California Energy Commission has gasoline data, lots of gasoline data. I downloaded and edited the data above.

I've argued since 2013 that as EVs start taking up significant market share, the gas station and repair infrastructure for internal combustion engines will start to shrink and become less convenient. A similar-but-distinguishable process will happen with increasing ICE mileage, but that process stabilizes because even high mileage ICE vehicles still need gas and will pay enough to stabilize the number of stations. As EVs eat into the ICE infrastructure, the ICE market just gets less convenient and the shift to EVs accelerates in a virtuous feedback.

The effect will be especially strong when people consciously notice the ICE infrastructure is getting less convenient, but that's not required. And I fully admit the more important factor, for now, is EVs becoming more convenient. Still, a choice of EV versus ICE turns in part on the relative convenience of the choice, and increasing inconvenience for ICE will have an increasing effect.

Oslo would be the best place to test this, but I can't find their data. San Francisco Bay Area isn't a bad alternative. This doesn't constitute proof yet - 2016 was the highest year in the dataset, and it would be bold to claim the 2017 decline is from EV share of the fleet mileage traveled, but let's watch this space.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

A thing of beauty

Sabine Hossenfelder's new book, Lost in Math:  How Beauty Leads Physics Astray is stirring up quite a stir with multiple reviews.  Hossenfelder has recently stuck her oar into the question about whether a new supercollider should be built as a follow-on to CERN.

The just-look-argument is of course well and fine. But, as I have pointed out many times before, the same just-look-argument can be made for any other new experiment in the foundations of physics. It therefore does not explain why a larger particle collider in particular is a good investment. Indeed, the opposite is the case: There are less costly experiments for which we have good reasons, such as measuring more precisely the properties of dark matter or probing the weak field regime of quantum gravity.
Eli got into this a little bit on Twitter
but the issue of beauty in physics, in science in general, what is worth doing, at least to Eli is of interest.  About a month ago the Rabett in a comment to Hossenfelder thought that beauty in physics was a matter of being terse, spare simple.  She really did not like that, and after all, who is Eli.  Reading the New Yorker this week a rather better description appeared in James Marcus' memorial to his father, a bioscientist, who died a difficult death.
Later, after his death, one of his colleagues noted that my father "believed that beauty would save the world".  My father would never have said that about himself.  Yet it was true, if you understood beauty to encompass not only ecstasy but precision, rigor a relish for the tiniest (literally microscopic) details. And it was true about me, too. We were a religious sect consisting of two people, and now half the congregation was gone. There would be no closure, no healing. I would simply adjust myself to a new and severely depleted reality. The world would come to an end, as it always does, one world at a time.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Paul Campos on dual loyalties, Israel and Omar

He sez:

....This whole sordid mess is a product of, among other things, the insidious idea that it’s undesirable for people to have “dual loyalties” in the context of their relationships to nation-states.  This idea is obviously absurd if stated as a straightforward proposition, which is why it almost never is.

People have multiple loyalties in every other aspect of their lives, so why wouldn’t or shouldn’t they in the context of their relationships with nations?  I’m not Jewish, but I think it’s completely ridiculous to criticize American Jews for feeling various levels of affection toward, passion for, and loyalty to, the state of Israel....

The accusation of dual loyalty, in other words, is based on a completely bogus theory of both human psychology and political morality.  And yes, I realize “dual loyalty” is a classic anti-Semitic trope, but that accusation only has bite because of a perverted concept of patriotism, which requires loyalty to the present government of the nation of which one is a citizen to always trump every other consideration.  In other words, “dual loyalty” is only bad per se if one accepts the essentially fascist concept of loyalty to a single nation state as the first duty of every citizen of the State.

Read the whole, etc. While I think he has good points, esp about fetishization of the state, the acknowledgment that we have biases doesn't remove the obligation to confront and control those biases, to the extent we can and acknowledging our limits. The issue runs both ways - anti-Semitism has woken from near death with the rise of conservative nationalism, while the left has an obvious point at how biased American foreign policy is toward Israeli right-wing government positions and against Palestinians.

My great-grandparents and their parents emigrated from Austria-Hungary to the US in 1910. My understanding is that German-Americans disproportionately opposed American entry into World War I. It's lost to time whether my relatives took part in those politics, but the German-American bias is worth acknowledging. It's not necessarily wrong - maybe we'd have fewer wars if people cared about the lives of family relatives in the opposing military trench. It does however complicate things.

I hope we can get a somewhat-more balanced perspective on Israel (given everything global, I favor a somewhat pro-Israel stance for the US) while confronting anti-Semitism and other biases wherever they arise.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Impossible Burger isn't good enough. The Beyond Burger is better (also, Beyond Sausage)

So I liked the hype, but after five or six attempts, I'm just not sold on the Impossible Burger. Maybe I need to try it well done, but every patty I've had ends up a thin gooey red mess in the center. I'm guessing it might be okay as a crumbled addition to a entree, like in omelettes or tacos, but not as a burger.

I've blogged before about Beyond Burger as a vegetarian alternative, and I think it's better. No clue why it sits in the grocery stores while Impossible Burgers command a premium at restaurants. Well, one clue - my wife can't stand coconuts, and it has a mild coconut smell and taste..

Anyway, not a burger substitute but far better than any vegetarian dogs I've had is Beyond Sausage, now showing up in my Safeway store. No coconut smell or taste btw. It wasn't so great on an electric grill, but sliced and fried up on a stove, it easily matches regular sausage.

Convenience marches on. Contra David Roberts, I think to the extent environmentally aware people can easily do something more, we should do so.