Thursday, August 27, 2015

Mother Nature is Not Sitting Idle

She doesn’t do politics — only physics, biology and chemistry. And if they add up the wrong way, she will take them all down.
Here’s my bet about the future of Sunni, Shiite, Arab, Turkish, Kurdish and Israeli relations: If they don’t end their long-running conflicts, Mother Nature is going to destroy them all long before they destroy one another.
Tom Friedman (and Eli usually has not much use for Tom Friedman, the definition of conventional wisdom being what Friedman hallucinates in cabs), has noticed that physics, biology and chemistry have the last word and the ecological soup of sciences has been quite poisonous lately in the Middle East, thanks to the global cooks.

Friedman has been reading the news, and notes that this summer has brought unprecidentedly high temperatures and humidity, approaching the 37 C heat stroke barrier, above which all die, and that coupled with bad generation and distribution of electricity has made air-conditioning a rumor in Iran, Iraq and other places.  The heat killed more people in Pakistan this year than terror attacks

Ministers have been fired, riots in the street have happened. and it is the water supply too
see Syria: Its revolution was preceded by the worst four-year drought in the country’s modern history, driving nearly a million farmers and herders off the land, into the cities where the government of Bashar al-Assad completely failed to help them, fueling the revolution.

59 comments:

Russell Seitz said...

That "The heat killed more people in Pakistan this year than terror attacks" remains as true today as the day after 9-11

I suspect the same complaint was made by Lord Mountbatten, Alexander the Great, and whoever was on deck in Taxila when the White Huns trashed the place.


Forget 37 C : OBL was cooling his heels in Abbotabad because it gets to 47 down on the plains, where tens of millions survive unheatstruck using that great neolithic climate control innovation , the cellar.


They could get re-purposed if Pakistan & Israel continue as regional nuclear role models.

Fernando Leanme said...

That "heat stroke barrier" must exist for Americans who aren't used to real hard work at high temperature?

I've worked with oil field crews in the Chalbi desert and similar places at 40 plus degree heat. The ground gets so hot one has to keep moving or look for a shady spot.

As you may imagine, surviving the heat requires adaptation, training and a pragmatic approach. For example, I always had Europeans coming in for the first time limited to night shifts for the first three days. We emphasized constant hydration, and pouring water over their heads (we have to wear helmets, the head practically bakes in the sun, so it's critical to keep the water flowing and cooling the head). I also allowed short sleeves and shorts (regulations said long sleeves and long pants but that really slowed them down).

On the rig floor, where they have to work non stop, we placed fans with a light water spray, and crushed ice was available for those who wished it. But you have to remember we were working in almost non stop shifts 12 hours a day, it's heavy work, almost like football linebackers dancing with tons of steel. It pays them very well, but we were highly selective, it wasn't a country for weaklings.

Blogger profile said...

Rustle, there is more to the world than NYC.

And the rest of the world experienced terrorist attacks for years. Yet only AFTER you got one on your home soil did you all go collectively librarian-poo and insist that EVERYONE ELSE go completely bursar with you so you don't feel like a bunch of whiney little nutcases.

Hell, you patriotically helped fund them because you thought you were Irish enough for the Auld Country (tm).

Fern Leanonsomeone else, either you're a mammal and that heat barrier exists or you're a cold blooded reptile masquerading as human.

Or you're full of dunnywagon loads.

BBD said...

Fernando

As you may imagine, surviving the heat requires adaptation, training and a pragmatic approach.

Best get the training program in place then. I've huge respect for the men working in the conditions you describe but farmers raise a sweat too, and they are far from fans, water spray and optional crushed ice.

Same goes for the crops, which I gather can keel over if it all gets a bit too hot.

While it is encouraging to learn that the oil industry is doing its best to look after front line workers, the problem will extend beyond the rig floor.

Johnny Vector said...

Fernando:

No, you are wrong. The 37 °C. limit is the wet bulb temperature. When that goes above body temperature (37 °C.), sweat no longer evaporates at a temperature low enough to cool the body. Without some kind of mechanical cooling, you die. And by "mechanical", I mean refrigeration. Fans don't help. Spraying water doesn't help. Your survival time in those conditions is determined by the thermal time constant of the body, and whether you are exerting yourself at all.

Your Chalbi desert example was a dry bulb temperature.

Ethan Vishniac said...

Just to add to Johny Vector's comment, the horrific conditions described in TF's column amounted to a wet bulb temperature a bit less than 35C (eyeballing the conversion table).

Fernando Leanme said...

Ok, that makes it even easier. Show me a location where the wet bulb temperature reached 37 degrees for 6 hours? As far as I can tell it doesn't happen. I've also worked in hellishly warm and humid conditions, but the general rule is that a higher humidity suppresses high temperature peaks. The main problem is that it also keeps the temperature hot at night, so it's a bitch to get sleep. Paris is approaching and the desperation is starting to trigger an Iraq WMD type campaign?

By the way, does a fan or a tub qualify as a "mechanical aid"? In that case what's the big deal?

BBD said...

Fernando

Ok, that makes it even easier. Show me a location where the wet bulb temperature reached 37 degrees for 6 hours? As far as I can tell it doesn't happen.

Just give it time. Physics never sleeps.

Richard Simons said...

By the way, does a fan [. . .] qualify as a "mechanical aid"?


If you had the least understanding of the physics you would not ask this question, and you've already been told it would have no effect.

Russell Seitz said...

Has Bloggerprofile lost his pith helmet again ?

EliRabett said...

Nope

Russell Seitz said...

His reading glasses, perhaps?

andthentheresphysics said...

Fernando,

Show me a location where the wet bulb temperature reached 37 degrees for 6 hours? As far as I can tell it doesn't happen.

True, it has not happened. The highest ever has been - IIRC - about 31C. However, it increases by about 0.7C for every 1C of average surface global warming. Thanks to people like yourself, it's quite possible thay we might get close to values where mammals can no longer survive without refrigeration.

Russell Seitz said...

Fernando, Eli has a valid point about heat prostration- but fainting away on parade is nature's way of lowering metabolic loads to survivable levels-- mad dogs and Englishman earned Kipling his Nobel money.

Blogger profile said...

"Show me a location where the wet bulb temperature reached 37 degrees for 6 hours?"

It doesn't have to, you incredible moron.

Just basic metabolism means you don't have 6 hours. Not moving at all means death at 37C for the human race (even the idiots like yourself). But rate of energy loss depends roughly linearly on the temperature difference and the harder you work, the further it has to be from 37C before you are accumulating heat and building up a leathal core temperature.


But, hell, prove us wrong. Go somehwere in the tropics at high summer and do six hours of farm work and see how well you do even when it's "only" 31C wet bulb.

If you die, I'll dance a jig. If you survive without heatstroke hospitalising you, you win.

Blogger profile said...

Oh, rustle, when you stop talking like an old man with very advanced alzheimers, maybe people will understand what you're talking about. If you can't because you HAVE very advanced alzheimers, let us know and bow out of trying to use a brain that is just plain broken.

Blogger profile said...

"but fainting away on parade is nature's way of lowering metabolic loads to survivable levels"

But at 37C you will still die.

Moron.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

RS: mad dogs and Englishman earned Kipling his Nobel money.

BPL: I think you'll find that was Noel Coward.

Aaron said...

At some point the electric grid and backup generators fail. At higher temps, air conditioners get less efficient and suck power.
(http://www2.readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=229245 , The ME has already seen temps the exceed the warranty conditions of generator sets.

Sure, we can design generator sets for hotter conditions, but who is going to pay to retrofit all the existing generators - before the big heat wave? No, the heat wave will hit, the power will fail, and people will die.

Without juice, irrigation systems stop, and so do all of the high tech industries that need computers. The rich will drive off in their air conditioned cars.

And, of course, cars are not made to run in those kinds of temperatures. And, neither are camels.

Russell Seitz said...

Will BP perish of body temperature before he succumbs to his next hot bath??

The febrile crapulence suggests brain death is far advanced.

Surf is down from yesterday, but riding better at 3-4 feet; water temerature is 21.5C



Blogger profile said...

Will rustle ever find a point?

Or is it just above his head?

OR is it actually his head?

Never mind, nurse will be along for his medication soon.

Blogger profile said...

Hey, maybe I'm being hard on the senile old maniac.

Go on, rustle, tell us what your post has to say on your previous asinine claim's accuracy?

Was it "LOOK! SQUIRREL!!!!"?

Or am I being mean to the afflicted?

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

Climate change is probably already in the process of rendering some previously habitable locations much less so, but I don't think that 37 C wet bulb temperatures are going to be big killers anytime soon. Less exotic heat deaths will grow, but more people are dying of cold every year than heat.

The big threat in the middle east is the loss of agriculture, which combined with drought and overpopulation produces wars and civil conflict. Those are killing a lot more people that heat and terror combined.

Blogger profile said...

"but I don't think that 37 C wet bulb temperatures are going to be big killers anytime soon."


See ATTP:
The highest ever has been - IIRC - about 31C. However, it increases by about 0.7C for every 1C of average surface global warming

And remember that humidity increases can come along inside with NO problem at all. That 31C was outside, remember.

Blogger profile said...

"The big threat in the middle east is the loss of agriculture, which combined with drought and overpopulation produces wars and civil conflict."

And the people leaving (and dying in trying) are refugees.

But the deniers don't count them, because there's another reason they can hold on to and pretend is the only one.

They're not too smart, so can only hold on to one idea at a time. Hence their insistence that the IPCC only consider CO2 in their models, therefore they must be wrong. That's right: not only unable to hold an idea of multiple causes of an event, they can't even see it being held by others.

Les Salines France said...

One issue that is often overlooked is the effect on people who are obliged to wear protective clothing. How would you like your firefighters to only be able to work for short periods before they overheat?

Jeffrey Davis said...

Temps regularly exceed the 37C/98.6F mark and people survive, yes. Is mere endurance a goal? All so that carbon plutocrats won't be discomfited? Have you all (and you know who you are) gone insane?

Here's a target that's been hit and surpassed: 112F. At that temp, corn dies. Corn stunts and withers as the temp approaches that mark, but it just grays and dies at 112F. I think 2 years ago, it hit that in western Kansas. You can't put corn in a bathtub to cool it off. You can't tell it to avoid the sun and only work at night. So, let's pretend that was a 1 in a billion shot and will never happen again and certainly won't become a more widespread phenomenon. It almost never happens after .9C of warming so it will obviously be remain an outlier as we approach 2C of warming.

Tom said...

Golly, Jeffrey,

Wikipedia lists the temperature record for the U.S. at 134F. Of course that was back in 1913, but even then, before the advent of air conditioning, not only did people endure, but they actually increased in number, population and agricultural output. Imagine that.

Canada's record (113F) was reached in 1937. Tunisia's in 1918. South Africa's in 1918.South Korea's in 1942.

Of course, more records have been set since the onset of the current warming period.

But temperature extremes have not really impacted human population, mortality or morbidity. And now that air conditioning is reaching more people it is even reducing impact on productivity.

You may argue that as a species it should not be our fate to languish in artificially cooled caves for a good part of the year, and part of me would like to agree.

But mall-rats.

Jeffrey Davis said...

"Wikipedia lists the temperature record for the U.S. at 134F."

Not a lot of agriculture in Death Valley.

Blogger profile said...

"Here's a target that's been hit and surpassed: 112F."

Jeff, the 37C is the wet bulb temperature at which point mere metabolism will kill a human.

Tom Fullerthanadunnywagon, you're emptier of brain than a Republican Auditorium for Rick Santorum.

BBD said...

Love the way Honest Tom Fuller just blanks the bit about crops die in heatwaves.

Look Tom, as global food demand rises towards mid-century, so too will the incidence of severe summer hot weather events and crop failures.

This will cause food price spikes and starvation among the poor that you care so very much about. A few bad years on the trot will wipe out the global food reserves and things will start to get nasty even for the rich of the global North.




Tom said...

Sigh. The FAO says that agricultural yields are rising at 1.5% per year. The UN says that population is rising at 1.1% per year.

Even BP can figure that out. If he has left the mushrooms alone for a day or so.

BBD said...

Tom

Sigh. The FAO says that agricultural yields are rising at 1.5% per year. The UN says that population is rising at 1.1% per year.

Agricultural yields will be sensitive to summer heatwaves Tom. You keep ignoring this but it is crucial.

Once the hot, yield-damaging summers start to become more frequent, the poor will start to starve.

* * *

WRT temperature records, you should be careful with Wiki:

Wikipedia lists the temperature record for the U.S. at 134F.

Christopher Burt thinks all the old 'records' are crap. This makes sense given the considerable increase in global average temperature over the last half-century.

That you are still pushing the not-really-warming meme in 2015 is somewhere between funny and sad.

BBD said...

Interestingly, the very same FAO that Tom quotes above estimates that a 70% increase in global food production will be required to feed a population of ~9bn by 2050.

What could possibly go wrong?

Tom said...

Last time I looked the FAO said 60%. But what the hey--35 years at 1.5% per year gets you a 70% growth rate.

No wonder Jeff Id laughs at your mathematical capabilities.

BBD said...

Tom

The point you are deliberately missing is that 70% is a very large amount.

Meanwhile, extreme summer heatwaves increase in frequency and yields start to fall.

But hey, deniers deny. It's all they are capable of.

BBD said...

Oh and of course deniers are capable of blatant intellectual dishonesty like trying to hide the 70% headline figure by quoting only the annual 1.5% growth figure. Then pretending - when the deceit is exposed - that the other person is stupid.

Jeffrey Davis said...

What are the odds that agricultural yields will increase into the indefinite future? What are the odds that economic substitutes of petroleum-based fertilizers will be discovered? What are the odds that heat waves in the future won't stunt or destroy crops in the field? What are the odds that the poor won't turn to destabilizing migrations in the future? What are the odds that civil unrest will spark mere lethargy and despair? The important thing is the wealth of carbon plutocrats so it just doesn't matter.

Tom said...

Come to Asia any time and see how the vast majority of agriculture here is pre-Borlaug. To say the developing world's agricultural practices can... develop further... is not to exaggerate. I believe 70% improvement can come just from better practices.

As for BBD, your bitterness sounds more like BP. Hiding the 60% (which you call 70%) required additions? Hardly. I've featured it in my blog.

People who have advanced beyond counting on fingers and toes know it's the same. People who are mathematically challenged but understand its importance know of places that have CAGR calculators and can have someone do the math for them in seconds. Would you like references to a few such sites BBD?

I'm not saying you're stupid, BBD. You might think that, but I would never suggest such a thing. A mean souled thug hiding behind a paper thin veneer of courtesy? Maybe. A monomaniacal hack who hates humanity as much as he loves his conception of a pure environment? Possibly.

But stupid? Well, that depends on how you define stupid. You never seem to win any of the arguments you participate in. Your chosen venue--Deltoid--is remarkable for the vapidity and repetitive nature of the discussions there. I've never seen you write anything surprising or interesting. You seem to think you're destroying your opponents when in fact you're just acting silly.

Why someone would rage on the way you do could have a dozen different explanations. Stupidity is only one of the possibilities.

Blogger profile said...

Tom Fullerthanadunnywagon, there are lots of people already in Asia. They are not happy about dying in their thousands or starving due to weather related disasters.

However, to you, they're all nignogs and johnny foreigners and of no account, unless you can use them as a valuable resource.

Such as, for example, complaining that they're going to be made poor by changing how we generate energy.

Of course your insanity won't stop you from concocting a NWO conspiracy to give those same foreigners all your money in a world wealth redistribution scam.

After all, it's only the sane people who have to limit themselves to one reality at a time.

Blogger profile said...

"A mean souled thug hiding behind a paper thin veneer of courtesy? Maybe. A monomaniacal hack who hates humanity as much as he loves his conception of a pure environment?"

All together now: It's ALWAYS projection!

BBD said...

Predictably, Tom persists in refusing to acknowledge that the increasing prevalence of eg. summer heatwaves will eventually lead to global food insecurity and all the bad stuff that goes with it.

Now for those of us that are prepared to *admit* that there is a climate problem, this is a humanitarian issue.

Instead, Tom wants to make it all about me.

Stupidity is only one of the possibilities.

Blogger profile said...

Of course not, Tom Fullerthanadunnywagon never wants anything to change.

Tom said...

Especially not you, BP.

BBD, I wish I could stick to words of one syllable, but...

Heatwaves will indeed impact agriculture. They always have. More of them may impact agriculture more. But not enough to overcome the advances made by better agricultural practices, higher levels of technology and better strains of crops.

Blogger profile said...

Especially me what? Tarzan, you Jane?

What is your purpose in posting nonsense with no content and no meaning?

Your post is nothing other than "Tides come in, tides go out, never a miscommunication, you can't explain why".

You see, ACTUAL ADULTS who know how to think and read, know that these heatwaves don't just happen because gaia or god or satan or pixies make it so on a whim.

Mystical "just so stories" were dropped from most adults' toolbox for understanding. But not yours. Because infantilism was when you were safe and cosetted and special to big important people and you have never gotten over the fact that you are no longer that special little baby they cooed over.

BBD said...

Tom

Heatwaves will indeed impact agriculture. They always have. More of them may impact agriculture more. But not enough to overcome the advances made by better agricultural practices, higher levels of technology and better strains of crops.

Such certainty and not a single reference.

Perhaps because such certainty isn't to be found in the literature.

So instead, lie.

Blogger profile said...

Oh, just look at trump. Hell, the entire establishment on the republican side: doesn't matter if you lie like Chemical Ali, just lie CONFIDENTLY and never care about what you're saying.

BBD said...

Brian

Note the same trend is happening for battery power

Not AFAIK at utility scale, because that technology doesn't really exist yet. Yes, I know there are various R&D projects but no proven, established product to which economies of scale might then apply.

Absolute prices are less interesting IMHO than the trend line, esp. when discussing the long term.

The cost of integrating wind and solar increases as their share of the energy mix increases. At low levels (say below 20%) they can be free riders, relying on existing reserve capacity for backup against intermittency and slew.

Go beyond that and you have to build new backup capacity which is hugely expensive and *never* costed in the 'analyses' I have seen of large-scale W&S deployment.

Instead, the same (fallacious) reasoning is always used: the cost of the turbines and SPV (mainly SPV, really) exhibits a long term downward trend so big W&S will be really cheap. That's nonsense. The cost of the actual SPV panels is essentially irrelevant at scale. It's the absolutely vast amount of new build backup capacity that is the problem.

Nobody seems to grasp this, which is frustrating.

Blogger profile said...

"The cost of integrating wind and solar increases as their share of the energy mix increases. At low levels (say below 20%) they can be free riders"

Not as far as the current reality that has been achieved so far, BBD. The only ones being disrupted and costing more are the leaden and unresponsive large scale centralised power systems that burn coal or uranium fuel.

No destabilisation from it at all. Maybe for some cockamamie cowboy-built generation network done by unskilled labour with a criminal lack of oversight and regulation, but in all those built by actually worthwhile engineers that have passed that level, none of them have displayed any problems.

YMMV depending on how badly your country does its engineering. Not so good if what I hear from your creationists investments in bringing education back to the middle ages...

As to power storage, you are again incorrect. LiPo et al is absolutely fine and dandy for it, the only problem at the moment is that production was for laptops and handheld devices, but Tesla's gigafactory will help produce much bigger batteries.

And since nuclear needs such massive backup to hold over whilst it is out of action for six months at a time, replacing nuclear with renewables should even each other out, the one taking the backup of the other.

"It's the absolutely vast amount of new build backup capacity that is the problem."

The only problem with that is that that "vast amount" is a shibboleth created out of thin air to scare people unto not trying.

Given the load following characteristics of wind+solar, it needs much less capacity to cover the required load. "capacity factor" really just hides that load imperfection for those generations that don't handle it and pretends it exists when it doesn't for others.

If your network can't handle 40% or more right now, you were stiffed with morons hiring monkeys to build.

Blogger profile said...

Dinworig was never costed to nuclear power either.

Damn expensive it was too.

Same for the HVDC line to France...

BBD said...

BP

And since nuclear needs such massive backup to hold over whilst it is out of action for six months at a time, replacing nuclear with renewables should even each other out, the one taking the backup of the other.

You didn't understand this last time we had aspects of this conversation either.

At night, and during the winter, *all* the (eg.) UK's solar goes down.

Regional-scale anticyclones take down *all* the UK's wind.

Therefore the backup capacity has to be enough to cope with *all* the lost capacity.

This does NOT APPLY to nuclear, where the backup does not have to cope with the simultaneous loss of the entire national reactor fleet.

I hope this fundamental misconception on your part is now resolved.

Blogger profile said...

BBD, what misconception? We already HAVE proof that over 20% does not cause instabilities. And the loss of wind power is no worse than the loss of other power when both Windscale and Didcot were both out. And of course the problems were blamed on renewables.

However, we have this big HVDC link to the continent here. And we have one to the north (to Norway?) and we will be putting in one more.

How many mesoscale synoptic systems span the entirety of Europe?

About none?

Therefore there is no risk and the *miniscule* risk of significant drop UK wide power by high pressure systems "somehow" also giving long lasting cloud cover over the entire UK at the same time are ENTIRELY mitigated by the current links we have and the long distance losses possibly causing some issue will be further reduced by the future connection.

I hope this fundamental misconception on your part is now resolved.

We no more need backup for a UK wide blackout of the sun and wind for a week than we need backup for the entire coal fired power station network catching fire all at the same time.

Blogger profile said...

"This does NOT APPLY to nuclear, where the backup does not have to cope with the simultaneous loss of the entire national reactor fleet."

No, that has different problems.

Like, for example, being unable to run because there's no cooling water available without being illegal to do so.

Or flooding causing the coastal sites to be shut down to avoid a nuclear accident a la Fukishima.

And what doesn't apply to solar is the cost of keeping and not being able to neutralise the waste we produce.

If you're going to find problems with a generation type, please find all of them for all types of generator. Lying by omission is still lying.

Blogger profile said...

"Regional-scale anticyclones take down *all* the UK's wind."


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_breeze

"At night"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concentrated_solar_power

"and during the winter, *all* the (eg.) UK's solar goes down."

http://www.gaisma.com/en/location/london.html

Making shit up is lying too.

Just an FYI.

BBD said...

Well, Wow, you believe whatever bollocks makes you happy.

You won't know it because you are fairly clueless about energy, but your exchange with Sam above was simply embarrassing. As in you embarrassed yourself. Like Sam, I am not prepared to discuss energy with you further because you combine topic ignorance with a particularly toxic belligerence.

Anyway, I've been through this already with you elsewhere and it was a waste of pixels last time.

Blogger profile said...

Well, BBD, feel free to think that the truth is a load of bollocks. If it makes you happy.

You will be ignored as the ignoramus you are, though. So you won't do any damage.

Clearly you don't know anything other than what you've thought was a good argument for nuclear and what was a good argument against renewables, but the truth of the matter is you've been lied to and you were a willing gullible fool.

Blogger profile said...

http://web.mit.edu/ceepr/www/publications/workingpapers/2010-016.pdf

One of the critical risks facing an investor in a nuclear power plant is uncertainty about the plant’s realized capacity factor. Realized capacity factors show great variation.
Although the typical investor’s cash flow model of a proposed plant shows a projected capacity factor of 85% or more, many reactors have problems achieving this target. Oftentimes the shortfall is quite large. According to the Power Reactor Information System (PRIS) database maintained by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the realized capacity factor is less than 50% in more than 10% of all reactor years.

Bernard J. said...

Tom Fuller, you can mathturbate as hard as pleases you, but the laws of physics/thermodynamics and of biology/ecology trump your uncontextualised equations.

And when it comes to science you are demonstrably woefully uninformed, so your opinions are worth less than toilet paper.

Just in case no one's ever told you before...

Bernard J. said...

Oh, and Tom Fuller, the area of temperate land (where we do most of our food-growing) is decreasing:

http://www.nature.com/articles/srep13487

Given that this trend is really still only in the beginning stages with respect to where we're going to take the climate, we should all be very concerned.