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Comment Re:^ this guy for president. Which end game reason (Score 2) 594

1) Partition Syria into Alawite, Sunni Arab, and Kurdish zones (ideally independent states).
2) Purge the Damascus government/army of Alawites (including Bashar Assad) so it can become acceptable to the Sunni Arabs in ISIS territory.
3) Arm and support this government (which would be much more religiously moderate than ISIS, al-Nusra, or any other rebels) as it reconquers ISIS territory.
4) Try to reach some agreement with Iraq where most Iraqi Sunni areas are absorbed into the Sunni Arab Syrian state.

Comment Re:I have an idea (Score 1) 594

...and ironicly, staying out of it is exactly what got us into this position. That's the problem with being the USA. We have treaty commitments (eg: Turkey is a NATO member we are pledged to defend, as is France), and letting situations fester until they start to spill over onto our allies only means things will be 100x worse when we are finally forced to get involved.

Which is exactly our approach to health care, incidentally. Leave millions of people uninsured, let their medical problems fester because they can't afford to treat them, until they show up at the emergency room.

Comment This was a test train (Score 1) 129

Test trains often run with the safety systems disabled and the train run manually at 10% above the normal maximum speed. If it's safe at this speed, you can be confident that it will be safe at operational speeds too. However, since it's run manually there is more potential for catastrophic human error, as seems to have been the case here.

Comment Re:Temperature goal misses the point (Score 1) 735

As the Nature article today on slashdot points out, even a mild temperature change could possibly do something like turn the entire Middle East extremely humid making it basically uninhabitable.

What that article *actually* predicts is that the shores of the Persian Gulf, which are already near the point of being uninhabitable on the hottest days of summer, will cross that point.

And why are those shores so close to uninhabitable? Because the Middle East is one of the hottest regions in the world, and the shores of the Persian Gulf, like all shores, are humid due to evaporating water. Normally the body of water cools down the coasts, but because the Gulf is unusually shallow its water is extremely warm. So this area has a combination of heat and humidity which is unique on Earth. This is all natural - climate change will make it marginally worse, but it was always pretty horrible there. Luckily they have air conditioning there.

The rest of the Middle East will be a bit hotter and drier, but in no danger of becoming uninhabitable.

Comment Relative impact? (Score 1) 249

23% sounds like a lot, but relative to the economic growth that will occur in the same period, it is tiny:

Even the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, a report prepared for the British Government which has been criticized by some as overly pessimistic, estimates that under the assumption of business-as-usual with regard to emissions, global warming will reduce welfare by an amount equivalent to a permanent reduction in per capita consumption of between 5 and 20%. In absolute terms, this would be a huge harm. Yet over the course of the twentieth century, world GDP grew by some 3,700%, and per capita world GDP rose by some 860%. It seems safe to say that (absent a radical overhaul of our best current scientific models of the Earth’s climate system) whatever negative economic effects global warming will have, they will be completely swamped by other factors that will influence economic growth rates in this century. (source)

What is needed is to compare the economic impact of climate change to the economic impact of *stopping* climate change (i.e. less energy usage=less GDP). If the latter is bigger, we should just let climate change happen. (Or more precisely, we should look at each climate change intervention and see if its benefits outweigh its costs. This likely means that government-funded renewable energy R&D is justified, while emissions caps are not.)

Comment Re:Wat? (Score 0) 102

What's the ecological damage of mining nuclear fuel and building huge reactors and cooling towers?

Pretty damn small, given that one nuclear reactor can substitute for hundreds of coal or solar power plants, and one unit of nuclear energy requires thousands of times less mining than one unit of fossil or solar (for the panels) energy.

Comment Re:What they really need (Score 1) 394

Mass transit DOES help people get around. Anyone on mass transit is someone who isn't on the highway. You build a light rail line, it carries 50000 commuters per day, that's 50000 less people on the freeway. That doesn't mean the freeway is less congested, because 50000 new people will start using the freeway. But it does mean 50000 more people are capable of moving around.

All Finagle Laws may be bypassed by learning the simple art of doing without thinking.