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Comment Here's a thought (Score 1) 130

We've destabilized the climate and destroyed a lot of the coral habitats owing in great part to their temperature sensitivity. Seeing as they're a key species for providing habitat to whole ecosystems, I have this really odd idea. What if we selectively breed or modify coral species for greater resilience to these hostile conditions, and reintroduce them to hold onto reefs that are otherwise lost?

These are methods usually associated with liquidation of environmental capital. They should totally give you pause while you reflect on the number of things done wrong with that kind of meddling. I think that it's worth considering, though.

Comment Cherry picking (Score 2) 835

There's a lot of cherry picking here with a valid point in the end that the ridiculously wasteful way we use energy right now can't continue. However, the points made do not serve as the hit piece on renewable energy that someone along the chain seems to want. I would expect this of the Atomic Scientists: they're by definition interested in yet another fuel that is only created by supernovae, and is not renewable. They're on the wrong end of this debate, muddying the issue.

Renewables are renewable but within a specific timeframe. You have to tailor your way of life to resources that can renew at least at the rate you're consuming them, or else you're creating an energy deficit. If you're liquidating other resources like the environment doing it, you're screwing humanity's future, and you have to adjust to that. There is no other option for the long term.

They're cherry picking a couple of really badly done attempts to characterize the entire concept of cleaner, greener electricity. A bunch of solar panels out in the desert is not a good example of renewable energy done right. It's not cost-effective, whereas concentrated solar thermal is in that setting. Solar panels, however, can go places that other power generators can't, and this means you can generate power onsite, eliminating waste due to resistance of the grid. They aren't the full answer.

You could do solar thermal - or you could build with heavily insulated windows and thermal mass to let the sun heat your home and water to where your requirements from electricity sources should be minimal. You can also use thermal mass and basic convection for cooling. I know firsthand: I've stood outside a strawbale home on a 90 degree day and had goosebumps from air cooled by a huge northern wall that was kept out of the sun flowing down into an enclosed garden with a solid fence around it and plants respirating, all of which combined to cool part of the outdoors more than adequately. That only cost what it took to build: straw, plaster, and rebar. The investment is good for at least the owner's lifetime.

The other thing is excessively part things out. If you have a woodstove that's your home's backup heat, your cooking, your hot water, that's your answer when solar and wind aren't there for you for a lot of things. If you burn at the right temperatures to create pyrolysis and generating biochar, you're getting more from that biomass and creating your fertilizer for plants you'll presumably be replenishing and fertilizing so that not a drop of sun goes to waste. The maximum uptake of energy through living, renewing systems is key, and we have to respect how good nature has gotten at that and play along.

Digging up hydrocarbons from hundreds of millions ago to burn wastefully, that's what these authors should be targeting. We all know it on some level. I'm tired of the denial and false logic keeping it going just so the oil companies can have their business model, consequences be damned.

Comment If the brain is all about interconnection (Score 1) 220

If we're talking about large scales of interconnection between these artificial neurons, optical signaling is clearly a good first step. Designing adequate wiring with conventional technology would be a nightmare.

Can you imagine using quantum entangled particles to communicate between neurons? Now that kind of brain would be off the hook!

Comment Re:My beliefs (Score 1) 695

In addition to the obvious renewable energy solution, here is the number one thing we could be doing as a part of polycultural, resilient agriculture:

http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/20070504224521data_trunc_sys.shtml

I hope to goodness we make fixing this planet job #1, and #2 and #3 through to whatever it takes. We haven't much time.

Comment Re:My beliefs (Score 1) 695

I think your points are sound. It boggles my mind that anyone thinks otherwise, but then, that's the crowd that knows their Playstations better than their backyard for you.

Now, when you look at the maps of what used to be heavy forest in America 500 years ago, and what is now, you see a huge change. That's gone on around the globe by now. The sea, too, has been polluted and ravaged.

We did that, while burning hundreds of millions of years worth of fossil fuels, releasing what was naturally stored away. I can't believe people are trying to deny that would have a major impact.

Comment Re:How about we start believing in Human Change? (Score 3, Interesting) 695

That's not true of the majority of human beings, just a minority of psychopaths who by that kind of conditioning are also drawn to power. They love to promote that Hobbesian view because that's how their operating, but even monkeys in well-known lab experiments are more, well, "humane".

Comment Re:What some people don't get (Score 1) 760

A technological civilization is nothing like a mass extinction event. I find it deeply ironic that the title of this thread comes from someone so deeply clueless.

If a civilization pollutes its environment and destroys all the habitat that a multitude of species needs for survival, and does this worldwide, yes, it is absolutely causing a mass extinction event, with the additional curse of its sustained and delusional effort as opposed to a natural accident.

Your idea of clueless is interesting. There are so many examples of the unnatural extinctions of vital ecosystems in the present world that you have to be wilfully ignorant to make that statement. Will you people not get a clue until you can't get tuna on your plate, or will the mercury and lead levels prevent that too?

Comment Re:Nothing can ever stop... (Score 1) 1105

CO2 isn't a simple count of parts per million; it's got a sustained impact. The forests that died due to beetles swarming outside of their usual range won't come back right away, and the soil there will not just stay put waiting for them to come back. The methane hydrates at the bottom of the ocean that are melting and multiplying the greenhouse effect won't re-freeze. We're looking at positive feedback loops here.

Rises and falls of CO2 in the geological timeline take place over thousands of years and give some species a chance to adapt in time to survive the mass extinction events that usually go along with it. The only sign we have of something this drastic was a meteor impact in Siberia where large coal reserves once were; we have the evidence now that resulting volcanic activity burned that coal and released its carbon into the atmosphere. That's the only natural analogue I can think of for the massive industrial extraction of hundreds of millions of years worth of sequestered carbon dioxide and releasing it into the atmosphere, and while it was natural, the result was the Permian/Triassic extinction which killed over 90% of the extent species worldwide. The ecosystems took millenia to recover.

We have to change course soon. The previous recovery was from a natural disaster, not an industrial civilization that stops at nothing to fuel its growth and destroys habitat and releases large amounts of pollution while doing it. This is unprecedented. Y2K had the IT industry hauling ass to prevent serious problems, but this requires an unprecedented effort; otherwise, our generation will see the end of great many beautiful things, and most of us will perish for the lack of healthy ecosystems that we didn't assign a dollar value to.

Comment Re:What some people don't get (Score 3, Informative) 760

You misunderstand. I feel it's an obligation to hand the world to our children at least as good as we found it, and presently, we're failing abysmally. No really, how can you have a child knowing full well you'd have to explain to them why your generation ran their world off the edge with the foot literally on the gas?

Comment What some people don't get (Score 4, Insightful) 760

Is that scientists, on average, are not crazed alarmists. They work in a field full of cut-throat peer review where the one who truly, verifiably disproves the most long-standing stuff gets the recognition and the spoils. Their language is conservative, a wide range of speculation must be admitted for consideration but they're going to err on the side of caution.

There's nothing in nature short of a major mass extinction event to match what we're creating. I can't fathom why anyone's having kids. The kids we have already are truly screwed.

Comment My biggest beef with Unity (Score 1) 798

Keyboard shortcuts. They're still a mess. I can't believe that anyone decided that hard-coding the Windows key would fly with the Linux crowd.

At this point, I say screw it. I want a standard keyboard shortcut interface. There's no reason why changing desktop environments should mean that the way I toggle windows between fullscreen and minimized, open/close windows and tabs, cut and paste totally changes. There's no reason I should have to define these common actions in every single app, or relearn them because someone decided that a Linux desktop should be *inflexible*. Linux was built by power users with their hands on the keyboard - why isn't this standardized as part of freedesktop.org?

I can work at a speed that's blinding to the mouse-bound when not tripping over these "improvements", and I'm not going to use something that hinders me.

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