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Comment And people wonder... (Score 2) 80

If anyone, anywhere wonders where the anti-vax movement came from, here you go. I am NOT defending the antivaxxers. Vaccinate your kids, dammit, and yourself too! But is it any wonder that people have come to systematically distrust experts when the institutions of expertise have been shown repeatedly to be corrupt to their core?
I am agnostic as to whether we have more corruption than we used to, or just more public awareness of it. I suspect the latter case, but it doesn't really matter. Getting people to act like good citizens requires trust in public institutions. If that trust has been destroyed, good citizenship goes with it. We can't put the information genie back in the bottle, even if we wanted to, so we'd best figure out how to start building trustworthy public institutions.

This probably starts with NOT cutting their budgets to the bone.

(cue the libertarian clown car, to tell us that public institutions are not necessary, in 3... 2... 1...)

Comment efficiency first, then generation (Score 2) 250

Your most cost effective strategy is going to be to focus first on load reduction and efficiency, and then on reliable backup energy sources second. It's hard to give specific suggestions without knowing more about your situation. Space heating is likely to be critical in any case, and that can largely be handled by adequate insulation and air sealing. The Passivehouse Institute will have a lot of guidance for you there.

Comment smart specialist, dumb generalist (Score 1) 343

This guy is a climate scientist but obviously knows jack-all about energy systems.

he argues that hat renewable energy alone will not be sufficient to address the climate challenge, because it cannot be scaled up quickly and cheaply enough, and that opposition to nuclear power 'threatens humanity's ability to avoid dangerous climate change.'"
Which ignores the fact that both solar and nuclear have had recent explosive growth, while the last time a nuclear plant came in on time and on budget was back in the 50's when they thought that radiation was good for you.

Comment CO2 uptake by warm oceans? (Score 1) 95

The bit about having all the CO2 absorbed by the oceans doesn't make a lot of sense. Water can dissolve more (soluble) solids as the temp increases, but the solubility of gasses goes DOWN with increasing temperature. Not that I would expect the reporter to know this or ask about it - it isn't Ars, after all.

Comment this is silly (Score 1) 629

How completely boneheaded! If I were ten times as smart and had instant access to all known information (and presumably a very long life, by virtue of magical technology), I would get BORED. What better way to relieve boredom than to go looking for a totally alien perspective on the universe?

Comment One word: Kinect (Score 1) 550

Personal experience: I'm a long-time gamer, and I was trying to get my wife interested in Xbox or PC gaming. She steadfastly refused to get engaged... until we got a Kinect for the Xbox. Somehow, the motion control made it much more compelling for her than just twiddling joysticks. She got into the Kinect Adventures that ships with the unit, then Fruit Ninjas (maybe the best kinect implementation ever), Wreckateers, Motion Sports Adrenaline, etc. She still won't play FPS or MMOs, alas, but at least we now share the gaming hobby, if not exactly the same taste in games.

Comment BS (Score 1) 758

To feed a growing world population (with an exploding middle class demanding more and better-quality food), we must take advantage of all the technology available to us, including GMOs. To insist on 'natural' agriculture and livestock is to doom people to starvation, and there’s no logical reason to prefer the old ways, either.

This is a bunch of crap.
Modern industrial agriculture does NOT maximize food output per acre. It certainly does not maximize food output per input (fertilizers, fuel, etc). It maximizes food output per farmer. And it does so by disregarding good soil and water management practices, which means that it damages the systems it relies on over the long term.
Much higher yields can be obtained by intensive cultivation of smaller plots of land, with much more attention paid per acre. These techniques usually (though not always) also serve to preserve soil, nutrient, and water resources.

Comment Re:Um... (Score 2, Insightful) 590

That's right. A 737-300 burns about 5500 lbs/hour at cruise (~2500 kg/hour). Jet-A contains 43 MJ/kg (lower heating value). So energy to cruise is about 107,500 MJ/hour = 29,800 kWh per hour The terrestrial solar maximum (insolation on a hot sunny day at noon at the equator) is +/- 1000 watts/m^2. It's actually a bit higher at the equator, and will be higher still at cruising altitude. Call it 2000 watts/m^2. So, just to maintain cruise speed (which is its most efficient operating mode, vs, say, takeoff or landing) you would need 15,000 m^2 of 100% efficient collector area. (Commercial PV is 15-25% efficient). A 737-300 is about 28m (wingspan) x 33m (length). So even if the airplane were a solid square of 100% efficient collector, it would still be an order of magnitude too small to power the plane at cruise. The fundamental problem is that people do not understand the relative energy density of fossil fuels relative to renewable sources. Renewable sources are inexhaustible, but they are sparse. Fossil fuels are distilled sunlight - very dense. If solar energy is beer, petroleum is whiskey.

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