mspohr writes: The NY Times has an interesting article about GE "reinventing" itself as a software start-up. "It may not qualify as a lightning-bolt eureka moment, but Jeffrey R. Immelt, chief executive of General Electric, recalls the June day in 2009 that got him thinking. He was speaking with G.E. scientists about new jet engines they were building, laden with sensors to generate a trove of data from every flight — but to what end?
That data could someday be as valuable as the machinery itself, if not more so. But G.E. couldn’t make use of it.
“We had to be more capable in software,” Mr. Immelt said he decided. Maybe G.E. — a maker of power turbines, jet engines, locomotives and medical-imaging equipment — needed to think of its competitors as Amazon and IBM." They have a software center with 1,400 employees in San Ramon, Ca and are developing a new OS, Predix, designed to work with sensor data from machines. "G.E.’s success or failure over the next decade, Mr. Immelt says, depends on this transformation. He calls it “probably the most important thing I’ve worked on in my career.”
mspohr writes: Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute has written a review in Medium (https://medium.com/solutions-journal-summer-2016/soft-energy-paths-f044e7b65443#.eyikcq16c) of his 1976 article (Energy Strategy: The Road Not Taken http://www.rmi.org/Knowledge-C...) where he reviews his predictions as well as government predictions for the energy future. "At that teachable moment, my Foreign Affairs article “Energy Strategy: The Road Not Taken?” reframed the energy problem and added an alternative vision of U.S. energy strategy. The “hard path” was more of the same; the “soft path” combined energy efficiency with a shift to renewable supply. The article soon became that venerable journal’s most-reprinted ever, spreading as virally as pre-Internet technologies permitted. Forty years later, a review of its initial reception and continued influence shows what lessons have and haven’t been learned."
"In contrast to the soft path’s dependence on pluralistic consumer choice in deploying a myriad of small devices and refinements, the hard path depends on difficult, large-scale projects requiring a major social commitment under centralized management. The hard path, sometimes portrayed as the bastion of free enterprise and free markets, would instead be a world of subsidies, $100-billion bailouts, oligopolies, regulations, nationalization, eminent domain, corporate statism.”
Interesting look back from the perspective of 40 years ago to see how energy use, policy, and supply have evolved.
mspohr writes: Our favorite science guy has an interview (and video) in Quartz where he explains how Louisiana flooding is due to climate change: “As the ocean gets warmer, which it is getting, it expands,” Nye explained. “Molecules spread apart, and then as the sea surface is warmer, more water evaporates, and so it’s very reasonable that these storms are connected to these big effects.” The article also notes that a National Academy of Sciences issued a report with the same findings: "Scientists from around the world have concurred with Nye that this is exactly what the effects of climate change look like, and that disasters like the Louisiana floods are going to happen more and more. According to a National Academy of Sciences report published earlier this year, extreme flooding can be traced directly to human-induced global warming. As the atmosphere warms, it retains more moisture, leading to bouts of sustained, heavy precipitation that can cause floods."
mspohr writes: Bill McKibbin has an article in the New Republic which lays out the case for a broad effort to mobilize our resources to fight climate change. "For years, our leaders chose to ignore the warnings of our best scientists and top military strategists. Global warming, they told us, was beginning a stealth campaign that would lay waste to vast stretches of the planet, uprooting and killing millions of innocent civilians. But instead of paying heed and taking obvious precautions, we chose to strengthen the enemy with our endless combustion; a billion explosions of a billion pistons inside a billion cylinders have fueled a global threat as lethal as the mushroom-shaped nuclear explosions we long feared. Carbon and methane now represent the deadliest enemy of all time, the first force fully capable of harrying, scattering, and impoverishing our entire civilization." "By most of the ways we measure wars, climate change is the real deal: Carbon and methane are seizing physical territory, sowing havoc and panic, racking up casualties, and even destabilizing governments. " He includes analysis of just what it would take in terms of industrial mobilization to stop polluting with CO2. The answer is, a lot, but it is possible.
mspohr writes: The Arctic’s ice is disappearing. We must reduce emissions, fast, or the human castastrophe predicted by ocean scientist Peter Wadhams will become reality. "When in 1970 he joined the first of what would be more than 50 polar expeditions, the Arctic sea ice covered around 8m sq km at its September minimum. Today, it hovers at around 3.4m, and is declining by 13% a decade. In 30 years Wadhams has seen the Arctic ice thin by 40%, the world change colour at its top and bottom and the ice disappear in front of his eyes.
In a new book, published just as July 2016 is confirmed by Nasa as the hottest month ever recorded, this most experienced and rational scientist states what so many other researchers privately fear but cannot publicly say – that the Arctic is approaching a death spiral which may see the entire remaining summer ice cover collapse in the near future."
mspohr writes: An article published by Bill McKibben in The Guardian points the finger at Exxon for spreading climate change denial which led to lack of action to prevent widespread coral die-off. "We know the biggest culprits now, because great detective work by investigative journalists has uncovered key facts in the past year. The world’s biggest oil company, Exxon, knew everything there was to know about climate change by the late 1970s and early 1980s. Its scientists understood how much and how fast it was going to warm, and how much damage that was going to do. And the company knew the scientists were right: that’s why they started “climate-proofing” their own installations, for instance building their drilling rigs to accommodate the sea level rise they knew was coming.
What they didn’t do was tell the rest of us. Instead, they – and many other players in the fossil fuel industry – bankrolled the rise of the climate denial industry, helping fund the “thinktanks” and front groups that spent the last generation propagating the phoney idea that there was a deep debate about the reality of global warming. As a result, we’ve wasted a quarter century in a phoney argument about whether the climate was changing."
mspohr writes: A new venture from a cybersecurity legend, Peiter Zatko, known more commonly by his hacker handle “Mudge” and his wife, Sarah, a former NSA mathematician, have developed a first-of-its-kind method for testing and scoring the security of software. "Called the Cyber Independent Testing Lab, the Zatkos’ operation won’t tell you if your software is literally incendiary, but it will give you a way to comparison-shop browsers, applications, and antivirus products according to how hardened they are against attack. It may also push software makers to improve their code to avoid a low score and remain competitive." The Zatkos’ system is not comprehensive, and although it will provide one indicator of security risk, it’s not a conclusive indicator. Vendors are going to hate it. "The technique involves, in part, analyzing binary software files using algorithms created by Sarah to measure the security hygiene of code. During this sort of examination, known as “static analysis” because it involves looking at code without executing it, the lab is not looking for specific vulnerabilities, but rather for signs that developers employed defensive coding methods to build armor into their code." There will be a presentation at the Black Hat conference next week: https://www.blackhat.com/us-16...
mspohr writes: A few years ago, a Kickstarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/yuansong84/ifind-the-worlds-first-battery-free-item-locating/description) was set up to develop a locator tag powered by free RF energy harvested from the environment. This was called a scam here on Slashdot (https://mobile.slashdot.org/story/14/06/23/2357200/500k-energy-harvesting-kickstarter-scam-unfolding-right-now) and was shut down before it was funded on Kickstarter. However, it now appears that the concept is not as far-fetched as some predicted. A UK company CleanSpace (https://store.clean.space/) has developed a CO sensor which is powered by free RF. Here's a review (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C1zjblLIyI). It uses Freevolt (http://www.getfreevolt.com/) technology to keep a battery charged and the CO sensor running. Since they have several thousand of these devices collecting data (https://our.clean.space/maplondon/), they do appear to work and it seems to be in the "not a scam" department.
mspohr writes: A new study published in the Journal Nature Climate Change (Nature Climate Change, Nature Climate Change, DOI: 10.1038/nclimate3036) (and reported in phys.org) shows our precarious climate condition: "Using up all known fossil fuel reserves would render Earth even more unliveable than scientists had previously projected, researchers said on Monday. Average temperatures would climb by up to 9.5 degrees Celsius (17 degrees Fahrenheit)—five times the cap on global warming set at climate talks in Paris in December, they reported. In the Arctic region—already heating at more than double the global average—the thermometer would rise an unimaginable 15 C to 20 C."
This would make most of Earth uninhabitable to humans (although the dinosaurs seemed to do fine with it 65 million years ago).
mspohr writes: The Guardian has an interesting article about a trial in Minnesota where the coal industry trotted out its best shot at climate denial and was defeated. The article includes some interesting graphics on climate change denial (5 characteristics of climate change denial http://www.theguardian.com/env...) -Fake experts, for example inviting William Happer, who has never published a peer-reviewed climate study, to testify that carbon pollution is lovely; -Logical fallacies, for example claiming that past natural climate changes imply that the current change is natural; -Impossible expectations, requiring that climate models must be perfect; -Cherry picking, ignoring the vast body of data and research contradicting their every argument; and -Conspiracy theories, suggesting that scientists are fudging the contradictory data. In the end, the judge was unimpressed. Also, in related news, World's carbon dioxide concentration teetering on the point of no return Future in which global concentration of CO2 is permanently above 400 parts per million looms http://www.theguardian.com/env...
mspohr writes: Interesting article in ThinkProgress about reuse of EV batteries. They point out that EV batteries removed from service have up to 80% of their capacity and that these have many years of life left for stationary storage. They say that LG Chem is selling batteries for the Volt and Bolt for $145/kwh. Companies are buying used batteries for $100/kwh. BMW and GM have pilot projects for used batteries combined with solar and wind and also used in cooperation with electric utilities for demand smoothing. "Ultimately Tesla and GM and the other major EV companies are going to sell hundreds of thousands of vehicles over the next few years with battery packs that cost as little as $145/kWh. That means a staggering amount of low-cost used batteries will be available by the middle of the next decade. When the trickle of second-life batteries turns into a flood, the business of electricity storage and demand response — both of which enable far deeper penetration of renewable power — will never be the same."
mspohr writes: ... At the most recent Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate. His logic is indisputable: "This is the crux of Tyson’s point: if we take it as read that it is, in principle, possible to simulate a universe in some way, at some point in the future, then we have to assume that on an infinite timeline some species, somewhere, will simulate the universe. And if the universe will be perfectly, or near-perfectly, simulated at some point, then we have to examine the possibility that we live inside such a universe. And, on a truly infinite timeline, we might expect an almost infinite number of simulations to arise from an almost infinite number or civilizations — and indeed, a sophisticated-enough simulation might be able to let its simulated denizens themselves run universal simulations, and at that point all bets are officially off."
mspohr writes: There is an overwhelming expert scientific consensus on human-caused global warming.
Authors of seven previous climate consensus studies — including Naomi Oreskes, Peter Doran, William Anderegg, Bart Verheggen, Ed Maibach, J. Stuart Carlton, John Cook, myself, and six of our colleagues — have co-authored a new paper that should settle this question once and for all. The two key conclusions from the paper are:
1) Depending on exactly how you measure the expert consensus, it’s somewhere between 90% and 100% that agree humans are responsible for climate change, with most of our studies finding 97% consensus among publishing climate scientists.
2) The greater the climate expertise among those surveyed, the higher the consensus on human-caused global warming.
http://iopscience.iop.org/arti... Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming The consensus that humans are causing recent global warming is shared by 90%-100% of publishing climate scientists according to six independent studies by co-authors of this paper. Those results are consistent with the 97% consensus reported by Cook et al (Environ. Res. Lett. 8 024024) based on 11 944 abstracts of research papers, of which 4014 took a position on the cause of recent global warming. A survey of authors of those papers (N?=?2412 papers) also supported a 97% consensus. Tol (2016 Environ. Res. Lett. 11 048001) comes to a different conclusion using results from surveys of non-experts such as economic geologists and a self-selected group of those who reject the consensus. We demonstrate that this outcome is not unexpected because the level of consensus correlates with expertise in climate science. At one point, Tol also reduces the apparent consensus by assuming that abstracts that do not explicitly state the cause of global warming ('no position') represent non-endorsement, an approach that if applied elsewhere would reject consensus on well-established theories such as plate tectonics. We examine the available studies and conclude that the finding of 97% consensus in published climate research is robust and consistent with other surveys of climate scientists and peer-reviewed studies.
mspohr writes: An interesting insight into the financial cost of climate change was published in the journal Nature (http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate2972.html) "Climate change could cut the value of the world’s financial assets by $2.5 trillion, according to the first estimate from economic modeling. In the worst case scenarios, often used by regulators to check the financial health of companies and economies, the losses could soar to $24 trillion, or 17 percent of the world’s assets, and wreck the global economy. The research also showed the financial sense in taking action to keep climate change under the 2C (3.6F) danger limit agreed by the world’s nations. In this scenario, the value of financial assets would fall by $315 billion less, even when the costs of cutting emissions are included." “There is no scenario in which the risk to financial assets are unaffected by climate change. That is just a fiction,” said Dietz. “There will be winners and losers.” Major investors such as Norway’s sovereign wealth fund — the world’s biggest — have already begun selling off high-carbon stocks such as coal companies. "Scientists have shown that most of the coal, oil, and gas reserves will have to stay in the ground if the global rise in temperature is to be kept under 2C (3.6F). The total stock market capitalization of fossil fuel companies today is about $5 trillion."
mspohr writes: A new study just published in Nature (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v531/n7596/full/nature17145.html) and reported in the Washington Post states: "Sea levels could rise nearly twice as much as previously predicted by the end of this century if carbon dioxide emissions continue unabated, an outcome that could devastate coastal communities around the globe, according to new research published Wednesday. " "If high levels of greenhouse gas emissions continue, they concluded, oceans could rise by close to two meters in total (more than six feet) by the end of the century. The melting of ice on Antarctica alone could cause seas to rise more than 13 meters (42 feet) by 2500." From Nature: "Polar temperatures over the last several million years have, at times, been slightly warmer than today, yet global mean sea level has been 6–9metres higher as recently as the Last Interglacial (130,000 to 115,000 years ago) and possibly higher during the Pliocene epoch (about three million years ago). In both cases the Antarctic ice sheet has been implicated as the primary contributor, hinting at its future vulnerability. "