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Old 07-09-2012, 04:38   #46
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Re: First Sail Boat Through the McClure Straits

I was reminded of a more chilling parallel to the situation which provoked this thread.

In the early days of the French atomic bomb testing program, people in that part of French Polynesia were seduced by the extraordinarily beautiful atmospheric effects. No-one had ever seen sunsets like it. Some of the photos taken at that time are the most extraordinary images I've ever seen.

Another, more seductive, opportunity the program presented was a prodigious influx of funds, and jobs. Many local people saw this as the absolute salvation of the economy.

There's a certain moral hazard involved in responding to extraordinary situations in terms of the opportunities presented, if it takes our focus off working out the larger implications.

Mururoa was once an absolute paradise on earth, more so even than Tahiti pre-European contact

-- to those who are not from this part of the world: that's where the French exploded their above ground, and later, their deep subsurface nuclear devices, inflicting a degree of lasting biological and geological and radiological harm which leaves the place compromised for the indefinite future

In the case of Mururoa, contact had relatively little detrimental effect (in stark contrast with Tahiti).

One of the few cruising sailors who spent time there - because it was known as the "Dangerous Archipelago" in the era of celestial navigation -- because the currents are so fierce and unpredictable and the atolls so low lying that you could be a wreck at 2am on a reef which was invisible at nightfall (Adrian Hayter, a friend of my mother's folks) -- described it as a society which had a unique capacity for being satisfied with what they had.

In particular, he thought the children were more well-adjusted than any he'd ever encountered. He told my mother that it seemed to him that they derived virtually the same degree of nurture (material and intellectual) from anyone in the community as they did from their direct kin. This, he thought, was a culture which had attained something closer to transcending the uglier aspects of human nature than anywhere he'd been in his quite extended travels.

The tribal elders went further than wanting what they had, (as opposed to wanting what they didn't have): they gloried in how little they had (in material terms), because it seemed to them that no-one would ever come and try to take it away from them.

I never got to talk to him about it, but after he died I read about it in one of his books that he'd given my mother (I think it was "Sheila in the Wind"). This was written years before the French nuclear program.

I was reading it, totally engrossed, but for some reason I didn't realise exactly where he had got to in the Tuamotu archipelago, as he evoked a truly inspiring picture of this entrancing piece of human adaptation, until I got to the end of the chapter, and the name Mururoa burned across my retina and seared itself into my conscience. I can't remember being hit so hard, before or since.
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Old 07-09-2012, 04:57   #47
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Re: First Sail Boat Through the McClure Straits

Pragmatic point; AGW deniers tend to be folks who value principles over facts (specifically in this case, the principle is "regulaton is bad"). Their instinct being, "When the facts contradict a valued principle, the facts must be wrong." Think tanks then appear to give cover for the valued principles.

For the scientific minded, the facts tend to dictate our principles. This makes the scientific minded think that they can convince principled folks to change their principles by displaying facts. This is usually not the case. More facts tend to cause retrenchment.

Better, I think, to try and find solutions that jibe with their principles. In this case, AGW deniers seem to be MUCH more agreeable to the facts of AGW when used as a justification for nuclear power. In other words, don't present facts as an argument for regulation. Present them as an argument for nuclear power, then once the facts are accepted, make the reasonable case for regulation.
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Old 07-09-2012, 05:18   #48
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Re: First Sail Boat Through the McClure Straits

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Pragmatic point; AGW deniers tend to be folks who value principles over facts (specifically in this case, the principle is "regulaton is bad"). Their instinct being, "When the facts contradict a valued principle, the facts must be wrong." Think tanks then appear to give cover for the valued principles.

....

Better, I think, to try and find solutions that jibe with their principles. In this case, AGW deniers seem to be MUCH more agreeable to the facts of AGW when used as a justification for nuclear power. In other words, don't present facts as an argument for regulation. Present them as an argument for nuclear power, then once the facts are accepted, make the reasonable case for regulation.
You, too, make a telling (and true to label, highly pragmatic) point. However the cure seems to me a bit like weaning a local fishing industry off using poison, in favour of using dynamite (or vice versa). The problem in both cases is a desire to hijack the proportionality between effort and reward.

I'm not sure we can treat climate change as an egregious, isolated phenomenon: if it proves to be, say, an outcome from a world economy predicated on exponential growth, we would need to find ways that economics can work IN THE ABSENCE of growth.

Nuclear power was once hailed as inevitably taking us down a road to the point where 'power would not be worth the expense of metering'. The only reason it's becoming attractive again is that fossil fuels are increasingly being seen for what they are.

To treat as rational actors those who are still blind to the unrealistic "nett present value" of the future costs of nuclear power * in the wake of Fukushima, is tantamount to writing blank cheques, in the names of future generations, and post dated hundreds and even thousands of years hence, to pay for today's living expenses.

*(not just waste disposal, and unforeseeable, random, catastrophic events, but routine things such as plant decommissioning)
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Old 07-09-2012, 06:43   #49
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Re: First Sail Boat Through the McClure Straits

I disagree with characterizing nuclear power as akin to dynamite. Expensive, yes, but not necessarily dangerous as compared with the pragmatic alternatives. How many people directly die in coal (the direct competitor to nuclear) mines every year? How many are sickened? What are the comparable numbers for the nuclear industry? What happens to nuclear "waste" and energy density when you require the industry to close the fuel cycle?

When it comes to power, I don't believe that conservation and efficiency are the (only) answers. Maybe it's because I'm a physical scientist, but I find it easier to simply get people the power they want (solve an engineering problem) than convince them that they should do with less power (solve a sociology problem). In addition, an abundant source of power would solve many other social problems (recycling and food scarcity being the biggest, probably). I like solar and wind. I invest in them personally (as do most cruising sailors). I just don't think that they have the numbers we need for society writ large. Not now, and especially not in the near future, where I expect our energy needs to to grow exponentially.
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Old 07-09-2012, 08:05   #50
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Re: First sail boat through the McClure Straits

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Concerned, yes. but instead of trying to fight the inevitable change, let's use it to our advantage. Less ice in the north will open up some incredible opportunities. It's all in how you look at it.
I just wish it would hurry up and CHANGE... I live 200 miles inland and I would really like to have beach front property,,,

I'm getting tired of driving 200 miles to visit the ocean....
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Old 07-09-2012, 08:09   #51
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Re: First Sail Boat Through the McClure Straits

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Pragmatic point; AGW deniers tend to be folks who value principles over facts (specifically in this case, the principle is "regulaton is bad"). Their instinct being, "When the facts contradict a valued principle, the facts must be wrong." Think tanks then appear to give cover for the valued principles.

For the scientific minded, the facts tend to dictate our principles. This makes the scientific minded think that they can convince principled folks to change their principles by displaying facts. This is usually not the case. More facts tend to cause retrenchment.

Better, I think, to try and find solutions that jibe with their principles. In this case, AGW deniers seem to be MUCH more agreeable to the facts of AGW when used as a justification for nuclear power. In other words, don't present facts as an argument for regulation. Present them as an argument for nuclear power, then once the facts are accepted, make the reasonable case for regulation.
One of my fathers favorite saying was " I've got my mind made up, please don't confuse me with the facts"...I used to think it was a joke...Now it seems to be a certain political party's mantra...
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Old 07-09-2012, 08:13   #52
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Re: First Sail Boat Through the McClure Straits

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I'm a paid up member of the unscientific people who inhabit this planet but after reading this thread i want to ask:-

As far as quantity/volume goes is there more or less gases in or on our planet than what there were some 2, 3 or 20 million years ago?

?
Wrong question and largely unmeasurable. What is measurable from analysis of trapped or entrained gases in rocks and ice cores is the ratio and type of various gases. There is more sulphur compounds in the atmosphere now than 200 years ago then can be accounted for by logging all the volcanic activity known, for instance. The Industrial Revolution/automobiles/jets/ships can feasibly be shown to account for the difference.

What remains to be determined is not that we are changing the recipe of the atmosphere, but what are the effects of this and do certain levels represent tipping points for planetary biology.

The age of the dinosaurs was a lively time, for instance, but the rampant plant life beefed up the oxygen in the atmosphere to past the 30 percent level. Insects went massive along with the reptiles and continents could easily catch fire because the O2 would burn so readily.

That part of the reason we have such dense beds of coal today. Life propagated at tumour speeds, died and piled up in future seams. Not sure if that's entirely desirable, actually!
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Old 07-09-2012, 08:23   #53
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Re: First Sail Boat Through the McClure Straits

It would be nice to believe that we are a more forward looking species, and more willing to self sacrifice for future generations, but I see no evidence to support that perspective and much to support the ‘want it now, screw the future’ perspective on mankind. Just take a look at Easter Island and many other closed island societies (Iceland more recently) as micro case histories.

I am sorry to say that I think the almost certain solution is quite clear. We have built our society on cheap energy, and the Chinese and Indians and Brazilians are (unfortunately) following our lead. That cheap energy is being and will disappear/be used up. And we will NOT have the foresight and willingness to sacrifice/invest now in a suitable replacement. We (humankind) will then enter a new dark age , population, energy consumption and knowledge will then plummet. It will be quite some time before that happens, because there is a lot of dirty coal and expensive oil/gas we can use up in the meantime, with our social fabric slowly degrading. But it will eventually reach a tipping point and our social structure will collapse into a dark ages. It’s been a long time since the last one.
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Old 07-09-2012, 08:35   #54
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Re: First Sail Boat Through the McClure Straits

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Wrong question and largely unmeasurable. What is measurable from analysis of trapped or entrained gases in rocks and ice cores is the ratio and type of various gases. There is more sulphur compounds in the atmosphere now than 200 years ago then can be accounted for by logging all the volcanic activity known, for instance. The Industrial Revolution/automobiles/jets/ships can feasibly be shown to account for the difference.

What remains to be determined is not that we are changing the recipe of the atmosphere, but what are the effects of this and do certain levels represent tipping points for planetary biology.

The age of the dinosaurs was a lively time, for instance, but the rampant plant life beefed up the oxygen in the atmosphere to past the 30 percent level. Insects went massive along with the reptiles and continents could easily catch fire because the O2 would burn so readily.

That part of the reason we have such dense beds of coal today. Life propagated at tumour speeds, died and piled up in future seams. Not sure if that's entirely desirable, actually!
You should also point out that on geologic time scales (i.e. millions of years), the climate is largely dominated by the configuration of the continents. On small (i.e. thousands of years) time scales, geologic time temperature variations are irrelevant to consider.
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Old 07-09-2012, 17:10   #55
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Re: First Sail Boat Through the McClure Straits

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I disagree with characterizing nuclear power as akin to dynamite. Expensive, yes, but not necessarily dangerous as compared with the pragmatic alternatives..
Dynamite is not necessarily dangerous, either. I'm a big fan of dynamite, in the right context.


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When it comes to power, I don't believe that conservation and efficiency are the (only) answers. Maybe it's because I'm a physical scientist, but I find it easier to simply get people the power they want (solve an engineering problem) than convince them that they should do with less power (solve a sociology problem).
It seems to me that engineering solutions are rendered ineffectual when they have to be run by people with an enduring 'sociology problem' which those solutions do not address. Tokyo Electric Power executives were not craven or criminal.

A nuclear power industry has to be run by businessmen, whose sole responsibility is to stockholders, not to society, especially not to society hundreds of years hence. That's an intractable sociology problem, not amenable to technical cures.

I'm sure you're right that it would be 'easier' to give the people what they want. Daytime TV and junk food are classic examples. Do they provide a blueprint for the advancement of our prospects as a species?



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In addition, an abundant source of power would solve many other social problems (recycling and food scarcity being the biggest, probably).
If nuclear power were the solution to those social problems, surely they would have been solved decades ago?
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Old 08-09-2012, 07:57   #56
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Re: First Sail Boat Through the McClure Straits

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It seems to me that engineering solutions are rendered ineffectual when they have to be run by people with an enduring 'sociology problem' which those solutions do not address. Tokyo Electric Power executives were not craven or criminal.

A nuclear power industry has to be run by businessmen, whose sole responsibility is to stockholders, not to society, especially not to society hundreds of years hence. That's an intractable sociology problem, not amenable to technical cures.
Sure. If the nuclear industry were unshackled from regulation, they would undoubtedly only build very cheap (and currently illegal) graphite reactors of the Chernobyl type. Of course, we don't (mustn't) unshackle them from regulation. Society must define the boundaries within which industry operates. I would argue that those current boundaries are generally safe (always with room for improvement). My 'safe' metric comes from comparing the health and safety record of the nuclear industry with that of its closest competitors (coal, oil, gas). I'm not arguing that it's perfect, only much better.

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I'm sure you're right that it would be 'easier' to give the people what they want. Daytime TV and junk food are classic examples. Do they provide a blueprint for the advancement of our prospects as a species?
If that's what people want, then yes. It's probably easier to make junk food less junky than it is to convince people that they really don't want cheap, tasty and convenient meals. It's not really for me to judge. (well... I can judge silently)

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If nuclear power were the solution to those social problems, surely they would have been solved decades ago?
Nuclear power requires a very large up-front investment. Since the energy markets are largely deregulated, you can't guarantee a reasonable ROI since you don't set a floor on the price of electricity. As a result, it's very difficult to attract investors. Also remember, the nuclear industry is the only one that actually has to carry the cost of its own pollution and decommissioning. Coal, oil and gas all get to pollute for free.

In short, where we haven't made the up front investment, we don't get the back end benefits. Less than 1/5 of the US grid is nuclear. IMO nuclear would make for an excellent long term retirement investment, provided you could guarantee a baseline price for kilowatts.

In addition, I believe that we're entering a technology era where the benefits of abundant energy will be more useful than ever. Imagine a 3D printer/recycler in every home. An energy hog to be sure, but think of the potential benefits!
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Old 08-09-2012, 08:16   #57
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Re: First Sail Boat Through the McClure Straits

I'm wondering if we have all forgotten the Global Cooling scare in the early '70's. Apparently we were all to be buried under mountains of snow and ice. I wish those brilliant scientists could make up their minds!!
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Old 08-09-2012, 08:53   #58
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Re: First Sail Boat Through the McClure Straits

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I'm wondering if we have all forgotten the Global Cooling scare in the early '70's. Apparently we were all to be buried under mountains of snow and ice. I wish those brilliant scientists could make up their minds!!
This might dissuade you of that myth

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A survey of the scientific literature has found that between 1965 and 1979, 44 scientific papers predicted warming, 20 were neutral and just 7 predicted cooling. So while predictions of cooling got more media attention, the majority of scientists were predicting warming even then.
Climate myths: They predicted global cooling in the 1970s - environment - 16 May 2007 - New Scientist
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Old 08-09-2012, 09:17   #59
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Re: First Sail Boat Through the McClure Straits

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I'm wondering if we have all forgotten the Global Cooling scare in the early '70's...
There was no Global Cooling scare, within the scientific community.

Thomas Peterson, of the National Climatic Data Center, surveyed dozens of peer-reviewed scientific articles from 1965 to 1979 and found that only seven supported global cooling, while 44 predicted warming. Peterson says 20 others were neutral in their assessments of climate trends.

The study reports, "There was no scientific consensus in the 1970s that the Earth was headed into an imminent ice age.

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Old 08-09-2012, 10:03   #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lagoon4us
I'm a paid up member of the unscientific people who inhabit this planet but after reading this thread i want to ask:-

As far as quantity/volume goes is there more or less gases in or on our planet than what there were some 2, 3 or 20 million years ago?

?
Our oxygen-rich atmosphere started to evolve when the first bacteria started producing oxygen about 2.8 billion years ago. The earth's original atmosphered would have been all hydrogen and helium, but most of that was driven off by solar winds and the earth's heat. That earth's second atmosphere was mostly created by volcanic outgassing. The current oxygen-rich atmosphere is actually the planet's third atmosphere.

Atmospheric chemistry has changed throughout the eons. For example, during the Carboniferous era, which ended about 2.5 million years ago, carbon dioxide was about 800 ppm, which is three times pre-industrial levels. This is the era when all the coal beds were formed. In essence, the carbon in the coal was taken from the CO2-rich atmosphere of the Carboniferous era. When we burn that coal, we re-release the carbon into the atmosphere, elevating our level of CO2 in the current atmosphere.
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