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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

BCGlorfindel Re:Nuclear doesn't work either (572 comments)

The electricity prices are low in France, not because nuclear power is cheap, but because they tax it less. It simply isn't economically feasible to build nuclear power plants that must operate on normal market mechanisms; it is too expensive. Gas and coal, and even oil prices makes it impossible.

The people of France and Europe are paying less for electricity generated with nuclear power. How else do I have to phrase that before you'll stop insisting it is impossible? It doesn't matter what kind market situations and various problems you can concoct about how challenging or impossible a task it is to accomplish. It has none the less been accomplished and won't cease to exist for all your insistences against it.

First, there is no real free market in France regarding electricity; almost everything is state owned, controlled and subsidized. Their national energy company, EDF, is bleeding money beyond belief, which are resulting in massive price hikes on electricity in France, with at least a 30% price increase of the next few years.

At the same time the French industry pays way more than their German counterparts, and despite further subsides this will probably be case in the future too.

My point is exactly, that nuclear power simply isn't economically feasible without massive state control, subsides, and by forcing the consumers to pay higher prices. The free market have simply rejected nuclear power as a worthwhile investment because other energy prices are lower.

You could argue that there is a free market failure that allows eg. coal to be used without its producers paying the massive costs of global climate change, and that state intervention is the only real choice in securing clean energy, and that energy price increases by going nuclear, is much cheaper than the absurd cost of climate change. But as a free market solution, nuclear power is a dying technology.

Citation needed, by all appearances EDF was still turning a profit in 2013. It looks like some of their foreign holdings outside of Europe are problematic for them, but that just goes to show their core business of selling nuclear power to Europeans is profitable enough to offset losses from other investments. Hardly a condemnation of the economics of nuclear power.

As for 'free market solutions' I hadn't realized that when we discussed emissions reductions that a solution must be rejected because it is or is not capitalist enough in nature.

3 hours ago
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

BCGlorfindel Re:Nuclear doesn't work either (572 comments)

The electricity prices are low in France, not because nuclear power is cheap, but because they tax it less. It simply isn't economically feasible to build nuclear power plants that must operate on normal market mechanisms; it is too expensive. Gas and coal, and even oil prices makes it impossible.

The people of France and Europe are paying less for electricity generated with nuclear power. How else do I have to phrase that before you'll stop insisting it is impossible? It doesn't matter what kind market situations and various problems you can concoct about how challenging or impossible a task it is to accomplish. It has none the less been accomplished and won't cease to exist for all your insistences against it.

yesterday
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

BCGlorfindel Re:Nuclear doesn't work either (572 comments)

...Beside that, nuclear power also fail on price; it simply can't compete against cheaper energy sources, despite direct and indirect subsides. This is the main reason why very few new nuclear power plants are being build.

You bring to mind a quote.
Never let those who say a thing can't be done get in the way of those that are doing it.
France produces more than 50% of it's electricity through nuclear and has some of the lowest electricity prices in Europe. It even exports large volumes of electricity to it's neighbours.

yesterday
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

BCGlorfindel Re:Now there's a false dichotomy (572 comments)

"As a result, is nuclear going to be acknowledged as the future of energy production?"

Ummm, no.

As long as NG peakers are $1/W CAPEX and ~2 cents OPEX, nuclear is as dead in the water as it is today.

For comparison, the average price for nukes in the western hemisphere is about $8/W and ~5 cents OPEX.

You bring to mind a quote.
Never let those who say a thing can't be done get in the way of those that are doing it.
France produces more than 50% of it's electricity through nuclear and has some of the lowest electricity prices in Europe. It even exports large volumes of electricity to it's neighbours.

yesterday
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Prospects Rise For a 2015 UN Climate Deal, But Likely To Be Weak

BCGlorfindel Re: Single-year does not make a decadal trend. (145 comments)

Not only are multi-year trends important, also energy imbalance is more important then temperature. The entire greenhouse effect is about the global energy imbalance and temperature is just a proxy measure of that.
We've been measuring that energy imbalance by satellite for a few decades now and seen a net of more in than out, as expected.
Here is a big trick though, that imbalance should also be growing as we dump more and more CO2 into the atmosphere. Or more importantly, the degree to which our activity affects the trend of that Imbalance is important to our long term impact. The IPCC notes from the satellite record, with very high confidence, that since 2001 there has been no trend to the global energy imbalance. If you also look at projected and actual temperatures in the latest IPCC report, measured temp is tracking the very low end of projections, which show pretty manageable temperature changes for the next hundred years.
So there is a scientific consensus under all this. The planet is warming. We are contributing. No need to panic yet though as the severity of our impact is still under investigation and there are many reasons to believe that adaptation may be worlds more efficient than large scale forced and rapid emissions reductions.

2 days ago
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UN Climate Change Panel: It's Happening, and It's Almost Entirely Man's Fault

BCGlorfindel Re:Let's talk about the Sun... And Mars too (695 comments)

That's not ignoring the sun. That's taking a careful look at the changes in the sun's output, and deciding that it's not a major factor. If you don't believe so, please find a graph of TSI (total solar irradiance) for the last century, and compare with a graph of global temperature anomaly during the same time.

You first. If you'd tried taking your own advice you'd have found we don't have nearly a century of data for TSI, we've got only about 30 years of direct measurements.

And if you really want to look at what matters, it should be net energy in and out globally instead of temperature. The IPCC's latest report summarizes the results of our satellite measurement of exactly that, observing it is unlikely any trend exists since 2000 in global top of the atmosphere radiation flux. They don't explain the justification though between this and the later claim that total radiative forcing has steadily increased over that time. The difference is methodology, in that the calculation for total radiative forcing appears to be a summation of measurements of various gas concentrations over that time. Nobody seems to be bothered, worried or interested though in the fact that the directly measured real net forcing doesn't match expectations...

But nevermind the complexity and nuance, as Ban Ki-Moon has said, "Science has spoken!". You don't ask questions when a deity has spoken directly to you and given you direction...

about three weeks ago
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UN Climate Change Panel: It's Happening, and It's Almost Entirely Man's Fault

BCGlorfindel Look at the IPCC track record first (695 comments)

Before implementing a global carbon tax maybe the IPCC predictions should be looked at more closely, no?

The IPCC first assessment report(still available on their site) had temperature projections that we can compare today to see how they match reality nearly 25 years later. Take a look for yourself, and they clearly predict a warming of 0.5C from 1990 temperatures by 2014 IF CO2 emissions remained frozen at 1990 levels. So, sort of their best case scenario. In reality, CO2 emissions have steadily climbed much, much higher than 1990 levels. Today's temperatures though sit at a warming of 0.4C higher than 1990 levels.

The IPCC more recent third assessment from 2001 has much improved projections, and we can again compare them to reality 15 years out. The 2001 assessment has error bars included and a decade more research and refining behind it. If you compare it as well, you see today's temperatures DO fit within the error bars projected 15 years ago by the IPCC, albeit barely. Of course, they are way, way down on the lowest end of the error bars.

What the above tells me is that reality has shown the IPCC has consistently been overestimating the amount of warming to be expected. In other words, the science says don't panic just yet.

Switching to electric cars and nuclear power are a good idea regardless of CO2 emissions, so we should push forwards with them. If for no other reason than they are simply better and cheaper if we invest in them properly. A massive reduction in CO2 emissions that comes with it is entirely secondary as a side benefit. Really, less coal smoke and exhaust fumes are probably the bigger win. Particularly in places like China were even seeing the sun is become rare indeed.

about three weeks ago
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Imagining the Future History of Climate Change

BCGlorfindel Re:Your clam is a lie. (495 comments)

You'll find the relevant IPCC First report here. You're looking for page 336 of the PDF for the temperature predictions. If you go the USGISS sources you can get the measured global average's and see temperature has gone up about 0.4C from 1990 till now. The IPCC report from 1990, even with a freezing of emissions at 1990 levels predicted 0.5C. Regrettably no error bars on the work back then though. The 2001 IPCC third assessment though is almost 15 years old now so a reasonable test as well. It additionally has error bars on the predictions. Thus far 2014 falls at the very bottom end, but still just barely warm enough to stay within the error bars. Although, we would need to have had nearly 0 temp increase through till 2020 to actually get outside the error bars. Observation though clearly shows that even the more recent 2001 predictions are so far very, very much on the high end.

Don't just wave your arms around and claiming I'm lying. The data's plain as day there you just have to be sure to watch that temperature anomalies are constantly being referenced against different years so you have to make sure you adjust correctly for that linear shift to the predictions/measurements.

about three weeks ago
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Imagining the Future History of Climate Change

BCGlorfindel Re:left/right apocalypse (495 comments)

The IPCC results have not been "very accurate", The First IPCC assessment made temperature projections based on multiple emissions scenarios. ALL the scenarios predicted temperatures much warmer than today for 2014. Even the scenarios based on us freezing emissions at 1990 levels. The results are still posted on the IPCC site so go right ahead and confirm for yourself if you don't believe me.

Now, sure, the IPCC temperature estimates in reports since then have steadily revised down the temperature predictions for 2014. Don't tell me that is because their methods have improved that much though, their projections for 2014 got better and better as 2014 got closer and closer, but the projections out to 2050 and 2100 haven't changed nearly as much. We need a prediction that actually gets things right 15 years later before claiming accuracy. Right now a terribly naive pure math trend analysis on temp from 1880-1990 gives a result as accurate as the IPCC projections from 1990. When your complex and advanced model doesn't fare any better than a highschool level pure math trend projection you don't get to claim high accuracy.

about a month ago
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Black Swan Author: Genetically Modified Organisms Risk Global Ruin

BCGlorfindel Re:oooh GMO is to oscary u guys! (432 comments)

All I can read in your response is that you don't understand what it actually means and that scares you.

No, I understand perfectly. You misunderstand the point here. It's not about whether those genes are harmless, but whether the technique involved carries with it some unexpected, unintended, unforeseen consequences. The point is a risk assessment of risks that are completely unknown and therefore not easily quantifiable.

In that context, all else being equal, any method in use for thousands of years without serious incident must be considered far safer than techniques that are novel.

And you can say that there's no reason why it would possibly be more dangerous, and I can agree with you, and then Taleb can point out various historical examples of people saying, "There's no reason why [some new thing] would be more dangerous than [the old thing it replaced]," only to find out that we misunderstood how things worked, and the new thing was actually more dangerous.

Which is an argument from pure and total ignorance. We are able to look at and manipulate the DNA of our crops and farm animals. We are able to see the random mutations we've selected for in the past, we can see the specific mutations we select for currently. From EVERYTHING we know and everything we can see the sole difference is whether we select mutations based on randomness or not, and the end results are exactly the same.

Despite having no known reason for there to be a difference, despite all current accumulated knowledge showing the working mechanisms to be absolutely identical, you want to insist that there is still much greater risk.

This is madness akin to refusing a different path to work than normal for fear of possible world shaking consequence. This is akin to fear of putting the left sock on first instead of the right. This is akin to knowing my magical rock that keeps away tigers should never be given up because so far it's always worked and we wouldn't want to risk getting eaten by a tiger.

More succinctly, your insistence is far more akin to superstition than science.

about a month ago
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Black Swan Author: Genetically Modified Organisms Risk Global Ruin

BCGlorfindel Re:oooh GMO is to oscary u guys! (432 comments)

For thousands of years we have been taking on risks by selecting for genetic modifications that have arisen entirely by RANDOM CHANCE and with no knowledge of what kind of genes were changed to get the effect we selected for.

Right, and what those thousands of years have shown us is that it's relatively safe to select for genetic modifications that have arise entirely by random chance. We do not have thousands of years of experience in what happens when humans select for mutations that they themselves have created.

All I can read in your response is that you don't understand what it actually means and that scares you.

Here's the difference between the old and new. In both cases, a seed supplier wants to find a seed with round-up resistance.

The thousands of years old method: Supplier plants thousands of acres of the original seed and sprays each crop with roundup. They take the few surviving plants as seeds for the next round. After several years of this spraying and selecting process hopefully they get a seed that largely survives the round-up through some random unknown mutation.

The new method: Supplier identifies the working mechanism of round-up on a plant, and modifies ONLY the genes that are needed to survive being sprayed with round-up.

The new method will yield a plant with DNA that, line for line, has MORE in common with the original non-resistant seed than the thousands year old approach. But sure, with no evidence to back you up, we should believe that the new method is radically and dangerously different and worse than what has been safely improving our lives for thousands of years.

about a month ago
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Black Swan Author: Genetically Modified Organisms Risk Global Ruin

BCGlorfindel Re:oooh GMO is to oscary u guys! (432 comments)

I didn't read the thing, so I'm just guessing, but I suspect that the problem isn't with any given genetic modification, but with the unknown factor of how those modifications will impact the environment in the context of being spread throughout the world and replacing other varieties of the same crop. Nassim Nicholas Taleb is very interested in the concept of risk, particularly regarding unforeseen outcomes and consequences.

The unknown factor with plants genetically modified in a lab is LOWER than the unknown factor with plants genetically modified by trial and error selective breeding. For thousands of years we have been taking on risks by selecting for genetic modifications that have arisen entirely by RANDOM CHANCE and with no knowledge of what kind of genes were changed to get the effect we selected for. Civilization has not only failed to collapse, but has flourished in that time. Now that we can be MORE selective and careful with our selection of which mutations to select for it's suddenly a problem? Sorry, the only new problem is technologies that people don't understand and therefore are frightened of,

about a month ago
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A Library For Survival Knowledge

BCGlorfindel Re:100 year old survival knowledge in PDF files??? (272 comments)

Cheap mass shipping to the other side of the world will be among the first luxuries to go, meaning we will need to start to produce most of our goods locally again, starting from the basics and working up to more complicated ones.

I disagree with some of this from sheer opportunity cost. Mass shipping often uses heavy fuel, the type that we have in abundance (tar sands, etc.) And this can be supplemented with wind. It's not infeasible that a future generation of shipping will return to some type of clipper ship or even kite design to help alleviate fuel.

And refridgeration is electric heavy, something we will have in abundance still besides fuel, so shipping food will still be feasible.

And trains and trucks are still more efficient than hundreds of individual cars.

If such a thing were to pass, one of the first things to go will be suburbias. A luxury of land and wastes of driving far more than distribution shipping. Since we are talking in point of the last and most wasteful step of distribution anyway, from store to home.

Such a future may come or not, not sure. Just my way of thinking.

Now, endpoint to endpoint consumer shipping from Amazon... that may be a different story. Unless quadrocopters are involved.

We'll adopt civilian nuclear reactors on massive sea transports first. We have the existing technology to build massive ocean transports powered by uranium, that need refuelling 2-3 times per CENTURY. We just need to decide to build them. If the need arises and we do, they'll even drastically REDUCE the cost of international ocean shipping.

about a month ago
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A Library For Survival Knowledge

BCGlorfindel Re:100 year old survival knowledge in PDF files??? (272 comments)

What we have at hands right now is the ongoing process of choosing by inaction not to create enough ways to harvest renewable energy. As the fossils run out, we will see a gradual shift away from our current global industrial world.

No.

We have enough oil to maintain the status quo usage for another 30+ years. Tesla motors though makes it clear that gas guzzling cars will be replaced by electrics in less than 30 years. Not for the sake of renewable energy or environmental conscience, but because they are cheaper, faster and all around superior. More over, I firmly believe that the next 30 years will see the advancement of some form of fusion power. Lockheed Martin has even been willing to claim, publicly, that it will have a fusion reactor ready for market in 10.

But Fusion isn't even necessary to maintain our current post-industrial path forwards. Sufficient advances in batteries and existing fission power suffice. Domestic shipping on highways by electric trucks or trains using batteries charged from fission power plants. Ocean transport either in short ranges with batteries, but more likely even larger transports powered by military style on board fission reactors actually able to REDUCE cost and increase speed of international transport of goods.

All the doomsday gloomy predictions of a future that will falter because we can't possibly solve problem X tend to fail.

Violence against one another is about the only threat to our future, we have technology of such a state that we are otherwise pretty well situated for centuries of continued growth.

about a month ago
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Black Swan Author: Genetically Modified Organisms Risk Global Ruin

BCGlorfindel Re:Monsanto is evil, but your anti-GMO screed is F (432 comments)

Oh no, glyphosates(round-up) and some GMO crops in some study show a possible statistical correlation with negative health factors! We should quickly abandon all of modern agriculture to make sure we don't destroy the health of western civilization! Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees.

GMO foods are have been ubiquitous in the western diet for multiple generations already. How to health factors and benchmarks for those generations compare to the ones prior to them? They are radically better. GMO fruits and vegetables that have longer shelf lives alone have vastly improved the health of people across the region. That longer shelf life doesn't just mean a corporate mega supermarket chain can buy more yachts because they reduced losses to waste and increased sales. Those increased sales also mean that lowered prices and greater geographic availability of fresh fruit and vegetables improved the diets of consumers. Even as a kid in central Canada fresh fruits and berries were very limited, but today it's taken as a matter of course you can go out and buy fresh anything in the dead of winter if you're willing to brave the 10foot snow banks between you and the store.

Sorry, all the fears and studies about potential small scale impacts of GMO crops is dwarfed by the current good of the dietary improvements that GMO has brought.

about a month ago
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Black Swan Author: Genetically Modified Organisms Risk Global Ruin

BCGlorfindel Neil deGrasse Tyson weighed in on this already (432 comments)

I'm amazed how much objection genetically modified foods are receiving from the public. It smacks of a fear factor that exists in any new science where people don't fully understand it and there for reject it. What most people don't know, and probably should is that practically every food you buy in a store for consumption is genetically modified food. There are no wild seedless watermelon. There are no wild cows. There are no long stem roses in the wild. List all the fruits and vegetables and ask yourself is there a wild counterpart to this? If there is, it's not as large, it's not as sweet, it's not as juicy, it has way more seeds in it. We have systematically genetically modified all the meats and all the foods we eat since we cultivated them. It's called artificial selection. Now that we can do it in a lab, all of a sudden you wanna complain? You like red delicious apples? We manufactured those, it's a genetic modification. The silkworm as we cultivate it has no wild counterpart because it would die in the wild. So no silk even anymore. We are creating and modifying the biology of the world to serve our needs, and I don't have a problem with that because we've been doing it for tens of thousands of years. So chill out,

Oh, before I offend you too much, that wasn't my own statement, but Neil deGrasse Tyson. A fairly widely well thought of spokesman for science within the scientific community.

about a month ago
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Black Swan Author: Genetically Modified Organisms Risk Global Ruin

BCGlorfindel Re:Nonsense. Again. (432 comments)

I'm amazed how much objection genetically modified foods are receiving from the public. It smacks of a fear factor that exists in any new science where people don't fully understand it and there for reject it. What most people don't know, and probably should is that practically every food you buy in a store for consumption is genetically modified food. There are no wild seedless watermelon. There are no wild cows. There are no long stem roses in the wild. List all the fruits and vegetables and ask yourself is there a wild counterpart to this? If there is, it's not as large, it's not as sweet, it's not as juicy, it has way more seeds in it. We have systematically genetically modified all the meats and all the foods we eat since we cultivated them. It's called artificial selection. Now that we can do it in a lab, all of a sudden you wanna complain? You like red delicious apples? We manufactured those, it's a genetic modification. The silkworm as we cultivate it has no wild counterpart because it would die in the wild. So no silk even anymore. We are creating and modifying the biology of the world to serve our needs, and I don't have a problem with that because we've been doing it for tens of thousands of years. So chill out,

Oh, before I offend you too much, that wasn't my own statement, but Neil deGrasse Tyson. A fairly widely well thought of spokesman for science within the scientific community.

about a month ago
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Pentagon Reportedly Hushed Up Chemical Weapons Finds In Iraq

BCGlorfindel Re:Designed in US, Built in EU, Filled in Iraq (376 comments)

In Afghanistan the Taliban are very hard on women but on the other hand in Iraq under Saddam Hussein the women were some of the most liberated in the Middle East, but much less so now under the current government.

That's some mighty narrow vision. Women's rights were marginally better under Saddam than the rest of the middle east... Saddam also committed two genocides against his own people with estimates of 2-300 thousand killed in each of them. He also initiated the Iran-Iraq war which killed over a million and extensively used chemical weapons in it, as well as in his genocide of the Kurds.

So, aside from the concentration camps, collective punishment, genocides and love for chemical weapons, Saddam was also a liberator of women...

about a month ago
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Pentagon Reportedly Hushed Up Chemical Weapons Finds In Iraq

BCGlorfindel Re:No WMD's...Really? (376 comments)

The nuclear weapons were also never found as Iraq never had the capability.

Correction, it wasn't found because the program was destroyed during and after the first gulf war and by a unilateral bombing run from Israel earlier.

The claim by the Bush administration was that they were manufacturing more and newer chemical ones. This was never substantiated.

But that presumes the burden of proof was on Bush. Saddam was proven to have chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs in the first gulf war. One of the most important conditions for allowing Saddam to remain in power and for the end of first gulf war short of his removal was the admittance and allowing of international inspectors to verify the termination of those programs. More than a decade later Saddam was still blocking inspectors. The fact was inspections had failed to confirm Saddam's compliance with ending his WMD programs. So much so that many of the inspectors, Like Scott Ritter objected to the war on the grounds that chemical weapons would be likely be deployed against allied forces. That of course didn't stop Ritter from being a cheer leader in chorus afterwards pointing out the failure to find WMDs...

about a month ago
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NASA Finds a Delaware-Sized Methane "Hot Spot" In the Southwest

BCGlorfindel Re:yes, let's "zoom out" (213 comments)

I can't but shake my head at all the environmentally concerned people opposing fracking. More specifically, the ones vehemently insisting we be more considerate of the living conditions we are creating for people down the road. It strikes me as a very bad form of tunnel vision.

Fracking the oil from the American midwest makes America energy independent. Let me repeat that another way. Fracking the midwest oil means America doesn't need Middle Eastern oil.

IMHO, that ends the discussion and debate. I'm not dismissing concerns over how 'dirty' recovery of midwest oil is, I'm just of the opinion that the alternative Middle Eastern oil is even dirtier on account of all the blood spilled over it.

about a month and a half ago

Submissions

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Navy to continue funding of Polywell fusion

BCGlorfindel BCGlorfindel writes  |  more than 7 years ago

BCGlorfindel writes "On the 21st of August the Navy signed the release of the remainder of Dr. Bussard's funding for research into his Polywell device. Details emerging via an email to Tom Ligon here. Tom Ligon worked on the project with Bussard a few years before the funding was cut. Many will remember the google talk he gave shortly after analyzing their last test results before they had to shut down. I've been following this for awhile now, this should be great news for everyone. If Bussard reproduces the results of his last test it'd top the expectations from the $12B ITER project."
Link to Original Source

Journals

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Game Engine Development

BCGlorfindel BCGlorfindel writes  |  more than 12 years ago

This will be a collection of thoughts on the current state of development for game engines. Particularly a focus on reusability and long term viability of a generic engine design.

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