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NNadir

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 19,932

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Why the honey badger doesn't care about cobra venom.

It’s official: Honey badger don’t care. This “crazy nasty-ass” critter—the subject of a National Geographic documentary transformed into a viral meme through satirical overdubbing—“really don’t give a shit.” Not about snarky documentaries, not about stinging bees, and especially not about venomous snakes.

Venomous snakes kill up to 94,000 people every year, on top of the millions of other animals that make up their diet. And death by venomous snakebite isn’t pretty: The toxins in venom can paralyze muscles, break down tissue, and even make victims bleed uncontrollably.

So why don’t honey badgers care about venoms that can kill almost any other animal?

Danielle Drabeck, a University of Minnesota grad student, wanted to study this question on a molecular level, but she ran into a problem: Honey badgers aren't found in Minnesota or even the Western Hemisphere, but only in Africa, the Middle East, and India.


Biology Finally Explains Why Honey Badger Don’t Care

My boys love that "Honey Badger Doesn't Give A Shit" video, and I came across it, and wondered how they got away with eating cobras. It appears that they, mongooses, and surprisingly pigs, all have mutations in the protein binding site in the cobra neurotoxin receptor.

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Superalloy Failure Apparently Had "Painful" Results in the Vietnam War.

I've been leafing through an interesting monograph on Materials Science, specifically "superalloys" with which I've been hanging out for the last few years. Here is a link to the monograph:

Superalloys Alloying and Performance

"Superalloys" are alloys, generally nickel based, that show high mechanical strength at high temperature while being resistant to corrosion (oxidation). They hold an extremely important role in modern technology for use in things like jet engines and power plants operating at high efficiency.

I wrote a riff citing this book elsewhere:

Technetium: Dangerous Nuclear Energy Waste or Essential Strategic Resource?

Anyway, I came across this interesting bit in the text about the failure of superalloys during the Vietnam war, which apparently had some unfortunate consequences:

Other superalloy derivatives, such as oxide-dispersion-strengthened(ODS) alloys and mechanically alloyed alloys, were developed at Dupontin 1965 and INCO in 1966, respectively. Later, starting in 1969, Pratt and Whitney Aircraft pioneered an entirely new field with the development of directionally solidified alloys for airfoils (Ref 7).While the vacuum casting processes had opened the door to higher levels of alloying, the precipitation of detrimental phases and the subsequent loss of properties in superalloys during service revealed the need for compositional limits based on phase stability that were largely independent of the manufacturing process. The formation of detrimental phases was found to be associated with high chromium levels, which prompted a reduction of chromium levels in superalloys from approximately 20 to 10 weight percent. The reduction in chromium made the alloys vulnerable to hot corrosion, which was painfully evident in helicopter engines ingesting seaspray during the Vietnam War. Although chromium levels could not be increased without loss of mechanical properties, the environmental resistance of the low-chromium alloys was clearly unacceptable.


Um, the Vietnam war itself was "clearly unacceptable," but no matter...

This tidbit is found on page 5 of the text.

That's an interesting bit of history about which I never heard, and I thought other people might find this obscure fact interesting, so I'm posting it.

Elucidating the structures of powerful fish toxins from algal blooms.

While I tend to focus my growing environmental paranoia on the accelerating and on going destruction of the planetary atmosphere, we are making huge "progress" (Thinkprogress) at destroying the other fluid phase that is responsible for life on this planet, specifically surface water bodies, even one very, very, very, very large surface water body, our planetary oceans.

Of course, the interaction of these two phases makes some of the destruction interrelated, for instance, the acidification of the oceans because of the release of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide into our favorite waste dump, the atmosphere, or the release of vast quantities of the highly neurotoxic element mercury from coal (and to a lesser extent dangerous natural gas) burning while we all wait, like Godot, for the grand Greenpeace inspired so called "renewable energy" nirvana that never comes.

Another mechanism by which we are destroying the oceans is by eutrophication, which is the result of the release of vast quantities of fixed nitrogen, ammoniacal compounds, nitrates and related compounds and mobilized phosphorous. This important effect has, for one example, destroyed huge swathes of increasingly destroyed Gulf of Mexico near the mouth of the Mississippi River because of our need for corn for um, food, and of course, the all important goal of serving our most important master and God, the automobile, which requires us to produce huge amounts of "renewable" ethanol, even as we hem and haw into the even more absurd "electric car" era.

I feel wonderful, all "renewally." You can be very popular if you're "renewally," but unpopular if you question this assumption about the form of energy abandoned in the early 19th century because most people lived short, miserable lives of dire poverty.

We're, um, rich today, at least the top billion or so of us.

Eutrophication's mechanism involves the explosive growth of algae, and often, besides depleting oxygen in waters, this algae generates highly toxic "natural" compounds.

We love "natural" stuff on this planet, to the point we're willing to kill ourselves.

A recent event along these lines was the microcystin poisoning of the water supply of several major Ohio cities two years ago because of an algae bloom, resulting in the shutting of the water supply of Toledo.

The toxin that shut off Toledo’s water? The feds don’t make you test for it.

Microcystin is a very interesting complex compound.

All this comes to mind because I happened to stumble upon a very interesting and fun paper in the primary scientific literature concerning a algal ichthyotoxins, Prymnesins.

The paper is interesting to analytical chemists, because of the wonderful 2D and 3D NMR experiments performed on a remarkably high field instrument operating at 800 MHz in a 18.7 Tesla magnetic field.

When I was a kid, I was real excited when I could get access to a 300 MHz instrument. Kids today have it wonderful, or would have it wonderful, if we hadn't done so much to kill their planet for them because we were so certain that wind and solar "could" provide all of their energy after we're all dead and they're living in a nirvana we never actually constructed, but were absolutely certain they would construct, unless of course, they're all wiped out because we were, um, wrong.

That's their problem, not ours.

I'm no longer an NMR kind of guy by the way; I'm more of a mass spec kind of guy, and there's some very nice high resolution mass spec work in this paper on the structural elucidation.

Here's a graphic with the structure of prymnesins superimposed over a 1D NMR and 3D NMR spectra:



This is an incredibly complex molecule, and apparently, the biochemical synthesis doesn't involve all that much sugar chemistry, despite the fused pyranosyl rings hydroxy functionalized rings. I'm inspired to look up the biosynthetic references just for fun. Those triple bonds on the side chain are relatively rare in biomolecules, which makes them also interesting.

Here's an excerpt from the introduction:

Blooms of ichthyotoxic (fish-killing) microalgae are a recurring phenomenon in coastal and river waters, with huge impacts on wild fish stocks as well as caged fish. Such blooms have detrimental economical consequences for the local communities, fish farmers, and recreational and commercial fishers. An algal species that has been associated with massive fish kills in at least 14 countries is the haptophyte Prymnesium parvum (the golden alga).(1) In recent years, problems with P. parvum have spread to all southern states in the USA,(2) where it has become endemic in several river systems, with estimated economic losses higher than $10 million.(3) Consequently, programs have been initiated in countries such as the USA, Norway, and Denmark in order to assess the ecological and economic impacts of P. parvum blooms and to develop management options for controlling fish kills.(4) The possible ichthyotoxic components of P. parvum have been extensively studied,(5) but due to their complex structures and low abundance, it was not until 1996 that Igarashi et al.(6) successfully isolated and elucidated the structure of the two large polyether ladder-frame compounds, prymnesin-1 and -2. Later, the relative configuration of the prymnesins was revised by the Yasumoto group using synthetic models.(7-10) Despite the numerous P. parvum blooms that have occurred during the last two decades, prymnesin-2 has only once been tentatively detected again by liquid chromatography combined with high-resolution mass spectrometry (LC-HRMS).(11) Other groups have isolated and suggested “golden algae toxins” and fatty acid amides(12-14) as the principle toxins of P. parvum. However, we have recently shown that these compounds are not ichthyotoxic at ecologically relevant concentrations.(15) On the basis of these latter findings, our attention was drawn toward the prymnesins. We hypothesized that the reason that so few groups have been able to detect the original prymnesins could be that the structural diversity of prymnesin-type compounds is larger than previously realized.


The paper, which is right now open access is here:

Chemodiversity of Ladder-Frame Prymnesin Polyethers in Prymnesium parvum

We're killing ourselves, but if nothing else, there's some very interesting aspects to the way we're going about it. Life is wonderful, if short.

If anything about the destruction of the oceans disturbs you, don't worry, be happy. The Tesla car company has just announced it has a 100 kwh battery for its stupid electric car that all of our millionaires and billionaires can drive around in to smugly show the peons they are "saving" the planet by being responsible millionaires and billionaires.

Have a nice day tomorrow.

Wind Energy Is "Renewable Energy?" Really?

All of humanity's efforts to address climate change have failed, and failed dramatically. I noted this much recently in this space in the latest of a depressing series of references to the Mauna Loa Carbon Dioxide Observatory of what is developing into the absolute worst year for new accumulations of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide in the planetary atmosphere, 2016:

July 31, 2016: Mauna Loa carbon dioxide levels 5.04 ppm higher than one year ago.

Predictably, this thread resulted in little commentary, since we really, really, really, really, really want to tell ourselves that we're doing something about climate change because we're investing heavily in so called "renewable energy," spending about a trillion bucks or so every five years on the solar and wind industries. It has been a useless exercise in futility. It has not worked; it is not working and it will not work.

Every five years the OECD publishes the World Energy Outlook, the most recent version being that of 2015, with the 2016 edition due for publication in the coming November.

Regrettably the document is behind a fire wall, but if one goes to a good university library like the one I'm in right now, one may be able to open the document and refer to table 2.1 on page 57 to see that the world's largest, by far, source of climate change gas free energy was nuclear energy, which produced in 646 million tons oil equivalent (MTOE) in 2013, which translates into 27.05 exajoules, down slightly from 2000, when it produced 676 MTOE, translating to 28.03 exajoules.

World Energy Demand in 2013 was 567 exajoules according to the document. Despite all the prattling one hears about "energy conservation," the demand is certainly much higher in 2016 than it was in 2013.

In 2013, Japan's nuclear facilities were shut on the grounds that people needed to determine whether they were "safe" after Fukushima, and replaced them with dangerous fossil fuel generated electricity generating plants that kill people not only in accident situations, but do so whenever they are turned on.

Dangerous fossil fuel related air pollution kills about 1/2 of the 7 million people who die each year from air pollution, with the other half coming from the use of biofuels, generally in poor countries that still rely on so called "renewable energy," chiefly biomass, because unlike us, they have limited access to dangerous coal, dangerous petroleum, and dangerous natural gas, and of course, nuclear energy. These people live short, miserable lives of dire poverty, and we couldn't care less about them. We've got trillions of dollars to spend on so called "renewable energy" but are unwilling to spend a dime to provide even moderately safe latrines for the 1.3 billion people who lack any kind of access to improved sanitation facilities.

Only the latter form of energy can be called "safe" even though there a loud and cacophonous crowd of scientific illiterates who think nuclear energy is unsafe, despite the fact that it hasn't, in its entire commercial history, killed as many people as will die today from air pollution, about 19,000 people.

Speaking of biofuels, the 2015 OECD "World Energy Outlook" document indicates that biofuels supplied about 1376 MTOE, or 57.61 exajoules of energy. The table has a footnote stating

* Includes the traditional use of solid biomass and modern use of bioenergy.


The "traditional use of solid biomass" is chiefly by the billions of people on this planet who live in desperate poverty, unimaginable poverty to almost everyone who can afford, say, a computer. These people live short, miserable lives of dire poverty, and we couldn't care less about them. We've got trillions of dollars to spend on so called "renewable energy" but are unwilling to spend a dime to provide even moderately safe latrines for the 1.3 billion people who lack any kind of access to improved sanitation facilities.

On occasion one may hear a complete fool with a very poor education who will argue that biomass is a larger "climate change gas free" form of energy but this is just stupid. "Traditional biomass" is responsible for huge amounts of deforestation, and there is a huge debate as to whether "modern use of bioenergy" is carbon negative, carbon neutral, or even a source of carbon dioxide. If it is, in fact, carbon negative, it is only slightly so, since it depends of the collection of diffuse biomass using petroleum fueled devices like tractors and trucks, vast networks of pumps, access to huge amounts of fixed nitrogen manufactured using either dangerous natural gas (in the West) or dangerous coal (in China and other countries) and as in the case of South East Asia (chiefly Indonesia and Malaysia), the destruction of rain forests, to have palm oil plantations for biodiesel, and the destruction of Rain forests, and the world's largest wetland, the Pantanal, in South America to grow ethanol, and the destruction of the Mississippi delta to grow corn for ethanol in the United States.

Biomass is not carbon neutral.

But what about wind and solar? They're wonderful aren't they? They are lumped under "other renewables" in Table 2.1 in the OECD WEO. They produced 161 MTOE, or about 6.74 exajoules. "Other renewables" includes solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, blah, blah, blah, ad infinitim.

We have bet the planetary atmosphere on these technologies and all of humanity, and in fact, all living things, have lost the bet, as the figures at Mauna Loa demonstrate emphatically.

Of the 6.74 exajoules produced by "other renewables," the total figure is dominated all most certainly by wind energy. The solar energy industry is clearly even more useless if one looks. According to the 2013 "Technology Roadmap" for wind energy(also published by the OECD), in 2012, after the investment of close to a trillion dollars in the industry, the wind industry produced 575 TWh of electricity, which translates into 1.89 exajoules of energy.

It may have doubled since then, and of course, as all the fools buying into this disastrous bet will tell you, it's growing rapidly, "exponentially" as they've been saying for the last 20 or 30 years while the atmosphere has been collapsing at ever accelerating rates.

And it's "sustainable." Right?

Um, um, um....

A recent paper on the subject of the treatment of acid mine runoff brings, into its opening paragraphs a, um, remark on how, exactly, "renewable" the wind industry is, referring to its own mining requirements. Here's a link to the paper, which is in my favorite scientific journal, Environmental Science and Technology. Recovery of Rare Earth Elements and Yttrium from Passive-Remediation Systems of Acid Mine Drainage (Ayora et al, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2016, 50 (15), pp 8255–8262) The paper is in the current issue as of this writing (August 14, 2016.)

Here's the opening two paragraphs excerpted:

Rare earth elements (REE), together with yttrium (REY), are essential raw materials for modern technological developments. Their most important uses include the manufacturing of permanent magnets for wind turbines, alloys for rechargeable batteries and jet engines, and phosphor light-emitting compounds for plasma, liquid crystal, or light-emitting diodes. In 2011, global demand was 105 kt of REY oxides, and it is expected to grow to 160 kt by 2016.1 In general, global consumption of REY is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate in excess of 5% from 2014 through 2020.2This increasing demand is particularly evident for elements used in wind energy and electric vehicles, such as Dy and Nd .In the absence of drastic changes in the present-day technologies of reuse and recycling, increases of 700% and 2600% for Nd and Dy, respectively, are expected over the next25 years.3

Most mined REY deposits are located in carbonatites and other alkaline magmatic intrusive rocks. Additional resources of REY are adsorbed on clay deposits from the weathering and reworking of original primary igneous rocks. China dominates worldwide REY production. The Bayan Obo super large deposit currently accounts for approximately 90% of the REE production, with clays accounting for 6−7%.4 In response tothe increasing global demand and the mining dominance ofChina, alternative sources of REY have become a necessity for other countries. Recycling in-use stocks can be an alternative source, especially for the “big four,” i.e., La, Ce, Nd, and Pr. The availability of less-abundant REE, however, continues to be achallenge.5


The point of the paper is to argue that if we someday treat acid runoff from some historical and current mining operations, not a good bet, we may be able to get a little more "rare earth" (lanthanide) elements than we've identified in current reserves.

Growth in mining for dysprosium (Dy) will require a scale up of 2600%. That's, um, renewable, sustainable? (Dysprosium is a low level constituent of lanthanide (rare earth) ores.)

And it's even worse than that, really, for other materials, as noted in a recent paper in Nature Geoscience, to wit:

Metals for a low-carbon society (Olivier Vidal, Bruno Goffé and Nicholas Arndt, Nature Geoscience 6, 894–896 (2013). The source references for the calculations are found in the supplementary information for this paper.) An excerpt from the text:

However, this transition (to so called "renewable energy") will also cause much additional global demand for raw materials: for an equivalent installed capacity, solar and wind facilities require up to 15 times more concrete, 90 times more aluminium, and 50 times more iron, copper and glass than fossil fuels or nuclear energy (Supplementary Fig. 1). Yet, current production of wind and solar energy meets only about 1% of global demand, and hydroelectricity meets about 7% (ref. 2).


I had some remarks on this requirement elsewhere: Sustaining the Wind Part 1 – Is So Called “Renewable Energy” the Same as “Sustainable Energy?”

(I never did get around to publishing the last two parts of that series...perhaps I should...never mind...it would do no good, as the figures for carbon dioxide accumulations demonstrate, unambiguously, that it is too late to defeat the fear and ignorance that have won the day.)

So is the tiny and thus far useless wind industry really, "renewable" and "sustainable?"

That depends on whether one can make the case that access to dysprosium is any different than access to dangerous natural gas, or coal, or oil. And let's not forget that the energy/mass ratio of wind energy is much lower than any of the three dangerous fossil fuels.

We are lying to ourselves, and the result is written clearly, and in unmistakable terms where no one can miss it, in the planetary atmosphere.

It's hot as hell today here in New Jersey, and I have to go.

Have a nice Sunday evening.


While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

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Strange - but wonderful - shades of young John McLaughlin, on about the "Extrapolation" time.

Keith Jarrett Style.

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July 31, 2016: Mauna Loa carbon dioxide levels 5.04 ppm higher than one year ago.

For the first time in recorded history, the weekly year to year comparisons at the Mauna Loa carbon dioxide observatory have exceeded a 5.00 ppm increase over levels a year ago.

On July 31, 2016, the concentration of carbon dioxide at Mauna Loa was 403.47 ppm; one year ago it was 398.43 ppm.

Mauna Loa Weekly Trends, accessed Aug 7, 2016

During summers in the Northern Hemisphere, carbon dioxide levels fall slightly from the peaks usually observed in April or May; the minimums usually occur in September. The 2016 max, observed during the week ending on April 10, 2016 was 408.31 ppm.

All of humanity's efforts to address climate change have failed. This includes all the, rhetoric, charts and graphs about the "triumph" of so called "renewable energy" on which we bet, foolishly as it turns out, our planet's atmosphere.

It seems almost incontrovertible that we will never again see a reading at Mauna Loa of less than 400 ppm.

As I've noted in a number of posts in this space, 2016 is shaping up to be an even more disastrous year than 2015, which set the all time record for worst year ever, at 3.05 ppm over 2014.

Here is link to earlier post from this series, referring to the previous record set in June of this year, 4.78 ppm over the same June week of 2015:

All time record set for week-to-week annual measurements of annual CO2 increases at Mauna Loa.

The world's largest, by far, source of climate change gas free primary energy is nuclear energy. The advocates of the failed, expensive, and clearly useless so called "renewable energy" scheme have convinced the world to spend two trillion dollars a decade on it. At the same time they have railed against the world's largest, by far, source of climate change primary energy calling it "unsafe." This statement is absurd inasmuch as air pollution kills seven million people per year. Climate change, now accelerating, will undoubtedly raise the death toll associated with the rising and routine use of dangerous fossil fuels.

Except in Asia, the expansion of nuclear energy has been slowed to a crawl by appeals to fear and ignorance.

These advocates have had their way; the results of their faith are written in the chemical analysis of the atmosphere.

If any of this sounds like shadenfreud, it isn't. All living things are effected by our faith in useless things like so called "renewable energy." So called "renewable energy" has not worked; it is not working; and it will not work.

I am a living thing; my two sons are living things; and all future generations will be living things.

My hands started shaking when I saw this incredible and terrible data.

History, should history survive, will not forgive us, nor should it.

Have a nice afternoon.

British Heysham 2 nuclear reactor sets the world record for continuous operation.

As of 1 August, the Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor (AGR) achieved 895 days of continuous operation, having operated non-stop since 18 February 2014. The reactor - also referred to as Heysham 2 unit 8 - is scheduled to continue operating until 16 September, when it will be taken offline for a planned maintenance and inspection outage. Assuming the unit carries on operating until that time, it would have run continuously for 941 days.

The reactor, operated by EDF Energy, has generated 13.495 TWh of electricity so far during this continuous operation, taking its lifetime generation to 115.46 TWh.


Source: British reactor takes record for longest continuous operation

13.495 TWh of electricity corresponds to 0.0485 exajoules of energy, this on a planet where humanity utilizes about 570 exajoules each year.

For a sense of scale, we may compare the output of the Heysham nuclear plant with the total amount of energy generated by utility scale solar energy in the entire United States in 2015.

The figure for utility scale solar generation for the entire United States in 2015 may be found at the EIA website's Electricity Data Page. Scroll down to Net Generation, and click on the "xls" button by the "All Energy Sources" to pull up an informative spreadsheet delineating the electrical output for various forms of energy.

All of the utility scale solar plants in the entire United States, built during a period of wild eyed cheering for them produced 26,473 thousand megawatt hours of electricity, which corresponds to 26.473 TWh.

Thus in a single small building, albeit over a period of roughly two and a half years, the British nuclear plant was able to produce 51% as much energy, albeit in a little under two and a half years, as an entire nation - a large industrial nation with huge enthusiasm for it - could produce using solar electricity in a single year.

The solar industry and the wind industry, neither of which are sustainable, have failed to address climate change at all, despite their inexplicable and increasingly dangerous popularity. After trillions of dollars in "investment" in these failed, expensive technologies, the rate of accumulation of carbon dioxide is at the highest rate ever observed, with 2015 having been the worst year ever observed, at 3.05 ppm over 2015, and with 2016 on a track to make 2015 small time. In 2016 the months of February, March, April, May, and June all represented the worst February, March, April, May, and June ever recorded at the Mauna Loa carbon dioxide observatory at, respectively, 3.76 ppm, 3.31 ppm, 4.16 ppm, 3.76 ppm, and 4.01 ppm over their respective levels in 2015. The 4.16 ppm and 4.01 ppm figures for April and June are the worst figures ever recorded for any month since the Mauna Loa observatory began reporting this data. (The data for January 2016 and July 2016 were "only" respectively, the fourth worst January, and the third worst July ever observed.)

We should never underestimate the power of large groups of people to lie to themselves. We are lying to ourselves not merely in the United States, but on a grand international scale, when we claim that so called "renewable energy" is effective and useful. It is not. It has not worked, it is not working, and it will not work.

The data for the concentration of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide in the planetary atmosphere however is not a lie, however, it speaks for itself and is irrefutable.

Nuclear power is not perfect, but it need not be perfect to be vastly superior to everything else, which it is. Shoot the messenger if you will, but it was, I think, our last best hope to have left future generations with a safe planet.

We rejected it. History, should history survive, will not forgive us.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Industrial Engineering and Chemistry Research devotes an issue to carbon dioxide capture.

The data this week at Mauna Loa comparing it to the same week of last year - 2015 was the worst year ever recorded for increases in the concentration of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide in the planetary atmosphere - is in:

On July 24, 2016, carbon dioxide concentrations rose 3.40 ppm compared to the same week of the previous year.

Among the 2113 such data points recorded since 1975, 3.40 ppm is worse than 97% of those recorded, but in 2016 it is rather unremarkable; in 2016 nine data points recording the increases in the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide have exceeded 4.00 ppm over 2015, including the point on June 12 of this year which was the worst ever recorded, 4.78 ppm:

All time record set for week-to-week annual measurements of annual CO2 increases at Mauna Loa.

Eighteen of the 27 data points recorded this year have been higher than 3.40 ppm.

All of humanity's efforts to address climate change have been absurdly ineffective and have failed. I have not been restrained in noting that the most absurd of these failures has been the continuing faith based reactionary approach on relying on so called "renewable energy," which was, after all, abandoned at the beginning of the 19th century, and has undeserved and uncritical popularity in the early 21st century. It has resulted in the acceleration and not the arresting of dangerous fossil fuel waste increases. Many, if not all, of the advocates of this failed approach to addressing climate change object only in passing to dangerous fossil fuel use but instead choose to attack the world's largest, by far, source of climate change gas free energy, nuclear energy.

It does seem politically this dangerous faith in so called "renewable energy" at the expense of nuclear energy is unlikely to be arrested in the near term, and thus it will fall to future generations, whose interests are of no interest to our generation to try to restore whatever can be restored of this planet.

This will involve the capture of carbon dioxide from the air. This is an unbelievably complex and challenging thermodynamic, and thus engineering, problem. A scientific publication on the subject to which I have obliquely referred in various blog posts around the internet, had a rather discouraged view of the feasibility of doing this with current technology: Economic and energetic analysis of capturing CO2 from ambient air. (Kurt Zenz House et al Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,vol. 108 no. 51 > pp. 20428–20433) Since it's publication in 2011 it has been cited 133 times; I picked up a few recent citations today to read to see if there are any new ideas; I suspect there aren't.

My hostility to so called "renewable energy" notwithstanding, it is pretty clear to me that the only possible means of capturing carbon dioxide will necessarily involve biological systems. This is not an endorsement of say, ethanol, or even the slightly better biofuel biodiesel, but is a suggestion that because biological systems are self replicating, and can cover huge surface areas using, um, solar energy, they are the only system that is capable of capturing carbon dioxide from the air. At high temperatures, biomass can be decomposed to mixtures of hydrogen and carbon oxides that are suitable, in the golden age of chemistry, to making pretty much any industrial chemical, as well as things like asphaltenes, carbon fibers, metal carbides and other refractories like silicon carbide, as well as graphene, graphene oxides and other functionalized graphenes.

To take full advantage of these capabilities, it will be necessary to separate carbon dioxide from gas streams with hydrogen, lower carbon oxides, and other chemicals in biomass. Although carbon capture has been generally investigated in the quixotic attempt to secure and sequester dangerous fossil fuel waste, the technology will actually be far more useful to any survivors in future generations in the role of planetary restoration, to the extent it will prove possible. The carbon dioxide could be captured (and utilized in ways that permanently fix it) during the reformation of biomass.

I alluded to how this might work elswhere: Better Chemistry, Better Biofuels? The Glycerol Glut, Solketal, and Other Floating Ideas

This is why I was very pleased to see during my weekly reading of one of my favorite journals, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research that the current issue is largely focused on reporting carbon dioxide capture strategies which were discussed at the recent International Conference on Carbon Dioxide Utilization. The issue is here: Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, Vol 55, Issue 29

If you have access, it's worth checking out some of the papers.

I can't help but to point to one paper that would be amusing were it not so frightening, this one:

Life Cycle Assessment of the Nitrogen Fixation Process Assisted by Plasma Technology and Incorporating Renewable Energy. (Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2016, 55, 8141−8153) This is a discussion of the predecessor to the Haber nitrogen fixation process - on which, by the way, the world food supply now depends - the plasma spark process which was abandoned in the early 20th century in favor of the Haber Process, because, um, the Haber process, um, works. The authors, showing that some scientists are not completely immune from buying into the failed and unsustainable so called "renewable energy" scam, "evaluate" the LCA, or life cycle analysis of plasma nitrogen fixation using vaguely defined "renewable energy." Interestingly, and probably more honestly than most of these "renewable energy" fantasies, the term solar is followed by the term "natural gas" frequently as in the following text from the paper:

Base Case Scenario. The base case scenario, as described above, is based on the assumption of 6% NO yield and a power consumption of 7.7 kWh/kg NO. For these conditions, the GWP of the plasma-assisted nitric acid production incorporating solar and natural gas energy sources, as a mean of electricity provision to the equipment presented in Table 4, is depicted and compared against the corresponding profile of the conventional process in Figure 3.


The solar industry is totally and completely dependent on access to the dangerous fossil fuel dangerous natural gas.

It is worth noting that industrial nitrogen fixation on this planet is responsible, depending on who you ask or what you read, responsible for about 1%-2% of world energy demand. World energy demand is now about 570 exajoules per year, meaning that nitrogen fixation, on which, again, the world food supply depends, consumes between 5 and 10 exajoules each year.

Solar energy and wind energy have never, not once, in half a century of wild cheering for them, ever produced in a single year 5 exajoules of energy combined.

Have a nice week.

Wow. A true statement from an ignorant anti-nuke. That's rare.

"Demons from hell" perfectly describes these ignoramuses.

Nuclear energy has saved, as published in an unequivocally stated and researched paper in one of the world's most prominent scientific journals, written by one of the world's most prominent climate scientists, 1.8 million lives that otherwise would have been lost to air pollution.

Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear Power (Pushker A. Kharecha* and James E. Hansen, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University Earth Institute, 2880 Broadway, New York, New York 10025, United States. Environ. Sci. Technol., 2013, 47 (9), pp 4889–4895)

The paper has almost continuously been on the "most read article" list in this important scientific journal since publication.

One wonders of course, how many more lives might have been saved were it not for the prattling ignorance of giggling anti-nukes with no sense of ethics or morality, but what is done cannot be undone.

If anyone doubts that fear and ignorance are powerful forces for destruction, one need only look at the Republican ticket, but of course we have very, very, very evil fear and ignorance types on our side, and regrettably, their fear and ignorance is pretty damned deadly.

Of course, the giggling "demons from hell," the dumb shits in the anti-nuke ignorance squad couldn't care less about what's in the scientific literature, because 100% of them are scientifically illiterate.

They think that it's perfectly OK for 70 million people to die every decade from air pollution because they hate the world's largest, by far, source of climate change gas free energy, nuclear energy.

They thought it was perfectly OK for the world to squander two trillion dollars in a single decade on their stupid and ignorant so called "renewable energy" scam, a scam that by the way, relies heavily on mining increasing rare and toxic metals under unbelievably environmentally and ethically appalling conditions.

The result of this squander - this on a planet where two billion people lack basic sanitation - is written in the planetary atmosphere, where the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide is now accumulating at the fastest rate ever observed:



I note that the last ten years represented at the right - 2016 will certainly blow away the worst year ever observed, 2015 - occurred at the precise time when stupid anti-nukes had their way, at blowing away two trillion dollars to do, nothing for humanity.

"Demons from hell" is in fact a rather light description of the way I personally regard the uneducated, unenlightened, dogmatic, morally vapid anti-nuke morons who have worked so hard to destroy the future for all generations that may survive their ignorance. I am proud to despise them at a level that "demons from hell" is inadequate to address, but I'll take it.

Regrettably, the world is not just. The people who are responsible for this tragedy, bourgeois brats all, will not live long enough to suffer the consequences of what they have done. They will all be dead when the ignorance of their "by 2050, 100% renewable" or "by 2100, 100% renewable" garbage will have obviated, at the expense of living things that may be on the planet in 2050 or 2100.

I have my flaws, certainly, but at least I saw through this ignorance, and while I proved powerless to stop it, just as James Hansen has proved powerless to stop it, I did what I could.

The malignant assholes who caused this tragedy, and continue to cheer for it, will giggle on, but history, should history survive, will record them through the ages for what they were, and what they are now, and, since they are illiterate, they will certainly always be. I suspect the future historians will record them in terms worse than "demons from hell."

An appreciation of the awful power of stupidity.

Have a nice weekend.
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