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Total number of comments: 158 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:59)


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  • Spain at 70% non-Carbon Electricity: Will it be 1st Net Carbon Zero G-20 State?
    • Omega Centauri 04/12/2015 at 6:08 pm

      Plus Spain is in a belt that is expected tosubstantially dry out, so that could be a big deal. And damages from drought will hurt a lot sooner than sealevel rise will.

  • How GOP threats against Iran have Guaranteed end of European Sanctions
    • So, do you think it will be possible for corporations to make end runs around spiteful US sanctions, which seek to punish any corporation US or foreign which violates US sanctions regime? Or will many of them conclude that the (business) risk of trade with Iran is not worth the risk?

      I disagree about congress-critters becoming the losers here. As long as Iran can be successfully demi-gouged, politicians can thrive politically, even as their policy hurts the country/

  • Obama with Drama: Translating his comments on Israel's Netanyahu from the Vulcan
    • Not that many Americans directly get their news from Faux-News. But, they have great influence in setting the framing for the rest of the media. They have much more power over the national discourse then the size of their audience would indicate.

  • Dear Sweden: HR Dispute with Saudis makes this a good time to adopt Electric Cars
  • Sharpening Contradictions: Why al-Qaeda attacked Satirists in Paris
    • It might even be a motivation? If it is currently fertile enough to get a few hundred, if they can provoke anti-muslim counterattacks -or even just distrust, recruitment might increase severalfold.

    • I think the would avoid a target like say an elementary school, which even sympathetic Muslims would be repulsed by. So they picked one that Muslims would be unsympathtic towards.

  • Scotland: World's Largest Tidal Power Project Begins Construction
    • Correct: there are only a handful of good tidal sites. Around the UK there are quite a few. The Gulf of Maine (USA/Canada) is another great place for tides.

      I doubt the USA fossil fuel interests will be able to squash these places (well maybe Gulf of Maine). Interestingly the Pentagon considers climate change to be a great source of political instability. The generals get it, -if not the politicians. The Pentagon is also into renewables, which they regard as a means of making their own power supplies -either on base or in the field less vulnerable.

  • Antarctica Glaciers Melting 3 Times Faster than 10 Years Ago
    • Omega Centauri 12/03/2014 at 4:06 pm

      And counter-intuitively the denialist claim that the ice in Antarctica is increasing -which is actually winter sea ice extent, has been discovered to be related to the fresh water from the melting ice shelves. It seems the less dense fresh water from glacial melt insulates the sea ice from the warm salt water currents.

  • Israel Econ. Minister's West Bank annexation plan a wake up call for the West
    • Omega Centauri 11/12/2014 at 5:24 pm

      And in the US, this story is likely to be untold by the mass media. So little grass roots political pressure will be brought to bear. So far the only thing I see thats changed is that Israel seems to think its got the Palestinians into such a hopeless situation that they can just take it all.

  • If Germany Drops Coal, can the Industry Survive?
    • Omega Centauri 11/08/2014 at 5:16 pm

      There is no controlled experiment being run. More wind and solar is being installed, partly to replace Nuclear and partly to replace coal/gas. If they had determined to keep the Nuclear plants going there wouldn't have been as much wind/solar built.

  • Double-Edged Sword: Can US overcome its Feelings of Exceptionalism?
    • Omega Centauri 10/24/2014 at 1:03 pm

      Oddly we also use the word exceptional in a highly positive context. "That student is exceptional", is usually interpreted to mean high praise for unique or rare accomplishments.

      I also note that the analogy of the family to the nation as applied to macro-economics leads to the disaster of austerity applied to recession. Though as recent history shows, Europe which doesn't make the same sort of claim to exceptionalism seems more afflicted with this than the USA.

  • Why Can Europe have Climate Targets but not the US? Corruption
    • Its partly to do IMHO with being part of the Anglosphere. The US, Canada and Australia all have climate denial as a significant part of politics. Even in the UK (which installed almost as much solar as the several times larger USA last year btw), has Cameron trying to slow wind development. Could it be because the Murdoch owned media empire has significant media ownership in these English speaking countries.

      Meanwhile China and India are getting pretty aggressive about renewables. China even reduced its coal usage for the first time ever.

      The one thing that didn't phase me however was the year on year increase in US emissions. Emissions are fairly noisy, depending among other things upon the vagaries of the weather; a cold winter in a populated part of the country will increase demand for heating for instance, and a drought will reduce hydro-power. You have to use a time series longer than a year or two to demonstrate rising/falling of emissions.

  • The Wider Appeal of ISIL and Sunni Grievances
    • Omega Centauri 10/12/2014 at 3:33 pm

      The problem is amplified because the natural human gut response to "bad people being recruited from minority XXX" is to hate against minority XXX. That usually leads to the oppression getting worse rather than better, and for more and more members of XXX joining the "bad-guys team". Its an old conflict escalating dynamic, but not one thats easy to break. This is particularly the case when mass politics operates with a level of debate characterized by sound bites.

  • Can Palestinians ever Get a Break in the American Press?
    • I think for the US at least, you are overestimating the effect of government and underestimating the effect of non-governmental pressure groups. The later can damage the careers of media personalities.

  • The Second Iran-Iraq War and the American Switch
    • Truer words have rarely been spoken. But we are starting to make some progress, better mileage vehicles, less driving, and now a viable but still tiny EV industry. Even five years ago electrification of transport felt like a pipedream. Now it looks like it simply requires some will and good sense and it will be here within a decade.

  • Is the Prisoner Swap Hysteria a sign of GOP War withdrawal Symptoms?
    • I think GOP hissy fits should be considered firstly as calculated political theatre, and only secondly as genuine or policy oriented. The goal is to create a general atmosphere of discomfort towards Democrats. Many undecided voters will vote based upon their vague emotional response towards candidates and parties. These calculated hissy-fits are designed to create an emotional atmosphere favorable to the GOP.

  • Faced w/ Global Warming Threat, Obama fudges EPA Carbon Reduction
    • We've seen this play act before. Throw out a number that sounds impressive, but that would likely be met anyway even without a policy change. Then except for crocodile tears, cried for political effect, no one is really threatened.

      Yet, we have seen Obama quietly make changes that help a lot. Raising CAFE standards dramatically is responsible for a pretty good chuck of our oil demand decrease. I suspect this new policy will work similarly, with subtle behind the scenes incentives doing the actual heavy lifting.

  • Did Benghazi Obsession cause Fox ‘News’ Ratings to Plummet 27% in May?
    • Omega Centauri 05/31/2014 at 5:54 pm

      "It’s not likely that they’ll wise up"
      I dunno. Rupert Murdoch treats his media outlets first as business opportunities, and secondly as propaganda outlets. He may just decide that a change of emphasis will be good for the bottom line.

  • No Sense of Urgency: Obama's New Solar Energy Commitments are still Just Baby Steps
    • Omega Centauri 05/10/2014 at 7:53 pm

      The US is incapable of driving energy policy from the federal level because of political deadlock. The energy transition in the USA is going to be driven primarily at the state and city level, but will be very uneven. For instance Iowa is a leader in wind, and is also installing a lot of solar, one state over in my former state of Wisconsin, run by the tea-party there is almost no wind or solar.

      The next step for renewables is going to be storage, already the states of California, New York, and just last week Hawaii have energy storage mandates. The revolution will happen, but it won't happen at an even pace everywhere.

    • Omega Centauri 05/10/2014 at 7:34 pm

      John. I don't think much is showing up as installer profit. There are several issues that need to be addressed to reduce what are called in the industry "soft-costs". Indeed part of the soft-cost burden is paperwork, most of it on the city and county level. Also electrical codes in Germany are easier on solar installations than US codes, which means we have some additional hardware costs. In utility scale, getting new codes for 1600volts versus today's 100volts through the approval process is slow (you need to spend more on wiring at lower voltage). I don't think the problem is a lack of study, it is just slow working through the many issues.

      One frustrating soft-cost, cost of customer acquisition, paying the sales staff. This is worsened by would be customers who balk because of sticker shock, so in some sense it is self-reinforcing.

  • Top 5 Reasons Solar Energy will Save the World
    • Omega Centauri 04/24/2014 at 2:53 pm

      Worse, they are predicted future manufacturing cost for First Solar Cadmium Telluride, which is probably not scalable to the size needed to replace all the fossil fuels. We will have to rely on other types of panels to do the heavy lifting. Although future manufacturing cost predictions are only a tad higher than for CdTe.

    • Omega Centauri 04/24/2014 at 2:50 pm

      I'm not doubting that. What I'm saying is that that is a far cry from saving the planet. For that we need to get worldwide consumption of fossil fuels down to almost nothing. That requires almost all of our energy to be changed. So if in only a few places solar (or wind) is not economic, the ruination of the climate will continue. I sure hope for enthusiasm is infectious, because thats what it will get to get the necessary changes accomplished.

    • If enough people had Juan's enthusiasm solar would indeed save the planet. However its not so easy to generate enough of it, especially when it often isn't the cheapest option, or when the desire to use as much juice as we want whenever we want intrudes.

      Its not going to be easy to parlay advances in solar and wind, into saving the planet. We will have to tackle storing significant amounts of power, and maybe change expectations so that people can accept some curtailment when the weather doesn't cooperate.

      Spring is the best time for rolling back electric meters with solar. Almost as much sun as summer, without the airconditioning demand.

  • Descent into Bigotry: 21st Century Americans increasingly negative toward Muslims, Minorities
    • I suspect attitudes take a long time to form, the continuation of heavily visible incidents over a number of years may lead to a gradual ratcheting effect.
      Of course we have the portrayal of supervillians in entertainment. A supervillian is so eveil the only recouse is to kill him. Supervillians are very popular in movies. They used to be split between criminal masterminds, and communist terrorists. Now they are most likely to be portrayed as fundmentalist muslims. I think this takes its toll.

      Of course there is the drumbeat of awful conflict in foreign lands (which seems to be getting worse -much of which is a function of the pushback against arab spring): Nigeria, Mali, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, all of which feature jihadists of one flavor or another. And we know, that as non-Islamic Caucasian westerners, we would recieve no sympathy from any of these actors were we to fall under their control. I think this too contributes.

  • Iceland: Major Green Energy Breakthrough using Magma for Geothermal
    • I think it isn't under everywhere -or even under most where. And usually it is in the form of partial melts. Of course drilling gets almost exponentially more expensive as you go deeper, so only the first few kilometers of the crust are practical.

  • New Congressional Sanctions on Iran Will Backfire . . . on Congress
    • You assume the sanctions are there as part of an effort to achieve valid foreign policy goals. I think the sanctions are there so that Senators and Congressmen can show fealty to AIPAC. That won't change unless AIPAC changes its calculations and stops pushing for them, or if the American electorate rejects AIPAC inspired campaign themes.

  • Europe Abandoning Hydrocarbons: Closing 30% of Gas, Coal Plants in Favor of Green Energy
    • Omega Centauri 01/05/2014 at 1:21 pm

      This seems to be a harbinger of whats going to happen in much of the world, as the most economic solution is shown to be renewables. Because of expensive natural gas, this is happening sooner in Europe than in the US, but the writing is on the wall.

  • GOP isn't Getting more Ignorant on Evolution, it is Just getting Older
    • Omega Centauri 01/04/2014 at 8:34 pm

      Its a bit early to tell, but California may again be changing course. More then Reagan, California education (and government service in general) has been decimated by prop-13. Finally this fall the Republican minority -which had been able to block all attempts to raise revenue as long as they held a third of the seats in the state government, now has fewer than a third.

    • Omega Centauri 01/04/2014 at 8:30 pm

      OK. I'll buy that. I was going off a shortened version of the poll question.

      In some limited sense we might have some progress (devinely guided evoloution), is perhaps a step up rom no evolution.

    • It all depends upon the pollee's interpretation of the word "arose". It wouldn't be wrong the claim that since the emergence of Cro-magnon, humans haven't changed their appearance. [Personally I think there has been likely been significant brain/behavior evolution due to social selection, but one could have a decent understanding of evolution and still answer the poll question no.

    • If the poll question really involves the issue of whether humans changed SINCE they arose, I don't think thats a good proxy for belief in evolution. The question simply asked whether humans have been changing genetically. One could believe in evolution, but think there hasn't been enough selection pressure on humans to change us recently, i.e. apart from environment, cavemen equals modern men.

      Now, I do agree that the GOP contains a lot of anti-science anti-evolution types, I just don't think this was the right poll question.

  • Birth of Hope: Top Ten Solar Energy Stories 2013
    • Omega Centauri 12/25/2013 at 4:30 pm

      Not convinced we need the full 30TW. I think this is a measure of primary energy usage, which includes the large amount that is waste heat (or space heat) today. That, and we are getting better at end user efficiency, note my earlier comment on LED lights, several times more efficient than incandescent -and more cost efficient in terms of cost per BTU saved than solar. We need to be just as aggressive increasing end use efficiency as we must be building out renewables.

      Note, space heating can be provided by heat pumps, which offer several usable BTUs for every BTU of wind/solar electric energy.

    • Omega Centauri 12/25/2013 at 9:46 am

      Don't forget, you can dramatically cut your usage by switching to LED lighting. Good 450 and 800 lumen bulbs are available at your local bib-box home improvement stores for $10 or less. This compliments solar, as it reduces nighttime demand.

  • Solar would be Cheaper: US Pentagon has spent $8 Trillion to Guard Gulf Oil
    • Omega Centauri 12/08/2013 at 5:40 pm

      I think what you are saying is largely true, especially about decisions made years ago. The opportunity for PV to displace oil is really only becoming thinkable today. OTOH, subsidies to push Pv adoption need not cost $2/watt, they only need to high enough to cover the cost difference versus the alternatives, and this cost difference has been shrinking dramatically lately. Of course its not just PV, wind is a good complement to solar. Also hydro and geothermal. Renewables should be considered as a complete system, not as a collection of independent technologies.

    • Omega Centauri 12/08/2013 at 5:33 pm

      They've been a bit late to the party, but starting this year China is the number one market for PV panels (they've been the number one producer for a few years). The US and Japan are running a close race for number two.

  • The Public Professor: Dissent in Commodified Higher Education
    • One threat to universities comes disguised as a gift horse. Rich people provide money for professorships, and often the selection of who can take those seats is determined by the sponsor. Sometimes these "professors" aren't much more than propagandists for the agenda of the wealthy.

  • Top 10 Ways the US is the Most Corrupt Country in the World
  • US seeks Broad Powers, Immunity for post-2014 Troops in Afghanistan (Lazare)
    • My gut feeling, what we are asking the LG to do is too onerous, and we run a high risk of it being turned down. Then it will be hard to stay without losing face and certainly legitimacy. So I think our side was too good at negotiating for its own good.

  • Planet Tahrir: The Coming Mass Demonstrations against Climate Change (Klare)
  • Take that, France: Iran has Halted Expansion of Nuclear Facilities: IAEA
    • "my guess is that Kerry did not share details with individual UNSC foreign ministries for fear of leaks..."
      There is also the possibility that he told Fabius in confidence, but Fabius decided to go ahead in order to score political points with those who want to keep Iran locked in a box. I suspect that is the real underlying motivation in some quarters, and all the talk of Nuclear fears is just an indirect means of accomplishing that goal.

  • France Crashes the Geneva Party, Scuttles Iran Deal
    • Omega Centauri 11/10/2013 at 8:24 pm

      A small correction about Plutonium. It is really about the number of neutrons, bomb grade plutonium has an atomic mass of 239 (one more than U-238), and is created when a U-238 nucleus absorbs a neutron (and the resulting U-239 decays via Neptunium to Plutonium. If an additional Neutron is absorbed you get (eventually) Plutonium 240, which is very difficult to separate from the Pu-239. The resulting mixture of the two types of Plutonium is unsuitable for a weapon (supposedly Pu-240 starts fissioning too easily, making the bomb fissile. So you are basically correct, that fuel rods intended to be used to extract bomb grade Plutonium, can't be left in the reactor very long.

  • Dear Press: Stop Enthusing About Habitable Planets until People like Va.'s Cuccinelli Stop Destroying this One
    • Omega Centauri 11/05/2013 at 5:32 pm

      Its a tough road to try to get a culture interested in learning about the natural strengths and weaknesses of our unaided cognition. There are ways of largely overcoming these problems, but we as a society are too busy exploiting them to advance our narrow minded agendas (political commercial or religious) to be interested. In fact there are many interest groups actively opposed to the teaching of critical thinking.

  • White Terrorist is "Gunman," "Alleged Shooter," no Mention of Wingnut 'New World Order' Beef
    • It is indeed absurd! The question is can we change it. The press knows the right wing will scream bloody murder, and they seem to get their wishes. Maybe the left (and Palestinian and other) causes need to start becoming loud enough to be heard as well? This is the awful press environment that progressives are up against.

    • Omega Centauri 11/03/2013 at 7:07 pm

      I've been disturbed about it before, but haven't talked about it. Our media seems to like to echo right wing memes, and is certainly nervous about becoming a target. But, rest assured, if we had any left-wing terrorism, I'm sure it would be labeled as such.

      Now, it may be legitimate to distinguish acts of an individual, not formally associated with an organized political group -but who have clearly drunk the coolaide as something other than a terrorists, perhaps ideologically inspired hate criminal is more accurate.

  • Why the US needs Electric Cars: Saudi Arabia threatens Pivot away from US
    • Omega Centauri 10/23/2013 at 4:29 pm

      There is in fact already a spread of PHEVs available. On one end are PHEVs with small batteries (all electric range under 20miles) to the Volt with maybe 40miles electric. Generally these smaller battery PHEVs get much better gas mileage than a Volt (in gasoline mode), so the most economical vehicle depends upon ones expected usage. So we have Prius Plugin, 14mile-EV, but >50mpg after that, the Ford PHEVs, 20? electric range and upper 40's after that, ans Volt 40mile range and 30something after that. I suspect this tradeoff isn't intrinsic to the technology, but is the results of design decisions made by the various teams.

      Last I heard 3/4 percent of new USA cars were EVs or PHEVs. Even if this increases several fold, it still will have only a minimal effect on fleet milage, as many millions of ICE vehicles are on the road, and won't wear out for at least a decade. The difficulty with trying to make the national fleet efficient in order to avoid a potential oil supply issue, is that it takes decades to turn over the fleet. So you have to aggressively begin the transition years before the problem becomes apparent. Free markets have not proved very good at doing that.

  • Top Ten Climate Change Threats being ignored by your Television News
    • The bigger concern from higher temps on lake Superior, and less ice, is the increased evaporation. The water level has been dropping. Also paradoxically, lake effect snows should grow because of more open water.

      Probably the biggest gotcha, is the increased variability in the weather. Counter intuitively, a robust pole to equator temperature difference leads to stronger circumpolar winds, which keep the cold bottled up in the polar region. Because of arctic amplification (pole warm much faster than tropics, because of the effects of less ice/snow), the circumpolar winds aren't (on average) as strong, and the polar air can more easily breech the barrier. So we've had Europe getting hit with epic month long cold-snowy snaps the past couple of winters. As well as more blocking patterns, where the weather gets stuck in a pattern for weeks or longer. That means some area get little rain, others too much. Same with temperature, some areas get stuck in longlived cold snalps and other in longlived heatwaves. So the number of years that are bad for agriculture increases.

  • Ban Coal: Super Cyclone half the Size of India driven by warming Waters
    • OOps, You meant 30 BILLION tons annually.

      We are unfortunately still spending big bucks (over $600B annually) to extract more fossil fuels. Far more is currently being invested in making the problem worse, than it trying to solve it.

  • Dear Tea Party: The Gov't Shutdown is Hurting White People, Too
    • Getting scientists and liberals so fed up they emigrate is seen as a feature, not as a bug. And with Harper in Canada, there is no point crossing our northern border -you got to cross the ocean -and possibly learn a new language.

      NSF had to throw in the towel on this years Antarctic research season. Again this is a feature, not a bug, "better not to know what climate change is doing"

  • Militant Secularism in the Middle East?
    • Omega Centauri 10/04/2013 at 9:47 pm

      Because if they are not included, Eqypt might end up with a decade of internal terrorism, like Algeria. They are part of the countries spectrum of worldviews, they should be part of the democracy. They shouldn't be allowed to dominate it, but they shouldn't be excluded.

    • Isn't the danger from Arab Spring, that it exposes the deep divide between a substantial fundamentalist leaning block, and those who want a secular government? This is actually not that different from the situation in the USA, where fundamentalist leaning Christians have significant influence over one of our two major political parties. In my mind the biggest difference between the two regions is that the US had a long developed democracy before our secular/fundamentalist struggle emerged.

  • Why Israel's Plan to Bomb Iran is more Dangerous to Israel than Obama-Rouhani Diplomacy
    • Omega Centauri 09/29/2013 at 8:01 pm

      And moreover, once the opening is rebuffed -or even if its just stalled long enough, Rouhani will be discredited and turfed out of office, and a new cycle of Iranian hardliners will take office. Haven't we seen this movie before?

  • Is Iran out of the US War Queue? The Twilight of the Hawks
    • Omega Centauri 09/28/2013 at 6:23 pm

      Its not at all clear to me that we can get Iran out of the queue. Can you be considered to be one of the very serious people, if you don't start by saying Rhouhani is just a smiling face sent to trick us and then. Is this going to change anytime. Decades o brainwashing aren't overcome overnight -particularly is the press/media don't challenge the old lies.

      And we do have a fallback, Kim Jong-Un doesn't seem like he wants to play any part other than as the chief villain. Add in the fear of amorphous "terrorists". We could make making the world safe for shoppers at high end malls around the world our new battle cry.

  • Is Iran Ready to do a Deal with Obama over its Nuclear Program?
    • Isn't this potential raproachment contingent on Israel deciding not to use AIPAC to scupper the deal? Previous openings were ended when AIPAC got the Senate to overwhelmingly pass sense of the Senate type legislation saying no deal. So Israel's cost/benefit calculation has to change enough that they determine that letting a deal go through is in their interests.

  • Top Ten Solar Power good news Stories Today
    • Second quarter of this year California installed 532MW of the country's 832MW.

  • The World after the Kerry-Lavrov accord on Syria
    • Aren't those two goals, ending the CW threat in Syria, and aiding the secular rebels now at odds. Obviously Putin/Assad aren't stupid, and are making the CW lockdown/destruction contingent on ceasing the military aid to the said rebels. We can pursue, one, but not both of those goals.

    • Omega Centauri 09/15/2013 at 7:12 pm

      I think he realized, that using those weapons almost led to his governments destruction (getting hit heard enough to likely lose the civil war). If getting rid of them can deflect that threat, that is a bargain he can accept.

  • Neil Young: Alberta Tar Sands fields 'Look like Hiroshima' (Chamberlain)
    • As my girlfriend used to say when we would pass a feedlot "smells like money". I bet (when the wind is right) that's what the residents of Ft McMurray think it smells like.

  • Top Ten things Americans need to Know about Syria if they're going to Threaten to Bomb It
    • There is scuttlebutt about natural gas pipeline politics being involved. Crossing Syrian territory would be useful as an export route of Persian Gulf natural gas to Europe. And who would benefit, and who would consider it as helping unwelcome competition. Is there any truth to the claims that this is driving behind the scenes motivations of the different regional players?

  • A US attack on Syria will Prolong the War
    • What I'm hoping will happen is that Obama will get a limited go ahead, but use this argument (that it was an out-of-control commander) to give Assad another chance "but if there is another attack, then we will attack". This is still bullying by the US. But, at least it provides a chance to still avoid an attack.

    • I don't think we have enough data to answer the question of whether strikes would shorten or lengthen the civil war. If Assad is clearly strong enough to prevail, then strikes which would incrementally at least weaken him would lengthen it. But, if the ground truth favors the rebels, then the opposite conclusion holds. I saw an article in Der Spiegel which claims the (conventional-wisdom?) that Assad has the upper hand is illusory. If that is the case, the CW attack can be seen as an act of desperation by a government with little to lose. [Note, I am implicitly assuming a negotiated settle is impossible given the non-unified nature of the rebels.]

      So having knowledge of ground truth is essential to predict the effect on the duration of the conflict.

      Of course duration isn't the only metric of human cost. What happens once one side prevails -if that indeed is how it ends? Post conflict Syria is likely to be a chaotic, and probably violent place even after the outcome is determined.
      Is there any way to know with reasonable probability, what course of action will minimize suffering?

  • Kerry signals US Intervention in Syria, but to What End?
    • There really doesn't seem to be an easy climbdown for mideast (or North African) authoritarians. Ben Ali gave up pretty easily, but Tunisia is still after him. Mubarek could have gone Roman, like Qaddafi, and Assad, but they still threw him in jail. This doesn't allow for any sort of liberalization path to be attractive to these regimes. So they instead go all in on brutal repression instead.

    • We would have to carefully look at their evidence. The Russians are very partisan about this conflict. They seem to place keeping their client above all else. I do think ALL the evidence should be looked at before taking action. But, this could be deliberate disinformation.

  • Not Markets but the People are making the Green Energy Revolution
    • I heard the US is at 10GW. Obviously well behind Germany (32GW last I heard). China has the most aggressive program. The US is one of the larger growth markets, as Europe is suffering from financial distress. [World at 100GW]

      But Juan is too optimistic. The claim was we tripled in the last 2.5years, but will only double in the next 2.5. That is sub exponential growth. The PV growth rate is clearly slipping.

      At least solar is wildly popular with the people, including those who routinely vote for clean energy obstructionists.

  • Obama's Limited Options: Bombing Syria unlikely to be Effective
    • I was distressed to hear on France-24, that a "good" US strategy would be to shoot for a stalemate -because neither the current Syrian government, nor any likely revolutionary government would be our friend. So playing a game that only cares about geopolitical pieces, we want Syria to be prostrate as long as possible. That's worse than cynical, its positively immoral. Its also probably wrong, as the so-called tertiary damage to the neighborhood only increases regional instability. I sure hope we can manage to put humanitarian considerations to the fore.

    • Chemical weapons aren't very effective against protected military, but can be very effective against civilians, especially those trying to survive by hiding in basements. Also they can cause horrific damage short of killing. So if your strategy involves terrifying populations they can be effective.

    • Omega Centauri 08/25/2013 at 5:44 pm

      I happen to agree with the best to let it slide crowd. However a admittedly weak case can be made for limited punitive action punishing the use of chemical weapons. Maybe the regime would then change its calculation about the value/cost of using them in the present conflict. If that happened, we just might make the conflict slightly less awful.

      The worst outcome, is one that allows the war to drag on indefinitely. It seems to me the current approach of supplying some not very effective weapons to the rebels, does just that. We've seen how much this conflict adds to regional instability. Maybe Israel is happy to have chaos keeping its potential enemies weak? The rest of us should see this conflict as both a humanitarian catastrophe, and a source of future problems.

    • I'm thinking the pressure to save face (they clearly crossed my redline), is going to be too strong to ignore. Then it comes down to finding the least risky facesaving gesture. I expect some sort of symbolic strike -presumably hit a few Syrian government or military fixed targets, then call it a day, is the most likely response.

      As much as we can't stomach the thought of Assad surviving, I think we are at least as afraid of an opposition victory as we are of a return to something resembling the ante-bellum state. So I doubt we want to do anything truly effective.

  • New Hot Zones now cover 5% of Earth; Only Fix is Halting CO2 (Lazare)
    • Omega Centauri 08/18/2013 at 1:21 pm

      The chosen wording was very poor. See Eric's comment above. Of course describing future weather in terms of the current (or the already past) climate and its distribution of weather has is problematic as well. Means and variances will shift as the climate changes. Maybe there just isn't a way to dumb this stuff down, and not end up with misleading language?

      BTW. the years highest was 129.2 at death valley. The 134 from 1913 is almost certainly in error, and this years value is probably the highest reliably recorded value in the world.

  • Fox to Reza Aslan: Why would a Muslim write a book about Jesus?
    • Maybe, it is that fundamentalists are pretty much cut from the same cloth no matter what their religious designation says. There is far more similarity than difference in the social doctrines and attitudes of fundamentalists.

  • Bye, Bye Florida: Scientists find the last time it was this hot, Seas rose 65 feet
    • The timespan of sea level rise, is probably longer than the timespan for the built infrastructure to crumble away. We will just stop repairing at risk infrastructure....

      I think a bigger problem, is that anything you do portwise, will have to deal with the fact that the sea level is in fact rising, and docks and other stuff will have to be movable -so it will be more expensive.

  • Top Ten Ways Egypt Actually Does deeply Matter to the United States
    • Omega Centauri 07/18/2013 at 1:32 pm

      Some of the disinterest makes sense -at least to me. Eqypt as well as Syria and Iraq and... is seen to be in a longrunning stalemate, where one side is unlikely to decisively come out on top. In such a situation most happenings in those places can be dismissed as small details unlikely to be decisive. So we turn our attention elsewhere, because the actual information content (what did you learn that is important that you didn't know before), is actually quite low.

      Not that the lamestream media, would provide much coverage if something momentous seemed to be happening.

  • Guna People of Panama's islands Flee rising Seas
    • Not for the next century. For the next twenty centuries. But, our modern high discount rate brains can't contemplate the damage we will do to seventieth generation after us, let alone to the seventh.

  • UK's Channel 4 Schools US Media on How to cover NSA, Snowden
    • I don't thing the US media is "schoolable". There has to be some willingness on the part of the student.

  • GE's 'Brilliant' Wind Turbines offer Cheaper Energy than Coal, Gas, & have Battery Storage
    • Juan, I'm not sure what you mean about wind plus solar not needing natural gas supplements. In terms of covering for periods of low supply of wind/solar, they will need some sort of dispatchable backup. It will be quite a while before we have a combination of storage and demand response that is robust enough for a pure renewables grid. I don't see that as a problem, we need to take one step at a time. The next step is a dramatic ramping up of the rate of deployment.

      CAL ISO is working to come up with an action plan, for grid stability with the 33 percent target. Its going to take a lot of hard work to get that to work. And much more for the steps after it.

    • Omega Centauri 06/30/2013 at 2:38 pm

      I doubt the Sahara will power Europe, or even that that would be an optimal solution. Some solar imported from MENA would be beneficial, primarily because the weather in MENA isn't very highly correlated with the weather in MENA. Most energy used by Europe will be generated more locally, and that reduces both real and perceived supply risk, as well as long distance transmission.

    • Omega Centauri 06/30/2013 at 1:52 pm

      Net energy return -over the lifetime of the installation is something like thirty to one for wind. Maybe ten to one for solar. Energywise, at least its possible for a renewable powered economy to bootstrap themselves.
      Adding storage to windturbines or solar PV plants does make them play better with the electric grid. But note the total storage capacity proposed here is only 2minutes of the nameplate capacity output of the turbines. This sort of storage is meant to bridge power fluctuations with periods of twenty minutes or less. Enough time to allow the grid operator to make adjustments to slower reacting components of the grid -which would be some combination of demand and other sources which can be ramped up/down as grid stability demands. We are not talking about storing energy on windy/sunny days for use on calm/cloudy days.

  • Why Correa might give Snowden Asylum: All the Horrible things the US has done to Ecuador
    • Whichever country gives him refuge, will in all liklihood be subject to tightening thumbscrews. I hope it is someone who can pushback -not a small easily isolatable place.

  • NSA-Verizon Surveillance: Welcome to the United States of Total Information Awareness
    • The paranoid have no sense of proportion. 9-11 made the USA (as a country) highly paranoid, so we cannot weigh civil-liberties against the odds of some action stopping a terrorist incident. This gets translated into our dysfunctional political system. The dangers for a politician of not taking the next-security step are that some enemy will manage to tar him with blame for some attack far outweigh the cost of pissing off a few civil libertarians.

      This is not a result of a few bad apples in government, but rather is a symptom of a sickness within ourselves.

  • Austerity and the threat to Democracy, in the US, Europe and the Middle East
    • Omega Centauri 03/03/2013 at 8:37 pm

      Haven't there been some recent studies that have shown that because of "hysteresis" that austerity in fact makes the prospects for paying back public debt worse, rather than better. The theory is that a sustained slowdown damages future prospects enough that the economy won't recover back to the precrisis trendline, and that that future lost economic output will hurt government revenues by more than any supposed savings from austerity? I think the vast majority of economists are simply looking the other way, practicing what Sinclair said about ,a man can't understand something, if not-understanding it is essential to his employment.

  • After Benedict: Religions have to Democratize if they are to Survive
    • Omega Centauri 03/01/2013 at 5:04 pm

      "Roman Catholic priests probably commit child abuse no more frequently than secular school teachers."
      I'm not in possesion of any statistics, but Catholic priests come a self-selected set of young men who are willing to take vows of celibacy. I would not expect the same propensities towards abuse (maybe more maybe less) than for the general public. Many may have signed up because they hoped to insulate themselves from disturbing tendencies.

  • Global Warming is a Domestic Crisis (Cole at Truthdig)
  • 13 gigawatts of New Wind power in US in 2012, Renewables Half of all New Energy
    • Now for the "bad" news on US wind. That 13GW was put up in a rush to beat the Production Tax Credit expiration at the end of 2012. So the wind pipeline has been virtually emptied. We did get a one year extension as part of the "cliff" agreement -and this one covers projects started before the end of the year, some some new builds will happen this year, but it is expected to be a far cry from last year. The uncertainty about the PTC has caused a lot of damage to the US wind industry.

      On a related note, I made my first foray into crowdfunding of PV projects, accepting an unspectacular rate of return, for the pleasure of helping to accelerate the expansion of PV. The good news is that most projects were already funded, i.e. I think the concept is catching on.

  • Was Aaron Swartz a Cyber-Criminal or a Martin Luther King, Jr. of the Internet? (Thompson)
    • I think the dirty hands concept leads to a very slippery slope. Sure these organizations (I'll exclude JSTOR) are reprehensible, but who gets to make that call. I bet there are significant numbers of Americans who consider this site "unpatriotic" or not supportive of Israel -or an enemy of fossil fueled interests etc. So if we make an exception for "dirty hand", we risk setting off cyber-culture and cyber-political wars. I don't think we wan to go there.

  • Controversial, Not Controversial (Brennan v. Hagel, Big Oil v. Solar & other Media Hypocrisies)
    • Omega Centauri 01/09/2013 at 2:48 pm

      Longer term nat gas isn't an option, either from a carbon or from a resource standpoint. It may be a good bridging option, as it is lower carbon than coal, and peaker plants which can ramp on/off quickly to make up for the variability of wind/solar, are reasonably affordable. Some recent studies question whether the leakage rate of natural gas wells is low enough that its global warming potential may not actually be lower than coal.

    • Omega Centauri 01/08/2013 at 3:17 pm

      It just shows where we've been for a long time, and continue to be. The press, and the serious-people have been bought off for some time. And most people's opinions are formed from what they see on TV, so Drone's and torture and Iran as the next holocast-maker are only controversial among a handful "out of touch" leftists.

  • Best Green Energy Responses to Climate Crisis: IC's 2012 Amun-Ra Award
    • Omega Centauri 12/30/2012 at 7:53 pm

      I think Mr Garcia is overstating his case. It is true that the military is a major consumer of liquid fuels, which primarily come from fossil sources. They are also investing fairly heavily in various sorts of renewables, including schemes for creating jet fuel from seawater plus CO2 plus electricity (in this case Nuclear powered carriers). Obviously they aren't doing this to be green, but rather to reduce their reliance on expensive and vulnerable supply lines.

      I don't think they are a major force against a sane US national stance towards carbon. They actually have produced reports identifying climate change as a source of future instability. Clearly some of their political supporters are not happy with such reports.

      Now, I'm not a supporter of anything like the current level of US military spending, but as far as I can tell, their attitude towards renewable energy is more realistic (and aggressive) than the civilian economy.

  • Schwarzkopf (RIP) and How the United States got Bogged Down in the Middle East
    • I don't think cheaper PV panels will end the importance of oil. Oil derived liquid fuels are still indispensible to transportation, and look to remain so. If anything, those few nations with surplus production could be more rather than less importaant relative to today.

  • The Shameful Politicization of the Benghazi Consulate Attack
    • Its the usual political theater. The truth of charges does not matter, just the theatrical effect from making them. Its well known that a person accused, then acquitted of a crime, never regains his reputation. This is an attempt to make the administration look bad, using any excuse they can drum up.

  • Top Ten Things Mitt Romney's Insults to Spain tell us About Him
    • Omega Centauri 10/08/2012 at 4:09 pm

      I was going to replace that with "does not care that". The Republican philosophy, never let its proven falsehood interfere with a focus-tested talking point.

  • Top Ten Things Mitt Romney Gets Wrong about US Middle East Policy
    • Its useful to know the real score. However, this is public debate, rather than academic truthseeking that we are about to witness. By and large the public is ignorant of the history and would rather believe the pleasant myth that RMoney is peddling. Going against the myth, opens one up to the risk of being portrayed as less than 100% pro American. I'm not confident that truth will prevail.

  • Muslims are no Different, or why Bill Maher's blood libel is Bigotry
    • I don't know the answer to that one. I think politicians are scared to death to be seen courting the Islamic vote, so we see neither side making any visible effort to do so.

  • Top Five Green Energy Stories Today
    • That 7GW of solar (assuming he means photovoltaics, not stuff like water heaters), was more like a single GW. I think Germany installed 7GW, but due to reductions in the FIT rates, 2012 is expected to be flat installation wise in Europe as last year. US PV is expected to double this year (to 2 GW ish), but thats not enough to make up for the slack in the market comong from European cutbacks. First Solar and SunPower have announced layoffs, and seeral german PV production companies have shut down. The US is still way behind the solar curve wrt. Europe. Installation costs for rooftop in Germany are much cheaper than in the US also, we have to get installation costs down, panels are now dirt cheap.

  • SBC's Land: Romney's Mormonism "Like Islam" (Here we go Again)
    • Omega Centauri 03/21/2012 at 4:23 pm

      To me this is really just an argument about the taxonomy of current (or historic) religions. On such a chart, Islam, and Mormonism would both be seen as branches each of which claims a more recent avatar than Jesus. Generally the most recent avatar is seen as correcting or at a minimum clarifying the presumably now garbeled message of the earlier ones.

  • How the FCC can take the Money out of Politics- Cole at Truthdig
    • Rather than eliminate the amendment, we need to redefine free speech. Hopefully not in some Orwellian manner, but in a way which flattens the ability to have one's speech heard. When the amendment was drafted, free speech, meant talking freely with people, and maybe publishing a newsletter and handing it out on the street, it was simply unimaginable in those days, that immensly rich people could virtually drown out the voices of the little people.

      Of course, for profit media is a big part of the problem. Broacasters love campaign advertising, it enhances revenues and profits. As long as we as a society elevate making as much as possible into lifes overriding goal, we will continue to have major problems.

  • The Dilemma over Syria
    • Omega Centauri 02/10/2012 at 3:59 pm

      Juan it might be helpful to think about when arming resistance forces seemed to have a positive outcome, and when it has led to more problems than it solved. I was under the impression, that relaxing the arms embargo during the Bosnian and Croation war worked well. So its not a rule of nature, that arming of the opposition always leads to worse results than not doing so. Obviously a lot of other factors come into play.

      In Iraq, didn't Saddam leave large stores of weapons and ammunition lying about. I think he hoped the people could use these arms to defeat the invasion. Even if the US had not added yet more arms, wasn't that cat already out of the bag?

  • A Hot Wet Thousand Years and 10 Green Energy Stories to Avert it
    • Omega Centauri 11/03/2011 at 4:04 pm

      I question project 2. I seem to recall the price per watt being pretty high, probably far more than the markey will bear. Your other proposed solar thermal plant doesn't look as bad, $4/watt, but thats considerablyabove current photovoltaics in places with low installation costs like Germany. I don't think solar thermal electric plants are going to make it, they are simply being outbid by photovoltaics. Unless we are able to offer a substantial premium for dispatchability (the ability to store the heat and generate the electricity when you want), solar thermal may never reach the economy of scale needed.

  • African Languages origins of the Rest?
    • Omega Centauri 04/15/2011 at 2:27 pm

      Juan, it sounds like the question is can the the timewindow to determine if two languages are related be pushed back that far? Is Atkinson's new technique a breakthrough in this regards? Just because the conclusion is plausible does not imply that the method works.

  • It's the Popular Sovereignty, Stupid
    • In my opinion no. We may have it in weak form, the populance can be seriously misinformed, largely by the deliberate efforts of the kleptocracy, and can be lead to be their inadvertent water carriers.

  • How the No Fly Zone Can Succeed
    • Bonnie, I would say the the shock and awe phase of establishing a NFZ comes at the beginning, when extent air defense must be overcome. After that they only need be attacked as they are rebuilt. In Iraq, Gulf War One had accomplished that task. Maybe people built up false expectations, thinking there was no difference in scale of violence between establishing a NFZ, and maintaining one.

  • The World Oil Politics of the Libyan Revolt
    • If I can jump in. I think there is a difference between the "civic wisdom" demonstrated by the population, and actual experience governing. The former, is impressive, and is a good sign, but the ability to organize people isn't the same thing.

      I'm fully in agreement, about letting them make their own mistakes.

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