Sunday, April 29, 2007

Environmentalism as a religion

Speaking of witch hunting eco-puritans, here is State of Fear author, Michael Crichton explaining why he called environmentalism a religion:

Friday, April 27, 2007

Extreme weather and superstition in the little ice age

I love the Internet. Check out this presentation on extreme weather and superstition during the "little ice age". It's a pretty simple formula really: sacrifice a few weird old ladies to ensure good weather.

The Eco-witch hunters of today have much in common with their forebears: they would have us sacrifice our safest cars and the best jobs that provide for our families' needs to ensure good weather. It'll just hurt poor families. You and your family will be fine if you just do as they say - don't question. It's been decided by your betters. There is a consensus.

Never mind. Go back to what you were doing.

African Malaria Day

Yesterday was African Malaria Day. AFRICAN Malaria Day. That's because they still have MALARIA in AFRICA. We used to have it in Europe and North America. But we eradicated it. Decades ago. With DDT. But Africans can't have DDT. They can just keep dieing, I guess.

The reason it is called Africa Malaria Day is because in the developed West malaria no longer poses much of a problem. Southern Mediterranean countries, such as Italy, where hot and humid conditions would normally be a fertile breeding ground for malarial mosquitoes, have been malaria-free for more than 60 years. Yet the tool that rooted out malaria in the developed world – the mosquito-bashing pesticide DDT – is not considered fit for Africa today.

There is a reason why the West is no longer infested with malarial insects and why deaths from malaria are virtually zero. It’s because over half a century ago we sprayed everything down with DDT. DDT is not very popular nowadays; it has become an anathema to environmentalists. In the Sixties and Seventies, various environmentalists raised concerns about the impact of DDT on wildlife. In her 1962 book Silent Spring, Rachel Carson claimed that DDT harmed birds of prey and their eggs. Following intense lobbying, DDT was banned in America in 1972 by the Environment Protection Agency and its use was severely restricted in Europe. This had a big impact on its use in countries in Latin America and Africa. And all of this happened despite the fact that, as the campaign group Africa Fighting Malaria (AFM) points out, where heavy use of DDT in agricultural settings did occasionally cause harm to birds of prey, that harm subsequently ‘proved reversible’, and ‘after 50 years of study there is not one replicated study that shows any harm to humans at all’.

Indeed, last year the World Health Organisation (WHO) ‘reversed a 30-year policy by endorsing the use of DDT for malaria control’. WHO explained that there is no health risk for humans from DDT. Dennis Avery of AFM estimates that, ‘The absence of DDT has led to the needless deaths of at least 30million people from malaria and yellow fever in the tropics’.
Never mind. Go back to what you were doing.

Thanks to Junk Science for the link.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Great Global Warming Swindle Website

The Great Global Warming Swindle video now has its own Website.

The response to the film, The Great Global Warming Swindle, has been overwhelming, and overwhelmingly positive. As Channel Four reported in Broadcast magazine, they were inundated with phone calls following the first transmission. They calculated that the calls were 6 to 1 in favour of the film. It would be nice to claim that this was due to the film itself, but in fact the explosion of interest happened before the film went out.

The coverage of the theory of man made global warming, on TV, radio and in the press, has been, broadly speaking, fawning and uncritical. In Britain, hours and hours of programmes have been broadcast by the BBC on the subject. All of it uncritical, much of it scientifically absurd. The very fact that a serious documentary dared to challenge the orthodoxy was itself news.

Why? Why have journalists been so craven or biased? How has a theory which lacks really solid supporting evidence become an undisputable fact? What of the impressive, much talked about scientific ‘consensus’ which is meant to forestall any awkward questions?

The film made a humble stab at suggesting some lines of enquiry. When the theory of man made global warming finally dies, as we believe it will, there are many important questions to be asked. About the relationship between science, the media and the rest of us. But also about scientists and science.
The scare over man made global warming may prove to be the first great example in the modern Western world, when science was betrayed by scientists themselves.

We had not intended to establish an ‘official’ web-site for the film. But such is the demand for more information that we have no alternative.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

State of Fear video

Just a teaster for the full video, but interesting nonetheless...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ethanol-burning cars emit toxic ozone gas

A new study out of Stanford says pollution from ethanol could end up creating a worse health hazard than gasoline, especially for people with asthma and other respiratory diseases.

He found that ethanol-burning cars could boost levels of toxic ozone gas in urban areas, but that Los Angeles residents would be by far the hardest hit because of the city's reliance on the automobile and environmental factors that tend to concentrate smog there.

Pollution from ethanol would be riskier than pollution from gasoline because when ethanol breaks down in the atmosphere, it generates considerably more ozone. Ozone is a highly corrosive gas that damages the delicate tissues of the lungs. In fact, it's so corrosive that it can crack rubber and wear away statues, Jacobson told The Chronicle.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Future domestic fuel - available today!?

In the H2CAR [hybrid hydrogen-carbon process] concept, hydrogen would be harvested by splitting water molecules, possibly with a well-known method called electrolysis. Then the hydrogen would be added during the gasification step, making the process more efficient by suppressing the formation of carbon dioxide and converting all of the carbon atoms to fuel.

When conventional methods are used to convert biomass or coal to liquid fuels, 60 percent to 70 percent of the carbon atoms in the starting materials are lost in the process as carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, whereas no carbon atoms would be lost using H2CAR, Agrawal said.

"This waste is due to the fact that you are using energy contained in the biomass to drive the entire process," he said. "I'm saying, treat biomass predominantly as a supplier of carbon atoms, not as an energy source."

Power for the electrolysis would be provided by carbon-free energy sources, such as solar, wind or nuclear power. And, unlike conventional methods of producing liquid fuels from plant matter and coal, H2CAR would not emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

"The goal is to accomplish the complete transformation of every carbon atom in the feedstock to liquid fuel by supplementing the conversion process with hydrogen from a carbon-free energy source," Agrawal said.

Put aside all the mumbo-jumbo about biomass and solar piddle-power and just look at the most promising combination: nuclear and coal.

But these are both verboten, saith the ruling eco-fundamentalist religious leaders, so forget about it. Don't even think about it. You should feel bad that you even want it.

Your penance is to go vegan for a month and give money to that eco-televangelist, Al Gore so he can pay someone not to emit carbon for a few minutes on your behalf.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

New foam catalyst produces synthetic gas quickly and easily

Droplets of oil and sugar taken from biomass are sprayed into a small chamber containing a foam catalyst of rhodium and cerium. As the droplets hit the foam, volatile compounds within them oxidise (combust) to produce heat. This breaks down larger non-volatile compounds into a combination of hydrogen and carbon monoxide – a synthesis gas, or "syngas".

Syngas can then either be used to make fuels like gasoline, or its hydrogen can be separated in order to power fuel cells. The biomass required can come from anything from cooking oil to glucose-rich cornstalks, Schmidt says.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Clean diesel from dirty coal

This year Waste Management and Processors, Inc. (WMPI), will break ground for the first U.S. coal-to-diesel production facility, in Gilberton, Pa. The plant will process 1.4 million tons of waste coal a year to generate approximately 5,000 barrels a day of diesel fuel.

The initial cost of the fuel is expected to be about $54 a barrel.

Considering the vast coal reserves in China, which is also considering the technology, coal-derived diesel seems likely to play a bigger role in helping to liberate some countries from dependence on oil imports.

Natural gas alternative - cheaper than dirt?

"The U.S. has more coal than any other country in the world. It's actually about as cheap as dirt," said Perlman, co-founder and CEO of Greatpoint Energy, a Cambridge, Mass.-based company.

GreatPoint Energy is refining a process called catalytic gasification to convert coal into methane or substitute natural gas.

GreatPoint says the key to its new technology is the catalyst it uses. Perlman says it's a combination of readily available metals, but so far, the ingredients are secret.

Because of that catalyst, GreatPoint's process works at a lower temperature than other technologies, which makes the process much cheaper.

Rachel Carson's birthday

April 12th was Rachel Carson's birthday. Let's not forget what she did.

Rachel Carson’s major impact on the planet has been to discourage the use of a safe, cheap pesticide called DDT to suppress disease-bearing mosquitoes. North America and Europe used DDT to eradicate malaria. After our children were safe, we told the Third World not to use it because it might harm their bird populations.

The absence of DDT has led to the needless deaths of at least 30 million people from malaria and yellow fever in the tropics. (Five times as many as Hitler killed in his concentrations death camps, albeit inadvertently). Most of them were helpless African children. In addition, malaria has been allowed to blight the lives of perhaps 1 billion chronic malaria sufferers, who are too often unable to work and further erode economic resources by requiring family nursing care. The millions of malaria cases in the tropics may, just by themselves, explain half of the poverty and human degradation on the planet today.

It’s not widely known that Ms. Carson originally had a co-author for Silent Spring. His name was Edwin Diamond, and he had been Science Editor of Newsweek. Early in the drafting of the book, he resigned from the project. He declared later that Silent Spring was an “emotional, alarmist book seeking to cause Americans to mistakenly believe their world is being poisoned.”

For more details, see this article:

That Silent Spring is deemed one of the best non-fiction works of the century is not supportable by examination of its allegations. It's a compendium of nonsense. Nevertheless, the book was a major contributing factor in the DDT ban of 1972, and established the potent role of exaggeration and dishonesty in the many environmental debates that have followed to this day.

To many scientists familiar with the technologies of agronomy, ornithology, entomology, botany, etc. the book was not well received. Dr Thomas Jukes, University of California professor/biochemist wrote that it "is so dramatically contrary to facts, so eloquently and persuasively, and so permanently influential that its negative impact is difficult to overstate."

Never mind. Go back to what you were doing.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Safest form of nuclear power?

A WHITE powder, thorium oxide, could be the answer to many concerns about nuclear power.

Reactors that use thorium, rather than uranium, produce radioactive waste that needs to be stored for only 500 years. They can also incinerate the much longer-lived radioactive products from conventional nuclear plants, including plutonium.

"And in these reactors, a meltdown like the Chernobyl disaster is virtually impossible," says a Sydney scientist, Reza Hashemi-Nezhad.

Research stiffled by religious zealots

An international team of researchers has discovered that two types of plant proteins are at work in the transport of an important growth hormone, a finding that could have applications in creating plants with specific characteristics.
However, eco-zealots -- religious earth-worshiping fundamentalists -- have created a hostile political environment for crop varieties created using recombinant DNA technology, even though they are the quickest, most reliable and safest way to produce a plant with specific traits.
The team's findings could have applications in food crops, but Murphy said he hasn't pursued such work due to some concerns over eating genetically modified foods. "We're focusing on biofuels and ornamentals because everybody loves to drive their car, and people don't eat their flowers," he said.
They're wrong, of course. Eco-zealots don't care what the plant is used for because to them, all plant varieties produced using modern recombinant DNA technology are taboo, an insult to the purity of their goddess, Gaia, whose followers use lies and fear of the unknown to force their religious prohibitions and morality on others through oppressive laws that strip men of their freedoms and stand in the way of scientific progress that can save children from life-threatening symptoms that kill thousands every year.
"Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt."

-- H L Mencken

Never mind. Go back to what you were doing.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Join the coalition for Clean and Safe Energy!

The CASEnergy Coalition is a large grassroots coalition that united unlikely allies across the business, environmental, academic, consumer and labor community to support nuclear energy. We believe that nuclear energy can improve energy security, ensure clean air quality, and enhance the quality of life and economic well-being of all Americans.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Indian Farmers Benefit From BT Cotton

Dr. Laveesh BhandariIndian farmers have grown GM crops since 2002 and now represent the most rapid adopters of plant biotechnology in the world. Indian economist Laveesh Bhandari discusses how GM cotton has positively impacted families and communities through increased income, greater access to healthcare services and better education.

Video here.

Virginia Cobia Farm to harvest first crop of cobia fish

In a previous post on aquaculuture I mentioned a company, Virginia Cobia Farms, a joint-venture of Blue Ridge Aquaculture,Inc. and MariCal to raise Cobia in Virginia. They will be harvesting their first Cobia next month.

BOSTON, March 20, 2007 — A Virginia company using patented technology to produce a fastgrowing, high yielding marine fish some 300 miles from the nearest ocean made its debut at the International Boston Seafood Show, turning heads and luring hundreds of inquiries from potential buyers.

“We believe that freshwater raised cobia is the next chicken of the sea — one that will fill growing consumer demand for marine fish high in Omega 3 fatty acids without burdening the ocean’s already depleted fish stocks,” says Bill Martin, chairman Virginia Cobia Farms, LLC, Saltville.

Established last October, Virginia Cobia Farms will harvest its first crop of cobia this May. “We’ll have about 100,000 pounds of fish, but I wish we had three times that much,” Thomas says, adding that demand for the white fish, which has been compared to Mahi Mahi or halibut in taste and texture, is already far exceeding supply.