Monday, January 28, 2008

Military to fight on synthetic fuel

Today was the day the first C-17 Globemaster flew across the country powered by synthetic fuel.

A Globemaster — its tanks half-filled with standard jet fuel and half with a synthetic, coal-derived fuel — flew Dec. 17 from Washington’s McChord Air Force Base to New Jersey’s McGuire Air Force Base. The B-52 bomber is already certified to use this fuel mix and full certification is expected for the C-17 in coming months.

It’s the latest milestone in an effort to prove all of the Air Force’s fleet can use this domestically produced synthetic fuel by 2011. By 2016, the Air Force wants all of its flights in the continental U.S. powered by the mix, touted as cleaner and less reliant on petroleum piped from foreign soil.
More here: USAF Looks to Alternative Fuels to Cut Costs

For every $10 increase in a barrel of oil, Air Force costs jump $610 million annually, according to assistant Air Force secretary William Anderson.

Last year, the cost of jet fuel jumped from 75 cents a gallon to $2.01. That's a $71,000 increase for just one fill-up of a B-52, which holds 47,000 gallons of fuel.

“Oil is selling for $94 a barrel right now,” the official, who asked not to be named, tells Newsmax. “The cost of synfuel is estimated to be between $45 and $60 a barrel. You do the math.”

With 42 gallons per barrel, that’s an annual savings of up to $3 billion.

Best of all, using synthetic fuel does not require engine modification, according to Air Force officials. In fact, it may perform better than traditional aviation fuel.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Organic Mutated Wheat

The Rio Red, a popular red grapefruit, was created by exposing grapefruit buds to thermal neutron radiation at Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1968. Other notable successes of mutation breeding include Creso, the most popular variety of durum wheat used for making pasta in Italy; Calrose 76, a high-yielding California rice; Golden Promise barley, a fine-quality malt used in specialty beers; and some 200 varieties of bread wheat grown around the world.

In 1956, a sample of a barley variety called Maythorpe was irradiated at Britain's Atomic Energy Research Establishment . The result was a strain with stiffer, shorter straw but the same early harvest and malting qualities, which would eventually reach the market as "Golden Promise".

Today scientists use thermal neutrons, X-rays, or ethyl methane sulphonate, a harsh carcinogenic chemical--anything that will damage DNA--to generate mutant cereals. Virtually every variety of wheat and barley you see growing in the field was produced by this kind of "mutation breeding". No safety tests are done; nobody protests. The irony is that genetic modification (GM) was invented in 1983 as a gentler, safer, more rational and more predictable alternative to mutation breeding--an organic technology, in fact. Instead of random mutations, scientists could now add the traits they wanted.

That organic wheat you just ground up into whole wheat flour so you can make some good wholesome whole wheat bread, and that organic red grapefruit you just had for breakfast - they couldn't be genetically modified organisms - GMOs - because organic groups have ruled from on high that GMOs are not "natural". But they are very likely the result of massively mutating the genetic material of a plant with radiation, a technique called mutation breeding.

In mutation breeding, a lot of bad genetic mutations happen along with the rare one that you want to keep. It takes a lot of back-crossing, which takes a lot of time, to eliminate as much of the bad stuff as possible without losing the one good trait you worked so hard to isolate.

GMOs, on the other hand, are created faster and with more precise knowledge of the genetic changes being made using recombinant DNA techniques. The introduced genetic instructions are known. The goal is to get a small piece of DNA with a known trait successfully introduced into the plant to cause it to express the unique amino acid sequence that it is designed to produce. Compared to mutation breeding, recombinant DNA technology is fast and precise.

Why mutation breeding - much more of a Frankenfood than any GMO - is acceptable to the organic oligarchy but not GMOs is a mystery of the universe. Maybe one day they'll figure out at way to explain it that makes sense.

Then again...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Asthma and pollution

Asthma is an awful disease - I know, I have it. However, contrary to popular opinion, less pollution does not mean less asthma, even though we hear it confidently stated as fact often enough. While our air in the U.S. is substantially cleaner than it was just a few decades ago, at the same time that our air has been getting cleaner, asthma rates have risen dramatically. In fact, dirtier cities, like Beijing, actually have less asthmatics than cleaner cities like Hong Kong, which has fewer than other, even cleaner cities. Studies, like this one reviewed by author Steve Milloy Smoggy Statistics, that claim a connection between smog and premature deaths are nothing more than a pretext for hyped press releases by the EPA and activists.

As for the smog, I'm all for less smog - who isn't - but not at any cost; it has to be a resonable cost. Draconian laws based on bad science that will not actually accomplish their goal but rather, through the iron-clad law of unintended consequences, make other things worse. That other thing in this case would be the lives of the poor, who would be disproportionately impacted by such energy-restricting policies.

Monday, January 21, 2008

False Eco-Prophets

Michael Lynch and others with relevant experience in the area of oil production estimation have shown why the Peak Oil doomsayers have been wrong time and time again. Their theories of total recoverable resources are just not accurate. They join a litany of other false eco-prophets such as The Club of Rome (Limits to Growth, 1972), Paul Ehrlich (The End of Affluence, 1976), etc. who have predicted the end of certain finite resources, only to be proven wrong - multiple times (

I recommend the following for your perusal:

Closed Coffin: Ending the Debate on "The End of Cheap Oil" A commentary

The New Pessimism about Petroleum Resources:
Debunking the Hubbert Model (and Hubbert Modelers)

CRYING WOLF: Warnings about oil supply

Oil: Never Cry Wolf--Why the Petroleum Age Is Far from over

Oil, Oil Everywhere

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Food shortages coming

Food prices have been skyrocketing, and we think it's a good idea to subsidize the ethanol industry so we can burn 1/3 of our corn production in our fuel tanks!? Great idea... Not.

"Those who have food are going to have a big edge."

With 54% of the world's corn supply grown in America's mid-west, the U.S. is one of those countries with an edge.

But Mr. Coxe warned U.S. corn exports were in danger of seizing up in about three years if the country continues to subsidize ethanol production. Biofuels are expected to eat up about a third of America's grain harvest in 2007.

Mr. Coxe said crop yields around the world need to increase to something close to what is achieved in the state of Illinois, which produces over 200 corn bushes an acre compared with an average 30 bushes an acre in the rest of the world.

"That will be done with more fertilizer, with genetically modified seeds, and with advanced machinery and technology," he said.

Global warming, pesticides, and deformed frogs

Worried that global warming and pesticides are causing frog deformities or decimating frog populations (maybe you're a fan of frog legs)? Fear not. Follow the basic principal that the media is not telling you something important in order to make a storey seem scary and you'll be right more often than not. Scary stories sell papers.

Here's just one example (there are others - follow the link to the full article):

Yellow-legged frogs of the High Sierra

Disappearance was blamed on:

The frog’s seemingly inexplicable demise has provoked much speculation in the media and among scientists, with parasites, ultra-violet radiation, fungal disease, and especially pesticides blamed for the frog’s troubles.
The real cause:

Folks had been stocking the lakes, rivers, and streams in the West with all types of fish, starting as early as the 1880s. As part of this action, trout were introduced into the glacial lakes of the Sierra Nevada and by 1924 wildlife biologists noted that mountain yellow-bellied tadpoles and trout were rarely seen in the same lakes. This continued with thousands of fingerlings being dropped by aircraft in high altitude lakes where there had been lots of frogs but not fish at all. (4) Guess what happened? The frog populations decreased.

Vance Vredenburg of the University of California at Berkeley began removing trout from five separate High Sierra lakes in the late 1990s. He saw frog population explosions.

Good news for nuclear in the U.K.

BRITAIN is expected to give the go-ahead to a new generation of nuclear power stations next week, sparking a frenzy of deal-making by nuclear firms as well as a fresh challenge from environmental campaigners.

Nuclear station operators say they could have new UK plants running by 2017, helping Britain to meet its ambitious 2020 goals for combating climate change.
2017!? Must be all the red tape. Too bad, I think they'll be wanting them sooner.

Lunatics or corrupt - which is it?

Once again we find the global warming true believers immune to reality. LuboŇ° Motl Pilsen of the Czech Republic, a self-described conservative physicist, shows on his blog, The Reference Frame, how predictions that 2007 would be the hottest on record were very far off the mark.

In January 2007, we were informed that 2007 was either likely or certain to surpass 1998 and become the world's warmest year on record by most media...They justified this statement by referring to scientists who have combined greenhouse gases with the observed El Nino. Many sources, such as the New York Sun, even gave you the probability that 2007 would be the hottest year as 60 percent. They immediately added that this should "add momentum for the next phase of the Kyoto protocol", a comment that clarifies what is the actual goal of many of the people who study these questions professionally.

In the middle of the year when it started to be clear that the prediction was bogus, Phil Jones (Reuters) changed his mind only infinitesimally. It would be the second hottest year, he said. These big-shot agenda-driven scientists never have the courage to say that they were simply wrong.

However, the greenhouse gases are not too important and El Nino was replaced by La Nina. As a consequence, RSS MSU data for the lower troposphere (graph, more graphs) show that 2007 was the coldest year in this century so far.
Check out his post for the details - and there are some great details, so I highly recommend that you read the whole thing for yourself.

Can we expect the global warming alarmists to admit how badly they screwed up? Not likely.

Do you expect the media listed above to apologize for the misinformation they have printed? Do you think they will tell their readers and audiences that they have made a mistake and reported scientifically unreliable and unlikely propaganda created by political activists and hacks such as Phil Jones? Do you think that they will promise us that they will be more careful in the future and avoid this kind of hype? If you do, you haven't understood what religious bigotry and special interests really mean. Most of these people are either lunatics who pay no attention whatsoever to reality, the actual data, or serious science, or corrupt people who greatly benefit from this big-scale misinformation and propaganda.
I am beginning to formulate a theory about the life cycle of nations based on this kind of agenda-driven disregard for the truth which we see so clearly demonstrated by the global warming fundamentalists. Knowledge is the cumulative effort and duty of all the knowledge professionals in a society, from the scientists to the journalists, lawyers, and teachers. When a significant segment of a society's knowledge guardians become willing to disregard the truth for an ideology, the knowledge base of that society begins to crumble and weaken. Nations are always competing against one another, and the nations that accept reality as they find it, not as they want it to be, will have an advantage over those that do not. Resources are always scarce, and when we don't have a good understanding of reality, we will misallocate resources as a nation, just as economies do when they experience a speculative bubble such as the dot-com bubble of the late 90's. Our very civilization is at risk when we refuse to give reality its due. We must choose either our cherished ideology, or reality. Reality will win in the end - but it may be our children who suffer for it much more than we will. And we will.

Never mind, it's just the very foundation of our civilization that is at stake. It's not that important. Go back to whatever you were doing.