Friday, January 26, 2007

Evidence Against Climate Alarmism Builds

Climatologists are being pressured by politically motivated alarmists to paint the climate as a "catastrophe." An appearance of objectivity would lack the fanatic zeal that many political crusaders demand of climate spokespersons.

The recent "Stern Report" is a good example of an alarmist approach to "catastrophe-making." The upcoming IPCC "political report for policymakers" is another fascinating window into the political drivers behind climate catastrophism.

The general public can be excused for being duped by such dissimulation. The quality of schools has sagged badly in recent decades, leaving much of the public susceptible to blatant propaganda. People who claim to be scientists, engineers, and "science journalists" (an oxymoron?) have no such excuse.

Time is not on the side of the alarmists, so they must push rapidly for drastic and draconian policies to be put in place, to face a catastrophe of their own creation. Once the policies and massive, costly new institutions and regulations are in place, it will be virtually impossible to get rid of them--even after better science refutes the alarmist's assumptions and projections.

Then it will be too late. So we must all bend over now, and let the propagandists in the media and politicized institutions of science and government do their worst. Hey! At least use some K-Y jelly, would you?


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Basic Concepts of Energy--Physics Lecture

It may be useful to provide a Physics review of basic energy concepts. Eventually, we will be covering some fairly technical developments in energy production and storage. This review may help some to follow along when things start moving very quickly.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Termites to the Rescue--Secrets of Cellulosic Ethanol and Butanol

Metagenomics is the clever art of stealing DNA from one species to use for the benefit of another--namely, us. Presently, humans need a good way to convert cellulose--from plant waste and prolific grasses and woods--into sugars for fermentation to useful alcohols such as butanol and ethanol. Termites have been hosting bacteria that perform that conversion for millions of years. Perhaps we could learn something from termite guts?
Scientists are sequencing the genomes of entire microbial communities in the hope of uncovering new genes and organisms that can create fuel, mine metals, or clean up superfund sites. Known as metagenomics, the field relies on studying bits of DNA from a variety of organisms that live in the same place. Thanks to ever-improving sequencing methods, the number of metagenome projects is growing, giving scientists myriad new genes to explore.

...Converting cellulose in trees and grasses into the simple sugars that can be fermented into ethanol is a very energy-intensive process. "If we had better enzymatic machinery to do that, we might be better able to make sugars into ethanol," Bristow says. "Termites are the world's best bioconverters."

Researchers at the Joint Genome Institute, which sequenced some of the human genome and is now largely devoted to metagenomics, have just finished sequencing the microbial community living in the termite gut. They have already identified a number of novel cellulases--the enzymes that break down cellulose into sugar--and are now looking at the guts of other insects that digest wood, such as an anaerobic population that eats poplar chips. The end result will be "basically a giant parts list that synthetic biologists can put together to make an ideal energy-producing organism," says Hugenholtz.

So you see, metagenomics may help to break the chokehold of petroleum on the modern global economic infrastructure. And much, much, more.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Crude Oil Too Thick? Zap It With Cold Electron Crackers!

Cold cracking uses beams of high-energy electrons to transform the thick parts of crude oil into oils, gasoline, and other petroleum products thin enough to pump through a pipeline. The question is whether a conservative, capital-intensive oil industry will buy the idea. To hear Brainerd tell it, refining could certainly use something like it. A lot of new oil fields have oil that’s too thick to pump, and that’s a shame, because there’s so much of the stuff. There are an estimated 2.5 trillion barrels of ultrathick oil locked up in the sands of Alberta, Canada, alone.

Cold cracking will have to be significantly better than traditional cracking practices to get the oil industry to adopt it. Accelerating electrons to suitable energies is not a process the chemical engineers in the industry have perfected or grown comfortable with.

For more information consult this literature review on cold cracking.
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