environment (35)

Black Silicon...

12360303470?profile=RESIZE_710x

Fluorine gas etches the surface of silicon into a series of angular peaks that, when viewed with a powerful microscope, look much like the pyramid pattern in the sound-proofing foam shown above. Researchers at PPPL have now modeled how these peaks form in silicon, creating a material that is highly light absorbent. Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Topics: Energy, Environment, Materials Science, Nanomaterials, Solar Power

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have developed a new theoretical model explaining one way to make black silicon, an important material used in solar cells, light sensors, antibacterial surfaces, and many other applications.

Black silicon is made when the surface of regular silicon is etched to produce tiny nanoscale pits on the surface. These pits change the color of the silicon from gray to black and, critically, trap more light, an essential feature of efficient solar cells.

While there are many ways to make black silicon, including some that use the charged, fourth state of matter known as plasma, the new model focuses on a process that uses only fluorine gas. PPPL Postdoctoral Research Associate Yuri Barsukov said the choice to focus on fluorine was intentional: The team at PPPL wanted to fill a gap in publicly available research. While some papers have been published about the role of charged particles called ions in the production of black silicon, not much has been published about the role of neutral substances, such as fluorine gas.

"We now know—with great specificity—the mechanisms that cause these pits to form when fluorine gas is used," said Barsukov, one of the authors of a new paper about the work, appearing in the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A.

"This kind of information, published publicly and openly available, benefits us all, whether we pursue further knowledge into the basic knowledge that underlines such processes or we seek to improve manufacturing processes," Barsukov added.

How black silicon, a prized material used in solar cells, gets its dark, rough edge, Rachel Kremen, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Read more…

Everything, Everywhere, All at Once...

12287926495?profile=RESIZE_710x

The Flood by Antonio Marziale Carracci

Topics: Civilization, Climate Change, Energy, Environment, Existentialism, Global Warming

Another week, another catastrophic, record-setting, history-making flood, this time in Kentucky.

Preliminary assessments indicate rainfall in Graves County last week likely set a new record for most precipitation in a 24-hour period, with 11.28 inches of rain. This would make it yet another “1,000-year” flood event, which had, according to historical projections, less than a 0.1 percent chance of occurring in any given year. One of the towns that experienced flash flooding was Mayfield, a community still rebuilding from a 2021 tornado that killed 57 people.

This was just one of the 11 flash flood emergencies in as many days in the United States, according to Weather Channel meteorologist Heather Zons. These events have claimed multiple lives: 2-year-old Mattie Shiels, 9-month-old brother, Conrad, and their mother, Katie Seley drowned after getting swept away by flash flooding in Pennsylvania, during an event that killed at least four others. In New York earlier this month, 43-year-old Pamela Nugent was swept away trying to evacuate a flooded area; 63-year-old Stephen Davoll drowned in his home in Vermont.

Other catastrophic, deadly flooding events have occurred almost simultaneously around the globe. Just this weekend, 10 inches of rain fell on parts of Nova Scotia, Canada, which is about as much as the region experiences over a period of three months. Four people, including two children, are still missing.

Everything, everywhere, all at once: The great floods of 2023, Jessica McKenzie, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July 27, 2023

Read more…

Bitcoin and Gaia...

12271621897?profile=RESIZE_710x

"What are the environmental impacts of cryptocurrency?" Written by Paul Kim; edited by Jasmine Suarez Mar 17, 2022, 5:21 PM EDT, Business Insider.

 Image: Ethereum, the second biggest cryptocurrency on the market, plans on changing to proof of stake mining in the future. Rachel Mendelson/Insider

 

Topics: Applied Physics, Computer Science, Cryptography, Economics, Environment, Star Trek, Thermodynamics

In what is now “old school Internet” (or web surfing for fogies), I will get a friend request from someone on Facebook/Meta who is in cryptocurrency. I quote myself in the first paragraph of what I refer to as my “public service announcement):

I am not INTERESTED in crypto. As someone who worked with cryptography as a matter of national security, holding a TS/SCI clearance, when you start your message with “let me explain to YOU how crypto works,” expect to get blocked.

Invariably, I still do, which makes me wonder if they read the PSA or think “they will be the one” to sign me. News flash, pilgrim...I now have another pertinent reason to ignore your blockchain solicitations, actually, several good reasons.

Every time we turn on a light in our homes, there is a thermal budget that we are being charged for (that's how Duke Power makes its money in North Carolina and Perdernales Electric Cooperative in Texas). Bitcoin/Blockchain (I think) caught the imagination because it seemed like a "Federation Credit" from Star Trek, where no one explains fully how a society that is "post-scarcity" somehow feels the need for some type of currency in utopia. It's kind of like magic carpets: you go with the bit for the story - warp drive, Heisenberg compensators, Federation credits. The story, and if you are thoroughly entertained after the denouement, not the physics, is what matters.

You might not be extracting anything from the planet directly, but Bitcoin mining has a massive impact on the planet’s environment.

Mining resources from our planet can take a devastating toll on the environment, both local and global. Even beyond this, using the resource could cause disastrous effects on our planet, and dependence on a single resource can wreak havoc on a country’s economy. Yet, many of these resources are needed for our daily lives -- sometimes as a luxury, sometimes as a necessity. Any responsible country or company should always take pause to consider what impact mining of any kind can have on the planet.

It turns out that these days, one type of mining might be the worst for Earth’s environment: bitcoins. Yes, the “mining” of virtual currency makes its mark on our planet. The unequal distribution of Bitcoin mining across the globe means that some countries are making a much larger dent into the planet’s climate and environment than others ... all for a “resource” that is far from necessary for our society.

Bitcoin mining uses a lot of computing power to solve the cryptographic puzzles that lie at the heart of the industry. As of today (October 30, 2023), each Bitcoin is worth over $34,000, and with the multitude of other cryptocoins out there, using computers to unlock more can be a profitable endeavor. Almost half a trillion dollars of the global economy runs on these “virtual currencies.”

Worst Kind of Mining for the Environment? It Might Be Bitcoin. Erik Klemetti, Discover Magazine

 

Read more…

Polluting the Pristine...

12222728900?profile=RESIZE_584x

The sea floor near Australia’s Casey station in Antarctica has been found to have levels of pollution comparable to those in Rio de Janeiro’s harbor. Credit: Torsten Blackwood/AFP via Getty

Topics: Antarctica, Biology, Chemistry, Environment, Physics, Research

Antarctica is often described as one of the most pristine places in the world, but it has a dirty secret. Parts of the sea floor near Australia’s Casey research station are as polluted as the harbor in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, according to a study published in PLoS ONE in August.

The contamination is likely to be widespread across Antarctica’s older research stations, says study co-author Jonathan Stark, a marine ecologist at the Australian Antarctic Division in Hobart. “These contaminants accumulate over long time frames and don’t just go away,” he says.

Stark and his colleagues found high concentrations of hydrocarbons — compounds found in fuels — and heavy metals, such as lead, copper, and zinc. Many of the samples were also loaded with polychlorinated biphenyls, highly carcinogenic chemical compounds that were common before their international ban in 2001.

When the researchers compared some of the samples with data from the World Harbor Project — an international collaboration that tracks large urban waterways — they found that lead, copper, and zinc levels in some cases were similar to those seen in parts of Sydney Harbour and Rio de Janeiro over the past two decades.

Widespread pollution

The problem of pollution is not unique to Casey station, says Ceisha Poirot, manager of policy, environment, and safety at Antarctica New Zealand in Christchurch. “All national programs are dealing with this issue,” she says. At New Zealand’s Scott Base — which is being redeveloped — contamination left from past fuel spills and poor waste management has been detected in soil and marine sediments. More of this historical pollution will emerge as the climate warms, says Poirot. “Things that were once frozen in the soil are now becoming more mobile,” she says.

Most of Antarctica’s contamination is due to historically poor waste management. In the old days, waste was often just dumped a small distance from research stations, says Terence Palmer, a marine scientist at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi.

Research stations started to get serious about cleaning up their act in 1991. In that year, an international agreement known as the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, or the Madrid Protocol, was adopted. This designated Antarctica as a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science,” and directed nations to monitor environmental impacts related to their activities. But much of the damage had already been done — roughly two-thirds of Antarctic research stations were built before 1991.

Antarctic research stations have polluted a pristine wilderness, Gemma Conroy, Nature.

Read more…

Grappling With Waste...

12127576500?profile=RESIZE_710x

The underground Onkalo repository in Finland is designed to safely and permanently store hazardous, radioactive waste. Credit: Posiva

Topics: Environment, High Energy Physics, Nuclear Power

Finland and the former Yugoslavia adopted nuclear energy only four years apart. In 1971 Finland began construction of its first nuclear plant, Loviisa, and the first of two planned reactors went into commercial operation in 1977. Yugoslavia started building the Krško plant in 1975. In the 1980s, both countries acknowledged the need for a long-term nuclear waste management strategy and started making plans for permanent disposal repositories.

Fast-forward four decades, and Finland is on the verge of becoming the world’s first country to achieve permanent deep geological disposal for spent nuclear fuel, the highly radioactive waste that contains uranium, plutonium, fission products, and other heavy elements. Meanwhile, the fate of the spent fuel generated at Krško, which is jointly owned by former Yugoslavian republics Croatia and Slovenia, is still very much unknown. Both countries have yet to get a handle on even low-level radioactive waste, including contaminated clothes and water filters, which is slowly overwhelming storage facilities and threatening to halt plant operations.

The US has long struggled to find a final resting place for its nuclear waste, to the point that it is now spending billions of dollars to reimburse plant operators for the costs of storing spent fuel. The dramatically different outcomes of Finland and Croatia’s lengthy searches for permanent nuclear waste solutions are reflections of the varied ways in which this long-standing worldwide problem is being tackled by the nations of the European Union. Whereas Finland, Sweden, and France are expected to open permanent underground spent-fuel repositories by the early 2030s, 12 other nuclear EU countries are far behind, planning to open deep geological disposal facilities sometime between the 2040s and the 2100s. According to a 2019 European Commission report on the implementation of its nuclear waste directive, only a few of those nations have made progress in selecting a site.

European Union nations grapple with nuclear waste storage, Vedrana Simičević, Physics Today.

Read more…

Grim Reaper...

11158224883?profile=RESIZE_400x

This map predicts how air pollution with fine particles will be in the future - according to Ulas Im's computer simulation. The blue-colored areas show where the pollution is worst. Green is a little better, and yellow means almost no pollution. Credit: Journal for Environmental Research

Topics: Civilization, Environment, Existentialism

For many years now, we have known that air pollution is bad for our health. For example, American researchers have found that you have a 20% higher risk of dying prematurely if you live next to a big road.

In recent years, many countries—especially Western countries—have spent time and effort to come up with solutions to reduce air pollution. Particle filters and phasing out the use of the most polluting energy sources have helped. In Denmark, emissions of fine particles have been reduced by 48% since 1990.

But despite this progress, [even] more people will die prematurely from particulate air pollution in the future, according to model calculations performed by Ulas Im, Department of Environmental Science at Aarhus University, in collaboration with NASA.

The study is published in the journal Environmental Research.

[Together], Im and NASA have developed a global model for air pollution that includes climate change, particle emission reduction measures, and changes in population composition. The model depicts a bleak future, especially for the countries in Asia.

"Even if they reduce air pollution significantly in Asia, the mortality rate will still be high. This is because their populations are aging. And you become more vulnerable to pollution with age," Ulas Im says.

Extremely complicated calculations

Ulas Im from Aarhus University and NASA have come together in this project because both institutions have unique technology that—if combined—offers entirely new possibilities and perspectives.

The NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York has one of the most advanced climate models in the world, and Aarhus University has one of the best computer models for how air pollution affects human health.

By creating a hybrid of the two models and running the new model through Aarhus University's supercomputer, Ulas Im and his partners from NASA could create three scenarios for how air pollution will affect human health in the future.

"We fed the model with three different scenarios: one in which most of the world continues to regulate and try to limit air pollution; one in which we do even more than we do today; and finally, one in which we do less," he says.

But even in the most optimistic of the three scenarios, the result turned out to be bleak, especially for Asia.

"Although China has done much to reduce air pollution in recent decades, air pollution will have a dire impact in the future, even if they step up their efforts. This is because of their aging population. A greater share of the population will simply be more vulnerable," he says.

A Danish researcher and NASA predict how many people will die from air pollution in the future, Jeppe Kyhne Knudsen, Aarhus University, Phys.org.

Read more…

Nano Sanitizer...

11148626858?profile=RESIZE_584x

The disinfectant powder is stirred in bacteria-contaminated water (upper left). The mixture is exposed to sunlight, which rapidly kills all the bacteria (upper right). A magnet collects the metallic powder after disinfection (lower right). The powder is then reloaded into another beaker of contaminated water, and the disinfection process is repeated (lower left). (Image credit: Tong Wu/Stanford University)

Topics: Biology, Chemistry, Environment, Materials Science, Nanotechnology

When exposed to sunlight, a low-cost, recyclable powder can kill thousands of waterborne bacteria per second. Stanford and SLAC scientists say the ultrafast disinfectant could be a revolutionary advance for 2 billion people worldwide without access to safe drinking water.

At least 2 billion people worldwide routinely drink water contaminated with disease-causing microbes.

Now, scientists at Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have invented a low-cost, recyclable powder that kills thousands of waterborne bacteria per second when exposed to ordinary sunlight. According to the Stanford and SLAC team, the discovery of this ultrafast disinfectant could be a significant advance for nearly 30 percent of the world’s population with no access to safe drinking water. Their results are published in a May 18 study in Nature Water.

“Waterborne diseases are responsible for 2 million deaths annually, the majority in children under the age of 5,” said study co-lead author Tong Wu, a former postdoctoral scholar of materials science and engineering (MSE) at the Stanford School of Engineering. “We believe that our novel technology will facilitate revolutionary changes in water disinfection and inspire more innovations in this exciting interdisciplinary field.”

Conventional water-treatment technologies include chemicals, which can produce toxic byproducts, and ultraviolet light, which takes a relatively long time to disinfect and requires a source of electricity.

The new disinfectant developed at Stanford is a harmless metallic powder that works by absorbing both UV and high-energy visible light from the sun. The powder consists of nano-size flakes of aluminum oxide, molybdenum sulfide, copper, and iron oxide.

“We only used a tiny amount of these materials,” said senior author Yi Cui, the Fortinet Founders Professor of MSE and of Energy Science & Engineering in the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability. “The materials are low cost and fairly abundant. The key innovation is that, when immersed in water, they all function together.”

New nontoxic powder uses sunlight to quickly disinfect contaminated drinking water, Mark Shwartz, Stanford News.

Read more…

Solar...

11148143690?profile=RESIZE_710x

The LRESE parabolic dish: the solar reactor converts solar energy to hydrogen with an efficiency of more than 20%, producing around 0.5 kg of "green" hydrogen per day. (Courtesy: LRESE EPFL)

Topics: Applied Physics, Energy, Environment, Research, Solar Power

A new solar-radiation-concentrating device produces “green” hydrogen at a rate of more than 2 kilowatts while maintaining efficiencies above 20%. The pilot-scale device, which is already operational under real sunlight conditions, also produces usable heat and oxygen, and its developers at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland say it could be commercialized in the near future.

The new system sits on a concrete foundation on the EPFL campus and consists of a parabolic dish seven meters in diameter. This dish collects sunlight over a total area of 38.5 m2, concentrates it by a factor of about 1000, and directs it onto a reactor that comprises both photovoltaic and electrolysis components. Energy from the concentrated sunlight generates electron-hole pairs in the photovoltaic material, which the system then separates and transports to the integrated electrolysis system. Here, the energy is used to “split” water pumped through the system at an optimal rate, producing oxygen and hydrogen.

Putting it together at scale

Each of these processes has, of course, been demonstrated before. Indeed, the new EPFL system, which is described in Nature Energy, builds on previous research from 2019, when the EPFL team demonstrated the same concept at a laboratory scale using a high-flux solar simulator. However, the new reactor’s solar-to-hydrogen efficiency and hydrogen production rate of around 0.5 kg per day is unprecedented in large-scale devices. The reactor also produces usable heat at a temperature of 70°C.

The versatility of the new system forms a big part of its commercial appeal, says Sophia Haussener, who leads the EPFL’s Laboratory of Renewable Energy Science and Engineering (LRESE). “This co-generation system could be used in industrial applications such as metal processing and fertilizer manufacturing,” Haussener tells Physics World. “It could also be used to produce oxygen for use in hospitals and hydrogen for fuels cells in electric vehicles, as well as heat in residential settings for heating water. The hydrogen produced could also be converted to electricity after being stored between days or even inter-seasonally.”

Concentrated solar reactor generates unprecedented amounts of hydrogen, Isabelle Dumé, Physics World.

Read more…

Mice, Men, and Nanoparticles...

11031963087?profile=RESIZE_710x

Graphical abstract. Credit: Nanomaterials (2023). DOI: 10.3390/nano13081404

Topics: Biology, Environment, Nanomaterials, Nanotechnology

Among the biggest environmental problems of our time, micro- and nanoplastic particles (MNPs) can enter the body in various ways, including through food. And now, for the first time, research conducted at MedUni Vienna has shown how these minute particles manage to breach the blood-brain barrier and, consequently, penetrate the brain. The newly discovered mechanism provides the basis for further research to protect humans and the environment.

Published in the journal Nanomaterials, the study was carried out in an animal model with oral administration of MNPs, in this case, polystyrene, a widely-used plastic found in food packaging. Led by Lukas Kenner (Department of Pathology at MedUni Vienna and Department of Laboratory Animal Pathology at Vetmeduni) and Oldamur Hollóczki (Department of Physical Chemistry, University of Debrecen, Hungary), the research team was able to determine that tiny polystyrene particles could be detected in the brain just two hours after ingestion.

The mechanism that enabled them to breach the blood-brain barrier was previously unknown to medical science. "With the help of computer models, we discovered that a certain surface structure (biomolecular corona) was crucial in enabling plastic particles to pass into the brain," Oldamur Hollóczki explained.

Study shows how tiny plastic particles manage to breach the blood-brain barrier, Medical University of Vienna, Phys.org

Read more…

Catalysis and Energy Savings…

11024141267?profile=RESIZE_710x

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Topics: Chemistry, Computer Modeling, Environment, Materials Science

In an advance, they consider a breakthrough in computational chemistry research. University of Wisconsin–Madison chemical engineers have developed a model of how catalytic reactions work at the atomic scale. This understanding could allow engineers and chemists to develop more efficient catalysts and tune industrial processes—potentially with enormous energy savings, given that 90% of the products we encounter in our lives are produced, at least partially, via catalysis.

Catalyst materials accelerate chemical reactions without undergoing changes themselves. They are critical for refining petroleum products and for manufacturing pharmaceuticals, plastics, food additives, fertilizers, green fuels, industrial chemicals, and much more.

Scientists and engineers have spent decades fine-tuning catalytic reactions—yet because it's currently impossible to directly observe those reactions at the extreme temperatures and pressures often involved in industrial-scale catalysis, they haven't known exactly what is taking place on the nano and atomic scales. This new research helps unravel that mystery with potentially major ramifications for the industry.

In fact, just three catalytic reactions—steam-methane reforming to produce hydrogen, ammonia synthesis to produce fertilizer, and methanol synthesis—use close to 10% of the world's energy.

"If you decrease the temperatures at which you have to run these reactions by only a few degrees, there will be an enormous decrease in the energy demand that we face as humanity today," says Manos Mavrikakis, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at UW–Madison who led the research. "By decreasing the energy needed to run all these processes, you are also decreasing their environmental footprint."

New atomic-scale understanding of catalysis could unlock massive energy savings, Jason Daley, University of Madison-Wisconson

Read more…

Innocence...

11022029255?profile=RESIZE_710x

Topics: African Americans, Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Climate Change, Democracy, Diversity in Science, Environment, Existentialism, Fascism, Global Warming, Human Rights

Trauma at 55

© April 3, 2023, the Griot Poet

 

Graduation day.

No child smiling because we

Lost Martin Thursday.

 

April is National Poetry Month. This photo of five-year-old me inspired my haiku about my kindergarten graduation. It should have been a happy day with parents in the audience.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on Thursday, April 4, 1968. Our graduation was scheduled for Friday at Bethlehem Community Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

All thirty-six students were blissfully unaware of the political earthquake that this was or that it had occurred. As we all aged, we probably learned of the death threats and the near assassination by a deranged woman at a book signing. We were unaware of the "Missiles of October" in 1962, barely scratching the planet's surface or taking our first steps before potential Armageddon. Medgar Evers was assassinated in Mississippi in June of 1963, and President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in November of the same year in Dallas when we were a little over a year old. Brother Malcolm was assassinated in February 1965 when we were almost three. I don't recall the University of Texas. Clock Tower shooting in 1966, but we were four then. My classmates, like me, probably heard a program on the local radio station, WAAA-AM, on Sundays from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, "Martin Luther King Speaks." At that time, the caveat was that he spoke, addressing his audience directly over AM, the complete analog of today's social media. What are now tapes or YouTube videos for later generations: it was him, alive, breathing, and speaking. Martin, then Robert F. Kennedy, June 6, the president's brother running for president, fell that year.

I recall my mother kissing me profusely, promising to be there for the graduation, and saying "I love you" repeatedly. I had no doubts about that.

I also remember my father's eyes: red with bloodshot, dried tears on his cheeks. To that point in my brief existence, the thought of him crying was alien, foreign.

The kindergarten teachers sat us down. We assumed to prepare us for the costumes we would wear – white shorts, shirts, and bow ties for the boys, and skirts for the girls.

"Children, Dr. Martin Luther King was shot yesterday and died."

Stunned silence.

I am on the front row, the photo's first student on the left. The eighth student on that row is a girl who I recall having a crush on: she has her right knee pointing towards her left leg. She would break the silence before our ceremony with an ear-piercing screech, repetitive, inconsolable grief beyond her years, perhaps mimicked from a funeral. We all knew what "died" meant. In some form or fashion, by five, you have lost beloved pets or relatives that you never thought would leave the Earth.

The seed from her grief cascaded through the graduates like a malignant vine. The time was 9:00. We cried for two hours, during which someone with a pickup truck, a rebel flag flying, drove through the parking lot, yelling over and over so our young ears and teachers could hear him, "Martin Luther Coon's dead! Yahoo! The South will rise again!"

I lay on the linoleum, palm heels in my eye sockets, wailing my [own] notes. The teachers were crying with us, trying to console themselves and us, allowing us our grief. We went down for a nap at 11:00. Perhaps our teachers did too.

We went out for a brief recess, probably to clear the fog from our brains, but as I recall, we moved like zombies, with no one on the seesaw, children sitting, staring numbly on the swings, and no action on the monkey bars. Then we went in and got dressed.

Our parents would be there at 1:30 pm. I have described why not a single child graduating in the photo was smiling. Staring at my unsmiling, well, forced smiling parents, I remember this poignant thought post-grief beyond my brief years:

 

"We're not kids anymore!"

We would all start first grade in the fall without him.

I hugged my big sister tightly that evening, a student activist in the Civil Rights Movement attending Winston-Salem State University, because I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, what "died" meant.

*****

Devolution

(Post-Cold War and 9/11)

© April 4, 2023, the Griot Poet

 

I did duck-and-hide

Drills, kids as cold warriors:

Now, active shooter.

 

My employer hosted an Active Shooter/Stop the Bleeding training at my facility on probably the most insensitive date they could pick on the calendar: the 55th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King. As the first haiku eludes, time does not heal trauma. For the first half, both instructors had experience in law enforcement and the military. The second set of three instructors from a local trauma center featured a combat medic, who taught us through a cadaver dummy to stuff gauze from a "stop the bleeding kit" (there is a website to order directly).

I participated in the class vigorously to fight the "sugar crash" from the doughnuts offered.

We saw a lot of videos, one featuring the shooter in the Naval Shipyards gun massacre. The other was the bodycam video from the recent incident in Tennessee at a Christian School where three adults in their early sixties (around my same age) and three nine-year-old children were sacrificed on the altar of American Moloch. The original intent of particularly white evangelical Christian schools was to protect the "innocence" of their children from sitting next to someone like me. Somehow "thoughts and prayers" for a Christian school, no doubt inspired by Brown vs. Board of Education being actualized in the South, seemed oxymoronic.

"Duck-and-hide," or more accurately, duck-and-cover, where drills were part of civilian preparedness in the event World War Three spontaneously broke out. They gave us manuals we should read (I still have mine). The teachers and manual said that getting under the desk was the best way to survive the nuclear fallout if you were not the center of the blast radius. Preconscious and curious, my parents had bought the complete volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Internet of its day. Foreshadowing my eventual STEM majors in Engineering Physics, Microelectronics, and Nanoengineering, I read the "Nu" volume on nuclear weapons. I sadly concluded after my research that the drills were government-sanctioned gaslighting, a word I now use. The word I used then is a two-syllable word with the popular abbreviation "B.S." Plutonium 239, the ore of choice for thermonuclear weapons, has a half-life of 24,100 years, meaning that it would be half as radioactive in about 24 millennia. This drill wasn't to save lives but to reduce panicked stampeding that, I admit, would help no one. The official nuclear doctrine of deterrence is M.A.D.: mutually assured destruction. We'll see if Russia in Ukraine remembers this at all.

The United States has been in some war 93% of the time from 1775 (before its existence) to 2018. This factum is according to Smithsonian Magazine. The article's caveat is how to interpret "war": declared congressionally, unilaterally by the executive, or (in my opinion) upon one's citizens.

I will attend my precocious granddaughter's fourth birthday party this National Poetry Month. She is one year younger than my five-year-old image. After getting her a "Dr. McStuffin's Medical Kit" for Christmas, she immediately assigned herself as her grandparents' doctor. She even does televisits when we chat on Google Hangout.

Yet she grows up in a world of the continuous threat of Armageddon. Add to that designed scarcity, economic Disaster Capitalism cum neoliberalism, rising global temperatures, and active shooter training when she starts kindergarten in the fall, minus the "stop the bleeding kits," even with her Dr. McStuffin credentials. Because of the malaise of government and gun lobbyists, we've reduced her citizenry to becoming a combat medic in the future, whether she wants to or not.

I bought a "stop the bleeding" kit. It should be here before Easter.

"We're not kids anymore!"

None of us are.

 

 

Read more…

Zombie CFCs...

11021613101?profile=RESIZE_584x

Researchers detected a surprising rise in levels of chlorofluorocarbons between 2010 and 2020 using a monitoring network that includes the Jungfraujoch research station in Switzerland. Credit: Shutterstock

 Topics: Chemistry, Civilization, Climate Change, Environment, Global Warming

From my resume: "I eliminated ozone-depleting materials using Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) and Taguchi Methods of Quality Engineering - using an L16 Orthogonal Array - in the Poly Silicon etch substituting out CFCs in manufacturing processes." How I did it: I substituted our CFC with Sulfur Hexafluoride and Nitrogen (SF6/N2). On the negative photoresist product, the CFC over-etch was 50 seconds. For the positive photoresist, CFC had a 25-second process. I was able to reduce each product line to two seconds, increasing throughput, and the process increased die yields. It is possible to balance the positive impact of product improvement and the environment. I did it in the 90s, so the following report is disappointing.

*****

The Montreal Protocol, which banned most uses of ozone-destroying chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and called for their global phase-out by 2010, has been a great success story: Earth’s ozone layer is projected to recover by the 2060s.

So atmospheric chemists were surprised to see a troubling signal in recent data. They found that the levels of five CFCs rose rapidly in the atmosphere from 2010 to 2020. Their results are published today in Nature Geoscience1.

“This shouldn’t be happening,” says Martin Vollmer, an atmospheric chemist at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology in Dübendorf, who helped to analyze data from an international network of CFC monitors. “We expect the opposite trend. We expect them to slowly go down.”

At current levels, these CFCs do not pose much threat to the ozone layer’s healing, said Luke Western, a chemist at the University of Bristol, UK, at an online press conference on 30 March. CFCs, once used as refrigerants and aerosols, can persist in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. Given that they are potent greenhouse gases, eliminating emissions of these CFCs will also have a positive impact on Earth’s climate. The collective annual warming effect of these five chemicals on the planet is equivalent to the emissions produced by a small country like Switzerland.

It’s highly likely that manufacturing plants are accidentally releasing three of the chemicals — CFC-113a, CFC-114a, and CFC-115 — while producing replacements for CFCs. When CFCs were phased out, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) were brought in as substitutes. But CFCs can crop up as unintended by-products during HFC manufacture. This accidental production is discouraged by the Montreal Protocol but not prohibited by it.

‘This shouldn’t be happening: levels of banned CFCs rising, Katherine Bourzac, Nature

Read more…

Less Than A Decade...

11000666079?profile=RESIZE_710x

Hoesung Lee, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, speaking at the global climate talks on Nov. 6 in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. Credit...Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Topics: Climate Change, Democracy, Environment, Existentialism

A new report says it is still possible to hold global warming to relatively safe levels, but doing so will require global cooperation, billions of dollars, and big changes.

Earth is likely to cross a critical threshold for global warming within the next decade, and nations will need to make an immediate and drastic shift away from fossil fuels to prevent the planet from overheating dangerously beyond that level, according to a major new report released on Monday.

The report, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of experts convened by the United Nations, offers the most comprehensive understanding to date of ways in which the planet is changing. It says that global average temperatures are estimated to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels sometime around “the first half of the 2030s” as humans continue to burn coal, oil, and natural gas.

That number holds a special significance in global climate politics: Under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, virtually every nation agreed to “pursue efforts” to hold global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Beyond that point, scientists say, the impacts of catastrophic heat waves, flooding, drought, crop failures, and species extinction become significantly harder for humanity to handle.

But Earth has already warmed an average of 1.1 degrees Celsius since the industrial age, and with global fossil-fuel emissions setting records last year, that goal is quickly slipping out of reach.

There is still one last chance to shift course, the new report says. But it would require industrialized nations to join together immediately to slash greenhouse gases roughly in half by 2030 and then stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere altogether by the early 2050s. If those two steps were taken, the world would have about a 50 percent chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Delays of even a few years would most likely make that goal unattainable, guaranteeing a hotter, more perilous future.

“The pace and scale of what has been done so far and current plans are insufficient to tackle climate change,” said Hoesung Lee, the chair of the climate panel. “We are walking when we should be sprinting.”

World Has Less Than a Decade to Stop Catastrophic Warming, U.N. Panel Says, Brad Plumer, New York Times

Read more…

Apocalypse Now...

10995373062?profile=RESIZE_710x

Judge Royce Lambert said Jacob Chansley's role as a leader among those who went into the Senate chamber and disrupted the electoral vote tally compelled a serious prison sentence. | Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images | Politico

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, COVID-19, Environment, Existentialism, Fascism

Note: The title of this post is from the famous movie Apocalypse Now, which was popular during my senior year in high school.

Nathaniel P. Grimes is a Theologian, someone who "dedicates her or his life to the scholastic vocation of seeking after knowledge of God and the things of God." In other words, graduate school. Dr. Grimes published a paper that I feel should have gotten much more traction and explains the abject lunacy on the right: "The Racial Ideology of Rapture." In it, he posits that the viewpoint was not scriptural; it was political, as in an existential crisis for a South who had brainwashed themselves after losing the Civil War, or more aptly, mass cognitive dissonance before Leon Festinger.

Cognitive dissonance was first investigated by Leon Festinger, arising out of a participant observation study of a cult that believed that the earth was going to be destroyed by a flood, and what happened to its members — particularly the really committed ones who had given up their homes and jobs to work for the cult — when the flood did not happen.

While fringe members were more inclined to recognize that they had made fools of themselves and to “put it down to experience,” committed members were more likely to re-interpret the evidence to show that they were right all along (the earth was not destroyed because of the faithfulness of the cult members). Source: Simply Psychology

They lost the Civil War after Chief Justice Taney spouted the worst Supreme Court decision to Dred Scott that a black man "has no rights that a white man should respect." The institution of slavery, whether they owned any or not, meant that due to a lack of Melanin, the so-called "white" peasantry was magically "superior" to enslaved Africans. They didn't have to do anything to be superior. The society was exquisitely designed to reinforce the claptrap in the science of the day and from the pulpit that, upon further examination, was the framework for pseudoscience. As formerly enslaved Africans began running for office, gaining property, and establishing successful townships, [for] the psyche of the southern poor who risked life and limb to defend plantation oligarchs' ownership of other humans was an existential crisis. If the "whites" were not "superior," then what were they? The surviving confederate soldiers and their descendants got the battle ensign of Robert E. Lee (popularly, but inaccurately, the flag of the insurrectionist Confederacy) and shell shock.

The plantation oligarchs got reparations from the US government, the foundation for generational wealth passed down to their posterity. Equally, the descendants of potentates and peasants are hellbent on "conserving" the sadistic societal status quo.

Anglo-Futurism

John Nelson Darby was the "OG" of dispensationalism eschatology, or epochs in which humanity would be judged and punished, similar to the plagues of the Old Testament. John Scofield was a Confederate deserter (a broken clock can be right once or twice). After a conversion experience, he began writing dispensationalist literature, Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, the foundation for the Dallas Seminary, and his Scofield's Reference Bible, which many trained theologians used during their graduate studies. His 1917 reference Bible referenced Genesis 9 as a "prophetic declaration" that "Ham will descend an inferior and servile posterity," probably the fanciest way I've seen someone use the n-word without using the n-word. Scofield's reputation was built on an "anti-black, anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish theology." Moody followed in his footsteps, as his vision of a "perfect, raptured Heaven" was of "the Scotsman, the Englishman, the Frenchman, the German, the Italian, the Russian": all those who "hungered after righteousness." It was White-topia before Levittown.

Rapture was the escape hatch from Reconstruction and the previously enslaved Africans, newly by the 14th Amendment African Americans, to gain genuine electoral power and some property. The paper mentioned a diagram of the Earth's population in 1886 that I've seen in various forms. This was surrounding the International Prophetic Conference, showing the population of the world to premillennialists as "white squares" and "black squares," the noir geometry representing "Jews, Catholics, Mohammedans, and Heathens."

On page 219 of the paper: "in order to hasten Christ's coming, **the conditions here on earth must decline dramatically.** So they chose to pull back from social reform not only because the conversion was deemed more important but because reform itself 'delayed the Second Coming and deluded those who would be converted."

"Conditions on earth must decline dramatically": like climate change? Diversity, equity, and inclusions? Income inequality? Debt ceiling default? Social justice and police reform? Elections in a federal republic? Governing? Bodily autonomy for women, the transgender? What's the reserve against prosecuting wars all over the globe? We relocated the US Embassy to Jerusalem in the last administration. The current administration hasn't moved it back since there's a sizeable percentage of the electorate that wants to hurry apocalypse like it's a "GI Joe: Real American Hero" Saturday morning cartoon where we do battle with Cobra, lasers blasting, and no one really wounded or dying. If premillennialists apparently had the "mess up the room, so the parent shows up" theory of the Second Coming, their descendants still have it. There will definitely be a "new Heaven and a new Earth" as the first Heaven and first Earth (the current one) passes away (Revelation 21) after the throws of a nuclear exchange. Seas probably would dry up if they hadn't overflowed from melted poles causing rising tides or becoming so irradiated for thousands of years. Your favorite salmon, lobster, or tilapia would, from then on, be aquatic SPAM.

This attitude fuels one political party currently in charge of the House of Representatives. The "weaponization of the government" hearings are going about, as well as Jim Jordan was in not protecting his athletes from sexual assault. Dr. Barbara Rossing, author of "The Rapture Exposed," starts her first chapter with these words reminiscent of Smedley Butler: "The Rapture is a Racket." Throughout the book, she shows that basing our Middle East strategy on "clean up on aisle 5" is part of why there hasn't been a "two-state solution" in Israel/Palestine. "The conditions on earth must decline dramatically."

People like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr used the Bible, the fact that pastors essentially had confidential meeting halls, to motivate a nonviolent movement to change the country for the better: "I want to go to Heaven, but I want some shoes down here!" He practiced "here-and-now" ministry and left it for history and the universe to judge him.

Or, we can have the eschatology of the insane. We can have faux theists that follow a cruel, psychopathic nincompoop that they've built a graven image while a disturbed man parades the Capitol in buffalo horns, war paint, and buckskin. Like QAnon, the eschatology of the insane "rationalizes the fantastical" and makes a few insurrectionists chairs of a "weaponization of government" committee, ignoring the last administration when the weaponization occurred.

The idea of white supremacy rests simply on the “fact” that white men are the creators of civilization (the present civilization, which is the only one that matters; all previous civilizations are simply “contributions” to our own) and are, therefore, civilization’s guardians and defenders. Thus, it was impossible for Americans to accept the black man as one of themselves, for to do so was to jeopardize their status as “white” men. But not so to accept him was to deny his human reality, his human weight and complexity, and the strain of denying the overwhelmingly undeniable forced Americans into rationalizations so fantastic that they approached the pathological. – James Baldwin, “Notes of a Native Son.”

Very soon in the founding of a new nation, however, White Christians began to establish their well-being by using the resources, bodies, and lives of others. Through their own "witchcraft," European Christians employed a mysterious and threatening potency that was the practice of using the other for their own gain. In [James W.] Perkinson's description, through the projects of the modern Christian empire, "a witchery" of heretofore unimaginable potency ravaged African and aboriginal cultures...For Perkinson, the witchcraft of White supremacy was conjured through racial discourse as an ideological and practical framework that he identifies as the 'quintessential witchery of modernity.'... In Perkinson's chilling words, "Whiteness, under the veneer of its 'heavenly' pallor, is a great grinding witch tooth, sucking blood and tearing flesh without apology."

Excerpts: The Sin of White Supremacy: Christianity, Racism & Religious Diversity in America," by Jeanine Hill Fletcher, CH 2: The Witchcraft of White Supremacy, 47, 48.

Read more…

CEM and SEI...

10928839087?profile=RESIZE_710x

Panel A shows how the native SEI on Li metal is passivating to nitrogen, which means that no reactivity with Li metal is possible. Panel B shows that a proton donor like Ethanol will disrupt the SEI passivation and enable Li metal to react with nitrogen species. Panel C describes 3 potential mechanisms through which the proton donor can disrupt the SEI passivation. Credit: Steinberg et al.

Topics: Applied Physics, Battery, Chemistry, Climate Change, Environment

Ammonia (NH3), the chemical compound made of nitrogen and hydrogen, currently has many valuable uses, for instance, serving as a crop fertilizer, purifying agent, and refrigerant gas. In recent years, scientists have been exploring its potential as an energy carrier to reduce global carbon emissions and help tackle global warming.

Ammonia is produced via the Haber-Bosch process, a carbon-producing industrial chemical reaction that converts nitrogen and hydrogen into NH3. As this process is known to contribute heavily to global carbon emissions, electrifying ammonia synthesis would benefit our planet.

One of the most promising strategies for electrically synthesizing ammonia at ambient conditions is using lithium metal. However, some aspects of these processes, including the properties and role of lithium's passivation layer, known as the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI), remain poorly understood.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of California- Los Angeles (UCLA), and the California Institute of Technology have recently conducted a study closely examining the reactivity of lithium and its SEI, as this could enhance lithium-based pathways to electrically synthesize ammonia. Their observations, published in Nature Energy, were collected using a state-of-the-art imaging method known as cryogenic transmission electron microscopy.

Using cryogenic electron microscopy to study the lithium SEI during electrocatalysis, Ingrid Fadelli, Phys.org

Read more…

Death by Whataboutism...

10841146664?profile=RESIZE_710x

MODUS TROLLERANDI PART 2: WHATABOUTISM

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Climate Change, Environment, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

Nikolas Cruz was sentenced in the Parkland Shooting to life without the possibility of parole, torpedoing his request to die by the state executioner.

Alex Jones owes a bucketload of money to the Sandy Hook families who have had to endure his lies by grift of his gullible Internet followers, mocking the verdict in a dual screen that "good luck! Ain't no more money," while petitioning the rubes to go to his site.

The January 6th Committee held what was possibly its last hearing yesterday if past precedent favors republicans in the midterms (except for the unforced error of overturning Roe vs Wade, and the promise if given power, they will make it a nationwide ban). If Nancy Pelosi is Speaker after the elections, the committee issued a subpoena to Generalisimo Insurrectionist. He'll wage a pitched legal battle, raise a lot of money, and hope the other crimes he's guilty of in New York and Georgia don't wind him up in a jumpsuit to match his complexion.  Women are registering for the midterms in record numbers; the unrest in Iran over the "morality police" is a microcosm of a constituency fed up with octogenarians making rules for them.

The person at the center of the January 6th Committee's focus has established a cult of personality for his followers and personal convenience for his enablers. Despite the recordings of Kevin McCarthy expressing abject terror, despite his, Mitch McConnell's, and Lindsey Graham's castigation of him on the House and Senate floors, they read the political tea leaves, realizing the conspiratorial dragon they benefitted from through Reich Wing talk radio, television, websites is a Frankenstein beyond their control. They hope to ride the crazy wave to "power," which at this time means a position with little relation to actual governing power, and hope their violent followers don't retaliate on them if they pick up the wrong salad fork, or select the wrong channel with the remote control.

The person at the center of the January 6th Committee's focus still deludes himself into that he actually won the 2020 election, still denies the loss, confesses to crimes he committed in real-time, and foments open rebellion and uncivil war if he's ever held accountable for his brazenly committed, and admitted crimes. He now demands the return of classified documents he magically declassified by telepathy (not a thing), and that the government "planted them." If you can follow that, there will be a padded cell next to his.

I was not a fan of Seinfeld. The comedy took as its theme the play by William Shakespeare: "Much Ado About Nothing." Norman Lear comedies like "All in the Family," "Good Times," "The Jeffersons," and "One Day at a Time" would often veer into sensitive topics about things like gang violence, rape, racism, and misogyny. Jerry Seinfeld and the cast made a comedy about nothing for ten years. When the final curtain went down on the show, there was "weeping and gnashing of teeth" at my Motorola office in Austin, Texas. Even in syndication where I might see an episode or two, I still don't get the attraction.

The dark side of much ado about nothing is Whataboutism: nothing matters. It makes one's sense of history and strategy for the future be temporally bound by business quarters. It explains why we can't do anything about climate change, George W. Bush summed up the attitude in his thoughts about the future asked by Bob Woodward: "we'll all be dead." I used to think he was the worst president in my lifetime until kismet said "hold my beer." The Republican platform in 2020 was reduced to Seinfeld minimalism, and they don't have one in 2022, save recycled Gingrich jibberish. Sexually assaulting women; grabbing them by the genitals doesn't matter. Railing about the sanctity of the unborn never mattered according to Dana Deloach: she just wants power in the Senate, so Herschel Walker can speak word salad about promiscuous bulls all he wants (to the chagrin of Rick Scott and Tom Cotton) as long as they gain the majority. Winning is all that matters, principle never did. There were several hundred mass shootings before Nikolas Cruz. Alex Jones started his grift before the twenty-six victims were in Rigor Mortis. Donald Trump in "Art of the Deal" explained "truthful hyperbole":

“The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration—and a very effective form of promotion.”

“I Call It Truthful Hyperbole”: The Most Popular Quotes From Trump’s “The Art of the Deal”, Emily Price, Fast Company, April 4, 2017

In other words, brazen lying.

He played to people's fantasies that he was a successful businessman, despite six bankruptcies and being in hock up to his eyeballs to Deutsche Bank and the Russian Federation. He saw the reaction to the one and only black president and like a wolf, he pounced. He and his father were charged with violating the Fair Housing Act by the NIXON administration. Orly Taitz is a forgotten name and evidence education does not equate to intelligence. He took over the birther issue, poured kerosene, and lit a match. As Michael Cohen said, he never meant to win the election, it was a publicity stunt, which is why he had nothing he was passionate about to improve people's lives other than the rich like himself (richer than he since he's probably not on paper a billionaire). He could have repitched The Apprentice to NBC, still pulled down a check from the network, and still laundered money for Russian oligarchs, but no. Donny got out over his skis, got a taste of real power, and now like an 80s crack addict, can't get enough of it.

He's Pookie in [orange] face.

That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts.

It does hurt. It can kill a republic.

On the page where McHenry records the events of the last day of the convention, September 18, 1787, he wrote: “A lady asked Dr. Franklin Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy – A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it.” Then McHenry added: “The Lady here alluded to was Mrs. Powel of Philada.”

“A republic if you can keep it”: Elizabeth Willing Powel, Benjamin Franklin, and the James McHenry Journal
January 6, 2022, by Josh Levy, Library of Congress

44 "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” John 8:44-47

Read more…

Himalayas...

10840260696?profile=RESIZE_584x

The Shisper Glacier in April 2018, left, and April 2019, right. The surging ice blocked a river fed by a nearby glacier, forming a new lake. YALE ENVIRONMENT 360 / NASA

Topics: Civilization, Climate Change, Environment, Existentialism, Global Warming

Everything about Earth and the organization of human civilization is about the control of resources.

We’ve come up with arbitrary “rules” about who is worthy of those resources, and how much they can horde, or obtain. Pharaohs, priests, secret societies, and guilds all have “knowledge” they jealously guard, or it may be as simple as caste or color. Every society with billionaires, emperors, kings, oligarchs, potentates, and sheiks all have a designated group to blame for the ills of poor planning and sadistic resource management: indigenous, or imported servants by force, they are the easy go-to designated pariahs. It is a cynical way to get rich, but a poor method of species survival. A resource we all need, from billionaires to pariahs, is potable water to drink. Jackson, Mississippi is a foreshadowing of what we might expect.

This continual differentiation of mankind by caste, color, station, and monetary wealth has brought us to this rolling train wreck catastrophe. Climate refugees occurred in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Climate refugees occurred after the flooding in Pakistan. Climate refugees will occur in the aftermath of future superstorms. Lest we think ourselves immune, we may all be seeking higher ground, leaving homes and businesses for something we could have solved decades ago except for avarice.

The permafrost is melting, and that will release viruses that haven't seen the light of day for several millennia, and we have no vaccines for what will likely be carried on the wind and zoonotically transferred between animals and humans.

Starships are as real as magic carpets, genies, Yetis, and mermaids.

There is no “planet B,” life, or wealth on a nonfunctional planet.

Warmer air is thinning most of the vast mountain range’s glaciers, known as the Third Pole because they contain so much ice. The melting could have far-reaching consequences for flood risk and for water security for a billion people who rely on meltwater for their survival.

Spring came early this year in the high mountains of Gilgit-Baltistan, a remote border region of Pakistan. Record temperatures in March and April hastened melting of the Shisper Glacier, creating a lake that swelled and, on May 7, burst through an ice dam. A torrent of water and debris flooded the valley below, damaging fields and houses, wrecking two power plants and washing away parts of the highway and a bridge connecting Pakistan and China.

Pakistan’s climate change minister, Sherry Rehman, tweeted videos of the destruction and highlighted the vulnerability of a region with the largest number of glaciers outside the Earth’s poles. Why were these glaciers losing mass so quickly? Rehman put it succinctly. “High global temperatures,” she said.

Just over a decade, ago, relatively little was known about glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalayas, the vast ice mountains that run across Central and South Asia, from Afghanistan in the west to Myanmar in the east. But a step-up in research in the past 10 years — spurred in part by an embarrassing error in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 Fourth Assessment Report, which predicted that Himalayan glaciers could melt away by 2035 — has led to enormous strides in understanding.

Scientists now have data on almost every glacier in high-mountain Asia. They know “how these glaciers have changed not only in area but in mass during the last 20 years,” says Tobias Bolch, a glaciologist with the University of St Andrews in Scotland. He adds, “We also know much more about the processes which govern glacial melt. This information will give policymakers some instruments to really plan for the future.”

As Himalayan Glaciers Melt, a Water Crisis Looms in South Asia, VAISHNAVI CHANDRASHEKHAR, Yale Environment 360

Read more…

Solar Lilly Pads...

10832249652?profile=RESIZE_710x

A floating artificial leaf – which generates clean fuel from sunlight and water – on the River Cam near King's College Chapel in Cambridge, UK. (Courtesy: Virgil Andrei)

Topics: Climate Change, Energy, Environment, Materials Science, Solar Power

Leaf-like devices that are light enough to float on water could be used to generate fuel from solar farms located on open water sources. This avenue hasn’t been explored before, according to researchers from the University of Cambridge in the UK who developed them. The new devices are made from thin, flexible substrates and perovskite-based light-absorbing layers. Tests showed that they can produce either hydrogen or syngas (a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide) while floating on the River Cam.

Artificial leaves like these are a type of photoelectrochemical cell (PEC) that transforms sunlight into electrical energy or fuel by mimicking some aspects of photosynthesis, such as splitting water into its constituent oxygen and hydrogen. This differs from conventional photovoltaic cells, which convert light directly into electricity.

Because PEC artificial leaves contain both light harvesting and catalysis components in one compact device, they could, in principle, be used to produce fuel from sunlight cheaply and simply. The problem is that current techniques for making them can’t be scaled up. What is more, they are often composed of fragile and heavy bulk materials, which limits their use.

In 2019 a team of researchers led by Erwin Reisner developed an artificial leaf that produced syngas from sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water. This device contained two light absorbers and catalysts, but it also incorporated a thick glass substrate and coatings to protect against moisture, which made it cumbersome.

Floating artificial leaves could produce solar-generated fuel, Isabelle Dumé, Physics World

Read more…

Cellulose Shoes...

10785738078?profile=RESIZE_584x

Credit: Tom Mannion

Topics: Additive Manufacturing, Biology, Biotechnology, Environment, Genetics, Nanotechnology

For Hermes, the Greek god of speed, these bacterial sneakers would have been just the ticket. Modern Synthesis co-founders Jen Keane, CEO, and Ben Reeve, CTO, are now setting out to make them available to mere mortals, raising a $4.1 million investment to scale up production. Keane, a graduate from Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design in London, and synthetic biologist Reeve, then at Imperial College London, set up Modern Synthesis in 2020 to pursue ‘microbial weaving’.

Their goal is to produce a new class of material, a hybrid/composite that will replace animal- and petrochemical-made sneakers with a biodegradable, yet durable, alternative. The shoe's upper is made by bacteria that naturally produce nanocellulose—Komagataeibacter rhaeticus—and can be further genetically engineered to also self-dye by producing melanin for color.

The process begins with a two-dimensional yarn scaffold shaped by robotics, which the scientists submerge in a fermentation medium containing the cellulose-producing bacteria. The K. rhaeticus ‘weave’ the sneaker upper by depositing the biomaterial on the scaffold. Once the sheets emerge from their microbial baths, they are shaped on shoe lasts following traditional footwear techniques. “It’s more than the sum of its parts,” Reeves says of the biocomposite. “Initially the scaffold helps the bacteria grow, then the microbial yarn reinforces the material: it holds the scaffold together.” Once the shoe is made, it is sterilized and the bacteria are washed out.

Cellulose shoes made by bacteria, Lisa Melton, Nature Biotechnology

Read more…

Cooling Centers...

10740992291?profile=RESIZE_710x

Projected temperature change for mid-century (left) and end-of-century (right) in the United States under higher (top) and lower (bottom) emissions scenarios. The brackets on the thermometers represent the likely range of model projections, though lower or higher outcomes are possible. Source: USGCRP (2009)

Topics: Climate Change, Environment, Existentialism

The heat index in Jefferson County reached 105 degrees by noon Monday — and it’s only getting hotter.

More than 50 million Americans face scorching temperatures as a heatwave spreads over most of the country this week. Louisville could see heat indices as high as 115 degrees, putting many residents at risk of heat illnesses.

Every year, more than 600 people die from extreme heat. Dizziness, muscle cramps, and vomiting are telltale signs it’s time to cool down, according to Zach Harris, medical director of emergency services at Norton Hospital.

“If you’re so hot that you start to not feel good, that’s the right time to go inside or find some shade or some way to cool down,” Harris said.

Older adults, young children, and people with chronic illnesses are most at risk, but even healthy adults can experience heat-related illness, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cooling centers are open to help Louisville residents beat the heat, Michael J. Collins, 89.3 WFPL

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - The death toll from the devastating flooding in eastern Kentucky continues to rise.

Eastern Kentucky flood relief: Ways you can donate

Governor Andy Beshear confirmed Monday evening that the death toll has risen to at least 37. The governor says refrigerator trucks are serving as mobile morgues to hold bodies as they are flown to the medical examiner’s office in Frankfort.

4 siblings among dead in Kentucky flooding

Beshear says the number of missing is in the hundreds. He says Search and rescue crews are still running into areas where it’s difficult to get to.

Beshear says the flooding death toll has risen to at least 37, WKYT New Staff

Future temperature changes

We have already observed global warming over the last several decades. Future temperatures are expected to change further. Climate models project the following key temperature-related changes.

Key global projections

Increases in average global temperatures are expected to be within the range of 0.5°F to 8.6°F by 2100, with a likely increase of at least 2.7°F for all scenarios except the one representing the most aggressive mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.

Except under the most aggressive mitigation scenario studied, the global average temperature is expected to warm at least twice as much in the next 100 years as it has during the last 100 years.

Ground-level air temperatures are expected to continue to warm more rapidly over land than in oceans.

Some parts of the world are projected to see larger temperature increases than the global average.

Maybe like, Kentucky?

Future of Climate Change, EPA.gov

Read more…