Back to: Crib Sheet: Season of Skulls | Forward to: Same bullshit, new tin

The coming storm

(I should have posted this a couple of weeks ago ...)

2024 looks set to be a somewhat disruptive year.

Never mind the Summer Olympics in Paris; the big news is politics, where close to half the world's population get to vote in elections with a strong prospect of electing outright fascists.

Taiwan was first on 13th January, and elected Democratic People's Party incumbent Vice-President Vice President Lai Ching-te as President. I don't have enough understanding of Taiwanese politics to comment further other than to note that this outcome evinced displeased noises from Beijing (and my interpretation is that pleased noises from Beijing would have been a Very Bad Sign).

Finland gets to elect a new President on January 28th; incumbent Sauli Niinistö will be leaving office, and I'm unable to find details of the current candidates. (As the presidency of Finland is a ceremonial role rather than an executive one it's probably less significant than the current Prime Minister—elected last year—but might be a signal as to whether the Finnish electorate are happy with the right-wing shift at the last election. It's also significant in that Finland is a front-line state with respect to Russia.)

Much larger nations who are voting in parliamentary elections in February include Pakistan and Indonesia: with combined population of over 500 million these are the two most numerous muslim states today. Smaller but geopolitically significant, Belarus is electing a new parliament (probably in accordance with the preferences fo the dictator Lukashenko, a client of Moscow). Of interest mostly to Americans, El Salvador is electing both a president and parliament.

March sees elections in Iran, Ireland, and Portugal; also a rubber stamp for Vladimir Putin's presidency in Russia: and Slovakia votes on a new head of state. (Irish voters also get to decide on two constitutional amendments: one that revises the definition of family to explicitly include durable relationships outside marriage, and another to remove references in the constitution to a woman's "life within the home" and "duties in the home". Both are expected to pass.)

Some Time from early May onwards there will almost certainly be a general election and a change of government in the UK. A general election must take place no later than the first Thursday of 2025, but it is expected that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will announce the date of a snap election after the budget in March (which is expected to cut taxes on likely voting demographics). A British general election takes no more than 5-6 weeks to organize. It is possible according to some pundits that he'll schedule the vote for June, hoping for a good-weather boost to government polling, but short of a miracle the Conservatives are going to go down hard. (Current polling suggests the election will return a Labour majority government, and the Conservatives will lose more than half their seats in their worst defeat since 1997. I can't wait.)

April: South Korea elects a new parliament. It's worth noting that this has global implications—North Korea is selling munitions to Russia for the Ukraine invasion, while South Korea has closed a major arms deal with Poland (to replace Poland's existing fleet of main battle tanks, which are being sold on to Ukraine) as part of Poland's re-armament. (Russian pundits have been making noises along the lines of "Kiev today, Warsaw and Helsinki tomorrow".)

May: Panama, North Macedonia, Lithuania, and the Dominican Republic all elect a parliament, a president, or both.

June: Iceland, Mexico, and Mauritania all get new Presidents; Mexico, Belgium, and Mongolia all get new parliaments.

July: Rwanda elects a new president and chamber of deputies.

October: Mozambique and Uruguay elect new presidents and parliaments.

November: Palau and Somaliland elect new presidents. Also some other place is voting on the 5th, a date traditionally associated with gunpowder, treason, and plot (or, in more familiar terms, an attempt to overthrow the head of state and replace him with a puppet in thrall to minority religious zealots).

A number of other nations have elections due some time in 2024, but like the UK they follow no set date pattern. The largest is India, where far right nationalist Hindutva leader Narendra Modi looks likely to consolidate power, but the list also includes Algeria, Austria, Botswana, Chad, Croatia, Gabon, Georgia, Ghana, Kiribati, Lithuania, Mauritius, Moldova, Namibia, Romania, San Marino, the Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sotuh Sudan, Sri Lanka, Togo, Uzbekistan, and Venezuela.

Ukraine would elect a new president this year, but it's not clear whether Volodymyr Zelenskyy will face a wartime election: he previously indicated that he would retire from politics when the war ended.

And fuck knows what's going to happen politically in Israel this year.

Here's the thing: this looks like a pivotal year for democracy around the world. Half the planet is voting in elections with various fascists and fundamentalists—there's often no discernable difference: clerico-fascism is resurgent in multiple religions—seeking control.

Some of the potential outcomes are disastrous. A return to the White House by the tangerine shitgibbon would inevitably cut off all US assistance to Ukraine, and probably lead to a US withdrawl from NATO ... just as Russia is attempting to invade and conquer a nation in the process of trying to join both the EU and NATO. This would encourage Russia to follow through with attacks on the Baltic States (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia), Finland, and finally Poland, all of which were part of the Russian empire either prior to 1917 or under Stalin and which Putinists see as their property. Having militarized the Russian economy, it's not clear what else Putin could do after occupying Ukraine: global demand for fossil fuels (his main export) is going to fall off a cliff over the next decade and the Russian economy is broken. Hitler's expansion after 1938 was driven by the essential failure of the German economy, leading him to embark on an asset-stripping spree: stealing Eastern Europe probably looks attractive from where the Russian dictator is sitting.

There is, as usual, a risk of conflict between India and Pakistan, potentially aggravated by election outcomes in both nations (both of whom are nuclear-armed). India under the BJP is increasingly authoritarian and alligned with Russia (they're a major oil customer). Iran ... oddly, Iran is least likely to be problematic as a result of election outcomes in 2024: meet the new mullah, just like the old mullah. The regime savagely suppressed the feminist uprising of 2022-23 but is still dealing with dissatisfaction at home, and seems unlikely to want trouble abroad (aside from the usual support for turbulent proxies such as the Houthis and Hezbollah).

It's also worth noting that Premier Xi has made no bones about seeking to regain control of Taiwan, which China views as a breakaway province. The failure of Russia to subdue Ukraine in 2022 was a major reality check, but if Ukraine collapses and NATO disintegrates, leading to Russian expansion in the west and US isolationism, then there may be nothing holding back China from invading a Taiwan stripped of US support.

At which point, by the end of 2024 we could be in Third World War territory, with catastrophically accelerating climate change on top.

On the other hand: none of this is inevitable.

Leaving aside the global fascist insurgency and the oil and climate wars, and it's worth noting that we are seeing exponential growth in the rate of photovoltaic capacity worldwide: each year this decade so far we've collectively installed 50% more PV panels than existed in the previous year. 50% annual compound growth in a new energy resource will rewrite the equations that underly economics in a very short period of time. The renewable energy sector now employs more people than fossil fuels, and the growth is still accelerating.

Most of us have a very poor intuition for exponential growth curves, so here's a metaphor: think back to the first months of 2020 and the onset of the COVID19 pandemic. Now replace the virus with an energy economy transition, and map each week of February-to-April of 2020 onto one year of 2020-2035. We heard about this worrying new disease a few weeks ago, in China: it's now March 1st, and apparently hospitals in Italy are overflowing and health officials are telling us to wash our hands. Governments are holding crisis meetings, and the word "lockdown" is being bandied about on news broadcasts, but nobody knows quite where it's going and the virus hasn't gotten here yet. And this is 2024.

In this metaphor, next week is 2025. Your government is about to go into full-on panic mode. Curfews, empty streets, ambulance sirens a constant background noise. New York, London, and Paris are plague zones.

Now flip the metaphor: instead of curfews and empty streets we have energy crises and really bad storms and floods and food prices destabilizing. But we also have a glimmer of hope: renewables everywhere, coal-fired power stations shutting down for good, e-bikes everywhere (and traffic planning measures to accommodate them), electric cars showing up in significant numbers in those places that are dependent on automobiles. The oil-addicted export economies (think Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela) are hurting.

The metaphor is inexact: but by 2026-27, if we get through 2024 without a nuclear war, it's going to be glaringly obvious that we've turned away from fossil fuel business as usual, and that the political upheavals of 2008-2024 were driven by dark money flows and disinformation campaigns funded by oligarchs who valued retention of their own privileged status above our survival as a species.

MODERATION NOTE

This is not a discussion thread for the upcoming US election in November. Comments relating to Trump/Biden and US politics will be summarily deleted. You can discuss non-American politics instead for once.

667 Comments

1:

I am deadly serious about deleting comments about Trump, Biden, and the US election. In fact, if you're a regular and you comment on that, you can expect a ban.

2:

This may actually be more depressing than Missile Gap...

Assuming I'm still here, this'll be my first election voting from another country. And, apparently, I can vote in local elections here as well. That'll be interesting.

I'm not terribly optimistic, although I will admit that I have to be some amount of optimistic or else I will not be terribly functional.

3:

My immediate thought on Ukraine is that Volodymyr Zelenskyy may, repeat may, be a "wartime president" and will not be asked to submit to the democratic process until there is a termination of the illegal invasion by Russia?

4:

There is also the general election for the European Parliament (i.e. the EU parliament) in early June.

5:

A watershed year in store for the whole world.

6:

I am having difficulty writing happy fun optimistic fiction set under a despotism run by Lovecraftian horrors; the state of the world is outstripping the worst my imagination can come up with.

7:

I think that is simultaneously the most easily-understood and most terrifying analogy I have seen you use, dear host.

I certainly hope enough of the world can see through the disinformation to bring about the optimistic end of that metaphor.

(I would be interested to know your thoughts on how much of Starmer's positioning here in the UK is "don't scare the Leave voters, it'll be fine once we're in power" and how much is genuine "don't change too much of the status quo", but that feels somewhat off-topic from the broader points you're making here.)

8:

There would have to be some law changes for that to happen, and I don't think he could do it himself.

The man was not a great president, but he turns out to be a great wartime president. I don't see him being willing to bypass elections for morale reasons if nothing else; it'd also cause consternation internationally.

9:

I think both of us noted that, sometime after '16, we were in a political singularity.

I'd really really really love to be out of that.

10:

Who do the disinformation merchants want to win ?

The silicon Valley and billionaire nexus wants more power, who are they backing and how far will they go to do it?

And if Ukraine is abandoned, how long before they take out Russia oil assets - production, distribution points are well known and highly flammable.

11:

Re Finland - There are nine candidates for the presidency. Six of them are right-wing middle-aged white men, three are women of whom two are more leftist and one is the Christian Democrat candidate.

The flavour of the right-wingness varies from mildly Greenish center-right to quite far-right (but not that if you ask the Finnish general media). One of the candidates, the one from the True Finns party (the 'let's close borders and hate on all different and go back to the fantasy 1950's' one) has recently started a lawsuit against a comedian calling him 'fascist' (with references) after saying some years ago he won't do that and that there are too many snowflakes. (He's also the Speaker for the Finnish parliament. Let's not go into that.)

One of the men is there basically because he has been a talking head in the media about the Ukraine war. He is outside of the parties, but seems to go for the right-wing religious vote.

The centre-right candidate who has been in the Green party is gay, so that might make some people vote against him. The Green thing doesn't help there, either, but he is not mandated by the party but through this citizen mechanism. (The Finnish Green party is pretty right-wing, I think in contrast to many other European Green parties, but discussing that is not for this post.)

I'm very biased here and I'm not making a write-up of all the candidates. It seems to me that one of the more beige middle-aged right-wing men will win, most likely after the second round. If nobody gets a absolute majority in the first round, the two top candidates go to the second round and then the one with the most votes wins. Many people seem to want a 'presidential' president which means old enough white man and not, Heavens forbid, a woman nor a leftie. Experience working abroad and in foreign politics helps. (Sarcasm here, if not obvious.)

But yeah, in the most likely scenario the Finnish presidential elections won't change much. There is a possibility for going the Hungary route.

Find me in a pub and buy me a beer and I'll yammer about this for how long you want. :) (I'll probably comment some here, too.)

12:

Canada is looking at a likely election this year as well.

The centrist Liberals are trailing in the polls to a now hard-right "Conservative" party The former centrist Conservatives suffered a takeover from the rabid-right "Reform" party some years ago. They are coming back in the pools under Pierre Poilievre, an attack dog widely regarded as similar to "a certain ex-president of a large country to Canada's south".

That would not officially pull us out of NATO, but almost certainly would see our contributions drop to zero, along with our investments in clean power and anything the far right or the oil-exporting provinces don't approve of

13:

Also Finland got a very right-wing government last year, so in addition to the presidential elections there is at least some discontent. Last summer's government scandals for having openly racist ministers in the cabinet was apparently solved by just replacing the racists with new ones, at least the news hasn't been anymore on those.

The government parties, having mostly been in the opposition for the previous four years, and saying all that time that the state should leave job market politics to employers and unions, are now in the process of doing just the opposite, for example trying to limit strikes by law, and most recently trying to dictate the amount of raises various industries get (in short, export industries: how much as they want, public jobs: less than the export industries, which does not really help reduce differences in salaries between high-paying and low-paying jobs).

Add to this the driving force of the cabinet, 'nothing else matters but the poor should suffer and the rich should be richer', and I'm not very happy now.

The one party that was in the previous cabinet and is also in the current one is the smallish (maybe 4-5 % of votes) Swedish National Party, for the Swedish-speakers in Finland. On paper, they say they are liberal and accepting, but maybe for those reasons they seem to have been mostly bypassed in the cabinet work, getting info on the issues in preparation from newspapers. I haven't been sure exactly why they are in the cabinet, since last summer (the cabinet was formed in June) but apparently it's just much better to be there even though the cabinet's policies are not exactly to their liking (I assume on what they said before the elections).

(We have coalition governments if that was not obvious.)

14:

For what it's worth, I do not expect an election in Denmark, and even if we get one, it is unlikely to change anything significant: Power is firmly in the hand of the middle-aged, who stare fixedly at their pensions and want nothing to disturb their sound investments in hydrocarbons.

Note also that a EU has a real shit-case on their hands:

Formal complaint against HU has been lodged by serious people from the EP, asking that HU's voting right be suspended until they stick to EU's values.

This is driven in no small part by HU's power-play over FI&SE Nato memberships, and while it is a long road before that gets to anywhere, it is not helping "EU comity" any.

15:

I would like to say that the renewable issue is on balance hopeful here but with some doozy complications. My own completely unrepresentative edge case is that since the commissioning of my upgraded PV array in mid November it has been generating 15% of my electricity. Across the darkest time of the year including 14 days when the Sun never gets above my local horizon I don’t think that is too bad. I am still researching whether pico hydro or wind will be added to this. All this 55 miles SW of Edinburgh. Many locals are also installing PV and it is being regarded as a regular thing not just for the Green tinged. What is proving more controversial is the proposals for more Wind Turbines on the Lowther and Moffat hills. The opinion that this is power for Central belters or worse still the English is gaining quite a bit of traction locally and that the benefit of weaning off the whole island from fossil fuel is not worth some impact on environment and vistas in this region.

16:

Sunak has said that he expects the election to be in the second half of this year. Of cpourse he might just be saying that to dampen expectations of a May election (May is more likely than June as it's already the date for local elections in England & Wales: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2024_United_Kingdom_local_elections).

So May has that going for it. If the Tories get a kicking in the local elections they'll have fewer people likely to get out campaiging in October. Or Sunak can hang on in hopes that Kier Starmer is caught in bed with a goat before he has to call an election. TBH If I was him I'd be looking to get the hell out as soon as possible. There's nothing but grief for him in UK polics. Much better to get out of Number 10 and head back to California.

17:

I wonder what will happen to NATO if the Short-Fingered Vulgarian takes America out of the alliance? Do you think that Britain and Europe would be able to keep it on the road?

If Putin was to win in Ukraine you can expect the Baltic states and Poland to go on a rearmament spree. The Poles are already buying lots of nice new toys (HIMARS) after seeing them in action. It's difficult to see how the Russian military could take on another European power. An attack on the Baltics would almost certainly see the Poles wade in and it's doubtful that what's left of the Russian army would be able to hold them off.

18:

how much of Starmer's positioning here in the UK is "don't scare the Leave voters, it'll be fine once we're in power" and how much is genuine "don't change too much of the status quo"

Starmer is right-wing New Labour, post-Blairite. He's in hock to the millionaire donors, just like the Tories (only different faces). It's glaringly obvious that Brexit is an utter shit-show, but he's staying quiet about it for now because he doesn't want to upset the non-dom billionaire newspaper owners who will happily monster him for circulation figures if he gives them an excuse.

The most optimistic coverage I've seen is that he's surrounded by a campaign crew, whose sole job is to win power, and they'll be moving on after the election to be replaced by a government crew. And only then will we get any idea of where his actual politics lie. (Other than him being a hang 'em and flog 'em law enforcement shill, as we saw in 2011 during the austerity riots.)

19:

The silicon Valley and billionaire nexus wants more power, who are they backing and how far will they go to do it?

They want low interest rates and cheap money. Failing that, they want to cash out their investments, which means downsizing worker headcounts (hence pushing "AI" as a way of de-skilling the proles) and promoting tax cuts for the rich.

Leaving aside the lunatic libertarian pipe dreams about colonizing the oceans or Mars, and the preponderance of the extremely conservative billionaire class being neo-nazis (with a few notable exceptions), they're quite predictable (and quite predictably stupid).

20:

If I was him I'd be looking to get the hell out as soon as possible. There's nothing but grief for him in UK polics. Much better to get out of Number 10 and head back to California.

I concur, unless Sunak thinks he can do some personal nest-lining on his way out the door by way of additional government contracts for Infosys. (I suspect Sunak does corruption on a level not normally seen in the British system of government -- more like Jared Kushner scale than brown paper envelopes full of £20 notes -- which is why it doesn't make the newspapers: it's too big.)

21:

Before NATO -- circa 1947 -- there was a different defensive alliance, the Western Union (later renamed the Western European Union. Think NATO minus the trans-Atlantic bits and the integrated command under a usually-American general. The WEU was wound up and the civil bits incorporated into the EU after 1991, but the skeleton of a Euro-centric military defensive arrangement is buried in there somewhere.

My guess is that if the USA (and possibly Canada, too) leaves NATO, then the rump of 4NATO will probably get renamed and restructured in some manner that encourages tight French integration and leaves room for UK buy-in, and then be absorbed by the EU.

This begs a number of questions, though, notably Turkey but also stuff like Iceland, what about the post-Brexit UK, whether to admit Ukraine, what about nuclear deterrence (NATO effectively provided the US strategic umbrella for free to the non-nuclear-armed NATO members), Ireland (which is still officially neutral, IIRC), and so on.

It'll keep the diplomats busy for decades, unless Putin goes on a rampage.

22:

On the topic of climate non-doomerism, the Guardian had an excerpt from a book by data scientist Hannah Ritchie a couple of weeks ago (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2024/jan/02/hannah-ritchie-not-the-end-of-the-world-extract-climate-crisis) that echoes OGH's comments on renewables- particularly interesting is that according to the data we have already passed peak global CO2-per-capita, in 2012. And not only are renewable installations increasing, but the price-per-kw has dropped enough that it's now more cost-effective for a developing nation to invest in renewables than coal.

It's still not great - we're on track for an average increase of 2C - but a decade ago we were going to way overshoot that, so things are slowly working.

Barring a rise in coal-chic fascism, of course.

23:

Hang on a minute.

South Korea is supplying tanks to Poland - who are sending their excess to Ukraine.

North Korea are selling arms to the Russians.

Is this the first case of two SE Asian countries fighting a proxy war in Europe?

24:

»My guess is that if the USA (and possibly Canada, too) leaves NATO«

You dont think Canada would make a point of staying, if nothing else to have nuclear cover from two former friends, if they get invaded from the south ?

The almost-not-a-border would make it a very interesting situation, but I see no signs or reason why they should abandon sanity, just because their southern neighbors do ?

25:

Huh.

I don't think it's quite as planned as that, but it's certainly the way things are shaping up!

26:

Some of the potential outcomes are disastrous. A return to the White House by the tangerine shitgibbon would inevitably cut off all US assistance to Ukraine, and probably lead to a US withdrawl from NATO

He can't. They changed the law last month.

That doesn't mean he would not try make a hashed mess of the US NATO presence in Europe.

I think this fits under the moderation guidelines.

27:

While a case could be made for most fossil fuel exporting nations being as clueless as Russia about the switchover -- I'm looking at you Venezuela and Mexico -- what can be interpolated about Saudi Arabia is their ruling elite recognizes it's a mistake to have to be a 'one industry town'. Bad if you are that town, oh-so-much worse if you are a nation in that mess. In recent years fossil fuels were approximately 40% of Saudi GDP and 75% of fiscal revenue (so say-ith Wikipedia and others).

Important note, not much interest in refining of higher valued fractions for massive exports nor much manufacturing of plastics for sake of moving up the 'value chain' of higher valued exports. Given all that oil plus massive under-employment plus poorly educated masses of semi-docile subjects (Saudi Arabia being an autocratic kingdom they are not citizens) unsuited for high tech, very unlikely for an Arabic version of Silicon Valley. Given low percentages of English speakers, not feasible to set up call centers as per India.

But there was an alternative path to relying solely on crude oil.

What would have been clever in late 1990s (even as recent as early 2010s) would have been to bribe Chinese nationals with expertise in factory operations to set up in Saudi Arabia similarly as what was done in China. All those plastic-based consumer products which while low priced per unit are high value compared to raw materials. Consider the relative pricing of a ton of iron (US$142) versus a ton of nails (US$458) versus a ton of hammers (US$9583) as one easily grasped instance of 'value chain' of a raw material moving upwards. And Saudi Arabia had close to hand, Europe as destination for those consumer products.

Ditto for basics of clothing and linens. With Egyptian cotton close to hand as sourcing of critical raw material. Along with crude oil turned into petroleum-based polymers: spandex, polyester, nylon, acrylic, and even vegan leather. Much faster and cheaper shipping of mass freight than from China. Better able to adjust to consumer whims and fashion memes.

That's the road not taken.

What's this got to do with upwards spiraling of EVs-PVs-wind turbine farms?

Saudi Arabia is likely realizing they missed out on paths leading to remaining in the G20 'family of nations'. (My personal hope is to live long enough to sit there in 2045 with a big bowl of popcorn when it becomes the G19 because Saudi Arabia's most profitable export is racing camels. When crude oil sinks to eqv of US$9/barrel. Lightly salted popcorn, sprinkled with olive rather than butter.)

Will they accept a decline in influence? And smile as their politician dreams of soft power (and covertly inflicted hard power) are rendered impotent? Live with being just another third-tier nation? Will their king-in-waiting accept being insignificant? No longer bowed to and invited to all the biggest international conferences?

Uhm... No.

The kick off of this thread is politics and election-centric politics. What Charlie Stross optimistically assumes is for all those fossil fuel companies and the nations of OPEC will resist change within the limitations of the law.

Crazy talk by the "tangerine shitgibbon" about the damage done to whales and birds and other living things by wind turbine farms was bullshit smokescreen to (poorly) justify rolling back of federal government's support for non-fossil fuel energy sourcing.

What happens when the momentum cannot be reversed because too many minor politicians scattered in too many locales along with masses of citizens are all selfishly focused on how the Green New Deal is a better future for themselves? Will Saudi Arabia and Exxon-Mobil and all the other stakeholders in fossil fuels simply allow their wealth-power-influence to fade quietly?

Or will there be willing idiots funded to inflict harm to cripple the Green New Deal? All those wind turbine farms are in remote locales due to aesthetics and cheaper lands and wind conditions. Impossible to defend from terrorism. Soft targets easily wrecked by men too afraid to hit another human but craving the delight of destruction and lashing out at a world that they resent for ignoring 'em. Just look at the thousands of acts of bigotry in the US and elsewhere, just since 07-OCT-23. And the riots on 06-JAN-21 (USA) and 08-JAN-21 (Brazil). Before that, sporadic anti-Asian violence spurred by Covid. The gleeful delight in their faces in finally getting an opportunity to break things because their lives did not turn out as they'd dreamed.

All that impotent rage, just waiting to be focused.

28:

We're gathering momentum on a different front besides political: the regulatory split between the EU and the country where all the big-tech money is. This feeds into the political since it would be fodder for NATO breakup talks ("they don't want our business, they don't get our guns.") This could elevate the EU to "freest market" status, which only makes Russian nibbling to the east more likely.

29:

Sounds like a Great Filter crisis to me.

30:

Perhaps Bob and Mo should be reading pessimistic horror fiction set in our current timeline.

31:

To me India is the scary place. It seems they are going full on ethnic religious purity or get out mode.

All the while trying to get their economy out of the 4th world next to 1st world mess it is in. Or is that all a Potemkin facade? Trying to fix the economy that is.

Then there are all kinds of smaller things. Like the Netherlands expelling English as the teaching language from universities. ASML Holding is not happy. The university around them that they use to keep generating very bright people to keep advancing their tech teach all of their STEM classes in English so they can draw from around the world. Switching to Dutch would decimate that brain train. But not for a few years. So it seems to be popular now as elections are mostly about current emotions, not things a decade out.

Or have I mis-read this situation?

32:

will there be willing idiots funded to inflict harm to cripple the Green New Deal?

Of course there will be! We've already seen lunatic neo-Nazis shooting up power substations in order to bring about the Boogaloo or whatever. It will take very little disinformation to generate stochastic terror attacks on wind farms (big and very visible) and PV farms (harder to attack from afar but vulnerable to wirecutters).

However it's not as viscerally satisfying as driving a Dodge Ram into a bunch of demonstrators or shooting up a school, so most of the lunatics will go for blood over electrons.

33:

Actually, we know a bit more. His purge of socialists and socialism has gone beyond anything needed to maintain party discipline. And many of his public statements have indicated that he doesn't have the level of controlled deception that would be needed if he were to be even as socialist as Churchill or Macmillan, but hiding it under a neo-Blairite skin to be elected. Our best hope is that the LibDems and ScotNats get enough seats that he can be forced into at least a partial clean-up of our electoral system. I shall be drinking Champagne (from Champagne, that is :-) ) if that looks possible.

34:

We know PP can campaign, much like the current Prime Minister.

Can he sway enough voters to gain a majority? Probably not and, in that case, the only party that he could approach for a coalition is the Bloc. And cozying up to a separatist / Quebec-first party wouldn't fly well with his base.

Could PP assemble a cabinet of reasonably competent and knowledgeable elected members? Is such a thing even possible in the current state of Canadian politics?

How long until the first federal-provincial bunfight? Even money that it occurs before the new federal parliament sits for the first time.

Could he navigate the house well enough to avoid losing a non-confidence vote?

I fear that ineffective, near-sighted and permanently campaigning minority governments will continue, with further deterioration in government services and functions.

35:

There are two likely ways that Europe would react if the USA left NATO: one is for NATO to be allowed to carry on, and the other is to resuscitate the idea of a proper defence force. Whichever happened, I can't see that a Russian invasion of Poland would succeed, even if the Russian generals let it go ahead (as distinct from changing the head of state, in the Russian fashion). But, in one case, Canada would be grandfathered in and, in the other, it might not be invited. Robert Prior is better placed to comment whether its government would want to separate from the USA.

However, all this ignores the role of the USA military-industrial complex, where NATO is one of its primary tools, er, markets. Would it even allow the USA to leave NATO entirely, thus potentially losing a large chunk of its market? And would Europe be happy for much (most?) of its armaments to be supplied by a potentially hostile state? Especially things like the F-35, where it is probable that the USA has a back door into the software.

We live in interesting times.

36:

To me India is the scary place. It seems they are going full on ethnic religious purity or get out mode.All the while trying to get their economy out of the 4th world next to 1st world mess it is in. Or is that all a Potemkin facade? Trying to fix the economy that is.

The BJP program is a package: Hindutva + ultra-liberalism.
New towns are being built with high rises, air conditioning, safe streets, shopping malls, good (pricey) schools, army check-points at the entrance while elsewhere farmers are commiting suicide in record numbers.
The Modi regime tried last year to abolish fixed prices for grain and other foodstuffs. That led to massive protests by farmers and they had to back down.
Meanwhile, some areas have had 50°C+ temperatures for weeks, and air/water/waste pollution is out of control.
I've met several young professionals who are working hard and saving all their money in the hope of relocating their family in the new enclaves.

37:

New towns are being built with high rises, air conditioning, safe streets, shopping malls, good (pricey) schools, army check-points at the entrance while elsewhere farmers are commiting suicide in record numbers.

...

I've met several young professionals who are working hard and saving all their money in the hope of relocating their family in the new enclaves.

That sounds alarmingly like the typical back-story/world building for a certain subgenre of dystopian future SF setting: domed cities full of prosperous citizens under a dictatorship, surrounded by a howling desert of environmental degradation sparsely populated by un-people hunted by the regime. (Think "Hunger Games".)

38:

Yes, except for the "sparsely populated" bit. Mumbai already has the world's largest shanty-town.
Also, conditions vary enormously among states.

39:

I simply don't believe in a nuclear war. I don't actually believe either China or Russia are capable of it (what with water instead of fuel in your missiles...) And in any case, it's not a sensible worry: you can't prepare for it usefully. I am burnt out and depressed, and I don't have time for useless crap.

But yes, there is a future, coming up quickly, very quickly in fact where fossils collapse, and "the West" stops caring about the middle East (and the Sauds know that). Where Russia is basically broken (that's what you get for being a petrostate run by people with no vision at all). Where [censored considerations about the US which are broadly hopeful]. Where Iran without oil also sees regime change.

And who'll be the patron saint of autocrats, then? China? China is trying. But China is in serious trouble, and may well descend into chaos. Certainly, it will have little energy to look outside its borders.

But that fossil-free future is more unequal. heat pumps, electric cars, solar panels, etc. are somewhat expensive, and cost you significantly less in the long run. It's not the just about managing people who'll benefit...

40:

Charlie
Russian pundits have been making noises along the lines of "Kiev today, Warsaw and Helsinki tomorrow" - alternatively, a false-flag PROVOCATION - think Gleiwitz - somewhere between Königsberg & Grodno { The "Suvalki Gap" } in June or July?

PV
I wish I could install PV, without a disastrous ROI - undoubtedly a deliberate scam by the tories & the energy suppliers. Really, REALLY annoying, to say the least.

Lastly
I'm sending you a private message, concerning your last main sentence & the addendum.

Tony C - & Charlie @ 20 Nah
Sunak wants to go to India, with his wife's millions to support fascist Modi?

HowardNYC
Or will there be willing idiots funded to inflict harm to cripple the Green New Deal?
YES: Rish! { Sunak }
Vote tory for more shit in the rivers!

41:

I've met several young professionals who are working hard and saving all their money in the hope of relocating their family in the new enclaves.

I don't count and I know perception is not as accurate when noticing differences.

Lately the shoppers at my local Costco (central NC in the US) seem have more people from south of the Himalayas mountains. Based on skin and dress. (Who wears sandals when it is 0C outside?) Their numbers appear to be growing.

But we're a 3 major university STEM area also. With lots of job growth in STEM. (Much to the consternation of many of the old farts who want to roll the clock back.)

Not sure why the numbers are growing but they seem to be.

42:

I suspect Sunak does corruption on a level not normally seen in the British system of government

Why am I reminded about Stalin's (possibly apocryphal) comment about deaths and statistics?

I do wonder if there's a psychological mechanism at play, so that sufficiently broad/blatant corruption is seen as 'just the way things are' and doesn't trigger the same emotional response. I'm certain that some of the excusal for corruption is 'but they're on our side', but I wonder if there's something else at play too.

Here in Ontario, Ford's government has just awarded a no-bid contract to an American office supply chain (Staples) to run the front-end for government services like getting health cards and drivers licenses (Service Ontario). Almost certainly has nothing to do with the large donations received, of course. It does make me wonder about the security of personal data…

43:

I haven't heard of the Green New Deal in years here, sad to say. The rollout died in San Diego early on due to process issues. Suffice it to say, I walked out of the first organizing meeting in disgust halfway through, and there wasn't a second organizing meeting.

Getting back to US non-presidential politics, here's EV Sales Are Just Getting Started from Car and Driver. The global perspective at the end is the real stinger, and worth reading to get to.

Tl;dr:

-EV sales will likely increase in the US in 2024, despite agitprop/doomygloomerism about that part of the industry being in trouble.

-As usual, the negativists conflate drops in the rate of increase of sales with drops in sales. This is a common journalistic problem, seen quite a lot in discussion of inflation.

-In 2023, EVs were 8 percent of new cars sold in the US, hybrids were also 8 percent. Half the EVs sold were Teslas.

-Hyundai and Kia (same Korean conglomerate) are going big.

-GM, in contrast, messed up their switch to a new EV tech ("Omnium") and aren't selling much, this despite having one of the cheapest good EVs on the market (my beloved Bolt, now selling at $27k). Comments about EV sales faltering globally usually focus on GM and Ford.

-Globally, the US is less than 10% of the EV market, with most of the rest being China. Some of the Chinese EV makers are bigger than Tesla, this despite selling effectively nothing in the US. America's obsession with bloated SUVs and trucks that sell only here is a big part of our problem, and it's going to bite us in our fat assets in the next decade or less.

Anyway, Chinese EV makers plan to skirt the 27.5% US tariff on Chinese EVs by sheep-dipping them in Mexico or Brazil, and selling in the US as cars from those countries. Usual political BS rules undoubtedly apply.

The American autocalypse is on the horizon, it seems...why are you going on about trains? We don't do that sort of thing.

44:

Can he (PP) sway enough voters to gain a majority?

Possibly. If enough liberal voters switch to NDP our FPTP system could give the Conservatives a majority government. Granted, this is more voting against Trudeau than voting for Poilievre, but the results woud be the same.

45:

America's obsession with bloated SUVs and trucks that sell only here is a big part of our problem,

I read in the last year that over 1/2 of auto sales in the EU or maybe Europe were SUVs. I suspect they are more like RAV4s or RAV6s than Escalades but still SUVs.

47:

Robert Prior is better placed to comment whether its government would want to separate from the USA.

rocketpjs probably has a better grasp of this than I do.

According to an old acquaintance in the diplomatic service, dealing with America has always been a transactional "what have you done for us this week" affair, with the ever-present threat of interferences with 70% of our foreign trade is we don't kowtow to the demands of often very local American politics.

After 9/11 we boosted our airport security under threat of sanctions, even though our old security was better than American new and improved security. We went into Afghanistan (freeing up American troops for the Iraq invasion) under threat of unilateral changes to trade treaties, for example. And we saw the same thing during the last presidency when treaties were arbitrarily (and unilaterally) ignored.

I'm not certain if "Finlandization" is the right term, but keeping America happy has always been a priority with our governments. I don't see that changing.

48:

Lately the shoppers at my local Costco (central NC in the US) seem have more people from south of the Himalayas mountains. Based on skin and dress. (Who wears sandals when it is 0C outside?) Their numbers appear to be growing.

I traveled to Kerala in 2018. Kerala (governed by the communist party) has a free good-quality state-run school system but no industry to speak of. I mostly stayed at private homes thru Airbnb. Most of my hosts were older people who rented what was their son's or daughter's room. Their children were all working in Bangaluru or in the USA.

49:

hmmm... secretly they've re-united ("the newest UK") are engaged in a scheme to conquer the world by first wrecking both Ukraine and Russia... then there's the insidious effects of K-POP and subliminal messaging embedded in Squid Game and other video content exported from 'UK' which is preparing the youth of the world to bow down to 'em

/ set snark off /

50:

Ironically enough, I doubt Sunak does that much in the way of corruption. He doesn't need to - so long as you don't threaten Infosys, he and his wife are rich enough that it doesn't really matter. He's not Donald Trump, jumping from bank-loan ice-flow to bank-loan ice-flow in a desperate attempt to stay one step ahead of creditors. The Murtys' wealth comes from a solid working multinational business, and it's not going away any time soon.

Of course that doesn't mean he's opposed to corruption from other people, as perfectly evidenced by the Tory High Command war-profiteering from contracts during Covid. And I wouldn't be surprised to find that extra business has gone the Infosys way. But then when the alternative is Fujitsu/ICL who have been a corrupt clusterfuck for at least the 25 years I've been following IT news, I'm not entirely opposed to that.

51:

huh... good point... insert here the visual of Kuwait after Saddam's attempt to fill the skies of the world with ashes after he ordered a delayed withdrawal so his loyalist soldiers set the oil fields aflame

took a lot of tough guys (and gals) risking their shit day after miserable day to knock down the fires

and then there's the opening chapters of "Red Storm Rising" where-in the Russian oil fields are targeted by Muslim separatists

oh... goodly a new nightmare... a sudden massive up-spike in CO2 emissions and clouds of incompletely burnt petro-chemicals worsening the air...

my thanks to you, tqft

52:

Hah! Calling Harry Turtledove; please go to the courtesy phone in the lobby...

Tales of Korean grunts drowning their sorrows in Bier Keller’s, munching exotic furrin food like Bratwurst and molesting the bar maids

53:

One of the problems the Canadian Con Party has is that Mr Pee-pee is so dodgy that they haven’t even dared to submit him for a security clearance (and if I were still involved he’d never ever get one) that allows him access to briefings.

Obviously, if they were to win they will just change the rules. Because of course.

54:

What does Harry Turtledove have to do with this?

55:

I really, really don't see Russia going beyond Ukraine. Not for at least 10-15 years after Ukraine winds down. Too much of Russia's military has been ground down in Ukraine, and to go against a fully-freshly-armed country (all of the proposed targets are doing that now) is more than stupid.

56:

And a few things in general: for one, I don't see an Indian-Pakistani nuclear war. They know where the fallout drifts. For another, given that NK is supply Russia with armaments (and isn't that bizarre), there's a limit, since Kim is now talking really warlike about SK. And if they go to war, a hell of a lot of the world stops dead for months. You think lockdown was bad?

I'm also really, really surprised that there haven't been attacks on places like Davos. I see a story that there may be the first trillionaire person within 10 years. They will live in a bubble, forever... or there will be assassination attempt after attempt. And when one succeeds, the list moves down to the billionaires.

TFG hated living in the bubble. The only reason he's running now is a) power addict, and b) stay out of jail.

I'll be real interested in what happens in Poland with Tusk.

57:

timrowledge
I had to look "PP" up.
He seems very slippery indeed. Ghu help us he reminds me of a certain B Johnston.

58:

SUVs in the UK and EU are compact/small by US standards. I don't think I've ever seen an Escallade in the UK; a Range Rover is a big SUV over here. (And stretched bed pickup trucks barely exist: they're a failed competitor for the niche occupied by the Ford Transit.)

59:

Here in Canada we aren't likely to have an election until Spring of 2025. It is the fervent hope of all Canadians who are left of the far right that the current PM will spend the next year cementing some of the actually good policies he brought in, then make a somewhat graceful exit in time for some of the more intelligent members of his party to make an impression. I'm hoping for Chrystia Freeland, but it seems unlikely as she is too blindingly intelligent and capable to win a general election.

The current PM (Trudeau) has done reasonably well, with the usual assortment of minor scandals and stupid decisions, but all leaders have a shelf life and his is about done. As with almost every other major successful federal policy in Canadian history (CPP, Canada Health Act, Employment Insurance, Invention of UN Peacekeeping), they are happening because the governing Liberal Party is in a minority and dependent on the support of the NDP (Democratic Socialists). As such we are getting a universal dental plan and universal childcare, as well as a carbon pricing plan with some teeth.

Pierre Polievre is exactly the kind of 'outsider' political animal who has never been anything but a politician yet campaigns against the 'out of touch elites'. His fortunes will depend a lot of what happens in a neighbouring country to the South. If the worst happens there the Canadian electorate will likely run screaming away from the leader who is doing his best to import that style of dogwhistle combative bullshit politics to our country. If some marginally better outcome happens to the South there will likely see a change of Canadian government to (hopefully) a minority parliament that forces PP to compromise and negotiate (skills he is not known for).

Living next to a huge economic and military power has been described (but the current PM's father) as sleeping next to an elephant. He is snoring and rolling around doing as he pleases, you are constantly shifting and trying not to get squished.

A lot is going to happen in the world this year. That will have a large impact on what happens in Canada's election next year. There is zero chance the current Liberal government will call an election before we know what happens with our neighbours.

There is ZERO chance Canada will leave NATO. The past 150 years have been a constant exercise in finding 'counterweights' to US power and depending on US trade.

60:

Unfortunately, the road space and parking slots are also small by USA standards :-(

61:

hmmm... secretly they've re-united ("the newest UK") are engaged in a scheme to conquer the world by first wrecking both Ukraine and Russia... then there's the insidious effects of K-POP and subliminal messaging embedded in Squid Game and other video content exported from 'UK' which is preparing the youth of the world to bow down to 'em

I'd bet on the proxy war, sadly.

https://www.chosun.com/english/north-korea-en/2024/01/16/NZ2TGZIDRJDG3MYB6Z5ZUXFDYM/

Kim Jong Un yesterday labeled South Korea as "No. 1 hostile state and invariable primary enemy," saying that peaceful reunification is no longer possible.

Presumably this is over the Ukrainian war and who's selling weapons to which side, but expect things to get frosty between them.

North Korea's not experiencing crop failures at the moment either, which may play into the geopolitics.

Anyway, given NK's prison camps and brutality, saying the Koreas have secretly reunited is about as snarky as positing that East and West Germany secretly reunited back in the 1960s, and were collectively using the Stasi to run keep the Cold War going for their combined profit.

My own weak attempt at snark is wish Putin "subito santo" in Russian, in the earnest hope that he can find glory in the Russian Orthodox heaven at the left hand of the martyred Romanov family.*

*who were martyred by his former employers, but forgiveness is an Orthodox virtue.

62:

Minor correction on Ireland- we’ve 2 referendums on March 8th but the local elections along with the European Parliament elections aren’t until June. There is potentially a general election in March 2025.

63:

Let's talk about renewable energy. As far as I know, the storage problem hasn't been solved yet, so the theoretical renewable capacity doesn't matter - you still need a full stable (read: NOT wind or sun) capacity for a windless overcast week in the winter.

64:

Sorry, but it has. The lithium batteries are being installed now... and we had a recent discussion on a techie list I'm on about the sodium batteries that don't have the energy density... but look to scale easily, and who cares about density when you're talking about an electrical plant?

65:

we had a recent discussion on a techie list I'm on about the sodium batteries

A pointer to that list, please? The large-scale, long-duration storage issue is one I'm interested in.

66:

What does Harry Turtledove have to do with this?

Multiple series or alternate history, often refighting WWII or the Cold War, and often with viewpoint characters far from their homes.

Also of note would be the Korean film My Way, which may or may not be based on an actual Korean soldier.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Way_(2011_film)

67:

Enough lithium batteries to power a country for a week? Color me unconvinced.

68:

If the worst happens there the Canadian electorate will likely run screaming away from the leader who is doing his best to import that style of dogwhistle combative bullshit politics to our country. If some marginally better outcome happens to the South there will likely see a change of Canadian government to (hopefully) a minority parliament that forces PP to compromise and negotiate (skills he is not known for).

Alberta seems quite happy with dogwhistle combative bullshit politics, and was during the last American presidency too. Chunks of rural Ontario are very similar. (Hint: look for the places sporting lots of "Trump 2024" and Confederate flags, neither of which are even remotely Canadian.)

Harper ran minority governments as if he had a majority by making absolutely every vote a confidence motion, basically daring the opposition to call an election over every little issue. As Poilievre was a cabinet minister under Harper, I could see him using the same tactic. Don't know if it would work or not — in Alberta Smith has apparently convinced a lot of Albertans that the failure of the provincial electricity grid is the fault of the federal government, and has nothing to do with her government taking two power plants offline during an Arctic intrusion and cancelling all renewable energy projects, so I think the con base would lap it up.

I hope you are right, but I'm afraid you're not.

69:

A smidgen of good news on the "green" front - Industry is noticing that renewables & non-polluting tech, especially power-generation is {finally} cheaper ... at industrial scales, anyway.
People like me are still fucked, of course, thank you tories & a rigged "market".

70:

As mentioned above, not all batteries are lithium based, and indeed not all energy storage is a battery. And before anyone starts on “child slaves digging up Cobalt”, nowhere near all lithium batteries have any Cobalt. And it is used in a lot of other things that somehow don’t upset anti-EV whackos.

71:

I must admit I'm looking forward to seeing the Russian, Saudi and other oil based economies tank - though they may become a bit more unstable and dangerous in the short term.

I assume they already have lobbiests out all over Asia and Africa telling governments not to bother to invest in green power generation just yet as 1, the price of PV/turbines will drop further still and 2, the glut of oil will lead to record low costs for fuel.

That will probably stave off real change in those areas for a decade.

I never understood why, with the huge surpluses they had to hand, the Saudis didn't set up a huge PV/wind turbine industry 10 years ago and position themselves to help keep the world dependent on them after oil. Are they lazy, thick, arrogant or just too busy slicing up dissenting journalists?

72:

The Israeli economy will be tanking this year. The "war" budget they just passed cuts 15% from social programs.And there are reports of troops being called back because they were needed in a company production line.

73:

the Saudis didn't set up a huge PV/wind turbine industry 10 years ago and position themselves to help keep the world dependent on them after oil. Are they lazy, thick, arrogant or just too busy slicing up dissenting journalists?

They were still in the "business as usual" mode. Which I suppose falls under the category "thick".

Mohammed bin Salman is a bastard, but he is far from complacent or thick. However ten years ago he did not have the power yet.

74:

I'm sorry, where were we speaking of "an entire country"? Weren't we speaking of regions that get power from a central source, like a coal power plant?

76:

Alberta voting conservative would not amount to a shift in voter sentiment. They will always vote conservative, with the exception of a couple of ridings in Edmonton. Gerrymandering, particularly where it leans hard into rural ridings, has made it a near certainty. That's why Chretien never even bothered to stop there during a couple of elections, because there is no point trying to convince morons.

Dominating Alberta does not win elections in Canada. To win a majority the parties must win a majority of ridings in either Ontario or Quebec, a significant portion of ridings in the other big province and throw in some Maritime and BC ridings as well.

The Cons have a lock on a number of suburban ridings outside Toronto (Ford Nation), Alberta, parts of Saskatchewan and parts of BC. They are at a significant disadvantage in Quebec, must compete in the Maritimes (mostly old line Tories), and must get very lucky to dominate Manitoba.

Polievre's brand of divisiveness plays very well in rural Alberta and Ford nation, but isn't likely to win pluralities in any contested ridings outside those areas. What will decide the case is whether JT is smart enough to make a graceful exit before next Christmas. Which would be in time to have a (heavily publicized) leadership contest and then for the new leader to come out with an election year budget and popular agenda before the summer.

If they are really clever they'll hold the election mid-summer during wildfire season, at which point the candidates can point out the obvious flaws in the Conservative platform and worldview.

If JT's substantial ego doesn't let him quit, people being 'tired' of him and blaming him for the ills of the world will suppress the Liberal vote in a lot of contested ridings, and bring out more people voting Con who want a 'change' and don't otherwise pay a lot of attention to politics. Further, if they pick a tired old 'compromise' hack as leader of the Liberals then we'll also see a change.

We aren't likely to see a change in leadership of the NDP - Singh is going to be with us for at least one more election and possibly more. Despite minimal press they can quite rightly take credit for a lot of the decent policies and decisions that have happened in the past few years.

Another entire year gives Polievre ample opportunity to piss off various groups. He has already irritated a lot of indigenous persons, whose numbers can make a difference in a lot of locations.

Again though, much depends on what happens in another country altogether. More than anyone, we are buffeted by the political winds of that country.

77:

"2024 looks set to be a somewhat disruptive year."

Well. That sounds rather terrifying after the last couple of years. Still, I agree, even if I'd prefer not to.

Some words from Poland.

Poland and South Korea. Two things. First, SK is heavily interlinked economically with Poland. Many companies have a strong presence (think Samsun, LG, Daewoo, etc.) Secondly, beyond tanks, there are howitzers, MLRS systems, and light fighters (FA-50)—plenty of hardware.

But Poland also buys MLRS, tanks, and fighters from the US, air defense systems from the UK, and the local defense industry pumps metal as quickly as possible. Image from memory: guns, lot of guns. Let's visualize a Hollywood movie about a family that gets word about the zombie apocalypse and buys every gun and every round in all the shops in the town. Poland's new government is very different from the previous one in many aspects, but not this one.

In regards to elections, there are three vital state (land) elections in Germany: Saxony, Brandenburg, and Turingen.

78:

I never understood why, with the huge surpluses they had to hand, the Saudis didn't set up a huge PV/wind turbine industry 10 years ago and position themselves to help keep the world dependent on them after oil. Are they lazy, thick, arrogant or just too busy slicing up dissenting journalists?

Studying the possible power line routes to get electricity from their farms to, say, the EU might provide an answer. That said, I'm unclear why they decided to try to put more cities along the Red Sea rather than solar-based manufacturing. Getting into petroleum-based, solar-powered plastics manufacturing would seem to be a natural fit.

79:

Speaking of coming storms, the peak of the 11 year solar cycle is supposed to occur in mid-2024.

It's possible that solar storms might just trigger a Kessler Cascade in the coming year. Who wants that on their bingo card?

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ericmack/2023/12/31/two-space-stories-in-2024-will-determine-the-future-of-humanity/

80:

The latest possible date for the next Australian federal election is 27 September 2025, but the earliest possible date is as soon as 3 August 2023. At this stage it seems most likely to be mid-2025, but who knows, events have precipitated early elections in the past. If Albo has some extraordinary popular win in the first half of this year, he might capitalise on it with a snap election. Unlikely to see a change of government in that case, which would be a great relief I guess, but we might be looking at a turn to the right in 2025 otherwise.

81:

"Solved" is too strong, but "soluble" is fair. However, for most of northern Europe and similar places, storage solves the diurnal variation problem, but not the annual variation one; there is no way that we can provide enough power in winter, even if we abandoned agriculture. The solution to that HAS to be piping the power up from points south, which is also a soluble problem. Unfortunately, because it needs diplomacy as well as investment, it cannot simply be left to private corporations.

82:

The article is an alarmist nonsense. Yes, a solar storm can disable satellites. In no way would it cause satellites to collide with each other. On the contrary, at the solar peak Earth's atmosphere puffs up, and drags satellites down from the orbit more quickly. And since vast majority of all objects in orbit have no maneuvering capability, the fact that some of the very small number which do have such capability might lose it, makes very little difference.

On the balance peak Sun, if anything, pushes Kessler Cascade further off.

83:

A decade ago Saudi Arabia was ruled by King Abdullah who died in 2015, aged 90. He'd been regent and then king since 1996, aged 71. So, not exactly likely to have adopted any kind of radical policies in his late eighties, right?

His successor, King Salman, is currently 88; he became crown prince in 2012 as a sprightly young 76 year old.

King Salman is progressive, for octogenerian fundamentalist absolute monarch values of progress (he allowed women to drive from 2017), but due to ill health he's been largely by his heir, Prince Mohammed bin Salman ... who is 38, which probably explains both his relative dynamism and his more bloodthirsty excesses (the whole "prince bonesaw" thing).

Anyway: Saudi Arabia was an absolute gerontocracy until as recently as 2017, run by hidebound traditionalists for the preceding 50-odd years since the sunni religious revolution of 1980 (which the monarchy survived, but only by accommodating the most barkingly reactionary strain of islam on offer). Prince Mohammed marks a radical departure but he rose to power aged 31, probably had poor mentoring and few if any restrictions on the erratic exercise of absolute power, and hasn't had time to effect radical changes to the Saudi economy: he's too busy digging in and ensuring he can't be replaced before his father dies and leaves him the crown.

I expect the Saudi build-out of massive PV farms to commence when King Salman dies ... if he dies soon enough that there's enough of a state left to do a major pivot in the direction of renewables without instead getting into a shooting war with the neighbours.

84:

Administrative notice:

If you noticed the blog being slow to unresponsive over the past few hours, it was because the MySQL server had indigestion. It was last restarted some time in 1999 and the poor thing needed a brief lie-down.

Hopefully things are back to normal now.

85:

I meant PV installation and turbine manufacture, but forgot to say. Sorry.

86:

They were still in the "business as usual" mode. Which I suppose falls under the category "thick".

No. Not really. In groups and individually most people don't want things to change. And work hard at keeping things they way they are. Even if bad. And it that case most will want to believe the bad is temporary and they can get back to "good and old" soon.

87:

"Unfortunately, the road space and parking slots are also small by USA standards :-(

Those both seem positive to me: less traffic means fewer accidents, and smaller parking spaces makes the vehicles less deadly.

88:

You confused "small and cramped" with "less traffic". The one does not in any way imply the other!

89:
I never understood why, with the huge surpluses they had to hand, the Saudis didn't set up a huge PV/wind turbine industry 10 years ago and position themselves to help keep the world dependent on them after oil. Are they lazy, thick, arrogant or just too busy slicing up dissenting journalists?

Offhand I can think of three major reasons, though I wouldn't care to try and order them:

1) transporting large quantities (10s of GW minimum) of electricity is hard - you can't just put it on a boat. Transmission losses scale with the square of current, and ultra-high-voltage undersea cables have their own problems.

2) you're talking about a lot of jobs, relative to oil wells, at least initially. If you give them all to foreigners (a) you're exporting all your profits (b) the local population will object, possibly with sufficient force to effect a change of government. But if you employ locals, you have to spend years educating a suitable workforce, because that's specialised technical work and keeping the population ignorant has suited the rulers very well, thank you. Building technical schools, training technical teachers, and then training the workforce all has to be done before you can start constructing the actual hardware, takes decades, and lets everyone else know what you're planning. And leaves you with a large highly educated citizenry likely to ask difficult questions like "who elected you, anyway?" and "what if we execute all these princes and split their money between the rest of us?"

3) by effectively announcing that you think the age of oil is over, you start everyone else on a rush for renewables too, which both undercuts your planned future and starts cutting into sales of your current product earlier than you'd expected. And the countries that already have substanial higher education systems have the aforementioned decades' headstart on you.

An oil state that started a high-quality mass higher education system at around the time OPEC formed, with the intention of gradually transitioning into IT, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, and other R&D heavy advanced industries, would be well-placed to switch to renewables. But...

90:

I thought it was famous that if you build more road space you get more cars, 'induced demand', until it's just as cramped again. I'm not a driver though, so mostly see them as the enemy.

91:

huh... I wish thought of that first..

as to why Saudi Arabia failed to see the obvious in the 2010s, 2000s, 1990s...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saudization

will offer insights into a flawed economic model

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_rights_in_Saudi_Arabia

as bad as Japan-Korea-USA-etc are, there's acknowledgement to keep trying to improve the opportunities for women... whereas Saudi Arabia has proudly proclaimed at long last omen may have driver's licenses

...the list of flaws is too long for a casual blog post but fundamentally the mindset being a blend of "god will provide" and "books are effete" and "scholarship is effeminate not macho" and "too much science is Jew science" (no really)

then there's the snakepit you get when there's a struggle for succession which has few boundaries other than "do not lose"... imagine GRRM's "Game Of Thrones" without the warmth 'n fuzzy love shown by Cersei Lannister to enemies of her house...

that backstabbing and scheming and bleeding distracts everyone from trying to generate economic policy longer term than next Tuesday

and foreign policy is overshadowed by religious fanaticism of what looks a lot like 1630s Europe without hesitation to fund terrorism with petrodollars

92:

An oil state that started a high-quality mass higher education system at around the time OPEC formed, with the intention of gradually transitioning into IT, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, and other R&D heavy advanced industries, would be well-placed to switch to renewables.

Yes, it is. (It's called Norway.)

93:

You wrote: "In regards to elections, there are three vital state (land) elections in Germany: Saxony, Brandenburg, and Turingen."

I'd like to give some background for interested readers. Germany is often seen from the outside as a haven of sensible, solid stability. The picture from within looks rather different right now.

Germany actually feels pretty febrile. The economy is doing poorly. Prices are way up. There are cracks in basic services. The trains don't even run on time. Numerous sectors are loudly unhappy. For example, farmers farmers have recently ended a week of road-blocking action that saw lots of mixing with elements of the far right. There's an element of "Blut und Boden" (blood and soil; straight-up nazi) ideology that works well with some (not all!) farmers. And there are visible cracks in the three-party ruling coalition.

Meanwhile, the Greens are getting a hammering. They are trying to implement essential climate-related policies which they campaigned on, often somewhat clumsily, at a time of economic tension and uncertainty. As a result, they have rapidly become hate figures with much of the population. On his recent return from holiday, one of the party's leaders, Robert Habeck (business minister and deputy Chancellor) was delayed when his ferry was met by a crowd of people - ostensibly farmers, but apparently with many right-wingers. The ferry was unable to dock, as the police couldn't guarantee passengers' safety. It subsequently emerged that he had police sniper protection whilst on holiday, because of the perceived threat to his person. This is really not normal for Germany.

Into this nasty mix, a story broke last week involving the AfD, the right-wing "Alternative für Deutschland" party. For context, the party as a whole is currently under observation by Germany's security services. Three AfD state (Land) groupings have been found to be "gesichert rechtsextrem" (~certainly right-wing extremist): those in Saxony, Thüringen and Saxony-Anhalt. As a reminder, the regional elections this year are in Saxony, Thüringen and Brandenburg. The party is doing very well in the polls in all three Länder (provinces/states).

So, to last week's story. It was about a meeting in late 2023 between senior AfD representatives, known neonazis and some potential financial backers. The meeting was to discuss a "masterplan for remigration": long-term plans that could be implemented after an AfD rise to power, which would see tailor-made laws to ensure that undesirables were deported from Germany. This would start with refugees, before turning to naturalised immigrants (stripping them of their citizenship and deporting them). "Ethnic" Germans who had made themselves undesirable by (e.g.) campaigning for refugee rights could later also be deported. There was also talk about creating a hostile environment for migrants so that they left of their own accord: this would start at local level and be scaled up from there. Where would all of these millions of people go? Apparently, an unnamed country in northern Africa. So far, even this obscenity doesn't seem to have harmed the party in the polls.

If they ever came to power, I would definitely be one of those on the boats, or trains, being deported. It's all rather disturbing, to use British understatement.

There was outrage, of course. There have been demonstrations in many large and small German cities, for democracy and against the AfD, bringing together a wide spectrum running all the way from churches to local pro-democracy groups to unions to the Antifa. And there's increasing pressure to try to get the AfD banned (this seems unlikely given the very high barriers against banning parties). Personally, I'd very much like to see the CDU (conservative party) change its current lickspittle response to the AfD, namely picking up the AfD's talking points. But I'm not holding my breath.

So, the regional elections will happen in a febrile environment, with a strong right-wing party likely to do very well.

And the final piece of the puzzle is the emergence of a new left-conservative party led by Sahra Wagenknecht, a highly disciplined former Communist with a PhD in economics. There is a chance that her party (currently carrying her name) could do fairly well, and could take votes from the AfD. Given the level of potential political violence, I'd expect her to have some form of assassination protection in place.

Interesting times indeed.

If you're interested in the AfD/neonazi strategy meeting, you can read the Guardian's report here: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/jan/16/germans-take-to-streets-to-oppose-far-right-afds-mass-deportation-plan

If you're really interested in current German polls, see https://www.wahlrecht.de/umfragen/

94:

I read in the last year that over 1/2 of auto sales in the EU or maybe Europe were SUVs. I suspect they are more like RAV4s or RAV6s than Escalades but still SUVs.

Based on the comments Toyota's RAV4 are not a thing in Europe.

Length and weight

RAV4 4600 mm / 1720 kg

Escalade 5766mm / 2906kg

The RAV6 was an imaginary car that I thought existed. I was thinking of the 6 cylinder engine version of the RAV4 which is no longer made.

Anyway a RAV4 is much more likely to fit into one of those parking spaces we ran into at a mall in Ireland than any Escalade or similar.

95:

I thought it was famous that if you build more road space you get more cars, 'induced demand', until it's just as cramped again.

I see this tossed out all the time when people want to fix overloaded roads. (Robert Moses type building is another different issue.) And these same people also want to stop new buildings as the "roads can't handle" the additional traffic.

What I see if that there are very few places where I've spent much of any time where the roads are sufficient to allow EVERYONE to drive where they want, when they want, in light traffic. Or anything close to it. So new roads or just new lanes quickly fill up due to growing populations AND people moving off over crowded other roadways to the new better roadways.

My brother, who has lived 20 or more miles southwest of the Washington DC area for 40+ years, talks about what people really want. They basically say they want to live on a cul-de-sac, 1 stop sign and a few minutes from the freeway on ramp/exit, 1 exit from work. With shopping in the other direction one exit down. That puzzle just doesn't work.

96:

EC
The solution to that HAS to be piping the power up from points south.
NO - that just buys the Saudis more hostages ....
It's called Nuclear Power, as the French have LONG SINCE demonstrated!
You just have to hang a few fake greenies to persuade people, that's all .. (!)

xbat
Which explains the tories latest utter lunacy ..
The Lower Thames River Crossing which is a multimillion, if not billion pound ROAD
Rather than a double-track rail tunnel, linking, approximately Canterbury + the Medway ports to Colchester & Ipswich & electrifying Ipswich - Derby & Nottingham by 25kV AC - which would be cheaper, too!

Charlie @ 92
Doublesplusgood!

97:

Yes, it is. (It's called Norway.)

When mice dance with elephants they each follow different rules. Especially since the elephants need there to be a reasonable number of mice over the long haul.

98:

farmers have recently ended a week of road-blocking action

Can you explain the point they were trying to make without breaking out of the point of this post? I get reports of this in my Facebook feed but all of the comments assume everyone knows what it is all about.

Based on your full comment I have to wonder if my daughter's work to get German citizenship for her, her brother, and her mom (my wife) makes sense. Or would last.

99:

»I never understood why, with the huge surpluses they had to hand, the Saudis didn't set up a huge PV/wind turbine industry 10 years ago…«

Many years ago I worked for Q8 Petroleum, in a position which got me tangled in a lot of communication well above my pay-grade.

Q8 Petroleum was a conglomerate of more or less random purchases of oil companies through out Europe made by KIC, Kuwait Investment Company, which was set up to invest and future-proof the profits made by KOC, Kuwait Oil Company, because the government of Kuwait knew their oil resources to be finite.

So why on Earth did they invest in oil companies, if the point of their investments was to prepare for a future beyond oil ?

Because the people they put in the investment company where people they trusted, and since these people came from the same place, in terms of geography, culture, education and experience, what they knew something about was ... oil!

It then took them a whole generation, 25-30 years, before they had replaced the "oil-people" with people who were skilled to invest competently in other markets and trusted to do so, and today Q8 is no longer a thing.

I think the crucial thing which enabled Kuwait to do that, is that they knew how small and vulnerable they were - as history also proved.

My impression of Saudi Arabia is that they are far to used to being the biggest bull in the pen, to be able to mobilize the will and skill to execute such a long term scheme.

So I think the answer to your question is: 10 years would never be enough in the first place, it would take 25-30 years, and nothing could motivate them to do so.

100:

»It's called Nuclear Power, as the French have LONG SINCE demonstrated! «

I take it that you have not checked in on the nuclear situation in France in recent decades ?

101:

If we want to run a world economy that needs anywhere near the energy we use now, as EC said, we need to be able to transfer it around. That may mean putting factories where the energy exists and transporting the result or transporting the energy itself.

Islands of self sufficiency will tend to failure.

102:

FUN FACT: nobody ever tells the king (or dictator or cult leader) he has bad breath

so it comes as a surprise when his majesty (or our fearless leader or our appointed spiritual shepherd) develops such severe gum disease as to require massive amounts of medications and surgical removal of bits that simply will never heal

the corrected ending of the "Emperor's New Clothes" would have that little kid Along with his family (and possibly neighbors) tossed into a slimy dungeon never to be seen again

103:

The following is my lay understanding. Late last year, a German constitutional court ruling threw the government's financial planning into disarray and meant that the government suddenly had to find ways to save a lot of money as soon as possible. As part of its savings drive, the government looked to the agricultural sector, among others. Specifically, the plan was to cut the existing subsidy on agricultural diesel and make farmers pay road tax on their vehicles (currently farmers pay no vehicle tax. I'm not sure of my figures, but from memory of news reports this would save nearly a billion Euros. Unsurprisingly, this provoked a huge reaction from the farmers, and there were protests and strong representations. The government actually rowed back partially on the measures, compromising in the face of the protests: the road tax exemption would stay, and the diesel subsidy would be phased out more slowly. But it was too late. The farmers remained enraged and large week-long protests ensued. Why? As I understand it, although farms get tens of thousands of Euros in subsidies each year (even without the abovementioned subsidies), the farming community as a whole has struggled with low prices and high societal demands for years, with increasingly strict environmental rules (e.g. on the use of pesticides) - partially explaining the hatred of the Greens. All of this has led to many farmers exiting the field, so to speak. Personally, I think it's the farmers' equivalent of an inchoate cry of rage, of the same sort that saw the Brexit vote in the UK.

Re: getting German citizenship, I would encourage your daughter to proceed. Yes, the country is in a pickle right now, but I think that there is a reasonable chance that the ship of state will right itself over time. There's lots of work ahead of us, but I see a steely determination in many people to work to prevent the bastards from coming to power. I am cautiously optimistic. With respect to things not working, they are very far from ideal, but they are not terrible either. I've been "complaining from a high level", as the German expression goes. Things do work, for the most part; certainly better than in the UK, where I was until the Brexit effectively forced me to choose family over country. And a friend in the US was telling me that her father is having to wait for months and months to get a fairly urgent appointment with a medical specialist (and that connections enable queue-jumping). That sort of thing is well outside of my experience in Germany. Moreover, the process of acquiring citizenship is a lengthy one. A friend has started the process of applying for citizenship on the basis of (ahem) historical persecution from the 1930s, and he told me that the process takes ages: by the time his citizenship comes through, the fog should have lifted, revealing the prevailing political wind. Sorry for the mixed metaphors.

104:

Saudization...that is replacing foreign workers with Saudi nationals in technical jobs, sounds like a good idea. Except, most Saudis do not have the training, and certainly not the will to do these jobs. Of course, Shia muslims (or women) need not apply.
The KSA army is entirely made up of Saudi nationals and is a multi-billion dollars joke, only able to fight against unarmed civilians (Bahrein).
The saudization program supposed to replace 30% of the foreign workforce with KSA nationals is a complete failure. Companies initially complied with the program (no choice) and brought in quite a few Marlboros who got busy doing absolutely nothing, except pestering their foreign co-workers.

105:

So basically the federal and maybe local governments teed off the farmers to the extend their rage cup overflowed?

Moreover, the process of acquiring citizenship is a lengthy one.

Yes. She's working through a specialist who organizes all the paperwork and such. We are thinking in terms of a year or multiple years.

My wife's mother was born in Germany in 1928 and grew up there as a full citizen. And this was near Stuttgart so it is still a part of official Germany. Which simplifies things. Anyway, all of them have the blood lines needed. While I'm half German on my mother's side, it is the Detroit/Michigan Germans and I'm not sure what the lineage is there.

My wife owns 1/6 of a small garden plot in a German village. She has a second cousin near there who is a lawyer or similar working on getting all the paper work together to sell it to the village government. But there are now about 10 owners spread across 3 or more countries. Just what IS the official way to get an official sealed US birth certificate in English to be recognized in a German court? (Rhetorical question.)

To the original point. We are all intertwined way more than most want to admit. Or even consider.

106:

yup... insight into what is not a well regulated economy nor is there much in way of initiative, creativity, entrepreneurship, or amusing show tunes [1]

====

[1] there being a longstanding death penalty for musical theater

107:

The storage problem has been solved with pumped hydropower. Dinorwic was designed for a daily fill/empty cycle to arbitrage day/night energy. Conventional hydropower works on an annual cycle, relying on rain or snowfall to fill it up.

Daily solar fits the Dinorwic model, but is less useful in northern winters. Wind is somewhere in between. The point is that we have intermittent energy windfalls from renewable surges, that we could bank in reservoirs. Making the turbines work both ways gives a lot more flexibility, and can act as a mitigation for climate variation in rainfall etc too.

This is Deb Chachra's mind shift from material abundance and energy scarcity to energy abundance and material scarcity. Process redesign to take advantage of energy surges, pumping water uphill and running intensive desalination and metal recycling when we have surpluses; use the reservoirs of high PE water when we don't.

108:

My wife owns 1/6 of a small garden plot in a German village. She has a second cousin near there who is a lawyer or similar working on getting all the paper work together to sell it to the village government.

Heh. My wife's mother was the direct heir of a not-insignificant tract of land in Galicia, Spain. She lived in Puerto Rico and then Texas for many years and spent a couple of decades trying to work through Spanish lawyers to sell the property -- guess how that worked out.

109:

background on yet another source of destabilization by religiously motivated thugs

excerpt:

The Houthis have been fighting in civil wars in Yemen on and off since 2004. ... barely remember anything other than war. And that’s really important because we think of war as a last resort. They think of it as a way of life.

https://lite.cnn.com/2024/01/16/opinions/houthis-yemen-gaza-israel-iran-bergen/index.html

110:

There is no need to speculate about why Saudi Arabia didn't do renewables, when one can instead read about the projects currently happening: https://www.pv-magazine.com/press-releases/1-25-gw-yingli-solar-to-supply-panda-n-type-high-efficiency-modules-for-mega-pv-power-plant-in-the-middle-east/ and read about the strategic project this is part of.

111:

whether JT is smart enough to make a graceful exit before next Christmas

I live in hope that JT will take a page from his father's playbook and announce his departure on 29 February - the 40th anniversary of Pierre Trudeau's announcement that he would resign.

112:

Exactly. The real target of worldwide fascism is green infrastructure. (Though they're gonna shaft the Gays, Black, Jews, women, etc., in passing.)

113:

spent a couple of decades trying to work through Spanish lawyers to sell the property -- guess how that worked out.

The advantage here is the village WANTS to buy it. We all want to sell. And it is a family member who is coordinating and not charging us for her time. But that also makes it a slow process.

114:

A few observations

Iran just dropped missiles on Iraq and Pakistan so it might be a bit optimistic to think they aren’t going to further destabilize the Middle East. A general war there may well happen in 2024

Xi on the other hand seems to have flipped the rock over on military corruption and found things are way way worse then his worse nightmare. The purge is underway but I think it’s really unlikely he will take the US on directly in next five years. More likely he finds himself a nice little test war somewhere

China is making some really cheap electric cars and exporting them massively. I think they will only get cheaper and better and what will eventually kill off IC cars will be pure price point.

I doubt Putin will ever go after any other country. Even if he managed to defeat the Ukrainians in a conventional war, he will be left with a very hard to manage and well funded insurgency.

115:

The storage problem has been solved with pumped hydropower

You must live in an area where vertical can be measured in 100s of meters. There are wast swaths of North American where you could fit most off the European land mass and not have a place to store water like this.

And there is a need for energy in that area.

And the US (and I suspect other places) has discovered that large dams have long term issues and is dismantling some of them that would be good places to store hydro energy.

"One size fits all" is not a solution to the world's energy problems.

116:

"Are they lazy, thick, arrogant or just too busy slicing up dissenting journalists?"

Yes.

117:

storage solves the diurnal variation problem, but not the annual variation

It's not just diurnal and annual variation, but also intermediate time scales. I've been following this for a couple of year for EU, UK and US data and two or three times a year there comes a week when the wind + solar contribution goes way down. Currently, the deficit is made up with fossil, mainly natural gas CCGT.

So the storage that will replace natural gas will have to deal with that, at least until the wind + solar contribution can get big enough to float over the dips in wind and sun without need for storage. I don't think that's going to happen for a while.

118:

Charlie Stross @ 21:

My guess is that if the USA (and possibly Canada, too) leaves NATO, then the rump of 4NATO will probably get renamed and restructured in some manner that encourages tight French integration and leaves room for UK buy-in, and then be absorbed by the EU.

I understand the fears about the USA betraying NATO, but why "and possibly Canada, too"?

119:

syntheticbrain @ 23:

Hang on a minute.

South Korea is supplying tanks to Poland - who are sending their excess to Ukraine.

North Korea are selling arms to the Russians.

Is this the first case of two SE Asian countries fighting a proxy war in Europe?

If so I don't think it's going to remain a "proxy war" for very long.

North Korea recently announced that peaceful "reunification" with South Korea is no longer a goal.

“We can specify in our constitution the issue of completely occupying, subjugating and reclaiming the ROK and annexing it as a part of the territory of our ​republic in case a war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula,”

Just one of many places that are going to hell right quick if the U.S. turns to isolationism again.

And it won't be long after that before the two oceans DO NOT provide protection (and it won't be just predatory NAZI U-Boats hunting off of Cape Hatteras or Houthis trying to sink American ships in the Red Sea).

120:

when it comes to "pumped hydropower" the attributes boil down to (a) difference in altitude and (b) volume of water

PE = A * B

yes, greater difference from being higher is better but you can just increase the volume to make up for it

121:

hmmm @ 39:

I simply don't believe in a nuclear war. I don't actually believe either China or Russia are capable of it (what with water instead of fuel in your missiles...) And in any case, it's not a sensible worry: you can't prepare for it usefully. I am burnt out and depressed, and I don't have time for useless crap.

I don't think China will launch a preemptive strike. Russia, I'm not so sure of. If Putin ever convinces himself he can get away with it, I think he will at least use a tactical nuke (and it wouldn't surprise me if it was a "demonstration/decapitation strike" against Kyiv).

Then there's North Korea. I just don't think Kim Jong Un has got all his marbles. There's no telling what he's capable of. Think Curly Joe from the Three Stooges, but as an EVIL narcissistic sociopath instead of a slapstick comic. He just manages to hide it better than Trump.

India and Pakistan ... and Kashmir.

Finally, in extremis, Israel ain't going down alone. Never again! They WILL take their enemies down with them.

Once it starts ANYWHERE it's going to spread.

122:

Greg Tingey @ 40:

PV
I wish I could install PV, without a disastrous ROI - undoubtedly a deliberate scam by the tories & the energy suppliers. Really, REALLY annoying, to say the least.

I don't care about the "ROI" - IF I could just pay for it I'd do it; for the benefit to the world community - my gift to tomorrow's children.

Take my own "carbon footprint" down to ease the burden on others. I've looked into it though, and I'd have to borrow money I couldn't pay back; not even if I was able to entirely eliminate my electric bill (eliminate drawing electricity from the grid).

It's just beyond my reach.

123:

So you're personally OK with the idea of, say, flooding the whole of greater Noo Yoick in order to provide Albany with electrickery?

124:

just increase the volume to make up for it

Have you ever driven across the North American Plains. They are flat and go one for 100s of miles.

You're basically saying flood the farmlands of the US and Canada.

125:

If Solar becomes a serious power source as opposed to "Greenwashing for natural gas" that really does imply a whole lot of HVDC cabling running north-south - putting the panels where the sun doesn't disappear for 3 months a year is not just a little advantage, it's an absolute necessity if you want the storage part to be actually-buildable.

That's going to have interesting geo-political consequences since the political relationships there are currently.. mostly not great. It'd be a bit of a.. lift to turn North Africa into an integrated part of the European economic-political system.

France is re-tooling it's nuclear industry with a vengeance that implies they don't think this is going to happen. (The french plan is reactors, offshore wind, and a whole lot of electrolysis to turn surplus electricity into a chemical industry input.) They're probably right.

I do expect someone to turn an equatorial position into an solar-industrial complex success story. But it needs political stability and industrial skills, so it might end up being.. Like, Peru and Chile - which have areas with enormous amount of annual sunshine and mountains to build pumped storage in.

Russia can't take the EU in a fight, even assuming total US isolationism.

I'm very confident about this.

I am much less confident anyone is going to tell Putin that.

126:

ilya187 @ 54:

What does Harry Turtledove have to do with this?

He writes a lot of "alternative" history stories - South won the American Civil War, Japan invaded Hawaii right after Pearl Harbor, Korean War escalates into WW3 after Truman allows MacArthur to use the bomb ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Turtledove_bibliography

127:

Comment from Youtube - Laura Farms "our local river is a mile wide, but only an inch deep".

128:

Yes. The 3 major river systems of the interior US, Missouri, Mississippi, and Ohio are really now a series of lakes with small dams every so often. But there is almost no power generation with any of this except maybe in the upper Ohio and it's feeders. It is all just too flat for the water height differential to spin enough turbines at a useful speed. And putting more water behind most any of them would over top the current levies and or banks. I've driven along the Mississippi south of St. Louis during a major flood. The highway is surrounded by water for miles in all directions. But it is less than 5 or 10 feet deep in most places.

129:

I am referring to Charlie's post. Namely, to optimism about renewables replacing fossil fuels. As far as I know, the existing storage solutions are nowhere near to enabling a significant country (read: global north, I don't care how Maldives power themselves, their main business is global north tourists anyway) to use renewables. Which means that even if you tiled the country completely in PVs, you'd still have to maintain the entire 100% capacity in coal/gas/uranium, because you can't shut down the grid for a week while you wait for the sun.

So being optimistic about PVs build up is rather naive.

130:

Nope. Area of Europe is a smidge over 10m sq.km, whereas US is a smidge under - unless you mean the contiguous part, in which case US is a bit over 7.5.

As for flooding noo yoik- sounds good to me. I’ve visited it. I got shot at.

Apparently using current solar cell technology it would require 120,000 sq miles of panels to run the entire world. That’s about 350 miles square. You could lose that entire array in a corner of Texas/Nevada/California/etc. You could replicate the same in North Africa, China, Australia, probably even Spain. Even Russia, though somebody would probably steal it. With some decent extension cables you could run the world, no problem.

131:

I said
There are wast swaths of North American

Then you said
Nope. Area of Europe is a smidge over 10m sq.km, whereas US is a smidge under - unless you mean the contiguous part, in which case US is a bit over 7.5

Canada is pretty big. And a part of the North American continent with a huge swath of flat land.

And we were talking pumped hydro, not PV. Except as the source of pumped hydro.

132:

Here in Taiwan, there's a tendency not to take any risk of invasion by China remotely seriously. Out walking with my dog the other week, my phone started making a BRAAAPP BRAAAPP noise and I saw an onscreen government alert, in both Mandarin and English, about an incoming missile. This, as I'm sure you know, turned out to be nothing more than a satellite launch that 'unexpectedly' passed over Taiwan's airspace.

I didn't see anyone do anything more than glance at their phone and continue on. Business as usual. The last time a lot of sabre-rattling went on in Beijing, the only thing I can recall happening in Taiwan of any note was a 'foam party', basically a rave with bubbles. Otherwise, zero response, zero concern.

I think the reason the threat of invasion isnt taken at all seriously is that so much of Taiwanese and Chinese business is deeply interrelated, especially with Taiwanese business manufacturing endless numbers of goods - bicycles, for instance - on the mainland. Any invasion would be disastrous for both economies. There's also a strong tendency among the Taiwanese to want to maintain the status quo on the basis that Taiwan doesn't need to declare independence (as I think current Premier Tsai put it)since it's already evidently independent.

That said - that said - I wonder how much of this careful balance is down to the relative sanity of those in charge. Putin looks obviously bonkers to me, with his big long desks separating him from everyone else, and I wonder just how much Xi is in touch with reality. If he goes full Dear Leader, then maybe all bets are off. And yes, I agree, the potential abandonment of Ukraine would be a worrying step in that regard.

134:

An internal - NOT directly related to the US election- but a storm approaching, just the same:
Deregulation for the greedy wreckers, it seems
If it grows chop it down, burn it, poison everything for money?
Anyone from the US want to comment?
H?

135:

My opinion on the "risk to NATO / Russian invasion of Poland/Finland/The Baltics" - and note I've been living in (central) Poland since before the current invasion.

The risk started and ended at that one errand rocket that killed two very unfortunate people in Poland, back in November 2022.

Basically you have orders of magnitude more chance of getting hurt in a vehicle accident than you have due to any Russian operation, special or not special.

It became obvious that the original plan of "We'll be hanging Russian flags on government buildings in Kiev in two weeks!" is a giant fiasco, and the closest Russia got was still 40 km away from Kiev.

From Kiev to the Polish border it's more than 500 km.

Now Putin can't stop/cancel the current invasion as it is, because that would be career ending. At the same time they do understand that it is an attrition war and Ukraine will run out of Ukrainians well before Russia runs out of its cannon fodder.

In fact Ukraine since last December is pushing for lowering of service age and mobilising half a million more people for the fight.

And please lemme kindly remind that Javelins, Drones, and definitely F-16s do not magically due anything on their own. They need trained personnel. You can't force any human to be good at anything, and just like with sleep or drinking water you can't "squeeze it in".

So from where I sit it is just a matter of time when we hear that Zelenskyy started negotiations with Russia/Putin. The end state will then be the new "republics" joining the Russian Federation, and the New Ukraine probably signing some "safety measures".

The USA and EU will the begin extraction in the New Ukraine, while in "the republics" the Russian oligarchs will begin the extraction. Of anything of value. (I surely hope I'm just a very mistaken cynic here... hope).

The world will forget the whole affair with exactly the same speed it forgot Russia has annexed Crimea a decade ago.

136:

That may mean putting factories where the energy exists and transporting the result or transporting the energy itself

People have been carting aluminium ore considerable distances for a long time, because that's easier than moving huge quantities of electricity to the ore. IIRC similar situation with titanium. I vaguely recall that the Haber-Bosch process and its various descendents also like a bit of electricity. Those all like a continuous supply, though. OTOH places like Saudi Arabia have both mountains and insolation, and there are experimental pumped hydro systems using seawater which I'm sure money would make into real systems fairly quickly.

Pumped hydro is more of a solution for people who have mountains and stable governments, so much of US is going to be building chemical batteries or following Texas down the route of "sorry no electricity for most of you for a while. But prices are high, very high, so it's very profitable for us". I'd be smug about that but Aotearoa just elected some nihilist fuckwits who are doing similar stupid things there. Meanwhile Australia has moved from making nihilist mumbling noises to making sensible mumbling noises... no change to the actions that I can see.

My suspicion is that the wave of hatred for new power lines is partly due to the above. It's another way to delay to transition to less suicidal high energy society, and that is very much the agenda of certain groups.

137:

As I posted, that's soluble, but not purely locally. In north-west Europe, most of our power would come from North Africa or Spain via damn great cables. Multiple sets from multiple sources, in case of failure.

Yes, we would still have the problem of needing storage for night-time, but it would be 12 hours' worth rather than weeks'.

138:

True, but there are a lot of those "crossover" cars, built on SUV platforms without SUV carrying or off-road capabilities. They're big, ugly hunks of steel, too big for what they accomplish. National downsizing from crossovers (40-ish m.p.g) to modern hatchbacks (50-ish up to low 60s mpg if driven carefully) would be a useful reduction in pollution.

139:

The storage problem has been solved with pumped hydropower. Dinorwic was designed for a daily fill/empty cycle to arbitrage day/night energy.

Dinorwig was horrendously expensive and apart from load-balancing the grid its primary emergency function is as a backstop that can re-energize the UK national grid for a black start, i.e. the grid has crashed, Dinorwig is the starter battery that lets other power plants come online and synch with it when it's time to reboot everything. (Which has never happened to date, but without Dinorwig we'd be in a bad place if it was ever needed.)

Problem is, Dinorwig at full output holds enough water in the upper reservoir to meet UK energy demand for something like 15 minutes. And it's one of the best geological options in the UK for a pumped hydro battery.

Pumped storage requires some very specific geological conditions. You need mountains and adjacent valleys, the rock has to be impermeable/hard (forget sandstone or limestone), then some of the mountains need to have either a high altitude reservoir or to be hollowed out.

GB has lots of mountains, but they're complete arse for pumped hydro -- they're not very high and they're not near handy bodies of water.

140:

I do expect someone to turn an equatorial position into an solar-industrial complex success story.

You haven't been paying attention to solar in China and India, have you. (Multi-gigawatt grid scale solar farms being built out and expanded by the month.)

141:

Putin looks obviously bonkers to me, with his big long desks separating him from everyone else

Putin is clearly out of touch with reality (if he wasn't he wouldn't have invaded Ukraine), but in context the big long desks are totally sensible: Putin is a cancer survivor and presumably had chemotherapy that left him immunocompromised. He's also over 70 years old. Both those things put him at extreme risk of morbidity/mortality if he caught COVID before vaccination, and even with a full vaccination course (and not the less-effective Russian Sputnik vaccine) COVID is no joke. COVID is airborn, so "not breathing other peoples' exhalations" is a good policy. But as a politician, Putin is probably aware that wearing a mask would damage his "hard man" image among his stupider followers. So he relies on physical distance (which doubles as primate dominance signaling) and probably full-blast air filtration.

142:

Charlie @ 139
Isn't there a larger complex - being expanded ( IIRC ) near Ben Cruachan in Scotland?
And a proposal to build another one using Loch Ness as the bottom-lake, as well?

143:

I originally thought that sounded unlikely, but I have looked over maps of the Highlands and I couldn't find any sites for more than small amounts of pumped storage. Even those would need sizeable dams and long pipes, and that was ignoring any subsoil problems.

While batteries are not yet a solution to the diurnal variation, I have been convinced that they could be one. But that isn't going to happen by accident. As you know, we need 10 PJ for that.

144:

No. It's smaller. The expansion might bring it up to 60% of Dinorwig's generating capacity, but it would still have slightly less storage capacity.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinorwig_Power_Station https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruachan_Power_Station

145:

I just checked; from the Loch Sloy dam to the power station is some 3.4 km by a Range Bearing Line, before allowing for the effects of the 277m head from the dam surface to the turbines.

146:

True, but there are a lot of those "crossover" cars, built on SUV platforms without SUV carrying or off-road capabilities. They're big, ugly hunks of steel, too big for what they accomplish. National downsizing from crossovers (40-ish m.p.g) to modern hatchbacks (50-ish up to low 60s mpg if driven carefully) would be a useful reduction in pollution.

Agreed. The key word in "bloated SUVs and pickup trucks" is bloated. They were designed, built, and sold as profit maximization devices. The advertising plans to keep building bigger started in the mid-90s, and leaked well before the biggest models ever saw daylight. Persistent lobbying has kept these legal as fuel inefficient trucks, even though most are useless for utility hauling and are obviously massively oversized commuter vehicles that could be half-sized or smaller.

So much for American innovation. Anyway, the Big Bloat car companies are now struggling to change their business models, with predictable results.

147:

Well there is this: https://www.theplanner.co.uk/2023/12/14/third-loch-ness-pumped-storage-hydro-project-proposed

There are also various battery storage projects being proposed/planned/built (across Scotland).

148:

Both China and India are playing catchup, increasing their total generating capacity to meet increased electricity demand. They're building hydro dams, coal-fired power stations, solar arrays, wind turbines etc. to provide more civilisation-by-wire to their populatio rather than replacing fossil fuel generating capacity.

Coal burned for electricity generation is almost always sourced from within a nation's borders. For China and (I think India), gas is mostly an expensive import with few local native sources that can be extracted without hindrance by other nations imposing sanctions (USA cough cough) or blowing up pipelines (Blue Hades say no more). That;'s why both nations are building new coal-fired power stations.

149:

History doesn't repeat but it does rhyme.

This isn't the first time that lower birthrates and depopulation led to increased immigration and then a nativist backlash against those foreign migrants.

But unlike Europeans being afraid of dark skinned Muslims and Africans, and Americans fearing Hispanics, those migrants back then were light skinned Germanic Nordics overflowing the Mediterranean Roman Empire.

After generations of reduced population caused by urbanization, birth control etc. and spiked by massive plagues that repeatedly swept through the highly urbanized Roman Empire (it would take until the Victorian age for Europe to have as high a percentage urban population as the Romans at their height). Combine this with climate change making the world colder with resultant crop failures and you have a demographic disaster for the Empire.

So they needed migrants to farm, labor and fill the ranks of the legions. The vast majority of the Barbarians crossed the Rhine and Danube (the Roman Rio Grande) at imperial invitations. At first they reinvigorated the empire, reversing its demographic decline and re-establishing its defenses. The late Roman army was actually an effective fighting machine led by barbarian generals like Stilicho who fought to the death to preserve a culture they had come to love.

Until the Romans turned on them.

The worst example being the treatment of Visigoth refugees fleeing the Huns (immigrants today are mostly refugees). The Romans demanded heavy tribute, selling Visigoth children into slavery. The oppressed Visigoths revolted and destroyed the Roman army at Adrianople, a defeat the Empire never recovered from.

Here's a question for any ancient scholars out there. Are their any examples of late Roman anti-barbarian writings or polemics in the extant literature of that day? Those would make the historical analogy complete.

151:

The link is to "The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History"

152:

That's only the size of Cruachan. Such nibbles are good for very short-term smoothing or black starts but go nowhere with the diurnal variation problem. Even with that, the UK's total pumped storage capacity is only about 30 minutes of current electricity usage, or under 10 minutes of our total power usage (once we have gone all renewable).

I have an economist friend who has just got a paper accepted describing how the USA built up its industry in the period 1937-1944, with some mention of how the UK did something similar, and how the same could be done for a green revolution. It's all about the economics and governance, but there are plenty of people here who can cover the engineering aspects. It's possible, but it needs leaders who are as socialist as Roosevelt and Churchill, and an industrial revolution comparable to the New Deal and the British equivalent. As many people have been saying for decades :-(

153:

in terms of forestalling infection, filtration regrettably assumes quality of materials and attention to detail... at a nexus of power and paranoia and temptation towards an early retirement of a long lasting superior cockblocking one's advancement to the heights of power by way of whooopsies in quality or neglecting to swap out saturated filters or replace burnt out UV bulbs

deemed by many to be more reliable is positive pressure airflow... in this case Putin stays up wind and there's a steady 2 KM/H indoor breeze... simpler and cheaper... with a big plus in affording Putin the option to release any additive his whimsy is inclined towards... noxious stinks for a light prank or perhaps traces of vomit gas to remind subordinates who's in control of their air... all the way up to some ugly shit with a 99% morality whilst being fast acting... which thus affords Putin the satisfaction to watch a potential challenger to his authority die right there in front of him

best of all: everyone walking in and feeling that breeze will grasp their vulnerability and watch closely as his fingers remain in reach of various 'n sundry buttons

154:

https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2023/apr/14/how-uniqlos-15-crossbody-bag-conquered-the-world

here's a low key 'bug out bag' for critical essentials of cash-cards-passports-meds and given how commonplace any woman carrying it is overlooked in the crowds

as a plus authors of magick realms including OGH could tweak the bag into an infinite bottomless bag of carrying... goodness gracious every woman I ever dated somehow had something akin to magicked bottomlessness in their purses... a girlfriend literally covered a desktop with stuff during a futile hunt for a pair of critical movie tickets (Star Trek reboot in 2009)... it was horrifying to watch how she unpacked 37 pounds from a shoulder bag weighing no more than 8 pounds... no really

turned out the tickets were magneted to her frig

155:

What might China do in Taiwan if Beijing took it over?
Here’s what China’s ambassador to France Lu Shaye, speaking on French television, said:
“Reeducate” the population. Why do I say ‘reeducate’? Because the Taiwan authorities have imposed a ‘de-Sinicization’ education on the population, which is effectively indoctrination and intoxication. Reeducation is necessary to eliminate separatist thought and secessionist theory.”

156:

I'm excited and optimistic about the long-term impact of renewable energy, solar PV especially. I think over the next 20 years we're going to find ourselves living in a world with abundant and cheap energy and that the energy will be becoming more abundant and cheaper year on year. That's great news for almost everyone.

Some of the second and third order effects I'm looking forward to from cheaper energy include a steady improvement to economic growth. Directly from the additional energy supply but also from the extra spending power released in developed countries from cheaper energy and the productivity boost in developing countries from abundant energy. Also the positive impact on price stability and exogenous oil price shocks to the economy. I think also less regional concentration of energy supply with reduced impacts on economic stability from conflicts in or with parts of the world with oil and gas.

I think we're more likely to get a long running benign economic situation as cheaper renewables come on line. Longer periods of steady economic growth with low inflation and low interest rates. That sounds good.

This in turn probably helps with political stability and solidarity and co-ordination. Fewer people under economic pressure, more resources to solve problems and more even distribution of productivity in the world. That all sounds politically beneficial. That's before considering that some of the countries that export cheap oil and gas in large volumes are unsympathetic to liberal social democracies.

There's still a lot of infrastructure to be built and some technical, but not technological, problems to be solved. Fortunately we're still at the point where we can absorb more renewables on to the grid and keep gaining from the learning curve effects and economies of scale without having to add huge amounts of storage. Certainly not all in one go. California being an exception to this. Batteries continue to show improvements in technical and economic performance. I think we've got at least 10 years before we reach the point where we can't install more renewables because we can't move or store the power - and over those ten years, more HVDC cables will be built, batteries and other storage technologies will mature and cheapen. I think we'll find that as renewable capacity increases that drives supply of storage and movement just in time.

I also think we'll see some significant deployment of geo-thermal electricity generation using directional drilling techniques from the North Sea and shale oil industries.

And lots more cables.

In addition to shorter cables like the Viking Link between the UK and Denmark

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viking_Link

There are a couple of interest long-distance cable projects which I'm following.

XLinks, which is a large solar PV, wind and battery park with a 3.6GW (that's nuclear power plant sized) cable from Morocco to the south coast of the UK. If it goes ahead completing sometime in the 2030's.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xlinks_Morocco%E2%80%93UK_Power_Project

and the Sun Cable Australia Asia energy cable from Darwin to Singapore

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia-Asia_Power_Link

Both at very early stages of development and neither without a history of set backs. Both projects become more feasible as solar PV costs come down.

There's lots of opportunity to achieve some arbitrage with longer cables

157:

"New lanes fill up"? I've read that one of the first big city freeways, the Philadelphia Schuylkill Expressway (aka the Schuylkill parking lot) when it first opened in the mid-fifties was planned to expect 50,000 vehicles PER YEAR. In one year, they found it was being used by 50,000 vehicles per day.

The only answer is cheaper and far more frequent public transit

158:

I just got a new roof in '22. I may get around to talking to a solar company, and find out what installing solar would do to my 35 year warranty. I can't screw that, I can't afford to.

160:

The people I'm speaking to may be lying, or they may be being lied to, but I am hearing things indirectly from inside Labour that they are realising that if they win big (which looks increasingly plausible), then they will create a set of expectations just by the size of the victory to achieve more with it than they are going to write into the manifesto (which is going to be a very thin plan). So they're considering creating a "shadow manifesto", ie a list of things they can do that aren't in the manifesto, that will look like (and be) bigger achievements than their public promises, that are things that Starmer actually wants to do, and that either don't directly contradict their promises, or that they can justify breaking their literal promises to do.

The idea is so if they do get a 200-seat majority, they at least have some "stretch goals". There seems to be a very quiet trawl for ideas to put in there - things they can run past Starmer.

The Brown review of devolution seems to have been one of these; there is talk about some sort of re-entry into the EU single market and customs union without formally calling it that; questions about how, politically, to achieve a big housing target (one idea that has been dangled: allow councils to build council housing in other council's areas and override some of the planning constraints, but the building council becomes responsible for services - this will let Labour councils build in Tory areas, with the Tories getting the blame); House of Lords Reform (which is part of the Brown plan); sadly, probably reviving the Brown-era ID cards plan (Starmer is more of a Brownite than a Blairite, to the extent that matters 15 years after the end of the TB-GBs); probably something on immigration with a big increase in spending on courts and lawyers, but also probably a revival of large-scale detention (likely building a new detention centre for immigrants).

These are just the ones that got trailed in my direction - there's bound to be something NHS in there, and probably some education things: I suggested a few other ideas (which I won't repeat here because I don't want my fingerprints on them).

161:

And I just saw a news story today that one of TFG-appointed "Justices" has an issue with regulation at all.

162:

But.. Loch Ness... we don't want Nessie caught in the power plant! (Some on, someone had to say it.)

163:

Well there is this: https://www.theplanner.co.uk/2023/12/14/third-loch-ness-pumped-storage-hydro-project-proposed

Which says, "The application is to build and operate a 600 megawatt pumped storage scheme..."

It's a shame that reporting on storage projects usually gives their specifications in watts. If that means "maximum discharge power" that's important, but omits the even more important storage capacity, which should be given in watt-hours (or joules or calories or poundal-feet or whatever).

164:

It's 7.5 GW-hr, much the same as Cruachan - I looked at the project Web pages.

165:

If Saudi builds a load of solar farms, then the smart move would then be to build plants to electrolyse water into hydrogen, plants to do atmospheric carbon dioxide capture, and then run a Sabatier plant to combine the two into methane and put that into LNG tankers.

Zero-net-carbon LNG would be a smart way to store and transport the energy from solar, and would use existing infrastructure that Saudi already has lots of.

166:

If Saudi builds a load of solar farms, then the smart move would then be to build plants to electrolyse water into hydrogen, plants to do atmospheric carbon dioxide capture, and then run a Sabatier plant to combine the two into methane and put that into LNG tankers.

Water in a desert? Ummmm, wouldn't it make more sense to use their remaining oil as feedstock for the most profitable and long-lasting plastics that can be made with solar electricity? Then market them as carbon neutral, even carbon capture and storage? Yes, I'm an environmentalist and yes this is snark.

The answer to the problem of sustainable energy definitely includes using less energy, so things like crashing most social media, having fewer useless video channels, talking to live humans, and ditching most AI, Big Data, and cryptocurrencies really should be on the table. We're using far more energy for video and computing than we did when this blog started, and the world's not noticeably better for it. Can we really afford our tech addiction anymore?

167:

Zero-net-carbon LNG would be a smart way to store and transport the energy from solar

I'm very tempted to agree, but remember that CH4 is itself a potent greenhouse gas. Care would be needed to prevent/minimize leaks during production, transportation, storage and use.

Green methanol, ammonia and hydrogen are also candidates for chemical energy storage, probably others. Again, careful analyses of the possible downsides need to be made.

168:

I'm a large person - tall and fat - and also not very flexible, so if I'm driving, I like a generous amount of room. I tend to hire something from the "Standard SUV" range from car hire places - Enterprise give the Ford Kuga as an example, which is 4629mm long and weighs 1418kg. That's a large car by almost all UK standards. Even the "luxury" SUVs (BMW, Mercedes, Range Rover) aren't much bigger, they just have a much higher trim level; they are heavier, though.

So yes, something about the size of a RAV4.

The "small" SUV is something like a Nissan Juke, which is a class of car that likely doesn't exist in the US (4210mm long, weights are ranges but 1200kg is central) - that's a very common vehicle.

169:

It's 7.5 GW-hr, much the same as Cruachan

Thanks. So, full-out, it would go from full to empty in about half a day. Undoubtedly useful for short-term/ moderate buffering -- which is why, I assume, it was built.

170:

I worked for a transportation planning group, and our rule of thumb was "If you build a freeway to ease congestion, in five years it will be congested again.". Things didn't always work that way, but they usually did.

171:

dude you got it all wrong

Nessy is part of the migrant/refugee[1] labor pool being exploited

====

[1] displaced a couple million years and much of her species dead, yeah that's a refugee

172:

Water in a desert?

If you've got tons of spare electricity, and this only makes any sense if they do, then desalinating seawater is the least of your problems.

You're going to have the desalination, electrolysis and Sabatier plants along the coast, with them then loading into LNG tankers, so you don't have to transport the LNG or the water long distances. The hard bit is that the DAC plants really should be distributed widely, but then you have to transport the CO2 to the Sabatier plants, and it's not especially easy to transport - the easiest answer is to build the DAC at decommissioned oil well and then use the existing pipelines to transport it to the port which is where you'll co-located the factory parts.

173:

https://electrek.co/2023/04/12/uk-largest-ever-grid-scale-battery/. We already have smaller Tesla grid scale battery sites running.

174:

In the real world, the collected figures for 2023 suggest the planet extracted and burned 1% more fossil fuel in total than it did in 2022. The Mauna Loa CO2 observatory reports that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere increased by 2.9 ppm in 2023 to about 422 ppm.

175:

Re: '... the Canadian electorate will likely run screaming away from the leader who is doing his best to import that style of dogwhistle combative bullshit politics to our country'

Ahem ... Alberta's newish Premier (Danielle Smith) - she's a full-on Con besotted by make-believe capitalism. My impression is that she wants to pull Alberta out of Canada one social program at a time.

(I recently visited family in Calgary - largest city in Alberta and completely opposite to what you'd expect given current provincial politics/headlines.)

Haven't read the rest of the posts yet ...

But the number of major elections scheduled for this year is amazing - or does this happen regularly and I just haven't been following enough international news?

I'd be interested in knowing which media are favored by what types of parties/pols and voting results. I just saw a Consumer Reports petition for gov't action/legislation forbidding the sale of PPI between vendors, social media groups, and others, i.e., foreign vendors/gov'ts, etc. Reason I mention this is because apart from the black-box style of influence via social media, usage of this type of media really screws up any accounting within the countries where election spending is reported/capped.

176:

Re: Typo '... sale of PPI'

Should be PII - personally identifiable information.

My brain/finger connections didn't spot this in time.

177:

"Sabatier plants along the coast"
Ok, what do good kitchen knives have to do with decarbonising the economy? ;-)

178:

On the renewable energy storage problem, this is one area where hydrogen could be useful. It's also something I haven't seen from the fossil fuel industry hydrogen push.

A starting point would require significant excess capacity of renewable generation, to the point where your country's energy needs are met entirely by your wind turbines and solar panels running at 50% of their capacity.

When production exceeds demand, put the excess into storage - pumped hydro, batteries, and then make hydrogen and oxygen with electrolysis. It's possible to store quite a lot of it. Then when needed, run it through fuel cells, capture the water out of the end to go back into your electrolysis rigs.

I am aware of the significant round-trip losses of doing this, I'm thinking of it as a costly but fairly rarely used alternative to firing up gas burning power plants on days like today. The advantage is that getting gigawatt-hours of quite inefficient hydrogen fuel cell capacity is much cheaper than gigawatt-hours of batteries.

179:

Hydrogen is terrible for storage -- requires cryogenic handling or huge volume, embrittles and diffuses through metals, etc.

Ammonia is less terrible for storage, it's just horrifically poisonous if it leaks.

Methanol is more easily handled, and while it's poisonous if it leaks it's less of an acute problem than ammonia (methanol being liquid at STP, so there's not a significant inhalation problem, while ammonia gassifies).

Possibly a better solution would be to use methane as a first step in polymerization up to C8-C10 alkanes, also known as kerosene. It's a little lossy but it's dense, liquid at room temperature, not horrifyingly toxic, and has the added bonus that we can burn it in jet engines and diesels so keep air travel and shipping going without replacing the infrastructure.

And synthetic kerosene, made from atmospheric CO2 and water, doesn't add fossil carbon to the biosphere when you burn it.

Only problem is going to get people to understand that "zero carbon" as a slogan needs to be replaced by "zero fossil carbon".

180:

The commonest car sold in the UK as of a couple of years ago was the Nissan Qashqai (which IIRC was designed and manufactured in the UK to meet local requirements), It's a 4.5 metre long crossover/compact SUV, with a gross weight of roughly 2000kg (4400lbs).

The Cadillac Escalade is 2600kg and 5.6 metres long, so considerably bigger.

181:

Sorry, but big data is not all bad. I can assure you from personal professional knowledge that it's more and more heavily used in biomedical research.

Please note that before I retired/switched careers to writing, I spent '09 to '19 working on campus at the NIH.

182:

Re: 'Saudi Arabia ... stakeholders in fossil fuels simply allow their wealth-power-influence to fade quietly?'

First off - SA used to import its racing camels from other African countries but due to climate change, etc., it now imports most/all of its racing camels from Australia. Weird - wonder whether this gives Aussies a foot in the door (soft power) for discussing other matters with SA.

Although oil is still the biggest contributor to its GDP, SA is also heavily investing in solar energy - probably not in areas that regularly see sand storms. Also, one of its major growing industries is cloud & data centers.

Then there's real estate and ag ... like in Arizona in the one spot where water usage* is unregulated! Heteromeles might have more current info about their land lease/purchase in California and impact on local water usage.

*FYI - the land/water is for growing alfalfa which is then shipped to SA to feed their camels. In many ways this is comparable to the Soviets using the water from the Aral Sea to grow cotton - the Aral Sea is now dead and the cotton market went belly up mostly because of UN sanctions against forced harvesting (yeah - Soviet version of the cotton-slave trade).

https://www.cnbc.com/2016/01/15/saudi-arabia-buying-up-farmland-in-us-southwest.html#:~:text=As%20the%20owners%20of%20the,which%20has%20strict%20groundwater%20rules.

Lastly - money/shares are very portable and transferable, no reason to keep it all in SA or any one industry.

183:

But where would they get the carbon from? If anyone solves the (bulk) carbon capture problem, we could do what you say and pump the kerosene back into the disused oil wells, which would help even more than just going to net zero!

In my view, the reason for the hydrogen fetish is purely that it gives its proponents a way of evading the carbon capture problem. Yes, it's 'zero emission', but so are batteries.

184:

In the UK, they are trying to build a database of fully-sequenced DNA against medical history, treatments, outcomes etc. for all cancers. That could vastly reduce the number of people being given ineffectual and harmful chemotherapy, which I can witness is NOT something that anyone wants.

185:

I.e. twice the weight of my comparably functional Skoda Fabia 'estate'. Yes, it is probably a lot more comfortable, but ....

186:

big plus for "synthetic kerosene" being the opportunity to avoid traces of crud not easily separated out from crude oil distilled into kerosene... no such thing as pure quill... so right there avoiding some measure of pollution...

so too... tweaking 'just right' towards whatever is optimal mix for specific jet engines... bespoke aviation fuel was one of those things deemed too expensive... but if we're gonna build molecules from atoms why not?

what really intrigue me is the economics of smaller scaled petrochemical reactors... instead of huge chemical plants there'd be more downscaled facilities placed in easier reach of consumption...

so here's an unlikely dream:

cover every patch of surface at airports starting with roofs and sun-facing walls with PVs... there's a kerosene reactor down the road out of the glide path which cooks up enough each day for the next day's outbound flights... delivered thru deeply buried pipelines... which utterly bugger over OPEC since aviation is a huge consumer of kerosene...

ditto for farming provinces/counties the world over... but diesel not kerosene

with OPEC howling in rage and me with a big bowl of freshly made popcorn

187:

our rule of thumb was "If you build a freeway to ease congestion

Utopia had it more as "a small reduction in travel time for a brief period".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtO_rF-OQ7w they even have the exact clip up

188:

Water in a desert?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium%E2%80%93air_battery they work and they can be set up the burn solid aluminium back to more or less ore. If you ran it as a semi open cycle process it would amount to shipping lots of electricity in a form suitable for long term storage.

Might be easier than purify seawater to the point where you can electrolyse it.

189:

Heteromeles @ 166:

"If Saudi builds a load of solar farms, then the smart move would then be to build plants to electrolyse water into hydrogen, plants to do atmospheric carbon dioxide capture, and then run a Sabatier plant to combine the two into methane and put that into LNG tankers."

Water in a desert? Ummmm, wouldn't it make more sense to use their remaining oil as feedstock for the most profitable and long-lasting plastics that can be made with solar electricity? Then market them as carbon neutral, even carbon capture and storage? Yes, I'm an environmentalist and yes this is snark.

Snark or not, I look at a map of Saudi Arabia and I notice there are large bodies of water (Persian Gulf & Red Sea) both north and south. If large solar farms can provide power for desalination & electrolysis ... well, as I understand it LNG is one of the cleaner hydrocarbons and easier to shift around to other parts of the world than electrons ...

Hell, with enough desalinated water they might even be able to grow food in the desert.

The answer to the problem of sustainable energy definitely includes using less energy, so things like crashing most social media, having fewer useless video channels, talking to live humans, and ditching most AI, Big Data, and cryptocurrencies really should be on the table. We're using far more energy for video and computing than we did when this blog started, and the world's not noticeably better for it. Can we really afford our tech addiction anymore?

Yeah, I think that could work, just eliminate 90% of today's world population and those of us who are left can get right back to nature ...

190:

My Fabia estate is 21 years old this year, has 202,000miles on the clock and has broken down just once in the last 7 years.

Its noisy, has an thriving moss collection along the back windows and a tad sluggish but just keeps going.

As its cambelt probably needs replacing, I will shortly move over to a 1.6l Yeti which does better mileage and is slightly easier to get out of.

191:

I submit to you that what plays and wins votes in Alberta does not win anywhere else. Alberta (and now Saskatchewan) are corrupted Petro-states subsumed within a larger polity.

192:

Re: 'Saudi Arabia'

'The Line' - SA's massive one trillion dollar city is supposed to be powered by clean/green energy. I'm not a fan of their politics but if they can achieve this, then good on them.

https://www.renewableinstitute.org/the-line-saudi-arabias-sustainable-future/#:~:text=Energy%20produced%20by%20and%20used,a%20low%2Dcarbon%20energy%20system.

No one's mentioned fusion power yet ...

Yeah, still in research but results have been consistent and positive so now there's at least one major auto maker putting some money into its development.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Energy/Honda-backed-Israeli-startup-to-use-nuclear-fusion-to-power-EVs

193:

I've read that one of the first big city freeways, the Philadelphia Schuylkill Expressway (aka the Schuylkill parking lot) when it first opened in the mid-fifties was planned to expect 50,000 vehicles PER YEAR. In one year, they found it was being used by 50,000 vehicles per day.

One of the difficulties of planning is that many people (both planners and their political masters) use how things are right now as a given, then add a bit of infrastructure and fail to consider how that new infrastructure might change people's behaviour.

I saw that in the 80s in Edmonton when they decided that because there were no pedestrians in an area it didn't warrant a sidewalk. A bit reason there weren't pedestrians is that because there were no sidewalks they had to walk on the road (in an industrial area with lots of truck traffic) or in the ditch (mud in summer, a mountain of snow in winter). The idea that a safe place to walk might lead to people actually walking there seemed unthinkable. (Or knowing what I know about Alberta politics, the companies constructing roads had better political connections.) When I returned a couple of decades later there were not only sidewalks, but people actually used them.

194:

I submit to you that what plays and wins votes in Alberta does not win anywhere else.

Chunks of rural Ontario too. Like I said earlier, proudly flying "Trump 2024" and Confederate flags…

There's also bits of the BC Interior where anti-elitist-libertarian claptrap plays well. No idea how electorally significant they are — I suspect they punch above their weight in terms of media attention.

195:

A bit reason there weren't pedestrians is that because there were no sidewalks they had to walk on the road (in an industrial area with lots of truck traffic) or in the ditch (mud in summer, a mountain of snow in winter).

Same here. No body bikes. It's dangerous. Bikers have asked for lanes when next road relining done. BUT THERE IS NO ONE BIKING NOW.

sigh

196:

There's also bits of the BC Interior where anti-elitist-libertarian claptrap plays well.

Starts in California and goes all the way up I see. Must be a thing about which side of the Cascades you grow up on.

197:

De-salination

A problem with these plants that I've read about at times is that they suck in salty water and then most of them discharge much more salty water back into a large body of water.

When designed, the assumption was this very very salty water would quickly disperse into the large body of water. But it turns out not always. The very very salty water tends to clump up and not disperse as quickly as it was thought it would. So the water intakes have to be extended further out. And the very very salty water does a number on the living things in the water.

And this is for ocean side plants. The Red Sea is even more constrained.

So yes, you can de-salinate for a small to medium city and maybe figure out the mess you create, but getting LARGE is not all that easy.

199:

okay... I'm risking censure but I am curious if any other nation but the USA has a major political party running on the thin edge of collapse? Tories in UK are going to get voted but that's the ebb 'n flow of democracy

what I'm asking about is frequent instances of one or more: sexual scandals; bankruptcies; massive fraud; general incompetence; low turnout of the faithful; scandals involving foreign sourced donations; internal coups; attempts at outright coups (as per Brazil and USA);

from what little I know of UK Tories they've been relatively low key in criminal activities with moderate scandals... if I'm wrong, please provide links so I get up to speed

200:

SFReader @ 192:

Re: 'Saudi Arabia'

'The Line' - SA's massive one trillion dollar city is supposed to be powered by clean/green energy. I'm not a fan of their politics but if they can achieve this, then good on them.

Yep. I'm hoping they succeed with it too. I think if it does succeed it might even have positive effects moderating their internal politics. If they want to attract the kind of people they're going to need for such a sophisticated endeavor, they're going to have to..

One of the elements I've seen proposed for it is to pump sea water inland to the far end of "The Line" where there will be a (solar powered?) desalinization plant and then let the fresh water flow back down through the arcology to the Red Sea like an artificial river, providing water to the inhabitants as it runs along.

201:

Oh Neom. Why do I keep getting ads for Neom in my FacePalm feed, asking me if I want to invest in it? It’s like they think I can’t reread the press release from two years ago saying that the Saudis were paying for the whole thing.

Do they think I’m playing hard to get? Do they think I’m going to be positive about building a city of nine million, at 260,000 people per square kilometer, in a barren desert? It’s not just that the site is barren desert, it’s barren desert in the middle of the oldest continuously settled real estate on the planet. If it could be settled by more than a few Bedouins, there’d be Neolithic ruins there. So nine million people dependent on wheat from the Black Sea region? Where else would they get their grain? Pay NO mind to the geopolitics of food or water for Neom..

But let’s be nice and talk about building a city 170 km long, 600 m high, and 200 meters wide, as two continuous ribbon buildings with an air gap between them open to the desert sky spanned by bridges between them. These buildings would be 25% taller than the Empire State Building, the third tallest buildings in the world.

Ever been to the top of the ESB? It’s windy up there. Skyscrapers shimmy in the wind and need counterweights to keep people in the upper floors from having an unpleasant ride. But the Line buildings will ripple in the wind.

And in earthquakes. The Red Sea is a spreading rift, the Jordan Valley is a strike-slip fault like the San Andreas, and the Line is at the junction between the two. It will get shaken by quakes, with shear waves rippling down The Line.

Now skyscrapers are normally supposed to shed their windows whole during a quake so that fewer shards rain down. The Line? There will be drifts of broken glass meters deep up and down The Line after a big quake.

But let’s get back to that lovely huge wind tunnel they’re building, with all those flexing bridges spanning the 100 meters between the buildings. Those bridges will be fun to live, work, and walk on. Maybe Boeing will get the contract to make them? Walking in the bottom of the wind tunnel will be quite fun too. And pity the pigeons flying in there.

How about a transit system moving, say, nine million people per day in a single transit corridor? What a wonderful engineering challenge! Moving all the stuff they need will be fun too. Of course it will never break down.

Sorry for the snark, but it’s honest snark. Neom is just the latest Saudi attempt to build a utopia on the Red Sea. They’ve been trying for decades, and none have taken off.

I just wish they’d use that wealth to build utopias for displaced people, in the name of holy charity. I know that’s a lot to ask, but they house millions of hajjis every year. Why shouldn’t they house more of the lost and desperate?

202:

But.. Loch Ness... we don't want Nessie caught in the power plant!

Shirley, that's a Doctor Who storyline?

If not already made, then in the near future...

203:

I don’t get the fascination with storage issues.

Peak power usage is daytime in summer. Most domestic power use is hot water, which could be heated daytime in winter with Solar unless you are insanely far North.

More importantly, it’s always windy somewhere, and the tides stop for no man. Wind plants are cheap, and getting cheaper.

All renewables need is a good mix of power sources.

204:

Peak power usage is daytime in summer. Most domestic power use is hot water, which could be heated daytime in winter with Solar unless you are insanely far North.

Well, what is 'insanely'? I live a bit over 60 degrees North, and it's the Southernmost part of the country. I can tell you that we don't get much solar power here during the winter. Today here we have almost 7 hours of sunlight, but it's pretty overcast.

I think the peak power usage here is during the cold winter days, which are usually also quite calm.

And yes, people live North of me, and they need power, too. Wind seems to be the more reliable source here during the winter time than solar, but I think we also need some storage mechanisms.

205:

HowardNYC
There's a possibility the remains of the tories will fracture - one half joining the fascists ("Reform" ) & the small "leftish" portion remaining as a rump of conservatives - note the small "c"

icehawk
What is your residental latitude?
Mine is: 51.35°N
Charlie's is: 55.57°N
Both in the "Far North" by US standards!

206:

"All renewables need is a good mix of power sources..."

and a world-wide grid.

The problems with setting up such a grid may be more political than technical/engineering, but there are a few technical or engineering issues, and some of the political problems are looking pretty intractable at the moment. Not wise to rely on a lot of people suddenly going stark raving sane in the near future.

JHomes

207:

You're clearly working from the privilege of being somewhere that doesn't get too hot.

Almost every house in the US has air-con, and it uses 10% of the US's power supply capacity. On average. Make it hotter, and it uses much more. Peak power demand in the US is always in the summer, never ever in winter.

Europe mostly doesn't have air-con as standard (southern Europe mostly relies on passive cooling with louvred windows and high ceilings, and it works damn well) but it's coming. The heatwave of 2023 killed 60,000 people across Europe, and it wasn't even a particularly bad one. 15-foot ceilings and louvred opening windows don't work great for tower blocks, so if you're building upwards then your only real option for cooling is fitting air-con.

This is where smart grids and load-shedding at the consumer end will come in. Energy plans have always had pricing structures to discourage usage at peak times. With smart grids, consumers could get cheaper energy if they sign up to allow rolling brown-outs of their air-con at peak times. Of course that'll apply to heating as well. It's a thing for heating, sure, but the places that'll really benefit are places like the US (or South Africa - their power problems are really something!) where air-con is a massive issue.

Re batteries, now a fair amount of richer people have electric or hybrid cars, there's also some significant movement in looking at feed-back energy plans. An individual battery isn't huge, but across the country's fleet of vehicles the total can be pretty significant. A ex-colleague worked at the electric vehicle company Wavedriver in the 1990s, and this was actually on their list of EV benefits 25 years ago, which was stymied by the electric companies because they weren't interested in power going any direction except out. Now that we have so much more demand, so much more storage capacity, and (with solar) a halfway-sane mechanism for consumers to push power back into the grid, it's being taken a bit more seriously.

208:

But where would they get the carbon from?

Run a countercurrent cooler to chill incoming air to -70 celsius; capture the dry ice: then dump the waste heat into the chilled air sans CO2. You can probably drain off the water vapour condensing out of the chilled input air and use that, too. It's a whole lot less energy intensive than liquefying nitrogen and oxygen and it's going to take a tiny fraction of the energy a Sabatier process feeding a polymerization plant eats up.

209:

"Peak power usage is daytime in summer."
Complete and utter male bovine faeces! Peak power usage is right now, when we're running the central heating 24/7 as well as the hot water being on. Come June the CHS will be off and we'll only be using the HWS.

210:

"If Putin ever convinces himself he can get away with it, I think he will at least use a tactical nuke (and it wouldn't surprise me if it was a "demonstration/decapitation strike" against Kyiv)."

That only makes sense after Ukraine has lost, in the sense that they are abandoned by allies and industrially outmatched. Then, a "look what you made me do" atrocity saves Russia some money and lives by forcing an early surrender.

It only works politically because Putin is already at or near maximum hate. He has nothing to lose.

if he's truly delusional he may not take account of this.

211:

Sorry for the snark, but it’s honest snark. Neom is just the latest Saudi attempt to build a utopia on the Red Sea. They’ve been trying for decades, and none have taken off.

The irony (it burns!) is that something like Neom would be very useful on Mars!

Roof over the gap between the walls with mylar and crank the ambient (90% CO2) air pressure up to about 0.1 bar and you can probably grow crops there (although you're not going to be relying on terrestrial pollinators). Humans live in the basements under the towers, to use the rock as radiation shielding. The towers themselves are for vertical farming (to augment the crops growing at ground level) and to support PV panels. A hundred kilometres of 100 metre wide PV panels has got to be useful, right?

Wind is a problem on Mars, too, but it's much more tenuous. Dust storms are more of a problem but roofing it over a hundred metres up should spare Mars-Neom from most of the crap. You'll need to regularly replace the roofing film and re-surface the windows, though.

And Mars doesn't have a plate tectonic system: Marsquakes are few and mild compared to Earth's ructions.

Right design, wrong planet! Someone get Dilbert Stark on the line, I have a city to sell him ...

212:

It will take more high-grade energy (electricity, basically) to extract and capture atmospheric CO2 than the energy produced by originally combusting fossil carbon in atmosphere. Them's the thermodynamic breaks.

Step 0: stop extracting and combusting fossil carbon in the atmosphere.

Step 1: build out a shitload and three-quarters non-carbon generating capacity.

Step 2: provide everyone on the planet with enough energy to give them a civilised way of life using that generating capacity. Giant HV distribution grids may be needed for this.

Step 3: use intermittently surplus electricity from the over-specified generating capacity to actively decarbonise the atmosphere, processes to be determined.

Step 4: implement mass storage to smooth out non-carbon generating capacity peaks and maximise decarbonisation operations.

We're nowhere near implementing Step 0 at the moment today or in the near future. Step 1 is not being approached seriously by anyone with money and the political will to actually build that capacity. Step 2 is a dream but the demand for civilisation is the main reason step 0 is not going to happen any time soon. Step 3 is dependent on steps 1 and 2 coming true. This is why storage (step 4) is not really worth discussing at the moment.

213:

I don’t get the fascination with storage issues. Peak power usage is daytime in summer.

Maybe it is where you live, but here in Northern Europe peak power usage is midnight in winter!

(We don't really need air conditioning, but we do need overnight heating to keep from freezing in the dark.)

NB: we have a different definition of "insanely" far north; here in Edinburgh I'm 50 miles north of Moscow, Russia, and the only significant settlement in North America that's north of here is Anchorage. And I'm way south of several entire developed nations.

214:

That's true for the whole of north-western Europe (from at least 50 north and probably 45). At 52 north, I don't even try to start seeds on a window ledge until well into February, because there is not enough light and they go leggy.

215:

It will take more high-grade energy (electricity, basically) to extract and capture atmospheric CO2 than the energy produced by originally combusting fossil carbon in atmosphere. Them's the thermodynamic breaks.

Yes. Which is why I'm proposing it as a feedstock in a process for converting civil aviation over to fossil-neutral carbon fuels powered by large-scale solar farms. Which will be more expensive than fossil fuel, by a considerable margin, but hopefully cheap enough that we don't have to completely give up aviation.

216:

"Insanely far north" seems to include 52 degrees. I'm sitting under a solar water-heating rig --- direct capture to working fluid rather than PV --- on a clear day and it's doing absolutely nothing. The temperature difference between the energy-capture tubes and the heat store, which would be >100 K in summer, isn't enough to wake up the pump.

217:

The Irish election bit gave me a small start because I thought you'd seen something I'd missed :D

We don't have general elections in March, just a referendum to pull Yet Another Bit Of DeVelera's Theocracy out of the constitution. About time too. It's not particularly contentious unless you're one of the extreme far-right loonies (and in Ireland, they've not yet extended to the extremes we see in the UK, despite the work of one particular ex-British Army lad who's come over here to drag us back to the 50s. It's not clear if that's the 1950s or 1850s yet, but in Ireland, it's a distinction worth making for historical reasons...). So Aontu will be out campaigning for the women who want to remain in the home as though we were banning housewives and the rest of us will be not making eye contact and getting on with life.

The local elections will be a bit more of a showcase for racism, because those lovely far-right folks (who aren't racist, they just have legitimate concerns about single male refugees from Ukraine coming to your town -- not their town, they don't live here, they've just driven for two hours to get here to support your legitimate concerns you understand) have been setting fire to hotels used to house refugees and asylum seekers (two different legal categories here with duties under different treaties for Ireland, not that the guy with the bottle of petrol and the match can spell "legal" without his solicitor). So for the last year, every local councillor has been showing up in public and turning a giant dial for more or less racism and then checking with the audience reaction like it's The Price Is Right. That'll be getting even more vile and ghoulish in the runup to the local elections. And in a normal year it's bad - we have a history going back to the 1930s of councillors and TDs literally and openly campaigning on a "vote for me, I'll keep the out of your local area". I don't mean that they hint at that, I mean they literally print it in the their election leaflets. See Joshua Madigan (will keep travellers out) or Charlie Flanagan (will keep muslims out) or his Dad in the 30's, Oliver Flanagan (will keep jews out) or half the Independent candidates today (will keep Them out). This year is going to suck. I'm considering keeping a hurley by the door to discourage campaigners.

Next year, however, it'll get even more interesting because every single political party in Ireland and in Northern Ireland today is aware of one enormous sea change - Sinn Fein, infamously the political wing of the IRA, is now the single largest political party in Ireland and in Northern Ireland because the other existing parties have so cluelessly and incompetently and corruptly bungled the handling of a housing crisis, a healthcare crisis, an infrastructure crisis, an education crisis and, well, the list of stuff that is working is shorter, but the point is that they have been so incredibly bad at their jobs that they have made a party of kneecapping carbombers seem like a legitimately better option for a large portion of the population. At the last general election they got more seats in the Dail than any other party so that the longtime opponents in the other parties - Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, the political parties of the two opposing sides in the Irish Civil War - entered into a coalition to keep Sinn Fein out of power. This is sortof like the Tories and Labour having to enter a coalition to keep the British National Party out of power because it had more votes than either of them, in terms of how likely it seemed in my childhood.

Already Northern Ireland is literally without a government as a reaction to Sinn Fein getting that many votes there (not that the DUP should be any kind of example for anyone other than in "what not to do"); what happens in Ireland when the party voted into government is the one that the police force and certain branches of the courts have spent thirty years prosecuting and investigating is going to be "interesting" even before the first policy decisions get announced...

218:

And I'm way south of several entire developed nations.

Sweden is not one of those, as its southern parts are more south than Scotland, but I still want to point out that the majority of Swedes live south of whole Finland. Sweden north of Stockholm is quite empty, most people live in Stockholm or south of it.

219:

Oh, and some Finnish politics, mainly aside from the presidential elections: we seem to be getting more strikes now, protesting the planned labour market reforms. Also the current cabinet does not want to negotiate with anybody, or rather, they are enacting the policies of the employer unions and not listening to anybody else.

So this has created some friction. I'm not sure if this is enough to topple the government, as they seem to be the regular no-shame right-wing people and facts don't really matter to them.

Here's some FBC news.

220:

here in Edinburgh I'm 50 miles north of Moscow, Russia, and the only significant settlement in North America that's north of here is Anchorage. And I'm way south of several entire developed nations.

This piqued my curiosity a bit, in terms of how northern-hemisphere-loaded are not just population but also nationhood for relatively small population groups in these areas. To contrast, I wondered to myself how many independent nations are entirely to the south of where I live, Brisbane, with the city centre at about 27.5ºS. As I make it out, there are only three: Aotearoa (well obviously), Lesotho and Uruguay.

Easter Island is not independent, being a possession of Chile, but if it were its north-south extent falls entirely within that of the (northern part of) the Brisbane metropolitan area. Brisbane is "north" in Australian terms. I believe that the number of nations lying entirely south of, say, Melbourne, at 37.8ºS, is zero.

Not an entirely meaningful exercise, but interesting anyway.

221:

Para 5 - Scotland has direct experience of what you mean due to the CON-DUP (pronounce it "conned up") coalition that the English used so that the Cons could keep power in the UK.

222:

Also note that Edinburgh council is currently controlled by a Labour-Conservative coalition specifically to keep the SNP -- the party with the largest number of votes, but not quite as many as the second and third parties combined -- out of power.

223:

On the other hand, note that Sinn Fein is at best a political party like one of those in the USSR or its peripheral states. I do not expect things to be good when it eventually gains power, and I can quite understand (most of) Ireland's desire not to go there.

224:

And on the third hand, note that we're coming up on the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and SF are probably still a couple of years away from gaining a working majority in the Dail (never mind Stormont, which needs a complete reboot).

That's not a political lifetime yet but Gerry Adams is 75 and the rest of the leadership of the pIRA during the troubles are not much younger: in other words, the ones who were in leadership roles back when bullets and bombs were flying are now hitting retirement age or pushing up daisies. (See also Iain Paisley Snr and Martin McGuinness.)

You can't safely judge a political party today by its leadership 25 years agol imagine looking at the Tories in 1980 and assuming they'd do business like Harold Macmillan or Winston Churchill.

225:

Neom would in net (political) effect be an island... sand rather than water but isolated and access via road (singular) and airport (singular) and railroad (also singular) controlled by a government whose latest reforms towards resolving overdue human rights was to grant driver licenses to females a century after every other nation...

it would make Singapore look like a 1960s hippy commune... the degree of surveillance and overreach by the religious police would give ghosts of East German Stasi thugs extreme envy

...and as cherry atop all the other shit, it has been noted elsewhere in this blog (and zillions of confirmed journalist postings) the quality of engineering done Saudi nationals is substandard compared to Arab nations which in turn is far below that of the West's decedent nations filled with engineers of Hindus-Christians-Jews... as bad as Air Alaska losing a door what happens to the basic maintenance of the electrical grid in the Middle East qualifies as suicidal

Neom would be millions of stranded quasi-slaves wholly dependent upon the good will of MBS (wherein the "B" is short for "Bone Saw Readily To Hand")

226:

SF are probably still a couple of years away from gaining a working majority in the Dail

Well, not really that far out; had they run more candidates in the last general election, every analysis so far has said they would have been elected with a safe margin. They're literally only not in power now because they were too conservative in their aims - if they'd run the office intern last time, they'd have been elected. So next time (12 months away), they won't be making the same mistake. And, politicians being politicians, the positioning for a powersharing deal started a year ago here because it took Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Green Party last time; both FF and FG have chafed so much since that neither wants to do it again and the Greens split down the middle over signing the coalition agreement and half the Greens left the party. The odds are not good for SF not being in government after the next election.

And while, yes, the leaders in the 1980s are now very long in the tooth, the standard refrain here is "they haven't gone away you know". Especially around the IRA Army Council (the gag is that SF in Dublin are totally independent and can make all their decisions in the time it takes Mary Lou to call Belfast) and a number of fairly shady occurrences which SF were involved in (eg. the number of people you can fit in the toilets in Magennis's bar).

That being said, the head of the DUP was openly meeting active terrorists on the "other side" while the DUP was in power and negotiating the coalition with the Torys a few years ago, so it's not black and white - but in Ireland the concern is more that if you put a famously ex-terrorist party in charge of the country, the foreign investment that drives the economy may just decide that with the changes to corporate taxes globally, maybe another EU country would be a safer investment and they speak English in Malta too, don't they...

Either way, it's a level of interesting nobody really wants right now, but people are so desperate over housing that anything starts looking better than the same people who've been making a dogs breakfast of it for 20 years, especially when over 60% of the government are private landlords themselves.

227:

Re: 'Roof over the gap between the walls with mylar and crank the ambient (90% CO2) air pressure ... Humans live in the basements under the towers, to use the rock as radiation shielding. The towers ... vertical farming (to augment the crops growing at ground level) and to support PV panels. A hundred kilometres of 100 metre wide PV panels ...'

Agree with both you (possible applications) and Heteromeles (possible problems*).

I'm fascinated by this project because it's likely to test many different approaches to environmental problem-solution scenarios in real time and on a large scale. And like any massive project incorporating so many new ideas/techs there are bound to be some failures and (hopefully) some pleasant surprises. Hope that SA is open/honest about the entire process - the whole planet could learn a lot. (And if successful, they'll have a major competitive advantage in a slew of new industries.)

Mars - Yeah, first time I read about The Line my immediate (SF) thought was that SA was testing a large-scale prototype for a Moon or Mars colony. Or a secure place to run to if/when climate change really ramps up the storms.

About the desalination bit - excess sodium could be removed/stored/re-used as needed**. Ditto for every single item that's part of a balanced ecology - we need to get away from the use-once-throw-into-garbage-heap approach in how we use/manage resources.

*Biggest surprise was that SA's looking for international (US$) investors for this. Hmmm ... Just checked the SAR vs. USD - extremely steady for many, many years - they're each among the other's largest trading partners so maybe SA is just looking to keep this trade relationship continuing at its very steady pace by offering USians an entry in this 'new investment opportunity'.

**Per Moz - haven't read the articles yet, thanks! Just got my two Dickson Despommiers books (re: vertical/urban farming, etc.) - should be interesting.

228:

"Possibly a better solution would be to use methane as a first step in polymerization up to C8-C10 alkanes, also known as kerosene. It's a little lossy but it's dense, liquid at room temperature, not horrifyingly toxic, and has the added bonus that we can burn it in jet engines and diesels so keep air travel and shipping going without replacing the infrastructure.

And synthetic kerosene, made from atmospheric CO2 and water, doesn't add fossil carbon to the biosphere when you burn it.

Only problem is going to get people to understand that "zero carbon" as a slogan needs to be replaced by "zero fossil carbon".

Rock on.

As it happens, I'd rate the two applications you cite as pretty low on the importance ranking - for both of those I'd take a different main approach. The important thing is the property you reckon makes it good for those two applications - STORAGE. And the other important thing is the without replacing the infrastructure bit.

Liquid hydrocarbons beat the bollocks off anything for storage density and freedom from "self-discharge". This makes them the best option for the majority of mobile applications - vehicular or otherwise - and the only option that we know is practical for storing months' worth of national consumption. They may be less efficient when you want the energy in electrical form, but the majority of consumption is for heat anyway, particularly domestically; and if your energy supply for "recharging" is free, then it matters less anyway.

As for not replacing infrastructure, you basically get to keep all the existing infrastructure from the later stages of the refinery process onwards. You just delete the oil wells and the first few bits of refinery, then plumb the output from your atmospheric carbon fixing plant into the loose ends of pipe. (More or less.) Everything else you don't have to worry about.

So actually the oil companies don't need to be fretting about anything, if only they weren't stupid. All they need to do is replace sucking out oil from underneath deserts with artificially photosynthesising it on top of the desert. All the inputs are free, too. If they'd started serious research on the necessary solar-powered chemistry a few decades ago it could have been up and running by now...

229:

It's Nessie smashing up North Sea oil rigs, IIRC. And there's an alien spaceship with the most hilariously fnarr-fnarr control panel ever.

230:

Maybe it is where you live, but here in Northern Europe peak power usage is midnight in winter!

I'm in the balmy SE England (still 52 N) and my heating isn't on at midnight.

In fact I was away for Christmas and the heating was "off" (supposed to keep it above 8 or 9 C). It didn't drop below 10C.

I do have double glazing

231:

Peak power usage debate.

I get the impression that some are referring to electricity, some burning fuels, and some to both. Which makes it hard to figure out what is what.

In the US I doubt that air con is the biggest driver of peak energy usage. But it may likely be the cause of peak electrical usage. Like many of those around here from more northern latitudes, I suspect the peak ENERGY usage in the US is during the winter.

232:

stymied by the electric companies because they weren't interested in power going any direction except out.

Here in North Carolina the state has pushed for less power plants and more renewables and such by allowing the electrical suppliers to get a guaranteed return on investment by investing in discounts for LED lighting, insulation or PV in homes, etc...

So now it doesn't matter so much HOW they invest their capital, just that they do it. Actually they get a better return by NOT building new coal/oil/gas power plants.

And I have no idea how many other states in the US do this.

233:

I'm not. 25 years ago, they were much worse, and were an unholy combination of the Bolsheviks and Mafia. I remember before the USSR started falling apart (up to the 1970s) and am strongly reminded of the various USSR republics' political parties.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinn_F%C3%A9in#Organisation_and_structure

The DUP were much and are less competent and organised, but no more attractive.

234:

Re: '... moving, say, nine million people per day in a single transit corridor'

Key design feature is to have everyday destinations within walking distance plus two distinct/different transit corridors - people on the top, products on the bottom. The within-walking-distance is something that many cities, esp. in Europe, have been working on for a couple of decades now. 'Walkability' is now considered a major draw/asset for population dense urban centers. Walkability does not reduce business, it actually increases both the $$ spent as well as the range of businesses that can operate at a profit. [See Copenhagen.]

Anyways, I have a dumb question for you ... no snark, just thought you could sort this out or point me toward some info. Thanks!

De-salination ...

I've been wondering about the icebergs melting in Greenland and Antarctica and how this affects overall ocean salinity, effects on ocean life, etc. Also wondering how this might be addressed - not just by turning global warming off but interim measures to protect ocean life.

Anyways - could the salt extracted from desalination be safely transported and dumped back into bits of the ocean where salinity has decreased too much/too rapidly?

Does the salt in different oceans/ocean beds vary making this a potential problem, as in: you can only dump desalination salts/refuse obtained from places/oceans A, B, & C in areas X & Y, and salts obtained from places/oceans D, E & F in areas M & N? I'm imagining that solids from desalination might include a range of vital microbes and various minerals/compounds beneficial to overall ocean health. (Bonus would be getting rid of some of the microplastics in the ocean which end up in air currents, drift across the globe and get drunk, inhaled and eaten by land dwellers - humans, animals & plants.)

Moz:

Okay ... per articles you linked (thanks! haven't finished reading them), there's a fairly easy transition from Li to Na for battery manufacturers, but what about car owners/battery users? If I have an EV that's Li battery powered, will I be able to easily switch to Na batteries?

This could have a major impact on the overall EV market - potential buyers could be put off by the possibility that their EV might have zero trade-in value when they want to resell or that replacement battery prices become exorbitant because of a drop in demand therefore production.

Could be a good time for gov'ts to require that auto manufacturers and their battery suppliers guarantee that their parts will be available for a set number of years. Such action would most likely happen in places that have large public transit systems and are actively switching their public transit/waste collection, etc. vehicles to EV.

235:

It's definitely not BS for anywhere further south. Nor for anywhere the gets hotter, and has air-con.

https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=60602

Sure this isn't the case for northern Europe, but northern Europe != world.

Also (sorry Charlie), midnight in winter isn't peak power. For northern Europe, barring sports events, it's normally between about 5pm and 10pm. Once people have gone to bed, power consumption drops pretty dramatically - and far enough that it's an issue for keeping power plants turned on with not enough load. My manager has an Octopus Energy deal, and he often gets paid to use energy overnight when the cost of electricity actually goes negative.

236:

It looks dark everywhere. But that's how it is. while(!dead){life.continue()} (in shity OOP notation). A lot of things written here are geo-politics or geo-strategy. These topics fascinate me. Even though I don't know shit about them. My predictive power(benchmarked against random guessing) is practically zero. This is not a joke. I have an xls spread-sheet where I put many of my predictions. With a due date and probabilities for each outcome.

But I don't feel bad about my incompetence. Because it seems that people who do this for a living AND in public are not any better. A long time I have read "Inside The House Of Money", a book of interviews with famous macro-hedge fund investors. People who bet on big global moves. Like Peter Thiel and his hedge fund "Clarium Capital". That book was very formative for me. Because everybody in there was smart, made sense, with grande-ideas and very eloquent...but a decade later, most of the Hedge Funds from the book are now disfunctional or have blown up:). Sometimes in spectacular fashion. Including Peter Thiel.

I don't wanna bash them. I think Philip E. Tetlock founded the "superforcasters" and "GoodJudgement Open" because the CIA realized that their analysts can't predict anything (maybe an idea for a story: a set of supoer of influential super-forecasters are try to control outcomes by self-fulfilling and self-defeating predictions?). I don't think the problem is not that Peter Thiel or Peter Zeihan or whoever are wrong. The problem is, that they are overconfident in their predictions.

So what does Charles recommend as source (books, blogs, papers...) to get infoirmed on these issues?

BTW: thx for visiting Stuttgart and signing m ybook (my wife asked you and you were kind enough to sign a copy). She loved your take on "bad influnce on billionairs". Too bad I couldn't make it.

237:

SFR @ 234
the recently-opened "CrossLiz" rail line in London is already shifting 600k+ people a day one one pair of railway tracks.
If you, instead, in your new "neoN" city build at least two semi-parallel pairs of tracks, to a properly generous ( i.e. Double-Deck ) loading guage, it shouldn't be difficult to get to 2.5-3.5 million a day ...

As for shitty futures & coming storms ... the, um, "litle dust-up" between Iran & Pakistan has "interesting" characteristics & possibilities, doesn't it?
A religious faction-fight between two almost-equally-bonkers protagonists, who, by defintion are insane ( It's RELIGION, right? ) could have almost any outcome at all, including PAK nuking Iran, just to show whom is purer in the sight of Allah.
The Pak "security" nutters ( ISI? ) have form in supporting terrorists in neighbouring states, as do Iran, just a different set of nutters ....
"Let's You & Him fight, eh?

238:

See #231 by David L. I suspect that it is true even in the USA midwest, when you are considering all fossil fuel consumption, as one should do when talking about net zero and replacing the use of fossil fuels. Taking Minneapolis as an example, basic thermodynamics shows that the electricity needed for cooling is small compared to that needed for heating. Yes, I know that some houses are heated by renewable wood supplies.

http://www.weatherbase.com/weather/weatherall.php3?s=85627&units=

Your point about peak usage in the UK is true, but it doesn't change OGH's original point that it is not summer (afternoons) that needs peak power but winter (evenings).

239:

quote:

“We have seen proof that this has failed... and you are anchoring your political careers to that sunk ship.”

this is now my favorite political metaphor and I am looking forward to reading it has been translated into Russian, Arabic, Hungarian, et al, as various groups of fascist-wannabes find themselves outnumbered and their political parties litter the bottom of the world's oceans

BBOPOOSS (big bowl of popcorn [with] olive oil & sea salt!)
240:

Take your idea to the next level and para-terraform the 4 mile deep Valley Marinaris. It's depth would allow it to sustain (with some biological or industrial maintenance and replenishment) a sufficiently thick and breathable atmosphere. They can treat the rest of Mars like we treat the Himalayas.

At 2,500 miles long and 360 miles wide, it's area is 900,000 square miles (about the size of Alaska and Texas combined, more than enough room for any conceivable initial colonization effort). Cities could be carved into the canyon walls like pueblos. The colonists would then proceed with the terraforming of the rest of the planet. Electrical cables can be strung across the canyon opening creating an artificial magnetic field that would shield colonists and life on the valley floor from cosmic radiation.

Para-terraforming (capping Martian valleys, floating continents made of carbon nanotubes in the skies of Venus, doming over Lunar craters, etc.) is always cheaper, easier and faster than all out terraforming.

241:

Farming on Mars and Neom….

A few unpleasant facts about Mars:

Noon sunlight on the equator if Mars on the spring equinox (sun shining straight down) is about equal to sunlight in Edinburgh on a sunny April day (ca 43% of Earth max). If you were growing crops in the open this wouldn’t be a problem, but once you put them behind glass or anything that’s not perfectly transparent, it is a big problem, and supplemental lighting is required. In greenhouses on equatorial Mars.

The second problem is that Martian atmospheric pressure at the surface is roughly equivalent to Earth at around 32,000 m, up where the SR-71 used to fly and weather balloons pop.

So if you’re getting ready to go to Mars, you don’t build Neom. You start by building flying greenhouses. I might suggest buying up a bunch of surplus 737 max planes, ripping them apart, and building flying greenhouses from glass panes out of their passenger compartments? And maybe rigging them to be flown remotely, so that they can be test flown over the North Pacific or someplace similarly safe (central Indian Ocean?) in case a glass pane breaks and the plane does an oopsie. I’m not sure what crop would pay for this experiment: really special “mile high” cannabis?

But that’s just the proof of concept at 10,000 m. You need a greenhouse that will grow plants at the top of the stratosphere. The only serious proposal I know of for that is JP Aerospace’s Airship to Orbit program ( http://www.jpaerospace.com/ATO/ATO.html ). Their Dark Sky Station, a transfer station at the top of the stratosphere, is in the right altitude range to test out Martian greenhouses, pressure-wise. Another reason to support JP on Patreon.

Or can go with container gardening on Mars, a la Freight Farms ( https://www.freightfarms.com/ ). If you’ve got a power source, that might be simpler. Let everyone live in their own pink house.

Anyway, that’s my take on using Neom as a test bed for Mars. The Line is Cool, but the Martian Rule of Cool is rather different than the terrestrial one.

242:

A Labour majority is going to take a record swing, especially with new boundaries. Luckily, it does indeed look as if they might manage it. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-67361138

Their 2022 party conference voted in favour of proportional representation, but it looks doubtful a Starmer led majority government will do anything. https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/keir-starmer-labour-proportional-representation-b2329451.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labour_Campaign_for_Electoral_Reform

243:

My guess is that which dominates, winter heating or summer air-conditioning, will depend on how cold the winters are and how warm the summers are. Not seeing a lot of data broken down by time of year.

But here's an interesting chart showing energy consumption in the US over time by source from 1949. Consumption of renewable energy sources is about 2/3 of what it was in 1949.

244:

para-terraform the 4 mile deep Valley Marinaris

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I've proposed that in the past. Trouble is, Vales Marinaris is a lot bigger than Neom, so doming it over to retain atmosphere at higher pressure is going to be problematic.

Maybe build my membrane-sealed Neom lookalike inside VM as a starter project? Its job will be to manufacture the infrastructure to roof over the rest of VM in due course.

But Neom-on-Mars is itself a project on the scale of the Elongated Muskrat's proposed 50 year plan to park a city on Mars; terraforming Vales Marinaris is some next-level shit -- thrice the land area of Germany! -- a prelude to terraforming the entire planet, and probably an order-of-centuries job in its own right.

245:

Silly question: why 600m high, and 200m wide, rather than 200m high, and 600m wide? Easier to build, and more stable.

246:

Re: '... in your new "neoN" city build at least two semi-parallel pairs of tracks, to a properly generous ( i.e. Double-Deck ) loading guage, it shouldn't be difficult to get to 2.5-3.5 million a day ..'

No idea how wide their tracks will be but my impression is that most people movement will be vertical (up&down within a 'building') vs. horizontal (across a city).

I just checked their website - it's supposed to be a zero-car environment with emphasis on greenery growing everywhere - up, down & around buildings sorta like an amped up version of the Bosco Verticale buildings in Milan.

Heteromeles might find this interesting ... the article below mentions vibration control built into the buildings. My guess is that if this construction was one of the inspirations for The Line, then it's likely that similar vibration control will also be an integral part of its construction.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosco_Verticale

https://www.inexhibit.com/case-studies/the-vertical-forest-towers-in-milan-by-boeri-phenomenon-or-archetype/

Here's a recent (2022) build to address social housing in the Netherlands - same architect.

https://www.theplan.it/eng/architecture/trudo-vertical-forest-social-housing-vertical-forest

247:

sigh I really did expect more of the folks on this blog.

mark does search "what percentage of the US uses electricty for heat".

Results show that cooling us about 16%, while heating is 14%. Um... and that only 40% of the US uses electricity for heating. The rest of us - we need electricity to run the fans, and the piezo igniter, but we have gas heat. Move most US homes up from 40% electric to 80% electric, and now it's well over 20% of the pwer usage, significantly more than cooling.

248:

Certainly can't judge a party on what they did decades ago. There's a cartoon someone I know used to post from the early 1900s, of the US GOP standing in the doorway of schools keeping religious leaders out.

249:

See #231 by David L. I suspect that it is true even in the USA midwest, when you are considering all fossil fuel consumption, as one should do when talking about net zero and replacing the use of fossil fuels.

My point was that if the end user is heating/cooling via electricity then swapping out the source from fossil to non fossil is easier on the economy than if the end user is heating by burning fossil.

My house is heated by natural gas. I knew houses (relatives) still being heated via coal furnaces into the early 1970s. Much of the US north east used heating oil but that is slowing going away for all kinds of reasons. But much of it is being switched over to nat gas or propane tanks. Getting these end users off the fossil supply chain will be much harder than those using electricity. And yes this is mostly a heating issue.

250:

Valles Marineris has no advantage over most of the northern hemisphere of mars for trying to increase air pressure. The only reason it sounds deep is because the surrounding land is part of the Tharsis bulge and so is very high. Apart from one or two spots, the bottom of the valley is higher than the average height of the northern plains. Current theory is that the young Mars got smacked hard by another body roughly where its north pole is now, and several kilometers depth of Martian crust got excavated.

The valley does have lots of cliffs which could be handy to burrow into, and it may have buried ice in places, but you're probably better off settling the area where it meets the plains or in the Hellas Basin which has a whole 14 millibar atmospheric pressure.

251:

Silly question: why 600m high, and 200m wide, rather than 200m high, and 600m wide? Easier to build, and more stable

I’m not designing the blessed thing, that was IIRC the result of MBS firing architects who were insufficiently daring. Possibly the Burj Khalifa and Rich Malle Edifice Syndrome played substantial roles too, though I wouldn’t know. Come to think of it, it would be bigger than the Great Pyramid and Alexandria combined, and without the Nile to sustain it, too. Make of that what you will.

Being a pessimist, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s unbuildable as designed. Hard to downscale too.

The thing that saddens me is that, given the improvements the Saudis made to Mecca, I think they could make an enormous humanitarian difference in the region with the money they have. Instead, like the US, that money goes to the welfare of their military and elites. And Neom.

252:

instead of a roof, why not walls?

the higher the walls, the bigger the reservoir of air inside the perimeter

walls composed of multiple layers of aero-gel (the ultimate in styrofoam) with top end composed of balloons containing hydrogen for buoyancy as lift

three thousand meters in height

robotic installation of ever more layers offering both repair of broken sections and additional layering of insultation... color 'em black to absorb the solar in-fall for night time re-radiating...

253:

So, your answer is to give me the fake names that Edifice Rex is using?

254:

On the bright side, terrorists will love The Line. I mean, a one-armed one-eyed hijacker couldn't miss it....

255:

Guy Rixon @ 210:

"If Putin ever convinces himself he can get away with it, I think he will at least use a tactical nuke (and it wouldn't surprise me if it was a "demonstration/decapitation strike" against Kyiv)."

That only makes sense after Ukraine has lost, in the sense that they are abandoned by allies and industrially outmatched. Then, a "look what you made me do" atrocity saves Russia some money and lives by forcing an early surrender.

I don't claim any of it "makes sense". It's just my assessment Putin.

It only works politically because Putin is already at or near maximum hate. He has nothing to lose.

if he's truly delusional he may not take account of this.

I do think he's delusional. I just don't know HOW delusional he is.

256:

The ocean salts are fairly chemically homogenous (concentration varies a lot composition not so much) so no problem transferring salt, for example to keep the AMOC running, (Kim Stanley Robinson does this somewhere I think). Any 'wrong' microbes or phytoplankton will be rapidly outcompeted by species better adapted to local conditions and be reduced to a tiny fraction of the biota just about maintaining a presence and waiting for better times (this is business as usual for unicellular ocean communities). The snag is that you need to transport vast quantities of material huge distances to even dent the problem (oceans are BIG, even the relatively confined critical bits) and it is almost always better, easier, and cheaper to avoid causing the problem in the first place than to attempt last ditch heroic million to one chances which (despite what Terry may have told you) don't always work.

257:

The valley does have lots of cliffs which could be handy to burrow into, and it may have buried ice in places, but you're probably better off settling the area where it meets the plains or in the Hellas Basin which has a whole 14 millibar atmospheric pressure.

It’ll be up interesting if the eruption of the Tharsis Bulge turns out to have been caused by the remnants of the impactor. There are some geologists saying that the hot spots on Earth are arising from deep structures that could be the remnants of Theia, the impactor that indirectly formed out Moon

That said, I think I’d leave the pole-facing slopes to the ice miners and try to find protected areas closer to the equator.

258:

Actually, the first time I heard Male Edifice Syndrome was in reference to San Diego last-term mayors and aging tycoons wanting to build some inappropriately big structure, or at least get their name attached to one.

Mayor Falconer’s flailing to try to keep the Chargers here by building a new stadium, then the 101 Ash Street debacle, are particularly good examples, but they all do it.

259:

Regarding renewables, I think that geothermal is often overlooked (especially compared to fusion or SMRs). With better geophysical analyses tools and some advancement in drilling technology it could make the difference. And if we use less fossil fuels there will be plenty of companies with long experience in drilling looking for new markets.

Regarding storage, beside pumped hydro there are a couple of companies looking at long duration storage, one is Form energy, which uses an air/iron battery with 100 hour discharge time. The other is Energy Dome, which uses carbon dioxide under pressure to store the energy. The advantage compared to compressed air is that CO2 is liquid at room temperature, enhancing the efficiency.

260:

Not seeing a lot of data broken down by time of year.

I was wrong. Actually, the US Energy Information Administration site has things broken down by month from 1973. No handy plots of the data, though.

261:

I suspect the reason Putin hasn't used a tactical nuke already is that he's not sure it would go off on demand.

I believe the core of the SSBN fleet and the newer Topol-M ICBMs probably have viable warheads. They're the main deterrent. But the battlefield and short-range nuclear weapons probably got the same maintenance budget as the second-tier tanks and trucks they scrambled to send to Ukraine after the first assault in February failed.

Soviet doctrine called for nuclear support on the battlefield as they stormed west into the teeth of a NATO attack or counter-attack; but they stopped maintaining their ability to field forces for that scenario decades ago, and under-maintained nukes decay. Given the 50% failure rate of Russian missiles in the early part of the war, Putin probably realized that firing a nuke that fails is much worse than firing one that works.

(Also there's the spectre of NATO retaliation if he goes nuclear. Probably not direct retaliation in kind, but suddenly all the hesitation over resupply and replenishment Ukraine would evaporate, possibly to the point of someone supplying Kiev with their own nukes. After all, Ukraine decommissioned all its nuclear weapons in the early 90s in return for a guarantee of protection: failing to deliver on that would be as deadly for western diplomatic credibility as a failed nuclear attack would be for Putin.)

262:

About Neom:

The article (and illustrations) I saw about desalination plans had PV powered pumps lifting sea water into a mountain catchment area covered by a large transparent dome. "Solar" energy evaporates the water from the catchment and it condenses on the inside of the dome where it flows down into collectors from which it goes to the upper end of "The Line".

It's supposed to be like a man-made river flowing through Neom (with a second underground river carrying treated waste water back to the Red Sea.

The concentrated brine is not returned to the Red Sea, but is mined for chemicals.

The PEOPLE problems far outweigh the engineering problems. They can hire construction workers to build it, but the kind of well educated, cosmopolitan people they need to populate it just ain't gonna' voluntarily move there to live in a repressive theocratic police state.

Finding people with the needed skill-sets to RUN the operation & build a community within it is going to be a much bigger problem than the physical engineering.

264:

If I have an EV that's Li battery powered, will I be able to easily switch to Na batteries?

This is another case where the technical side say "of course, no worries" and then the lawyers, economists and high priests of "the church of jesus fucking christ, trillionaire" all weigh in and it turns out that the answer is not so much no as "what a stupid question, how could you imagine for even a second that such a preposterous idea was worth mentioning".

If we wish away all the technological protection mechanisms, legal restrictions on owning anything with a microprocessor in it, legal agreements signed before gain possession and so on, right now you could rip the LFP batteries out of anything that uses those and drop in NaFP batteries and it would all just work. At about half the LFP capacity, because NaFP batteries have a wider voltage swing than LFP so they're safe to use instead.

More technically, NaFP batteries have a fairly linear voltage change with state of charge, so 2V=empty, 4V=full and in between a linear interpolation is within 5%. LFP are more like NiCd, they start at 2.5V = empty, quickly rise to to ~3V = not empty, then equally quickly rise to 3.6V = full. So mostly LFP cells sit at about 3V and if you want to know more you need a coulomb counter. Or "shunt" as the renewable people call them (term to use when shopping!), and they're often built into BMS's (battery monitoring system, becauzse with LFP flat voltage profile you need to coulmb count and monitor cell voltages, and other LiIon chemistries often add "spontaneously burst into flames" to the list of reasons for having a BMS)

265:

Re: Neom and engineering….

Don’t be too sure about the physical constraints. Looking at the scale of the thing…

Well, Burj Khalifa is a pyramid 830 m tall and 230 meters wide at the base. The Line is to be 600 meters tall by 200 meters wide by 170;000 meters long. With a slot down the middle. The Burj took 22 million man hours to build, and every kilometer of The Line is something like 5 Burj Khalifa in terms of materials and labor. I’m doing this in my head, but that seems to be around 187,000,000,000 man-hours to build The Line.

Anyway, it’s enough of a labor and materials sink that it’s legitimate to ask whether it can feasibly be built. More importantly, if it does get built, what does not get built because the steel and concrete are in The Line?

That last question matters, because 8 billion people need stuff, and The Line is sucking up gigatonnes of stuff to house a mere nine million.

266:

Which leads to the question of what could they be hiding in there as they build it... or what else could they use the materials for, as they put in the orders?

267:

potential buyers could be put off by the possibility that their EV might have zero trade-in value when they want to resell

A while ago lithium prices spiked because of energy market and supply chain issues (ukraine, palestine, ethiopia etc), which made sodium suddenly very attractive. Anyone with a coastline can refine sodium. But lithium prices are now lower than before that spike, because demand never went away but new production has come online. And while the exciting production is in Chile and various politically problematic places, a lot of it comes from Australia. And Australia is boring as fuck. You want rocks, we got rocks. You want to buy rocks, we sell rocks. Aussie cave man know rocks. Grunt.

Despite the fairy tales second hand "clapped out" lithium battery packs are and seem likely to remain a hot commodity. The "huge problem" with them is that there's lots of people want them but the bloody EV owners don't want to give them up. People keep driving the cars even when the battery is down to 70% capacity (like the selfish fucking arsehole car drivers they are. Ahem).

Partly that's because of range anxiety being cured by actually driving an electric car for a few weeks, so as the car goes from weeks old to years old the owners just adapt to the reduced range (90% of trips are less than 50km for all cars). And partly that's because the "80% after two years" is a worst case scenario, and most people end up sitting on the calendar aging rate that's less than half that. So someone with a gen 1 Nissan Leaf from 2009 is 15 years old and the range is down from 150km when new to 80km now... but the sort of person who keeps a car for 15 years is likely still driving it because it's a shopping cart rather than a long drive in the countryside type car anyway.

Or the latest owner ditto, because second hand electric cars have the same "problem" as second hand LiIon battery packs... more buyers than sellers.

268:

Less likely. The impactor was much smaller relatively than the proto-Earth/Theia collision and only blew the bloody doors crust off. Mars was already fairly solid and the crust held its shape and didn't reliquify after the imapct, hence the much lower northern hemisphere.

The asteroid Vesta is another example of this sort of impact, it got hit hard on what's now its south pole and has a large chunk bitten out of the southern hemisphere.

269:

The way I visualize the Neom water plan is it will be something like the water feature shown in these two videos about the "American Tobacco Campus":

Historic American Tobacco Campus Durham, NC (Destination #26)

American Tobacco Campus | Durham's Downtown HIDDEN GEM?!

... except extended for "miles & miles & miles & miles ..."

270:

I Beg Your Pardon. 15 years? Let's see, I bought my '08 Honda Odyssey in '13, at aroud 90k mi, and it's now about 166k mi. And every year, we drive from DC suburbs to Chicago by way of southeast Indiana....

271:

"So actually the oil companies don't need to be fretting about anything, if only they weren't stupid."

AIUI, it's not so much that they are stupid, but that they are buried under perverse incentives.

As is usual in the set of overlappimg Ponzi schemes that is the US sharemarket, the rewards for senior (mis)management are tied to the share price.

The share price depends largely on how the market analysts value the company assets.

For the oil companies, the main asset is the fossil fuel that they have not yet extracted, but will do so in the future.

If they pivot to not planning to extract it, then it becomes valueless, the share price goes into free fall, as do the executives, sans Golden Parachute.

ISTR that BP actually tried a pivot some years back, but were smartly whipped back into line.

JHomes

272:

SFReader @ 246:

Re: '... in your new "neoN" city build at least two semi-parallel pairs of tracks, to a properly generous ( i.e. Double-Deck ) loading guage, it shouldn't be difficult to get to 2.5-3.5 million a day ..'

No idea how wide their tracks will be but my impression is that most people movement will be vertical (up&down within a 'building') vs. horizontal (across a city).

I just checked their website - it's supposed to be a zero-car environment with emphasis on greenery growing everywhere - up, down & around buildings sorta like an amped up version of the Bosco Verticale buildings in Milan.

Heteromeles might find this interesting ... the article below mentions vibration control built into the buildings. My guess is that if this construction was one of the inspirations for The Line, then it's likely that similar vibration control will also be an integral part of its construction.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosco_Verticale

https://www.inexhibit.com/case-studies/the-vertical-forest-towers-in-milan-by-boeri-phenomenon-or-archetype/

Here's a recent (2022) build to address social housing in the Netherlands - same architect.

https://www.theplan.it/eng/architecture/trudo-vertical-forest-social-housing-vertical-forest

Most of the illustrations I've seen suggest it's like a long string of overlapping "pearls" with each "pearl" being a more or less self-contained walkable mixed use community with housing & commerce in the walls on either side & common areas in the middle. Everything the inhabitants need to live, work & play is located within a mile or so. They aren't supposed to need to commute long distance to work on a daily basis.

It shouldn't need to move millions of people along the string at the same time.

Anyone got an answer on how wide the space in the middle is supposed to be? How far apart are the walls?

273:

Heteromeles @ 251:

"Silly question: why 600m high, and 200m wide, rather than 200m high, and 600m wide? Easier to build, and more stable"

I’m not designing the blessed thing, that was IIRC the result of MBS firing architects who were insufficiently daring. Possibly the Burj Khalifa and Rich Malle Edifice Syndrome played substantial roles too, though I wouldn’t know. Come to think of it, it would be bigger than the Great Pyramid and Alexandria combined, and without the Nile to sustain it, too. Make of that what you will.

I think that's the point of that massive desalination project I mentioned. Make their own "Nile" running down the middle.

274:

They're not supposed to need to commute.

Mmmm, right. "We're having a staff meeting in perl 3 tomorrow, and I expect everyone to be there in person."

275:

Heteromeles @ 265:

Re: Neom and engineering….

Don’t be too sure about the physical constraints. Looking at the scale of the thing…

Well, Burj Khalifa is a pyramid 830 m tall and 230 meters wide at the base. The Line is to be 600 meters tall by 200 meters wide by 170;000 meters long. With a slot down the middle. The Burj took 22 million man hours to build, and every kilometer of The Line is something like 5 Burj Khalifa in terms of materials and labor. I’m doing this in my head, but that seems to be around 187,000,000,000 man-hours to build The Line.

Anyway, it’s enough of a labor and materials sink that it’s legitimate to ask whether it can feasibly be built. More importantly, if it does get built, what does not get built because the steel and concrete are in The Line?

As to the "physical constraints" ...

          It Couldn't Be Done - Edgar Guest

That last question matters, because 8 billion people need stuff, and The Line is sucking up gigatonnes of stuff to house a mere nine million.

What makes you think ANY of the resources Saudi Arabia is allocating to The Line would go to those 8 billion people instead if SA didn't build it?

I am neither in favor, nor opposed. I do find the "design" interesting, worthy of discussion.

I do kind of think it would be "a good thing"if it does succeed because (IMNSHO) it will require Saudi Arabian society to change for the better (more open, less theocratic) in order for it TO succeed.

276:

whitroth @ 274:

"They're not supposed to need to commute."

Mmmm, right. "We're having a staff meeting in perl 3 tomorrow, and I expect everyone to be there in person."

Wouldn't surprise me. There will ALWAYS be assholes pissing in the punch bowl just because they can.

277:

Who had "Iran Pakistan war" as a wildcard?

278:

"If Putin was to win in Ukraine you can expect the Baltic states and Poland to go on a rearmament spree. "

If NATO goes down and Taiwan is left on its own, I would expect a serious nuclear bust out. A large number of countries will be left on their own, facing unrestrained and aggressive nuclear powers.

279:

I’m not sure what crop would pay for this experiment: really special “mile high” cannabis?

Leela's quote in Futurama's episode Mars University (1999):

"They planted traditional college foliage; ivy, trees, hemp. Soon the whole planet was terraformed."

280:

my 2024 Bingo Card:

After Trump chokes on his bile; Pence sneaks into graveyard to confirm he's indeed dead and then piss upon the corpse

Biden get re-elected; but after six months reluctantly steps aside and Harris gets sworn in

a cure for male pattern balding announced but costs US$131,000 for the treatment; there's a million-strong waiting list with a very lively secondary auction for slots closer to the top

closest to "Iran Pakistan war" that I had being "India Pakistan war"

281:

BTW, in terms of a certain somebody pulling the US out of NATO, we've seen how little the law binds various parties in the USA.

282:

a cure for male pattern balding announced but costs US$131,000 for the treatment; there's a million-strong waiting list with a very lively secondary auction for slots closer to the top

And within 24 hours "healthy natural alternatives" will be selling on the Internet for $9,999. Then $4,999. Then ....

283:

"India - Pakistan War" has been a banker that hasn't come off beyond "minor police action" more or less every year since Partition.

284:

paws Now that both India & Pak are nuclear, any fights that do occur - & they WILL occur will be "Minor" But Pak vs Iran ... anything is possible. You have to remember that Heretics are "Wronger" than unbelievers!

285:

»But Pak vs Iran ... anything is possible.«

Nope, it's going to be as terribly polite as we have come to know it between any two nuclear armed states, because it is widely assumed that Iran already has nukes.

They may be primitive, they may be unwieldy, they may be untested, but nobody is going to take any chances all the same.

Remember: No country has ever failed to get a bang on first attempt.

286:

»"India - Pakistan War" has been a banker that hasn't come off beyond "minor police action" more or less every year since Partition.«

The most disturbing thing about nukes is how everybody becomes insanely polite when a country acquires nukes.

India and Pakistan may ceremoniously rattle the swords every night at the border, but in terms of foreign policy, they are tip-toeing around and making absolutely damn sure not to tread on each others toes.

An indian vide-minister of defense even said it on the record some years ago: "USA is so much easier to talk to, once you have nuclear weapons"

Serious people have argued for many years, that we will not see peace in the middle-east until Iran declares their nukes, to balance out Israels.

It will be uneasy peace, but peace all the same.

And if you have not read Jeffrey Lewis book already, you should:

https://www.armscontrol.org/act/2018-12/book-reviews/2020-commission-report-north-korean-nuclear-attacks-against-united-states

287:

"tangerine shitgibbon" -> ROFLMAO for real !

288:

The waves of possibilities are more wide and the bottom could reach the point of no return, that is the problem as I see.

289:

[people in The Line] aren't supposed to need to commute long distance to work on a daily basis

And if they change jobs? My commute changed from a 10 minute walk to a 1 hour bus/tube ride

290:

Your British Labour party reminds me a lot of our Australian Labor party – centre-right and totally lacking in courage or vision, having betrayed their socialist origins decades ago. They're still way better than our Liberal party who are basically fascists, and who only ever govern in coalition with the National (formerly Cuntry) party, who are fascists who wear elastic-sided boots and represent the mining industry while claiming to represent the Salt of the Earth, Real Australians (farmers).

Because you have first-past-the-post voting, you're stuck with two very unappealing choices, one slightly less worst than the other. At least our preferential voting system gives us the possibility of a minority Labor government being held to account by the Greens and a bunch of Tree Tories.

We're due for an election in 2025. Wish us luck.

291:

Here in The Netherlands, we're already feeling the wind pick up, with the populist, anti-immigrant, anti-islam party the PVV having become the biggest in the elections this past November.

292:

My biggest worry about the UK election of 2024 is that it sets up a disaster in 2029. Labour win massively in 2024 and fail to undo much of the Tory damage, then get aggressively blamed for that damage in the 2029 campaign. That puts Reform (or their spawn: I expect multiple schisms and regroupings in five years) in power, with a perceived mandate for vicious revenge. Then...the darkness.

I agree that it makes no rational sense to blame Labour for the Tory wasteland, but that won't stop populists from trying.

I wonder: are there other states that are exactly two elections from disaster?

293:

We already have a local spa advertising an Ozempic knock off for weight loss at their "clinic".

I'm amazed the market isn't already flooded by cheap (and potentially dangerous) Ozempic copy cats from factories in Mexico and India.

These would be far more profitable than meth or fentanyl.

294:

I agree with both you and David Irving. However, expect Reform etc. to be a one-fart pony - they may well hurt the Tories badly in 2024, but the Tory reaction will be to adopt most of Reform's manifesto, and Reform will be slaughtered in 2029. That;s what happened last time. The effect is actually worse than Reform becoming an established minority party.

Unless, of course, Starmer is a radical socialist in Blairite clothing. Or, more plausibly, he drops dead early in his rule, there are enough socialists in the influx to elect such a PM, who immediately institutes electoral reform. Yes, flying pig territory.

295:

I seem to recall foreign interference (state level involvement)1 in the previous UK general election, resulting in Boris, and the Brexit fiasco. I strongly doubt suitable preventative measures been put in place 2. However my fear is that this was a pilot scheme, and that similar levels of intervention, carefully plotted out could result in greater instability. 1 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-53433523 2 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-67518511

296:

flaws in your logic:

flaw#1: In the event of a successful invocation of a nuke in an enemy's capital city, everyone will feel the instant sunshine; those closest when their bones melt. Whereas a 'hangfire' could be downplayed by a national government as an industrial accident which scatters unspecified hazardous chemicals over a half dozen blocks. Whomever sent the hangfire nuke will be too embarrassed to say much. So, two combatant nations find themselves unintentionally cooperating in the cover up. Albeit for differing motives.

flaw#2: There's kiloton booms from instant sunshine properly formulated. But a deliberately failed bomb could be a WMD too, of a flavorful variant; weapon of massive distraction/dispersal by way of conventional explosives and finely powdered radiologically active material. Uranium is not just radioactive, it is chemically toxic as well. Though there are plenty of other materials more toxic, there's an indoctrinated response to uranium, somehow it is worst of them all.

Spread the powder widely and it becomes an area denial weapon as well as a WMD. Cost of clean up in a nation's capital city? Starts at US$10^7, ever upwards; economic impact at least US$10^8, potentially US$10^9. Unless they've got someone poking 'em in the kidneys with a bayonet, most folks will refuse to enter an insufficiently cleansed zone. And given how governments tend to tell lies (“downplay and dampen”) about risk, assumption of folks is to add at least a zero to the announced deaths and avoid going any place too close. All too plausible, the initial area denial expands as everyone's new habit of avoidance nudges the boundaries ever wider.

Which in turns leads to yet more questions: who will do the decontamination? and who will be holding the rifle tipped with aforementioned bayonet?

Fun times for everyone.

297:
I'm not. 25 years ago, they were much worse, and were an unholy combination of the Bolsheviks and Mafia.

25 years ago one of the Bolsheviks had just lost his Cabinet seat.

298:
in Ireland the concern is more that if you put a famously ex-terrorist party in charge of the country, the foreign investment that drives the economy may just decide that with the changes to corporate taxes globally, maybe another EU country would be a safer investment and they speak English in Malta too, don't they...

Cf. the well-known claim that TD Liam Lawlor sank the Quarryvale development in 1990 by describing it as "bandit country" to UK-based prospective investors; I'd contend that that he did so as part of an attempt to pressure a bribe out of the developer says more about law and order in Ireland then than any worries about Sinn Féin in power do today.

299:
The concentrated brine is not returned to the Red Sea, but is mined for chemicals.

And then what, what's left that's uneconomic to extract gets left in a truly giant tailings pond?

300:

horrific rewrites of children's books, part 7, Dr. Suess revised by neo-fascists:

"The Cat In the MAGA Hat"

"How the Grinch Secularized Christmas!"

"One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, The Election Was Stolen"

"Green Eggs and Ham: How to Identify Secret Jews Amongst Us"

BANNED FOR LGBTQ SUPPORTIVE THEMES: "I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today! and Other Stories"

BANNED FOR LGBTQ SUPPORTIVE THEMES: "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins"

(no heterosexual man owns more than three hats, never more more than a hundred)

"Horton Hears a Hidden Jew!"

301:

Uranium is NOT particularly toxic, despite the bullshit on the Web, and is a common ingredient of airborne dust in many places. There are compounds that are, but they are unlikely to be in the debris from a bomb. However, plutonium IS seriously toxic.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK158798/

302:

And here is a re-write of Dr. Seuss from the opposite end of political spectrum:

https://screamsheet.wordpress.com/2018/07/27/library-patron-pushes-for-dr-seuss-to-be-banned-for-violence/

The above is of course a satire, but someone really did try to ban "Hop on Pop" as too violent:

https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/mobile/toronto-public-library-asked-to-pull-dr-seuss-book-hop-on-pop-1.1797204

303:

ilya187 & HowardNYC
IIRC, the book-banning in Florida has gone completely bonkers, with Dictionaries & Encyclopedias now on the lists.
I'm not sure if this is a set of deliberate wind-ups by those opposed to censorship, or genuine nutcases, following the "1984" playbook? My money is on the nutcases, but what do I know?

I've also seen that there is at least one lawsuit { It IS the USA } claiming 1st US-Amendment rights, regarding "Free Speech", in said books, which could be interesting.

304:

Reminder that Iran has a space program and has launched satellites that made orbit using a couple of home-developed launch vehicles.

One of them, from a decade-plus ago, has two solid-fuel primary stages and a liquid fuelled upper stage with a c. 200kg payload. In other words, it's in the right payload range to be a plausible ICBM (especially if you swap out the liquid-fuel stage for an MRV bus).

It's worth reminding yourself regularly that Iran is the Persian Empire of yore (under new management). Land area not much smaller than Mexico, 90 million people, major industrial power and vehicle exporter in Asia. Really, do not confuse them with the arab nations in either organization, ideology, or aptitude for industrial development.

305:

I'm amazed the market isn't already flooded by cheap (and potentially dangerous) Ozempic copy cats from factories in Mexico and India.

Knock-offs are out there, but have you looked at the structure of the molecule? That shit is complex. (The start of the process involves GM yeast fermentation, then purification of the complex peptide, then a bunch of reactions to replace side-chains ...)

306:

do not confuse them with the arab nations

And they, Iran, gets incredibly upset when anyone does in their presence.

307:

Novo Nordic gets to tailor the education of several entire engineering specialties in the danish educational system entirely to their liking because they hire the vast majority of the graduating class each year.

This is why they haven't move production to a lower-wage country.. and they're still struggling to expand production enough. It's a very neat drug. It's not easy to make.

308:

Also worth noting that ex-pats who do not support Iran’s current regime self-label as Persians, not Iranians, at least around here.

The nice thing about SoCal is that I get to rub shoulders with a lot of ex-pats: Israelis, Palestinians, Persians, Chaldeans, Ukrainians, Russians, Afghans, Koreans, Vietnamese…and of course the Chinese and Japanese who have been here longer than I have, and the Chicanos who once owned the place.

Then I stumble into deep time. That’s when I realize that, historically, the place that most resembles modern California is the Holy Land, from Hellenistic through Ottoman times. And I wonder what will happen to all of us in our multiethnic families if some future magnates decide to ape the colonial empires of a century ago and dissect us into a bunch of statelets so they can set us against each other. What nationality will our descendants claim, I wonder? Who will they be coerced to hate?

And so it goes.

309:

Nick K @ 289:

[people in The Line] "aren't supposed to need to commute long distance to work on a daily basis"

And if they change jobs? My commute changed from a 10 minute walk to a 1 hour bus/tube ride

That's the challenge of "design" vs "reality" ... reality often falls short. Compare the original design for "Habitat" in Montreal to what was actually built.

My thoughts about Neom are basically
• It's an ambitious undertaking
• There's some cool Sci-Fi engineering proposals
• If they do manage to build it, it's going to require A LOT of changes to Saudi Arabian society
• I think those changes would be for the good, so I hope they succeed.
• Even if the project is a failure, they might accomplish some good things anyway.

Bottom line though - I'm not the planner, the designer OR the builder, I can only tell you what I've read about the plans & designs.

310:

anonemouse @ 299:

"The concentrated brine is not returned to the Red Sea, but is mined for chemicals."

And then what, what's left that's uneconomic to extract gets left in a truly giant tailings pond?

Probably. You'd really have to ask the people designing the system. I'd provide a link to the article I saw, but I don't remember the URL.

311:

"How the Grinch Secularized Christmas"

Please note there's an article in today's Guardian about how William may separate the Crown from CoE, and in it, the author mentions that less than half of the population of England and Wales call themselves Christian.

312:

Thank you. My favorite cmt is the one about Seuss being a gateway literature.

313:

And I wonder what will happen to all of us in our multiethnic families if some future magnates decide to ape the colonial empires of a century ago and dissect us into a bunch of statelets so they can set us against each other. What nationality will our descendants claim, I wonder? Who will they be coerced to hate?

Been reading a few articles about this situation in Germany of late.

https://www.politico.eu/article/germany-chancellor-scholz-bashes-afd-far-right-investigation-assimilation-comments/

314:

Oh. Thank you. About 15 years ago, I worked with a guy whose wife was "Persian", and spoke Farsi. Now it's clear...

315:

It was widely reported that Charles and several archbishops of Canterbury favoured that, but Elizabeth didn't, so obviously nothing could be done during her reign. It is very likely that Charles has asked or will ask Welby to consider the matter within the CoE and produce a request if the CoE agrees. If that were agreed, it would take effect on the accession of William. I have no idea of Welby's position on this.

What, you expect action in less than decades? This isn't Parliament, you know :-)

316:

to put it in context an American would understand... just because you share a religion does not make you buddies... here in the USA, blacks and whites are Christians... but whites really try to ignore that whenever they decide to go out a-bigoting...

Iranians view themselves as non-Arab; indeed they regard Arabs in a mode not unlike American whites viewing American blacks: lazy, crude, illegitimate, poverty-prone, illiterate, et al

and at the same time they resent Americans for grasping onto the reins of world wide power and not completely conquering it the way they would have, had roles been reversed

then there's the eye-popping grey & black markets in music and videos and books... smuggling got easier with everything going digital but there's still other things such as booze and unregistered phones and off-the-gr id laptops which is hands on materials being imported by truckloads...and guess who keeps getting photographed selling illegal stuff?

yeah, the religious police... who have the authority to conduct raids, whereupon they confiscate it, move it across town and then sell it...

317:

Re: [NEOM} 'The PEOPLE problems far outweigh the engineering problems. They can hire construction workers to build it, but the kind of well educated, cosmopolitan people they need to populate it just ain't gonna' voluntarily move there to live in a repressive theocratic police state.'

Just checked - yeah, could be a problem - employee satisfaction/retention is trending downward overall.

https://www.gallup.com/workplace/469031/saudis-seeking-new-jobs-companies-retain.aspx

Although more SA women are getting university educations, most still end up working in education and other traditional 'women's jobs'. Not great - but on the plus side at least women already have some presence in the SA workforce. My guess is that the same trajectory will be followed as occurred in the Western economies with more SA corps hiring/promoting women (and not just their own daughters) given that there's already been at least one high profile success story/example.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Al-Suhaimi

Another option is to go full-on AI using employee attrition as the rationale for cutting out a slew of jobs. Cloud computing is one of SA's major growth areas so AI embedded everywhere wouldn't be unlikely.

My initial thought was that: the vast majority of SAs are already living in a repressive theocratic state. Further, SA is basically a collection of (paternalistic) clans/tribes and for stability reasons I would expect each would be more or less proportionally represented within NEOM. If any clan opted out, that might hurt their political (therefore economic) chances ... sorta like when Louis XV moved his office to Versailles.

The coming storm ... weather

I just checked windfinder dot com for my area and noticed that the UK and northwestern parts of Europe are going to get walloped with a major wind event this weekend. Batten down the hatches, pick up your groceries for the next few days, get indoors and stay safe!

318:

NYC finally got a couple days of solid cold which we've been needing for sake of insects, rats, divorce lawyers and other outta-control vermin

problem being the light layer of snow 'n ice which is just enough to be terrifying to anyone hobbling on a cane but not thick enough to warrant anyone scraping it off... salting 'n sanding does not always work well... the melt runs down slope to low points in sidewalks to freeze... so... sweet with the sour...

whereas there are place in North America where it is getting deeply dangerous...

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2024/us/freezing-temperatures-cold-weather-map.html?searchResultPosition=1

319:

Although more SA women are getting university educations, most still end up working in education and other traditional 'women's jobs'

Some manage to go a bit further, though I don't know how much coverage she got at home.

320:

to put it in context an American would understand...

No need to talk down to me. I do understand. I just didn't see any point in writing an essay.

321:

»However, plutonium IS seriously toxic.«

It actually isn't.

Everybody pressumed it was like Radium in that respect, but it transpired it was not.

See for instance the UP-PU study: www.atomictraveler.com/PlutoniumHistory.pdf

But like "red mercury", the toxicity of Pu is part of the deliberate misinformation which is part and parcel of the non-proliferation monitoring, so nobody is in any rush to correct anything.

322:

Charles himself is very limited by his coronation oaths binding him to the church. To avoid royal bad faith he has to punt it to his heir. If he was going to act quickly, it needed to be before the coronation.

323:

Right. And he is very careful to ensure that such decisions are taken by the clergy, not dictated by him, so quick action was impossible.

324:

It's not that bad. Even in the belt that has it worst, it's only predicted to be a force 7 (60 MPH gusts). It gets a lot worse than that!

325:

ex-pats who do not support Iran’s current regime self-label as Persians, not Iranians, at least around here.

FWIW it varies here. The couple I hang round with regularly both identify as Iranians and assume it's obvious that not-practicing-Muslims* Iranians living in Australia don't support an islamic theocracy. But I've also worked with a couple of Persians who speak Farsi or Persian depending on the day and are also not practicing Muslims.

Note that to get back into Iran as a citizen** you pretty much have to be Muslim, and being recognised as a non-citizen can be problematic when it comes to leaving the country. So people with family ties who want to go back have to pick their time and hope it all works out. One friend has currently delayed their flights and is hoping the various wars in the area calm down before the tickets expire.

(* there is a whole lot of fun and games with that classification that books have been written about) (** becoming a former citizen is most easily done by becoming formerly alive. Sam Dastyari is an Australia former politician who ended up arguing that he'd indirectly been recognised by Iran as a non-citizen in order to comply with the "no foreign allegiance" rule here)

326:

Re: Neom people problems.

I like the logistic math of people, space, and time.

The Burj Khalifa is a good proxy, because it’s about one-third taller than The Line, and numbers for it are available. It took five years and 22,000,000 man-hours to build.

Let’s assume every kilometer of The Line is equivalent to 4 Burj Khalifas, just to make the math easy, because there will be a lot of 2s. Let’s also assume supplies arrive on time, concrete dries instantly, weather will never be a problem, etc, so we can just talk about skilled construction workers doing their thing 2,000 hours per year.

So, if you could build the Burj Khalifa in a year, you’d need 11,000 people working full time on a pyramid 230 m square at the base. It’s sorta doable, although every starts off with 4.8 m2 of space to stand in, and I’m not sure how the concrete gets poured around them. Getting the picture?

For The Line, that’s 44,000 people working full time in a space 200 meters wide and 1000 meters long, which works out about to be a bit less in terms of area to work in.

With this rate of construction, it would take 170 years to finish The Line. Since skyscrapers have a normal service life of around 50 years, maybe a third of The Line would be still useable and standing by the time the whole thing is completed.

And that’s assuming everything works perfectly. Which it won’t, because it’s a monkey canning facility in middle of a barren desert.

That’s where some of my skepticism comes from.

Now, if you’re response is in the neighborhood of “well, oh yeah, this magical new technology will make it all work”, you might as well go invest in something that the SA government said they had money to build, even though they’re now soliciting investments. Www.neom.com, I think is the url.

327:

the UK and northwestern parts of Europe are going to get walloped with a major wind event this weekend.

Yup, it's already arriving. Bear in mind we're used to getting low-end hurricane force wind storms several times every winter, though. (Cold air so it doesn't hold anything like as much moisture, but high wind speeds and generally miserable to be out in.)

My flat is on the top floor of my building, with a bedroom up a spiral staircase that sticks out above the roofline -- it's in a turret, with a flat rooftop. So every time we get winds over about 50km/h my bedroom turns into the inside of a drum, with low frequency rumbling. Very non-restful.

328:

Most Pu isotopes are alpha emitters, however, so if you ingest it in any form at all the ionizing radiation is mostly absorbed in a very small volume of tissue, making for much worse radiological damage. (Neutrons are probably less of a problem as they tend to breeze right through human bodies before they decay: but the fission fragments produced during neutron emission are a law unto themselves.)

329:

Regarding Iranian expats, the first tranche that appeared in American politics were ex-Shah regime chancers after the Revolution who were all "let's you and him fight, we'll hold your coat" in various press op-ed pieces and some neocon think tanks. Think Cuban emigres of the nastier sort, figuring they could get their rightful land and property back if the mullahs were overthrown and Peace and Freedom were imposed on Iran at the point of a Western gun. The name "Benador Associates" is in my memory for some reason.

330:

Iranians view themselves as non-Arab

Ahem. They don't view themselves as non-Arab, they are non-Arab. Persia is located in a different part of the world than Arabia, has a different history, a different culture, a different language; you name it. Your phrasing underhandedly suggests that they actually are Arabs; which is first of all plain wrong, and second of all probably offensive to Iranians.

To put it in a context that USians can understand: what would you say about the sentence "WASP Americans view themselves as non-Hispanics" (which also underhandedly suggests that they actually are Hispanics)? Does that sound totally non-sensical and maybe even a tad offensive to you? Congratulations! You have understood what the problem with your phrasing is.

331:

Plutonium -- we'll assume Pu-239 for the purposes of this discussion -- is rare as hen's teeth and even in a full and frank exchange of Buckets of Instant Sunshine only about twenty or thirty tonnes of the Spicy Glowy Rock stuff would be widely dispersed around the world. There's maybe about a thousand tonnes of the stuff in existence on our planet after eighty years of complicated and expensive production since it's not naturally occurring in ore bodies (and yes that isn't precisely true but it's close enough). Most plutonium exists in the form of decommissioned warheads and spent nuclear reactor fuel, both of which are kept well away from people for good reasons. The chemical and radiological toxicity properties of plutonium are not as problematic as originally feared and not the main reason for the sequestration. There's a horribly funny story involving medical malpractice, National Security ethical overrides and a happy outcome which illustrates just how non-dangerous plutonium contamination to human beings actually is.

Uranium on the other hand, is as common as dirt. I think it may have been hyperbole but I saw the claim once that there was enough uranium in a square mile of farmland six feet deep to make a working fission bomb. Uranium and plutonium are probably equally radiotoxic and a quick Google suggests the 70-kg standard adult human has about 20 to 90 micrograms of uranium in equilibrium. Sources include breathing airborne particles and drinking water, not nuclear explosions particularly.

332:

a book by data scientist Hannah Ritchie a couple of weeks ago

It is worth pointing out that article doesn't show sources or her working, and is geared around selling the book. That doesn't discredit it in any way, and I'm not trying to do that here, but it's also clearly part of a genre and there are some details that are not clear about how the argument there works.

In terms of the claim that 2012 was "peak carbon (per capita)", this article from the Brookings Institute, which does show sources and working, claims peak carbon (overall emissions volume) so far was 2023. Now it's possible that population growth since 2012 makes the claim work out, but even that context changes the way you might interpret the claim. To be fair, the rest of the article reads a lot like "trust me I'm a data scientist", putting the onus on me to look up the author's CV to work out what that even means. Again, I've no actual criticism of the author - it's just the context and framing that says these things to me. And something I've grown used to seeing in The Guardian to be honest.

In terms of climate hope, what I get from it is more like: if you hold out your thumb and squint, you can sort of see a pathway where things might work out sort of okay, at least not horribly badly. But that's a LOT different to "things will be okay", the message the headline seems to want to provide.

333:

Except for the arab Persians, of course :) It's like the white Christians (Jesus was, famously, a "man of middle eastern appearance") or Indian Scottish people.

The great thing about empires is that they accumulate all sorts of people. There are red-headed Maori and all sorts of other "unnatural" things (white swans! Horse-sized dogs! Birds that sound like cats!)

All generalisations are wrong but some more wrong than others :P

334:

In the context of "England and Wales", it's worth noting that the church of Wales was formally disestablished in the C19th. Lloyd George's nationalist Liberals extracted a few concessions from the mainstream Liberal government in exchange for their support and that was one of the big ones (together with re* establishing a national University) * the more romantic nationalists saw it as a revival of Glyndwr's University which the English crown dismantled before it got going properly, which is why three of the colleges were in Bangor,St Davids, and St Asaph. You wouldn't necessarily pick those sites (though Bangor was logical at the time politically) but they were where Owain had his colleges, so they went in. Massive digression, sorry.

335:

Has anyone told the Revolutionary Guard and Mullahs?

336:

Granite is of the order of 10 ppm uranium. All except 50 ppm of natural uranium (including 235) has a half life of over 700 million years, and the relevant isotopes of plutonium have ones of under 30,000 years. In terms of radioactivity, even enriched uranium is almost inert and plutonium definitely isn't.

Also, uranium is not readily absorbed by the body but my understanding is that plutonium is much more so. It may not be any more CHEMICALLY toxic, but plutonium is definitely many orders of magnitude more RADIOACTIVELY toxic.

337:

On the battery power front, there is another tipping point coming. I don't know when because I haven't crunched the numbers, and a bunch of those numbers are going to be hard to find out anyway. But its definitely coming.

The tipping point is: when the cost of renewable power stored in grid-scale batteries is less than the incremental cost of power from fossil fuels.

At the moment we have lots of fossil fuel electricity plants, mostly burning gas (at least in the UK; worldwide the situation is more complex, but that doesn't change the fundamentals). Those are a sunk cost; even if they can't sell power at a price which pays back the cost of building them, they will still generate for as long as they can produce a positive cash flow. That sets a price ceiling on a kWH.

(I'm simplifying: e.g. the UK grid can't currently (pun intended) carry enough power from Scottish windfarms south to where the consumers are, but never mind the details for now.)

Meanwhile, if you are contemplating investing in some kind of zero-carbon power plant you need to be sure that its going to generate a cash flow which will repay the capital costs. Right now you can do that with wind and solar plants: once you've built them you can sell power whenever the sun shines or the wind blows, and if you do that at the price ceiling imposed by fossil fuel then you can make a profit. So everyone is trying to build them. But the numbers don't add up for storage. There are some grid-scale battery plants, but they exist to serve the brief hour or two between an unexpected demand spike and those gas plants coming on line. During that time the price surges and you can make money from your expensive batteries. But you can't make money buying power when it is very cheap and selling it a week or so later at the fossil fuel price ceiling.

Part of the problem is that power grids at the moment have very little time when there is more wind and solar power than demand. Most of the time the renewable plants sell power just a bit cheaper than the fossil fuel price, and some (but not all) fossil fuel plants turn off in response. So a long term battery storage plant is faced with buying power at basically the same price that it sells it. So that's a lot of no business case.

(I don't have any actual numbers to prove that: its just inference from the behaviour of people who are investing in this stuff).

Two things are going to change.

  • As more wind and solar gets built, the amount of time we spend turning all our fossil fuel plants off will increase, and so the price of a kWH will drop below the fossil fuel price for longer and longer.

  • Batteries are getting cheaper. The experience curve for Li-ion is frankly awesome. And there are cheaper battery technologies which might take over for grid-scale storage if they can manage to out-pace the Li-ion experience curve. Sodium batteries are a definite option: weight doesn't matter for stationary applications. And there are variations on the theme of metal-air and metal-sulphur, any of which might become dominant in the future.

  • So at some point soon, buying renewable power on windy/sunny days and selling it on still/cloudy days at a price below that of a fossil fuel kWH will turn a profit. At that point it will suddenly become a viable business build lots of grid-scale storage capable of holding days, and then weeks, of power demand. At which point the grid scale battery business will take off: everybody will want to invest.

    Which is going to be interesting, because for some time there are going to be weeks when the sun and wind can't generate enough power for long enough that the national grid batteries will go flat. At that point we still need to have the fossil fuel plants available as back-up. Which is probably going to mean subsidising their maintenance for a long time. I just hope the government can see that far.

    338:

    Batteries are getting cheaper.

    True but we still have yet to address what to do with old batteries.

    Even the best Li-ion batteries wear out. They are considered to be hazwaste by the USEPA. If you replaced every car with a Tesla we would triple the amount of hazwaste generated in the US each year.

    Hazwaste disposal facilities are massively expensive and hugely unpopular. Battery recycling is labor intensive and also very expensive.

    My guess: we will hide the problem like we do e-waste by shipping spent li-ion batteries overseas to some third world dump where they will poison the local children and villagers.

    339:

    Even the best Li-ion batteries wear out. They are considered to be hazwaste by the USEPA. If you replaced every car with a Tesla we would triple the amount of hazwaste generated in the US each year.

    As depleted Li-ion batteries contain at least twenty times as much lithium per unit weight as the richest ore, that hazwaste classification is set to fall by the wayside in favour of recycling. Not a matter of "if", purely a matter of "when": demand will drive the price of lithium up while scale will drive the cost of battery recycling plants down until the lines on the graph cross.

    340:

    Has anyone told the Revolutionary Guard and Mullahs?

    What exactly are you referring to? Has anyone told them that they could make fun of the ruling elite of the US by calling them Hispanic?

    Or do you actually mean: has anybody told them that they're not Arabs? If so, on what basis do you ask the question? Do you have any indications that the Revolutionary Guard or the Mullahs believe themselves to be Arabs? Citations please.

    The null hypothesis is that the Iranian leadership think of themselves as Persian (not Arabic) just as much as the English leadership think of themselves as English (not French). Note that historically, culturally, and linguistically the connections between England and France are far closer than those between Persia and Arabia.

    341:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depleted_uranium#Chemical_toxicity

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depleted_uranium#Safety_and_environmental_issues

    WMD vs WMDD

    insufficiently documented in open literature, how depleted uranium seems to be rather casually stored, perhaps quite easily stolen

    "In the U.S. alone, 560,000 tonnes of depleted UF6 had accumulated by 1993. In 2005, 686,500 tonnes in 57,122 storage cylinders were located near [REDACTED]"

    (never mind it's open literature, I'm trying to avoid getting blamed if any of you heed your inner super-villain to steal DU and detonate a WMDD in downtown of [REDACTED], nation's capital city)

    342:

    Why bother? UF6 is genuinely nasty stuff, chemically -- at atmospheric pressure it sublimes at 56.5 °C, presumably has a pretty high vapour pressure, and if you inhale it, it reacts with the water in the mucus lining your lungs to produce hydrofluoric acid. Forget the radionucleide booga-booga (U-238's half life is about the same as the age of the planet to date), that fluorine will kill you really painfully!

    343:

    how depleted uranium seems to be rather casually stored

    I grew up around it. I'm sure I had some red cake dust in my house.

    One reason it was somewhat casually stored is that the very large casks it was in were so freaking heavy. I mean over the top heavy. To come get it required very large bits of machinery.

    344:

    red cake

    Oops. yellow cake

    345:

    The problem isn’t the lithium per se, it’s the cobalt in the anode and carbide. The fact that it’s hard to get the cobalt out is what make lithium batteries hazardous waste. So far, there’s only one plant in Arizona that’s dealing with the problem, and it’s nowhere near big enough to handle the volume.

    Solutions include carbon electrodes, reusing batteries until they’re exceedingly dead before recycling them, other battery chemistries, and using less electricity.

    A point about using less electricity, since y’all are blind to it. Here’s an example:

    Video on demand has massively increased electricity use for television, because instead of even 100 channels, they’re now running server farms, each drawing as much electricity as a small town, to provide the videos at any time.

    Simultaneously, media companies are consolidating, because they’re producing huge amounts of video that no one’s watching to compete with each other, and no one can afford it. This is all over the Hollywood business news. Anyway, we’re in an unsustainable age of peak video right now, and the solution is going to be produce less video, have fewer videos available at any one time, and use less electricity. Like, oh, cable TV did, back a few decades ago, when they were profitable.

    There’s a lot of this “competition by going big and flooding the zone with shit” going on, and it’s not just right wing politics and video. The same thing’s happening with AI, which looks to increase search engine energy usage by an order of magnitude without being any more useful, ubiquitous gathering of superfluous and useless data in the hope that mining it will be more profitable, video blogs requiring content producers to invest hundreds in mikes and cameras to say the same things they used to type, and so forth. If we’re struggling to find enough electricity for essential uses, these are all things that can be cut.

    Yes, it’s hard to cut them now, but if we can figure out how to, say, squelch political shitgibboning, it might take off. After all, Steve Brannon coined the phrase “flooding the zone with shit,” and he set the fashion for how to compete ever since, so far as I can tell.

    And is there anyone who’s not mortally tired of all the shit we’re dealing with right now?

    346:

    Heteromeles: This is singularly irrelevant. If you plan to reduce electricity consumption, you are planning to fail to address climate change in any meaningful way whatsoever.

    The current best plans for reducing the carbon emissions of a nation-state are the French and Swedish ones. Now, given my history, you are probably expecting me to say "because nuclear"

    No, that's not the bit that makes their plans the best. Their plans are the best because they are attempts at cleaning up the whole economy, not just "clean up the existing grid and export all the heavy manufacturing to someplace that does not care about emissions".

    And that requires very, very ambitious expansions of the grid. When the goal is to reduce ores with electrolysis-sourced hydrogen or direct electro chemistry, to melt steel in arc furnaces, to feed the chemical industry on Power instead of Gas, electricity supply needs to go up. Not by a little. A by a lot.

    At which point the electricity people spend on amusements is a meaningless rounding error. And it brings people joy. So, perhaps, stop being a hair-shirt scold?

    If you believe renewables can power a modern society, then argue as if you believe that down to your bones. If you don't actually believe that, maybe rethink some of your other priors.

    347:

    Heteromeles @ 345: The problem isn’t the lithium per se, it’s the cobalt in the anode and carbide.

    Which is why I mentioned alternative battery chemistries. One of the reasons they are so much cheaper is that they don't need cobalt.

    It also means that those poor kids being shamelessly and violently exploited in the cobalt mines in the DRC can go back to being shamelessly and violently exploited in diamond and copper mines instead.

    348:

    Not entirely. Such usage is expanding exponentially; currently, its main ecological disadvantage is that it is blocking other uses from being converted to electricity because of lack of (growth) capacity. But, but 2030, many people feel that will not be true, and a sane government would be taking steps to avoid that.

    I agree that, today, it is dwarfed by the main uses.

    349:

    expanding exponentially

    We built a new US suburban home in 1967. At times in the spring or fall our power meter would go to 0 for an hour or few at a time in the day time. And maybe late at night.

    Today my home can't even think of such. While the total usage in KWH is likely less, it never gets to zero.

    350:

    There's fiddly bits of ordinary chemistry, which includes “reversible rust” batteries[2] which offer both highly recoverable and longer term storage. Safer than lithium, in terms of fire hazard. Nothing exotic about raw materials. Just how cheaply such units can be built, how reliable the chemistry, maximum scale feasibility, all good questions.

    Boring details of economics dictate the placement of "battery warehouses[1]" being as close to areas of high consumption (i.e. cities) as feasible but tempered by ever increasing land prices and NIMBYism as you get closer to those areas.

    Whether or not it is actively legislated, there will come the day when all new suburban and urban development will be delayed until infrastructure can be assured as being ready to support added populace. Already 'bone dry counties' in the US West are requiring proof of 100 years of reliable water prior to approval of real estate development projects.

    So come the day, basics of civilization must be shown to be ready: water, electricity, sewage, data, disaster recovery, , etc.

    =+=+=+=

    [1] usage of “farms” is overdone in such jargon as "server farms” and "turbine farms" whereas "depots" has kind of a dull verbal texture to it;

    [2] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/rusty-batteries-could-greatly-improve-grid-energy-storage/

    351:

    If the people in charge took note of safety rather than cost, they would deconvert it to uranium oxides before storage, and sell the hydrofluoric acid. Depleted pitchblende is considerably safer than many other spoil heaps, and has no WMD or terrorism uses that I can think of.

    Yes, that has been started, but it should have been started a long time back and done to all of the residue.

    352:

    problem being the light layer of snow 'n ice which is just enough to be terrifying to anyone hobbling on a cane but not thick enough to warrant anyone scraping it off

    I recommend getting yourself a pair of Icetrax or something similar. I keep a pair in my car and another in my bag so I'm never without them during winter. They make a real difference in cold weather. A cane with a spike is also a good idea (although apparently that may be considered a non-protected weapon in parts of America, so check your jurisdiction).

    https://www.amazon.ca/ICETRAX-Winter-Grips-Shoes-Boots/dp/B07ZJN36G3/

    The best cleats I've found are Lee Valley Icers, which my postal carrier swears by. More expensive and not as portable, but I've climbed 30° inclines covered in sheet ice with absolutely no problems.

    https://www.leevalley.com/en-ca/shop/home/clothing/footwear/accessories/40911-icers

    353:

    Video on demand has massively increased electricity use for television, because instead of even 100 channels, they’re now running server farms, each drawing as much electricity as a small town, to provide the videos at any time.

    Just chiming in to note that back in the 80s when I worked as an engineer we were looking at video-on-demand. The technology didn't support it back then, but the idea has been around for quite a long time.

    354:

    »Most Pu isotopes are alpha emitters,«

    Yes, but where Ra has half-lives in days, Pu has half-lives in years, so the activity is /much/ lower, and (read the link I provided) you seem to piss most of it out ("UP-PU" get the joke ?) and the rest accumulates on the outside of your bones, rather than on the inside (like Ra) so the damage it causes is not to bone marrow, where it is near catastrophic, but merely to muscle tissue, which is pretty good at handling damage and has very low cell division rates.

    As I read that link, the UP-PU study cohort cannot ever show statistical significance for living shorter, but could eventually do so for living longer.

    As far as I can tell, there is no actual scientific evidence for the claim that Pu is the "most toxic in the world." for any value of , and the only sources for that claim that I have been able to trace, are journalists being fed anti-proliferation "propaganda" to deter and delay scientists from playing with this stuff.

    355:

    »Also, uranium is not readily absorbed by the body but my understanding is that plutonium is much more so. It may not be any more CHEMICALLY toxic, but plutonium is definitely many orders of magnitude more RADIOACTIVELY toxic.«

    Not really.

    The major trouble with uranium is not, as you correctly say absorption, but rather the Radium and Radon in it's decay chain. This makes uranium dust, no matter which isotope, a bad thing in your lungs and food, and buildings on top of uranium should vent the radon effectively.

    (The scientific evidence for Radons health effects is a bit muddled, the most significant numbers are about second-hand smokers, but the consensus is that the reason for the muddling is that other pollutants in the air most modern humans inhale overwhelm the danger signature from radon)

    Radium is very readily absorbed, has high activity (half-life in days) and, for reasons not entirely resolved, preferentially end up in or near your bone-marrow very quickly after getting into the blood stream. Bone marrow has one of the highest cell-division rates in the body, and is therefore very vulnerable to mutations. (Evolution has evidently awarded extra lives to organisms which protected the blood production inside the best radiation shield possible.

    Plutonium, at least according to all sources I have been able to find, in particular the feature set of articles I linked to above, is actually not well absorbed (Doctors first order: Here is a case or beer, drink it and piss all you can, say when you're ready for the next one), has very low activity (t½: 87y…81e6y), and ends up on the outer surface of your bones, so the alpha particles get no where near your bone marrow.

    No actual scientific papers I have ever been able to locate, come anywhere near a "Pu is the most dangerous..." conclusion, that claim only appear in journalistic representations.

    356:

    You may well be right, but I think the situation is complicated by religion inspired fanaticism.

    Its the Islamic Republic. The Revolutionary Guard were formed to protect the Revolution and ensure the country adhered to God's laws. Secular society was blasphemy and when they had a referendum it wasn't even on the ballot as an option. Since then its been a theocratic state where politicians who dissent get pushed to one side and protestors imprisoned and/or shot (by the thousand).

    As the truly devout (with a large side order of thug) they view their country, their friends and their families as of secondary importance to their religion and the Supreme Leader.

    What matters to them is that Iran maintains an arab styled culture, defined by an arab prophet in the language of God - arabic. It shuns outside ideas. They want what they euphemistically think of as a return to the true Islamic state ie emulating Mecca circa 700AD - after pick and mixing some of the more sexist and intolerant options and ditching the heretical Sunni aspects. Nothing else matters. They want to be the true preservers of that sacred flame.

    If no religions were present I would agree with you but given that one is, all bets are off.

    357:

    »True but we still have yet to address what to do with old batteries. «

    Fair point.

    I promise we'll deal with that as soon as we have addressed what to do with the old coal mines, the old oil-rigs, the old down-holes, the old refineries and the soil beneath them, the old tank stations, and the soil beneath them, and the old nuclear plants.

    Deal ?

    (PS: The word you're looking for is "What-aboutism")

    358:

    »If the people in charge took note of safety rather than cost, they would deconvert it to uranium oxides before storage, and sell the hydrofluoric acid.«

    There's less of a business case than you seem to imagine:

    The market for hydrofluorinc acid, is almost entirely the nuclear fuel (re)production industry, which uses most of what they buy to make … UF6.

    They are also really good at recycling it, because the HASMAT transportation restrictions /anywhere/ in the world makes that, by far, the cheaper option.

    359:

    »There's fiddly bits of ordinary chemistry,«

    The fundamental electro-chemical issue in all batteries seem to be preventing the electrode metal from changing shape or composition to something inefficient, passive or even dangerous.

    For lead-acid it is grid expansion (inefficiency) and sulfation (passivation)

    For solid alkali batteries (Li, Na, K) it is dendrite growth (inefficiency and short-circuiting)

    Nobody has done any significant work on liquid alkali batteries (Rb, Cs and, in principle Fr) for reasons which should be pretty obvious to the casual viewer of Periodic Videos.

    But every so often a battery researcher will say something like "Now, if one built a flow battery with Rubidium or Cesium...", because the low melting point would pretty much make regeneration automatic in a flow configuration, but several tons of liquid Rb or Cs and a lot of plumbing is seriously into "Things I Wont Work With" territory. (See also: NaK cooled and Liquid Salt nuclear reactors).

    If you use "real" metals, (Ni-Fe, Ni-Cd), the electrodes are pretty indestructible, for precisely the same electro-chemical reasons the battery is inefficient in terms of both charge, volume and weight.

    360:

    What matters to them is that Iran maintains an arab styled culture, defined by an arab prophet in the language of God - arabic.

    I'm pretty sure nothing the Prophet wrote ever said "arabs are the true chosen people and all who follow my teachings must consider themselves arab". Any more than all Christians consider themselves to be Jews, despite the Bible being very clear indeed that Jews are Gods chosen people. They just made up some alternative means to be chosen and moved on. Much like the Islamic followers decided that living a good life according to the guidelines was what mattered (a few centuries of fighting about who was the currently most favoured descendent of the Prophet quite possibly helped that view take hold. Any resemblence to the "fight, Popes, fight" period of Christianity is purely coincidental)

    361:

    cleats are a great idea, but only if large swarths of sidewalks are iced up... majority are not... cleats on concrete are oft times not stable especially given irregularities in surfacing... cracks, dips, slopes, et al...

    but it is the SITWW who have turned NYC's sidewalks into human pinball games not to mention electric cars which literally silent killers along with uber delivery slaves on bikes desperately trying to complete a zillion deliveries per hour

    there's a reason why the elderly and the mildly crippled trend towards shut in status

    safer

    SITWW = selfish idiots texting whilst walking

    362:

    In case you're interested, here's a quick guide to ethnic group in Iran: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnicities_in_Iran

    The majority of the population of Iran (approximately 67–80%) consists of Iranic peoples.[1][2][3][4] The largest groups in this category include Persians (who form the majority of the Iranian population) and Kurds, with smaller communities including Gilakis, Mazandaranis, Lurs, Tats, Talysh, and Baloch.

    Turkic peoples constitute a substantial minority of about 7–24%, the largest group being the Azerbaijani. They are the second largest ethnicity in Iran, as well as the largest minority group.[5] Other Turkic groups include the Turkmen, Qashqai and Kazakhs peoples.

    Arabs account for about 2–3% of the Iranian population. The remainder, amounting to about 1% of Iranian population, consists of a variety of minor groups, mainly comprising Assyrians, Armenians, Georgians, Circassians,[6] and Mandaeans.[7]

    So it's kind of the same as the USA being ethnically British or European. It is definitely dominated by that group but you don't have to look very hard to be saying "well actually" about the claim.

    Amusingly TLDR News just had a segment on the issue including some great discussion of how the leader is over 80 and likely should step down before his obvious mental decline has catastrophic effects. They didnt make the obvious parallel to the USA but perhaps could have.

    363:

    'Round where I live, the old gas station locations are becoming Starbucks. They dig up the old tanks in the process.

    364:

    They dig up the old tanks in the process.

    The likely can't get financing or insurance on the property unless they do so.

    15+ years ago an old mall that was 80% empty was going to be torn down and turned into a low rise walkable mostly outdoor mall, apartment, office complex. There was and still is an Exxon gas station on the corner. It was discovered that leaking tanks had created an underground plum that extended under the mall. $5 million cleanup. Nothing could proceed while the gas station and the mall debated who would pay how much and when. The developer then stepped in and wrote a check and told everyone to get busy. $5 million wasn't all that much of unexpected for a $200+ million project.

    FYI - The project has grown to $1 billion or more. And I like the results. Very little paved parking. Mostly underground or inside lower floors of towers. Lots of apartments in 3 to 10 story buildings. And once you get there you can walk to most any of the stops, restaurants, etc...

    365:

    cleats are a great idea, but only if large swarths of sidewalks are iced up... majority are not... cleats on concrete are oft times not stable especially given irregularities in surfacing... cracks, dips, slopes, et al...

    The Icetrax on concrete are quite stable. They are horrible on polished stone floors, although not noticeably worse than leather dress shoes (especially if the floor is wet).

    As to idiots on the sidewalk, I've found that carrying a cane helps a lot. Partly it's a visual signal to other people, but it's also useful as a barrier when planted firmly between yourself and an idiot on a skateboard.

    I am uncertain whether the extra consideration I've noticed while using a cane is because even idiots are being kinder to a crippled old man (as compared to a white-haired old man without the cane), or the fact that with my cane they would likely suffer more damage running into me than when I wasn't carrying one. I rather suspect the latter, possibly coloured by my observations of how drivers often become more aggressive/bullying when the switch from a compact car to an SUV…

    366:

    You forgot the pumped mercury power storage plant we discussed here a while ago. And the plan to put London on a structure like the old gas reformer tanks so we could raise and lower the whole city to store energy.

    Oh, you mean serious plans based on things we could reasonably do in the real world. Silly me, I thought we were talking about running out of lithium and adding cobalt to LFP batteries to make them explode on demand.

    367:

    Back in the early 90s, an acronym came to be: LUSTs, for leaking underground storage tanks. Cleaning up the leaky tanks and the soil around them became a whole little industry that continues to this day.

    Sadly, they’re just USTs now. And I’m stuck having to remember to use the second acronym, not the first. Oh well.

    368:

    Recycling rate for leas batteries is above 90%, I see no reason why it shouldn't be on the same level for lithium batteries (excluding the small ones used in consumer electronics)

    369:

    It won't just be those tanks. There's a plume under Botany (suburb in Sydney) from the cyclocarbon factory that was there for a few decades. They keep changing the names and labels, it went from making DDT and Agent Orange to 'useful chemicals' under various brands. It's completely safe and the cleanup will finish any day now. Don't drink the groundwater.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botany_Bay_Groundwater_Plume

    There's actually a whole lot of things like that round Sydney thanks to multiple learning experiences over the years, from the uranium refinery in Hunter's Hill (now a posh suburb), to the Alexandria Canal where disturbing the mud is not recommended, to various holes in the ground in the Blue Mountains where none shall go and the fences are kept in good condition. It's quite fun watching the young YIMBYs discover exactly what caused certain things to be paved over, called parks, then left to rot. Velodromes used to be popular because you can spray tar over the clay then pour concrete and it's fairly impermeable for a long time. It's not the old landfills you have to worry about, it's the factories. Like the "tin refinery" where they cooked the lead and other heavy metals out of the tin so they could plate the tin onto things. Or put the lead in, possibly both.

    370:

    Moz
    Except, of course the religion of Submission has empathically not moved on the decision as to which is the "purest" way to their form of insanity.
    The Sunni-Shia wars presently in progress show this, aided by the fact that the principal Shia state is Iran, of course.

    Zeroth & David L
    Same here - several petrol stations have closed & most have - now - been redeveloped, but only after a lengthy "scrubbing"

    Rbt Prio @ 365
    You, too?
    I've been using/carrying a cane since 1976, when I REALLY needed one for 6-months-to-a-year.
    Last year a total tosser was both looking at his idiot-screen & walking directly into my path. in an UndergrounD tunnel - & I had nowhere to go, as the wall was on my left.
    I stopped dead, angled cane across my body & braced myself, whilst he swanned on ... to a distinct "crunch".
    I resumed walking, he started swearing & shouting, poor thing, even though he was both larger & probably 30 years younger than me.

    Moz
    Ah yes, like the mud-disturbance caused by dredging around the utterly corrupt & extremely dodgy "Tees Freeport" as multiply-reported by "Private Eye" - Killing all the fish & shellfish, but making loadsamoney for you-know-whose friends. All tories, of course.
    I am predicting a Post-Office-like scandal as soon as a non-tory government is elected.
    I do really hope that lots of them actually go to jail, but I'm not holding my breath!

    371:

    No, really. The radium etc. aren't produced until the uranium decays, which happens at a very small fraction of the rate of plutonium. Furthermore, plutonium 239 (the main one used) decays to uranium 235, so you lose out again there.

    I got the information on absorption from NCBI documents, though I agree I may have misinterpreted them. However, I don't think I have.

    And, according to Wikipedia, the priciple use of hydrofluoric acid is NOT the nuclear fuel industry, but organofluorine chemistry (e.g. PTFE), and there are plenty of other uses.

    372:

    I am predicting a Post-Office-like scandal as soon as a non-tory government is elected.

    If Starmer has even 1% of the sneakiness I suspect him of, one of his first moves will be to ramp up Ministry of Justice funding, in particular for courts and legal aid (to avoid knock-on miscarriage of justice scandals ...) and then set up a schedule of shit-stirring investigations into all the back-scratching scandals since 2010. Starting with Eric Pickles and Bradford Council, the dodgy construction deals that led to Grenfell Tower, and moving on from there. Preferably timing them so that a new scandal for the Tories will break every week in the run-up to the next general election (in roughly 2027-29).

    It's low-hanging fruit that'll keep the right wing press distracted.

    373:

    Absolutely. Islam has had racial catholicism as part of its creed since the beginning - naturally, there are Islamic countries and societies that are racist, but nothing like to the extent of Christian ones (which is in theory similarly catholic).

    And, no, Arabic is NOT the language of God - classical Arabic is the language of the Prophet (and hence Koran). It is perfectly reasonable to expect believers to go back to the original to prevent distortion by subsequent interpreters. Doesn't anyone remember the treatment of Wycliff? :-)

    374:

    ...or the fact that with my cane they would likely suffer more damage running into me than when I wasn't carrying one. I rather suspect the latter, possibly coloured by my observations of how drivers often become more aggressive/bullying when the switch from a compact car to an SUV…

    I remember an aggressive woman in a big shiny SUV who ultimately decided she didn't want to play chicken with me, driving a small but old car with multiple dents and other battle scars. Yeah, the replacement cost of my car wouldn't cover you buying a new bumper; come on and try it... :-)

    375:

    ...a new scandal for the Tories will break every week in the run-up to the next general election (in roughly 2027-29). It's low-hanging fruit that'll keep the right wing press distracted.

    I'm going to skip over the assumption that there are at least two years worth of Tory scandals because, really, does anyone doubt that there could be fewer than 100 still-buried Tory scandals waiting to drop?

    What occurred to me is to wonder whether the UK has a specific variety of social media troll that afflicts the US, the ones who show up to deny that whatever just happened really happened.

    Does the UK get this cycle?

    Scandal: Rando Dibbly, MP for Lower Scumbury, arrested in toad gargling scandal
    Normal person: Good grief.
    Troll: Dibbly has never even been suspected much less charged!
    Normal: ...but, he was just arrested.
    Troll: There was never any toad scandal.
    Normal: Hello? Did you read that?
    Troll: There are no toads in Scumbury.

    376:

    Outright toad-scandal-denialism isn't the way it works in the UK; what we tend to get instead is a massive dose of whatabout-ism. The SNP are a particularly good target for this; for example, whenever Baroness Mone's yacht (bought with alleged government PPE procurement money) comes up, the Daily Mail run a headline along the lines of NICOLA STURGEON GRILLED BY COPS OVER HORRIFYING COVID EXPENSES COVER-UP which on subsequent examination turns out to be she was questioned as a witness over a government-wide accounting error equal to about 0.5% of one Tory baroness's yacht.

    A huge chunk of the Tory base think the SNP are the second coming of the Provisional IRA, and a not-quite-as-large portion of the Labour party think the same (the SNP are Labour's natural enemy in Scotland) so this gambit neatly distracts from the current embarrassing corruption scandal even though the "investigation" subsequently fizzles or turns out to be a storm in a teacup.

    377:

    Well, there have been claims that "síol na nGael" (seed of the Gael) us the provisional wing of the SNP, but I've not even seen the Daily Heil descend to that level since the late 1970s!

    378:

    SS @ 374
    See you & raise you a 1996 LWB Land-Rover with Moss & Lichen growing on it ....

    379:

    "It's de vu all over again."

    --Yogi Berra

    https://lite.cnn.com/2024/01/21/europe/rats-and-mice-swarm-trenches-in-ukraine-in-grisly-echo-of-world-war-i/index.html

    Huh. Good news, anyone clever enough to code up the tweaks to redeploy drones for hunting (small scale) vermin will have opportunity tov field test something easily re-purposed towards civilian usages after there's peace.

    Especially since drones could switch from idle moments of laser zapping rats to tasering teenagers spray paint tagging walls within a millisecond. Idle urban youth are scum 'n shame of society.

    OMG! did I just cross over into old fart mode of "punks too loud on the bus" and "you kids get off my lawn"...?

    (Sigh. Yeah I did.)

    380:

    You are confusing radium and radon...

    Radium (Ra) has a half life somewhere around 1800 years. It is an alkaline earth metal, so it does calcium-like things like getting absorbed in bone (same as strontium is more famous for, cf. "Hard Groin play music that tears flesh from sturdy bones, and has the effect of Strontium 90"). Radium decays to radon.

    Radon (Rn) has a half life of a few days. It is an inert gas, so it is basically not absorbed at all. But it decays to polonium (solid) and then through a chain of other things with mostly even shorter half lives, which attach themselves electrostatically to airborne dust particles and can lodge in your lungs. They also attach themselves to airborne smoke particles and to the leaves of the tobacco plant, so separating the effects of radon and of smoking is naturally tricky.

    Both of them are alpha emitters. Neither of them is significant in any discussion of processed uranium, because the initial refining of uranium freshly extracted from ore removes the accumulated decay products.

    Regarding the toxicity of plutonium within the body, that UPPU PDF doesn't even mention the suggestion that it is usually not a problem but occasionally it's a bastard, in a pretty binary manner. Some report I read a while ago (can't remember where) about nuclear workers who had got stuck with plutonium said that nearly all of them were remarkably free of effects, but also described two or three cases with very nasty effects, such as necrosis around the site of injury which recurred every few years so they had to cut more and more bits off. But the date of this was something like 1969, so maybe those cases had all popped off before the UPPU lot got going.

    381:

    Outright toad-scandal-denialism isn't the way it works in the UK; what we tend to get instead is a massive dose of whatabout-ism.

    Oh, yes, Americans get whatabouters on our social media too. It sounds as if British trolls aren't quite as willfully ignorant as their American cousins.

    (I'm somewhat out of sorts about social media at the moment as one of my friends is following a source I'm 90% sure is a Hamas propaganda organ, and a friend-of-a-friend cannot parse my suggestions that it would be nice if both sides would stop murdering innocent people as anything other than support for the Israelis murdering innocent people. I am aware that that is not what I wrote; I'm not sure what she's reading.)

    382:

    "Bear in mind we're used to getting low-end hurricane force wind storms several times every winter, though."

    And this isn't even that much. But no doubt it has already been given some stupid name and hyped as a near-apocalyptic disaster in the kind of media I prefer to avoid because I'm sick of that sort of thing. As also with floods on flood plains and places that were naturally half under water before humans started chasing it out.

    Round here the effect has been most welcome, as it has changed from being clear and still and perishing bloody cold, to a lovely warm wind which is rather pleasant to be out in. The kind of thing that if you were running a totally renewables-and-storage-based grid you'd call the weather being deliberately perverse.

    383:

    There's actually a whole lot of things like that round Sydney

    Actually I suspect most of the planet.

    In the US there are maps of all such know things. Scaring in number.

    The ones that can really bite are the farm ones that no knows about any more. A farm that had a petrol tank back 100 years ago that was leaking plus the dirt under the barn where they worked on the equipment. Now it's a pretty suburb and no one living there has any idea if there's an underground plume or not.

    384:

    Okay, I think I now understand where you're coming from. You seem to conflate "Arab" and "Muslim" as if the two had the same meaning or were interchangeable. That's a category error.

    "Arab" is either a geographical, ethnical, or linguistic term and has nothing to do with religion. "Muslim" is a religious term and has nothing to do with ethnicity, country of origin, or language.

    There are roughly 2 billion muslims in the world. The vast majority of these is—using Howard's term—"non-Arab".

    There are a little over 100 million people living on the Arabian peninsula (the borders are a bit fuzzy in the north and north-west, and there is certainly some migration between neighbouring countries, therefore I'm rounding up the sum total of about 95 million people in the countries on the peninsula). That means that only about 5% of all Muslims are Arabs, and 95% are non-Arabs.

    There are roughly 360 million people in the world who have Arabic as their first language (according to Wikipedia). According to German Wikipedia, an additional 430 million people speak it as a second (or further) language. That's a total of about 800 million people. Again, even if all Arabic-speaking people were Muslims (which is not the case!), the majority of Muslims (60%) don't speak Arabic.

    Again according to German Wikipedia, the ten countries with the largest number of Muslims are (in descending order): Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria, Iran, Turkey, Algeria und Morocco. Together they account for more than tho thirds of all Muslims worldwide—and precisely none of them is "Arab" in a geographical or ethnical sense, and only three of them (Egypt, Algeria and Morocco) are Arabic-speaking countries.

    385:

    Well, that was true then. However, the west of Scotland is now being predicted to have force 9 winds, which is a more serious matter, even for there. Edinburgh and Cambridge are predicted only force 7, which is high for us but not extremely so. London is being predicted only force 5, which is nothing out of the ordinary. But, as always with our storms, the predictions may well be wrong, which is why there is a yellow alert. We shall see.

    386:

    Yup. Turns out that eating local seafood has while growing up in Los Angeles was probably a bad idea. Likely still is.

    The area between Catalina Island and Palos Verdes was a major DDT, mystery chemicals in drums, and military munitions dumping ground. They’re still figuring out how bad it is.

    Turns out that the solution to pollution is not dilution, slogans to the contrary.

    https://scripps.ucsd.edu/news/second-seafloor-survey-dumpsite-coast-southern-california-completed

    There’s an online forum on the latest findings this Wednesday

    https://scripps.ucsd.edu/ddtcoastaldumpsite

    Sadly, the best argument against the existence of Deep Ones or their like is the amount of harm we’ve caused to the oceans and the fact that we’re still here. Alas.

    387:

    Yes. Unless this is someone taking their name in vain, they are definitely completely round the bend and off their rockers. Their website is 'interesting' to a degree that I haven't seen before. Investigate it at your own risk :-)

    388:

    Well put!

    To extend the analogy, assuming that all Muslims are Arabs, because the language of the Koran is Classical Arabic, is akin to assuming all Christians are Greeks, because the language of the New Testament is Koine Greek.

    I like your data driven approach quite a lot, actually. Thanks

    389:

    This was too entertaining not to repost here - the real solution to the trolley problem

    390:

    What-aboutism has been a staple of American Republican political attacks since the 1990s, when Clinton was impeached for lying about an affair, by the same crew incidentally who failed to support two constitution-based Orange-tinged impeachments in the former administration.

    Said crew is now trying to get the President's son jailed for whatever they can get him convicted of, and screaming What About false equivalences between offspring and Shitgibbn the whole time. Seems t be working more than it should, shame on us.

    391:

    And this isn't even that much.

    Wrong. Please don't generalize from your own highly local and very sheltered conditions. It's bad enough in Edinburgh and pretty hellish on the coast. Ireland has declared a full-on emergency as they're getting it even worse.

    392:

    Pigeon
    Nonetheless, I just heard "The Shipping Forecast", with something I've never heard before: "A warning of gales in all areas" ....
    Followed by, starting as usual in the far NW: SE Iceland, Bailey, Faeroes, Hebrides, Fair Islw Viking, N Utsire ... Strong gale 9 developing to Storm force 11, with occasional Violent storm force 11...
    Erm .. stay indoors?
    EC @ 385
    "Violent storm 11" is now predicted for considerably more than the list above, even if only briefly (!)

    To USA-ians ... if you have not come across "The Shipping forecast" it is at the same time, a very concise technical document, broadcast for all shipping anywhere near Our Islands ... but also an almost-sublime piece of poetry, as one recites the areas in order.
    .... Some of which have changed - German Bight used to be Heligoland & Fitzroy used to be Finisterre

    393:

    Robert Prior @ 352:

    "problem being the light layer of snow 'n ice which is just enough to be terrifying to anyone hobbling on a cane but not thick enough to warrant anyone scraping it off"

    I keep a 5-gallon pail of builders sand on my front porch for those situations. IF it's too "light" to scrape up, I cover it with a scattering of sand (exposed portion of the proch, front steps and sidewalk out to the street) to provide traction. I don't need someone slipping on my sidewalk & suing me. Of course that was the old house. I haven't got a sidewalk now, but the porch & steps are more exposed. I'll have to see how it develops this winter.

    We don't get much snow here in this part of North Carolina, but there's usually at least one episode of sleet or freezing rain during the winter around here.

    I recommend getting yourself a pair of Icetrax or something similar. I keep a pair in my car and another in my bag so I'm never without them during winter. They make a real difference in cold weather. A cane with a spike is also a good idea (although apparently that may be considered a non-protected weapon in parts of America, so check your jurisdiction).

    I've got a pair of these.

    Yaktrax

    I've had 'em for about 40 years now - got 'em the first year REI opened a store in the area.

    Not sure exactly where they are after the move, so I might have to go buy another pair. They're around here somewhere, but it won't hurt to have a spare pair. 😏

    395:

    It's bad enough in Edinburgh and pretty hellish on the coast.

    Yikes. Here in Portland Oregon (46 degrees north and a hundred kilometers from the ocean) we're just coming out of a rather nasty few days of snow, freezing rain, and general unpleasantness - and many reminders that our electrical system isn't set up for this. I was stranded at work overnight, which I count as a minor inconvenience considering. If we're having a hard winter I hate to imagine what Edinburgh is going through.

    396:

    Uranium and plutonium absolutely are not equally radiotoxic. Not even if you choose the nastiest commonly available radionuclide of uranium and kindest of plutonium. No.

    This is not an opinion that is the result a google search. This is professional statement as a health physicist. They have comparable chemical toxicity, as both are heavy metals, but you generally don't get a chance to make that comparison because of the radiotoxicity from internal uptake. External radiation exposure, eh, sure I'll give you that but that is absolutely not what we worry about.

    397:

    To USA-ians ... if you have not come across "The Shipping forecast" it is at the same time, a very concise technical document, broadcast for all shipping anywhere near Our Islands ... but also an almost-sublime piece of poetry, as one recites the areas in order.

    It's not exactly the same thing, but the US has the NOAA Weather Radio, which is basically a robot reading substantially similar information 24/7 on dedicated channels. (Online echos here) Sometimes I leave it on while I'm doing other things, as it's a soothing background audio whether I'm consciously listening or not.

    I'm listening to the latest Shipping Forecast on the BBC's website as I type this, and I appreciate that you British have the advantage of having a living human reading. Aside from that and the proper nouns, it sounds very much like what I hear over the air here.

    398:

    Doesn't anyone remember the treatment of Wycliff? :-)

    You know the society bearing his name is still around, right? I'm almost tempted to see if they have an emoji bible because I really want such a thing to exist.

    399:

    personally, I prefer the version of it, as per The Good Place S02E06, wherein "The Trolley Problem" is resolved by way of closely observing it whilst wearing raincoats and scraping off bits prior to a hot shower

    400:

    Fully understand what you say. And, if a religion was not involved, I would believe you entirely right.

    My understanding is that according to some Islamic Scholars, arabic was the language chosen by God as the only language on Earth via which his message could be conveyed.

    Additionally, there is an obligation upon all devout Muslims to learn arabic as the holy text should only be interpreted directly from the arabic (which didn't have standardised punctuation then, so good luck with that) and not via a translations. So, immediately arabs have a favoured position as they naturally speak the language chosen by their God. Arab speakers are, in effect, a favoured people.

    The "Holy" sites are mainly on the arab penisula and the major festivals take place there. One of which all adherents are required/obliged to attend during their lives, if at all possible. To be in the lands occupied by the prophets and his associates during Ramadam is to be considered blessed. So, basically its a special place and the origin of their entire world view and system of ethics.

    However, I an not convinced by the ethnically/geographically derived basis of identity in all contexts. I know British Citizens who speak urdu and chinese as their first language. Should I say they are not truly British because their language of choice is not English? Identity is more complex and words morph.

    I would mention the Arab Springs, which wiki refers to as happening in all along the north coast of Africa from Morocco to Yemen ie Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Algeria, Iraq, Jordan and a bunch of others to varying extents. Similarly, the Arab League covers 20 something countries and 470+ million people. So, I would contend these countries are self identifying as Arab in the same way the EC countries self define as European. Both groups of countries share similar beliefs and attitudes, many deriving from their religions. Europe had a stricter religious approach at one time but the enlightenment hobbled that centuries ago in Europe leading to a greater tolerance of secular ideals.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Arab_League_countries_by_population

    Egypt isn't on the arabian peninsula, but it in the Arab League and so self identifies as arab. Like Iran it has an astonishingly rich preIslamic culture, but that does not preclude them from calling themselves arab. A similar logic could hold for Iran - though it is not currently a member of the Arab League, but thats mainly because the rest of the League wouldn't trust them as far as they can comfortably kick them plus some simmering Sunni/Shia tensions. Also Iran is just across a small stretch of water from Saudi Arabia and adjacent to AL member Iraq. So calling it arab is hardly a stretch.

    I suppose my view would be that the long term cultural influence of the religion, non-industrialised nature of the countries, the tendency toward autocratic regimes and shared history of the Middle East and North Africa area is pervasive, encouraging the perception that they share a mindset associated with and derived from the arab peninsula and hence could be viewed as arabs, in the same way people from Spain through to Greece can be deemed European.

    401:

    the real solution to the trolley problem

    There's a better one round to the effect that the solution isn't playing with the switch, it's to find the people who are tying people to trolley tracks and make them stop doing it.

    402:

    Should I say they are not truly British because their language of choice is not English

    No, but if they insist on being Muslim they're not British: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2024/jan/19/ban-muslims-praying-school-britain-multiculturalism

    Britain is a Christian country, specifically Anglican, and true British people are therefore practising Anglicans.

    I did like the idea in that article that all OGH had to do the stop the invasion of Iraq was ring the President of the United States of America and tell him not to do it. Or does being British only grant that power to Muslims? Article unclear, please advise.

    403:

    Britain is a Christian country, specifically Anglican, and true British people are therefore practising Anglicans.

    You're saying I'm not British, huh?

    Hint: I'm not Anglican (or Christian) and neither were any of my (known) ancestors.

    (It's pretty likely that the CofE will be disestablished -- that is, dropped as an official state religion, left to continue as an independent communion -- at some time in the next few decades. And all religious believers are collectively in a minority here these days.)

    404:

    That was exactly my point, yes. I'm sorry that it could be read as something other than sarcasm.

    405:

    in the same way people from Spain through to Greece can be deemed European

    Interestingly, neither the Greeks nor the Romans considered themselves European. Modern "European" identity was constructed during the Renaissance and deliberately wrote out the contributions of the Islamic world.

    Can I recommend to you this book?

    Prize-winning historian Naoíse Mac Sweeney delivers a captivating exploration of how “Western Civilization”—the concept of a single cultural inheritance extending from ancient Greece to modern times—is a powerful figment of our collective imagination. An urgently needed emergent voice in big history, she offers a bold new account of Western history, real and imagined, through the lives of fourteen remarkable individuals.

    In this groundbreaking, story-driven retelling of Western history, Naoíse Mac Sweeney debunks the myths and origin stories that underpin the history we thought we knew. Told through fourteen figures who each played a role in the creation of the Western idea—from Herodotus, a mixed-race migrant, to Phylis Wheatley, an enslaved African American who became a literary sensation; and from Gladstone, with a private passion for epic poetry, to the medieval Arab scholar Al-Kindi—the subjects are a mind-expanding blend of unsung heroes and familiar faces viewed afresh. These characters span the millennia and the continents, representing different religions, varying levels of wealth and education, diverse traditions and nationalities. Each life tells us something unexpected about the age in which it was lived and offers us a piece of the puzzle of how the modern idea of the West developed—and why we've misunderstood it for too long.

    The concept of “the West” is present in every daily interaction you have, from entertainment and politics to world markets and world history. This engagingly intimate history will reshape the way you see the world around you. At this moment of civilizational redefinition, if we are to chart a future for the West, we must properly understand its past.

    https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/713458/the-west-by-naoise-mac-sweeney/9780593472170

    406:

    sssshhhhhhhh!

    do not poke nor annoy the religiously zealous... most especially do not point out the obviousness of religion's fading grasp...

    here in New York State (and varying in first place with Massachusetts and California) we get an annual average of a zillion or so young folk from hyper-religious families from all the planet who are supposedly here for a high prestige education but many are secretly intent upon never going home... everyone complains about American shallowness and decadence and violence but somehow they keep coming... in marked contrast the numbers of Americans seeking citizenship in religious zealous nations is something less than 5% of the influx... in the case of Saudi Arabia, I dunno, last I checked 3000 Americans in 2018(?) sought to permanently relocate

    religion is something lots of us pay mere lip service towards appeasing parents and out of (fading) habit

    there's an ever louder howling of the zealous who are finally realizing they are losing -- John Scalzi being just one of many who bought a deconcentrated church given annually hundreds are being sold off due to lack of attendance -- which is why they've gotten better organized politically.

    so.... ssssssshhhhh!

    maybe you British can avoid roiling your zealots for another couple decades until they fade, fade away... faaaaadeee awwwwwway....

    407:

    One of my more common statements is that the weather forecast is changing faster than the weather. I can easily believe that, and force 11 is extreme even by the standards of the Western Isles.

    408:

    The Church of Ingurlundshire (CoE) is not and never has been the "established church" of Northern Ireland or of Scotland. I don't think it's ever been the established church of Wales either.

    409:

    But are those places "true british"? The inquis.... enquiring minds... want to know.

    410:

    Earlier reply lost:

    I just did my annual diversity and inclusion training at work and saying something like that of a colleague would be considered a dismissal offence.

    Birbalsingh is an idiot.

    Its the sort of thing the Mail and Express would say, but they would see Christ as a loony lefty, bleeding heart commie subversive who should be deported to Rwanda - preferably after getting a good kicking.

    And no, the sarcasm was not obvious. I work with Muslims, born agains, normal Christians of various flavours, one or two jews, a Flying Spaghetti Monster adherent and atheists. And when someone with an adams apple, stubble and deep voice turns up in a dress and has changed her name from Jim to Jenny, we really don't care.

    Personally, I only have an issue with people who want to control who other people sleep with or kill them if they say something nasty about their own preferred sky fairy.

    Religion is just a lifestyle choice no different to supporting Arsenal rather than Spurs, and just as unimportant. I'm not sure why it is a protected characteristic. No one gets arrested for saying Arsenal fans sleep with sheep.

    411:

    Try brutish? By truthyish?

    412:

    (religion) I'm not sure why it is a protected characteristic.

    I suspect originally because there was a bit of thing for killing catholics in ye olde english history, and the occasional outbreak of killing protestants, and then there was the de-islamicisations of spain a while ago and more recently the de-jewification of germany and its territories, and the related cleansings of israel.

    More directly, there's an ongoing problem in Britain of (anti)religion hate crimes, like the one in the article I linked. So loosely speaking, and often in the aspirational rather that practical sense, where an identifiable characteristic is targeted bu hate criminals the legal system responds by making that characteristic protected.

    So while your average violent thug might go to a footbal match to have a bit of biffo with the "enemy" footbal fans, they're not commonly hunting those fans outside the football match days and beating the shit out of them in the street. But said violent thugs do do that with the gays, the wimmenz, the trans, the blacks, the turban-wearers and so on. Often paying extra attention to people from those groups who are more publicly visible, by for example being elected to parliament.

    413:

    Aussie aussie aussie oi oi oi.

    I trust as a dutiful and pay-triotic Oztrayn you has been to Coles and landen yourself with a huge pile of cheap plastic tat from china so you can Liberally coat your castle with AUSTRALIAN FLAGS and similar signs of your all-eegee-ynce to GODS OWN CUNT TREE!!!

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-01-11/woolworths-big-w-shops-australia-day-merch-sales-decision/103309612

    414:

    I just did my annual diversity and inclusion training at work and saying something like that of a colleague would be considered a dismissal offence.

    … and rightly so. That's why I don't understand why you insist to commit the analogous offence against Persian (and other non-Arab) Muslims?

    415:

    Sorry that I'm tetchy right now, the combination of toxic Australia Day race politics and the prospect of having to fly back to Aotearoa to vote in a "race war: yes or no?" referendum has me quite upset. Plus Australia has a bad case of "you're either pro-genocide or antisemitic, there is no other choice".

    https://thespinoff.co.nz/atea/19-01-2024/leaked-treaty-bill-will-radically-change-tone-of-tomorrows-hui-says-ngarewa-packer

    https://thespinoff.co.nz/atea/20-01-2024/ten-memorable-quotes-from-te-hui-aa-motu

    416:

    My understanding is that according to some Islamic Scholars, arabic was the language chosen by God as the only language on Earth via which his message could be conveyed.

    Additionally, there is an obligation upon all devout Muslims to learn arabic as the holy text should only be interpreted directly from the arabic (which didn't have standardised punctuation then, so good luck with that) and not via a translations. So, immediately arabs have a favoured position as they naturally speak the language chosen by their God. Arab speakers are, in effect, a favoured people.

    I grant you all that. I just don't understand why you would assume that having to learn the Arabic language* would make the learners Arabs? I don't get why someone would even arrive at such a weird notion.

    For centuries most academics in Europe had to learn Latin. It was an entry requirement for many subjects, an obligation upon all devout students if you will. So, do you really want to tell me that basically all German university graduates until ca. 1990 were actually Romans, not Germans? Because that's basically what you're saying.

    Or: You have maybe yourself learned a foreign language in school, maybe French or Spanish? You had to learn it, if your school syllabus required taking a foreign language. Do you therefore regard yourself as French or Spanish? Would you agree if someone else categorizes you as being French or Spanish?

    *Actually that's not even true. Muslims are required to be able to recite the Qur'an in Arabic. They are not required to understand the language. Learning by heart to reproduce the sound of the recited text is sufficient.

    417:

    One wonders what would happen if other, non-Muslim, students took to kneeling on their blazers for five minutes or so during the lunch break, and contemplating the lesson just taken or the latest football results, or any such matter.

    JHomes

    418:

    Let’s go back a ways:

    Because of current politics, some people identify as Iranian, some people identify as Persian, and they’ll correct you if you get it wrong.

    Likely if you label any of these people Arab, you’ll be corrected as an ignorant foreigner. Iranian Muslims are mostly Shia, and iran is at odds with Sunni Saudi Arabia right now.

    If you try to tell them they’re Arabs because the Koran is in Arabic and they have to speak Arabic and therefore they’re Arab, they may get annoyed. They may tell you, as a friend of mine did, that they re Persian and not religious. Or possibly they’ll identify as Mithraists and British citizens.

    So maybe a useful strategy is to talk to them about how they self-identify, and find out how they have constructed their identities? It actually matters at the moment.

    419:

    Additionally, there is an obligation upon all devout Muslims to learn arabic as the holy text should only be interpreted directly from the arabic (which didn't have standardised punctuation then, so good luck with that) and not via a translations.

    I had some conversation with an Egyptian training to be a Muslim cleric who switch to Christian then had to leave the country under the covers.

    He said that many of the translations into other languages are funded by the Saudis and they tend to tone down rhetoric that might not go over well in the local language. Which can be interpreted in a twisted way that you need to read it in the original to get the true meaning.

    420:

    OK I win the award for the worst grammar in a comment on this post. Sheezh.

    421:

    I actually asked just for shits and giggles and got told quite firmly "Australian". Also she/her, a woman, non-white and not religious. Oh, and "not short stop being silly", so I guess identifies as average height? Previously she's identified as Persian and Iranian so I'm pretty sure it's contextual and depends on who is asking and why. She's literate in both Persian and Arabic. Oh, and English but "everyone is literate in English amirite" :P Not especially computer literate, though, but TBH the Iran government visa application process would challenge anyones computer literacy.

    Apparently I should also get off the damn internet and paint the ceiling some more. I'm going to suggest she identifies as someone who has taken a vow of silence. Wish me luck.

    (DavidL: there's a prize? And you get it? I demand a recount!)

    422:

    He said that many of the translations into other languages are funded by the Saudis and they tend to tone down rhetoric that might not go over well in the local language. Which can be interpreted in a twisted way that you need to read it in the original to get the true meaning.

    I'm reading Esther Hamori's "God's Monsters" and she makes the same point about translations from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. The translations from the original Biblical Hebrew often are made according to the translators' theological understanding and/or the desired way they might affect the readers.

    423:

    Re: '... a turret, with a flat rooftop. So every time we get winds over about 50km/h my bedroom turns into the inside of a drum, with low frequency rumbling. Very non-restful.'

    Yep - 'non-restful' even with a duvet over the head. I've given up on a completely quiet bedroom this winter (we've had our share of very strong storms) and decided to play BBC comedy YT videos as background - random noise punctuated by laugh tracks. So far, it's working.

    OOC, how does your cat react in these storms? Stare out the window and every time a garbage bin gets tossed down the street, look over his/her shoulder at you, at the bin, at you with a 'what's happening - fix this!' look?

    Re: The Line ...

    I'm trying to remember large scale projects that share any similar construction challenges have already been completed to get a sense of project feasibility - at least on a conceptual level. [Feel free to add to list.]

    Underground (variable depths) electric/high tech build - Large Hadron Collider (CERN)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_Hadron_Collider#:~:text=The%20Large%20Hadron%20Collider%20(LHC,across%20more%20than%20100%20countries.

    Vibration control large-scale - LIGO

    https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/page/facts

    Underground/water/vibration/electric - Chunnel - really interesting background and tech info in the below article.

    https://theconstructor.org/case-study/channel-tunnel-construction/199091/#:~:text=Hand%20excavation%20tools%2C%20the%20cast,high%2C%20and%2018%20m%20wide.

    Transit - high speed rail - Japan, China, Europe, London

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-speed_rail#Existing_high-speed_rail_systems_by_country_and_region

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_line

    Housing construction - offsite pre-fab, assembled on-site

    https://agorus.com/ten-modern-building-techniques/

    Fresh water supply - alternative/supplement to desalination

    A few years back I read a news article about a ship towing an iceberg across the Atlantic. Turns out that someone's done a model to check feasibility. Greenland & Antarctica are shedding ice like mad so ice-harvesting might not be out of the question. (No idea what international law says about this.)

    I've added spacing for readability.

    'Towing icebergs to arid regions to reduce water scarcity

    Abstract

    Expanding agriculture, rising global population, and shifts in climate are placing increasing demands on existing water resources, especially in regions currently experiencing extreme drought. Finding new and reliable water sources is an urgent challenge.

    A long-held idea is that icebergs could be towed to arid coastal regions and harvested to help alleviate water stress.

    Here, a numerical model is used to simulate the deterioration of icebergs towed to Cape Town, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Moved at a speed of 0.5 m/s, an iceberg able to reach Cape Town must be at least ~ 300 m long and ~ 200 m thick at its time of capture. An iceberg this size would only require ~ 1 to 2 vessels to move and would deliver ~ 2.4 million liters of water. Placing an insulating material around the same iceberg to inhibit wave-induced erosion results in 4.5 billion liters of deliverable water.

    To reach the UAE, an unprotected iceberg needs to be at least ~ 2000 m long and 600 m thick, or 1250 m long and 600 m thick if insulated from wave-induced erosion. Icebergs of these dimensions would require ~ 10 to 20 vessels to move. Results are discussed in terms of the size and number of icebergs needed to help alleviate drought.

    In theory, small icebergs can easily be moved to South Africa; the challenge is likely to be harvesting the water as icebergs left offshore in a subtropical environment melt after a few days to weeks.'

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-26952-y

    My key take-away from the above links/articles so far is: very large scale one-of projects are feasible provided there is one central authority/contractor directly overseeing all aspects to ensure that all parts/builds are to spec.

    424:

    worthy of study since technology might have improved solutions

    icebergs-as-water being oh-so-tempting but taking not mere months but a year or more to bring into harbor

    unproven

    worst yet you gotta keep doing it over 'n over

    better thing? massive effort at reducing wastage... here in NYC the estimate is we lose 10% to 17% of all incoming water from northern/upstate sources due to dribbling leakage... not all of it could be fixed but if only a 1/3 that's effectively so many billions of liters annually as to be worthwhile

    problem with that? fiddly bits... tedious... lacking in glamour as well once begun must be completed... all attributes leading to early termination

    =====

    here's visuals for another dead horse being flogged

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/converting-vacant-office-buildings-into-apartments-60-minutes/

    425:

    I'm tetchy right now

    You're fine, I just didn't have time for more than casual punning earlier. Can't help with the act-NZ stuff, and I am tending to the position that I lack standing to comment on Gaza (an old schoolmate who is a Rabbi is southern Israel is my reference point at the moment, he's posting "not in our name" anti-government polemics in Hebrew most days), and I can't help much with the Invasion Day thing except to note that where I live the nearest Woollies is in my federal electorate (we have a Greens MP) while the nearest Coles is in an electorate represented by Peter Dutton (though I don't hold that against them particularly... they stock the good chicken).

    In other news there's a category 3 tropical cyclone expected to cross the QLD coast on Thursday.

    426:

    I'm trying to remember large scale projects that share any similar construction challenges have already been completed to get a sense of project feasibility - at least on a conceptual level.

    In just what is being said here I have to imagine a start near the ocean (to be able to bring in materials if for no other reason) and it build into the desert. And I'm guessing once it gets going 10,000 to 100,000 (more?) workers moving it "forward". A foundation crew. A transport crew. A steel crew, etc... each crew a bit behind the others. Of course once they get started these workers will be living in the just finished (but not yet nice?) sections as the build creeps forward. Now how many support folks are following these cooking the meals, doing the laundry, handling payroll and visas, first aid and medical (full surgery kit for that many people), etc... And after they get a few miles inland, permanent people start filling up the spaces behind the support crews.

    What could go wrong? I think of the D-Day invasion only they do it every day for years.

    427:

    Someone is pasting up posters in Arabic around Lakemba reminding people of the invasion day protest in the CBD on the 26th. It's both appropriate and inappropriate (vandalisim of valuable commercial advertising spaces! In foreign!)

    https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/survival-day-events-around-australia-what-when-and-where/z6yu05lig SBS has a giant list of events around the country if you're into that sort of thing. We get both the Yabun official official stuff and the official-traditional march from The Block in Redfern or the park and the generic whitefella version in Belmore Park/Central Station. While watching little white socialist orgianiser kiddies getting stared down by aunties is fun I've been invitold to The Block so I know where I'll be starting off :)

    428:

    Yes, authoritarian rulers have been building oversized monuments since Khufu convinced the Egyptians that he needed a place for his body to rest when he wasn’t making sure the sun rose every morning. NeoM (M of Muhammad) is an even bigger example of edifice erection complex, of course. Nothing like building the equivalent of 680 Burj Khalifa towers as windowless apartments. Feel free to invest as you wish.

    Three problems with towing bergs: towing them, stopping them, and putting them near a port without the wind smashing the berg into something you don’t want smashed. Even a few inches of lake ice can be blown across a lake a smash a dock, which is why lake docks are usually temporary and pulled out in the winter. The rest is that it’s a huge hunk of melting ice, which is hard to moor lines to, and it’s got a huge moment of inertia, which doesn’t play well with big ports and big cargo ships.

    So why not make a large iceberg a seastead? Put a forest of sails on the top to move it and a large array of sea anchors on the sides to steer with. Take payments from nations and shipping companies to keep it out of the shipping lanes and away from ports, use the meltwater for life support, the flat ice for an airfield if it’s big enough, and run it as an independent micro state while it lasts. If you do it right, you can move from berg to berg indefinitely. And those giant ice sheets breaking off? Better than colonizing a comet any day, no matter what the novels say.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasteading

    429:

    Forgot to add that iceberg microstates in the Southern Ocean would have a special draw for anarchists and atheists, for there’s an old saying that “Beyond 40 degrees south there is no law. Beyond 50 degrees south there is no God.”

    Might be a story there, or something.

    430:

    So, do you really want to tell me that basically all German university graduates until ca. 1990 were actually Romans, not Germans?

    One word.

    Wait, no, actually six words:

    Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.

    431:

    Grant @ 400
    Well, that's an obvious power-play to make sure "we" - the "true" Arabic-speakers are in a dominant position - permanently. I have heard the weaselly get-out that translations of the madman's "recital" cannot, ever be authentic too.
    The "Holy" sites are mainly on the Arab peninsula - not if you are Shia, they aren't.

    Moz
    NOT EVEN WRONG
    Britain is a SECULAR country - less than 50% identify as christian, any more.
    SEE ALSO Charlie @ 403 ... You ought to know better than that ... unless you are trolling?
    Ah, you were trolling, oops.

    Howard NYC
    Not quite ... even here there are truly revolting RC zealots, attempting to get abortion rules put back to the 1950's - they target Our Stella, the arseholes.
    And then there are (some of) "the muslims" who are a royal pain - see This example yuck.

    Moz @ 412
    WRONG way round ... the "Prods got to killing all the "RC's" because the RC had been doing it for several hundred years & "thought" they would get in on the act ....

    JHomes
    Precisely - which is why Ms Birbalsingh is 150% correct & the religious arseholes can all bugger off!

    432:

    I had a question about icebergs in my Physics A-level exam: basically how long would it take an iceberg moved to the tropics as a water supply to melt in sunlight? How long would it take if melted using electric heaters? Compare the energy cost with desalination.

    My answers were that, given the data supplied, it would take about 10 years to melt in sunlight and one year to melt with heaters. The power consumption of the heaters would be about the same as the desalination plant.

    I got an A, so I presume I got the answer right.

    On the weather: I had to take the dog out for emptying last night. His opinion was that nobody in their right mind would be out in this weather (I agree) and he spent most of the time trying to get back home.

    433:

    »You are confusing radium and radon...«

    No, I'm not.

    I was pointing out that the way uranium causes radiation damage to tissue is mainly through it's decay products, rather than through it's own emissions.

    And I didn't say anyone should eat or inhale plutonium, I only pointed out that the "Plutonium is the most dangerous substance…" claim is untethered from any science, and strongly contradicted by some of the most solid science on that subject.

    One very big uncertainty in this field of study, is what people have actually been exposed to. The UP-Pu study is unique in the sense that they know for sure that it was Pu and only Pu, because all the subjects were people exposed while doing metal work on high purity Pu metal.

    When you look at people exposed in the reprocessing chain, things are a LOT more complicated, because they were typically exposed to a mix of elements in a very acidic solution, and those cases gives one plenty of reason to suspect that there are much worse elements than Pu, in the dirty end of the periodic system.

    434:

    418: I think it comes down to a regional identity rather than a country specific identity.

    Yes, France isn't England and Germany isn't France, but they share a region and (broadly) similar attitudes, ethics and morals. Would anyone say they are not European because they speak a different language and have significantly different cuisines. We're products of our shared pasts and the ideals we jointly espouse.

    I'm not arguing, Iran has a majority language distinct from the surrounding countries, but does that stop the people of the country having a dual identity of Iranian/Persian and Arab? I'm British and European simultaneously and only the hard of thinking like Daily Express readers deny it.

    Drop me off in downtown Oslo and I will recognise I'm in Europe. Drop me off in Cairo and I will pretty quickly come to the working theory that I'm in arabia or close by.

    412: And I shouldn't write late at night and say stupid things. I understand why religion is a protected characteristic - dumb people from one sub group duff up/murder/oppress members of another sub group because of the religion their parents foist upon them. I just don't think religion is an excuse for being an arsehole and adopting hair trigger sensibilities/thuggery to force others to do what they want - in this case, personal is not important.

    416: You can only debate the religion if you read it in the original. If you can't, you're just sermon fodder.

    And if you take the Prophet's words as the basis for your life and the way your society operates, then do you not share a wider identity with neighbouring countries with a similar ethical and societal system? If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck we have to entertain the possibility that what we have is a member of the family anatidae. Yes, its a generalisation and poor labelling but most identities are.

    Personally, I find it no surprise that the translations are watered down to take out the nasty bits and suspect the same is true of the Bible - certainly a friend learned Aramaic or Hebrew (I don't recall which) purely so she could read some parts herself for fear nuance had been lost in the King James. Its indicative of the filtering of message taking place in Christianity that (in the UK) we rarely hear sermons devoted to the Biblical instructions for how to properly conduct a blood sacrifice or how to treat your slaves.

    435:

    »something I've never heard before: "A warning of gales in all areas" ....«

    My friends in climate modelling tell me that it looks more and more like the "circumpolar circulations" are not so much "circumpolar" as "circumglacial".

    What they see is that some weather phenomena on the northern hemisphere are trending towards Greenland instead of the sea-ice on the North Pole, and as a result a lot of wind which used to get broken to pieces on Newfoundland and the southern end of Greenland now have an easier passage across the Atlantic.

    In climate model ensembles they even see "real" hurricanes hitting UK and FR in the not so distant future.

    436:

    There's a combination of "turning the tables", reductio ad absurdum and dry humour that is almost guaranteed to upset nearly everyone here. But sometimes subthreads pop up that are so persistently wrong, attempting it is the only valid approach. Maybe it's hubristic, or the wrongness looks so obvious we think we can pull it off. Anyhow trolling isn't the right word, that's its own category error.

    437:

    Christianity that (in the UK) we rarely hear sermons devoted to the Biblical instructions for how to properly conduct a blood sacrifice or how to treat your slaves.

    I regularly quoted the (English translation of the) Bible during the same-sex marriage plebeshite here when arguing for marriage equality. Somehow the "devout christians" quoting Leviticus were not at all interested in my request that men be allowed as many wives and concubines as they could afford to support (slaves obviously being out due to other recent Australian law changes). Meanwhile the same-sex devotees were outraged at the idea of marriage equality being brought up and refused to even consider discussing it in public.

    If you want real controversy the bible repeatedly condemns the accumulation of wealth, sometimes only "excessive" wealth (perhaps Ingrid Robeyns guidance is appropriate?) and I believe at least some of that applies to the Jewish as well as Muslim believers as well? We could perhaps start by identifying any of our respective elected representatives who profess to follow one of those religions and ask for their opinion on how that guidance applies to them? Or, you know, completely and uttlerly doesn't for reasons they're happy to explain?

    (here's one handy guide: https://www.grunge.com/622667/every-type-of-marriage-allowed-in-the-bible/ )

    438:

    Biologically speaking uranium exposure involves one of the oxide forms (UO2 or U3O8) since metallic uranium in air rapidly converts to an oxide, much like most metals. The evidence is that uranium oxide isn't easily absorbed by body tissues from inhalation and/or ingestion. Particles tend to be expectorated or excreted quite quickly although it's possible for extended-period exposures to result in higher equilibrium levels of such particles in the body.

    There are some uranium compounds that are more readily absorbed into tissues and blood but they're usually the product of deliberate chemical processes and they aren't typically found in nature. Generally there isn't much of a market for such uranium compounds and so exposure to them is rare.

    439:

    Damian
    * a combination of "turning the tables", reductio ad absurdum and dry humour that is almost guaranteed to upset nearly everyone here* - ah yes ... there are (small) advertising posters for "islamic Relief" - which I've always understood to consist of a Pork Pie & a Pint of Beer, ahem.

    440:

    OOC, how does your cat react in these storms?

    She's a 100% indoor cat (except for brief trips to the vet or the catsitter). So she's mostly oblivious to stuff like thunder and lightning that freaks outdoor animals out, but she finds bins blowing down the road fascinating.

    441:

    Precisely - which is why Ms Birbalsingh is 150% correct & the religious arseholes can all bugger off!

    Birbalsingh is a very dangerous crank -- she's a headteacher who has latched onto Tory culture wars talking points as a way of getting her name in the newspapers and on TV. Meanwhile, she's a dangerous authoritarian whose preferences for how to run a school are deeply damaging to non-neurotypical children and anyone who's not a supine conformist; I expect an actual OFSTED inspection with teeth would uncover some deeply ugly bullying going on there, and possibly an incriminating pattern of ideologically-inspired exclusions.

    She's not stupid enough to run as a candidate in this year's election but some time after 2025 I expect to see her pop up as a Tory MP and then, should they form a government, as Education Secretary in record time.

    442:

    Charlie
    Oh dear ... so she's into the "vulture wars" is she?
    Except, in this one particular case .. I refer you back to JHomes @ 417.
    Difficult, very difficult.

    443:

    I think this counts as part of "the coming storm". A coordinated attempt to roll back DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) initiatives, and more generally, put an end to "wokism":

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2024/01/20/us/dei-woke-claremont-institute.html

    The documents — grant proposals, budgets, draft reports and correspondence, obtained through public-records requests — show how the activists formed a loose network of think tanks, political groups and Republican operatives in at least a dozen states. They sought funding from a range of right-leaning philanthropies and family foundations, and from one of the largest individual donors to Republican campaigns in the country. They exchanged model legislation, published a slew of public reports and coordinated with other conservative advocacy groups in states like Alabama, Maine, Tennessee and Texas.

    In public, some individuals and groups involved in the effort joined calls to protect diversity of thought and intellectual freedom, embracing the argument that D.E.I. efforts had made universities intolerant and narrow. They claimed to stand for meritocratic ideals and against ideologies that divided Americans. They argued that D.E.I. programs made Black and Hispanic students feel less welcome instead of more.

    Yet even as they or their allies publicly advocated more academic freedom, some of those involved privately expressed their hope of purging liberal ideas, professors and programming wherever they could. They debated how carefully or quickly to reveal some of their true views — the belief that “a healthy society requires patriarchy,” for example, and their broader opposition to anti-discrimination laws — in essays and articles written for public consumption.

    In candid private conversations, some wrote favorably of laws criminalizing homosexuality, mocked the appearance of a female college student as overly masculine and criticized Peter Thiel, the prominent gay conservative donor, over his sex life. In email exchanges with the Claremont organizers, the writer Heather Mac Donald derided working mothers who employed people from “the low IQ 3rd world” to care for their children and lamented that some Republicans still celebrated the idea of racially diverse political appointments.

    I found it curious that at least some of the people involved prefer the term "social justice" to "diversity, equity, inclusion" because they consider "social justice" to be more inflammatory and more likely to sway the undecideds to their cause. I really wonder about the mentality of someone who finds "social justice" scary.

    444:

    409 - I also think there is no such thing as "British". There are such things as English, Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh. That's just the main nations; Alderney, Guernsey, Herm, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Sark and the Scilly Isles are all legally independent too, and we're still in the UK!

    The delayed response was because I spent all morning at a dialysis appointment; the context being that the Charge Nurse is Northern Irish, and is quite happy that I talk about "Derry" rather than "Londonderry" (A very political statement).

    421 'Oh, and English but "everyone is literate in English amirite" :P'
    Actually no; I've seen statements (on a car website) that were basically incomprehensible.

    446:

    I think it comes down to a regional identity rather than a country specific identity.

    Yes, France isn't England and Germany isn't France, but they share a region and (broadly) similar attitudes, ethics and morals. Would anyone say they are not European because they speak a different language and have significantly different cuisines. We're products of our shared pasts and the ideals we jointly espouse.

    Yes, I agree, but now you're making a different category error. This time it is misunderstanding "Arab" as a regional moniker, when it is in fact a country (well, to be precise: a few countries located on the Arabian peninsula) moniker.

    English, French and German people (and a bunch of others) are all European, because "European" is the regional (in this case: continental) description that subsumes them all.

    In exactly the same way Arabs and Persians (and a bunch of others) are all Near Eastern people, because "Near Eastern" (which for some reason that I'm not fully understanding is usually rendered as "Middle Eastern" in English) is the regional description that subsumes them all. If you were referring to Iranians as "Middle Eastern" instead of "Arab" we wouldn't have this discussion.

    This is going to be my last reply to you about this subject, because I feel that I've said everything there is to say about it more than once. I seem to be unable to communicate my point, thus I won't continue to bore/annoy everybody else.

    447:

    The translations from the original Biblical Hebrew often are made according to the translators' theological understanding and/or the desired way they might affect the readers.

    Not to mention various abridged editions…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Select_Parts_of_the_Holy_Bible_for_the_use_of_the_Negro_Slaves_in_the_British_West-India_Islands

    448:

    The Scillies are actually a part of Cornwall. Before the forced unitary authority was imposed on the county and the district councils abolished they were one of the districts.

    449:

    we're still in the UK!

    So, what to use instead of British? UKey? UKian?

    And let me not bring up the issue of "kingdom", which seems kind of gender-slanted. Not to mention somewhat belittling of the superb performance of various modern non-male leaders? Shouldn't it really, in our enlightened time, be perhaps "United Monarchical Entity"? So, UMEan?

    450:

    One word.

    Wait, no, actually six words:

    Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.

    Very droll!

    However, what about academics from those parts of Germany that never belonged to the Holy Roman Empire (East Prussia)? And what about the time between 1806 and ca. 1990, when there was no such thing as a Heiliges Römisches Reich Deutscher Nation, but Latin still was an entry requirement for university (and also, many faculties would still accept a dissertation written in Latin)?

    451:

    Fair enough. I think we came down to arguing which regional name was required.

    452:

    There are apparently opportunity costs for having all these elections.

    “I’m very nervous,” said Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, Norway’s minister of international development. “While all these countries are going into campaign mode, things are not getting done.”

    https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2024/01/20/davos-populism-political-extremism-column-00136618

    Top 3 concerns at Davos:

    `Respondents listed “societal and/or political polarization” in the top three concerns, behind No. 2 artificial intelligence-generated misinformation and disinformation and No. 1 extreme weather.'

    453:

    My friends in climate modelling tell me that it looks more and more like the "circumpolar circulations" are not so much "circumpolar" as "circumglacial".

    Yup. The basic point is that Earth’s atmosphere is roughly divided in each hemisphere into three cells, the Polar, Ferrell, and Hadley cells, each taking up about 30 degrees of latitude. There’s a nontrivial point that it’s the thermal equator, not the geographic equator, but that’s not important here.

    The key point is that the thermal gradient between the polar cell and the Ferrell cell is what powers the circumpolar wind circulation. This gradient is linked to how much GHG is warming the air. As GHGs go up, the poles warm more than the equator does, so the gradient lessens. When the gradient lessens, the circumpolar winds the gradient powers slow, and, like a slow river in a lowland, they meander more. As a result, we get incursions of polar weather and bigger, slower moving storms, bigger because there’s more heat to grow them, slower because the gradient powering the winds is dying, so the winds aren’t moving the storms as fast.

    Eventually, if we keep this up, the poles will be ice free, the jet streams will go away, fog and overcast will be less common, and our rainfall will be determined by whether or not big, slow storms drench us or not, which will make agriculture, et cetera more chancy.

    And so it goes. Your friends are right about it being circumglacial, this is just filling in more of the details.

    454:

    1: "Vulture Wars" was originally a typo, but I think I'll stick with it ...
    2: Talking of which, Starmer has, very politely, put the boot into the tories on said vulture war, pointing out that attacking the RNLI & the National Trust is going to alienate everybody else.
    Nice one.

    Which leads straight into ilya187 @ 443
    I really wonder about the mentality of someone who finds "social justice" scary. - no, because "they"! should be in charge, whilst us peasants & peons can grovel for their favours, of course.

    MSB
    Lest no-one forget, please, that Iranians ( "Persians" ) are NOT ethnically "Arab" as they are Indo-European, same as most of us & those who conquered what is now northern India & Kashmir 5/600 years ago.
    The old name for them & us was, of course ... "Aryan" - but that name is now depreciated for historical reasons, ahem.

    455:

    Yes, I was thinking about the slave bibles in the US, that left out Exodus and other troubling bits.

    That said, you can find a literal word by word translation of the New Testament at the Bible Gateway website, and there’s a literal Hebrew translation of the Old Testament elsewhere.

    My experience was that much of what little I checked in the Revised Standard Version was pretty close to the original, and this was mostly true of the King James. Some other versions….not so much.

    General tricky bits include translation the NT “ouranos” to heaven instead of sky,. Maybe we’re supposed to name stars or constellations after them, like Hercules or Orion? That’s not actually clear.

    And there are a bunch of words, like mammon, nephilim, and mekhashepha, which only get used once and aren’t in the modern language. What do they mean? Mammon in modern Hebrew was adopted to mean wealth, apparently, but the other two get translated as giant and witch respectively, the latter in the “suffer not a witch to live” version.

    456:

    Speaking of wind power variability over a range of time scales (which we were, a little), there's this fairly deep dive into the statistical weeds and various analytical methodologies. Perhaps EC and other statistically inclined folk could comment.

    https://wes.copernicus.org/articles/3/845/2018/

    Assessing variability of wind speed: comparison and validation of 27 methodologies

    Joseph C. Y. Lee, M. Jason Fields, and Julie K. Lundquist

    05 Nov 2018

    457:

    Unless I am talking about something that derives from my coming from England specifically, I prefer to refer to myself as "British" rather than "English", mainly because "English" has become a term used with pride and enthusiasm by the grunting right, and is also a term of opprobrium used to express broadly anti-Unionist (in the Conservative & Longshanks sense) sentiments which in fact I broadly sympathise with (I would default to calling it "Derry" also). "British" can refer to a geographical entity as opposed to just a political one, so I can feel more comfortable with it. This may not be entirely logical, but then it probably can't be.

    Also, "English" is inaccurate if you bring ancestry into it as well. There's a goodly chunk of Welsh in mine, for a start. Also a trans-North-Sea input which is Norse rather than Anglo-Saxon. Plain "English" fails to cover significant bits which I know about, and doubtless others which I don't as well.

    458:

    So, what to use instead of British? UKey? UKian?

    Well, residents of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are known as Yoopers, so Yookers would work. If it’s a matter of public polling, Yookies would get the Jedi vote, while dead souled PR types might prefer YouKans, because it sounds perky and upbeat.

    Don’t know what you’ll do if Yukkie McYukface wins the poll. Become Albonians?

    In the interest of fairness, we Yanks should, in solidarity, with y’all, stop calling ourselves Americans and start calling ourselves USers. It’s only fair.

    459:

    "Casually stored"? You mean like in slowly rusting steel barrels in storage ponds?

    460:

    You still have that troublesome K for "king", though.

    461:

    Yeah, all the stuff people aren't watching at the moment, so we'll take it offline.

    Why we buy CDs and DVDs of things we like. They can't be taken offline, and we own the copies.

    462:

    a useful quote for both writers of hopepunk and grim-cli-fi:

    "An assessment by the United Nations Development Program estimated that in just three months, the Israel-Gaza war has cost the three countries $10.3 billion, or 2.3 percent of their combined gross domestic product. An additional 230,000 people in these countries are also expected to fall into poverty."

    NYT ==> https://archive.ph/AeSRS#selection-7219.0-7226.0

    after decades of slow improvement, between COVID and then the supply chain and now this latest IGW, progress towards reducing poverty has been undone

    463:

    Back in the mid-seventies, a friend where I used to work, at the Franklin Inst Research Labs (since shuttered) showed me a model of pollution in the US. IIRC, something like 80% was from industrial production, not vehicles.

    Then, of course, production got shifted offshore, because unions and ROI.

    464:

    Sand? Nope, after I shovled my walk, I salted it.

    466:

    Yeeees and there is certainly a lot of scholarship involved in any good translation, but it's not quite as bad as it might seem for a few reasons.

    Firstly, Hebrew is quite a regular language in many respects. For מְכַשֵּׁפָ֖ה "mekhashefa" for instance, a me- prefix is often used to denote a noun formed from a verb, and the -ah suffix normally indicates the feminine. That leaves כָּשַׁף "kashef" which is found elsewhere with an apparent meaning of something like "to practice sorcery", so putting that together leaves a lot less room for manoeuvre. My understanding is that fewer than 30% of the apparent distinct hapax legomena in the Hebrew Bible are actually hapax legomena once you take affixes into account (though that certainly still leaves plenty of questions).

    Secondly, there's a lot of commentary from people who were much closer to the original language. For example, the Talmud was compiled by people who spoke some variety of Aramaic, and while that isn't identical to Hebrew it was close enough that they could understand it with much less difficulty and provide glosses for things and extensive discussion - the Talmud is not what you might call a highly-compressed document. There are things like the Septuagint in Greek and the early Targumim (Aramaic translations). You still have to check to avoid iterated errors, but they're useful as evidence.

    Sometimes this still makes it evident that there's more going on either in the translation or in the original idiom than is apparent from the etymology: Nephilim seems as though it could well be from a root נָפַל "nafal" that shows up in several forms, but that means "to fall" and so some translations go for "fallen ones". Words meaning "giants" were used by some very old translations by people closer to the original language, and so more modern translators often defer to that if they think it's reasonably plausible and don't have a better alternative.

    "Mammon" doesn't show up in the Hebrew Bible at all, but there are lots of other sources from relatively close to the same period as the New Testament that use it to mean "money", so the modern Hebrew sense is really not much of an innovation at all.

    Regarding "ouranos", my Greek is, er, not great but I think the idea there is that at least some of the uses of it are near-parallels of Biblical Hebrew phrases that use שָׁמַיִם "shamayim", which is used for both the "heaven" and "sky" senses in English. Most translations use one or the other depending on context: for example translations of Matthew 6:26 often use both in different parts of the same verse.

    I dunno what the situation with Arabic translation is, but the general impression I've had is that there's been less semantic drift from Quranic Arabic to MSA than from e.g. Biblical to Modern Hebrew.

    467:

    I've been saying that for decades.

    468:

    Oddly enough, what I got about the Reformation was that "Protestants" should read the Bible, and not have a priest between them and their God (tm). Of course, Luther read Latin.

    As opposed to US Protestants, where the odds that they read Latin or Greek is 1000-1, and where it's "if English was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for us" (morons actually say this, and have been recorded as saying this).

    Had a net.friend, one of the Triple net.goddesses of alt.pagan, who did read her own translation, and the crap about "suffer not a witch to live" was, in fact, "suffer not a poisoner (as "of wells") to live, which in a desert land, makes perfect sense.

    Of course, those dumping shit in the rivers might be upset.

    469:

    Oh, like the members of the Trump Crime Family in the US Congress wearing American flags made in China?

    470:

    Coming storm:
    Given its source ... How much reliance can be put on this report or is it US fearmongering, or something in between, or even totally different?

    471:

    Yes. It's become a Big Deat. And one big question is why they hell they posted the stats, when it instantly raises questions about the figures being manipulated.

    And I posted to File 770, a very widely read (and Hugo winning fanzine) the suggestion that they posted that to show the numbers were manipulated, possibly by government interference, as if to show "we had no control".

    472:

    And let's not forget, as a meme I've seen recently posted, that the one place in the Bible, OT/NT that it talks about abortion/birth is in Genesis, where it says "life begins at first breath".

    473:

    And the Knesset just passed a budget cutting 15% from social programs. And I've seen a news story of an IDF member being sent back, because his ordinary job needed him desperately.

    Recession coming. As if the hostage families storming the Knesset wasn't enough.

    474:

    American flags made in China

    That kind of thing has been going on a while.

    Back in the early-mid 1980s, I had access to CIA HQ in Langley for reasons. There was a sundries shop on the basement floor that sold, inter alia, CIA-themed tchotchkes: mugs, shot glasses, paperweights, medallions, etc.

    All made in China.

    Elderly Cynic