Friday, May 16, 2014

A Peek At The Peak Oil Catastrophe - 2

Generals and others (CNA) have talked about the dangers of conflicts and/or wars being generated as resources are depleted (Natural Resource Depletion and the Changing Geopolitical Landscape).

A conflict between Vietnam and China is an example of the tensions that can arise - in this case oil is the resource (China Blames Vietnam).

But as the TIME cover shows, using the oil resources is just as dangerous, or more so, than running out of oil is --in other words it is a catch-22, a conundrum, or a no-win situation any way we choose to look at this situation that is only getting worse.

Britain and France over in Europe are facing the problem of depletion:
In just over five years Britain will have run out of oil, coal and gas, researchers have warned.

A report by the Global Sustainability Institute said shortages would increase dependency on Norway, Qatar and Russia.

There should be a “Europe-wide drive” towards wind, tidal, solar and other sources of renewable power, the institute’s Prof Victor Anderson said.

The government says complete energy independence is unnecessary, says BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin.

The report says Russia has more than 50 years of oil, more than 100 years of gas and more than 500 years of coal left, on current consumption.

‘Decisive action’

By contrast, Britain has just 5.2 years of oil, 4.5 years of coal and three years of its own gas remaining.

France fares even worse, according to the report, with less than year to go before it runs out of all three fossil fuels.
(UK’s Oil, Coal and Gas). This is of course the result of a lack of vision and a fateful decision we should review, because, more of the same will not change the reality.

A while back I wrote about the historical background that enlightens us about how misguided fossil fuel expectations brought England and the rest of the world into a rut and a dangerous direction:
Long before politicians mewled helplessly about the power of “Big Oil”, carbon-based fuels were shaping our very political, legal, intellectual, and physical structures.
For instance, the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a pivotal moment in America’s strategic outlook. America, a global hegemon whose empire was weakening, seized the second largest oil deposits in the world as a way of preventing its economic and political decline.
The last declining global hegemon, Great Britain, also engaged in a brutal and highly controversial British occupation of Iraq, in the 1920s, pressed aggressively by the well-known British conservative, Winston Churchill.
From the moment he arrived at the Admiralty, a young man of destiny, Churchill started to prepare the fleet for the Battle of Armageddon he believed was inevitable.
Then, in 1911, the German Kaiser provoked the Agadir crisis ... Churchill went to the Admiralty and his outlook transformed. He was immediately confronted with the decisive question: to convert the navy from coal to oil ... the "fateful plunge" was made ... in April 1912 ... five oil-burning battleships were approved.
It was the Royal Navy which was the impetus for the development of the oil industry in Britain. The problem was supply and the security of that supply. Initially, the British government purchased shares in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, subsequently, British Petroleum [BP].
Then, to prevent further disruptions, Britain enmeshed itself ever more deeply in the Middle East, working to install new shahs in Iran and carve Iraq out of the collapsing Ottoman Empire.

Churchill fired the starting gun, but all of the Western powers joined the race to control Middle Eastern oil.
(Viva Egypt - 2). In hindsight, it seems unbelievably strange that civilization would fight and make war over the poisonous drug that would eventually destroy civilization.

But, it is even worse than just that, because, there have been many warnings along the way, each followed by refusals to heed those warnings (see video below).

In fact, the U.S. is rushing headlong into the fray by continuing to use military intimidation to control resources (e.g. Journalism: Facts vs. Fantasy, The Fleets & Terrorism Follow The Oil).

The national governments of the world need to get serious about renewable clean energy usage for so many reasons, including the fact that the damage from the use of fossil fuels is already very serious (Is A New Age Of Pressure Upon Us? - 5).

The previous post in this series is here (this post was featured at Peak Oil News).

A university lecture detailing the history of warnings about global warming induced climate change:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

ACLU vs. Clapper, Alexander, Hagel, Holder, and Mueller - 11

Bush II exclaimed that those who were not with him were against him, and that they could run but they could not hide.

Now the military NSA is on the run but they cannot hide either, since their hostility to America is out now.

Glenn Greenwald  has released a book concerning the beginning of his relationship with Ed Snowden.

Interestingly, it also contains the details of how it almost did not commence (Snowden’s Story, Behind the Scenes, Tomgram: Glenn Greenwald, How I Met Edward Snowden).

Meanwhile, in one of the lawsuits the Greenwald - Snowden whistleblower journalism relationship generated, the case this series is about, has a new event to consider, which is that the ACLU has filed its final Reply Brief in the case on appeal (ACLU Appeal Reply Brief).

The government position in the case:
In two significant but almost-completely overlooked legal briefs filed last week, the US government defended the constitutionality of the Fisa Amendments Act, the controversial 2008 law that codified the Bush administration's warrantless-wiretapping program. That law permits the government to monitor Americans' international communications without first obtaining individualized court orders or establishing any suspicion of wrongdoing.

It's hardly surprising that the government believes the 2008 law is constitutional – government officials advocated for its passage six years ago, and they have been vigorously defending the law ever since. Documents made public over the last eleven-and-a-half months by the Guardian and others show that the NSA has been using the law aggressively.

What's surprising – even remarkable – is what the government says on the way to its conclusion. It says, in essence, that the Constitution is utterly indifferent to the NSA's large-scale surveillance of Americans' international telephone calls and emails:
The privacy rights of US persons in international communications are significantly diminished, if not completely eliminated, when those communications have been transmitted to or obtained from non-US persons located outside the United States.
That phrase – "if not completely eliminated" – is unusually revealing. Think of it as the Justice Department's twin to the NSA's "collect it all".
(Guardian). Those who cannot see that various coup events, in both domestic and foreign policy, have taken place, in recent U.S. History, likely never will (see e.g. A Tale of Coup Cities - 11, A Tale of Coup Cities - 2).

Somewhat related is some news that a new organization is starting up (CFAPA), an online .org which launches with the purpose of perpetuating a free citizen's press in America (Free Press Activism).

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Is A New Age Of Pressure Upon Us? - 5

About four years ago I began to contemplate more intensely the unintended consequences of global warming induced climate change.

Consequences caused by the damage being done to The Damaged Global Climate System.

Perhaps instead of unintended consequences what I am blogging about maybe should be called totally unexpected consequences.

Or maybe just the "oops factor."

Anyway, notice what was pointed out in April of 2010 in one of the earlier posts on the subject:
"In places like Iceland, for example, where you have the Eyjafjallajökull ice sheet, which wouldn't survive [global warming], and you've got lots of volcanoes under that, the unloading effect can trigger eruptions," McGuire said.

With the changing dynamics in the crust, faults could also be destabilized, which could bring a whole host of other problems.

"It's not just the volcanoes. Obviously if you load and unload active faults, then you're liable to trigger earthquakes," McGuire told LiveScience, noting that there is ample evidence for this association in past climate change events.
(Global Warming & Volcanic Eruptions). Following that, I contemplated the potential for earthquake triggering caused by the changing of pressures on the Earth's crust as the ice sheets thin, and the sea level rises:
The gist of this hypothesis is that all offshore drilling engineering is based upon a reality that is passing away because a new reality is approaching.

The formulas show how we can at once see a change coming as ocean levels change, as ice sheet thickness changes, and as the resultant torque (easing pressure on crust as ice melts; increasing pressure on seabed as ocean rises) works upon the thin crust of the earth.

The first effect of this new reality of pressures caused by melting ice sheets and ice caps and the resultant rise of ocean levels is already here, although in a degree we are not yet certain of.

It is obvious that p=pgh is at once impacted when "h" (e.g. ocean level) or p change, (since g is effectively constant).

The complication no engineers have calculated is the combined effect of both the torque and the pressures when both are concurrently changing.
(Is A New Age Of Pressure Upon Us? - 2). Now, as it turns out, other events that can help to trigger an earthquake:
Our results suggest that long-term and late-summer flexural uplift of the Coast Ranges reduce the effective normal stress resolved on the San Andreas Fault. This process brings the fault closer to failure, thereby providing a viable mechanism for observed seasonality in microseismicity at Parkfield and potentially affecting long-term seismicity rates for fault systems adjacent to the valley. We also infer that the observed contemporary uplift of the southern Sierra Nevada previously attributed to tectonic or mantle-derived forces is partly a consequence of human-caused groundwater depletion.
(Uplift & Seismicity Driven by Groundwater Depletion in ... California). The depletion is exacerbated by global warming induced drought, and overuse of resources by Big Agriculture.

Similar events have been discovered taking place in Antarctica:
Due to the increased melting of ice from global warming, the shrinking ice sheet has caused changes in the ground underneath. However, these changes were thought to be an instant and elastic movement of the crust that was soon followed by a gradual uplifting of the crust over a period of a few thousand years. The GPS data gathered by the researchers showed that the ground in the area was rising much faster than previously thought. The team's measurements suggest that uplifting process pushes up the ground by around 15mm per year. The number is much higher than what the previous studies suggested.

"You would expect this rebound to happen over thousands of years and instead we have been able to measure it in just over a decade. You can almost see it happening which is just incredible," said Grace Nield, the study's lead researcher from the Newcastle University. "Because the mantle is 'runnier' below the Northern Antarctic Peninsula it responds much more quickly to what's happening on the surface."
(Melting ice in Antarctica is reshaping Earth). Yesterday, we talked about tipping points that have already been crossed over so that the associated consequences can't be stopped.

Which will cause these earthquake and volcano hair-triggers to be squeezed on and pressured even more (Will This Float Your Boat - 4).

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Bob Dylan, 1963

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Will This Float Your Boat - 4

America divided by Climate Change
This series began with a resort to the caution that should be at the forefront of polar ice cap melt concerns: "They continually, substantially underestimate the melt of the polar ice sheets."

The underestimation at issue includes the notion of "tipping points."

These are historical points along the way of climate change, high tide lines in the sand if you will, which, if crossed over will initiate events that cannot be reversed or stopped.

Such tipping point events, if triggered, will play out completely no matter what we do even when we wise up and change our minds about destroying civilization by committing global ecocide.

"Table 1" below shows ice cap locations, volume of ice at those locations, and the potential sea level rise, in feet, should ice at that location completely melt.

Table 1. Estimated potential maximum sea-level rise from the total melting of present-day glaciers and polar ice caps. Source: USGS
Location Volume
Potential sea-level rise,
East Antarctic ice sheet
West Antarctic ice sheet
Antarctic Peninsula
All other ice caps, ice fields, and valley glaciers

Thus, the policy concerning The Damaged Global Climate System should not be to make conservative estimates, rather, it should be to err or the safe side so as to avoid reaching all of those tipping points.

This has been made obvious by a very recent NASA report concerning the Western Ice Sheet in Antarctica, because one local tipping point there has been reached and crossed, which will have global impact:
The new finding that the eventual loss of a major section of West Antarctica's ice sheet "appears unstoppable" was not completely unexpected by scientists who study this area. The study, led by glaciologist Eric Rignot at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and the University of California, Irvine, follows decades of research and theory suggesting the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is inherently vulnerable to change.

Antarctica is so harsh and remote that scientists only began true investigation of its ice sheet in the 1950s. It didn't take long for the verdict on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to come in. "Unstable," wrote Ohio State University glaciologist John Mercer in 1968. It was identified then and remains today the single largest threat of rapid sea level rise.
The region contains enough ice to raise global sea levels by 4 feet (1.2 meters). The most recent U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report estimates that by 2100, sea level will rise somewhere from just less than 1 foot to about 3 feet (26 to 98 centimeters). But the vast majority of these projections do not take into account the possibility of major ice loss in Antarctica. Rignot said this new study suggests sea level rise projections for this century should lean toward the high-end of the IPCC range.

The Amundsen Sea region is only a fraction of the whole West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which if melted completely would raise global sea level by about 16 feet (5 meters).
(The 'Unstable' West Antarctic Ice Sheet: A Primer, emphasis added). Let's call it the "goodbye Kiribati" and "goodbye Florida" tipping point.

This event was predicted, that is, we were warned in 1978 (West Antarctic ice sheet and CO2 greenhouse effect: a threat of disaster).

To underscore the contrast let's also consider the mentality that is sinking in Florida:
Marco Rubio, as you may have heard, has issued yet another blunt rejection of the whole notion of man-made climate change. “Well, yeah, I don't agree with the notion that some are putting out there, including scientists, that somehow there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what's happening in our climate,” he said yesterday on ABC’s “This Week.” He continued:
“Our climate is always changing. And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that's directly and almost solely attributable to man-made activities…I don't know of any era in world history where the climate has been stable. Climate is always evolving, and natural disasters have always existed… I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. That's what I—and I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy.”
For this, Rubio has been roundly ridiculed by reality-based commentators. But even their scorn seems to skip over what is perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Rubio’s evasion on climate change. It would be one thing if Rubio was trying to downplay man-made climate change if he was the senator from a state that is greatly dependent on drawing fossil fuels out of the earth and pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere—say, Oklahoma or West Virginia or North Dakota. But Rubio represents Florida, and is in fact from Miami. Which—how to say this nicely?—is in the process of drowning.
(The New Republic). At some time we will have to say goodbye to two denier Senators, Rubio and Inhofe, but in the mean time they will continue to urge us to deny climate change as they vote against remedial attempts.

The next issue concerning this one Antarctic tipping point we have already reached, is when the impact on us will be noticable ("When": The Most Unstable Adverb?),

The answer to that question is "yesterday", i.e., it is already happening:
These glaciers already contribute significantly to sea level rise, releasing almost as much ice into the ocean annually as the entire Greenland Ice Sheet. They contain enough ice to raise global sea level by 4 feet (1.2 meters) and are melting faster than most scientists had expected. Rignot said these findings will require an upward revision to current predictions of sea level rise.

"This sector will be a major contributor to sea level rise in the decades and centuries to come," Rignot said. "A conservative estimate is it could take several centuries for all of the ice to flow into the sea."
(West Antarctic Glacier Loss Appears Unstoppable). The next "when" is how long it will take to fully melt and cause sea level to rise sixteen feet.

A figure which will be added to the sea level rise caused by the Greenland Ice Cap melt, which is also accelerating:
Stability in the rapidly changing Arctic is a rarity. Yet for years researchers believed the glaciers in the frigid northeast section of Greenland, which connect to the interior of the country’s massive ice sheet, were resilient to the effects of climate change that have affected so much of the Arctic.

But new data published Sunday in Nature Climate Change reveals that over the past decade, the region has started rapidly losing ice due to a rise in air and ocean temperatures caused in part by climate change. The increased melt raises grave concerns that sea level rise could accelerate even faster than projected, threatening even more coastal communities worldwide.
The stability of the region is particularly important because it has much deeper ties to the interior ice sheet than other glaciers on the island. If the entire ice sheet were to melt -- which would take thousands of years in most climate change scenarios -- sea levels would rise up to 23 feet, catastrophically altering coastlines around the world.
(New Greenland Ice Melt, emphasis added). The gross historical underestimations of both Antarctic and Arctic ice cap melt are quite well known.

Doubling the estimations, because of the increasing rate of acceleration, may even be overly conservative, but a rough calculation indicates a one foot per decade sea level rise average, or about 8.6 feet sea level rise total, by or before 2100.

The ramifications of that are catastrophic in the sense that tipping points are being crossed which have unintended consequences, and in the sense that the U.S. government appears to be paralysed and unable to react responsibly:
Secretary of State John Kerry recently gave a speech in Jakarta, Indonesia, where he compared climate change to other transnational security threats such as “terrorism, epidemics, poverty, [and] the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” But the U.S. military was already there.

Secretary Kerry was following the lead of four-star Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear II, head of U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), who in a speech in Jakarta a year earlier also identified climate change as the biggest security threat facing the region, with the capacity to even “threaten the loss of entire nations.”

And just last November, Secretary Kerry’s counterpart in the Department of Defense, Chuck Hagel, asserted that climate change “can significantly add to the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict.”

Indeed, while the U.S. Congress is still locked in a partisan debate over climate change, the U.S. military is already taking a proactive approach to this national security threat. In Asia, U.S. Pacific Command is working with China, India and other regional allies to align military capabilities for “when the effects of climate change start to impact these massive populations.”
(Secretary Kerry Follows the Military’s Lead on Climate Change). As Dredd Blog has expected for years, the government plan or policy is still triage (New Climate Catastrophe Policy: Triage).

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Last Week Tonight: The real way for the news media to show fairness:

Monday, May 12, 2014

On the Origin of the Genes of Viruses - 9

At various times in this series the notion of "a different genetics" and a "genetics prior to carbon based life forms" has been discussed.

The notion is that pre-RNA and pre-DNA genetics had a different set of molecules, genes, nucleotides,  and the like, prior to the evolution of carbon based life.

Central to that hypothesis is the notion that viruses evolved before single cell microbes did, and that those viruses did not have the RNA or DNA which current viruses and single celled microbes now have.

A recent paper exclaims that not only is this possible, but "we did it!"

It goes like this:
For billions of years, the history of life has been written with just four letters — A, T, C and G, the labels given to the DNA subunits contained in all organisms. That alphabet has just grown longer, researchers announce, with the creation of a living cell that has two 'foreign' DNA building blocks in its genome.
(Journal Nature, First life with alien DNA). The gist of it is that the molecules associated with the only DNA construct we knew of (AT, CG) has been modified.

Cells, in lab experiments, were able to genetically replicate additional, and heretofore unheard of and unknown human-made molecular constructs added to modern DNA.

Thus, we cannot say with scientific certainty that there were no strange combinations of genes that were unlike, in whole or in part, modern ATCG configurations prior to the evolution of carbon based life forms (Origin and Evolution of the Ribosome).

Alien genes (by modern standards) that were replicated by "robosomes," the precursors to ribosomes, long before ATCG constructs evolved, are not improbable (On the Origin of the Genes of Viruses - 4).

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Dirty Paws, by Of Monsters and Men

On The Origin of "Conspiracy Theory" - 4

In this series we have been looking at the notion of conspiracy and conspiracy theory.

What has been disclosed in these posts is the dual nature of our culture's discourse on the subject.

In actuality, there are cultural doublespeak circuits in our cultural amygdala  (Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala).

At a minimum those circuits cause difficulty with understanding conspiracy theory, but at a maximum that doublespeak prevents the ability to be able to objectively conceptualize this subject.

The simple dictionary meaning is a good place to begin:

1. to agree together, especially secretly, to do something wrong, evil, or illegal

2. to act or work together toward the same result or goal.
(Dictionary). In short, a conspiracy involves either doing something bad or doing something good together.

It requires two or more participants.

Conspiring to rob a bank, or conspiring to do a surprise birthday party are two examples in an almost limitless list.

We ran across an event that was destined to change the official dictionary meaning.

That event was the CIA's paranoia concerning the JFK assassination.

More precisely, it was the public reaction to the official theory of the case that triggered a conspiracy itself.

Selected officials conspired to do the Warren Report, a dynamic that on its face was a good conspiracy, but then they concluded that a lone gunman did the assassination.

Large numbers of the public did not buy it, then the numbers began to grow intensely as a "conspiracy theory" culture sprang up everywhere.

So, the CIA studied how they could propagandise the situation so as to avoid the scorn of the public.

They came out with CIA Document #1035-960, which became the talking points for those media outlets which the CIA controlled or had influence over (see e.g. Mocking America).

They succeeded in corrupting the meaning of "conspiracy theory" in the eyes of the public, but the pressure mounted until congress appointed a committee that concluded "The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy" (United States House Select Committee on Assassinations).

As with pre-human propaganda (On The Origin of Propaganda - 2), recent science indicates that conspiracy is a fundamental activity of biological life forms that took place long before humanity evolved.

The video below discusses how communities of microbes within us, via "quorum sensing" and other communication strategies, conspire to do good things and conspire to do bad things too (see e.g. On The New Meaning of "Human").

Conspiracy is a biological fact that has taken place for billions of years now, so it is about time for our culture to give up the media-induced-fantasy about conspiracy theory.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Greetings Bacteria! ... Dr. Bonnie Bassler, Princeton University: