Bloc en català

divendres, 28 novembre de 2014

Coal, a drug for mankind very difficult to leave

Published in Linkedin: Coal, a drug for mankind very difficult to leave (28/11/2014)

If someone asks for jobs with less future, probably in all lists would write the coal mining. Coal has historically generated many jobs, however mechanization has been declining number of employers; but in many parts of the developing world is still mining, sometimes in border on slavery, which is feeding (bad eating to be exact) many people from earliest childhood. Now a danger is hovering over this form of living. Although coal will remain nearly 300-year to explode with current consumption, but the need to reduce CO2 emissions questions the continuity of this mining.

Coal was the engine of the Industrial Revolution. The steam machines from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries moved thanks to black stones that we could burn. But the twentieth century discovered a new fuel: the Oil, which was more manageable, easy to get and it has more potential uses. Later he appeared a third competitor (gas) with equal performance but did not emit solid waste (ash) into the air, which reduced pollution (smog) suffering most cities. Still as a system of massive energy generation remained the king, and neither the new nuclear energy could argue this supremacy as this is much more expensive (except France due to political decision taking by De Gaulle).

But Climate Change has questioned the supremacy of all fossil fuels, oil, gas i coal. Coal suffers from two handicaps what have neither oil nor gas. First, it doesn’t degrade, in fact the high quality coal is more than 300 million years, something unthinkable in the oil and gas which end up surfacing and the environment destroys it. So if the mine is closed, coal will remain waiting for someone to come to exploit it. Moreover, coal produces a high pollution generated as much unburned (soot), besides it drags much sand, hardly separable, which are injected into air as suspended particles, which would add to the pollution of other hydrocarbons.

Coal now has allies. On the one hand brad new producing countries, as Australia and Canada. These with intensive opencast mining, produce coal of low quality but very cheap, because they extract a great amount with little labor. It may not generate large numbers of jobs, but many government revenues at a time of crisis. This mining is also called into question due to the environmental cost, comparable to Fracking, and highly pollutant that is the burning of this coal. On the other hand the developing countries that do not have sufficient income to invest in change of energy sources and less investigate them; not to mention its coal deposits, usually outdated, feed a lot of people with wives recycling opportunities for other industry.

China and USA have signed an agreement to reduce CO2 emissions which means it will reduce the combustion of hydrocarbons. It is obvious that will always remain a small remnant of combustion, but is unlikely to be coal. Still going to be very difficult for this reduction is immediate, because changing power source is not done in two days. The question is We have enough time?

dimarts, 11 novembre de 2014

Is fresh water ending in the World? No, but we've got problems

Current humanity has got enough knowledge and technical to convert salt water into fresh water. Global water doesn’t change its amount, and sea water we can convert in continental water as we want. But there is a little problem: is expensive.

Water is the most abundant mineral in the Earth's crust, as I said in “Water”, which is the why that life is based on it, summarize to have other physic-chemical properties that make it unique, which makes it invaluable; although its abundance relegates it to have a residual value. Brazil somewhat smaller than Europe, and it has a patchwork of climates, however its position in Ecuador it has got a rainforest in main part of its territory, yet there are also deserts. The Brazilian population lives mainly on the coast with high densities of population, but they haven't water problems because they live so close to a forest. Until today, the Sao Paolo region is experiencing an unprecedented drought in the area, which begins to put the capital supply problems. Most alarming is that the culture of the area with respect to water's total disregard for the drought, make it go to waste as stocks continue to decline.

The causes of this drought are several. On one side Brazil is literally devastating their rainforest, this is starting to show in the rainfall pattern. But there is something more alarming and no tractate question which is playing, however nobody sees or wants to see. Brazil now has 200 million habitants, but in 1990 was less than 160 million, this is a 25% of increase in just two decades, and in that time the infrastructure hasn’t time to adapt. How neither does the climate, both Brazilian and global population grows exponentially but the average annual rainfall on the planet has not grown in the last century as one would expect if the climate doesn't change.

J. S. Famiglietti et alt. have been published in Nature ("The overall groundwater crisis" 29/10/2014) work about the collapse of the natural sources of water. We are predators of natural fresh water. Drought doesn’t make problems to the humans and their economic interests, but nature is also without the precious mineral to live. Today not only suffer from drought areas traditionally its rains are irregular and scanty, but areas that never suffered this problem are facing it. The causes that produce it are diverse, as I mentioned, being among them Climate Change. Although Climate Change as such is often more consequence than a cause. For example Lake Chad disappears as it happens at the Aral Sea, both cases are the result of man's hand; people improved collection techniques and improved water use crops, thereby improved life expectancy and accelerating population growth. Both cases water from these two lakes has become part of people, livestock and crops in the region; without evaporation of water from these lakes no rain.

To have fresh water is only a technical problem and also economic. If we want to desalinate sea water, we need a great amount of energy in any kind of method that we use. Cost for supply all the human needs is unattainable; better don’t think what is cost of supply whole nature. Luckily Sun is the main machine of generate fresh water, but if we continue to increase the consumption of water in nature, nature will can’t give scope, as it begins to happen. We often forget that we couldn’t survive without nature. Just as an example bee crisis in Europe, it not only is ruining beekeepers, without bees there is no pollination and crops. Desalinating water is an option, but not the solution.

The world population reached 7,000 million in 2011, in 2014 only three years later we are already 7,300 million; considering that in 1970 there were only 3,600 million, the half of current, and world had reached 1,000 million in the first half of the nineteenth century, governments and any kind of global agencies are taking conscience the size of problem. The water crisis has much related with the population that an area can support than Climate Change or other environment trouble, but when the territory is the whole planet the situation becomes dramatic. It’s true that there are still many empty areas and territories that have plenty of fresh water, although the rates that we grow these are becoming less. Urgently address the problem of overpopulation, whether for religious or economic reasons always they look to other site.

dissabte, 25 octubre de 2014

Oil falls below $ 90

Posted in Linkedin Oct 16 2014

It seems very good news. Historically low price of energy reduces production costs especially with an extremely tech world as the current. But now the paradigm is completely contrary, the financial economy governs the world relegating industry and agriculture to a second order. Today buy and sell moves the world not produce.

Oil is one of the more products that financial markets buy and sell, and it mean that follows the marked rules in terms of price. But oil had an artificial price. When created OPEC, it was grouping major countries which had greater oil reserves by the standards of that time; it created a Mega Dumping that killed the oil market, because if the price down production stopped and this turned up. Since the 70s the world energy economy has been captive to the decisions of these countries. Although now it's different, most of these countries have imposed economic plans that are viable only if they maintain the current flow of oil sales, which is impossible now due to the drop in demand for crises; current plans of these countries haven’t way to agree with lower production and lower price. On the other hand high prices of oil, and the constant research in mining technology open opportunities a new extraction techniques such as fracking, which are allow extracting oil from sources discarded until now, he expanded existing reserves; they have flooded the market of oil not controlled by OPEC.

Oil is one of the more is one of the many goods that are bought and sold every day. Its consumption is closed to us. Every day thousands of drivers fill the tanks of their derivatives: gasoline. But fuel prices don’t decrease of the same magnitude to the oil prices. The reason is very simple oil sold today was bought six months ago for the price of seeds. Before the summer oil Brent was above $100 but today is near to the $80. It will be great news to the drivers when prices will arrive in fuel delivers, but it would be a disaster in in the medium term for their pockets.

After financial crisis, oil has become to the safe value. Equal to buildings before which “never will down its prices”; oil will become an “undownable” value where invest the money. Today, oil is bought years away (in futures market), with the premise the consumption is always increasing and sources are finites (in short time added). But consumption is downing by crisis and it never will increase because Climate Change fight needs the reduction of CO2 emission; so oil, coal and gas must be decreasing to waste; obviously finite sources don’t matter if we don’t burn oil.

The disaster is inevitable. Reducing emissions means massive drop in oil consumption; and change the oil producing states and need not lower turnover if they want to keep their financial statements balanced. A disaster in the financial statements both imply losses for shareholders as the oil company as the public debt of oil-producing countries. But oil futures bought not only affects oil world, were going to the oil escaping from the financial bubble, and generating the current carbon bubble. If the oil price falls, pension or investment funds also fall with them; and considering how some leverage financial products with other, whole financial house of cards will fall, winding the economy.

Obviously this reduction is attempted in the maximum delay time, but there is no time because climate change isn’t knocking the door, it’s entering. Noteworthy is that the Rockefeller Family leaves the business that made them millionaires; and there is more movement in this direction. Today oil and coal and gas, are beginning to falter. For years experts predict the probable Oil Bubble and when it explodes it will be more devastating than the financial. At the moment winter is coming in North Hemisphere but prices are still downing.

dimecres, 8 octubre de 2014

The great flood

Sea level rises slowly as glaciers melt threatening the population

Do not be deceived. A bad summer does not mean that global warming has stopped. In fact experienced bad weather, especially in winter, is largely the result of increased atmospheric activity caused by a higher amount of energy. In the same way that a hot summer does not mean Global Warming, it is very cold in winter nor does it mean it will start an ice age: Climate Change is a long process, but not necessarily slows.

NY under sea

This winter there was a Polar Vortex that struck northern America, and Antarctic takes an extent never seen; but the average global temperature has continued to grow, which refutes those who spoke about the stop of Global Warming. This warming is melting, not only Arctic Icecap, but is melding also all the continental glaciers. Photographic evidence more observation from satellites leave no doubt. And the continental water just melts inexorably into the sea. The ocean level rises. Today the sea is engulfing many islands and even entire island nations as Venice. And not just islands, deltas, bays and coastal flood zones are slowly being swallowed by the sea.

The inexorable disappearance of the Coast produces will have a devastating effect on the world population. Larger cities are seaports: New York, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires ... they will be swallowed by the sea. More than 40% of the world population lives near to coast. The melting of ice in Greenland or the Antarctic Peninsula produce increased level of 7-10 meters separately and up to 20 meters if two will melt. It may seem little, but the most populated areas of the coast don’t exceed 10 meters (height of a two story house) above mean sea level, the sea may penetrate several miles inland. Whenever Antarctica will not melts entire so it has contains 80% of the World's freshwater, fortunately is not case, this would mean back to the Cretaceous, something practically impossible due to the current distribution of continents.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been established threshold of 400 ppm CO2. Obviously this number is a round number, which corresponds to double of CO2 that was in the pre-industrial era and also the highest concentration of this found in the last million years, comparable to earlier periods much warmer. This value is exceeded last year for the first time, and now we are again above. Even the Apocalypse hasn’t started something that deniers of climate change have already taken advantage of this, and it doesn’t mean that the climate isn’t working on it. NASA and researchers in the field have warned that large ice masses of Antarctica and Greenland are losing mechanical consistency and increased the speed of sliding into the sea.

What do our leaders while? They care, they meet once a year (paying all for us), and do not bother to economic powers lest they get upset. They do nothing, more than 17 years after the Kyoto Protocol they are continuing discussed how to apply. Today it seems that USA has decided to take the bull by the horns and even China has been involved, but the pressure of lobbies (especially coal and oil) is very strong. Surely we cannot stop Climate Change, even if they could start preparing for its consequences; although as he prefers to continue arguing.

Kevin Costner starred in one of the biggest flops in film Waterworld (1995) film where all the ice melted and the sea covered the land. Obviously the total fusion of the poles would not produce this effect, although significantly reduce the current landmass to third just under a fifth. But surely this warming will not affect the core of the Antarctic. Still coastal flooding will produce increasing emigration never seen nearly 3,000 million people, according to the models in less than fifty years.

dimarts, 19 agost de 2014

Windmills or helical turbines

The Windmill has become part of the passage, but it can also become a memory

Don Quixote fought to the windmills in the sixteenth century. The wind has been joining to the wood burning one of main human sources of energy. Not long ago, and even today in a sportsmanlike manner, our ships crossing the seas by the wind; and in everywhere we can find mills which are grinding grain or pumping water.

So history offers us a way to replacement the fossil power station in front of the disaster of global warming; but has several drawbacks as usual with all renewable energies, hence the difficulty imposed on fossil fuels. When I wrote “We must change the way we see energy” I had exposed the difficulty of supply our demand, not only amount of energy and power but punctual peak of them. Another problem is an eco-landscape. The mills are huge blades that rotate at speed relatively slow but relentless with birds that cross the large area covered by them; may appear to be somewhat anecdotal but the reality is that bird populations begin to decrease in area with mills. Another feature of these is that they are due to their large size, breaking the fairing of the mountains and creating malaise with the tourism industry and defense landscape. We currently have environmentalists and environmental movements’ requiring an increase of production of wind energy while other environmentalists argue against in front introduction of each new wind field.

But there are two models of wind turbine: the blades (mill) and the helical. The first is that we normally see in the fairing. The second is vertically mounted helical tube five feet in diameter and up to four meters long. Its small diameter and compact shape makes it very difficult that birds collide with it, so it does not need to be raised from 50 to 100 meters in height giving it much more discretion. One drawback is the large static vanes that generate due to the great speed with these at the ends; this static electromagnetic creates communication problems forcing wind fields put in places far from the centers of consumption. Helical not generate nearly static for their size and are very quiet this allows them to put them anywhere and therefore in the same area of consumption.

Inertia, especially when considering facilities profitable, making models perpetuation without thinking; even if another solution would be more appropriate. The engineer must offer and often the results are given in a short time, and always with maximum guarantees; who hires him does not want any experiment, he gambles his money and has to trust the engineer; the final result is the perpetuation of the known model and ingineer work. Only inertia when it really breaks the classical solution is no longer feasible

In the case Wind helical turbines it has already been doing. In Guangzhou (China) it's building a skyscraper where six helical turbines were installed. In a city can’t put windmills with blades, so they will install helical turbines. If turbines really are able to give the expected energy, it can change our cities skylines of chimneys by helical columns. The wind still has not said the last word.

dijous, 22 maig de 2014

Are we alone in universe?

Every people in every time made this question when they see the majesty of night sky. The answer is No. Our Galaxy (Milky Way) has stars and is sure that exist more planets as our where there are life. Other thing is if these planets have intelligent life, if these intelligent lives have a technological civilization, and technological civilizations have technologies compatible with ours. 

We aren’t alone that is sure, but has our neighbors anytime visited us? More people believe that is true and this is happening now. They think to have conclusive proves of this fact, but science community say these aren’t valid and today officially there aren’t evidence of extraterrestrial are coming now or they were coming before.

We would like that a more intelligent people than us, come to earth to solve our problems. ET is the new god who is different than traditional in it lives in the same dimension to us. Today society is finding new referents and new transcendence which could grab. ET never will be a god, they only would be other travelers with the same questions that we had make from the beginning of time: Who we are? and Where we go?

But extraterrestrial visit is extremely improbable, because advanced technology doesn’t mean to be able make miracles. Distances between stars are unimaginable with our minds; Alpha-centauri is from 4.5 light years (45,000,000,000,000,000 Km; 27,000,000,000,000 miles) and there aren’t planets in Alpha-centauri. The first star found where could be life is 500 ly and it will be more luckily that it has technological life. We can think: distances is making short with increase velocity; unfortunately physics says that exist a limit of velocity that is light and one thing worse energy to increase velocity rises exponential with tendency to infinite in light speed. Fortunately Relativity gives us the possibility to circumvent the time, because in high speed time slows down. Travel to center galaxy is possible yes, even in a generation but when travelers will return Earth will not find anybody of their friends; in fact they will not find humans surely because time passed in Earth will be  millions years and human will extinct. To us and ET this travel is with never returning and their discoveries never will give to the society that paid it.

The more powerful argue to discard the visit is the silence of our visitors. We never fish any communication extraterrestrial. SETI is a project to capture messages that become of starts, from seventies years until today only few signals have been candidates to be extraterrestrial communications but less concluding and without repeat. SETI isn’t thinking to capture local communications but it doesn’t matter locally we have more and more antennas which are listen all electromagnetic spectrum. Unbelievably ET doesn’t call to home

Why can’t we hear any communication of extraterrestrial intelligences? The easy answer is that it doesn’t exist. If we take the natural history of Earth, we can see that life Intelligent species is around 200.000 years while life is in planet more than 3,500 to 3,800 million years; even if we take only the last 750 million years when the main multicellular domains are consolidates, and animals are comparable as current, we can see that is a 0.000026% of time. The possibility of coincidence with other smart specie in cosmos is very little. We are born now but in other planet intelligence it was born and death time before, with the great quantities of time that universe play one million year is nothing. 

Energy can play in this equation also. Radiation only to propagate is attenuating as square of distance. It means that signal of relative near stars we couldn’t listen. Our radiotelescopes hear explosion of supernova (a star several times bigger than Sun that explodes) in center of our galaxy as a whisper. Our signal has traveled only about 100 light years distance, more near to us for to be listened by other planet habitable) but its current intensity isn’t detectable by standard engines. If we must send messages to stars, as it was sending in seventies, we need more energy and use resonant canals (for example 21 cm) and never expect to arrive more than 10.000 ly (Milky Way have diameter 120.000.000 ly). 

But what does it mean simultaneity when distances are greatest? Relativity proved that time and space are relative to observer, and simultaneity is only a local phenomenon. In other hand light needs time to arrive us; distances are enormous even in solar system, light of Sun needs eight minutes to arrive Earth and light of Uranus eleven hours; Alpha-centaruri needs 4.5 years. When we see Alpha-centauri we see really Alpha-centauri to 4.5 years ago; Betelgeuse is a star that is at time to become a Supernova, is at only 650 yl; Betelgeuse could be explode yet but us and our son never will know because explosion will arrive us in 650 years.

We aren’t alone in universe that is sure but it doesn’t want to means that we can contact with them. But I want to be optimistic and I prefer to think that one day our specie will travel to stars, and our technology and knowledge can save obstacles today unsafely. Yes to contact with other species of other planets and sure other kind of biology will be the greatest achievements never do it for mankind. However we must forget to find ours saviors, because while we wait some messiahs which will arrive to stars, it means that we aren’t ready to know other intelligent specie. 

divendres, 9 maig de 2014

Is there room for hope?

People talk a lot, but they made less. Time is passing and world is turning without stopping and waiting what we decides to do. Weather is every day more extremely, nature is deteriorating faster and number of persons in the world is growing rapidly. But nobody do something to arrange the trouble (read Trying to understand Warsaw).

But could we do something really? This is a very difficult question to answer. First we have facts in front us but what is happening really isn’t so clear; because in one way there are a lot of analyses which are showing many kinds of scenarios and in other way facts are seeing as own prejudices says they would be. Second there are more interest playing in climate fight: we have whole industry of fossil which doesn’t want to lose this lucrative business, but other industries which have invested millions in facilities that needs oil or coal (power companies i.e.), and we must not forget the main industry of this world: financial economy which is buying oil and coal that will be extracted from five or ten years; this interest doesn’t want changes on the status of energy because this changes can make huge losses (read $1tn oil projects 'will not see return' if governments act on climate – The Guardian) in fossil business. And the third is if we know what we can do; because we know that climate will change (even if CO2 will remain equal) but we aren’t sure what is its direction, and even know the direction what is the more effective action and which are the action that never do.

Obviously the inaction is the worst thing that we can do. But when we will reduce the consumption of fossil fuel, we put the global economy in Danger (Carbon Bubble); if we want to replace the energy production systems then renewables can’t assume the great current demand of energy which would call into a problem the current lifestyle. But the worst thing is to fail in the action because we can destroy our world for nothing.

Climate change will happen and no matter what we will do. The question is how hard it will be? and here we have the opportunity for opportunity to intervene. Really CO2 quantities in air are in part due to us and in part due to nature, but if we will continue emitting CO2 we help to move the balance, hence our action is forcing the climatic system. What consequences will have this forcing? We don’t know, but the ignorance is precisely what requires us to take precautions. Incomprehensibly prefers to maintain the practice of risk rather than minimum of prudence. 

In other side CO2 isn’t the only agent that influences in climate; Pollution, the decrease in wild land or the same loss of biodiversity force the climatic system. Today we are destroying the mainly natural ecosystem and every ecosystem has associated one climate; when a land lost its ecosystem, its climate changes also. The current megacities has their own climate which invades the near zones damaging the ecosystems of these areas, which in turn changes ecosystem helps radiate the atmosphere of the city areas increasingly distant. In XIX century when humans were only One billion, small cities that time were surrounded by nature that occupied mostly the land; however today when humans are seven billion, nature is surrounding by cities which is being captured by the urban climate.

The destroyed nature never will come, and cities will remain monstrous because our overpopulation must life in somewhere. It’s unthinkable that people left their lifestyle and their comfort, humans have arrived in this technology steep and we never thing in do a passes back. Unfortunately nothing will become as before and our forcing to the nature is doing for to exist. We must thing that any action will not revert or will stop the process; we can only wait that driving process to the less unfavorable state, and ever if we will not fail the action to do.

We are in front an irony. If we take action about Climate Change, our economy and lifestyle will be fail; while if we do nothing nature will hit our society and the result will be the same. therefore paralysis is the real action in front to the problem; fist because social agent doesn’t know what must do; and second people who has something to lose in the fight prefers delay as be as able possible the action.

Mankind is in front of greatest challenge of the last 10,000 years. And this challenge is arriving when our society is in one of periods with more individualism never seen (read Consumer Society). Hope is the last thing to do but greed a few and fear of everyone are hindering every action. Governments, social agents and the rest of society should be involved in this fight and act generosity. But nobody wants to lose a little when our attitude will lose us all.