Anything worth talking about, is worth blogging about

Posts tagged ‘Energy’

Asleep at the intersection

Today, while waiting to cross the street, I saw something that should never happen.

Here in BC, at many intersections, there are left turn lanes. In some of them, the traffic light will show a green arrow that gives right of way to those turning left. The crosswalk I was at was one such intersection. And as you might expect, the left turn arrows came on in both directions. However, there were no vehicles in either left turn lane.

Is it not obvious that the above situation leads to unnecessary idling, and therefore wastes energy? I see no reason why it is impossible to put a sensor in a left turn lane that, that while the light is red, detects and counts the cars passing over. Perhaps it could detect cars by pushing down slightly when a set of wheels passes over. This will happen twice per car (once per axle). The cars’ weight could press the sensor down. While not perfect (a semi or other long vehicle with more than two axles would result in an incorrect number of vehicles) this will be a good enough approximation to form a sensor system. The number of cars passing into the left turn lane could then be used to decide whether to activate the arrow the next time the light turns green. This system would prevent unnecessary idling due to unneeded turning arrows, and ought to be relatively simple to implement (a computer could probably do it).

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Link farm Sunday in April edition

In no particular order:

Nuclear power has saved about 1.84 million lives over the last 40 years due to the prevention of air pollution (via). A large expansion of it over the next four decades could save from 420 thousand to as many as 7.04 million additional lives.

This is one of the reasons there should be a large–scale increase in nuclear power generation. It is far less deadly than coal, once air pollution and mining deaths are accounted for, not to mention its carbon dioxide emissions’ causal factor in climate change. And nuclear power is safe; most scientists and experts believe that the risks from nuclear power are far overblown, especially considering the threat from global warming.


The teams promoted and relegated for all levels of the IIHF Women’s World Championships are:

Tournament Promoted Relegated
World Championships n/a Czech Republic
Division IA Japan? Latvia
Division IB France Great Britain
Division IIa Hungary Slovenia
Division IIB South Korea South Africa
Division II Qualification Turkey n/a

Since the IIHF does not explicitly say, in both the news report and statistics page, whether Japan was promoted or merely the winner or Division I Group A, I still have no idea what was going on. By the looks of it no one was promoted to the main tournament in 2014, which will keep it at eight teams in 2015. That negates any point of winning the tournament this year, which is a shame. I hope I’m wrong, and that a better explanation is forthcoming. Update: Another possibility is that there will be some sort of qualifier series, like a best–of–three between Japan and whoever wins Division I Group A next year.


Quote of the day from Vyckie Garrison, the co–founder of No Longer Qivering:

“Fanaticism will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”


Yes! JJ, the Unrepentant Old Hippie, lives. She’ll be returning to blogging soon.

Link farm and a random thought

In no particular order:

The ultimate in data storage. Scientists have found a way to store digital information in DNA. The storage method is sophisticated enough that all information currently in hard drives could fit into the palm of your hand.


Quote of the day (emphasis added):

“What always interests me about defenders of creationism is how they clearly don’t think of children as people in their own right, but instead property that you use to enact your ideological obsessions.”

I personally would edit that quote to include the entirety of the rotten parental rights movement. Those people really do see their own kids as enemies and who’ll do anything to prevent those children from thinking for themselves and not being a projection or perfect reflection of the parents. Libby Anne at Love, Joy, Feminism has emphasized this point multiple times.


Solar power is well on its way to becoming cheaper than coal. It might reach that point before the end of the decade. This is important, as it would eliminate much of the point of burning coal, which is important for climate change mitigation. (It’s still better to start today, however).


I fully agree with these suggestions on how to write a better fantasy story. (Via all these people).


Did you know that (supposedly) the committee of the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women supposedly “Told Libya to re-interpret the Koran in the light of CEDAW”? To rational people, this is an excellent reason to support the CEDAW. But, Echidne found out, wingnuts actually use this as a justifiation for opposing the CEDAW. To their credit, at least they’re honest.


Two of the comments on a post on Brute Reason have won awards. You just have to see them.

And yes, I did manage to read and finish what is visible of the first comment. It starts repeating itself part way through Can’t it be all new woo?

This post has been edited since publication.

Perhaps it’s time to start the alternative

The Arbourist has a post about a small company that has a proposal to create liquid fuels out of water and carbon dioxide from the air. While the proposal looks promising, since, as far as I can tell, it takes more energy to create the liquid fuel than is released by burning that fuel, and that any carbon extracted from the atmosphere while creating the fuel will ultimately be re–emitted when that fuel is used, I have difficulty seeing how much of a difference this particular technology would make. (See also my comments at the Arbourist’s post). However, if new evidence or technology emerges that allows this technology to make more of a difference, I will certainly change my mind about it.

And The Arbourist’s post got me thinking. Since there has been much resistance to making more than a token effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, perhaps it is time to put geoengineering on the table. That might potentially be the best hope for avoiding disaster. While I am not actively suggesting we start geoengineering, I am suggesting we put it on the table. This is important considering our collective failure to make much effort towards mitigation of global warming and climate change.

Geoengineering is not science fiction. Several of the proposals have analogues that happen naturally. And it is not decades away. As far as I can tell, the following proposals are pretty much shovel ready, and we could start tomorrow if there was a serious effort, and with no significant research yet to be done or technology to be developed:

  • Atmospheric sulphur aerosols
  • Grassland restoration
  • Cool roofs
  • Enhanced weathering

These proposals each have a number of advantages and disadvantages (discussed after the jump):

(more…)

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