Friday, January 27, 2012

Power in the rising sun

The theme behind these stories is the energy situation in Japan since the Fukushima disaster last year. In the aftermath of the destruction a report was quickly compiled for the Japanese Govt. outlining the possible worst case scenarios and actions that might need to be taken.

Report on Japan nuclear crisis said millions might need to leave homes; gov’t kept it secret
Associated Press, January 25

The Japanese government’s worst-case scenario at the height of the nuclear crisis last year warned that tens of millions of people, including Tokyo residents, might need to leave their homes, according to a report obtained by The Associated Press. But fearing widespread panic, officials kept the report secret.

It also casts doubt about whether the government was sufficiently prepared to cope with what could have been an evacuation of unprecedented scale.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

And it was called 'Yellow'

Nearly every month there are fresh articles reporting news of further possible advances in solar technology. Most research aims at either improving the efficiency of the cells by capturing more of the electromagnetic spectrum. Either some modification of the crystal structure modifying the electron band gap or splitting the different wavelengths so that they are captured by semiconductors selective for these specific wavelenghts or by using organic dyes to help capture photons.

Other approaches aim to reduce the cost of solar by using less efficient systems that can be cheaply applied on large easily manufactured surfaces that can be incorporated into existing buildings and construction systems.

However, I'm not so sure that re-marketing Cadmium Yellow as "a paste of semiconducting nanoparticles called solar paint" is the smartest approach.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Australian Government tries to hide its own peak oil report

 re-posted from oilshockhorrorprobe

The Daily Telegraph has revealed how the Australian government has attempted to suppress its own report on peak oil. The response from the New Zealand government had been equally secretive and obfuscating.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hope spins eternal

It's well past time to start the New Years posts...
The Australian had to mine through several issues of Nature Climate Change to find a "feel good" climate change story.

Coral breakthrough offers climate hope

CORAL reefs may be much better able to adapt to rising sea temperatures due to climate change than previously thought, according to a breakthrough Australian discovery revealed yesterday.
According to PhD student Emily Howells, the findings demonstrate the potential for corals to adapt is more widespread than previously thought.

Further research is under way to establish the speed at which coral can adapt to rising water temperatures, and whether it will be fast enough to survive the impact of climate change.
However, a few paragraphs into the story...
"The algae we are working on occurs up and down the Great Barrier Reef and we are finding that even though it is the same type of algae, those in warm locations have adapted to warm water temperatures and those that are in cooler places, over many years, have adapted to cooler temperatures," Ms Howells said.

"We really don't know about their rate of adaptation to temperature change."

The title of the paper in the December issue of Nature Climate Change is far less dramatic.
Coral thermal tolerance shaped by local adaptation of photosymbionts
(Published online 18 December 2011)
Here we demonstrate divergent thermal tolerance in a generalist Symbiodinium type from two different thermal environments.
Juvenile corals associated with Symbiodinium from the warmer reef grew rapidly when exposed to 32 °C, yet underwent bleaching and tissue death when associated with Symbiodinium from the cooler reef. These results demonstrate that Symbiodinium types can adapt to local differences in thermal climate and that this adaptation shapes the fitness of coral hosts. If Symbiodinium populations are able to further adapt to increases in temperature at the pace at which ocean climates warm, they may assist corals to increase their thermal tolerance and persist into the future.
Emphasis mine.

It's great that this fundamental biophysical research demonstrates that a generalist Symbiodinium has developed tolerance to raised water temperatures, and that it might therefore be possible for coldwater corals to adapt to these conditions. But the abstract has the usual cautious caveats: might, if, could, may.

Will they also be able to do so under the combined stress of acidification?

Of course even a cursory look at the tables of contents from the surrounding issues shows that this "breakthrough" is just one very small glimmer of "hope" in the, most probably, damaging changes projected for the future.