WTF Climate Change News

Katheryne Helendale

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Interesting, although I am hoping the water for heating is a closed system from the water that touches the rods.
I was aboard a few nuclear powered aircraft carriers in my Navy days. To the best of my understanding (I was in aviation, and had nothing to do with the reactors or other shipboard systems), steam for the aircraft catapult systems, as well as for shipboard heat and hot water, came from boilers heated from the reactor cooling system. Two separate systems.
 

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Technically true, the planet would be fine. The ecosystem and humanity would be toast, but this wet ball of dirt and other elements would keep on rolling around the sun right on schedule.
Nah, the ecosystem will get over it. It’s not like it’s the first time there was a massive die-off of organisms on this planet 🌎

It’s just the first time that humanity caused it!

Welcome to the Anthropocene



 
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Jopsy Pendragon

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Nah, the ecosystem will get over it.
True, it'll adapt, but that's different than recovery. The heyday of midsized organisms may be over after this settles out. The same way that our existing ecosystem would prevents massive scale creatures like dinosaurs from a resurgence... the diversity and efficiency of micro organisms may soon be likely to devour and out evolve beings like us with much slower generational cycles.

Even if we stopped climate change in its tracks today, I still think that our dominance on this planet will be over in a few centuries at best. Either we fail to keep ahead of the parasites, bacterias, and viral threats, or we, in our drive for profits, recklessly abuse the science we need to defend us, creating even more survival challenges to overcome.
 
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True, it'll adapt, but that's different than recovery. The heyday of midsized organisms may be over after this settles out. The same way that our existing ecosystem would prevents massive scale creatures like dinosaurs from a resurgence... the diversity and efficiency of micro organisms may soon be likely to devour and out evolve beings like us with much slower generational cycles.

Even if we stopped climate change in its tracks today, I still think that our dominance on this planet will be over in a few centuries at best. Either we fail to keep ahead of the parasites, bacterias, and viral threats, or we, in our drive for profits, recklessly abuse the science we need to defend us, creating even more survival challenges to overcome.

I read an article somewhere that humanity may never be able to come back to its current state because of energy. The way we built up our current civilization was on fossil fuels. Solar and other sustainable alternatives are great but they require fossil fuels to get them started which we are using up.
 

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I read an article somewhere that humanity may never be able to come back to its current state because of energy. The way we built up our current civilization was on fossil fuels. Solar and other sustainable alternatives are great but they require fossil fuels to get them started which we are using up.
The Dutch had windmills long before the industrial revolution, and solar furnaces are quite possible with just mirrors, which are ancient tech. Humans started with fire long before coal became common, and we continued burning stuff for energy because we didn't know any better in 1750, when the first steam engines came along. If you posit a fall of civilization, you also have to assume loss of all our accumulated knowledge. Otherwise we can reboot using what we know today.
 
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Kara Spengler

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Yes, for all modern reactors you have separate loops for the reactor vs for the turbines, to prevent radioactivity release.

Right, that is the way most people do it but I can see a country (or company) not doing the sane thing in order to eek out a bit more efficiency.
 
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The Dutch had windmills long before the industrial revolution, and solar furnaces are quite possible with just mirrors, which are ancient tech. Humans started with fire long before coal became common, and we continued burning stuff for energy because we didn't know any better in 1750, when the first steam engines came along. If you posit a fall of civilization, you also have to assume loss of all our accumulated knowledge. Otherwise we can reboot using what we know today.
The energy sources you are talking about don't scale to billions of people. We still haven't done that yet. If there were only, say, a million people in the world with their windmills, a cpu could not be produced. There would be nothing comparable to the internet or modern communications.
 
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Ashiri

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The energy sources you are talking about don't scale to billions of people. We still haven't done that yet. If there were only, say, a million people in the world with their windmills, a cpu could not be produced. There would be nothing comparable to the internet or modern communications.
Solar power (PV and thermal) could supply all the energy needs for the world.
Where I am, tidal energy could supply my country's needs.
 
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Solar power (PV and thermal) could supply all the energy needs for the world.
Where I am, tidal energy could supply my country's needs.
I believe you are correct. The problem I was trying to point out though is you can't just magically turn those things on. It takes a lot of energy to create the initial infrastructure.
 
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Bartholomew Gallacher

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China is building some that will provide town heating, in addition to electricity. Normally, after running through turbines, the steam is run through a cooling tower to condense. Instead, they will pipe it to for building heating.
This really is no new idea at all, in fact there are already nuclear power plants around which are/have been in service, and could have been used for long-distance heating infrastructures. When you do consider, that 2/3 of the gained power at a nuclear power plant just evaporates into steam, it makes a lot of sense to use this power for that purpose. What speaks against it though is that in many countries nuclear power plants are really in the middle of nowhere, so building the heat pipeline would just be too expensive, aside from loosing too much heat anyway. You do need a big enough city nearby for this to make sense, which was normally the exact opposite for the location finding of power plant sites.

But it never really took off, I guess the reasons are quite obvious today: it is expensive to just build the infrastructure, and as long as you have got access to cheap oil nobody wants to do this; most of those plants were build around the 70s after the oil crisis, after that there was no real need economical for such. Now that the time has come it would maybe economically feasile, most just don't want this.
 
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danielravennest

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The energy sources you are talking about don't scale to billions of people. We still haven't done that yet.
Without modern technology like farm tractors, railroads, refrigeration, and cargo ships, there wouldn't *be* billions of people, because we couldn't grow enough food, preserve it, or deliver it to the people who need it. When windmills first became popular, the world's population was somewhere under a billion, and most people were farmers. Windmills were how grain got ground to flour, along with watermills that were powered by flowing streams.

Solar and wind certainly do scale to billions of people, we are in the process of doing that right now. But it could be done at a lower level of technology, with somewhat lower efficiency. The amount of available wind and sunlight doesn't vary, only how well we use it.

I challenge you to come up with a realistic fall of civilization that both loses all our advanced knowledge *and* loses the embodied products of civilization. People mined Roman constructions for centuries during the dark ages. Our cities represent much larger "mines" of already made materials. How would all that vanish?
 
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I challenge you to come up with a realistic fall of civilization that both loses all our advanced knowledge *and* loses the embodied products of civilization. People mined Roman constructions for centuries during the dark ages. Our cities represent much larger "mines" of already made materials. How would all that vanish?
The first thing I think of is modern cpus and computers. The world would be a very different place without the communications that computers allow. The amount of infrastructure required to make a cpu is tremendous. There are only a handful of plants in the world. No doubt we could get to where we were 100 years ago, but that is quite different than today.
 

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The world would be a very different place without the communications that computers allow.
It can be argued that some of us have been there, certainly my parents are from the era when computers were very very rare.
While I have no doubt many people would freak out at the prospect of losing their smartphones, that wouldn't be the end of civilisation (one hopes).
 
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It can be argued that some of us have been there, certainly my parents are from the era when computers were very very rare.
While I have no doubt many people would freak out at the prospect of losing their smartphones, that wouldn't be the end of civilisation (one hopes).
My grandfather was born in the 1890s but he is long gone. Nowadays though even if you don't own a pc or cell phone, everything is affected by computers, from the supermarket aisle to the tv news.
 

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Even if we replace all our fossil energy supply with renewable sources, there's still plastics and petrochemicals that we rely on -heavily- for agriculture, electronics(insulation), refrigeration(seals, transportation (tires/lubrication), medicine/sterilization.

We may find soy/hemp/corn alternatives for several, but no one is going to be pursuing that seriously until it is clearly cost effective to invest in the R&D for it.

And the real kicker... as non-renewables become more scarce/expensive, the chance of us actually making a successful exodus from our blue-green marble diminishes. Kinda hard to get out of our gravity well on wind and solar.
 
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danielravennest

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Kinda hard to get out of our gravity well on wind and solar.
Producing methane from CO2 is quite well understood, and SpaceX's next generation rocket will fly on methane and oxygen. They plan to refuel the rocket on Mars for a return trip using this process, since CO2 is 95% of the Martian atmosphere, and water is relatively common on Mars.

Almost anything organic will burn with pure oxygen. The German V-2 rocket used Ethanol, for example, and that is a renewable fuel.
 
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Beebo Brink

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Even if we replace all our fossil energy supply with renewable sources, there's still plastics and petrochemicals that we rely on -heavily- for agriculture, electronics(insulation), refrigeration(seals, transportation (tires/lubrication), medicine/sterilization.
:qft:

A significant reason we're in our current dilemma is due to petroleum-based fertilizers. We've increased yields sufficiently to support 7 billion humans, but we're plowing through those non-renewable resources at an alarming rate. It doesn't matter whether they last another five years or fifty or even 500, at some point they will run out. We're borrowing heavily against the slow geological processes that built aquifers, oil & coal deposits and even rich topsoil. When those resources are fully plundered, those billions of people will hit a wall.
 

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A significant reason we're in our current dilemma is due to petroleum-based fertilizers. We've increased yields sufficiently to support 7 billion humans, but we're plowing through those non-renewable resources at an alarming rate. It doesn't matter whether they last another five years or fifty or even 500, at some point they will run out. We're borrowing heavily against the slow geological processes that built aquifers, oil & coal deposits and even rich topsoil. When those resources are fully plundered, those billions of people will hit a wall.
I recall you posting something awhile back on SLU about ocean acidification and oxygen levels in the atmosphere. Do I recall correctly, and do you recall if it was atmosphere or oceanic oxygen and what it means for mammalian life?
 

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I recall you posting something awhile back on SLU about ocean acidification and oxygen levels in the atmosphere. Do I recall correctly, and do you recall if it was atmosphere or oceanic oxygen and what it means for mammalian life?
I don't recall a specific comment, but I'll prattle on about the topic generally in hopes of answering your question. :p

These are different (but always interlinked) dynamics. First off, as CO2 levels rise in the air, ocean waters absorb some of that CO2 and the mixture of seawater and CO2 leads to carbonic acid. The acidity levels affects phytoplankton and sea life with shells; in high enough concentrations, those shells will dissolve. Since many of these minute animals are at the base of the food chain, their disappearance has a ripple effect upward as other species begin to starve.

Oxygen levels in water are under attack from a number of different factors. First off, warm water holds less oxygen, which affects the health and metabolic level of fish, who have to work harder to get their oxygen. The same phytoplankton that are dissolving due to acidification are also responsible for pumping out oxygen both in water and air, so as their numbers are reduced, ocean and atmospheric oxygen production is reduced. And lastly, the nitrogen and phosphorus that we're using for agriculture are running off into the ocean and promoting the growth of algae that sucks up the oxygen in water, creating dead zones. The death of fish through suffocation leads to more starvation up the food chain, for sea mammals and sea birds.

The most serious aspect of all this for land mammals is probably the damage to phytoplankton. Prochlorococcus and other ocean phytoplankton are responsible for 70 percent of Earth's oxygen production. That includes oxygen in our atmosphere, not just the ocean. So we're fucking around with the basics of the optimal chemistry for our species.

Swings in oxygen and CO2 levels have been a driving dynamic in mass extinctions for millions of years. Under normal circumstances, we were probably nearing the end of an interglacial, which is usually triggered by changes in orbit and tilt from the sun. So we may well be entering very new territory in which the injection of huge quantities of CO2 will warm the world despite our astronomical position.