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The paper from the primary scientific literature that I will discuss in this diary is from the journal Tree Physiology and has the (long winded) title "Mistletoe effects on Scots pine decline following drought events: insights from within-tree spatial patterns, growth and carbohydrates."  

A link to the paper, if you can get access to it, is here:  Tree Physiol (2012) 32 (5): 585-598.

Mistletoe, long a subject of Christmas mythology related fun and games, is a parasite.

Um, um, um...

Here in New Jersey it was reported that power companies and road opening crews needed to chainsaw something on the order of 120,000 trees.   A crude estimate of mine based on traveling around here is that for every downed tree that required cutting to restore infrastructure, between 10 and 20 could be seen off road that simply were destroyed in forests and yards not involved in infrastructure.   This suggests, if I'm right, that in New Jersey alone, something like one to two million trees - many of them, maybe most of them, magnificent, ancient trees.  

I have been monitoring, privately, the destruction of New Jersey's arboreal flora for several years, well before Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, mostly connected with the extreme temperatures and drought.   I even wrote about it here, back when I was writing a lot of diaries:   Nitrogen, Climate Change, Drought, and Tree Physiology..

Also back when I was writing a lot of diaries, I used to write amusing tongue in cheek Christmas diaries like this one:  Ice Sheet Collapses at North Pole.   Portions of Santa's Village Destroyed, Reindeer Missing.

This diary is, for old time's sake, my (very brief) Christmas diary.    It's not amusing.

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How about a kiss?

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So called "renewable energy," as represented by the combustion of biomass, is a major health problem on this planet, responsible for a considerable fraction of the 3.3 million deaths associated with air pollution each year, roughly half of which occur in children under the age of 5.

(I repeat myself often on this point, but I refuse to stop stating this truth, um, because it is, um, true and is, um, somewhat disturbing - at least to me, if not to all the people who are melting down over the terrible radioactive tuna fish.)

I'm catching up on my reading this weekend, having not had a chance to do so for some time, and I came across a recent paper about a panic in China that took place in June of this year that is related to biomass/biofuel deaths, although strictly put, it does not involve so called "renewable" energy per se.   Predictably, the panic over the mattered, which almost certainly involved several thousand deaths, garnered nowhere near the attention of the incident at Fukushima, where nuclear reactors were struck by a 9.0 earthquake and a 15 meter tsunami, resulting thus far, more than a year after the incident in zero radiation related deaths and roughly 20,000 deaths not related to radiation, the latter being deaths no one cares about.

The paper from the primary scientific literature I will discuss here is Environ. Sci. Technol. 2012, 46, 7934−7936, an the title of the paper, a "viewpoint" piece, is "Controlling Air Pollution from Straw Burning in China Calls for Efficient Recycling."

This diary will be very brief:  I keep telling myself not to waste much time here.  I will do some quick "Back of the Envelope" (B.O.E) calculations connected with a piece of data in the paper - the purpose of which is to demonstrate how much carbon is available in Chinese straw - and get outta here.    If you're interested, I'll see you below.

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Sobering?

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Some people are complaining about the scant attention being paid to climate change in the current election.    I'm not among them, and it's not because I am unconcerned with the outcome of the dumping of dangerous fossil fuel waste into the planetary atmosphere, where it kills and otherwise threatens not only humanity, but many other organisms as well.   My failure to complain is more involved with my understanding that the situation is irretrievable.    In a democracy, citizens get what they deserve.    In an oligarchy or in a dictatorship citizens may claim, to some extent, varying degrees of innocence but the the sun bakes the innocent and the deserving alike.

We live, more or less, in a democracy, and we Americans - who are the second worst (in absolute, mass burned terms) dumpers of dangerous fossil fuel waste on the planet, after China, an oligarchy - are getting what we deserve.  (Note two that we are very close to matching the Chinese for waste dumping even though China has roughly four times as many people as we do.)

Here on the left, many people, as I perceive it, wish to blame this state of affairs on the political right.    I consider myself, in most ways, more comfortable with the ideas of the left, but I am not inclined to believe that the right owns the onus of our failing atmosphere to the extent that it involves the United States, which was, for many decades until recently being surpassed by China, the worst destroyer of the atmosphere on the planet.   It's pretty clear - to me at least - that many people on the left are way out to lunch where issues of energy and environment are concerned, since they have engaged in much faith based posturing about how whirlygigs and glass coated with toxic metals would save the day.

They, um, didn't.

I don't write diaries here all that much anymore, but for the hell of it, for old time's sake, I'm writing this one.    I still do significant literature based research on energy, but I seldom write about it public forums as I once did:   In this space I wrote almost 400 diaries over a period of a little more than seven years, more than 60 a year on average.   It's very unlikely that I will keep up that rate.

From September of 2006, when I wrote my first diary here, until last month, September of 2012, the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere (measured at the Mauna Loa observatory) rose by 12.13 ppm.   In the previous six years, from September of 2000 to September of 2006, the  the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere rose by 9.67 ppm.    

More than a coincidence?

This may be taken as evidence that NNadir diaries at DKos are useless in addressing climate change, but - irrespective of anyone who might think me a megalomaniac - I always knew that.

Cute stuff aside, this is a diary, about imagining making gasoline via the hydrogenation of the carbon dioxide now being dumped annually by a particular plant, one of the 5 worst carbon dioxide dumping power plants on the planet, as identified by CARMA (Carbon Monitoring for Action) think tank, this being the aptly named Belchatow coal plant in Bełchatów, Łódź Voivodeship.  

No such carbon dioxide will, of course, be so hydrogenated to make gasoline (nor any of the cleaner alternatives to gasoline) but imagine...

Imagine.

Poll

Let me get this straight NNadir, you want to turn water into gasoline?

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This will be a very brief note.

In the comments section of my last diary on this website, The Transplutonium Element Curium Found On Mars, I remarked, in response to a question that the Curiosity instrument set was capable of detecting amino acids, but was unable to distinguish whether or not they were "chiral" and thus unable to add evidence to any discussion of biological or abiotic origins of any amino acids found.

I was wrong.

In a discussion here that I undertook (certainly not the best description on the internet) I described something about chirality, life, and the Murchinson meteorite, which does, in fact, contain chiral amino acids of the type normally found in living systems:    The History of Water and Thus, Life, In the Cosmos.

Anyway:   It does appear that Curiosity is equipped with at least one tool to detect chirality, specifically a chiral GC column...

Poll

Could there be life on Mars?

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It is, you know.   (Someone put it there.)  Curium, named for the great nuclear chemist Marie Curie, was discovered by Glenn Seaborg.

Tomorrow Darleane Hoffman, the great nuclear chemist - now in her 80's but still lecturing - will give the opening lecture at the ACS meeting in Philadelphia, in a symposium celebrating the 100th anniversary of Glenn Seaborg's birth.

I wrote about Dr. Hoffman in this space some time ago, when she lectured on the subject of Marie Curie:  Women in Nuclear Science: Celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Marie Curie's Nobel.

Here is the abstract of the talk that Dr. Hoffman will give about Dr. Seaborg, who she personally knew very well:

1 - Glenn T. Seaborg's global impact on science

Darleane C Hoffman, darlhoffman@gmail.com, Nuclear Science Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California 94720, United States

In celebration of the Centennial Year of Glenn T. Seaborg's birth on April 19, 1912, I will attempt to place some of his major accomplishments and interests in perspective from a more 'global' point of view. Although considering himself a 'nuclear chemist', his impact was felt throughout science, internationally and nationally. Over his long, productive life (1912-1999), Seaborg became well known to politicians, statesmen, students of all ages, environmentalists, and sports enthusiasts. He was a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry in 1951 and co-discoverer of ten transuranium elements, including plutonium (1941). Element 106 was named 'seaborgium' in his honor. He was Chancellor, University of California, Berkeley (1958-61), chaired the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission (1961-1971, returned to Berkeley (1971-99), supervising the Ph.D.s of 65 students! Seaborg served as advisor to 10 U. S. presidents, traveling world-wide as a proponent of nuclear power and the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty.

Sigh...

I don't know what Democratic Party you belong to, but the one that I belong to is the one where a incredibly great scientist like Glenn Seaborg - who oversaw, as head of the AEC, the construction of more than 70 of the 100+ nuclear reactors that were built in the United States - could be comfortable.

Sigh...

Poll

Curiosity?

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The practice described in the title of this diary will, I predict, never happen, although, as I will describe below relying on a paper published in the scientific journal Industrial and Chemical Engineering Research - there are many other such papers including those of the great and highly principled Chemistry Nobel Laureate George Olah, who being a scientist rather than a movie (or rock) star was essentially ignored by the public - it may be technically feasible to do this or to have done it.    

But it will not happen.   The fight against climate change and its attendant disaster, as the events in the American grain belt (and in the last few years in other grain belts around the world) demonstrate so dramatically, is over, so much over that even our even insipid media is beginning to get it.  

In 2012, human beings will burn more dangerous oil, more dangerous coal and more dangerous natural gas than ever before.   The waste from this burning will be dumped directly into the planetary atmosphere where it will serve to help kill 3.3 million people per year - half under the age of five - through direct health effects, and many, many, many more ultimately from climate effects, probably including, in short order, famine not to mention, just plain heat.

They should have died hereafter.   There would have been time for such a word.
When I go outside these days - something I try not to do since it's so damn hot out there - I cannot help seeing the dead and dying trees.    Some years back, after a hiatus during a period of mutual distain between the management of this site and myself, I returned here to write a diary about the death of trees from heat and drought in the area where I live, New Jersey, citing a paper from the journal Tree Physiology.   Nitrogen, Climate Change, Drought, and Tree Physiology.  I wrote:
We're having a terrible drought - coupled with outbreaks of extreme temperatures - here in Western New Jersey, and it seems to be killing some very old and very beautiful trees.   It's very sad.
The dying is still going on.   I said then that I would spend more time reading that journal, Tree Physiology, but I really haven't, although I downloaded a bunch of papers a week or so ago.    But I didn't read them.   If I did, I would most likely break down weeping.   There's - how ironic is this - a bumper sticker one sees at times that reads "Trees are the answer."   No they're not.   They're going to end up dead, burned or rotted.   They are no answer.   They're just another set of victims.

The paper from the primary scientific literature I will discuss in this diary comes from a recent issue of the journal listed above (Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2012, 51, 8631−8645).   It is entitled "Analysis of Equilibrium-Based TSA Processes for Direct Capture of CO2 from Air."

It's about what might have been, not what is, not what will be.

Excerpts below:

Poll

Will humanity get right on it?

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Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 04:16 PM PDT

Is It Just the Weather?

by NNadir

The paper from the primary scientific literature comes from a scientific journal from the Nature publishing group, a relatively new journal, Nature Climate Change.    The title of the paper is "A Decade of Weather Extremes" and is written by two scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Dim Coumou and Stephen Rahmstorf.

It is found in the current issue, as of this writing, of that journal:   Nature Climate Change, Volume 2 Issue 7.  The full reference is Nature Climate Change 2, 491–496(2012)

Irony Alert:  The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research is located in Germany, where they have announced that they intend to phase out the world's largest, by far, source of climate change gas free primary energy.   That would be nuclear energy, which is, as anyone who is familiar with my writings, is my environmental cause célèbre.

The paper addresses the question that is often posed by apologists for the dangerous fossil fuel industry, whether they be right wingers, (and addressed in a diary here by the incomparable - if overly optimistic - Adam Siegel Village tolerance of Will-ful deceit) or (in a more parochial case I will address below) simple minded anti-nukes nominally, at least, "on the left" who think that we can wait around for their so called "renewable energy" fantasies to come to pass after most of us here will be long dead:   Are these extreme weather events so frequently in the news of late normal fluctuations or are they truly indicative of the collapse of the planetary climate?

I'll excerpt some stuff from the paper - in case one cannot access it directly - briefly discuss the list of catastrophic weather events the paper contains - allude to the methods of analysis and then excerpt the conclusion of the paper.

Poll

Is this a time of extremes?

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Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 10:08 PM PDT

Glycerol as a Biofuel.

by NNadir

Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
“Rip down all hate,” I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull. I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
-Bob Dylan, 1964

The epigraph was written by an young man who has grown old while praising youth, and for all that one may lose of youth, and though none of us "Stay Forever Young," I suppose that of what I retain of my youth is discomfort with compromising basic ideals.

Anyone who is familiar with my writing will know that I am no big fan of the car CULTure, and I believe that it - and the dangerous fossil fuels that support it - should be phased out as quickly as is possible.   If that sounds utopian, so be it.

And if this diary itself sounds like compromise with basic utopian ideals, so be that too.  

Then again, I may be that liar for who life is black and white.

Whatever.

This is a diary about biofuels.   In general, I am a critic of so called "renewable energy" - despite the high fashion notion that so called "renewable energy" is a universal good and cannot have any of the assumptions made about it questioned.    

Still, I will write here about a biofuel about which I've thought a lot, and for which I have less of my trademark hostility and about which I manage some ambivalence:   Biodiesel.

The current issue as of this writing of Industrial and Engineering Chemical Research a journal published by the American Chemical Society - a special issue connected with the CAMUR and ISMR meeting in Naantali, Finland - contained several papers connected with biodiesel technology.  I'll focus on one, and perhaps mention some others.

The main paper I will discuss in this diary is entitled "Effects of Sorption Enhancement and Isobutene Formation on Etherification of Glycerol with tert-Butyl Alcohol in a Flow Reactor."   The paper is here:   Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2012, 51, 8788–8795   Glycerol, if you don't know, is a major byproduct of the production of biodiesel and of, for that matter, soap.

Poll

Does biodiesel make you feel 'renewally.'

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Mostly my diaries in this space are about energy, and are written is a tone of mocking and despair.  

This one is not.   This is a diary about art.

With the holiday coming on a Wednesday, and with oodles of unused vacation time accumulated at my job, I decided to take Monday and today off this week and spend a special day with my oldest son.   We went to New York to the Museum of Modern Art to see what he (and I) could learn about painting on the fifth floor.    

(He is talented and wants to pursue painting, and he is a big fan of surrealism.   I have no talent, but still seek to learn what I can about the art form I so love and anyway, with my interests in energy, I certainly feel that I have a sense - albeit an unpleasant sense - of the surreal.)

I could talk maybe a long time about painting and how much awe I felt standing in front of, for instance, Max Beckmann's huge triptsych "Departure" - something like I used to feel when I was a young man and when I used to go to visit Picasso's now gone Guernica in the same museum - but in this place, very briefly I'd rather refer to the exhibition at MOMA of the photographic exhibition that to which the diary's title refers, Taryn Simon's photography.

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One of the major news items this week is Katie Holmes's impending divorce from that guy who is protecting all of humanity from the shennigans associated with the galactic dictator Xenu.    I hope that guy isn't distracted too much by any custody battles, since, um, galactic dictators are, um, bad, and we should afterall, pay attention.

I wrote recently about another overwhelming threat to humanity, the the radioactive tuna fish from Fukushima, and yesterday, while eating a fruit salad containing radioactive bananas at a party near here, I heard people worrying about the tuna fish.   They're not going to eat tuna.   Whoopeeeeeeee.

Well then...

The party was outdoors, and people remarked how hot it's been around here, where the temperatures were about 37oC (98oF).   We all sat in the shade and I ate radioactive salad, and despite this, somewhat surprisingly, I'm still alive.

This diary is about far less important news than Suri, Tom, and Katie, and the radioactive tuna fish.    Peripherally, it's about the fact that as of this writing, 72.1% of the United States is experiencing drought, according to the drought monitor tables with large areas of the United States grain belt experiencing severe drought.

Don't worry.   Be happy.   If things go well, you can buy a Tesla electric car someday.

The paper from the primary scientific literature that I will discuss today is found in the current issue of the scientific journal Environmental Science and Technology and is published by scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.  The paper is titled Review of Methane Mitigation Technologies with Application to Rapid Release of Methane from the Arctic

(Environ. Sci. Technol. 2012, 46, 6455−6469...).   It's a fun paper and it is all about how the climate forcing gas methane - which is far more potent than carbon dioxide as a climate forcing gas, and is also the main constituent of "clean" natural gas - gets into your atmosphere and, um, changes the climate, not that the climate is anywhere as near as important as Suri's upbringing among the forces fighting Xenu.

Poll

Which would be worse, Xenu coming back or a Paleocene−Eocene type mass extinction.

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The paper I will discuss in this brief diary is in the "ASAP" section - as of this writing - of the scientific journal Environmental Science and Technology, a publication of the American Chemical Society.

It's all about the relationship between things that are closely related, as it turns out (possibly in more ways that I will overtly describe), an extremely radioactive species, the element Radon and carbon dioxide.

The paper is here:   Coupling Automated Radon and Carbon Dioxide Measurements in Coastal Waters.

Lest anyone start in, as usual, in fits of fear, ignorance, and superstition to blame the nuclear industry for the presence of, um, highly radioactive radon in water as described here, I would suggest that they may have more to fear from their pals in the gas industry, for which the so called "renewable" industry serves as a fig leaf.   Excerpts from this paper are in the text below and should - unless one has joined Greenpeace and is thus unwilling to read anything that comes from a source in the primary scientific literature - put to rest any claim that radon in water has much to do with nuclear energy.

Radon, for the record, is widely considered from an epidemiological perspective to be the second largest cause of lung cancer on earth, after tobacco smoking.   (The third largest is almost certainly air pollution:   A definitive link between lung cancer and diesel exhaust has recently appeared in the literature.)

As it happens, people where I live all face a problem with Radon, and for sure, the ill thought out, ill considered decision to shatter permanently and forever, all of the shale in this area will definitely and unequivocally result in higher radon flows forever.

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Well, should we ban uranium, well, should we?

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Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 03:38 PM PDT

Government Work, Government Works.

by NNadir

One of the great lies of the latter part of the 20th century is that government doesn't work.

Of course it does.   The United States Government, beginning with its own invention, has always supported innovation and growth, and our founding fathers, including the one who may have been most critical to our independence - that would be Benjamin Franklin - were actively supportive of scientific inquiry.

It is not an accident that the British scientist - who had never set foot on this continent - James Smithson, bequeathed his vast wealth to the United States Government to create “an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.”

For most of our history, we have honored this bequest.   This is the nation after all that developed most of the tools for mast communication, that founded and funded NASA - sending robots to all of the planets, and men to the moon, that invented the technology that provided the first novel source of primary energy to have been discovered since the invention of fire, nuclear energy, the country that extended the periodic table to places no one imagined it could go:  I could go on and on.

I don't have much time today, but this was on my mind as I considered some work on high temperature thermal barriers.

Consider this work:   Thermal and Environmental Barrier Coating for Advanced Propulsion Engine Systems

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Who's your Daddy?

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