Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Can Nuclear Energy Save You From Global Warming?

Just imagine a world with abundant energy, enabling you to live the good life forever... Isn't that what most of us crave? Nuclear energy is magic isn't it?

Nuclear energy has no greenhouse gas emissions. The latest technology has made it safe and we can bury nuclear waste without worrying about radiation. Business as usual without doing any harm.


Well, is it?

Nuclear energy is magical thing. It's hard to understand how it works and it's easy to get bamboozled by claims made by the nuclear magicians – scientists – as well as by opponents.

Take veteran environmentalist Dr James Lovelock, of GAIA fame who says only nuclear energy can save us from global warming. Or Dr Helen Caldicott who says it's too dangerous and we do not need it.

And governments ... Well, depends on who you talk to.

Your life is full already without figuring out what is valid and what's not. Right?

Easier to just leave it to "Them."

But stop!

Find out the facts on nuclear energy and nuclear radiation hazards. Then make up your mind – and next time there is an election you vote with some knowledge under your belt. There is plenty of information out there to help you make up your mind and I'll give you a leg-up.

So, here is an easy framework. Imagine experiencing a certain "knowing"about this important issue on your way to the ballot box, or in talking with your friends.

Given that global warming is a real threat, and global energy demand is ballooning, then the nuclear energy debate is essentially about four Big Issues.

1) Can nuclear energy deliver on a low-emission or even non-emission basis?

2) Is nuclear energy for electrical power purposes safe?

3) Can it be delivered at a reasonable cost?

4) How does it compare with other low-emission alternate energy sources?

Here is an overview only of those issues. But don't just take my word for it. Find out more yourself!


  • Yes, nuclear energy is emission-free if you just measure the exhausts from a reactor's chimney.
  • In one study, nuclear energy came close to wind power in low emissions over its lifetime.
  • There is no air pollution, with big nuclear energy user France having the cleanest air in Europe.
  • No, it is not emission-free and is a greenhouse gas emitter, when measuring mining of uranium and transporting it, building and decommissioning nuclear power plants.


  • Chernobyl still stands the only disastrous accident with a nuclear power plant, and the antiquated structure and action taken after the "melt-down" bears much blame.
  • Any safeguards are only as good as the people that manage them, and any further accident will be one too many.
  • Modern nuclear power plant structures are much safer.
  • A terrorist attack, using radioactive material in a dirty bomb cannot be excluded.
  • A terrorist attack using an airplane could be disastrous, even though deactivating a modern nuclear plant can be done in 5 seconds.
  • A higher-than-normal incidence of childhood leukemia has been reported near power plants in the UK, France and Germany.
  • So-called Generation IV nuclear reactors, including "fast breeders" are said to be cleaner (low radiation level waste), cheaper and safer but the first will not be ready before 2010, some not until 2030.


  • Economics of nuclear energy is a wobbly concept, depending on the assumptions about other energy sources and their end costs.
  • Nuclear reactors currently have very high start-up and close-down costs compared to other low-emission, and renewable energy sources.
  • Costs are more than just counting money.

Comparison to low-emission energy sources

  • You'll find many studies with different results.
  • One must take into account the urgent threat presented by global warming, that of radioactive energy, and appraise the benefits of energy-wise living and currently available renewable energy sources.

The magical attraction of nuclear energy remains: throw enough money at it and all our problems will seem to go away. But the future is most likely one of a diversified use of renewable energy with some nuclear energy. It's a question of where to put the emphasis.

Nuclear energy sources removes people even further from tangible "natural" processes. More of the same kind of thinking that caused our global warming problems in the first place. Why not emphasize responsible energy use, and the use of the Great Big Nuclear Reactor In The Sky to drive wind, tidal and solar energy. And to try and live in harmonious relationship with each other and our environments.

But you just have to make up your own mind. My children's future and yours depend on you. Only your personal attitude – the greatest energy source we know – can help you live with global warming. And we are going to have to live with it for a long, long time.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Elephant Dung May Stop Ivory Poaching

The ivory trade was banned several years ago, but poachers have continued to kill elephants for their prized tusks. These ivory tusks are made into valuable items like figurines and jewelry that are treasured by people all over the world. The unfortunate side effect of these poachers continuing to hunt and kill elephants for their tusks is that the population of African elephants dropped quickly from over 1 million just over one-half million in a short time period. Poaching is the illegal killing of elephants so that their tusks can be harvested and smuggled to other countries so that ivory products can be produced and sold for a great deal of money. Elephant dung may actually be the key to helping to control the number of poachers getting away with this crime in the name of the ivory trade. Knowing how elephant dung can help elephants is sure to pique the interest of anyone who loves elephants and nature.

Using elephant dung and elephant skin samples, scientists have been able to map the DNA of elephants. Because scientists can now use DNA to track where an elephant has been, they are using the technology to track elephant poachers. By using the elephant DNA, scientists can trace ivory shipments back to where the elephants were originally poached. If researchers find that a large number of poachings have occurred in the same area, law enforcement can be strengthened so that these poachers will be caught and prosecuted for their illegal activities. Using this technique to track elephants is almost like a jungle version of Crime Scene Investigation. Instead of using hair samples or skin cells from humans, these scientists are using DNA found in the dung and skin of the elephant to trace where they have been.

The presence of DNA in elephant dung is a great thing for researchers. Instead of having to collect skin samples, which would be a tedious and difficult process, they can take dung samples and use the DNA in those samples to track where elephants have been. Because elephants go to the bathroom up to 16 times per day, scientists involved in this effort have a lot of samples to choose from. It makes it a little easier for them to track the elephants when they keep finding evidence that leads them closer and closer to the scene of the poaching. This method is usually used to work backwards. Law enforcement officials may confiscate a shipment of ivory or arrest someone who is suspected of being involved in the ivory trade. The surrounding area is analyzed and investigators search for DNA. Instead of looking to find the killer where the ivory is, these scientists then backtrack, checking dung samples along the way for any signs of the same DNA. When DNA matching the DNA found at the scene of the ivory confiscation is found, they follow the trail until it loads to where an elephant was poached. This is a very interesting way scientists are using technology to help keep elephants safer.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

How Many More People Can This Planet Hold Anyway?

Indeed, growth and development are to be expected and since the human race is breeding like rats the world over it has been estimated and we can expect some 50 Billion people walking the surface of the planet by 2050. Very few of the largest population centers will have the water resources they need.

Systems theory would dictate that we must build and prepare for the future that awaits and remove corruption or the Status Quo barriers which attempt to subdue change, which is a constant. Human populations need to stop breeding so fast and we must pay attention to what is going on, because if we fail to plan, then Mother Nature has another plan and one we most likely will not enjoy.

You see, it is irrelevant to Mother Earth what we choose to do, as there are cycles, patterns and things that just are. Today we have a choice, if we fail to choice that too is a choice. It appears we cannot count on government to fix the problem and the masses are far too demanding to choose. The collective of human consciousness is simply not going to work, we need strength of character and strong individuals to lead the way.

It is the unreasonable man which molds the world to his favor, not the group clinging to the old which is moving out of flavor. All hail the individual and the societies made of strength of character and individuals whose efforts bring change, upgrades to systems.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Defending a Nation Against US First Strike

If one were a betting man, then betting against the United States in war would be a lousy way to play it. There is no doubt that the stakes are very high for the defending nation and any mistake or failure to understand the opposing force and their ability to be "all knowing" in the modern battlespace bubble will result in severe losses and perhaps the most important defense barriers.

One new technology which will change and tilt the scale of favor slightly towards the defending nation are the new materials such as carbon composites and vehicles made out of predominantly nano-tube structure. Some current sensors on strike aircraft might have trouble finding them, however generally the targets, their locations and type are already pre-known prior to the striking aircraft's mission.

The goal in the first series of strikes is to eliminate Surface-to-Air threats and the US Navy and US Air Force are extremely proficient at this. Older hardware such as tanks, mobile missile launchers and vehicles made of steal really will not be able to maintain their concealment in today's battlefield.

Other strategies will also be considered by the defending nation; "If" the military mobile defense systems are made of hard to see materials and well hidden from view and will be to turn off all electronic and allow the engines to cool completely they will render little if any heat signature. Is it therefore possible for them to remain hidden?

Yes and No, if something sits too long it will show up as an anomaly on the Spy Satellite and if it moves too often it will have a heat signature and perhaps a CO2 plume which also shows up under various spectrums of light. What if the vehicles were electric?

Indeed, this makes sense too, but electric motors also get hot and take a little while to cool as well and they will need to power up a motor of some type at sometime to re-charge. Even if they were solar powered, they would still require large solar panels thus giving away their position.

This does somewhat remind us of the saying; "No where to run, no where to hide!" Of course this is the goal of the opposing strike force. When a defending nation is in such a position, it makes their political will and demands somewhat fruitless, as if push comes to shove and political impasse rears its head then there is always hell to pay.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

An Australian Environmental Warrior-Up The Creek, Without A Paddle

Very soon the realisation of months of hard ground work will begin to unfold. After a long time planning, lobbying, preparing and training, kayak4earth, driven by one man, will set out on the Odyssey of a lifetime. The aim is to paddle the length of the Murray-Darling River System, from Brisbane to Adelaide. Due to climate changes and drought directly experienced here, this river system is now in danger of drying up. Indeed, there are long stretches of the Darling River, in particular, that are no longer flowing. Steve Posselt has attached wheels to the kayak, so that it may be towed it on his back through these sections.

This is one driven individual, by whose example and tenacity, sheer determination to be heard and commitment to a cause could shame us all. The purpose of this gargantuan effort is to consult and educate the public, councils and farmers about the need to conserve and make better use of the diminishing waterways. Frustrated by the lack of Governmental commitment and aid in relation to this very real threat, the kayak4earth team has decided to take to the waters and do something positive to bring awareness to the public. This is not a protest, but a statement and an exercise in education.

The Murray-Darling River System, is one of the largest produce regions in Australia, particularly, those areas along the Murrumbidgee-Murray. At the moment, unless some much needed rain falls in these catchment areas, farmers face the threat of being disconnected from the water sources which irrigate their crops. We are talking about a massive economic impact on the Australian population, not to mention devastating losses for our farmers. We have already experienced the effect of crop destruction due to cyclones in Far North Queensland. If better planning and management strategies are not put in place, Australia imminently faces a food shortage the like of which we have never known before. Rising salt tables pose a huge problem from over use in certain regions, rendering them non-arable areas. Now we face the dilemma of no water flow.

Borne of a lifetime of living and working in the water industry, faced with continuous apathy and lack of awareness, the aim is to bring change to the thinking of the Politicians of Australia, to the regional councils and public in relation to Climate Change and water management policies.

Such a huge personal commitment from a citizen to rally and actively involve himself in the process of education and awareness, is an awesome undertaking. Were we all so personally driven and involved, perhaps our environment would stand a better chance of recovery and conservation. Should we not all have the impetus to make such a sacrifice?

Steve is another Australian Environmental Hero. One can only hope that his efforts are rewarded with recognition, both of the problems we face as a nation and the unbelievable stretch of personal endurance and commitment his odyssey will demand of him. The Australian Government will stand to learn a lot from this exercise. as scientific analysis and planning strategies will be formed along the way.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Do Not Brag About Being a Christian to Your Atheist Boss

Many people are very proud of their religion and go out of their way to tell people that they are in good moral standing due to their religion. This is excellent that they feel this way, but one word of advice - Do Not Brag About Being a Christian to Your Atheist Boss.

You see often atheists believe that those who are of a strong religious background use it as a crutch. Atheists see believers as those with weak moral values, needing a religion to remind them what is right and what is wrong. It is interesting that folks believe that one needs to be a certain religion to have a moral foundation. An atheist might say; That is the most silly comment I have ever heard?

The atheist believes that this comment about believers having a moral foundation above the rest is absolutely ridiculous, indeed it is the exact opposite in their opinion. They reason that if you need a religion to help you know right from wrong, then you do not have an actual moral foundation of self, but it comes from an external source of fear of a god or denial of heaven or fear of hell or not getting free toys from Santa.

The atheist does not see why others cannot see this, as they say it is so obvious. You are either good or bad, regardless of the team you play on or religion you believe. Perhaps this will help you understand your atheist boss and understand why he believes you have low-self-esteem and a problematic personal character and ethics boundary.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bottled Water Industry Takes Off as Environment Suffers

The Bottled Water Industry has seen nothing but record profits in the last five years. Each year more and more companies enter the market and each year the environment suffers more and more. Although the plastic bottles are recyclable and fast decaying in the environment, it just is not fast enough it seems. Indeed, when was the last time you went for a hike or a jog. How many littered empty water bottles did you see?

This is now happening all around the World and it is getting to be a completely problematic issue. Of course the bottled water industry is a very high profit business, so much so that you would think they would go out of their way to protect it, by encouraging folks to not litter. The industry has put forth PR initiatives but very little has actually been done.

Now mind you that I am not environmentalist, far from it, but it sickens me to see all this trash, it is as if no one cares. Do you care? Yes or No? Well, how many empty water bottles did you pick up today? In the last five years bottled water usage has nearly doubled states the research from environmental groups, yet they claim only 21% of the bottles reach the recycling system.

Not only are these empty water bottles not making it into the recycling system, fewer than 65% ever make it into a trash can and mind you in many countries there are no trash services. Where does it all go or do you really want to know?

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Dear Think Tank - What is Your Solution to Global Warming?

Not long ago several Climatologists got together in France to decree Global Warming was real. Then they asked what should be done about it. Of course no one had a solution other than shutting down civilization? Well, that is not going to work is it?

Planting Trees with UAVs

So our think tank came up with some ideas of getting rid of CO2, even though we are NOT Global Warming Alarmists purporting Gloom and Doom, we still believe it is wise to cut down on pollution. So, one idea was to plant trees with UAVs. Yes the idea of planting trees using UAVs is something I have been working on for a while.

The seedling would be encapsulated in something like this (attached). I have another idea used to plant crops for Africans by dropping millions of self embedding seedlings, since they are too lazy to plant their own food. Just scatter them by the millions in places of "best chance" to grow.

Removing Urban Heat Footprints

Indeed the Urban Heat footprint of lets say the Los Angeles area is 462 square miles of concrete, inversion layers, 13.5 million people and 5-7 degrees hotter now. Wow, you know look at Pheonix, Las Vegas, Houston, San Antonio, Albuquerque, Orlando, Miami, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, etc. We have discussed 'glass or ceramic coatings' on roads to help absorb the heat to prevent the wild weather Cumulous Nimbus cloud formation.

Urban Heat is huge and real of course. If you look at computer modeling for suburb cities in let's say the US you can see the issues. 1-2 degrees in Pacific Ocean Surface temps gives us El Nino, but who knows the future with all that concrete, of course there are positives for parasails, dirigibles or lighter than air flying strategies due to the heat rising, but we need to cool the cities down about 4-5 degrees.

Humankind Can Rise to the Occasion to Curb Climate Change

I agree that any problem can be solved although if people just wish to argue over it, well I just say; "hey if you people ever get serious, then give me a call" but in my observation everyone just wants to have a political war to change the balance of power. I enjoy a good challenge or problem to solve, so I am not worried. Too many over reacting people out there.

Clean Coal technologies are on their way, we need to pay more attention to land-use strategies and such, mankind needs to stop breeding like rats, but, all is not lost. Perhaps you might like to think on this a bit?

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Global Warming Caused By the Green-House Effect

The green-house effect is the most important cause behind global warming. In fact global warming is known as the greenhouse effect. This phenomenon leads to an increase in the Earth temperature due to certain gases like CO2, nitrous oxide, and methane. These gases trap the energy from the sun and without them the heat would go back into space and Earth would be one massive iceberg. Since these gases warm the Earth, they are known as greenhouse gases.

In the last couple of decades, people have started using glass houses to grow plants in winter and these are called greenhouses. Typically, these houses will trap the heat from the sun. The glasses in the greenhouse let the light through and at the same time prevent the heat from escaping.

As a result, the greenhouse heats up to keep the plants alive in the winter. Similarly, the greenhouse gases in the Earths atmosphere work like the glass and prevent the heat from escaping. The sunlight enters piercing through the cloud of greenhouse gases and when it reaches the Earths surface, it is absorbed by land, water, and air.

After absorption the same energy is sent back into the atmosphere. Some of it remains trapped in the atmosphere due to the greenhouse gases and this energy makes the Earth warmer. Since there has been an increase in CO2 emissions in the last couple of decades, more and more heat is being absorbed in the atmosphere. This is increasing the temperature of the Earth gradually and causing global warming.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Create Your Own Climate Change

Create your own Climate Change.

The Sick Building Syndrome

Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) is a relatively new phrase in the vernacular of facility operations and management.
SBS is a result of internal toxic emissions, toxic materials, poor daylighting, heating, cooling and inefficient or outdated operational practices affecting the internal environment of your facility or residence. Remember the old lead paints? They were an example of a toxic product living in your building. The good thing is, our 'unhealthy' building is curable. We can heal our 'sick' building.

A sustainably designed building is not sick. It will have cured the illness! A sustainable building, by definition, must be healthy to live in.

As with the climate change issue, many in the past have been tempted to view the issue of SBS as an 'invention of the tree huggers.' But like climate change, the evidence for SBS can no longer be ignored!

What causes sick building syndrome?

There are many components that makeup 'SBS' and the emissions from these components contain many dangerous chemicals. Emissions can come from lack of fresh air through poor ventilation strategies to materials that emit cancer causing chemicals such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs ),like toluene, emitted by paints or materials such as carpets, laminex or particle board timbers, glues, curtains, plasterboards etc. Organic acids are also a major contributor to SBS. These are found in carpets and linoleums as well as glues etc. PVC found in pipes etc tends to be a long time emitter of chemicals. Don't forget the moulds found in all different parts of the building like air conditioning ducts and poorly ventilated laundries etc.
In addition there are important issues such as higher or lower indoor air temperatures, reduced daylighting, increased air conditioning, poor water quality and overall low levels of comfort found in a non sustainably designed facility.
Odours and pathogens are also a contributor to SBS and obviously have more impact in a Health facility such as an Aged Care or Hospital facility.
Then of course we have all the chemicals we wash our clothes or utensils in. We place these chemicals next to our skin, breathe them in or ingest them through using our utensils.
How much chemical residue is left on our plates and cups after washing up?

How serious is the problem of SBS?

Sick Building Syndrome is a major and growing issue on two principal fronts – firstly the measurable health impacts on those people living and working in the 'sick' buildings; and secondly because of the flow on effect these issues have for productivity and bottom line business viability. Why are we treating patients with cancer in hospitals where the environment of the hospital is full of cancer causing chemicals?

In a report from 2005, the Green Building Council of Australia cited over 1000 reports from around the world attesting to the importance of SBS and its negative impact on the inhabitants of buildings. The Environmental Protection Agency, USA, rates SBS as "one of the top 5 health issues of the 21st century". (EPA, 2003)

The EPA (USA 2005) indicates the internal building environment is 10-90% more toxic than the external environment! Surely important when people spend over 90% of time indoors! (CSIRO, 2005)
Symptoms of SBS, as cited in the Journal of the 'American Society for Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers' (ASHRAE), are "usually acute such as headaches and eyes and nose irritations" 1.
Acute Respiratory Illness (ARI) is just one prominent affliction resulting from a sick building. ARI is a major concern for all health facility operators
The longer term impacts of living in a chemically induced environment are yet to be established. But there is compelling evidence as to the costs of SBS (see below)

The World Health organisation, (WHO) 2004 says SBS affects:

• 1.34 million U.S. office buildings (OSHA)*

• 20 million U.S. workers daily (OSHA)

• 20-35% of workers in modern buildings (EPA)*

• Costs California about $6 billion annually (LBL)*

• The EPA (USA) said of healthy buildings in 2005:

• Healthy buildings can reduce illness and costs

So what do we do about SBS?
Committing to a sustainable approach to your building design and operations is the first major strategy in the war against SBS.
The ASHRAE Journal article by Bill Fisk, 2003, details a "drop of between 23-76% in ARI in sustainable buildings."
The benefits of this approach are applicable to new or refurbished buildings. In a new building the performance requirements of glazing, daylighting and ventilation are important considerations. Toxic emissions can be controlled by correct material selection, installation and operation procedures.
Refurbished buildings receive benefit as well. When renovating you are generally going to remove and replace heating, cooling, lighting and materials so sure to specify the low toxic and efficient versions. These will reduce your poor internal environment quality while improving efficiencies.
• In addition the costs of these materials or systems are generally equal to or not much more expensive than the traditional toxic product. Certain manufactures now offer low or non toxic paints, floor coverings, curtains, laminex, Particle boards etc in addition to PVC-free pipes and fittings. The range of these materials is increasing. It is important to also remember the measurable financial benefits gained from curing SBS in your facility. (See table below)

• Estimated annual staff productivity increase by $30 - 150 billion

• 10 - 30% reduction in respiratory diseases

• 20 – 50% reduction in SBS symptoms

• .5 - 5% improvement in office worker performance

• $17 -$ 43 billion annual health care savings

• $12 - $125 billion direct increase in worker productivity

• (WHO ,2004)

So where to from here?

The process of designing and constructing any facility whether it is new or refurbished, involves certain milestones that must be adhered to. In the case of a sustainable building, the first milestone is to decide you require a sustainable outcome from your facility. The next step is to accept SBS exists and then investigate and discuss the numerous solutions to the SBS issue. The outcomes from this process, if well coordinated and managed, provide the design backbone for a sustainable building outcome that is comfortable and healed from SBS.
A healthy building.

*OSHA –Office of Safety and Health Administration, USA

*LBL –Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, USA

*EPA- Environmental protection Agency. USA

*ASHRAE –American Society for Heating ,Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers.

1. Fisk, Bill (2003). "How IEQ Affects Health, Productivity"; Journal of the American Society for Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers. 2002