Thursday, October 08, 2020

Whoa! New study claims planets’ ‘5 C degrees hotter’ than Earth are the ‘ideal’ temperature & ‘more habitable’ – If so, why is there global panic about potential 2 C rise in Temps?!

Earth is not necessarily the best planet in the universe for life, a new study has found.

Researchers have found some 24 planets that are “superhabitable”, offering conditions more suitable for life than they are here on Earth.

And some of them even have better stars than our own Sun, the researchers said.

The new study looked for worlds that would be even more likely to foster life than our own – including those that are older, bigger, warmer and wetter than Earth – in the hope of informing future searches for life elsewhere in the universe.

The study identified 24 of the “superhabitable” planets. They are all 100 light years away, making them difficult if not impossible to ever see up close, but research with future telescopes could give us much more information about those worlds.

With technological developments on board upcoming telescopes – such as NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the LUVIOR space observatory and the European Space Agency’s PLATO – researchers hope they may even be able to spot the signatures of life on distance planets.

“With the next space telescopes coming up, we will get more information, so it is important to select some targets,” said Dirk Schulze-Makuch, a professor at Washington State University and the Technical University in Berlin, who led the study.

“We have to focus on certain planets that have the most promising conditions for complex life. However, we have to be careful to not get stuck looking for a second Earth because there could be planets that might be more suitable for life than ours.”

Researchers identified a host of possible criteria for such superhabitable planets. They then looked through the 4,500 known planets outside of our solar system that have been found, in an attempt to identify which could have those important criteria.

That included looking for planets “K dwarf stars”, which are not like out sun. Those similar to our star – known as G stars – only have a relatively short lifespan, and given the Sun was almost half its age before any form of complex life arrived, many other similar planetary systems could die out before they are inhabited.

K dwarf stars, by contrast, are cooler, smaller and brighter than our sun. They also stay around for much longer – up to 70 billion years – meaning that the planets around them would have much more time to develop advanced life, too.

They also looked for planets that are about 10 per cent larger than Earth, with the idea that they are likely to have more habitable land. More mass would also mean that they would keep their interior heating longer, and stronger gravity to keep hold of its atmosphere for more time.

Superhabitable planets would also likely have a little more water than Earth, especially if it was kept as moisture. Being slightly warmer would also make a planet more habitable, with an ideal of about 5 degrees Celsius hotter than Earth thought to be the biggest improvement.

None of the 24 planets described in the study have all of the criteria, despite the vast number to choose from. But one of them has four of those criteria, meaning that it would theoretically be much more accommodating to life and more likely to be inhabited.

“It’s sometimes difficult to convey this principle of superhabitable planets because we think we have the best planet,” said Professor Schulze-Makuch. “We have a great number of complex and diverse lifeforms, and many that can survive in extreme environments. It is good to have adaptable life, but that doesn’t mean that we have the best of everything.”


How To Reduce Urban Overcrowding

Many Americans live in units that are small, heavily populated, and excessively subdivided, in other words, overcrowded. In pricey coastal cities, large segments of the professional class live like this too, causing people to believe overcrowding is an inevitable fact of urban life. It is not.

First I’ll clarify what is meant by “overcrowding.” To the untrained eye, a dense city with tall buildings might automatically seem overcrowded. Urbanists define overcrowding as what happens inside the buildings. Jane Jacobs made this distinction in The Death & Life Of Great American Cities:

“Overcrowding means too many people in a dwelling for the number of rooms it contains. It has nothing to do with the number of dwellings on the land.”

The YIMBY movement has expanded on this sentiment, noting how density—especially within tall buildings—actually prevents overcrowding.

Tall buildings put more units on a given parcel than short buildings, meaning more people can have their own apartments rather than living in apartments together. Single-family homes, by contrast, are technically one unit but have multiple rooms. If one person lives in each room of a 4-bedroom home, that means 4 people share the kitchen, bathrooms and other common areas. Assuming these are 4 unrelated adults, I would define this as overcrowded, or at least unpleasant, as it deprives people of privacy and space. The Berkeley-based graphic design artist Alfred Twu drew this distinction between density and overcrowding in a meme for the organization California YIMBY:

Many U.S. cities, thanks to restrictive housing policies, provide the lifestyle drawn on the left side. They have large populations and high demand, but are under-zoned, with a predominately single-family housing stock.

Los Angeles is the perfect example of this mix, with the lowest per capita home permitting rate since 2004 of 20 major metros I studied. Thus it is the nation’s most overcrowded city (again, despite appearing from bird’s eye view to be sprawling and dispersed). According to HUD, it has the highest percentage of overcrowded homes (defined as more than 1 person per room) of any U.S. city. Its “severe overcrowding” rate (more than 1.5 people per room) is almost double second-place San Francisco.

I was able to learn, when visiting Los Angeles during a recent cross-country tour, what this does to people’s lives. I met people, young and old, working and professional class, who crammed in small rooms in small apartments filled with many other such rooms, all occupied. Sometimes even those rooms were divided by curtains, and the subdividing would extend to non-bedrooms, with people sleeping on living room couches or in closets. I even visited hostels filled not only with tourists, but local residents who worked full-time, but could afford nothing better than a bunk in rooms with a dozen other strangers.

I found the same in San Francisco. Steven Buss, a local YIMBY activist and Google software engineer, told me that despite making a low-6-figure salary, he and his coworkers share apartments with roommates, in his case inside The Mission District. He said that his friends who made less lived in further out parts of the metro, in even more substandard conditions.

“Through our bad housing policies we made it impossible for people to get by on anything short of a six-figure income job,” wrote Buss recently by Facebook chat.

There is a simple solution: build more housing. This means changing the types of housing developers can build. Urbanist Daniel Herriges wrote for Strong Towns about how America’s current housing stock is mismatched from the nation’s changing demographics. Over 80% of homes and apartments are built with two or more bedrooms, but single adults living alone account for 28% of households. Meanwhile the percentage of households featuring unrelated adults sharing a home is the same as the percentage of nuclear families. That is why so many singles must live together—with people they may not even know—in homes designed for large families.

Developers are restricted—through DUA laws, minimum unit size laws, and other zoning regulations—from building more studio and 1-bedroom apartments that would satisfy this growing singles demographic. Allowing developers to build this would let a greater number of people have their own apartment, meaning they wouldn’t need to live together. That would help reduce urban overcrowding.


Tesla has built an accidental convertible

An owner in the US has had the roof fly off his brand new Tesla Model Y SUV just after taking delivery. The panoramic glass roof flew off as the new owner drove down the highway on the way home from the dealership.

A reddit user claiming to be the owner’s son has said “Tesla’s quality control is embarrassingly bad”. He was in the car at the time and they heard a lot of wind buffeting noise and thought a window was open.

But a minute after hearing the intense wind noise the entire glass panel lifted off.

The owner returned to the dealership where the son claimed the manager said either the seal for the roof was faulty, or the factory just forgot to seal the roof on.

After returning to the Tesla dealership the owner called the police to report that a glass roof panel was somewhere on the highway.

It isn’t the first time Tesla’s quality has been called into question.

In 2019 American organisation Consumer Reports — which is similar to Australia’s Choice — savaged the brand in its latest reliability report.

Numerous faults led Consumer Reports to give the Model 3 a “do not recommend” rating. The Model Y shares its underpinnings with the Model 3.

At the time common issues afflicting the Model 3 include faulty infotainment functions (including instances of screen freezing), faulty paint, randomly cracking rear windows and numerous other hardware issues.

There were also reports of bumpers falling off Model 3s during heavy rain storms.

Tesla has since stated that it has corrected those issues.

In June this year Tesla finished last in a US initial quality survey. The JD Power survey records any issues within the first 90 days of ownership. Tesla recorded 250 faults per 100 vehicles. Kia was the best with 136 faults per 100 vehicles.


Australian Mining giant BHP splits with Greens

Multinational resources giant BHP has split with the state’s powerful resource lobby after it urged Queenslanders to vote for anyone but the Greens.

Multinational resources giant BHP has split with the state’s powerful resource lobby over its foray into the state’s political campaign after it urged Queenslanders to vote for anyone but the Greens.

The company issued a statement in which it said it had given notice to the Queensland Resources Council that it was suspending its membership immediately after advertising that targeted a specific political party.

“BHP has expressed to the QRC on several occasions its opposition to this advertising approach and had formally requested that it be withdrawn,” the statement said.

“Unfortunately this has not occurred.”

BHP said it supported campaigns around policy issues that affected the mining industry and its workers, and the current approach was “not consistent with that contribution”.

It follows the QRC publicly calling for Queenslanders not to support the Greens party this October 31, and to preference them last.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said: “The Queensland Resources Council has made a decision in relation to the anti-jobs policies of the Greens that is in the best interests of Queensland mining and gas members and the 372,000 people and 14,400 businesses who rely on the resources sector for their livelihoods.

“The resources industry will continue to support the economy and jobs of Queenslanders despite the Greens wanting to shut the industry down.

“The current situation is so dire the QRC has to stand up for its industry, particularly people in regional areas.”

The council also put out a media statement welcoming Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s “promise of ‘no deals’, ruling out a power-sharing alliance with the Greens to stay in office”.

“Now is not the time to risk a single job in Queensland by voting for the Greens or by putting them anywhere but last on your ballot paper,” QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said.

“The Greens want to stop jobs in our sector and others.”

Mr Macfarlane said he would continue to warn Queenslanders about the risk to jobs of voting for or preferencing the Greens up until 6pm on election night.

Greens MP Michael Berkman issued a statement acknowledging BHP’s criticism.

“We know the vast majority of Queenslanders support raising mining royalties and it looks like BHP has acknowledged this by splitting from the QRC’s nasty campaign to attack the Greens,” he said.

“The Greens terrify the QRC because if we win, multinational mining corporations will have to pay more in royalties so we can invest in jobs, health and education.

“The ultimate question for this election is who benefits from Queensland’s enormous mineral wealth. The Greens are the only party who have proposed raising mining royalties so every Queenslander can benefit, so it’s no surprise the QRC has had a little meltdown.”



Preserving the graphics: Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere. But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life — as little as a week in some cases. After that they no longer come up. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together — which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here

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