Tuesday, October 22, 2019

That wicked polystyrene is biodegradable after all

Sunlight Converts Polystyrene to Carbon Dioxide and Dissolved
Organic Carbon

Collin P. Ward et al.


Numerous international governmental agencies that steer policy assume that polystyrene persists in the environment for millennia. Here, we show that polystyrene is completely photochemically oxidized to carbon dioxide and partially photochemically oxidized to dissolved organic carbon. Lifetimes of complete and partial photochemical oxidation are estimated to occur on centennial and decadal time scales, respectively. These lifetimes are orders of magnitude faster than biological respiration of polystyrene and thus challenge the prevailing assumption that polystyrene persists in the environment for millennia. Additives disproportionately altered the relative susceptibility to complete and partial photochemical oxidation of polystyrene and accelerated breakdown by shifting light absorbance and reactivity to longer wavelengths. Polystyrene photochemical oxidation increased approximately 25% with a 10 °C increase in temperature, indicating that temperature is unlikely to be a primary driver of photochemical oxidation rates. Collectively, sunlight exposure appears to be a governing control of the environmental persistence of polystyrene, and thus, photochemical loss terms need to be included in mass balance studies on the environmental fate of polystyrene. The experimental framework presented herein should be applied to a diverse array of polymers and formulations to establish how general these results are for other plastics in the environment.


Can this world survive without fossil fuels?

“God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the Courage to change the things I can change; and the Wisdom to know the difference.”

The afore-quoted Serenity Prayer came to mind while I was writing this because it seems applicable to the world’s citizens who are trying to attain the leadership roles in the save the environment movement before understanding the complexities of the energy picture depicted Energy Made Easyin the book Energy Made Easy and the advantages energy as a whole has provided humanity for the last couple of centuries.

Because developed countries have accomplished much in the last few centuries, they have a responsibility as caretakers for the only planet we live on right now. Understandably, it’s hard to imagine the billions of people in underdeveloped countries who have yet to experience anything like the industrial revolution and who are surviving without any of the advantage’s fossil fuels are providing to the lifestyles of those in developed countries.

Yes, there are billions of people in undeveloped countries who are currently living in the low economy horse and buggy days that developed countries left behind a century ago after the assimilation in the early 1900s of the automobile and airplane into regular societal structure. They have yet to join the industrial revolution, and without oil and natural gas, they may never get that opportunity.

It’s almost impossible to understand that almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day. Today, across southern Asia, portions of Europe and parts of Africa and Australia, there are families attempting to live on virtually nothing. As hard as it is to believe it is a truism.

Can anyone comprehend that the homeless in America may be living a better life than 80% of humanity?

Imagine families living in dirt huts with no access to emergency medical care because there is no EMC. Their daily lives are bleak and hopeless. They watch their children, friends and relatives suffer and die early deaths from diseases/conditions that are curable using medicines and treatments brought about by developments using fossil fuel by-products.

With fossil fuels, the few of us in the developed countries can now survive in environments all over the world, even harsh ones like Antarctica. Every year, we fell forests and destroy other natural areas, driving species into smaller areas or into endangerment and some even to extinction, because of our need to build more housing to contain our growing population.

Today, the current world population of 7.7 billion is projected to reach 9.8 billion in 2050, and 11.2 billion in 2100. How many more trees will fall as unnatural selection takes its toll on the planet? Currently, underdeveloped countries, mostly from energy starved countries, are experiencing 11 million child deaths every year, and mainly from preventable causes.

Imagine the future atrocities to humanity for those trying to live in abject poverty if we deny the growing poor the benefits of medicines, heating and countless other developments made possible by fossil fuels, to ever achieve the lifestyle benefits afforded the few in developed countries from all those products we get from fossil fuels.

The Earth has been around 4.5 billion years. While our ancestors have been around for about six million years, the modern form of humans only evolved about 200,000 years ago. Civilization as we know it is only about 6,000 years old, and industrialization started in earnest only in the 1800s.

For nomadic tribes that ruled over thousands of years, their governmental powers were driven by horses, mules, and camels from the animal kingdom – true horse and buggy economies.

From those horse and buggy days a few centuries ago, those personal and commercial vehicles that did not exist before 1900 are currently estimated at 1.2 billion vehicles on the world’s roads with projections of 2 billion by 2035. By some estimates, the total number of vehicles worldwide could double to 2.5 billion by 2050.

Another thing we take for granted is air flight. My hat’s off to Wilbur and his not so congenial brother Orville. Imagine not being able to fly anywhere in the world today? The airlines that did not exist before 1900, transported more than 4.1 billion passengers in 2017 around the world and projections are 7.8 billion airline passengers by 2036.

In just the last few centuries every developed nation now has a military that consists of planes, ships, tanks, and troops with support structures that need constant transporting around the globe, as well as a multitude of infrastructures and products that provide for a comfortable lifestyle in their homelands.

Developed countries that are wealthier and healthier than underdeveloped countries have become dependent on the more than 6,000 products that are manufactured from petroleum and that includes fuel oils for heating and electricity generation, asphalt and road oil, fertilizers that help agriculture feed billions, and feedstocks for making the chemicals, plastics, and synthetic materials that are in nearly everything we use today.

Interestingly, the primary economic reasons that oil refineries even exist are NOT to manufacture the aviation, diesel, and gasoline fuels for today’s military and transportation industries. From one 42-gallon barrel of oil only about half is for fuels while the rest is used to manufacture the chemicals and by-products that are part of our daily lifestyles. Those billions in underdeveloped countries may not need transportation fuels, but they do need the other ½ of the barrel of oil for the thousands of products that have enhanced the lifestyle of those in developed countries.

As headstrong as the leaders of the new environmental movements are they are equaly ignorant of what “energy” means and the real reason fossil fuels are integral to the success of developed nations and the necessity of those fuels being made available to up and coming nations who want to enjoy the fruits and comforts of modern society.


More on global warming as a false religion

The problem of global warming, with it's coming "end of the world" narrative, has been grossly overestimated. In fact, David Webb, host of Fox Nation's "Reality Check," got it right when he referred to it as the "religion of the Left." Dr. Michael Brown also called it "the new religion of manmade global warming."

Brown said:

"It has its unique gods (like Mother Earth). It defies the created world (with seminarians confessing to plants in a chapel service). It has its high priests and religious leaders (the climate change gurus and radical environmentalists). It has its patron saints (like Sweden's Greta Thunberg). And it has its own doomsday scenario: The end of the world is near. Very near."

Webb also said, "After all it's the big New Green Deal [which is about climate change], which isn't the real deal, and America the prosperous is the Satan. Hey, every religion needs a Satan." So the religion of climate change even has a Devil.

Regardless of claims to the contrary, every attempt to prove a scientific consensus that greenhouse gases are causing global warming and precipitating an impending climate disaster has failed.

One thing about science is exact: its analysis of data is always changing. This is particularly true regarding predictions of future environmental disasters.

Myron Ebell and Steven J. Milloy of the Competitive Enterprise Institute have recently provided an impressive list of apocalyptic predictions made through the decades from notable people in government and science that have miserably failed.

"Such predictions have been and continue to be enthusiastically reported by a media eager for sensational headlines," say the authors, but "the failures are not typically revisited."

Indeed, the claims of science, the assertions of the experts, are ever being amended, but the Word of God stands forever. And the teachings of the Bible are at cross-purposes with the declarations of climate change advocates.

God made the world so delicate that if man's use of any fossil fuels raises carbon dioxide levels from 27 to 54 thousandths of one percent of the atmosphere, it will cause worldwide destruction? The contention is absurd. God made a better world, one that's able to adapt, and self-regulate to serve his eternal purposes for humankind.

There's one other factor that's not spiritual but political, which should be considered. Other nations from around the world, who by the way care nothing about religious liberty, are envious of America's prosperity. Climate policy, as dictated by the United Nations, would require America to give up its sovereignty and redistribute its wealth.

As John Edison, a free-lance writer from Atlanta, eloquently argues: "[T]axes would be used, not for environmental healing, but to fund the most massive redistribution of wealth in history, literally trillions of dollars extracted under false pretenses from hardworking U.S. taxpayers and given to corrupt governments of every underdeveloped nation on Earth, all in the guise of 'climate aid.'"

President Trump seems to have a keen sense of discerning a ruse when he sees one and recognizing a real problem, such as the lack of religious liberty around the world.

The President hasn't bowed the knee to the idolatrous image of global warming. As he said at the religious freedom meeting, our rights come from God. He's correct. And those inalienable rights would indeed be threatened by some stealth agenda behind climate hysteria, which pressures this nation to surrender to a form of global governance.


Monbiot’s Martyrdom

Monbiot is probably Britain's best known climate alarmist. It gives him something to say  -- and a sense of mission

Two days ago George Monbiot’s dearest wish was granted when he was arrested at an Extinction Rebellion event. The joy on his face as he is dragged along the ground is a sight to behold.

After the arrest, and after the cheers of the crowd have died down, he announces to the camera which has faithfully recorded the historical event:

So this just feels like the right place to be, the right thing to do, strange as that may sound. I just feel we’ve got to make as much of a stand as we possibly can to prevent ecocide. Politics as usual, that is ecocide, the destruction of the conditions that make life possible on this earth. And I’m standing up against that and I’m proud to be arrested for that cause.

In the accompanying article “Today, I aim to get arrested. It is the only real power climate protesters have” he describes how:

“By putting our bodies on the line and risking our liberty, we make this great neglected issue impossible to ignore.”

This “great neglected issue” is the one mentioned under the on-line article, indeed, under every single on-line article at the Guardian, which describes it thus:

"We will not stay quiet on the escalating climate crisis. This is the Guardian’s pledge: we will continue to give global heating, wildlife extinction and pollution the urgent attention and prominence they demand. The Guardian recognises the climate emergency as the defining issue of our times… We will inform our readers about threats to the environment based on scientific facts… the language we use accurately reflects the environmental catastrophe. The Guardian believes that the problems we face on the climate crisis are systemic and that fundamental societal change is needed. We will keep reporting on the efforts of individuals and communities around the world who are fearlessly taking a stand for future generations and the preservation of human life on earth."

The article, as you might expect from the title and video, is all about George and his new version of the White Man’s Burden; being condemned by fate to be not only white, but also educated and middle class, and silenced by an oppressive political system which limits his freedom of expression to one chance per week to address the five million plus readership of the world’s oldest and most prestigious left-of-centre news medium.

There are a couple of times when he refers to the world outside his head. First, in the only concrete reference to what he’s protesting about, he claims that:

“we know that, even with just 1C of global heating, climate chaos is already a bigger cause of forced migration than either poverty or political oppression.”

The link is to a paper (paywalled) whose publicity blurb claims that “Climate change is a more important driver than income and political freedom at origin together.”

Though we can’t read the source of this claim without forking out 39 dollars, there is another article by the same lead author on the same subject freely available whose abstract reads:

"This paper provides an overview of research into the phenomenon of whether climatic factors, such as temperature and weather‐related disasters, affect the decision to migrate. As an example, we examine migration flows from 198 countries to Australia for the time span from 1980 to 2015. Our results show that temperature does not have a robust, significant effect on migration flows, while weather‐related disasters do significantly affect flows to Australia."

Note that temperature change is NOT a factor, but weather-related disasters are. No mention of whether said disasters are getting more frequent, or whether they’re related to climate change. When a hurricane strikes, people tend to go somewhere else. But I think we knew that already.

Apart from this brief excursion into peer reviewed science, George sticks closely to the same script he’s been reciting for the past twenty years:

"…the big fossil fuel companies have used political funding, intense lobbying and gross deceptions of the public to overwhelm environmental protections and keep harvesting their massive profits. Those who confront them have no such power. We cannot buy television channels and newspapers, pour billions into political lobbying…"

Oh, can’t we? George also links to Extinction Rebellion founder Roger Hallam’s Dummies’ Guide to Saving the Planet, which is well worth a read. I particularly enjoyed the Foreword by “Anonymous Climate Activist” which begins:

"I was there. For the past 20 years. Climate activism. It didn’t work. We protested in our hundreds of millions – it didn’t work. We raised billions to reach people and politicians – it didn’t work. […] I was wasting my time. I had a clue back in 2007 that there might be a fundamental flaw in the reformist approach. The problem of the political influence of the industrial billionaires like the Koch Brothers and other fossil fuel bosses."

Raised billions? Really? And all the time our anonymous activist was wasting her time? Has anyone told George? Does he realise that the movement he so happily sacrificed his freedom for – getting dragged along the pavement by the oppressive forces of the state – has wasted billions, to no avail?

Billions wasted over twenty years, when everything could have been solved with a bit of glue and an inflatable pink octopus. That’s something to meditate on as he nurses his bruised bottom.


The culprit behind East Australia's big dry

It's not global warming after all. It's the "Indian Ocean Dipole"

When leading climate scientist Matthew England began work at a lab in Hobart in the mid-1980s, visitors were greeted by a huge graphic depicting a tight correlation between El Ninos and Australia's farm yields.

Any government minister would leave understanding that "we’ve got a tremendous amount of economic wealth" dependent on Pacific climate influences, making El Nino research "iconic", England says.

It turns out more attention should have been paid to the Indian Ocean.

As we have seen this year, conditions that drive El Ninos - relative sea-surface temperature differences between the western and eastern Pacific - have been neutral. But the counterpart ratio in the Indian Ocean has gone haywire. Known as the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), the gauge last week hit record levels.

In its so-called positive phase, tropical waters off Australia's north-west are relatively cool  - compared with those near Africa - strengthening easterly winds and reducing the potential convection that typically supplies much of south-eastern Australia's critical winter and spring rains. A negative IOD has the opposite effect.

“They used to think the Indian Ocean was a slave to the Pacific," says Cai Wenju, a senior climate researcher at the CSIRO, adding this year's IOD figures are "gigantic".

“The biggest clue" that the Indian Ocean could influence Australia independently came in 2007 and 2008 when the Pacific was in its La Nina phase, which should have raised the odds for good rains, Dr Cai said. Instead, the Millenium Drought was still playing out, and there were positive-phase IODs three years in a row.

"Sometimes, the El-Nino Southern Oscillation has copped a bad rap when it should have been the IOD," Andrew Watkins, head of long-range forecasting at the Bureau of Meteorology, says.

Australian researchers from the 1980s had started examining how relative warm or cool waters off Western Australia could affect rainfall over the continent. However, it took two papers published in Nature in 1999 by Japanese and North American scientists - including Australian Peter Webster - to tease out the potential of an independent IOD.

Scientists including England and Cai will gather in China next month to mark that 20th anniversary, with the IOD now a key component of Australia's and global weather and climate predictions.

Scientists caution that reliable observation data only goes back a couple of decades but it is clear this year's positive-IOD is already one of the strongest of record. So-called "reanalysis" using a combination of observations and modelling suggests the event is also notable over the past 150 years.

Nerilie Abram, an associate professor at the Australian National University, published work in 2009 that used coral cores among other data to push IOD estimates back to the mid-1800s. Research awaiting publication will look back 1000 years. While the current event is significant, her study suggests “perhaps the instrumental record doesn’t tell us the full range what’s actually possible in the Indian Ocean”.

The magnitude of an IOD appears to matter more for rainfall over south-eastern Australia than the El Nino-La Nina flux, the Bureau of Meteorology's Watkins said: "The stronger the IOD, the stronger the impacts ... for Australia, and maybe for Africa."

Another difference is that Indian Ocean conditions are more regulated by the seasonal cycle than the Pacific. Positive or negative IODs typically take form by May or June, peak around September and October, and break down in November to December as the monsoon shifts south, disrupting the easterly winds.

Poor winter and spring rains from positive IODs are not just bad for farmers. Those rains also supply much of the run-off that let our rivers run and fill the dams. Heatwaves are more severe and prolonged as soils dry out, removing the cooling function from evaporation, and setting up a busy bushfire season.

England says that while IODs can act independently of the Pacific, the connections remain important. For instance, the so-called Indonesian Throughflow - where warm water from the Pacific funnels its way to the Indian Ocean - could change.

"The predictions are for that to weaken," he says. "If it does, that would be a double whammy of more El Ninos plus more positive-IODs."



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1 comment:

C. S. P. Schofield said...

While I don't believe in age Global Warming religion for an instant, there is a flaw in many arguments against it; the idea that science is never about consensus. True, that is the Ideal, but in practice science is almost always about consensus, with change being gradual as young turks with little investment in the Accepted Truth publish papers that oppose it, and older men in established positions defend the theories that their eminence is based on. Oh, you get young drones who go along with the orthodoxy, and old mavericks the attack it, but in general shifts in the Orthodoxy happen as the old men whose careers are based on it retire or die.