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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

WW3 and fighting the terrorist


      It is clear from all the news channels that we are in WW3. It is us or them.

      My strategy is simple, we need to destroy the terrorist infrastructure. All armies have to have “Beans and Bullets” to fight, end the terrorist's productive capabilities and victory is ours. I have used the internet to backtrack their source of bullets and armament. The bullets are manufactured in a small armaments plant in Massachusetts, much of the guns and artillery comes from Illinois and Missouri. A few cruise missiles launched from submarines safely offshore, and BOOM, no more bullets or guns for the terrorist. I saw a picture of the terrorist armored personal carriers and backtrack that to a plant in Texas, about half way between San Antonio and Houston. Another easy target.

      The “Beans” are a little harder to take out. The food originates in an immense valley in California. This will probably need “agent orange”, or some kind of poison to handle.

      Once their infrastructure is destroyed we need to go after their source of funding. A little research online and I found the terrorist “money machine”. It is gas stations spread across the land. This is another easy target for aerial attack. We could launch ground attack fighter aircraft from aircraft carriers a safe distance offshore. Using slow and low flying drones to identify the individual gas stations the bombers could slowly take out each one.

      The war strategy I am proposing has no boots on the ground, this is exclusively an air campaign. We will need a few “Seal Team Six” guys wearing tennis shoes to repatriate our fly boys, maybe even recruit some local inhabitants to create safe zones. The locals appear to be heavily armed, so, the special force guys could train some locals to fight the terrorist.

      This is war and we have to play to win, no half measures.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A new Malthusian Trap


      The old world was populated with sustenance farmers, living from harvest to harvest. The new world is populated with sustenance employees, living paycheck to paycheck. We have progressed from being one step ahead of starvation to being two steps ahead of starvation. Modern societies have added safety nets that put us three steps from starvation. This progress didn’t come from the kind hearts of the elite, it was forced onto them by the masses. We have been part of a massive jail break from the Malthusian Trap. Have we truly escaped the Malthusian trap?

      The political economist Robert Malthus made a basic observation that in “every age and in every state” population increases are limited by the means of subsistence. Population will grow until the maximum food resource is completely used, plus, the rate of population growth always exceeds the rate of food growth. This is true of bacteria or humans. This Malthusian Trap, for humans, existed until the dawn of the industrial revolution. Now the income per person could dramatically increase, in the advanced nations anyways, then science produced the “green revolution” which increased food production beyond the basic needs of the world’s population. Scientific discoveries, combined with capitalist greed, had given human society a surplus of food with a surplus of wealth to purchase it. Scientist, economist and politicians all agreed that the Malthusian Trap had been defeated.

      The Industrial Revolution is based on energy. We had learned how to use the energy in hydrocarbons to drive a simple steam engine. The horse was replaced by the iron horse, our available energy increased by magnitudes. Advanced societies needed fewer farmers and more industrial employees, for the young their best future lay in becoming industrial craftsmen. Farming income increased and skilled workmen benefited from the bidding between industrial captains for their labor. All this increased wealth created a mass market for goods, which increased the need for industrial output, which increased the need for skilled craftsmen, a virtuous cycle was created. Cities could not maintain their population due to the mortality rate of communicable disease and hygiene. Again science stepped up, this time medical science, germ theory and sanitation saved civilization and the virtuous cycle first described by Adam Smith in “Wealth of Nations” rolled onward.

      Now we find ourselves in a new Malthusian Trap, this one caused by the waste product from burning hydrocarbons. The earlier cities were deadly because of our uncontrolled filth, now the entire world is becoming deadly because of our uncontrolled filth.

      Science has identified the problem and the solution. The problem? Nature had reached equilibrium by balancing respiration with photosynthesis, life converted carbon and water into sugars and free oxygen, and then life converted the same oxygen and sugars back into carbon and water. We have upset this balance by adding buried carbon in vast quantities to the biosphere. All this extra carbon alters the biosphere’s retention of solar energy and starts additional changes involving methane and water vapor. The solution? Leave the hydrocarbons in the ground, and we need to start with coal.

      Leaving the carbon in the ground, while maintaining an advance industrial society, requires another method of generating industrial quantity electrical power, known as the “base load”. The standard renewable energy sources, wind power, solar power, and geothermal power, cannot deliver the base load. The technology just isn’t up to the task. The only viable technological solution is nuclear power.

      The political supporters of renewable energy do not support nuclear energy. The anti-nuclear crowd is vocal and organized, they have the examples of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima to support their arguments. For some reason they are blind to the scientific advances in nuclear reactor design, their argument is the same as saying that because of the Hindenburg zeppelin disaster we must abandon airplanes. The design of generation IV and future generation V nuclear reactors answer all the horrors of the first and second generation nuclear reactors. A short list of 4th generation reactor benefits:

-          Nuclear waste that remains radioactive for a few centuries instead of millennia

-          100 to 300 times more energy yield from the same amount of nuclear fuel

-          The ability to consume existing nuclear waste in the production of electricity

-          Improved operating safety

      In realistic terms nuclear energy is our best available solution to hydrocarbon usage. We should devote federal research and development funds into nuclear reactor design and implementation. We need to substantially increase our commitment to basic scientific research of nuclear fusion and orbital solar power generation.

      Escape from our new Malthusian Trap requires understanding the problem and then supporting leadership with political courage. Individual involvement can defeat the power and money that is stifling this much needed change. Given the best information the general populace will make the best choice, the wisdom of crowds is valid when based on valid data. I have faith in the average citizen that is living paycheck to paycheck. We are smart enough, and brave enough, to do this.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Football, Fall & the Loss of Science


      The start of football, Sunday afternoon with professional NFL play, combined with a temperate day, not too hot, not too cool. I have the windows open, creating a gentle flowing breeze, allowing the condo to breath fresh air. Summer in Texas is brutal, every day is too hot with the occasional risk of heat stroke. For the very old and the very young the only safety is to hide inside a small confined box with the air conditioning cranked to maximum, this constricted life style wears on the mind. For months I have hid from the unbearable heat, I rush from condo to car, from car to store, I dream of escape from the air conditioner, I long for a cool summer day in New England. Finally the first sign of autumn, the football games have started. Last week I watched the Harvest Moon rise with great anticipation of that particular climatic feature we collectively call Fall. Today, mother Gaia has delivered on her promise. The windows are open and it feels terrific, I can watch broadcast football and pretend that I am connected to nature. I am free, no longer locked in isolation from my environment, no longer forced to breathe mechanically reprocessed air.

      The opportunity to maintain my fictitious rationalization of being Mr. Nature boy is short, in just a few weeks I will be forced back into the artificial constraints to escape the cold. The prefect weather of autumn passes so quickly, the memory will be buried in ice. All that is for tomorrow, today is to be enjoyed.

      The northern hemisphere is enjoying autumn while the southern hemisphere is enjoying spring, the whole world rejoices. The passage from hot to cold, or cold to hot, creates a short opening of perfection for modern man. If we lose our science and forget how to build air conditioners, if we are forced back into drafty buildings, complete with rats and plagues, the survivors would struggle to adapt. Out of 7.2 billion souls the greatest loss would be in the advanced nations, the inhabitants of third world nations would not even notice the loss of science. A modern advanced civilization cannot exist without modern advanced science.

      Rush Limbaugh, one of the intellectual leaders of the Republican Party, has declared “Science is the propaganda arm of the Democratic Party”. That a little less than half of the American population has proclaimed science as invalid and destructive of society is troubling. Not only would we lose air conditioning, we would lose medical science. No more airplanes or automobiles or computers, how do you build a skyscraper without science? The leading thinkers of the Republican Party claim that education is socialist propaganda, that the internet and the corporations that dominate the internet, such as Google and Facebook, are controlled by the communist party. I have to wonder, did Walmart have a sale on tin foil hats?

      This ideology is not a secret, the Republicans will tell you that the secret is the international conspiracy of scientist. Rick Perry, the republican governor of Texas has proclaimed his intention to “fix” the University of Texas. The Texas State board of Education, under Republican leadership, have rewritten the public school history books to reflect how Moses created America’s democracy, the religious beliefs of Creationist is now considered science.

      I do not understand how an advanced technical society can intentionally abandon science. What happens when we can no longer design and build the world’s most advanced jet fighter? My greatest fear is that we will no longer have instant replay for questionable football plays, even worse, what if I find myself on the perfect autumn afternoon and there is no sports broadcast?

      Enough of my rambling return to blogging for now, the noon game is over and I have to change channels for the 3 o’clock game.