Archive for September, 2006

Senator Specter Speaks out for the Constitution

September 29, 2006

Bush’s latest gutting of the Constitution, with Congress obligingly cutting the federal courts out of the loop with regard to the legal rights of “detainees” has shown at least one Republican who has read, believes in, and will stand up for the rights in the founding law of our land:

Editorials Hit Congress on New ‘Terror’ Bill

See also: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/25/washington/25cnd-detain.html 

Senator Spector introduced an amendment to retain habeas corpus for detainees — that is the right to challenge their imprisonment. That’s a right that has predated the Constitution for centuries.  Hear, hear, Senator Spector!

My message to him: Thank you for attempting to uphold the constitution and habeas corpus, and to maintain some check and balance while detaining international prisoners. Thank you for helping to keep America the America that we were taught — one that values civil rights, due process, and three branches of government.  Thank you for speaking out that we should not abandon our guiding principles because of fear, that we should not blind ourselves to the abuses that any secret system is bound to inflict, that we should not silence the few caught in a system designed to imprison them who ask for evidence, a court and a fair hearing. Thank you for caring, speaking your conscience, and being an American leader, a hero, for what America really stands for.

Advertisements

The (Possible) Silver Bullet for Global Warming: A Call for Research into Ocean Iron Fertilization

September 20, 2006

REDUCING CARBON EMISSIONS IS NOT ENOUGH 

The September 2006 Scientific American (www.sciam.com) issue was dedicated to the topic of reducing release of carbon dioxide for energy purposes.  The model of such reductions, identifying “wedges” of carbon savings from conservation, nuclear, hydrogen, etc. includes carbon sequestration from powerplants.  This all makes sense and provides a solid framework to bring carbon emissions under control, as I point out in a posting on the issue.

However, it may not be enough.  All indicators are that even if no additional carbon was released into the atmosphere, temperatures would still increase for the next 50 years or so.  And, unfortunately and stupidly, it may take 10 years for government policies and the American will to make significant progress on cutting back our carbon emissions.  As many scientists have noted, the tipping point for massive climate change may already have been passed, or at least is eminent.  A silver bullet is needed, and may be desperately, vitally needed within the next 10 years.

CONSUMING ATMOSPHERIC CARBON

If we can’t or won’t dramatically reduce our production of atmospheric carbon, can we dramatically increase the natural elemnts that consume CO2? While forests do consume CO2, we are fairly rapidly cutting them down, rather than planting more (and they take decades to mature).  The cost of planting acres of forests gets to be impractical when millions of acres are needed, which must come from other uses, such as agriculture.  All estimates are that little significant impact can be made through the most agressive forestation program. Just slowing down the rainforest decimation would be a good start, and so far, that’s not really happening. 

Is there anything that could possibly completely solve the atmospheric carbon problem in a relatively short timeframe? That is, is there any candidate for a “silver bullet”?

THE IRON HYPOTHESIS

The answer is yes, there is a candidate: ocean iron fertilization.  It turns out that there are large areas of the world’s southern oceans that are iron-poor.  Iron is a critical nutrient to phytoplankton (algae), and in these areas, fertilizing the ocean with some iron results in increased phytoplankton growth immediately.  These little buggers consume tons of atmospheric CO2, so a little bit of iron would seem to cause consumption of as much CO2 as many thousands of acres of mature forests.  This is called “The Iron Hypothesis” and was first put forth by John Martin, a former director of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, and the effect has been proven.

The oceans are so vast, and so little iron is needed to cause lots of phytoplankon to grow and consume lots of CO2 that Martin once famously said, “Give me a half tanker of iron, and I will give you an ice age.”  The question is, can we responsibly get the right amount of CO2 consumption to counteract the doubling of CO2 in the air by manmade sources.

RESEARCH, PLEASE

Please notice I said “candidate”. As you can guess, the approach is not without controversy. Dumping iron in the oceans? What are the ecological impacts? Well, phytoplankton is the bottom rung on the food chain, so it is possible/probable that there is a side benefit of a more robust ocean ecology in general. Its possible there are profound negative effects. Too much of the wrong type of algea and you might get a nasty bloom. Maybe the carbon would eventually recycle to the atmosphere. We don’t know  — and that is my point. 

RESEARCH, NOW PLEASE

We had better find out, and soon.  Planktos at www.planktos.com is offering a program for “Carbon Remediation through Creative Eco-Restoration”, so commercialization has begun, which is not a bad thing on a limited scale. Moreover, Planktos is emphasizing RESEARCH. If the carbon credit trading markets take off, it would not take much for iron seeding to have its own bloom- its very cost-effective. I just like verification before engaging in planetary-scale climate manipulation.

Besides requiring coal burners to snuff their carbon belching, seeding our oceans may be one of the only truly effective options that we have to balance the carbon in the atmosphere. Come a few decades and a few feet of higher oceans, somebody (like us) may be desperate enough to blindly dump iron in the ocean like crazy.  We need solid research on moderate scale ocean iron seeding to understand the do’s and don’ts. Done wrong, the potential downsides could be as significant as the upsides.

A billion spent on RESEARCHING this potential solution might just safely stave off a massive climate change worldwide.

So, along with driving less, buying a hybrid, and doing what you can to reduce your own carbon emissions, contact your congresspersons and urge them to invest in researching a real potential silver bullet to climate change

References:

US Dept. of Energy: Ocean Carbon Sequestration Abstracts  http://cdiac2.esd.ornl.gov/ocean.html

John Martin and the Iron Hypothesis:  http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Library/Giants/Martin/martin_4.html

Summary of Moss Landing research: http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/002056.html

[more reference to come]

For Sale: One Iraq War, stinky and not so cheap

September 14, 2006

Following the one-two media slam by ABC and Bush on 9/11/06, I sent this Letter to the Editor of the San Jose Mercury News:

There is a rule in sales: lead with your weakness. Bush and company are doing this full tilt. With their platform singularly being fear and the “war on terror”, they have to claim that the Iraq war has made us safer. But has it?
  Which is safer? A known, isolated tyrant, or a violent “wild west” anarchy that both encourages and harbors terrorists? Which would result in a safer Middle East? Continued sanctions, embargoes and inspections, or a country embroiled in a civil war, where our troops struggle to prevent thugs, gangs and terrorist cells from committing carnage? Which would have been more effective? Which would have cost fewer hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives?
  Shame on Mr. Bush for using the 9/11 tragedy to sell his policy and military mistakes as protection. Shame on us if we buy the stinking mess in Iraq as “security”. 

Is ABC that stupid?

September 7, 2006

 ABC is about to air a Clinton-bashing 6-hour-long propaganda movie, “The Path to 9/11”. See the Act for Change page:  http://www.workingforchange.com/activism/action.cfm?itemid=21317&afccode=htcct5

I had this to say (some text supplied by the Act for Change template):

If you want a BOYCOTT of ABC, please air your Sept. 11th “docu-drama”

I have three things to say regarding your Clinton-bashing piece by an awoved conservative activist — a scant two months before the national election: boycott, boycott, boycott.

If you want to see all kinds of activists target ABC for airing Bush-loving propaganda, go ahead — make our day. I’m sure there will be more than a few letters to the FCC regarding your stations.

I look forward to your reply to my letter. Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

Mr. Rand Wrobel