Waste worrier warriors

Natasha Mitchell's Science Friction is often worth listening to, but I generally only listen to the podcasts, so I can be quite a bit behind. So it was only at the end of May that I listened to "If we can mobilise around a pandemic, what next? Meet two revolutionaries already flouting the rules" One of the featured people called himself a zero waste pioneer; Joost Bakker. I had a neighbour in Sydney while I was growing up who probably comes closer to deserving such a title. This was a woman who saved and recycled the tops off milk bottles. Younger readers won't remember these, but they were little pieces of aluminium foil about the size of a 50 cent piece. This is in the 1960s ... before mob

The gig economy and the energy grid

The old-school energy grid is on the nose. It still dominates the global supply, but all the talk is of renewable grids dominated by the on-again off-again poster children of the renewable revolution; wind and solar. Like Donald Trump, these technologies reckon that if they keep saying they are doing a tremendous job, reality will eventually fall into line. Dealing with climate change makes it imperative that we decarbonise our energy infrastructure, but why focus on wind and solar to do it? Old-school grids are dominated by continuously running generators that you feed with fuel; be it uranium, coal, gas, thorium, recycled reactor waste, repurposed nuclear weapons material (a personal favo

Ian Lowe on #PlanetoftheHumans

Jeff Gibbs and Michael Moore have been finding out what it's like to throw a sacred cow onto a BBQ with their documentary Planet of the Humans. I've already written a previous short piece on this. Long time renewable advocate and anti-nuclear activist Ian Lowe has added to the chirruping critiques with a piece on The Conversation with the seemingly even handed title "3 times Michael Moore’s film Planet of the Humans gets the facts wrong (and 3 times it gets them right)". How does Lowe do? (1) Solar panels take more energy to produce than they generate (False according to Lowe) Lowe is correct to cite a simple payback argument to refute the claim. In brief, the cost of panels is largely a fu

Planet of the Humans missed LNG

Jeff Gibbs and Michael Moore didn't say much about LNG (liquified natural gas) in their inconvenient documentary Planet of the Humans. But LNG has been one of the spectacular winners in the "anything but coal [and nuclear]" mindset of international climate change campaigners. The expansion of gas production over the past 20 years has been has been globally spectacular and LNG has made it readily exportable. You can see that growth in oil and gas has outstripped growth in wind and solar, particularly over the past few years. Australia has joined the boom. We now have 11 massive LNG projects each producing more than a million tonnes of LNG per year (and many more smaller ones). We are the w

How do viruses jump species?

SARS-Cov-2 (the virus causing the Covid-19 disease) has jumped to us from another species. Which is how we got most other deadly infectious diseases ... measles (more on this below), flu, HIV, nipah, mumps, etc. The image above shows an artificially coloured scanning electron microscope image of a mass of yellow SARS-CoV-2 virus particles on a dying blue/green cell (Credit: NIAID). Some people think that the Chinese know exactly how the virus jumped and are deliberately covering it up. But the truth is simpler. The truth is that nobody knows exactly what happened and probably never will. Think about HIV ... studied intensively for decades. It jumped to us from monkeys and chimps but the exac

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