Archive for July 2012

BC Liberal Announcement on Pipelines Uninspiring

23 July 2012

23 July 2012 – Environment Minister Terry Lake & Minister for Aboriginal Relations Mary Polak today outlined five requirements for new pipeline projects1.

There was nothing in this announcement that comes as a surprise to anyone. Energy corporations are already ahead of the BC Liberal government’s requirements.

1. Environmental review is already part of the process.
2. Oil corporations already claim to have world class marine oil spill response, prevention and recovery.
3. Oil corporations already claim to have world class land oil spill response, prevention and recovery.
4. Oil corporations already tout their relationships (real or imagined) with first nations.
5. Oil corporations already tout economic benefits of their projects and no doubt have planned long in advance for greasing the wheels as needed in the province.

Unfortunately, development is also already ahead of regulation and technology. Past spills from Exxon Valdez to BP and countless more demonstrate that we really don’t have regulatory frameworks nor technology in place to prevent or respond adequately to spills of even ‘normal’ crude oil. Tar Sands bitumen is a much more complex and dangerous beast.

Bitumen already flows through the Fraser Valley via Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline. The proposed twinning of Trans Mountain and construction of Northern Gateway would vastly increase the flow of bitumen across BC and the flow of tankers on our coast. The Kalamazoo River spill demonstrates clearly that we do not have the technology to clean up a bitumen spill, despite what may be the best intentions of regulators and pipeline companies.

The BC Liberals today announced “Business as Usual!” and demonstrated their commitment to growing the economy of the past century while externalizing costs onto future generations.

Business as usual is not what BC needs.

Green BC
British Columbians do not subscribe to the gold-rush mentality that pervades energy policy in BC and Canada today. We recognize that decisions we make today will have impacts beyond our borders and beyond our lifetimes. We need a new ‘usual’.

The Green Party of BC offers that new usual. Greens favour an energy system that is diverse both geographically and technologically. In this, the 21st century, we have a range of clean, renewable energy options that can meet our needs while creating good, long-term jobs in BC and new markets for British Columbian products and know-how across the globe.

We have some catching up to do. Germany for example recently produced nearly half of it’s national electrical needs using solar power2.

It’s time to let fossils lie and move to a Green future.

1 http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2012/07/british-columbia-outlines-requirements-for-heavy-oil-pipeline-consideration.html

2 http://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/green-tech/solar/germany-meets-half-its-energy-demand-from-solar-briefly

Fear, Denial and Geoengineering

21 July 2012

I commented recently on an article titled “Fear of Climate Change May Finally Be Trumping Ideological Denial” on Huffington Post. The article, with comments below, can be read here.

My comment drew a reply by bobt755907 that said I “have the makings of a great Science Fiction writer.”

I wish!

I asked bobt755907 to point out the fiction in my original post and he (I presume it’s ‘he’) said to give him facts and he would respond.

I attempted to do that, but my follow-up reply seemed to be too long to post there. So I am posting it here and linking.

My original post there was:

Greenhouse gases are long lived and climate has great inertia. Climate change creates it’s own amplifying loops in melting polar & glacial ice, melting permafrost, warming oceans, wildfires, etc. Fear will unite and motivate us while climate change continues to get worse. Everything we can do to cut emissions and sequester carbon will provide a cure that takes a couple of centuries to show much result. A fearful and suffering global populace will demand quicker action and so motivate governments to turn to geo-engineering to correct the climate. This may well be a greater threat to humanity and the planet than climate change itself. We must resist the temptation to look for a quick fix and guide generations to stay the course. It is a unique challenge in human history.

Support point by point follows.

Greenhouse gases are long lived
C02 50-200 years, methane not so bad at 12 years, N2O 120 years.
source: links from http://epa.gov/climatechange/science/causes.html

climate has great inertia
“Thus it requires centuries for Earth’s surface temperature to respond fully to a climate forcing.”
source: http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/hansen_16/

Climate change creates it’s own amplifying loops in melting polar & glacial ice, melting permafrost, warming oceans, wildfires, etc.

Feedback loops: Forests:
“Canada’s forests have become carbon sources, releasing more carbon into the atmosphere than they are accumulating in any given year.
Several factors have contributed to this shift. The annual total area burned by wildland fires has increased substantially. Unprecedented insect outbreaks have occurred. And annual harvest rates have shifted dramatically in response to economic demand, increasing in the 1990s and decreasing sharply with the global economic recession.”
source: http://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/pages/36

Feedback loops: Sea Ice:
“This results in a positive feedback loop called ice albedo feedback, which causes the loss of the sea ice to be self-compounding.”
source: http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/environment/arctic_minimum.html

Feedback loops: Glaciers (etc):
“As glaciers, the polar caps, and in this case, icebergs melt, less sunlight gets reflected into space. It is instead absorbed into the oceans and land, thus raising the overall temperature, and adding energy to a vicious circle.”
source: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2003/1023esuice.html

Feedback loops: Permafrost:
“As the melting caused by a warmer climate could release some of the large amounts of methane now locked into the frozen soil, this might add substantially to the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”
source: http://www.ec.gc.ca/eau-water/default.asp?lang=En&n=3E75BC40-1#Section33

Feedback loops: Warming oceans:
“the global average RF of surface waters today appears about one unit higher than the pre-industrial values. Thus, the surface ocean today is less efficient at taking up CO2 than the preindustrial ocean providing a positive feedback.”
source: http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/sabi2854/future.shtml

Fear will unite and motivate us while climate change continues to get worse.
“The mental habits that help us navigate the local, practical demands of day-to-day life, they say, make it difficult to engage with the more abstract, global dangers posed by climate change. “
source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/opinion/sunday/were-all-climate-change-idiots.html

As more people are directly affected, more will look for answers. We don’t respond well to abstractions, but when the problem hits home people start to take action and demand action. One example would be the National Peoples Tribunal on Climate Crisis organized by Oxfam and others in India.

“The Tribunal will send a string message to the COP and world leaders that people are out in the streets to force them to take responsibility and conclude a just and fair deal to arrest these impacts on people who have no role in bringing about this crisis.” [sic]
source: http://www.oxfamindia.org/content/national-peoples-tribunal-climate-crisis

Everything we can do to cut emissions and sequester carbon will provide a cure that takes a couple of centuries to show much result.
“CO2-induced climate change is known to be largely irreversible on timescales of many centuries, as simulated global mean temperature remains approximately constant for such periods following a complete cessation of carbon dioxide emissions while thermosteric sea level continues to rise”
source: http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v4/n2/full/ngeo1047.html

A fearful and suffering global populace will demand quicker action and so motivate governments to turn to geo-engineering to correct the climate.
“Concerns were growing that high prices could trigger a food crisis like that in 2008, when food shortages triggered riots in some countries.”
source: http://www.canadiancattlemen.ca/news/u-s-corn-soy-hit-record-highs-stir-food-crisis-fear/1001557437/70svy3Wrq4o4r50sxM2vx/?

“Geoengineering, or the deliberate large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment, is increasingly being discussed as a potential strategy to counteract anthropogenic climate change.”
source: http://www.ipcc-wg3.de/meetings/expert-meetings-and-workshops/em-geoengineering/

“A small group of leading climate scientists, financially supported by billionaires including Bill Gates, are lobbying governments and international bodies to back experiments into manipulating the climate on a global scale to avoid catastrophic climate change.”
source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/feb/06/bill-gates-climate-scientists-geoengineering

This may well be a greater threat to humanity and the planet than climate change itself. We must resist the temptation to look for a quick fix and guide generations to stay the course.
“If any hypothetical geoengineering program were to fail or be cancelled for any reason, a catastrophic, decade-long spike in global temperatures could result, along with rates of warming 20 times greater than we are experiencing today.”
source: http://carnegiescience.edu/news/geoengineering_quick_fix_big_risks

“If you put CO2 in the atmosphere it has a very long lifetime, and you are basically giving a poison gift to your children. By relying on geo-engineering you are equally putting a burden on future generations to continue those projects — potentially for centuries.”
source: http://www.see.ed.ac.uk/~shs/Climate%20change/Geo-politics/Boucher%20geoengineering.html

It is a unique challenge in human history.
I think this goes without saying.

Back to you bobt755907.
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Virtualbox

10 July 2012


Just a quick happy post.

I have an old program I really, really need that was running on an ancient Compaq laptop. I know I need to get a newer version of the program running, but setup is a long process with a gazillion details and I just haven’t got it done. Transferring the old version database to a new version of the program hasn’t worked.

So of course the ancient laptop, which was kind of running on life support already, died.

I put the hard drive in a USB case and had read errors. Scary! So I tried an internal 2.5″ to 3.5″ adapter in my desktop machine and it worked!

Next, to preserve the original data and get a copy running in a virtual machine.

Made a disk image with
dd if=/dev/sdb of=compaq_28apr12.img
(yeah that was a while ago. Haven’t had much time to mess around with this.)

Converted the disk image with
VBoxManage convertfromraw compaq_28apr12.img compaq_13may12.vdi

After that, I could boot the disk image as a guest OS in Virtualbox, but X failed with “no devices”. Xorg.conf examples I found online all seemed to point to installing Virtualbox Guest Additions in the guest OS, so following instructions I booted my image and in the Virtualbox “Devices” menu clicked “Install Guest Additions” then confirmed in “Devices -> CD/DVD Devices” that VboxGuestAdditions_x.xx.iso was enabled.

That makes the Guest Additions ISO available to the guest OS as a CD. Next step was to mount the CD with
mount /dev/cdrom /media/cdrom
go there
cd /media/cdrom
and run the appropriate script, in my case
./VBoxLinuxAdditions-x86.run
since my guest OS is 32-bit. The alternative would have been VBoxLinuxAdditions-amd64.run if my guest OS had been 64 bit.

After that completed I rebooted the guest OS with
shutdown -r now
and when it came back up I had X running, better mouse integration, a larger Virtualbox window and probably more benefits that I haven’t noticed yet.

Old program lives on! I am so grateful to the good and smart people who make these tools available to people like me.

(One of these days I’ll switch to the newer version of the program…just need some time to work on it….)