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I've taken some shots at Australian climate skeptic David Evans in a previous diary about one of his odd theories. But I do have to give Evans his props in one regard: unlike some others in the skeptic community, he has the guts to put his money where his mouth is. Evans is darn sure that the IPCC is wrong about how hot it's going to get, and he has laid a series of bets with Brian Schmidt, who blogs under the nom-de-net Eli Rabett (caution: bunny puns fill the Rabett's blog), on the five-year average GISS global surface temperature in the years 2019, 2024, and 2029.

What Evans apparently doesn't realize is that because of the thermal inertia of the oceans, within narrow bounds we can already predict what global temperatures will be in 2019, 2024, and 2029. And David Evans is going to lose his shirt.

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It's been a long time coming, but the EIA has finally updated its numbers on US energy subsidy levels. The latest data is for FY 2013, while the previous version was for FY 2010. Once again, wind energy comes out on top in total subsidies received, and once again solar leads (by far) in subsidy per MWh generated.
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You may have already read about the video that's been going viral in China like nothing else recently: a nearly two-hour documentary by investigative reporter Chai Jing into the causes, effects, and remedies for China's massive air pollution problems.

NPR:

Two hundred million and counting: That's how many times a documentary about China's massive air pollution problem has been viewed online since the weekend. Environmentalists are hailing it as an eye-opener for Chinese citizens.
The Guardian:
It has wedged open a relatively opaque window on facts and figures, lifted the lid on how lax the system is on polluting industries, and how serious pollution is all across China – not just in the symbolic capital of Beijing.
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March 5, 2015

The Hon. Gov. Jay Nixon
Jefferson City, MO

Sir:

The release today of the report of the US Justice Department task force regarding the situation in Ferguson has, I hope, been cause for serious thinking and sober reflection throughout the state of Missouri. There is, however, a quick and decisive remedy at hand for one of the issues raised by the report, a remedy that I hope you might be willing to contemplate. Consider the reaction if you were to give the following speech:

"My fellow citizens. The events of the past few months in Ferguson and elsewhere in Missouri have been trying for many of us. A few days ago, the United States Department of Justice released a report that showed serious patterns of racism within law enforcement and the courts, including large racial disparities in stopping, arresting, and sentencing of offenders. Further, it is now clear, both from the Justice Department report and from reports of news organizations, that many cities and towns within Missouri have been using the police and the courts as a means of raising revenue, rather than for their intended purpose of public safety. And because of these unaddressed patterns of racism within law enforcement, these revenues have been primarily, and unfairly, raised on the backs of minority communities, particularly African-Americans.

"Putting it plainly, this is a perversion of our system of justice and of our way of life. America was founded on a system of taxation with representation as the only legitimate way to raise revenue in a democratic society. Using the police and the courts in this manner leads to a culture that has little respect for the law, both among the public and among those who police us. And it must stop.

"Today, acting under my constitutional authority as Governor, I have therefore issued a blanket clemency for all outstanding fines within the State of Missouri for any and all minor traffic violations – not including DUI. Let me emphasize that this is a clemency, and not a pardon. If you were speeding and got a ticket, you are still guilty, it will still go on your driving record, you will still get points, and it is possible your insurance rates will still go up. However the fines for such offenses have been forgiven with this clemency order. Further, I will be issuing similar clemency orders every month for the rest of my term in office.

"City councils throughout the state that have been relying on their police departments for revenue are therefore put on notice: starting today, your budgets will have to change. From now on, police departments will have to be sized according to the amount of actual crime they need to deal with, instead of the number of motorists they can trap with a radar gun.

"No governor can wipe out decades or even centuries of racial prejudice in our society with an executive order. But we can make sure that stains on the honor of our state are not repeated, by taking steps to rebuild trust in the rule of law."

When problems arise, it is the duty of those in positions of leadership to lead. You have the means at your disposal, Governor, and I hope you will consider using them.

Sincerely,

Keith A. Pickering

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It's still early, but:

The study shows that the new drug candidate blocks every strain of HIV-1, HIV-2 and SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus) that has been isolated from humans or rhesus macaques, including the hardest-to-stop variants. It also protects against much-higher doses of virus than occur in most human transmission and does so for at least eight months after injection.

"Our compound is the broadest and most potent entry inhibitor described so far," said Michael Farzan, a TSRI professor who led the effort. "Unlike antibodies, which fail to neutralize a large fraction of HIV-1 strains, our protein has been effective against all strains tested, raising the possibility it could offer an effective HIV vaccine alternative."

Because this HIV inhibitor is a protein and not an antibody, an innocuous virus could be engineered to make it, and this virus could be injected into the body. Therefore:
Once injected into muscle tissue, like HIV itself, the vehicle turns those cells into "factories" that could produce enough of the new protective protein to last for years, perhaps decades, Farzan said.
http://medicalxpress.com/...
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A new analysis by the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project finds that our non-fossil energy future is economically feasible, but has widely varying costs, depending in part on the chosen technology mix.

Human civilization depends on food, food depends on weather, and weather depends on climate. Every grain and every mammal on the face of the earth – almost everything we eat – evolved under a different climate than the one we're heading toward. We are running toward a cliff, and merely walking toward that cliff isn't a viable strategy. We need to stop. Right now.
If civilization is to survive, we need to get to zero emission of fossil carbon, and we need to get there rapidly. Every ton of carbon we emit stays in the air for centuries, and will continue to warm the planet for centuries.

In this series GETTING TO ZERO we will take a very hard-headed look at current energy policy and energy strategies. We will ask hard questions: does this really get us to zero? How much would it cost? How rapidly can it be deployed? We may find some answers along the way, but don't expect them to be easy.

This diary is Part V of GETTING TO ZERO: Our non-fossil energy future.

Part I of GETTING TO ZERO: The size of the problem.
Part II of GETTING TO ZERO: Is renewable energy economically viable?
Part III of GETTING TO ZERO: Why energy efficiency will not save us.
Part IV of GETTING TO ZERO: The hidden CO2 emissions from renewables.

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Reprinted in its entirety, with permission, from Brave New Climate.

Also posted at Conservation Bytes.

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Putting solar and wind power on the grid causes fossil plants to emit more CO2 than they would have otherwise.

Human civilization depends on food, food depends on weather, and weather depends on climate. Every grain and every mammal on the face of the earth – almost everything we eat – evolved under a different climate than the one we're heading toward. We are running toward a cliff, and merely walking toward that cliff isn't a viable strategy. We need to stop. Right now.

If civilization is to survive, we need to get to zero emission of fossil carbon, and we need to get there rapidly. Every ton of carbon we emit stays in the air for centuries, and will continue to warm the planet for centuries.

In this series GETTING TO ZERO we will take a very hard-headed look at current energy policy and energy strategies. We will ask hard questions: does this really get us to zero? How much would it cost? How rapidly can it be deployed? We may find some answers along the way, but don't expect them to be easy.

This diary is part IV of GETTING TO ZERO: Our non-fossil energy future.

Part I of GETTING TO ZERO: The size of the problem.
Part II of GETTING TO ZERO: Is renewable energy economically viable?
Part III of GETTING TO ZERO: Why energy efficiency will not save us.

Continue Reading

Sometimes a brilliant scientist, working alone, discovers something very, very important and nobody notices.

Human civilization depends on food, food depends on weather, and weather depends on climate. Every grain and every mammal on the face of the earth – almost everything we eat – evolved under a different climate than the one we're heading toward. We are running toward a cliff, and merely walking toward that cliff isn't a viable strategy. We need to stop. Right now.

If civilization is to survive, we need to get to zero emission of fossil carbon, and we need to get there rapidly. Every ton of carbon we emit stays in the air for centuries, and will continue to warm the planet for centuries.

In this series GETTING TO ZERO we will take a very hard-headed look at current energy policy and energy strategies. We will ask hard questions: does this really get us to zero? How much would it cost? How rapidly can it be deployed? We may find some answers along the way, but don't expect them to be easy.

This diary is part III of GETTING TO ZERO: Our non-fossil energy future.

Part I of GETTING TO ZERO can be found here.
Part II of GETTING TO ZERO can be found here.

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Those who follow Elon Musk's "other" company, Space Exploration Technologies, already know that SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket booster is on the verge of becoming re-usable, a milestone that will drop the cost of getting into orbit by several times.

On September 21, a SpaceX Dragon capsule was launched to resupply the International Space Station. During that flight, the first stage of the Falcon 9 went through a series of maneuvers that will eventually allow a fully controlled landing and recovery of the first stage. (Since the first stage contains nine of the ten rocket engines on the Falcon 9, its recovery and re-use represents recovery of most of the value of the rocket.)

Two NASA aircraft with infrared cameras captured this amazing video showing the first stage during its post-separation maneuvers and engine re-start. The data obtained by NASA will be analyzed for use in a possible Mars entry and landing mission. Before the Falcon 9 did it, no rocket had ever flown through its own exhaust plume for any significant amount of time, which would be required for some types of Mars entry missions.

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The Sun and the wind, we are told, will last forever. Also tides, rivers, and the heat of the earth. So energy based on those sources will last forever too: that's renewable energy.

Now that's not literally true, of course: In a billion years or less, the Sun, expanding to its red giant stage, will strip the Earth of its atmosphere. After that, no more wind power, no more rain, and no more rivers as the oceans boil away. And no more people either, at least on this planet. So a "renewable" resource won't literally last forever; but if it lasts a billion years or so, that will suffice for the lifetime of human civilization here on Planet A. (There is no Planet B. At least not currently.)

Fossil fuels are not renewable. There is a fixed amount in the ground, and we are digging them up and pumping them up at ever-increasing rates. This is clearly unsustainable, for more reasons than one.

And then there's nuclear power, based on uranium resources. Many people believe that we're running out of uranium, that global resources will soon be depleted, and for that reason it makes no sense to use nuclear power in the long term.

But follow below the orange atom as we discover why we will never run out of nuclear fuel, not even in a billion years, and why it will always be cheap, even in the End Times.

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I learned to fly when I was 3. Well okay, Dad took me flying and let me steer. Or he let me think I was steering. But I sure felt like I learned to fly, and I've been an aviation enthusiast and booster ever since.

That's why I'm so disturbed by this week's exposé of shoddy quality control and construction practices by Boeing in building the 787 Dreamliner, particularly at the Charleston, SC plant. (Charleston is one of two final assembly plants for the 787; the other is in Everett, Washington. Charleston is the non-unionized one.) The reporter is Al-Jazeera's Will Jordan.

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