GPS Blog: Environmental News and Discussion

"If you are under 25, and not a Liberal, you have no heart. If you are over 25, and not a Conservative, you have no brain." -Winston S. Churchill.


Worse for the environment then you'd think.

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August 22 2010: Messing around with getting this blog online.

August 21 2010 Greenpeace looses it's charity status in Canada, New Zealand and soon... Germany?

Archive for the Other Environmental Discussion category

A liter of Light and a Really Cool Idea

Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 8:30 AM by Richard Schitts

Some students at MIT came up with a cool idea for lighting Philippine slums. I love their idea - it's so simple it's genius; it uses no energy and recycles old pop bottles. There is one downside - it only works in the day. But if you live in a hut with no windows near the equator this might not be too much of a downside.

MIT's Slum Lighting Solution: Cut a hole in your roof, seal a pop bottle with water and a little bleach (to kill algae) into the hole. Voila! You have a light. The cool thing is that because of the way a pop bottle refracts light it captures more light than just a hole in the roof - the equivalent of a 50-55 watt light bulb.

Simple, elegant, beautiful, genius. A picture is worth a thousand words. It made me think - why did it take MIT engineers to come up with this solution? Maybe they are trained to think out of the box - maybe they see past a problem and towards a solution. Environmentalists take note.

Now if only we could genetically engineer algae to be bioluminescent for a couple of hours after dark "slum landlords" would be all set!

Further reading:

Edited on: Friday, September 23, 2011 8:54 AM

Posted in Global Warming (RSS), Other Environmental Discussion (RSS)

Global Warming Climate Science: It's Freakin' Hard!

Posted on Thursday, September 08, 2011 at 10:05 PM by Richard Schitts

The physics laboratory CERN has been doing some very high tech research on climate science. How you may ask? By Using cloud chambers, particle accelerators and cosmic rays. Some very cool stuff!

Clouds are made when water vapor condenses around ammonia and sulphuric acid "seed" molecules. The suns ions (cosmic rays) help to form the "seed" clusters of ammonia and sulphuric acid. This means the sun plays a direct roll in cloud formation (read about the sun's cycles here). The question is - how much of a roll does the sun play?

-More complicated than you'd think.

Some techno-babble:

Today's climate models used to predict global climate change have a hard time linking Sun activity to cloud formation. CERN's research will help with this. CERN's experiments have shown that sulphuric acid and ammonia seeds only account for 1/10 to 1/1000 of the clouds we observe in the atmosphere. Currently climate models assume that ammonia and sulphuric acid are the most common seeds water vapor attaches to in order to form clouds.

This means that in the cloud department current climate models are 1,000 to 100,000 percent off!

(If the climate model says there is 1 cloud it should actually say there are 0.001 to 0.1 clouds.)

Edited on: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 9:55 PM

Posted in Other Environmental Discussion (RSS)

Interesting Video - Environmental Hysteria

Posted on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 11:46 AM by Richard Schitts

I saw an interesting tv show the other day by Penn & Teller called Environmental Hysteria. It is part of their Bullshit series. It can be found on youtube split into 3 parts. The links are below.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Edited on: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 12:44 PM

Posted in Other Environmental Discussion (RSS)

Nuclear Power - Greenpeace Founder Says It's Good

Posted on Saturday, August 27, 2011 at 12:06 PM by Richard Schitts

So let me get this straight. The visionary founder of the green movement, the first environmentalist said -"other than hydroelectric energy—which I also strongly support—nuclear is the only technology besides fossil fuels available as a large-scale continuous power source". This is the original green activist speaking! He is not one of the conformist green joiners that we see today, he's the original those people try to emulate.

Nuclear power is also very very clean, with only small amounts of waste and almost no CO2. A coal fired power plant of similar size emits more radioactive particles into the environment! Contrary to popular belief that nuclear power "breeds" nuclear weapons the opposite is actually true. There is a program in place where America and Russia are reducing their nuclear arsenals by using their warheads to generate electricity.

-But look at all that smoke! What? It's purely water vapor? Oh.

A nuclear power plant operates in the same way as a natural gas or coal fired power plant. Water is boiled which runs a turbine, with no mixing of heavy water in the core with the working fluid. There is one important difference - nothing is burned. Instead of releasing toxins to the atmosphere through smoke it is all contained as a solid. This gives much more control in how the waste is disposed of.

Properly built and designed a nuclear power plant is the greenest safest power around. We now have powerful computer controls which were lacking in the 50's, 60's and 70's. Look at France - 70-80 % of it's energy comes from nuclear power without a major incident in decades of operation!

When nuclear power was new it was a good thing for people to be concerned. Now that it is a mature technology with 6th (!) generation designs it is much safer. An excellent article can be found here:

The problem with current reactors is that they are all OLD! Possibly the worst legacy of the green movement is residual fear in nuclear power. The world could be a much greener place, but it isn't thanks to Greenpeace and other environmentalists.

Edited on: Monday, August 29, 2011 1:16 PM

Posted in Other Environmental Discussion (RSS)

Global Warming and Evolution - A Cynic's View

Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 10:40 PM by Richard Schitts

This isn't what it sounds like. I believe in global warming and evolution. What I am skeptical about is the consequences of global warming. Where is all this panic coming from?

Everybody likes to get all worked up about the consequences of global warming, a flame environmentalists are happy to stoke. Sea levels will rise and populations will migrate. Some land that is farmable now won't be farmable, and some land that isn't farmable now will be farmable. Climate change has happened before without our help: there was a major ice age 12,000 years ago and a "mini" ice age 500 years ago. The sun goes through cycles, so the earth goes through cycles. The point is, the earth's climate is always changing. But then again so are we. Three Million years ago we were "apes". Now we are people. This is a blink of an eye on the geological time scale. Even as recently as 200,000 years ago some of our relatives were probably Neanderthals. Things don't evolve at a constant rate; they evolve slower or faster depending on natural selection. The dinosaurs didn't just disappear. Some of them died off, but some of them evolved into the creatures you see today.

-He's been here all along, but my how time has changed him!

Picture the velociraptor from Jurassic park. Over thousands of years environmental pressure "favored" smaller and smaller raptors. A large raptor has smaller baby raptors and so on. The raptor is also starting to evolve feathers, beginning with deformed scales. Pretty soon the raptor is a bird - he didn't go extinct at all, he evolved into something else. This may not be entirely scientific, but birds are close relatives to dinosaurs. Major global warming does not mean extinction, it means evolution. Evolution is inevitable anyways. Nothing we can do will stop the climate from eventually forcing us to evolve.

We do need to be responsible with the environment to make it easier for future generations. Environmentalists are always railing against technology, when in reality technology is out best hope to be green and maintain our current lifestyle (not end up in a Greenpeace Future Scenarios: A Loose - Loose).

The fear of global warming seems to be more fear of change and the unknown than anything else. Look on the bright side, if Canada, Scotland, Ireland, Greenland and Northern Russia all get warmer it will be great! There will be lots of room to move all of those farms from the cost. So chill out!

Posted in Other Environmental Discussion (RSS)