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Thanks a bunch, Alun 23 February 2010

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‘I wouldn’t mind a big volcanic eruption – that would give us a two year respite from global warming and might just help us get to action which the Copenhagen summit didn’t get to.’

That’s Alun Anderson, former editor of New Scientist and author of After the Ice: Life, Death and Geopolitics in the New Arctic (2009), a book that has a picture of a polar bear on the front. He is interviewed in The Ecologist, and can be seen in the accompanying illustration standing on top of a mountain in Greenland, far above the level of common humanity.

The Volcanism Blog

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1. Perry - 23 February 2010

He is a council member of the Royal Institution. Much of its initial funding and the initial proposal for its founding were given by the Society for Bettering the Conditions and Improving the Comforts of the Poor, under the guidance of philanthropist Sir Thomas Bernard and American-born British scientist Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Institution

Anderson’s views seem at odds with “Bettering the Conditions and Improving the Comforts of the Poor”, but he is obviously an exponent of hide the decline. He gives ecology a bad name.

2. Passerby - 23 February 2010

He’s peddling his new book. He says nothing about the polar soil permafrost line recession, an interesting omission for an ecologist. I hope he’s being tongue-in-cheek when he asks for a big eruption.

Be afraid, Alu. Be very, very afraid. You may get what you wish.

We don’t need a respite from global warming. We need a respite from a doltish global presumption of an endless energy futures in coal, natural gas and uranium resources once petroleum production begins to peeter out with voracious consumption from the US, China and India.

Do you know why the US has suddenly lept on the nuclear power bandwagon? Because Asian and Arab nations are engaged in a major resource grab for uranium. The coup in Niger is a pretty example of what happens when foreign interests influence national politics, the recent coup coming on top of Chinese contracts for recently discovered uranium ore deposits.

The US depends on, ironically, Russian warheads as a reworked supply source (SALT talks are timely), but recognizes that it has no substantial stopgap for energy supply that doesn’t carry a heavy air emissions cost.

Get it while you can… The presumed uranium stocks aren’t that plentiful, in fact, they may be gone before last of the refinable oil is pumped out.

Now you understand why Iran is determined to enrich uranium. It’s got game as a military deterrent against an equally vociferous and aggressive regional military power with nukes, but it’s also a potent hedge against a declining regional supply of natural gas (Iran’s present trump card) and crude oil.

The problem – I hope the nuclear watchdogs in Europe and Washington and Iranian Mullahs are paying attention – is that Iran is critically positioned on a rather long and geologically active front. Recent close-calls with Japanese reactors sitting atop active fault systems should raise concerns of the sitting of planned uranium enrichment and storage plants (10, announced yesterday).

A word on coal: the Chinese are buying coal from Australia. They are importing future emissions from the Southern Hemisphere into the exceptionally sensitive northern hemisphere high latitude and near polar environment. The Chinese do not particularly care about this, because the air moves with the major wind patterns, over the Koreas and Japan, across the Pacific to the US and Canada, adding insult to local injury from Left Coast emission centers.

The Chinese are also gearing up to be major automobile producers to meet major demand in developing nations for cheap transportation. The two predominant sources of air pollution are coal and transportation in the US.

Hello, Washington? Are you paying attention?

3. Passerby - 25 February 2010

OK, since this is a geology-minded blog, we’ll tie in my last post with a timely news report and cool graphic.

See: Disaster Awaits Cities in Developing World’s Quake Zones.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/25/science/earth/25quake.html

Map: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/02/24/world/20100224-quake-map.html

Lower figure: you can visually sketch in a line along the afore-mentioned geologically active front between SE Asia and Central Europe.

See Iran? One big ‘destructive’ level blob of damage probability. Not a good place to be enriching and storing nuclear fuels.

Now, the Iranian president is a civil engineer. We civil engineers can be downright civil in technical discussion of risk modeling and management.

This tact may offer another avenue for sensible discourse to circumvent stalled nuclear safety/oversight talks.

4. mitchel44 - 25 February 2010

Jeez passerby, does everything scare you this much? How do you ever manage to step into the shower, or out the door into the world?

Still got a Y2K generator in the garage?


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