Preparing for and Surviving an Asteroid Impact

Preparing for and Surviving an Asteroid Impact

One motivation for settling on Mars is to form an Earth 2.0, so that Homo sapiens can survive a catastrophic asteroid or comet impact.  Some say it is also a way to survive a warming planet.  First of all, we can all survive a warming planet if we just reject the propaganda of greedy oilgarchs, and their paid-for politicians.

But rare asteroid strikes do happen, and it must be a lot easier to prepare for them and save many more lives on Earth than the massive and costly effort to settle or terraform Mars.  Every essential on Mars will have to be brought from Earth, or mined at great effort.  What we already have on Earth is air, water, food, energy, a protective atmosphere, a protective magnetic field, and an ozone layer.  We are already mining what we need, we have industries and manpower.   A vast amount of equipment and manufacturing will have to be created on Mars to make it independent of Earth.  Until that is done, a Mars colony will be even less supported than constructing much cheaper shelters on Earth.  Can’t you just see a worldwide revolt to a Mars settlement based on an “Earth First” platform?

Rather than dwell on methods for settling Mars, as many experts are examining, lets consider how to set up a survivable Earth program.  Many astronomers are setting up a program to spot and track dangerous objects in the solar system.  Maximizing that will give us the longest lead time to take action.  But what action?  If we can decide and plan last year preparations in advance, we can take action immediately when needed, based on long term well considered science, engineering, social and political considerations and agreements.

I am of course not knowledgeable of how these catastrophes can occur, but we should invest more effort in studying past ones, and in setting up advanced modeling of such threats.  We are all aware of some past extinction events as the Chixchulub meteor 63 million years ago, meteor crater Arizona, and the Siberian Tunguska meteor.  Some will affect the entire earth for years, and others will be more local.  

Presumably, better and longer term tracking will localize the impact center to arrange for evacuation well in advance.  Preparation for deflecting smaller meteors could allow for rapid response when needed.

The most serious events could cloud the earth and minimize solar energy for growing crops for a time of a few years.  Just as a well organized earth will have to prepare for large droughts as warming continues, so food storage can be created for short times.  Diets can be changed to get the most food per year to store, by cutting out foods that require the greatest amount of resource input.  Again, advance planning and agreements would allow immediate actions when needed.  Shelters could be established from available buildings, and they could be prepared for various scenarios when new buildings are built, if there is advance planning.

The usual science fiction plot that nobody except the world leaders are informed of a collision, because the people would panic, can be avoided if there was a long standing plan for survival for all.  

What could be done in a year or more of preparation is witnessed by the conversion of society in a war effort.  There are also millions of soldiers with a large amount of equipment and training around the world, that could be used for preparation for a collision.  Also, more needed first responders can be trained and equipped around the world.  The hugh US military budget, as large as the next seven put together, can be focused on preparation.  If worldwide fires are expected, brush, forests, housing, commercial and industries can be made more fire safe and fireproof.  Automakers can be diverted to ambulances and buses, and other industries to medical equipment.  Housing and building can be converted to shelters.

Sure, it is tough to get our Congress or Administration to accept science predictions.  It is also hard to get them to invest in a gamble, that has been  overly associated with science fiction.  But there are forward looking NGOs that do studies, and link worldwide.  There is the UN, and global science organizations.  Also, there are space oriented leaders of new industries, which is how we got started on this subject in the first place.

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Looking at Air Pollution from its Shortening of Life Expectancy

Looking at Air Pollution from its Shortening of Life Expectancy

Environmentalists at the University of Chicago have done a worldwide study of the effects of air pollution on lowering life expectancy in all nations, and in key regions within nations.  They have put together particulate air pollution data PM2.5 over the earth, and noted that life expectancy is lowered by a year for every 10 µg/m^3 of PM2.5 in excess over the WHO standard of 10 µg/m^3.  We summarize some key findings of their report, for Los Angeles, the United States, and leading polluting countries and regions.

The report is “Introducing the Air Quality Life Index” (AQLI) from EPIC, the Energy Policy Institute fo the University of Chicago.  The authors are Michael Greenstone and Qing (Claire) Fan.

On a worldwide average, life expectancy is lowered by 1.8 years from particulate pollution PM2.5 of size less than 2.5 microns, which is small enough to go through the lungs and get into the blood stream.  For the largest countries, China loses 2.9 years on average, and India 4.3 years.  For major polluting cities, Delhi loses 10 years, and Beijing loses 6 years.  

For the US, the average is now only a 0.1 year loss.  But this is a result of the 1970 Clean Air Act, which has reduced America’s PM2.5 by 60%, allowing Americans to live 1.5 years longer.  America still has four major polluted cities, containing 49 million people.  In New York, people are living 2 years longer, and also in Chicago.  In Washington D.C., it is lowered 3 years.  In Los Angeles, pollution has been reduced 40%, and people are living one year longer. 

In the US, one-third live in areas that are not meeting the WHO guidelines.  Meeting them would extend lifetimes by one year in most polluted counties.

In China, coal generated electricity has increased 5 fold from 1995 to 2015.  In India it has increased 3 fold.  If emissions were reduced to WHO guidelines, 288 million people in Northern India would live 7 years longer, which is 23% of India.  347 million in Asia would live 5-7 years longer.  That includes 35% of Nepal, 16% of Bangladesh, 13% of China, 10% of Pakistan, and 9% of India.

A list of countries where reducing particulates to WHO standards would increase life expectancy by more than 2 years follows, along with their average PM2.5 reading in µg/m^3, the standard being 10 µg/m^3.

Country.                PM2.5.   Life Span Increase

Bangladesh.               53.     4.2 years.

China.                         39.     2.9 years. 

India.                          54.     4.3 years.

Nepal.                         55.     4.4 years

Pakistan.                    37.     2.7 years

Republic of Congo.  34.     2.3 years

Thailand.                    31.     2.1 years

Worldwide, the 1.8 years lost if applied to 7 billion people would result in 12.8 billion years of longer lives, restoring the life spans to 74 years.  Compared to this loss, smoking reduces lives on average 1.6 years, alcohol and drugs 11 months, bad water and sanitation 7 months, HIV/AIDS 4 months, and conflict and terrorism 22 days.

Worldwide, 75% of the global population or 5.5 billion people live with PM2.5 greater than the WHO standard.

While just the number and years of shortened life spans are given, there is much other suffering attached to the conditions that lower the lifespan, and the continual asthma, sickness, irritation, and quality of life lost to air pollution, as we have summarized in other articles under Air Quality.  There are also economic losses due to hospitalization, illness, days off work, days without power, school closures, canceled exercise, missed classes, costs of medications, etc.

Another sobering thought, cleaning up air pollution will decrease greenhouse gases, but also allow more sunlight in for warming.  But the hundred year atmospheric timespan of CO2 is by far the worst warming effect.

Posted in Air Quality, California Smog, Clean Energy, Coal, Electric Power, Fossil Fuel Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Smog worldwide, World Smog | Leave a comment

Trump, Climate Change, and Smock Stacks

Trump, Climate Change, and Smock Stacks

Trump tweeted twice this morning that there was no “Smocking Gun”.

No wonder Trump does not realize that burning fossil fuel generates air and climate pollutants.  Every time he searches for “Smock Stack Pollution”, he turns up nothing except clothing adds.

When Trump awakens from schleeping at 3 AM and goes a-twitter tweeting, he should really put on a smocking robe and schlep over to Melania’s bedroom to get her to check his schpelling.

Trump is too afraid to use a spell checker because he fears that Apple will be recording all of his miss-spellings if he turns it on.

Little does Trump know that the twelve Alexa’s that he has put in every room he uses, since he doesn’t know how to use a computer, but can never admit it (it would be like admitting that he can’t schpell), those Alexa’s run by Jeff Bezos, owner of the Washington Post, have been set to record everything that Trump and his lawyers talk about all day.

I envy the job of Trump’s Twitter Guards, who are hired to block all of the twitter trolls who come up with clever and funny come-backs to all of Trump’s tweets.  I suspect that the comedy and cleverness of the trolls is why Trump has so many twitter followers, other than the fake bots.

I guess the spelling errors would be a good way to identify the true @realDonaldTrump tweets from those put on by his speech writers.  Who are we kidding, the five-year-old vocabulary is already a dead give-away.

As far as the smocking gun reference, I suspect gun-makers are now going to make gun models called Smockers, and smock makers will be coming out with Smocking Gun robes for men and Smocking Hot smocks for women. 

I feel for the pundits who have to get up at 3 AM every morning to prepare their Presidential tweet responses, and schlepping in tired to the studio, instead of schleeping all night long.

Bothered that I turn to humor?  It’s obvious from the Poland Conference that the US subservience to oilgarchs has now been extended world-wide.  Now the world’s leading oil producers Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United States, joined by smaller Kuwait, are jointly blocking climate science reports and climate action.  Together, they produced 45% of world oil in 2016.

Posted in Donald Trump, Humor | Leave a comment

Orange County Midterm Vote Count Complete

Orange County Midterm Vote Count Complete

Voter turnout was remarkably high at 71.0%.  This was last surpassed in midterms in 1970, which achieved about 76%.  But it was almost matched in 1978.  Somehow, 2014 was an all-time low at 44.9%, although the graph only went back to 1930.  The all-time high since 1930 was 81% in 1958.

There are 1,558,988 registered voters in Orange County, and 1,106,729 ballots were cast.  Of those, 480,264 were counted after Election Day.  

For comparison, the  population of Orange County is 3.19 million, of which 2.49 million are older than 18.  There is no count of citizens eligible to vote, and this is a debated topic for the 2020 census.

Relative to key issues and the environment, the census has the mean travel time to work at 27.4 minutes.

Here, we cover three races that are entirely within Orange County, with the counting complete.

CA 45th.

D Katie Porter       158,906 or 52.1%.

R (I) Mimi Walter   146,383 or 47.9%.

The difference is 4.2%.

CA 48th. 

D Harley Rouda.              157,837 or 53.6%. 

R (I) Dana Rohrabacher   138,899 or 46.4%.

The difference is 7.2%.

State Assembly 74th

D Cottie Petrie-Norris.      105,699 or 52.7%.

R (I) Matthew Harper.          94,947 or 47.3%.

The difference is 5.4%.

These are sizable wins for normally Republican districts, where three Republican incumbents were running.

The Orange County retirees newsletter, Voice of OC, pointed out that the Republican get out the vote worked, but that they did not all vote Republican.

I consider it rather insulting to all Californians and Orange County voters when the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, suggests that there is something amiss when the votes counted after Election Day favor Democrats.  He also implied that counting mail-in ballots is somehow wrong.  As usual, no evidence of any wrong-doing is ever presented.  Lots of Republican votes are counted this way also.  Implying that something is wrong is the excuse for trying to limit the ease of voting in California.

Paul Ryan did not run for re-election, but I doubt if he is quitting politics.  As far as implying that something is wrong in California, did I mention that Ryan is from Wisconsin? 

Posted in 2018 Midterm Election, Dana Rohrabacher CA 48th, Harley Rouda, Katie Porter, Mimi Walters CA 45th | Leave a comment

Introduction to the Planets Mercury, Venus, and the Earth by Dennis Silverman

Introduction to the Planets Mercury, Venus, and the Earth by Dennis Silverman

For the OLLI course “Introduction to the Solar System”. SC215, on December 6, 2018.

intro slides



Planet Earth

Posted in and Earth, Climate Change, Climate Education, Climate Science, Earthquakes, F. Sherwood Rowland and Mario Molina, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Life in the Universe, Nuclear Weapons, Science and Engineering Education | Leave a comment

Climate Action Shorts

Climate Action Shorts

Monday at 4 PM on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter will be the Climate Town Hall on the West Coast, PST.  This will be on C-SPAN2 at 7:45 PM – 9:15 PM PST. 

Monday at 6 PM starts the “24 Hours of Reality:  Protect Our Planet, Protect Ourselves” broadcast hosted by former VP and Nobel Laureate Al Gore, as broadcasts go around the world.   This was covered on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

I covered a set of talks at UCI on California Electrification:  Emerging technologies for a zero-emission environment.  I put these on a Flickr album on my account, though the pictures pale in quality to the actual talks under “Electification” above.  The key finding of the cover slide was that electrification of transportation from gasoline to electricity, and of natural gas for space heating and water heating to electricity, could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70% from 5,100 Mtons (million tons) of CO2  to 1,600 Mtons.  This would only increase electricity by 18% over the current energy mix to 45%.  These changes make energy much more efficient, as well as increasing efficiency in uses of all forms of energy.

News quotes from Huffington Post “This New World”:

Only 29% of Americans believe human activity is the main cause of climate change.  This takes an extreme view of the Monmouth poll.  An additional 37% believe that humans and natural causes are equally responsible.  Adding these give 66% or 2/3.  78% of Americans believe that the world’s climate is changing.

In the US, more than 90 cities have adopted 100% renewable-energy goals.  An additional six have already hit their marks.

Greenhouse gas emissions have increased 2.7% in 2018.

The Guardian on the UN #EmissionsGap Report on Meeting the Climate Goals:

“Only a rapid turnaround here can help.  Emissions must be reduced by a quarter by 2030 [to keep warming to no more than 2ºC (3.6ºF) above pre-industrial levels] (they are already at 1ºC (1.8ºF) above that) and for 1.5ºC, emissions would have to be halved.”  So a tripling of effort may be needed to even meet the 2ºC goal.  (With just the goals at present, the 2100 warming will be to 3ºC or 5.4ºF.)

From Jain Liu, the chief scientist at UN Environment, if all fossil fuel subsidies were phased out, global carbon emissions could be reduced by up to 10% by 2030.  If we don’t act now, we will be making inefficient buildings, transport networks, and energy generation that will last another 50 years.

In 2017, CO2 rose to an average 406 ppm, up 126 from 280 pre-industrial times.  That is up 45% or almost half.

The greenhouse gas methane accounts for about 17% of global warming and is now 2.5 times than preindustrial times from emissions from cattle, rice paddies, and leaks from oil and gas wells.

Nitrous oxide, N2O, is over 20% higher than pre-industrial times.  About 40% of it comes from soil degradation, fertilizer use, and industry.

From the UN Yearbook of Global Climate Action 2018:

Climate Action commitments are being made globally by cities, regions, businesses, investors, and civil society.  Commitments come from more than 9,000 cities from 128 countries (16% of the global population), around 240 states and regions from more than 40 countries (17% of the global population) and more than 6,000 businesses in 120 countries representing $36 trillion.  (We have to help out to expand action to just more than 1/6 of the earth’s population.)   (Not participating as countries are now the US, Brazil, and Australia.). Committed parties have to carry out and enhance their commitments.  There are 127 cooperative initiatives, and 60% of them are on their way to reaching their goals.

To achieve the 1.5ºC limit, investment in energy systems would have to be $2.4 trillion a year up to 2035.  This will bring a net economic gain of $26 trillion by 2030.  (Yes, 12 x $2.4 trillion is a total $29 trillion in investment by 2030.)

CO2 stays in the atmosphere for a century.  So you can pay for clean energy now, or leave it for your kids, grandkids, and great grandchildren to pay off at greater expense later.

Posted in Al Gore, Clean Energy, Climate Change, Climate Education, Climate Science, Fossil Fuel Energy, Global Climate Action Summit, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Mayor's Climate Action Plan, Paris Climate Accord, Paris Climate Agreement, Renewable Energy, Sea Level Rise, Transportation, Trump on Climate Change, US Climate Mayors | Leave a comment

Playing GM Executive on the Model Cuts

Playing GM Executive on the Model Cuts

We examine why GM cut off the Chevy Cruze and the Chevy Volt production.  The previous article shows how Trump’s destruction of clean energy policies led to this.

In Quarter 3, 2018, GM total sales were 485,019, down 11.38% from last year Q3.  Here are the EV sales, the Cruze sales, and the leading Truck and SUV sales.

Bolt EV        3,949, down 41.2%, 0.8% of vehicle sales.

Cruze         31,971, down 27.4%, 6.6% of vehicle sales.

Volt PHEV    5,429, up      22.9%, 1.1% of vehicle sales.

Silverado 133,329, down 14.3%, 27.5% of vehicle sales.

Equinox     78,014, down   1.6%, 16.1% of vehicle sales.

This looks like what happens when the price of gas takes a nose-dive.  GM’s two most popular gas vehicles go down at most 14%.  The compact Chevy Cruze drops 27%, and  the Chevy Bolt EV drops 41%.  The Chevy Volt PHEV does go up 22.9%, but out of total GM sales, that increase is only 0.21%, or 1,013 vehicles.  

In addition, Tesla’s three models dominate the EV market, especially with their new Model 3.

So, if you need to save money, you close out the small, cheaper and less profitable models. You keep the Silverado V6 pickup with 24 mpg and 4.3L.  You keep the Equinox compact SUV with a good 28 mpg city, and  39 mpg highway, with the small 1.8L diesel motor.

You drop the Cruze, with 31 mpg city and 47 mpg highway, since customers prefer the Equinox 2.44 to 1.

You keep the Bolt, which has scored next to the Teslas, and still gives you one electric vehicle to offer.

But what do you do when the price of gas shoots up again?

From an opinion column in the Register by Susan Shelly, the White House said:  “They better damn well open a new plant there very quickly.”  Trump said to the Wall Street Journal, about closing the plan in Lordstown, Ohio:  “You’re playing around with the wrong person.”

In time of war, the President has the right to take over needed industries, or end strikes.  But for personal political gain?

Posted in Autos, CAFE Standards, Clean Energy, Donald Trump, Electric Cars, Hybrid Cars, Oil | Leave a comment

Trump’s Policies Led to the GM Plant Closures

Trump’s Policies Led to the GM Plant Closures

Two of the cars discontinued in the GM plant closures are the fuel economy cars the compact and high mileage Chevy Cruze, and the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt.  GM said that they are discontinuing these to concentrate on the more popular trucks and SUVs.  We wrote an earlier article on this, but not as aware of the Presidents effects in bringing this about.  

Update:  To bring GM into line, Trump threatened to cut subsidies to their electric cars.  This would fit into Trump’s anti-clean energy goals, but now he can blame it on GM, rather than take the blame himself.

Here’s what Trump did to bring this about:

As we see lately, Trump has done everything he can to discount climate science, even calling it a hoax.  The fact that a lot of rural people and higher income Republicans believe Trump, his spokespeople, and all of his political appointees, and all Republican politicians, means that they can, with good conscience, go ahead and buy gas guzzlers with no guilt about the planet’s future.  These are people who then can use trucks, or afford SUVs.

Trump has also fought all clean energy and all clean air policies, for which the Cruze and Volt are designed.  Trump has fought the waivers that California has enjoyed and sought to continue to keep our cleaner air standards.  If we lose them, a fair part of the market for the Cruze and Volt disappear.

Trump has single handedly changed the future CAFE standard goals, halting them at those of 2021, which auto makers were already set to achieve.  That clearly told automakers that there was no necessary future in their most fuel efficient models.  Even if Democrats win the Presidency in 2020, and they vote for new fuel efficiency goals in 2021, they have to give the industry a three year lead time to start to bring them about.  So there may not be progress on this until 2024.  It also takes time to negotiate a deal between the new administration and the car companies.

Other automakers may follow suit on the fuel efficient cars, or with Chevy and GM pulling out of that market, they might appreciate that they will garner their sales.  

Businesses may now figure that the Reign of Trump may be short lived, and that Trump’s climate denial moves may be blocked by the courts.  He certainly will no longer get Congressional support from the new Democratic House. 

Trump has bragged that he, personally, intervened with Saudi Arabia to drastically lower the price of gas before the election, from $80 a barrel to $50 a barrel, or about a 38% drop.  That’s about a 70 cent drop per gallon of gas.  He also said that he was continuing to work to keep the price low.  No financial need to buy a compact car or an electric car.

As GM themselves complain, Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs raised the price of parts, and price rises are more crucial on the compact cars.  Trump’s overall tariffs on parts that are internationally made also raises the costs.

All of these have worked to make the Cruze and Volt more expensive, less profitable, and to also drop their sales.  

If the shoe fits, its not always Cinderella.

Posted in 2018 Midterm Election, CAFE Standards, Clean Energy, Climate Change, Climate Education, Congress, Donald Trump, Electric Cars, Fossil Fuel Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Hybrid Cars, Middle East, Oil, Regulations, Smog worldwide, Transportation, Trump on Climate Change, Trump Steel Tariff, US Oil, US Steel Imports, World Oil Usage, World Steel Production | Leave a comment

Mueller, Leakers, Kim Jung Un, MBS, Putin Unbound

Apparently, a lot of people went unbound after the election besides Trump.

Mueller made a plea deal with Michael Cohen about lying to Congress about Trump’s still seeking a Trump Tower in Moscow, late in the election.  Mueller probably held off on this just so that he would not be charged with interfering with the election.  Rudy turned this around, by accusing Mueller of being political and making the deal just when Trump was going to an international meeting.

Leakers say that Cohen gave 70 hours of interviews to Mueller, as well as other leaks.  The leading news sources can no longer be accused of influencing the election.

Trump has spent a lifetime buttering up customers to make his deals.  He has tried this on Putin, Xi Jinping, Kim Jung Un, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.  These guys are far from the suckers that Trump was hoping for.  They are just the opposite.  Men who will stop at nothing to rule.

They all went unbound themselves.  Kim build more middle bases.  Xi countered Trump’s tariff threats.  MBS may have ordered the Khashoggi murder, but probably we will never know.  The Senate voted to break off assistance with the Saudi war in Yemen.  Putin seized three Ukrainian vessels and their sailors for exercising their rights to travel from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov.  With the seizure of Crimea, Russia now completely surrounds the Sea of Azov.

No wonder Trump went on a tweet storm against his standard domestic targets in a twitter  retweet of them behind bars.  And criticizing Michael Cohen for not going to jail like a loyal co-conspirator would.  Like Manafort, who lied to Mueller, and who’s lawyer was a conduit of Mueller information to Trump’s lawyers.  No wonder Trump has been trashing the future of the planet by allowing climate change.

Trump hates to lose a deal, but to lose all of his deals at once is crushing.  It even caused him to cancel a meeting with his favorite bud, Putin.

Day 2 of Trump Unbound.  What does he do when he gets tired of losing?

By the way, Democrat TJ Cox was declared the winner of CA 21, the only uncalled House seat, making the House 235 Democrats to 200 Republicans.   The Democrats gained 40 seats.

Posted in 2018 Midterm Election, Donald Trump | Leave a comment

Nov. 28. CA 21 Dem TJ Cox has a slight gain.

Nov. 28. CA 21 Dem TJ Cox has a slight gain.

Dem TJ Cox.                   56,634 or 50.23%, up from 55,672 by 962.

Rep  David Valadao.        56,105 or 49.77%, up from 55,236 by 869.

So TJ Cox has gained 93 over Valadao, adding to his 436 lead to his new 529 lead.

Unrelated to the above race, OC ballots left to count are down to 12,206.  Out of 478,911, they are only 2.5% left to count.

Posted in 2018 Midterm Election | Leave a comment