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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The amateur climate engineer

I am so amateurish that I don't even know the word for stuff like changing the albedo and sequestering Carbon.

My favorite Idea remains the Clamshell alliance. That is to grow lots and lots of clams and oysters and stuff (with artificially expanded clam beds) . Eat them (I can help out) and build huge statues out of shells in the desert. Most Carbon on Earth is in limestone not coal or forests of in the atmosphere. Why not ?

I read on some blog about the idea of taking agricultural waste (corn stalks straw junk) and dumping it in the deep ocean.

Or how about taking it someplace cold ?

Or wood. I mentioned that the US sequesters carbon by building more and more ridiculously huge houses. Logging reduces global warming provided the logged trees are replaced (as they are in the USA). A natural forest reaches a steady state in which as much wood rots as grows. A repeatedly logged forest or a tree farm keeps sequestering carbon.

Matty Yglesias is a big fan of putting chalk in the asphalt in cities were people use air conditioners but don't heat in the winter. What about roofs covered with tar (dumb dumb dumb) ?

I have a new dumb idea about icebergs. Hows about towing them towards the poles so they melt slower (also they are white you know. Not much sun there but some).

Finally the dead sea is dying. Water is so precious around there that it is shrinking. Dead sea level is well below the mediterranean level. A tunnel from the coast to the dead sea would stabilize the level of the dead sea and generate lots of electricity.


Anonymous said...

There is no place for such a comment, so you may not care to use it, but I am unsettled:

April 11, 2007

Brain Injuries Plague Soldiers

In what may be the largest study of its kind by a military installation, Fort Carson has found that 178 of every 1,000 soldiers returning to the post from the Middle East suffered from at least a mild form of traumatic brain injury.

"As it turns out, TBI may very well be the signature injury of this war," Col. John Cho said Tuesday while announcing the results of a 22-month study that included 13,440 soldiers. The post began screening soldiers for traumatic brain injuries in June 2005.

In all, 2,392 of the soldiers analyzed received a TBI diagnosis.

The injuries being seen among Fort Carson soldiers are overwhelmingly caused by explosions, said Cho, who commands Evans Army Community Hospital on post.

While shock waves from explosions are the leading cause of the injuries, TBI also can be caused by penetrating wounds from bullets or shrapnel....


Anonymous said...

Sadness beyond sadness.

Anonymous said...

April 9, 2007

Restoration on the Half Shell

Calais, Vt.

THIS year marks 400 years since the founding of the Jamestown colony, a span in which everything about the area has changed, not least the water. When John Smith first encountered the Chesapeake, he was struck by its beauty and bounty. "Heaven and earth never agreed better to frame a place for man's habitation," he wrote. The water was clear, fish teemed in its depths, and oysters lay "as thick as stones" on the bottom.

Don't try to look for those oysters today. They aren't there. Even if they were, you wouldn't be able to see them through the brown murk. Those oysters were the linchpin of a now-comatose ecosystem. Not only did they pave the bottom, providing footholds for aquatic plants, but they also formed prodigious "oyster reefs" 20 feet high and miles long that sheltered juvenile fish and crustaceans.

And they performed another vital function. Oysters eat algae. A single adult oyster can filter 50 gallons of water a day, and the uncountable billions that once inhabited the Chesapeake filtered the entire bay every few days. This allowed sunlight to penetrate to the bay bottom so eelgrass and other foundations of the food chain could thrive. By providing these three services — filtration, stabilization and habitation — oysters engineered the ecosystem.

Then they disappeared. Overharvesting was the main culprit, but pollution and disease played roles, too. Annual harvests on the Chesapeake plunged, from over 100 million pounds in 1880 to 20 million in 1960 and less than 250,000 pounds today.

Many East Coasters think that mid-Atlantic waters are supposed to look like brown soup. They're not. Too many nutrients wash downstream from cities and farms, feeding algae blooms, and there aren't enough oysters around to eat the algae. When the algae die and decay, they take the oxygen with them, causing the "dead zones" becoming all too common along America's coasts.

Today, everyone agrees that to restore the estuaries we need to restore the oysters. But how to do it? Government agencies spend about $300 million a year in oyster-restoration programs, with marginal results. Millions of baby oysters are grown in hatcheries and thrown into the Chesapeake every year, but without the structure provided by oyster reefs, they are crunched up by starfish, stingrays and other predators, buried under sediment, or killed by disease. Fewer wild oysters populate the Chesapeake today than when the restoration programs began in the 1990s.

Meanwhile, there is a movement to introduce a Chinese oyster into the bay that may grow faster and be more disease-resistant and pollution-tolerant. But the folly of introducing an alien species to a struggling ecosystem has been shown again and again. Zebra mussels, anyone? ...