I listened to some of the speakers at the Fukushima Symposium held by Helen Caldicott Foundation last March. There was a lot of concern about the long-term effects and what's not being shared wth the public.
Earthquake safety is extremely important in some parts of the world. How does this process measure up?
With rapid deterioration of oil resource, methane pools seem like the next forte of energy source. Safety concerns are extremely important in this case though, since a gas-based blowout is really hard to control.
There is reportedly 6000 time more methane hydrate deposits on the ocean floor than oil, gas and coal accessible anywhere on earth. We have gotten through 90% of the available oil 10% of the available natural gas and perhaps 20% of the coal and it has given us now > than 400ppm (0.04%) CO2 concentration in our atmoshpere. As the difference in amount between methane hydrates and other fuels is so large it is accurate enough to say that if near all of the deposits were used we would achieve a CO2 concentration of > 60%. this would lead to about a 40 degree (C) increase in average temperatures and using an unscientific methodology we could say that Arabia and Australia would have summer temperatures of around 95degC and Russia's coldest winters would be +10degC. In addition to this above 15% concentration people begin to suffocate so we wouldn't be here to see it. Now about safety measures. The deep sea drilling accident that occurred off the gulf of Mexico was a one in a million and took 87 days to fix and was a major economic disaster for the area. wind forward to a major Methane spill, probably a 1 in 100,000 chance of it happening and if it does the result will be about 20-30% of the world unliveable for maybe 1000 years and the death of about 90% of the world population of life (not just people). Add to that the certainty (yes it will happen) that all this extra CO2 will increase our CO2 levels enough for catastrophic climate change (not a bad as a spill but hardly better for those affected) So with that in mind, building more nuclear reactors and having 1 accident every ~25 years which kills up to 100 people immediately and maybe an additional 2000 over a lifetime seems like a small price to pay. To me it seems that the Japanese reckon killing 90% of world biosphere is better than the odd 1000 or so here and there. Puzzling.
While the global impact of a disaster would be catastrophic, my first thought was more local - Japan is on extremely unstable ground. It already experiences a large number of earthquakes on a daily basis, many devastating.
If fracking can create earthquakes in relatively stable areas like Arkansas and Ohio, imagine what relieving pressure on a massive scale might do to unstable tetonic plates. There are many ways to eliminate one's energy needs, but I don't think destroying the society (thereby eliminating the need) is one of the preferred approaches.
Interesting what you say about fracking and earthquakes, they want to expand fracling here in Australia now that they've worn out their welcome in the US. That said, I don't think that methyl hydrate extraction creates an earthquake risk, from what I've read most is very close to the surface of the sea floor. It's more that it's only stable below certain temperatures and pressures and there are already signs of methane bubbles coming to the surface in Russian waters as a result of elevated sea temperatures resulting from (amongst other things) burning of our dwindling oil and gas and coal reserves. If 1% of it was liberated the temperature increases are considered enough to start a chain reaction = game over. :-( see http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/vast-methane-plumes-seen-in-arctic-ocean-as-sea-ice-retreats-6276278.html. I think life is a long list of choices, some you make, some others make for you. This impending situation is the result pure capitalism making all of those decisions based on greed. I think capitalism is better in general than the other ism's that have gone before it, but it looks like high time that it needs to have a leadership of scientists (not economists) that decide what can and can't be done. Sure there will be issues with that, but at least total annihilation won't be one of them.
@Etmax, that oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico was the result of violating a large number of rules and a few laws, in addition to poor judgement in direct violation of correct procedure. While it was certainly not intentional it was logically predictable, based on what things were done wrong.
Now with the Japanese attempting to mine the methane Hydrate deposits, it is clear that they really don't understand what is happening, and don't care to understand.
Besides that, your model for a carbon dioxide disaster is a bit deffective and missing a few terms. so the calculated results may probably not be seen in reality.
Thanks William K, I welcome your input as to what the outcome or likelyhood of large plumes of methane might be given what's happening in Russia, and also welcome your opinions on plundering methyl hydrate deposits as a means of further increasing CO2 levels. I'm sure 6000 times as much methyl hydrate as existing fossil fuels doesn't equate to 6000 times more CO2, but even if it were only 1000 times more CO2 the impact would be devastating. I'm seriously asking you to put forward any suggestions as to outcome as discussion of this sort of thing in a sensible manner is most important. I'm happy to be proven wrong with evidence/knowledge etc. that I may not at this time posess.
My evaluation of the carbon dioxide issue is that we need to be very agressivley start planting green plants, which reverse the process. Instead of constantly mowing the grass near highways and expressways we need to let it grow. Also in the median areas. Forests liberate oxygen without consuming useful energy! Also, they would help reduce the impact of excess rainwater, which is a problem everywhere except California.
So some methods of reducing the problem are available almost for free, which is the main reason that they are not being emphasised.
No matter what the actual truth about global warming is, it is very clear that a large amount of the activity is aimed at advancing some folks personal agendas and also making a few people rich. Those involved in "Cap and trade", if it ever happens, will be very wealthy indeed, which tends to make the whole concept suspect as I see it. Whatever efforts are taken should not be pointed towards the vast personal enrichment of a few. As that happens, the credibility of those supporting the efforts is damaged quite a bit.
I would agree mostly with that, including that some people will get rich. It is also true that burning carbon fossil fuels and otherwise worsening the problem also makes a lot of people rich. Given that whether the world wins or loses someone gets rich I tend to believe that we are better having someone get rich while fix the problem. Re cap and trade, I think that the only way to stop the majority of people from doing undesirable things is to hit them in the hip pocket. Maybe they need to tax different forms of carbon expenditure differently at least initially ie. things we can live without get taked more. Just think if there was a $1 carbon tax on plastic one-time useable shopping bags how quickly people would switch to a reuseable alternative. Just a thought provoker :-)
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