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A-L-E-X
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27 Oct 2020 15:17

Yes!  I too like nuclear as the best possible solution here.  I guess I've always been familiar with it, since my mother was a radiation oncologist and we lived near a lab where nuclear research has been regularly conducted since the 80s.  The funny and ironic thing is nuclear was much less taboo in the 80s than it is now.  If there's a way to describe it, the wonder and excitement over it back then was as strong as what we see now with the Large Hadron Collider.  I guess Chernobyl changed that, but that existed in extremely substandard conditions, lacked regular maintenance and was never representative of the safety checks that occur everywhere else.  I saw things going downhill after the Superconductor Supercollider SSC project was stopped too and then our nuclear reactors started shutting down one by one.  We've been backsliding ever since.

So nuclear (especially Thorium) power + electric vehicles would be the best outcome as we could have a concentrated energy source that doesn't pollute (I read that nuclear power produces less pollution than not just fossil fuels but also less than wind power) and electric vehicles to keep our air clean also and lower air pollution in densely populated areas.  PS Tesla just produced a lower priced EV car (around 30K) with longer range per charge (around 500 miles), so the future is looking bright in this area.
 
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midtskogen
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27 Oct 2020 23:31

Even if people are convinced that nuclear plants can be pretty safe (despite Fukushima), the waste issue always seems to remain the definite reason why they still oppose it.  And even if they accept that the volume of the waste is so small compared to everything else and therefore makes it easier to manage, there seems to be a confusion: Radioactive waste can be extremely toxic, and radioactivity can last for million of years.  This scares people.  The confusion, of course, is that radioactive stuff is either extremely dangerous because the stuff decays rapidly, OR it decays slowly and remains relatively harmless for million of years.  Highly toxic waste from other kinds of industry doesn't simply go pretty harmless by itself after centuries or millennia.  To handle nuclear waste seems to be a pretty easy challenge compared to everything else.  Besides, that stored waste could also turn out to become a resource for other things.
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28 Oct 2020 08:00

Yes, and is less harmful by comparison to the waste produced by the chemical industry, which is far more toxic.  There does seem to be a disconnect, as radioactive elements with short half lives are FAR more toxic than those with much longer half lives.  This is something that anyone with a basic high school education should know, but most either dont know it or have forgotten that they learned this in high school.

Also, about sea level rise, it would be a good idea for us to have plans to relocate people from island nations (for example in the Pacific) to safer places.  I think this is already in the works?  In the US we have already been relocating people from islands in the Gulf of Mexico near the LA coast to places farther inland.  I believe the GoM is the part of the US (as well as the SE coast) to experience the most sea level rise (currently cities like Charleston, SC and Miami, FL experience anywhere between 5-9 days of sunny day flooding per year, this is projected to be 50-90 by 2050.)
 
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midtskogen
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28 Oct 2020 09:33

Key West is sinking by about 22 cm a century, so this is a slow process.  Coastlines are dynamic because of sea level changes, erosion and sediments, but the changes are subtle at human time scales in our time (unlike 5000 - 10,000 years ago, poor Doggerland people).  Land reclamation can only offset things so much and bring with it its own problems.  At a rate of 22 cm/centuries many cities can simply gradually move inland, but it some cases it's not an option (like on islands barely above sea level).  So relocation is inevitable at some point.
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28 Oct 2020 13:35

I'd love to see a map of the rate of sea level rise and land sinkage in various parts of the world.  I'm thinking it's not a steady rise either as ice melt affects different areas differently. 

New Orleans is about to get a direct hit from a hurricane approaching Cat 3, it's going to be interesting to see what happens, we've had several rapidly intensifying storms this year (according to forecasters it's because of very warm temps near the coastline.)   Yesterday it was supposed to come in as a Cat 1 lol.
 
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midtskogen
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28 Oct 2020 23:00

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post I'd love to see a map of the rate of sea level rise and land sinkage in various parts of the world.  I'm thinking it's not a steady rise either as ice melt affects different areas differently. 

This page seems to have what you're asking for.

Land ice melt does actually affect different areas differently, which might be surprising since the ocean is the same everywhere.  The reason is that ice melt affects the geoid caused by gravitational changes from the lost ice mass.  So, a melting Greenland ice sheet causes the sea to sink around Greenland, but to rise in other parts of the world.
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28 Oct 2020 23:39

This is a great reference:  Sea level: measuring the bounding surfaces of the ocean. 

Image

Image


In addition to the change in gravitational field around melting glaciers and rebound of the crust, another cause for variable sea level rise across the oceans is thermal expansion. Globally averaged this is of course a net positive under global warming, but it is not the same everywhere.
 
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29 Oct 2020 00:43

Here's a close-up around Greenland of the sea level change in meters due to gravitational changes if all of Greenland's ice melts.  This is an instant change and proportional if the ice partially melts.  There will be further drops in sea level due to the rebound of the land, but that takes millennia.
Image

The sea along Greenland's western coast would drop by as much as 20m.  But even this is little compared to the rebound after a few millennia.
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29 Oct 2020 07:10

midtskogen wrote:
A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post I'd love to see a map of the rate of sea level rise and land sinkage in various parts of the world.  I'm thinking it's not a steady rise either as ice melt affects different areas differently. 

This page seems to have what you're asking for.

Land ice melt does actually affect different areas differently, which might be surprising since the ocean is the same everywhere.  The reason is that ice melt affects the geoid caused by gravitational changes from the lost ice mass.  So, a melting Greenland ice sheet causes the sea to sink around Greenland, but to rise in other parts of the world.

Thanks- this makes a lot of sense since ice melt is actually redistributing density and in so doing, also changing which parts experience stronger or weaker gravity.  I remember seeing a map from NASA about how different parts of the planet experience a (slightly) different amount of gravity.  So icemelt causes an action-reaction response where sea sinks in some places but rises in others.
 
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29 Oct 2020 14:58

Saw a great series on Nature last night about expanding forests to take carbon out of the atmosphere.  Bhutan is the world's first carbon negative nation.  We need to expand forests to get them to cover 60% of the world's land surface and that means a few trillion more trees.  That will greatly help our efforts to get carbon dioxide levels lower and improve biodiversity.

 
 
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29 Oct 2020 23:02

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post We need to expand forests to get them to cover 60% of the world's land surface and that means a few trillion more trees.

How? Much of Earth's land surface is either not conducive to forests due to the climate zone, or is already allocated for other important uses (like agriculture). Much of what could turn forested is doing so already anyway, such as with the greening of the Arctic. But a side effect is the release of methane from melting permafrost. 

Planting trees to mitigate climate change is also a poor solution for a more fundamental reason: a growing tree constitutes taking CO2 out of the air (I like to think of trees as life "crystallizing air", and it is true most of the mass of a tree came from the air), so growing new forests would act as a carbon sink. But once a forest matures, it becomes closer to carbon neutral.

The solution to pulling climatically significant amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere is to have abundant, cheap, renewable energy. The video I previously shared on "Thorium Disadvantages" actually spends a good chunk of time discussing this, as well as how thorium reactors can aid in recycling (in the strict sense of the term and which is an energy-intensive process, not sorting which is what most people think recycling means).
 
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29 Oct 2020 23:36

In principle planting more trees removes CO2 from the atmosphere, but you can only add trees for so long.  Soon enough a forest becomes carbon neutral.  The reason why planting trees for the sake of CO2 is so popular, is that's a great way to fudge CO2 accounting to become "CO2 neutral".  It's mainly a play with numbers. Just like the carbon offset market is indulgence trading reborn. For maximum effect, you can pick fast growing trees and suppress existing flora.  This is NOT good for biodiversity, but looks great in the CO2 accounting spreadsheets.  To improve biodiversity nature itself can do a pretty good job if we leave an area to itself.  The trouble is that it doesn't look good in the accounting.

Watsisname wrote:
Source of the post The solution to pulling climatically significant amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere is to have abundant, cheap, renewable energy.

Strictly speaking, nuclear energy is not renewable, not even fusion, so I think it's important not to restrict the solution to renewable.  "Renewable" itself does not assure that it's a good idea, so I wish there was less focus on that word.
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Watsisname
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30 Oct 2020 03:19

midtskogen wrote:
Source of the post Strictly speaking, nuclear energy is not renewable, not even fusion, so I think it's important not to restrict the solution to renewable.  "Renewable" itself does not assure that it's a good idea, so I wish there was less focus on that word. 

Sure, that's a good point and the better word is sustainable. Renewable implies a source which is replenished on timescales we care about, but utilizing those sources may not necessarily be very efficient nor have low environmental consequences. Sustainable emphasizes how long the supply and method may last under a given demand, and whether the consequences are mild enough to be acceptable for long time periods. Renewable implies but does not guarantee sustainable, and sustainable doesn't require renewable.

Nuclear energy is not strictly renewable (except in some sense that we are using radioactivity to literally make new isotopes which power the reactors), but it is extremely sustainable and with thorium can be made even more so.
 
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30 Oct 2020 03:39

Yes, sustainable is a far better word and should replace renewable.

Nuclear fuel needs to be mined, whereas wind and sun are directly available for as long the planet can sustain life, but mining can be fine as long as new areas aren't taken up faster than nature can reclaim.  Maybe we can say that fusion power is renewable if all the fuel can be produced from water, whose supply is practically unlimited.  Like power from tidal forces, not strictly unlimited, but certainly for our purposes.  However, a fusion plant could require large amounts of rare elements to be built.  Power production would be sustainable, but one could argue that expansion is not.
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30 Oct 2020 07:20

Watsisname wrote:
A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post We need to expand forests to get them to cover 60% of the world's land surface and that means a few trillion more trees.

How? Much of Earth's land surface is either not conducive to forests due to the climate zone, or is already allocated for other important uses (like agriculture). Much of what could turn forested is doing so already anyway, such as with the greening of the Arctic. But a side effect is the release of methane from melting permafrost. 

Planting trees to mitigate climate change is also a poor solution for a more fundamental reason: a growing tree constitutes taking CO2 out of the air (I like to think of trees as life "crystallizing air", and it is true most of the mass of a tree came from the air), so growing new forests would act as a carbon sink. But once a forest matures, it becomes closer to carbon neutral.

The solution to pulling climatically significant amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere is to have abundant, cheap, renewable energy. The video I previously shared on "Thorium Disadvantages" actually spends a good chunk of time discussing this, as well as how thorium reactors can aid in recycling (in the strict sense of the term and which is an energy-intensive process, not sorting which is what most people think recycling means).

Oh I see, so once a forest becomes mature then it's no longer a carbon sink, Wat?  The Age of Nature series on PBS talked about Bhutan, which they said is the only carbon negative country in the world right now.  Thorium is definitely much better than anything else we have right now as far as a concentrated source of energy is concerned that doesn't add any carbon to the atmosphere, but in the Age of Nature series, they mentioned that not only do we have to switch to carbon neutral energy, but we also need to remove the excess carbon we already have in the atmosphere (and the oceans, to prevent massive die-off of coral reefs, which is already happening), and regrowing forests was mentioned as a way to do that.

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