Category Archives: Environment

Big Brother is a Schizophrenic

“And Bert, well I just guess that Bert is typical of the kind who complain about Big Brother while asking the same Big Brother to fix all of their problems.” The above comment was posted in a thread that I was participating in recently. My first response was to reject it. And then, I thought some more and decided that the comment was correct. But the problem is, Big Brother is a schizophrenic; at times a benevolent Dr. Jekyll, at others a sinister Mr. Hyde. I love the good things that Read more [...]

The Future of Electric Vehicles

Since I acquired an electric vehicle (EV), I have thought about the future of these things.  They are too expensive now, and too heavy, because of the huge and costly lithium-ion battery that provides limited range, making the car useful only for commuting and local errands.  Even so, my car is a joy to drive, quick and silent with virtually no maintenance other than checking the tires.  Even the disk brake pads will probably never need replacement because it employs regenerative braking, converting Read more [...]

Hydrogen – Fuel for Cars?

When hydrogen burns, the primary product of combustion is water.  Compared to fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas, it seems like a perfect “fuel” to power our vehicles.  No greenhouse gases like CO2 are produced to heat up the planet, nor are the other toxic gases like hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide that cause the acid rain that is destroying forests all over the planet.  Some small quantities of nitrogen oxides result from burning hydrogen, but much less than from fossil fuels. Hydrogen Read more [...]

Adam Smith Would Be Shaking His Head

Adam Smith proposed in his 1776 book, "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations," that if each individual in a society operates in his own best interest to maximize his economic gain, an "invisible hand" would guide his actions so that the best interests of the society at large will be served. Smith was a religious person, and he believed that the "invisible hand" was a benevolent god. This essay will show that Smith's notion, if it had any validity in the 18th century, Read more [...]

The Solar Power Problem

Solar panel owners are selfish, hypocritical liars. They say that they put solar panels on their roofs because they generate clean, renewable energy, and that helps the environment and prevents global warming which everybody knows is a hoax. But we know they put up those solar panels just to get out of buying electricity from the power companies. Most of them still buy a little, but not as much as they should. So the power companies are not selling enough electricity, and they will have to raise Read more [...]

Ramifications of Population Control

The human population of the earth is now about 7 billion. Scientists who study these things think that the “sustainable” population is between 1.5 and 2.5 billion. Although the rate of increase has lessened in recent years, the population will continue to increase for some time unless mankind takes aggressive action to stabilize it. The Chinese government has attempted to rein in their population by limiting some families to one child. It occurred to me that society would change in some rather Read more [...]

Why Do We Do It?

Yup, your worst fears are realized.  The “it” I am talking about is SEX! Obviously, we do it because it is pleasurable, right? But hold on, if that were the only reason, we would have sex with anybody and everybody.  There must be other reasons we choose our sex partners. Billy Crystal crystallized one view of it when he said: “Women need a reason to have sex -- men just need a place.” This suggests that while men are pretty much “on the make” all the time, women Read more [...]

A Genius…and a Global Warming Skeptic

In an entertaining and provocative article in Atlantic magazine, Kenneth Brower takes a journey into the mind of Freeman Dyson, one of the most brilliant and productive scientists alive today.  A Nobel laureate for his work in physics, he has made significant contributions in many other scientific fields.  But one of his most famous “contributions” is his openly skeptical views on global warming. Brower asks, “How could someone as smart as Dyson be so dumb about the environment?”  Read more [...]

Why A Standing Ovation?

Ken Santucci and I have a lot in common.  We are both retired aerospace engineers living in Southern California, both around seventy years old.  He worked for the old North American Aviation corporation before it was bought by Rockwell and became Rockwell International.  So did I.  He also worked for Douglas Aircraft before it became McDonnell Douglas, as did I.  Our careers were parallel paths for more than thirty years.  It’s a wonder we didn’t meet, somewhere along the line, but we never Read more [...]

The Trouble With Green Cars

This was written a few years ago but sadly, not much has changed. When the Toyota Prius first came out, I was really happy to see it.  At last, a major automaker was trying to address the problems of dwindling world petroleum supplies and environmental pollution.  True, GM had introduced the EV-1 battery-powered car back in 1996, but it was soon obvious that it was a token effort, quickly withdrawn from the market.  Other hybrids like the Honda Insight also appeared, but did not achieve widespread Read more [...]

The Tragedy of the Commons

The Tragedy of the Commons (TOC) is not widely known or understood, except among people who have studied environmental science.  The depletion of fishery stocks and whale populations are graphic examples of the idea.  Here is how Wikipedia defines it:   "The metaphor illustrates how free access and unrestricted demand for a finite resource ultimately structurally dooms the resource through over-exploitation. This occurs because the benefits of exploitation accrue to individuals or groups, each Read more [...]

The Poison Pill

I originally wrote this more than ten years ago, not long after the WTC attacks.  Since then the problem has remained, and even worsened. In his book, “The End of Faith,” Sam Harris makes a convincing case that the world’s two major religions, Christianity and Islam, are heading for a climactic confrontation.  Since the origin of Islam in 610 CE, this conflict has simmered and festered.  The Crusades and the Ottoman Empire’s conquests of southern Europe were samples of what is to come.  Read more [...]

Flashback…and Forward

This was written in 2008, but I think that its message is even more appropriate today. In a few months, I will attend my 54th high school reunion.  I graduated from high school in 1954, barely past the midpoint of the 20th Century.  The Second World War had concluded only 9 years earlier.  It was so long ago that my brain hurts just thinking about it.  But every time one of these reunions approaches, I find my mind doing “flashbacks,” recalling what life was like in that far distant past. Life Read more [...]

Hardball Politics vs. Climate Change

Quote mining.   Cherry Picking.   Data Mining.   Character Assassination. These are tried-and-true techniques for people who are trying to advance a political agenda.  Politicians have to deal with this all the time.  Their words are deliberately distorted by taking them out-of-context.  Or a casual comment is misinterpreted in the most damaging possible way.  It is part of the “art” of politics in this new take-no-prisoners environment we now live in.  “My honorable opponent,” Read more [...]

Evolution and Climate Change

If you were raised in a devoutly Christian household, what were you taught even before you finally chucked those diapers?  Among other things, you were undoubtedly immersed in the Biblical account of Creation, as given in the Book of Genesis. It was probably quite a while before you even heard of Darwin and the Theory of Evolution.  And most likely, your first exposure to that was in exceedingly disparaging terms.  But if you took science classes in a public school, eventually you were taught Read more [...]

Revolutionary Ideas

Copernicus, Galileo, Darwin, Carson and Hansen. Most readers will recognize the first three names. A little head scratching might drag up Rachel Carson. But not many people will know that last name. Read on to find out the identity of the last individual, and what these five people have in common. Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543) When Copernicus was in his early forties, around 1514, he had a revolutionary idea. From his astronomical observations, he deduced that the sun, not the earth, was stationary, Read more [...]

A Response to Climate Deniers

In a recent issue of Skeptic magazine, an article by David Brin[1] takes on the deniers of global warming.  Brin, a scientist, speaker, technical consultant and widely published author has a PhD in physics.[2]  He gets right to the point in the second paragraph: “Trained as a scientist, and knowing many who research planetary atmospheres, I lean toward listening to expert advice on this complicated issue, especially since most [of the] recommended policy endeavors are things we should Read more [...]

A Glimpse of the Future

This was written in 2005, before the 2008 economic meltdown.  Not all of the predictions have come true, but too many have.  We as a nation have done very little to avoid the dismal scenario described here. The year is 2015, and we are driving from our home in Los Angeles to San Francisco.  The car we are driving is an advanced hybrid, designed to maximize efficiency without sacrificing the luxury and creature comforts to which we have become accustomed.  It is powered by a small 60 horsepower Read more [...]