Sunday, June 16, 2024

BIG Exclusives

Halfway between Kyoto and ‘Net Zero by 2050’, how are we doing?

Giving credit where credit is due right up front – this article is based largely on a recent report by University of Manitoba Emeritus Professor and energy guru Vaclav Smil – “Halfway between Kyoto and 2050: Zero Carbon is a Highly Unlikely Outcome”, published by Canada’s Fraser Institute. Some people use the term “guru” lightly, but I do not; Professor Smil has spent a long and illustrious academic career researching and writing about energy and...

Fracking 101: Just the fracts

When I graduated from university and started my job at Shell Canada as an interpreter, I was trained on the basics of the petroleum system. To clarify, an “interpreter” in this context does not mean that I was hired to translate Greek to English. I do speak Seismic quite fluently, though, and my role as an interpreter was to translate sounds of a different type – the mysterious sound waves contained in seismic data...

Real climate science – uncertainty and risk

As we enter the mid-2020s, public discourse and government policy in rich nations focus intensively on climate. The idea that we live in a time of “climate crisis” garners more and more attention, fueled by publicity around every bad weather event and dire pronouncements of ever-more intense and frequent storms, floods, droughts, and other calamities to come. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from human activities – primarily carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) – are blamed...

What do models actually tell us about the future of climate change?

Many people in high-income nations believe that climate change is the defining issue of our time. There is no arguing that it is incredibly important – because regardless of arguments over how much climate is changing and what influences it may actually exert, government policy and social movements inspired by climate-change concerns affect us all. This situation was illustrated graphically in a recent BBC interview with Dr. Irfaan Ali, President of Guyana, where immense oil reserves have been discovered recently. He explained that even...

Carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) – effective technology or convenient scam?

Many people in high-income nations (and few in lower-income nations) are concerned about emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), particularly carbon dioxide (CO2), and their effects on climate. Behind the media furore and polarized sniping, there are legitimate concerns and scientific discussions around GHGs and their environmental impacts. The precautionary principle says that the less stuff humanity introduces to upset Earth’s ecological balances, the better – so it’s safe to say that reducing anthropogenic (human-made)...

Having a little fun with thermal physics

(Note from the editor: this article is not for everyone. If you have a background in science/mathematics, you will enjoy reading on. If, like me, you are not a scientist but enjoy reading about scientific issues presented in non-technical format, you will be better off reading this version of Brian’s article: Bridging the two cultures .If any of you science nerds have anything to add, we welcome your feedback in the comments section beneath...

Bridging the two cultures

My granddaughter is in her second year of physics and geophysics at UBC, and one of the courses she is taking this semester is titled Thermal Physics. This is a branch of physics I really enjoyed when I was studying at the University of Saskatchewan over 50 years ago, so I decided to buy her textbook of the same name, by Daniel Schroeder, and re-study the subject myself, both for fun and in case...

Optimal holocene climate is in our rear-view mirror

With increasing anthropomorphization of “climate”, few know that just 5,000 years ago, the massive desert extending from North Africa, through the Middle East and across Asia to the Gobi Desert in China was lush and a highly hydrated landscape. Even fewer know that the average temperature of the Earth in this era was significantly warmer than today. This epoch is known as the Holocene Climate Optimum (HCO) or Holocene Thermal Maximum (HTM). To kick-start this literature...

Pacific Walker Circulation and the tropospheric CO2 growth rate – Part 2

My objective in the second of this two-part series is to introduce a model that I call the Meridional Overturning Mediated Carbon Cycle between the Lithosphere and the Atmosphere. In Part 1 (Pacific Walker circulation and the tropospheric CO2 growth rate - BIG Media), I emphasized the known role of variable Pacific Walker Circulation in modulating the tropospheric CO2 growth rate (TGR), where the latter is a function of the rate by which carbonic-acid-enriched deep...

The Robbers Cave experiment’s important lesson for DEI

In this article, we examine keystone ideas from the psychology of group behaviour in the light of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). The evaluation leads to: (1) criticism to elements of DEI’s approach to the problem of societal cohesion, productivity, and harmony, specifically arguing that certain elements of DEI may increase bias and societal divides, and (2) suggestions for how to better bridge the divide between various members of society. Introduction Making both society and the...