Wednesday, October 27, 2021

BIG Scoop

Putting global emissions in perspective

Every activity, natural or manmade, from breathing to driving, generates emissions of some kind. Certain emissions are worse than others, causing pollution or, in large quantities, affecting the composition of the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases (GHGs), in particular carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), generated by modern industry, transportation, and agriculture, have been rising steadily since the industrial revolution. These emissions are implicated in manmade influence on climate. Figure 1 shows the relative proportion of...

Climate change and energy: context for the great debate

Fifteen thousand years ago, humans walked across the Bering Strait from Asia to North America. How, you ask, did humans walk across an 80-metre-deep body of water? It was not a biblical miracle; it was because the strait was dry. Sea level was more than 100 metres lower than it is today. All that water was locked in the ice that covered much of the planet at the time. What was to become Calgary, Alberta, a city...

Examining the ethics of triage in a pandemic

Pandemic-level medical crises have the potential to create intense and widespread pressure on medical systems and personnel, and the COVID-19 pandemic has done so in numerous jurisdictions across the world. Since its arrival in North America early last year, COVID has caused multiple episodes of such pressure on various health-care systems. In North America and many parts of Europe, vaccines are now plentiful and the latest wave of COVID-related pressure on the medical establishment...

Energy prices climb … no surprises here

World energy markets are in turmoil. Prices for electricity are climbing in many places, even where there are long-established modern electrical grids. Oil has risen to about US$70 per barrel, from levels less than a third of that in March and April of 2020, at the beginning of the COVID crisis. Natural gas prices in North America have more than doubled in the past year – the Henry Hub trading centre was quoting $4.97...

In search of the zone on the sharp end

When the rope is all below you, trailing down the vertical passage of hard and unforgiving rock, and you reach up to ascend another step toward the sky, it is said that you are on the sharp end of the rope. It is sharp with consequence and responsibility, for the consequence and responsibility are all yours. You are the author of your situation and only you can manage what happens next. You, the laws...

Prisoner’s dilemma and vaccination

The last 18 months have felt like a prison sentence for many of us. Therefore, it seems appropriate that we look at how a famous problem in game theory known as prisoner’s dilemma might relate to our current challenges. Prisoner’s dilemmapresents a scenario in which the choice of action can bring about a result that is great for one prisoner and terrible for the other, reasonably good for both parties, or bad for both...