@Sen_JoeManchin 's pushback on Biden's CEPP will cause at least 57,000 to 158,000 deaths this century. @EnergyInnovLLC estimates 2030 US GHG emission 250-700 Mt CO2 higher without CEPP (WaPo 10/16), combined with @DannyBressler1 's recent mortality cost of carbon (Nat Comm 7/21) pic.twitter.com/HotFpq0Qp1— David Appell (@davidappell) October 17, 2021
Sunday, October 17, 2021
Sunday, October 10, 2021
I also have a feature article in this month's issue of Physics World magazine, on technosignatures:
“Scanning the cosmos for signs of technology,” Physics World, October 2021, pp 32-36.
At the moment it's only available to registered users of the site, but registration is free. In a week or so there'll be a publicly available link and I'll post that then.
"Technosignatures" are any sign of technology on another planet. Examining the "technosphere" is a burgeoning field that astronomers and astrophysicists are starting to think about, especially as the James Webb Space Telescope is about to launch (December, they say now) and as even better telescopes might come online next decade if recommended by the forthcoming NASA Decadal Survey.
For the last two decades astronomers and astrobiologists have been thinking about how they might detect life on exoplanets, via "biosignatures." These might be the detection of methane in a planet's light spectrum, large amounts of oxygen, and a host of other possibilities, due to microbes or plant life. If life is ever detected on another planet, it's likely it will be via some type of biosignature -- it could happen in the next couple of decades.
Just in the last couple of years scientists have also begun thinking about "technosignatures," signs of technology akin to how biosignatures are signs of life. If other planets have an advanced technological civilization, akin to ours or more advanced (since ours is rather nascent), there may be signs we can detect astronomically. These might be city lights on their nightside, industrial pollution in their atmosphere, solar panels on their surface or in orbit, or megastructures like a Dyson sphere* or swarm or ring, or who knows what. People are making calculations of what might be detectable by the Webb telescope or TESS, and by telescopes that are hopefully recommended like LUVOIR and HabEx. There will be an enormous amount of data to sift through, looking for anomalies. I tried to cover some of this rapidly expanding field in my artice.
* As you may know, a Dyson sphere is a hypothetical structure that would completely surround a star, thereby capturing all of its energy output. (Such an structure around our Sun, at Earth's distance, would capture 2 billion times as much solar energy as falls atop Earth's atmosphere.) Except a Dyson sphere isn't mechanically stable -- they would likely break up due to any drift, as Dyson wrote about in 1960 when he first proposed this idea. (A Star Trek: The Next Generation features a Dyson sphere. [Video] Magically it was stable.) If it could exist, a Dyson sphere would heat up and radiate outwards. A Dyson sphere at Earth's orbital distance would radiate at Earth's brightness temperature, 255 K, so with a blackbody spectrum with a peak wavelength of about 10 microns, in the infrared. People have actually done searches for Dyson spheres in the galaxy.
Instead, a civilization might construct a more stable Dyson configuration like a swarm or ring or bubble -- I've used the figure from my article below. Why? One idea is to capture solar energy on them and beam microwaves to the planet's surface. But who knows what an advanced civilization might do with them -- maybe live on them! These should have a radiative signature too, a technosignature. It's all hypothetical of course, but fun to think about.... It was a fun article to write.
Friday, October 08, 2021
Thursday, October 07, 2021
Wednesday, October 06, 2021
Platinum sells for $1,000/oz, so if it were to reflect its true value a $1 trillion Pt coin would weigh 28.5 kt (thou metric tons), be a cube 11.0 meters on a side, or, if it were the same thickness as a dollar coin (2 mm), have a diameter of 918 meters (3,010 ft). @axios https://t.co/Stt292P52Z— David Appell (@davidappell) October 6, 2021
Tuesday, October 05, 2021
Monday, October 04, 2021
Just thought I'd post the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice extents, through September 2021. These are the 12-month moving averages, so lag latest conditions a bit. It will be interesting to see where the Antarctic goes -- back on its old trend?
Thursday, September 30, 2021
This is from page 1 of Michael Mann's book The New Climate War.
The original source is Inside Climate News.
Michael Mann's book is excellent, and I heartily recommend it. He dissects the information war that has been going on for decades now, waged by the fossil fuel industry. But he also gives it to those who are all doom-and-gloom, the "Deep Adaptation" people who think all that's left is for us to prepare for the collapse of society. Mann's position is that we can still cut emissions enough by 2030 to prevent serious problems, with enough activism and political will, and that's his message in the book and in the talks he's giving seemingly everywhere.
I wish I were that optimistic but I can't say I am. I just can't see the world getting it together, primarily because of corruption driven by the multi-trillion dollar fossil fuel industry. (Just today I saw a tweet by Senator Elizabeth Warren about an army of Exxon lobbyists on Capitol Hill.) There's far too much money to be made for them to go quietly, or to transition into energy companies that produce renewable energy. They're making token efforts at best:
But who cares about me--a lot of young people aren't very optimistic either:
which is incredibly sad. And infuriating. OK, I worried a lot about global nuclear war when I was younger, between about 25 to 35, and would occasionally jolt upright in the middle of the night yelling from a dream, scaring the hell out of girlfriends in the process. Maybe my subconscious thought humanity was "doomed," but I outgrew it (but am rather surprised there hasn't been a global nuclear war in my lifetime--I would have bet there would have been. There's still time for one, of course. but I no longer wake up screaming at night.). But climate change seems a different order of disaster, because it looks inevitable. No attempts at a solution have done anything to modify the exponential Keeling curve--not Kyoto, not Copenhagen, not the Paris Agreement--and it's difficult to believe it will happen now at COP26.
Though there is just a touch of room for hope, as 2019's CO2 emissions were flat compared to 2018's. (2020's were much lower than 2019's, but that was due to the pandemic.) But through June 2021, global carbon emissions were 7% higher than June 2019's.
So why be optimistic? I don't see it yet. Does anyone?
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Summer 2021 was the warmest summer on record for the Earth's land regions (where we all live!). Temperatures for June, July, and August were around 1.5C above preindustrial levels. pic.twitter.com/KpFIxMTIln— Dr. Zeke Hausfather (@hausfath) September 22, 2021
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
“Build back better, blah blah blah. Green economy, blah blah blah. Net zero by 2050, blah blah blah. This is all we hear from our so-called leaders. Our hopes and ambitions drown in their empty promises.”— Jason Hickel (@jasonhickel) September 28, 2021