Friday, July 16, 2010
The world slept through two decades as if forbidden to utter the
word "population." No American politician would dare speak the dangerous
word even now. Its being voiced once again in the UK, however, not only
by such high-profile intellectuals as Sir David Attenborough, but also by
Fred Pearce, a prominent science writer, who tells us, presumably with a
straight face, that "the problem is not population but consumption."
Dominic Lawson, also with a straight face, writes in the Independent
that, "Affluence is the answer." The rich, he notes, have fewer offspring;
all we have to do is make everybody rich. Between Pearce and Lawson, a
bunch off basic conservation laws must get mangled. Not a moment too soon,
the UK's Royal Society is launching a comprehensive review of the evidence,
led by Sir John Sulston, who was awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physiology
for his contributions to the Human Genome Project. Just the person.
Only the US and Belize still use this archaic Fahrenheit temperature scale,
but Washington, DC just hit 100 F (about 38 C). Not to worry. I have an
ad torn from Parade magazine. Parade has the highest circulation of any
print news. The ad, configured to look like a news story, is about
a "miracle air cooler." It's on wheels and you can roll it around anyplace
you want cool air. If you buy one quick you might get another one free.
But heck, they're "a real steal at just $298 and shipping." So if it
doesn't have to be in a window, where does the heat go? They come equipped
with two reusable ice blocks. Just fill em up and plug em in. This is
what we did back in the 30s. On unbearably hot days you put a block of ice
in front of a table fan. Taking into account the energy required to make
ice, it's much less efficient than your air conditioner.
The Senate Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation yesterday
agreed unanimously on a blueprint for NASA that is devoid of any new
science. The bill does get rid of the pathetic return-to-the-moon program,
but it is otherwise just a plan to avoid adding to unemployment in the
space industry. It calls for development of a spacecraft capable of
carrying a crew beyond low Earth orbit, but there's no place to go
Under the Obama administration's 20-year plan the US nuclear arsenal would
reduce the 5000 deployed and stored warheads by about 40%. The US has no
conceivable need for the remaining 3000 nuclear warheads. Additional cuts
however would be too expensive. As Lisbeth Gronlund of the Union of
Concerned Scientists is quoted in today's Washington Post, "nuclear weapons
are now a liability not an asset." We can't get rid of them fast enough.
Of course it doesn't, for the same reason that the phones don't cause
cancer: the frequency of microwave radiation is far, far below the