American Elephants


A Graphene Heating System Would Dramatically Reduce Home Energy Costs. by The Elephant's Child
June 7, 2015, 7:03 am
Filed under: Energy, Science/Technology | Tags: , ,

A couple of years ago, in August of 2013, I wrote about the new wonder material, graphene, a more glamorous cousin of ordinary pencil lead, and the rush to file patents for potential uses. As of May that year, there had been more than 9,000 patents filed.

Dr. Geim wanted thin graphite to study its electrical properties. A doctoral student suggested using cellophane tape.”They used the tape to peel off layers of graphite until they got to a layer so thin it was transparent. Not only did it not fall apart, it was strong, flexible and possessed astonishing electrical properties.”

A startup called Xefro in the United Kingdom is working in the unheralded area of energy savings, where nanomaterials are making the biggest inroads. A graphene heating system could dramatically reduce home energy costs. This is the first time graphene has been used as a heating element. Depending on the kind of heating system currently used in a home, the company estimates that their graphene-based heating system could reduce energy costs by anywhere from 25 to 75 percent.

Xefro uses graphene-based ink that can be printed on a variety of materials and into just about any configuration. The system takes advantage of graphene’s minimal thermal mass so the heat can be turned on and off quickly, and leverages graphene’s large surface area so that energy isn’t wasted in heating up the heater itself.

Traditional heating systems are very inefficient in that they require heat to be transferred to multiple materials: for example, heating up water to heat up a radiator which heats up air and then finally heats up objects in a room, according to Harper.

The full article is here. I should have paid a lot more attention in physics!



The EPA Reports there Is No Danger to Drinking Water Supplies From “Fracking” by The Elephant's Child
June 5, 2015, 3:47 pm
Filed under: Energy, Environment | Tags: , ,

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The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a 1,000 page report briskly titled “Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking Water Resources.” The Executive Summary is only 28 pages.

The EPA report says that there is no systemic danger to drinking water supplies from fracking. There have been a few instances of improper drilling techniques, and a very few identified cases where one or more mechanisms led to contamination of drinking water wells, but the number of cases was small compared to the number of hydraulically fractured wells.

The New York Times reported:

The report identified 151 cases from 2006 to 2012 in which fracking fluids or chemicals spilled on or near a drilling well. The spills ranged from 5 gallons to more than 19,000 gallons, with equipment failure the most common cause. Fluids reached surface water in 13 cases and soil in 97 cases, the report said. None of the spills were reported to have reached groundwater.

The environmental movement was outraged. They have their approved story line, and certainly are not going to accept any correction. One group, Earthworks, insisted that the report says the opposite of what it actually says. Expect comments that “the government is trying to cover up…”

Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing ,”fracking,” has increased domestic crude oil production of 3.6 million barrels a day in less than four years. reversing  almost four decades of decline. In response to sharply lower prices, domestic oil producers have shed jobs and cut operating rigs by more than half.

The smartest competitors have worked relentlessly to increase their productivity. Leading operators report that they can produce more profitable oil today at a price of $65 a barrel than they could three years ago at $95 a barrel.

Wells in light tight-oil formations can be drilled and completed for millions—not billions—of dollars, and the majority of the estimated recovery will occur within a year or two of bringing it on line. Capacity across a diversified portfolio of wells can be turned on when future prices justify it, and off when they don’t. That turns upside-down the traditional model of oil megaprojects that require billions in upfront capital, years of lead time, and always-on production irrespective of price.

All this means that, for the first time in history, oil production is becoming a modern manufacturing process. The frackers are engaged in “just-in-time” production, analogous to the methods pioneered by Japanese manufacturers in the 1970s and 1980s, which led directly to hyper-efficient global supply-chain management perfected by Wal-Mart in the 1990s. (emphasis added)



Yoo Hoo, Mr. President! About Climate Change Being Our Biggest Threat? by The Elephant's Child
May 23, 2015, 6:41 pm
Filed under: Energy | Tags: , ,

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Memorial Day Weekend, May 23, 2015 — A weekend of barbecues, and a time for remembrance, the start of Summer. This is Portage Lake, Maine today.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/05/20/remarks-president-united-states-coast-guard-academy-commencement



FEMA Will Deny Preparedness Funds Unless You Believe by The Elephant's Child

Starting next year in March, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will approve disaster-preparedness funds only for states whose governors have approved mitigation plans to address climate change. This does not affect funds for disaster relief after a hurricane, flood or tornado, but those funds directed to preparedness for a disaster.

Unfortunately, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and earthquakes are not caused by Global Warming. Obama’s FEMA Director Craig Fugate explained back in 2012 that hurricanes are cyclical, not linked to Anthropogenic Global Warming.

“Well, I’m not a meteorologist. I’m not a climate scientist, and hurricanes are cyclic,” Fugate responded. “I do know history, and if you look at history and you look at hurricane activity, there are periods of increased and decreased activity that occurs over decades,” Fugate said. “Throughout the ‘60s, ‘70s, early ‘80s, up until about ’95, the Atlantic was actually in a period of below-average activity, even though you had significant storms like Andrew, Frederic, and David.”…

“But the reality is the history says we’ve had this period of activity, we’ve had a period of quiet,” Fugate said. “We’ve had a period of activity; we’ve had a period of quiet. And so what we’ve seen is not what we — we’ve seen this in history before.”

The whole FEMA issue of withholding funds based on accepting the administrations mantra about climate change is pure politics, not science.

The promoters of climate change are attempting to silence skeptics before the UN Paris climate summit and the next Presidential election and the implications for EPA climate regulations. They are trying to intimidate any scientists who have dared to testify before Congress. What are they threatening? They will call them “Deniers” a dire threat, for who cannot see that the climate is changing all the time, and they will claim that they are supported by oil companies. They are all quite sure that corporations are bad, and certainly the corporations that produce dread fossil fuels are the very worst of all.

It’s amazing how they can all cheerfully line up at the gas pumps, grateful for the drop in the price of gasoline, apparently completely oblivious to how that came about. They are sure that the world could run on clean solar energy and wind power, without understanding that each of those tiny sources of energy only exist because they are backed up full time with conventional power plants. But then they jet off to conferences without the slightest concern for their carbon footprints (whatever those are) or even a thought for how modern travel came about and how those airplanes were produced.

It is not hypocrisy that sends them off to attack climate scientists, but willful ignorance. They believe, and you must not challenge their religion.



About the Coming Catastrophe: It’s Not the Climate! by The Elephant's Child

Fear of catastrophic climate change exists only in computer models which are used to predict the future on the basis of not very much real knowledge. That we don’t really know very much about earthly climate should be obvious from all the controversy.

The earth has been warming very gradually for 300 years, since the Little Ice Age ended, well before we discovered the use of fossil fuels. Prior to the Little Ice Age was the Medieval Warm Period, when the Vikings colonized Greenland and Newfoundland, and it was warmer than today. That was a period when humanity thrived. Before that were the Dark Ages, and before than the Roman Warming. Humanity has been pretty successful at adapting to change. Why is it only now that we fear change as a portent of disaster? Too many end if the world scenarios in the movies?

The idea that it would be catastrophic if carbon-dioxide were to increase and average global temperatures were to rise a few degrees is just silly. And there is no evidence whatsoever that the climate will become drastically warmer, or that the sea will rise by feet rather than millimeters. None.

A new scientific study by Bjorn Stevens of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany published in the American Meteorological Society Journal—finds the effect of aerosols on climate are much smaller that those in almost all of the computer models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“Aerosols are the minute particles added to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels (as well as by non-anthropogenic sources, like volcanoes). The reason they are important is that they are so often cited by alarmists to excuse the awkward fact that the world has stubbornly failed to warm at the disastrous rate they predicted it would.”

A NASA expert in 2009 said:

Using climate models, we estimate that aerosols have masked about 50 percent of the warming that would otherwise have been caused by greenhouse gases trapping heat near the surface of the Earth.

There was a lack of global warming, a cooling period, between 1940 and 1970 (ice age?) when there was increased industrialization and extra man-made CO².  Aerosols have been used to explain the lack of warming.

The new Stevens paper has been called a “game changer” by one expert in the field — Nic Lewis.

According to the IPCC’s models, the effect of aerosols on the climate could be as much as 4.5 degrees. The Stevens paper says this is a big overestimate and the reduction they effect on temperature cannot be more than 1.8 degrees C. If the cooling effects of aerosols is much smaller than the IPCC thinks, then the rise in global temperatures that can be attributed to man-made CO² is much smaller than the alarmist computer models acknowledge.

The terrestrial temperature measuring stations have been shown to vastly overestimate warming as well, for many are improperly sited next to air-conditioner exhausts, walls that reflect heat, trash burners, next to asphalt parking lots — all locations that artificially raise the heat measurement on the thermometers.

Satellite measurement began about 1980, I think. The climate models are unable to predict the present climate when we know what it is. Mankind has always wanted to predict the future, but I don’t know that it’s any better now than when they were tossing bones, or reading tea leaves. Lord knows they’ve tried, especially with financial markets.  The models devised for predicting the future of the stock market were, I believe I read, the original source for the climate models. Any successful predictions are apt to be just lucky guesses, otherwise we wouldn’t have Las Vegas, nor a Lottery, nor losses on the stock market. We are not meant to know the future,but to be wise enough to prepare for what might be.

ADDENDUM: Dr.Roy Spencer and Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama at Huntsville, who developed the satellites that give us the only real time climate measurements, are celebrating their 25th anniversary, so they started measuring in 1990. I was only ten years off!

 



The California Governor’s “Crusade” to Stop Climate Change by The Elephant's Child

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California Governor Jerry Brown, speaking Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said that Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was “unfit” to run for the presidency  because of his views on climate change.

That man betokens such a level of ignorance and a direct falsification of the existing scientific data,” he said. “It’s shocking, and I think that man has rendered himself absolutely unfit to be running for office.”

Brown said that there should be urgency to deal with climate change.”I think this almost has to be at the level of a crusade.”

Host Chuck Todd asked if California’s four-year drought was directly attributable to climate change, but then the climate zealot responded “Well they say the scientists know more about it, but I will tell you this. There is research that says there is a connection between the current drought and the extreme weather in the east and other parts of the world. The UN has said that 40% of the world is suffering from a water shortage.”

But somehow the cold and record snow levels in eastern cities like Boston have persuaded the governor that the planet is heating up?

Well what I mentioned is to particularize a particular storm or absence of rain in a given week, you can’t tie that into the buildup of the presence of carbon dioxide, methane and other green house gasses. We know there is some connection and we know that this drought is just the kind of things that are absolutely inevitable that in the coming years and decades. And it builds up slowly. That’s the challenge. And it becomes irreversible.

Uh huh, but there is no time for delay in combating climate change. He continued:

So you can’t just sit around and engage in rhetoric, because some of your donors and your constituents say ‘We want to make profit.’ The coal companies are not as important as the people of America and the people of the world. I think that this has to be almost at the level of a crusade to whip people up and take the steps intelligently, carefully, and nevertheless forcefully from this point going forward.

That is the voice of a zealot who gets what little information he has from leftist talking points, and turns it into matters of faith. He believes. He has never been interested enough to investigate and see what the scientists are saying and writing; nor has he any idea what his “crusade” could possibly consist of. Will banning fracking end the mild winters? Will eating less meat bring more rain and snow to fill the reservoirs? Will shutting down all the coal-fired power plants do anything except make people in colder areas freeze to death?

How about refraining from flushing all the Sacramento River water out to the ocean to save the river smelt, a tiny bait fish of no use to anyone? That might help the drought in the great Central Valley. You could raise the cost of water to encourage more careful use. How many water features are there in the California desert golf resorts anyway?

He’s done a marvelous job of sending California’s businesses, residents and jobs to other states, especially Texas. And he’s replaced the fleeing residents with illegal aliens, and making them comfortable with drivers licenses and welfare subsidies.

And just think what he could do with the funds that are designated for his high-speed rail connection between San Francisco and Los Angeles that is slower and cheaper than a flight. That line will not be completed for eighty years, when we’ll all be traveling by driverless vehicles on programmed roadways or pneumatic tubes or something.



Sunshine vs. Secrecy. No Change! Still Secret. by The Elephant's Child

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This is Sunshine Week, And this is a post (revised) I published at this time last year. Has anything changed?  “Open government is good government.” Celebrating Your Right to Know. Yoo Hoo, Hillary…

The government watchdog group Cause of Action released a Freedom of Information Act report card for 15 federal agencies that receive the bulk of all FOIA requests. Six of the 15 agencies received failing grades. Three agencies—the Departments of Education, Homeland Security and Treasury—earned “F” grades for failing to comply with the law’s annual reporting requirements. Whether their grades included agencies that are part of, for example, the IRS which is part of Treasury is not clear.

The Center for Effective Government also rated 15 government agencies, not quite the same list, but even worse grades.

“Transparency and the Rule of Law
will be the touchstone of this  presidency.”
Barack Obama, January 31, 2009

Nice public statement spin, but Obama has been trying to figure out ways around it ever since, and Congress has been trying to figure out how to make it stick. I have 55 articles in my “transparency” file.

You may be unaware that President Obama rewrote the Freedom of Information Act, without telling the rest of America.

The rewrite came in a memo from then-White House Counsel Greg Craig on April 15, 2009, instructing the executive branch to let White House officials review any documents sought by FOIA requestors that involved “White House equities.” That word is not to be found in the law, but the Obama White House effectively amended the law to justify keeping public documents locked away from the public. Cause of Action, is  a Washington-based nonprofit watchdog group that monitors government transparency and accountability.

The exception “applies to all documents and records, whether in oral, paper, or electronic form, that relate to communications to and from the White House, including preparations for such communications.”

Oh, ho, ho. Open government indeed. The FOIA requires federal agencies to respond within 20 days of receiving a request, but the White House equities exception can make it impossible for an agency to meet that deadline.

Cause of Action is still waiting for documents from 16 federal agencies, with the Department of Treasury having the longest pending request of 202 business days.  (Would you care to wager that this has to do with the IRS?) The Department of Energy comes in second at 169 business days. 20 days indeed. Can’t have the  great unwashed viewing politically sensitive documents.

That’s the promised “most transparent administration in history.” As usual, there is the big public announcement which the peasants might hear, followed by the actions that the administration prefers, which people probably won’t hear. Not transparent at all, except where it doesn’t make any difference.

—”Obama Just Officially Decided White House Emails Aren’t Subject to the Freedom of Information Act” Mother Jones 3/17/2015

—”Obama administration stonewalls FOIA request on IRS targeting scandal” Hot Air, 2/10/2015

—’Serious limitations‘: Gov’t watchdogs unite in letter slamming Obama administration transparency,”Fox News, 8/06/2014

“Transparency Groups Seek White House Position on FOIS Reforms” Washington Free Beacon, 10/27/2014

“FOIA request revealed Obama family vacation to Hawaii cost taxpayers over $3.6 million in flight costs alone”
Political Insider, 3/13/2015




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