My message to the bicycle industry.

I’ve had this post sitting in draft format for almost two years. It’s not an easy subject to write about. You see, earlier this year, I read the book “cradle to cradle; remaking the way we make things”. It’s essentially a book about sustainable product design. I like to think of myself as an environmentalist. And I like to think of myself as a product designer too. So to me, this was one of those truly life-altering books.

I have always want to design and manufacture parts. Ever since high school, I can remember sketching time trial frames with aero cross sections. So reading this new book came as a bit of a shock to me. Because this was the first book that I read that questioned the status quo. It questioned the ‘sustainability’ of many of our current manufacturing processes. And the truth is, they are not very sustainable at all. I think we already knew that. But we don’t like hearing it. We block our ears or change the channel.

Previously, I used to only think about what things were made of. I would simply select the products that were made with the best materials (because I am a materials scientist). And that was it. I didn’t really question where all these materials even came from (although deep down I knew because I had studied it in subjects like “extractive metallurgy”).

Basically, we have got a big problem, because we are operating like there is no tomorrow. And it’s not good for the environment. Not good for the environment at all. Eventually, I think we’re going to reach a peak production volume. After that, I believe we must begin to produce less. Not just with bike products, but with everything. I predict that our entire global economy will be forced to sell more ‘services’ in lieu of ‘products’.

And I think the bicycle industry needs to look at itself very hard. Because it is making products and components that are bad for the environment. Aren’t bikes supposed to be good for the environment? Isn’t that why we all got into bikes in the first place?

With road bikes: How is hydraulic fluid good for the environment? What happens to all those disc brake pads when they are worn out? How is electronic shifting good for the environment? Indeed, how is carbon fibre as a material good for the environment?

I’d rather not be the one to tell you this, but carbon fibre composites are actually terrible for the environment. When you think about it, carbon fibres are not easy to make, are they? And the more forming processes they go through, the worse it is for the environment. There is more pollution. There is more energy required. More machinery is required. And what about the matrix, epoxy resin? That’s another nasty material. And these two phases, the matrix and the fibres cannot be readily separated for recycling when their life is over. Can they?

And what about bike frames? When a carbon frame cracks in two (and yes I have seen it happen), do we really repair it? Or do we simply throw it in the bin? I didn’t know what to do with my last pair of carbon tubulars when they wore out, so eventually I decided to cut them up into quarters and sold as “ultra-lightweight coathangars” (I have always tried to be zero waste). Yes, really! Someone out there now has a cupboard with a set of very expensive zipp 303 coat hangars!

So where do all of these carbon fibre parts normally end up? Land fill. That’s hardly what I’d call an advanced civilisation, making millions of things that make a one way trip to the bin.

With mountainbikes: How is continually developing new products year after year after year good for the environment? How about longer product cycles and real improvements please?

This is something I saw first hand renting bikes on Tenerife. The wastage was multiplied by a factor of 10x or 20x (or more) over a single rider. It’s not something you normally think about. And quite frankly I got tired of seeing it. One bottom bracket standard after another. It just makes it so much harder to keep spare parts… and more ends up in the bin, which is not good.

I think people must eventually come to realise that metals, ceramics and polymers must all come from somewhere. And where do they come from you ask? Well, they come from mines, that’s where. So every time you buy something new, you are destroying a part of the world. That is literally no exaggeration. It certainly doesn’t do the environment any good. Even when you buy an ecological vehicle, the raw materials must first be mined. So ultimately, buying nothing is almost always the best option.

The introduction of 29″ wheels was really one of the last straws as far as I was concerned… how are they any good for the smallest riders? And then as if to really fuck everone over good and proper, along came 27.5″ wheels. So these days I am just completely over it. I am happy with the bikes I’ve got and no one is going to convince me otherwise.

Now, I understand things must move forward and improve, but are these new inventions really ‘proven’ before they see the light of day? Or are they just design fads? I think product designers these days face a real challenge, and that is to make products that not only function well, look good and are reasonably priced, but ones that don’t harm the environment either. We are at the stage now, where that has to be considered. It just has to.

Half the problem lies with magazine editors. Yes, magazine editors. Because they often talk you into buying stuff that is simply not necessary. They do this because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t get as much advertising revenue, would they? There is a fundamental rule in many industries (not just the bicycle industry): you cannot speak ill of a manufacturer if they are paying your wages. It is like biting the hand that feeds you.

Not only does all of these mostly bullshit new products make your old ones go obsolete faster, but their manufacture taxes the environment more and more and more. So for every new carbon fibre part that is produced, new moulds must also be produced. The new moulds then have to be designed and fabricated. And those moulds must also be transported, too. And the transportation is happening with unsustainable transport methods, isn’t it? Right? That’s why I say the world today has got itself a massive problem. And I think it is one reason why so many people are depressed. It also explains why so many people in the manufacturing industry are climate change deniers, because if they admitted to it, then they would have to face a real dilemma that they are contributing to a worser future this Earth.

SO if you haven’t guessed already, one of my goals or aims in life is “to have a minimum impact on the environment”. And I have an interesting story little about how I figured that out as well —I went on this horrible blind date and it turns out to be more like a job interview. You know, with fifty or more questions. And one of the questions was: “what is your aim or goal in life?” I was a bit taken back that someone would actually ask me that on a first date. Anyway, after a lot of thinking, we honed in on my life goal together. Well at least I got something out of it I suppose. LOL.

So I have an announcement: last year I started a new blog, called vida enigmática: “who speaks for Earth?”. I hope to influence and inspire more people over there. Hopefully a whole generation, young and old, will tune in and take notice. I personally hope that it starts a revolutionary new way of thinking, so I hope to see you there.

I might as well add this here now, because I don’t update this blog much anymore. So the other site I have been working on is this one: my illustration and photography website.

Off the grid.

It all started when I was in the local hardware store (Leroy Merlin) the other day, feeling rather bored. I love walking in there as it opens up so many possibilities for new projects. I’m the type of guy that always has to be occupied doing something, be it maintaining, modifiying existing components so they perform better than they did in their original state, or inventing something completely new.

Anyway, I walked down a new aisle called “alternative energy”. I was quickly impressed by how easy it looked to hook up all the energy & controller modules. I soon walked out of there with a 2W “solar battery charger” – better than nothing I thought, while I do some research on the other systems offered. I got home, promptly connected the solar charger to my motorcycle’s flat battery. My 8 year old neice in law had no idea what this new device was, further solidifying my belief that it was good to be emitting these new green vibes. I had it sitting there in the late afternoon for a few hours and it had still not generated enough juice to start the motor! Just a few turns of the starter motor was all I got. Somewhat disappointed, but thinking: for €24.95, what did I really expect? That’s a pretty lame foray into the world of solar.

Somewhat miffed, I just reminded myself that “more power” is the obvious way to go with solar panels. So I went back to Leroy Merlin the next day and sized up the different options. There were solar panels of all sizes, rigid, flexible, long and short. Even though there wasn’t much there to choose from, I walked away, scared by it all. Not just because of the initial cost, but the stigma attached to it all. Mulling it all over, I wondered: what are people going to think of someone who is paying €360 for a pair of 14W photovoltaic arrays? Aren’t I going to look like a dickhead, when a lot of the appliances I use are well over 500W? I hesitated and procrastinated so much, the security guys were starting to take notice! I looped around the store and got a basket and some other things first.

Then I noticed people wandering around, half of them lost, the remainder buying up all this stuff (with some restraint due to the financial crisis here in Spain). Who knows whether they really needed it or not. Meanwhile, I was facing some kind of reality shock. See, when I was in my early twenties, I decided my goal in life was to have a “minimum impact on the environment”. And here I am, a decade later, not doing anything even remotely green. Okay, for sure I turn off all the lights whenever possible (and there are no tungsten bulbs anywhere in my house or car), but so what? That’s the least you can do. Otherwise, you’re a bit of a moron, right?

My aim for this project was to light the back of my new van so that when I deliver a bike in the dark, there is ample light to do any adjustments, change pedals, etc. Street light is pretty feeble and it just doesn’t look like a very professional setup when you can’t even show people the best bike routes on a map because it’s too dark. The plan is to install some flexible solar panels on van’s roof, where there’s plenty of stray light already going to waste (reflections, heat and whatnot). I am also planning to at least recharge my mobile phone, laptop, credit card reader and possibly a few other devices like my cordless drill, etc. At least it’s a start. Because it’s modular, I can always add to the system – I’ve calculated that the roof of the Renault Trafic will fit up to 6 solar panels, giving a total power generation of 84W. That’s something to look forward to. If it all goes well, eventually we’ll get the desktop computer off the grid too.

"In just one hour, 
the Sun transmits more energy
to the surface of the Earth 
than what humanity consumes in one year"

This was my moment of self truth. A little fatter now than I used to be and about to commit to this new diesel van for work purposes, I felt environmentally obliged to invest in something good for the planet for once. Like someone was watching over me, something akin to the Truman show (how long does it take this member of society to buck the trend; we’ve made it so accesible for him?). Can I really afford four or five hundred Euros? Not really. Can I afford not to do it? No freakin’ way! [Read more →]

Is the weather becoming our enemy?

Every time I turn on the news or read a newspaper, it seems as if everything is against us, the Earth itself included. Have you noticed that certain weather incidents are now portrayed as a bad thing? Don’t misunderstand me. When I say they are bad, if there are casualties, it goes without saying that a tragedy has taken place.

What I don’t agree with is the notion that that the environment has somehow reached enemy status. Like it has a mind of its own and it’s out to get us to teach us a hard earned lesson. No! It’s our friend for Pete’s sake. It’s the oxygen we breathe. We grew up here. It’s almost like teenage children rebelling against their parents! Here’s a thought: if you’ve driven a car today, don’t attack the weather afterwards like some kind of evil foe.

I guess unlike a lot of other things, the weather can be dangerous and we’re naturally afraid of that. Just witness the air travel chaos caused by the recently erupting Icelandic volcano (Tenerife is a primary European holiday destination, so we were indirectly affected by all the flight cancellations). But then people begin to react with fear & anxiety which stems from a threat which usually can’t be controlled easliy.

I’m just waiting for the day when some bright spark proposes [seriously] putting a stop to these ‘human inconveniences’ by plugging that Icelandic volcano or some other grandiose idea to reduce the volcanic ash cloud. Because my biggest fear is actually the moment when humans do try to stop or prevent weather phenomena in order to create a more ‘stable’ environment. Oh wait, seems it’s already happening:

Climate intervention is a field so new that the senior scientists who attended the five-day meeting don’t agree on its name. Some are calling it geoengineering; others call it climate remediation. Either way, it involves complex — and, some say, ethically questionable — processes to reduce the impact of global warming.

You may or may not be aware that us humans have a great history of fucking things up big time. Sorry to say this, but whatever we touch, we end up destroying in one way or another. Sometimes we’re so stupid, we don’t even know what we’ve destroyed until it’s too late. Sometimes we’re that ignorant and we’ll never even know what we buggered up. The bigger the scheme, the greater the fuck-up. Mark my words people, because the first thing scientists do before attempting to create an artificial ‘solution’ is to measure or characterise something. Some of the most powerful computers on Earth are dedicated to weather prediction. I hope we never reach the stage where we try to interfere with Earth’s natural systems. It’s probably too late, since it looks like we have already kick-started another global warming phase. I wouldn’t be suprised, for example, if some clever schmuck is right now devising an artificial gas halo to protect the Earth and cool it back to it’s natural level. Or they could extend the Earth’s orbit a bit and cool it down that way. If it isn’t clear already, I think that these sort of grandiose schemes are doomed to failure right from the start. Not because they won’t work, but because of the unintended consequences.

Journalists are not entirely to blame. You even hear people being interviewed on the street. Too much rain is bad, too much hot weather is bad, too much snow is bad. There is drought and at the same time there is flooding. But who decides how much is too much? In my opinion, the rapid change in weather patterns we see now probably are caused by humans. But I’m not convinced that we can fix our mistakes quite so simply. Anyone who thinks otherwise should probably read the book “why things bight back”… In conclusion, I think it’s our entire mindset we really do need to change not just our lifestyle.

Depression Epedemic.

Preface: This article is turning out to be very difficult to write. Part of the reason is that I began writing it when I was suffering from depression myself. Hence, my motivation was a lot less than it is now. Depressed people also have a slanted or warped perspective – they have an extremely negative or pessimistic outlook on life. This is something I wanted to take advantage of during the time that I was “infected” with the disease. During this phase I wrote some paragraphs which seemed to retain that negativity, but they weren’t written well. I can tell from my own words now that I was struggling with everything.

Yet I normally enjoy being an optimistic person, always thinking very positively. So it’s challenging for me to write now because I’m cured (at least temporarily)! This didn’t happen overnight – it was a gradual process over several months, gradually transforming from pessimist through to optimist. I’ve had this article in draft form for some time now and just want to present the idea to you as part of the section “Vida Enigmática”. Let’s just say that it’s not a prediction. It’s a possible future scenario. Hyper-optimistic people will definitely not be able to relate to this article – they simply will not be able to comprehend the situation I describe below. [Read more →]

The global waming debate, continued.

global-warming-sceptics.jpgDo you notice the terminology “global warming” is somewhat detached from the humanity that caused it? As if it were the planet’s response to our domination, but not directly our own fault.

Deforestation today proceeds at 55,630 to 120,000 square kilometres each year. At this rate, all tropical forests may be gone by the year 2090.

I think the real reason why some people continue to deny global warming is taking place (subconsciously or not) is that they can’t deal with reality. So if they convince themselves that it would’ve happened anyway, they can simply carry on life as normal, and not have to worry about it.

For me, the notion that this is all some part of a repetitive ‘prehistoric cycle’ which man has nothing to do with is preposterous. It just happens at the same time man enters the industrial age, and is happening 10x quicker than anything before. Hello! coincidence!! The words RATE OF CHANGE have very strong meaning in the scientific community. Grand geological transformations don’t just happen over a matter of years or even decades. They are supposed to take millenia, or longer. So now that the average global sea & air temperature has risen a degree already, I think we’re already in deep shit my friends. [Read more →]

Life in a nutshell.

Technology, survival, history, happiness, depression, natureWestern society totally idolises an athletic body shape but resents the physical exertion required to attain it. We try to minimise human physical work by any means possible. As far as I’m concerned, every time you switch on any form of electrical equipment, you’re basically signing an invisible contract that reads:

“I accept that as a consequence of using this device, I risk becoming physically and/or mentally unhealthy”

We choose to avoid using our muscles at each and every oportunity and then suddenly wonder why we’re obese. We drive to work, drive home and then drive to the gymnasium (if at all). Most of us have even become too lazy to cook or make anything for ourselves – we invent power tools & kitchen utensils to do it all for us. Take this scenario for instance:

Rather than whip a cake using a wooden spoon the old-fashioned way, we’d now sooner collectively sit in front of a computers all day long, earn enough money for a mechanical cake mixer which can do it for us (basically employing a whole host of product design engineers, entrepreneurs, the sales & marketing department, and everyone else who works in the wholesale and retail chain). [Read more →]

Life, the entropy killer.

A new definition of Life: any self-generating system that tends to reduce entropy.In the section labelled “Vida Enigmatica”, I talk about all aspects of life in general. I attempt to tackle all of the tough questions about societies and civilisation. But it’s recently occured to me that I haven’t discussed life itself. One of the most difficult questions to answer are “what is life?” and “what is the purpose of life?”.

I suppose that before we can effectively answer why is life here and what is it’s purpose, we’d better be sure about what life actually is. How can we possibly answer what the purpose of life is if we don’t even know what separates us from the non-living? The trouble is that whenever we attempt to answer what consitutes life, we arrive at all sorts of vague definitions of what life is, for example:

“the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body”
“a principle or force that is considered to underlie the distinctive quality of animate beings”
“an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction”
“the condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally.”
“the sum of the distinguishing phenomena of organisms, esp. metabolism, growth, reproduction, and adaptation to environment.”

There are many definitions of what consitutes “life”, but for every one of these sub-classifications, there are exceptions:

Adaptation to the environment. At what rate must life adapt for it to be considered alive? If we rapidly create an artificially toxic environment, no life form will be able to adapt in time and hence it will die. The same can be said for the “reaction to stimuli” argument. The entire Plant Kingdom is at a great disadvantage here – although they can adapt relatively quickly to their environment, plants can only react to stimuli very slowly. Viruses do not appear to react to anything. In fact, I suspect that “adaptation to the environment” and “reaction to external stimuli” are really disguised as the same thing, albeit at different rates of application. [Read more →]

Technology’s secret revenge.

Technology’s secret revenge.Some people claim that technology improves our lives by improving our standard of living. I certainly don’t deny that since we have less physical work to do, we now have more leisure time than ever before. Before I get any further, I should say that it is up to each of us to decide what we do in our leisure time and I have no business in commenting about that. What I would like to discuss here instead are the many side-effects of some recent advanced technologies…

As technology relentlessly progresses, the most obvious question that comes to mind: what happens to our long-standing face-to-face human interactions? I’m not merely refering to writing electronic e-mails to your friends or speaking with a relative over the telephone. There are many other human tasks besides communication which now take place with the ‘aid’ of technology. We join online social communities and make virtual friendships. We utilise virtual banking and online bill payments. We attempt to find real mates using virtual dating databases. We take part in virtual gaming entertainment and even participate in virtual sex.

Sometimes it seems as if our entire lives are mediated through technology. It appears to me that one of technologies’ secret aims is to over-ride all direct human-human interactions. Yes I realise that due to the internet we are in a sense ‘connected’ to more people than ever before. Yet we can’t talk to them all, so we have to narrow down our options. But is this a good or a bad thing? Lately, it seems we don’t have time to really talk to anybody. Have we already gone too far? Have we become victims of our own high-technology? I believe that far from connecting us, technology is making us more and more anti-social.

Below, I’ve commented on some of the most recent technologies and their possible negative consequences… [Read more →]

The future of humanity?

The future of humanity? Exponential population growth. Post saturation point. CartoonOur current civilisation is growing at an exponential rate. But anyone with an ounce of common sense knows that exponential growth in a finite space is a physical impossibility. So I sometimes wonder how many people this planet can support. [Read more →]

“Who speaks for Earth?”

“Who speaks for Earth?” ecology, green, environment, sustainable developmentIf there’s one thing that has plagued or doomed all human civilisations, it their blatant ignorance during the time in which they prosper. But if you look back on some former civilisations, history reveals they only made relatively minor mistakes (as far as their long-term survival was concerned).

It’s no secret that most people in today’s advanced societies live greedy, unsustainble lives. We directly contribute to the destruction of the planet, and we’re under the false impression that things will never change. When something as simple and uncontrolable as the weather bites back, we’re stunned. Speechless, until the moment we are able to forget and resume our old ways…

The trouble with our society is this: we are well aware that we change the environment on a “small scale”. For example, we build roads & cities. We cause local deforrestation. We pollute rivers. So we can see clearly enough that what we are doing also affects the surrounding ecosystem negatively. But then when we move up to thinking about the global scale, our thought patterns are no longer logical. But many of us simply do not accept that our home, the entire planet Earth, is in jeopardy. We either quickly change the subject, ignore it altogether, or go into a major case of denial. It’s a problem of scale, which our puny minds cannot yet comprehend.

So I put this to my readers: if we can accept that we as a society are changing things on a local scale, and we can also grasp the fact that humans now populate every single country (albeit some regions denser than others), why can’t we accept the inevitable conclusion that we are also collectively changing the entire face of the Earth, on the global scale? [Read more →]

Animal Intelligence.

Animal intelligence, self awareness & camouflage. Mosquito insects

I recently watched this video of an elephant drawing a ‘self portrait’. I was amazed. I was also amazed at some of the responses this video provoked on youtube. It really opened up a can of worms. People on one side were saying how cool it was, others were protesting everything from to “stop animal cruelty!” and “it’s a robot hoax” to “he’s following the outlines”. I’m sure this has already been said, but is this any different from the way that some humans paint by numbers? [Read more →]

The trouble with current science. Time for a new direction?

Science research often proves the blatantly obvious.As a former postgraduate research scientist, science is one subject I’m qualified to reflect upon. I completed my Doctorate in 2005. The way I look at it, current research science is a system of reliable information harnessing, data processing, followed by speculative interpretation based on well-founded principles & intense scrutiny by fellow peers. It is a method of education for an entire community of very eager-to-learn people. [Read more →]

Human Lemmings?

Lemming committing mass suicide is a common misconception.Before I continue with this story, I wish to make it perfectly clear that I am in no way humouring this subject. On the contrary, I’m attempting to highlight this afflictive social dilemma, thereby drawing attention to it. In fact, the popular notion of that “Lemming commit mass suicide” is a misconception. It’s not helped by lemming cartoons such as the one shown here. I can almost guarantee that I’ll get more exposure by tying this sad story in with Lemmings, if only because “Lemming Suicide” is a much more popular search term than “Innu people of Nitassinan, Davis Inlet  in the Labrador-Quebec peninsula, eastern Canada”. But the real focus of this article is that some human cultures and communities are more prone to suicide than others, especially when entire societies are relocated. I will speculate about this further in future articles. [Read more →]

The art of replacement; knowing when to throw.

Consumerism, marketing, contentment, happinessOne thing that I like about life here in Tenerife is that the people aren’t rich enough to take part in the consumer culture that is so rampant everywhere else. It’s been a while since I wrote anything for this section “Vida Enigmática”, so here’s my take on current consumerism:

Just a few decades ago, the reason we gave to buy something new was because what we had simply broke and could no longer be repaired. The art of repair seems to have been forgotten alright. Lost in fact. To the point where today, material goods are no longer repairable because to do so is uneconomical. Often, you replaced things with an identical unit. How many times does that happen today? Never. Why? Because even if we wanted to, the flux of change is so great, it is no longer possible to buy the same item even only 1 or 2 years later.

[Read more →]

What is “synchronicity”?

smoking-kills.gif

syn·chro·nic·i·ty  (sngkr-ns-t, sn-)
n.   pl. syn·chro·nic·i·ties

  1. The state or fact of being synchronous or simultaneous; synchronism.
  2. Coincidence of events that seem to be meaningfully related, conceived in Jungian theory as an explanatory principle on the same order as causality.

Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events which occur in a meaningful manner, but which are casually unrelated. Synchronous events, unlike coincidences, are related to one another conceptually, and happen far more frequently than is allowed by random chance.

The concept of Synchronicity:

The idea of synchronicity is that the conceptual relationship of minds, defined by the relationship between ideas, is intricately structured in its own logical way and gives rise to relationships which have nothing to do with cause-and-effect. Synchronous events reveal an underlying pattern, a conceptual framework which encompasses, but is larger than, any of the systems which display the synchronicity. The suggestion of a larger framework is essential in order to satisfy the definition of synchronicity as originally developed by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung.

Carl Jung coined the word to describe what he called “temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events.” Jung variously described synchronicity as an “‘acausal connecting principle'” (i.e. a pattern of connection that cannot be explained by direct causality), “meaningful coincidence” and “acausal parallelism”. Jung introduced the concept in his 1952 paper “Synchronicity €” An Acausal Connecting Principle”, though he had been considering the concept for almost thirty years.


For me, these definitions don’t actually mean a damn thing. Here’s one example of synchronicity: you happen to be browsing my blog or forum, and you notice that a lot of the posts are made by a person who calls himself ‘synchronicity’. You then go into google and type “what is synchronicity”, this page appears and you’re lead straight back here again! Given access to ~1 trillion internet pages, and you come full circle in only one loop… that’s what I call synchronicity!

The Irony of Social Inertia.

The Irony of Social Inertia.Consider this: a society is able to perform many tasks, share work, trade labour, food and everything else required to stay alive. A strong, interactive community obviously makes life easier than a loosely bound one. On the other hand, a solitary individual would face a tremendous challenge in facing the same environment alone.

So it could be said that social integrity worked to build united communities in the past, increasing the chances of survival. Hence, the members of a society generally collaborate where possible & do what the majority of its members collectively accept (otherwise there is a revolution, but even then there is a group of individuals involved in the same decision).

I’ve noticed that a general “social inertia” exists in modern society to prevent socially unaccepted ideas from germinating. Consider it a [Read more →]

Volume of CO2 emmissions compared to the total volume of our atmosphere:

Volume of CO2 emmissions compared to the total volume of our atmosphere:

As far as I’m concerned, anyone who thinks that our way of life doesn’t affect the environment (climate included) is an idiot. Sorry, but some people still continue believe that we can spew as much CO2 into the air as we want and it will have no long-term effect on the Earth’s climate. You only need to look at exactly how much CO2 is produced by man:

Since 1751 roughly 315 billion tons of carbon have been released to the atmosphere from the consumption of fossil fuels and cement production. Half of these emissions have occurred since the mid 1970s. The 2004 global fossil-fuel CO2 emission estimate, 7910 million metric tons of carbon, represents an all-time high and a 5.4% increase from 2003.

People talk of gas emmissions in terms of mass, which understates the quantity… Rolling Eyes But exactly how much space does 1 tonne of CO2 gas occupy? You only need to look at molar volumes of gases:

1 tonne = 1 million grams.
44g of CO2 = 1 mole = 24.5L of gas (at 25ºC and standard atmospheric pressure)
Therefore, just 1 tonne of CO2 gas occupies 557 thousand litres. (= 22.7 kmoles or 557 m3)

Taking the figure above, annual global CO2 emmission at 7910 million metric tons (7,910,000,000), multiply that by the volume occupied by one tonne (557,000), and we come up with 4.4 THOUSAND TRILLION LITRES OF CO2 GAS PRODUCED EVERY YEAR.

We spew 4,400,000,000,000,000 litres of CO2 into the Earth’s atmosphere every single year.

We do not live in an infinite space, not in area, nor in volume. Yes, gravity sucks back all those CO2 molecules to planet earth. So I take the thickness of the atmosphere, from wikipedia:

Three quarters of the atmosphere’s mass is within 11 km of the planetary surface. 99.99997% of the atmosphere by mass is below 100 km.

And the Earth’s total surface area from another source:

The total area of the Earth is approximately 510 million square kilometers.

My ultra quick calculation of volume of Earth’s atmosphere, up to 100km (yes let’s include all of it) = 51 trillion trillion cubic metres or 51,000 trillion trillion litres. That includes the atmosphere, the stratosphere, the troposphere, the mesosphere -yes, the entire fucking quota.

It appears some people claim that we can produce that much CO2 gas, 4.4 THOSAND TRILLION LITRES EVERY SINGLE YEAR, and it no way affects the limited volume of ‘our own’ atmosphere (51,000 trillion trillion litres)!!! That’s equivalent to an increase of 86 parts per billion CO2 gas every single year.

A few points:

  1. Of course, much of these emmissions are recycled into oxygen by trees and plants during photosynthesis. But while we continue to cut those down that won’t help us with our CO2 problem!!
  2. The upper atmosphere, the stratosphere, is extremely low pressure & doesn’t actually “hold” much gas.
  3.  CO2 is 1.5 times denser than air.
  4. Using other estimates of the mass of the Earth’s atmosphere (5 quadrillion metric tonnes) used in the above calculation results in an increase in CO2 concentration of 1.6ppm per year!
  5. The world’s oceans can also dissolve some  CO2, acting like a large reservoir. But here again, there is a limit to how much seawater can take.

Do I even need to elucidate my calculations further????? People claim that our  CO2 production has no affect on our precious environment, not even cumulatively! And as an ex-research scientist, that mode of thinking enrages me. Evil or Very Mad

global average temperature last century

global warming predictions

The quest for happiness; is this the meaning of life?

The ultimate quest for happiness. What is the meaning of life? 

We live in a time like no other. We’ve essentially won the struggle for life and dominated the planet and now we wonder what the real purpose of life is. I could say that “the point of life is to live”. You may think that’s a bleeding obvious statement, but to succeed against all the odds in the fight for survival is essentially the point of life; it’s what gives us our happiness.

We are told from a very early age that to make it in the world, to get what you want will make you happy. Once you are ‘rich, successful and healthy’, you can then live happily ever after. Although clearly that isn’t always the case. Western cultures have the highest standard of living than ever before and the longest lifespans, but coincidentally, the same advanced societies also have the highest rates of medically diagnosed depression ever to be recorded. This begs the question: are we fundamentally happier as a result of the comfortable lifestyles we have attained for ourselves?

The actual pursuit of happiness is and always will be a relentless quest. Happiness is not a permanent state because our life struggle is in a permanent state of flux. To be alive & healthy, with a positive vision of future survival, is to be happy. So it recently occurred to me that the real meaning or aim of our lives is the search for happiness. Think about it. People pursue happiness above all else - it’s what motivates us. We intentionally make important decisions which we believe will in some way ultimately increase our happiness. You may confuse money with happiness, as the former is viewed as one measure of success, but don’t get distracted. Delving a little deeper [Read more →]

Playing it stupid (or just plain dumb?).

Global Warming | Climate Change 

It is a characteristic of human behaviour that as a whole that we are inherently very stupid. Perhaps ignorance is a better term. For one thing, we fail to learn by other people’s mistakes. Looking back at former civilisations, it is always noteworthy how blatantly ignorant humanity was about the consequences of its own actions. Even knowing what we know now about the past, we always seem to over-estimate our current intelligence level. And we claim to live in the age of information!

Take a look at the following article, specifically the Kardashev scale. We might well achieve “type II status” within a few thousand years (conquering our solar system). But delving into stage III and predicting how long it will take at this point in time is just plain stupidity. Here we are now -puny as ever- we have barely managed to map a solitary planet in any sort of true detail (forget about the watery bits called oceans for a second) and some of us are speaking of dominating an entire galaxy?! Does the expression “too big for your boots” mean anything to this guy? I could think up some race of humongous alien beasts, even the smallest example would simply wipe us all into oblivion with some kind of antimatter strike not even aimed properly, but just over in our general direction… not the slightest hesitation or thought involved… you know… a truly fearless species with a billion year headstart on our technology and one that hasn’t evolved from tiny frightened monkeys. You get the idea. That’s the sort of hiccough one might consider when planning our civilisation’s progression into deep space. A massive encounter (for us) wouldn’t just hinder that time projection it would be our termination. And that silly little graph would cease to exist. The arrogance Like we are the first to attain any sort of intelligence level. It’s even more optimistic that a baby who cannot even properly step out of the bathtub yet, hoping to swim across an entire ocean in record time. Good luck to it. It could very well happen given time, but it’s not going to be an easy task, certainly nothing anyone would predict.

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The simple life: Liquid Orange.

Chemical composition of sweet orange (Citrus sinensis).

There are two possible alternatives; in this short life you can either synthesise the following chemical compounds:

limonene, myrcene, valencene, linalool, octanal, decanal, ethyl butyrate, ?-ionone, citronellal, and ?-sinensal, E-2-octenal, 1-octen-3-ol, Z-4-decenal, E, E-2,4-nonadienal, guaiacol, ?-octalactone, and m-cresol, O-glycosylated flavones, flavonols, phenolic acids, ethyl acetate, 6-C-?-glucosyldiosmin, 6,8-di-C-glucopyranosylapigenin, 6,8-di-C-?-glucosyldiosmin, 2-oxo-L-threo-hexono-1,4- lactone-2,3-enediol, beta carotene, 2-hydroxypropane-1,2,3-tricarboxylic acid, heteropolysaccharide and assimilate them by complex hydrolysis,

or

you can pluck an orange and eat it.

But although we can synthesise many many complex molecules such as these, there is currently no way we can ‘manufacture’ a wholey artifical fruit identical in every way to a naturally grown one. Even though it takes an enourmous effort to characterise these natural chemical compounds and synthesise them, and nature does it for free with soil, sunlight, air and water, we still try. Without a plant seed, or a tissue culture sample, or a DNA strand, there is no way we’ll be able to do it either. I say that with all things considered, the natural source will always be the healthier alternative…

[Read more →]