Environment

Category archives for Environment

The True Steel of the Ancestors

Above-ground atomic explosions and reactor leaks during the past century have produced a pretty funny atmosphere full of exotic heavy isotopes. In radiocarbon calibration this error source is called “bomb radiocarbon”. A few years ago it was suggested that a person’s age might be determined through looking at the amount of various isotopes in some…

Global Population Speak-Out

This time of year I’ve repeatedly been taking part in the Global Population Speak-Out, reminding my Dear Readers that a lot of humanity’s main problems could (and will) be solved by shrinking the planet’s human population drastically. It’s up to us: either we quit having enough children to replace the people who die, thus easing…

2010 Enlightener & Obscurantist Awards

The Swedish Skeptics’ annual awards for 2010 were just announced. Åsa Vilbäck, MD, receives the Enlightener of the Year award, “… who has described diseases and treatments in an unbiased and informative manner on her TV show Dr. Åsa on Swedish state television. By upholding a good popular science standard on her show, Åsa Vilbäck…

Dorrik Stow’s Vanished Ocean

In his fine new book Vanished Ocean, geologist Dorrik Stow uses the biography of one of our planet’s vanished oceans to teach the reader a wide range of veeery long-term perspectives on geological history. The ocean that geologists call the Tethys came into being when the Pangaea supercontinent coalesced in the Late Permian, 260 million…

The Earth After Us

Jan Zalasiewicz is a geologist active at the University of Leicester. His 2008 book The Earth After Us: What Legacy Will Humans Leave in the Rocks? is an interesting read even though the title does not correspond very well to the contents. Zalasiewicz does answer the question about what legacy humans will leave in the…

The Value of Biodiversity

Occasioned by a comment on my recent entry on the movie Avatar and the Gaia hypothesis, here’s a re-run of a blog entry from March 2006. As comments to a recent entry, I’ve had an interesting discussion about environmentalism with a friend. We both agree that biodiversity and ecological systems should be preserved. But we…

Dan Simmons’s Scientific Let-Down

Dan Simmons published a wonderful, galaxy-spanning, mind-blowing sf novel in 1989: Hyperion. Then he followed it up with three more novels of which I have read two. They’re OK, but not as good as the first book. Science fiction is of course stories where fabulous things happen and are explained by science and technology rather…

Unsuccessfully Greening Public Transport

Skiing Break was action packed for the kids. Monday museum, Tuesday playland, Wednesday skiing with grampa, Thursday swimming, Friday museum & puppet theatre and a museum-organised LAN party for the 10-y-o. Yesterday’s museum was the Public Transport Museum which shares an entrance and a ticket with the Toy Museum. Lots of buses and trams, including…

Swedes Produce Hot Water, Dump It Into Sea

For historical reasons having nothing to do with engineering or rationality, Swedish nuclear power plants dump a lot of warm cooling water into the sea. In a revealing blog entry, Paddy K offers an estimate of just how much energy that cooling water contains. It’s one third of the energy produced in the country. I…

Toxic Dump Too Close For Comfort

I’ve known for some time from the local papers that the site of the old Tollare paper mill is badly polluted. It’s only 1.6 km from my home, on the opposite shore of the Lännerstasundet inlet (one of the main historic shipping routes into Lake Mälaren). A couple of years ago, a large area in…