The problem with using biofuels in aviation.

Recently on LinkedIn:

First, it’s a premise of sustainable, alternative fuels that their production actually draws down atmospheric carbon–the carbon comes out of the atmosphere to make the fuel. The carbon is released again when the fuel is burned. By (albeit partial and imperfect so far) application of that principle, vastly lower net emissions (on the basis of life cycle analysis) are now possible.

I understand all abot life-cycle assessment. Yes, true, biofuel crops do take CO2 out of the air. 

But not if brazilian rainforest has to be cut down to make way for new plantation crops — because the native forest already does a way better job of taking CO2 out of the air than a crop with less biodiversity ever will. 

So my question is: where are we going to grow all of the new crops that will be needed for this additional biofuel?

It’s no good saying that new sustainable crops will reduce the CO2 from the air if you harvest the whole thing every year and burn it again. That only releases the same carbon that was absorbed by the crop in the first place… so no net CO2 increase. (well that is probably an over-simplification, because some carbon dioxide no doubt goes in to the soil) [Read more…]

What I think about the Porsche brand.

Ok. You have shoved a very uneconomical vehicle in my face, Porsche.

And now you’re basically going to cop it from me. I’ll probably get boycotted in the design industry for what I am about to say. But quite frankly I don’t care what people think of me — because I’m not actually trying to be ‘popular’. What I am about to say has to be said. Whenever anyone puts stuff out into the world, naturally you can expect that other people are going to criticise it.

I don’t think you should be selling a car that has a 4.8L engine in the year 2016. I don’t think you should even be allowed to sell a car that has a 4.8L engine in the year 2016. Why not? The industry was supposed to be “phasing out” piston-engined cars well over a decade ago. Yet you are still stalling. You’re supposed to be one of the best engineering companies in the world. It just should not be an option, no matter what the customer is prepared to spend. It’s not cool, Porsche, not cool at all.

Tesla is cool. But you –well– it seems to me that you are just not cool anymore. Not in my eyes at least. Yes I know you have electric cars in the pipeline… which will be ready in 5 years. They should be ready already! Today!! Now!!! And yes I know that you sell hybrids. Whoopee! But even so, while you are selling these other models, what’s the point? Do you not watch the news? Do you not see what is happening to this planet?

Here’s what you say:

The short cut to your dreams. Exceptional opportunities on Cayenne demonstrators at Porsche Centre Sydney South.

It’s certainly not my dream car. And the only ‘oppportunity’ I see here is one that contributes to global warming. Does the phrase “climate emergency” not mean anything to you?

It shows you are just not committed to the environment. Which is worse that sad. It’s depressing, Porsche. Depressing. Toyota is committed. Honda is committed. BMW is committed. But while you’re advertising this, it looks like you’re still not committed…

What this angry scientist has to say about climate change:

Here I go again… why am I angry? Do scientists even get angry? Yes. Yes they do. Well I am angry. Very fucken angry!

I‘m angry at politicians in the mainstream parties. Because they aren’t doing enough to mitigate an environmental catastrophe. Most politicians today only care about one thing: money. The economy. Whoop-de-doo.

Scientists, if you remember from highschool, are the clever people. They are the nerdy ones with poor social skills. You’d think most countries would be run by the smartest of individuals. Are they? No. See, I think that’s where we’re going wrong. Our countries are run by politicians.

Likewise, I am angry at climate change deniers. Because they are now claiming that “climate change is a government conspiracy” (right, well if that is true it has to be the dumbest conspiracy theory I have ever heard, because the governments are the ones who support burning coal for fuck’s sake!).

Actually, I lie. Half of it is worry, not anger. For example, what’s actually worrying is that some people think an average temperature increase of a couple of degrees in only a few decades is at all “natural”. What’s worrying is that some people still don’t seem to grasp the concept of “rate of change”. I have seen on LinkedIn that the biggest climate change deniers are frequently either working for oil companies, have a vested interest in contruction, or are simply “uneducated fools”.

I find some people’s responses to climate change infuriating. Scientists are (mostly) a VERY clever bunch of people. If climate scientists are ringing alarm bells and making videos like this one, it’s enough to make me pay attention and completely change my lifestyle.

Right. I’ll say that again, but in a different way, because it bears repeating. Because I know that people skim read things. When the leading climate scientist, James Hansen, says (back in 2012 mind you) that we have a climate emergency, well, it’s enough to make me sell my vehicle. It’s enough to make me think up a new career choice, about how I can make the world a better place for future generations to come…

In science, we have to have a kind of ‘faith’ too. Scientists have faith in other scientists. We mutually respect each others’ fields of expertise. If I were to say, as a materials scientist, that magnesium has a hexagonal close packed atomic structure, I would hope the other scientists would give me the benefit of the doubt about that. And that is how the whole science community works. Things are checked and rechecked. Publications are reviewed. These people are working on these problems their whole lives. [Read more…]