Jonathan Swan’s interview with the President revealed a hapless, helplessly ignorant boob, desperately trying to lie to himself, and obviously surrounded by cowardly enablers.

This is what you get after a 30 year Republican War on Science.

Daily Beast:

It’s sometimes hard to determine whether President Trump is being willfully misleading or if he truly believes what he’s saying. But an astonishing interview clip from Axios appears to show that Trump has genuinely managed to convince himself that his response to the coronavirus pandemic has been effective—because he only considers partial and deceptively flattering statistics to be true. Brandishing childishly simplistic, brightly colored COVID-19 graphs presumably provided to him by aides trying to keep him happy, Trump proudly tells Axios’ Jonathan Swan that the U.S. is “lower than the world,” without elaborating.
When Swan looks at the chart, it becomes clear Trump is only considering death as a proportion of coronavirus cases—not as a proportion of population, which shows the U.S. is faring very badly. Trump snaps back: “You can’t do that.” Holding out his charts, he goes on: “You have to go by where… look, here is the United States… You have to go by the cases.” Asked why South Korea has lower deaths by population, Trump hints that he believes the country is faking its stats, without providing any evidence to support himself.

Read the rest of this entry »
The anti-face-mask movement: Will fines and penalties work?

Ethan Siegel in Forbes:

“Research both sides and make up your own mind.” It’s simple, straightforward, common sense advice. And when it comes to issues like vaccinations, climate change, and the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, it can be dangerous, destructive, and even deadly. The techniques that most of us use to navigate most of our decisions in life — gathering information, evaluating it based on what we know, and choosing a course of action — can lead to spectacular failures when it comes to a scientific matter.

The reason is simple: most of us, even those of us who are scientists ourselves, lack the relevant scientific expertise needed to adequately evaluate that research on our own. In our own fields, we are aware of the full suite of data, of how those puzzle pieces fit together, and what the frontiers of our knowledge is. When laypersons espouse opinions on those matters, it’s immediately clear to us where the gaps in their understanding are and where they’ve misled themselves in their reasoning. When they take up the arguments of a contrarian scientist, we recognize what they’re overlooking, misinterpreting, or omitting. Unless we start valuing the actual expertise that legitimate experts have spent lifetimes developing, “doing our own research” could lead to immeasurable, unnecessary suffering.

Let’s start with a simple, low-stakes example: fluoridated drinking water. On the one hand, fluoride is a simple ion that shows up in various concentrations, including naturally through calcium fluoride, in bodies of water all across the world. When humans ingest too little of it, particularly at a young age, it leads to weakened tooth enamel and greater rates of cavities; when humans ingest too much of it, it leads to tooth discoloration and various severities of dental fluorosis. In extreme cases, significantly too much or too little fluoride can also lead to other problems, such as osteoporosis (with too little) or skeletal fluorosis (with too much).

In most places in the United States and Canada, our drinking water is fluoridated at a specific level that’s safe and effective for humans of all ages. In places like Colorado Springs, CO, significant amounts of fluoride are removed from the water, bringing the levels down to acceptable values; in other places, like New York City, NY, fluoride is added to bring the levels up to acceptable values. Controlling the fluoride levels of water is a safe and effective public health intervention, reducing dental caries in children by 40% where it is implemented versus places where it isn’t implemented.

Read the rest of this entry »

Two new videos will be coming out shortly, examining the blow that Covid-19 has delivered to the fossil fuel industry, and the possibilities for post-Corona recovery.
Finding new job paths for idled petroleum workers is going to be an important piece.

Jigar Shah and Tim Latimer in Utility Dive:

Big Oil came into 2020 with big promises: big drops in greenhouse gas emissions, big investments in carbon-capture technology, big steps to make oil and gas a viable part of the global effort to slow climate change.

Like so many of the industry’s ambitious claims over the years, the efforts have proved to be little more than a glossy public relations fantasy — and the sector’s supposedly solid market fundamentals were exposed to be as flimsy as Hollywood set-dressing.

Even before the spread of COVID-19 oil investors were running for the exits — dropping holdings in fossil fuel companies and proclaiming the start of a “death-knell phase.” In our carbon-constrained future, with viable clean-energy alternatives ready to be deployed, the economics for oil and gas no longer add up. But with the spread of COVID-19 and the abrupt drop in global demand, the sector is now in free-fall — with tens of thousands of American workers bound to bear the brunt of the impact.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We already know that just a fraction of oil and gas jobs will return once the economy recovers: The bulk lost in the 2014-’16 crash simply vanished as companies found ways to do more with less. Business-as-usual won’t work.

We need to think bigger, to harness this opportunity to launch a bold energy transition, one powered by a ready-to-scale, off-the-shelf solution that will put America’s idled oil and gas workforce back into the field almost immediately: clean, abundant and renewable geothermal energy.

Producing geothermal energy involves deep-well drilling, just like oil and gas. But instead of producing hydrocarbons, geothermal wells release steam that is captured, funneled into pipes to spin turbines that generate electricity, then pumped back underground. The only emission is water vapor, while carbon-free electricity is generated around-the-clock.

Geothermal power plants currently account for a small portion of U.S. electricity generation, but a surge is underway. Three companies in January alone signed contracts to build new geothermal plants in California, spurred by the state’s renewable-energy initiative, recent cost reductions, and the long-term value gained by geothermal’s 24-7 electricity generation. The U.S. Department of Energy projects that the share of electricity produced by geothermal plants could swell to 16%, rivaling the aging U.S. nuclear sector as well as all renewable energy sources combined.

Read the rest of this entry »

An Odd Storm

August 2, 2020

Dan Kammen on Batteries

August 1, 2020

Washington Post:

Vacationing on Nantucket in early July, Terrence Boylan cast his line in to the strangely warm surf. The creature he reeled in left the veteran angler baffled. It was a skinny, 4-foot-long fish with a needlelike mouth and menacing teeth.

“He was completely surprised,” his wife, Jennifer, said. “He didn’t know what it was.”

The Boylans would soon learn Terrence had hooked a houndfish, a warm-water species that may never have been caught before along the Massachusetts shore.

By itself, the catch would be just a fluke. But it is one of a slew of unusual fish reports from the shores of New England in recent years. Scientists studying the warming waters in the region say it is part of a pattern and an ominous signal of climate change.


Ocean temperatures along the East Coast are near or above their warmest levels on record for this time of year, and they are not only drawing in unusual sea creatures but also helping to fuel the busiest Atlantic hurricane season on record to date.

Now, Hurricane Isaias is poised to draw energy from these abnormally toasty waters as it rides up the East Coast and, depending on its course and speed, the consequences could be severe from Florida to Maine.

Read the rest of this entry »
Tesla Gigafactory 1 - December 2019

TechCrunch:

Panasonic has developed new battery technology for the “2170” lithium-ion cells it produces and supplies to Tesla, a change that improves energy density by 5% and reduces costly cobalt content.

The new, higher energy dense 2170 cells will be produced by Panasonic  at Tesla’s factory in Sparks, Nevada, the company said Thursday. Panasonic is upgrading its battery cell lines with production slated to begin in September. The company operates 13 lines at the factory with a capacity to produce 35 gigawatt hours of batteries each year. All 13 lines will eventually run the new technology, Panasonic Energy North America President Allan Swan said without providing a timeline of when the entire system would be upgraded.

“We’re about to take another leap forward,” Swan said in a recent interview. “It’s kind of exciting from the Panasonic perspective; we’re driving towards cobalt free and we’re driving towards higher energy dense batteries, which gives our customers a choice of how they want utilize that.”

The facility where these new battery cells will be produced is known as Gigafactory 1, a critical component of Tesla’s plan to expand global battery capacity and reduce the cost of electric vehicles. Panasonic has been its most important partner in that project, which based on a recent agreement should last until at least 2023. Panasonic makes the 2170 cells at Gigafactory 1, which Tesla then uses to make battery packs for the Model 3. The 2170 cells are also used in Tesla’s  newest vehicle, the Model Y.

Here’s a quick primer. A battery contains two electrodes. There’s an anode (negative) on one side and a cathode (positive) on the other. An electrolyte sits in the middle and acts as the courier that moves ions between the electrodes when charging and discharging.

A cell with greater energy density means that engineers figured out a way to pack more energy in that space. The 5% improvement in energy density in the cells should result in the same gains in Tesla’s battery packs. The upshot: Tesla’s Model 3 and Model Y could see improvements in range. The reduction in cobalt content, a rare chemical element that is expensive and has social and environmental costs, could also help reduce the price of the cells.

Panasonic’s factories in Japan produce the cylindrical lithium-ion “18650” cells, which are used to power Tesla’s Model S and Model X vehicles. Panasonic has already improved 18650 cells, resulting in a reduction in cobalt and improvement in energy density.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hurricane Isaias Update

August 1, 2020

This season is already setting records.

Yale Climate Connections:

Disasters aren’t waiting for the pandemic to end. Already this spring, COVID-19 complicated efforts to recover from tornadoes across the Southeast. And it’s likely to remain squarely on the radar as hurricanes, floods, fires, and other extreme events unfold during the rest of 2020.

Those conditions set the stage for a double whammy: In some U.S. communities, residents may soon contend with a disaster that occurs on top of a major disease outbreak. As a result, after spending months limiting their social contacts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, many Americans may need to evacuate to community shelters, hotels, or the homes of friends or relatives.

Take the following steps to help prepare yourself and loved ones to handle two emergencies at once.

Step 1: Update your emergency plan to cover COVID-19 concerns

First, if you haven’t already prepared your emergency plan, it’s time to make one.

Review your plan to identify points that may need updating in light of the pandemic. Take some time to read CDC information on the novel coronavirus, which includes up-to-date guidance and information on how to check yourself for symptoms.

Discuss with other members of your household how COVID-19 concerns might affect your actions during a major flood, fire or other disaster – particularly as it pertains to where you’ll seek refuge.

For example, if your typical plan is to evacuate to a relative or friend’s home, talk with them in advance about whether they are still comfortable with this approach. Especially if your friend or family member is a senior or otherwise immune-compromised, you may need to contact others about seeking shelter elsewhere. If your plan is to shelter in a hotel, take a moment to check on whether the hotel’s cleaning and mask policies have been updated in light of the pandemic.

Whether your plan is to head to a hotel or relation’s home, plan to stay safe during your shelter period by bringing – and using – your own cloth face coverings and sanitizing supplies.

Step 2: Understand and prepare for your shelter’s safety requirements

It’s difficult to maintain social distancing in a crowded shelter, so many communities are working to address COVID-19 concerns by reducing crowds to the extent possible. Many shelters, for example, will need to space beds farther apart, reducing capacity.

As a result, some emergency managers are identifying additional sites that can be used during an evacuation. Those sites may even include hotel rooms, depending on local plans. But in other places, some residents might be advised to shelter in place rather than evacuate if possible.

Check with your local emergency planning officials to find out if there have been changes to community shelter recommendations. The Red Cross also lists community shelters once opened, or you can visit FEMA’s Disaster Recovery Center Locator to find a center near you.

During a severe weather event, follow guidance from your local officials. If it leads you to a community shelter, be ready to meet CDC guidelines for going to a public shelter during the pandemic. Its guidance includes recommendations that you:

  • Bring two cloth face coverings for everyone in your family over two (unless they are medically unable to wear them), and hand sanitizer or soap.
  • While in the shelter, maintain at least six feet of distance from those outside your immediate family.
  • Wash your hands often, cover when you cough or sneeze, and avoid touching high-touch surfaces or sharing food and drink.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched items like cell phones and children’s toys.
  • Tell shelter staff immediately if you or a family member are feeling sick.

Many of these same rules apply to sheltering in a private home or hotel. The basic rule of thumb: Practice social distancing, wear a cloth face covering, and sanitize frequently.

Read the rest of this entry »