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Intentional Ignorance

November 6, 2012

I wrote this essay to offer some essential information about our world and the future of our species, adding my voice to the many cries of alarm over the environmental crisis (lately reaching criticality). [More…]

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Monthly Archives: December 2012

For the New Year: Straight Talk on Global Warming

The Kyoto Protocol on Global Warming has occupied a large number of people for many years. The background is amply presented by Wikipedia.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as Wiki explains it, “sets binding obligations on industrialised countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The UNFCCC is an international environmental treaty with the goal of achieving the ‘stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.’ “

The Protocol was adopted on 11 December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, and entered into force on 16 February 2005. As of September 2011, 191 states had signed and ratified the protocol. The United States signed but did not ratify the Protocol and Canada withdrew from it in 2011.  Many environmentalists had hoped it would lead most nations to solid action to reverse global warming.  Certainly the Protocol detailed a lot of research to understand the scientific and engineering aspects of the causes, effects, and useful actions to reverse the process. But it has not led to the right kind of action at the scale that is needed.

Continue reading

Dye Markers in Nuclear Power Plant Emissions

A nuclear power opposition group (formed by me and several of my colleagues in and around Chattanooga Tennessee several years ago) has proposed the addition of distinctive visual dye-markers to routine nuclear emissions from nuclear power plants. This seemingly obvious protective strategy has common precedent with the odors added to propane and natural gas, so that leaks of these gases can be immediately detected.  Other hazardous solids, liquids, and gases have for years been provided with dyes and other additives in order to make those dangerous substances more noticed by people exposed to them*.

This common-sense suggestion should make all radionuclide emission releases readily identifiable, better to protect the public from this very real public health danger. Continue reading

“Exxon Hates Your Children” – Remarkable New Ad Coming Soon

Click this link to read about the stark new ad with the above title soon to appear.

It is purported to be a “history-making crowdsourced national TV ad [they are] putting on the air across the country.”

They say it’s time to tell the truth about Exxon. The ad is coming from Oil Change International whose web site has more on Exxon here: http://priceofoil.org/

Optimistic, but Frightened – 12/12/12

As we enter the end-of-year holiday season and approach the new year, I am very encouraged by a new positive potential for our country, perhaps the beginning of a wee bit of optimism for the world as well.

My optimism stems from the positive outcome of the recent national election, the impetus this seems to be providing on the political front to get some meaningful financial things done in Washington, and the opportunity President Obama has in his second term to make major strides, with help from a newly cooperative Congress.  The President is free from the “next-election-blues,” but faces some ingrained failures to understand the direness of the environmental crisis—on the part of most politicians and nearly all major media analysts. His newfound opportunity to lead the Congress and the nation into a modest economic recovery that can assist and to some extent fuel major investments in education, infrastructure improvement, job-training, and a bold new slightly more sustainable energy policy is counter-balanced by a fear that this might be stifled or aborted by political fears of bold new steps.

There is a lot of talk—supported by a real, market-fueled, domestic energy boom—that a new economic boom can get started next year. The discovery of (and new technology for) tapping into huge new discoveries of natural gas and recoverable oil shale deposits in North America offers the tantalizing possibility that in a few years, America can free itself of dependence on foreign oil. Continue reading

Job Creation and Population Growth

Note: Revised and updated version of a letter which appeared in the Boulder Daily Camera, 7 OCT 2012. Dr. Bartlett is Professor Emeritus of Physics, University of Colorado at Boulder, and a renowned speaker and writer on population issues. Albert.Bartlett@Colorado.EDU

Politicians and business people look forward eagerly to the announcement of the number of new jobs created in the US each month.  News stories   around the country often report on the monthly number of new jobs nationwide. Recently the figure has ranged from 40,000 to 100,000.  A couple of these stories in my local paper pointed out that we have to create around 125,000 new jobs each month just to take care of population growth in the US!

To check if this number is approximately correct, we note that the population of the US is a little over 300 million and the current population growth rate is a little under 1% per year, which means that the population of the US is increasing by about 3 million people per year.

We can guess that half of these people are workers and the other half are dependents, so we have an increase of about 1.5 million workers per year in the US.  Divide this by 12 and we get 125,000 new jobs needed each month to accommodate population growth in the US, confirming the approximate correctness of the number quoted above.

With this in mind, it’s no wonder that the employment rate has not gone down even though lots of jobs have been created. We need even more new jobs just to keep up with population growth!

In his closing remarks in the first of the Presidential Debates, Mitt Romney promised, “I will create—help create—12 million new jobs in this country with rising incomes.”

If you imagine 12 million new jobs in 8 years this is 125,000 new jobs a month,  just enough to keep up with population growth, but without any reduction of the number of people now unemployed!

The availability of resources, including food and water, needed to support these new people and new jobs is declining rapidly, causing prices to rise.  This leads to hardships for all. Ultimately it will lead to limits on growth itself.  It is difficult to think of any problem that is truly alleviated by more population growth. Such growth generally stresses economic systems and family and individual incomes, especially problems of growing unemployment figures.

How long do you suppose it will take before someone in the Congress or the Administration in Washington, DC connects the dots and realizes the urgency needed for we in the US to stop our country’s population growth?