Monday Message Board

Another Message Board

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’ve moved my irregular email news from Mailchimp to Substack. You can read it here. You can also follow me on Mastodon here

I’m also trying out Substack as a blogging platform. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack.

17 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Imagine all cooling and heating as Global Warming Potential negative.

    When do we want “ionocaloric refrigeration” that “could make the system not just GWP [global warming potential] zero, but GWP negative.” Now!  

    A long way from the Lab to my life I assume. Yet noteworthy.

    And “invented” is a bit strong. Did reseachers invent ions? Innovated using molecular bonds doesn’t roll off the tongue. All Wikipedia says is “Description of the ionocaloric refrigeration system”
    “Ionocaloric cooling uses ions to drive solid-to-liquid phase transitions.”

    Paper linked in articles & Wikipedia.

    . ..”phase and temperature change through the flow of ions (electrically charged atoms or molecules) which come from a salt.

    “Researchers hope that the method could one day provide efficient heating and cooling, which accounts for more than half of the energy used in homes, and help phase out current “vapor compression” systems, which use gases with high global warming potential as refrigerants. Ionocaloric refrigeration would eliminate the risk of such gases escaping into the atmosphere by replacing them with solid and liquid components.”

    “Scientists Just Invented an Entirely New Way to Refrigerate Things

    …”takes advantage of the way that energy is stored or released when a material changes phase, as when solid ice turns to liquid water, for example.

    “Raise the temperature on a block of ice, it’ll melt. What we might not see so easily is that melting absorbs heat from its surroundings, effectively cooling it.

    “One way to force ice to melt without needing to turn up the heat is to add a few charged particles, or ions. Putting salt on roads to prevent ice forming is a common example of this in action. The ionocaloric cycle also uses salt to change a fluid’s phase and cool its surroundings.

    “The team also ran experiments using a salt made with iodine and sodium, to melt ethylene carbonate. This common organic solvent is also used in lithium-ion batteries, and is produced using carbon dioxide as an input. That could make the system not just GWP [global warming potential] zero, but GWP negative.

    “A temperature shift of 25 degrees Celsius (45 degrees Fahrenheit) was measured through the application of less than a single volt of charge in the experiment, a result that exceeds what other caloric technologies have managed to achieve so far.

    “Ionocaloric refrigeration”

  2. PvMagazine:
    “French energy giant TotalEnergies studied the impact of [vertical] solar panels on crops in order to develop a repository of agronomic benefits. The initial results show an increase in agricultural yields on field crops and a reduction in water stress. […] During the summer 2022 harvest, TotalEnergies, agronomy consultancy Agrosolutions, Dijon Céréales, and Next2Sun were able to record an increase in yield of 1 quintal per hectare for wheat compared to previous harvests and 2 quintals for lentils. They found that wheat protein levels increased by 2%. One explanation could be the protection against high winds, as the panels reduce average wind speeds by 14 km/hour.”

    Unlike agrivoltaic solar canopies, vertical panels can be easily installed more or less anywhere and create fewer constraints on farm machinery. I assume you have to leave a narrow uncultivated strip along the panels, which can be usefully sown with wildflowers that attract pollinators. The vertical panels probably have a lower electrical output than canopies, but they should be cheaper to mount and maintain, and the farming advantages will often carry the day.

    Total’s pilots (of which these are just a sample) are on a large scale, cover a wide range of common French crops, and seem professionally run. The positive results are very good news. On balance, the involvement of a big oil company like Total is positive, as its deep pockets and political clout will speed up adoption of the technology. The reduced water and heat stress will be even more important in warmer and drier climates like Australia’s.

    Te average yield for wheat in France is 69 quintals (6.9 tonnes) per hectare, so the increase is a modest 1.5%. But it is an increase, not a drop. A typical yield for lentils would be under 10 quintals/ha, so the increase there was a spectacular 20%. Keep your finger on the pulse.

  3. Wonderful news, James – thanks!!

    In the US, we are celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday today.

  4. PS: What it looks like:
    There is some loss of visual amenity. But the panels are surprisingly low compared to canopies, and look sturdy and rooted. I think we will get used to them as a common sight in a working rural landscape. No wildflowers yet. I expect farmers will get round to this, as they will want to preempt occupation of the strip by weed species. That is, unless they just kill everything with herbicides.

  5. PS: Lucky I was lucky to spot the item. In a sane world, the news would be treated as far more significant than debatable progress towards working fusion power in 20 years’ time maybe. There are 600 million family farms in the world. WIth only a little policy support, many of them can efficiently produce energy as well as food.

    In France, over half the government-supported agrivoltaics projects are in the dry and sunny South, with a roughly Australian climate.

  6. Here in Australia, the Medicare supported psychological appointments were increased from 6/10 to 20 during the pandemic, and in Jan 2022 reduced to prior 6/10.

    In this paper about mental health and the US “Expanded Child Tax Credit” which delivered “fewer depressive and anxiety symptoms among low-income adults. … There were no changes in mental health care use” – which to me indicates we need to raise welfare payments to alleviate mental health affects, before providing another 10 psych sessions.

    At some higher welfare payment level, the necessity of psychological services for those bordering on poverty will, as with the pandemic and hospitals, alleviate the wait times and stress for both psychological service providers and those experiencing poverty and commensurate depression & anxiety due to lack of funds as “There were no changes in mental health care use” when receiving “Expanded Child Tax Credit”.

    And the cost of psychological services vs raised welfare payments will in effect be close to zero by alleviating immediate psychological affects and adverse long term physical effects: – “Economic policies have the potential to affect mental health by addressing social determinants of mental health such as poverty, food insecurity, and health care access8–10 (see the conceptual diagram in online appendix exhibit A1).11 These mechanisms and mental health itself can then affect physical health in the long run.12”

    I may be wrong. Interested in comments.

    All we have to do then is move psychological services to where they are needed most. Away from Malcolm Turnball’s electorate for example.

    Full paper.

    “Effects Of The 2021 Expanded Child Tax Credit On Adults’ Mental Health: A Quasi-Experimental Study

    Akansha Batra, Kaitlyn Jackson, and Rita Hamad

    The US Congress temporarily expanded the Child Tax Credit (CTC) during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide economic assistance for families with children. Although formerly the CTC provided $2,000 per child for mostly middle-income parents, during July–December 2021 it provided up to $3,600 per child. Eligibility criteria were also expanded to reach more economically disadvantaged families. There has been little research evaluating the effect of the policy expansion on mental health. Using data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey and a quasi-experimental study design, we examined the effects of the expanded CTC on mental health and related outcomes among low-income adults with children, and by racial and ethnic subgroup. We found fewer depressive and anxiety symptoms among low-income adults. Adults of Black, Hispanic, and other racial and ethnic backgrounds demonstrated greater reductions in anxiety symptoms compared to non-Hispanic White adults with children. There were no changes in mental health care use. These findings are important for Congress and state legislators to weigh as they consider making the expanded CTC and other similar tax credits permanent to support economically disadvantaged families.”

    Australian Medicare Schedule;
    “M7 – Focussed Psychological Strategies (Allied Mental Health)

  7. Evil monopsonists

    Solid non-technical piece by political journalist Phillip Longman on the unrecognized evils of monopsony, with punchy examples from Walmart to US hospital chains:

    The history is interesting. In economic theory, monopoly and monopsony were SFIK first studied together, and monopsony still gets a token reference in textbooks. Only in the populist American New Deal, making a pitch to defend Mom-and-Pop stores, did the academic analysis lead to strong legislation, in the Robinson-Patman Act of 1936. This stopped being enforced in the 1970s, from bipartisan neglect. Longman points the finger at Galbraith, but he wasn’t cheerleading alone.

    A puzzle for the curious. Why are governments – with the striking exception of the USA – generally pretty effective wielders of monopsony power to rein in the pharmaceutical monopolies, and uniformly hopeless in getting value for money in military procurement? A possible explanation is that pharma monopolies based on IP are in fact pretty weak, as there are often close substitutes for any given drug. The monopoly power of defence contractors is more securely based on institutional knowhow and cosy relationships built up over a long period, together with their small number.

    We have recently seen a nice cage fight over the shortage of specialised computer chips between (in the monopsony corner) the global car industry, used to lording it over suppliers, and (in the monopoly corner) the handful of chipmakers led by the Taiwanese giant TSMC. TSMC etc won easily. Their power comes from control of $10bn chip foundries, the most complex, advanced and expensive pieces of capital equipment ever created, backed by massive human capital in the very highly skilled workforces that operate them. The barrier to entry isn’t a wall but a mountain range. The Chinese government has thought better of funding a rival startup on the mainland.

  8. ICYMI, The Guardian published an article yesterday (Jan 17) by Damian Carrington headlined Warning of unprecedented heatwaves as El Niño set to return in 2023. It included:

    Prof James Hansen, at Columbia University, in New York, and colleagues said recently: “We suggest that 2024 is likely to be off the chart as the warmest year on record. It is unlikely that the current La Niña will continue a fourth year. Even a little futz of an El Niño should be sufficient for record global temperature.” Declining air pollution in China, which blocks the sun, was also increasing heating, he said.

    Regular readers of comments at this blog would have already been aware of this:

    I’d suggest the first ‘prediction’ by Hansen & colleagues was close to the mark for year 2022 – warmer than year 2021 (+1.12 °C), and equal 5th warmest with 2015 (+1.16 °C), but not quite as warm as the 4th warmest year in 2017 (+1.19 °C). Close, but not spot on.

    Will this year, 2023, be around equal warmest on record?
    Will next year, 2024, be “off the charts”?
    We’ll see soon!

    It seems some of the mainstream media are starting to wake-up and inform their readership!

    But it seems there’s still no mention in the mainstream media of the Hansen et. al. pre-print paper Global warming in the pipeline, either referenced in a communication by Hansen & colleagues at Columbia University on 13 Dec 2022, or at arXiv.

    Perhaps the mainstream media don’t want to break the illusion that everything is still ‘hunky dory’ just yet?

  9. These tweets by Aparachick in response to the interview by Laura Tingle on ABC TV’s 7:30 programme last night (Jan 17) with federal Health Minister Mark Butler caught my eye:

  10. Monopsony distortions depend on market power. This can be significantly
    reduced by framing free trade deals to allow supply chains to function without interference. I am no fan of free trade deals but if they are going to be signed let’s have them crafted properly to reduce monopsony power. This can be done by not exempting any industry from international competition and not shutting off any industry to free entry by foreign workers. Technical specifications like accreditation certificates ( usually unattainable for applicants arriving from overseas) and mandatory tertiary qualifications ( that are easily manipulated) can create barriers to entry into national labour markets. It always amuses me that politicians publicly tout the advantages of opening up markets to foreign competition and then, behind the scenes, slams the door shut and removes the welcome mat for political sensitive industries.
    Economics and politics rarely converge into any consensus.

  11. Greenland – think wet sugar called “firn”, not ice. “Firn has the appearance of wet sugar, … and it can often be found underneath the snow that accumulates at the head of a glacier.” Wikipedia below.

    “Modern temperatures in central–north Greenland warmest in past millennium

    “Therefore—although with less certainty than for the temperature—our analysis suggests that current decadal meltwater run-off anomalies are unprecedented over the past millennium. This will probably affect the firn densification and the potential for meltwater storage19,28,40,46 with further implications for the ice sheet mass balance.

    In addition to these findings, our meltwater run-off reconstruction provides a baseline to model past and future freshwater discharge from Greenland47,48 and their effects on the ocean dynamics, for example the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation49,50.

    “Our findings demonstrate that recent temperatures in central and north Greenland are higher than in the past 1,000 years and thus demonstrate that global warming is now also detectable in one of the most remote regions in the world.

    Likewise, meltwater run-off observed today is probably unprecedented over the past millennium. As warming supports an increased frequency of more widespread summer melt events, reaching in some occasions also central and north Greenland, firn properties such as permeability and meltwater retention may change, comparable to firn changes observed in warmer, and lower-elevation areas.

    Combined with the finding that temperatures in central and north Greenland and meltwater run-off in the ablation zone are already unprecedented compared to the past millennium, an increasing mass loss of the ice sheet is expected under further global warming.”

    Firn (/fɪərn/; from Swiss German firn “last year’s”, cognate with before) is partially compacted névé, a type of snow that has been left over from past seasons and has been recrystallized into a substance denser than névé. It is ice that is at an intermediate stage between snow and glacial ice.[1] Firn has the appearance of wet sugar, but has a hardness that makes it extremely resistant to shovelling. Its density generally ranges from 0.35 g/cm3 to 0.9 g/cm3,[1][2] and it can often be found underneath the snow that accumulates at the head of a glacier.

  12. Victoria Covid this week.
    – “4,912 new COVID-19 cases,
    last week there were 7,908.
    – “There have been 156 deaths reported, but with a delay on reporting deaths, not all fatalities occurred in the past week.
    – “The state has 341 people in hospital with COVID-19, 16 of those are in intensive care

    In the paper mentioned in article (and linked below) the ABC writes:
    “High number of COVID-related deaths expected in most scenarios

    “The research focuses on Victoria and looks at the 12 months from October, 2022.

    “It found that no matter the policy or context, high numbers of infections and deaths were likely, with 4.2 million infections and 8,100 deaths in Victoria projected over a 12-month period on average.”

    From this weeks figures above;
    Approx 5,000 inf x 52 = 260,000 way below the “with 4.2 million infections” in article. Even using the 7k from the week before gives 354k.
    Infections have to be 80k per week to get 4.2m a year.

    The current deaths per week provide the approx same deaths. As 5k and 7k infections per week with the current strains. 8,100 projected deaths is almost exactly the deaths oer week recorded -156 – for Victoria this week.

    From the “Health and cost impacts of modelled policies” section:
    “Across the 936 policy-by-variant scenarios the mean number of infections, hospitalisations and deaths over the 12 months from October 2022 output by the model were 4.2 million, 34,900, and 8100 respectively.”

    Seems like they have modelled extremely good vaccine uptake and medications at such a low deaths due to Covid when infecting 4.2m.

    Here’s hoping we do not get a more deadly strain in future.

    “COVID modelling suggests how governments should respond to future variants and outbreaks

    “The researchers ranked the responses on four evenly weighted categories — cost effectiveness to the health system, cost effectiveness with a GDP perspective, number of deaths and days exceeding hospital occupancy thresholds.

    “Overall, the highest-ranking combination was more stringent health measures, two further vaccine doses for the over 30s and the promotion of increased mask-wearing, but not the government provision of respirator masks.

    “UNSW infectious disease professor James Wood, who was not involved in the research but reviewed the paper for the journal, said the researchers “did a really solid job with the health burden and cost effectiveness” of policies.

    “[They] did some nice work around much much long COVID might contribute in terms of those burdens as well,” he said.

    “Epidemiologic and economic modelling of optimal COVID-19 policy: public health and social measures, masks and vaccines in Victoria, Australia

    Joshua Szanyi
    Tim Wilson
    Samantha Howe
    Jessie Zeng
    Hassan Andrabi
    Shania Rossiter
    Tony Blakely

    “The highest-ranking policy combination was more stringent PHSMs, two further vaccine doses (an Omicron-targeted vaccine followed by a multivalent vaccine) for ≥30-year-olds with high uptake, and promotion of increased mask wearing (but not Government provision of respirators).

  13. It appears Laura Tingle is the only person talking and writing in the Aussie MSM about the elephant(s) in the room.

    She writes about several serious issues emerging around the endless pandemic and the fact that the Albanese government is doing absolutely nothing about any of them. At the tail of the same article is some mention of the Albanese government’s inept and token handling of the Indigenous Voice issue. This Albanese government is a do-nothing government wholly captured by neoliberal interests.

    In terms of parliamentary democracy, it seems all people who are not very rich will have to keep throwing out parliamentary members who won’t do anything for them until they find members who will do something for them. Beyond that, I don’t want to speculate for the time being: I mean other than to say in general terms that we are headed for a very bad place without serious course corrections and real implementations addressing climate change issues, infectious disease issues and social justice issues.

  14. ICYMI, US petroleum geologist Art Berman posted a piece on Jan 18 titled THEY’RE NOT MAKING OIL LIKE THEY USED TO: STEALTH PEAK OIL? It begins with:

    The good news is that U.S. oil production has recovered to pre-pandemic levels. The bad news is that only 60% of it is really oil.

    U.S. oil production exceeded the 2020 pre-pandemic peak of 20.3 mmb/d in October and November of 2022 (Figure 1). Unfortunately, less than 60% of U.S. “oil” production is really oil. The rest is non-petroleum and comes from natural gas, corn & refinery gain.

    On US tight oil (bold text my emphasis):

    Tight oil accounted for more than 7 mmb/d of U.S. oil production in 2022. Less than 5 mmb/d of conventional oil was produced in 2022. Unlike, natural gas liquids, refinery gain and fuel ethanol, tight oil is petroleum.

    It has, however, a lower density and corresponding lower energy content than conventional oil. Permian tight oil, for example, has about 93% of the energy content (5.5 mmBtu/barrel) as the standard conventional oil required by U.S. refineries (5.9 mmBtu/barrel) (Figure 6).

    Some may argue that 7% is not that much when it comes to a fuel as potent as oil but it is the difference between an “A” and a “B” in school. Put differently, imagine if world oil crude & condensate supply fell by 7%. That’s half of what Saudi Arabia produces. It’s five times more than Libya produces yet whenever its production falls because of civil conflict, world oil price is profoundly affected.

    More importantly, tight oil does not contain the middle distillate compounds necessary for diesel production. Figure 6 shows the density (API and specific gravity) of the key conventional grades of oil, and for the Bakken, Permian and Eagle Ford tight oils. Tight oil is fine for making kerosene, jet fuel and gasoline. It cannot, however. be used for producing diesel without blending it with heavier oils, and diesel is the main cash product and workhorse of the modern global economy.

    The U.S. can never be oil-independent because it will always need to import heavier oil to make diesel.

    Per a graph included in a tweet by Art Berman on Jan 21, tight oil was 65% of US oil production in 2022:

    Per BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy-2022, in 2021, USA was the world’s largest oil producer.

    Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrere concluded in their article headlined The end of cheap oil in the Mar 1998 edition of Scientific American:

    The world is not running out of oil—at least not yet. What our society does face, and soon, is the end of the abundant and cheap oil on which all industrial nations depend.

    I’d suggest the end of the era of abundant and cheap oil has already arrived.

  15. US petroleum geologist Art Berman tweeted on Jan 18:

    Total world liquids production has recovered to 99% of 2018 average level
    but crude oil plus condensate remains more than 4 mmb/d below late 2018 levels

    The quality of oil is declining.
    That means there’s less energy content per volume of oil produced.
    That means less net energy available for economic activities.

    A YouTube video published by Nate Hagens on 18 Jan 2023 titled Arthur Berman: “Peak Oil – The Hedonic Adjustment” | The Great Simplification #54, duration 1:09:00, is linked below, where Art explains how our institutions have redefined what is considered oil, which has created an illusion of constantly growing oil production. The reality is that – circa 2023 – fully 40% of what is called oil is comprised of things that are ‘not oil’. What does this imply for global peak oil?

    Show slides & transcript are available in the YouTube video notes.

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