Ensuring Water Security

Water security is a complex issue with a lot of independently moving parts. While the earth’s surface is three-quarters water, almost all of that is ocean, unusable due to its salinity. There are limited freshwater resources available for everyday use, consumption by humans and human food products. Global climate change is slowing replenishment of fresh water supplies while there has been no let up in demand. In 2012, the United States created the U.S. Water Partnership (USWP) to help provide access to information about water and provide outlets for collaboration on water improvement projects. Of course, this is only a

Risks from Fracking

Fracking, properly, hydraulic fracturing, has a number of tradeoffs. From a purely economic standpoint, fracking is a very expensive way of extracting natural gas out of the ground. So natural gas prices must be fairly high in order to support the fracking process. That said, efficiencies are pushing down the cost, leading to more potential fracking in even less efficient gas fields. This is all kind of a big deal because the fracking business has discovered gas fields in the United States sufficient to support the nation for more than 100 years. It’s worth remembering, at this point, that natural

Comments on RPN

I’ve started falling in love with reverse Polish notation (RPN) again. This mostly comes from using PCalc on my iPhone for a lot of calculations, lately. Like so many other kids, I grew up using the Texas Instruments, starting with the TI-82 and TI-85. In college, I “upgraded” to a TI-86, which I recently found in my basement, and it still works. It’s a testament to both the ruggedness of the Texas Instruments builds and the long-lasting durability of the Zilog Z-80, the silicon inside the case. This post won’t teach you how to use RPN, since there are plenty

Eutrophication Reduction Through Local Limits

Both the Baltic Sea and the Chesapeake Bay are great examples of complex and diverse watersheds. The Baltic Sea is quite large and has a catchment area of 1,641,650 square kilometers over nine or ten countries. The Chesapeake Bay is smaller about a tenth the size, but 166,534 square kilometers over seven states. We can see them both here. Both the Baltic Sea and the Chesapeake Bay are afflicted by eutrophication, a strange kind of dead zone in the water. Eutrophication is caused by an overabundance of phosphates and nitrogen in the water. Small amounts are healthy in the water,

Discounting Future Risk

I was recently reminded of the movie Lord of War, when two prostitutes, Faith and Gloria, were sent to Nicolas Cage’s character by some warlord or another. Anyway, Cage is gently refusing the ladies’ advances when the topic of HIV comes up: Faith: [speaking softly] You worry too much. Gloria: [speaking softly] Why would you worry about something that can kill you in ten years where there are so many things that can kill you today? This second line is a brilliant example of how people think about risk. People will generally discount the future, sometimes by quite a bit.

The Structure of a Space Corps

There’s been a lot of breathless coverage of the surprise United States Space Corps being all of the sudden. Here’s a brief listing of links: Ars Technica Russia Today Space News The Independent Really, I could go on for a while, but you get the idea. But the most interesting of the pieces, was this one in the National Interest: Against An Air Force Space Corps: Space Belongs to the Navy! The Air Force is fighting legislation directing it to create a “Space Corps” to better specialize and prepare for conflicts in space. They are absolutely correct in doing so,