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05 Jun 2024 | News Roundup
  • Continuing to draw on the work of “Ottawa Weather Records” without any implication that its creator agrees with our interpretation, we also hear that May 31 was “Ottawa's 31st consecutive day with maximum temperature ≥ 14°C. This is the longest run before June 01 in more than 20 years, since May 31st, 1998.” Sounds like a warming trend, whatever 1998 was up to. Except as usual he publishes a chart ranking the Top 10 such runs. And while 1998 is indeed in 2nd place, 2024 is in 6th and the reason it’s the longest run in “more than 20 years” is that the other intervening year, from 5th to 3rd, were more than 20 years ago. Way more: 1887, 1896 and 1975. Meanwhile the top spot is held by… 1921. (Oh, and further down 7th is a three-way tie between 2001, 1965 and 1914, and 10th is 1988 and 1903.) If you’re not cherry-picking scary-looking temperature trends, what you get from the actual record is a lot more like natural variability.
  • From the “oh shut up” file, Scientific American has the gall to say “Antarctica’s ‘Doomsday Glacier’ Is Melting Even Faster Than Scientists Thought”. Yes, again. And if you won’t shut up, then we wish you’d tell us this one thing: How many times do scientists have to say the glacier is melting even faster than scientists thought before scientists start to think it’s melting as fast as scientists say they think it is? And for bonus points, how many times does it have to be melting faster than fast before it actually melts? Inquiring penguins want to know.
  • From the “one rule for me” file, social media entrepreneur, climate activist and general annoyance Mark Zuckerberg has a new yacht. And don’t think small bucolic sailing vessel with two-bed cabin. No, it’s a 387-foot diesel behemoth. It can’t rival the yacht of online entrepreneur and climate activist Jeff Bezos, mind you. But still, think of all the things you’ll have to give up to offset its carbon footprint… or should we say hullprint?
  • Energy transition bubble update: Climate Home News tells us that “Kingston, in Ontario, has become a burgeoning hub for cleantech startups working to process and recycle energy transition minerals to create circular supply chains…. Kingston is hoping to make its mark by addressing the supply chain challenges of one type of critical minerals in particular: rare earths.” By “Kingston” they mean the city government, of course, though provincial and federal subsidies are pouring in as well. But here’s the hard bit: If processing and recycling “energy transition materials to create circular supply chains” is actually economically efficient, it would be profitable without subsidies. If it’s not, it won’t be profitable with them, for anyone but the subsidy farmers.
  • A high-speed train between Los Angeles and San Francisco is going nowhere slowly. “In 2008, when the state’s voters approved nearly $10bn in bonds for the train, it was thought that the total cost would run to $33bn and that it would be done by 2020. Now it expects to spend up to $35bn plus another decade just to finish the middle section – 171 miles from Bakersfield to Merced, the easiest terrain for building…. In December the Biden administration granted $3bn to the project…. In March, the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), a non-partisan fiscal adviser to California’s legislature, estimated that even after the federal grant, the funding shortfall for the rail line is a whopping $80bn – more than double the state’s annual transport budget. There is no credible plan for raising that money.” But it will help save the planet.

One comment on “Tidbits”

  1. "Kingston is hoping to make its mark by addressing the supply chain challenges of one type of critical minerals in particular: rare earths.”
    Rare earths are not actually very rare in terms of their abundance in the Earth's crust, but are notoriously difficult to separate and purify. Whoever is advising Kingston city government on creating a technology hub for this (possibly an academic from the local university) might want to remember that just because it works in a laboratory doesn't necessarily mean it will be econnomically feasible on an industrial scale. Get your chequebook ready, City Councillors!

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