Every now and then you see a statement like “a great future source of energy is hydrogen.” Such statements are lies—hydrogen is only an energy carrier or transfer media and not a substance capable of providing new energy. Hydrogen will never be a source of new energy here on Earth until we figure out how to make nuclear fusion work. This is because chemical uses of hydrogen, be it fuel cells or internal combustion (IC) engines, only work if you start out with free hydrogen: H2 .
People often ask what they can do personally to help reduce energy consumption and humanity's impact on the environment. When global warming or the energy crisis are discussed it is natural to focus on the obvious large targets: transportation, generating electrical power, green buildings, etc. Other than buying compact fluorescent light bulbs or a hybrid automobile what can you do? How about staying home from work?
One of the major measurements that paleoclimatologists and other scientists who try to figure out Earth's climate in the distant past rely on is the ratio of two different isotopes of carbon, 13C/12C. This ratio, also called delta 13C (δ13C), has been used to estimate the carbon content of Earth's going back more than 150 million years. Now a new study, appearing in the pages of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has cast the accepted interpretation of δ13C into doubt.
For a change this week we have left the realm of political inanity and selected a new Crank of the Week from the ranks of those who should know better—scientists. This week's crank is John Latham of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, for suggesting the creation of a fleet of 1500 robot sailing ships to combat global warming. These autonomous vessels would sail the world's oceans creating artificial cloud cover by spraying salt water into the air.
With the US storm tossed in the midst of the 2008 Hurricane season the predictable has happened: the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has released another report claiming that global warming is boosting the strength and number of storms around the world and in the Atlantic. In a press release dated September 4, UNEP blames climate change for the rising cost of natural disasters around the world.
We have our first two time Crank of the Week winner: Senator Harry Reid. The befuddled and bombastic Senate Majority Leader has managed to sum up the cause of all human conflict in one word—OIL! That's right, crude is evidently the cause of all evil. “The history of the last hundred years has been a toxic mix of oil and war,” proclaimed Reid. In remarks delivered to the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, Reid went on at length: