Digest 01

This post is the first in a weekly series trialling this blog as a repository for any interesting morsels or tidbits that I discover but am bound to forget.

  • Nuclear Energy as a Green power source - Pinker

    Nuclear energy is the world’s most abundant and scalable carbon free energy source. Solar and wind currently provide only ~1.5 % of Earth’s energy needs and are limited due to wind calming, sun setting etc. Whilst energy from sun/wind can be stored in batteries, the technology to store city-powering quantities of energy stil does not exist it. Further, solar/wind methods are not space dense; just to keep up with the world’s energy use requires covering an area the size of Germany in wind turbines each year.

    In contrast, nuclear generates huge amounts of energy via . Uranium mining is less environmentally impactful than coal/oil/gas and nuclear pants take up less space (1/500 th) than wind or solar. Lower carbon footprint than all alternatives and safer: Coal kills 387 times more people per kWh of electricity generated.

    Nuclear energy is currently expensive due to primarily due to regulatory hurdles ( ~ $ 200 million per plant ), whilst solar is cheap in part due to subsidies that may be about to dry up. There is potential for new reactors to be installed on offshore cities (solving NIMBY problem), the development of cheap modular designs, to be fuelled by abundant thorium or even uranium extracted from seawater!

    The benefits of an energy source that is cleaner, denser, + cheaper than fossil fuels would be immense (think easy desalination of seawater.)

  • Cooling the atmosphere by reducing solar radiation - Keith

    A solar geo-engineering method to reduce the effects of climate change by reflecting the amount of sunlight incident on the Earth. This would work by injecting the stratosphere with either sulphates (potentially problematic as they could produce sulphuric acid which damages the ozone layer) or calcites. Rather than being a panacea to CO2 emissions and global warming, it would instead give some breathing space to keep the global temperature rise to within 2 degrees of pre-industrial levels, whilst methods to reduce and remove the quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere are developed.

  • A quarter of the world’s homicides take place in just four countries - UNODC

    These are Mexico, Columbia, Brazil and Venezuela. This is an interesting realisation that the distribution of homicides is highly lopsided. This skew is fractal in the sense that within a country most homicides occurs in a few cities, and within the city a few neighborhoods. This is in fact good news as it means that the rate of homicide can be drastically reduced by targeting just a few key areas. See e.g. Instinto de Vida, an attempt to halve homicide in Latin America within a decade.

  • Lester Young playing I Cover the Waterfront