Tag Archives: Could
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Travel with me to the year 2100. Despite our best efforts, climate change continues to threaten humanity. Drought, superstorms, flooded coastal cities. Desperate to stop the warming, scientists deploy planes to spray sulfur dioxide in the stratosphere, where it converts into a sulfate aerosol, which reflects sunlight. Thus the planet cools because, yes, chemtrails.
It’s called solar geoengineering, and while it’s not happening yet, it’s a real strategy that scientists are exploring to head off climate disaster. The upside is obvious. But so too are the potential perils—not just for humanity, but for the whole natural world.
A study out today in Nature Ecology & Evolution models what might happen if humans were to geoengineer the planet and then suddenly stop. The sudden spike in global temperature would send ecosystems into chaos, killing off species in droves. Not that we shouldn’t tackle climate change. It’s just that among the many theoretical problems with geoengineering, we can now add its potential to rip ecosystems to shreds.
The models in this study presented a scenario in which geoengineers add 5 million tons of sulfur dioxide to the stratosphere, every year, for 50 years. (A half century because it’s long enough to run a good climate simulation, but not too long that it’s computationally unwieldy. The group is planning another study that will look at 100 years of geoengineering.) Then, in this hypothetical scenario, the sulfur seeding just stops altogether—think if someone hacks or physically attacks the system.
“You’d get rapid warming because the aerosols have a lifetime of a year or two, and they would fall out pretty quickly,” says study co-author Alan Robock, a climate scientist at Rutgers University. “And then you’d get all this extra sunlight and you’d quickly go back up to what the climate might have been without the geoengineering.” We’re talking a rise in land surface temperatures of almost a degree per decade. “Even if you do it over five years, you’re still going to get this rapid warming,” he says.
Now, species haven’t survived on Earth for 3.5 billion years by being wilting flowers; if the climate changes slowly, species can adapt to withstand extra heat or cold. But suddenly blast the planet with a massive amount of solar energy that quickly, and you’re liable to catch a species off-guard.
And it’s not just temperatures they’d have to adapt to. Dramatic shifts in precipitation would force species to quickly move to new climes or face destruction. Species like amphibians, which are sensitive to temperature and precipitation changes, would have a tough go of it. And of course, not all species have the option of fleeing. Populations of trees and clams and corals would be pretty much kaput.
Even if a species is particularly resistant to these changes, the downfall of a keystone species could bring its whole ecosystem crashing down. Take coral, for instance. “If you lose the corals, you lose the species that live within those corals and you lose the species that rely on those species for food,” says John Fleming, a staff scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute who wasn’t involved in the study. “And so it really is an up-the-chain process.”
Knowing these risks, it might seem implausible that humans would just suddenly stop geoengineering efforts once they’ve started. Why not just keep pumping sulfur dioxide into the air ad infinitum to keep the planet on life support? Robock explains that the scenario they used isn’t definitive—it’s just a possible option. And there’s a possibility that we might not willingly stop geoengineering.
Say the world came together and decided that solar geoengineering is our only hope for survival. Planes start flying over the equator, spraying millions of tons of gas. The planet cools—but alas, this doesn’t affect everyone equally. Some nations might find themselves the beneficiaries of extra precipitation, while others descend into drought.
In that situation, a massive country like China or India suffering ill effects could blame the geoengineers and demand they stop. “There is the potential for clubs of countries to wield a lot of power to make a global geoengineering deployment work more for their interests than for less powerful countries,” says lead author Chris Trisos of the University of Maryland.
Or maybe the Earth itself plays a wildcard. Volcanoes spew their own sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere all the time; get a big enough eruption and you can send the climate into disarray. That happened in 1815 with the eruption of Mount Tambora, which led to the Year Without a Summer. Or Laki in 1783, which caused famine in India and China because it weakened vital monsoons.
“If there was a series of volcanic eruptions that produce a cooling effect, then that might be the reason why people say, ‘Well, actually, we better stop doing the solar engineering,’” says University of East Anglia environmental scientist Phil Williamson, who was not an author of the paper but who penned a companion analysis of it. “And then you get the rebound effect as a result of that.”
To be fair, science’s exploration of solar geoengineering is still in its early days. Hell, the technology to do it doesn’t even exist yet. It may well be that scientists find that deploying aerosols is just too risky. Maybe a better idea is 2CO2 sequestration. Or marine cloud brightening, as another way to bounce light back into space.
But now is the time to start considering the ethical and regulatory pitfalls of pursuing such a strategy. Late last year, Congressman Jerry McNerney introduced a bill that would require the National Academies of Science to produce two reports—one that looks at research avenues and another that looks at oversight. “I hope that we can sooner rather than later figure out what the potential benefits and risks are of doing this geoengineering so society will know whether it’s even a possibility,” says Robock. “If not, if it’s too dangerous, then it’ll put a lot more pressure on us to do mitigation soon rather than later.”
“The ultimate fear with geoengineering is that we’re trying to alter a system that’s much too complex for us to truly predict,” says Fleming. “So doing that can put us in a worse situation than we’re in already.”
In the meantime, here’s an idea: Let’s dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The whole of life on Earth would certainly appreciate it.
The New Year is a beginning and an opportunity to get quiet, slow down and be intentional about what you want your next 365 days to be like. As an entrepreneur, you probably do this for your business, but do you do this for your life?
One year ago I created a tool to help me make sense of where I was and where I wanted to go. It was a wonderful experience and so now I’m excited to share it with you.
Filling out this one sheet of paper was incredibly clarifying for me. Once I finished it, I set it on my desk where I would see it every day. Within 3 months, all of my goals for the year were accomplished – even “the big intimidating one” that I was scared to name.
But here’s the thing – it wasn’t work – instead it felt like magic.
The act of writing things down helps us own our path. Our words and our thoughts are powerful things, and this tool can put those to work for you. Here’s what this process is designed to do:
- Clarify and understand what guides you
- Create an inventory of your life (today as it is now)
- Set your intentions for what you want to create (in the future)
- Get honest about what challenges you face
This is not a difficult process – but it can be. It can be joyful or it can be painful. It is different for everyone. No matter what, I hope this tool brings you clarify and for you. Feel free to share with others. And I hope you enjoy the journey.
And Happy New Year.
President Trump has approved a plan to send Javelin anti-tank missile systems to Ukraine to help the U.S.-backed government there fight Russian-allied forces. Russian military and allied forces have been active in Ukraine since the 2014 ouster of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych.
The sale, reported by the Wall Street Journal, would put a uniquely effective weapon into play in the conflict. The Javelin, developed by Raytheon and Lockheed-Martin and first put in service in 1996, is a shoulder-fired missile designed to track targets by infrared. But rather than hitting a tank in the front or sides, where its armor is thickest, the Javelin projectile flies along a long arc to hit a tank’s roof, where the armor on most models is thinnest.
The Javelin is both more powerful, more expensive, and more tightly controlled than other anti-tank weapons, such as the older BGM-71 TOW system. According to an in-depth overview by The National Interest, the Javelin had a major showing in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In one battle, it enabled a small group of U.S. special operations troops with four Javelin launchers to destroy a substantially larger Iraqi tank unit.
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The Javelin is said to be effective against most tanks in the Russian arsenal, though it has not been battle-tested against the most modern tanks. The State Department also recently approved the sale of Javelins to Georgia, which has had its own recent clashes with Russia, and has also sent units to Lithuania and Estonia.
Russian tanks have been instrumental in some victories by pro-Russian forces in the Ukrainian conflict. However, commentators have also described tank battles as relatively rare. That has led some to speculate that the decision is primarily political rather than tactical, intended to signal deeper American support for anti-Russian forces. Ukraine expert Michael Kofman told the Washington Post that Russia would “see this as a premise of the U.S. wanting to kill Russians,” pointing to a possible escalation of both the conflict, and broader U.S.-Russia tensions.
LONDON/FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Dialog Semiconductor said on Monday top customer Apple could build its own power-management chips into future iPhones rather than rely on the Anglo-German chipmaker, sending its shares plunging as much as 19 percent.
The company, which analysts reckon derives more than half of its revenue from Apple, said there was no risk to its existing supply deals in 2018 and it was in the advanced stages of working with Apple on designing “2019-type products” that could lead to commercial contracts by next March.
“Our position remains that we have seen no material change to our ongoing relationship with Apple Inc,” Chief Executive Jalal Bagherli told investors on a conference call.
However, the company acknowledged for the first time that “Apple has the resources and capability to internally design a PMIC and could potentially do so in the next few years.”
PMICs are power-management integrated circuits that are vital to conserve battery life in products like Apple iPhones.
Investors are wary of companies that rely heavily on Apple, which has cut out several small suppliers in the past.
The U.S. technology giant said in April it planned to replace graphics chip supplier Imagination Technologies, sending its shares down 70 percent in a single session. Imagination was subsequently sold off in two separate deals.
The Nikkei business daily last week quoted one source as saying Apple would make about half the iPhone’s power-management chips starting next year, with another source saying this could be delayed to 2019. (s.nikkei.com/2Al5nSl)
Since then, Dialog shares have lost nearly a third of their value. At 1035 GMT, they were down 15.2 percent at 26.47 euros.
Bagherli said Apple’s feedback so far on 2019 product plans had been “very good” and that he expected to have more clarity by March on the terms of new business from Apple for 2019. Dialog would update investors when it had more details, he said.
Semiconductor suppliers are typically barred by Apple from revealing their supply relationships. Dialog, which has previously declined to name Apple, referring to it only obliquely as its “largest customer” or its “main business”, said it had received a special dispensation from Apple to mention it.
Dialog emphasized it “does not have reason to believe its current expectations of 2018 Apple business would be impacted” should Apple decide to design the chips itself.
Dialog, itself heavily reliant on the smartphone industry, said it was aware that in order to remain a key supplier to Apple it would have to continue to meet the U.S. company’s “technology, quality, price and volume expectations”.
The slide in its shares echoed one in April, after Bankhaus Lampe analyst Karsten Iltgen advised investors to sell the stock because Apple was working on its own battery-saving chip. The stock is off more than 40 percent since then.
($ 1 = 0.8434 euros)
Additional reporting by Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt; Editing by Edmund Blair and Mark Potter
LONDON (Reuters) – Uber’s [UBER.UL] appeal process against a decision by London’s transport regulator to strip the taxi app of its operating license in the British capital could take years, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said on Thursday.
Transport for London shocked Uber in September by deeming it unfit to run a taxi service and refusing to renew its license, a decision the Silicon Valley firm is appealing.
“My understanding is that it could go on for a number of years,” Khan said at a monthly question session when asked about how long the appeals process could last.
Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Stephen Addison
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek
Many traditional fast food restaurants are slowly being left behind.
It’s not that customers don’t crave their greasy goodness.
It’s that many fast food restaurant brands feel a touch old-fashioned and new rivals have come along, offering a heady recipe of a more exciting brand and better food.
This has led the likes of McDonald’s to experiment with, for example, touchscreen ordering.
Never, though, has one of the monolithic fast food brands tried what this KFC is doing.
As the South China Morning Post reports, a KFC-owned restaurant called KPRO — an oddly healthy place that serves salads, panini and fresh juice — is allowing customers to pay with a smile.
I tried getting away with something similar in one or two restaurants during my teens. It didn’t work well, as the owners quickly demanded, well, money. Or else.
Here, though, you walk up to a large screen. You use a touchscreen to select the very healthy food you’d like to quickly consume.
Then you click on the Smile To Pay feature.
It uses facial recognition to decide who you are.
Then it asks you to enter your phone number, for a little extra authentication.
This could be a little awkward if there are people standing behind you.
Don’t these technologists care about privacy? Oh, you know the answer to that one.
Once you’ve ordered, you go and sit down and your food is magically delivered by someone who, one hopes, doesn’t say: “We know where you live.”
KFC worked with Ant Financial, part of the vast Alibaba Group, to create this system, one that will surely make people feel so very modern.
Some might look at the video and think that all this button-pushing and pausing to take a picture isn’t all that fast.
It’s also gloriously impersonal.
Then again, isn’t that what technology would prefer we become? A face and a phone number, rather than, say, a living, breathing, purse-bearing, picky-eating human.
From finger-lickin’ good to face-bearin’ payin’.
This is progress.