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This is in blog format, with new entries dated below them.

GDP vs. sustainability

I've read some analyses carefully declaring that the effects of Anthropomorphic Global Warming (largely human-driven climate change via burning fossil fuels) on Gross Domestic Product over time are actually quite small. The reduction in global GDP is in fact considered so small, and so distant in time, that discussions of what percent of current global GDP should be diverted to address something that if it was instead invested would require rather small present-time investment to equal the expected future value suggest we are fiscally better off doing very little... Katrina overall lowered GDP, but the needed rebuilding effort in itself was quite good for GDP. “Acts of God” that require vast rebuilding and involve vast numbers of homeless, factoring in all the reconstruction work, don't really hurt GDP much. They're absolutely glorious for the construction trades part of GDP.

Appalachia-area GDP is probably helped by the coal industry's using mountaintop removal to get at hidden coal seams. The top of a mountain is very simply blasted clear of the mountain it was on, with all its previously-hidden compounds like arsenic and mercury tumbling down fully exposed into valleys and their streams. The coal which that approach helps make so accessible helps continue coal mining jobs, with the desired coal now much more efficiently mined.

What about quality of life though? What good is a decent-enough GDP in conditions no one would want to live in?


Beginning of the Great Recession, lots of change

Well, here we are after having elected Barack Obama to the United States Presidency. The current situation is that those who invest in petroleum now expect such a severe global recession that the price of a gallon of 87 octane car fuel is in increasing places just below $2 per gallon, about half what it was half a year ago. The global climate is responding to increasingly rising CO2 levels faster than predicted by any computerized climate models. We just had our first significant snowfall on November 20, earlier than any year in memory, two years after tulips bloomed in January throughout the Northeast.


Carbon footprint of massed WWII bomber formations vs. modern airliner travel

B-17s and B-24s developed an average of probably about 3500 hp total during its 2000 miles forays into Germany and most of them back again. P-51s averaged probably about 800 hp, P-47s and P-38s about 1400 hp. A typical modern turboprop commuter aircraft, the Dash-8 (de Haviland Canada DHC-8), has two 5,000 peak hp turboprops producing an average of probably 3,500 hp. A 757-200 will go 4550 miles on 11,526 gallons, while the 767-400 will go 6475 miles on 24,140 gallons. Considering the increase in international overseas air travel and the radical increase in fuel consumption of the typical modern airliner (although they are remarkably efficient, probably getting much more thrust from a pound of fuel than an early to mid 1940s radial could, especially approaching the radial’s full rated output), there might not be as much of a difference in pounds of fuel burned over European cities today vs. 1944’s massed heavy bomber raids.


York nearly runs out of tap water, wild weather, do McMansions + decorative SUVs really make sense?

The York Water Company completed their pump line from the Susquehanna River to the Lake Redman basin by February 2005. The need for it was from York County’s water use outstripping natural water supplies in recent years, demonstrated during a late ‘90s drought that nearly emptied Lake Redman, where York gets its tap water. So we now have to import water from higher, more inland altitudes, tapping into it before it reaches the Chesapeake Bay. Might the seemingly uncontrolled residential sprawl throughout York County be related? Of course it would, it would lead directly to it. But the local tendency is to largely acknowledge developmental sprawl as an inevitable, unstoppable result of Beltway wealth vs. York County’s reasonable cost of living, and hope that the construction crews make good money from it.

Apparently via infrared photography you can make out the greater Atlanta, Georgia area (at least during summer) from its significant thermal footprint. Areas to the east of Atlanta get noticeably more rain than surrounding areas from Atlanta-heated air cooling down as it drifts over them. Much of Southern California is a giant, single traffic jam, dependent from the construction of the Hoover Dam in the 1920s on imported water. On November 15 -16 2006 there was a tropical depression that swept inland across the mid-Atlantic region (NJ, PA, Ohio and surrounding areas) that led to tornado warnings in an area that gets tornado warnings only about once a decade. And this was in mid-November, when the region’s climate was supposed to be running low on sun-generated energy (but the average temperature for the month to that point was about 53 degrees F, at least five degrees high from the long-term average). There’s a month and a half separating when we got the mini-hurricane (which caused severe local flooding) and the end of August, the standard last days of hurricane risk for the Gulf and general Florida area (which, unlike PA, do get aggressive solar thermal energy to fuel such storms)

If smoking is bad for you, how could one doubt problems with burning at least most of the planet’s supply of fossil fuels? Should there not be efforts towards a balance between O2 consumers and CO2 consumers? If acid rain is a negative, should the factors that lead to it (CO2 generation) not be reduced and/or balanced out?

So, is the current “bigger and more powerful is better” approach to everything from new houses to vacuum cleaners to SUVs really sustainable long-term? No. We’re having a good time now (except for Katrina of course), but factoring long-term environmental costs into regular accounting would be a good idea. The significantly greater efficiencies that would result in time would likely pay for any additional costs, as has very much been the case with new, environmentally-sound factory designs of Texas Instruments, Ford and others. Property insurance costs have started to reflect increasing weather variation from steady, calm traditional averages. Perhaps other real-world listed fiscal liabilities could reflect such long-term environmental liabilities.


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