Archive for the ‘Academia’ Category

I was reviewing AppCoda’s Beginning iOS 10 Programming with Swift when the new versions of XCode, Swift, and iOS were released. The publisher also updated the book, so I decided to switch to the new material.

Instead of discarding the initial review and starting over again from scratch, I decided to publish what I’ve done already and will delete this older content once I reach the same point in the new book (Ch 14). I will leave out the screenshots for this older material as well, but will have plenty in the new material.

I intend to update this review once a week, even though it is the holiday season right now.  Please follow this post so you can see when it is updated.  Now on to the review.

Title: Beginning iOS 10 Programming with SwiftBeginiOS10Prgm
Author: Simon Ng
Published: AppCoda publisher
Price: NO LONGER AVAILABLE
Length: 612 pgs (PDF) (30 chapters)
Website: www.appcoda.com

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2017, All Rights Reserved.

This book is for Swift 3, Xcode 8 and iOS 10, and the intended audience is people without programming experience as well as people wanting to learn the Swift programming language.

I’ve been a programmer a long time, and have dabbled in mobile development awhile but have not been happy with the iOS tutorials I found until now. I came across ‘Beginning iOS Programming with Swift’ after searching for iOS tutorials on Yahoo, and started following the online book. AppCoda provides part of the course at no charge, which is a nice approach and similar to other publishers providing free chapters to interest prospective buyers. After going through the first five chapters, I had created two new iOS apps fairly easily, so I contacted AppCoda and got the book so I could complete the course.

Before we get started, I want to point out that this book used Xcode 8.0. If you upgrade to Xcode 9 and iOS 11, so if you already upgraded to both, you may want to contact the publisher to see when the update to this book will be done.

During development, you need to select a target version of iOS – my mini tablet just has 9.3.5, but my old iPhone 5 has 10.3.3, so I used that as the default target iOS initially. Now lets get started with the review.

IMPORTANT NOTE!! My review was done using the iBook version of the book, not the PDF, so I use those page numbers in my references. Please be aware there are a lot pages in the iBook version of documentation than in the PDF version, so the page numbers do not match up.

THE BOOK
The first three sections are: Preface, Ch 1:Getting Started with Xcode 8 Development, and Ch 2:Swift Playgrounds – all important if you’ve never developed, or new to development with a Mac. I’ve done both, but I still read over the material and did find it useful and accurate for setting up a development environment for Macs. Being anxious to create an actual iOS app, I pressed on to chapter 3 so I could see how easy it is to build an app.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The list in the table of contents at the start of the iBook lists the sections, but it shows Preface as the first. The actual chapters are not part of the items in the TOC, which is a small item I would suggest the author change, as well as update any chapter titles that might have been updated since initial publication.

Chapter 3: Build Your First App

This chapter has you build a simple Hello World app – the task most books have when teaching a programming language. Simon has you build an app with a single button, plus the code needed to tie the button to functionality.

The author gives you the specific steps you need to follow to create this app. It really is easy, and all I needed to do was follow the steps to build a Hello World app:

  1. Create a newXcode project.
  2. Select a template for your new project (Single View Application).
  3. Choose options for your new project (the book has the options plus what you enter for them – nice).
  4. Save the project (pick a location on your computer – I decided to use different ones for each book project).
  5. After selecting Next and Create, Xcode opened my new project (See below). The author points out the importance of learning a development environment, and I followed his advice and explored the Xcode Workspace. The author explains how to use the Xcode Simulator to run Xcode projects, and uses large and clear graphics to show what to select to see a project execute. I have an iPhone 5s, so I took the opportunity to change the Xcode Simulator to use that instead of the default iPhone 6. You could use newer iPhones or tablets too.
  6. To build the button for the Hello World project, you need to switch to the Interface Builder, where buttons and other interface items (like lists, other controls, etc are available to the developer).  I selected the Button and moved it to the middle of the View Controller area of the screen.  I positioned the button in the middle of the screen (easy the the Xcode alignment guideline, as shown in Fig 6), then renamed the button (per the book). The author says you can already test the app at this point so I did. It did take a few minutes for the Simulator to get started and render the iPhone with the new app, but it did – be patient. At this point, you have created a simple iOS app with a simple button that does nothing, but you still have created a app.NOTE: The author makes a great point about iOS development. The code and UI for apps are separate – this means you spend less time learning how to create a UI and more time on the layout and logic of app design. Sweet.
  7. To add code to the the app, which is executed when the button is selected, you need to switch to the ViewController.swift file.  I added the code is the first IBAction function (the other two functions were added later to extend my learning). As you see, Swift coding isn’t difficult. The book explains what each part of the simple code does, not too deep to slow you down at this point, but enough to understand what is happening.
  8. Now you need to connect the code you wrote in step 7, to the UI you created in step 6. This is easy. Just switch back to the Interface Builder, select the button and drag it to the View Controller under the View Controller Scene at the left of the UI.Now you can test how the code works with the button you added. This is better than the simple test you did in step 6, as you get to see your app do something. Run it with the simulator and there you are. Your first iOS works. Sweet.
  9. I wanted to learn more, so I did the end-of-chapter exercise and added a few extra buttons plus added two new functions to display different messages than the first button. It was intuitive and easy, and something I suggest you do too. The only way you get better as a developer is to learn all the ranges you have at your disposal, so play time in this case is actually very productive. Now play.NOTE: As this Hello World is very basic, I only used the Simulator to test it. I will deploy more advanced apps developed later in this book, using my iPhone and iPad Mini. The iPad mini will require an older version of iOS, so I will describe how easy that is to set before creating and deploying my apps.

Chapter 4: Hello World App Explained

This chapter goes into detail into what you just built. You must read this, as it clarifies the other options you have. I kept my Hello World app open while reading the chapter, and checked out the options as I followed along in the book.

The material in this section was just as useful as the earlier chapters, and keeping it separate from the first app you develop means you don’t get bogged down in language details while creating your first app, yet you still get the technical information needed to back up the process of creating an iOS app. I like this approach – very easy to make progress, while still learning detailed processes.

Chapter 5: Introduction to Auto Layout

Auto layout is where the UI elements can be arranged and can handle the different sized screens available to iOS apps. iPhone 4s – 8s use different screen sizes, as do tablets, so this is important unless you only want to develop apps for your own use.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time in this chapter, since it is no longer the way you develop apps for different devices. The author includes it so you see how it was done, but the next chapter gets into stack views, which is the newer method for developing multi-device apps.

To use auto layout, you set constraints to the sides and top or bottom of the screen, which help retain formatting when a device is turned on the side or when devices with different-size screens run your app. It takes a bit of work, but it works. Now on to the next chapter.

Chapter 6: Designing UI Using Stack Views

In iOS9, Apple introduced Stack Views to layout UIs. What is a Stack View? I asked that myself. As the author says:

“The stack view provides a streamlined interface for laying out a collection of views in either a column or row….
You can embed multiple UI objects into one by using stack views…
The stack view manages the layout of its subviews and automatically applies layout constrains for you. That means, the subviews are ready to adapt to different screen sizes. Furthermore, you can embed a stack view in another stack view to build more complex user interfaces.”
– Simon Ng, Beginning iOS Programming with Swift, Page 87

NOTE: This doesn’t eliminate the need for auto layout. You still need to define layout constraints for stack views. This is the chapter where we learn how to develop more advanced iOS apps.

Creating a New App

  1. You need to create a new project for this chapter. The author suggests StackViews, which is the same name I used for the directory to hold the new project. He provides the answers you need to create the project, so no guessing at this point.
  2. You will need some images (3 images, each in 3 different sizes), which he provides as a download. Xcode groups images in an asset catalogue (called Assets.xcassets in Xcode).
  3. Download the images and drag them to in the AppIcon list as described in the book. Once you need to access each image, you don’t need to specify size which is used – iOS does that for you.
  4. Open Main.storyboard for this project to add two labels to the new app. Drag a Vertical Stack View object (from the Object Library at the bottom left of Xcode) to the storyboard view controller.
  5. Now drag a label object and drop it on top of the stack view. Rename the label per the book, then resize it and change the font color as well.
  6. Drag a 2nd label object and drop it on the same stack view. Rename the second label, per the book. By default, labels left-justify, so change the stack view property from Fill to Center to center align both labels.
  7. Now add 3 images to the view. You place the 3 images side-by-side, then you will use another stack view to group them together. Add another stack view to the view and add the images to that stack view.
  8. Now you combine both stack views so all of the elements are positioned as a unit.
  9. Add constraints. This is where the free online material differed from the purchased book. The book says:

    “Now click the Pin button in the layout button. Set the space constraints of the top, left and right side to 70, 0 and 0 respectively. When the constraint is enabled, it is indicated by a solid red bar. Then click the “Add 3 Constraints” button to add the constraints.”- Simon Ng, Beginning iOS Programming with Swift, Page 100

    I found this unclear, so I looked around and noticed the button looking like a cutout of a tie fighter in the bottom right part of Xcode, so I selected it and was able to set the constraints as directed.

  10. The book then says that there will be problems positioning the stack view. I got (very) lucky and had no issues. Sweet.
  11. Now preview the app on other devices. It looked good, except some issues truncating the top label – easily fixed. I again got lucky and had no issue with the aspect ratios of each image (they did not appear stretched), which was due to my playing around with the app before receiving the book from the publisher. Compared to the first app, I was impressed.Per the book, I fixed the title truncation (very fast easy fix) and tested it and it worked fine.
  12. Add another 2 labels to the view, then add both to a stack view. Following the book, very simple. This app is starting to look like a real app. I adjusted position (relative to the bottom of the device) and size and spacing to keep the buttons looking good.
  13. Now it was time to learn about a new (since iOS 8) UI design concept: Adaptive Layout, which lets apps adapt the UI to particular devices and device orientation. You need Size Classes to achieve adaptive layout.

    “A size class identifies a relative amount of display space for both vertical (height) and horizontal (width) dimensions. There are two types of size classes: regular and compact. A regular size class denotes a large amount of screen space, while a compact size class denotes a smaller amount of screen space.”- Simon Ng, Beginning iOS Programming with Swift, Page 111

    “By describing each display dimension using a size class, this will result in four abstract devices: Regular width-Regular Height, Regular width-Compact Height, Compact width-Regular Height and Compact width-Compact Heigth.”- Simon Ng, Beginning iOS Programming with Swift, Page 112

  14. Size Classes made it easy to position UI elements, or hide them on certain devices. Sweet.

Chapter 7: Introduction to Prototyping

“A prototype is an early model of a product used for testing a concept or visualizing an idea.”
– Simon Ng, Beginning iOS Programming with Swift, Page 119

I’ve created many prototypes before and during projects over my career as a developer, as they help the customer see what you intend to deliver. Unfortunately, while prototypes can prevent scope creep with some customers. they encourage scope creep with other customers.

Scope creep is where projects change as work progresses, as customers decide to ask for more features or functionality. Scope creep is an enemy of any Project Manager, as it destroys estimated project timelines. You can’t prevent everyone from asking for more, but you try to get them to accept adding those after the initial project rollout or update.

With traditional enterprise-class software projects, writing a prototype on paper or in PowerPoint or on a whiteboard is usually faster than creating a software prototype. You draw the basic UI elements of each page and show the flow between design elements/pages. When you need to add functionality to an existing site or system, you just need to prototype the new functionality to demonstrate it works.

This chapter of the book has a list of good tools to help prototype iOS apps, including: Marvel, Photo.io, Flinto, Principle, InvisionApp, POP, Sketch, Adobe Experience Design and Keynote. Of these, only the last four are described – no worries as well all know how to Google. For this review, the prototype tool I used was POP (Prototyping On Paper), which lets you create working prototype without writing any code – a real timesaver when preparing a quote for a client.

I downloaded from the iTunes store and installed on my iPhone, then grabbed the app prototype same the author provided (1.6M file available as a link in the book). I added the downloaded images from the author to my iPhone, opened POP, created a new project, then linked the pages together. Pressing the Play button allowed me to navigate through the prototype screens, which would look very good and useful to any client. Then, you just need to make the app in Xcode, test, and demo the working product to a customer. Nice.

I like this included. Prototyping isn’t included as part of Xcode (wish it was, Apple) but the tools mentioned in chapter 7 are worth time learning. I’d suggest initially POP and Adobe Experience Design, but the others are very good too.

Chapter 8:Creating a Simple Table Based App

“First of all, what exactly is a table view in an iPhone app? A table view is one of the most common UI elements in iOS apps. Most apps (except games), in some ways, make use of table view to display content. The best example is the built-in Phone app. Your contacts are displayed in a table view.”
– Simon Ng, Beginning iOS Programming with Swift, Page 130

This is where you create your third iOS app. After creating a simple table project in Xcode, I added a single table view to the view, then made the table view take up the entire view. Next, I set the Prototype Cells to 1. Why?

“Prototype cells allow you to easily design the layout of your table view cell. You can think of it as a cell template that you can reuse in all of the table cells.”
– Simon Ng, Beginning iOS Programming with Swift, Page 133

The app created in this chapter uses the UIKit framework, which provides classes to construct and manage the UI app interface. All objects in the Xcode Interface Builder Object Library are in UIKit.

The author mentions in this chapter he is not discussing classes and methods yet – OOP elements that some find confusing – but he does cover them later. A good idea when the audience is new to development.

Following the instructions, I created a simple table, using a list instead of a database, similar to the iOS Contacts app. Not terribly difficult, however I forgot to set the prototype cell identifier to Cell, so I had an error to track down – an email to AppCoda and I had the answer how to fix the issue, so I was back at it again. Good example, but now I am looking forward to using a database or data source that isn’t a fixed array list and I want to see how to add individual images to each item in the list – the second item is covered in chapter 9.

Chapter 9: Customize Table Views Using Prototype Cell

This is where we built a real app called FoodPin. After closing the SimpleTable app, I created a new project, similar to the project in chapter 8 but using UITableViewController and using individual images for each restaurant displayed in the app. It was easy using Swift, which is well worth learning for novices as well as experienced developers.

This app has custom labels for each cell, which I created by dragging 3 Label objects to the cell, grouping them with a stack view, then grouping the new stack view and the cell image in another stack view. Simple. Then, Simon points out an important fact about iOS development:

“By connecting the source code with the UI objects, we can change the values of UI objects dynamically.

This is a very important concept in iOS programming. Your UI in storyboard and code are separated. You create the UI in Interface Builder, and you write your code in Swift. If you want to change the value or properties of a UI element (e.g. label), you have to establish a connection between them so that an object in your code can obtain a reference to an object defined in a storyboard. In Swift, you use @IBOutlet keyword to indicate a property of a class, that can be exposed to Interface Builder.”
– Simon Ng, Beginning iOS Programming with Swift, Page 391

We created a new class for the project, where we defined variables for all four items in each cell (Name, Location, Type and ThumbnailImage) using @IBOutlet.

“@IBOutlet is used to indicate a property that can be connected with a view object in a storyboard.”
– Simon Ng, Beginning iOS Programming with Swift, Page 393

You use these outlets to change font characteristics or events to be triggered when a button is selected. Handy and something you must understand. You also need to set the prototype cell to use the custom class you create, which is also simple. The chapter also explains how to set the images to appear circular instead of square – a few extra steps, but the presentation is worth it. We also set the restaurant name, location and type values to be dynamically displayed, which was fairly easy too.

Chapter 10: Interacting with Table Views and Using UIAlertController

In this chapter, we select an item in the view, just like selecting a contact name in the Contacts app. We also are exposed to UIAlertController, which is commonly used to display iOS alerts. In this chapter, we improve the FoodPin app by using individual images and rounding them to improve the look of our app. We also add three labels for each restaurant (name, location and type) to each row in the table, plus add three arrays to provide custom information for each restaurant.

No real problems following along with the directions in this section. I did copy and paste some of the code to save time, but I did read the information on everything new we are exposed to, and suggest you do so too. After getting the custom information to show in each line, we add a button to show a checkmark beside a restaurant – to show when a restaurant is selected. Then we addressed a known bug on reusing cells, plus add a line of code to deselect a cell once an option is chosen from the new popup list.

Good chapter. A LOT more Swift coding was covered. Not too much, but more than earlier chapters. Now on to chapter 11.

Chapter 11: Table Row Deletion, Custom Action Buttons, Social Sharing and MVC

According to Wiki (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model–view–controller):
Model–view–controller (MVC) is a software architectural pattern for implementing user interfaces on computers. It divides a given application into three interconnected parts. This is done to separate internal representations of information from the ways information is presented to, and accepted from, the user. The MVC design pattern decouples these major components allowing for efficient code reuse and parallel development.

I’ve used this architectural pattern doing web development, but was unaware this was also popular for desktop GUI development. Sweet. I would suggest you read more about this pattern if you even think you may do web development some day.

“Separation of Concerns (SoC). The concept is pretty simple. Here, the Concerns are different aspects of software functionality. This concept encourages developers to break a complicated feature or program into several areas of concern so that each area has its own responsibility. The delegate pattern, that we explained in the earlier chapters, is one of the examples of SoC.

The model-view-controller (MVC) concept is another example of SoC. The core idea behind MVC is to separate a user interface into three areas (or groups of objects) that each area is responsible for a particular functionality. As the name suggests, MVC breaks a user interface into three parts: Model, view and controller”
– Simon Ng, Beginning iOS Programming with Swift, Page 446

To illustrate MVC using an iOS app, consider the SimpelTable app developed in chapter 8. The restaurantNames object is an array and is the model, the UITableView object is the view, and the UITableViewController is the controller.

On to deleting rows in a view. In iOS apps, data in a view is usually deleted by swiping across the row in the view. A good example: the iOS Mail app. The Swift code needed to delete a row and refresh the view is simple:

override func tableView(_ tableView: UITableView, commit editingStyle: UITableViewCellEditingStyle, forRowAt indexPath:IndexPath) {
// enables deleting a row in a table view
// Now u can swipe a row and a delete button is visible, but not enabled

// this code allows deletion of data from the 4 arrays:
if editingStyle == .delete {
// Delete the row from the data source
restaurantNames.remove(at: indexPath.row)
restaurantLocations.remove(at: indexPath.row)
restaurantTypes.remove(at: indexPath.row)
restaurantIsVisited.remove(at: indexPath.row)
restaurantImages.remove(at: indexPath.row)
}

print(“Total item: \(restaurantNames.count)”) // for debugging purposes
for name in restaurantNames {
print(name)
}
tableView.reloadData() // refreshes the view to show revised data
}

Something I like about this example: being able to access Twitter and other social media. I added the UIActivityViewController code to enable tweeting from the FoodPin app, including embedded images, logged into Twitter on the Simulator and tweeted from the simulation of FoodPin – it worked. Sweet. Talk about a great real world example! One suggestion I’d make regarding this functionality, is mention it is a test in your tweet plus include @AppCodaMobile in the tweet so the book publisher is notified you are testing this functionality of the book.

Chapter 12: Introduction to Navigation Controller and Segue

Navigation controllers let you drill down into content. Using our FoodPin app as an example, selecting a restaurant in the view, a navigator would drill down into pertinent information on that restaurant.

“Generally, you combine a navigation controller with a stack of table view controllers to build an elegant interface for your apps.”
– Simon Ng, Beginning iOS Programming with Swift, Page 484

Yes, it’s finally time to have more than a single view in our FoodPin app. Yay, lol.

“add more view controllers in the storyboard, link them up, and define the transitions between them. All these can be done without a line of code. When working with storyboards, scene and segues are two of the terms you have to know. In a storyboard, a scene usually refers to the on-screen content (e.g. a view controller). Segues sit between two scenes and represent the transition from one scene to another.
– Simon Ng, Beginning iOS Programming with Swift, Page 485

To make storyboards easier to use, large ones can be broken up and linked using storyboard references.

I followed the directions in this chapter, using the Interface Builder to add a navigation interface to my FoodPin app. It was easy and took no coding to get it to work. After adding the navigator, I used the Interface Builder to add another view controller to display restaurant details. I then added a segue to connect the first controller to the detail controller, also using Interface Builder. Now I had two view controllers and a navigation controller, and now I needed to share the first images with the details view controller, so it was time to add another class.

“A segue manages the transition between view controllers, and contains the view controllers involved in the transition.”
– Simon Ng, Beginning iOS Programming with Swift, Page 674

This is the Swift code from the book for the segue:
override func prepare(for segue: UIStoryboardSegue, sender: Any?) {
if segue.identifier == “showRestaurantDetail” {
if let indexPath = tableView.indexPathForSelectedRow {
let destinationController = segue.destination as! RestaurantDetailViewController
destinationController.restaurantImage = restaurantImages[indexPath.row]
}
}
}

CH 13: Introduction to Object Oriented Programming

Swift and Objective-C are OOP languages, where you create and use objects. As the author points out, some of the iOS SDK objects we’ve already used up to this point include the UIViewController, UIButton, UINavigatorController and UITableView. Essentially, one uses OOP to develop complex applications using small building blocks, where each has a specific purpose. In OOP, you create a class and use that class as a blueprint to create objects (also called instances) with methods (to provide functionality) and properties.

In the FoodPin app, we have five arrays holding individual types of restaurant data. In this chapter, we modify that.  This is the Swift code used to make that new class:

class Restaurant {
var name = “”
var type = “”
var location = “”
var image = “”
var isVisited = false

init(name: String, type: String, location: String, image: String, isVisited: Bool) {
self.name = name
self.type = type
self.location = location
self.image = image”
self.isVisited = isVisited
}
}

The five properties for the new class are name, type, location, image, and isVisited. The 1st four properties are declared as blank strings (“”), while the 5th is boolean. init() defines the object initializer, which sets the initial property values for each new object created with this restaurant class. The restaurant data is now grouped by restaurant, instead of by number – data in the real world is kept in database tabes, grouped by a key value that is called instead of a relative position in an array. The code for this is:

var restaurants:[Restaurant] = [
Restaurant(name: “Cafe Deadend”, type: “Coffee & Tea Shop”, location: “Hong Kong”, image: “cafedeadend.jpg”, isVisited: false),
Restaurant(name: “Homei”, type: “Cafe”, location: “Hong Kong”, image: “homei.jpg”, isVisited: false),
Restaurant(name: “Teakha”, type: “Tea House”, location: “Hong Kong”, image: “teakha.jpg”, isVisited: false),
Restaurant(name: “Cafe loisl”, type: “Austrian / Causual Drink”, location: “Hong Kong”, image: “cafeloisl.jpg”, isVisited: false),
Restaurant(name: “Petite Oyster”, type: “French”, location: “Hong Kong”, image: “petiteoyster.jpg”, isVisited: false),
Restaurant(name: “For Kee Restaurant”, type: “Bakery”, location: “Hong Kong”, image: “forkeerestaurant.jpg”, isVisited: false),
Restaurant(name: “Po’s Atelier”, type: “Bakery”, location: “Hong Kong”, image: “posatelier.jpg”, isVisited: false),
Restaurant(name: “Bourke Street Backery”, type: “Chocolate”, location: “Sydney”, image: “bourkestreetbakery.jpg”, isVisited: false),
Restaurant(name: “Haigh’s Chocolate”, type: “Cafe”, location: “Sydney”, image: “haighschocolate.jpg”, isVisited: false),
Restaurant(name: “Palomino Espresso”, type: “American / Seafood”, location: “Sydney”, image: “palominoespresso.jpg”, isVisited: false),
Restaurant(name: “Upstate”, type: “American”, location: “New York”, image: “upstate.jpg”, isVisited: false),
Restaurant(name: “Traif”, type: “American”, location: “New York”, image: “traif.jpg”, isVisited: false),
Restaurant(name: “Graham Avenue Meats”, type: “Breakfast & Brunch”, location: “New York”, image: “grahamavenuemeats.jpg”, isVisited: false),
Restaurant(name: “Waffle & Wolf”, type: “Coffee & Tea”, location: “New York”, image: “wafflewolf.jpg”, isVisited: false),
Restaurant(name: “Five Leaves”, type: “Coffee & Tea”, location: “New York”, image: “fiveleaves.jpg”, isVisited: false),
Restaurant(name: “Cafe Lore”, type: “Latin American”, location: “New York”, image: “cafelore.jpg”, isVisited: false),
Restaurant(name: “Confessional”, type: “Spanish”, location: “New York”, image: “confessional.jpg”, isVisited: false),
Restaurant(name: “Barrafina”, type: “Spanish”, location: “London”, image: “barrafina.jpg”, isVisited: false),
Restaurant(name: “Donostia”, type: “Spanish”, location: “London”, image: “donostia.jpg”, isVisited: false),
Restaurant(name: “Royal Oak”, type: “British”, location: “London”, image: “royaloak.jpg”, isVisited: false),
Restaurant(name: “CASK Pub and Kitchen”, type: “Thai”, location: “London”, image: “caskpubkitchen.jpg”, isVisited: false)
]

After making the code changes to reference restaurants.*, I ran the sample in the simulator and it worked just fine. Introducing OOP concepts and making this change was the purpose for this chapter. One thing I want to point out: at the end of this chapter, the author includes some links to Swift OOP programming. I am impressed he included a link to a free online course from MIT. MIT is one of the best sources for free college classes, and I rarely see anyone link to them, so kudos to Simon.

 

========================================================================

THE NEW REVIEW MATERIAL BEGINS HERE

========================================================================

Title: Beginning iOS 11 Programming with SwiftBeginiOS11Prgm
Author: Simon Ng
Published: AppCoda publisher
Price: $39, $69, $149
Length: 833 pgs (PDF) (30 chapters)
Book Website: www.appcoda.com/swift

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2017, All Rights Reserved.

I’ve been a programmer a long time, and have dabbled in mobile development awhile but was unhappy with the iOS tutorials I found on the internet. I came across ‘Beginning iOS 10 Programming with Swift’ after searching for iOS tutorials on Yahoo, and started following the online book, since the developer provides part of the course for free. Other publishers also provide free chapters to interest prospective buyers, since you can try before you buy.

I went through the first five free chapters and had created two new iOS apps fairly easily, so I contacted AppCoda and got the book so I could complete the course. Two weeks after starting the iOS 10 course, Apple released an OS and development tool update, so the publisher released an update to the course. I got the new course and started over, so this review will be from beginning to end of the new course material.

This review covers “Beginning iOS 11 Programming with Swift”, which is for Swift 4, Xcode 9 and iOS 11. The intended course audience is people without programming experience as well as experienced developers wanting to learn the Swift programming language.

CHAPTER 1: The Development Tools, the Learning Approach and the App Idea

This chapter covers what you need to get started: essentially a fairly modern Mac with Xcode. Not too expensive these days, and the only way to go to develop iOS apps, The material is good, plenty of pictures to guide the users, and it should put new developers at ease before they start creating their first app.

CHAPTER 2: Your First Taste of Swift with Playgrounds

This gets you started writing Swift code using Xcode playgrounds. . When I started reviewing “Beginning iOS 10…”, I said that this chapter was useful, but inferred it was unnecessary for experienced developers. The author has enhanced this chapter for this new release of the book and, while it does have good setup information useful for non-developers, the rest of the chapter is worth reading for experienced programmers that are new to programming on a Mac.

Why use Swift instead of Objective-C? Swift is easier to learn as the syntax is closer to English. An example from the book:

Fig2-1 Objective-C vs Swift

Fig 2-1 Objective-C vs Swift

I’ve used Xcode for a number of years, but I like how the author gives an intro to using Playgrounds. Playgrounds are places where you test pieces of code – AKA snippets – during learning or development. Something true about learning to program that is shared with music: you can’t learn how to do it by merely reading theory about it.

The author gets into writing Swift code with Playgrounds in chapter two, but not in detail until covering how to install Xcode for people new to development. He explains the Playground environment so new developers understand how to test their code snippets during the course of this course – good idea.

The Swift coding topics covered after Xcode setup are:

  • constants, variables, and how/when to declare types
  • control flow (looping and using switch)
  • collections (arrays and dictionaries)
  • optionals

Swift can infer what type to use for a variable, but specifying by declaring the types makes code easier to read and helps avoid type issues.

Flow control statements are if-else and switch. I particularly like Swift’s range operator for lower bounds and upper bounds, as it simplifies coding when using switch statements. Collections hold groups of data, and arrays are familiar to developers familiar with other programming languages. Like Java arrays, Swift arrays begin with element 0. Swift has the familiar for loop, but also has a for-in loop to move through dictionary elements.

What are dictionaries? They are like arrays, but they use a key to reference each stored value instead of a number relative to the index. The key can be specific to the data, so this can be quite useful when writing apps that use keys like ISBN numbers for books, account numbers for clients, etc.

The code example for creating dictionaries is simple but useful for people new to them. The last code topic covered in this chapter is on optionals. Optionals let you specify variables without default values, which makes you verify the variable has data before you access it.

Fig 2-2 Optional Var Checking Unwrapping

Fig 2-2 Optional Variable Checking Using Unwrapping

 

Fig 2-3 Optional Var Checking Binding

Fig 2-3 Optional Variable Checking Using Binding

Time to get started building an app, so let’s move on to chapter three.

 

CHAPTER 3: Hello World! Build Your First App in Swift

Every new developer knows what a “Hello World” program is: it’s the first thing you write when learning a new programming language. In this chapter, we create our first Swift iOS app and we call it Hello World. We worked with a Playground in chapter two, but now we will create a project and test it with the Xcode Simulator.

The book uses screenshots with the step-by-step process to show how you create the HelloWorld project. Not difficult at all. When finished, you should see something like this:

Fig3-1 New HelloWorld Project
Fig 3-1 New HelloWorld Project

Make sure you take time to get familiar with the Xcode project screen. You are expected to know where to find each area as the course progresses. The editor area in the center changes, depending on which design element (AppDelegate.swift, ViewController.swift, Main.storyboard) is selected at the left part of the project. The right side of the project is the utility area, where you select properties. You can expose or hide the leftmost and rightmost areas as well as the debug area for a project – this is at the top rightmost part of the Xcode project screen:

Fig3-2 Three Areas of an Xcode Project
Fig 3-2 Three Areas of an Xcode Project

After creating a basic project and a new iOS app, you can run it in the Simulator. One note: the first time you run the Simulator, it takes a while to start, so be patient. The Xcode control to run an app is the right-pointing arrow at the top left side of Xcode:

Fig 3-3 How to Run Apps in Simulator
Fig 3-3 How to Run Apps in Simulator

In this chapter, Simon points out something nice in the new version of Xcode 9: you can now run multiple simulators at the same time. Now that I like, as you may want to have an Apple Watch sim going the same time as iPhone and iTablet simulators.

Now it’s time to add an interface to the HelloWorld app. The book points out you can easily add one or more views and link them together without writing a line of Swift code. It’s similar to some RAD products like Power Builder and Lotus Notes. Xcode uses one View Controller per iOS app screen. The Interface Builder is shown below, with the View Controller in the middle, with the Button object in the center of the View Controller:

Fig 3-4 Xcode Interfact Builder Screen
Fig 3-4 Xcode Interface Builder Screen

I ran the Simulator after adding the Hello World button and saw this:

Fig 3-5 Simulator with Hello World Button
Fig 3-5 Simulator with Hello World Button

That’s it. I didn’t need to write any code to make a simple iOS app. It is simple. Hopefully this encourages people with good ideas but no programming experience to try to make something for themselves or for others.

The next step in the book is to add some code to make the Hello World button do something. We access the ViewController.swift file in Xcode and add the following Swift code to have the button say Hello World:

@IBAction func showMessage(sender: UIButton) {
 let alertController = UIAlertController(title: "Welcome to my first app", message:
 "Hello World", preferredStyle: UIAlertControllerStyle.alert)
 alertController.addAction(UIAlertAction(title: "OK", style: UIAlertActionStyle.default, handler: nil))
 present(alertController, animated: true, completion: nil)
 }

I want to echo the tip the author makes about entering code vs copying and pasting.  The easiest way to learn is to do, not copy.  Take the time to type, as you will see how easy it is to make mistakes, and when you fix them you learn a bit more. My 2 cents on developing:

A developer writes their own code, they don’t copy and paste and modify someone else’s code – that isn’t creating code, it’s appropriating.  If you want to work as a developer, you better remember this tip, because professional developers do not look fondly on people copying and claiming the work of another person.  It isn’t ethical.

 

Now you need to connect the Hello World button to this new code. Select Main.storyboard in Xcode, select the Hello World button and hold down the Control key and drag up to the yellow View Controller object at the top of the View Controller, then select showMessageWithSender: option in the popup box.

Fig 3-6 Connect Button and Swift Code
Fig 3-6 Connect Button and Swift Code

Run the Simulator again and now you see that the button does something:

Fig 3-7 Working Hello World Button
Fig 3-7 Working Hello World Button

There are a couple of exercises at the end of the chapter. I wanted to see what I learned, so I added 3 more buttons, which is what exercise 1 is, however I wanted to use different messages so I added additional code to ViewController.swift and linked it to each button. It was fun, and the best way I know to really learn. If you want to learn how to write code or develop apps, you must do it, mot just read about it. I strongly encourage people to do both exercises and play around on your own. It helps.

 

CHAPTER FOUR: Hello World App Explained

This chapter explains in detail what happens in the first app you create: Hello World. Take time to go over this chapter, especially if you are new at learning to program, as the explanations here lay a foundation that grows in future chapters.

How does the interface you build connect to Swift code that you write? It is important to understand this now, so consider the TV remote example the author uses:

“The user interface in the storyboard is the interface, while the code is the implementation. The user interface objects (e.g. button) communicate with the code via messages.

Specifically, if you go back to the Hello World project, the button you added in the view is the interface. The showMessage(sender:) method of the ViewController class is the implementation. When someone taps the button, it sends a showMessageWithSender message to ViewController by invoking the showMessage(sender:) method.”
– Simon Ng, Beginning iOS 11 Programming with Swift, Page 95 & 96

As the author points out, this demonstrates the OO concept of encapsulation. The specifics of what happens is hidden when the button is pressed. For example, the programmer could choose to send an email as well as display “Hello World” when the button is pressed, and the button pusher wouldn’t know.

What happens when the Hello World button is pressed? The button is event-driven, meaning that it does something when the button is pressed or released. In this app, we made the action occur when the button was released. This illustration shows the process:

Fig 4-1 What Happens in Hello World App
Fig 4-1 What Happens in Hello World App

We used a method to specify the message we displayed when the button was released. Methods provide functionality to objects – they make things happen. In this example, the class ViewController has a method called showMessage() – Swift methods are declared with the func keyword, and the @IBAction keyword in showMessage() connects source code you wrote to the interface button object you added using the Interface Builder.

Fig 4-2 ViewController and showMessage
Fig 4-2 ViewController and showMessage

This chapter is loaded with great information for new developers, as well as people learning Swift. Take a day to cover the material the first time, then take a second day before progressing on to chapter 5. You will learn important information that will help you further into this course.

 

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By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2017, All Rights Reserved.Merchants of Doubt dust cover 2010

Title: Merchants of Doubt
Authors: Naomi Oreskes, Erik M. Conway
ISBN: 978-1-59691-610-4
Published: 2010, Bloombury Press
Price: $27.00
Length: 355 Pages
Book Website: http://www.merchantsofdoubt.org/index.html

In the past, tobacco use was socially acceptable and was allowed in most public places, including work and schools. When researchers learned that the scientific evidence was clear that tobacco use dramatically increases the chance of developing various cancers, they alerted the public and the government. In response, special interests mounted a PR campaign challenging that tobacco was bad for your health. Think tanks published papers refuting tobacco and cancer were related, ads aimed at placating people were run on radio and television; scientists and scientific data was attacked on a regular basis.

Why? Because the fact that ingesting tobacco products can cause cancer is inconvenient to companies making money selling tobacco products. Companies in the tobacco industry fought lawsuits for years, attacking the scientists and data and sometimes the victims themselves, in a bid to avoid accountability. Finally the US Government became involved, since the costs of treating cancer were costing so much money, and there was a settlement with the tobacco companies. That battle is over.

The new crisis our planet faces today is global warming. We have temperature records, using satellites and land-based and ocean-based temperature gathering sites around the planet, and that temperature data is readily available for scientists of every nation to examine. The data shows an important truth: the Earth is getting warmer. The Earth warmed up and cooled down in the past, but the data that concerns climate scientists today is the vastly elevated levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. These greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide and methane – help trap heat on the Earth, reducing the amount of heat we radiate back into space, resulting in a warmer planet.

Why is a warmer planet a concern? Ice caps. Ice caps on Antarctica and Greenland contain a lot of ice, which, if melted, will raise sea levels around the globe. Why is that a problem? Because the majority of people on our planet live fairly close to a coastline, so rising water levels can harm or require relocation of many millions of people. Can you imagine how much it will cost to move millions of people from our coastlines to the interior of our country? And the cost to upgrade the existing infrastructures of cities far from the coasts to support much larger populations? Let’s just approximate it for now: a lot.

Another reason a warmer planet is a concern: weather. Meteorology 101: warm air holds more moisture than cooler air. Climate scientists predict that weather systems like hurricanes and monsoons, will increase in force as our planet warms. On average, one category 5 hurricane occurs every three years in the Atlantic. In 2017 alone, three Atlantic cat 5 hurricanes – Harvey, Irma and Maria – made landfall, causing hundreds of deaths and billions of dollars of damage affecting millions of people in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. As of November 1st, 2017, months after Maria hit Puerto Rico, over half of the people there still lack electrical power, cellular phone support is spotty, and many people still have no clean drinking water.

The dangers of global warming are clear, and we need to act now to slow down the accumulation of global warming gases. We need to burn less fossil fuel, use alternate power sources with little or no carbon footprint, and use cleaner products like natural gas instead of coal. During the terms of President Obama, alternate power sources – wind, water and solar – were promoted and less clean fossil fuels like coal was de-emphasized. Unfortunately, the current US government under President Trump is actively suppressing and denying global warming. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) under President Trump removed climate change data from their websites, instructed scientists to not appear at conferences discussing global warming, and even replaced qualified advising scientists with fossil fuel advocates. Why? Because fossil fuel special interests have friends in the Trump administration.

Naomi Oreskes, a professor at the University of California at San Diego, and Erik Conway published a book in 2010 called “Merchants of Doubt.” This book has been identified as a classic for people interested in global warming, so I want to review it now, seven years after it was published. From what I saw, the material is not dated and it is still relevant. Let’s get started.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction
Ch 1. Doubt Is Our Product
Ch 2. Strategic Defense, Phony Facts, and the Creation of the George C. Marshall Institution
Ch 3. Sowing the Seeds of Doubt: Acid Rain
Ch 4. Constructing a Counternarrative: The Fight Over the Ozone Hole
Ch 5. What’s Bad Science? Who Decides? The Fight Over Secondhand Smoke
Ch 6. The Denial of Global Warming
Ch 7. Denial Rides Again: The Revisionist Attack on Rachel Carson
Conclusion: Of Free Speech and Free Markets
Epilogue A New View of Science

 

INTRODUCTION

There is good information in this section, so don’t skim over it. Two very relevant quotes:

“Why did they <climate change deniers> continue to repeat charges long after they had shown to be unfounded? The answer, of course, is that they were not interested in finding facts. They were interested in fighting them.”
– Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes, page 5

“Santer was reading the morning paper and came across an article describing how some scientists had participated in a program, organized by the tobacco industry, to discredit scientific evidence linking tobacco to cancer. The idea, the article explained, was to “keep the controversy alive.” So long as there was doubt, about the casual link, the tobacco industry would be safe from litigation and regulation. Santer thought the story seemed eerily familiar.”
– Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes, page 5

I’ve studied and followed science for nearly fifty years, and I’ve never met nor communicated with scientists that were not interested in the truth. Science is a self-correcting profession: when mistakes are found, they are corrected and our knowledge advances. The idea of scientists helping discredit valid data seems incredible, yet I remember how science and scientists researching tobacco and cancer links were attacked by people. It seemed incredible that, once science proved it was right the raised issue remained relevant to many people, but it did. At the time, it didn’t dawn on me that someone was trying to keep a controversy alive to fight the facts, but it makes sense in hindsight.

I am sure the scientists helping discredit climate change science have their reasons, but I don’t know what they are. I believe truth in science is mandatory, and that it is wrong to promote facts that are expedient to some political party or special interest or big business. I do not believe the bottom line is the most important thing in life. And in my opinion, any position that must be based on misinformation or falsehood is built on a wobbly foundation that will fail apart as soon as it is exposed.

When statements are proved false, why do the wrong statements still convince people. Let’s see what the authors of this book can show us.

CH 1. DOUBT IS OUR PRODUCT

This chapter shows that the tobacco industry used advise from a PR firm to create doubt about tobacco use being linked to cancer. They (the tobacco industry) used doubt to manufacture a debate to mass media that there two sides to the tobacco and cancer link, and the mass media needed to provide both sides equal time to argue. The mass media agreed and gave the tobacco industry a way to challenge scientific finds on tobacco use links to cancer.

A tactic used to counter prevailing science that tobacco use and cancer were linked was to cherry pick data and focus on unexplained or anomalous details. The purpose of this approach was to convert scientific consensus into scientific debate. Even when evidence mounted in 1964 that smoking increased the changes of developing cancer, the tobacco industry continued to fund research casting doubt on the facts.

Even into the seventies and eighties, when research that tobacco use was harmful, the tobacco industry was still quite profitable. It continued to market doubt by funding more research to counter scientific consensus on tobacco use links to cancer. Eventually, mass media realized that the argument that ‘the research raising doubts about tobacco use being linked to cancer’ deserved equal time to research showing ‘a correlation between tobacco use and cancer’ was wrong: it was not necessary to allow equal time to both sides. Why?

“While the idea of equal time for opposing opinions makes sense for a two-party political system, it does not work for science, because science is not about opinion. It is about evidence. It is about claims that can be, and have been, tested through scientific research – experiments, experience, and observation – research that is then subject to critical review by a jury of scientific peers. Claims that have not gone through that process – or have gone through it and failed – are not scientific, and do not deserve equal time in a scientific debate.”
– Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway page 32

The tobacco industry started fighting against the cancer links to tobacco use in the early 1950s, and didn’t start losing lawsuits until the 1990s. It is sad to note that:

“although the FDA sought to regulate tobacco as an addictive drug in the early 1990s, it was not until 2009 that the U.S. Congress finally gave them the authority to do so.”
– Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway page 33

An interesting correlation: the FDA didn’t get regulatory powers over tobacco until there was a democratic president and democratic majorities in the House and Senate in 2009. In 2017, there is a pro-business republican president and pro-business republican majorities in the House and Senate, and the US government denies that global warming is real or a threat to our planet – even though the scientific data and the rest of the world disagrees. Could that be part of the problem having a pro-business political party in power? I think you can be pro-business without attacking inconvenient scientific facts that prove some businesses are not good for people or our planet.

One point the authors make about doubt and science also should be mentioned:

“Doubt is crucial to science – in the version we call curiosity or healthy skepticism, it drives science forward – but it also makes science vulnerable to misrepresentation, because it is easy to take uncertainties out of context and create the impression that everything is unresolved. That was the tobacco industry’s key insight: that you could use normal scientific uncertainty to undermine the status of actual scientific knowledge.”
– Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway page 34

If you had a relative that used tobacco products and die from cancer, this chapter is an eye opener. And the sad thing, is that other industries continued to use the same tactics developed by the tobacco to counter science in other issues affecting our world. Next up, President Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars initiative.

CH 2. STRATEGIC DEFENSE, PHONY FACTS, AND THE CREATION OF THE GEORGE C. MARSHALL INSTITUTION

SDI – Strategic Defense Initiative – aka Star Wars, was Ronald Reagan’s ballistic missile defense system. It was predicated on the false believe that nuclear war was winnable. I remember the SDI, and how scientists said it wouldn’t work, and how the Reagan administration was determined to implement it regardless what the experts said. Scientists like Cars Sagan were actively against it and vocal in their opposition, and Reagan and his cabinet were just as determined to install it. It was another case of science being attacked because it presented inconvenient facts.

“The crux of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) was to install weapons in space that could destroy incoming ballistic missiles. This would “shield” the United States from attack, making nuclear weapons obsolete.”
– Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway page 43

As Naomi and Erik point out in this chapter, there were a number big reasons SDI should never have been promoted. One, it was technically impossible to work 100% of the time, so some bombs would get through. Two, if the Russians believed it would work, they would build more bombs to be sure they could win, meaning the arms race would escalate. Three, if Russia believed SDI would work, they might launch a pre-emptive attack before SDI was implemented to win before SDI could protect the US. Fourth, SDI was not testable, since we would need to launch many missiles at ourselves to test it.

A PR campaign, like the one used by the tobacco companies, resulted in Congress approving and budgeting $60 billion dollars for Star Wars. Crazy but true. Star Wars really was a major military buildup. Then scientists studying the atmosphere of Mars realized their model could be used to study Earth and began examining the chance that an asteroid strike killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. They thought dust in the atmosphere would cut off light to plants, killing off the dinosaur food supply and killing off the dinosaurs. The scientists realized they could test the effects of a nuclear war, and discovered something chilling: nuclear winter. If we have a nuclear war, we could wipe ourselves out like the dinosaurs. Thus the TTAPS paper was written.

TTAPS, a nuclear winter paper, was examined by scientific peer review and only minor revisions were made, so it was considered valid. Before the TTAPS article was published in the scientific magazine Science, Carl Sagan published articles in Parade and Foreign Affairs, showing that we had too many nuclear weapons – enough to cause climate catastrophe. We needed to reduce, not increase, our nuclear arsenals from 80,000 soviet/US weapons to 2000 total. Some scientists were not happy Sagan published his Parade/Foreign Affairs articles before publishing the paper in Science, and some felt he left out important information that showed a more succinct picture of nuclear winter. Unfortunately, other scientists published papers criticizing the issues with the publications – Sagan’s decision to go public early was a problem for TTAPS.

Pro-SDI forces decided to counter the TTAPS nuclear winter paper, attacking the data and science and scientists. Following the same process as the tobacco companies, pro-SDI forces demanded equal time for their views and the media agreed, giving them an equal voice in the issue. These pro-SDI people attacked scientists credibility, as well as denying the validity of their views and data. This was when scientists were painted as left-wing political activists, instead of seekers of truth. They were making this into a political issue, which meant anyone disagreeing with it could dismiss it as political. This was the time that right-wing turned against science. This was when the Wall Street Journal started publishing articles critical of science.

CH 3. SOWING THE SEEDS OF DOUBT: ACID RAIN

The same time science was being attacking by Pro-SDI forces, a new issue – acid rain – was coming to light. The opponents of acid rain used the same argument as pro-tobacco forces: not enough was known, so nothing should be done about the problem.

INTERESTING FACTS: President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and signed the following important legislation: the Clean Air Act Extension, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act. President Reagan moved the Republican party away from environmental concerns and started the war on science. These days, the republican party is against environmental laws and rules, shown by Scott Pruitt attempts to change the EPA into the EDA (Environmental Destruction Agency).

What is Acid Rain?

“Collateral damage is what acid rain is all about. Sulfur and nitrogen emissions from electrical utilities, cars, and factories could mix with rain, snow, and clouds in the atmosphere, travel long distances, and affect lakes, rivers, soils, and wildlife far from the source of the pollution.”
— Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway page 68

acidrain

How did Acid Rain Become a Problem?

“… the acidity was due to dissolved sulfate and the rest mostly to dissolved nitrate, by-products of burning coal and oil. Yet fossil fuels had been burned enthusiastically since the mid-nineteenth century, so why had this problem only arisen of late? The answer was the unintended consequence of the introduction of devices to remove particles from smoke and to reduce local air pollution.”
– Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway page 68

The environmental damage caused by acid rain includes leaching nutrients from soils and plant foliage, acidification of lakes and rivers, damage to wildlife, and corrosion of buildings. Studies showed that acid rain reduces forest growth as well as impact fish mortality.

Acid rain was studied for twenty-five years, then a summary article was published in Scientific American in 1979, introducing the science to the general public. The problem with acid rain, was that it was not restricted to the area or country where pollution originated. It affected neighboring areas and other countries, so it was a global threat. Under President Jimmy Carter, the US worked towards reducing pollutants that caused acid rain, but that was about to change.

Ronald Reagan became president in 1980, and Reagan wanted to: reduce regulations, decrease the reach of the federal government, and unleash the power of private enterprise. Sound familiar? It’s the same stuff touted by republicans today, and they have the same disregard for the environment. Acid rain was as acceptable a subject during the Reagan years as global warming was during the George W. Bush years – meaning not at all.

There was research into acid rain, and scientific views that immediate actions was needed, but the government took the side of the power industry and wanted more studies done and less concern raised to the public. Sounds like the situation with global warming these days, doesn’t it?

The only scientific research into acid rain reviewed by Reagan’s administration was modified to make the issue seem less critical than it was. There was no legislation during Reagan’s administration to fix acid rain, as

“the problem was too expensive to fix.”
– Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway page 101

Sadly, regardless of twenty-one years research on acid rain, the official position of the Reagan administration in 1984 was:

“We don’t know what’s causing it <acid rain>.”
– Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway page 101

Eight years after the Reagan administration suppressed the seriousness of acid rain, it was finally acted upon by the George H.W. Bush administration, which implemented a “cap and trade” plan that reduced sulfur emissions by 54% between 1990 and 2007. Sounds promising doesn’t it? It isn’t.

Are you ready for the bad news? Acid rain is still a problem. “Cap and trade” DID NOT FIX IT, and the same pro-business forces that fought against action during the Reagan years continue to downplay the issue, which is getting worse. The reason that is a problem, is that deforestation impacts global warming (reduce the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide removed by trees, means more in the air).

Acid rain was a concern during the Obama administration, but sadly it is no longer during the Trump administration. On 11/11/2017, a search for “acid rain 2017” on Yahoo yielded a link to the EPA. I went to the EPA link and selected “Cross-State Air Pollution Rule” under “What EPA is Doing” and got: “Page not found”. It has been removed from the EPA site, a common tactic Scott Pruitt has implemented to obfuscate science that threatens the technologies he and President Trump embrace. Apparently using more coal and gas is too important to allow people to see that the EPA knows that Acid Rain is still an issue. If this concerns you, please write, email and call your state and local representatives and ask them to investigate why the government is suppressing science to support industry.

CH 4. CONSTRUCTION A COUNTERNARRATIVE: THE FIGHT OVER THE OZONE HOLE

The public first became aware that our protective ozone layer was in danger was in 1970. This was a concern, because the ozone protects us from ultraviolet radiation, which is known to cause skin cancers, and a decrease in ozone meant an increase in cancer.

Initial research investigating the possible danger from Supersonic Transports (SSTs) looked at the impact of water causing problems with the atmosphere, but it was determined there wasn’t enough potential traffic to be an issue. Another venue studied was nitrous oxide compounds, which was a possible issue for ozone and it led to studies on emissions by the space shuttle, which used propellants that released chlorine into the upper atmosphere. Further studies focused on chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which could degrade into chlorine and fluorine, which could reduce atmospheric ozone. CFCs were common, used in spray cans and air conditioners and refrigerators, and there were billions of pounds of CFCs produced every year for these uses.

CFCmolecule

Who would find this science threatening? How about the industries that used CFCs? And whom do you suppose mounted a PR campaign against the findings on CFCs? Yes, you are correct. Big business. Companies using CFCs argued against regulating or jumping to conclusions, but people eventually decided to use alternative products (roll-on deodorants, spray bottles) which made a difference. Then, in 1985, a hole was found in the ozone layer over Antarctica.

The ozone hole was verified by data from a satellite, but the amount of ozone depletion was unexpected. While people didn’t live on Antarctica, if the hole grew then it could affect people living in Australia and South America. NASA and NOAA began research in 1985 and sent researchers to McMurdo Bay in 1986 – the initial results confirmed the loss of ozone but failed to account for meteorological effects. NASA and NOAA conducted additional tests in 1987 to look at meteorological effects and found the weather conditions did speed up chlorine and ozone interactions.

Science studied the ozone hole and CFC issue, provided recommendations to cut back and eventually eliminate CFCs (thereby restoring Ozone coverage over time), and regulations were introduced to bring this about. It worked as it should, but there was still resistance from the CFC industry and skeptics, who continued to challenge ozone depletion after the science was settled. This resistance continued to propose that volcanos were the source of chlorine and that there was no need to regulate industry – the intention was to delay any action on CFCs to the benefit of the CFC industry.

The counter narrative to ozone depletion was driven by a pro-business group that decided to use their own facts to obfuscate science data to cause a delay in regulating CFCs. Is that right? Shouldn’t we want a safe environment for ourselves and the life on this planet, instead of merely making more money for some corporations? One of the people involved with producing a counter narrative to ozone depletion attacked the scientific community, and I want to share a quote I found astonishing when I read it in this book:

“It’s not difficult to understand some of the motivations behind the drive to regulate CFCs out of existence”, he wrote. ”For scientists: more prestige, more grants for research, press conferences, and newspaper stories. Also the feeling that maybe they are saving the world for future generations.”
– Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway page 129
NOTE: The “he” quoted above was neither of the authors – it was written by a skeptic.

EXCUSE ME?? It’s bad to want to save the world for future generations?? If that’s the case, I guess I’m in the same wrong camp, as I believe it is ethically and morally right to care what kind of world we leave our descendants. Perhaps I need to re-read Dantes’ Inferno to see where God sends people who care to save the world for future generations.

CH 5. WHAT’S BAD SCIENCE? WHO DECIDES? THE FIGHT OVER SECONDHAND SMOKE

In 1986, a new Surgeon General’s report concluded that second and smoke could cause cancer even in otherwise healthy non-smokers. When the EPA implemented regulations to limit indoor smoking, the pro business movement once again moved to attack, this time science and the EPA was the target.

In 1981, Takeshi Hirayama, chief epidemiologist at Japan’s National Cancer Research Institute did a study showing that wives of smokers had a much higher cancer rate than wives of non smokers. His study did as any good scientific study does: it demonstrated an effect and ruled out other causes. And, as you might expect, the study and the scientist was attacked by industry special interests. Health advocates responded to the attacks on Takeshi’s study and within five years forty states passed restrictions on smoking in public places.

The tobacco industry argued against second-hand smoke dangers, using studies to challenge the dangers to people around smokers. The EPA produced a report on the dangers of second hand smoke, linking it to lung cancer, bronchitis and asthma in infants and young children. One thing left out of the EPA report was the link of second hand smoke to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), as there was uncertainty at what point in development or life infants were actually exposed to second hand smoke.

To counter the science, special interests decided to attack EPA science as junk science. The intent: to slow or stop regulation of second-hand smoke. This counter narrative meant that the media should cover skeptics that fight science on the same level as science. Special interest also released a book “Bad Science: A Resource Book” aimed at challenging the authority and integrity of science. I did a search on Yahoo and easily found it. It appalls me that science and scientists should be attacked, and that more people are not outraged at the insinuations. In my personal experience with science and scientists, I found both far more truthful than any politician or business, and I hope that people without any science education would be less susceptible to accepting claims attacking the scientific community.

This book lists six key points that “Bad Science” uses to challenge and attack science and scientific findings. To sum up these six points: bad, bad scientists. Wow. Special interests want to be the authority figures to scold scientists and hold them accountable. Like, special interests have no “special interests” in the stakes. Right. And I have a nice bridge for sale, you can have it cheaply if you have cash and act now.

In addition to attacking science, special interests decided to attack the EPA. Using pro business scientists, they challenged that the EPA was fair and promoted the view that the EPA was motivated by environmentalists with a hidden agenda, not science. They also attacked how data was studied and suggested other approaches that would favor skeptics over science. Attacking EPA guidelines let special interests control the fight and slow down the EPA’s ability to regulate second-hand smoke.

It’s hard to do your job, when your credibility is constantly being attacked. If people doubt your credibility, they doubt your defense of yourself and your work. To attack science as being anti-business because of their work, means that people believe business cares as much about their welfare as about their spending. Do you believe that?

CH 6. THE DENIAL OF GLOBAL WARMING

I’ve read good, authoritative books on global warming – The Madhouse Effect, Dire Predictions, Unstoppable – so I understand global warming is real. Scientific research on climate change has been going on for over 150 years, so the science isn’t new. The lead organization on climate change is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and it was formed in 1988 and published its first report on global warming in 1990. IPCC released their 3rd assessment on climate change in 2001, their 4th in 2007, their 5th in 2014, and the 6th assessment is scheduled for release in 2019.

In 2007, I worked with a self-proclaimed global warming skeptic. He proudly stated that “the only law I accept is the law of gravity.” He chose to accept the propaganda of his political party instead of actually reading any of the four IPCC reports. Why? Because it’s easy to be a skeptic when you believe in conspiracies. In 2008, Barack Obama became president of the U.S. and during the eight years he led the government, President Obama focused the government on the dangers of climate change – he signed the Paris Climate Accord, joining all but two countries of the world.

In 2016, Donald Trump became president, and he withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Accords, and when the two remaining holdouts signed the accords, the U.S. was left as the only country in the world not to sign the Paris Accords.  As of November, 2017, 170 of the 197 nations that signed have ratified the accord.  That will be Donald Trump’s legacy, which is sad.

The facts are, 97% of scientists in the world accept evidence that humans are affecting our global climate and we must make changes to reduce our carbon footprint to reduce the impact to our planet. With the science settled, why are papers and websites still publishing articles that attack climate change science and scientists?

Why do we have climate change skeptics twenty-two years after the initial IPCC climate change assessment? Why does the current U.S. government want to erase the improvements we made reducing carbon emissions under President Obama? As you probably guessed, we can once again thank special interests for delaying action to reverse the effects of climate change.

To reduce global warming, we need to reduce greenhouse gases, which increase the greenhouse effect. What are greenhouse gases? Primarily carbon dioxide and methane. Both come from natural sources, but the increased dependency on fossil fuel energy sources has released a lot both gases into our atmosphere, causing the Earth’s temperature to increase over time until it is climbing at unacceptable rates, which will cause the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps to melt and raise sea levels so much that people living near our coasts will be forced to move inland.

a-3.greenhouse_effect

A sad fact about acceptance of global warming in the book:

“Yet many Americans remained skeptical. A public opinion poll reported in Time magazine in 2006 found that just over half (56 percent) of Americans thought that average global temperatures had risen – despite the fact that virtually all climate scientists thought so. An ABC News poll that year reported that 85 percent of Americans believed that global warming was occurring, but more than half did not think that the science was settled: 64 percent of Americans perceived ‘a lot of disagreement among scientists’.”
– Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway page 169

A TRAIL OF PRESIDENTIAL ACCOUNTABILITY ON CLIMATE CHANGE
The first official report on global change was given to President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, and the information was also made available to President Nixon when he came into office in 1968. Both Johnson and Nixon had more pressing matters at the time (social issues, Vietnam war), so climate change didn’t receive the attention it deserved. I would point out that Republican President Nixon did create the EPA and sign several important acts concerning climate change.

President Jimmy Carter was president from 1976 to 1980, and drought-related climate issues affected food supplies for Africa, Asia and the Soviet Union, demonstrating how our global food supply is affected by climate. In 1977 the Department of Energy (DOE) had an advisory committee look into carbon dioxide and climate, which recognized that:

“the acute sensitivity of agriculture, and thus society in general, to even small changes in climate: ‘The Sahelian drought and the Soviet grain failure … illustrate the fragility of the world’s crop production capacity, particularly in those marginal areas where small alterations in temperature and precipitation can bring about major changes in total productivity’.”
– Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway page 171
(referencing MacDonald et al., The Long Term Impact of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide)

This advisory committee developed a climate model that showed that doubling the preindustrial levels of carbon dioxide from 270 ppm would result in an increase in surface temperature of 2.4 degrees C. The model suggested that warming would be at the poles, with a temperature increase of

“10 to 12 degrees C – a colossal amount.”
– Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway page 172

NOAA knew and discussed this as early as 1977, and President Carter’s science advisor asked National Academy of Science president Handler to review the advisory committee study. Handler gave the study to MIT Professor Jule Charney to review, and he assembled a panel of eight scientists plus two climate modelers (Syukuro Manabe and James E. Hanson) that had created the most advanced climate models at that time. The new models showed there could be natural processes providing negative feedback, that could slow down global warming some, but these wouldn’t affect a substantial warming. The small things like negative feedback didn’t address the problem caused by the villain: carbon dioxide, greenhouse gas.

Charney’s group prepared a report which concluded:

“If carbon dioxide continues to increase, the study group finds no reason to doubt that climate changes will result and no reason to believe that these changes will be negligible.”
– Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway page 173
(referencing Verner E. Suomi in Charney et al., Carbon Dioxide and Climate viii)

Charney’s group knew they needed more data, as they didn’t know how fast the oceans absorbed heat, as:

“the more the well mixed the oceans are, the more heat would be distributed into the deep waters, and the slower the warming of the atmosphere would be.”
– Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway page 173

Essentially, the oceans act like a heat sink, delaying surface temperature increases. A positive from this news was global warming would be delayed. A negative from this news, was that the delay might mean people wouldn’t accept global warming until it was too late to change it.

The next report on global warming was written in 1980, and it focused more unsocial and political impacts – the authors suggested doing nothing, until more data was available, so we could continue burning fossil fuels. This report suggested that natural market corrections (voluntary reduced use of fossil fuels, alternative fuel sources) would be enough to address climate change – no need to regulate anything. Sound familiar? Yep, the same argument we hear today.

The next study on global warming had scientists and two economists. As you might guess, they had very different views to the dangers and facts of global warming. The report was written as chapters by each expert, including those by the economists. The chapter on sea level rise predicted a rise of 5 and 6 meters (1 m = 3.28 ft, so that meant 16.4’ to 19.6’ increase of sea levels). All chapters written by scientists reported that increased levels of carbon dioxide was bad and needed to be addressed immediately. The chapters by the economists disagreed – they argued that changes were too far into the future to matter at that time. The problem was this study, was that is focused on the chapters of the economists, not the scientists, and so it was not a true synthesis of ideas from all of the authors.

It may have appeared to be balanced, but it was not. The paper also downplayed the issues involving with moving people from affected areas to other locations – it is not trivial, but the paper presented that it was not an issue. When reviewed, the paper was criticized for failing to provide evidence to back the recommendation of doing nothing, which was contrary to scientific views on the issue. The comments from the reviewers were ignored, and the report (leaning 100% to the economists view) was published.

The problem with this new study, was that it was used to refute real scientific evidence about global warming, from scientists and from the EPA. It gave climate change deniers a report to back their stance and to attack climate change science. This paper gave the Reagan administration an excuse to do nothing for the years 1980 to 1988, while Reagan was president.

In 1988, the first organized effort to deny global warming began during the presidential election. James Hansen, climate modeler, testified at a congressional hearing that climate change was now visible and affecting the world. Presidential candidate George H.W. Bush promised to use the presidency to address global warming and sent Secretary of State James Baker to the first IPCC meeting. Unfortunately, deniers began attacking climate science in 1989 and climate scientists a few years later.

The deniers first blamed the sun as the source of increased surface temperatures on Earth. The deniers published a white paper denying global warming, and presented it to departments of the U.S. government – this caused the George H.W. Bush administration to deny climate change. This report suggested the Earth was near the end of a 200 year heating cycle and should soon begin to start cooling off. The problem with this paper, was it misrepresented the actual data and cherry-picking valid data to support the position of no global warming.

The first IPCC assessment, published May 1990, rejected that the sun caused the temperature increases as shown in the report by the deniers. Unfortunately the deniers continued to say the sun was the source of global warming and presented their stance on the road in 1991 and 1992, attacking the IPCC.

In June 1992, leaders of many governments went to Rio de Janeiro for the U.N. Earth Summit. President George H.W. Bush also attended and signed the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, which came into effect in 1994. The framework was an agreement in principle on limiting emissions, and the real limits would be set at Kyoto Japan. Unfortunately, adoption of the Kyoto accord was blocked in the U.S. Senate by Senators Hagel and Byrd in 1997.

CH 7. DENIAL RIDES AGAIN: THE REVISIONIST ATTACK ON RACHEL CARSON

Rachel Carson revealed the dangers of industrial pesticides, leading to the ban of DDT in 1972. Since it was banned, Ms. Carson and her work has been attacked by deniers trying to create a scenario where any regulation is bad. This has gone on into the 21st century and is part of the new denial culture.

======================================================================

CONCLUSION

I decided to leave out the individual players in the different chapters because the authors did such a good job with the details and references. This review isn’t meant to replace the book, but to encourage you to read it, as it is very powerful, compelling and honestly somewhat frightening. When you see the link between the deniers of tobacco and the deniers of climate change, you may be as shocked and angry as I was.

I’ve always maintained that, if you need to lie to promote your views, your views are wrong, you lack the courage or wisdom to accept the facts, or you are more interested in protecting something than doing what is right.

I understand that special interests have an obligation to support their industries – I disagree it should be necessary to misrepresent or distort facts or attack researchers, but I understand the motives. They are interested in the success of their industries; the bottom line rules.

I find it terrible that the people we elect to protect us – members of Congress and some presidential administrations – failed to support science, the EPA, and their constituents. Our elected government should have our best interests at heart, not the interests of companies that donate a lot of money to their election campaigns. I cannot see how history will view the actions of politicians that helped special interests affect the viability of life on our planet. Perhaps they hope to rewrite the history books.

In 2017, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria made landfall in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico respectively. Of the three, I only recall one climate change denier say he would stay in his house that was in the path of Irma, but he “changed his mind and moved to be able to continue his broadcasts”. If climate change is so wrong, why do these deniers not line every shore that scientists predict will be hit by hurricanes? Those predictions, based on science, are good enough reasons for climate change deniers to move to safety, so why do they choose to ignore predictions of rising sea levels and increased air and water temperatures? Choosing which facts you believe and which you deny, based on what costs the least money, is indefensible. Unfortunately it is a common tactic of science deniers.

HOW TO ADDRESS THESE ISSUES

The truth is, we need to change how science raises concerns to adapt to the attacks by special interests. There will be more scientific findings in the future that will affect businesses, and special interests will continue to use the same type of attacks that worked for tobacco, ozone depletion and global warming.

SCIENCE: As long as some scientists are willing to put their economic or political interests ahead of the facts, more education isn’t the answer: we need an easy way to prove that science is right and has addressed some concerns already. There is a site online that contains a list of issues raised about global warming – I’ve not seen it mentioned on social media or in articles, but referring the media to it when skeptics attack should be done automatically.

THE PRESS: I cannot see how the press allows attacks on the scientific community, without questioning what attackers have to gain by these assaults. How can any members of the press promote that politics and big business as more trustworthy and reliable than people dedicated to seeking out the truth? Doesn’t make sense to attack the scientific community for having a political agenda, without questioning the political agendas of the people attacking science. The press needs to stop taking the view that there are two sides to every scientific issue and stop being used to slow down regulations that help people and the environment.

INTERESTED NON-TECHNICAL PEOPLE: Far too often people with little or no science background challenge scientific findings in newspapers and on the Internet. If you lack a basic science background in a topic, why do you believe you can challenge scientists? If you doubt climate change, read “The Madhouse Effect” by Dr. Michael Mann or “Unstoppable” by Bill Nye – both clearly explain the science, and neither author is making billions of dollars by selling books. They both want to educate people so people can make informed opinions on climate change. Curious people need to educate themselves, not with stories on the internet, but with solid information from people without a stake in the topic. Read a book, don’t watch a short YouTube video and consider yourself informed.

INDUSTRY: The government should reward companies that report issues with their products. If a company received a tax credit for coming forward about an issue, they would be compensated for their honesty. If they received a fine for failure to report, they also have financial motivation to be honest. If companies are shown to know about an issue but they decided to delay regulation, they should be massively fined and all people associated with that act sent to prison.

GOVERNMENT: Due to the complexities of science, we could use a special court to focus on science issues – this could lead to a new area of law in the near future. And regulatory portions of the government should be lead by non-partisan people that new political administrations can change, as Scott Pruitt has done with the EPA.

MY RECOMMENDATION ON THIS BOOK

I enjoyed this book – tremendous job by the authors on compiling so much relevant data and presenting it clearly and at a level most people can understand. The writing is logically organized and flows well, and it is easy to read. I give this book 5 stars out of 5. It is worth buying and keeping in your library. Buy a copy of this book for yourself and extra copies for family and friends that are interested in the subject.

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2017, All Rights Reserved.

Title: Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change 2nd Edition 2015 Product Details
Author(s): Michael E. Mann and Lee E. Kump
ISBN: 978-1-4654-3364-0
Published: 2008,2015 by DK Publishing
Price: $24.95 (hardback)
Length: 224 pages

Author Bios

Dr. Mann has undergraduate degrees in physics and applied math, a Masters degree in Physics, and a Ph.D in Geology and Geophysics. Dr. Mann has published books (The Hockey Stick, The Madhouse Effect) and over 180 peer-reviewed publications on global warming, and has testified in congressional hearings about the subject, as well as made himself available via social media to people with questions on global warming.

Dr. Kump has an undergraduate degree in geophysical sciences and a Ph.D in Marine Science. Dr. Kump has published over 100 peer-reviewed publications on global warming, and his work has appeared in documentaries produced by National Geographic, BBS, NOVA Science-Now, and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

These two scientists are far more reliable sources on climate change than special interest commentators with an agenda to cast doubt on climate change. Let’s take a look at their book and see what the scientific data shows.

 

Table of Contents

Introduction – do NOT skip this section! Great intro to climate
PART 1: Climate Change Basics
PART 2: Climate Change Projections
PART 3: The Impacts of Climate Change
PART 4: Vulnerability and Adaption to Climate Change
PART 5: Solving Climate Change

 

INTRODUCTION

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the international body for assessing the science related to climate change. The IPCC was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation. ”
http://ipcc.ch/news_and_events/docs/factsheets/FS_what_ipcc.pdf

Dire Predictions explains the findings of the IPCC on climate change, using clear and detailed visual graphics to demonstrate the data in the 5th IPCC assessment.
Note 1: As of 2017, there is a new assessment on the IPCC website (ipcc.ch).
Note 2: The IPCC/Links website page contains links to different government websites that contain climate change information, and the US EPA website no longer contains Climate Change data per President Trump and EPA Admin Pruitt – for pre-Trump information, see  https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/climatechange_.html

 

CLIMATE VS. WEATHER

“We plan our daily activities around the weather. Will it rain? Is a storm or a cold front approaching? Weather is highly variable, and, although considerable improvements in weather forecasting have been made, it is still often unpredictable.

Climate, on the other hand, varies more slowly and is highly predictable. … Climate represents the average of many years’ worth of weather. This averaging process smooths out the individual blips caused by droughts and floods, tornadoes and hurricanes, and blizzards and downpours, while emphasizing the more typical patterns of temperature highs and lows and precipitation amounts.”
Introduction, Dire Predictions

Sen. James Inhofe (republican, Oklahoma) received a BA from the University of Tulsa in 1973, when he was nearly 40 yrs old, which is commendable. Checking his biography (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Inhofe and https://www.inhofe.senate.gov/biography), t I was unable to find out what he studied for his undergraduate degree, nor could I find any graduate school credentials for the senator. On Feb 25, 2015, Sen. James Inhofe appeared at the US senate and used a snowball for the reason his does not believe that global warming is happening (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/02/26/jim-inhofes-snowball-has-disproven-climate-change-once-and-for-all/). Yes, a person elected by the people of Oklahoma to represent them in government doesn’t understand the basic difference between weather and climate.

For the sake of people that don’t understand the difference between weather and climate, let’s summarize:
WEATHER: highly variable and unpredictable.
CLIMATE: varies slowly and highly predictable.
CLIMATE REPRESENTS THE AVERAGE OF MANY YEARS WORTH OF WEATHER.

THINGS THAT INFLUENCE CLIMATE

  1. Latitude (location on the Earth)
  2. The oceans
  3. The atmosphere
  4. Atmospheric Circulation – the Hadley Circulation

Fascinating information about ice ages in this section. When they did and didn’t occur.

 

GREENHOUSE GASES

It is important to understand what greenhouse gases are, since climate change deniers often attempt to claim these are not important or that science is wrong is stating certain things are greenhouse gases. According to scientists that actually study climate science:

“Greenhouse gases exist naturally in Earth’s atmosphere in the form of water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and other trace gases, but atmospheric concentrations of some greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are being increased as a result of human activity. This increase occurs primarily as a result of the burning of fossil fuels, but also through deforestation and agricultural practices. Certain greenhouse gases, such as CFCs and the surface ozone found in smog, are produced exclusively by human activity.”
Dire Predictions, Introduction page 14

Something in this section is very important today, as current news in 2017 shows that the Greenland Ice Sheet is melting, and that ice sheet has remained intact during climate changes over the past 2 million years. The fact it is melting is extremely important, as it shows we are experiencing something today that hasn’t happened in 2 million years!

 

PART 1: CLIMATE CHANGE BASICS

THE ROLE OF SCIENCE AND SCIENTISTS IN UNDERSTANDING CLIMATE CHANGE

“Basic principles of physics and chemistry dictate that Earth will warm as concentrations of greenhouse gases increase. Though various natural factors can influence Earth’s climate, only the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations linked to human activity, principally the burning of fossil fuels, can explain recent patterns of global warming.”
Dire Predictions, Part 1 Climate Change Basics page 16

Scientists study climate change, and often find themselves questioned by special interests or people hired to look for reasons to contest climate change. Scientists approach climate science the same way they approach other topics: using the scientific method (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method).

“Scientific conclusions arise from time-tested theories, accurate observations, realistic models based on the fundamentals of physics and chemistry, and consensus among colleagues working in the discipline.”
Dire Predictions, Part 1 Climate Change Basics page 21

Real scientific conclusions are not based on what is politically correct, what pleases conspiracy theorists, or what is economically prudent. We do not live in a Star Trek universe where everyone has a theory, so the opinions of people that doubt climate science but lack a scientific education do not trump scientific theories.

 

IPCC 5th ASSESSMENT – WHAT IT MEANS

The 5th assessment of the IPCC makes predictions about the possible outcomes we can expect from climate change. I understand why possibilities that are low are not as alarming, but I do not understand why any politician would reject risks that 50% or greater probability of happening. Intensified cyclone activity, raising sea level (threatening coastal communities around the globe), rising surface temperatures (affecting plant and animal life, as well as humans), impacting the amount of sea life (reducing a food source for a growing population), and a change in long term weather patterns are serious. The IPCC report shows these dangers, yet many politicians ignore them and the outcome, endangering our children and grandchildren, as well as plant and animal life on this pale blue dot we call home: Earth.

Why do politicians argue against climate change? Ask your representatives in the US house and senate. And when (and if) they respond, ask them for the scientific data/peer-reviewed papers that back their position. And be sure to ask them why they disagree with scientific consensus, where 97% of climate scientists agree global warming is happening, is caused by human activity, and is a serious threat to humanity.

 

WHAT IS THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT?

A greenhouse lets sunlight in, reducing heat loss from wind and trapping the heat so the enclosed area is warmer than the outside. These are used in cold climates, as well as when there is a need for warmer climate plants in cooler parts of the world.

“The greenhouse effect occurs on our planet because the atmosphere contains greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases are special – they absorb heat, which then warms the atmosphere. Not all gases are greenhouse gases.”
Dire Predictions, Part 1 Climate Change Basics page 22

The greenhouse effect is simple:

  1. The Earth receives sunlight and warms up.
  2. The Earth begins to radiate heat.
  3. Radiating heat encounters greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane) that absorb and retain the heat.

When greenhouse gas levels increase in the atmosphere, more heat is retained and the Earth gets warmer.

Positive feedback loop – in global warming, it happens when one change (like increased carbon dioxide) causes another result (more water vapor in the air) – water vapor is a greenhouse gas, so more water vapor means warmer Earth.

Negative feedback loop – in global warming, increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide causes increased amounts of water vapor (a greenhouse gas) in the air – clouds form. Some clouds trap heat, while others reflect heat, and so this isn’t as much of a factor as positive feedback.

Anthropogenic – human generated. A cause for concern, since we started burning fossil fuels over 200 years ago and have not done anything to remove the excess carbon dioxide. This anthropogenic greenhouse gas has been increasing without a mechanism to reduce the extra carbon dioxide, so our Earth is getting warmer.

Greenhouse gases can be studied in the past, by analyzing ice from the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. Scientists take core samples of the ice and analyze the air bubbles in different times to see how much greenhouse gases were present. Core studies show far more greenhouse gases are present today than in pre-industrial era air. Not good.

“If we use existing fossil-fuel reserves and do nothing to capture the Carbon dioxide released, atmospheric carbon dioxide will exceed anything experienced on Earth for over 50 million years.”
Dire Predictions, Part 1 Climate Change Basics page 43

There was a myth that climate scientists in the 1970s predicted a new ice age was coming. This was published in popular magazines, not scientific magazines nor scientific journals, and was not the opinion of climate scientists. It was speculation and it was wrong.

The authors discuss climate models in this section, in detail and showing the strengths and weaknesses of them. Many climate change deniers argue that models are bad or inaccurate, but I have not seen any model complaint that was not addressed by scientists. Climate change models are being updated and enhanced, which proves that scientists want the best models possible. Science needs accurate data, but that does not mean we cannot use what we have now, even though it bothers climate change deniers.

 

PART 2: CLIMATE CHANGE PROJECTIONS

“researchers can draw certain conclusions given best-guess scenarios of fossil-fuel burning and the average projections of theoretical climate models.”
Dire Predictions Part 2 page 82

Some critics claim that climate change is false because we still have winters. Ridiculous. Climate scientists believe that, as climate change speeds up, there will be fewer frosty days (that doesn’t infer it will never be cold or frosty), longer heatwaves (that doesn’t mean we will only have heatwaves), and more intense rainstorms (that doesn’t infer we never had intense rainstorms).

Climate Sensitivity – the amount of warming to expect when factors controlling climate change. This shows how how much Earth will warm with increased greenhouse gas emissions.

We have limited real temperature data for land and sea, about 150 yrs for land and 50 yrs for sea, so scientists use tree rings and ice cores to estimate how average temperatures varied over time in the past. We can track solar activity and volcanic eruptions and greenhouse gas concentrations much further back than 150 years, and these help improve our climate models, by helping discern when climate change was influenced by natural or human factors.

By studying historical climate information, science shows that continued buildup of carbon dioxide results in warming of the Earth. Since burning fossil fuels adds greenhouse gases to the air and seas, increased reliance on fossil fuels increases the amount of greenhouse gases and so increases the temperature of our planet.

Recently, there was a false pause, where it appeared that global warming slowed, but that was a result in sparse data gathered, plus a few natural factors that offset global warming. These natural factors included volcanic activity, a short term reduction in solar output, and a series of La Nina events. When you factor in ocean heat content and arctic sea ice losses, the climate change models are still accurate – our planet is heating up, even though natural factors masked global warming during this false pause.

There have been IPCC projects for nearly 25 yrs, and the early ones have proven to be quite accurate. What should concern people living near the coast, is that sea levels have risen as projected for each of the earlier IPCC projections, A large percentage of global population live near the coast, so many people can expect to be impacted in the future, based on current expectations.

While some climate change deniers attack the IPCC findings by claiming they overstate the impact of global warming, actual evidence shows the IPCC predictions underestimated the effects of climate change.

The most conservative estimates for climate change over the next century are grim, with a 50% chance we will exceed 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) increase in average global temperatures. That 2 degree increase is viewed as a dangerous amount of climate interference by humans – called a tipping point. The most liberal estimates are far worse than 2 degrees C increase, with effects far more devastating.

Precipitation will be affected by increased average Earth temperatures, meaning more droughts and more floods. Cold seasons would see more precipitation and warm seasons should less precipitation, which is only good if you like plenty of snow in the winter and no rain in the summer. Increasing droughts could have a terrible impact on desert regions of the world.

Increased temperatures means we can expect to lose ice from our two largest continental ice sheets: Greenland and Antarctica. If the Greenland ice sheet melts, it would result in rising global sea levels of 16’ to 23’!  If the West Antarctic ice sheet melts, that would add another 16’ of rising sea levels. If you live in Louisiana, Florida, New York, or on any island in the ocean, you should be very concerned.

With the evidence we see from climate science, I cannot understand why people would choose to deny climate change and refuse to understand science. Harvey, a recent Cat 4 hurricane hit Texas, and most people were willing to accept the news from climate scientists about that hurricane, so they left endangered areas. Why accept some of what climate scientists say and reject other information? Because special interests promote doubt about climate change, but they don’t interfere with warnings about hurricanes. If you accept scientists are right on hurricanes, you must accept they are right on global warming.

 

PART 3: THE IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

If you are a climate change denier, this is the section you should focus on. Scientists expect human and animal habitats will be impacted by global warming, and that we will see mass extinction of many land and sea creatures which will affect animal and human food chains.

Climate change will result in less food to feed more people, so who gets to eat and live? We can expect wars as people lack what they need to survive and they will want with others have. We can also expect mass migration of people from less developed countries to the most developed parts of the planet. More people means less surface area to grow or raise food, meaning still less food.

We have already started to see rising sea levels affecting people in Louisiana (Katrina, 2005) and Texas (Harvey, 2017), and the heavily populated eastern seaboard will lose habitat land and heavy storm surges will cause increasing damage and property losses to people and businesses, affecting our economy – insurance companies aren’t in business to pay out more than they bring in, so insurance rates will soar.

If the Greenland ice sheet melts, we can expect over 19’ increase in sea level. Belgium and the Netherlands in Europe, the entire eastern seaboard, the gulf coast, and the west coast will lose much of the available land. And coral reefs like the Great Barrier Reef will be impacted by global warming too, impacting the sea life dependent on reefs and reducing parts of the food chain we humans need that eat food from the oceans. And with ice in the arctic and Antarctica gone, life that lives (like polar bears) in those parts of the world will be gone, except for the animals kept in zoos. That will be a tragedy as we learn from studying life in the natural environment.

Droughts, which we have been experiencing since the early 2000s in Texas, Oklahoma and California, reduce plant and animal food production and increase food costs for people everywhere. And flooding won’t just cause loss of life by drowning. Many infectious diseases spread in water, and having more floods means more people are exposed to those diseases and so health costs will also rise.

All continents will be impacted by climate change. Yes, even the US and Europe, as well as Africa and Australia. Less coastal land for people to live on, famine from reduced food production, more disease from floods, and economic chaos from skyrocketing cost increases in every aspect of life. And war, meaning too many people will die far from home and family and friends, trying to gain what they lack.

The only good news we have right now? That the amount of global warming impacts how much our world is affected by global warming. If we act now and reduce our carbon emissions into the environment, we can reduce the changes that happen in the future.

 

PART 4: VULNERABILITY AND ADAPTION TO CLIMATE CHANGE

For our economies to change, we need to reward use of alternatives to fossil fuels and to provide a carbon tax to reward companies that use less fuels that add to the carbon dioxide levels in our environment.

Rising sea levels means our global communities will need to either pump out the excess water like Holland, or move inland. The costs for either will be huge, to individuals and to each country.

We will need to find more fresh water, which could be done by desalination plants if we can find an economically feasible means to mass produce fresh water. We need to produce more food on less arable land, so improving the efficiency of growth/production, as well as reducing spoilage will help.

To adapt to climate change, we need to reduce the amount of fossil fuels we use for energy sources. Alternatives like solar and wind and tide power, as well as nuclear will reduce the fossil fuel we need for energy sources, which reduces carbon dioxide output to the sea and atmosphere. Alternative transportation – more trains, intercity mass transit, and electric-powered vehicles – will reduce fossil fuel consumption.

Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases is another way to adapt. Reducing carbon dioxide from cars by carpooling and improving engine efficiency will help reduce our carbon footprint. Reducing emissions from power systems – as President Obama did by requiring coal powered plants to decrease greenhouse gases – will help, as long as another administration doesn’t make changes that eliminate those emission savings.

Unfortunately, President Trump as made rolling back changes that help the environment a priority of his administration. Removing the US from the Paris Climate Accords was President Trump’s defining act that may well be his lasting legacy – and not for the better I am afraid.

Many ecosystems around the world are sensitive to climate, and many will be wiped out unless we make changes now. Our scientists have seen the effects of climate change on sea corral, and the changes have been accelerating in recent years as greenhouse gases increase.

The truth is, economically it is less expensive to address climate change now that after it gets far worse. We can’t expect to see things immediately return to pre-industrial era conditions, but we can hope to see lower temperatures and less dangerous weather systems. Climate Scientists have shown that higher concentrations of greenhouse gases will take a long time to remove from the environment, so the longer we wait to reduce emissions, the longer the recovery time.

We can do something besides reduce emissions. Implement a carbon tax to reward companies that produce fewer greenhouse gases. This is not popular among republicans, but we are all Americans first and our country’s needs should come before party needs. We are past the point where we can do nothing and things will fix themselves. The cost of inactivity will escalate the longer we ignore or fail to correct the problem. That should motivate anyone that cares about this planet more than profits.

 

PART 5: SOLVING CLIMATE CHANGE

Adaption will help, but we still need to do more to solve global warming. We need to work with the other countries of our planet together, as we all impact each other. Unfortunately, President Trump removed the US from the Paris Climate Accords, so a future administration will need to make alliances with other countries and get political buy-in to prevent some other politician from harming our environment for the sake of profit.

We also need to improve engineering processes to reduce power wasted by inefficient transmission, improve tools like stoves to use fuel more efficiently (reducing the amount needed). This chapter of the book shows graphs that demonstrate the potential places we can reduce greenhouse emissions, along with the costs for each place.

Creating more wind farms and tapping more water power sources like dams and tidal power systems will help. We also need to stop trying to get more fossil fuel from the Earth, so reduce or eliminate fracking (which has proven a problem in Oklahoma, where they are experiencing earthquakes up around 5 on the Richter scale) in 2017.

Using lighter colored surfaces on the roofs of homes and businesses and road surfaces means less solar energy to be absorbed, which will help as well. Using electric cars instead of gas burning cars will make a tremendous difference as well.

We also need to consider future building projects, to reduce power needs and to utilize alternate power sources like solar. We may want to eat less red meat, as cows produce methane, and wheat doesn’t. Nothing wrong with people adapting by having meatless days during the week, which is healthier for us too.

Planting more trees as well as rewarding countries that preserve trees will help. We can’t match the efficiency of trees to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, so planting more is a good option. Some people propose returning carbon to our environment, the same way that fossil fuel holds carbon. There are np good methods at this time, but that will change.

Each person on Earth can help in the fight against global warming. Reduce your use of carbon dioxide producing power systems. Add solar panels and energy efficient appliances to your home. Bike to work or work from home to save gas (and money) while reducing carbon dioxide output. Have a meatless day, where you eat no red meat one day a week. Add insulation to your home, turn off unnecessary lights, get rid of power-leaching power strips, and turn down your thermostat in the winter (and turn it up in summer). Communicate with people that doubt climate change and get them to see the reality of the problem. And write your government representatives and remind them they work for you, not the fossil fuel industry, and we need them to make laws to protect our planet. Plant a tree and a garden at your home.

We must act now. Global warming is real, and a serious threat to life on our planet. Sea life and land-bound life alike are at risk, and the effects will last a very long time, affecting our descendants who will rightly blame us for leaving them in this predicament. Climate change is a very real danger and we need to push our politicians to stop taking special interest money opposing climate change and to start fighting for us, their constituents. Inaction is no longer a realistic option.

 

CONCLUSION

This is an update to the first edition of the book, which includes updated scientific data. The pages in the book are thicker than normal and loaded with illustrations, graphs and images to help convey the information. The book is organized into five sections, which are easy to read sequentially or in any order you like. I hope that some people that embrace climate warming denial either buy or borrow this book from a library and read it with an open mind – I don’t see how any real, intelligent, and unbiased reader could go through this book and still believe global warming is not a real issue.

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5 possible and strongly encourage that it be purchased and read by everyone in your family. This material should be easy enough for people with a high school education to understand, and it has enough detail for people with higher education to enjoy.

Title: Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the WorldProduct Details
Author: Bill Nye
ISBN: 978-1-250-00714-8
Published: 2015 by St. Martin’s Press
Price: $26.99 hardback
(Reviewing the Kindle version)
Length: 352 pages

 

Yes, another long book review (>6100 words), but this book is loaded with data worthy of an in-depth review.

Chapters

1: We’ve Got the Whole World In Our Hands
2: The Call to Greatness
3: A Hothouse of Disbelief
4: Putting a Price on Inaction
5: Inputs and Feedbacks
6: Thermodynamics and You
7: Fighting Global Warming with … Bubbles?
8: Talkin’ ‘Bout Electrical Energy Generation
9: Stop the Burn – Don’t Frack that Gas
10: Nuclear Energy: Too Cheap to Meter… Again
11: One More Reactor (No, Make it Two)
12: Power of the Sun
13: Is the Answer Blowing in the Wind?
14: Down to the Wire
15: Let’s Transform the Grid
16: Dude, Where’s My Battery Pack
17: Quest for Storage
18: Bottling Sunshine with Moonshine
19: NASCAR – A Catalyst for Change
20: Got to Get Moving on Moving
21: Moving Our Masses
22: Rise of the Taxipod, Robotruck, and Bioplane
23: The Water-Energy Connection
24: Time to Get the Salt Out
25: Feeding the World
26: Bringing it all Back Home to Bill’s House
27: Quien es Was Verde – or, Keeping Up with the Begleys
28: Bill and Ed in a Fight for the Sun
29: Bill and Ed Get Into Hot Water
30: The Tap is Off and the Garden is Green
31: The Case for Space
32: Building a Better Rocket Equation
33: Do Humans have a Destiny in Space?
34: Setting a Fair Price for a Better Planet
35: The Unstoppable Species

 

WE’VE GOT THE WHOLE WORLD IN OUR HANDS

“Climate change is coming, and it is coming right at you. Regardless of where you live on Earth, you will live to see your life or the lives of your kids and their friends change due to the overall warming of the planet.”
Unstoppable, Chapter 1

Bill Nye is no climate change denier. He knows enough of the science to know climate change is a real threat to life on Earth and it must be addressed now.

Bill was in China at a science conference and a student became his guide around Beijing and loaned Bill his father’s bike, as his guide’s family was successful enough to now own a car. That prompted this observation:

“That desire – to get more done with less effort – multiplied by billions of people who burn fossil fuels to satisfy that desire, is the root cause of climate change.”
Unstoppable, Chapter 1

He points out that everyone wants what we have in our country: cars, planes, readily available electricity, more electronic devices, more more more.

I’ve heard climate change deniers state that “God wouldn’t let humans change or damage the world he created.” Poppycock! I always counter with “Did you ever hear about nukes? We have far more than needed to change our climate and wipe out all life – God didn’t prevent them.” Bill points out that another species – cyanobacteria – once changed our climate by producing oxygen, which in turn killed off life that couldn’t tolerate oxygen. We humans aren’t the first to affect our climate, although we can hope we will change it back for the better while we can.

When I was young, our total population was 3 billion, and scientists wondered if we could handle feeding 6 or 7 billion people. We are over 7 billion now, and we do feed them, but now our concern is how adding so many new users of fossil fuels adds to climate change. And as more people are born, that means more fossil fuel users are adding to the carbon dioxide contribution in our atmosphere, and carbon dioxide levels directly impact the temperature of our planet.

 

THE CALL TO GREATNESS

“I encourage everyone to reject both of those sentiments (“The climate has always changed in the past and it will always change in the future”, and “We have to save Earth”) and think instead, “We have to save Earth – for us! For us humans!”
Unstoppable, Chapter 2

The first sentiment is a head-in-the-sand view on global warming, and the second is a misunderstanding that the Earth will be destroyed if we do nothing to save it. Both are wrong. We need to act now to counter the effects of global warming, and we need to understand that the effects of global warming could make Earth uninhabitable for humans.

I really liked the author’s question for climate change deniers:

“Would you trust a scientist or a politician who insisted, pounding his fist on the table, that there is no connection between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer?”
Unstoppable, Chapter 2

For decades, politicians and special interests (the Tobacco industry) denied cancer and smoking were linked, and the approaches they used for denying the smoking-cancer link are being used for climate change denial. Too many people that believed the politicians and cancer deniers died, trusting those people over scientists. Are you willing to let your children and grandchildren go through that same experience? The difference between climate change denial and smoking-cancer link denial, is that everyone on Earth is affected by climate change – you can’t stay away from second hand climate change the way you could stay away from second hand smoke. And, unlike smoking, you can’t quit climate change denial. We have to reverse the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The author points out that, to address climate change, we will need to come up with solutions for energy to replace fossil fuels, better ways to transmit electricity, and better ways to store electricity. We also need to be able to convert seawater to drinkable water, grow more food and transport it using power sources other than fossil fuels.

 

A HOTHOUSE OF DISBELIEF

The author studied astronomy with Carl Sagan when he went to Cornell University. I read Sagan’s books titled ‘Cosmos’ and ‘Pale Blue Dot’, and Sagan’s Cosmos video series is still one of my favorite science series ever produced. I think that explains Bill Nye’s audience friendly approach to discussing science, as Sagan was excellent at making complicated subjects understandable by novices. I forgot was how Sagan developed a computer model that showed how the greenhouse effect warms Earth – fortunately the author describes that and gives a simple yet clear explanation of global warming:

“A carbon dioxide molecule is linear. It’s an atom of oxygen connected to an atom of carbon, connected to an atom of oxygen, all in a row. It’s the right length and of the right atomic flexibility (or floppiness) to allow visible light, with wavelengths ranging between 390 and 700 nanometers (billionths of a meter) to pass right by. But, these molecules block the longer reradiated infrared rays (heat), whose wavelengths are about ten times as long as those of visible light. That heat-trapping ability is a feature of the size and shape of carbon dioxide molecules, and the length of waves they trap or let pass. Yes, this really is somewhat like what happens in a greenhouse.”
Unstoppable, Chapter 3

That is one of the easiest explanations why carbon dioxide is directly involved in global warming. The author goes on to explain that the extra heat trapped by increasing levels of carbon dioxide alters weather patterns and local climates around the world. It’s amazing that climate change, which has scientific consensus for 30 years, is still contested by climate change deniers. It is disappointing that the media allows climate change deniers to quote an article in Newsweek published in 1975, that suggests we were heading for a new ice age, not warming. Newsweek is not a science magazine, and we know a lot more about climate science than they did in 1975, yet this is rarely called out by the media when they let deniers state that as evidence scientists don’t know enough about climate to predict changes. The media should stop giving deniers, especially those without education climate science, equal footing with climate change scientists. And a little more fact checking would dispel these old claims that have long been disproven but are still raised by deniers.

“People who should (or do) know better keep confusing weather with climate. Weather is what happens day to day in one place. Climate is what happens over many years to a large geographic area, or the planet as a whole.”
Unstoppable, Chapter 3

This happened in February 2015, where Sen. James Inhofe brought a snowball to the senate floor and declared it proved global warming was a hoax, because it snowed somewhere. Funny, and quite wrong. This senator doesn’t understand climate change. And the argument that more carbon dioxide is good for plants is wrong, as it ignores that more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere means more retained heat for our planet – not good, as that means some areas of the planet will become too warm or dry for plants to thrive.

Another concern climate scientists have concerns methane, as it has much more effect on global warming than carbon dioxide. Methane is trapped in ice, and will be released as more arctic/antarctic ice melts. Attacks on climate scientists, on the data used, on gases on that cause global warming, and on climate change models serves one thing: to delay a response to global warming.

 

PUTTING A PRICE ON INACTION

The author lists costal cities that will be impacted by rising seas, and it’s not good. New Orleans, Miami, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, Sydney, Venice, Mumbai and Qingdao will need major infrastructure changes to prevent being rendered useless. And these cities will be affected all too soon, as sea surges during storms will impact them long before the sea is thigh for the existing banks and dams. And don’t forget countries like the Netherlands that already have sea level issues. If people need to move inland to get away from the water, where will they go?

Transportation to new homes, food and water and clothing, as well as new equipment for jobs, updating existing infrastructures to accommodate new settlers, and creating new sea ports will cost a lot. And don’t forget, that land can be used for housing, work and food production – if more land is needed for housing, we will lose land that could generate food supplies.

And rising seas will result in flooding, which means water-born diseases and mosquito-born diseases, which will cost lives and time and money to address. And parasites normally unable to handle cold weather will flourish in new warmer climates. If we do nothing, the costs to address these problems will be overwhelming.

 

INPUTS AND FEEDBACKS

“A lump of coal is nearly pure carbon. When you burn it, each carbon atom hooks up with two oxygen atoms from the atmosphere to make carbon dioxide, CO2. An oxygen atom weighs one-third more than a carbon atom, so the greenhouse gases add up quickly. When you burn one kilogram of coal, you get 3 2/3 kilos of carbon dioxide.”
Unstoppable, Chapter 5

That’s a lot of gas that retains heat. In 2014, our atmosphere topped 400 parts per million for the first time in history. The author points out that the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere isn’t the problem: the rate of change is. The rate that carbon dioxide is being added to the atmosphere is accelerating because there are more of us each day. More people means more need for power and food and transportation, meaning more carbon dioxide.

Bill describes a feedback loop in climate science: adding heat increases water evaporation. Warmer air holds more moisture than cooler air, so as air warms up, more moisture is evaporated. And water vapor traps heat too, so this addition of water vapor to the air demonstrates a positive feedback in climate science. When water reaches a certain altitude, clouds form, and clouds reflect sunlight into space, causing the Earth to get less sunlight and less heat. This effect of reflecting heat by clouds is negative feedback. But that isn’t all. Clouds low in the atmosphere reflect heat, but clouds high in the air actually reflect heat back down to the Earth, so high altitude clouds have a positive feedback.

Another example of feedback is arctic ice. When arctic ice exists, it reflects sunlight, which is negative feedback. When arctic ice melts, the darker seas absorbs more sunlight and heat, which is a positive feedback. And warmer seas mean more ice melts, so even more positive feedback. Not good. And warmer seas means disruption in sea currents, causing changes in air and ice and sea elsewhere, causing an even bigger positive feedback.

 

THERMODYNAMICS AND YOU

“But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics (the law that entropy always increases) I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.”
Sir Arthur Eddington, Unstoppable Chapter 6

“The energy of motion is converted to the energy of heat all the time in just about everything we do. …
It (the Second Law) constrains all the efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions. In short, it is the foundational challenge to anyone who wants to improve the way we live without increasing the amount of energy we use.”
Unstoppable, Chapter 6

This chapter highlights one of the limits affecting the fight against global warming. Heat released as inefficient use of motion energy. There is only so far we can go to improve efficiency. Fascinating read and the one I’ve enjoyed most, so far.

 

FIGHTING GLOBAL WARMING WITH…BUBBLES?

This chapter deals with geoengineering, a proposed way to address global warming. The author explains that clouds and arctic/antarctic snow and water allow Earth to reflect around 30% of the solar energy that us, so we retain 70%. As we get warmer, there is less ice to reflect solar energy and so Earth gets hotter – not good.

One proposal to reduce the amount of solar energy the Earth retains is to inject bubbles into water. That works because bubbles are more reflective that calm water, and so the water with bubbles would reflect more solar energy. Another benefit of adding bubbles is that it reduces the amount of water lost to evaporation – very important in a world with dwindling natural resources like potable water. The author points out that, while this isn’t currently done intentionally, it could be worth the effort very soon.

If injecting bubbles could be done economically, and on a wide enough scale, it could reduce the solar energy we retain and help fight global warming. Other things that could help geoengineer Earth include adding more trees and more green growing things in the seas, as well as genetically engineer food sources to be lighter in color.

 

TALKIN’ ‘BOUT ELECTRICAL ENERGY GENERATION

This chapter shows we as a society have dependence on electricity, and that we need to reduce the carbon used to generate that electricity.

“Electricity is actually a moving energy field, the pure energy of the cosmos, and that field travels at the speed of light.”
Unstoppable, Chapter 8

“Volts measure electrical pressure, amps measure flow, watts measure power. Power over time equals the total amount of energy. That’s why your electric utility bills you in terms of watt-hours.”
Unstoppable, Chapter 8

 

STOP THAT BURN – DON’T FRACK THAT GAS

Coal generates power, but with a huge carbon footprint. so cleaner burning natural gas could be a temporary bridge to newer ways to generate electricity. Bill Nye points out that natural gas is, at best, a temporary solution and we need to leave it underground, due to release of methane into the atmosphere. Methane is even more of a heat trap than carbon dioxide, and methane can leak into the air when fracking to extract natural gas.

The author explains how fracking has evolved over time, from vertical to horizontal fracking. Some states ban fracking, while other states like Oklahoma embrace fracking. The thing is, Oklahoma started experiencing earthquakes after extensive fracking, and now sees earthquakes at level 5 of the Richter scale where none were experienced in the pre-fracking days. Cities and buildings have been damaged enough to warrant evacuation, and the lessons learned in Oklahoma should be recognized by other states using fracking for natural gas extraction.

Tar sands, like those proposed to be carried by the Canadian Keystone pipeline, are far more dangerous to our environment. That is why I was surprised one of President Trump’s first acts as president was to approve the pipeline previously rejected by President Obama. As of July 2017, the Canadian company wanting the Keystone pipeline is reconsidering the need for it. Hopefully Canada will be more environment-friendly than our current Trump administration.

With the Trump administration’s anti-environment, pro-fossil fuel stance, Trump’s EPA director has been rolling back or refusing to implement regulations designed to protect the environment passed during President Obama’s term. What should scare reasonable people, is EPA head Scott Pruitt’s decision to ignore regulations to control methane pollution (http://tinyurl.com/y9nvsbdc). The courts have recognized the validity of these regulations established during President Obama’s administration and have sided with our world against the Trump administration, but one has to wonder why Trump’s administration is so bent on harming our planet. If you die from pollution, how much good does it do to have more money?

 

NUCLEAR ENERGY: TOO CHEAP TO METER… AGAIN

Chapter 10 focuses on nuclear energy – cleaner power plants than coal/gas fired plants, but with their own risks. The author explains how nuclear energy produces power, but isn’t sold on it as a bridge technology from fossil fuels to a clean power system.

 

ONE MORE REACTOR (NO, MAKE IT TWO)

The author gives a simple and clear explanation on the fundamentals of nuclear power plants and the risks they pose. Bill suggests a reactor with thorium may be safer than uranium or plutonium, and he discusses fusion, which has been discussed but not possible for forty years. Fusion would be clean and cheap, but not something we can handle right now.

 

POWER OF THE SUN

Chapter 12 covers solar power: how it works, how efficient it is, and why it is a good carbon-free source of energy. We need better and less expensive solar panels on more homes, and that should happen over time. Bill points out that solar panels used in space are 40% efficient, whereas the ones homeowners can afford are around 15% efficient. Unfortunately, the US only produces about .4% of its power by solar energy and we need to make a lot more to replace coal-powered electricity to make a dent in our climbing carbon dioxide levels.

When I was young, people talked about having solar panels in space to gather energy and send it to Earth. Bill points out the difficulties with that approach and shows how individual power systems for buildings or a city would be more feasible.

 

IS THE ANSWER BLOWING IN THE WIND?

Wind power. Clean energy and the US currently produces ~4.5% of its electricity from the wind. I’ve seen the wind farms in Iowa, many large windmills I’ve never seen stopped whenever I pass nearby. We could have more, and our previous administration encouraged wind power development over coal (a favorite of our current administration).

The author makes a great point about the feasibility of wind power replacing coal powered electricity. Costs for wind power have dropped to 2.1 cents per kWh (kilowatt hour), whereas coal-powered electricity costs 1.2 cents per kWh, so the cost increase for wind powered electricity is not unmanageable.

Bill describes how some hobbyists have rigged a propellor on the top of a boat to catch the wind, and linked it to a propellor under water to drive the boat through the sea. He says that this type of sail boat can drive straight into the wind (something anyone that ever sailed on a traditional sail boat will tell you is impossible). I’ve never seen these myself, but they sound really interesting.

Unlike solar power, wind power typically isn’t reliable during the middle of the day, when electrical energy needs are highest. And the wind does stop, and wind isn’t available everywhere, but the low cost and no carbon footprint of it make wind power a valid candidate to replace much of our coal-based electricity in the US.

 

DOWN TO THE WIRE

Getting power from where it is generated to where it is used isn’t free nor simple. There are limitations to the efficiency of power being transferred. This chapter explains the details why there is power lost during transmission, so you understand why we need to get more efficient to reduce losses (and, in turn, reduce how much electricity we need to generate).

 

LET’S TRANSFORM THE GRID

Chapter 15 covers the power grid – how we distribute power from different sources like hydroelectric dams, to cities and homes. The important items for discussion here are magnetism and electricity: two of my fav topics. Bill says that increasing efficiency and reduces losses by electrical devices will reduce our need for electrical power. He also explains how transformers work, stepping up and down voltage as needed. But don’t let that cause you to skip this chapter. Bill gets into power transmission issues, buckminsterfullerene and nanotubes of carbon atoms. Nanotubes made of carbon atoms would provide almost no power loss of electricity over long distances, but we can’t make them very long now (50 nm max) – Bill points out that solving this problem would be huge and would change the world.

 

DUDE, WHERE’S MY BATTERY PACK

Chapter 16 covers electric-powered cars. In 2007 I worked with a guy that had an electric car and he was proud of it. Unfortunately, he had a short drive (under 20 miles each way) and had to charge his car once he arrived at work and again when he arrived home. It may have been quite, but he told me the cost to replace the batteries would be more than buying a new car. Newer cars do much better these days, and the author is right that we should do more to move to electric cars.

 

QUEST FOR STORAGE

This chapter covers the many many different types of power storage containers (batteries) we’ve used in the past and present. Interesting material, but near the end of the chapter Bill talks about gravity storage pistons, which are simple but potentially huge ways to store power for use when the sun or wind are unavailable. Fascinating subject and the first I’ve seen about it. Really really good information.

 

BOTTLING SUNSHINE WITH MOONSHINE?

In chapter 18, Bill discusses how batteries are not the only means of storing power for off-hour consumption. Food like corn gets energy from the sun, and in turn can be fermented into ethanol, which can be drank or burned. Unfortunately, sun-to-corn-to-ethanol is not efficient (2% according to the author) so it isn’t a good standalone solution over fossil fuel. Sugar from sugarcane can also provide stored power – more than 2x what corn provides – and sugar can be fermented and produce alcohol too.

Bill brings up catalytic converters also. I remember when they were introduced and how some opposed them as too expensive and not likely to help with pollution. As we know today, and as Bill points out, they made a big difference in reducing pollution and weren’t too expensive for their intended purpose. The same arguments many deniers and fossil fuel industry shills make today about reducing carbon dioxide output – and the deniers are as wrong today as they were in the 70s.

 

NASCAR – A CATALYST FOR CHANGE

I’m not a NASCAR fan. No problem with people that like it. Never developed a taste for it. Bill talks about NASCAR and how they use old auto tech to make races exciting, and (showing my age) I understood as I remember a time when cars had carburetors and pushrods. At least he didn’t bring up records yet (if you don’t know what they are, you are not old and you know how to use Google).

 

GOT TO GET MOVING ON MOVING

“almost a third of all energy we use in the United States goes to transportation. We use almost as much energy moving ourselves and our goods around as we use to produce or create those goods in the first place.”
Unstoppable, chapter 20

Bill points our our inefficiency moving power as a great place to start to address global warming. The author mentions that trains are 4x more efficient than a truck – a neat tidbit of knowledge – so trains are better at movement than trucks.

 

MOVING OUR MASSES

This chapter covers mass transit, pointing out that subways are far more efficient at movement than cars. The only unfortunate situation is that mass transit away from the New England area of the US (not including Chicago) usually relies on buses for mass transit, not trains or subways. I agree with Bill that riding public transportation lets passengers read or use their smart phones – something car drivers shouldn’t do while on the road (but, unfortunately, too often do while driving).

One year I worked as a consultant for a client that had showers onsite for the employees, as they encouraged their people to bike to work to conserve gas and reduce pollution. I wish this was the stance of more companies. For a while, many companies allowed their people to telecommute, but that policy comes and goes over time, and it has been cut back the past two years in the technology field.

Bill talks about the need for helmets when biking and I agree. I wear one when I bike outside, on a mountain bike or a road bike, and I wear a helmet when I ride a motorcycle. Being safe means more than looking cool to me. Biking is a great way to exercise, so any laws passed making it more convenient are ones I’ll always vote for – I hope you do too.

 

RISE OF THE TAXIPOD, ROBOTRUCK, AND BIOPLANE

This chapter covers automated cars. We’ve seen stories about self-driven cars the past few years, and Bill believes this will happen and become the major method of transportation within cities in the future. That would make Elon Musk happy.

The idea of flying cars appealed to me, until I earned a pilot license. Ground school and CFIs proved that flying takes a lot more mental work than driving a car. Too many people mentally disengage while driving to talk, text, or play games – you can’t do that in a plane and survive long. Self-piloting planes (or helicopters, like Iron Man used in Captain America: Civil War) would be far safer.

 

THE WATER-ENERGY CONNECTION

Navy ships and subs distill their own water while at sea, whereas cruise ships lack the power needed to distill water, so they use membranes to filter out particles from water. The author points out that this second method would work for cities needing water. This was what I thought, when I considered the recent droughts affecting California, and I suspect this type of solution will happen sooner rather than later.

 

TIME TO GET THE SALT OUT

Mangroves are trees that can handle salty water – they filter out salt for useful water, and eject the salt on their leaves. The author points out that this is what we need to create – a system emulating mangroves. There is a material – graphene – that would work, but the cost of production and utilization could be a problem.

 

FEEDING THE WORLD

“the economic sector that uses the most of Earth’s resources and produces the largest environmental change is our agriculture. Our farms produce greater volumes of more greenhouse gases than all of our cars, trucks, trains, ships and airplanes combined.”
Unstoppable, chapter 25.

With a growing population, this means even more climate change. And we waste too much food. Most of my neighbors don’t eat leftover food, so it goes in the trash. We had leftovers in my family when I was growing up, so I have no issue using leftover food for lunches. The author talks about using GMFs (Genetically Modified Foods) that need less food and water to grow more food, and GMFs have have fans and dis-tractors for many years, but eventually we will need to rely on them to feed our people.

 

BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME TO BILL’S HOUSE

Bill looks for ways to use less energy in his own home. He uses solar power and talks about paying $10 every other month for an electricity bill. Now that is incredible. And he uses other systems to reduce power needs for lights and heating water. What is amazing is that he estimates he saves a tremendous amount of power usage for less than it costs for a nice SUV, and that savings is paid for in 10 years. If only more people did as much as Bill – maybe this will motivate more people to do the same.

 

QUIEN ES MAS VERDE-OR, KEEPING UP WITH THE BEGLEYS

Bill talks about his eco-friendly competition with neighbor Ed Begley Jr., and this is the type of competition we need to see more often if we want to beat global warming. Striving for more efficient uses of power and resources can only help: us save money and the planet save resources and energy used to gather those resources.

Bill had a reflector installed in his fireplace, which reflects more heat into the room. When I spent some time in a Scottish castle, it had one too, and the amount of heat that a few logs gave to the room was impressive. I sat back 20 feet from the fire and could still feel the warmth.

 

BILL AND ED IN A FIGHT FOR THE SUN

This chapter covers solar power panels and the cost benefits. His solar cells generate more power than he needs, so that power is sold back to the power company and he receives the money instead of a bill. Bill’s solar panels are 15% efficient, but I found a company online that says it gets 22.1% efficiency from their solar cells, which is a nice improvement.

 

BILL AND ED GET INTO HOT WATER

The author uses solar power to heat water for his home, which is a cost saver. He also installed tankless water heaters, which I too have looked into, which instantly heat water and save money as there is no need to wait for running water to heat up. A good idea, and I plan to install solar heating and tankless water heaters in my next home for sure.

 

THE TAP IS OFF AND THE GARDEN IS GREEN

The author had a garden installed and used a system with multiple zones and a rain sensor to improve efficiency. I had a sprinkler system with the same arrangement (zones and rain sensor) installed after I built my home, and saw a 40-50% decrease in water used (according to water bills) than when using regular mobile sprinklers. It helped to be able to time the sprinklers to work during the middle of the night, and to be able to control the amount of water sent to each zone.

 

THE CASE FOR SPACE

Finally, some numbers that intrigue me: space flight. The author shows why calculus is needed for rocket science: because burning fuel changes the weight of a space craft constantly. According to Bill, a 100% efficient rocket needs 500 million joules to life one ton of cargo to 62 miles (the beginning of space). To get into orbit, you need twice that amount of energy. To get into geosynchronous orbit (1 day for each time around the Earth), it takes 5000 million joules of energy. This energy does not count the rocket mass and fuel itself.

Air pressure against a rocket decreases as altitude increases.

“When the decreasing static pressure and increasing dynamic pressure reach a maximum, it is called max-q.”
Unstoppable, chapter 31

Max-q is dangerous for the rocket as the pressure on the nose of the space craft is maximum. The location where a space craft is launched is important as well, since launching near or at the equator means the Earth’s rotation will add to a craft’s orbital velocity.

Returning to Earth means getting rid of the energy used to get into orbit. When in low Earth orbit (like the ISS), one ton of payload must dissipate 30 billion joules of energy, and the easiest way to do that is use the friction of the atmosphere to convert energy into heat (the reason for good heat shields on space craft).

There. Bill provides the information you need to plan how much fuel you need to get your own space craft to space and back again.

 

BUILDING A BETTER ROCKET EQUATION

The author states that most rockets use rocket fuel called RP-1 (Rocket Propellant #1), which is refined kerosene with chains of carbon atoms. All particulates are removed (which explains why the first launch in ‘The Astronaut Farmer’ failed so badly). Liquid hydrogen (used in Apollo and the space shuttle) contains more energy than RP-1.

A nice surprise in this chapter is the simple yet clear explanation of ion propulsion (xenon gas atoms propelled by electrical grid out of the craft, pushing it forward as the xenon leaves the craft. Since ion engines develop slow but constant power, they currently can only be used once in space, so you still need RP-1 to get to space.

Bill also talks about solar sail power. NASA launched their own NanoSail-D into orbit in 2011. The Planetary Society successfully launched LightSail in 2015, and they intend the next generation of this to launch in 2018.

The takeoff weight for airplanes is around 10% fuel, while the takeoff weight for space craft is 90%. Lighter materials affect both airplanes and space craft, and would lower takeoff fuel requirements.

 

DO HUMANS HAVE A DESTINY IN SPACE?

“this common goal – to leave the world better than we found it.”
Unstoppable, chapter 33

As global warming is a modern threat, just as dangerous as ISIS and other terrorists, our generation needs to solve the global warming threat to our planet. That would make the world a better place – for us and for our children and grandchildren. We also need to explore space to learn more about life here and out there.

Mars facts that interest maybe just me in this chapter: atmospheric consists of carbon dioxide, air pressure is .7% that of Earth, average noontime high temperature is -40 C/F. Space craft can only depart for Mars every 26 months (due to orbits of Earth and Mars)

 

SETTING A FAIR PRICE FOR A BETTER PLANET

A carbon fee or carbon tax will work, if conservatives stop opposing it. This is the best way to tie economic considerations into carbon emissions, and it could be our best hope to reduce greenhouse gases.

 

THE UNSTOPPABLE SPECIES

“When I decided to write this book, I did it with one enormous goal in mind: I want to help change the world.”
Unstoppable, chapter 35

The issues and optional ways to address them are well covered in this book. Reasonable people being logical should have no issue with Bill’s suggestions, unless they have a special interest agenda that provides economic incentive to ignore the dangers of global warming. That incentive means that some of our politicians and policy makers put the interest of the fossil fuel industry ahead of their own families, friends and fellow countrymen. Is money worth more that human life? It shouldn’t be, but unfortunately it is.

Global warming is real. Doesn’t matter your political or religious affiliation, facts are facts. Radio and internet personalities, political scientists, and people drawing paychecks from think tanks paid by companies promoting fossil fuel use do not know better than people with advanced degrees in science. If that bothers you, you are being unreasonable and are fooling yourself.

I’ve seen vicious attacks on climate scientists by trolls on Twitter, whose arguments were worthless but these trolls were blinded by hate and refused to be reasonable and refused to accept that uneducated people cannot know as much about a subject as subject matter experts with advanced education on climate science. Why trolls with no or little hight school education feel like they can challenge these people on climate science is beyond me.

Either we fight this battle now, or allow our children and grandchildren to face much greater (and potentially unbeatable) challenges that we do at this time.

 

CONCLUSION

This book is well written, flows well and breaks down technical items enough for anyone (except senators on the payroll of fossil fuel companies) to understand the danger of global warming and the technical difficulties we must overcome to make changes to reduce our carbon output.

This book educates and informs people that really want an education on climate science. Deniers should read it as it disproves denier excuses intended to delay our fight against global warming. I can’t see how an honest denier could read this book and still fail to understand the dangers of global warming. I’d think even someone with an advanced degree in political science would understand the science explained in this book, clearly enough to realize they are hurting, not helping humanity.

I give it 5 stars out of 5 and recommend purchasing it. Students and adults will learn a lot about science, and it is not partisan. It is real, it is true, and it must be a wake up call to people trying to harm our world by fighting the fact that global warming is the biggest danger to our species right now.

By Harry {doc} Babad, © Copyright 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Introduction

This month I’m temporarily reverting back to earlier tid-bit type entries because I’ve be deluged by input. Being an information junkie requires not only a large hard drive, but also a fairly good memory – so far so good!   Enjoy

Note, many of the technologies I share are in various stage of first, development, and are often far from being a commercial success. Their inventors and supporters still have to prove that they are reliable, durable and scalable, Remember There Ain’t No free Lunch and silver bullets too often turn to lead.

When and if you Google them in depth, you will find studies saying they are capable of being commercialized and often as many other studies that are more skeptical because there is no easy way to for them into our systems.

I always, as 75 year old cynic, find it appropriate, to step back as I read and WIIFT – No it’s not something new to smoke; just the compulsion to ask what’s in it for them. It’s okay to have a hidden agenda, but agenda’s too hidden discomfort me. In addition, most have no relationship to solving the problem that is being bragged about. I also object to TGTBT (To good to be true) since there never a free lunch and energy runs downhill.

I don’t usually do items with direct political implications, but the items below rubbed my sense of WIIFT.  Recently thoughts about announcements and new service information as well as headlines picked up by the news services. My thought — If its slick and there are no cross checked reference details, it’s probably a scam – legal perhaps but a scam. — As discussed in a recent Bloomberg Business Week:How about rating agencies, Moody’s, S&P, and Fitch’s, glowing credit rating (e.g., investor grades and better) just days-weeks-or one or two months before the firms bankruptcy declarations.

AIG (insurance)

Enron (Energy)

World Com (Telecom), or

Bear Stearns (banking)

Lehman Brothers (banking)

Washington Mutual (banking).

CIT (Financial Services)

MF Global (Baking)

…Tens of Others

I’ve ignored the American auto industry because the Feds both bailed them out and they are back in the black to profitability and job creation. However their bond and shareholders have are still ‘forever’ losers.) I also ignored the airlines because there were not apparently fueled by mis-ratingsReferences:Credit Rating Agencies – Need For Reform — http://ezinearticles.com/?Credit-Rating-Agencies— Need-For-Reform&id=788696 and Credit Rating Agencies — http://rru.worldbank.org/documents/CrisisResponse/Note8.pdf

Why Did Anyone Listen to the Rating Agencies After Enron?http://www.law.umaryland.edu/academics/journals/jbtl/issues/4_2/4_2_283_Hill.pdf

Also See Notable Bankruptcies of 2008: Final Tally | Robert Salomon’s Blog: http://blog.robertsalomon.com/2009/01/05/notable-bankruptcies-of-2008-final-tally/

22 Largest Bankruptcies in World Historyhttp://www.instantshift.com/2010/02/03/22-largest-bankruptcies-in-world-history/

Major Bankruptcies Firms in the Business Historyhttp://www.infographicsposters.com/finance-infographics/major-bankruptcies-firms-in-the-business-history

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Titles, As Usual, in No Formal Order, for the New Snippets and Topics

  • German Wind Power Blows Nowhere — Germany’s Wind Power Revolution in the Doldrums
  • How Are Permissible Radiation Limits Set? — How Much Is Science, How Much “Prudence”?
  • Feds Assess Using Abandoned Federal and State Owned Sites For Their Renewable Energy Potential
  • The Discussion Continues: Nuclear Power in Japan (Part I) and A Plea for Common Sense when Prioritizing Environmental Concerns (Part II) How does the danger from the Fukushima Daiichi reactors compare to other health dangers, such as Tokyo pollution?
  • Trying to Change a Climate Skeptic’s Mind?  —  Don’t Bother
  • Feed-in Tariffs Best to Deal with Climate Change Says IPCC Working Group III Renewables
  • Economic And Emissions Impacts Of Electric Vehicles

 

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German Wind Power Blows Nowhere — Germany’s Wind Power Revolution in the Doldrums

By Frank Dohmen and Alexander Jung

Fox News — January 02, 2012   

http://nation.foxnews.com/wind-power/2012/01/02/german-wind-power-blows-nowhere#ixzz1iVLl8hND

The construction of offshore wind parks in the North Sea has hit a snag with a vital link to the onshore power grid hopelessly behind schedule. The delays have some reconsidering the ability of wind power to propel Germany into the post-nuclear era.

Info

The generation of electricity from wind is usually a completely odorless affair. After all, the avoidance of emissions is one of the unique charms of this particular energy source.

But when work is completed on the Nordsee Ost wind farm, some 30 kilometers (19 miles) north of the island of Helgoland in the North Sea, the sea air will be filled with a strong smell of fumes: diesel fumes.

The reason is as simple as it is surprising. The wind farm operator, German utility RWE, has to keep the sensitive equipment — the drives, hubs and rotor blades — in constant motion, and for now that requires diesel-powered generators. Although the wind farm will soon be ready to generate electricity, it won’t be able to start doing so because of a lack of infrastructure to transport the electricity to the mainland and feed it into the grid. The necessary connections and cabling won’t be ready on time and the delay could last up to a year.

Read more: http://nation.foxnews.com/wind-power/2012/01/02/german-wind-power-blows-nowhere#ixzz1ko1pbebQ

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How Are Permissible Radiation Limits Set?How Much Is Science, How Much “Prudence”?

U.S. Regulatory Report NCRP-136 examined the question of establishing permissible radiation limits.  After looking at the data, it concluded that most people who get a small dose of nuclear radiation are not harmed by it, and in fact are benefited.  That’s what the science said:  Most people would benefit by receiving more radiation.

But curiously, the report’s final conclusion was just the opposite.  It recommended that our regulations should be based on the premise that any amount of radiation, no matter how small, should be considered harmful.  It made that recommendation just to be “conservative” or “prudent.”

Let’s think about that.  Why is it prudent to do just the opposite of what the science indicates?  Why is exaggerating a panicky situation considered prudent?  I’ve never seen a good answer to that question.  Whatever the reasoning or implied logic, that’s where we’ve ended up.

We’ve had three uncontrolled releases of radioactivity from serious malfunctions of nuclear power plants: Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima.  In each of these, fear of radiation proved to be much more harmful than the effects of radiation itself.  And announcing that no amount of radiation is small enough to be harmless was certainly effective in creating and nurturing phobic fear of radiation, when none was justified by the facts.

In addition, the problem is aggravated by the fact that we’ve been told for sixty years (two human generations) that nuclear terror is infinitely more dreadful than any non-nuclear threat, particularly when you blur the distinction between power plants and bombs.

But what Fukushima tells us that this abstract, academic position looks very different when you’re telling people they can’t go home – perhaps for years, because, well, it seems more prudent that way, even though radiation hasn’t actually hurt anyone there.

Radiation expert Professor Wade Allison, author of “Radiation and Reason, has cast the question in a new light.  He suggests, let’s set the permissible radiation limit the same way we set all other safety limits.  Not by asking how little radiation we can get by with, but how much can we safely permit?  There’s no intention of lowering the safety margin, and it will not be lowered.  That’s not the issue.  It’s a matter of working with the scientific data, rather than from a generic fear not supported by the science.

Prof. Allison concludes that setting the permissible radiation limit, with a good margin of safety, results in an annual permissible level about 1000 times the current figure.

Disclosure: Ted also reviewed and provided feedback on the high-school level book Dr. R. A. Deju wrote called Nuclear is Hot published by the EnergySolutions Foundation.

References

How Are Permissible Radiation Limits Set? http://www.learningaboutenergy.com/2011/11/how-are-permissible-radiation-limits-set.html

By Ted Rockwell – You Tube Video Talk to the Japanese People http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uj8Pl1AiOuA&feature=youtu.be

About Ted Rockwellhttp://www.world-nuclear.org/sym/2005/rockwellbio.htm

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Feds Assess Using Abandoned Federal and State Owned Sites For Their Renewable Energy Potential

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have announced a plan to spend the next year to 18 months assessing 26 former landfills, brownfields and Superfund sites. The sites will be assessed for use as future solar photovoltaic, or other renewable projects.

The EPA plans to spend about $1 million on the assessment, according to the Associated Press. The assessment is part of the RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative that started in 2007. The analysis will determine the best renewable energy technology for the site, the potential energy generating capacity, the return on the investment and the economic feasibility of the renewable energy projects.

The 26 sites are located in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Georgia, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, California, Oregon and Washington. The sites include an open-pit copper mine, a former lead smelter, and various hazardous materials contaminated landfills.

The EPA said there have already been more than 20 renewable energy projects built on contaminated sites, and more are under construction.

Doc sez, if the site is being used constructively, monitoring costs become an integral part of doing business, not a burden to their communities and American taxpayers.

 

References

Power Engineering, November 7, 2011

http://www.power-eng.com/articles/2011/11/abandoned_sites.html

Associated Press, By Susan Montoya Bryan, Nov 4, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/feds-assess-sites-renewable-energy-potential-222043648.html

http://www.sify.com/finance/feds-assess-sites-for-renewable-energy-potential-news-environment+and+nature-llgvpdjiedb.html

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The Discussion Continues: Nuclear Power in Japan

(Part I)How does the danger from the Fukushima Daiichi reactors compare to other health dangers, such as Tokyo pollution?

This began as an answer to one letter writer in Friends Journal, and grew. The information that surprised me most is the answer to this question: How does the danger from the Fukushima Daiichi reactors compare to other health dangers, such as Tokyo pollution?

Karen noted that there were a number of responses to Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Power in Japan posting.

It is long past time for Friends to begin a conversation on nuclear power and the much larger issue of how we know what to believe. Many among us insist that what is overwhelmingly the safest of the large sources of electricity should meet standards that no other energy source meets. Many Friends insist that the scientific community is lying about the safety of nuclear power. And overwhelmingly, we as a community insist that solutions to climate change be only the ones we like, even when scientists and policy experts find these solutions partial or even counterproductive.

Karen shares her ideas, to which I thoroughly subscribe in greater detail with the underlying thought “Our simplicity testimony calls for removing obstacles to walking joyfully with God. At the best of times, this is a challenge. Today, there can be little joy in the most optimistic scenarios for climate change. Additionally, our integrity queries don’t seem to raise some vital questions: everyone’s wrong, a lot. When am I wrong? How would I learn that I am wrong, that like-minded people are wrong? A single standard of truth does not mean checking on the web to confirm our hopes and fears.” — Read on check the link(s).

Reference

By Karen Street, The Energy Collective (The moderated community blog for energy, policy, and environment professionals), November 29, 2011.

http://theenergycollective.com/karenstreet/70925/discussion-continues-earthquake-tsunami-and-nuclear-power-japan

Part II:           A Plea for Common Sense when Prioritizing Environmental Concerns

In addition Ted Rockwell recently noted, in Technology Review, an MIT Science, Engineering and Technology and magazine that:

New lessons are beginning to emerge from Fukushima.  Each new concern leads to additional safety requirements.  But some contradictions are beginning to raise questions:  Amid tens of thousands of deaths from non-nuclear causes, not a single life-shortening radiation injury has occurred.  Not one!  And while some people in the housing area are wearing cumbersome rad-con suits, filtered gas-masks, gloves and booties, there are many people living carefree in other places like Norway, Brazil, Iran, India where folks have lived normal lives for countless generations with radiation levels as much as a hundred times greater than forbidden areas of the Fukushima homes.

At Fukushima this is no abstract issue.  People are being told they cannot return home for an indeterminate period – perhaps years.  And efforts to decontaminate their home sites may require stripping off all the rich topsoil and calling it Radwaste.  People who were evacuated have been reduced to economic poverty, clinical depression, and even suicide.

There is good scientific evidence that, except for some hot spots, the radiation levels at these home-sites are not life threatening.  The current restrictions are based on a desire to be “conservative.”  No matter how well intended, this “conservatism” is cruelly destructive.  The respected radiation authority Wade Allison, author of Radiation and Reason, has proposed that the current annual radiation dose limit be raised 1000-fold, which he says is still well below the hazard level of clinical data on which he bases his proposal.  Other radiation protectionists are beginning to feel unhappy about the harm their rules have caused and are joining in the cry for quick action as the Japanese head into winter.

It’s time that the draconian measures are revoked.  A simple declaration of the known health facts about radiation from the proper authorities would be a good first step. — Ted Rockwell

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Kinks in the Road to Solar Power

– It’s about reducing environmental risk

This chapter discusses potential positive and negative environmental, social, and 8 economic impacts of utility-scale solar energy development. The types of solar technologies 9 evaluated include those considered to be most likely to be developed at the utility scale during the 20-year study period evaluated in this programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS), considering technological and economic limitations. These technologies include parabolic trough, power tower, dish engine, and photovoltaic (PV) technologies.

The purpose of this chapter is to describe a broad possible range of impacts for 15 individual solar facilities, associated transmission facilities, and other off-site infrastructure that might be required to support utility-scale solar energy development. This impact analysis will inform the design of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) Solar Energy Program and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) programmatic guidance, including the identification of measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate potential impacts associated with solar energy development.

This 300 page chapter is well written, accurate, excellently referenced, and contains much information about issues that solar energy advocated prefer to bury in their search for both a silver bullet and their hatred of nuclear power. But that Doc’s mouthing off again against let me give you free lunch-ism’s and political and profit seeking corporate smoke and mirrors, solar or otherwise.

References

The Solar Draft Programmatic [DPEIS], Chapter 5 “Impacts Of Solar Energy Development and The Potential Mitigation Measures’ December 2010. Argonne National Laboratory — http://solareis.anl.gov/documents/dpeis/Solar_DPEIS_Chapter_5.pdf

Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Going In Wrong Direction

New Report Blasts Administration’s Public Lands Solar Policy — April 4, 2011

http://www.basinandrangewatch.org/solardoneright-PEIS.html

Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States (Solar Energy Development PEIS). You can link to download the entire 1100 page EIS, which is significantly shorter than those I usually read and review related to nuclear projects.            http://solareis.anl.gov/

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Trying to Change a Climate Skeptic’s Mind?  — Don’t Bother 

I’ve mentioned my convictions, yes beliefs, about changing the minds of the fervent 10% of the population — the believers of anything about an issue, whether conspiracy theory, the ‘revealed truth’ or even WIIFT driven.) This article focuses on climate change skeptics, rather the radiation phobia and measured risk or vaccine toxicity. But since we live in an open society, the rest of us can and do require and accept scientifically duplicated and peer reviewed evidence that is always grey. But don’t let that stop you from reading this well written article by Evan Girvetz.

Reference

The Energy Collective Blog, Written by Evan Girvetz
, Published on February 8th, 2011

http://theenergycollective.com/greenskeptic/51411/trying-change-climate-skeptics-mind-dont-bother

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Feed-in Tariffs Best to Deal with Climate Change Says IPCC Working Group III Renewables

Climate change is one of the great challenges of the 21st century. Its most severe impacts may still be avoided if efforts are made to transform current energy systems. Renewable energy sources have a large potential to displace emissions of greenhouse gases from the combustion of fossil fuels and thereby to mitigate climate change. If implemented properly, renewable energy sources can contribute to social and economic development, to energy access, to a secure and sustainable energy supply, and to a reduction of negative impacts of energy provision on the environment and human health.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge on climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.

This Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN) impartially assesses the scientific literature on the potential role of renewable energy in the mitigation of climate change for policymakers, the private sector, academic researchers and civil society. It covers six renewable energy sources – bioenergy, direct solar energy, geothermal energy, hydropower, ocean energy and wind energy – as well as their integration into present and future energy systems. It considers the environmental and social consequences associated with the deployment of these technologies, and presents strategies to overcome technical as well as non-technical obstacles to their application and diffusion. The authors also compare the levelized cost of energy from renewable energy sources to recent non-renewable energy costs.

The IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN) provides a comprehensive review concerning these sources and technologies, the relevant costs and benefits, and their potential role in a portfolio of mitigation options.

The Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN) of the IPCC Working Group III provides an assessment and thorough analysis of renewable energy technologies and their current and potential role in the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. The results presented here are based on an extensive assessment of scientific literature, including specifics of individual studies, but also an aggregate across studies analyzed for broader conclusions. The report combines information on technology specific studies with results of large-scale integrated models, and provides policy-relevant (but not policy-prescriptive) information to decision makers on the characteristics and technical potentials of different resources; the historical development of the technologies; the challenges of their integration and social and environmental impacts of their use; as well as a comparison in levelized cost of energy for commercially available renewable technologies with recent non-renewable energy costs. Further, the role of renewable energy sources in pursuing GHG concentration stabilization levels discussed in this report and the presentation and analysis of the policies available to assist the development and deployment of renewable energy technologies in cli- mate change mitigation and/or other goals answer important questions detailed in the original scoping of the report.

A snippet of the findings includes:

The 135-page report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, especially Chapter 11 on Policy, Financing and Implementation, makes it clear that the overwhelming weight of academic studies conclude that feed-in tariffs — or fixed-price mechanisms — perform better at delivering renewable energy quickly and equitably than quota systems, such as Renewable Portfolio Standards in the U.S. or the Renewable Obligation in Britain. This is not the unsurprising conclusion from a surprising source: the IPCC’s Working Group III on Renewables. Below are some selected excerpts illustrating the themes that run through the report.

Page 5 — Several studies have concluded that some feed-in tariffs have been effective and efficient at promoting RE electricity, mainly due to the combination of long-term fixed price or premium payments, network connections, and guaranteed purchase of all RE electricity generated. Quota policies can be effective and efficient if designed to reduce risk, for example, with long-term contracts.

Page 53 — Although they have not succeeded in every country that has enacted them, price-driven policies have resulted in rapid renewable electric capacity growth and strong domestic industries in several countries — most notably Germany (See Box 11.6) and Spain (See Box 11.8) but more recently in China and other countries as well — and have spread rapidly across Europe and around the world.

There’s too much detail available in the report to neatly summarizing, in a page or two of this blog topic. However, it’s easy to get to the full or even the partial reports by linking to them. Note that there appear many legal ways, via the word trade association [WTO], of punishing the goods and services exported by non-cooperating countries like the USA by taxing/tariffing their goods and services, for not taking an active role in slowing or better yet preventing global warming.

 

This is not politically attractive to the European Union’s governance, but popular opinion could never the less bring the issue to an ugly head. Look at how, in the mid-90’s, American’s reacted to the acid rain killing their forests by cross-state boundary sulfur gas releases from coal power plants.

References

Excerpts: Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

By Paul Gipe, Contributor, Renewable Word.com Blog, November 8, 2011.

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2011/11/feed-in-tariffs-best-to-deal-with-climate-change-says-ipcc-working-group-iii-renewables?cmpid=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+renewable-energy-news-rss+%28Renewable+Energy+News%29

Full Report: http://srren.ipcc-wg3.de/report/IPCC_SRREN_Full_Report.pdf

Acid Rain  – Wikipedia 2011, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid_Rain

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Economic and Emissions Impacts Of Electric Vehicles 

President Obama during his 2011 State of the Union address stated that we should have one million electric vehicles (EV) in the United States by 2015. The benefits of that would be to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and to reduce emissions. These are worthy goals. This article looked at the economic impact of using electric cars, their emissions, and their impact on the electric grid. The analysis was focused on the Nissan Leaf since it is an all-electric vehicle.

Operating economics — The Leaf might be used primarily as a second car for commuting on a daily round trip of say, 50 miles, requiring a daily charge of 12 kWh. A typical home currently uses 25 kWh each day, so this represents about a 50-percent increase in the electricity use. The cost of that electricity varies, depending on where you live, but if we use an average residential rate of 11.3 ¢/kWh, we get a daily cost of $1.35, or a monthly cost of about $40.

This cost needs to be compared with the cost savings of not using the required gasoline. If we assume that a typical equivalent gasoline-powered car would get 25 miles per gallon, and if we assume $3 per gallon gasoline, we get the monthly cost of $180 (50 miles/day x 30 days/month x $3 per g/25 miles/g).

For a complete examination of the economics, we would have to consider the incremental cost of the batteries. The added expense would have to be properly amortized over their effective lifetime. Both the cost and the lifetime are presently difficult to determine because the cost of batteries is not listed in the specification and because experience on the lifetime is limited. A very rough estimate might be that the batteries cost $10 000 and last for five years. This implies that the amortization cost of $166/month, neglecting any interest charge ($10,000/60 months)

Also to be considered is the cost of maintenance, which may be less expensive for an electric vehicle because of fewer moving parts. So the cost of electric vehicle ownership may be about the same as owning a gasoline-powered car.

The article continues with a discussion of Impact on the Grid (infrastructure), and Emissions Reduction-Impact.

The author concludes that the adoption of electric vehicles can have a significant impact on the reduction of unhealthy automobile emissions, but in order to decrease the emissions from the production of electricity in general, nuclear power plants are the only emission-free power generators that can have a significant impact. Currently, they produce 20 percent of the electricity in the United States, with coal’s share being 50 percent. That ratio needs to change in favor of nuclear plants by building more of them.

References

By Ulrich Decher, Ph.D., ANS Nuclear Café Blog, Posted on February 15, 2011

http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2011/02/15/economic-and-emission-impact-of-electric-vehicles/

Factors Affecting Energy Prices (Electricity Explained), US Energy Information Administration, http://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.cfm?page=electricity_factors_affecting_prices

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Endnotes

Copyright Notice: Product and company names and logos in this review may be registered trademarks of their respective companies.

Some of the articles listed in this column are copyright protected – their use is both acknowledge and is limited to educational related purposes, which this column provides.

Sources & Credits:  — Many of these items were found by way of the links in the newsletter NewsBridge of ‘articles of interest’ to the national labs library technical and regulatory agency users. NewsBridge is electronically published by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, in Richland WA.  If using NewsBridge as a starting point, I follow the provided link to the source of the information and edit its content (mostly by shortening the details) for information for our readers. I also both follow any contained links, where appropriate, in the actual article, and provide you those references as well as those gleaned from a short trip to Google-land. Obviously if my source is a magazine or blog that’s the found material I work with.

In addition, when copying materials that I cite, I do not fill the sourced ‘quoted’ words with quotation marks, the only place I keep quotes intact is where the original article ‘quotes’ another secondary source external to itself.  Remember, when Doc sticks his two bits in, its in italics and usually indented.

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In Closing

Related to Climate Change – It’s real, no matter who caused it!  I also know from the overwhelming amount of hard data, perhaps even truly believe, is this.

Disparaging data without contrary measured facts is like lying or preaching – its belief not science.

Defaming scientists and scholars with whom you disagree is like casting the first rock. I hope you and your kids have a nice safe asteroid at the Lagrangian point to live on independent of Earth; terra firma will not work.

For green or energy related items, if we put a simple price (tax) on carbon (or greenhouse gases and particles) and give out no subsidies, these new technologies would have a better chance to blossom.

With American ingenuity, Indian and Chinese too, thousands more ideas would come out of innovators’ garages. America still has the best innovation culture in the world. But we need better policies to nurture it, better infrastructure to enable it and more open doors to bring others here to try it.

Continue to remember, conditions, both technical and geopolitical continuously change – So if you’ve made up your mind about either the best way to solve a problem, or about the problem is all a conspiracy, move on to the next article in our blog. Today’s favorite is tomorrow unintended consequence. However, that’s better than sticking one’s head in the sand or believing in perpetual motion. Remember, there’s no free lunch and as a taxpayer and consumer you must always end up paying the piper!

Finally, since my topic segments are only a partial look at the original materials, click-through the provided link if you want more detail. In addition, <I hope often> to check out other background references on the topic(s).  Doc. … And yes I trust Wikipedia, but only if I’ve checkout most of an articles references for bias and accuracy!

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QUOTES de Mois —

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed — and hence clamorous to be led to safety — by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” And, “The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false face for the urge to rule it.” — H. L. Mencken

“It is no secret that a lot of climate-change research is subject to opinion, that climate models sometimes disagree even on the signs of the future changes (e.g. drier vs. wetter future climate). The problem is, only sensational exaggeration makes the kind of story that will get politicians’ — and readers’ — attention. So, yes, climate scientists might exaggerate, but in today’s world, this is the only way to assure any political action and thus more federal financing to reduce the scientific uncertainty.” — Monika Kopacz – Atmospheric Scientist

By Ted Bade, © Copyright 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Product: SkyFi Wifi to Serial Adapter
Vendor: Southern Stars (http://www.southernstars.com/index.html)
Price: $149.95

Introduction

SkyFi is another fine product from Southern Stars, who sell SkySafari software for mobile devices and Mac computers, as well as other telescope-related hardware products. SkyFi uses WiFi to connect the RS232 control data flow from a telescope controller to an device (iPod/Phone/Pad apps as well as computer applications).

Setup

Figure 1 - SkyFi

Connecting the SkyFi to your telescope controller isn’t difficult. The package includes a couple of adaptors which will work with the mosre common telescope setups. The connection on the SkyFi itself is an RJ11 telephone jack. You can make a cable that connects the SkyFi directly to your telescope controller, use the included adaptors, or purchase a cable specifically for your computer from Southern Stars. Once connected to the telescope controller, you turn it on and it creates a wireless network.Your remote device needs to be connected to this network and also needs to be running software that can send and receive telescope control and data using the TCP IP. The connection scheme is the same as the one in the previous article. The Southern Stars web site has a nice explanation and pin out of the cables you need, in case you want to make one.

The SkyFi device itself is a bit larger then a cell phone. It is powered by 4 double-A batteries and can accept a power brick as well (6 to 12 VDC). There is no on/off switch, but there is a switch that selects either external or internal voltage source. Switching to external voltage source disconnects the internal batteries. (Which acts like a switch). A piece of velcro can be used to attach the SkyFi to the telescope mount, out of the way of motion. It is very light and once running, you won’t need to adjust it at all.

Once on, the SkyFi makes a wifi hotspot available. Firmware on the device controls the IP address and security. There is a standard IP address which is printed on the SkyFi, but you can change this and security settings if needed. I didn’t bother changing the default settings, as they worked well. I could find no fault with the defaults!

Using the Product

Before you begin using the SkyFi, you need to be sure that the telescope control software you use can communicate to the telescope using TCP IP. I Didn’t know some programs do not support TCP IP. On my MacBook, I have Voyager 4.5 and a copy of Sky Safari Beta that will work. The Starry Night Pro Plus that I like using doesn’t do TCP connections to telescopes. The people at Starry Night were unaware of a solution that would work on the Macintosh. For Windows users there are a couple of shareware applications that create a virtual com port that can be tied to the TCP connection, so I imagine this would work with a Window based machine and Starry Night or any other non-TCP controller application.

Figure 2 - SkyFi with a Telescope

If you are controlling with your i-device, you will need the Southern Stars Sky Safari package. (I am unaware of any other astronomy app that controls a telescope). We looked at these Apps a bit in the last article. In the App’s settings, you choose to use TCP IP to connect to the telescope controller. The default address is the same as the default on the SkyFi. (No surprise there!) Select to control the telescope and you are in control using your iPod/iPad/iPhone.

Working with the Voyager software, I had no issues controlling my telescope computer at all. Commands were instant as was feed back. The only issue I had was with me forgetting to choose the SkiFi network rather then my own home wireless network. You also need to make sure the controller software has the same TCP address that the SkyFi has. In Voyager 4.5, there is a box to enter this address. The default address is printed on the SkyFi device, which is another good reason for keeping to the defaults. However, if you need to change it, you can always re-label the back of the unit.

When I first read about the SkyFi, I thought that it was a wireless device and that it would log onto the local wireless network and make the telescope available on that network. It doesn’t do that. Rather then logging onto an existing network, it creates one of it’s own. So I couldn’t use this device to control my telescope with my desktop computer, since it doesn’t have a WiFi card. Nor would one be able to use it to allow access to the telescope from a remote site. You need to be in range of the SkyFi’s wireless netwrok to connect.

Figure 3 - VSP3 Screen

Since the computer you are controlling the telescope with is connected to the SkyFi network, it won’t be connected to your regular one. While observing I usually listen to Internet radio and I will often pop onto some internet site to inspect images and information about the object I am seeking. So I don’t get to listen to the Internet Radio, but I can still do my research by logging back onto my home network, do the research, then re-connect to the SkyFi. Luckily, this isn’t a big issue. Once the telescope is aimed at an object, the onboard controller takes care of compensating for the movement of the earth. Once connected back to the SkyFi, the data stream identifies the slightly changed location and all is well. It is just an added step in the process.

Conclusion

The biggest issue I had with the SkyFi is that it doesn’t come as a package. You buy the SkyFi and then need to find some compatible software. If the software you already purchased isn’t compatible, then you need to consider this as part of the purchase cost. It would be a whole lot nicer if the SkyFi came packaged with either SkySafari or Voyager. However, if you are into astronomy, you probably already have some package that will work with the SkyFi.

Much to my chagrin, I had expected that using the SkyFi would remedy the tangle of cables that I “need” to deal with when observing. However, I found that I still need to bring an extension cord to power the AutoStar (or use the battery adaptor). Since I had the power cord there, I went ahead and plugged in my MacBook Pro, so I still had the extension cord cable and the power supply cord to the MacBook. Thus, the tripping issue wasn’t really resolved. I suppose I could run the Scope on battery and bring the extension cable to the MacBook Pro, but that would cost me a lot in the battery budget.

As far as distance, the SkyFi does pretty well. I walked around the yard with my MacBook and had to get pretty far away to loose the connection. I think I was able to move slightly father then the expected 100 feet from the device. I was also able to put the MacBook on my dining room table and still control the telescope in the yard. I can see this as a real advantage in the winter as it would give me a chance to warm up between observations.

SkyFi is available through the Southern Star’s web site as well as many other astronomy stores. Southern Star also sells Sky Safari for MacOS X in three flavors, the Plus and Pro versions includes telescope controls ($20 and $50 respectively). The version for the iPod/Phone/Pad can be purchased through iTunes store again, you will need either the Plus or Pro version to control the telescope. In the next installment of this series, I will look specifically at the Sky Safari applications for the Macintosh.

Recommendation

Overall, the SkyFi works very well. If you are looking for a wireless connection to your telescope, this is the device you want. I don’t think there are many other options. I had no issues controlling my telescope using the device. If you have an iDevice and want to control your telescope, this is again a terrific solution.

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved.

I just started my second year of graduate school at the University of St. Thomas (UST) in St. Paul, MN, and I am working on a MS in Software Engineering degree. In my first year of classes, I enrolled in 2 classes per semester which is a heavy load when working full time. I felt I progressed so much after one year, that I would continue with the same workload, even though it left me with little time for things beyond work and school.

I enrolled in two classes for the Fall: Object Oriented Analysis and Design (OOA/D) and Data Warehousing (DW). Before classes started I re-read The Object Oriented Thought Process and Code Complete to prep for the OOA/D class. I also ordered both required textbooks from Amazon.com at a substantially reduced price compared to the new text prices in the bookstore. For the DW class, I didn’t know what other books would help, so I ordered all three text books listed in the course syllabus. The DW books, also from Amazon.com, were also at a reduced price compared to new books at the bookstore.

I had classes on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, so I dedicated the other 5 days to studying and project work. The Fall really flew by this year. So much to learn, so many interesting and new concepts, and a few new tools to learn too.

Tools

For OOA/D, we had to use MagicDraw to create UML drawings and I found it to be a fairly intuitive tool to use yet still quite powerful. Our OOA/D professor arranged for MagicDraw licenses, so I obtained one, downloaded and installed the software, and ran through a few tutorials that were quite helpful. Having an MSDN account for students to download Microsoft tools is a real blessing, and UST does provide accounts to those that need tools for their classes. My DW class required the MS SQL Server 2008 Management tools, so I used my UST MSDN account to download the software and installed it on a laptop running Windows 7.

Projects

Our OOA/D class had two person team projects, and our DW class had three person team projects. For OOA/D, each team decided what it wanted to do and then proposed it for approval to the professor. We did a website with Struts and Hibernate frameworks – very cool. For DW, the professor gave a five stage project, where he provided clean, valid data at the start of steps 2 – 4, so any mistakes made early in the project did not affect our ability to learn the material and do well on the assignment. This was the first time I’ve had known clean data in a multistage class assignment and I really liked it. At the start of stages 3 and 4, we were able to look back at to what we did and see how we did right and wrong in the earlier stage. This is one approach I really liked and I hope I see more assignments like it in the future.

Some tools that were useful in both projects we communications tools. Twitter and email absolutely rock, but they alone are not enough. In my OOA/D project, we used a free SVN repository hosted by ProjectLocker for keeping our source code in sync. For the DW project, we used Dropbox to do version control.

Tests and Homework

In both classes classes we had a mid-term and a final exam, and the exams were as challenging as last year. Both classes had multiple homework assignments. Not as much homework as I had in the Advanced Web Development course last Spring, but still more than enough, especially compared to undergrad course homework assignments.

Team Building

I worked with three different people on projects in both classes, and decided to be the driver of both projects. Both teams met at my house on different days to work on our projects, and one thing I did for team building was to fix lunch for the team. We all had different backgrounds and experiences, so a meal is a great way to relax and get to know other people. I like to cook (check out my food blog: mikeh2010.wordpress.com) and I like to try new recipes, so my team mates gamely tried the food. I didn’t duplicate the meals one time, and it seemed to work out well for both of us except perhaps one time. Once I served something very spicy (Korean BBQ) and it might have been too spicy for one of my team mates. He said it wasn’t, but he is a real trooper and may have just been polite. In any case, I appreciated the chance to cook and just talk with all three team mates and hope to partner with them again in other classes.

Conclusion

I enjoyed this semester. I learned a lot and enjoyed spending some time working on projects with my three classmates. I plan to generate another article or two on the topics we covered in both classes, as well as improve some of my existing articles. I know I still have another eight classes to complete my degree, but the education is worth the time and effort. Some people have no choice but attend online schools and that is fine – do what you can to improve yourself however you can. If you can attend class in person, it is well worth it. I missed a total of 1 class this semester, even though I had some health issues early in the semester, because I truly enjoyed being on campus.

I’m still excited to be in grad school, and I still believe it to be a good career choice for many professions besides software development. I’m taking a week off, then it is time to start reading again over the holiday break. I will take two classes in the Spring and look forward to what I learn in both courses I’ll take this Spring. Until then, keep on learning.