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NNadir

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Current location: New Jersey
Member since: 2002
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Working with radioactive stuff and life in the days of Covid-19.

I just picked up the mail, and went in to wash my hands carefully.

It reminded me of my youth.

When I was a kid, I used to prepare radioactive tracers for various kinds of scientific analytical work. Even with gloves, it meant a lot of hand washing, because occasionally the radioactivity would make it through the gloves, or I'd get caught by some unintentional sloppiness, not necessarily my own.

The nice thing about radioactivity, as opposed to Covid-19, is that with radioactivity you could tell how well you washed the radioactive material off with just a Geiger counter. It was pretty straight forward. You had feedback right away

It's not so easy with Covid. Of course, I could wash my hands with fluorescently labeled antibodies, but that might be costly.

Covid kind of sucks, doesn't it?

That said, it was nice of Covid to remind me of being a kid again. As Eric Idle sang, always look on the bright side of life.

The Rise In Nitrite Oxidizing Enzymes in Oxygen Depleted Open Ocean, Iron Demand, and the Atmosphere

The paper I'll discuss in this post is this one: Abundant nitrite-oxidizing metalloenzymes in the mesopelagic zone of the tropical Pacific Ocean (Mak A. Saito 1 ✉, Matthew R. McIlvin1, Dawn M. Moran1, Alyson E. Santoro2, Chris L. Dupont 3, Patrick A. Rafter 4, Jaclyn K. Saunders 1, Drishti Kaul3, Carl H. Lamborg5, Marian Westley6,
Frederica Valois1 and John B. Waterbury1, (Nature Geoscience volume 13, pages 355–362 (2020))

Anoxic - oxygen depleted - waters have become well known around the world owing largely to anthropogenic disruptions to the natural nitrogen and phosphorous cycles. For example, the Mississippi River Delta ecosystem - a sort of personal bęte noire with me - has been destroyed by phosphorous and fixed nitrogen run off from the farms in Iowa and elsewhere in the American Midwest dedicated to making, among other things, "renewable" corn ethanol for our car CULTure. This region once was a rich zone important for its shellfish industry. Now it is dead.

The means by which this oxygen depletion takes place is called eutrophy; it involves enriching waters with fertilizers, chiefly phosphates and nitrogen in various fixed forms, leading to an explosion in the growth of algae and other microorganisms. A thick layer of these organisms takes place resulting in the depletion of the lower layers of this biomass, which then dies and sinks, whereupon oxygen consuming bacteria begin to oxidize it at a rate which depletes the waters of oxygen supply, killing all oxygen dependent life forms, fish, crabs, clams, oysters, what have you, leaving behind evil smelling messes.

These effects are known in both fresh and marine waters; briefly a few years back, these types of effects shut down the water supply to the city of Toledo, Ohio, when a concentration of toxin produced by a blue green algae stimulated by eutrophy in Lake Erie rose above safe levels.

Disruptions to the nitrogen cycle also have effects in the planetary atmosphere, resulting in the accumulation of nitrous oxide - laughing gas - a powerful greenhouse gas and ozone depleting agent.

While these effects are well known in coastal waters in various incarnations, they are less well studied in the open ocean. This paper reports on these effects in the mesopelagic zones of the Pacific Ocean - those zones between 200 meters and 1000 meters in depth.

Nitrogen oxides are well known pollutants in air; in water they are chiefly present as nitrite and nitrate; the reduced forms of nitrogen pollution in water include ammonia based species, chiefly ammonia itself, but also in some cases nitrosoamines - carcinogens that have turned up as synthetic artififacts in some medications, but are also present in foods, particularly barbecued meats and certain preserved meats.

Along with the paper's abstract, which is open sourced, and can be read by clicking on the link above, the introductory the text of the paper gives a nice overview of nitrogen biochemistry and briefly refers to anthropogenic dead zones as well:

Nitrogen is an essential nutrient in marine ecosystems1, whose oceanic inventory and chemical speciation are controlled by elaborate microbial metalloenzymes that catalyse chemical transformations2. These are especially important at mesopelagic depths (~200–1,000 m), where key nitrogen reactions, such as chemolithoautotrophic nitrification, oxidize reduced nitrogen for energy3,4. Many nitrogen reactions are prevalent in regions of reduced oxygen availability. For denitrification this is due to nitrate being an important oxidant in heterotrophic respiration. For nitrification the reasons are less clear, but may be related to the sensitivity of the iron–sulfur cluster active centres to oxidation within the enzyme active site5. Mass-spectrometry-based metaproteomic measurements can directly examine the relative abundance of these enzyme catalysts in oxygen minimum zones (OMZs)6. Previous studies have focused on oxygen-deficient areas, where nitrate can act as an alternative electron acceptor and a diverse range of microbial activities is observed7,8.


While deoxygenation in coastal waters results in anoxic dead zones and macrofauna mortality9, less is known about the potential consequences of deoxygenation and suboxia expansion for microbial and biogeochemical processes in the open ocean. Trends for basin-scale ocean deoxygenation have been observed10,11, while modelling studies vary in their predictive capability12,13,14. Within the upper mesopelagic environment, key microbial remineralization and nutrient recycling reactions occur with the degradation of sinking particulate organic material. With nitrogen-rich proteinaceous material contributing roughly half of the biomass of microbial life, the degradation of proteins to smaller constituents, including peptides, amino acids, urea, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate, is a major mesopelagic activity along with the respiration of reduced carbon15. In this study we present global and targeted metaproteomic evidence for the preponderance of nitrite oxidoreductase (Nxr), the metalloenzyme involved in the oxidation of nitrite, within OMZ extremities of the Central Pacific Ocean, and discuss the biogeochemical implications.


The respiration of reduced carbon, of course, releases carbon dioxide.

The work herein refers to data from two expeditions, "Metzyme" in October, 2011 and "ProteOMZ" in January and February of 2016. As the names of the expeditions imply, these were efforts to identify the "proteome of the ocean."

Here is a lecture you can watch that I had the privilege of attending a few years back on the subject of mapping the genome of the ocean:

Prof. Kay Bidle, Rutgers University: The Invisible World of Marine Microbes: How Earth’s Smallest Living Things Have the Biggest Impact on How Our Ocean Works

In some ways, the proteome is more interesting than the genome, in my opinion, since the latter is an expression of what could happen or what might be, whereas the proteome (which is far more complex) is a measure of what is happening. Genes only have meaning when they are expressed. This is true in human tissue (for good and for bad), bat tissue, the tissue of roses.

The distinction between "could" and "is" is often trampled and confused as signature bad thinking. For example, I often write here on climate change, which is happening. By leaving the science forum and heading over to the curiously named "Energy and Environment" forum, you can read lots and lots of titles about what people allege could happen with so called "renewable energy," things with illiterate titles celebrating trivialities as if they mattered like for example "Texas could add 3.5 GW of solar this year." Italics are mine.

That people take this mindless horseshit seriously - typically confusing, along with "could" and "is," peak power and energy - is a good reason why we have hit 416.83 ppm of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide in the planetary atmosphere as of last week.

Excuse the aside...anyway...

The techniques utilized here were very sophisticated and were mass spec based using Thermo Fusion Orbitrap mass spectrometers set to high resolution.

In the earlier expedition the settings were as follows:

Orbitrap (240,000 resolution at 200 m/z, mass to charge ratio) with a scan range of 380 m/z to 1,580 m/z. MS2 scans were performed on the ion trap using data-dependent settings (top speed, dynamic exclusion 15 s, excluding unassigned and singly charged ions, precursor mass tolerance of ±3 ppm, with a maximum injection time of 150 ms).


In the second expedition the settings were slightly different:

Fusion scan settings were set to 240,000 resolution and 380–1,580 m/z for MS1
scans in the Orbitrap. MS2 scans had a 1.6-m/z isolation window at normal scan
rate, 50-ms maximum injection time, collision-induced dissociation activation and
a 5-s dynamic exclusion in the ion trap.


The data files processed using the mass spec manufacturer's software and then submitted to BCO-DMO and the Ocean Protein Portal data base.

The proteins of interest in this paper are known as "Nxr" proteins, in two forms, alpha and beta. "Nxr" refers to "nitrite oxidoreductase." The term "oxidoreductase" refers to the fact that these enzymes can perform either the oxidation of nitrite to nitrate, or alternatively, and perhaps of significant environmental consequence, the reduction of nitrite to N2O, nitrous oxide, "laughing gas" which despite the name isn't funny.

For quantitation, seven stable isotope labeled peptides as reference standards for Nxr alpha, and five for Nxr beta as identified from the data. These 15N labeled peptides were obtained after expression in E. Coli in a modification of a technique known as QconCAT.

The sequences of the chosen peptides are given in the Supplementary data; decent precision was obtained, except in one case, possibly because the sequence contained a tryptophan, which is sometimes subject to oxidation.

This graphic from the paper refers to the regions of interest in the expeditions:

Fig. 1: Station locations, hydrographic features and Nxr distributions for the Metzyme and ProteOMZ expeditions.



The caption:

a, Profile stations marked in red for Metzyme stations 1, 3, 5 and 6 and in yellow for ProteOMZ stations 4, 6, 7 and 8. b–j, Sections of dissolved oxygen (b,c), N* (d,e), nitrite (f,g), ratio of nitrate to dissolved oxygen (h,i) and δ15N (where δ15N = 15N/14Nsample/15N/14Nreference – 1, expressed in per mil by multiplying by 1,000) (j) for each expedition in the left- and right-hand panels, respectively.


The authors found that the NXR proteins were the most prominently expressed proteins in their analysis:

Fig. 2: Abundant Nxr in the Central Pacific Ocean and in a Nitrospira culture.



The caption:

a, Vertical profiles of 3,175 identified proteins from Metyzme station 3 in the Central Pacific Ocean on the basis of global metaproteomic results identified with a paired metagenomic dataset. The NxrA (red) and NxrB (blue) subunits were among the most abundant proteins in the mesopelagic zone by exclusive spectral counting relative abundance measurements. Multiple Nxr lines represent the diversity of Nxr sequences in the metagenome. Despite exclusive spectral counting restricting mapping of each Nxr peptide to one of the diverse Nxr metagenomic sequences, they were clearly highly abundant in the metaproteome. b, A ranked protein abundance of the 1,759 proteins identified in the proteome of cultured isolate N. marina Nb-295. NxrA (red symbols) ranked 1, 2 and 6; NxrB (blue symbols) ranked 4, 5 and 7; each was among the most abundant proteins in the proteome. c,d, NxrA (c) and NxrB (d) subunits on the ProteOMZ expedition, represented in relative abundance total spectral count units. Multiple peptides map to the sequences, as shown in Supplementary Fig. 4.


Absolute quantitation using heavy stable isotope labeled peptides:

Fig. 3: Targeted metaproteomic analyses of peptides from Nxr at Metzyme station 3.



Vertical profiles of peptides within the NxrA and NxrB proteins, their averages, calculated Fe demand within the Nxr complex, estimated Nxr activity, and nitrite and oxygen vertical profiles. Error bars represent the s.d. associated with the averaged NxrA and NxrB abundances.


The Nxr proteins are metalloproteins, coordinating iron, which is a key point of this study.

The next graphic refers to that fact, since the open ocean is iron depleted which has a big effect on the biology of the region. There has been talk of changing this fact by seeding the ocean, on which the authors remark in their conclusion (see below).

Fig. 4: Nxr enzyme concentrations, iron use and estimated reaction rates based on targeted metaproteomic analyses.



The caption:

Top row: vertical profiles of subunits NxrA (seven unique peptides) and NxrB (five unique peptides, see Supplementary Table 2) at Metzyme stations 1, 3 and 5 and ProteOMZ stations 4, 6, 7 and 8. Averages of peptides from NxrA and NxrB showed similar distributions and the estimated iron demand associated with this enzyme was calculated from the average of NxrA and NxrB abundances. Error bars represent the s.d. associated with the averaged NxrA and NxrB abundances. Bottom row: estimated reaction rates calculated using average Nxr concentrations, specific activity and nitrite abundances.


And now we touch on that problematic nitrogen oxide, N2O, nitrous oxide, laughing gas that isn't funny:

Fig. 5: Nxr, oxygen and nitrous oxide in the Central Pacific OMZ.



The caption:

a–c, Comparison of NxrA and NxrB subunits (average of seven and five peptides, respectively) with oxygen abundance in Metzyme (a) and ProteOMZ (b) expeditions, and relationship of NO2– and oxygen (c). d, Nitrous oxide was present near Metzyme station 3 and ProteOMZ station 4 on a previous expedition (RV Kilo Moana expedition KM0405 station 5, 8° N 158° W, 28 February 2004). Dissolved cobalt showed a similar vertical structure to N2O, while being 1,000 times lower in abundance. e, Distributions of nitrite (solid) and oxygen (dashed; KM0405 station 5).


The authors write on the issue of N2O:

Implications

This discovery of abundant Nxr in mesopelagic waters offers several new perspectives on these understudied environments. First, while the importance of trace metal nutrition to mesopelagic microbial communities has been explored for copper4,51,52, these results imply that expansion of suboxic regions by deoxygenation could result in an increased microbial mesopelagic iron demand. Iron is depleted in the euphotic zone of the equatorial and South Pacific. An inability to complete Nxr synthesis could become a constraining factor at the interface with mesopelagic depths when iron is scarce. Some phytoplankton also utilize nitrite53, but this also requires the iron metalloenzyme ferredoxin–nitrite reductase. The dependence of both nitrite utilization and oxidation on iron availability could explain the prevalence of the extensive nitrite maximum in the South Pacific (Fig. 1f,g)37. These findings could have implications for possible unintended consequences of ocean iron fertilization carbon sequestration efforts54, which may increase carbon, nitrogen and iron fluxes to the mesopelagic, reducing oxygen, probably increasing Nxr abundances and possibly increasing the greenhouse gas N2O. N2O is present in these Central North Pacific OMZ extremities below the oxygen clines and nitrite maximum (Fig. 5d,e), and ammonia-oxidizing archaea55 and NOB39 were recently shown to produce N2O, albeit through unknown mechanisms. Any eventual impacts are difficult to predict, as the myriad of interrelated processes that control the mesopelagic ecosystem and their dynamic nature are only beginning to be understood.


Reference 54 is a rather old one, designed to discredit the idea of iron seeding of the ocean to address climate change, which, as the authors note, may prove to be self defeating owing to nitrous oxide, as the authors have noted.

This is reference 54: Dis-Crediting Ocean Fertilization. (Policy Forum: Sallie W. Chisholm*, Paul G. Falkowski, John J. Cullen, Science 12 Oct 2001: Vol. 294, Issue 5541, pp. 309-310)

I recall discussions of this iron seeding scheme either here when I was writing in the Energy and Environment forum before I began to avail myself of the marvelous "ignore" button here, or over at Daily Kos, where I was ultimately banned for telling the truth.

Apparently some people believed that entirely screwing up another biome, in this permutation, the open ocean was preferable to the use of nuclear energy to displace all fossil fuels, nuclear energy being the only sustainable form of energy available to humanity.

Go figure...

It is important to note that the situation with respect to fixed nitrogen is not merely a function of anoxia in bodies of water. It is very much connected, on land as well as at sea, with synthetic ammonia based fertilizers, without which we would simply be unable to feed more than seven billion people on this planet. The problem is intractable, and we should start paying attention, but we won't, as we have a long record of paying lip service to environmental issues and offering bizarre ineffective remedies which are not serious and should not be taken as such.

Right now the world's attention is focused on a viral particle, an issue that will prove ultimately to be ephemeral.

Climate change will still be here when we're done worrying about the virus. It is getting worse, not better, rapidly.

Despite the strain and stain of the times, enjoy waking up tomorrow. The beauty of the world is awesome, and we ought to appreciate every breath, something I hope we realize even as we realize our lives are fragile.

New Weekly CO2 Concentration Record Set at the Mauna Loa Observatory 416.83 ppm.

Portions of the text of this post are identical to the text I wrote in an earlier post I made a week ago, with the numbers updated. That post is this one: New Weekly CO2 Concentration Record Set at the Mauna Loa Observatory 416.82 ppm. I feel it is in my rights to repeat myself much as the members of "renewables will save us" squad repeat themselves about how wonderful so called "renewable energy" is, even though it has a record over nearly half a century of over promising and not delivering, including the last 20 years, during which trillions of dollars have been "invested" in it.

Note that the new record is merely 0.01 ppm (10 ppb) over the record set last week. We may be near the annual maximum. The data in 2020 has been noisy.

As I've indicated several times before, somewhat obsessively I keep a spreadsheet of the weekly data at the Mauna Loa Carbon Dioxide Observatory, which I use to do calculations to record the dying of our atmosphere, a triumph of fear, dogma and ignorance that did not have to be, but nonetheless is.

I had the naive wishful thinking notion that restrictions on automobile traffic with all of the worldwide lock downs would lead to a slowing of carbon dioxide accumulations. Indeed, it does seem something a little bit unusual is going on. Some weeks ago, I reported that the annual maximum, which usually occurs in May seemed to have arrived early:

We May Have Hit The Annual Maximum CO2 Observatory at Mauna Loa Unusually Early This Year.

That record was set on April 5, of this year, about a month ago, at 416.45 ppm, and was followed by two weeks of lower readings, 416.27 ppm and 415.88 ppm, for the weeks beginning April 12 and April 19. Had values continued to decrease, it would have meant that this would stand as the second time, going back to 1975, that the peak was observed during the first week of April.

However - and this is unusual - after two weeks of declines in concentrations, the carbon dioxide concentrations began to increase, setting a new record for highest ever, 416.82 ppm to be superseded by a slightly higher new record this week .

The data from the Mauna Loa Carbon Dioxide Observatory:

Up-to-date weekly average CO2 at Mauna Loa


Week beginning on May 3, 2020: 416.83 ppm
Weekly value from 1 year ago: 414.11 ppm
Weekly value from 10 years ago: 392.98 ppm
Last updated: May 12, 2020


The increase in carbon dioxide concentrations when compared to the same week in 2019 is 2.72 ppm. The week to week comparisons between 2020 and 2019 are averaging this year 2.61 ppm. This same average in 2019, as compared to 2018, was 2.90 ppm.

In the week of January 1, 2000, the running 12 month average of comparisons of changes with respect to the same week ten years earlier, was 15.19 ppm higher than the figure ten years previous. In 2020, the same twelve month running average is 24.10 ppm over figures 10 years earlier.

If any of this troubles you, don't worry, be happy. Head on over to Daily Kos, where you can read all about how wonderful renewable energy is for 21 health care centers in Nigeria. The death toll in Nigeria among children under the age of 5 from diarrhea resulting from reduced breast feeding leading to reliance on Nigerian water supplies, is estimated to have been 22,371 in 2016. Ref: Diarrhoea deaths and disability-adjusted life years attributable to suboptimal breastfeeding practices in Nigeria: findings from the global burden of disease study 2016 (F Ogbo et al. International Breastfeeding Journal (2019) 14:4)

We've had trillions of dollars to spend on so called "renewable energy," the components of which will largely consist of electronic waste in 25 years - waste we may ship to Nigeria to "recycle" it, leading to more damage to Nigerian children similar to the damage electronic recycling has inflicted on Chinese children." We have not had trillions of dollars to provide basic sanitation to the two billion people who lack it.

The result of the trillions spent on so called "renewable energy" has been nil. It has not addressed climate change, is not addressing climate change and will not address climate change.

My impression that I've been hearing all about how rapidly renewable energy has been growing since I began writing here in 2002, when the reading on April 14, 2002 was 375.14 ppm should not disturb you, since it is better to think everything is fine rather than focus on reality.

In this century, the solar, wind, geothermal, and tidal energy on which people so cheerfully have bet the entire planetary atmosphere, stealing the future from all future generations, grew by 9.76 exajoules to 12.27 exajoules. World energy demand in 2018 was 599.34 exajoules. Unquestionably it will be higher in 2019 and in 2020.

2019 Edition of the World Energy Outlook Table 1.1 Page 38] (I have converted MTOE in the original table to the SI unit exajoules in this text.)

Don't worry. Be happy. Donald Trump is applauding Elon Musk for asking people to literally die for his electric car for millionaires and billionaires.

It doesn't seem that the rise of the Tesla car has done anything to address the rise in carbon dioxide. Despite the decline in automotive use in these Covid months, the increases in carbon dioxide concentrations in one of our favorite waste dumps, the planetary atmosphere, has continued unabated, at the rate that has risen, in this century, to approximately 2.4 ppm per year. If this rate doesn't increase - although we should expect from history that it will - we should see 450 ppm in about 14 years.

Don't we love Elon here on the left!!!!

Electric car! Wind turbine! Solar cell! So and so on, ad nauseum...

Heckuva job people, heckuva job. Let's ask Jared to declare a success!

History will not forgive us, nor should it.

I hope you stay safe and well and will, despite this crisis, be able to enjoy the spring.

"I shared a room with a homeless person, a Colombian cleaner, and a man from Bangladesh..."

The scientist who discovered Ebola and worked actively on HIV and is an EU advisor on Covid, apparently got Covid-19.

His account is in the news section of this week's Science: ‘Finally, a virus got me.’ Scientist who fought Ebola and HIV reflects on facing death from COVID-19

Virologist Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, fell ill with COVID-19 in mid-March. He spent a week in a hospital and has been recovering at his home in London since. Climbing a flight of stairs still leaves him breathless.

Piot, who grew up in Belgium, was one of the discoverers of the Ebola virus in 1976 and spent his career fighting infectious diseases. He headed the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS between 1995 and 2008 and is currently a coronavirus adviser to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. But his personal confrontation with the new coronavirus was a life-changing experience, Piot says.

This interview took place on 2 May. Piot’s answers have been edited and translated from Dutch:

“ON 19 MARCH, I SUDDENLY HAD A HIGH FEVER and a stabbing headache. My skull and hair felt very painful, which was bizarre. I didn’t have a cough at the time, but still, my first reflex was: I have it. I kept working—I’m a workaholic—but from home. We put a lot of effort into teleworking at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine last year, so that we didn’t have to travel as much. That investment, made in the context of the fight against global warming, is now very useful, of course.

I tested positive for COVID-19, as I suspected. I put myself in isolation in the guest room at home. But the fever didn’t go away. I had never been seriously ill and have not taken a day of sick leave the past 10 years. I live a pretty healthy life and walk regularly. The only risk factor for corona is my age—I’m 71. I’m an optimist, so I thought it would pass. But on 1 April, a doctor friend advised me to get a thorough examination because the fever and especially the exhaustion were getting worse and worse.

It turned out I had severe oxygen deficiency, although I still wasn’t short of breath. Lung images showed I had severe pneumonia, typical of COVID-19, as well as bacterial pneumonia...

The Superimmunity of Bats, and the Molecular Biology of their Resistance to Coronaviruses.

The paper I'll discuss briefly in this post is this one: Selection of viral variants during persistent infection of insectivorous bat cells with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (Arinjay Banerjee, Sonu Subudhi, Noreen Rapin, Jocelyne Lew, Richa Jain, Darryl Falzarano & Vikram Misra, Scientific Reports, Scientific Reports volume 10, Article number: 7257 (2020)).

The article is open sourced.

An aside: If one is interested, Scientific Reports is an open access journal in the Nature family of journals, where one can read high quality primary scientific papers. One can put one's self on the mailing list; something that's well worth doing, particularly if one is trying to expand one's mind by reading papers on subjects one knows nothing about. I recommend it highly. They send you an email each time an issue is released, and one can quickly scroll through the topics. Sometimes journalists reporting on science muck it up badly. If one can, it is a good idea to go to the original papers to which journalists refer.

I was directed to this paper however, not by an email of the titles in Science Reports, but by a news item that came in a science news feed (Technology Networks) that I also get by email, and then went to the Science Reports paper above which good science journalists always link. I'll note a cool, if apocryphal, note in the news items on the stress on bats and the cross species transition of corona infections.

Anyway.

It appears that bats are continuously infected by corona viruses, and manage them intracellularly with a complex molecular machinery which causes them to mutate into less viable forms.

Some brief excerpts from the paper:

On rare occasions, viruses spill over from reservoir species to other animals, including humans1. Establishment of infection in the new host requires viruses to adapt to the efficient use of entry receptors and circumvent innate antiviral defense mechanisms that are unique to each host species2. The elaborate mechanisms underlying such changes that govern new virus-host dynamics are not well known. Bats are speculated to be reservoirs of several emerging viruses, including coronaviruses (CoVs) that cause severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in humans, and porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) and swine acute diarrhoea syndrome (SADS) in pigs3,4,5,6. Although bats harbor SARS- and MERS-like coronaviruses, overt signs of disease in bats that are naturally or experimentally infected are often undetectable7. In contrast, infections in spillover species, such as humans and pigs lead to diseases with high morbidity and mortality7,8,9,10,11,12,13.

MERS-CoV is an on-going concern as it causes periodic outbreaks in the Middle East with a mortality rate of about thirty-five percent14,15. Human-to-human transmission of the virus occurs through aerosol or close contact. Camels are the known reservoirs of MERS-CoV16,17 and bats are suspected to be the ancestral host18...


Some stuff from the meat of the text wherein they infected bat cells with the highly dangerous human MERS-CoV that had an outbreak early in this century, with a 35% human kill rate:


MERS-CoV ΔORF5 mutants persistently infect bat cells
The MERS-CoV isolate used in our experiments (EMC/2012) was derived from an infected human and was subsequently propagated in primate cells (see materials and methods). To determine if persistently infected bat cells had selected for mutant variants of MERS-CoV, we sequenced the genome of the virus from persistently infected bat cells that had been passaged 15 times, over 4 months. We detected point mutations in the virus polymerase, spike and matrix genes (Fig. 3a) but none of these mutations disrupted the coding sequences for these proteins (Table 1). However, we observed a 341 base pair deletion in ORF5. In addition, there was a frameshift mutation at the N-terminal end of the protein that introduced a stop codon at the 20th amino acid position (Fig. 3a and Table 1). In theory, the intact ORF5 coding sequence in the bat-adapted MERS-CoV strain would encode a putative 19 amino acid long protein...


Apparently there is a survival advantage for bats in keeping a low level weakened continuous infection since it primes their immune systems to deal with more deadly viruses:

...Viruses often exist as quasispecies, including virus stocks that are prepared in laboratories34. Coronaviruses have been detected in multiple bat species globally35 and wild-caught bats can be persistently infected with coronaviruses18,25. The co-evolution of CoVs and bats, and the advantage of long-term CoV infection, if any, have not been explored in bats. In this study, we observed ΔORF5 MERS-CoV as the dominant strain in persistently infected bat cells in two independent experiments. To identify if infection with ΔORF5 MERS-CoV confers a survival advantage upon bat cells, we determined if persistently infected bat cells were resistant to superinfection with W + virus. To differentiate between W+ and ΔORF5 MERS-CoV replication, we examined the levels of genomic (upE) RNA (present in both strains), and ORF5 transcripts, (detectable in W + MERS-CoV only). On re-infecting persistently infected bat cells with W + virus (MOI = 1 TCID50/cell), we did not observe an increase in upE or ORF5 RNA levels in the superinfected cells, suggesting a lack of replication of W+ and ΔORF5 virus at 24 and 48 hpi (Fig. 5a,b). In contrast, we observed a significant increase in upE and ORF5 transcript levels at 24- and 48-hours post infection of naďve bat cells that were infected with an equal amount of W + MERS-CoV...


The paper is again, open sourced, and you can open it and look at all the cool graphics and see what you can get out of it.

The journalistic news apparently arose from a news release by the author's academic institution, The University of Saskatchewan.

Here is a news release similar to the Technology Networks news feed: Bat 'super immunity' may explain how bats carry coronaviruses, study finds

An interview with the authors suggests their speculation as to why the disease evolves virulent trans-species forms in bats:

"Instead of killing bat cells as the virus does with human cells, the MERS coronavirus enters a long-term relationship with the host, maintained by the bat's unique 'super' immune system," said Misra, corresponding author on the paper. "SARS-CoV-2 is thought to operate in the same way."

Misra says the team's work suggests that stresses on bats -- such as wet markets, other diseases, and possibly habitat loss -- may have a role in coronavirus spilling over to other species.

"When a bat experiences stress to their immune system, it disrupts this immune system-virus balance and allows the virus to multiply," he said.


I added the bold.

This seems clearly a speculation, but it is not necessarily nonsense.

One hopes that humanity is not inspired to drive insectivorous bats extinct. This will only lead to an increase in insect borne diseases, and in any case, we apparently have a lot to learn about virology and human disease by the study of these remarkable creatures.

Have a nice weekend at home. Stay safe.


The Energy Cost of Direct Air CO2 Capture Using Zeolite Driven Vacuum/Temperature Swing Absorption.

The paper I'll discuss in this post is this one: Direct Dry Air Capture of CO2 Using VTSA with Zeolites (Sean M. W. Wilson* and F. Handan Tezel, Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2020, 59, 18, 8783-8794.)

Recently I've been thinking quite a bit about the ever broadening concept of process intensification, and in fact, was writing a rather long and typically jargon laced barely intelligible musing on the integration of two or more thermochemical carbon dioxide splitting schemes which would produce electricity as a side product while providing very high thermodynamic efficiency. I reserve the right to suffer through finishing it in some future date, and publishing it here, irrespective of whether it has any value at all outside of making me learn stuff I otherwise wouldn't learn.

If one is inspired to suffer through my posts in this section, well, thanks for listening and thanks for your tolerance.

Process intensification is the practice of maximizing exergy, exergy being that portion of primary energy that can be put to practical use, in one form or another. The second law of thermodynamics requires that one can never utilize 100% of any form of energy, but certainly we can raise it to a higher percentage beyond current common practice.

As I often point out, we have not only dumped responsibility for dealing with our chemical wastes - and perhaps the most problematic is carbon dioxide - but we have also dumped a great deal of entropy on all future generations, inasmuch as we have distributed many elements in the periodic table haphazardly, consumed the best ores and left them diluted largely in problematic and often toxic repositories, that is, landfills. There has been a lot of talk about urban mining, which can be considered cowboy recycling, but anyone attempting to do urban mining will need access to sustainable energy, since unsustainable energy, the most widely used form of energy, dominates current energy use on this planet. It's not getting better either; it's getting worse.

Carbon itself, of course, which increasingly dominates our energy supply has been subjected to an enormous amount of entropy. When I was born, there were lots of ores with high carbon content, dangerous coal, dangerous oil, and dangerous natural gas, but in my generation, using ever more dastardly and destructive schemes, we have wrung more and more of this stuff our of the land and sea, combusted it and dumped the waste directly into the planetary atmosphere with nothing more than lip service to doing something else.

History will not forgive us, nor should it.

Future generations, to the extent they will require carbon, will thus need to produce it from one of our two major waste dumps, our atmosphere and our bodies of water. Collecting it will require significant energy, since in general, to reverse entropy, one must expend energy to do so. Future generations will thus need to pay for the energy we used.

The paper under discussion here is about one much debated approach, direct air capture. There are oodles upon oodles of scientific papers on the topic of direct air capture of carbon dioxide. This one caught my eye because it seems to lend itself to process intensification since it is amenable to utilizing waste heat, as well incorporation in the line of a Brayton type heat engine utilizing air as a working fluid. (A jet engine is a Brayton heat engine utilizing air as the working fluid.) It also includes an explicit description of its energy cost, the amount of energy that future generations will need to find to clean up our mess. (They'll think we hated them, and they won't be far from being correct, since we have definitely treated them with contempt.)

So let me cut to the chase:

The abstract is available at the link.

From the introduction to the paper:

Increasing the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere has been shown to correlate to the increasing average global surface temperature, which has led many researchers to invest time and effort into finding ways to effectively reduce the amount of CO2 entering the environment or to capture CO2 directly from the air. The latter, the subject of this study, has been dubbed direct air capture (DAC) and has significantly gained interest as a true carbon-negative strategy to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.(1−3) DAC, although thermodynamically less favorable than capturing CO2 from large stationary postcombustion point sources,(4,5) has important benefits, including the following: all greenhouse gas emissions (including transportation emissions) can be captured from one spot, previous CO2 emissions can be captured, and the location, as well as the size, is not limited unlike postcombustion capture of a power plant. Additionally, studies have shown that using methods such as the reverse water gas shift reaction in tandem with the Fischer–Tropsch process could allow DAC of CO2 to be used to generate hydrocarbon fuels instead of traditional sources, which would allow for the continuous use of the transportation infrastructure well into the future.(6−8)

With DAC gaining interest, the scientific challenge of implementation is to find a low-cost sorbent that has high uptakes, selectivity for CO2, and fast kinetics, with strong physical and chemical stabilities, whose regeneration is not overly energy-intensive.


The authors screened a number of zeolites. Zeolites are minerals having a defined structure that is porous and cage like. Since the pores can have different sizes, they can be utilized to separate gases (and other fluids) by showing a preference for the molecular size of the gases. The authors screened a number of different types of zeolites, and found that the best one for separating carbon dioxide from air was a zeolite that appears in nature as a relatively rare mineral Faujasite, that can in fact be synthesized and is in fact commercially available.

The structure of the Faufasite zeolite can be seen with the abstract, but for convenience it is shown here:



A four step process is utilized to recover carbon dioxide. A container (in these experiments a column) packed with the zeolite is evacuated with a vacuum pump, pressurized at room temperature, and maintained at pressure until the concentration of the carbon dioxide coming out was equivalent to the carbon dioxide concentration going in, the point called the "breakthrough" point, which takes place when the zeolites are saturated with carbon dioxide. The concentrations were between 410 ppm and 460 ppm; this week we've measured in the atmosphere at the Mauna Loa CO2 observatory as high as 418 ppm. The chamber is slowly depressurized by pumping the air out, to give a weak vacuum, about a tenth of an atmosphere (10 kPa), whereupon it was heated to various test temperatures. The highly enriched carbon dioxide released by the zeolites was then pumped out of the chamber.

It may be useful to look at some graphics from the paper.

Here is a graph of the isotherms, which give a feel for the selectivity of the gas separations for the major components of air:



The caption:

Figure 1. CO2, N2, O2, and Ar pure adsorption isotherms at 22 °C for G5CO2M, APG-III Na-X HP, Ca-X, Na-LSX, Z10-01, and Z10-02ND. Each isotherm is fitted to Langmuir, Freundlich, Sips, and Toth and is represented by the model with the best fit.


The selectivity as a function of the maximum pressure in the pressurization step.



The caption:

Figure 2. Adsorption capacity ratio of CO2 at 400 ppm over the summation of adsorption capacities of N2, O2, and Ar at 780 840, 209 460, and 9300 ppm, respectively, at different total pressures calculated from their isotherms at 22 °C.


Breakthrough volumes as a function of regeneration temperature:



The caption:

Figure 3. Breakthrough curves for a column packed with APG-III with a positive CO2 concentration step of 431 ± 10 ppm of CO2 (indicated in blue) at 23.5 °C and a GHSV of air at 13 400 h–1. These breakthroughs happened after regeneration temperatures of 62, 116, 194, and 261 °C while applying a vacuum over the course of 3 h.


GHSV is the "Gas Hourly Space Velocity" which is a function of the flow rate, the free void volume and the column volume, basically an expression of the amount of gas that flows over the zeolites. It is clear from this graphic that the Faujusite zeolite is not usable as a simple vacuum swing absorption (or pressure swing absorption) material, heat is required.

This graphic shows the effect of flow rate on time to breakthrough:



Figure 5. Breakthrough curves for a column packed with APG-III with a positive CO2 concentration step of 421 ± 11.5 ppm of CO2 (indicated in blue) at 23.5 °C after a regeneration temperature of 194 °C and vacuum over the course of 3 h for GHSV of air of 34 400, 27 000, 13 400, and 6720 h–1. Corresponding breakthrough adsorption capacities are next to the displayed GHSVs.


I'll skip over some other graphics in the paper reflecting the amount of heat required to maximize the absorption capacity of the zeolite.

Let's cut to the money shot, which is how much energy this system is reported to require on a ton scale.



Figure 9. Energy required to remove water from air for the DAC of CO2 using APG-III using either silica gel (blue) or zeolite 3A (green) as a function of temperature and humidity levels 20, 40, 60, 80, and 100% between the temperature of −20–10 °C (above) and 5–35 °C (below).


Ev here is the energy required for generating a vacuum, Ec, energy required to compress the air, Ef the energy required to drive the flow over the sorbent, Es, the energy required to heat the sorbent, and ED the energy required to remove the gas from the sorbent.

Here the authors refer to primary heat.

Before noting the consequences of the requirement that air needs to be dry for this system to work, a requirement that requires additional energy for drying the air, let's take a look at the energy required to remove 35 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the air. This is the amount we dump each year as dangerous fossil fuel waste, and does not include the additional tonnage connected with land use changes, for agriculture or for putting roads through pristine wilderness to turn it into industrial parks for "green" wind farms.

Let us assume that the temperature at 194°C strikes a balance between the cost of the zeolite and the completeness with which it releases the carbon dioxide. The sum of the energy figures for the different components of the process in the bar graph is 16928 MJ per ton. To recover 35 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the air using this process is thus on the order of 590 exajoules of energy. This is uncomfortably close to the amount of energy that humanity consumed, according the the IEA World Energy Outlook (2019 Ed.) by all of humanity for all purposes, which is 600 exajoules (as of 2018).

However this doesn't tell the whole story, because the air must be dry. The consequence of drying the air on the energy consumption is actually quite enormous, as the following graphic from the paper shows:



The authors thus suggest that were this system to be industrialized, it should located in dry areas. They write:

Investigating different locations on the planet concludes that polar deserts are excellent locations for this process. This is because polar deserts are arid frigid locations, which would reduce the energy required to dehydrate the air as well as provide higher CO2 adsorption capacities at lower temperatures. One advantageous place, in particular, is the super arid McMurdo Dry Valley in the Antarctic, which has a yearly average temperature of −20 °C and an average humidity of 54%.(62) This particularly dry arctic weather is due to the katabatic winds,(63) which could be harnessed to provide energy to run the DAC process. Another ideal location is the Atacama Desert located in Chile. This 105 000 km2 elevated desert located on the Tropic of Capricorn has temperatures and humidity levels between −5 and 20 °C, and 5–20%, respectively, near the top of Cerro Paranal.(64) Due to its location and aridness, the Atacama Desert is one of the best locations for solar power, which houses both photovoltaic and concentrated solar power plants.(65)


From where I sit, these proposals to use intermittent so called "renewable energy" for these purposes is obscene. You cannot run a system like this on a meaningful scale using intermittent energy, since the heat cycles cannot stand interruption. In this space, I showed, using the wind turbine database of the Danish Energy Agency, that the average lifetime of a wind turbine in Denmark is about 17 years. All of the wind turbines in Denmark combined produce as much energy as two small power plants. The blades, which use large amounts of carbon fibers are made using dangerous fossil fuels as a feedstock need replacement every 3 or 4 years, and they go to landfills since recycling them is problematic.

Now imagine hauling this crap into the interior of Antarctica, huge steel posts, for devices that might, in conditions far more extreme than Denmark, for a lifetime considerably shorter than what the Danes see in their offshore oil and gas drilling hellhole of a country.

The same constraints of intermittency apply to putative solar facilities in the Atacama desert.

After 50 years of wild cheering, the entire planet, at a cost of a couple of trillion dollars, has managed to produce (as of 2018) 12.27 exajoules of energy from wind and solar combined, with a little geothermal and tidal energy thrown in for good measure. The steel, aluminum, lanthanide metal, carbon fiber, glass, silicon processing of these schemes is already unacceptably high, and now we argue that to engage in shoving buckets of water against a storm surge, that we can address climate change by using as much energy as we use for all purposes to capture carbon dioxide that we scale up this disastrous failing scheme by 4,800% just to capture the carbon dioxide we routinely dump, is just, well, silly.

(What's even worse, is that the authors suggest sequestering this carbon, as if we really might have a place in Antarctica to dump a few hundred billion tons of carbon dioxide.)

Despite this silliness, the paper is interesting in terms of the physical chemistry of the zeolites and these are reported experimental results. If the claims of the paper hold up, there are ways to actually make this practical to recover carbon to be utilized in various capacities, such as long term use polymers, refractory metal carbides and MAX phases, carbon fibers for use in useful systems. These systems for use are well explored, and with heat, carbon dioxide can be even used to oxidize waste biomass and municipal wastes containing plastics, paper, food waste and construction waste.

Earlier I spoke of process intensification. There are heat engine cycles, Brayton cycles in particular, that operate at very high temperatures, including some using carbon dioxide as the working fluid. I wrote about a variant of the carbon dioxide driven cycle called the Allam cycle, which (as it can be biomass driven) is an indirect way to capture carbon dioxide: Considering an Alternative Hybrid Allam Heat Engine Cycle for the Removal of CO2 from the Air. The Allam cycle in the papers referenced there ran at 860°C, whereas I was suggesting a higher temperature, my default target temperature, 1400°C. It is very clear that a heat engine operating at these temperatures offer many opportunities for process intensification, including, for example, the heat component required to regenerate the zeolites in the scheme in the paper under consideration. With a continuous and reliable heat source to drive an Allam cycle - the only environmentally acceptable source is nuclear energy - we could recover carbon dioxide from the air using energy efficiency rather than generating new energy.

With the annoying flaw of suggesting the unsustainable use of so called "renewable energy" put aside, this paper, if it holds up and is scalable, is quite interesting.

Stay safe, stay well, stay home, and remember, for all this tragedy, how beautiful life is, and how very much it is worth living.


Profile of a killer: the complex biology powering the coronavirus pandemic.

The following news item from the scientific journal Nature is open sourced and written for general consumption:

Profile of a killer: the complex biology powering the coronavirus pandemic

Scientists are piecing together how SARS-CoV-2 operates, where it came from and what it might do next — but pressing questions remain about the source of COVID-19.

(David Cyranoski, Nature 581, 22-26 (2020))

Some brief excerpts:

n 1912, German veterinarians puzzled over the case of a feverish cat with an enormously swollen belly. That is now thought to be the first reported example of the debilitating power of a coronavirus. Veterinarians didn’t know it at the time, but coronaviruses were also giving chickens bronchitis, and pigs an intestinal disease that killed almost every piglet under two weeks old.

The link between these pathogens remained hidden until the 1960s, when researchers in the United Kingdom and the United States isolated two viruses with crown-like structures causing common colds in humans. Scientists soon noticed that the viruses identified in sick animals had the same bristly structure, studded with spiky protein protrusions. Under electron microscopes, these viruses resembled the solar corona, which led researchers in 1968 to coin the term coronaviruses for the entire group.

It was a family of dynamic killers: dog coronaviruses could harm cats, the cat coronavirus could ravage pig intestines. Researchers thought that coronaviruses caused only mild symptoms in humans, until the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 revealed how easily these versatile viruses could kill people...

...Bad family.


Of the viruses that attack humans, coronaviruses are big. At 125 nanometres in diameter, they are also relatively large for the viruses that use RNA to replicate, the group that accounts for most newly emerging diseases. But coronaviruses really stand out for their genomes. With 30,000 genetic bases, coronaviruses have the largest genomes of all RNA viruses. Their genomes are more than three times as big as those of HIV and hepatitis C, and more than twice influenza’s.

Coronaviruses are also one of the few RNA viruses with a genomic proofreading mechanism — which keeps the virus from accumulating mutations that could weaken it. That ability might be why common antivirals such as ribavirin, which can thwart viruses such as hepatitis C, have failed to subdue SARS-CoV-2...


When two bad families, the Trump family and the Corona Virus family interact, there's hell to pay.

It's worth a read; it's short and not overly technical.

Death of a Scientist, the Type of People We Are Losing to Covid.

In connection with my work, I'm on the mailing list of many companies, many with which I do not actually work.

Yesterday I received in my email the announcement of the loss of a Chief Scientific Officer at a company called Pion, Inc., a company working in robotic scientific instrumentation. (I have never worked with them, since I'm involved in other areas) It struck me as sad and moving - as I am dealing with a similar loss in my own company - as here is a person who came to the United States as an immigrant and worked to make our country great, until its greatness was severely damaged by incompetence, lying and ignorance at the highest levels of government.

He was, perhaps, not a super famous scientist, but he was a solid and highly productive scientist who brought his skills to a great country that is bleeding its greatness. These are the people who have built our country; these are the people who make it work.

Some excerpts of his company's release:

Dr. Konstantin Tsinman, Chief Scientific Officer at Pion Inc., succumbed after a three-week struggle, to the ravages of Covid-19 infection on Friday, 24 April 2020. Those of us who knew Konstantin were stunned to hear the horrible news. It is tragic to lose such a gifted scientist in the prime of his career, with so many valuable contributions to his credit and with so many yet to come. And to his wife Oksana and their daughter Tonya, what can anyone say to soften the deep pain and sorrow of loss?...

...Konstantin joined Pion in 1998 (earliest photo of him on the left), just as the seedling company was starting to expand, poised to develop innovative scientific equipment for pharmaceutical research. The start-up secured its first external funds from a prominent pharmaceutical company in New Jersey, in exchange for the promise of delivery of the first “PAMPA” instruments (Parallel Artificial Membrane Permeability Assay). We had been working behind the scenes with Dr. Manfred Kansy of Roche (Basel), the inventor of PAMPA, for the preceding two years, before his famous seminal paper was published in 1998. So, that year we took the investment we secured and spent the whole lot on (i) a lease to a modest space on the second floor of a two-story industrial building, above Mike’s Gym, on the outskirts of Cambridge, Massachusetts, (ii) a Tecan robot workstation (pictured above – which several of us carried up the rickety wooden staircase in the elevatorless building), (iii) hiring a laboratory scientist (who later went on to medical school to become a physician), and (iv) hiring a scientific programmer – Konstantin. He was a PhD physicist interested in robotics programming, with a ‘can do just about anything’ attitude. He received his advanced degrees from the Institute of Metal Physics and the Dnepropetrovsk State University in Ukraine. He and his family had just then emigrated to America...

...Konstantin was the principal developer of the high throughput permeability analyzer and subsequently the high-throughput method for measuring solubility-pH profiles. He continued investigating physicochemical factors influencing intestinal absorption and penetration across the blood-brain-barrier of pharma research molecules, expanding the scope of applications for the UV fiber-optic technique. A long-standing challenge in drug dissolution measurement concerned assessment of multicomponent active pharmaceutical ingredients in exploratory formulations. He developed the so-called “ZIM” technique to crack the challenge. Its later applications to studying nanoparticle suspensions were groundbreaking. It was such a clever idea that allowed the implementation of UV-Vis spectroscopy for real time concentration monitoring of complex phenomena...

...Konstantin was more than a laboratory researcher. He jumped right in to participate and lead in user training programs...


The full announcement is here: In memoriam Konstantin Tsinman (1968 - 2020)

With his family:



The caption:

Relaxing with friends in the Back Bay of Boston on the fourth of July, 2005. Konstantin is the second person from the left. Oksana is to his left. His life-long friend, Dima, is in the blue and white shirt near the center. Dima worked at Pion for many years.


It makes you want to weep, even not knowing the man at all.

We are all losers in losing citizens like these and that child at the essentially abandoned helm of our country in one of its worst storms ever, muttering "loser" at everyone, as if his small mind and his grotesque failures, has made us all losers.

We've had daily readings at the Mauna Loa CO2 observatory of over 418 ppm

Rather startling, this:

Recent Daily Average Mauna Loa CO2

May 03: 418.12 ppm
May 02: 417.42 ppm
May 01: 418.03 ppm
April 30: 417.31 ppm
April 29: 417.21 ppm
Last Updated: May 4, 2020


As I noted earlier today, the most recent weekly average set an all time record for such readings at 416.82 ppm.

New Weekly CO2 Concentration Record Set at the Mauna Loa Observatory 416.82 ppm.

I suspect climate change will be with us long after Covid-19 has become a memory of a nightmare reified.

New Weekly CO2 Concentration Record Set at the Mauna Loa Observatory 416.82 ppm.

As I've indicated several times before, somewhat obsessively I keep a spreadsheet of the weekly data at the Mauna Loa Carbon Dioxide Observatory, which I use to do calculations to record the dying of our atmosphere, a triumph of fear, dogma and ignorance that did not have to be, but nonetheless is.

I had the naive wishful thinking notion that restrictions on automobile traffic with all of the worldwide lock downs would lead to a slowing of carbon dioxide accumulations. Indeed, it does seem something a little bit unusual is going on. About a week ago, I reported that the annual maximum, which usually occurs in May seemed to have arrived early:

We May Have Hit The Annual Maximum CO2 Observatory at Mauna Loa Unusually Early This Year.

The previous record was set on April 5, of this year, about a month ago, at 416.45 ppm, and was followed by two weeks of lower readings, 416.27 ppm and 415.88 ppm, for the weeks beginning April 12 and April 19. Had values continued to decrease, it would have meant that this would stand as the second time, going back to 1975, that the peak was observed during the first week of April.

However - and this is unusual - after two weeks of declines in concentrations, the carbon dioxide concentrations began to increase, setting a new record for highest ever, 416.82 ppm.

The data from the Mauna Loa Carbon Dioxide Observatory:

Up-to-date weekly average CO2 at Mauna Loa


Week beginning on April 26, 2020: 416.82 ppm
Weekly value from 1 year ago: 414.45 ppm
Weekly value from 10 years ago: 393.18 ppm
Last updated: May 4, 2020


The increase in carbon dioxide concentrations when compared to the same week in 2019 is 2.37 ppm. The week to week comparisons between 2020 and 2019 are averaging this year 2.61 ppm. This same average in 2019, as compared to 2018, was 2.90 ppm.

In the week of January 1, 2000, the running average of comparisons of changes with respect to the same week ten years earlier, was 15.36 ppm higher than the figure ten years previous. In 2020, the same running average is 24.03 ppm over figures 10 years earlier.

If any of this troubles you, don't worry, be happy. Head on over to Daily Kos, where you can read all about how wonderful renewable energy is for the thermodynamically stupid practice of water electrolysis to make hydrogen: Renewable Friday: Hydrogen for Mass Energy Storage, Diesel Truck Conversions

My impression that I've been hearing all about how rapidly renewable energy has been growing since I began writing here in 2002, when the reading on April 14, 2002 was 375.14 ppm should not disturb you, since it is better to think everything is fine rather than focus on reality.

In this century, the solar, wind, geothermal, and tidal energy on which people so cheerfully have bet the entire planetary atmosphere, stealing the future from all future generations, grew by 9.76 exajoules to 12.27 exajoules. World energy demand in 2018 was 599.34 exajoules. Unquestionably it will be higher in 2019 and in 2020.

Despite 30 or 40 years of hearing about hydrogen HYPErcars and hydrogen cars and hydrogen trucks for much of my adult life - and I'm not young - the use of petroleum on this planet grew by 34.79 exajoules in this century, to reach a total of 188.45 exajoules for the last year we have data, 2018.

2019 Edition of the World Energy Outlook Table 1.1 Page 38] (I have converted MTOE in the original table to the SI unit exajoules in this text.)

Despite the expenditures of trillions of dollars on solar and wind energy, so called "renewable energy" both forms of energy combined remain trivial.

So called "renewable energy" has not worked to address climate change; it is not working to address climate change; it will not work to address climate change.

If however, we waste what little energy these expensive and popular but pixilated schemes do produce to generate hydrogen with our enthusiasm for thermodynamic illiteracy, it won't matter at all, as they will go from trivial to slightly more trivial.

History will not forgive us, nor should it.

I hope you stay safe and well and will, despite this crisis, be able to enjoy the spring.
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