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Pyrolysis Kinetic Modeling of a Polyethylene/Vinyl Acetate Encapsulant Found in Waste Photovoltaics

The paper I'll briefly discuss in this post is this one: Pyrolysis Kinetic Modeling of a Poly(ethylene-co-vinyl acetate) Encapsulant Found in Waste Photovoltaic Modules (Charlie Farrell, Ahmed I. Osman, John Harrison, Ashlene Vennard, Adrian Murphy, Rory Doherty, Mark Russell, Vignesh Kumaravel, Ala’a H. Al-Muhtaseb, Xiaolei Zhang, Jehad K. Abu-Dahrieh, and David W. Rooney Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research 2021 60 (37), 13492-13504)

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this paper, but just excerpt some statistical portions from the text - some of which are covered in the abstract - and point to aspects that may be misleading or omit some relevant considerations.

From the introduction:

Owing to the ever-growing population and increased energy demand, the world is transitioning away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy technologies in order to decarbonize and meet Paris Agreement climate targets.(1−3) Of these renewable technologies, the solar photovoltaic (PV) devices has gained considerable interest because of their ability to produce electricity without any subsequent noise or air pollution in the form of emissions.(4−6) As of 2018, solar has taken the lead for renewable capacity additions at 55%, surpassing that of its competitive counterparts such as hydropower and wind.(7)

One of the most common misrepresentations about the so called "renewable energy" fantasy is the deliberate lie that putative peak capacity - which in practice is never realized for solar cells - is the same as energy.

I detailed the capacity utilization of solar energy, as reported by the California Energy Commission - capacity utilization is the actual energy produced as compared to the theoretical peak capacity if a generation system (any generation system) functioned at full peak capacity for a given period of time as a percentage - in another post on this site: The Growth of Solar Capacity In California, Capacity Utilization, and Solar Energy Production.

For convenience I reproduce the table from that post:

In general, depending on the geographical area in which it is located as well as the weather, the capacity of utilization of solar energy is lower than the already abysmal capacity utilization of wind. Even in California, known for its sunny weather, the capacity utilization has never, not once, in any year, approached 30%. In fact, in only three years in this century did it exceed 25%, and for five years it was below 20%. Thus to talk about capacity in comparing solar to wind and or hydroelectricity is rather absurd.

Also it is outrageous to claim that "the world is transitioning away from fossil fuels." This is nonsense. According to the World Energy Outlook (2019 edition) in the year 2000, the world was consuming 420.19 Exajoules of energy, 80.0% of which was produced by the combustion of dangerous fossil fuels. By 2018, the world was using 599.34 Exajoules of energy, 81% of which was produced by the combustion of dangerous fossil fuels. The use of dangerous fossil fuels is rising, rapidly, and no real "energy transition" has been observed. It's a lie, a very big lie, we tell ourselves routinely while the world literally burns.

The paper continues:

The solar energy industry is helping to meet the ever-growing global energy demand that is estimated to reach 778 EJ by 2035.(8) At the end of 2019, the global installed capacity of solar PV passed the threshold of 600 GW.(9,10) PV modules have a limited lifespan of 25–30 years, and this is also reflected in the manufacturer’s guarantee.(11−13) However, it is worth noting that the lifespan can vary based on the type of the failure mode or degradation experienced by the module. For example, the recent work of Tracy et al. outlines encapsulant adhesion as a function of environmental stressors (UV exposure, temperature, and humidity) with lab and field data in various climates.(14) As annual installations increase exponentially, so does the waste that will arise. Of the two commercially available generations of PV modules, the first-generation, also known as crystalline silicon (c-Si) PV modules, equates to a market share of 80–90% over the last 40 years.(15,16) In 2012, PV modules were added to the EU’s WEEE directive, making it a law as of February 14, 2014, that PV manufacturers and suppliers are now responsible for their end-of-life (EoL) management.(17−19) Despite this legislative driver, approximately only 10% of PV modules are recycled globally.(20) To date, there are limited studies available on EoL PV modules considering the effect that it will have in the near future.(21,22)

The first sentence is delusional. The world is now consuming about 600 EJ of energy per year. After 50 years of mindless cheering, and the expenditure of trillions of dollars the solar industry doesn't produce 5 EJ of energy per year. It never has.

But solar waste - which is a form of electronic waste - is accumulating. No one apparently bothers to think too much about this issue, because solar energy is said to be "green," but it is very real. How much waste?

Well the paper continues:

PV modules consist of numerous material types, such as glass, metals, and polymers. For reference, please refer to Figure S1 in the Supplementary Information for an exploded diagram of a c-Si PV module. This mixture of material types makes the recycling of PV modules difficult. However, as the decomposition temperatures of the constituent types are vastly spread, thermal treatment such as pyrolysis can be used to selectively remove individual components. The first material to decompose is the polymeric fraction (EVA and PV Backsheet) of the module at approximately 500 °C.(23)
Already, there are approximately 25.8 million tonnes of plastic waste generated in Europe every year.(24) In 2018, 12.4 million tonnes of post-consumer plastic waste were sent for energy recovery,(25) growing at an average of 4.9% every year and a 77% rise from figures reported in 2006.(26)

It is estimated that between 60 and 78 million tonnes of EoL PV modules will be in circulation by 2050.(27,28) Of these 60–78 million tonnes, 6.09–7.92 tonnes equate to the waste polymers found in PV modules when considering the 10.15 wt % that they contribute to the mass of the module. Furthermore, 3.93–5.11 tonnes equate to the waste polymer poly(ethylene-co-vinyl acetate) (also known as EVA), when considering its dominant 6.55 wt % contribution to the mass of the polymeric fraction of the c-Si PV module.(29) EVA acts as an encapsulant protecting the solar cells and metal contacts from mechanical shock and moisture and has excellent adhesion properties to the glass and backsheet layers. EVA is also widely used in a plethora of applications, such as cable sheaths, packaging films, hot melt adhesives, and some drug delivery devices.(30)

In addition to this, EVA has been the industry standard for PV module encapsulation since the 1980s, and according to the current ITRPV report, it is expected to continue to be the industry standard until at least 2029, as there is no available data beyond this point.(31−33)

Note that so called "renewable energy" depends on lots and lots and lots and lots of interconnects because of its poor reliability, this means more wires, more transmission lines and in that "renewable energy" paradise of California, more fires.

Polyethylene is made from dangerous natural gas, as is vinyl acetate. This is yet another way - besides the need for back up power - that the so called "renewable energy" industry is dependent on access to dangerous natural gas.

Note that none of this waste includes the chemical waste, notably aliphatic fluorides, acids, that go into making solar junk, nor does it address the fact that silicon is reduced with carbon using heat generated by the combustion of dangerous natural gas, nor does it account for the trucking of transport to solar plants or McMansion rooves, and the hauling of this distributed waste away.

The paper continues:

hroughout a PV module lifespan, EVA is prone to degradation (sometimes referred to as yellowing) over time. As EVA yellows, the transmittance of light reaching the solar cells lowers and this subsequently has a detrimental effect on the power output of the module. Although not fully understood, it is believed this degradation is related and linked to UV light exposure and moisture ingress.(32,34,35) A mechanism has been outlined recently by Tracy et al. which focuses on the underlying degradation processes that are active at a molecular level and which accounts for the competition of chemical reactions such as cross-linking and chain scission in the bulk encapsulant and bond dissociation because of hydrolytic depolymerization at the cell and glass interfaces.(14) When the power produced by the module is less than 80% of the wattage quoted at the time of manufacture, the PV module can be considered as EoL.(36) However, it is worth noting that there are many failure modes of PV modules that can also deem them as EoL. For example, broken solder connections, failure in lamination, or environmental catastrophes such as storms can also affect how a module can be classified as EoL.

The EVA encapsulant found in first-generation c-Si PV modules poses the most significant challenge in the delamination of PV modules and subsequently in the recycling of the other constituents. Some methods that have been previously utilized to remove the EVA fraction are pyrolysis,(37−39) combustion,(40) organic solvents,(41−43) dissolution in acidic media,(39) high-voltage pulse crushing,(44−46) and shockwave.(47,48) To date, pyrolysis has been reported to be one, if not the most effective, method for the removal of waste polymers found in PV modules, removing a significant fraction with little residual material left post-pyrolysis.

Pyrolysis is of course, causing the plastic to decompose by heating it.

At what temperature you may ask. From the paper:

Pyrolysis of polymers usually involves the heating of waste polymer materials under an inert atmosphere in the temperature range of 300–900 °C.(49) Parameters such as temperature, pressure, residence time, and the employment of a catalyst used in conventional pyrolysis can be altered to optimize product yields of the pyrolysis process.(50,51) From the previous work, conventional pyrolysis is ideal for treating waste EVA as there is approximately 1 wt % residual remaining.(52) A significant drawback in the developmental transition of thermochemical conversion processes from lab to industrial scale is that more quantitative information regarding the chemical reactions in question is needed. An important part of this information is the development of a kinetic model of the given reaction system.

There you have it, 300–900 °C.

Lie to yourself as much as you'd like to do, but let me tell you something. That heat isn't going to come from solar ovens operating for a few hours a day in a vast trashed area of desert covered with bird frying ovens near the summer solstice.

It's coming from combustion.


The planet is literally on fire. It's not getting better. It's getting worse, and its getting worse faster and faster and faster. I know. I keep track.

Might it not be time to think clearly?

Have a nice day tomorrow.

Chemical giant looks to nuclear heat to decarbonise

Chemical giant looks to nuclear heat to decarbonise

Polish chemical producer Ciech will consider nuclear technologies to replace coal burnt for power and process heat in its plants. Ciech has signed a Letter of Intent to cooperate with Synthos Green Energy, which is already working with GE-Hitachi and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation.

"Clean, emission-free nuclear energy may become an important element of the strategy of achieving ambitious climate goals by our group, as well as an important factor increasing the competitiveness of Ciech in the long term," said Dawid Jakubowicz, chairman of Ciech's management board. In May the company noted nuclear could play a role in its decarbonisation in its ESG (environment, social and governance) report, which foresaw the end of coal-burning in 2033, and carbon neutrality in 2040.

Ciech said it is considering nuclear to replace coal at its plants producing soda ash (sodium carbonate), which has applications ranging from the manufacture of glass and bricks, to domestic soap and food additives. The company is the second largest producer of soda ash in the EU, with large, energy-intensive plants at Inowrocław and Janikowo. They currently burn coal in combined heat and power plants that provide steam for process heat.

The Letter of Intent announced yesterday will enable Ciech to "thoroughly analyse the use of small and micro modular reactor technology" by cooperating with Synthos Green Energy. As a subsidiary of the Synthos chemical group, it has already made agreements with GE-Hitachi towards potential deployment of its BWRX-300, and with Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation regarding its Micro Modular Reactor. Both the reactor designs can produce process heat, at 100-200°C and at 630°C, respectively.

Ciech and Synthos said they will "define the possibility of building small or micromodular nuclear reactors on the premises of Ciech's production plants and they will analyse possible models of energy supply under mutual agreements..."

Simple Method of Dual Passivation with Efficiency Beyond 20% for Fabricating Perovskite Solar Cells

The paper to which I'll briefly refer in this post is this one: Simple Method of Dual Passivation with Efficiency Beyond 20% for Fabricating Perovskite Solar Cells in the Full Ambient Air (Tingting Zhong, Lei Shi, Huiying Hao, Jingjing Dong, Kunpeng Tang, Xiang Xu, Shindume Lomboleni Hamukwaya, Hao Liu, and Jie Xing ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 2021 9 (38), 13010-13020)

I really have not too much to say about lead perovskite solar cells except that I'm not quite sure "distributed" lead on rooves is a particularly good idea, but nobody cares what I say.

I thought I'd just reproduce, for fun, the "simple" method for the "simple" preparation of lead perovskite cells in air, from this paper:


The laser-patterned FTO (TEC-A7) glass substrate was purchased from Advanced Election Technology CO, Ltd. Titanium(IV)isopropoxide (99.999%), ammonium acetate (NH4Ac, 99.996%), ethanol (≥99.5%), dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO, 99.8%), N,N-dimethylformamide (DMF, 99.8%), chlorobenzene (CB, 99.5%), acetonitrile (99.8%), and EA (99.8%) were purchased from Aladdin Corporation (Shanghai, China). TiO2 paste (Dyesol-30-NR-D) and PbI2 (99.999%) were obtained from Advanced Election Technology CO, Ltd. CH3NH3I (MAI, ≥99.5%), CH3(NH2)2I (FAI, ≥99.5%), CH3NH3Cl (MACl, ≥99.5%), phenethylammonium iodide (PEAI, ≥99.5%), Spiro-OMeTAD (≥99.5%), 4-terbutylpyridine (TBP, 96%), Li-TFSI (99%), and FK209 (99%) were purchased from Xi’an Polymer Light Technology Crop. (Xi’an, China).

Device Fabrication

FTO glass substrates were cleaned in the detergent, deionized water (DI water), ethanol, and isopropanol by a sequential ultrasonic cleaner and then dried in air. Further plasma cleaning was performed, and the substrate was treated with a power of 40 W for 3 min.
The 40 μL titanium(IV)isopropoxide and 8 μL concentrated hydrochloric acid were mixed in 1 mL ethanol to compound the compact TiO2 (C-TiO2). Then, FTO glass substrates were spin-coated at 3000 rpm for 30 s and annealed at 150 °C for 5 min on a hot plate. Then, the same process was repeated twice and annealed for 15 min. After that, the coated substrates were calcined at 500 °C for 30 min in the muffle furnace. Then, the coated substrates were immersed into a 40 mM TiCl4 aqueous solution for 30 min at 70 °C and calcined for 30 min at 500 °C in the muffle furnace to obtain a C-TiO2 layer. Mesoporous TiO2 (M-TiO2) precursor solution was obtained by mixing TiO2 paste with ethanol (weight ratio = 1:6). Then, the substrates were spin-coated at 4000 rpm for 30 s and annealed at 120 °C for 10 min on a hot plate, followed by sintering for 30 min at 500 °C in the muffle furnace. Then, they were immersed into a 40 mM TiCl4 aqueous solution for 30 min at 500 °C and calcined for 30 min at 500 °C.

The perovskite precursor solution (1.4 M) was obtained through the formula MA0.9FA0.1PbI3–xClx in the co-solvent (VDMSO/VDMF = 4:1). In addition, 50 μL of PEAI/DMF solution (100 mg/mL) was then added to the above precursor solution. NH4Ac was dissolved in EA with a concentration of 0.005, 0.01, and 0.1 mg/mL, respectively. The perovskite layer was spin-coated on the M-TiO2 layer at 1000 rpm for 10 s and 5000 rpm for 30 s continuously, and 100 μL of EA (with different concentrations of NH4Ac or without it) was dropped at the 10th second at 5000 rpm, followed by thermal annealing at 100 °C on the hot plate for 40 min.

The 91 mg of Spiro-OMeTAD, 22 μL of Li-TFSI (520 mg in 1 mL of acetonitrile), 18 μL of FK209 (375 mg in 1 mL of acetonitrile), and 36 μL of TBP were dissolved in 1 mL of chlorobenzene. Then, it was spin-coated at a speed of 4000 rpm for 20 s on the perovskite film. At last, a 100 nm-thick Ag electrode was thermally evaporated onto the stack. All the processes of fabrication were done in the full ambient air condition (30–40% RH).

The structure of spiro-OmeTAD:

Delicious chemistry I think. I'm sure the lead iodide in this process is very "green." Lots of heat, and lots of stuff obtained from petroleum, but very "green."

I just can't wait until they build giant reactors to manufacture this stuff on a thousands upon thousands of tons scale, can you? You can do it in the presence of air.

Green, very green and very "sustainable," do ya think?

Regulatory approval for new isotope production at Bruce

Regulatory approval for new isotope production at Bruce

Canada's Bruce Power has received approval from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for the commercial production of the medical radioisotope lutetium-177 (Lu-177) in its nuclear power plants. The project to produce the innovative therapeutic isotope, which is used in the treatment of prostate cancer and neuroendocrine tumours, is a partnership between Bruce Power, IsoGen, Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) and ITM...

...IsoGen, a joint venture of Framatome and Kinectrics, designed and manufactured the Isotope Production System (IPS) that will be used to produce Lu-177 by irradiating ytterbium targets inside Candu reactors at Bruce. The IPS is being installed as part of the ongoing Life-Extension Program, which began in 2016 and aims to add about 30 to 35 years of operational life to each reactor at the Bruce site in Ontario...

...Irradiated targets will then be processed by Germany-based ITM to produce pharmaceutical quality no-carrier-added Lu-177, which will be marketed under the name Endolucin Beta.

Bruce Power is one of the world's largest producers of cobalt-60 - used for the sterilisation of single-use medical equipment as well as in cancer treatments - through its partnership with Nordion. The company said the approved Lu-177 project will expand its established isotope production and "solidify" it as an integral producer of critical medical isotopes. Chief Development Officer James Scongack said the Lu-177 project is a "game-changer" for the supply of medical isotopes and the global medical community.

SON has been working with Bruce Power to create economic benefits within SON territory - which encompasses the Saugeen (Bruce) Peninsula - by establishing new isotope infrastructure...

...Chief Lester Anoquot, Chippewas of Saugeen First Nation, said: "It's very exciting times for SON as we move forward to the next phase of the Isotope project with Bruce Power … We are proud to play a leadership role in the global fight against cancer, while building economic opportunities in our community."

The partnership, which includes an equity stake and revenue-sharing model for SON, is named Gamzook'aamin aakoziwin, which means 'We are Teaming up on the Sickness' in the traditional Anishinaabe language.

Closest known relatives of virus behind COVID-19 found in Laos

This comes from a news item in Nature. It's probably open sourced: Closest known relatives of virus behind COVID-19 found in Laos (Smriti Mallapaty, Nature News September 24, 2021.)

Subtitle: Studies of bats in China and Laos show southeast Asia is a hotspot for potentially dangerous viruses similar to SARS-CoV-2.

Scientists have found three viruses in bats in Laos that are more similar to SARS-CoV-2 than any known viruses. Researchers say that parts of their genetic code bolster claims that the virus behind COVID-19 has a natural origin — but their discovery also raises fears that there are numerous coronaviruses with the potential to infect people.

David Robertson, a virologist at the University of Glasgow, UK, calls the find “fascinating, and quite terrifying”.

The paper is in preprint and has not been peer reviewed:

The results, which are not peer reviewed, have been posted on the preprint server Research Square1. Particularly concerning is that the new viruses contain receptor binding domains that are almost identical to that of SARS-CoV-2, and can therefore infect human cells. The receptor binding domain allows SARS-CoV-2 to attach to a receptor called ACE2 on the surface of human cells to enter them.

To make the discovery, Marc Eloit, a virologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris and his colleagues in France and Laos, took saliva, faeces and urine samples from 645 bats in caves in northern Laos. In three horseshoe (Rhinolophus) bat species, they found viruses that are each more than 95% identical to SARS-CoV-2, which they named BANAL-52, BANAL-103 and BANAL-236.

Natural origin

“When SARS-CoV-2 was first sequenced, the receptor binding domain didn’t really look like anything we’d seen before,” says Edward Holmes, a virologist at the University of Sydney in Australia. This caused some people to speculate that the virus had been created in a laboratory. But the Laos coronaviruses confirm these parts of SARS-CoV-2 exist in nature, he says...

...In an extra step in their study, Eloit and his team showed in the laboratory that the receptor binding domains of these viruses could attach to the ACE2 receptor on human cells as efficiently as some early variants of SARS-CoV-2. The researchers also cultured BANAL-236 in cells, which Eloit says they will now use to study how pathogenic the virus is in animal models.

Last year, researchers described another close relative of SARS-CoV-2, called RaTG13, which was found in bats in Yunnan5. It is 96.1% identical to SARS-CoV-2 overall and the two viruses probably shared a common ancestor 40–70 years ago6. BANAL-52 is 96.8% identical to SARS-CoV-2, says Eloit — and all three newly discovered viruses have individual sections that are more similar to sections of SARS CoV-2 than seen in any other viruses...

The anti-nuke "renewables will save us" author, Benjamin Sovacool, thinks deep sea mining is OK.

Finally recognizing the material impacts of his "renewables will save us" rhetoric on material flows, he says, "Don't worry, be happy, we can find metals for wind turbines on the ocean floor!"

This guy, who has an undergraduate degree in philosophy and a Ph.D. in something called "Public Policy," and whose Ph.D. thesis involved in part, interviewing an unnamed power company executive, is somehow allowed to comment on the work of real engineers and real scientists in prestigious scientific journals, even though he was recently forced to retract one of his antinuke papers on the value of putative European approaches to climate change after being called out for non-existent or sloppy data.

His realization about the metal impacts of so called "renewable energy" popped into his dangerous little brain back in 2020 where he wrote this precious policy piece: Sustainable minerals and metals for a low-carbon future. (Sovacool, Science, 3 JANUARY 2020 • VOL 367 ISSUE 6473, pp 30-33)

Apparently having worked to kill off the atmosphere, and destroy the land masses, he wants to finish off the oceans. After pretending to give a shit about cobalt miners for his "green" vision - like most anti-nukes his pretense of giving a shit is nothing more than lip service - he waxes romantic on seabed mining. To wit, this "policy piece" contains this dangerous rhetoric:

Although mining in terrestrial areas is likely to continue to meet the demands of low-carbon technologies in the nearer term, we need to carefully consider mineral sources beneath the oceans in the longer term. The International Seabed Authority, set up under the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Law of the Sea, is in the process of issuing regulations related to oceanic mineral extraction. This process is a rare opportunity to be proactive in setting forth science-based environmental safeguards for mineral extraction. For metals such as cobalt and nickel, ocean minerals hold important prospects on the continental shelf within states' exclusive economic zones as well as the outer continental shelf regions. Within international waters, metallic nodules found in the vast Clarion-Clipperton Zone of the Pacific as well as in cobalt and tellurium crusts, which are found in seamounts worldwide, provide some of the richest deposits of metals for green technologies. Difficult extraction and declining reserves of some terrestrial minerals, as well as social resistance against terrestrial mining, may lead to oceanic mineral reserves becoming more plausible sources. Minerals near hydrothermal vents are in more pristine and distinctive ecosystems and should likely remain off-limits for mineral extraction for the foreseeable future.

Because he has almost no knowledge of the carbon implications of mining on land or on sea, or of the carbon implications of metal refining, his "policy" is to make ever more convoluted arguments to pretend that Fukushima outweighs climate change and the massive number of daily deaths from air pollution.

He is, like many in these times, a stupid but very dangerous man.

South Africa planning to start nuclear procurement

South Africa planning to start nuclear procurement

An excerpt:

South Africa plans to issue a Request for Proposal for 2500 MWe of new nuclear capacity at the end of March 2022 and complete the procurement process in 2024, Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Nobuhle Pamela Nkabane told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) 65th General Conference. The country is also finalising its ratification of the amended Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.

"As we embark on the Just Energy Transition in South Africa, we recognise that nuclear plays a pivotal role as one of the clean energy sources that are needed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050," Nkabane told the conference, which is being held in Vienna.

"In June 2020, South Africa issued a Request for Information to test the market appetite for the 2500 MW of nuclear energy and received positive responses from 25 companies that showed an interest in this programme. The National Energy Regulator of South Africa has recently concurred with a ministerial … determination for the procurement of 2500 MW new generation capacity from nuclear energy. We plan to issue the Request for Proposal for 2500 MW nuclear programme at end of March 2022 and complete the procurement in 2024 to support the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan and ensure security of energy supply."

She thanked the IAEA for its continued support through peer-review Safety Aspects of Long-Term Operation missions at the Koeberg nuclear power plant, which is currently undergoing "technical and regulatory work" to extend its lifetime by 20 years.

Hurricane Ida shows the one-two punch of poverty and climate change

From Nature News: Hurricane Ida shows the one-two punch of poverty and climate change


US President Joe Biden’s environmental-justice adviser says: tackle inequality and global warming together.

Nature World View September 21.

It's probably open sourced:

I spent the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina watching as the Weather Channel tracked Hurricane Ida. The two followed similar paths. As I write, the damage from Hurricane Ida is estimated at beyond US$95 billion. Many in Louisiana still lack power, and more than 70 people are dead across 8 states.

Some of the worst-hit communities had it hard enough already. I know this from my work on Waste (The New Press, 2020) — exposing water contamination and poor sanitation in rural parts of the United States — for which I won a MacArthur Fellowship last year, and from my position as founding director of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. About two million people in the United States, including many around New Orleans, lack proper sewerage. Consequently, these regions have widespread hookworm infections, formerly thought to persist in only the poorest countries.

Advocates often talk about social justice, political justice, environmental justice, climate justice and more as though they are separate issues. The fact is: inequalities overlap and amplify each other. Those bearing the brunt of climate change often have the fewest resources and the most constraints on their civil rights, and live in the most polluted places...

A note about the President:

...consider this: I am a Black woman from a rural community, one of the poorest regions of the United States, where concerns are more likely to be ignored than addressed. This year, I was invited to co-chair the first-ever White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, which Biden elevated from a little-known EPA committee. That is progress, and gives me hope for the future.

Language extinction triggers the loss of unique medicinal knowledge

The paper I'll discuss in this post is this one: Language extinction triggers the loss of unique medicinal knowledge (Rodrigo Cámara-Leret and Jordi Bascompte PNAS 2021 Vol. 118 No. 24 e2103683118)

I was directed to this interesting paper by this article in popular press: Extinction of Indigenous languages leads to loss of exclusive knowledge about medicinal plants (Mongabay by Sibélia Zanon on 20 September 2021 | Translated by Maya Johnson) , which in turn came in my email from my Nature Briefing subscription.

It was my privilege to work in various capacities on the development of several drugs that were discovered originally in plants, two of the taxanes for cancer, originally found in Oregon Yew Tree bark, and irinotecan, originally obtained from the bark of the Chinese "Happy Tree." I supported a group working on the total synthesis. (It was very exciting.) I'm working with a team developing one now, but I can't talk about it.

Although many drugs have been obtained from molecules in plants, or derived from them, we have only scratched the surface of drugs available.

The paper linked above gives an interesting perspective about which I had not thought.

From the introduction:

Indigenous people have accumulated a sophisticated knowledge about plants and their services—including knowledge that confers significant health benefits (1)—that is encoded in their languages (2). Indigenous knowledge, however, is increasingly threatened by language loss (3) and species extinctions (4, 5). On one hand, language disuse is strongly associated with decreases in indigenous knowledge about plants (6). On the other hand, global change will constrain the geographic ranges of many human-utilized endemic plants and crops (7, 8). Together, language extinction and reductions in useful plant species within the coming century may limit the full potential of nature’s contributions to people and the discovery of unanticipated uses. So far, however, our understanding of the degree to which the loss of indigenous languages may result in the loss of linguistically unique knowledge and how this risk compares to that posed by ecological extinction has been limited (Fig. 1)...

Figure 1:

The caption:

Medicinal plant knowledge and its association with indigenous languages. The figure illustrates a regional pharmacy with remedies (jars with plants) cited by languages (jar labels). In this paper, we assess to what degree the knowledge contained in this pharmacy would be eroded by the extinction of either indigenous languages or plants.

Another image, Figure 2:

The caption:

Fig. 2.
Most medicinal knowledge is unique to a single language. Histograms depict the number of indigenous languages that cite a medicinal service. (A) North America. (B) Northwest Amazonia. (C) New Guinea. Red bars show medicinal plant services only known to one language. Dots within the maps indicate the distribution of languages.

The caption:

Fig. 3.
Distribution of unique knowledge across languages. Trees represent language phylogenies of North America (n = 119 languages) (A); northwest Amazonia (n = 37 languages) (B); and New Guinea (n = 80 languages) (C). Illustrations represent indigenous groups whose languages have the highest number of unique medicinal services per region. These languages are indicated by their corresponding numbers in the linguistic trees: 1, Cherokee; 2, Huron–Wyandot; 3, Navajo; 4, Ticuna; 5, Barasana–Eduria; 6, Cubeo; 7, Biak; 8, Lower Grand Valley Dani; and 9, Molima. Language names at phylogeny tips are abbreviated following Glottolog codes. For the list of language names and Glottolog codes, see SI Appendix, Table S2.

Figure 4:

The caption:

Distribution of unique knowledge across medicinal floras. Trees represent medicinal plant phylogenies of North America (n = 2,475 species) (A); northwest Amazonia (n = 645 species) (B); and New Guinea (n = 477 species) (C). Illustrations and their corresponding numbers show the plant species with more unique medicinal services per region. 1, Liriodendron tulipifera; 2, Persea borbonia; 3, Pinus glabra; 4, Tachigali paniculata; 5, Fittonia albivenis; 6, Tetrapterys styloptera; 7, Inocarpus fagifer; 8, Flagellaria indica; and 9, Cordyline fruticosa. All illustrations from www.plantillustrations.org belong to the public domain.

From the conclusion the paper:

Only about 6% of higher plants have been screened for biological activity (21). Therefore, assessing to what degree linguistically unique medicinal services are truly effective in the Western sense is beyond the scope of this paper. In many instances, these plants have been proven medicinally effective (12, 22⇓⇓⇓⇓–27), albeit there are also exceptions (28, 29). Regardless of that, here, we treat this knowledge as what it is: part of the cultural heritage of indigenous people.

The United Nations declared 2022–2032 as the International Decade of Indigenous Languages to raise awareness about their importance for sustainable development and their endangerment across the world. Our study suggests that each indigenous language brings unique insights that may be complementary to other societies that seek potentially useful medicinal remedies. Therefore, the predicted extinction of up to 30% of indigenous languages by the end of the 21st century (3) would substantially compromise humanity’s capacity for medicinal discovery.

I'm not sure if the PNAS paper is open sourced, but the Mongabay article probably is.

Interesting I think.

Analysis: Expensive winter ahead as Europe's power prices surge

It seems that despite all this "green" so called "renewable energy" taking over Germany - we hear time and time and time again that it's "cheap" - and that offshore oil and gas drilling hellhole, Denmark, electricity prices in Europe are surging.

It seems there is a shortage of the dangerous fossil fuel dangerous natural gas to burn followed by unrestricted dumping of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide directly into the atmosphere.

Analysis: Expensive winter ahead as Europe's power prices surge

Short article, but here's a few excerpts:

FRANKFURT/LONDON/PARIS Sept 10 (Reuters) - A record run in energy prices that pushed European electricity costs to multi-year highs is unlikely to ease off before year-end, pointing to an expensive winter heating season for consumers.

The key benchmark EU and French power contracts have both doubled so far this year due to a confluence of factors ranging from Asia's economic recovery - which sent related coal and gas prices soaring - to political will to drive up European carbon emission permits, higher oil prices and low local renewable output.

The benchmark EU power contract, German Cal 2022 baseload power , on Friday set a new contract record of 97.25 euros ($115.09) a megawatt hour (MWh), while its French equivalent was just off a record 100.4 euros/MWh...

"As soon as the market realises there is a real flow going through it, the gas market will go down," said Slavov.

...Gas demand from power stations has been high due to lower than average wind speeds in Europe, curbing power generation from wind farms.

Analysts ICIS Energy said wind generation in Germany over the next two weeks is expected to average only 5 gigawatts (GW) a day compared to an average of over 10 GW for the three previous Septembers...

...European steam coal prices for power generation are at 12-year highs, and at 13-year peaks in Asia.

At least one factor, nuclear availability in major power exporter France, should bring peace of mind as engineers have worked hard to improve the fleet - though Europe-wide, the picture for nuclear is mixed, as power stations in big markets like Britain and Germany close.

Current French daily nuclear availability is seen at between 45 GW and 47 GW for September, which is about 73-75% of the installed total and between 6 and 7 GW above the five-year average, according to ICIS and data from grid company RTE.

November and December availability should be near 90%.

The reason for this is clear despite all the hoopla we hear about how "cheap" wind and solar are, but almost always escapes attention.

The reason can be made obvious by asking the following question: How expensive is wind energy when the wind isn't blowing?

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