The Media Can’t Handle the Cold in South Korea

It’s been about -10 degrees Fahrenheit at the Winter Olympics, and the media is freaking out. For the Winter Olympics, it should be cold. But THIS cold? | Fox News

The competition is taking place in Pyeongchang, in South Korea, where temperatures have plummeted to -23 degrees Celsius over the last week. The U.K.-based Sun said the intense cold has caused BBC electronic equipment to fail.

Electronic equipment shouldn’t fail at minus 10 degrees. Though you might have trouble with diesel generators.

The strangest thing is the makeup. They are shocked to discover that water-based anything will freeze in temperatures that low. Next time around they should contract with news outlets from Chicago, Minneapolis, Green Bay and other places that are used to those conditions.

In South Korea, host of the games that started this week, it’s been so chilling, in fact, that according to some reports, TV presenters are struggling to talk after their water-based TV makeup froze to their faces,. According to The Sun, the weather at the games is said to be the coldest in more than 20 years.

I blame global warming.

But seriously, shouldn’t SOMEBODY have looked into the conditions that would prevail, and then consider will all of our normal stuff work in that environment? Apparently nobody did.

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The Useless Nitwits at the UN: Still Making Bad Situations Worse

Because what does a war-torn, disease-ravaged country need besides hazardous waste? UN support for cholera-stricken Somalia includes raw sewage runoffs, hazardous waste dumps | Fox News

Usually it’s the blue-helmeted “peacekeepers,” but not this time.

The main difference this time: the accusations are leveled not at a major force of blue-helmeted U.N. peacekeepers but at a 595-person U.N. mission known as UNSOS, providing infrastructure and field support—including safe disposal of sewage and waste– to some 30,000 or so African Union and Somali National Army forces that are battling Islamist Al Shabaab extremists and struggling to create order in one of the world’s most dangerous countries.

The auditor’s report said it would not be hard to figure out if there was a sanitary/environmental “mistake” the UN folks hadn’t made.

Non-treatment of sewage, not even proper pit latrines. Stockpiles of toxic waste including tires, electrical equipment, etc. The list of things done wrong is staggering. (Though they have communications – in the form of propaganda posters – to tell everyone what a great job is happening.

Somalia is struggling with cholera and other diseases. (50% of the population has no sanitation.) And the UN was supposed to make things better, but the UN is pretty much incapable of making anything better. Useless Nitwits doesn’t cover it.

Global Warming is Causing Trouble in Europe

Or is it climate change? I can’t keep track.

Extreme snow is causing trouble in Switzerland. Isn’t Switzerland set up to handle extreme snow, by most people’s reckoning? UPDATED: 13,000 tourists stranded in Zermatt, village cut off as avalanche risk raised to max

Several villages in southern Switzerland, including the ski resort of Zermatt, were cut off from the outside world on Tuesday after extreme weather conditions raised the avalanche risk to the maximum level.

Freeze warnings in Spain come after heavy snows. Big freeze continues across Spain with 30 provinces on alert

The national weather agency (AEMET) has issued weather warnings for 30 provinces with yellow alerts for much of Castile and Leon, Madrid, La Rioja and Aragon and also in the south of the country around Granada and Malaga.

The French Alps are buried in snow. IN PICTURES: French Alps hit by ‘once-in-a-generation’ snow storms

Parts of the French Alps have been hit by the kind of snowfall that only comes once every 30 years. These images show ski resorts buried in the snow.

Italy is the only country where the weather can’t make up its mind. Avalanches in the north, record heat in the south: Italy hit by extreme weather

Meanwhile the northern regions of Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta remain in the depths of winter – and on high alert for avalanches after more than two metres of snowfall in the past 48 hours.

Two meters is more than 6 feet of snow. In 2 days? Yikes! (New York City was going bonkers over “nearly 10 inches of snow.” Wimps.)

New High Tech Stuff Isn’t Always More ‘Environmentally Friendly’

Which is why the EPA won’t let certain things be manufactured in the US. (Not that shipping that manufacturing overseas is really ‘good’ for the environment. But NIMBY is a strong force in America.)

So first up is the whole electric vehicle craze. (And it is a craze.) The Silicon Graybeard: All-Electric Small Airplane

OK, so there’s an electric plane. Not the first. The thing that caught my eye…

Earlier this week, several outlets reported a study from the Swedish Environmental Research Insitute that the “carbon footprint” of producing the batteries for an electric car was equivalent to driving for 8 years. This ignored recharging the batteries for the life of the car, which is obviously coming from an electric power generating plant somewhere, so more than likely generating CO2 itself. I’m sure you’ve seen electric cars referred to as coal powered.

The report shows that the battery manufacturing leads to high emissions. For every kilowatt hour of storage capacity in the battery generated emissions of 150 to 200 kilos of carbon dioxide already in the factory. The researchers did not study individual brand batteries, how these were produced, or the electricity mix they use.

As Graybeard points out, battery researchers are struggling to come up with batteries that have 4% of the energy density of gasoline. (450 Wh/kg versus 12,000 Wh/kg.) And the “8 year” figure doesn’t include charging of the batteries. That is just the carbon cost of producing the battery.

This reminds me of the state of fusion power over the past few decades. Since before I graduated from college, fusion power has been “just around the corner.” And while the ITER (the current international attempt at fusion) might actually produce a reactor that generates more power than it consumes, no utility will ever build one. Imagining Fusion Power | Energy Matters

First off, fusion reactors based on the Tokamak design will produce large amounts of neutrons. These will turn all of the components of the Tokamak into radioactive waste. Large quantities of radioactive waste.

The Hirsch article tells you that worldwide fusion energy research is almost totally focused on a concept called the tokamak, a toroidal (donut) shaped system, which uses the deuterium-tritium (DT) fusion fuel cycle. You are reminded that the DT cycle is characterized by the copious emission of neutrons, which will result in the creation of large quantities of radioactivity, no matter what materials are used to build such a system. Opps! Managing large quantities of radioactive material raises a huge red flag with you, based on the experience with nuclear power plants. Not good!

So we would have EXACTLY the same problems with fusion reactors – storing radioactive waste – that makes the population hate fission reactors. Not a “clean technology.”

Then there is the likelihood of a regular explosion.

ITER-Tokamak reactors appear to be seriously wanting, in part because of the massive amount of radioactivity that will be produced and in part because its massive superconducting magnets could suddenly go normal, resulting in an explosion of the magnitude of a World War II blockbuster bomb.

So radioactive debris in the middle of something that could let go with the force of a VERY large conventional bomb. Yeah, sign me up for one of those!

While I’m not of the “let’s dump all fusion research” camp, I am aware of the fact that there are problems with the current design. And we’ve sort of put all of our eggs in one basket on that front.

On the electric vehicle front, I think that day will dawn, but it will take some serious developments in either battery or super capacitor research. I actually think some of the research being done in artificial photosynthesis to produce alcohol fuels has more promise. But that doesn’t get much press.

I Blame Global Warming

Snow is not unheard of at this time of year in Norway, but the amount of snow is record-setting. Norwegians take skis out of storage after freak snowfall – The Local

Norway is currently under an amount of snow extremely rare for late spring, with up to half a metre of snow falling in areas outside of Oslo.

Ski resorts are opening. Police are telling people who have taken the snow-tires off their cars to stay home.

This comes on the heels of a late freeze in various wine-growing portions of Europe. April frost threatens vineyards in parts of Europe – StarTribune.com

Worst disaster in 25 years threatens valuable crops.