There is no question -- none -- that Israel's attack on Hamas in Gaza is justified. No nation can tolerate a portion of its people living in the conditions of the London Blitz -- listening for sirens, sleeping in bomb shelters and separated from death only by the randomness of a Qassam missile's flight. And no group aspiring to nationhood, such as Hamas, can be exempt from the rules of sovereignty, morality and civilization, which, at the very least, forbid routine murder attempts against your neighbors.Correct on the first point, missed on the second. Yes, Israel's elimination of Hamas' rocket threat is justified. But, no, sorry - Hamas does not "aspire" to nationhood. Hamas is entirely uninterested in creating a nation out of Gaza or the West Bank and Gaza combined.
Mr. Gerson has apparently fallen into the fallacy that the rulers of the Palestinian people desire for the "peace process" to work just as its Western proponents envision. That is the "two state solution" for which the objective is a Jewish state of Israel and an independent Palestinian state of the West Bank and Gaza, with the Bank being, finally, free of Israeli presence and most (or all) of the Jewish settlements that have been built there over the years.
This is in fact exactly what the Olmert government and its immediate predecessors have sought since at least the last decade. It is exactly what then Prime Minister Ehud Barak agreed to under the sponsorship of the Bill Clinton administration. In July 2000 at Camp David, Barak agreed to literally 95 percent of the demands made by the president of the Palestinian Authority, Yasir Arafat. In response, Arafat walked out of the conference and went back to the West Bank.
No one who has ever exercised political authority among the Palestinians has ever committed to a two-state solution. Under Arafat, and continuing today, the future Palestinian state is envisioned entirely as extending across the whole of the West Bank, Gaza and all of Israel. Israel, as a Jewish state, governed by the Western traditions of democracy, must vanish from history and its land "returned" to the Arabs.This is the only sense in which Hamas aspires to anything resembling nationhood. Hamas has no desire whatsoever to make Gaza or the West Bank into a nation. Its very charter states plainly:
"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it."It is important to understand that the elimination of Israel as an independent Jewish state is also the goal of Fatah, the largest faction of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), a confederation of anti-Israel groups brought together by Yasir Arafat in the 1960s. The present Palestinian Authority (PA) grew out of the PLO as a result of the Oslo Accords of 1993, which was yet another Western-sponsored attempt to move toward implementing the two-state solution. Fatah still thrives as a political and militia group in the West Bank. In fact, apart from Fatah there would be no Palestinian Authority.
"The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. ""There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."
The only difference between Hamas and Fatah/PA is one of tactics, not of objectives. Hamas is founded on violent jihad against Israel and in theory and practice has no use for conferencing or diplomacy. This is not conjecture; Hamas has stated it plainly. Hamas only strategy is warfare against Israel.
Fatah, on the other hand, is more willing to bide its time and use the so-called peace process to advance its goals. It is probably even willing to accept a two-state solution as a temporary measure from which to gain strength, influence and international legitimacy to advance the elimination of Jewish Israel and subsume it into a future, Muslim greater Palestine.
The civil war that Hamas and Fatah fought beginning in 2006, peaking in mid-2007, was not over differences in ultimate objectives, but over, mainly, who would rule the Palestinians and by what means their common objectives would be achieved.
The Fatah map, above, represents completely the goal of both Hamas and Fatah. That is the nationhood both factions aspire to. (Gerson's op-ed is very good, btw, read the whole thing.)
I have not posted here in quite awhile, but Michael Totten's piece on what an Israeli "proportional" response would look like prompted me to add my two cents.
Michael is quite right, of course, and the charges of disproportionality thrown at Israel are hurled with no evidence that the accusers have ever actually studied Just War theory, of which proportionality is one tenet.For example,
The top U.N. human rights official says Israel's military response to the firing of rockets at its territory by Palestinian militants is "disproportionate." U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay says she is distressed at the enormous loss of life in Gaza and calls on Israel to prevent collective punishment and the targeting of civilians.I wrote on my own blog about what proportionality really means in Just War theory and why it does not mean tit-for-tat responses or responses limited in type, duration or nature to the attacks Hamas has launched against Israel. If it did mean that, then Israel would be justified simply to fire rockets back at Gaza with no regard of where they fell or whom they killed, and they'd have several thousand of such responses left to go. That is, after all, exactly what Hamas has done to Israel.
Under international law, Israel is not required to calibrate its use of force precisely according to the size and range of the weaponry used against it. Israel is not expected to make Kassam rockets and lob them back into Gaza. When international legal experts use the term "disproportionate use of force," they have a very precise meaning in mind. As the president of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Rosalyn Higgins, has noted, proportionality "cannot be in relation to any specific prior injury - it has to be in relation to the overall legitimate objective of ending the aggression."There is a difference in Just War theory between proportionality and discrimination. The latter means that a belligerent must identify enemy locations, personnel or facilities that are valid military-related targets and which are not. A command headquarters is valid. A schoolhouse is not. Yet a combatant does not gain immunity from attack of its headquarters by locating it inside a schoolhouse. The Geneva Conventions specifically forbid the militarization of protected facilities and also state that once they are militarized they are no longer protected.
That's discrimination - taking the necessary steps to minimize (not eliminate) noncombatant casualties. Proportionality means using the violence necessary to achieve the just end of the campaign, but not more violence than necessary. It does not mean trying to make a calculus of violence where Israel cannot use more than Hamas.As I pointed out in "Intentional Lethality," Israel's attacks are intended to do four main things:
1. Kill as many high-level Hamas figures as possible. 2. Reduce the ranks of Hamas rank and file by causing casualties among them.This is to say, Israel's objective is not simply to stop the rocket attacks for now, but permanently. Is that objective a just aim of its warfare against Hamas? Most certainly. Hence, Israel's obligation to the principle of proportionality is twofold: One, not to use more violence than necessary to achieve that end, but second - and this is critically overlooked by critics - to employ the level of violence necessary to attain the end. In other words, Just War theory says that if the aim of the war is just, then it is waging unjust war to stop short of attaining the just end or to fail to use the measures necessary to attain it.
3. Provide disincentives for Gazans' support of Hamas' control of their political future and hence,
4. Delegitimize Hamas' authority.
Israel aims to do two things, broadly: first, eliminate Hamas's present capability to launch its rockets by destroying its materiel and personnel and second, set conditions that hopefully eliminate the chances of the attacks being resumed later.Even some voices putatively supporting Israel's campaign don't grasp the nuances. Lionel Beehner, in The Huffington Post, writes,
A state is legally allowed to unilaterally defend itself and right a wrong provided the response is proportional to the injury suffered and is immediate, necessary, refrains from targeting civilians, and requires only enough force to reinstate the status quo ante. Also implied in this argument is the right of Israel to prevent Hamas from carrying out future cross-border attacks.Reinstate the status quo ante? Even Gen. William T. Sherman understood that the only rightful aim of war was to establish a more just peace. The status quo is what Israel found so intolerable that it went to war. How can just war be fought to maintain an unjust status quo? It cannot. Furthermore, if, as Mr. Beehner says, "implied in this argument is the right of Israel to prevent Hamas from carrying out future cross-border attack," how is that like the status quo ante, during which Hamas did carry out such attacks? Mr. Beehner in the end gamely tries to hold up the Left's criticism but trips up on his own contradictions. (In fact, he concludes by saying that Israel should have responded not at all to Hamas' rocket attacks!)
However, the vapidity of the disproportionality criticism can be seen by examining our own system of crime and punishment. Criminals are not sentenced to carefully calibrated punishments that exactly match the damage they caused in the crime. If someone steals your car, the judge doesn't merely make him forfeit his own car. The crook both goes to jail and must make restitution to you. A victim of an armed robbery may lose only a few dollars and suffer a bad fright, but the robber goes to prison for a mandatory seven years here in Tennessee. Finally, the "disproportionate" critics would have to agree, I presume, that a murderer's death sentence is just and proportionate to his crime - take a life, lose yours. But they won't, you betcha.
Also see The Reformed Pastor's thoughts about, "The Gospel of Proportionality."
Prof. Amy-Jill Levine is a Jewish woman who attends an orthodox synagogue in Nashville and who occupies an endowed chair of New Testament studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School. If you make a habit of watching the various Jesus TV shows that appear around Christmastime and Easter, you've probably seen her on camera. A-J, as her students call her (I was her student, and still consider myself such) is an engaging lecturer with an appealing sense of humor and a simply awesome command of the various themes, facts and passages of the New Testament. And she treats the New Testament a lot better than many Christian professors, clergy and laity treat the Old Testament.
Which brings me to her latest book, The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus. It is precisely, I think, because of A-J's deep appreciation of Jesus as a specifically Jewish man, and the plainly Jewish character of the New Testament, that leads her to describe and rebut Christians' historic and ongoing habit of thinking of Jesus as some kind of "counter-Jew" who had little regard for his own religious traditions and teachings, or whom actually sought to contradict them. Even worse has been the use of the New Testament by Christians over the years to justify anti-Judaism, which is a very short step removed from anti-Jew, a position that is simply not tenable with the identity and life of Jesus.
But this book is not another bewailing of how Christian Germany came to commit the Holocaust. In fact, the Shoah gets about two sentences in her book, about the same as the Spanish Inquisition. Rather, the book is an introduction into the Jewishness of Jesus himself and of his place and time. Just as importantly, A-J explains simply and thoroughly the errors of both the Church and the Academy in drawing conclusions about presumed monolithic Judaism by supposing that whatever Jesus seemed to oppose must have been normative in Judaism of his day. That is, clergy and scholars alike haven't studied Judaica to speak of, but nonetheless think that the New Testament describes Judaism both accurately and exhaustively. It just is not so.
As well, A-J exposes how modern theological fads (liberationism, feminism and many others), have so idealized Jesus away from his personal Jewishness that he becomes a heroic figure exemplifying whatever the faddists a priori wish him to be. Jesus' own people then become the paradigm for whomever the faddists wish to oppose in the present day, and the dysfunctions and injustices of today - whether patriarchy, colonialism, or various exploitations - are retrojected as the norm of first-century Judaism. Jews are then portrayed, often quite explicitly, as domineering oppressors of class, gender, the outcast and the marginalized. Hence, in seeking to identify Jesus with the Palestinian cause today, one writer makes explicit a connection across two millennia between the Israeli "occupiers" of the West Bank and the Jews who killed Jesus.
Finally, the book appeals to Jews not dismiss the Christian testament as wholly antithetical to Judaism's history and current practice. A-J explains, for example, how the Lord's Prayer (called, the "Our Father" prayer in Catholicism) is a Jewish prayer through and through. (I remember this explanation from my first New Testament class with her, too.) Noting that after two thousand years of history it is too much to expect that Jews today will feel comfortable in praying it, she uses it to point out how Christian faith and practice is still pervaded by Jewish traditions and that there are many positive points of contact that adherents of either faith would be better off to appreciate.
I recommend the book without reservation. It's the best religious-topic book I have read in several years.
The alternate history of June 6, 1944 is too terrible to contemplate
There are few days in history that continue to capture the imagination and fascination of Americans the way June 6, 1944 does. Perhaps the day's only close rival is the day President Kennedy was shot.
There is an old preacher story, so old it is a cliche of bad sermons now, that goes like this: An angel awoke who had slept through the first two centuries after Jesus had gone down to earth and ascended back to heaven.
The angel went to the Lord and asked, “Where did you go?”
Jesus replied, “I've been down on earth.”
The angel asked, "How did it go?"
Jesus said, "They crucified me."
The angel protested, "You must have had a wide influence."
Jesus said, "I had twelve followers, and one betrayed me to my death."
The angel asked, "What will become of your work?"
Jesus said, "I left it in the hands of my friends."
"And if they fail?" asked the angel.
Jesus said, "I have no other plans."
That punchline, I think, is why D-Day remains so compelling. The specter of defeat on June 6, 1944 was overwhelmingly dreadful. The Allies had no other plans. There was no Plan B in case the landings were repulsed.
Failure would have meant a Soviet-dominated Europe, probably all the way to the English Channel, a greatly extended war and an even more horrific death toll in the Pacific. Read why I think so at Sense of Events.
But not because he's Jewish, Zionist or anything like that. It's because Olmert is only a little corrupt. Israeli-Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh writes in the Jeruslaem Post of some of the reactions across the Arab world to the intensifying pressures on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign because of corruption charges.Among other things, Olmert is accused of accepting $150,000 in bribes from an American over a 14-year period, which Mr. Toameh said evoked this response from foreign Arabs.
"They say he received something like $3,000 a year," said Abu Atab from Morocco inaccurately. "This shows that Olmert is a decent man. This is a small sum that any Arab government official would receive on a daily basis as a bribe. Our leaders steal millions of dollars and no one dares to hold them accountable."
Touching on the same issue, a reader from Algeria posted this comment: "In the Arab world, our leaders don't accept less than $1 million in bribes; the money must be deposited in secret bank accounts in Switzerland. Olmert is a fool if he took only a small sum."Another comment, this time from Ahmed in Jordan, also referred to the alleged amount: "Only a few thousand dollars? What a fool! This is what an Egyptian minister gets in a day or what a Saudi CEO gets in 45 minutes, or a Kuwaiti government official in five minutes. This is what the physician of the emir of Qatar gets every 30 seconds."
A Saudi national named Abdel Karim urged his Arab brethren to stop criticizing Israel and learn something about its democracy. "Before we curse Israel, we must learn from the democratic and judicial system in Israel, where no one is above the law," he wrote.One Arab reader offered some advice to Olmert:
Khaled, another Saudi national, chimed in: "Although we are talking about Israel, which I have always hated very much, there is still no one above the law there."
Mahmoud al-Bakili of Yemen posted the following response on one of the Web sites: "We want this kind of accountability and transparency in the Arab and Islamic world."And there was this comment from an Arab who described himself as a Syrian Voice: "Despite my strong hatred for the Zionist regime, I have a lot of admiration and respect for this entity because there is no one above the law. In the Arab world, laws are broken every day and no one seems to care."
One Arab commentator who identified himself as Jasser Abdel Hamid advised Olmert to seek citizenship of one of the Arab countries. "Why don't you seek Arab citizenship?" he asked sarcastically. "There you can take as much money as you want. Even if they discover the theft, they will erect a statue for you in a public square."Finally, Rashid Bohairi in Kuwait asked a very good question: "What about the millions of dollars that Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority stole? How come the Palestinian people are still hungry?"
Well, yes. Even the Palestinian Authority admitted that Yasir Arafat stole them blind, but then its post-Arafat leaders went right on doing the same thing.
BTW, along with 11 others in my group, I met and talked with journalist Toameh in Israel last October.
My blogging colleague, Daniel jackson, writing from Israel, says that for the first time Olmert may be doing something right by giving the Arab world these object lessons.
There is a worldwide secular religion which we may call environmentalism, holding that we are stewards of the earth, that despoiling the planet with waste products of our luxurious living is a sin, and that the path of righteousness is to live as frugally as possible. [From, "The Question of Global Warming."]Dyson is not the first to point out that environmentalism has morphed into an actual religion in its own right. In Global Cooling Ain't so Hot, Either, I pointed out:
Michael Crichton and J.R. Dunn have written highly insightful essays about how environmentalism is a religion in its own right. See “Environmentalism as Religion” by Crichton and Dunn’s piece, “A Necessary Apocalypse,” in which he shows how gobal-warming environmentalism is not merely a religion, it is an apocalyptic religion. Its deity is Mother Earth (Gaia), for whom human beings are mortal enemies. NBC’s Matt Lauer inadvertantly gave away Gaiaism’s central article of faith thus:There is, I think, a close correspondence between the main articles of religion of Judaism-Christianity and those of contemporary environmentalism, so much so that I would say enviromentalism's religious template is culturally derived from Christianity and its parent, Judaism. However, enviromentalism offers neither paradise nor "life more abundant." But there is more than mere religiousity at work in environmentalism. H.L. Mencken observed, "The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule it." And so it is, I think, with environmentalism today.Earth’s intricate web of ecosystems thrived for millions of years as natural paradises, until we came along, paved paradise, and put up a parking lot. Our assault on nature is killing off the very things we depend on for our own lives … The stark reality is that there are simply too many of us, and we consume way too much, especially here at home.My second son was required to take ecology his junior year in high school; he related to me that the curriculum basically said there was nothing wrong with earth that the disappearance of humanity wouldn’t cure.
Read the rest at Sense of Events.
Is this how we will propel our cars in the near future?
In, "Buy a Honda, Kill a Polar Bear, " I explored the practicality of hydrogen as a fuel for automobiles, either to use in on-board fuel cells to generate electricity, or to enhance gasoline combustion by adding the hydrogen to the air-intake flow just before injection into the combustion chamber.
Fuel-cell technology is proven and the new, all-electric Honda Clarity is being offered for lease (only) in southern California this year. It is powered only by a fuel cell stack.
As for whether hydrogen-has (H2) injection into the intake manifold of IC engines really is valid for improving efficiency, there are a lot of web sites that reek of snake-oil salesmanship. Promises of up to 60 percent better gas mileage are made. My reservation was not whether H2 injection actually improves gasoline combustion at least some, but whether there is a net energy gain because of the energy required to make the H2 to begin with, especially with on-board H2 reforming or electrolysis.
Setting aside the web sites selling plans for such systems, it turns out that H2 on-board generation is in fact energy efficient. The increased engine power and fuel efficiency is not gained from burning the H2 instead of gasoline. Adding H2 to the fuel-air mixture increases the flame temperature, enables a higher compression ratio and, most significantly, enables the engine to run with greater efficiency on a much leaner fuel-air mixture. All these things combine to improve fuel economy quite a bit.
But only in engines designed for H2 injection. Retrofitting a car with an H2 system gives some benefit, but not a lot, and one auto forum member who tried it pretty much concluded its maintenance and aggravation were more trouble than they were worth.
Note that there is no violation of the laws of thermodynamics here. The improved efficiency does not come from burning the H2, but from H2's catalytic effect on the gasoline's combustion. The energy gained from burning the H2 is less than the energy it took to electrolyze or reform it, but the energy gained from improved gasoline efficiency is more than the energy required to make the H2. And the net energy gotten from the gasoline is still less than the energy it took nature to make the oil to begin with.
Now, on to plasma-drive cars.
Using a magnetic and electrical reaction to break down the fuel molecules into their elemental state, the PICC creates a plasma, which burns super efficiently and cleanly!
Italics original. The site claims its system can improve gas-engine efficiency by up to nine times. Their test car, they claim, improved from 22 mpg to almost 200 mpg.
I actually laughed aloud when I read that. Yet as it turns out, gas-plasma engines may be a near-term reality after all. That from no less authority than the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which says that Plasma combustion technology could dramatically improve fuel efficiency.
The technology, a plasma combustion technique that applies electrical voltage to the gaseous-phase fuel stream prior to combustion-turning the fuel into a plasma-has already produced excellent results with propane. ...
Kerosene, propane, gasoline and diesel fuel are all hydrocarbons, all made up of the same basic chemical constituents but separated by the size of their individual molecules. The more efficient fuels, and therefore more highly refined and expensive kerosene and propane, consist of fairly small chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms, whereas the less efficient and cheaper fuels, gasoline and diesel, are made of long chains of molecules. According to Coates, when electrodes attached at the spray nozzle of a fuel injector apply enough voltage to the fuel, energetic plasma electrons from voltage-induced breakdown of the fuel cause reactive species to be created, changing the basic chemical composition as the fuel becomes a plasma
"You put into an engine the equivalent of a 'process plant' or fuel refinery," said Coates. "The plasma unit basically acts like a 'cracker' in a refinery, cutting the long chains of hydrocarbons into bite-size parts -- the smaller the parts the better the burn -- taking cheap fuels and making them combust like expensive ones."The three researchers also believe they can construct a device that is relatively simple, cheap and easy to retrofit to existing fuel injection systems.
The Lab makes no claim of how much efficiency will be gained using its system, but it would seem to be a very large amount.
But wait, there's more!
Massachusetts Institute of Technology is also working on plasma system for cars. Their tack is a little different. Instead of making the fuel itself into plasma for combustion, they use a plasma unit to reform gasoline into H2, which is mixed with the air-fuel mixture as I described above:
MIT claims that their system can make a significant impact on petroleum use by 2025 while fuel-cell vehicles, they say, won't do so until 2050.
Of the two approaches, the Los Alamos system seems to me to offer the most promise because it can be retrofitted to existing engines and because it does not involve injecting H2 into the combustion chamber. It's not that the latter doesn't work, it's that doing so (as a retrofit) runs the risk of hydrogen embrittlement of engine parts and rust of interior engine parts since the product of H2 combustion is water.
When it comes to fighting global warming, Honda has rolled out the worst car on the planet: the new Clarity.This is the first auto that runs on fuel cells ever offered to consumers. As Honda's site explains,
Fuel cells produce electricity that can be used as a clean alternative to gasoline. The fuel cell stack in the FCX Clarity converts hydrogen(H2) and oxygen (O2) into electricity. Learn more about How Fuel Cells Work.As Honda's TV ads point out, the only exhaust from the Clarity is water vapor. The Clarity is obviously designed to capture the market of car buyers who think that gasoline engines are bad things for the environment because they emit carbon dioxide. So the Clarity, emitting only simple water vapor, must be magnitudes better at rolling back global warming, yes?
Problem is, when it comes to global warming, water vapor is enemy number one: "Water vapor constitutes Earth's most significant greenhouse gas, accounting for about 95% of Earth's greenhouse effect."
So buy a Clarity and kill the polar bears!
Okay, a little more serious. The Clarity's fuel cell stack produces electricity that is sent to a battery, and from there powers the car's electric motor. How fuel cells work is explained here. The cells use hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity. Where does the hydrogen come from? Honda doesn't say, except to note that it is "stored in a fuel tank onboard the vehicle." The oxygen is from the atmosphere.
Which is all fine, but where does the driver get the hydrogen to begin with? Hydrogen gas, H2, is not found free in nature. There are two ways to separate hydrogen from its compounds: hydrolysis and reforming. The former, most commonly and easily done with water, uses electricity and a catalyst to break H2O into H2 and O2. Reforming uses heat instead of electricity.
More than 90 percent of the hydrogen produced in the world is obtained by steam reforming of natural gas. It's not energy efficient since the energy gained from the hydrogen gas is less than the energy required to produce it. H2 produced in this manner is not used for fuel, though, but for industrial and chemical purposes.
There is nothing on the Clarity's web pages to indicate that H2 is produced aboard the vehicle. It can be done using either method. See, for example, the Youtube vid at the end of my post on the coming 500 mpg car to see how reforming works aboard a car using the exhaust for heat. Substitute alternator-supplied electricity for exhaust reforming and you can eletrolyze H2 from water. Both such systems supply gasoline engines, though, while the Clarity uses no petroleum product for fuel. (I remember reading that GM is working on an on-board system to produce H2 from the auto's gasoline itself by reforming.
Sorry, didn't record the link. Here it is.)
So the source of the Clarity's hydrogen is perhaps another issue to consider. Nothing on the site indicates that H2 is made aboard the car. If the H2 is produced using electrcity somewhere, then odds are that coal produces that electricity. So the CO2 production has been merely moved off the auto to another emitter. Also, does it take more energy to produce the H2, whatever the source, than the H2 supplies? If so, exactly what is the benefit of the Clarity?
I also note that H2 gas is itself pretty much the perfect fuel for internal-combustion engines. Engineers have known for decades that hydrogen injection into the air intake, just before injecting into the combustion chamber, improves fuel efficiency enormously. By weight, hydrogen has three times the energy of gasoline. The first patent for this scheme was granted in 1934.
The rub has always been how to get the hydrogen gas. H2 is very difficult to store. Hydrogen atoms are so small that making a leakproof container is no simple thing. H2 gas takes up a lot of space, making it imperative either to compress it (adding a safety concern and increasing the leaking challenge) or liquefying it (adding the refrigeration problem of mobile storage). And both compression and liquefaction of H2 add weight and complexity to an auto.
Presumably, the Clarity has an on-board tank of compressed H2. I don't know enough about fuel-cell engineering to know how much H2 it takes to propel the car 300 miles, the driving range car companies aim for no matter the fuel.
On the whole, I would have to say that on-board generation of H2 gas, to be added to the existing fuel-air mixture of a gasoline-powered vehicle, would essentially solve the problem Honda's engineers were trying to solve. The advantage is that the H2 would be electrolyzed aboard the car from either water-plus-catalyst (baking soda works) or heat-reformed from either water or the gasoline itself. Drivers then need not drive around with a compressed-gas tank and can refuel with water or gasoline just as simply as they refuel now.
Update: The car's web site does say on one page that "Hydrogen fuel stations are critical to the deployment of a fuel cell car," clearly meaning that the car does not generate its H2 aboard. This is made more explicit elsewhere on the site, too.
I am not suggesting that the negative balance of energy derived from H2 vs. the energy required to make it can be overcome. I have not yet found a way to repeal the second law of thermodynamics! It's the ratio that counts - witness the debate about whether making corn ethanol is really worth the energy costs to grow and transport the corn in the first place.
I am suggesting that on-board "cracking" of bound hydrogen from water or hydrocarbon fuel would seem to offer a better ratio. Here's why. The heat the Israeli engineer uses (of the Youtube vid referenced in the post) to reform H2 aboard his van comes from the van's exhaust. That means he is using a waste product of combustion to reform the H2. Whether he uses the H2 system or not, the van will still waste that exhaust's heat. So he's essentially using free energy. The exhaust's heat is a sunk cost no matter what. Now it's true that once the reforming system in put into place, a closed loop forms in which H2 is made, burned and heat therefrom is exhausted, then the heat is used to reform H2, and so on. But the effective energy loss is still minimal because the van will exhaust heat whether using H2 or not. It's the same principle of the Toyota Prius' regenerative braking.
BTW, I checked this assessment with a bona fide, practicing chemical engineer and he agreed. General Motors's engineers must agree, since "GM is working with oil companies on a new gasoline formula that would be more suitable for extracting hydrogen."
I am less certain that the same assessment applies to using electricity from the car's alternator to electrolyze H2 from water. It raises the load requirement on the car's electrical generation system, and this requires the motor to burn more fuel. But some of the increased load will be met using the H2 as fuel and some by burning the gasoline. If relatively speaking, less H2 is used to meet the load than gasoline (which is going to be burned anyway), then the same net calculation may still be true. But this seems less obvious than using exhaust to reform H2.General Motors has a web page on the Prospects, Promises and Challenges of fuel cell technology, including an extended page about hydrogen storage.
Fuel cell technology uses pure hydrogen in the liquid or gaseous form. Currently, this liquid hydrogen is derived from gasoline or methanol via a processor. General Motors believes gasoline as a hydrogen source provides the best bridge to a completely hydrogen economy, because world markets already operate in a gasoline infrastructure. However, GM also believes that a hydrogen infrastructure, similar to the gasoline model of today, is the ultimate answer.This begs the question, though: can you drive a fuel-cell car farther on H2 derived from a gallon of gasoline than you could on the gas itself? Perhaps we will with the stll-theoretical special formulations of gasoline. If not, then the economics don't make sense and the idea won't catch on no matter the presumed ecological benefits. (I have to assume that GM's folks know this, wouldn't you?) But modern gas engines combust extremely efficiently - according to Popular Mechanics's automotive writer, "Your vehicle already burns over 99 percent of the fuel you pay for."
Chapter 1 is here.Today's greenwash example: ecotourism, defined by Wikipedia thus.
Ecotourism, also known as ecological tourism, is a form of tourism that appeals to ecologically and socially conscious individuals. Generally speaking, ecotourism focuses on volunteering, personal growth, and learning new ways to live on the planet. It typically involves travel to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions.So places "where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions" shall now be overrun with tourists who need transportation, lodging, food and all manner of daily life support in places where no such accommodations already exist for tourists. And once the locals find out how much money the environmentally sensitive ecotourists will pay for the privilege of ruining the formerly pristine areas, why, the locals will build new roads, new hotels, new restaurants (serving, no doubt, nothing but lentils and soy) and communicatons infrastructure - because what the heck in the point in visiting a place "where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions" if you can't email photos home of yourself standing in the midst of it?
Recently, on behalf of The Sunday Telegraph, I made my maiden voyage as an "eco-tourist". My destination was the Findhorn Foundation, a community on the north-east coast of Scotland that defines itself as "a centre of spiritual service in co-creation with nature". It attracts 14,000 visitors a year, who go to embrace its philosophy of "living more lightly on the planet", achievable by doing things such as sharing cars and building houses with turf roofs. I spent two days experiencing this "light-living" for myself - an excursion for which the environment paid heavily.But you can feel so good about yourself while you're at the banana farm because you're saving the planet. Not!
My trip began when a friend drove me from Hammersmith to Luton airport in a gaz-guzzling Cherokee Jeep. There, holding a ticket issued on non-recycled paper, I boarded a flight to Inverness. While it disgorged carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, I lunched on a sandwich that had been wrapped in plastic.
On landing in Scotland, I was transported to the commune by the first taxi that became available - a delapidated people-carrier that blazed across the moors amid a fug of black exhaust fumes. The journey would have seemed marginally less eco-hostile had anyone been sharing the seven spare seats. After a couple of days spent eating lentils and learning how to mix organic compost, I returned to London by the same means of transport.
The International Ecotourism Society (Ties) defines ecotourism as "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of local people". It's a heart-warming idea, but one with a major stumbling block. For, as my trip to Scotland showed, when environmental conservation is on the agenda, the words "responsible travel" begin to sound like an oxymoron.
Take, for example, flying, which is one of the world's most polluting means of transport. There are now "earth-kind" hotels and resorts in every corner of the globe - the Bahamas, Kenya, Las Vegas - but even the most dedicated of them rely on the mainstream travel industry to transport their guests. Yet it is a melancholy truth that even the greenest of eco-tourists turns a different shade when he's at 30,000 feet.The average jet pumps around a tonne of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for every passenger it carries from London to New York. With one return visit to, say, an organic banana farm in Peru, you're responsible for more carbon dioxide production than a year's motoring.
I wish I had made it up.
The context: Paul McCartney saying he was 'horrified' because his Lexus LS600H (hybrid), costing £84,000, was flown 7,000 miles from Japan to Britain rather than being sent by ship.
Toyota Motor Co. seems to have been so grateful for Sir Paul's promotion of the car that they flew it to him aboard a Korean Air flight instead of sending it by ship, the way the rest of the ultra-rich proles get theirs.
Carbon offsetting firm CO2balance.com said the plane journey would have caused a carbon footprint of 38,050kg, compared to 397kg for a three-week boat journey.It seems that Sir Paul had no idea the car would be flown rather than shipped and was said to be "horrified after learning it was delivered by plane" and unable to understand "why anyone would send an enormous car from Japan to Britain on a plane." Now comes the word of the day. In response to the story,
Paddy Gillett of the anti-aviation lobby group Plane Stupid, said: "For anyone to pretend that a private limousine is in any way eco-friendly is like pretending a private jet is. It's total greenwash.""Greenwash" - wish I had made it up.
I asked last Friday, theoretically more than practically, whether it was time to invade Burma, inviting readers to have their say on whether coercive relief operations could be realistically considered in the wake of the Burmese junta's refusal to allow foreign aid or relief workers into the country.
Today Time.com asks the same question.
Like my piece, the Time piece does not actually propose invading Burma (though it could be read as coming close to it), but points out that "the world has yet to reach a consensus about when, and under what circumstances, coercive interventions in the name of averting humanitarian disasters are permissible." I would also point out that Time seems to think that parachute drops of supplies, without prior permission of the junta, constitutes "invading," which is silly. But let that pass for discussion's sake.
Of course there is a sort of cognitive dissonance in thinking about shooting your way in to deliver food and medicine. But not really - exactly how is the plight of the Burmese of the disaster area different than that of a concentration camp? As I said Friday, "This catastrophe may not fall under the legal umbrella of genocide, but it is a distinction without a difference."
It's not going to happen with Burma, of course, for reasons I explained and that Time also touches on. But Time doesn't consider the far implications of its question (and I didn't either, Friday), which is this:
Supposing (for argument's sake) that the scenario imagined by Jan Egeland, former U.N. emergency relief coordinator, comes to be - "the threat of a cholera epidemic that could claim hundreds of thousands of lives and the government was incapable [or unwilling - DS] of preventing it." Egeland says that "you would intervene unilaterally."
Well, okay, then. But we'd have to go all the way. The trump card, before the Marines land, would have to be an unambiguous message to the junta that they will be deposed and tried for crimes against humanity. And not tried by the pansy International Criminal Court, either, but by a US-convened Nuremberg-style tribunal - if they even lived through the regime change.
If the junta still refused to permit aid, then we'd have to understand that actual conquest of the country would be required, the government must be overthrown and yes, nation building would have to follow.
That's the hard part - understanding the end game before starting the front game. As Sun Tzu warned, you have to see all the way through, insofar as it is possible, before deploying. For that matter, even Jesus knew that much about military strategy.
No, just cordoning off the relief area and killing Burmese army units that try to block the relief won't do. For the problem needing solving is not the relief operation or its security. It is the regime.
Are we prepared to go all the way? Well, no. And since we are unable to do so anyway (see my first post for why), the question is automatically moot.
But here is a question for Time: if invading Burma is justifiable because of the humanitarian catastrophe there, then should we have not invaded North Korea years ago for the same reason?
[T]his is the land of disappearing children and a slow-motion demographic catastrophe that is without precedent in the developed world.The massive destruction wrought upon Japan's cities by US forces by 1945, the fact that every Japanese family, with extremely few exceptions, suffered one or more killed either in uniform or not, these things were bad enough. But the decisive defeat of Japan was neither material nor biological, as grave as those things were.
The number of children has declined for 27 consecutive years, a government report said over the weekend. Japan now has fewer children who are 14 or younger than at any time since 1908.The proportion of children in the population fell to an all-time low of 13.5 percent. That number has been falling for 34 straight years and is the lowest among 31 major countries, according to the report.
The decisive defeat was psychological and spiritual. Japan's deepest wound was the destruction of its national mythos. Although the cult of the emperor and the code of bushido were relatively recent inventions in Japanese history, by the time the war began, at least three generations had been immersed in it. Japan's conviction of racial superiority and its embrace of a manifest destiny to dominate all Asia almost completely formed the national self-identity and national purpose.
All were entirely wiped away by Japan's surrender in 1945 and its occupation by US forces. Not to be overlooked as well was Gen. Douglas MacArthur's insistence that Emperor Hirohito come to him for their first meeting.
The great rebuilding of Japanese society and industry after the war was accomplished by the same generation that had suffered the crushing blows of the war. Yet I think that this great effort was itself a continuation of bushido - the iron will never to accept defeat.But before I explore that line further, consider information released by Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication:
From the eighteenth century through the first half of the nineteenth century, Japan's population remained steady, at 30 million-plus citizens. However, following the Meiji Restoration in 1868, it began expanding in tandem with the drive to build a modern nation-state. In 1926, it reached 60 million, and in 1967, it surpassed the 100 million mark. However, Japan's population growth has slowed in more recent years, with the annual pace of population growth averaging about one percent from the 1960s through the 1970s. Since the 1980s, it has declined sharply. The population figure of 127.77 million released in the 2005 Population Census was below the 2004 population estimate (127.79 million). This marked the first time since World War II that the population has fallen compared to the previous year. The 2006 population estimate was 127.77 million, remaining at the same level of the previous year. While the population of men recorded two years of natural decrease, that of women had a continuous natural increase.And there are these helpful graphics:
The ministry points out that since World War II, Japan has enjoyed two baby booms (diagram here). One was 1947-1949, not surprising since almost all wars are followed by increased fecundity of the warring populations, victorious or not. Why did it take two years fr the boom to begin? Part of the time is accounted for by the fact that demobilization of Japan's armed forces took quite a long time. But the greater part can probably be accounted for by the fact that Japan's population was starving by the time the war ended. Calorie consumption fell by war's end to only about 800 per day per person. Baby booms require well nourished populations, and the nutrition emergency of the people actually worsened after the surrender because of poor weather, not least of which was a devastating typhoon in late 1945 that wrecked food stocks so badly that there would truly have been mass starvation deaths had not America fed the country. My assessment is that it simply took two years for nutritional levels to rise to the point of supporting a baby boom. But again, the parents were the adults who had been beaten during the war and who still were imbued with some fire of the bushido code.
The second boom was 1971-1974. These parents were the children of the first boom, reaching maturity and enjoying the first fruits of Japan's postwar economic miracle. Their children have not "boomed," however. Why?
The ministry notes that the second boom was not as strong as the first. I would say that the war generation's will to persevere and then prevail was incompletely passed to their children, and passed not at all to their grandchildren. In its place was . . . nothing.
Understand that Japanese militarism, chauvinistic racism and Shintoism/bushidoism were in fact combined to make their national religion. This was what the war destroyed so deeply that it disappeared in only one more generation. What was left? Only the abyss, for there was nothing at hand to re.place it. With no transcendent ideal commanding their souls, however hideous that ideal once had been, there was nothing for their souls to do but wither away.
And as goes the soul, so follows the flesh.