Showing posts with label Germany. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Germany. Show all posts

September 25, 2013

Blog Stew in a Shale Bowl

 ¶ The big Colorado environmental news of the day: Shell abandons its Western Slope shale oil project. Back in 2010 I linked to an article about why oil shale was not the magic road to energy independence.

 ¶ After the recent flooding in the Big Thompson canyon, some residents refused to leave and created their own local govenment, complete with mayor, security chief, and road-and-bridge department.

Elsewhere, the flood may speed up the process of gentrification and trophy housing.

Wind farms kill eagles. And those are just the bird deaths that someone bothers to record. I really wonder if some day we won't look back on giant wind farms as the equivalent of the dirigibles (airships) of the early 20th century—cool-looking technology, but never really worked out.

The wind farms are not working out too well in Germany.
The government has vowed to break dependence on fossil fuels and source 50 per cent of all electricity from wind, solar, and other renewables by 2030, and 80 per cent by mid-century. But cost estimates have reached 1 trillion euros ($1.4 trillion) over the next 25 years. "It is a worthwhile goal, and the whole world is looking to see whether Germany can do it, so we can't fail. But there have been so many mistakes," [Christoph] Schmidt [chairman of Germany's Council of Economic Experts] said.

May 05, 2013

Wildfires, Fallout Shelters, and Death

With planning permission and money, you too can have a "bushfire bunker." (Wildfire magazine.)
Paging through the newest issue of Wildfire magazine today, I ran across an article on fire response in the Australian state of Victoria: "How Should We Shelter from Intense Bushfires?"

The Australians seem to go back and forth on the "shelter in place" concept. Sometimes it works, sometimes it is bad advice. But one company is selling "government approved" wildfire safety bunkers.

Apparently an underground bunker gives you enough air supply to breathe while the fire front passes over you. Still, just reading about them kicked up a nightmare-image from my childhood.

My father, in addition to being a US Forest Service district ranger, was also active in Civil Defense volunteer work in the 1960s, the peak of the Cold War. One day he brought home a little paperback book called Fire and the Air War.

Pretty heavy reading for a 10-year-old. It was chiefly about World War II incendiary bombings, urban fire storms, and the like.

The one lesson I took away was that you can have a shelter with excellent blast protection and still end up dead because the fire storm sucked all the oxygen out. (See also the uselessness of sheltering in cellars, etc., during forest fires.) The photo of a dead, unburned German family in their basement shelter said it all.

(By one of those interesting moments of synchronicity, Glenn Reynolds linked to a Daily Mail [not always the most reliable source, I know] article on a Wisconsin family that opened up a 50-year-old Cold War fallout shelter in their backyard, only to find most of the contents well-preserved.)

The Australian bunker builders, however, say their bunkers give a six-hour air supply.  Apparently a forest of eucalypts, etc., burns up more quickly than did Dresden or Coventry.

January 18, 2012

SHOT Show: It's International

The British Pavilion
The most common language heard at the SHOT Show is Upland Southern English, followed by German.

German firms form the largest national cluster.
Apparently to succeed in the firearms industry, it is helpful to sound like you come from Arkansas — or Arnsberg.

I have also overheard several varieties of Spanish, e.g., terse Argentinian around the Bersa booth — plus Portuguese, Swedish, Chinese, Turkish, Japanese, Italian, Arabic, and some that I could not be sure of (Hindi?).

German, Italian, and British firms are clustered in national pavilions, with Germany's being the largest.

The Italian pavilion is the place to go for reproductions of every 19th-century gun.
There are enough Turkish firearms firms to fill a pavilion too, although the man whom I spoke to at the Trabzon booth seemed cool to the idea. We prefer to be spread out, he said.