Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Egyptian regime's days may be numbered

The popular uprising in Egypt is showing every sign of success. The fact that it has not been crushed so far is a very positive sign for those who hope to see democracy take hold in America's Arab allies. Gwynne Dyer sums it up pretty well:
By 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon (January 28), the protesters in central Cairo were chanting: “Where is the army? Come and see what the police are doing to us. We want the army.” And that is the main question, really: where is the Egyptian army in all this?

Like armies everywhere, even in dictatorships, the Egyptian army does not like to use violence against its own people. It would much rather leave that sort of thing to the police, who are generally quite willing to do it. But in Alexandria, by mid-afternoon on Friday, the police had stopped fighting the protesters and started talking to them. This is how regimes end.

First of all the police realize that they face a genuine popular movement involving all classes and all walks of life, rather than the extremist agitators that the regime’s propaganda says they are fighting. They realize that it would be wrong—and also very unwise—to go on bashing heads in the service of a regime that is likely to disappear quite soon. Best change sides before it is too late.

Then the army, seeing that the game is up, tells the dictator that it is time to get on the plane and go abroad to live with his money. Egypt’s ruler, Hosni Mubarak, was a general before he became president, and he has always made sure that the military were at the head of the queue for money and privileges, but there is no gratitude in politics. They won’t want to be dragged down with him.

All this could happen quite fast, or it could spread out over the next several weeks, but it is probably going to happen. Even autocratic and repressive regimes must have some sort of popular consent, because you cannot hire enough police to compel everybody to obey. They extort that consent through fear: the ordinary citizens’ fear of losing their jobs, their freedom, even their lives. So when people lose their fear, the regime is toast.

From the Georgia Straight. This may well turn out to be the start of a wave of uprisings across the Arab world, much as the uprisings throughout eastern Europe in 1989 heralded the end of Soviet communism. Interestingly, though, the western powers have been a bit leery about endorsing it. Harper, for instance, is described as "cautiously" supporting the protesters, and this cautious support might well not have happened if he hadn't been caught by surprise by the whole issue. I wouldn't be surprised to see him back away from this stance, especially in light of what the Americans are saying:
Ahead of a day that could prove decisive, NewsHour host Jim Lehrer asked Biden if the time has "come for President Mubarak of Egypt to go?" Biden answered: "No. I think the time has come for President Mubarak to begin to move in the direction that – to be more responsive to some... of the needs of the people out there."

Asked if he would characterize Mubarak as a dictator Biden responded: “Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things. And he’s been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interest in the region, the Middle East peace efforts; the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing relationship with – with Israel. … I would not refer to him as a dictator.”
From the Christian Science Monitor. Funny, I thought the criteria for calling someone a dictator had to do with whether they were responsible to the people, not whether they serve the geopolitical interests of the US. One does wonder, though, how said geopolitical interests will be affected by this, especially if other dominoes in the area (such as Saudi Arabia) start to fall.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Corexit still lingers in Gulf

While the methane seems to have been mostly burned off by bacteria, which is a good thing given its potency as a greenhouse gas, it seems that one of the dispersants used to clean up the spill is still there:

A crucial component of the chemical dispersant applied to oil gushing from BP’s blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico last year did not break down as fast as scientists initially expected and probably remains at detectable levels in the deep ocean, scientists said on Wednesday.

Traces of the dispersant compound were found in September more than 150 miles from the well site, researchers with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said in their report.

From the New York Times. While this isn't as bad as some of the more hysterical predictions, it is most definitely not a good thing. I, for one, will be curious to see how many Common Loons, Double-Crested Cormorants, and White Pelicans there are at my parents' cottage this year. All of these birds have always been common there, and all of them migrate through the Gulf of Mexico.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Anti-gang programs to close

The federal government has cancelled funding for some programs to give kids an alternative to gang life:

Four successful anti-gang programs will shut their doors in March when federal funding runs out, leaving at least 65 kids at the mercy of the streets again.

One program that helps refugees steer clear of gangs like the Mad Cowz is the only one of its kind in Canada. Another program helped teens with gang connections get jobs at grocery stores and gas stations.

Staff from the four mentorship and outreach programs that are destined to close say they've dramatically reduced the number of new criminal offences.

"It's not cost-effective, it's not ethically effective and it doesn't reduce crime to close these programs," said New Directions program manager Liz Wolff.

From the Free Press. Oh well, I guess they need people to fill all those new prisons they want to build...

Medical isotopes without reactors

Particle accelerators (linear as well as cyclotrons) have been around for a long time, so this shouldn't be too hard to do, one would think:

Research in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Quebec and British Columbia will use cyclotrons and linear accelerators to make the radioactive substance.

Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis says the goal is to have more diversified supply that is less vulnerable to disruption.

From the Star. Certainly a good idea, though it will be more difficult for some isotopes (such as cobalt-60) than others.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Can "enhanced geothermal" solve our energy problems?

Most Manitobans are familiar with geothermal energy in its mild form, the "heat pumps" used for heating and cooling buildings. What fewer people realize is that if you drill deep enough, it gets hot enough to boil water, which can be used to spin turbines and thus drive generators. The Guardian's Damian Carrington thinks it offers all the benefits of nuclear fission, without the problems:
By mass, 99.9% of the Earth is hotter than 100C. That means that not far below our feet is the power to boil unlimited water and generate clean, renewable energy. Is the UK throwing all it can at this extraordinary opportunity? Of course not, who do you think we are? Germans?

That contrasts strikingly with the more glamorous sister of deep geothermal energy, nuclear power. Both ultimately tap the heat generated by the decay of radioactive elements. Geothermal plants send water down holes to bring to the surface the heat from natural radioactive decay deep in the mantle. Nuclear power mines the radionucleides, concentrates them, sends them critical and then wonders what to do with the leftover mess - not very elegant by comparison.

The coalition government has pledged that nuclear power will receive no taxpayer subsidies. But it can receive financial support by other means which are subsidies in all but name.

So what support is there for deep geothermal projects? Nothing. As Tim Smit - founder of the Eden project where one of just two projects in the UK is sited - put it last night at a Renewable Energy Association event in Westminster: "I'd like the same 'lack of support' the government is giving to nuclear."

Geothermal energy has been tapped in the UK since Roman times, via the hot springs at Bath and elsewhere. Shallow geothermal projects - such as ground source heat pumps - are slowly growing. But even Decc's own and very conservative estimate is that deep geothermal - a few kilometres down - could provide 10% of the UK's electricity.

And how! It runs 24 hours a day, so perfect for baseload. The water circulates in a closed-loop, so it's clean and sustainable. It is virtually zero carbon and the plants have a small surface footprint, so it's pretty NIMBY-proof.
Sounds like a great idea. Carrington isn't the first to suggest this either (I heard Gwynne Dyer advocating it on the radio several years back, for instance). Of course, it's not entirely trouble-free; there is some evidence linking deep geothermal systems to earthquakes in some cases, and I also wonder about localized problems from the release of subterranean gases (such as sulphur dioxide) when you drill several kilometres into the ground. Still, it's worth looking very seriously at this as an alternative to coal and natural gas (and eventually fission).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

U.S. taking Canada to arbitration over softwood

It seems the efforts to use the beetle-killed wood before it rots are displeasing to the Americans:

The beetle infestation that has ravaged the dense forests of the B.C. Interior could wind up costing Canada a good deal more – up to a half-billion dollars in penalties to the United States.

The Obama administration opened an aggressive new legal front in the enduring trade fight over lucrative softwood lumber exports, accusing Canada of violating a 2006 deal by allowing British Columbia to sell vast quantities of cut-rate, Crown-owned timber to lumber companies.

From the Globe. And what is the nature of this "subsidy"?
The heart of the U.S. case is that B.C. lumber producers have blatantly exploited the beetle infestation and a flawed timber pricing system to get their hands on vast quantities of good, cheap logs during the worst industry slump since the Great Depression. Lumber that typically would be sold to mills for as much as $18 per cubic metre was instead dumped for only 25 cents per cubic metre. The result lowered lumber prices across North America and inflicted pain for U.S. mills, according to the U.S. claim.
Right. So presumably we're supposed to let the stuff rot (and incidentally dump vast amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere), so that it will be cost-effective for the Yanks to cut down live trees. Does this make any sense?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Vatican warned bishops not to report child abuse

There have been whiffs of this before, but it seems the smoking gun has surfaced:
A newly disclosed document reveals that Vatican officials instructed the bishops of Ireland in 1997 that they must not adopt a policy of reporting priests suspected of child abuse to the police or civil authorities.

The document appears to contradict Vatican claims that the hierarchy in Rome never determined the actions of local bishops in abuse cases, and that the church did not impede criminal investigations of accused child abusers.

Abuse victims in Ireland and the United States quickly proclaimed the document to be a “smoking gun” that would serve as important evidence in lawsuits against the Vatican.
From the New York Times (h/t PZ Myers). So will the bishops who obeyed this order be charged with obstruction of justice? Somehow I doubt it; don't forget that we're talking about a country that is so beholden to the Church that abortion is still illegal even in cases of rape (though to be fair, they did finally legalize homosexuality, in 1993 to be exact).

Monday, January 17, 2011

Biofuels that don't compete with food crops

The idea of biofuels from microbial sources has been around for a while, but if this company's claims hold up, it would be a huge breakthrough:
In September, a privately held and highly secretive U.S. biotech company named Joule Unlimited received a patent for “a proprietary organism” – a genetically adapted E. coli bacterium – that feeds solely on carbon dioxide and excretes liquid hydrocarbons: diesel fuel, jet fuel and gasoline. This breakthrough technology, the company says, will deliver renewable supplies of liquid fossil fuel almost anywhere on Earth, in essentially unlimited quantity and at an energy-cost equivalent of $30 (U.S.) a barrel of crude oil. It will deliver, the company says, “fossil fuels on demand.”

We’re not talking “biofuels” – not, at any rate, in the usual sense of the word. The Joule technology requires no “feedstock,” no corn, no wood, no garbage, no algae. Aside from hungry, gene-altered micro-organisms, it requires only carbon dioxide and sunshine to manufacture crude. And water: whether fresh, brackish or salt. With these “inputs,” it mimics photosynthesis, the process by which green leaves use solar energy to convert carbon dioxide into organic compounds. Indeed, the company describes its manufacture of fossil fuels as “artificial photosynthesis.”

Joule says it now has “a library” of fossil-fuel organisms at work in its Massachusetts labs, each engineered to produce a different fuel. It has “proven the process,” has produced ethanol (for example) at a rate equivalent to 10,000 U.S. gallons an acre a year. It anticipates that this yield could hit 25,000 gallons an acre a year when scaled for commercial production, equivalent to roughly 800 barrels of crude an acre a year.

By way of comparison, Cornell University’s David Pimentel, an authority on ethanol, says that one acre of corn produces less than half as much energy, equivalent to only 328 barrels. If a few hundred barrels of crude sounds modest, recall that millions of acres of prime U.S. farmland are now used to make corn ethanol.

From the Globe. I have to quibble with the claim that "we're not talking biofuels"; of course these are biofuels -- they're fuels from biological sources, after all. I kind of get what Reynolds means, though; they don't have the drawbacks that most biofuels we see today have. And I'm pretty sure you'd at least need some minerals to nourish the bacteria. Nonetheless, this could be great news.

Of course, as the article admits, the company is extremely secretive about their process. Naturally, this doesn't necessarily mean it's hokum; they may be trying to protect trade secrets as they claim. Time will tell whether this is the real deal, or just another bit of vapourware (by the way, has anyone heard any news of EEStor lately?)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The myth of scarcity is about to become a reality

Quite often, at least in progressive circles, you hear of "the myth of scarcity". Basically, the point being made is that most famines don't result from not enough food, but from unequal distribution of food. And it's true - there is enough food to go around, for the time being. Unfortunately, as Gwynne Dyer points out, climate change and other factors are likely to complicate matters:

Is this food emergency a result of global warming? Maybe, but all these droughts, heat waves and floods could also just be a run of really bad luck.

What is nearly certain is that the warming will continue, and that in the future there will be many more weather disasters due to climate change. Food production is going to take a big hit.

Global food prices are already spiking whenever there are a few local crop failures, because the supply barely meets demand even now. As the big emerging economies grow, Chinese and Indian and Indonesian citizens eat more meat, which places a great strain on grain supplies.

Moreover, world population is now passing through seven billion, on its way to nine billion by 2050. We will need a lot more food than we used to.

From the Georgia Straight. When this happens, a very ugly word will have to become a big part of foreign aid - triage. It's already happening because many NGOs don't have the money to help everyone who needs it; climate change will ensure that we don't have the food. How will such decisions be made? How should they be made? I sure wouldn't like to be the one making those decisions...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Carbon capture project leaking into their land, couple says

As many have predicted, it seems that carbon capture isn't the panacea many had hoped:
First there were the strange blooms of algae on water that had pooled in a gravel pit near Jane and Cameron Kerr’s house. Then there were the dead animals – a cat, an African goat, a rabbit, a duck, a half-dozen blackbirds. Then there were the night-time blowouts, which sounded like cannons and left gashes in the side of the pit.

But what started as a series of worrisome problems on a rural Saskatchewan property has now raised serious questions about the safety of carbon sequestration and storage, a technology that has drawn billions in spending from governments and industry, which have promoted it as a salve to Canada’s growth in greenhouse-gas emissions.

Before the blowouts made them nervous enough to leave home, the Kerrs lived on a farm near Weyburn, which is home to a major project that involves taking captured carbon dioxide and injecting it into the ground. It pumps 6,000 tonnes of the substance underground ever day; since 2000, it has sequestered more than 16 million tonnes, all of it 1.4 kilometres below the surface.

From the Globe. This is unfortunate, though not particularly surprising. Happily, Saskatchewan is looking at alternatives, notably buying electricity from Manitoba. The western route for Bipole III doesn't look so bad now, does it?

Monday, January 10, 2011

More water woes

This time it's a dispute between two American states:

The issue before the court centered on a claim that Wyoming has been consuming more water due to irrigation advances such as center-pivot sprinklers.

Those sprinklers allow farmers to use water more efficiently, by increasing the amount that goes directly to their crops. But they also mean less surplus water comes off of fields - decreasing the "return flow" into rivers that flow downstream to Montana.

From the Bismarck Tribune. So in other words, Montana is mad because Wyoming isn't wasting enough water. Does that make any sense?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Details of accused gunman in Tucson rampage slowly emerge

Definitely some serious issues here:

Loughner lives with his parents about a five-minute drive from the shootings, in a middle-class neighbourhood lined with desert landscaping and palm trees. Sheriff’s deputies blocked off much of the street Sunday.

Neighbours said Loughner kept to himself and was often seen walking his dog, almost always wearing a hooded sweat shirt and listening to his iPod.

His high school friends said they fell out of touch with Loughner and last spoke to him around March, when one of them was going to set up some bottles in the desert for target practice and Loughner suggested he might come along. It was unusual — Loughner hadn’t expressed an interest in guns before — and his increasingly confrontational behaviour was pushing them apart. He would send nonsensical text messages, but also break off contact for weeks on end.

“We just started getting sketched out about him,” the friend said. It was the first time he’d felt that way.

Around the same time, Loughner’s behaviour also began to worry officials at Pima Community College, where Loughner began attending classes in 2005, the school said in a release.

Between February and September, Loughner “had five contacts with PCC police for classroom and library disruptions,” the statement said. He was suspended in September 2010 after college police discovered a YouTube video in which Loughner claimed the college was illegal according to the U.S. Constitution. He withdrew voluntarily the following month, and was told he could return only if, among other things, a mental health professional agreed he did not present a danger, the school said.

From the Star. Politically, he seems a bit confused as well:

Mistrust of government was Loughner’s defining conviction, the friends said. He believed the U.S. government was behind the Sept. 11 attacks, and worried that governments were manoeuvring to create a unified monetary system (“a New World Order currency” one friend said) so that social elites and bureaucrats could control the rest of the world.

On his YouTube page, he listed among his favourite books “Animal Farm” and “Brave New World” — two novels about how authorities control the masses. Other books in the wide-ranging list included “Mein Kampf,” “The Communist Manifesto,” “Peter Pan” and Aesop’s Fables.

The mere fact that The Communist Manifesto, Mein Kampf, and Animal Farm are all among his favourite books suggests that he doesn't fully understand any of those works. On the other hand, his views on monetary policy seem to be in line with a lot of the teabaggers. There are also suggestions that he thinks he's Earl Turner. And there are other odd things; he's an ardent atheist (a decidedly un-teabagger-like trait, incidentally), but evidently also a pro-lifer:
When other students, always seated, read their poems, Coorough said Loughner “would laugh at things that you wouldn’t laugh at.” After one woman read a poem about abortion, “he was turning all shades of red and laughing,” and said, “Wow, she’s just like a terrorist, she killed a baby,” Coorough said.
Given that one of the people he's accused of killing was a nine year old girl, there's more than a little irony in that.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

In case anyone doubted that teabaggers could be dangerous...

I think it's safe to assume that the shooter isn't a Democrat:

An outspoken Democrat congresswoman was gravely wounded after an assassin opened fire with an assault rifle at grocery store in Tuscon, Ariz., on Saturday.

At least six others were injured in a burst of gunfire in what may be the first shooting of a federal politican since former president Ronald Reagan was shot two decades ago in Washington, D.C.

Gabrielle Giffords, 40, an Arizona congresswoman, was shot at close range in the head, according to eyewitnesses. She was greeting constituents at a grocery store. Some of her aides were reportedly among those wounded.

From the Globe. The shooter has apparently been captured alive, so we should know more soon. This is a huge escalation, but it's not really novel; Giffords has been targeted by teabaggers before:
Last March, vandals stoned the front of Ms. Giffords' Tuscon office – one of several Democrat storefronts attacked – when at least 10 members of Congress reported death threats and attacks over the contentious health care reform bill that was the centerpiece of Mr. Obama’s first two years as president.
The question is, how much longer will this go on?

Edited to add: There's a bit more information now. It seems that a total of 18 people were wounded in the shooting, several fatally, including a US federal judge as well as a nine year old child. There's some information about the suspect as well:
Giffords's assailant was last night named as a 22-year-old Afghanistan veteran Jared Lee Loughner. He was described by witnesses as a young white man who looked like a "fringe character", clean shaven with short hair and wearing dark clothing.
Sounds a lot like Timothy McVeigh actually. PTSD and inflammatory rhetoric can be a bad mix it seems...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Apparently Columbia is now a safe country

At least that's what the Harper government seems to think, hence the dramatic increase in the number of refugee claims from that country that are being rejected:

Colombia remains on Canada’s list of top 10 source countries for refugees. For the last 10 years, the acceptance rates for Colombian refugee claimants has hovered between 75 and 83%.

In 2010, the rate dropped to 53%, meaning almost half the claimants were denied. Also last year, a free trade agreement between Colombia and Canada came into effect, putting Ottawa under the microscope of advocacy groups including Human Rights Watch.

From the London Free Press, my bold. Gee, do you think this agreement might have something to do with it?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Food prices continue to rise

It's happening around the world, and there's no sign of an end to it any time soon:

Food prices have soared to record levels around the world, raising fears that poor countries could face a crisis similar to the one that led to rioting and rationing two years ago.

“We are entering a danger territory,” Abdolreza Abbassian, an economist at the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) told reporters Wednesday.

From the Globe. And what are the main reasons for this?
Prices for many agricultural commodities started rising last fall largely because of poor grain crops in Canada, Russia and Ukraine. They have spiked even higher recently because of dry weather in Argentina, a major soybean producer, and flooding in parts of Australia, which has wiped out many wheat crops. The price of wheat has jumped about 17 per cent in the last month while corn is up 11 per cent. Both are now close to two-year highs. Other food staples have been soaring as well, including canola, up 43 per cent last year, and sugar, which hit 30-year highs.
Now it's premature to say that this is clearly because of climate change; it's always a bit dodgy to attribute any particular weather event to climate change (or, for that matter, to claim it as a counterexample). However, I think it's safe to say that this sort of thing will become more common as the climate suffers further disruption.

Naturally, when countries suffer from poor crops, some of them will impose restrictions on the export of said crops. Governments generally want to ensure that their own people are fed first, after all. Well, some don't think this should be allowed:

The environment minister, Caroline Spelman, today risked incurring the wrath of many major food-growing countries by saying it should be illegal to halt food exports even at times of national crisis.

In a clear reference to Russia and the Ukraine, which temporarily halted exports of wheat and other grains in order to protect supplies for their own people during an unprecedented heatwave last year, she said no country should be allowed to interfere with the global food commodity market.

From the Guardian. Of course, Spelman presumably doesn't think that commodity speculators should be restricted from such interference; that's part of business after all. It's only when sovereign nations do so for the benefit of their own people that it becomes unacceptable.

Incidentally, thanks to NAFTA, Canada faces a similar restriction with regards to energy. If we face a shortage in the future (say a reduction in the flows of the Saskatchewan and Churchill rivers as a result of melting glaciers) and need to reduce our energy exports, any reduction in exports must be proportionate to a reduction in domestic consumption -- even if it means brownouts here. This makes no sense with energy, and it makes no sense with food either.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A made-in-Canada launch vehicle?

It seems the folks at the Canadian Space Agency (and others, but more on this in a moment) are suggesting that we should develop our own indigenous rocket for space launches. It's an interesting idea, and not as far out as one might think (we've been making first-rate sounding rockets for decades, so an orbital launch vehicle is not out of the question). There are a couple of rather interesting tidbits buried in the story, though. Consider this:
Shortt pointed out that sub-orbital launches used to take place at Churchill, and that site could be used for orbital launches.
Well, Churchill could indeed be used for orbital launches, though it's not really well-suited to the more conventional sort of launches, because it's a long way from the equator. Ideally, you want to launch from as close to the equator as possible (think Cape Canaveral, Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, or the EU's facility in French Guiana) so as to take maximum advantage of the Earth's rotation and thus reduce the amount of fuel needed to reach orbital velocity. However, Churchill would be a decent launch site to put satellites in polar orbit... which is precisely the kind of orbit favoured for spy satellites. Of course, there are other uses for polar orbits, but consider this point from the Free Press story:
Canada has the technological capacity to build its own rocket to launch small satellites, officials and documents have revealed, highlighting a top priority for future research at the Defence Department as well as something that's being studied at the Canadian Space Agency.
My bold, of course. And under Harper, this is the only way we're likely to see the development of space launch technology in this country, I fear.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Biofuel for aircraft

The gas turbine engine (be it turboshaft, turboprop, or jet) has a number of virtues, one of which is the ability to run on pretty much anything that burns. When Chrysler built a series of experimental gas turbine cars in 1963, diesel was the recommended fuel, but drivers experimented with numerous other fuels, including gasoline, kerosene, jet fuel, tequila, and reportedly Chanel No. 5 with success. For this reason, turbine engines are good candidates for biofuel substitution. And it's happening:

The Australian airline Qantas will this month announce a deal to build the world's second commercial-scale plant to produce green biojet fuel made from waste for its fleet of aircraft.

Its proposed partner, the US-based fuel producer Solena, is also in negotiations with easyJet, Ryanair and Aer Lingus about building a plant in Dublin, although this project is less advanced.

Airlines are trying to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels ahead of their entry into the EU's carbon emissions trading scheme in January 2012 and the introduction of other new environmental legislation. Under the scheme, any airline flying in or out of the EU must cut emissions or pay a penalty.

Solena's joint venture with Qantas – which could be announced within the next fortnight – follows a tie-up with British Airways, signed in February last year, to build the world's first commercial-scale biojet fuel plant in London, creating up to 1,200 jobs.

Once operational in 2014, the London plant, costing £200m to build, will convert up to 500,000 tonnes of waste a year into 16m gallons of green jet fuel, which BA said would be enough to power 2% of its aircraft at its main base at Heathrow. The waste will come from food scraps and other household material such as grass and tree cuttings, agricultural and industrial waste. It is thought the Qantas plant, to be built in Australia, will be similar.

From the Guardian. The fact that it's waste that they're using, as opposed to food crops, is a very good thing; however I wonder just how much fuel can be produced that way. I suspect that future generations will fly a lot less than we do. Or, they'll make it out of palm oil, which is actually even worse than petroleum in terms of its climate effect, owing to the amount of rainforest that is typically cleared to produce it.