Over on WUWT – Taurids and Asteroid Sized Bits

Over on WUWT, on a topic about low CO2 levels during ice ages, I mentioned my belief that a large impact into the ice sheet in Canada likely caused the Clovis Extinctions. In passing (i.e. after some arguing) mentioned I thought it was likely part of the Tarids, from a break-up of the proto-Encke.


The user named “Gabro” took offense at that… and my pointing at Cosmic Tusk as a source of useful bits.

I also pointed at this article and made the connection to Encke:

Well, down below that, Agimarc points to a very interesting new article about a new Taurid stream being found, and it has some asteroid sized bits in it. h/t agimarc.

July 5, 2017 at 8:01 pm Edit

Appears the Taurid Complex has yet another stream that we cross twice a year. Cheers –


That article says:

Meteor swarm spawns new and dangerous branch
Czech boffins say source of Tunguska event has new asteroid-sized bits to watch
By Richard Chirgwin 7 Jun 2017 at 06:29

The regular and often-unspectacular Taurid meteor shower has a dangerous side, with Czech boffins warning it’s a likely source of dangerous debris.

Working at the Czech Academy of Sciences, the authors of this paper at Astronomy and Astrophysics (here at arXiv) analysed 144 fireballs observed in the 2015 Taurid shower, and say there’s a previously undiscovered branch of the swarm that needs to be watched.

The Taurids have caused problems before. Most notably, it’s believed to be the source of the famous 1908 blast near the Stony Tunguska River, attributed to 150-metre meteor from the swarm exploding in the sky over Siberia.

The largest meteor stream in the inner solar system, the Taurids are the source of four meteor showers each year – all most probably a stream of fragments created when one or more large comets broke up around 30,000 years ago.

The branch of interest to the Czech scientists is the Southern Taurids, and the fireballs caught be European Fireball Network were spotted between October 25 and November 17 2015.

From those observations, the paper argues two conclusions: the new branch has a “well defined orbital structure”, but worryingly, the branch includes asteroid-sized structures in addition to the two already known.

During the 2015 shower, the paper states the brightest fireball “was caused by a body in excess of 1000 kg, which corresponds to diameter more than one meter”.

“Based on orbital similarity, we argue that
asteroids of several hundred meters in diameter are members of the Taurid new branch as well,” the researchers continue.

They also believe a Pacific Ocean fireball spotted by NASA’s JPL was also part of the branch – and it was a biggie at “ten times more massive”.

So to recap, about 25000 to 30000 years ago, a much larger proto-Encke entered the inner solar system and started breaking up. Since then, we’ve had several major known impacts, and a likely larger one causing a mass extinction focused on North America. The streams of debris have now divided into multiple sets ( 4? 5? ) and hit the Earth twice a year; and then, over a thosands year cycle, we move more central to the swarms, or more to the edge. In one set, it is known they hit with a ‘double tap’ about a 100 years apart. Throughout history, we have disasters on a thousands year period and with a double tap aspect over 100ish years. We know there are asteroid sized objects still in the stream.

We know we WILL enter the densest parts of those streams periodically and that we WILL be hit, potentially with extinction or local extirpation sized events. One well characterized collapse was in about 2200 BC. Or about 2 longer cycles ago. And it had the “double tap” structure. So the next opportunity is “about now”? (or up to 300 years from now… bit hard to say).

Oh, well then, by all means THE most important thing to discuss is who had lunch with anyone from Russia last year… ;sarc/ The Stupid, it burns…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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36 Responses to Over on WUWT – Taurids and Asteroid Sized Bits

  1. cdquarles says:

    Since you mentioned an old BBS penpal (yeah, before the commercial internet days) from the early 90s, I am going to put this here, rather than on tips: http://interestingitems.org/wp/2017/06/13/interesting-items-0612/.

  2. Steven Fraser says:

    Perhaps a NASA survey/mapping mission would be in order.

  3. E.M.Smith says:


    I’d say map, then harvest or fling into the sun, depending on minerals in it…

    NASA needs to clean up the neighborhood… we need Space Janitors! :-)

  4. cdquarles says:

    Ditch NASA. Let the free market create Space Janitors Inc. :)

  5. Zeke says:

    It usually is amateurs and smaller telescope owners/operators who find the best asteroids and comets.

    The truth is, these NEOs do not have to impact earth to disrupt everything here. When a moving charged body, even a small one, approaches the charged earth with enough difference between them, there is a potential for a spark. Only scaled up, to something that creates an electric crater or a tremendous geomagnetic storm, accompanied by stronger telluric currents.

    Nice article. Yes, the slow and steady, Lyellian Paradigm tells you nothing about what happens in this solar system when there are interlopers. Lots of surprises ahead.

  6. Zeke says:

    By the way, asteroids within one lunar distance have come up from under the earth’s orbit before.

    And I think it highly unlikely that the NEOs just happen to always be the little, less-than-one-km ones, while all the larger ones travel so far away.

    One of the problems is that many close encounters are not reported until after they have gone by. So all of the effects (fireballs, intense auroras, telluric currents) are already forgotten about or attributed to something else.

  7. LG says:

    @ EMSmith

    I mentioned my belief that a large impact into the ice sheet in Canada likely caused the Clovis Extinctions.

    ICYMI, please allow me to introduce Randall Carlson,geologist by training, self-proclaimed rogue scholar, champion of the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis. Here are a couple of hours-long clips where he expound on 40+ year research.

    Some links if you ‘d be inclined to explore his research:

  8. hillrj says:

    Maybe Kim Jong Un will go down in history as the saviour of civilisation.
    His threats inspire USA to develop weapons which can burn ICBMs out of the sky.
    These weapons can burn asteroids as well.

  9. tucsonaustrian says:

    hillrj … eell, no. an ICBM is a ballistic missile, which follows a predictable path once inserted into orbit. This allows ABMs to get close and “rendezvous” with them and get a kinetic kill.
    Asteroid paths are unpredictable and the speed is orders of magnitudes faster. No surface launch intercepts possible

  10. cdquarles says:

    tuscon, um, no. Asteroid paths are ballistic, just as Earth’s path is ballistic, just as ….

    You have one thing correct, though, that that is that the asteroid is moving faster. A slow bullet can still hit a fast bird, you just have to lead it correctly. Timing is everything. In fact, that an asteroid is moving at 11 km/sec helps. Small perturbations don’t have enough effect to move the path out of the circular error probable.

  11. cdquarles says:

    Sorry for the typo, tucson, but think on this: The Earth has an elliptical orbit that requires some 88,000 seconds to complete and it is a toroid. How fast must the Earth go to complete that perimeter in the time allotted. Consider relative speed, too. The Moon moves in an orbit with Earth around the system’s barycenter. We were able to hit that bird, too, with a slow bullet.

    All it takes to get that circular error probable around the path is time to gather enough data to derive the orbital parameters.

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    The real problem with anti-icbm gear vs asteroids is that the ICBM is sub-orbital. Take out an incoming asteroid at that point, you have made no difference to the mass / energy delivery to the planet… Basically, it still puts a few dozen nukes worth of BOOM into your sky.

    Anti-missile gear generally attacks in boost phase (useless against rocks from space) or on re-entry (when you still get blasted by the debris). It can’t get 1000 miles out into space where it might do some good…

    So go ahead and hit it, it makes no difference…

    To make a difference, you have to get to the rock at least a lunar orbit or two away…

  13. agimarc says:

    You also get into the problem of moving structurally weak objects or rubble piles with explosions. Teller thought it would work. Others are more skeptical. The largest problem I think is simply discovery of inbounds. The summer Taurid streams (Tunguska) come in right out of the sun, making an already difficult to observe object nearly impossible visually. Radar OTOH might be a player. Cheers –

  14. E.M.Smith says:


    I think of it as trying to take out a wad of shotgun pellets with a bullet… You will stop a few, scatter more to a wider cone, and do nothing to a lot of them.

    For detection, I think the world would benefit from an “observatory” at L3 or L4 so they have a side on view of the flow towards Earth. Not only are you off the “from the sun” line of attack, but you also have different lighting on the objects from that POV, so things “in the shade” (backlit) from the Earth POV would be side lighting instead with 1/2 of it full sun.

    Then there’s the not-so-good-for-the-station point that if you pick the right one ( L3 vs L4 ) the station will pass through the debris stream first so can give a general report of hit density with some lead time… but I’m not sure just how wide the steam is, so don’t know how long in advance the L points experience it compared with Earth… Might even be that you are so far off the midline that it is an entirely different experience… In which case a ‘density report’ would have to come from L1 (or L2 for those arriving away from the sun)

    While a Lunar Base would be a very useful place for long duration occupation (has gravity and shielding mass / construction mass) we really ought to be planning a space station at L3 or L4 for general solar system / Earth-Moon observations with a great vantage point. An ISS like system with rotation of occupants on a yearly basis ought to work well. Gets out of the radio clutter of the Earth, too. Does have more shielding issues, being outside the Earth’s magnetic field, so would need dirt shipped from the moon or asteroids to make a nice shield coating. I’d likely use a rail gun on the moon to ship “car sized” packets of “lunar cement” to be formed around the basic structure. Properly done, they could arrive with low delta-V so easy to catch.

    Oh Well, let’s spend $100 Billion / year on fantasy “Global Warming” to line the pockets of the folks at the UN instead of saving all of the planet from assured destruction… eventually… Sigh.

  15. larrygeiger says:

    I am absolutely not the smartest guy around but I can a little bit of arithmetic.

    “cdquarles says:
    16 July 2017 at 9:28 pm
    Sorry for the typo, tucson, but think on this: The Earth has an elliptical orbit that requires some 88,000 seconds to complete and it is a toroid.”

    Ok, I divided 88,000 by 60 (to get hours??): 1467 hours.
    I then divided that by 24 (to get days??): 61

    So CD is saying the earth travels around the sun in 61 days?
    Someone please check my math.

  16. E.M.Smith says:


    Answered by The WikiAnswers® Community

    seconds / minute x minutes / hour x hours / day = seconds / day
    60 x 60 x 24 = 86400 seconds in a day (roughly)
    x 365.25
    = 31557600

    So looks like the answers.com answer is right, modulo that a day isn’t really 24.000 hours.

  17. cdquarles says:

    Argh, thanks. A day isn’t exactly 24 hours. I was too lazy to work it out. My bad. What I was getting at was how fast the Earth moves. Calculate the perimeter (it is larger than that for a circular orbit), so > pi*2*150,000,000 km. I need new spectacles badly. ;p

  18. cdquarles says:

    A year isn’t an integer number of days, either, thanks to the rotation and the orbit.

  19. cdquarles says:

    Now I wonder how many Joules that the mass and velocity of the Earth-moon system’s kinetic energy would be.

  20. Larry Ledwick says:

    The problem with asteroid defense is complex. A simple ballistic missile intercept is well worked out, we know approximately were the warhead originated, we have good info on its path and velocity, and with a 30 minute time to target flight time, there is ample time to characterize the trajectory, work out a firing solution, launch an interceptor and get it high enough and fast enough so that it arrives at the same place at the same time as the incoming warhead. Lastly we have actually accomplished the task several times so we have worked out most of the bugs as long as the incoming warhead behaves ballistically (the Russians and Chinese have changed that assumption recently with maneuvering warheads and random mid trajectory burns so that the final reentry path is no longer highly predictable.

    Asteroids are a different nut to crack, they move much much faster, and can literally approach from almost any angle to strike anywhere on earth (An ABM system only has to protect a relatively small piece of the earths surface).

    Because of its high approach speed you have to detect the object much farther out, and the precision of radar and optical tracking at those distances is not precise enough to give a solid trajectory, so that gets refined over several days. Then you have the problem of what are you going to do with it even if you can define its trajectory with enough precision to hit it?

    Given the relatively slow speed of missiles compared to comets or asteroids, it takes days or weeks for them to get far enough out to be able to influence the approaching object where there is enough time to deflect it and all its fragments enough so that they miss the earth entirely. Simply breaking it up close to the earth will only cause multiple fragments to hit the earth with the same total kinetic energy as it nothing had been done to defend against it.

    If you can get to it weeks or months in advance then just a small change in velocity is all that would be needed to prevent an earth asteroid collision. That required detecting it and characterizing its orbit elements months in advance due to the time it takes to accomplish the intercept far enough out to not risk hitting the earth with multiple fragments if the object breaks up.

  21. E.M.Smith says:

    Not to mention that just disrupting the fairly low mass highly technical machine is enough to stop it exploding. The KE of a km diameter rock at mach 20 takes more to stop it…

  22. Larry Ledwick says:

    Yep much easier to deflect it slightly or change its velocity (both speed and direction) by just a small amount months or years before impact than to try to brute force destroy it or break it up into harmless pieces.

    My personal suggestion is what I call the “dust defense” put a cloud of sand in its path and let the millions of very small particles change its momentum without breaking up into many pieces.

    All you would need to do is basically fly right down its future flight path sprinkling sand out the back of the intercept vehicle so it runs into a continuous sand blasting cloud as it moved down its predicted path. Low tech low cost, little chance of breaking up the object. Each sand grain would input a small incremental change in momentum and would be essentially harmless. If you want to ensure minimum debris use frozen CO2 pellets like they use for bead blasting which would degrade to gas over time.

    The other option would be a series of “smart balloons” full of gas, that would intentionally get “run over” by the approaching object, each giving a gentle push as they get rammed and compressed and raised to incandescent temperatures. No explosives etc needed just a lot of small soft objects it can collide with so that its momentum/ velocity is changed.

  23. Larry Ledwick says:

    The smart balloons could use the pressurized gas in the balloons for small vector changes to keep on an impact course. If you wanted just a bit more energy to ablate the front of the approaching asteroid/comment you could use pellets of TNT or similar explosive, the energy of impact would detonate them and combine both their kinetic energy of impact with their chemical energy to produce thousands of small craters on the surface ablating away mass (which by definition would change its momentum and orbital path).

  24. E.M.Smith says:

    I’m all for just landing a nuke on the face and detonating it.

    1 small payload to deliver and you know if it was delivered.

    Sure, it isn’t going to blow up a flying mountain, nor stop a rubble pile, but it will certainly deliver delta V and vector change. Just do it far enough out to be enough delta V…

    The bonus is you get a neat light show on detonation plus any bits still on the original path give a nice meteor show. The downside is you need to get a nuke far enough away and positioned right to work. But if the Orion spacecraft would work, so would this…

    Just don’t expect it to work on a big rock or rubble pile close up to Earth at the last minute.

  25. catweazle666 says:

    Today’s paper has video of the latest US Navy 30KW laser weapon.

    Presumably ablating a portion of the surface with a high power laser in a suitable position would cause enough reaction to alter the trajectory of a solid body, one advantage of a laser is of course extreme accuracy and very short time to target!

  26. R. de Haan says:

    We have the technology. Now we need the comon sense and the money to make it work. At the same time we should try to plan for the next glaciation that will quickly make huge land masses uninhabitable. People will have to move South into a small zone around the equator that will remain warm enough. The only problem is that we haven’t sufficient land mass usable land mass availble to house and feed our populations. Floating cities would be the answer and floating agri culture. Sounds far fetched at this moment but if the glaciation process commences if will come fast. We’re wasting immense amounts of money and resources to absolutely no avail. Humanity really has to grow up.

  27. Larry Ledwick says:

    Remember as glaciation begins the ocean will retreat opening up large areas of the continential shelf for habitation after that land has some time to dry and have the salt washed out by rainfall (yes I know hundreds of years or more)

  28. E.M.Smith says:

    Vertical farming and greenhouses can make all the food we need.

    Most of the very high latitude land is forests, not food land.

  29. R. de Haan says:

    @ E.M.Smith says:
    21 July 2017 at 2:50 am

    Vertical farming and greenhouses can make all the food we need.

    Most of the very high latitude land is forests, not food land.

    Just did a quick study on vertical farming. My conclusion: It#s one of those green hypes again. Nice if you want (very) expensive salads and tomatoes but absolutely no solution for staple foods. Land use for our salads and veggies is only 3% of the agricultural surface currently in use. The current hypothesis is that we will lose the wheat belt very quickly if glaciation sets in. Yes, we’ll gain a land mass the size of Europe and China put together but that land is only available at the hight of the Glaciation when sea levels are down 400 ft. That doesn’t mean that the descent into Ice Age conditions will be a gradual process. It will come with great shocks and sustained periods of extensive crop losses. It is really incredible how the current great times of benign weather conditions is sold as a catastrophic period of time by the Governments propaganda apparatus and blamed on humanity. Just watch the jumps in temperature during the Younger Dryas and what it did to the populations. Even if we put all the weather catastropys of the passed Century into a single year, we’ve seen nothing yet compared to the Younger Dryas disaster.
    It will take a hell of a lot of work to make those lands that emerge from the oceans productive again as it will mean a hell of a lot of work to adapt to the ever changing conditions.Maybe better and more cost effective to have floating cities and floating farms during the transition. Just looked at the maps to come to this conclusion There simply isn’t much land to fall dry in the area of the equator but lot’s of ocean.

  30. R. de Haan says:

    Just some antidote for vertical farming enthousiasts: why vertical farming won’t save the planet https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISAKc9gpGjw

  31. R. de Haan says:

  32. R. de Haan says:

    Also have a look at the video’s put up by Rolf Witszche like this: https://youtu.be/B6MUxW264fU

  33. E.M.Smith says:

    @R. de Haan:

    OK, I watched the video. I’m underwhelmed…

    But first: Floating cities and floating farms? Have you never seen a storm come ashore? Seen the damage to any floating structure done just by salt spray and encrusted life over the years? I lived on a sailboat for a couple of years. It is a hell of a lot more work to keep it from decaying than to take care of a greenhouse in the Mojave…

    Back to the video:

    He uses a variety of “propaganda” or “lying with numbers” techniques, along with conflating a stated metric with a different one used on the graphs. Overall, I’d not trust the guy to read my water meter to me and get it right.

    My few notes in passing from a single view (i.e. not deep analysis, just what popped out at me in passing…)

    He cites the New York Times as an important source. That, alone, says he’s biased and highly suspect. Says he is a ‘follower’ and cites an article. OK, at least we know he uses “popular press” and biased sources…

    Does Political GMO Riff. OK, confirmed politico.

    Does an email FOIA like riff. Really concerned political academic.

    Proceeds to use Sellers Puff articles as the basis against which to compare, as though marketing puff press releases were academic or technical claims.

    Calls Dickson “Desmon” and then launches an ‘attack via credentials’ of nobody can possibly have clue outside their degreed area. Now where have we seen THAT before… At a minimum, his precision and observational skills are compromised and he makes errors, at worst, he’s a Credential Clown.

    Assumes ALL power and lighting will be renewable / solar. Even a casual observation of the drawings / pictures in his own slides shows the designers of these systems are fully expecting to use sunlight and have slanted window walls aimed at winter sun (implies higher north / south latitudes, so I presume Europe, Canada, and New England…) Clearly an invalid assumption on his part that it’s all to be solar / wind / electric lights.

    Expresses “surprise” at the idea of growing trees indoors, yet that has already been done. It had been done even at Disney in their “behind the seeds” giant greenhouse prior to them turning it into an Above California ride. Surprise at things that are already historical fact is not encouraging.

    Uses “sustainable” buzz word on the slide about oil use. OK, we’re racking up the “Partisan Hack” flags by now. He’s clearly bought into the whole “We are all doomed go die now” storytelling.

    Uses 100% grid cost for 100% of standard daylight from 100% oil. A bogus end to end thing if ever their was one. First off, plants need way less than full daylight. Lots of sunshine is just wasted. Second, in standard greenhouse practice, plant spacing changes with plant growth (in the field, they are planted far apart and the sun between them wasted for months until the fill in the gaps). Third, electricity doesn’t come from oil in almost all of the world. Basically, it’s a giant attack on the cost of solar power and oil when he KNOWS (and even says) nuclear power is the way to go and the clear answer.

    Tomatoes? Lettuce? REALLY? THOSE are the things he uses to show you can’t get enough calories of food produced as dry Kg per batch of photons? Things used in weight loss diets that are mostly water? Fairly inefficient plants anyway?

    Even WITH his costing, that I think it bogus on a couple of counts, he gets $32 / dry Kg of food. That’s roughly $15 / person / day to stay alive and full. In a global freeze catastrophe, I’m FINE with paying $15 / day to be fed and alive…

    Now figure Nuclear power from modular reactors will cut that about in 1/2, so we’re really at $8 / day. Hey, cost of one meal at Burger King for covering the the whole day of food. LESS than a meal at KFC. Now add in using only the photons that match what the plants need (i.e. NOT the IR and UV photons in sunlight and a more narrow spectrum) along with say 1/4 sunlight and we’re closer to $4 / person / day. Oh Gee, sounds like a great deal to me to stay alive and fed.

    Conflates “Cost of transportation” with “tons of CO2 / year”. Yup, certainly a carbon footprint sustainability propagandist… But even if that is NOT true: Why on earth would I ever listen to anyone who can’t see that $$$$$ are not measured in Tons-CO2?

    As his counter example to water waste in field irrigation he uses sub-surface drip systems. I’ve seen them in use in Israel and Arizona on (as he puts it) “High Value Crops”, but please show me where they are relevant to normal field practices for corn, wheat, oats, rye, barley, soy, great northern beans, sorghum, sugar cane, etc. etc. etc. Nice lie, though… Comparing what amounts to open air hydroponics to closed room hydroponics.

    Water “grid”? REALLY? Near as I can tell there is NO “water grid”. Does he mean “municipal water system”? It would be nice if he said so. Most farms here, even the greenhouses, use local wells. In the city in dense urban areas they would likely get the same kind of bulk rates that large corporations usually get. You know, the ones that dump tons of water on decorative lawns… I’m sorry, but that kind of sloppy language use just grates. Does not inspire confidence either. However, he is clearly looking at dense area urban agriculture while my “post glacial” scenario is based on diminished, but still usable, rural land magnification, so well water is sill common (not to mention the glacial melt…)

    Again, to show field crops use fertilizer with nearly no loss, he uses “High Value Crops” as his counter example. Now I know it is true farmers hate to pay for fertilizer that just washes away. I also know there’s LOTS of problems from fertilizers washing away… In the closed systems of greenhouses and vertical greenhouses, far far less of that happens.

    Another bogus argument using cattle “carbon footprint”. Anyone using “carbon footprint” to rank food production costs is just out in left field and looking at their toes… if they can see their toes…

    So we have a “Beer Belly Fatso” telling / nagging us to eat less beef and swap over to more “fruits and vegetables” since “meat is bad for us” anyway? OK, I want to know what his Shake, Burger & Fries annual budget is… Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my tiny beer belly in the making. I work on growing it as often as possible. Just don’t have one 4 x mine and nag ME about eating too much meat.

    That was the “first pass”. I’m sure I could find better criticisms were I to watch it more closely a second time and not be eating lunch while it ran…

    ***** My Point****

    BTW, my point is NOT about what is economical today in competition with cheap field crops. I fully agree and admit that trying to grow wheat or peaches in a skyscraper in Manhattan is daft TODAY.

    My point is just that WHEN we start having glacial advance, we will still want to eat. Initially we’ll just intensify production on existing lands. We get about 30% more just from not feeding corn to our cars. You can get about 10 x that if you eat the gain and skip the grain fed beef. (No reason to do that until there isn’t an option, though). The System Of Rice Intensification is good for about another 10 X production. Similar things for other major basic crops (though not as strong a gain… yet…)

    IFF we ever get really pressed, we’ve got about another 10x on a whole lot of crops via using normal standard greenhouses and vertical farming.

    Now, I’m not talking about moving 100% of wheat into vertical farming. I’m talking about doing it in a sane and rational way. First, you put your chickens and pigs in high rises. Now you have a nice large way of making a lot of meat on very little land. These on the edge of urban areas, most likely. Second, THE thing that makes most sense for vertical farming and greenhouses are exactly the things we’ve already started doing. Year round tomatoes, lettuce, squash, cucumbers, etc. etc. Basically, the vegetables department. Now for fruits, it makes more sense to just toss a greenhouse over the existing orchards as the cold sets in. (That’s why I said “vertical farming AND greenhouses”). Last thing to worry about is field grains. You can do it, and it isn’t as dire as the Prof. painted it, but just woefully more pricey than today in Canadian fields and Kansas…

    But would I shrivel up and die if I had to pay $8 for a loaf of bread? Nope. (It already ranges from $1 to $5 depending on brand and degree of fancy). IF the choice is die, or pay an extra $4 / day / person for food to stay alive, pretty much everyone in Europe, Canada, The USA, and Russia would be able to make that happen. (When you get into 3rd world places like Egypt and Africa it’s a problem, then again, with all their sunshine they can grow food to sell to Europe using European supplied water systems and grow houses).

    Frankly, just putting a load of these:
    referenced here:

    into the deserts of California, Mexico, Australia, China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sahara, etc. etc. could provide enough food to keep everyone alive and kicking. We wouldn’t need to do anything near that extreme, though. It’s just one of many things that will each be done in moderation.

    Some of which will include vertical farming, some greenhouses of conventional sorts, some just swapping wheat to barley or oats. No “Central Authority” can plan it in enough detail to make it work, but a free people in a free economy will do it “just fine”.

    Heck, as it gets “bad enough” we’ll even go back to building base load nuclear plants making 4 ¢ / Kw-hr electricity and run the greenhouses 24 x 7… and cutting that food cost “bump” down closer to $2 / person / day…

    But hopefully Dear Professor will be unable to believe it and will quietly mutter it isn’t possible as he doesn’t go buy any of the food….

  34. catweazle666 says:

    “Assumes ALL power and lighting will be renewable / solar.”

    New German study demonstrates that – as all of us who have any grasp whatsoever of the engineering issues have maintained all along – every last milliwatt-hour of ‘Unreliable’ electricity must be backed by a milliwatt-hour of energy from thermal plant.


  35. E.M.Smith says:


    Gee… why am I not surprised.

    Nice to see it as a ‘study’ though.

    IMHO it isn’t really essential to have every milliwatt backed up, not even every Watt.

    Why? Because the system allows for some amount of voltage sag and frequency drift. Not much, mind you, but a little. I think that lets you get up into the kW range pretty easy. But once you are talking mW (which you can lose with a cloud bank blowing over a large field of solar panels) it is pretty much essential to have some dispatchable power on standby. Not a problem when solar or wind (or both combined) are under 10% as most systems run 10% hot standby anyway. At 20% you are pushing your luck and operational problems show up, starting to juice the operators around way too much for comfort.

    Over 20% you either have spinning reserve to cover every additional kW or you are toast. Just a matter of when the inter-tie line burns up, the nuke goes off line in your source of backup zone, or a cloud bank moves in just as the wind stops leaving it there for a day…

    BTW, recently they relaxed the frequency standard requirement. Fewer clocks running on synchronous motors anymore and they figured it would let them absorb more unreliable power and unexpected sags and dropouts… IMHO that means we in the USA are pretty much at that point of AwShit Imminent… Which reminds me, I need to do maintenance on my backup generator…

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