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2006-06-14, 19:25
In the last few months I read two books regarding water supply and engineering. One book was Gerard T. Koeppel - Water for Gotham. The second book was Russel Martin - A Story That Stands Like a Dam.

Water for Gotham is the story of how New York city built its first public water supply with the Croton aqueduct, bringing water from the Croton river to the city. At first there was reluctance to invest in a public water system and the rights were instead given to a private company, which actually wanted to use its powers and legal status as a water company towards banking rather than towards providing water. Its monopoly on the water rights delayed the building of a public water system. People suffered from cholera and there was a great fire.

Ultimately the Croton water supply was built and that allowed New York city to grow, and with more water projects built, to become the largest city in the United States. The lesson to be learned is that investment in public works or things which benefit the public must be initiated by the government and must be public. If everything were privatized people would be digging their own wells and maintaining their own streets, and charging their own tolls in front of their houses.

Schools and jails should not be privatized, because to privatize means to lose oversight of. Other things such as power companies should be regulated rather than deregulated. The government should also apply a Universal Service tax fund upon the various utilities to promote growth and investment in rural areas, so that urban areas subsidize rural areas.

The people who are opposed to government spending or ownership, and who want to privatize everything, are often the same ones who will believe that America is the greatest country. America would not be great without its public works or projects in which the government spent money in the past to build things that lasted, which allowed for growth, and which benefited everybody with a higher standard of living. To cut government spending and privatize would lead to the country becoming like a poor third-world country. Such was the case in the neglect towards the levees in New Orleans. What happened last year was a wake up call for many people who had habitually rallied against Big Government and had taken its past projects for granted. President Clinton in his 1996 State of the Union address said: "the era of big government is over". It was not something that was inexorably true, but rather it was a reflection of his own personal defeat in life, his loss of will and ambition, his impotence in the affairs of government, and his lack of vision.

The other book I read, A Story That Stands Like a Dam, is the story of the building of the Glen Canyon dam on the Colorado river. The dam is huge and is arch shaped. It is wider and newer than the Hoover dam. The Hoover dam is 726 feet high above the bedrock while Glen Canyon dam is 710 feet high above the bedrock. Both dams are on the Colorado river, with Hoover dam downstream of the Grand Canyon, and Glen Canyon upstream from it.

Environmentalists have been unhappy with Glen Canyon dam and would like to see it dismantled. I found some websites: Glen Canyon Institute (http://www.glencanyon.org/) and Living Rivers (http://www.drainit.org/) devoted to dismantling the dam or draining lake Powell. Some people have had fantasies of its destruction through sabotage, such as advocated by Edward Abbey and radical environmentalist organizations such as Earth First ( http://www.earthfirst.org/). Radical environmentalists pose another terrorist threat comparable to Islamic radicals. The damage they cause tends to be aimed towards causing financial destruction, whereas Islamic terrorists try to have a high body count and hit high profile targets.

Many of these dams also have the resourcefulness as serving as bridges crossing the rivers and serving as hydroelectric plants. Due to terrorism concerns people can no longer drive their cars or vehicles freely over dams. The Hoover dam now has an inspection of large vehicles crossing it. Glen Canyon dam has a bridge next to it that people use instead, sparing it the terrorism risk that crossing vehicles would bring to the dam. Even the Glen Canyon dam is massive and I think that a full truck loaded with ten tons of ANFO driven on top of it would not destroy it. With its arch shape the best place to plant explosives would be on its downstream face, directing the blast towards the upstream direction. The middle of the arch on the dam is the thinnest part of it, as can be seen by overhead views. Or perhaps a blast where the concrete abutments meet the sandstone below river level, would allow for a crack to occur and for water to rush through and widen the erosion. The dam is more vulnerable when it is full with water, because it is under more strain. When they opened up the spillway tunnels for the first time in 1983 due to it being a wet season, the water actually wore out the tunnels and tore away at the concrete, which you can read about here:
Water Vapor Almost Busts Dam (http://www.popsci.com/popsci/science/5917359b9fa84010vgnvcm1000004eecbccdrcrd.html)

The big dams on the Colorado river are expected to fill up with silt somewhere between 500 and 1000 years. At that point their lakes will be shallow and the capacity to hold water will have diminished. Maybe the water will simply go over the top, making a big waterfall. I predict that the Hoover dam will last longer because it is placed between more solid rock of granite while Glen Canyon dam is longer and between weaker sandstone. It is also thinner and not as strong. Hoover dam is both a gravity dam that can hold the water with its weight, and an arch dam. Glen Canyon dam is working as an arch, with the force of the water pushing into the abutments. Its weight alone is insufficient to hold back the water. An engineering analysis of the dams can be found here (http://www.usbr.gov/history/Symposium_June2002/Reclamation (D)/PDF'S/Billington, David P.pdf).

In the pictures I've seen of Hoover dam, it looks like a uterus. Allah help us all if her great uterus ruptures.

35 miles north of where I live there is a Kensico dam that was closed to vehicular traffic after 9/11. After reading about that I decided to visit the dam. I've been to the American West twice before as a child, but I did not visit any large dams or see the Grand Canyon. Visiting the Kensico dam was a nice experience. I drove up the Bronx River parkway following the Bronx river valley, where at the end of the road was a massive wall before me that was the dam. The gravity dam is 307 feet high above the bedrock and is not arch shaped.

I am impressed by these huge structures and I think that they are great accomplishments. It seems that there is little building of anything big nowadays and whenever something is attempted, there is either NIMBY opposition, environmentalist opposition, or the lack of will to have Big Government spending a lot of money. Big Government is still popular for military spending, though even that has been downsized with more emphasis on bombing and less emphasis on having actual troops on the ground.

I realize how vital a good water supply is to so many millions of people and for the existence of the City, while most people take it for granted. I see a fragility in the system knowing that millions of people in New York city are depending on those walls of the Kensico dam to hold.

I am not opposed to the environment but I don't like when Environmentalists stand in the way of progress or a comfortable life. In the New York area where the power need is increasing, one outcome of the bureacratic rules in place is that no new major power plants have been built in decades to meet that need. Instead a patchwork of smaller generators has taken their place, which produce even more pollution than a major power plant would. That is because the smaller plants which output around 45 megawatts each, don't require approval or don't face as much opposition and are easier to open up. See here on how NYC set up 10 patchwork gas fired plants:

One thing I have always wondered is why Environmentalists are opposed to nuclear power. Being a clean and abundant energy source, it would help meet energy needs and reduce the use of fossil fuels, which are said to cause global warming. They are probably ignorant of the technology to the point of fearing it, as well as having a fear of accidents and waste. The NIMBY opposition has made the handling of nuclear waste more dangerous because no one wants to take it or have it pass through their territory on the way to another place. Instead it is kept at the power plants in areas which are not very secure.

The solution to solving the energy shortage is not just to conserve or to cut back. There's only so much that can be done by cutting back. The solution requires increasing the capacity and production of the power system.

In the twentieth century Man reached godlike status, with the ability to send a man to the moon, dam up and divert rivers, and move mountains with the hydrogen bomb. The most powerful explosion ever created by Man was by the Russians in 1961 at 53 megatons of TNT equivalency, with a bomb called Tsar Bomba. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsar_Bomba) Since then we have seen developments in technology, precision, and details without having gotten much more powerful.

Many of the radical environmentalists see humans as a burden on the planet and wreckers of the environment. Yet some day it will be humans with their godlike abilities who can save the planet from the biggest environmental catastrophe and threat to face it.

The most important issue facing us is the threat of a big chunk of rock hitting the planet from space. Recently a large crater was discovered in Antarctica of an object 30 miles wide that hit the Earth 250 million years ago. Read about that here ( http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/erthboom.htm). That was pretty recent in the history of the solar system. These large objects seem to occasionally hit the Earth, but the evidence is hard to find because of erosion. It is apparent on the Moon where there is no erosion. I had always thought that these large objects tended to hit the planet when it was younger in the early formation of the solar system, but this type of thing still happens at a rate which should be alarming. It is the most important issue facing our time now. It is also an abstract one which could have Man just as easily turn a blind lazy eye to it for a thousand years, and ~probably~ nothing will happen.

We are now in the age when we can do something about this to prevent one of these big rocks from hitting the Earth. With enough sophistication the trajectory can be accurately predicted, and early enough a small nudge will make a big difference in moving one of those objects out of the way so that it doesn't hit Earth. I would like to see the government invest and retool its nuclear arsenal towards peaceful purposes, so that the ICBMs are made to intercept objects in space that are millions or billions of miles away. This should be an active project on the part of the government, with actual test explosions occuring on objects to see how their trajectory is altered by the explosions. So far what has occured has been mostly passive, with the tracking of rogue objects in a NASA program called the Near-Earth Object Program ( http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/). Many people will be opposed to sending and testing nukes in space, but the stakes are too high not too to anything about this threat.

Some of the radical environmentalists and the religious fundamentalists will see a Doomsday as a fulfillment of their prophesies, and will oppose any efforts to prevent it. But for those who are sensible and have the will to support Big Government, the efforts to prevent an environmental catastrophe that threatens the Earth and its inhabitants, and civilization itself, will be a worthwhile investment.

For related topics, see:
power issues (http://www.3-3-3.org/forum/showthread.php?t=106) 2003-08-15
government.com (http://www.3-3-3.org/forum/showthread.php?t=642) 2004-08-06
hurricane Ivan (http://www.3-3-3.org/forum/showthread.php?t=718) 2004-09-15

2006-06-17, 12:25
For me it's difficult to come to a conclusion about the efficiency of state vs private ownership. Privatisation is on thing, heavy deregulation is another.

In Australia, there is a massive water shortage. The capacity of our dams stands at less than 30%. We are at level 3 restrictions, which means it is forbidden to use a watering hose, wash cars, top up pools etc. Water is going up by almost $1 per kilolitre. Studies predict that water, which costs now (before the increase) about $1.27 per kilolitre, will cost approx $10.90 a kilolitre in the very near future.
There was an interesting program on tv today, showing the water smart technology of the future, which, obviously will become the norm in Australia. It measured every litre of water you used, filled baths up to the most efficient level, without waste etc.
Most people now catch any extra water from the shower, while they are showering, to use in other parts of the house etc. Apparently, not being allowed to use the hose in the garden, is going to save us 50 million litres of water per day.

There is a big fuss about building new dams, as we are at a crisis level. They decided on some areas not long ago, but then withdrew plans as the earth was not err... dense enough? There is no stone, apparently, meaning the walls of the dam have potential to 'sink' into the ground. I dont know... but the new plans are recycling water from our toilets etc, which kind of grosses me out... but u know... they are also looking to invest in a desalination plant.

I dont know what the future is... but the government has left water planning a little too late. When ur dams are down in the 20% area of capacity, and you have the government all blaming each other for poor water planning, still unable to announce a plan for the water crisis in Australia... threatening to price water at nearly $11 per kilolitre... it's hard to say you have faith in state owned water supplies.

I wouldn't say I am an advocate for nuclear power. I mean, i'm not educated enough in the area to be either for or against, but i'm concerned about the dangers of it... probably more human error, than nuclear waste storage (althought, i do find it problematic). I became aware of nuclear energy when i was young, when i realised i was in close proximity to Chernobyl in the 80's when the nuclear reactor exploded. I started to read up on the governments reaction, on the aftermath... on the causes... and while nuclear energy will probably become the power source of choice in the long run, it is not something I would feel comfortable with. I dont' have much of a case... i'm going on personal feeling, which I know, really has no place in such a debate, but my personal belief is, if people, governments, have managed to neglect the maintinance of nuclear power sources in the past... and people have caused accidents due to human error... I dont see how governments can be trusted to manage such an energy source, and its wastes, efficiently.
There was a propostion of building a nuclear power plant in Mooroochydore... which is not even 2 hours away from my place... honestly, it creeped me out - the same way those giant mobile phone towers creep me out. Would I choose to set up family home near a nuclear power plant or mobile phone tower? No. Would you? We had a case here where 7 people in one office all developed brain tumours at the same time (what are the chances of such a cluster?)... yet nobody can link them to the mobile phone tower right ontop of their office... responsibility is denied, because nobody is investing money into making the studies happen! Nobody wants to knwo the truth. The truth is too expensive to deal with.

As for good ole doomsday... can't help but be fascinated with giant rocks in space and their future potential to hit earth. There was a recent rock in space, size of a football field, threatening to breach our gravity pull. I dont know if governments would be able to 'nudge' such an object. I'm not a scientist, and i'm not even going to pretend i know the mechanics of nudging an object XX metres wide travelling at XX miles/kilometres per hour. Do I have 'faith' in our collective governments to save the day? No. I look back to those films... what was it called? Deep impact? where the governments selected a certain few ppl, to go into underground shelters, and left everybody else on the surface to die... when it comes to potential dooms day situations, the thinking is strategic not sentimental.

And btw dude... unless it is part of your career expectations... it takes a special somebody to read not one, but two books about Dams in their spare time!

2006-06-17, 18:33
Where the people in Australia live may be limited by how dry the environment is. These great dams and water projects on the Colorado river have allowed for the American southwest to support a lot of people, along with supporting agriculture in the Imperial valley of California fed by the All-American canal system (http://www.usbr.gov/dataweb/html/allamcanal.html). But there is not enough water in that relatively dry section of the United States to support a doubling of the population. By contrast I think the northeast United States can support more people, because it is naturally wetter. People can live thousands of miles away from their food source, because that can be shipped by trains, trucks, and boats. But they should not live more than hundreds of miles away from their water source, because aqueducts and dams can only work for a limited distance. The average food needs of a person weigh by my estimation three pounds a day, while the average water needs of a person weigh around 800 pounds per day.

I'm not sure if the Australian government arguments against dam development are legitimate or if it's just the government lacking the will to do anything big or expensive. One thing it sounds like though is that the conservation and recycling measures are inadequate to meet Australia's water needs.

2006-06-29, 11:04
There is an organization called B612 Foundation (http://www.b612foundation.org/info/background.html) which is advocating the tracking of Near Earth asteroids. They also would like for test missions to occur to actually try to change the velocity of such objects, with either being slammed with a kinetic impact or a gravity tractor that pulls an object in front of it. The key is to either slow down or speed up the object so that it no longer hits the Earth, rather than to change its path perpendicularly. They do not have any plans for dealing with really large objects, which I think would require nukes. They instead have advocated testing on relatively small objects.

There is a Japanese video of a simulation of a 100-200 km (The Register article said 100 km but the text translation refers to it being around 200 km) object hitting Earth here:
A text translation of the video is here:

In a presentation (http://www.b612foundation.org/papers/ISDC06.doc) given May 2006 one of the issues brought up are the political ones. If the velocity of the asteroid were changed from hitting the Earth so that it were to miss the Earth instead, the areas put at risk as shown in figure 4 would also change as the velocity of the asteroid were changed. There may be a best way to do it, but some countries may act unilaterally to preserve their own interests and simply try to avoid having the object hit their own country rather than avoiding the Earth altogether. And since only a few countries have the capability to deflect an object, you may see the object's velocity altered so that it hits some poor country, because the powers that be in the World won't feel so bad seeing them lose a few million people.

2006-06-30, 01:53
There isn't much choice.

mandatory birth control in specific welfare cases now, or flat out use the planet up until mandatory birth control is required for everyone.

And U know that won't apply to any gov connected.

2006-07-03, 00:07
Just some thoughts.

Here in Canada people in the public sector move smoothly to the private sector and vice-versa. Hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.
Let's face it, if a country has a massive population of poor inhabitants with 8 or 10 children in a family being common, then maybe a few million of them SHOULD die instead of a large number of people in a low population country.

2006-07-27, 00:12
Just some thoughts.

Here in Canada people in the public sector move smoothly to the private sector and vice-versa. Hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.
Let's face it, if a country has a massive population of poor inhabitants with 8 or 10 children in a family being common, then maybe a few million of them SHOULD die instead of a large number of people in a low population country.

Now that would piss off the pope and show how much he really cares.

Tough decisions ahead for sure . . .