of engineering, carbonising, fracking and politics...
This leaf got "carbonised" by the recent record heat in Sydney. I was assured that it was healthy and the plant had been well-watered by 9 am. but by 3 pm parts of it had "carbonised" from the direct hot sunlight. 46.5 degrees Celsius in the shade was the record temperature where the plant was. A rain shower around 3:45 stopped the carbonising. Picture supplied to Gus.
The first train line in Sydney to be paid for and built under the Rudd and Gillard governments opened on Monday, $700 million over budget and three years after it was promised to be finished.The 36km Southern Sydney Freight Line will allow extra freight trains to run between Macarthur and Chullora in the city's south west and will increase rail freight capacity along the entire Australian east coast.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/we-wanted-to-make-sure-we-got-it-right-new-rail-line-opens--three-years-late-20130121-2d279.html#ixzz2IePAE38E
Straight away one can note a slight journalistic snigger despite presenting proper reasons why the project was over-budget and overtime: blah blah, the government could not run a chook raffle or get out of a paper bag... I can smell Alan Jones, though I have not heard him babble on on this subject...
But when one knows engineering, one knows PROBLEMS.
First let's be realistic here, in constructing something like a railway line there are unknowns, known unknowns and unknowns unknowns, even with the best of feasible studies — as whatiszname used to say when there was a cock up in his little wars.
But when one is building stuff on long (or short) distances, the nature of the terrain and the direction of the wind can have major impact on projects. Have a look at the building of the railway between Johannesburg and Pretoria... This 50 kilometre long railway track had to deal with unpredictable sink holes, loose soil, crossing eight lanes motorways many times, drill through tunnels and blow up small hills from 30 metres below... New stations... Not only that there was about ten different contractors — all using different methods to beat the contrary elements... Sure the doco on the project was over-dramatic but then it tried to simplify a three-year project into a one hour viewing.
Usually, politicians will allow a budget for a project and they pray to the god of construction that the project won't go over the original cost by more than three times... So I would say that the rail line is bang on target for budget predictions, but should the original estimate had been one billion, the project may not have left the drawing boards. "You with me?"
So pollies usually under-estimate costs, over-estimate value and in the end a good project sees the light of day... It's part of the OLD way NEW things are pushed through. We would still be crossing the harbour in row boats otherwise.
Deadlines also become elastic like jelly... unless one has slaves motivated by whip-masters — and this alone does not warranty anything. We might die young anyhow, before the completion of our tomb.
When building such large pyramidal-sized projects, many NEW assessments and decisions have to be made on the run daily and one wants to see the finished product stand the test of time beyond tomorrow... Quality is the essence. Speed always interfere with quality when cutting corners. A shoddy job with several thousand tonnes rolling atop spells disaster.
I am with Albanese on this one. One needed a more efficient way to move containers out of Botany by trains, rather than by trucks that in large numbers destroy the roads... Though this new system will place some extra strain on old existing freight lines. Sure, one could always say that one could have trimmed a bit of the fat, but, on account, many such projects actually run lean and hungry. And the fat helps clearer thinking... No cholesterol and the brains go cranky.
One had to avoid the problems that upset some tracks in southern NSW, when an update program with more efficient long-lasting concrete rail slippers created a new problem of their own. The train vibration used to be absorbed to a POINT by the wooden slippers... The new concrete slippers passed-on the vibrations to the ballast that transmitted it to the subsoil that "liquified" like soft soil in earthquakes... The tracks started to become roller-coaster-like after having been realigned perfectly...
In many situations there are various "critical" points, even in global warming... Observations have shown that with an ambient shaded temperature over 45 degrees Celsius, some plants start to "carbonise" (see picture at top)... The natural engineering of the plants is not designed for such high temperature which correspond to their leaves being exposed to some 75 degrees Celsius or more in direct sunlight. There is a bio-break down pass this critical point.
Various inert and bio substances have "memory" that can be affected by heat... During the recent "heat wave", the trains around Sydney had to be slowed down as tracks were starting to buckle. The surface of the tracks would have been well over 110 degrees Celsius... Pour a glass of water over it and the water would have vaporised instantly. Sometimes, the heat creates lengthening distortions that affect the mechanical "memory" and the tracks need to be totally realigned.
As more record temperature will happen in Sydney say within ten years, more species of plant will be affected by "carbonising"... Hell knows what will happen by 2100, when records reach around 50 degrees Celsius in the shade. Entire rail networks in need of realignment, melting road surfaces, the greenery, for which Sydney is famous for, becoming ghost-like through carbonising and incessant bush-fires from which the tiring vegetation would not be able to regenerate.
Apparently, there is a section of the Princess Highway, on the way to Brisbane, that has a soil substrate that is very difficult for engineers to come to terms with — unless vast sums of moneys are thrown into big holes filled with cement on location... One might have to place deep piers at angle, joined together at the top and support a semi-elevated roadway. Recently, the Yanks were doing the same in San Francisco Bay for a very long bridge designed to withstand earthquakes but the construction was massive and very expensive... The roadways in the bayou (swamps) near New Orleans are in the same vein and massive, yet some spans got displaced by Hurricane Katrina...
This brings me to another engineering feat: FRACKING...
Alan Jones is opposed to fracking, hates Julia, curses at gas exploration and gay marriage, not so much because he knows much about the subjects, but most of his rich mates and himself are acreage owners in beautiful valleys and country estates and they don't want the blight of gas exploitation on their land where they mostly breed tax losing race-horses.
But one has to look at the real problems here... In the US, the fracking companies hide the chemicals used in the process. One has some inclination that they use benzene and nasty petroleum derivatives as one has said by allegedly analysing the runoffs from such works.
In Australia, we are assured by the prospecting lobby that no dangerous chemicals are used. Fracking in Australia is done with "common" household products... substances that fills 99.9 per cent of your Spray and Wipe bottle or are used as anti-freeze for your lovely car cooling system, as well as cosmetics... So there.
The list is interesting and presented to us as benign...:
A few of those products are not benign, even if we use then daily to wipe our kitchen bench tops with... I don't. I hate the smell and I DON'T WANT TO KILL 99.9 per cent of germs — as often we kill "good" germs and the nasty ones become super resistant by overdoing it.... A bit of water and it's clean as new...
Acids, presented to us as "swimming pool cleaners"... We know what happened to an octopus being "pool cleaned", don't we? And there is a big range of "acids"... from diluted acetic acid in vinegar to fluoridric acid that is used to etch glass... So, which acid(s) is it?...
Table salt? I live on the stuff... The sea is full of it... but we know what happens when too much of it gets into the soils, don't we? It's not called the white death for nothing...
Polyacrylamide? Polyacrylamide, though I would not drink it, is apparently "not toxic", except it can contain residues that are strong neurotoxins. It's a bit like a flocculent or in some jargon it's like dishwashing liquid or surfactant, but it's not...
Ethylene Glycol is an alcohol that is dangerous to drink or even to breathe fumes of. It's basically a poison to life forms. It is used for anti-freeze in cars — not that we need any at the moment.
Borate salts are a bit like phosphate... Too much of it and natural balance gets upset... Same again we're looking at washing powders that are often blamed for surge of algal blooms from effluents in rivers.
Sodium/potassium carbonate is used as an anti-caking agent or as a replacement for bicarb of soda and acts as a dehumidifier...
Glutaraldehyde is a powerful "disinfectant" (life-killer) used in hospitals and serious protection needs to be used to avoid skin contact... To have this product running wild from runoffs and seepage in the environment ain't going to do any good...
Guar Gum is basically a form of sugar from the sap of a tree, a substance that is used in food IN SMALL QUANTITIES and as an E number...
Isopropanol is a solvent. It is what's in your Spray and Wipe bottle... It's a nasty little alcohol as well except when used as "rubbing" alcohol... The salt will help the separation of it away from water when mixed... Thus all these chemicals would be used at different times for different purposes in the fracturing of rocks and coal seams
The environment may be able to cope with small quantities of these "benign" substances...
Now, we need to have documentation to know at which point and which accumulated time, the balance of nature becomes very upset by too much of them and at which point other factors such as increasing environmental temperature could combine to kill off entire eco-systems... ? Especially rivers as the water oozes from the lower water table, "polluted" by fracking?
Our future is written mostly in what we do now... Our choices are effecting what is happening next.
But there is far more money to be made in frothing up harsh solution to problems — creating the next batch of problems in the process — than to find simple costless ways to stop compounding disasters in the making, like choosing to do less crap... or using less energy. No money in that, though, is there?...
We're in for a self-inflicted hiding and it's going to cost heaps.
I can see happy bankers already bidding for the next lot of problems coming our way. The more crap, the bigger flow of cash, the more employment... the more slaves we need to build pyramids to protect us from death... Ah ah...
It's about money, isn't it?...