Jeffrey Kresse

Eugene, OR, United States

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Jeffrey Kresse
Posted 11 months ago
Can urban beehives increase food production?
60 minutes did a great piece on CCD back in 2007 that stuck with me because the implications for our agricultural system were shocking. They weren't sure whether insecticides or a virus were the chief cause, and the stresses of encroaching human development also should play a role. One thing for sure was that whatever the cause it inhibits the bee's sense of direction, stopping it from returning to its hive, which is why no dead bees were found. One thing the piece taught me was that beekeepers are paid to drive semis full of bee boxes to orchards and places like that and distribute the bees around for the day to pollinate. Agricultural operations have increased tenfold in size over the last forty years, which puts extra pressure on the bees to perform. My first impression towards urban beekeeping and the associated farming is that it would require deep structural changes to our cities that we are not ready for. Ordinary people should not keep bees, the keepers are stung until further stinging is rendered inert. If we adjusted our agricultural subsidies to encourage families to farm their own produce, however, there may be a place for urban beekeepers who can adroitly deliver the bees on time in a bustling city environment. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-3407762.html
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Jeffrey Kresse
Posted 11 months ago
Will the Belo Monte Dam project on the Amazon River cause more harm to the environment or will it be a good source of energy for Brazil?
The biggest problem with tropical dams is of course the release of the greenhouse gas methane, which holds in atmospheric heat 21 times better than carbon dioxide. Methane is a product of the anaerobic decay of plant matter that sinks to the bottom of the reservoir after flooding. This occurs because all the oxygen is used up at higher water levels. The release of methane doesn't decrease as time goes on because plant life returns and sinks to the bottom again because the flow of water is so slow. You can flood a smaller area to get the reservoir you need if you can manipulate mountaneous terrain, but on flat land you need quite a large area. The methane is released all along the waterway, making methane capturing devices cumbersome. However, people need energy one way or another to put it simply, and my first impression is to be ok with the project. It is very unfortunate that the tribes' lands will be flooded, but many people will benefit. Nevertheless I believe the displaced people should be compensated somehow. And dams despite their flaws do take the place of fossil fuels which are slightly worse. http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2010/ph240/ashe1/
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Jeffrey Kresse
Posted 11 months ago
Cats pose a serious threat to biodiversity: Why do we accept it? What should be done?
While New Zealand may have an acute problem that could warrant interference, any US government attempt to hunt down stray cats would be viewed not only as a waste of money but also as a vast overreach of governmental power. Americans have always been wary of the formation of any Ministry of Love to oversee matters of reproduction and death. While the specifics are different it would be unpopular for the same reasons as a one child policy, it's simply not the government's place. There is also some value in keeping rat and mouse populations managable, especially in an urban setting. Growing up I had two cats, one couldn't catch anything and one was a killing machine. Maybe this has been said already but a major confounding factor is that pet cats hunt smaller animals and drop them mostly intact on the porch as a sort of appreciative gift towards their owners like one of mine did. If the right to live once born isn't enough, consider the ethical quandaries of punishing a cat for following their old instincts to hunt like their big cat ancestors, especially when the prey is meant to be a present.
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Jeffrey Kresse
Posted 12 months ago
Purell now, Bacteri-ell later?
That's an interesting point, I know an only child with a severe peanut allergy. I could totally see how only children would not have as many chances to encounter the bacteria they need to when young, from their siblings bringing them into the home. In my opinion Bacteria-ell would just be an attempt for all the Sheldon Coopers out there to live in a fake sterile environment. Instead, why not have your kids go to the park every once in a while. Over prescription of antibiotics is another thing, lots of people just assume antibiotics are purely good things. Yet another factor is the constant bombardment of microwaves from cell phoned and wireless internet that could be affecting our immune systems. These things became standard overnight despite the fact that we know very little about how a lifetime of exposure could affect someone internally. Consider going to the dentist and having the large doormat thing placed on you to protect you from the rays, or the radiation sickness created by an atomic bomb. While these are quick exposures of a lot of radiation, microwaves do not penetrate as deeply but they are always around. Kids half my age have grown up with iPhones always on hand, and an old apple commercial, as disorienting as ever, ended with some little kid with huge eyes using his iPhone which made me shudder. The potential long term effects spooked me a long time ago, I insisted on not having a wireless modem and I almost never carry my phone around.
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Jeffrey Kresse
Posted 12 months ago
What form of renewable energy has or will have the lowest impact on biodiversity?
Today the form of renewable energy that has the most potential to me is wind. Turbines made in the last decade have much larger blades that spin more slowly than older models, drastically reducing bird deaths. Currently turbines kill an insignificant amount of birds compared to cats, cars, or windows. They are rated at 3 MW but in practice run at about 40% efficiency. The Midwestern United States has a lot of flat empty land suitable for turbine farms. Turbines can also be deployed five or so miles offshore in neat rows for hundreds of miles. The technology is also a lot cheaper than solar, geothermal, or ocean schemes. However, if scaled up to meet a good part of our needs the bird fatalities could begin to be a problem. They are also considered an eyesore for people with beachfront property, even though they would look very small. The thing is, no solution is perfect, but wind has the potential for mass deployment and is relatively inexpensive. Of course, we should also use the other forms as much as possible to take the burden off wind. In the long run, artificial photosynthesis is the most elegant solution, solving both our energy and carbon dioxide problems. The technology has progressed fairly well already, a big breakthrough recently being Nocera's artificial leaf. However, it's still very much prohibitively expensive and will take a few decades at least to be as feasible as maybe solar is today. Nuclear power in my opinion is just hubris, mistakes are bound to happen when humans are involved. Plus, with more frequent extreme weather coming up from climate change, if there were reactors everywhere disasters like Fukushima would be common.