338 - March Snippets 2 | Scoins.net | DJS

338 - March Snippets 2

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Covid Life is sufficiently boring that the self-imposed daily duty of updating the Covid spreadsheet is now a grind, done reluctantly. I ought to write a piece entitled 'The Way Out' or similar, but I really cannot raise the enthusiasm. Today, 3rd March, I'm thinking to merely continue to update February's page. Not the least of the depressive actions is noticing this morning that Spain's figures are 'updated' by 'removing duplicated entries' from Catalonia, which has the effect of dropping Spain's case count totals by some 75,000 and requires me (yet again) to laboriously copy numbers from a graph to a spreadsheet so that my own graph is less wrong. Sweden makes a similar mess, but then the Swedes seem to only work a three-day week. In the UK case counts are dropping rapidly and more so in the cohorts that have been vaccinated. Where we were, a year ago, counting the days to a doubling of case numbers or hospitalisations, we are now watching for the time to halving—this is all good, but I am hoping that the caution expressed by our leadership does not fall into the trap of allowing this to hurry them along. The dates in the so-called roadmap are 'earliest' ones, where the crucial point is that we need enough time between steps (or stages, the media is still undecided which label to stick with) to be sure that we have enough data (in terms of time series really) to be sure that we understand what has occurred in consequence.

Meanwhile, the vaccination programme within the UK races along, behind, as far as I can tell, only Israel and the UAE in terms of population proportions reported. At the same time, virus variants continue to appear and the ones that cause concern are noticed because (i) they transmit more easily and (ii) they may manage to somehow dodge what our vaccines attempt to do. Virology is like that and our major solution is to reduce prevalence while keeping the R number well below unity. We can do that by inoculating the nation and by continuing to maintain those habits that protect us from infection. What is as yet unclear—meaning that I haven't yet found any data—is that deaths from causes other than covid have dropped, influenza most noticeably, so that in terms of excess deaths it already looks as though 2021 might have a negative change (far fewer deaths than normal). Of course, one immediate observation is that we should expect that, if only because many of those likely to die from any reason in 2021 died already in 2020. What would be amazing would be to see in five years time that the five year average barely moved due to what happened in 2020. Somehow I doubt this will be the case.

It is very difficult to persuade anyone that having been jabbed (vaccinated, inoculated) should make no difference at all to one's behaviour. The arguments in support of continuing as before are audible but largely don't make sufficient sense to cause people to believe and act. This is my opinion based on very little. I see that, at ltla (lower tier local authority) level, there is a disturbingly large proportion where case count (phut per week) moves upwards in any daily change sheet - JVT (Prof Jonathan van Tam) said 20% on one day last week—Blackpool has done this several times in the last three weeks. The dozen ltlas with the worst rates (phut/week today) include several in Lancs (Preston, Bury, Bolton) though I'm pleased that the top rate is coming down (Corby is top, 246; Mansfield is 6th at 197 but we still have a third of upper tier local authorities (utlas) with phut/week above 100. We have, today, all four nations with a phut under 100 but what we need is for all hot spots to be below that target too. As one of the researchers put it yesterday, we are managing to do genetic sequencing of about 25% of all new cases (chasing variants) but what we really need is to be able to do this for every such case. Over in Auckland, a surge in case numbers (44 nationally today) has caused the Americas Cup to be postponed again, caused a shift in alert level from 1 to 3 (history) in Auckland and level 2 nationally — I see this as a difference in perspective and I view the difference in magnitude as staggering. 44 cases and a cumulative total  2384 across a population of 5 million. So total cases per hundred thousand (phut) is 4770, compared to the UK's 614820 phut, almost 130 times bigger. The only reasonable national comparator is 'deaths attributed to covid' and, including countries bigger than 10 million,  that is headed by Czechia, Belgium, UK, Italy, Portugal, USA, Spain, Mexico, Peru, France, Sweden, Brazil, Colombia, Poland, Argentina. I've put in italics those countries with a population below 12 million and Peru is the next smallest at 33m.


"Slavery is a part of Islam" is a quote from a book I have been reading (for the last few weeks, reading rates have been at a book a day). I wondered if it was an invented quote, but, to my surprise, it is not. Source. Second source. Of course, when the Koran was written, slavery was a norm, so we cannot expect that Book to explain that slavery is a bad thing. It is but a small step to believe that what was the norm then ought to be the norm now, as one can read in the Hadiths. The same book makes much of the abuse of women under Islam. But that may well be the perpetuation of a male-dominated society more than the perpetration of a religion and one can easily (I think) argue that the two (male dominance, and religion) are separable as problems, but greatly helped when the religion itself is male-dominated. WikipediaGender roles in Islam are simultaneously coloured by two Quranic precepts: (i) spiritual equality between women and men; and (ii) the idea that women are meant to exemplify femininity, and men masculinity. And who is to say what masculinity and femininity are, are how they are exemplified? There is enough in the Koran that says men and women are equal (if different); there is no reason for women to be denied education (Muhammed taught both genders). I point to this as an issue observed. My opinion—that equality ought to apply—is applicable to my culture, though I also opine that any culture that finds differently ought also allow those who disagree to leave. Modern notions of what constitutes slavery move the boundary such that nations can find themselves more easily in dispute. But one notes that, in demanding there be freedom of movement (away from a restrictive society, for example), this is in instant conflict with those who want control of immigration (and, hence, migration in general). Nimby attitudes are worthless until the deniers are able to articulate the circumstances under which migration to their own back yard is acceptable. ¹

Applying that to myself, I'm happy if the neighbours wish to operate under a different culture, up to the point where they inflict their version of acceptable behaviour upon me. And, of course the reverse ought to apply. Life in Britain requires a certain level of English (and I'd like that level to be higher, but the median language within the country is pretty low among those who already live here); application for citizenship—something one now knows about—sets these standards. We could set higher standards (for immigrants over indigenous), and use this as an argument to reduce inward migration to a desirable level, but equally we could provide assistance to bring all within accord as to what is acceptable minimum knowledge, behaviour, conformity. I don't see why we shouldn't even have some general agreement internationally on such matters, without in any way having to set these as being identical. In general, we call these human rights, but I don't see an awful lot of consensus as to what these are, nor internal efforts to ensure that they are maintained within any nation (my own included).

1 I am my own best customer. I read deniers as in the measure of weave in stockings and tights. Spelled the same, pronounced quite differently. So a covid denier might then become a weave so very tight a virus cannot pass through it.


https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181217120025.htm reduction in atmospheric carbon by changing farming

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190802104514.htm a case for dirigibles.


What I want to happen to religion in the future is this: I want it to be like bowling. It's a hobby, something some people will enjoy, that has some virtues to it, that will have its own institutions and its traditions and its own television programming, and that families will enjoy together. It's not something I want to ban or that should affect hiring and firing decisions, or that interferes with public policy. It will be perfectly harmless as long as we don't elect our politicians on the basis of their bowling score, or go to war with people who play nine-pin instead of ten-pin, or use folklore about backspin to make decrees about how biology works. -PZ Myers, author, biology professor (b. 9 Mar 1957) 

Wow. This I could agree with. The problem, lies with religion being perfectly harmless. When your hobby affects your other interactions with non-players of bowling there are repercussions. But maybe that says you're taking your bowling too seriously. I could all-too-easily substitute football or banding for bowling.

Discuss; email me.


Thinking on the persistent forecast that we're all going to move to electric vehicles, then unless we change our battery technology radically, the market for battery materials looks like it might well become a major bottleneck. For the nonce, let's take that as an assumption: consequences would be to cause support for other ways of storing energy, such as hydrogen-powered vehicles. There is a big incentive to produce alternative battery chemistries.

Putting all that aside and making the basic assumption that we're going to want a lot of lithium and nickel, I very rapidly found that production is about ten times less than what we think we're going to need (and I haven't bothered to find a source to quote). 

Lithium comes from two basic sources, hard rock and brine. The biggest producer by far is Australia and the linked article suggests they're preparing to treble production by 2025, aiming at 1.5 million tonnes per year. But that's lithium carbonate, not the metal. The rock (spodumene) produces better quality lithium, but batteries need high quality materials to work well. 

Top six lithium-producing countries in the world in 2019

  • Australia – 42,000 tonnes. Australia is by far the world's top producer of lithium, with an output of 42,000 tonnes in 2019. ... 
  • Chile – 18,000 tonnes. ... 
  • China – 7,500 tonnes. ... 
  • Argentina – 6,400 tonnes. ... 
  • Zimbabwe – 1,600 tonnes. ... 
  • Portugal – 1,200 tonnes.

Global production in 2019 was 77,000 tonnes and reserves are 80 million tonnes. How much will we need? Hard question, apparently. LinkIn 2021, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence is forecasting that total lithium demand for all applications will increase to over 400,000 tonnes lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE). “Lithium carbonate demand is expected to increase by 23 percent year-on-year and hydroxide up by 33 percent year-on-year, with the increases almost down entirely to the surging needs of the battery sector.” [...] Rokill expects demand for carbonate to reach 165,000 tonnes LCE, up from 139,000 tonnes in 2020, while demand for hydroxide should total 132,000 tonnes LCE. Combined, this totals approximately 297,000 tonnes LCE of battery-grade lithium compounds. I am a little bothered that the available comment is directed at the short-term view (2021 only) to the parasites who are looking for financial advantage, rather than the longer-term view that would inform the need to develop new mines, to expand existing sources and to find new sources. Is this the money speaking? Global demand for lithium is expected to rise from an estimated 47,300 tonnes in 2020 to 117,400 tonnes in 2024, according to a GlobalData report. Link.

What about nickel? Many of the previous sources come good again. Study on future demand and supply security of nickel for ...publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu › bitstream › JRC123439 is a report on nickel demand and supply.  It indicates that nickel demand from batteries could reach 36% of total nickel demand by 2030, increasing from 6% in 2020. Roskill has a report looking as far ahead as 2030. 

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