Trump Administration: End ISS Funding, Return to Lunar Exploration – ExtremeTech

It took 13 years to complete and launch the various ISS modules, from 1998 to 2011. Currently, NASA spends about $4B per year on the space station, out of a $19.5B total budget. At 21 percent of NASA’s total budget and roughly 40 percent of its human exploration outlay, it’s not chump change. One of the most significant complaints around NASA’s upcoming Space Launch System is that the agency lacks the funds to plan missions or launch the rocket. (It’s currently not clear if the SLS could fly even once per year, at a cost of more than $1B per launch, partly due to the cost of maintaining expensive manufacturing and test facilities for a rocket that almost never flies.)

Killing the ISS portion of NASA’s funding frees up that $4B in yearly cash. But we have no idea yet how that funding would be split between the SLS and any effort to put NASA back on the Moon, or what kind of exploration or even longer-term habitation plans the administration has in mind. Any kind of manned mission would require the development of lunar modules, longer-term habitation modules (if intended), and various support equipment. If the long-term goal is to create a lunar base as a stepping stone or useful waypoint for a Mars mission…

https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/262867-trump-administration-ending-iss-funding-2025-return-lunar-exploration

The Secular Rescue

The idea that people should be prosecuted for not beliving in any religion, as opposed to not believing in a specific one, should seem as incredulous as not believing in UFO’s or Elvis sightings.

And yet here we are.

The Atlantic documents plight of a young Saudi woman, Lubna Yaseen, who went into hiding, and her rescue by the Center for Inquiry program called Secular Rescue. This small non-political group features prominently in the article.

The death threats are not derived from apostocy — we can reject the notion that anyone is born into a religion. There is no such thing as a “Christian child” or a “Muslim child”. The decision to accept a religion cannot be made until one is an adult.

 

 

Sugar Intake Guidelines

The World Health Organization publishes health guidelines specific to sugar intake. Their observations and recommendations include:

  • WHO GuidelinesA  strong recommendation for limiting free sugar intake (including monosaccharides and disaccharides, and including those naturally present and those added by manufacturers) to 10% of total caloric intake.
  • A weak recommendation for limiting free sugar intake to 5% of total caloric intake. They found no health detriment when achieving this more stringent level.
  • For those already under these guidelines, they do not recommend increasing free sugar intake to guideline level. For those deficient in total caloric intake, increasing free sugar intake is not an appropriate strategy when other forms of caloric intake are available.

For me, a tall adult male, with a daily 2,600 Calorie diet (and 4kcal/g of energy in sugar) the looser guidelines lead to a daily intake limit of 65g of sugar, or one 20 oz bottle of Coca Cola (240 Calories).

For women or children, the sugar intake guidelines will be significantly lower, due mostly to lower total caloric consumption. Applying the more stringent 5% standard to children will limit total intake to a fraction of a 12 oz can of Coca Cola.

The WHO provides no guidelines on the intake of artificial or substitute sweeteners or sugar alcohols. However, these substitutes are generally used in processed foods that do not generally provide the same health benefits as whole foods such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Dietary GuidelinesThe USDA now recommends limiting sugar consumption to 10% of total caloric intake. USDA guidelines generally emphasize a calorie balance for maintaining body weight. Therefore their recommendation is derived from the requirement to meet other nutritional requirements with the remaining balance of calorie consumption. A similar argument applies to their recommendations on saturated fat intake (10%).

The Japanese government does not make sugar-specific intake recommendations. In general this is because childhood and adult obesity are lower there. However, in 2000 the ministry announced its “spinning top” (upside-down food pyramid) that permits a moderate amount of snacks and confections. Given the overall lack of sugar otherwise in the diet, Japanese guidelines are probably consistent with WHO recommendations.

 

 

Carbon Tax Should Be Sky-High to Avoid Climate Disaster, Experts Say

Solving global climate change is a political issue. In the United States, pundits prefer solutions based on a market in trading of carbon-emissions. Organizations will be granted rights to emit carbons based on historical usage. Those organizations that implement reductions faster will be able to sell their carbon emissions to slower-paced ones.

The issue with market-based solutions is the variability in carbon pricing. Many economists prefer solutions based on carbon taxes whose costs are more predictable.

With carbon taxes, the big question, then, is is the price of carbon. This particular analysis suggests that the situation is more dire and carbon taxes should be higher than previous proposals.

I haven’t yet had a chance to review the quality of their research. However, to reiterate previous comments, global climate change is, by far, the largest economic and moral crisis of our era.

https://futurism.com/carbon-tax-sky-high-avoid-climate-disaster-experts-say/

Making America Irrelevant Again

President Trump has done it: he has ignored the advice of his saner advisors (i.e. Tillerson, Ivanka) and withdrawn from the United States from the Paris climate deal negotiated by the Obama administration in 2015. The announcement is all over the news cycle.

Global climate change is the greatest moral and existential crisis of our time. Broad scientific consensus is difficult to achieve (scientists are very competitive), but on this issue the consensus is nearly unanimous. Science denialism is prevalent only among US politicians.

Less unanimous is how to address the challenges, because those are largely political questions, therefore involve who wins and loses, who pays, and how to balance long-term and short-term costs and benefits.

How foreign countries respond is up in the air. Already there are calls to boycott America. The most effective mechanism would be a carbon tax, based on the amount of carbon dioxide released in the manufacturing of products and their constituent products. If necessary the taxes raised can be used to offset other forms of taxes and remain revenue neutral.

Moreover, countries that adopt a carbon tax can avoid multiple-taxation by waiving taxes on imports from countries that have adopted a similar carbon tax. Import taxes will be imposed on products from countries that do not comply. American exporters would therefore be placed in a situation of paying the taxes anyway, in spite of the stranglehold of special interests over the US body politic.

According to the New York Times, the withdrawal process will require several years, leaving the final withdrawal up to voters in the 2020 election.

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