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In South Africa at the start of my consulting career, I was called in to limit erosion from an old sandy pile of tailings close to the city. Vegetation would not grow in the acid materials that were cemented by negative pore pressures to a hard crust. We read all the literature of the seventies but found no answer. The gut feel solution was to cut a series of benches, one-foot high by one-foot wide, with vertical and slightly inward-sloping near-horizontal surfaces. Rain fell on the near-horizontal benches, ponded, and seeped into the tailings. Nothing ran off and erosion was controlled.
A brief piece about nothing in particular to celebrate the weekend and to help you negotiate your next salary increase. If anyone ever repeats this article to me, I shall vehemently deny that I wrote it. The reason: it deals more with magic than with engineering or the relationship between value and salary. Read the rest of this entry »
Next on my reading list is Useless Arithmetic: Why Environmental Scientists Can’t Predict the Future. Orrin H. Pilkey and Linda Pilkey-Jarvis. xvi + 230 pp. Columbia University Press, 2006. $29.50. In a book review at this link Carl Wunsch, the Carl and Ida Green Professor of Physical Oceanography in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, asks “What happens when an immature and incomplete science meets a societal demand for information and direction? The spectacle is not pretty, as we learn from Useless Arithmetic, a new book that describes a long list of incompetent and sometimes mindless uses of fragmentary scientific ideas in the realm of public policy.”
Call it advertising if you will. By whatever name is goes, let success follow what can only be described as a magnificent gesture. We refer to the free computer code Examine2D 7.0 and the free e-book Practical Rock Engineering – New 2007 Edition available from Rocscience.
Opposition won’t impress anybody. Only positive suggestions based on reality are of any potential value. This clarion call for leadership is prompted by the news that Caterpillar and the National Mining Association are at odds over global warming. Or at least over the need for a market-based approach to emissions control and hence over amelioration of global warming.
Another good day when I can report that mining is not guilty. Another good day when I can report that motor cars are a vastly bigger source of air pollution than all the county’s mines put together. Now we await the howl of protest from those who own cars. And the howl of protest from those who would like to remove cars from the roads and stop mining the metals needed to make all those cars.