Posts filed under ‘Science’
I’m thinking about rebirth and renewal and about the possibility that today represents the hope that we humans will find a way to be kinder to each other and much, much more respectful of the plants and animals who (try to) coexist with us on this little sphere we live on.
The world is at growing risk of “abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes” because of a warming climate, America’s premier scientific society warned on Tuesday.
In a rare intervention into a policy debate, the American Association for the Advancement of Science [AASA] urged Americans to act swiftly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – and lower the risks of leaving a climate catastrophe for future generations.
“As scientists, it is not our role to tell people what they should do,” the AAAS said in a new report, What we know.
“But we consider it our responsibility as professionals to ensure, to the best of our ability, that people understand what we know: human-caused climate change is happening, we face risks of abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes, and responding now will lower the risks and costs of taking action.”
The United Nations’ climate science panel, the IPCC, will gather in Yokohama, Japan next week to release the second in a series of blockbuster reports, this time outlining how a changing climate is affecting rainfall and heat waves, sea level and the oceans, fisheries and food security.
But the AAAS scientists said they were releasing their own assessment ahead of time because they were concerned that Americans still failed to appreciate the gravity of climate change.
Here’s a website the AASA scientists set up — What We Know — to highlight the facts, answer questions and to generally talk about climate change.
(I predict a renewed campaign by wingnuts (on behalf of the Kochs, Exxon Mobil, et al.) about scientists being wackos.)
This is something I could spend hours thinking about:
I just got this tweet from “AtmosNews” on Twitter. “AtmosNews” is the combined Twitter feed of the National Center of Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), both located here in Boulder, Colorado.
If they’re tweeting out warnings — with warnings — from the National Weather Service/Atlanta that are this dire, the storm hitting the southeast as we speak is going to be very bad:
Be careful everyone!
The NCAR building was designed by I.M. Pei, an internationally renowned architect. It is very, very cool. As a matter of fact, I can see it from my desk where I’m typing. It’s the reddish building nestled at the base of the mountains just to the left of the peak of the white roof (my neighbors across the street) below:
Sheesh. You can hardly see it.
Here are some much better shots:
NCAR and UCAR were established by the National Science Foundation. They are the U.S. hub for the study of the atmosphere. If you’re ever in Boulder, I suggest a visit if you have any interest in, yes, science.
I can’t say I’ve given much deep thought to solar flares or their size, which I know varies, but I had a vague notion, of course, that they were ginormous and flared thousands of miles into space. Wrong. More like millions of miles into space. They are incomprehensiblynormous. Holy cow. Look at the little ol’ Earth down there:
I don’t think I’ve ever seen an illustration like this that adds perspective to (1) the size of the Earth relative to a solar flare or (2) the size of the Sun relative to the Earth. Seriously informative and interesting. Thanks to Space.com. and NASA.
As for that debate, here’s my Tweet of the Day which is so spot on:
Watch it here:
I guarantee you won’t see this on the corporate media tonight:
Happening today at 6:33 p.m. ET:
And there’s this tidbit about We the People having the right to assemble:
Via OMG Facts: What the Andromeda Galaxy would look like in our sky if it was brighter:
Wow. So beautiful. Too bad it isn’t brighter!
Not only that, if we looked at that every night we might not be so arrogant as to think we’re so, so special and likely the only planet with life on it anywhere. The Andromeda Galaxy is thought to contain one trillion stars. Surely there’s complex life on at least one of them.
A Newly Detected Fracture Suggests That Tectonic Forces are Pulling the Continents Together Once Again.
Geologists mapping seismic activity and underwater topography off the coast of Portugal say the tectonic forces that once split and spread the ancient supercontinent Pangea across the surface of the globe appear to be shifting into reverse, setting our existing continents on an eventual collision course.
Just kidding! No, I’m not going to worry about this but I wonder what would cause the plates move back toward each other. Interesting.
They’re right. It can’t be done.
This morning I came across this:
ALEC Plans Massive Environmental Attack for 2014
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has a big year ahead of them, as they attempt to dismantle a slew of environmental protections from state to state. More specifically, the corporate front group is hoping to pass dirty energy friendly legislation to ease the rules for electric utilities.
From state to state, ALEC is drafting legislation that would cut renewable energy, increase dependence on coal and dismantle energy efficiency standards.
And then I remembered reading about this a few days ago:
[Colorado's "Democratic"] Governor Hickenlooper has chosen Glenn Vaad, a former state representative from Weld County, as the newest of the three-member Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Mr. Vaad is no friend of clean energy for Colorado—his voting record allied primarily with the fossil fuel industry at the expense of Colorado’s clean energy economy. Mr. Vaad is also a former high-ranking member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a powerful corporate lobbying group whose members include Koch Industries and others pushing state legislatures to turn back the clock on adoption of renewable energy in Colorado and elsewhere.
If a so-called Democratic governor is appointing “former high-ranking” members of ALEC to state boards — any board — we’re doomed. Seriously. It illustrates the fact that this isn’t about Republicans versus Democrats anymore — they’re all being corrupted — it’s about the corporatocracy and the monied class against the rest of us.
The Supreme Court has rejected Arizona’s bid to put in place its ban on most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
The justices on Monday declined to reconsider a lower court ruling that the law violates a woman’s constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy before a fetus is able to survive outside the womb.
“Viability” of a fetus is generally considered to start at 24 weeks. Normal pregnancies run about 40 weeks.
It looks like the Constitution is getting in the Tea Party’s and the religious right’s way, though they claim to be its great defenders.
This is so cool:
When it comes to understanding the Earth’s geology, many researchers are just scratching the surface. Literally. With drills and picks and axes.
But in Germany, a decades-old drilling site lets scientists (and one Dutch artist) go much deeper—nearly 6 miles below the surface. And they’ve brought up a guttural voice from deep inside the Earth.
The drilling shut down due to lack of funding in the 1990s, but research has continued since then to paint a picture of this underground landscape. And in the last year, a Dutch artist named Lotte Geeven decided the emerging image needed a soundtrack, too.
Geeven worked with scientists and sound engineers to give voice to the subterranean world. She recorded sounds and took seismic readings at the borehole’s base. There doesn’t appear to be any explicit description of what the groaning and moaning sounds actually are (perhaps seismic waves adjusted to be audible to the human ear, suggests The Verge) but they are certainly worth a listen.
Go here to listen to the tape. (Scroll down)
Great idea: Name extreme storms after policy makers who deny climate change:
The growing fracking industry is “yielding gushers” of campaign donations for congressional candidates—particularly Republicans from districts with fracking activity—according to a new report from the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
The report, “Natural Cash: How the Fracking Industry Fuels Congress,” examines data compiled by MapLight covering a period spanning from 2004 to 2012. In that time, CREW finds, contributions from companies that operate hydraulic fracturing wells and fracking-related industry groups rose 180 percent, from $4.3 million nine years ago to about $12 million in the last election cycle.
Rep. Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas, was head and shoulders above his fellow candidates in donations from the fracking industry. Barton accepted more than half a million dollars—$100,000 more than any other candidate. In the past, he chaired the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and he sponsored legislation in 2005 to exempt the fracking industry from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Check out Barton’s Wikipedia page. Scroll down and read the paragraph titled: “Barton Family Foundation.” What a piece of work this guy is. He probably thinks of himself as a good Christian too.
The most destructive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico ever, after which people and animals are still suffering is mesmerizingly beautiful?
Really? Is that where we are? Is that what we’ve become? People who see beauty in oil spills?
Me neither. Here’s a short blurb from November 30 from ScienceMag.org. It requires a subscription so this is all I can grab but amazing isn’t it, that we didn’t hear a peep about this in the U.S.
corporate liberal media? They were too busy tracking Obama’s “plunging” poll numbers and the supposed demise of Obamacare I guess.
Featuring the first lunar rover in 40 years, Chang’e-3 is seen as an important milestone on China’s quest to send a crewed mission to the moon by 2030. Its premier scientific instrument is a wide-angle extreme ultraviolet camera that will continuously observe Earth’s plasmasphere and the tail of comet ISON.
Oh, and for the most part, we just don’t do science around here.
UPDATED: Here’s more:
For the first time in more than three decades, the moon may soon see some soft-landing, human-made visitors. China launched its first moon rover—and third moon mission—at 1:30 am today, local time.
The Chinese rover should land December 14 or 15, Space.com reports. The last soft lander to visit the moon’s surface was a Russian craft in 1976. The last people on the moon were Americans, in 1972. Since then, space agencies have sent instruments purposefully crashing onto the moon’s surface, but nothing designed to remain intact after landing, which is more difficult to do.
I don’t think of myself as someone who’s good at science and tech stuff at all but I took the Pew
and I scored a 12, “better than 85% of the public.” I’m shocked.
This article, from the Australian newspaper, The Herald, is about Ivan Macfadyen’s trek from Melbourne to Osaka, ten years go and then again this past spring:
IT was the silence that made this voyage different from all of those before it.
Not the absence of sound, exactly.
The wind still whipped the sails and whistled in the rigging. The waves still sloshed against the fibreglass hull.
And there were plenty of other noises: muffled thuds and bumps and scrapes as the boat knocked against pieces of debris.
What was missing was the cries of the seabirds which, on all previous similar voyages, had surrounded the boat.
The birds were missing because the fish were missing.
Exactly 10 years before, when Newcastle yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen had sailed exactly the same course from Melbourne to Osaka, all he’d had to do to catch a fish from the ocean between Brisbane and Japan was throw out a baited line.
“There was not one of the 28 days on that portion of the trip when we didn’t catch a good-sized fish to cook up and eat with some rice,” Macfadyen recalled.
But this time, on that whole long leg of sea journey, the total catch was two.
No fish. No birds. Hardly a sign of life at all.
But in March and April this year, only silence and desolation surrounded his boat, Funnel Web, as it sped across the surface of a haunted ocean.
North of the equator, up above New Guinea, the ocean-racers saw a big fishing boat working a reef in the distance.
“All day it was there, trawling back and forth. It was a big ship, like a mother-ship,” he said.
And all night it worked too, under bright floodlights. And in the morning Macfadyen was awoken by his crewman calling out, urgently, that the ship had launched a speedboat.
“And they gave us five big sugar-bags full of fish,” he said.
“They were good, big fish, of all kinds. Some were fresh, but others had obviously been in the sun for a while.
“We told them there was no way we could possibly use all those fish. There were just two of us, with no real place to store or keep them. They just shrugged and told us to tip them overboard. That’s what they would have done with them anyway, they said.
Macfadyen felt sick to his heart. That was one fishing boat among countless more working unseen beyond the horizon, many of them doing exactly the same thing.
No wonder the sea was dead. No wonder his baited lines caught nothing. There was nothing to catch.
If that sounds depressing, it only got worse.
After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself was dead,” Macfadyen said.
“We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale, sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumour on its head. It was pretty sickening.
“In a lot of places we couldn’t start our motor for fear of entangling the propeller in the mass of pieces of rope and cable. That’s an unheard of situation, out in the ocean.
Plastic was ubiquitous. Bottles, bags and every kind of throwaway domestic item you can imagine, from broken chairs to dustpans, toys and utensils.
And something else. The boat’s vivid yellow paint job, never faded by sun or sea in years gone past, reacted with something in the water off Japan, losing its sheen in a strange and unprecedented way.
Tough as it is, I recommend reading the whole article. It isn’t all that long and it’s good to get a first-person account — with a first-person, ten-year perspective — as opposed to reading about “what scientists predict…”
Far as I know, what Macfadyen experienced is what scientists are predicting will happen 30, 40 years from now, not RIGHT NOW.
The farm and pharmaceutical lobbies have blocked all meaningful efforts to reduce the use of antibiotics in raising livestock in America, a practice that contributes to a major public health risk, a study released Tuesday found.The report says Congress has killed every effort to legislate a ban on feeding farm animals antibiotics that are important in human medicine. Not only that, but regulation of livestock feeding practices has grown weaker under the Obama administration, the study says.
“Our worst fears were confirmed,’’ said Bob Martin, executive director of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, which issued the report. The Food and Drug Administration’s statistics, he said, show that fully 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in this country are fed to food animals.
FDA guidelines in the pipeline, Martin said, would require the industry to stop using antibiotics specifically to bulk up cows and other food animals but would continue to allow their use for “disease-control.” What constitutes disease-control is so loosely defined, however, that there would be “no change” in the use of antibiotics, Martin said.
“In a couple of areas, the Obama administration started off with good intentions. But when industry pushed back, even weaker rules were issued,” he said. “We saw undue influence everywhere we turned.”
This article illustrates the incredible power of lobbyists. Surely just about everyone in congress, if they’d stop and think for a sec, understands that pumping feed animals full of antibiotics is a very bad idea. I mean, even doctors at the esteemed John Hopkins for God’s sake are telling them that but do they listen? No, because they’re more terrified of the lobbyists than medical experts or even of us, the voters.
Think about it for a second: The United States congress may singlehandedly be making antibiotics ineffective worldwide because it’s succumbing to bribes by corporate lobbyists, putting 7 billion people at risk.
How do these guys sleep at night?
Ah yes, fickle Republicans strike again. Ethics? Morality? Character? Doing what’s just plain right to help their fellow humans? Nah. It’s all about what will get them re-elected:
As historic floods of “biblical” proportions continue to ravage Colorado, President Obama signed an emergency declaration on Sunday — a move that was encouraged by a bipartisan letter last week from the state’s nine-member Congressional delegation. But the four Republican Congressmen who are now supporting disaster relief for their own state were among those voting earlier this year against the emergency aid funding for Superstorm Sandy victims on the East Coast.
Colorado Republican Reps. Mike Coffman, Cory Gardner, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton joined their delegation in asking the president to send emergency funds to help their constituents combat and recover from the more than 14 inches of rain that have flooded Colorado this month.
The next time you hear a Republican say he or she wants to “cut the deficit” laugh and tell them about this. What they bloviate about to their Fox & Friends has nothing to do with their convictions. It has everything to do with sticking one’s finger in the air and deciding which way the wind is blowing.Turning that upside down, both of Colorado’s Democratic senators voted for Sandy relief earlier this year, despite the fact that that that relief didn’t go to their state. Hello!
In a 62-36 vote, the Senate on Monday approved legislation providing $50.7 billion to help New York, New Jersey and other states hit by Hurricane Sandy.
All 36 “no” votes came from Republicans.
Recently a group of researchers from Harvard and Oregon State University has published the first global temperature reconstruction for the last 11,000 years – that’s the whole Holocene (Marcott et al. 2013). The results are striking and worthy of further discussion.
This, from NASA:
Expedition 36 Soyuz Landing
The Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft with Expedition 36 Commander Pavel Vinogradov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Flight Engineer Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos and Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy of NASA aboard, is seen as it lands in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013. Vinogradov, Misurkin and Cassidy returned to Earth after five and a half months on the International Space Station.
I would imagine it gets pretty hot inside that little capsule during reentry. Yikes.
We are watching the United States collapse from within:
A new, eye-opening study shows that the United States is not only falling behind in scientific research, but now we are in danger of losing our scientists, too.
In a study called, “Unlimited Potential, Vanishing Opportunity,” The American Society For Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) surveyed nearly 4,000 scientists from nearly all fields of research about the effects of budget cuts and sequestration on scientific research. The results are quite disturbing for anyone who cares about the future of science in our country.
In its press release summarizing its findings, the ASBMB wrote that the cuts are “tearing at the fabric of the nation’s scientific enterprise” while having a “minimal impact” on our national debt and deficit. Also, “The overwhelming majority of scientists in all fields believes the U.S. has lost its position as the global leader in scientific research.”
Sam Stein, at the Huffington Post, dug through the weeds and found, “Nearly one-fifth of scientists are considering going overseas to continue their research because of the poor funding climate in America.”
This time of year I’m usually scrambling to keep the plants I’m summering on the deck watered and protected from drying out overnight. Today I brought them inside because they’re going to rot if they get more rain, which we’ve had here in Boulder for at least two weeks now.
Oh, and I put up a window box on the west side of the house and planted it full of Calibrachoa:
Calibrachoa need “at least” six hours of direct sun every day.
They haven’t had direct sun in a month.
Look how pitiful they are. They should be spilling out over the box and down the side.
Ugh. If it weren’t for Faux News, I’d think there was something fishy going on with, you know, the climate.
One of the most beautiful photos ever via astronaut Karen L. Nyberg. “Sunset:”
Wow. This is fantastic news, especially in light of the fact that I read something the other day about how President Obama is surrounded by pro-Keystone corporate types:
With President Obama preparing to return to California on June 6 for fundraising in the Bay Area, a crowd of major donors — including from California — have signed a strong letter urging his rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline extension.
The letter comes in a week when it appears Vice President Joe Biden may have tipped his hand regarding his opposition to the pipeline.
On June 6, the President will travel to the Bay Area for a DSCC event in the evening, White House officials have said.
On June 7, the President will travel to Los Angeles for a DNC lunch event.
The letter on Keystone includes signatures of major California deep pocketed donors who regularly write big checks to the Democratic party — folks like San Francisco Democrat Susie Tompkins Buell, one of the Party’s most generous donors, Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, and CREDO Mobile’s Michael Michael Kieschnick, among many others.
Click on “More…” immediately above to read the letter and to see the huge list of signatories. Fantastic.