Archive for category Science

Giant Woop!

wealthy landing

Competition among billionaires has actually landed a rocket on earth.

Almost 50 years ago, the United States sent men to the moon, landed them there, and brought them safely back to earth, just like president Kennedy envisioned, and less then ten years after he envisioned it.

Today, Billionaires are sending spacecraft into near earth, and landing them, with the hope that someday, we’ll be sending other very wealthy people into space for a sort of amusment park ride, and returning them safely to earth.

I don’t really have anything against Elon Musk, the Virgin guy, or the Amazon guy following their spacey dreams, but I think the government did pretty well in the past, and I’ll bet you it could have even come up with reusable rockets by now.

So…

Do we really need billionaires to create our future, or would a government, elected by the people, as it was in the past, work better to educate our kids without burying them in debt, and build the great innovations that can get us out of the mess the giant corporations have created for us?

Today, we have a handful of un-elected, plutocrat Kings telling our – sort of – elected leaders to ignore us.

Happy Holidays though. It’s actually – sort of – snowing in Utah for a change. You won’t have to worry about having a “White Christmas”, unless the rain melts it. :)

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Climate Agreement Reached in Paris

Paris climate change agreement

An historic, literally world-changing agreement was reached today in Paris. Almost two hundred leading nations unanimously embraced a plan that will leave most of the world’s fossil fuels unburned.

Following years of abortive talks and failed summits, President Obama said world leaders had finally “met the moment” by coming together and agreeing to a deal that represents “the best chance we have to save the one planet we’ve got.”

Historic Climate Change Agreement Adopted In Paris

Some advocates, however, lamented that the deal falls short. They pointed to a lack of a specific timescale for phasing out fossil fuels, for example, as well as weak language on monitoring and verifying countries’ greenhouse gas emission reductions.

“This agreement won’t save the planet, not even close,” Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, a climate advocacy group, told The Huffington Post in an email. “But it’s possible that it saves the chance of saving the planet — if movements push even harder from here on out.”

Indicative of the state of American politics in the age of Faux News Channel, the only Tea-GOPer in Paris for the climate talks was Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former California “Governator.”

Where was the Tea-GOP? Rafael (“Ted”) Cruz held a last-ditch climate denial hearing in the Senate last week.

Ted Cruz Challenged Science At His Climate Change Hearing. Science Won.

All of the Tea-GOP presidential contenders, with the exceptions of Chris Christie and Lindsay Graham, either deny the conclusions of climate science or have been avoiding the issue.

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Back To The Depressing Future

This is a time sensitive cartoon. You only have until tomorrow to watch it for the full effect.

It’s angering to imagine where we could have been by now:

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The Myth of the Global Warming ‘Pause’

global warming graph
(Credit: NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information)

Turns out that Faux News Channel was wrong about climate change. There wasn’t any ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus’ in global warming. Surprised? Also wrong– presidential candidate Rafael (“Ted”) Cruz, who said this just over three months ago:

“The last 15 years, there has been no recorded warming. Contrary to all the theories that – that they are expounding, there should have been warming over the last 15 years. It hasn’t happened.”

It turns out that using the global mean surface temperature as the primary yardstick for climate change masked the actual trend. Also temperature fluctuations due to natural variation led to some speculation about “missing heat” that actually wasn’t missing at all, it was in the oceans.

Maybe NOW we can cancel all the “debates” about whether climate change is happening, and start talking about how to adapt to it. Prevention is no longer an option, but possibly we can mitigate warming or limit the duration.

More info:

Federal scientists say there never was any global warming “pause”

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Antarctica Warmer Than Utah?

Penguins

On March 24, the temperature was 63.5°F at Argentina’s Esperanza Base, located near the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. The Salt Lake City high temperature was 57 degrees the same day.

[T]he poles are warming faster than any part of the planet and rapid ice melt is being observed at increased rates in Antarctica. According to a new study, ice shelves in West Antarctica have lost as much as 18 percent of their volume over the last two decades, with rapid acceleration occurring over the last decade.

…While the polar regions are feeling the most severe temperature changes brought on by the rise in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, areas across the globe are setting record highs at a much faster rate than record lows. Since 2010, 46 nations or territories out of 235 have set or tied record highs. Only four have set record lows.

UPDATES:
NASA Scientists Have Frightening Answers About Future Megadrought in Reddit AMA
Long-Awaited ‘Jump’ In Global Warming Now Appears ‘Imminent’

“So it is a bad year for the Earth and an equally bad year for the politicians, talk show radio ‘scientists’, climate-denial funders, and second rate scientists who told us not to worry,” as climate expert Professor John Abraham told me. “They told us global warming had stopped nearly two decades ago. The problem is, science and climate change marched forward. Perhaps next time we will believe the real scientists.”

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Hilarious Hate

Isn’t it usually religious folks who say people who use expletives use them because they don’t have anything intelligent to say?

This YouTube video entitled “Love Letters to Richard Dawkins” will make you laugh:

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2014 Was The Hottest Year on Record


Time series of five-year global temperature averages, mapped from 1880 to 2014, as estimated by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

The year 2014 ranks as Earth’s warmest since 1880, according to two separate analyses by NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists.

The 10 warmest years in the instrumental record, with the exception of 1998, have now occurred since 2000. This trend continues a long-term warming of the planet, according to an analysis of surface temperature measurements by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

In an independent analysis of the raw data, also released Friday, NOAA scientists also found 2014 to be the warmest on record.

While scientists expect temperatures to fluctuate from year to year, the average temperature of the planet as a whole has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius) since 1880. This trend is largely driven by increasing human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

More info:
NASA, NOAA Find 2014 Warmest Year in Modern Record

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Keystone XL Zombie Lie

Via Media Matters.

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a bill approving the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Virtually all the Republicans and 28 Democrats voted for this foreign-owned project, which is likely to impose significant environmental costs, cause an increase in American gasoline prices, and contribute to global warming. The proposed 1,200 mile dirty oil pipeline would carry bitumen — a tar-like substance mined from the Alberta tar sands, chemically diluted, and heated to improve flow — at high pressure across Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas to Gulf Coast refineries. Existing pipelines of this type spring dozens of leaks every year, and the mess is much more difficult to clean up than a crude oil spill.

Why allow this? Right-wing propagandists insist that Keystone XL will create “42,000 jobs.” This is false.

The State Department concluded that the Keystone XL project will result in just 50 jobs, including “35 permanent employees and 15 temporary contractors.” Further, their report stated that spending on the project would support only 3,900 temporary construction jobs if construction lasted one year and just 1,950 temporary construction jobs if construction lasted two years.

President Obama has threatened to veto the congressional attempt to force the issue, however he seems to be keeping the option open to ultimately approve this disastrous project.

UPDATE:
Senate Advances Bill To Approve Keystone Pipeline Despite Obama’s Veto Threat

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Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’

Gargantuan black hole

“Interstellar,” Christopher Nolan’s ninth film, is the most ambitious thing he’s ever done (this is the director of “Inception” we’re talking about here). It’s a $165 million visual masterpiece about an ambitious attempt to save the human race, trapped on a dying Earth. The science is shaky to say the least, and there’s an excess of melodrama IMHO. But it’s well worth seeing. Features include:

  • Big ideas
  • Terrific cast & acting
  • Plenty of plot twists
  • No sound in space (like “2001: A Space Odyssey”)
  • A wormhole to another galaxy
  • Time dilation
  • A gargantuan black hole (which doubles as a plot hole)

And Matthew McConaughey gets to say, “We don’t have time to argue about relativity right now.”

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Media Fail: New Climate Change Report Ignored

Superstorm Sandy global view
NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite captured this image of the massive Superstorm Sandy on October 28, 2012.

Ari Phillips on Think Progress:

[O]n Sunday, the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change released a Synthesis Report detailing the dangers of climate change. Hundreds of scientists spent the last five years preparing this final report, which says that carbon pollution must be slashed now or risk “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.”

None of the network Sunday shows mentioned this latest report or its stark findings.

It’s not just a media fail. Has any candidate in tomorrow’s election mentioned climate change as a campaign issue?

Take a look at the damage from Superstorm Sandy in the before-and-after aerial imagery. This one storm two years ago impacted more than a dozen states along the eastern seaboard, causing $65 billion in damage. A major factor in the disaster was the higher sea level. Climate models predict that sea level will rise an additional two to three feet over the next century.

More info:
New UN Climate Report Calls For End Of Fossil Fuel Use By 2100

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People’s Climate March Livestream

Because cable TV news has this event blacked out, even MSNBC. It’s happening in Manhattan, right under the noses of the media elite, and they won’t report about it.

Tom Engelhardt: Is Climate Change a Crime Against Humanity?

From two scientific studies just released, for example, comes the news that the West Antarctic ice sheet, one of the great ice accumulations on the planet, has now begun a process of melting and collapse that could, centuries from now, raise world sea levels by a nightmarish 10 to 13 feet. That mass of ice is, according to the lead authors of one of the studies, already in “irreversible retreat,” which means — no matter what acts are taken from now on — a future death sentence for some of the world’s great cities. (And that’s without even the melting of the Greenland ice shield, not to speak of the rest of the ice in Antarctica.)

UPDATE: OK, MSNBC is now reporting that well over 100,000 marchers are on the streets. They have a reporter doing a live shot now (10:30 am).

UPDATE: Hundreds Of Thousands Turn Out For People’s Climate March In New York City

NEW YORK — More than 400,000 people turned out for the People’s Climate March in New York City on Sunday, just days before many of the world’s leaders are expected to debate environmental action at the United Nations climate summit.

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Are the Climate Skeptics “Uninformed” or “Intentionally Disingenuous”?

One of the comments in a post on global warming pointed us to what may well be the quintessential example of reality denial. It was in fact so good that I thought it was worth its own top level post. Lets have a look shall we?

Writing as a “contributor” of some kind at Forbes, one Larry Bell decides to take John Kerry to task for supporting science.

Read the rest of this entry »

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