Courtesy CECAR - Climate and Ecosystems Change Adaptation R (adapted by Mark Ryan)Several months back there was a lot of hoopla revolving around the so-called "Climategate" scandal. Climate scientists' emails were hacked, posted online and taken out of context as they were disseminated around the internet and through the news channels. Some researchers were charged with manipulating climate data to bolster their own point of view, and indignant investigations were launched against them. As the story fermented in the media, the blogosphere, and political circles, it grew into an over-inflated bag of hot-air. But, eventually, the truth prevailed, and those accused were exonerated by the facts. Michael Mann, a climate change researcher at Pennsylvania State University, was one of key figures in the "scandal", and has written (both here and in a new book) about his experience dealing with the kind of smear campaign that was hurled his way. He terms it the "scientization" of politics. It's involves some of same anti-science tactics used by the tobacco industry and creationists: mainly to cast doubt on the facts, and fabricate controversy where there is none.
I stole that title directly from Gizmodo. This animation is gorgeous and does bear a striking resemblance to Van Gogh's Starry Nights. I could watch the currents move for hours.
From the NASA website "This visualization shows ocean surface currents around the world during the period from June 2005 through December 2007. The visualization does not include a narration or annotations; the goal was to use ocean flow data to create a simple, visceral experience."
Well done, folks. Well done.
Animators: Greg Shirah (NASA/GSFC) (Lead) & Horace Mitchell (NASA/GSFC)
Video Editor: Victoria Weeks (HTSI)
Scientists: Hong Zhang (UCLA) & Dimitris Menemenlis (NASA/JPL CalTech)
Check out this insightful TED Talk on "How simple ideas lead to scientific discoveries" given by Adam Savage, host of television's Mythbusters. The simple method he describes that was used to first calculate the speed of light is pretty inspiring.
This kind of thing has been around for a long time but I always find it fun and enlightening. Click and play
Wondering where all the snow is? Is this normal? This short video from NASA Goddard will answer some of your questions.
Courtesy NASA Goddard Photo and VideoNASA has just released a very beautiful high-definition digital image of the Earth taken in several swaths by the VIIRS instrument aboard the agency's recently launched satellite Suomi NPP. One of the remarkable features of the large composite photo is the faint-blue ring of our atmosphere visible circling the Earth. This stunning image is available for viewing and downloading on Flickr. Note that the original file is 120 megabytes in size. Hey, since we're on the subject of Earth, why not come to the Science Museum to see the recently opened Future Earth exhibit on the museum's 3rd floor?
The future is now for some lucky Americans. The rest of us will have to wait and hope that someday soon our recycling trucks might also run on “trash gas.”
“Trash gas” is natural gas that is harvested from landfills where it is produced by the decomposition (breaking down) of organic waste. One future-thinking company, Waste Management Inc, now has over 1,000 trucks fueled by methane (a natural gas) that they collect from one of their very own California landfills.
Courtesy Tom Raftery
Natural gas can be used in vehicles in either a compressed or liquefied state. Waste Management’s trash gas trucks are about 50/50 compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG). You should check out those links, but to give you the gist of the idea here, imagine a balloon filled with natural gas. CGN is like squeezing that balloon. LGN is like cooling that balloon until the molecules inside condense into liquid like steam on a bathroom wall.
Why is this a BIG idea? CNG and LNG emit less carbon and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere than diesel (the conventional fuel used by most large trucks). As you’ve probably heard, carbon dioxide is among the greenhouse gases contributing to global climate change. Meanwhile, nitrogen oxides contribute to smog, which is bad for your health besides being unsightly. Less is definitely more when it comes to carbon and nitrogen oxides.
As for more, Waste Management’s single currently operating LGN-generating landfill creates 13,000 gallons of LGN each day, which is enough to fuel 1,000 trucks. According to the primary source of this blog post, Waste Management has another landfill-turned-fuel station up for approval. With an additional 299 landfills and about 21,000 trucks, it might not be that long before a Waste Management “trash gas” truck comes rolling along your street.
Back in November, UC-Berkeley physicist Richard Muller surprised a number of people when he stated at a congressional briefing that “global warming is real.”
Muller had previously been called a climate skeptic for drawing attention to what he called numerous errors in the film “An Inconvenient Truth,” but his own extensive research showed none of his concerns about climate change science to be legitimate.
In fact, according to the Huffington Post, “Muller explained how his team reached the conclusion that in the last half-century the earth's temperature has risen roughly 1 degree Celsius, a number that exceeds the conservative 0.64 degree estimate put forth by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.” His study was partially funded by the Koch brothers, oil-industry billionaires who have, on more than one occasion, funded studies by climate change deniers. The Koch brothers have since questioned Muller’s findings.
In a December Wall Street journal editorial, Bjorn Lomborg, author of the “Skeptical Environmentalist” conceded that global warming is a real threat and will hit developing countries hardest, but states that cutting carbon emissions won’t make much change in temperature over the next 30 years. He claims that rather than continuing to work on getting nations to lower emissions, we should just set up infrastructures to deal with the resulting problems from climate change. Bjorn, whose numbers and conclusions have often been questioned by scientists, seems to be saying we should just throw in the towel and stand back while economics determines our world’s future.
A few days later, the New York Times printed an article on the warming Artic permafrost, which contains twice as much carbon as the entire atmosphere. Scientists believe that both global warming, resulting from human activity, and wildfires may be catalyzing the thawing of permafrost, which releases methane gas into the atmosphere as the ancient plants and animals that make up the frozen tundra decompose. Although it doesn’t stay in the atmosphere as long as carbon dioxide, methane gas is even better at trapping heat and will potentially make earth’s atmosphere warm at an even faster rate, thawing more permafrost, in a vicious cycle.
In the article, the experts said that “if humanity began getting its own emissions under control soon, the greenhouse gases emerging from permafrost could be kept to a much lower level.”
Skeptics are looking at the evidence and becoming believers. Science tells us that climate change is real, and is already well underway, but that we can still slow global warming by reducing carbon emissions. In other words, we shouldn’t throw in the towel.
Here are links to the three articles to which I referred: