November 30, 2011
November 30, 2011
People of faith are key targets for anti-science disinformation. The formula that “God is in Control” is a powerful one.
I believe we are at our own “Copernican crisis”. Many people of faith find it blasphemous or even terrifying to believe that human beings have as much impact on the planet as science tells us we do. They want to believe that somehow everything that happens is beyond our control, part of a master plan.
They would not likely take that position on the micro scale, with their personal finances, or the health of their children, yet they seem to believe that it works on the macro scale.
So it seems that we have a climate denial machine that is ready to lie to achieve its aims, and a vulnerable population who are willing to be lied to. It’s been a sticky problem.
I posted Katherine Hayhoe’s first video, “Can a Christian be a Climate Scientist?”, last week. Here are further elaborations of what the science is telling a devout evangelical.
Andrew Farley, a linguistics professor and lead teaching pastor, is married to Katharine Hayhoe, research professor in geosciences at Texas Tech University. Together they wrote a book, “A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions.” Questions they hear from their flock are these:
Isn’t God in control?
Won’t it all work out?
How do we know this is not a natural cycle?
Farley reminds them, “You reap what you sow.” God doesn’t preserve us from poor lifestyle choices. Eat junk food, and you get fat. Pour warming gases into the air, and the planet heats up. God calls that free will, and it’s actually a gift.
November 30, 2011
Since I used some Ugly Duckling in a recent video, I’ve been looking for, and finally found, this one.
November 29, 2011
It doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination. Look at the American cities that are considered the most dynamic, exciting, and alluring, especially to the talented young professionals that every region seeks to attract. They all have been working hard to create alternatives to auto-based transport, to grow pedestrian friendly, human scale neighborhoods, and downtowns that offer something of a refuge from the traffic-choked aggravation that we’ve associated with city centers for generations now.
Add in the tight social networking of a new generation raised on the internet, the increasing availability of hybrid/electric cars, and you can understand why Exxon now predicts that gasoline use in the US has already peaked.
Recent research suggests many young Americans prefer to spend their money and time chatting to their friends online, as opposed to the more traditional pastime of cruising around in cars.
But with money tight in many households, and the cost of gas and insurance soaring, some youngsters are having to choose between buying a car and owning the latest smartphone or tablet.
In a survey to be published later this year by Gartner, 46% of 18 to 24-year-olds said they would choose internet access over owning their own car. The figure was 15% among the baby boom generation that grew up in the 1950s and 60s – seen as the golden age of American motoring.
November 29, 2011
Gasoline is not the only 19th century energy source that’s peaking right now…
Coal provides nearly one-quarter of the total energy consumed in the U.S., and by Mr. Warholic’s estimate, the country has enough in the ground to last about 240 years. A belief in this nearly boundless supply has led officials to dub the U.S. the “Saudi Arabia of Coal.”
But the estimate, recent findings show, may be wildly overconfident.
While there is almost certainly as much coal in the ground as Mr. Warholic’s Energy Information Administration believes, relatively little of it can be profitably extracted. Last year, the U.S. Geological Survey completed an extensive analysis of Wyoming’s Gillette coal field, the nation’s largest and most productive, and determined that less than 6% of the coal in its biggest beds could be mined profitably, even at prices higher than today’s.
“We really can’t say we’re the Saudi Arabia of coal anymore,” says Brenda Pierce, head of the USGS team that conducted the study.
Longer presentation by Glustrom below.
November 29, 2011
Standing on the shores of Netarts Bay in Oregon on a sunny fall morning, it’s hard to imagine that the fate of the oysters being raised here at the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery is being determined by what came out of smokestacks and tailpipes in the 1960s and ‘70s. But this rural coastal spot and the shellfish it has nurtured for centuries are a bellwether of one of the most palpable changes being caused by global carbon dioxide emissions —ocean acidification.
It was here, from 2006 to 2008, that oyster larvae began dying dramatically, with hatchery owners Mark Wiegardt and his wife, Sue Cudd, experiencing larvae losses of 70 to 80 percent. “Historically we’ve had larvae mortalities,” says Wiegardt, but those deaths were usually related to bacteria. After spending thousands of dollars to disinfect and filter out pathogens, the hatchery’s oyster larvae were still dying.
Finally, the couple enlisted the help of Burke Hales, a biogeochemist and ocean ecologist at Oregon State University. He soon homed in on the carbon chemistry of the water. “My wife sent a few samples in and Hales said someone had screwed up the samples because the [dissolved CO2 gas] level was so ridiculously high,” says Wiegardt, a fourth-generation oyster farmer. But the measurements were accurate. What the Whiskey Creek hatchery was experiencing was acidic seawater, caused by the ocean absorbing excessive amounts of CO2 from the air.
Ocean acidification — which makes it difficult for shellfish, corals, sea urchins, and other creatures to form the shells or calcium-based structures they need to live — was supposed to be a problem of the future. But because of patterns of ocean circulation, Pacific Northwest shellfish are already on the front lines of these potentially devastating changes in ocean chemistry. Colder, more acidic waters are welling up from the depths of the Pacific Ocean and streaming ashore in the fjords, bays, and estuaries of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, exacting an environmental and economic toll on the region’s famed oysters.
For the past six years, wild oysters in Willapa Bay, Washington, have failed to reproduce successfully because corrosive waters have prevented oyster larvae from forming shells. Wild oysters in Puget Sound and off the east coast of Vancouver Island also have experienced reproductive failure because of acidic waters. Other wild oyster beds in the Pacific Northwest have sustained losses in recent years at the same time that scientists have been measuring alarmingly corrosive water along the Pacific coast.
November 28, 2011
The end-Permian extinction occurred 252.2 million years ago, decimating 90 percent of marine and terrestrial species, from snails and small crustaceans to early forms of lizards and amphibians. “The Great Dying,” as it’s now known, was the most severe mass extinction in Earth’s history, and is probably the closest life has come to being completely extinguished. Possible causes include immense volcanic eruptions, rapid depletion of oxygen in the oceans, and — an unlikely option — an asteroid collision.
While the causes of this global catastrophe are unknown, an MIT-led team of researchers has now established that the end-Permian extinction was extremely rapid, triggering massive die-outs both in the oceans and on land in less than 20,000 years — the blink of an eye in geologic time. The researchers also found that this time period coincides with a massive buildup of atmospheric carbon dioxide, which likely triggered the simultaneous collapse of species in the oceans and on land.
With further calculations, the group found that the average rate at which carbon dioxide entered the atmosphere during the end-Permian extinction was slightly below today’s rate of carbon dioxide release into the atmosphere due to fossil fuel emissions. Over tens of thousands of years, increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide during the Permian period likely triggered severe global warming, accelerating species extinctions.
The researchers also discovered evidence of simultaneous and widespread wildfires that may have added to end-Permian global warming, triggering what they deem “catastrophic” soil erosion and making environments extremely arid and inhospitable.