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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 37,286

About Me

Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Toon: Almost Heaven, West Virginia

A Maldives Beach Awash in Bioluminescent Phytoplankton Looks Like an Ocean of Stars



Weekend Toon Roundup 2- The rest




Weekend Toon roundup 1- The Spying will Continue Until Morale Improves

If You See Something, Say Something (Climate)


STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — THE overwhelming consensus among climate scientists is that human-caused climate change is happening. Yet a fringe minority of our populace clings to an irrational rejection of well-established science. This virulent strain of anti-science infects the halls of Congress, the pages of leading newspapers and what we see on TV, leading to the appearance of a debate where none should exist.

In fact, there is broad agreement among climate scientists not only that climate change is real (a survey and a review of the scientific literature published say about 97 percent agree), but that we must respond to the dangers of a warming planet. If one is looking for real differences among mainstream scientists, they can be found on two fronts: the precise implications of those higher temperatures, and which technologies and policies offer the best solution to reducing, on a global scale, the emission of greenhouse gases.

For example, should we go full-bore on nuclear power? Invest in and deploy renewable energy — wind, solar and geothermal — on a huge scale? Price carbon emissions through cap-and-trade legislation or by imposing a carbon tax? Until the public fully understands the danger of our present trajectory, those debates are likely to continue to founder.

This is where scientists come in. In my view, it is no longer acceptable for scientists to remain on the sidelines. I should know. I had no choice but to enter the fray. I was hounded by elected officials, threatened with violence and more — after a single study I co-wrote a decade and a half ago found that the Northern Hemisphere’s average warmth had no precedent in at least the past 1,000 years. Our “hockey stick” graph became a vivid centerpiece of the climate wars, and to this day, it continues to win me the enmity of those who have conflated a problem of science and society with partisan politics.


Billboard in Georgia


U.S. troops may return to Middle East to train Iraqis

The Pentagon is considering sending U.S. troops back to the Middle East to help train Iraqi forces, defense officials said Friday.

It is unclear whether troops would be sent directly into Iraq or possibly conduct training in a nearby country such as Jordan. “We are in continuing discussions about how we can improve the Iraqi military,” Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said Friday.

The idea of sending U.S. military trainers back to Iraq for the first time since 2011 is one the Pentagon has emphatically rejected in recent years, but on Friday, Warren offered a carefully worded statement that did not rule out the possibility.


Just ducky. What a fitting ending to this shitty week. Unless we start bombing Iran, which I wouldn't rule out given how things are going.

Teachers Fight Over Loss Of Tenure, New Contracts (NC)

There are 95,000 public school teachers in North Carolina, give or take. So how many, given their only chance to comment publicly on the end of tenure, would make their way to downtown Raleigh to voice their displeasure? Hundreds? Thousands, maybe?

Try four.

But maybe the low attendance wasn’t so much a reflection on teachers’ anger – it might just speak more to their sense of duty. The public hearing, after all, was scheduled on a Wednesday afternoon at 1 PM. Hardly convenient for a teacher.

Deb Green was able to make it, only because she teaches part-time in Guilford County. She says the plan to replace tenure with a system that awards the top 25 percent of teachers with 4-year contracts and relegates the rest to 1- or 2-year contracts is not conducive to cooperation:

When teachers feel they are competing with one another they are not going to be willing to share concerns. Like, ‘I’m having trouble with Johnny, I know you’re successful with him, what do you do that works? How do you communicate with him.’ Teachers aren’t going to feel safe to do that because they want that scarce resource of that job security and that raise.



Ball Lightning studied by scientists

For centuries, people have reported seeing luminous, spherical orbs during storms — a phenomenon known as “ball lightning”. According to eyewitness reports they last for several seconds, moving through the air before eventually exploding.

But meteorologists have always regarded such reports with suspicion, as they’d never been able to observe the phenomenon themselves. Inconsistencies in public reports led those studying these cases starting to think of them like UFO sightings — merely hallucinations, perhaps caused by electromagnetic effects.

Now, however, following years of attempts to replicate ball lightning in the lab, Chinese researchers have finally recorded it in the field.

After a bolt of lightning hit the ground, a glowing ball about five metres wide rose up and travelled about 15 metres, before disappearing about 1.6 seconds later.

Stunned, the researchers packed up their kit and headed back to their lab, where they discovered that the elements in the ball were the same as those in the local soil — silicon, iron and calcium. They published their results in the journal Physical Review Letters.




Smog in Beijing Is So Awful You Have to Catch the Sunrise on a Big Screen

This LED screen displays the rising sun in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, which is shrouded in heavy smog on Jan. 16, 2014.

Air pollution in the Chinese capital reached new, choking heights on Thursday. Those who still felt the urge to catch a glimpse of sunlight were able to gather around the city’s gigantic LED screens, where this glorious sunrise was broadcast as part of a patriotic video loop.

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