The Lizard Project: why scientists and teachers should work together for science outreach.
Student Salvador Jahen gets to know a new hatchling.
Although, inquiry based instruction has long been a science education buzz phrase, all too often when kids engage in developing experiments, the answers are in fact already known to science and could be discovered through a quick Google search on the topic. This is not exactly real science. The very nature of science is to ask questions with unknown answers and produce high quality evidence to help us better understand our world. My students took a very specific question with an unknown answer and made a small, but real contribution to what is known about life on our planet.
The results of our work, Maternally chosen nest sites positively affect multiple components of offspring fitness in a lizard appeared in the journal Behavioral Ecology yesterday. This type of science rarely happens at the high school level. It certainly isn’t expected to happen in an urban high school like Thomas Kelly High School on Chicago s southwest side, where more than 90% of the students are designated as low income and gang violence is a harsh reality in the surrounding neighborhoods
See the original post here: The Lizard Project: why scientists and teachers should work together for science outreach
with RBSP spacecraft[/caption] The two satellites, each weighing just less than 1,500 pounds, comprise the first dual-spacecraft mission specifically created to investigate this hazardous regions of near-Earth space, known as the radiation belts. These two belts, named for their discoverer, James Van Allen, encircle the planet and are filled with highly charged particles. The belts are affected by solar storms and coronal mass ejections and sometimes swell dramatically. When this occurs, they can pose dangers to communications, GPS satellites and human spaceflight.
Research and Markets has announced the addition of John Wiley and Sons Ltd’s new book “Complex-shaped Metal Na
Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/rfxb2d/complexshaped_met) has announced the addition of John Wiley and Sons Ltd’s new book “Complex-shaped Metal Nanoparticles” to their offering.
The past few years have witnessed the development of non-spherical metal nanoparticles with complex morphologies, such as polyhedra, plates, prisms, rods, wires, nanoboxes, nanocages or dumbbells, that offer tremendous potential in materials science, biochemistry and medicine
Follow this link: Research and Markets: Complex-Shaped Metal Nanoparticles
The National Academies, the nation’s preeminent independent scientific advisory body, has released a series of videos building on themes laid out in its America’s Climate Choices reports over the past couple of years. Above, you can watch the material as a single long video. Below you can find links to seven themed sections:
| Full Disclosure | I’m working on a separate online project on climate change science for the Academies. I had no involvement with these videos or the underlying reports.
Original post: A New Climate Science Resource from the National Academies …
The Harper government is engaged in a broad assault on environmental protection and environmental science, gutting laws, programs, budgets, and research projects. “An Open Letter to the World on the Governmental Destruction of the Environment in Canada,” from a former employee at Environment Canada. Censorship of science communication and the muzzling of Canadian government scientists. And pulling the plug on what has been called Canada’s greatest freshwater defender and scientific achievement. An authoritarian rampage in the north country.
Oh Canada: the government’s broad assault on the environment (Guardian, July 2):
Prime minister Stephen Harper’s government has been weakening Canada’s environmental regulations and slashing funds for oversight and research – while promoting aggressive resource development.
…Canada’s pristine image — and more importantly its environment — is not likely to recover from what critics across the political spectrum say is an unprecedented assault by the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper on environmental regulation, oversight, and scientific research. Harper, who came to power in 2006 unapologetic for once describing the Kyoto climate accords as “essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations,” has steadily been weakening environmental enforcement, monitoring, and research, while at the same time boosting controversial tar sands development, backing major pipeline construction, and increasing energy industry subsidies.
Critics say that assault reached a crescendo in recent weeks with the passage in Parliament of an omnibus budget bill known as C-38, which guts or significantly weakens rules relating to fisheries protection, environmental assessment, endangered species, and national parks. Under this bill, the criteria that currently trigger environmental assessments, for example, have been eliminated, leaving such reviews more to the discretion of the Minister of the Environment and other political appointees. The Fisheries Act will no longer be focused on habitat protection; instead, it will restrict itself largely to the commercial aspects of resource harvesting. Ocean dumping rules will also be changed to allow the Minister of the Environment to make decisions on permitting. And Parks Canada will no longer have to conduct environmental audits or review management plans every ten years. In addition, budgets cuts will eliminate the jobs of hundreds of scientists working for various government departments that focus on the environment and wildlife….
In addition to Bill C-38, the Harper government has ended funding for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, which had doled out more than $100 million in research funding over the past decade. It has withdrawn support for the Experimental Lakes Program in northwestern Ontario, which has used 58 lakes to conduct groundbreaking studies on phosphate, mercury, and bacterial contamination, as well as research on how climate change affects freshwater systems. And it has killed funding for a program that helps keep more than a dozen Arctic science research stations operational.
The elimination or severe reduction of funds for research into climate change and the Arctic has especially serious implications, given that the Canadian Arctic is warming faster than almost any other region on earth. Scientists say that Harper’s sharp cutbacks will mean a drastic shortage of funds to monitor huge environmental changes in the Arctic, including melting sea ice, thawing permafrost, a rapidly changing tundra environment, and widespread impacts on fauna and flora….
May 18, 2012
My name is Naomi. I am Canadian. I worked for Environment Canada, our federal environmental department, for several years before our current Conservative leadership (under Stephen Harper) began decimating environmentalism in Canada. I, along with thousands and thousands of federal science employees lost any hope of future work. Their attitude towards the environment is ‘screw research that contradicts the economic growth, particularly of the oil sands’. They have openly and officially denigrated anyone that supports the environment and opposes big-money oil profit as ‘radicals’ (http://tinyurl.com/7wwf8dp).
Every day in Canada, new information about their vendetta on science and the environment becomes quietly public and keeps piling up. I have been privy to much first-hand information still because I retain friendships with my ex-colleagues (though my blood pressure hates me for it).
While I was working there, scientists were effectively muzzled from speaking to the media without prior confirmation with Harper’s media team (http://tinyurl.com/7bnsqp4) – usually denied, and when allowed, totally controlled. Scientists were threatened with job loss if they said anything in an interview that was not exactly what the media team had told them to say. This happened in 2008. The public didn’t find out for years.
During one of my contracts, I was manager of a large, public database set. Contact information for all database managers was available for anyone. I knew what was going on with the information and could answer questions immediately and personally. During this time, I noticed that the media team started asking me “What would I say” to certain questions. I answered unwittingly. After a certain period of time, I noticed that all contact information had been removed from the internet – eliminating the opportunity for a citizen to inquire directly about these public data sets without contacting the media team. The Conservatives effectively removed another board from the bridge between science and the public, and I had inadvertently helped.
Since then, the Conservative government has been laying off thousands and thousands of full-fledged scientific employees that have been performing research for decades at Environment Canada, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and Parks Canada (e.g. http://tinyurl.com/8xtkaro , http://tinyurl.com/7gvzc7r, http://tinyurl.com/clgn97u ), shutting down entire divisions and radically decimating environmental protection and stewardship in a matter of a couple years.
I am afraid for my country. Canada is the second largest land mass in the world – though our population is small, you can be sure that when a country that encompasses 7% of the world’s land mass, and has the largest coastline in the world says “screw it” to environmental protection, there will be massive global repercussions.
The Conservative leadership have admitted to shutting down environmental research groups on climate change because “they didn’t like the results” (http://tinyurl.com/7kpqk7d), are decimating the Species at Risk Act (our national equivalent of the IUCN Red list), are decimating habitat protection for fisheries, are getting rid of one of the most important water research facilities in the world (Experimental Lakes Area – has been operational since 1968, and allows for long-term ecosystem studies [http://tinyurl.com/cdygbdk] ), are getting rid of almost all scientists that study contaminants in the environment, have backed out of the Kyoto protocol – and the list goes on and on and on.
Entire divisions of scientific research are being eliminated. Our land, our animals, our plants, our environment are losing all the protection that has been building for decades – a contradictory stance to the rest of the world….
David Schindler, a professor from the University of Alberta (and founder of ELA) quoted. “I think we have a government that considers science an inconvenience.”…
This Conservative minority leadership was voted in on a thin string in the lowest voter election turnout in recent history, but thanks to our ridiculous voting laws, have 100% full power to do whatever they want. And in the name of short-term monetary oil profit, they have realized that progressive science and the environment are threats (obstacles) to their goals, and are doing so many things to eliminate both.
We are depressed, and frustrated, and mad, and need all the help we can get to protect the value of science and our environment. In the age of globalization, intentionally non-progressive leadership is going to affect everyone. We share our waters, air, and cycles with all of you. Science IS a candle in the dark, and we cannot let greed extinguish that flame. What happens in Canada– will happen everywhere.
A Canadian that cares about science and the environment
**Update (May 22, 2012). There has been a huge overwhelming response to this letter. Over 40,000 people have viewed it, with hundreds of comments. There are a lot of different organizations that want to be part of a larger movement. There are also quite a few scientists who may want to speak out, but still cannot. I encourage anyone who wants to contribute and organize, and may desire to do it more discreetly (ie: anonymous and or/not as a public comment), to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please let your colleagues know as well. I will never publish your information unless you want me to, and will be organizing interested parties somehow, so that we can effect greater change – for ourselves, our freedom, and our beautiful planet.
**Update (May 25, 2012). An excellent opinion piece by a DFO scientist on the axing of the pollution programs at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2012/opinion-mass-firing-of-canada2019s-ocean-scientists
Canadian government is ‘muzzling its scientists’ (BBC News,Vancouver, February 17, 2012)
Speakers at a major science meeting being held in Canada said communication of vital research on health and environment issues is being suppressed….
The allegation of “muzzling” came up at a session of the AAAS meeting to discuss the impact of a media protocol introduced by the Conservative government shortly after it was elected in 2008….
Andrew Weaver, an environmental scientist at theUniversity of Victoria in British Columbia, described the protocol as “Orwellian”….
Professor Weaver said that information is so tightly controlled that the public is “left in the dark”.
“The only information they are given is that which the government wants, which will then allow a supporting of a particular agenda,” he said.
The media protocol was obtained and reported three years ago by Margaret Munro, who is a science writer for Postmedia News, based in Vancouver. Speaking at the AAAS meeting, she said its effect was to suppress scientific debate on issues of public interest.
“The more controversial the story, the less likely you are to talk to the scientists. They (government media relations staff) just stonewall. If they don’t like the question you don’t get an answer.”…
Professor Andrew Weaver believes that the media protocol is being used by the Canadian government to “instruct scientists to deliver a certain message, thereby taking the heat out of controversial topics”.
He added: “You can’t have an informed discussion if the science isn’t allowed to be communicated. Public relations message number one is that you have to set the conversation. You don’t want to have a conversation on someone else’s terms. And this is now being applied to science on discussions about oil sands, climate and salmon.”
The Gem of Canadian Science that Harper Killed (Andrew Nikiforuk, May 23, The Tyee, British Columbia)
Over the Victoria Day weekend Canadians lost another vital national institution that quietly stood on guard for the nation’s 4 million lakes.
Just as citizens flocked to their cottages and launched their boats, the government of Stephen Harper pulled the plug on Canada’s greatest freshwater defender and scientific achievement: the Experimental Lakes Area.
And though its muzzled scientists haven’t been able to talk about the program’s impressive research in recent years without Ottawa’s approval, this uniquely Canadian endeavor both changed and educated the world. It also drove global public policy on watershed protection.
In a move that stunned and appalled scientists around the world the Harper government laid off as many as 40 scientists associated with the legendary program working out the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Winnipeg’s office.
According to Ottawa’s tiresome newspeak, the program no longer “aligned with the department’s mandate and is not responding to our research priorities.”
The killing of the program is the latest in a series of coordinated attacks on environmental science and the gutting of most of the nation’s environmental legislation. It not only trashes Canada’s international reputation but confirms the Harper government’s pathological hatred for science of any kind.
In fact the country has now officially entered a Dark Age for science. After spending $2.5 million renovating the Arctic Institute of North America’s Kluane Research Station, the Harper government just eliminated the funding for the global leader in climate change and boreal mammal research. It also provided federal Arctic researchers at a recentMontreal conference with Iraqi-like minders to control their comments. Nature, one of the world’s foremost science magazines, has written editorials about the muzzling of Canadian scientists.
In this new political order of attacks on science and environmentalists, the closure of the ELA program takes on special significance. The irrational decision strikes most scientists as a feat of colossal stupidity, economic folly and ideological backwardness….
The future of proposed studies on nanoparticles and oil sands contaminants such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) may now be dead. “There were some troubling signs that toxic nanoparticles of silver could go through biological membranes,” says Schindler.
But the Harper government apparently doesn’t want you to know that truth. Nor does it want Canadians to learn about what role oil sands pollutants such as PAHs might play in fish deformities in Lake Athabasca or cancers in Fort Chip. “Politicians have never understood what the ELA does or why it’s important,” says Schindler from his cottage nearBrisco,British Columbia. “We are losing an opportunity to improve the public’s scientific literacy on water.” He adds that “democracy, to be effective, needs to have an informed electorate.”
In this regard the full scale assault on science funding and scientific freedom in Canada makes the country look increasing like another sorry Arab oil exporter. The sheiks, a group as fundamentalist in their orientation as Harper’s Tories, don’t like science either.
As molecular biologist Rana Dajani explains in a 2011 Nature editorial, the political and religious environment in most Arab states currently “fails to sustain creativity, curiosity and striking out into the unknown — all of which are essential for science to flourish.”
And that’s where Harper is taking Canada: back to an Arab winter.
Originally posted here: Canada: Entering a new Dark Age for science and environmental …
French President François Hollande will face judicial problems over the ban on the cultivation of genetically modified plants, and this has widespread implications for science-based risk assessment in the EU, argue Marcel Kuntz, John Davison and Agnès E. Ricroch.
Marcel Kuntz is director of research at CNRS in Grenoble, France, John Davison is retired director of research at INRA, and Agnès E. Ricroch is lecturer at AgroParisTech in Paris.
“French President François Hollande has announced that the ban on the cultivation of “genetically-modified” plants, initiated by his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, will remain in place. Thus, the new government will face the same judicial problem as the former one and this has widespread implications for science-based risk assessment in the EU.
In February 2012, Nicolas Sarkozy’s government sent a document called ‘emergency measures’ (EM) to the European Commission (EC), allegedly providing new information on environmental risks of maize varieties carrying the MON810 insect-resistance trait.
It was followed by the publication in March 2012 of a national ruling banning its cultivation. Already in February 2008, this government suspended the cultivation of these MON810 varieties on the basis of their potential negative environmental impacts but its allegations have been consistently rejected by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
Actually the French position was a green-washing political move. The German government also suspended MON810 cultivation in April 2009 and also justified it by alleged new data on negative environmental impacts. A scientific publication 3 and the German Central Committee on Biological Safety (ZKBS) rejected these allegations.
To understand the implication of these events it is important to keep in mind that, in Europe, “genetically modified” organisms (GMOs) are regulated by EU law and that a moratorium on GMO cultivation must have justifiable reasons with a scientific basis.
However, the bans on the commercial cultivation of EFSA-approved MON810 maize (now implemented by 8 Member States: Austria, Hungary, France, Greece, Luxembourg, Germany Bulgaria and Ireland) had actually only political or economical motives.
Consequently, the French MON810 maize cultivation ban was declared illegal in November 2011 by France’s highest judicial authority “Conseil d’Etat”, following the similar conclusions of the European Court of Justice released in September 2011.
Despite failure under European and French laws, the former French Minister of Ecology, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, immediately stated that the ban will continue and in February 2012 her Ministry produced a document called ‘emergency measures’, which was submitted to the EC.
This EM document purportedly contains new and vital information regarding environmental risks, not previously considered by the EFSA.
View original post here: GMO ban: Risks for science-based assessments | JunkScience.com
Of course, because everyone knows it’s only conservatives politicizing so-called “global warming.”
CNN’s Carol Costello told guest Bill Nye “The Science Guy” on Monday that climate change skeptics are “politicizing this issue” and “winning.” Of course, the two did not admit to the possibility of man-made climate change believers doing the exact same thing.
“But the people who are politicizing this issue, they seem to be winning because not much is being done on the issue of climate change even though President Obama promised that, you know, back in the day, 2008,” Costello said.
Read the original post: Weasel Zippers » Blog Archive » Bill Nye “The Science Guy” “The …
One of the world’s coolest ‘green’ initiatives, the innovative gardens feature solar-powered trees and climate-controlled flower domes.
Forget the casino. Marina Bay Singapore’s hottest new attraction is Gardens by the Bay, a cutting-edge horticultural mega project featuring 50-meter high solar-powered “supertrees” and climate-controlled biomes.
The entire project is estimated to have cost more than S$1 billion. Today is the official opening of Bay South Garden, the largest of the 101-hectare venue’s three gardens. The 54-hectare section features cooled flower domes, multiple heritage-themed outdoor gardens and two lakes.
Bay South Garden’s two glass biomes — dubbed “Cloud Forest” and “Flower Dome” — were designed to replicate the cool-moist climate of the tropical montane region, the Mediterranean and semi-arid sub-tropical regions.
The conservatories feature plants and trees from these areas, which are among the most threatened habitats in the world, say Gardens officials. In addition to the permanent display of plant life and tree species, there will be seasonal changing floral displays in the Flower Dome.
Ranging in height from 25 to 50 metres, the Gardens’ 18 Supertrees are basically vertical gardens covered in bromeliads, ferns and tropical flowering climbers. Two of the trees are connected via an aerial walkway.
It’s pretty innovative stuff. The structures mimic the ecological functions of real trees through their environmentally sustainable features.
Some have photovoltaic cells on their canopies to harvest solar energy to light up at night, others are integrated with cooled conservatories and serve as air exhaust receptacles.
The Holland pavilion at the Singapore International Water Week is well attended by water professionals from all over the world seeking innovative solutions. This year the pavilion hosts again many international well respected Dutch water technology firms.
The open character of the booth, in combination with Dutch hospitality, makes its very popular amongst water professionals.
Some of the solutions shown at the Holland pavilion (booth R32):
BoxBarrier – Delta Marine Consultants The BoxBarrier is a very effective flood defense system, which can be used to temporarily heighten the crest of a dike. 100m flood barrier is installed in one hour!
Nereda aerobic granular – Royal HaskoningDHV Nereda purifies waste water with the unique features of ‘aerobic granular biomass’. Nereda was invented by 2012 Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize winner Professor Mark van Loosdrecht.
MasterBuoy – LG Sound Ultrasonic algae control is an environmental friendly way to kill algae and biofilm. The MasterBuoy monitors, real-time water parameters so the most effective ultrasonic program is used. A MasterBuoy can work in a diameter of 500 meter.flood algae
That talk by ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson at the Council on Foreign Relations that Gristmill linked to earlier today is a stunning demonstration of how to sow confusion and delay. It’s worth deeper analysis. So let’s dig in!
It’s very long, so we’ll summarize some sections and zero in on a couple of key passages. You can read the whole thing here.
Paragraphs 1-6, in short: Energy prices sure go up and down a lot! But we keep finding more fossil fuels when we need to.
Next 3 paragraphs: Boy, there was a lot more natural gas in the shale here in North America than we expected.
Next 6 paragraphs: Let’s all say “energy security” rather than “energy independence,” OK? Exxon is a multinational, and I want everyone to be friends and not worry about where their oil comes from as long as it keeps coming.
Here’s where Tillerson starts to gets interesting. Let’s quote his original and then translate:
Ours is an industry that is built on technology, it’s built on science, it’s built on engineering, and because we have a society that by and large is illiterate in these areas, science, math and engineering, what we do is a mystery to them and they find it scary. And because of that, it creates easy opportunities for opponents of development, activist organizations, to manufacture fear.
Translation: You thought those people out there sounding an alarm about climate change were scientists? Forget it. We here at Exxon, we’re the scientists. And all those people with fancy degrees and titles who have been desperately trying to teach the U.S. public about global warming? They’re illiterates! We’re the clean guys in white coats; they’re the dirty “manufacturers” of fear.
And so as these technologies emerge, we know the immediate response from certain parts of interested parties out there is going to be to manufacture fear because that’s how you slow this down. And nowhere is it more effective than in the United States. And so that’s — the pace at which these things occur oftentimes is our ability to deal with the manufactured fear, our ability as an industry, working with well-intended regulators and policymakers to address the fears.
Translation: I am a dispassionate man of reason. Forget that I run one of the richest corporations in the world. I am not an “interested party.” The interested parties are all those illiterate, fear-mongering activists who are getting filthy rich off their fabulously wealthy nonprofit activities.
It requires a lot of education, requires taking an illiterate public — illiterate in the sciences, engineering and mathematics — and trying to help them understand why we can manage these risks. And that’s a very intensive, almost one-on-one process — town by town, city council by city council, state by state. So it takes a while. And we’re not particularly aided in our efforts by the broad-based media, because it’s a lot sexier to write the fear stories than it is to write the here’s-how-you-manage-it story.
Translation: Do not think that we buy advertisements and pay lobbyists in order to influence public policy in our favor. At Exxon, we re having one-on-one conversations with our community. Sadly, journalists sometimes help out those fearmongering ignoramuses by repeating their lies. So we have to spend lots of money setting the record straight.
Now, that’s just a fact, it’s not a complaint. But it’s part of why do things take so long. Well, that’s one of the reasons it takes us a long time to get the policy solutions, because it all becomes then a political process instead of a scientific process.
Translation: If only we could leave energy policy safely in the hands of scientists. Wait, maybe that’s not the best idea.
There are important questions about the things that people worry about, and we have an obligation to address them, and we devote a tremendous amount of effort in addressing those. But I think if you look at the technologies that are front and center today around the shale resources — hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling, the integration of those technologies, how we drill these wells, how we protect fresh water zone, how we protect emissions — we have all of that engineered. And as long as we as an industry follow good engineering practices and standards, these risks are entirely manageable. And the consequences of a misstep by any member of our industry — and I’m speaking again about the shale revolution — the consequences of a misstep in a well, while large to the immediate people that live around that well, in the great scheme of things are pretty small, and even to the immediate people around the well, they could be mitigated.
Translation: Accidents don’t happen if you do things right, and at Exxon, we always do things right. And even if there is an accident with fracking, which sometimes is done by people who don’t work for Exxon who might not do everything right, it will only wreck the lives of a limited number of people in a small number of communities. So who cares?
These are not life-threatening, they’re not long-lasting, and they’re not new. They are the same risks that our industry has been managing for more than 100 years in the conventional development of oil and natural gas. There’s nothing new in what we’re doing, and we’ve been hydraulically refracturing (sic) wells in large numbers since the 1960s; first developed in 1940. So this is an old technology just being applied, integrated with some new technologies. So the risks are very manageable.
Translation: If you look at the history of our industry, why would anyone worry? It’s not as if there have ever been any accidents, right?
The fears are real. We don’t discount that people’s fears are their fears. We have to address that. We want to address it with sound science, we want to address it with real data, and somehow we have to overcome the manufactured fear which gets most of the headlines.
Translation: The fears aren’t real! But unfortunately the U.S. still has elections, and the government can still make trouble for us. So we have to pretend to take public fears seriously. After all, if we lose a few towns here and there, you and I here at this elite conference understand that that’s an acceptable risk — but the illiterate masses out there might get really upset.
There is much, much more in this speech, but that’s enough for now. OK, almost enough. Here’s one last bit from the Q&A at the end.
QUESTIONER: Hi, I’m David Fenton. Mr. Tillerson, I want to talk about science and risk, and I agree with you that’s the way we must proceed. So, as you know, it’s a basic fact of physics that CO2 traps heat, and too much CO2 will mean it will get too hot, and we will face enormous risks as a result of this not only to our way of life, but to the world economy. It will be devastating: The seas will rise, the coastlines will be unstable for generations, the price of food will go crazy. This is what we face, and we all know it.
Now — so my question for you is since we all know this knowledge, we’re a little in denial of it. You know, if we burn all these reserves you’ve talked about, you can kiss future generations good-bye. And maybe we’ll find a solution to take it out of the air. But, as you know, we don’t have one. So what are you going to do about this? We need your help to do something about this.
TILLERSON: Well, let me — let me say that we have studied that issue and continue to study it as well. We are and have been long-time participants in the IPCC panels. We author many of the IPCC subcommittee papers, and we peer-review most of them. So we are very current on the science, our understanding of the science, and importantly — and this is where I’m going to take exception to something you said — the competency of the models to predict the future. We’ve been working with a very good team at MIT now for more than 20 years on this area of modeling the climate, which, since obviously it’s an area of great interest to you, you know and have to know the competencies of the models are not particularly good.
Now you can plug in assumptions on many elements of the climate system that we cannot model — and you know what they all are. We cannot model aerosols; we cannot model clouds, which are big, big factors in how the CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere affect temperatures at surface level. The models we need — and we are putting a lot of money supporting people and continuing to work on these models, try and become more competent with the models. But our ability to predict, with any accuracy, what the future’s going to be is really pretty limited.
So our approach is we do look at the range of the outcomes and try and understand the consequences of that, and clearly there’s going to be an impact. So I’m not disputing that increasing CO2 emissions in the atmosphere is going to have an impact. It’ll have a warming impact. The — how large it is is what is very hard for anyone to predict. And depending on how large it is, then projects how dire the consequences are.
As we have looked at the most recent studies coming — and the IPCC reports, which we — I’ve seen the drafts; I can’t say too much because they’re not out yet. But when you predict things like sea level rise, you get numbers all over the map. If you take a — what I would call a reasonable scientific approach to that, we believe those consequences are manageable. They do require us to begin to exert — or spend more policy effort on adaptation. What do you want to do if we think the future has sea level rising four inches, six inches? Where are the impacted areas, and what do you want to do to adapt to that?
And as human beings as a — as a — as a species, that’s why we’re all still here. We have spent our entire existence adapting, OK? So we will adapt to this. Changes to weather patterns that move crop production areas around — we’ll adapt to that. It’s an engineering problem, and it has engineering solutions. And so I don’t — the fear factor that people want to throw out there to say we just have to stop this, I do not accept.
I do believe we have to — we have to be efficient and we have to manage it, but we also need to look at the other side of the engineering solution, which is how are we going to adapt to it. And there are solutions. It’s not a problem that we can’t solve.
Translation: Yes, global warming is real. Carbon emissions really do boost temperatures. But nobody knows by how much — that’s impossible to predict. So what the hell? Let’s just take that risk of apocalypse. The consequences will be manageable — for us here at ExxonMobil. As for the human race? It will just have to adapt! And you can count on us engineers to help you out with that. After all, by that time we’re going to need a new line of business.
Read the original here: ‘Stand back, I’m going to try science’: Inside the brain of – Grist
By Pallab Ghosh Science correspondent, BBC News
A group of experts has urged funders of UK research to encourage scientists to publish their results in journals that offer free public access to findings.
A report by Dame Janet Finch argues that there is a powerful “moral” case for publicly funded research to be freely available.
Dame Janet also states that there could be considerable economic benefits if industry has free access to research.
Currently, most results have to be paid for by subscription.
But supporters of commercial publishing say that they have contributed greatly to the development of the peer review system and the resulting high standard of scientific research.
According to Dame Janet, “everyone agrees that greater open access would bring huge economic and public benefits. The challenge though is how we move to this model without damaging UK research, peer review or scientific publishers?”
Historically, scientists have sent their research results to scientific journals for consideration for publication.
Specialist editors working for the journals sift through the material submitted to them and select those they feel have made a significant contribution to the field.
The long term future lies with open access”
End Quote Dame Janet Finch Report Author
The editors then send these scientific papers to experts in the field for assessment, a process known as peer review. It is at this stage that one or more of the experts can reject the research because they believe it is flawed or that it has not made a significant contribution to the field.
It is more often the case though that the expert reviewers, known as referees, ask for clarification or more experiments to be carried out.
Once all or most of the referees are satisfied, the journal publishes the research and it is at this stage that the work is formally considered to be new science.
Indus Towers and Vikram A Sarabhai Community Science Centre create a learning project for teaching bio-diverxity.
New Delhi, June 17 : The Science Express – Biodiversity Special (SEBS) is a unique initiative undertaken by Department of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Environment and Forests in collaboration with the Vikram A Sarabhai Community Science Centre.
The project entails unique science exhibition on a 16-coach A.C. train, to generate widespread awareness on the biodiversity of the country among students and general public.
After four successful tours the Science Express will travel over 18,000 km, covering 52 cities.
Read the rest here: Science Express aims to create youth environment ambassadors
A new ‘wonder’ glass rapidly absorbs oil and other contaminants in wastewater, and can be reused over 100 times.
A development in nano-engineered glass could be a game-changer in the efforts to clean and reclaim wastewater, especially the so-called ‘produced’ waterfrom oil and gas extraction, which is estimated to be as much as 800 billion gallons each year.
“After field testing the modified silica, called Osorb, DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory confirmed it can remove more than 99 percent of oil and grease from water, and more than 90 percent of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes—also known as BTEX—the volatile compounds that can poison drinking water.” – Forbes
(click on image to enlarge)
Read here. The IPCC’s known political agenda requires it to publish “science” that purportedly establishes modern warming as unprecedented. One of the results of this agenda was the infamous and now discredited study known as the ‘hockey stick’.
Unfortunately for the IPCC, the vast majority of scientific research confirms that ancient and historical global/regional temperatures do not resemble a hockey-stick with modern warming being higher than earlier periods. And now new Chinese research by Wu et al. has determined the same – no hockey-stick.
“The East China Sea SST reconstruction was developed by 5 researchers with various affiliations with several Chinese universities…collected a sediment core from the sea floor in the Southern Okinawa Trough (SOT) over which the warm Kuroshio current flows…
The researchers analyzed the top 10 meters of the sediment core, corresponding to 2,700 years of sedimentation and from it were able to resolve 25-yr averages…shows a significant degree of long-term temperature variability…were able to identify the well-recognized climate periods of the past several millennia, including the Little Ice Age (LIA), Medieval Warm Period (MWP), Sui-Tang dynasty Warm Period (STWP), Dark Age Cool Period (DACP), and the Roman Warm period (RWP) along with the Current Warm Period (CWP) beginning in the mid-19th century…the temperatures at the end of the Current Warm period (CWP), are not the highest of the entire reconstruction. In fact, there are indications that there were 25-yr periods during nearly all of the previously identified warm periods in which the reconstructed temperature exceeded the recent average.” [Weichao Wu, Wenbing Tan, Liping Zhou, Huan Yang, Yunping Xu 2012: Geophysical Research Letters]
See original here: C3: Global Warming Science Facts: Unprecedented Ocean …
The Sound Of Settled Science
Lovelock is a world-renowned scientist and environmentalist whose Gaia theory — that the Earth operates as a single, living organism — has had a profound impact on the development of global warming theory.
Unlike many “environmentalists,” who have degrees in political science, Lovelock, until his recent retirement at age 92, was a much-honoured working scientist and academic.
His inventions have been used by NASA, among many other scientific organizations.
Lovelock’s invention of the electron capture detector in 1957 first enabled scientists to measure CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and other pollutants in the atmosphere, leading, in many ways, to the birth of the modern environmental movement.
Having observed that global temperatures since the turn of the millennium have not gone up in the way computer-based climate models predicted, Lovelock acknowledged, “the problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago.” Now, Lovelock has given a follow-up interview to the UK’s Guardian newspaper in which he delivers more bombshells sure to anger the global green movement, which for years worshipped his Gaia theory and apocalyptic predictions that billions would die from man-made climate change by the end of this century.
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Read the rest here: small dead animals: The Sound Of Settled Science
The UK Conference of Science Journalists are discussing “false balance” in science reporting today, their session on the subject featuring Professor Steve Jones, whose report on the BBC’s science coverage and whose shoddy behaviour along the way have been noted here from time to time.
From the tweets so far, it seems that some of Jones’ talk has not been taken very seriously:
It’s hard to disagree with this, and I couldn’t help thinking of the 2010 conference, which I discussed a couple of posts ago. Presumably wanting to avoid “false balance”, the 2010 conference invited Myles Allen and Bob Watson (but no sceptics) to speak to them about Climategate. Readers here know that both Allen and Watson have admitted that they have not actually read the Climategate emails, although of course this did not stop them speaking and writing about Climategate on a regular basis during the course of 2010.
Watson and Allen’s ignorance on the subject was not known at the time and there is of course no reason why they shouldn’t hear from two such eminent members of the scientific establishment anyway. However, by failing to invite any dissenting voices to speak, the conference ended up making itself look rather foolish, spending most of the session discussing Climategate as if it had something to do with the CRUTEM surface temperature record. There was nobody there to point out that only a handful of the thousand or more emails in the Climategate archive had anything to do with surface temperatures at all.
The problem with the false balance approach is that it leaves nobody to tell the emperor that he has no clothes. But it does mean that the efforts of UK science journalists should continue to provide plenty of easy targets. Every cloud has a silver lining.
Read the rest here: - Bishop Hill blog – UK science journos talk “false balance”
The active layer (blue line) is sandwiched between layers of dielectric material.
Using a “nanoscale sandwich” design with an ultra-thin active layer, scientists at NC State University have developed a technique to create slimmer thin-film solar cells that should result in decreased manufacturing costs.
Researchers from North Carolina State University have found a way to create much slimmer thin-film solar cells without sacrificing the cells’ ability to absorb solar energy. Making the cells thinner should significantly decrease manufacturing costs for the technology.
“We were able to create solar cells using a ‘nanoscale sandwich’ design with an ultra-thin ‘active’ layer,” says Dr. Linyou Cao, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the research. “For example, we created a solar cell with an active layer of amorphous silicon that is only 70 nanometers (nm) thick. This is a significant improvement, because typical thin-film solar cells currently on the market that also use amorphous silicon have active layers between 300 and 500 nm thick.” The “active” layer in thin-film solar cells is the layer of material that actually absorbs solar energy for conversion into electricity or chemical fuel.
I thought I knew what “science” was about: the crafting of hypotheses that could be tested and refined through observation via studies that were challenged and replicated by the broader community until the hypothesis is generally accepted or rejected by the broader community.
But apparently “popular science” works differently, if the July 2012 article by Tom Clynes in the periodical of that name is any guide [I will link the article when it is online]. In an article called “the Battle,” Clynes serves up an amazing skewering of skeptics that the most extreme environmental group might have blushed at publishing. After reading this article, it seems that “popular science” consists mainly of initiating a sufficient number of ad hominem attacks against those with whom one disagrees such that one is no longer required to even answer their scientific criticisms.
The article is a sort of hall-of-fame of every ad hominem attack made on skeptics – tobacco lawyers, Holocaust Deniers, the Flat Earth Society, oil company funding, and the Koch Brothers all make an appearance.
Of course, not once in the article is the mainstream skeptic scientific position even given. If Clynes is unable to parse it out or understand it, it certainly would have been possible to quote someone who could. But that would seem to defeat the purpose. According to Clynes sources, there is no skeptic position, just a series of “information missiles” and Internet memes backed with threats against scientists.
Those who are not actually involved in the details of the debate could be forgiven for believing that skeptics have not real scientific position, since folks like Clynes go out of the way never, ever to write about it. It is the first rule of climate journalism — never quote a skeptic’s scientific position. If you have to discuss a skeptic, quote only the most extreme rhetoric of the political ones like Rush Limbaugh or Marc Morano. Never, ever quote something scientific from a Richard Lindzen or Roy Spencer or even a science-based amateur like Steve McIntyre.
t strikes me that it might be useful at this point to outline a couple of the skeptics’ key points, if only to demonstrate how even in a 7 page article on skeptics with closely set type, they never make mainstream publication. Skeptic critiques focus on both climate science process and core beliefs:
- The climate community has become incredibly insular and resistant to criticism and replication of their work. Peer review tends to be by a small group of friends and close associates, and attempts by third parties to replicate their work are impossible, since climate scientists seldom release their key data to outsiders, even when, which is often the case, their work is publicly funded. In particular, climates scientists often get very “creative” with statistical methods, and often create results which don’t stand up to review by qualified statisticians outside the field.
- While the world has indeed warmed over the last century, and some of that warming has almost certainly been due to man-made CO2, climate scientists are grossly exaggerating future warming in large part because they are exaggerating positive feedback effects in the climate system. Most of the warming in climate models is not from CO2 directly but from feedback effects, and the evidence for strong positive climate feedback on temperature is very weak as compared to the evidence of greenhouse gas warming (more complete exposition here)
Just this much background on the skeptic position would have gone a really long way towards bringing balance to the article, and explaining certain skeptic positions mentioned in the article that just seem irrational the way Clynes presents them with no context (or relentlessly negative context).
Take, for example, the issue of “harassment” via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and lawsuits. Over and over we must take Michael Mann and other climate scientists at their word that these lawsuits are purely to harass them. But, in fact, the origins of these lawsuits were to try to obtain data from Mann and others that was needed by third parties to replicate their published works, data that was collected in most cases with taxpayer-funded grants for research that was published in journals that nominally required authors to provide all data needed for replication.
Read the exciting conclusion by following this Link: A Response to Popular Ad Hominem, err Science, Magazine on Global Warming Skeptics
The 2012 Research as Art competition organized by Swansea University in Wales has just concluded its competition and the winners have been announced. The first place prize goes to this piece of abstract looking, however realism based piece of photography.
It is we are told, the photograph of a grain of salt. Yummy! Makes you want to pop some corn right. This was an entry from Hollie Rosier of Swansea University. She and her colleagues were researching aircraft engines which burn very hot and leave salt residue when they cool. In a statement on her entry Hollie said, ”This tiny grain of salt, with a diameter of only 2 millimeters, has recrystallized from an aqueous solution in different phases to create its unique and unusual appearance, The importance of this research leads to the safer design and operation of aircraft engines.”
Here is another first prize winner from the same competition.
Tavi Murray, a glaciologist at Swansea University submitted this picture of melting glaciers in Greenland. Don’t know what I like better, the sunset or the glacier..
Nosey about Maggots by Yam Ni Nigam won the Academic Prize and deals with research into modern-day maggot therapy. Yes that is correct. Maggot therapy.
The sight of maggots usually makes me sick. Who knew they could be used for therapy.
Meeting the Ancestors Face to Face, won the Collaborative Prize. It The skull photo was submitted by Nick Owen and Jack Dix Davies of the School of Engineering and Eben Owen-Goodchild of The Mary Rose Trust. It is entitled, “Meeting the Ancestors Face to Face” It is the remains of one of King Henry VIII’s archers who was pulling strings 500 years ago.
Read More about this science art competition here http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2012/06/21/unknown-91466-31234079/#ixzz1yXTmD5h6
This as you science culture fans know this is not the first science/art exhibit and or competition. The unique perspectives of the natural world provided by the new eyes of science is capable of transporting even the most clinical processes beyond the realm of reason into the awe-inspiring. It is no wonder then that the thirst for knowledge continues.
Her is a wonderful picture from the recent Bio-Art show. It was presented by Douglas B. Cowan.
Stem cells, (shown in green) are being grown from myoblasts attached to spherical microcarriers. Oh yaeah. And remember. This sort of thing goes on everyday, it is perfectly legal, it is art and sometimes we get to look at it.
Today quantum POP presents a series of articles on nano technology. nano is a metric term which means one billionth of a meter. the following chart shows you where nano is in the metric system
Vienna, Austria | Posted on June 20th, 2012 by Melanie Kah
Abstract: Research is urgently needed to evaluate the risks and benefits of nano-pesticides to human and environmental health. Melanie Kah and Thilo Hofmann from the Department of Environmental Geosciences of the University of Vienna recently performed an extensive analysis of this emerging field of research. The results were published June 6th in the internationally recognized journal Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology. The study presents the current scientific state of art on nano-pesticides and identifies direction priorities for future research.
Nanotechnology has developed tremendously in the past decade and was able to create many new materials with a vast range of potential applications. Some of those innovative materials are promising to reduce environmental pollution. For instance, carbon nanotubes and metal nano-particles are great candidate materials for cleaning polluted water and soils.
However, the risk that nano-particles may pose to human and environment health is not yet fully understood. The precautionary principle therefore suggests keeping environmental release of nano-particles minimal until their fate and toxicity is better understood. “A good understanding of nano-materials is essential to evaluate whether the benefits overcome potential new risks”, explains Thilo Hofmann, dean elected at the Faculty of Geosciences, Geography and Astronomy of the University of Vienna.
The rest is here: Nano-pesticides: Solution or threat for a cleaner and greener …
Watch as Rick Smith bamboozles two TV networks
On March 30, Health Canada and Environment Canada issued a preliminary joint report on triclosan, a preservative, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal chemical used in hundreds of products, from toothpaste to pharmaceuticals to textiles. The report said triclosan is “not harmful” to human health, but may be harmful to the environment.
The lack of harm to humans should have been news. After all, Canada’s all-purpose chemophobe, Rick Smith, head of Environmental Defence and co-author of a book called Slow Death by Rubber Duck, has fingered triclosan as a carcinogen and an endocrine disruptor, as well as a contributor to bacterial resistance and the rise of “superbugs.” The David Suzuki Foundation also labelled triclosan one of its “dirty dozen” chemicals.
When Health Canada released its detailed scientific report, declaring triclosan was safe for humans as currently used, the story was mostly ignored. But six weeks later, triclosan suddenly became news after Environmental Defence produced an alarming report, The Trouble With Triclosan: How a Pervasive Anti-bacterial Chemical is Polluting our World and Our Bodies.
The result: Junk news by rubber ducky, a twisted but masterful case of media manipulation by Rick Smith, Canada’s greatest purveyor of exaggerated and distorted science. Headlines blared across the country.
Can you guess which of these 2 products contains triclosan and which does not?
Ocean acidification during Permian period may have caused the Great Dying.
By Devin Powell
Carbon dioxide belched out by volcanic eruptions during the Permian period could have caused the oceans’ chemistry to change. That’s worrisome because CO2 levels are rising today — thanks to the burning of fossil fuels — and pushing down seawater pH, researchers report online June 8 in Geology.
The rest is here: Calcium Offers Clues In Mass Extinction – Science News
By – - SCIENCE DAILY Added: Sun, 10 Jun 2012 01:02:09 UTC. New research published June 8 in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Genomics reveals that the Malaysian parasitic plant Rafflesia cantleyi, with its 50cm diameter flowers, has ‘stolen’ genes from its host Tetrastigma rafflesiae. Analysis of these genes shows that their functions range from respiration to metabolism, and that some of them have even replaced the parasites own gene activity.
Vertical gene transfer is that between parents and their offspring, while horizontal gene transfer is the movement of genes between two different organisms. Bacteria use horizontal gene transfer to exchange resistance to antibiotics. Recent studies have shown that plants can also use horizontal gene transfer, especially parasitic plants and their hosts due to their intimate physical connections.
Read more from the original source: Parasitic Plants Steal Genes from Their Hosts – - – Science Daily …
Austin dims its lights, everyone + science wins. By Philip Bump. This is a map of light pollution in the area around Austin, Texas. Those purple markers (which are clickable at the map’s website) indicate how much or how little night sky is visible.
Guest post by John Droz, Jr.
What’s been happening recently in North Carolina (NC) is a microcosm of the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) story: politics vs science, ad-hominems vs journalism, evangelists vs pragmatists, etc.
The contentiousness is over one of the main AGW battlefields: sea level rise (SLR). NC happens to have a large amount of coast line, and has become the US epicenter for this issue.
The brief version is that this began several years ago when a state agency (Coastal Resource Commission: CRC) selected a 20± member “science panel” to do a scientific assessment of the NC SLR situation through 2100. This could have been a very useful project if there had been balance in the personnel selections, and the panel’s assessment adhered to scientific standards. Regrettably neither happened and the project soon jumped the rails, landing into the political agenda ditch.
In their 2010 report the panel concluded that NC should expect a 39 inch SLR by 2100. Their case was built around a 2007 paper by Stefan Rahmstorf, and was not encumbered by a single reference to a perspective different from Rahmstorf’s. Shortly after the report was released, state agencies started making the rounds of NC coastal communities, putting them on notice that they would need to make BIG changes (elevating roads and bridges, rezoning property, changing flood maps for insurance purposes, etc.).
As an independent scientist, I was solicited by my coastal county to provide a scientific perspective on this report. Even though I wasn’t a SLR expert, I could clearly see that this document was a classic case of Confirmation Bias, as it violated several scientific standards. But to get into the technical specifics I solicited the inputs of about 40 international SLR experts (oceanographers, etc.).
I compiled and edited their responses to the CRC panel’s report into what I called a Critique.
This 33 page document discussed how real science works, and then went through the 16 page CRC document, essentially line-by-line. In doing so numerous specious claims, unsupported assumptions, and questionable models were pointed out. It wasn’t pretty.
It was during this time that I was solicited to work with a small coastal organization called NC-20 (there are 20 NC coastal counties). Since they were interested in promoting science-based solutions (my agenda) for NC coastal issues, I agreed to be their Science Advisor and a board member (both non-paying, volunteer positions).
Initially we had hopes that the CRC panel’s report could be fixed, so we met with the head of the CRC, explained our concerns and handed the Critique to him. He appeared to be receptive and we were optimistic that this important matter could be straightened out. That proved to be an illusion, as none of the CRC panel members ever contacted us about fixing any of their mistakes, or about doing a more balanced assessment. Shame on them.
We subsequently asked that the Critique be posted on CRC’s SLR webpage, but they refused to do so. So much for presenting the facts to NC citizens.
On the positive side of things, due to our objections, the state did (temporarily anyway) back off from the rules and regulations that they had threatened coastal communities with. [BTW NC-20 is NOT disputing that there will be SLR. The amount of NC SLR is unknown, so a genuine scientific assessment of the NC SLR situation should be undertaken. What such an assessment entails is explained in the Critique’s Part 1.]
By all appearances it seems the CRC assumed that the prestige of their science panel would win the day against the NC-20 upstarts. To help assure that outcome they engaged in an intensive PR campaign to pervert this as a science vs real estate developers issue (with them representing the science side, of course!). Here’s a sample of several articles that appeared, and another.
It was during this time that a CRC Panel member wrote me saying that they agreed with the Critique, and apologized for signing off on the Panel’s report! The member stated that the Panel was driven by a few activists, and that everyone else simply went along. This was no surprise, but that an individual had the good conscience to apologize was refreshing.
Anyway, the CRC panel’s disinformation campaign didn’t work, as we didn’t go away. Further, almost everyone who actually read the Critique ended up being on our side. One legislator who liked it asked us to make a presentation to interested state legislators in November 2011. We took that opportunity and it was well received. (See my part.)
Not long after that the CRC panel changed their tactics. Their new plan was to issue an Addendum to their 2010 report, and then claim that all of our concerns were answered. If only that were the case! Their nine page document was prepared with zero contact with us — which tells you all you need to know about the sincerity that they had in any scientific resolution.
My response was to follow the successful earlier pattern, so I passed it on to my network of international SLR experts for their commentary. Again they were forthcoming, so I was able to compile and edit a detailed 18 page response that I called a Commentary. We again sent this directly to CRC, asked them to put it on their SLR website — but posted it ourselves on our own site. [We received no response from CRC, and they have yet to post our document.]
What happened next was a BIG surprise.
We were notified that state legislators were as exasperated as we were with the politicalization of these technical issues — and that they were going to introduce legislation to stop the agenda promoters! Wow.
In this case, SLR legislation was drafted by a staffer who has a PhD in oceanography. The main point of the document was that future SLR projections must be made based on extrapolating prior empirical data. In other words, state agencies would not be allowed to create policies that were based on speculations about some possible acceleration!
As a scientist, I’m always concerned about legislating technical matters. In this case, though, the evidence is quite clear that certain NC agencies have no genuine interest in real science. So what to do? Defunding them is a possibility, but that might be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Replacing the agency’s problem people is another option, but the logistics for that weren’t practical. So putting some constraints on these dogmatists has some merit.
Not surprisingly, the backlash was immediate. These evangelists are used to getting their way, and for legislators to actually stand up against their religion was an unexpected development.
In their anguish they lashed out to anyone they could blame for this roadblock in their crusade — including yours truly. There were numerous rants (some national) lamenting how “good science” was being thwarted by ignorant legislators. Even the Colbert Report had fun with it.
Of course, the reality that the legislators were actually trying to protect NC citizens from promoters masquerading their agendas as science, was rarely reported. Such are the times we are living in, where talk is cheap, and few understand what science really is.
What’s worse is that thousands of scientists are off the reservation, and have no interest in adhering to scientific principles or procedures. The solution (in my opinion) is that such renegades should have their degrees revoked, just as a priest is defrocked for violating his vows.
In any case, here is a piece about the NC SLR bill (H819), which includes a link to download a PDF version. Last Friday, there was a brief committee hearing (see interesting video) where this measure was discussed and voted on. It passed unanimously.
As I understand it, the NC Senate may be voting on this measure this week. I am hoping that they will not be dissuaded from their worthy objective. I wrote this (word limited and edited) NC op-ed to respond to some of the misinformation.
IMO there are parts of this bill that can be improved, and I submitted written suggestions. If you’d like to add your comments, please direct them to the bill’s sponsors: Senator David Rouzer and Representative Pat McElraft. (Please copy me.)
Some are predicting that this measure will pass the legislature, and then be vetoed by our lame-duck Governor. As an optimist, I’m hoping that since the Governor no longer needs to cater to the green constituency, that instead she can send a message that real science should be the basis of the state’s technical policies. That would give her legacy a major positive boost.
John Droz, Jr. is a Physicist & Environmental Advocate; Morehead City, North Carolina
Go here to read the rest: Science vs AGW Advocacy in North Carolina | Watts Up With That?
Granular materials give off a zap just before slipping
Web edition : Monday, June 11th, 2012
Ordinary baking flour isn’t the most electrifying substance, but spilling a box of the stuff yields a jolt of voltage that has scientists excited about their prospects for sensing catastrophic events like earthquakes and industrial accidents.
Scientists have known for years that materials including rock, crystals and adhesives like ordinary office tape can produce an electrical signal as they fracture or crack under a load. It’s also known that before a granular material can flow, the space it takes up has to enlarge — think of a traffic jam in which another lane opens up and cars begin to move again. The voltage measured in the flour may be a signal of this ‘dilation,’ which indicates flow is about to happen.
“We’ve known about dilation and that there’s an electrical signal when things fail, but nobody has put these two together before,” says chemical engineer Joseph McCarthy of the University of Pittsburgh, who wasn’t involved in the work. “This is a really, really interesting observation.”
Researchers at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., took a cylindrical tumbler — the sort used to thoroughly mix powders — and filled it first with a blend of ground-up acetaminophen and cellulose, and then unbleached white flour. After running a static eliminator over the whole set-up to clear out any static electricity, the researchers fixed a voltage probe to different locations on the tumbler and slowly spun it. Seconds before the powder dumped from one side of the tumbler to another — essentially right before the avalanche — the researchers detected an impressive zap of electricity. They report the findings online June 11 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Our expectation was that we weren’t going to see anything, but we found hundreds of volts from just tumbling flour,” says Troy Shinbrot, a granular materials specialist at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J. “It seemed very strange, like something was wrong with the flour.”
Puzzled, he made the setup even simpler: The team built an acrylic box, filled it with flour and slowly tipped it. Again, there was a detectable voltage spike, and in 14 of 23 trials this spike occurred before the flour began to slip, the team reports.
While the spike in voltage was often very close in time to start of the grain cascade, the researchers think the voltage is released from the crack that precedes the event. Such a signal might be harnessed for predicting the impending failure of granular materials, McCarthy says, perhaps in huge industry vats, silos or even earthquakes.
Found in: Matter & Energy
Read the rest here: The Electric Flour Voltage Test – Science News
Topics: Astronomy, Biology, Blog, Chemistry, Climate, Engineering, Environment, Food, Geology, Health, Physics
Here’s today’s round-up of science, nature and environment news from the Bay Area and beyond.
Read more about Dr. Yamanaka’s contributions to stem cell research.
Stay tuned for a future QUEST TV story on black holes that will air in September and learn more from KQED News.
Learn more about tsunamis.
Learn more about the Mars rover.
Learn more about mammoths.
Learn more about Alzheimer’s.
Read more: KQED Science News Round-Up | KQED QUEST
The collection of rainwater is a feasible method used by many households and buildings today to help conserve water as well as reduce carbon footprints emission. Water is one of the Earth’s natural resources, continuously being depleted due to pollution and global warming. Urgent steps are consciously taken to stop, or at least slow down, this tragedy; saving rainwater is one of them.
Collecting rainwater is a typical inexpensive way to utilize a free source to help cut down consumption of tap water. The rainwater collected is usually stored in a special system or container built specifically for the purpose of collecting water. This will not only save you money; it will also give you the satisfaction of doing your part in helping conserve natural resources.
When collected and utilized through proper ways and procedures, rainwater can even be a possible alternative to drinking water. In a way, it is even a more revitalizing and stimulating type of water, providing natural and contamination-free components that refresh the body and satisfy its needs for hydration. Just as importantly, you get to have a refreshing source of your long showers, or as an accessible means to wash your car.
Rainwater collection is a great option to help you cut back on water bills. One of the most expensive water-consuming home chores is lawn irrigation, which ranges from watering the plants to carefully maintaining your garden and landscaped backyard. If you collect rainwater, you can use that instead of tap water to water your collection of myriad flowers and plants. On the chance that you are keeping pets and livestock, this would be a great alternative for them as well.
One way of rainwater collection is via a groundwater catchment system. Usually this is used by individual households and residences, or by small communities. This procedure directs the water to a special storage container which is then distributed to different channels. That way, all areas of a home or a small community has easy access to rainwater.
Another type is the roof catchment system wherein rainwater that hits the roof is collected to be treated and filtered at a later time. Rainwater collection is an ideal option to conserve water and make use of free resources. It’s a blessing; it would be a great waste not to use it diligently.
With proper procedures and implementation, commercial rainwater harvesting can be used in businesses, helping companies save considerably on their utility bills. For tips on how to easily purify rainwater, log on to ehow.co.uk.
Eruptions gave off gas that eroded the protective atmospheric layer
Web edition : Tuesday, June 12th, 2012
SELFOSS, Iceland — Geoscientists have exposed another assault on Earth’s protective ozone layer — not by manufactured chemicals, but by gas ejected in the blasts of huge volcanic eruptions.
A new study shows that volcanic rocks in Nicaragua contain bromine, an element known for speeding ozone’s destruction in the upper atmosphere. When magma erupted to form those rocks, scientists say, it also released huge amounts of bromine into the air — enough to destroy large parts of the ozone layer for several years.
“We have to be aware of this,” says Kirstin Krüger, a meteorologist at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Kiel (GEOMAR) in Germany. “Large-scale tropical eruptions have the potential to deplete ozone on a big scale.”
Krüger presented the work, led by GEOMAR volcanologist Steffen Kutterolf, on June 12 at an American Geophysical Union conference on volcanism and the atmosphere.
The scientists studied rocks formed during 13 big Central American eruptions over the past 70,000 years. Volcanoes at tropical latitudes are good at injecting the stuff they erupt into the stratosphere, some 16 kilometers up. When elements such as chlorine and bromine reach that high, they help trigger a series of reactions in which ozone’s three oxygen atoms break apart and recombine with other atoms.
Researchers have previously measured chlorine coming from volcanoes, such as 1991’s Mount Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines, and watched it destroy ozone overhead. But the new work is the first to pin down bromine in such detail. The element is 60 times as efficient as chlorine at destroying ozone, Krüger says.
Kutterolf and his colleagues collected thousands of rock samples both on and offshore, then analyzed bromine concentrations in tiny glass bubbles that formed within the rocks when the magma erupted out of the volcano. The scientists found enough bromine in the bubbles to suggest that 4,000 to 600,000 tons of bromine came out per eruption.
Enough bromine would have made it to the stratosphere to create at least double the ozone-destroying potential seen at the highest modern-day levels, Krüger says. It would have taken three to six years for the chemicals to clear out so that ozone could begin to recover.
It’s still not clear what makes a particular eruption rich in bromine, or whether the bromine would have destroyed ozone locally or globally once aloft.
About three-quarters of atmospheric bromine comes from human-made sources like chlorofluorocarbon chemicals, used in refrigeration and other devices. One-quarter is natural, produced by the sea or by volcanoes. “Wherever it comes from, it will destroy the ozone,” Krüger says. Most human-made ozone-depleting chemicals were phased out by the 1987 Montreal Protocol.
The new study is an important step in better quantifying bromine from present-day eruptions, says Tamsin Mather, a volcanologist at the University of Oxford in England. “If we can apply this to other volcanoes,” she says, “we can really get a handle on how much bromine is coming out.”
See the original post: Ancient Volcanoes Destroyed Ozone – Science News
There is another scientifically flawed claim of skillful multi-decadal regional climate predictions. This report by the US Department of Agriculture is another failure to assess what the scientific literature actually says with respect to these forecasts, as I summarized in the post
and in the article
Pielke Sr., R.A., and R.L. Wilby, 2012: Regional climate downscaling – what’s the point? Eos Forum, 93, No. 5, 52-53, doi:10.1029/2012EO050008.
The new report is
Daniels, A.E.; Morrison, J.F.; Joyce, L.A.; Crookston, N.L.; Chen, S.C.; McNulty, S.G. 2012. Climate projections FAQ. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-277WWW. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 32 p.
The abstract reads [highlight added]
Climate scenarios offer one way to identify and examine the land management challenges posed by climate change. Selecting projections, however, requires careful consideration of the natural resources under study, and where and how they are sensitive to climate. Selection also depends on the robustness of different projections for the resources and geographic area of interest, and possibly on what climate projections are available for a region. Rather than a misguided attempt to identify the “most accurate” climate scenario, managers are strongly encouraged to explore variability through the use of multiple climate scenarios. Considering a range of possible future climates facilitates the identification of management strategies to help ensure resilience of natural resource systems across a broad set of potential conditions.Downscaling climate projections increases the spatial resolution of climate information and can make projections more relevant to natural resource managers by allowing decision-makers to better visualize what these different futures imply locally and regionally. The following series of questions describes key concepts that end-users of climate projection products should understand to appropriately interpret downscaled climate projections, including various sources of uncertainty. The selection used for each component of a downscaled climate projection has implications for interpreting the resulting climate scenario. Understanding the merits and limitations of the downscaling method employed is also important since downscaling approaches vary in their dependence on observed data availability, computational requirements, and in resultant uncertainty owed to biases of the method or the spatial scale of the downscaling.
Here is how the report addresses the reliability of the model predictions
7. How reliable are GCM-based climate projections?
The IPCC concluded that GCMs provide a credible range of quantitative estimates of future climate change, particularly at global and continental scales and over long time periods (Randall and others 2007). Extensive, rigorous multi-model intercomparisons underpin this conclusion. Over the many generations of climate models and across a range of emissions scenarios, models unanimously and unambiguously project warming over the next 2 decades in response to increasing atmospheric GHG concentrations.
My Comment: As shown in the post
despite the claim made in the statement in the US Forest Service report
GCMs provide a credible range of quantitative estimates of future climate change, particularly at global and continental scales and over long time periods (Randall and others 2007).
this does not mean that regional predictions are skillful even if the global and continental scales are accurate [which they have shown not to be as summarized in this weblog post]. That the models and observations show warming over the last 100 years is correct, but this hardly translates into assuming the models have regional skill, as is required for the needs of the US Forest Service.
The report continues
The scientific credibility of climate models and resulting projections hinges on several lines of evidence. First, climate models are consistent with well-understood physical processes and physical laws (e.g., conservation of energy and Newton’s laws of motion). Second, current-generation climate models demonstrate a significant and increasing ability to simulate recent and past climate dynamics (e.g., Reichler and Kim 2008). Third, extensive comparisons of multiple models reveal that over the past 2 decades different models have converged toward similar results (Reichler and Kim 2008). GCM projections include uncertainties and they represent some climate elements better tha others. For example, confidence in the projections of temperatures is greater than for precipitation projections. As with all models, interpreting and applying results appropriately entails understanding models’ strengths and limitations.
My Comments: With respect to the three points listed above.
1. They write
First, climate models are consistent with well-understood physical processes and physical laws (e.g., conservation of energy and Newton’s laws of motion).
Actually the climate models only have a part that is basic physics (advection, pressure gradient force and gravity). The rest of the physics (e.g. subgrid scale mixing, cumulus parameterization stable clouds and precipitation, long and short wave radiation, vegetation dynamics, ice sheet dynamics, etc) is parametrized using engineering code which is tuned for individual modules that are developed from just a subset of idealized real world conditions. Those parameterization also often contain a framework of physics (such as conservation of energy) but always have tunable coefficients. I discuss the atmospheric part of climate models in my book
Pielke, R.A., Sr., 2002: Mesoscale meteorological modeling. 2nd Edition, Academic Press, San Diego, CA, 676 pp.
The multi-decadal global climate models used by the US Forest Service are not basic physics code.
2. The report writes
Second, current-generation climate models demonstrate a significant and increasing ability to (e.g., Reichler and Kim 2008).
As summarized and report on in the post
from the paper
Kundzewicz, Z. W., and E.Z. Stakhiv (2010) Are climate models “ready for prime time” in water resources management applications, or is more research needed? Editorial. Hydrol. Sci. J. 55(7), 1085–1089.
“Simply put, the current suite of climate models were not developed to provide the level of accuracy required for adaptation-type analysis.”
The authors also ignore the fundamental conclusion with downscaling that we report on in
Pielke Sr., R.A., and R.L. Wilby, 2012: Regional climate downscaling – what’s the point? Eos Forum, 93, No. 5, 52-53, doi:10.1029/2012EO050008
where we write
It is therefore inappropriate to present [mutli-decadal regional climate prediction] results to the impacts community as reflecting [at best] more than a subset of possible future climate risks.
The authors of the Forest Service Report are ignoring[and not refuting] evidence that documents a lack of ability to simulate recent and past climate dynamics.
3. The report than writes
Third, extensive comparisons of multiple models reveal that over the past 2 decades different models have converged toward similar results (Reichler and Kim 2008).
Model agreement is not a test of the accuracy of the models at replicating reality. Real world comparisons must be the basis for hypothesis testing (which is what models are). In this context, the multi-decadal climate models are not even accurately predicting in hindcast climate statistics over the last few decades, much less CHANGES in these statistics.
The authors of the report are making the mistake of assuming that intermodel agreement increases confidence in the model skill to accurately predict real world regional climate.
The Bottom Line Message
Users of these model results by the US Forest Service community are being misled into the actual value of the climate projections. The Forest Service climate projection FAQ is scientifically flawed.
Aquaponics, a portmanteau of the two words namely aquaculture and hydroponics, works on greenhouse quasi combination in which large premium quality vegetables and herbs are cultivated on a yearly basis, concurrently producing hefty amount of fish. Undertaking well-designed planning, apparatus and management, aquaponics might be utilized to supplement your food requirements. It can also be morphed into a money-spinning business.
This technology has two major parts, as has been mentioned already, the aquaculture which involves the rearing of aquatic animals and the hydroponics which involves the growing of plants. Understanding better how it can be useful to fulfill and supplement your food needs, its basic function must be identified with properly.
The remains of aquatic effluents in the fish tanks as a result of uneaten feed left by fish accumulates in the water. Such effluent-enriched water turns out to be lethal for the aquatic animals in high proportions but, on the other hand, these effluents are dynamic nutrients necessary for plant’s growth.
Although this whole system consists of two major parts, some additional sub-systems are also attached to it in order to perform some required tasks, for instance, the effectual elimination of solid wastes, addition of base for the neutralization of acids, or upholding oxygenation of water. Rearing tank, biofilter, sump, solids removal etc. are some of the subsystems.
Depending upon the design and the cost of a whole system, the sub-units like sump, solids removal etc may be coalesced into one unit which helps to stop the water from flowing straight from the aquaculture to the hydroponics. This food supplement system is highly advantageous in more than one term. Apart from its basic advantage of providing fresh vegetables and fish, it is both eco-friendly and affordable. As far as its eco-friendliness is concerned, it helps to conserve water through the constant re-use and recycling.
Another advantage involves the complete removal of solid wastes disposal from concentrated aquaculture.
In terms of availability and affordability, it requires a small space, and “food miles” are minimized by constructing small efficacious commercial as well as domestic installations near marketplace. Today, a large amount of money is being earned through this business. Many responsible families have praised its enriched advantages for fulfilling their primary food needs. The principal benefit it provides is the simultaneous organic fertilization of different plants with natural and genuine fish emulsion. You are no longer in need of a cropland to cultivate crops.
See the article here: Unravelling The Science Behind Backyard Aquaponics
There are two different types of wastewater that are produced in the average household. These are greywater and blackwater. Greywater is made up of the water used to wash things in a home such as water from washing dishes, bathing and laundry. This water can be treated to be reused. Blackwater is the water that cannot be reused because it is too contaminated and is mostly wastewater from the toilet.
Wastewater has been treated and reused for quite a long time in order to preserve the Earth’s natural resources. The average home wastes a lot of water that can be reused. All it needs is to be purified through treatment and it will be completely safe to use again. Blackwater has to be separated from greywater because it can carry organisms that cause disease and is not considered safe to ever reuse. If blackwater is reintroduced to the environment, it can cause pollution and therefore must be removed entirely.
If greywater is not treated very quickly, it may obtain anaerobic bacteria which is very dangerous and will cause the water to become useless. There are several different treatment systems that will purify greywater so that it can be used for various things such as washing clothes, watering plants, bathing and so on. Some treatment options are really only suitable for certain types of greywater, as well. For instance, a pre-treatment system that converts the anaerobic bacteria into aerobic bacteria is best for water that comes from washing dishes. Some of the other treatment options are soilboxes and gravity chambers. Water from washing laundry should be treated carefully if the detergents that were used contained bleach or if they were harsh detergents as they can be quite dangerous to plants. It is best to only use biodegradable and natural laundry soaps if this greywater is to be safely used for watering plants.
How Recycled Water Is Used
There are only specific areas in the United States that allow people to use recycled greywater. These areas have adopted the IPC or International Plumbing Code. The UPC, which stands for United Plumbing Code, does not permit the reuse of this type of water and some areas in the US follow this code. Greywater that comes from bathing or showering is used for toilet water in most of Australia and Europe. It is also used to irrigate crops and gardens when it is dispersed underground instead of sprayed directly onto the soil which is not considered safe in most cases. Treating greywater and reusing it can reduce the amount of water consumption by as much as 30% which is a large amount of waste that can be avoided.
Read more from the original source: Salvaged Water: The Science of Wastewater Treatment