quasigeostrophy: (snoopy share)
But I doubt it.

DST responsible for drought?

I'm not big on DST, but wow. *snicker*
quasigeostrophy: (Bender Fart)
You might think an internal plug for a special guest seminar in my department from a senior climate scientist at NCAR would be free of pop science sensationalist language.

You'd be wrong. To wit:

Global warming is, therefore, not just a threat for the future. It is already happening, endangering the health and welfare of the planet. (Emphasis mine.)

Last time I checked, the projected temperature rise, even from the dramatic hockey-stick model graphs, is a handful of degrees Celsius. Pretty extreme, yes, but the planet has been warmer in epochs long before we were here. Sure, the effects of global warming in the long term may endanger the health and welfare of humans and other species on the planet, but I think the planet itself will be fine.
quasigeostrophy: (Bender Fart)
My new office mate is TA-ing the 100-level class, Geosciences in Cinema. It's a class taken by a lot of non-science majors (to fill a general science requirement) in which the students watch films such as The Day after Tomorrow, Dante's Peak, and Twister, and analyze the so-called science therein. Yesterday she showed me the movie the class had to watch last night: The Core. Looks like a cheesy disaster movie, something about setting off nuclear explosions at the center of the earth to restart the core's rotation. Oy.

Talking about it and other films, we got on the subject of 2012, and all the apocalyptic theories tied up in that date. Off the top of my head:

- The Mayan Long Count Calendar ends.
- The earth's magnetic field reversal may peak.
- The solar system crosses the plane of the Milky Way.
- The next 11-year solar (sunspot) cycle begins.

Personally, I think the Maya needed to stop their calendar somewhere. Sure, there are interpretations of Mayan prophecy of bad times after the end of the calendar, but some of it IMHO is as if I flipped my 2008 calendar to December and freaked out because ZOMG The Calendar ENDS HERE! AAAAH!

Some are also freaking out about the earth's magnetic field reversal. ZOMG The Planet will CRACK or Stop Spinning or something. AAAAH! One of the two profs for the class we were discussing said what is likely to happen is that a lot of devices that use the magnetic field for orientation will be lost for a while and then will be backward, but it won't be the End of the WorldTM.

As for the sunspot cycle and crossing the galactic plane, well, if a big enough solar flare happens or gravity from the convergence is strong enough to wipe us out... What would we be able to do about it? Not a hell of a lot. So why fret?

Slightly off-topic: I'm attending a seminar today by one of the senior atmospheric science faculty on "Wildcards in Climate Change". He's going to look at cosmic rays, sunspots, magnetic fields, etc., which I suspect have a role in climate change we still can't quantify. Sure, I believe humans are contributing to global warming, but I'm still skeptical as to how much, since there is still so much we don't know about long term climate signals. It's too convenient to make money off the latest green crazes. It's also become more than a bit of religion.

It has its deity: earth.
It has sin: pollution, CO2 emission, etc.
It has redemption: conservation, getting off the grid, etc.
It even sells indulgences: carbon offsets.

I'm not against doing positive environmental things, but I am against group-think and bad popular science (is it ironic I'm entertained by movies like Twister? I don't take them at face value), e.g., let's take one of the most versatile foodstuffs we have and turn it into a fuel source. Did anyone think about how switching to ethanol would affect the price of food? Or how it's not all that much cleaner to make (yes, it's cleaner to use) than gasoline? Or that making a car that exhausts water vapor puts more of the most important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere?
quasigeostrophy: (Bender Fart)
On the way up to campus this morning, I caught the end of a report about a new electric car from (I think) Honda, that runs on hydrogen. It was a syndicated report and I didn't catch who made it or I'd e-mail them.

Putting aside the fact that hydrogen is an expensive gas to obtain because most of it is high up in our atmosphere or extracted via electrolysis of water (which takes electricity from somewhere)... The reporter closed the story by stating:

...and instead of emitting greenhouse gases, this engine's exhaust is water vapor. (Emphasis mine.)

Uh... hello? Water vapor is the most abundant greenhouse gas in our atmosphere, responsible for anywhere from 30 to 70% of earth's greenhouse effect. It's also the one greenhouse gas whose atmospheric amount we have the most difficulty measuring, thanks to high variability due to the dynamic water cycle.

Got Pot?

May. 20th, 2007 04:17 pm
quasigeostrophy: (Bender Fart)
I've tried soy milk - bleah. I've tried hazelnut milk - it's not bad, but I'd have to get used to it for everyday drinking. Watching this weekend's episode of Forecast Earth on The Weather Channel, they featured this year's Green Festival in Chicago, where Living Harvest showed off their hemp milk. I don't know - sounds bizarre.
quasigeostrophy: (Bender Fart)
In a way, it strikes me that the selling of carbon offsets is very much akin to the old church practice of selling indulgences.

(And it hit me before seeing such a reference further down in the article.)
quasigeostrophy: (Bender Fart)
2 Items on Teh Global Warming:
quasigeostrophy: (Bender Fart)
From National Geographic News via October 2006's Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, a positive spin on accelerated melting of Greenland's ice sheet: Greenland opens first Inuit microbrewery.

The brewers believe the water, stored 2000 years in the ice sheet, is the secret. "Today, with all the pollution, you can't get cleaner water than melted ice cap water," commented Greenland Brewhouse cofounder Salik Hard.
quasigeostrophy: (Bender Fart)
Chicago Climate Exchange: A self-regulatory exchange that administers a voluntary, legally binding pilot program for reducing and trading greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in North America.

On a related note, anyone interested in the real and more accurate science, in a very readable format, behind the global warming topic covered by Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, should check out this book by the head of the UN committee on the issue: Global Warming: The Complete Briefing.
quasigeostrophy: (Bender Fart)
I may not know art, but I know what I hate... and I don't hate this.
-- C. Montgomery Burns, The Simpsons

I found less to rant about than I thought I would. Broke down and went to see An Inconvenient Truth this afternoon. Bullet-point observations:
  • Al Gore's speech patterns are a bit annoying and his delivery, to me, still sounds a bit pretentious.
  • Some of the personal touches in the film were overblown, IMHO. I think I know what he was trying to do, but he overdid it.
  • I was misinformed about his reference to the Aral Sea - I had seen somewhere he tried to pass it off as solely a result of global warming and not Russian diversion. Wrong. It was right there correctly.
  • On the same token, I want to look into what I've heard about the snowcaps on Kilimanjaro - I've seen studies that blame their melting more on deforestation than global warming. Both are a problem, but the film and Gore make it seem like global warming is to blame.
  • I broke down afterward and spent some allowance on the book because it does have his charts in it - I want to check the references. Some of the items still seemed (shockingly - not - considering the presenter) overly politically-oriented.
  • Specific to the above, I need to look into the hockey-stick CO2 and temperature projections. I've also heard those aren't quite playing out as predicted.
  • For a film claiming also to offer solutions, I felt like he tried to cram a little bit of that info into the last five minutes.
  • I did like his use of the Futurama clip.
  • I can see how someone who either doesn't like Gore or isn't very educated or interested in the topic would be bored to tears by it since it's a live performance of his traveling slide show intercut with a few other things.

So, I'm not so ranty as I expected, but I think the Discovery Channel's Global Warming: What You Need to Know and a number of The Weather Channel's Dr. Heidi Cullen's recent blog entries were both a bit more objective.
quasigeostrophy: (Default)
After I take care of the errands at Purdue, I have until Monday the 14th when I start my RA job (classes don't start until the 21st). I've a list of what I can and/or should do in that time. Not all of it will get done, and I'm having trouble prioritizing because of the overriding need to have a break:
  • (This one is already scheduled for Tuesday night) Go to The Melting Pot with Toni for a belated anniversary dinner.
  • (This one is also a priority because it's part of the belated anniversary thing) See Pirates of the Caribbean II with Toni.
  • Cut grass.
  • Trim grass.
  • Kill weeds.
  • Get some new pants.
  • Get a haircut.
  • Try to ride my bike at least once.
  • Dust & vacuum the house.
  • See An Inconvenient Truth. I just know I'm going to get into arguments debates about this, so I'd better be informed.[1]

We're not going to GenCon Indy next weekend after all. We were just going to wander the dealer room and pick up some games and look at shiny, pointy things, but we looked at the admission prices and really don't want to spend $45 each just for that. Besides, [livejournal.com profile] moominmuppet isn't coming to town for it, either, so that meet-up opportunity isn't a motivator anymore.

[1] - On a related note, I saw where The Weather Channel's climatologist, Dr. Heidi Cullen, in [livejournal.com profile] twc_blog yesterday phrased something very well: We live in a world that has a mix of natural climate cycles at play - like a symphony orchestra. Global warming has joined that orchestra. It may not be the conductor yet - but it's playing along with all the other instruments.

That expresses the impression I have given what I know so far about global warming. I will learn more, but probably never as much as she has, and it's good to see and educated climatologist not screaming that OMG it's only people (or worse, it's Americans the worst) who are heating up the planet!! Yes, we're doing our share, but what about highly-populated third-world countries who are still burning coal much less cleanly than we do. Last time I checked, Sao Paulo and Mexico City had the worst air quality on the planet. Beijing and Chongqing aren't far behind. Better stop before I get into full-blown rant mode. :-)


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