Thursday, February 28, 2008

Can a spacecraft save Earth from an asteroid?

by Eric Hand, Nature News

To hunt prey, one must first track it.
That’s the logic behind a competition on how best to hypothetically track Apophis, the 300-metre-wide asteroid that has a tiny chance of striking Earth in the year 2036. The winning spacecraft design was unveiled on Tuesday.
Advocates say that not only would a mission to the asteroid better assess its trajectory than ground-based telescopes, but it would also gather information about the asteroid’s composition, shape and spin — crucial if engineers wanted to knock it off a path bound for Earth. “We wanted to raise awareness of the near-Earth object threat and encourage deep thinking about a not-well-studied niche,” says Bruce Betts, director of projects for the Planetary Society in Pasadena, California, which sponsored the competition.

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''Doomsday'' Seed Vault Opens Near North Pole

National Geographic News

A half moon shines over the entrance to the new Svalbard Global Seed Vault in a recent photo. The Norwegian Arctic island of Svalbard will see no direct sunlight for at least another week, but the vault's opening today brightened the spirits of dozens of guests who gathered for its dedication ceremonies. The "doomsday" vault is designed to keep millions of seed samples safe from natural and unnatural disasters: global warming, asteroid strikes, plant diseases, nuclear warfare, and even earthquakes—in fact, the structure absorbed a magnitude 6.2 quake here last week without a crack. Though Norway owns the global seed bank—the first of its kind—other countries can store seeds in it and remove them as needed. The genes in the seeds may someday be needed to adapt crops to endure climate change, droughts, blights, and other potential catastrophes.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sustainability for Survival

by Michael Richards

Rational people that do research beyond the spoon fed official pablum of mass media will conclude that our present economic and political systems are literally collapsing as our "leaders" stand like deer in the headlights. We face a triple whammy of global warming, oil depletion and credit melt-downs such as the sub-prime crisis. Building reality based sustainable communities is no longer just motivated by a "green ethic". Setting up intelligent sustainable systems is a necessity for survival. Changing light bulbs or fuel just won’t get it.

"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -Aldous Huxley Twenty Principle Points to Guide the Urgent Building of Sustainable Communities:

1. As we evaluate "economic development" in our community, always ask how any proposed change or new development will effect the entire community; the commonwealth of citizens and the surrounding ecology.

2. Meet as many local needs from local sources as possible through the mutual work of citizens. Build a local and regional economy that supports the creative and productive enterprise of local free market entrepreneurs, not state subsidized multi-national corporate behemoths.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Earthquake Felt Across Parts of England

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — An earthquake struck Britain early Wednesday and was felt across large parts of the country. Police reported some minor damage to homes but no injuries.
The British Geological Survey said it was a 5.3-magnitude quake but the U.S. Geological Survey earlier put the magnitude at 4.7. The tembor struck at about 1 a.m. and was centered about 125 miles north of London.

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Storms Reveal Secrets on Oregon's Coast

"Ghost forests are groves of tree stumps, some an estimated 4,000 years old, that were engulfed by the sea. Because of shifting sands, many have suddenly popped up."

(Left, Neskowin's eerie forest of stumps.)

By ANNE M. PETERSON

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The storms that have lashed Oregon's scenic coast this winter have dredged up an unusual array of once-buried secrets: old shipwrecks, historic cannons, ghost forests — even strangely shaped iron deposits.
One of the first ships to emerge from the sands was recently identified as the George L. Olson, which ran aground at Coos Bay's North Jetty on June 23, 1944.
The shipwreck has become a tourist attraction on the southern Oregon coast. Interest became so great that authorities had to reroute traffic around the ship and post signs warning visitors to leave it alone because it is now an archaeological site.
The curiosities began showing up after December when Pacific storms pummeled the state, damaging thousands of homes and causing an estimated $60 million in damage to roads, bridges and public buildings.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Sustainability and the Pressing Need to Raise Our Collective Consciousness

by Dr. Edgar Mitchell

We have all asked questions like: Who am I? How did I get here? What is my purpose in life? How did this body come together with this mind, perception and awareness? Most of us allow these heavy, seemingly unanswerable questions to glide by while we stay busy living our lives. But for some seekers, the pursuit of greater knowledge becomes a lifelong quest.

It has been a decade since The Way of the Explorer was first published, and the rush of civilization toward a tipping point has not abated. A major problematic event that will occur due to our unsustainable growth is peak oil. Peak oil is the point in time at which the discoveries of new petroleum reserves will be less than world consumption. Running out of oil is projected to be imminent by many petroleum geologists.

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Earthquake hits Indonesia, tsunami warning issued

ABC News
A 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck off Indonesia's Sumatra island, sparking a tsunami alert, the geophysics and meteorology agency says.
The earthquake hit 165 kilometres north-west of Sumatra's Mukomuko at 3:36pm (local time) at a depth of 10 kilometres, the agency said.
The US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the earthquake at 7.1.
The earthquake was felt in tall buildings in the capital Jakarta, where pictures swayed on walls.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Melting of permafrost could trigger rapid global warming warns UN

from mongabay.com

Melting of the Arctic permafrost is a "wild card" that could dramatically worsen global warming by releasing massive amounts of greenhouse gases, warned the U.N. on Wednesday at a meeting in Monaco. Vast amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas 23-25 times more potent than carbon dioxide, are locked in the deep sea and in the frozen soils of Siberia, Northern Europe, and North America, but warming could trigger rapid thawing that would release billions of tons into the atmosphere.

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Download free pdf publication, UNEP Yearbook 2008, reported in this article from the United Nations Environment Program. "The UNEP Year Book 2008 highlights the increasing complexity and interconnections of climate change, ecosystem integrity, human well-being, and economic development. It examines the emergence and influence of economic mechanisms and market driven approaches for addressing environmental degradation. It describes recent research findings and policy decisions that affect our awareness of and response to changes in our global environment." (This important report contains a free map of significant climate anomalies and events in 2007. )

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Jesus and Deepak in Midtown

"Throughout history, many people gave us Christ consciousness, as Jesus did," Chopra responds. "But Jesus gave us his story--which many have rightly called, 'the greatest story ever told.'"

by Alison Rose Levy

Last night Deepak Chopra spoke of Jesus. It was the eve of the publication of his book, The Third Jesus, (Harmony, 2008) which is currently a high-ranking Amazon bestseller. Dressed in an elegant black Sherwani, (an Indian long coat with a Nehru collar), Chopra stepped forward from the nave of Manhattan's St. Mary the Virgin Church, and positioned himself between the first rows of pews, speaking casually to the six hundred people assembled by the New York Open Center.

"When Jesus said, 'I'm the son of God,'" Chopra tells the audience, "His meaning wasn't 'I'm the son of the Boss,' or I'm his son and you're not.'" Instead, in Chopra's view, that declaration invites us all to realize our own divinity. While Chopra honors what he calls the first two Jesus: Jesus, the real man, and the Jesus, "built up over thousands of years by theologians and ...scholars," Deepak focuses attention on the third Jesus, a model/teacher of universal/Christ consciousness.

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Major earthquake hits Svalbard

The Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard was hit by a major earthquake in the early hours of Thursday morning. The quake measured 6.2 on the Richter scale.

The quake is said to be the strongest in Norway in modern times. The epicentre was located to around 140 km south east of Longyearbyen.
Even so, the Longyearbyen citizens woke up as building shook violently.
- I believed the house was coming apart, says Steinar Williamsen to NRK.
Senior scientist Konrad Lindholm says to NRK that the quake could have resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe if it had hit on land rather than at sea.

Magnitude 6.0 quake shakes eastern Nevada

By Leslie Griffy, Mercury News

A 6.0 magnitude temblor struck in rural northeastern Nevada near Wells at around 6:20 a.m. today and at least one building collapsed, officials said.
There have been no reports of serious injuries.
Elko County Undersheriff Rocky Gonzalez said it is unclear what kind of building collapsed, but added that many people are reporting cracked walls and foundations.
The Flying J Truck Stop was evacuated because of a propane leak, Gonzalez said.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Audacity of Enlightenment

"Those who ridicule such aspirations will find themselves mired in the opposite -- a downward spiral into greed, selfishness, corruption, and mindless mass consumerism."

by Deepak Chopra

Although Barack Obama's slogan is "the audacity of hope," the words have deeper connotations at this moment. One of the most powerful, I think, is the audacity to wake up. In order for the right wing to succeed in its reactionary agenda, the American public had to agree with it. On the surface it wouldn't seem that people could agree to freeze their incomes, give tax breaks to the least deserving, amass a huge national debt, ignore the rising cost of health care, and various other aspects of the right-wing agenda. To offer their agreement, the public had to vote against its own interest, and doing that required them to be asleep.What keeps people asleep? Some ingredients are cultural. The dumbing down of America is a real phenomenon. One person out of five believes that the sun revolves around the Earth, and their ignorance is directly related to a failure of education. Half of high school graduates cannot tell you how many Supreme Court justices there are. Overall, pop culture has trumped political culture, so a glib, attractive candidate who makes a nice image on TV reassures more people than a thoughtful intellectual discussing real-life issues. Having drummed "compassionate conservatism" into the mass media, President Bush went on to pass the least compassionate, most right-wing agenda in history without negative consequences to himself for at least six years. He counted on the public remaining asleep.

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Three killed as earthquake rocks Indonesia

A powerful earthquake in Indonesia killed three people and injured 25 today, but did not trigger a tsunami.
The 7.6-magnitude quake rocked the island of Simeulue, just after 8pm local time (8am GMT), the US Geological Survey earthquake hazards programme said.
The island, in the Aceh province of Indonesia, west of Sumatra island, is home to around 75,000 people.

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5.0 Quake Shakes Calif-Mexico Border

Earthquake Swarm Continues

CALEXICO, Calif. (AP) — An estimated 5.0-magnitude earthquake has shaken the U.S.-Mexico border region near San Diego.
The U.S. Geological Survey says Tuesday's quake struck at 2:41 p.m. 21 miles southeast of the U.S. border city of Calexico.
Southeastern California and Mexican border communities have been jolted for days by a continuing earthquake swarm.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Away with the fairies

by Rhiannon Hanfman
"In the early days Dorothy Maclean believed that she received messages from the nature spirits, the entities that she called devas. Each plant species had one. The Sweet Pea Deva was her first contact."
~ from the weekly blog, Life at Findhorn

Spring has arrived, it seems. The daffodils are pushing up in my garden. Normally I would be pleased — new life, growth, all of that — but the spectre of global warming dampens my enjoyment. It feels too early. I am concerned about global warming though worrying about it will not keep it at bay - and I am also glad that the days are getting longer, the air is warmer and the flowers are coming up.
It is very beautiful here and I feel, as many of us do, that I am lucky to live in such a place. Many people are drawn to Findhorn initially by the Foundation, the community or the eco-village - but often they stay because of the land.
There are parts of Scotland that are more rugged and dramatic than this. The landscape is quite gentle, consisting of farmland, low hills, gorse-covered dunes and of course, the Moray Firth and Findhorn Bay. Most of the drama is occurs in the sky in the sunsets and cloud formations. There is, nevertheless, something very compelling about this place.

Sunday storms broke state tornado record

by Birmingham News staff

The 13 tornadoes that hit Alabama in the first 17 days of this month set a new record.
A tornado database maintained by the National Weather Service dates back to 1819, although there is a gap between 1819 and 1860.
According to a report released by the National Weather Service, the six tornadoes struck Autauga, Chilton, Dallas, Pike, Elmore, Russell, Lowndes, and Barbour counties. The EF-2 tornado that hit near Collirene in Lowndes County injured 10 people and destroyed three buildings.

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17th century solar oddity believed linked to global cooling is rare among nearby stars

A mysterious 17th century solar funk that some have linked to Europe’s Little Ice Age and to global climate change, becomes even more of an enigma as a result of new observations by University of California, Berkeley, astronomers. For 70 years, from 1645 until 1714, early astronomers reported almost no sunspot activity. The number of sunspots - cooler areas on the sun that appear dark against the brighter surroundings - dropped a thousandfold, according to some estimates. Though activity on the sun ebbs and flows today in an 11-year cycle, it has not been that quiet since. Since 1976, when it was pointed out that this lengthy period of low sunspot activity, the so-called Maunder minimum, coincided with the coldest part of the Little Ice Age in Europe and North America, astronomers have been searching nearby sun-like stars for examples of stellar minima. They have hoped to determine how common such minima are and to predict the next solar minimum - and perhaps the next period of global cooling.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic

The Grist, Environmental News & Commentary

Below is a complete listing of the articles in "How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic," a series by Coby Beck containing responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming. There are four separate taxonomies; arguments are divided by:
Stages of Denial,
Scientific Topics,
Types of Argument, and
Levels of Sophistication. Individual articles will appear under multiple headings and may even appear in multiple subcategories in the same heading.

Go to Blog

It Takes a World to Build a Tesla

Beyond being a niche player in the sports-car market, Tesla has greater ambitions of moving into more mainstream markets.

By Matt DeLorenzo

The holy grail of automakers is the so-called world car — a vehicle with universal appeal that can be built anywhere with the same component set.
While there's no doubt that an electric 2-seat sports car like the Tesla roadster has that kind of appeal, this Silicon Valley startup has set more modest goals of establishing a solid sales base in America, although the vehicle itself is the product of a far-flung network of suppliers the world over.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Lava and Water Battled at Grand Canyon


Larry O'Hanlon, Discovery News
The Grand Canyon was not just carved by water -- it has also been the scene of periodic wars between the Colorado River and volcanic eruptions which dammed the river and then burst.
New airborne elevation survey data and radioisotope dating of lava the Grand Canyon's lava flows sheds new light on the battles between water and molten rocks there over the last 725,000 years.
Among the conclusions: Over that time there have been no less than four lava flows that dammed the river in the western Grand Canyon. Some of these dams were breached by dramatic floods and others may have been simply eroded away as the river flowed over their tops.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Hundreds Stuck on Snowy SoCal Freeway

The wild weather is not limited to the San Diego area. The desert near Palm Springs has gotten rain, hail and snow. Earlier in the week it was 85 degrees.

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A surprise storm lashed San Diego County with rain and snow, stranding as many as 500 motorists on a mountain freeway and pouring mud down onto another roadway but causing no major damage or injuries.

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Mackay begins to clean up floods aftermath

Thousands of Mackay residents are returning to their homes after major flooding in the north Queensland city. More than 600 millimetres were dumped on parts of the city in just six hours yesterday morning. The floodwater rose quickly, cutting roads, phones, electricity and forcing the evacuation of about 2,000 homes.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Eye on the Sky: Weather in Spaaaaaaaaaaace!

by Katie O'Brien, Email Address: kobrien@wsaw.com

"Right now, activity on the sun is very quiet, but that will soon be changing."

Weather is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as “the state of the atmosphere at a given time and place, with respect to variables such as temperature, moisture, wind velocity, and barometric pressure.”
Similarly, the term “space weather” is used to describe the state of the environment in space.
But space looks so empty, what kind of weather could possibly be going on?
In space, the sun puts out something called the solar wind; a continuous stream of particles that flows out from the sun.
During what are called solar flares and coronal mass ejections, highly energized particles are shot out from the sun into the solar wind.
Such changes in the solar wind cause changes in Earth's magnetic field.
These are called geomagnetic storms.

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Southern Greece Struck by Magnitude-6.7 Earthquake

By Harry Papachristou
Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Southern Greece was hit by a magnitude-6.7 earthquake, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
The temblor hit today at 12:09 p.m. local time, and struck at a depth of 30 kilometers, about 230 kilometers (143 miles) southwest of Athens, the agency said.
The epicenter was under the sea, west of the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece, Gerassimos Houliaras, a seismologist at the Athens Observatory, said today in an interview on state Net television channel.

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30 injured by new quake in central Africa: officials

BUKAVU, DR Congo (AFP) — A second big earthquake in less than two weeks brought down houses and left at least 60 people injured in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda on Thursday, officials said.
The quake measured 5.5 on the Richter scale, according to monitors, the biggest since the 6.1 quake in the central African Great Lakes region that killed at least 45 people and left thousands homeless on February 3.
There were more than 44 injured in Bukavu, capital of DR Congo's Sud-Kivu province, and at least 15 injured in neighbouring Rwanda, including a woman in the capital Kigali, medical sources said.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Metahistory

Metahistory is the quest for a future myth about humanity, a story of our own making that aligns our hearts and minds to intimacy with Gaia, the living earth. Having realized that humanity is a species endangered by its beliefs, we propose to go beyond history, ever mindful that the path ahead is not ours alone, not solely a human prerogative, but the way of all sentient beings.

Closely aligned with deep ecology, and going deeper, our quest explores the power of human potential to shape society, serve the earth, and co-evolve with the non-human world. The shift for the human species now is less a change of events than a change in how events are told, a passage into mythmaking that can inspire in us a future worth living.

Futureprimitive.org is the sister site to metahistory.org. Dedicated to the preservation of oral traditions and emergent communities in a planet-friendly future, it features a range of recorded material and podcasts. Joanna Harcourt-Smith, who runs the site, has exclusive access to the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers who are featured in interviews on site, along with other leading-edge visionaries and veterans of alternative living. Futureprimitive.org adds yet another dimension to the Marion Institute's commitment to networking in the global perspective.

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What exactly is permaculture?

By Beki Filipello

You may have run across this buzzword in gardening and sustainability circles, it's a contraction of “permanent” and “agriculture” and/or “culture.” Permaculture aims to create productive ecosystems that are both regenerative and self-regulating. It grows out of common ethical principles - care for earth; care for people; car for community. The term was coined back in the '70s by a couple of Australians named Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, to describe a system of sustainable ecological design, based on observing patterns in nature.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Deep Freeze Breaks Cold Weather Records

ABC
Parts of Minnesota Hit 40 Below With Wind Chill; Icy Weather Blasts Much of U.S.

Across much of the country, frigid winter weather is bringing the coldest temperatures on record, including a 40-below wind chill in parts of Minnesota. From Duluth, Minn., where Lake Superior steams in subzero cold, to Rhode Island, temperatures are frozen in the single digits, or worse. In Chicago, meteorologists report it feels like 15 below with the wind chill.
"It's just brutally cold, absolutely brutally cold," said Chicago resident Judy Mosher.
The temperature fell to 40 below in Embarrass, Minn. That's just one degree above the all-time record in Minneapolis, 250 miles to the south, that was set in January 1888.

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10,000 homeless after Angola floods

LUANDA (AFP) — More than 10,000 people have been forced from their homes and two thousand makeshift houses swept away by floods after heavy rain pounded parts of southern Angola, authorities said on Tuesday.

Some of those displaced were being put up in tents at makeshift camps while others were being housed in schools in the provinces of Cunene, Namibe and Huila. But authorities said they unable to cope with the number of people who need to be rescued from the danger area.

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Earthquake shakes southern Mexico

BBC
Southern Mexico has been shaken by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake, causing power cuts and panic, but so far no reported injuries or damage. The US Geological Survey said the quake's epicentre was about 110km (70 miles) south-west from Tuxtla Gutierrez in the state of Chiapas. Residents there fled into the streets and have remained out of their homes in fear of possible aftershocks. The tremor was also felt in the capital, Mexico City.

The earthquake struck at 0650 local time (1250GMT) on Tuesday. "It was horrible. It really scared me," one resident of Tuxtla Gutierrez, Cecilia Gomez, told the Associated Press. The quake was also felt in the states of Oaxaca, Tabasco and Puebla.

In Mexico City, some 600km away, tall buildings swayed but no damage was reported.

Biofuel: Major Net Energy Gain From Switchgrass-based Ethanol


Switchgrass grown in this study yielded 93 percent more biomass per acre and an estimated 93 percent more net energy yield than previously estimated in a study done elsewhere. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
ScienceDaily — Switchgrass grown for biofuel production produced 540 percent more energy than needed to grow, harvest and process it into cellulosic ethanol, according to estimates from a large on-farm study by researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Results from the five-year study involving fields on farms in three states highlight the prairie grass' potential as a biomass fuel source that yields significantly more energy than is consumed in production and conversion into cellulosic ethanol, said Ken Vogel, a U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service geneticist in UNL's agronomy and horticulture department.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Transcript of chat on global warming with UCSD professor Jeff Severinghaus

"...today's guest speaker is Dr. Jeff Severinghaus, who is a professor of geosciences in the Geosciences Research Division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego."

Read these excerpts on man-made global warming and natural solar warming:

(Q) While I believe in global warming, and recycle and all that good stuff, I run into people who say, "No such thing. The earth has cycles of warming and cooling. Look at the ice age." What is good proof that this is a man made change?

(A) This is an excellent question - I'm glad you asked it. The best proof that this is man-made comes from the isotopes (different flavors of an element, if you will) of carbon in atmospheric carbon dioxide. We've been measuring these for 41 years now at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, continuing the pioneering work that Charles David Keeling began. These isotopes are like the "smoking gun" that shows that the CO2 rise is human-caused. Natural CO2 is rich in these isotopes (carbon-13 and carbon-14), but fossil fuel CO2 is depleted in them. So if you measure the atmospheric abundances of these, you can tell where the CO2 is coming from - natural or fossil. Indeed, the isotopes have been taking a nose dive over the past 150 years of the industrial revolution. So there is absolutely no doubt that humans have done it - in this "whodunit". Then you add in the basic physics, known from the laboratory for 140 years, that carbon dioxide traps heat. That is really an airtight case at that point - the evidence goes on and on but that is the key part.

(Q) What is the best evidence that atmospheric CO2 rather than some other factor has caused the increase in temperature over the past 100 years? The two are correlated but this correlation does not prove causation, right?

(A) The best evidence is what I alluded to in a recent answer - basic physics. It has been possible for more than 100 years to calculate how much heat gets trapped by CO2. You can do this about as well as you can calculate how fast an apple will fall under Newton's Laws of Gravity. But we also know that nature on her own causes climate change, and that some of the 20th century warming was natural in origin. The warming of the 1920s and 1930s, that was associated with the famous "dust bowl", was caused by the sun. Solar activity peaked then, as we can easily tell from records of sunspots and cosmic ray fluxes. But all the solar indicators have been constant in the past 30 years, leaving no doubt that the current warming cannot be attributed to the Sun.

Read Entire Transcript

The Slow Design movement is picking up momentum

By Penelope Green NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

"Slow means that Alabama Chanin is run on the tenets of the Slow Food movement, which essentially challenges one to use local ingredients harvested and put together in a socially and environmentally responsible way."

"I have a little spiel I like to give about thread," Natalie Chanin said. "The ladies laugh at me and call it my Oprah moment, but here's how it goes: It's called loving your thread, and it's all about talking to the thread, coaxing it to take the path of least resistance. At the crux of it, that's what Slow Design is all about."Chanin runs a company, Alabama Chanin, that sells exquisite hand-stitched garments made from old T-shirts and home goods such as flea-market chairs with seats woven out of Goodwill neckties. Designed by Chanin and her collaborator, Butch Anthony, and hand-made by artisans -- the ladies, as she calls them -- in her hometown of Florence, Ala., her products are examples of Slow Design, which is not so much a metabolic term as it is a philosophical one.

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In pictures: Bolivia floods


BBC News
Around 50 people have been killed and more than 40,000 families left homeless after weeks of heavy rain caused severe flooding in Bolivia.


Saturday, February 09, 2008

'Six Degrees Could Change the World' on National Geographic

"Six Degrees Could Change the World" premieres Sunday, February 10, at 8:00 PM ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel (2-Hour World Premiere). You know about six degrees of separation. But what about six degrees to extinction? Scientists predict that global temperatures will rise by between one and six degrees over the course of this century and author Mark Lynas paints a chilling, degree-by- degree picture of the devastation likely to ensue unless we act now.

A new show on National Geographic Channel, "Six Degrees Could Change the World" narrated by Alec Baldwin, investigates the startling theory that earth’s average temperature could rise six degrees Celsius by the year 2100.

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Drought Developing Across Texas

Data released this week shows drought conditions developing across the state of Texas. The data comes as a part of the U.S. Drought Monitor, which is updated weekly through the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. The February 5th report shows that more than 80 percent of the state is abnormally dry.

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Quake Rocks Baja California

Noemi Gonzales - AHN
Los Angeles, CA (AHN) - A 5.4 magnitude earthquake rattled Baja California in Mexico, leaving some 400,000 people without power. No major damage or injuries were reported.
The quake struck around 11:15 p.m. Friday about 16 miles southeast of the border at the town of Mexicali and 100 miles east of Tijuana was followed by at least 15 after shocks.
Two bridges also showed two to three inch cracks, while some one million people have lost cellphone service.

Friday, February 08, 2008

How dreams lead you to God

Vancouver Sun Blogs - Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun
Bonnelle Lewis Strickling has just retired as head of Langara College's philosophy department and his devoting herself to smelling the cedars, practising psychotherapy and writing more, particularly on dream work. This weekend she's leading a retreat on Bowen Island, B.C., based on her excellent new book, Dreaming About the Divine (State University of New York Press). Inspired by the great Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, Strickling teaches that dreams bring the deep, unpredictable transformative power of the sacred into our lives. Here's the introduction to a recent piece on her book.

It's the middle of the night and your bedroom is dark. Suddenly you're awake, peering around in confusion. What was that? You realize you've just had a powerful dream.
You can't fall back to sleep; reverberating feelings and strange images have seized hold. You want to block them out, but they won't let go.
Did you just have a visit from God?
Maybe.
Dreams and mystical experiences have long gone together in history.
From ancient Greek oracles to Hebrew prophets and wandering Eastern sages, dreams have been seen as direct links to the sacred, to the seemingly unfathomable mysteries of existence.
But in our harried lives, busy with getting things done, the dreamworld often seems inpenetrable and disturbing.

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Ex-Beatles pay tribute to Maharishi

The Press Association
Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr paid tribute to the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Indian guru who famously set the Beatles on the path to spiritual enlightenment. The Maharishi died at his home in the Netherlands on Tuesday. He was thought to be 91. Sir Paul said: "I was asked for my thoughts on the passing of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and I can only say that whilst I am deeply saddened by his passing, my memories of him will only be joyful ones." He added: "He was a great man who worked tirelessly for the people of the world and the cause of unity. I will never forget the dedication that he wrote inside a book he once gave me, which read 'radiate, bliss, consciousness', and that to me says it all. I will miss him but will always think of him with a smile."

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Earthquake hits north of Bali

ABC News
Seismologists say a strong 5.8-magnitude earthquake has hit the Bali Sea off the northern coast of Indonesia. The US Geological Survey says the quake, which was at a depth of 312 kilometres, struck at 5:00am (local time) about 215 kilometres north of Denpasar in Bali. There has been no immediate tsunami warning from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre. Indonesia sits on the Pacific 'Ring of Fire' where continental plates meet, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity. The archipelagic nation was hardest hit by the earthquake-triggered Asian tsunami in December 2004 that killed an estimated 168,000 people in Indonesia's Aceh province.

6.8 magnitude quake strikes ocean east of French Guiana

WASHINGTON -- An earthquake measuring 6.8 struck in the Atlantic Ocean early Friday, hundreds of kilometers (miles) off the northern coast of Brazil and French Guiana, the US Geological Survey reported. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was a small possibility a local tsunami could hit coasts in countries within and bordering the Caribbean Sea, but ruled out "a destructive, widespread tsunami threat."

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Biofuel Crops Double As Greenhouse-Gas Reducers

ScienceDaily (Jun. 29, 2007) — Corn and soybeans may be the current "go-to" crops for producing ethanol and biodiesel, respectively. But two other crops—switchgrass and hybrid poplar—could steal the show in the future when it comes to curbing greenhouse gases, according to Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and collaborating scientists.
In a study published in the April issue of Ecological Applications, ARS scientist Paul Adler and colleagues compared the net production of carbon dioxide and two other greenhouse gases associated with producing biofuels from several different bioenergy crops.
In short, it takes energy to produce energy, notes Adler, who's in the ARS Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit, University Park, Pa. For example, operating a tractor to plow, plant, fertilize and harvest all require gasoline or diesel fuel. This, in turn, releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases tied to global climate change.

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Tornadoes and Global Warming

The Evidence Is Thin. The Consequences Are Real.
By Chris Mooney

I want to approach the subject of this post with considerable caution. But at the same time, in the wake of this week's devastating tornado disasters in the South, I know a lot of people are wondering about the matter. So let's see what we can say.
Without a doubt, the tornado outbreak this week was odd. Jeff Masters notes: "What is really unusual about yesterday's Super Tuesday Outbreak is that it occurred in early February. Only one other tornado outbreak in the past century killed so many people so early in the year – the great Warren, Arkansas tornado outbreak of January 3, 1949, which killed 60 people." And Masters goes further:
[The] outbreak was fueled by record warmth over the South. Record high temperatures were recorded in Little Rock, Arkansas (75), Shreveport, LA (78), El Dorado, AR (77), Memphis, TN (75), Jackson, MS (81), and Charleston, SC (79), to name a few locations. A strong cold front associated with a powerful winter storm over the north central U.S. pushed into this warm, unstable air mass, triggering Tuesday's bout of violent weather.
All of this is, of course, suggestive – but we have to be very cautious whenever we're talking about the relationship between climate and weather. First, no individual event can ever be attributed to global climate change.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Our weather is so odd

BY LARRY WHEELER AND TONY LANG

"In 2007, nearly 42 percent of the contiguous U.S. experienced extreme weather events, the second highest for the index, which incorporates records dating back to 1910."

Rare winter tornadoes in the Midwest.
Powerful Pacific storms with hurricane force winds.
More than 1,000 daily high-temperature records.
And that’s just in the first month of 2008.
Is January the new March?
Some government researchers say weather extremes are becoming more extreme.“We’re seeing an increasing trend in the frequency of extremes,” says Karin Gleason, a meteorologist who compiles the U.S. Climate Extremes Index maintained by the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

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What effect does climate change have on the spread of disease?

The Chikungunya Question
By Maria Said

Before the summer of 2007, Castiglione di Cervia, Italy, was known as a quiet village near Ravenna. In July, however, doctors noticed complaints of excruciating joint pain, fever, headaches, and rash. Their patients were experiencing a fever called "chikungunya"; the word originates in the Makonde language in Tanzania and Mozambique and means "to dry up or become contorted." This epidemic had two years previously raged unexpectedly through islands in the Indian Ocean. But it was new to Europe.

And so Castiglione found itself at the center of scientists' efforts to map the effect of climate change on the spread of infectious disease. In December, at a Washington, D.C., conference sponsored by the Institute of Medicine, scientists and doctors wrestled with these questions: Did global warming bring chikungunya to Italy? Will it lead to a return of scourges like malaria, pushed out of Europe and the United States in the mid-20th century? Will epidemics worsen in poorer countries?

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Climate Change vs. Global Warming

Read up on the definitions and differences between "global warming" and "climate change."

Many people in the media (and elsewhere) use the terms "climate change" and "global warming" interchangeably, as if they were the same thing. But there are differences between the meanings of the two terms. Getting a better handle on the definitions of and differences between "global warming" and "climate change" will help us understand why the threat caused by continued warming of the planet is so serious.

Global Warming — An overall warming of the planet, based on average temperature over the entire surface.
Climate Change — Changes in regional climate characteristics, including temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind, and severe weather events.

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Dozens Killed by Tornadoes in Four States

NPR.org, February 6, 2008 · At least 47 were killed as strong storms and tornadoes swept through the nation's midsection, leaving a trail of destruction from Kentucky to Mississippi, authorities said Wednesday. In hardest-hit Tennessee, 24 people were killed, 13 in Arkansas, seven in Kentucky and three in Alabama, emergency officials said. The storm system that spawned the tornadoes hit in the early Tuesday evening. By Wednesday morning, the death toll was still rising as crews got to devastated rural areas. New Orleans and Georgia were under tornado warnings on Wednesday.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Climate change tipping points outlined

Researchers have drawn up a list of climate ‘tipping points’ we are in danger of tripping this century. Even a small amount of human induced climate change could push these vital parts of the planet over the edge, says Tim Lenton of the University of East Anglia.
The really bad news: Lenton thinks some of the tipping points are under ten years from happening.
“Society must not be lulled into a false sense of security by smooth projections of global change,” he says (press release). “Our findings suggest that a variety of tipping elements could reach their critical point within this century under human-induced climate change. The greatest threats are tipping of the Arctic sea-ice and the Greenland ice sheet, and at least five other elements could surprise us by exhibiting a nearby tipping point.”

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The Village of Gaviotas

Gaviotas is a village of about 200 people in Colombia, South America. For three decades, Gaviotans - peasants, scientists, artists, and former street kids - have struggled to build an oasis of imagination and sustainability in the remote, barren savannas of eastern Colombia, an area ravaged by political terror. They have planted millions of trees, thus regenerating an indigenous rainforest. They farm organically and use wind and solar power. Every family enjoys free housing, community meals, and schooling. There are no weapons, no police, no jail. There is no mayor.

The United Nations named the village a model of sustainable development. Gabriel Garcia Marquez has called Paolo Lugari the "inventor of the world."

Go to the Gaviotas Website

Qld drought declarations to stay despite floods

The Queensland Government says flood waters will eventually be good news for farmers, but drought declarations will stay for the time being. Sixty-two per cent of Queensland is drought declared, however more than 70 per cent has been disaster-declared because of floods. Primary Industries Minister Tim Mulherin admits the maths looks strange. "It's a bit confusing for city people, they think that once the rain comes, the drought's over," he said.

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Northern Chile Hit By 6.3 Magnitude Earthquake

Vittorio Hernandez - AHN News Writer
Santiago, Chile (AHN) - Earthquake-prone Chile was rocked again by another tremor on Monday. The temblor, which was measured at 6.3 on the Richter scale, did not cause any damage or casualties. Carmen Fernandez, head of Chile's National Emergency Bureau, said it was a medium intensity tremor. It was felt at northern Chile and on the southern part of Peru. Earthquakes are regular occurrences in the two Southern American nations, which lie along the Pacific rim of fire. The epicenter was identified 24.8 miles (40 kilometers) east-northeast of Iquique, in the Tarapaca region, near the Peruvian border. It as a depth of 21.7 miles (35 km).
A number of earthquakes were recorded in Chile the past few months. On Nov. 14, a 7.7 magnitude tremor rocked the nation, killing two people, injuring 15,000 and damaging 4,000 buildings.

Two earthquakes rattle Greek port

Twin earthquakes of preliminary magnitude of 5.4 and 5.5 rattled the western Greek port of Patras, seismologists said. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
The Athens-based Institute of Geodynamics said the first quake occurred at 10.25pm Monday (0725 AEDT Tuesday) about 155 kilometres south-west of Athens, and about 40 kilometres outside Patras. The second occurred at 12.15am Monday (0915 AEDT Tuesday), in the same area. "The activity is ongoing but the likelihood of a very strong earthquake is considered to be very slight," Institute director Giorgos Stavrakakis said.
"This is a phenomenon of twin earthquakes or virtually identical magnitude. It's not common but it is well known."

Monday, February 04, 2008

Rising sea levels will affect Oregon Coast in big way, experts say

By Winston Ross The Register-Guard

NEWPORT — In a room built for 100 people at the Hatfield Marine Science Center library, an Australian-born expert on global warming gives a presentation about rising sea levels with all the sex appeal of a dry classroom lecture. There are no slides of cities falling into the ocean, of millions migrating across bridges at capacity to escape flooded urban streets, of adorable overheated polar bears. But that doesn’t stop a standing-room-only crowd from spilling out into the hallways, requiring a separate room where overflow attendees of the free lecture can watch on video feed. If the causes of climate change are puzzling to the general public, this much is as clear as the water in a shrinking alpine lake: Rising sea levels can and will affect the Oregon Coast in a big way. The only question is how much, and where.

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Australia experiences hottest ever Jan

Australia experienced its hottest January on record this year, with the dry continent heating up as part of the global warming process, the bureau of meteorology said Friday. Temperatures rose by between 1.0 and 2.0 degrees in most parts of the country, with the national average hitting 29.2 degrees Celsius (84 Fahrenheit) for the summer month, said the bureau’s head of climate analysis, David Jones. “It’s a remarkable number certainly. Averaging, as we did across the whole country 1.3 degrees above average is the highest temperature we’ve seen in our history of records for Australia in January,” he told AFP. Jones said it was a steady, persistent warmth rather than a heatwave which saw Australia heat up everywhere except in parts of northeastern Queensland state, where flooding was widespread. “Australia is warming up as part of the global warming process,” Jones said. “Certainly record high temperatures are coming significantly faster than what we would have expected if it wasn’t the case of global warming.” He said warming in Australia was expected to be in line with the global projections.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

News From Mother: Consciousness and Conscience

"Homo sapiens is a remarkable species. Maybe we should take a moment, now and then, to appreciate just how unusual we are."

Generally, the Earth’s plants and animals are concerned only with propagating their own kind. Natural controls — predators, disease, starvation — keep things in balance. But humans seem different in two important ways. First, thus far we have been highly successful at fending off those natural population controls. As a result, we enjoy the unprecedented benefits of civilization. At the same time, though, the world’s human population is growing rapidly.

Second, many of us have noticed that current human activities are threatening other species and the Earth’s natural systems. There’s no other species — as far as we know — that considers its impact on the environment. Given that we seem to be the only species that has developed this ability, maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised that we’re having a tough time getting the hang of it.

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Floods devastate Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador

LA PAZ (AFP) — Torrential rains have caused widespread flooding in southern Ecuador, eastern Bolivia and northern Argentina, with nearly 50 people killed and thousands made homeless, triggering international humantarian aid to the region.
In Bolivia, where some 45 people have been killed by incessant flooding since November, Japanese Ambassador Mitsunori Shirakawa Saturday presented President Evo Morales with 121,000 dollars' worth of food and first aid equipment for flood victims.
It is estimated that more than 30,000 families have been affected by the floods, with thousands evacuated from their homes in Bolivia's lowlands.

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African Great Lakes region hit by two earthquakes

Kigali - Dozens of people have been killed in two earthquakes in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Hundreds of others have been injured. The authorities fear the death toll could increase as many of the victims are buried under rubble.The tremors were felt in several countries across Central Africa's Great Lakes region. Most of the victims fell in Rwanda, where the earthquake registered 5.0 on the Richter scale. A few hours earlier the earthquake in the Democratic Republic of Congo registered 6.0 on the Richter scale. The African Great Lakes region is often hit by earthquakes, as it lies on the Great Rift Valley fault line.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Indonesia floods kill 12, cause travel chaos

By Mita Valina Liem
JAKARTA (Reuters) - Floods and landslides triggered by heavy rain have killed at least 12 people across Indonesia and the capital's main airport was briefly shut on Friday as more than 40 flights were delayed due to low visibility.
Scores of cars were stranded and people had to wade through murky knee-high water in many parts of Jakarta, a city of 14 million that is regularly hit by floods at this time of year.

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3.6 Earthquake Hits Central Utah Overnight

Linda Young - AHN Editor
Loa, UT (AHN) - A magnitude 3.6 earthquake shook central Utah at 11:52:28 p.m. local time Thursday night 50 miles west southwest of Loa, Utah. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The quakes epicenter was some 180 miles south of Salt Lake City, according to the United States Geological Survey, which got its information from the University of Utah's Seismograph Stations.
Utah experiences a dozen or so earthquakes a year, which are usually minor. It has recorded earthquakes since the 1800s. With earthquakes in 1894 severe enough to shake dishes off tables and one in 1900 that split an adobe house in half, according to USGS historical data.
The largest quake in Utah was near Kosmo in 1934. It was a magnitude 6.6 with an intensity of VIII. Thursday night's 3.6 quake was barely felt by a few people in the area, according to reports.