Neil deGrasse Tyson moderating a debate on selling space

From March 2014. We live on the cusp of an amazing age. It will save us all.

Isaac Asimov discussing global warming and the exact way the world needs to be saved – 25 years ago

An amazing speech that could be given today.  Done without notes.

And it recapitulates almost everything I have been focussed on for some time. Talk about walking in the footsteps of giants!

Oncoming global warming. The amazing benefits of the Cold War. The changing aspects of nation states. National security. 

The sticks that are driving cooperation between nation states. And the carrots.

How the Constitution shows us a path forward. How Westward expansion produced a united country, not one with Southern separatists.

It will be about getting into space and beaming power back to Earth.

We now no longer can simply have one nation state fight another. Because what they do affects us all.

We need to figure out how to deal with the effects of humanity that transcend all national boundaries.

It is well worth watching the whole thing. It will be 45 minutes that could make a difference.

How things have changed – Leave It To Beaver and toilets

Minimalist men WC 

Potty Time
[Via New Urban Legends]

Was Leave It to Beaver the first U.S. network television program ever to show a toilet?


To think that the show was censored and held up simply because it showed that a bathroom (a normally taboo room) had a toilet.

Glad they figured out an adaptive way to route around bureaucratic hierarchies without losing the creativity of the show. 

The next El Nino may be on the way. And it looks like it will be huge

 Super Swells Again

Monster El Nino Emerging From the Depths: Nose of Massive Kelvin Wave Breaks Surface in Eastern Pacific
[Via robertscribbler]

Monster El Nino

(A monster Kelvin wave, possibly more powerful than the 1997-98 event, is now rushing toward the surface of the Eastern Pacific. Image source: NOAA/ESRL.)

We are observing an extraordinarily powerful Kelvin Wave, one that was likely intensified by factors related to human global warming, traveling across the Pacific. It appears to be an epic event in the making. One that may be hotter and stronger than even the record-shattering 1997-98 El Nino. What this means is that we may well be staring down the throat of a global warming riled monster.


Good times might be over. If this new El Nino is anything close to the one in the late 90s, temperatures could begin rising fast. That first animation is shocking.

There appears to be more heat in this water than was in the huge El Nino of 1997.It was the largest such event in the 20th century. The global temperatures due to that event increased to such hugh levels that it would be almost a decade before the world became that hot again.


This is what happened along the Washington Coast during the 1997 event: huge rises in sea levels making storms much more destructive along the coast.


Sometimes the sea level was almost half a meter higher than normal, with wave heights a full meter higher than normal. It will not be a good year to be along the West Coast.

And while it may break the drought in Texas, it could well bring huge amounts of flooding due to extreme weather events. That it, lots of frog stranglers hitting dry ground and running off instead of penetrating.

The West Coast will get little rain and be much hotter, so the food producing areas of the state will be hard hit. 

Autism may start in the womb

Baby hats 2 ohbabylondon 

Patches of cortical layers disrupted during early brain development in autism
[Via Eureka! Science News - Popular science news]

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the Allen Institute for Brain Science have published a study that gives clear and direct new evidence that autism begins during pregnancy. The study will be published in the March 27 online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.


If this holds up, we may be on a path to a much greater understanding of autism. Particularly the causes.

It may be genetic or it may be environmental. Or a combination of each.

The human brain us very susceptible to damage during certain periods of development. Perhaps someday soon we will have a way to prevent it.

Live ISS feed about to go dark because NASA does not have the money

 GOES Full Disk Shows First Day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere

Help Save NASA’s ISSLive! Website!
[Via Dear Astronomer | Bringing space back down to earth!]

Frequent visitors to the NASA Live ISS Telemetry website ( ) have spotted an official notice stating the site will be shutting down in two weeks.

I can’t stress how incredibly awesome the ISS live site is. With a few clicks of a mouse, visitors can get real-time telemetry from the solar arrays, communications systems, propulsion, and other systems. It’s kind of like looking at the bridge displays on Star Trek!


So a resource accessible to the public that provides real time data from the ISS will disappear because there is not money to support it any longer.

We are watching the space program simply die because Congress does not give a crap. Better to spend billions on fighter planes that no one wants than actually support NASA.

Sounds like the railroad industry is figuring the taxpayer will deal with risks while they make a ton of money

Rail Car

A Record Year of Oil Train Accidents Leaves Insurers Wary
[Via DeSmogBlog - Clearing the PR Pollution that Clouds Climate Science]

Spurred by the shale drilling rush that has progressed at breakneck speed, the railroad industry has moved fast to help drillers transport petroleum and its byproducts to consumers. Last year, trains hauled over 400,000 carloads of crude oil, up from just 9,500 carloads in 2008, according to railroad industry estimates.  Each carload represents roughly 30,000 gallons of flammable liquids, and some trains haul over 100 oil cars at a time.

But with this fast expansion has come some astounding risks — risks that have insurance companies and underwriters increasingly concerned.

A string of oil train explosions have highlighted the potential for harm. A train hauling 2.9 million gallons of Bakken oil derailed and exploded on November 8 in Aliceville, Alabama, and the oil that leaked but did not burn continues to foul the wetlands in the area.

On December 30th, a train collision in Casselton, North Dakota 20 miles outside of Fargo, prompted a mass evacuation of over half the town’s residents after 18 cars exploded into fireballs visible for miles. 400,000 gallons of oil spilled after that accident, which involved two trains traveling well below local speed limits.


As detailed in the article, many companies do not carry enough insurance to stay viable if there is an accident in a populated area. They expect to go bankrupt and then just start again.

“There is not currently enough available coverage in the commercial insurance market anywhere in the world to cover the worst-case scenario,” James Beardsley, an executive with Marsh & McLennan Cos.’ Marsh Inc. insurance brokerage unit, told the Wall Street Journal in January.

They expect the taxpayer to take up the slack. Privatizing profits and socializing risk. This is not capitalism. And it is a big problem with our current system.

There is no incentive to fix the problem because the necessary disincentives of the marketplace have been removed. Why figure out a safer approach when the people will take on any moral hazard?

This will continue until people realize that so many of the authoritarians are quite happy screwing over the rest of us by making us pay for their risks, all so they can make more money.

No transporter of dangerous and deadly cargo should be allowed to be in business without the necessary insurance. If they cannot get some, then maybe they should work at making it safer. Spend some of their own profits rather than expecting the taxpayers to do it for them.

Would we have developed electrical power lines if we could see in the UV like many animals?

power to the people!

Animals Avoid Power Lines Because of Frightening UV Sparks
[Via D-brief]

Researchers know that high-voltage power lines have some strange influence on animals. Creatures from reindeer to elephants to birds tend to avoid the areas around power lines. This was mysterious because the structures seem passive and simple to walk or fly past.

However, scientists now say this may be because power lines emit ultraviolet light, invisible to human eyes, that appears as frightening flashes to animals that can perceive ultraviolet light.

This paper is the first to offer a simple explanation for the power line-avoidance behavior. If true, the theory could explain fragmentation of wild habitats.


Nice explanation. And it helps support why these power lines are helping create fragmentation of local animal populations.

The herds avoid the lines, which now act as physical barriers like mountain ranges, to prevent groups from crossing over to other ones.

I wonder if we would have developed a different system if we could see in the UV also?

Change is Coming – listen to Peter, Paul and Mary

The times certainly are changing.

From 1965.

And from 1995

The lyrics have never been more appropriate,particularly the one about Senators and Congressmen.


Come gather ’round people 
Wherever you roam 
And admit that the waters 
Around you have grown 
And accept it that soon 
You’ll be drenched to the bone 

If your time to you 
Is worth savin’ 
Then you better start swimmin’ 
Or you’ll sink like a stone 
For the times they are a-changin’. 

Come writers and critics 
Who prophesize with your pen 
And keep your eyes wide 
The chance won’t come again 
And don’t speak too soon 
For the wheel’s still in spin 

And there’s no tellin’ who 
That it’s namin’ 
For the loser now 
Will be later to win 
For the times they are a-changin’. 

Come senators, congressmen 
Please heed the call 
Don’t stand in the doorway 
Don’t block up the hall 
For he that gets hurt 
Will be he who has stalled 

There’s a battle outside 
And it is ragin’ 
It’ll soon shake your windows 
And rattle your walls 
For the times they are a-changin’. 

Come mothers and fathers 
Throughout the land 
And don’t criticize 
What you can’t understand 
Your sons and your daughters 
Are beyond your command 

Your old road is 
Rapidly agin’ 
Please get out of the new one 
If you can’t lend your hand 
For the times they are a-changin’. 


Come gather ’round peopleWherever you roamAnd admit that the watersAround you have grownAnd accept it that soonYou’ll be drenched to the boneIf your time to youIs worth savin’Then you better start swimmin’Or you’ll sink like a stoneFor the times they are a-changin’.
Come writers and criticsWho prophesize with your penAnd keep your eyes wideThe chance won’t come againAnd don’t speak too soonFor the wheel’s still in spinAnd there’s no tellin’ whoThat it’s namin’For the loser nowWill be later to winFor the times they are a-changin’.
Come senators, congressmenPlease heed the callDon’t stand in the doorwayDon’t block up the hallFor he that gets hurtWill be he who has stalledThere’s a battle outsideAnd it is ragin’It’ll soon shake your windowsAnd rattle your wallsFor the times they are a-changin’.
Come mothers and fathersThroughout the landAnd don’t criticizeWhat you can’t understandYour sons and your daughtersAre beyond your commandYour old road isRapidly agin’Please get out of the new oneIf you can’t lend your handFor the times they are a-changin’.
The line it is drawnThe curse it is castThe slow one nowWill later be fastAs the present nowWill later be pastThe order isRapidly fadin’And the first one nowWill later be lastFor the times they are a-changin’.


We NEED CO2 at 600 parts per million – A little knowledge is dangerous in the hands of idiots

 there are no stupid questions just stupid people

Utah lawmaker: Our atmosphere needs more carbon dioxide | 
[Via The Salt Lake Tribune]

Arguing that we need more carbon dioxide, not less, in the atmosphere, Rep. Jerry Anderson, R-Price, has proposed legislation that would limit the state’s ability to regulate emissions of the greenhouse gas.

HB229 narrows the definition of the term “air contaminants,” clarifying that “natural components of the atmosphere,” including nitrogen, oxygen and other stable, or noble gases, are not pollution.


So now the idiots spout misleading half-truths rather than simply lie outright. But they still lie.

Yes. Carbon dioxide  levels were higher when the dinosaurs were here. But guess what? The amount of solar radiation trapped by all that CO2 was much less, because the sun did not put out as much energy.

In fact, it was so dim that even with CO2 levels as high as 3000 parts per million, ice caps would still have formed. We have melting ice caps at 400 ppm because the sun sends much more energy to the Earth than it did.

If today’s CO2 levels were present fr the dinosaurs, the world would have been frigid. 

The entire environment was different. But these denying idiots have to rationalize their own point of view, instead of simply admitting they are wrong. Better to lie than to grasp the truth.

The Gulf Stream is meltingthe Arctic. Cold weatherin the US masking heat transfer to the Arctic

 Flying Through a Crack in the Ice

Extraordinary N Atlantic Storms Driving Gulf Stream Water into Arctic, Sea Ice Melting in February
[Via Daily Kos]

Storm after storm has pounded England and western Europe, smashing the coastline with massive waves and flooding, making this the stormiest winter in the long English weather records which go back to 1766. But there’s something happening in the ocean that’s even more disturbing than the destruction to Europe. The extreme wind field across the Atlantic this winter is literally driving water that originated in the Gulf Stream into the Arctic Ocean causing sea ice extent on the Atlantic side of the Arctic ocean to decline in the middle of February. Water temperatures reported by NOAA are far above normal from the coast of north America, to the Labrador and Greenland seas, extending all the way into the Arctic ocean. The sea surface temperature anomaly maps are shocking. Water temperatures are more than 10°F above normal near Svalbard in the Arctic ocean. Likewise, Gulf Stream temperatures off of the east coast of North America are stunningly hot.


Look at the temperatures in the Gulf Stream.

gulf stream anomalies

The entire Atlantic is warmer than usual but the Gulf Stream is off the charts.

And all that warmth is being pushed into the Arctic melting winter sea ice that should be getting larger. The trend line has now based over two standard deviations outside the historical average.


The sea ice extent has stopped growing a month early. This is all expected by every climate change model – that global warming results in tremendous heat exchange to the poles, that the poles increase temperatures much more than tenperate regions.

This could be a very bad year. Time to start doing something.

Lying works – climate change denialism rises

New York - "GREED STREET or Wall Street...U decide?" Colorful tags below 

Misinformation Is Winning – Doubt In Climate Change Climbing
[Via DeSmogBlog - Clearing the PR Pollution that Clouds Climate Science]

Climate change-related disasters have been rising for decades; yearly temperatures are rising in a nearly consistent pattern; extreme weather events are costing economies across the globe hundreds of billions of dollars.  Despite the mounting evidence that climate change is both real and a major threat to our security, more people are buying into the idea that climate change is a myth.

A new poll from Yale University and George Mason shows that the percentage of Americans who don’t believe in climate change rose 7% in 2013 to 23% of the entire population.  While 63% of the general public believes that climate change is occurring, only 47% believe that human activities are to blame.  The poll also revealed that less than 50% of Americans believe that climate change will affect their lives, but 65% say that it could harm future generations. 

This shift in public opinion in 2013 happened during another record-breaking temperature year, with 2013 being the seventh warmest year on record. 

All of the evidence points to the fact that climate change is real and that human beings are making it worse.  Scientists agree that it is happening, and the physical evidence is all around us, so the big question is: why is the number of climate change deniers increasing?

The answer is that the misinformation machine has kicked into high gear, and 2013 saw a massive increase in the amount of climate change denial being given a microphone throughout various forms of media.


The fact that this is all financed by the same well financed think tanks who are paid to lie never seems to come up.

But it shows that, with a willing media, owned by the same guys who pay the think tanks, people will respond to lies.

Being the sociopaths they are, the liars are doing this, paying large amounts of money, because they expect to make a ton of money. That is what they do.

I wonder how they expect to do that?

NASA pictures demonstrate California drought

California’s terrifying drought, summed up in two satellite images
[Via io9]

California's terrifying drought, summed up in two satellite images

California has declared a state of emergency after enduring months of a drought that has left the state with only half the rainfall of the lowest rainfall year on record. Nothing captures the foreboding more than these two stark images.


Above is what it looks like today. Here is what it looked like a year ago:



How the climate denial industry works – untraceable funding of think tanks

 Baby Jellies

Billion-dollar climate denial network exposed
[Via Ars Technica]

An extensive study into the financial networks that support groups denying the science behind climate change and opposing political action has found a vast, secretive web of think tanks and industry associations, bankrolled by conservative billionaires.

“I call it the climate-change counter movement,” study author Robert Brulle, who published his results in the journal Climatic Change, told the Guardian. “It is not just a couple of rogue individuals doing this. This is a large-scale political effort.”

His work, which is focused on the United States, shows how a network of 91 think tanks and industry groups are primarily responsible for conservative opposition to climate policy. Almost 80 percent of these groups are registered as charitable organizations for tax purposes, and collectively received more than seven billion dollars between 2003 and 2010.


Billions of untracked dollars going into a specific lobbying effort. A tax-free lobbying effort. Another example of how money corrupts the system.

Radioative waste from fracking

oil rigby aoenday

Fracking May Be Polluting River with Radioactive Waste
[Via Climate Central - News, Blogs & Features]

The natural gas-rich Marcellus shale is seeing a drilling boom, part of a nationwide rush to use hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, techniques to extract shale gas and oil. Studies have shown that energy production, including the waste water associated with fracking — a method of injecting chemicals, sand and water deep underground to crack rock formations to release oil and natural gas — may release significant fugitive methane emissions, helping to drive climate change.

Duke researchers looked at sediment samples collected downstream of the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility in Indiana County, Penn., and found that radium levels were 200 times greater in those samples when compared to those collected upstream of the plant. The plant processes fracking flowback water — highly saline and radioactive fluid that is returned to the surface as part of the fracking process.

Researchers have long been concerned about concentration of bromide, chlorides and other contaminants being discharged from the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility. One researcher, Conrad Volz, former director of the Center for Healthy Environments and Communities at the University of Pittsburgh, testified before the U.S. Senate in 2011 about the high level of contaminants in Josephine’s effluent.


The radioactive levels in sediments downstream from the treatment plant were so high that it will have to be taken to a radioactive disposal facility. ANd the levels of other contaminats were also extremely high.

Methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide is one of those contaminants, along with other volatiles. And thanks to the rapid increase in fracking, there are hundreds of billions of gallons of contaminated water to deal with.


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