Posts Tagged ‘Guardian newspaper’
I’m thinking of this one.
There are those that do,
There are those that don’t,
There are those who wondered what happened!
So what prompted me bringing out that old saw?
Simply the ever-increasing rate of the loss of our Arctic sea ice.
Arctic ice depletion can be tracked at: http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/ It is now lower than the preceding lowest on July 5…
The Guardian jumps the gun on record June sea ice melt
29 Jun 2012, 11:15 – Verity Payne
The Guardian this week reports that recent rapid melting of Arctic sea ice has seen levels reach a “record low for June”. But it’s premature to be heralding June 2012 as having record low Arctic sea ice extent before the month is even over, particularly as sea ice extent is not currently tracking at record low levels.
The Guardian article says Arctic sea ice “has melted faster this year than ever recorded before”, under the online headline “Arctic sea-ice levels at record low for June”.
This headline could be read in two ways. The first interpretation is that Arctic sea ice extent for the month of June is at a record low. But can we know that before the month is out? The second is that at some point in June Arctic sea ice was at a record low. But does highlighting a few days of sea ice behaviour best illustrate what’s happening to the sea ice?
The piece also appeared in the print version of the Guardian yesterday with the headline “Arctic sea ice has melted faster than ever, say scientists”.
The Arctic sea ice is in long-term decline due to man made climate change, but it’s not a uniform decline – sea ice cover changes with the seasons, and the weather in the region affects how far the sea ice extends, particularly as it melts towards the ice minimum in late September.
During melt season, Arctic sea ice seems to get a lot of media attention, often with rather confusing results. This Guardian article was prompted by analysis from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), who provide daily updates and regular analysis of Arctic sea ice conditions.
The mention of that Guardian Newspaper article is worth clicking through to, if only to enjoy the fabulous photograph, as below:
Back to that embedded link in the Carbon Brief posting to the US National Snow and Ice Data Center. It reveals a wealth of important information. Try this …
Rapid sea ice retreat in June
Arctic sea ice extent declined quickly in June, setting record daily lows for a brief period in the middle of the month. Strong ice loss in the Kara, Bering, and Beaufort seas, and Hudson and Baffin bays, led the overall retreat. Northern Hemisphere snow extent was unusually low in May and June, continuing a pattern of rapid spring snow melt seen in the past six years.
Overview of conditions
Arctic sea ice extent for June 2012 averaged 10.97 million square kilometers (4.24 million square miles). This was 1.18 million square kilometers (456,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average extent. The last three Junes (2010-2012) are the three lowest in the satellite record. June 2012 ice extent was 140,000 square kilometers (54,000 square miles) above the 2010 record low. Ice losses were notable in the Kara Sea, and in the Beaufort Sea, where a large polynya has formed. Retreat of ice in the Hudson and Baffin bays also contributed to the low June 2012 extent. The only area of the Arctic where sea ice extent is currently above average is along the eastern Greenland coast.
Get your mind around this image that comes from the latest NSIDC report.
That old saying that I opened with, the one about There are those that do, etc.
No question in my mind that firmly in the camp of those that do is Mother Nature! Anyone prepared?
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
I came across this wonderful quotation on a blogsite called Wibble! It was a comment to a post with the compelling title of It is vitally important not to make connections and explains that the quote was made by Dr. Seuss in the film The Lorax.
For me that quotation sums up how I would like to reply to not only my dear friend, Dan Gomez, who is a denialist of anthropogenic climate change, as last Monday’s Post illustrated, but also to skeptics everywhere else.
I should also add the important qualifier that I am neither a scientist nor have any expert skills in the relevant areas. But, then again, neither does Dan. He and I are both citizens of Planet Earth with a passion for the truth.
So where to go from here? There is no question that the Earth’s climate is complex and endeavouring to understand ’cause and effect’ relies heavily on mathematical models. But many complex aspects of our world are treated similarly, therefore so what! Dan and I share with millions of others a lack of scientific competence, ergo we have to be rely on the scientific views expressed by those who do have the scientific competencies.
Would one challenge the competence of Scientific American magazine, that in an article on March 18, 2007, (five years ago!) opened thus,
Paris–The signs of global climate change are clear: melting glaciers, earlier blooms and rising temperatures. In fact, 11 of the past 12 years rank among the hottest ever recorded.
and continued later with this, [my emboldening]
For example, after objections by Saudi Arabia and China, the report dropped a sentence stating that the impact of human activity on the earth’s heat budget exceeds that of the sun by fivefold. “The difference is really a factor of 10,” says lead author Piers Forster of the University of Leeds in England: compared with its historical output, the sun currently contributes an extra 0.12 watt of energy for each square meter of the earth’s surface, whereas man-made sources trap an additional 1.6 watts per square meter.
Or what ‘influence’ might be at play when the British newspaper The Guardian reported earlier this year that,
Wall Street Journal rapped over climate change stance
Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent
The Wall Street Journal has received a dressing down from a large group of leading scientists for promoting retrograde and out-of-date views on climate change. In an opinion piece run by the Journal on Wednesday, nearly 40 scientists, including acknowledged climate change experts, took on the paper for publishing an article disputing the evidence on global warming.
The offending article, No Need to Panic About Global Warming, which appeared last week, argued that climate change was a cunning ploy deployed by governments to raise taxes and by non-profit organisations to solicit donations to save the planet.
It was signed by 16 scientists who don’t subscribe to the conventional wisdom that climate change is happening and is largely man-made – but as Wednesday’s letter points out, many of those who signed don’t actually work in climate science.
Later in that article Suzanne writes, referring to the 40 scientists, [again, my emboldening]
The letter goes on to note that some 97% of researchers who actively publish on climate science agree that climate change is real and caused by humans. It concludes: “It would be an act of recklessness for any political leader to disregard the weight of evidence and ignore the enormous risks that climate change clearly poses.”
There’s much, much more evidence that shows that the science is clear – mankind is risking the future viability of this planet for the species homo sapiens and countless other species!
One of the important points made by Dan in that Post last Monday was about the book, written by Senator James Inhofe, The Greatest Hoax. Dan wrote, “This is all about money and power, not weather.“
There are a number of independent websites across the world where one can quickly research the credentials and background by name of any person. Try Skeptical Science as an example. A quick enquiry using Senator Inhofe’s name came up with this: Quotes by James Inhofe – Climate Myth/What the Science Says. Read It! And read this on the website Think Progress. There are other websites where one can do that type of research.
In an email just a day ago, Dan wrote, “My message/warning remains the same: “Follow the Money”. When the “End-of-the-World” is the message, what politician can resist?” If only it was that easy.
OK, I’m going to start rounding this all off by first asking you to watch this 4-minute video that I came across thanks to Pedantry’s blogsite Wibble.
Next I’m going to repeat something that I have previously mentioned on Learning from Dogs. There’s a saying in the aviation industry, “If there’s any doubt, there’s no doubt!” That saying underpins the culture that has turned commercial air transport into one of the safest means of travel in history.
Let’s ponder that idea of doubt.
There is no question that there is a great deal of doubt. Back in 2010 Gallup Poll reported that ”42% of adults worldwide who see global warming as a threat to themselves and their families in 2010 hasn’t budged in the last few years“.
Would you get into a commercial airliner to fly from ‘a’ to ‘b’ if 42% of the passengers saw the flight as a threat to themselves? No, of course not!
So one certainly wouldn’t fly then if 62% thought it was risky! From here,
The newest study from the National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change, which is a biannual survey taken since fall 2008 and organized by the Brookings Institute, shows that 62 percent of Americans now believe that man-made climate change is occurring, and 26 percent do not. The others are unsure.
So back to the theme that started this Post. For the sake of all of us on this planet, for all our children and grandchildren and beyond, we need to start caring deeply about the future, changing our life-styles in as many ways as we can and demanding that our politicians and leaders are similarly committed to the future.
Not because the future is anything like certain – but to reduce the risks of a global catastrophy. I have a grandson who will be one-year-old on March 21st. I want to be certain that he has a viable life ahead of him for many, many years. That means caring ‘a whole awful lot‘, letting hope motivate me to change, and recognising that change is already taking place, as the following trailer so superbly demonstrates.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
An opportunity to watch a new video of Rupert Sheldrake talking about his new book The Science Delusion
I have written or referred to Rupert Sheldrake many times previously on Learning from Dogs. I have also read the book by Mr. Sheldrake, Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home. (The linked title takes you to something I published about the book and the author on the 9th May, 2011 and also links to other articles about Rupert Sheldrake.)
Previously, I had written about what Rupert Sheldrake calls morphic resonance and morphic fields, see my article here.
Yesterday, I received an email promoting Sheldrake’s new book. This is what it said,
In my last newsletter I said that the UK launch of my new book The Science Delusion would be streamed live from Kings College, London University, on January 17, but unfortunately the internet connection at King College broke down, so this did not happen.
Clearly they were able to film that launch and that video link is available, but only until February 7th, 2012! So if you want to watch the video then please go here. I am not able to embed that into this Post. You will be going to the video of this:
THE SCIENCE DELUSION: FREEING THE SPIRIT OF INQUIRY
January 17, 2012, 7pm – 8:30pm (GMT), 2pm – 3:30pm (EST)
Venue: Great Hall King’s College London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS
In addition, that email newsletter carried the link to a review of the new book in the British Guardian newspaper, by Mary Midgley. It starts thus,
The unlucky fact that our current form of mechanistic materialism rests on muddled, outdated notions of matter isn’t often mentioned today. It’s a mess that can be ignored for everyday scientific purposes, but for our wider thinking it is getting very destructive. We can’t approach important mind-body topics such as consciousness or the origins of life while we still treat matter in 17th-century style as if it were dead, inert stuff, incapable of producing life. And we certainly can’t go on pretending to believe that our own experience – the source of all our thought – is just an illusion, which it would have to be if that dead, alien stuff were indeed the only reality.
If you want to read the review in full then it is here. (If you are a follower of Rupert Sheldrake, best not to take the comments to Mary’s article too seriously!)
Also, the Guardian blog carried a piece by Mark Vernon, that opened thus,
Werner Heisenberg, one of the founding fathers of quantum physics, once observed that history could be divided into periods according to what people of the time made of matter. In his book Physics and Philosophy, published in the early 60s, he argued that at the beginning of the 20th century we entered a new period. It was then that quantum physics threw off the materialism that dominated the natural sciences of the 19th century.
Of materialism, he wrote:
“[This] frame was so narrow and rigid that it was difficult to find a place in it for many concepts of our language that had always belonged to its very substance, for instance, the concept of mind, of the human soul or of life. Mind could be introduced into the general picture only as a kind of mirror of the material world.”
Today we live in the 21st century, and it seems that we are still stuck with this narrow and rigid view of the things. As Rupert Sheldrake puts it in his new book, published this week, The Science Delusion: “The belief system that governs conventional scientific thinking is an act of faith, grounded in a 19th-century ideology.”
Mark Vernon closes the fascinating piece with these tantalising words.
The analogy has the benefit of naturalising extrasensory perception, Watts notes. But it also raises problems. For example, how would it be possible mentally “to touch” objects that don’t exist, as would happen when contemplating a centaur? Watts concludes: “An adequate account of the mind must encompass both first- and third-person description whereas the idea of a ‘field’, along with the other spatial descriptions that Sheldrake uses, seem to be exclusively third-person type descriptions.” Oddly, this is a strikingly 19th century attitude to have.
Nonetheless, Sheldrake must welcome such serious engagement with his work. He may not be right in the details. But he is surely right, with Heisenberg, in insisting that the materialist world view must go.
Don’t rely on my short excerpts, read the article in full here.
For my money, this will be a book that I won’t miss reading!
Big shift of topic from yesterday!
Yesterday, I wrote about the fabulous success of the British otter having gone from the crumbling edge of extinction to now being found in every English county.
Aliens may destroy humanity to protect other civilisations, say scientists
Rising greenhouse emissions could tip off aliens that we are a rapidly expanding threat, warns a report
It may not rank as the most compelling reason to curb greenhouse gases, but reducing our emissions might just save humanity from a pre-emptive alien attack, scientists claim.
Watching from afar, extraterrestrial beings might view changes in Earth’s atmosphere as symptomatic of a civilisation growing out of control – and take drastic action to keep us from becoming a more serious threat, the researchers explain.
This highly speculative scenario is one of several described by a Nasa-affiliated scientist and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University that, while considered unlikely, they say could play out were humans and alien life to make contact at some point in the future.
Shawn Domagal-Goldman of Nasa’s Planetary Science Division and his colleagues compiled a list of plausible outcomes that could unfold in the aftermath of a close encounter, to help humanity “prepare for actual contact”.
In their report, Would Contact with Extraterrestrials Benefit or Harm Humanity? A Scenario Analysis, the researchers divide alien contacts into three broad categories: beneficial, neutral or harmful.
Beneficial encounters ranged from the mere detection of extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI), for example through the interception of alien broadcasts, to contact with cooperative organisms that help us advance our knowledge and solve global problems such as hunger, poverty and disease.
Another beneficial outcome the authors entertain sees humanity triumph over a more powerful alien aggressor, or even being saved by a second group of ETs. “In these scenarios, humanity benefits not only from the major moral victory of having defeated a daunting rival, but also from the opportunity to reverse-engineer ETI technology,” the authors write.
Other kinds of close encounter may be less rewarding and leave much of human society feeling indifferent towards alien life. The extraterrestrials may be too different from us to communicate with usefully. They might invite humanity to join the “Galactic Club” only for the entry requirements to be too bureaucratic and tedious for humans to bother with. They could even become a nuisance, like the stranded, prawn-like creatures that are kept in a refugee camp in the 2009 South African movie, District 9, the report explains.
The most unappealing outcomes would arise if extraterrestrials caused harm to humanity, even if by accident. While aliens may arrive to eat, enslave or attack us, the report adds that people might also suffer from being physically crushed or by contracting diseases carried by the visitors. In especially unfortunate incidents, humanity could be wiped out when a more advanced civilisation accidentally unleashes an unfriendly artificial intelligence, or performs a catastrophic physics experiment that renders a portion of the galaxy uninhabitable.
To bolster humanity’s chances of survival, the researchers call for caution in sending signals into space, and in particular warn against broadcasting information about our biological make-up, which could be used to manufacture weapons that target humans. Instead, any contact with ETs should be limited to mathematical discourse “until we have a better idea of the type of ETI we are dealing with.”
The authors warn that extraterrestrials may be wary of civilisations that expand very rapidly, as these may be prone to destroy other life as they grow, just as humans have pushed species to extinction on Earth. In the most extreme scenario, aliens might choose to destroy humanity to protect other civilisations.
“A preemptive strike would be particularly likely in the early phases of our expansion because a civilisation may become increasingly difficult to destroy as it continues to expand. Humanity may just now be entering the period in which its rapid civilisational expansion could be detected by an ETI because our expansion is changing the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere, via greenhouse gas emissions,” the report states.
“Green” aliens might object to the environmental damage humans have caused on Earth and wipe us out to save the planet. “These scenarios give us reason to limit our growth and reduce our impact on global ecosystems. It would be particularly important for us to limit our emissions of greenhouse gases, since atmospheric composition can be observed from other planets,” the authors write.
Even if we never make contact with extraterrestrials, the report argues that considering the potential scenarios may help to plot the future path of human civilisation, avoid collapse and achieve long-term survival.
I am bound to say that if Mr Domagal-Goldman and his colleagues believe that spending time and money on the possible outcomes of contact with extraterrestrials is a good idea in these present times then I am minded about those other visitors from outer space who passed Planet Earth by because there were no signs of intelligent life!
Here’s Alex Jones on the topic …