They always build one door opposite another for the wind to. Way in. Way out.


Berkeley Earth has just released analysis of land-surface temperature records going back 250 years, about 100 years further than previous studies. The analysis shows that the rise in average world land temperature globe is approximately 1.5 degrees C in the past 250 years, and about 0.9 degrees in the past 50 years. […]

Many of the changes in land-surface temperature can be explained by a combination of volcanoes and a proxy for human greenhouse gas emissions. Solar variation does not seem to impact the temperature trend.

{ Berkeley Earth | Continue reading }

Stick a fork in it


A thousand years ago, the Doge Pietro Orseolo II took his triumphant naval fleet to the sea entrance at the Lido and ceremoniously threw a diamond ring into the water, thus marrying his city to the Adriatic and securing Venice’s dominion over its waters and trade routes. […]

When Goethe visited Venice for just over two weeks in 1786, he climbed the campanile twice, at high tide and then at low tide. It was from this tower that, at the age of 37 and already famous, he saw the sea for the first time in his life. […]

Now we know for sure that the ocean is rising faster than Venice will subside.

{ Aeon | Continue reading }

photo { Roman Noven and Tania Shcheglova }

‘The old woman dies, the burden is lifted.’ –Schopenhauer


This report spells out what the world would be like if it warmed by 4 degrees Celsius, which is what scientists are nearly unanimously predicting by the end of the century, without serious policy changes.

The 4°C scenarios are devastating: the inundation of coastal cities; increasing risks for food production potentially leading to higher malnutrition rates; many dry regions becoming dryer, wet regions wetter; unprecedented heat waves in many regions, especially in the tropics; substantially exacerbated water scarcity in many regions; increased frequency of high-intensity tropical cyclones; and irreversible loss of biodiversity, including coral reef systems. […]

The science is unequivocal that humans are the cause of global warming, and major changes are already being observed: global mean warming is 0.8°C above pre industrial levels; oceans have warmed by 0.09°C since the 1950s and are acidifying; sea levels rose by about 20 cm since pre-industrial times and are now rising at 3.2 cm per decade; an exceptional number of extreme heat waves occurred in the last decade; major food crop growing areas are increasingly affected by drought.

{ World Bank | PDF }

We must return from the “forma formata” to the “formaformans”; in other words, we must move from that which “has become” to the “very principle of becoming.”


Coffee is under threat from climate change, according to a study which found that popular Arabica beans could face extinction within decades.

Rising global temperatures and subtle changes in seasonal conditions could make 99.7 per cent of Arabica-growing areas unsuitable for the plant by 2080. […]

Identifying new sites where arabica could be grown away from its natural home in the mountains of Ethiopia and South Sudan could be the only way of preventing the demise of the species, researchers said.

{ Telegraph | Continue reading }

unrelated {List of unsolved problems }

‘We dead yo.’ –Samantha Hinds


{ Three satellites found that 97 percent of Greenland — the land mass second only to Antarctica for its volume of ice — underwent a thaw never before seen in 33 years of satellite tracking, NASA reported Tuesday. Satellite experts at first didn’t trust their readings, especially since they showed an incredible acceleration. Over four days, Greenland’s ice sheet — which covers 683,000 square miles – went from 40 percent in thaw to nearly entirely in thaw. | NBC | Continue reading | Thanks Samantha }

And I’m gonna shine homie until my heart stops


Using scientific theories, toy ecosystem modeling and paleontological evidence as a crystal ball, 18 scientists, including one from Simon Fraser University, predict we’re on a much worse collision course with Mother Nature than currently thought. […]

Earth’s accelerating loss of biodiversity, its climates’ increasingly extreme fluctuations, its ecosystems’ growing connectedness and its radically changing total energy budget are precursors to reaching a planetary state threshold or tipping point.

Once that happens, which the authors predict could be reached this century, the planet’s ecosystems, as we know them, could irreversibly collapse in the proverbial blink of an eye.

{ EurekAlert | Continue reading }

You’re born under the sign of Libra, which represents the element of air, or the intellect


The season in which a baby is born apparently influences the risk of developing mental disorders later in life, suggests a large new study.

The season of birth may affect everything from eyesight and eating habits to birth defects and personality later in life. Past research has also hinted the season one is born in might affect mental health, with scientists suggesting a number of reasons for this apparent effect. […]

The researchers found that all the mental disorders they looked at showed seasonal distributions. Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder had statistically significant peaks in January, and significant lows in July, August and September. Depression saw an almost significant May peak and a significant November deficit.

{ LiveScience | Continue reading }

I paid my way. I paid my way. Steady on.


For decades, a small group of scientific dissenters has been trying to shoot holes in the prevailing science of climate change, offering one reason after another why the outlook simply must be wrong.

Over time, nearly every one of their arguments has been knocked down by accumulating evidence, and polls say 97 percent of working climate scientists now see global warming as a serious risk.

Yet in recent years, the climate change skeptics have seized on one last argument that cannot be so readily dismissed. Their theory is that clouds will save us.

They acknowledge that the human release of greenhouse gases will cause the planet to warm. But they assert that clouds — which can either warm or cool the earth, depending on the type and location — will shift in such a way as to counter much of the expected temperature rise and preserve the equable climate on which civilization depends.

Their theory exploits the greatest remaining mystery in climate science, the difficulty that researchers have had in predicting how clouds will change. The scientific majority believes that clouds will most likely have a neutral effect or will even amplify the warming, perhaps strongly, but the lack of unambiguous proof has left room for dissent.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

photo { Robert Whitman }

‘Did you ever notice that ‘What the hell’ is always the right decision?’ –Marilyn Monroe


{ The Weather Stone }

O heaven above me, thou modest one! thou glowing one! O thou, my happiness before sunrise!


I’ve covered these highly counter-intuitive findings before and the title of that article sums it up: Weather Has Little Effect on Mood.

Most of us intuitively think the weather has quite a strong effect on our mood. Many assume that the rain and cold weather depresses us and sun and warmth perks us up.

So why don’t we see this effect in the research?

That’s the question a new study by Klimstra et al. (2011) tries to answer.

And it turns out this is true. In fact Klimstra et al. found four distinct groups:

1. Unaffected
2. Summer lovers
3. Summer haters
4. Rain haters

{ PsyBlog | Continue reading }

photo { Mark Rice }

I know right? When’s it scheduled for again?


Climate scientists have long warned that if we continue to burn fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas as our dominant source of energy, the planet will warm, extreme events will increase, and we will become more vulnerable to disasters. Overall, the planet has warmed about 1.2°F over the past century. Since I was born in 1970, the United States has heated up at a pace of 0.5°F per decade. As Lemonick points out, ”Scientists know that the increasing load of greenhouse gases we’re pumping into the atmosphere doesn’t “cause” extreme weather. But it does raise the odds, just as a diet of triple bacon cheeseburgers raises the odds of heart disease.”

All weather is now born into an environment that is warmer and moister because of man-made, heat-trapping greenhouse gas pollution. Thanks in part to warmer oceans, there is 4 percent more water vapor in the atmosphere and that amount will continue to increase as the planet warms, providing more fuel for storms. Droughts, wildfires, heat waves and heavy downpours are going to become more frequent, more intense and longer lasting. In fact, we can already see this playing out in historical data.

{ Salon | Continue reading | More: Why do people still deny climate change? }

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded in its most recent assessment report: “warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.” And as data continue to pile up, the evidence gets ever stronger that human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause of the observed warming over the past century.

But hurricanes are difficult. Climate models predict that they will become more intense. At the same time, considerable uncertainty remains. We have only about 40 years of reliable observational records, which precludes a clear determination of their variability. Given that different aspects of climate change could act to increase or decrease hurricane activity, whether or not Katrina can be ascribed to global warming is a challenge beset by difficulty.

{ Slate | Continue reading | More: When should we blame climate change for natural disasters? }

Humanity has done little to address climate change. Global emissions of carbon dioxide reached (another) all-time peak in 2010. The most recent international talks to craft a global treaty to address the problem pushed off major action until 2020. Fortunately, there’s an alternative—curbing the other greenhouse gases.

Specifically, in the case of rapid action to slow catastrophic climate change, the best alternatives appear to be: methane and black carbon (otherwise known as soot). A new economic and scientific analysis published in Science on January 13 of the benefits of cutting these two greenhouse gases finds the benefits to be manifold—from human health to increased agricultural yields.

Even better, by analyzing some 400 potential soot- and methane-emission control measures, the international team of researchers found that just 14 deliver “nearly 90 percent” of the potential benefits. Bonus: the 14 steps also restrain global warming by roughly 0.5 degree Celsius by 2050, according to computer modeling.

{ Scientific American | Continue reading }

‘There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by experience. And then there is California.’ –Edward Abbey


Global warming seems inevitable. So maybe we should stop trying to prevent it and start finding ways to live with it — through adaptation.

{ Ode | Continue reading }

photo { Alan Grillo }

Thou’lt find each day a greater rapture bringing


In the four billion years since life on Earth began, there have been five times when there was a sudden mass extinction of life-forms. The last time was 65 million years ago, when the dinosaurs were killed, probably by a meteor. But now the world’s scientists agree that the sixth mass extinction is at hand. Humans have accelerated the rate of species extinction by a factor of at least 100, and the great Harvard biologist EO Wilson warns that it could reach a factor of 10,000 within the next 20 years. We are doing this largely by stripping species of their habitats. We are destroying the planet’s biodiversity, and so we are making the natural chains that keep us alive much more vulnerable to collapse. This time, we are the meteor.

At the same time, we are dramatically warming the atmosphere. I know it has become terribly passé to listen to virtually all the world’s scientists, but I remember the collapsing glaciers I saw in the Arctic, the drying-out I saw in Darfur, and the rising salt water I saw in Bangladesh. 2010 was the joint-hottest year ever recorded, according to Nasa. The best scientific prediction is that we are now on course for a 3ft rise in global sea levels this century. That means goodbye London, Cairo, Bangkok, Venice and Shanghai. Doubt it if you want, but the US National Academy of Sciences – the most distinguished scientific body in the world – just found that 97 per cent of scientific experts agree with the evidence.

{ The Independent | Continue reading }

painting { Jean-Léon Gérôme }

If I didn’t smell so good would you still hug me?


If you think global warming is some distant threat, come visit Yellowstone, our most beloved national park. Acres of trees are dying, trout runs are disappearing, and starving bears are attacking campers. It’s an ecosystem in collapse, and things are only getting worse.

{ Men’s Journal | Continue reading }

After world crude oil prices collapsed in 1985 (temporarily below $5 per barrel), American SUVs began their rapid diffusion that culminated in using the Hummer H1, a civilian version of a U.S. military assault vehicle weighing nearly 3.5 tonnes, for trips to grocery stores.

{ American Scientist | Continue reading }

Told me that law, like wine, is ageless


The first day of spring arrives on varying dates (from March 19-21) in different years for two reasons: Our year is not exactly an even number of days; and Earth’s slightly noncircular orbit, plus the gravitational tug of the other planets, constantly changes our planet’s orientation to the sun from year to year.

This year, spring started Sunday, March 20, at 7:21 p.m. EDT (23:21 UTC). That’s when the so-called vernal equinox occurs.

{ LiveScience | Continue reading }

‘No, I have already said it elsewhere. This earth has had all the exoticism washed out of it. If in a hundred years we have not established contact with some other planet (but we will), or, next best, with the earth’s interior, humanity is finished.’ –Henri Michaux


For centuries people living in the Middle East have dreamed of turning the sandy desert into land fit for growing crops with fresh water on tap.

Now that holy grail is a step closer after scientists employed by the ruler of Abu Dhabi claim to have generated a series of downpours.

Fifty rainstorms were created last year in the state’s eastern Al Ain region using technology designed to control the weather.

{ Daily Mail | Continue reading }

I paid my way. I never borrowed a shilling in my life. Can you feel that? I owe nothing.


Natural lightning is caused by the build-up of electric charge in thunderstorms. Florida, lying out as a prong between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, is especially prone to these. Sea breezes from the two warm bodies of water head inland and collide over the centre of the state. The warm air rushes upwards and then condenses into rain, ice, hail and something called graupel (a mixture of all three). As those particles collide and rub against each other, positive and negative electrical charges build up and separate in the clouds. Lightning occurs when those charges become so great that the air breaks down and conducts electricity between the two – mostly from cloud to cloud, but also down to the ground. ­“Triggered” lightning works by firing a rocket into the storm at around this moment. A copper wire attached to the rocket offers the charge an easy route to the ground and, about 70 per cent of the time, it takes it. (…)

The resulting wave of research, much of it funded by Nasa, laid the basis for current lightning safety. Many of lightning’s physical characteristics – its speed, temperature and current – were ascertained. Triggered lightning was used to test aircraft parts, runways, houses and power lines, and detection systems for lightning strikes were built across the world. Lightning still kills about 25,000 people a year (overwhelmingly in the developing world) and causes $1bn of damage annually in the US, but in terms of ­protection at least, a truce was declared.

In terms of how we understand it, however, lightning has only got stranger. The past 20 years have seen a series of confounding discoveries. In 1989, a group of scientists from the University of Minnesota were testing a video camera when they accidentally recorded an odd blossom of lightning rising out of the top of a storm. Over the next decade, other unexplained luminous phenomena (dubbed “Red Sprites”, “Blue Jets” and “Elves”) were also identified, billowing up from thunderstorms in columns and rings as high as 100km above Earth. Complicating matters further, in 2001 lightning was found to emit radiation. Not in odd or meagre quantities either. At every single stagger and step, lightning channels are now known to generate enough X-rays for a chest X-ray, despite having no obvious physical means to do so. Sometimes they also manage to blast off huge quantities of gamma rays, more often associated with collapsing stars – a process that may pose an as-yet poorly understood risk to aircraft.

{ Financial Times | Continue reading }

image { Pierre Huyghe, No Ghost, Just a Shell, 2001 | More: video }

‘Nothing lasts. You can’t count on anything but yourself.’ –Dashiell Hammett


Giant ice sheets in Antarctica behave like mirrors, reflecting the sun’s energy and moderating the world’s temperatures. The waxing and waning of these ice sheets contribute to changes in sea level and affect ocean circulation, which regulates our climate by transporting heat around the planet.

Despite their present-day cold temperatures, the poles were not always covered with ice. New climate records recovered from Antarctica during the recent Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) “Wilkes Land Glacial History” Expedition show that approximately 53 million years ago, Antarctica was a warm, sub-tropical environment. During this same period, known as the “greenhouse” or “hothouse” world, atmospheric CO2 levels exceeded those of today by ten times.

Then suddenly, Antarctica’s lush environment transitioned into its modern icy realm. In only 400,000 years — a mere blink of an eye in geologic time — concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide decreased. Global temperatures dropped. Ice sheets developed. Antarctica became ice-bound.

How did this change happen so abruptly and how stable can we expect ice sheets to be in the future?

To answer these questions, an international team of scientists participating in the Wilkes Land Glacial History Expedition spent two months aboard the scientific research vessel JOIDES Resolution in early 2010, drilling geological samples from the seafloor near the coast of Antarctica. Despite negotiating icebergs, near gale-force winds, snow, and fog, they managed to recover approximately 2,000 meters (over one mile) of sediment core.

{ ScienceDaily | Continue reading }

photo { Alessandro Zuek Simonetti }

‘Nobody gets justice. People only get good luck or bad luck.’ –Orson Welles


The question of nutrition is closely related to that of locality and climate. None of us can live anywhere; and he who has great tasks to perform, which demand all his energy, has, in this respect, a very limited choice. The influence of climate upon the bodily functions, affecting their retardation or acceleration, is so great, that a blunder in the choice of locality and climate may not merely alienate a man from his duty, but may withhold it from him altogether, so that he never comes face to face with it. Animal vigor never preponderates in him to the extent that it lets him attain that exuberant freedom in which he may say to himself: I, alone, can do that. (…)

The slightest torpidity of the intestines, once it has become a habit, is quite sufficient to turn a genius into something mediocre, something “German;” the climate of Germany, alone, is more than enough to discourage the strongest and most heroic intestines. Upon the tempo of the body’s functions closely depend the agility or the slowness of the spirit’s feet; indeed spirit itself is only a form of these bodily functions. Enumerate the places in which men of great intellect have been and are still found; where wit, subtlety, and malice are a part, of happiness; where genius is almost necessarily at home: all of them have an unusually dry atmosphere. Paris, Provence, Florence, Jerusalem, Athens–these names prove this: that genius is dependent on dry air, on clear skies–in other words, on rapid organic functions, on the possibility of contenuously securing for one’s self great and even’s quantities of energy. I have a case in mind where a man of significant and independent mentality became a narrow, craven specialist, and a crank, simply because he had no feeling for climate. I myself might have come to the same end, if illness had not forced me to reason, and to reflect upon reason realistically.

Now long practice has taught me to read the effects of climatic and meteorological influences, from self-observation, as though from a very delicate and reliable instrument, so that I can calculate the change in the degree of atmospheric moisture by means of this physiological selfobservation, even on so short a journey as that from Turin to Milan; accordingly I think with horror of the ghastly fact that my whole life, up to the last ten years–the most dangerous years–has always been spent in the wrong places, places that should have been precisely forbidden to me. (…)

But it was ignorance of physiology–that confounded “Idealism”–that was the real curse of my life, the superfluous and stupid element in it; from which nothing good could develop, for which there can be no settlement and no compensation. The consequences of this “Idealism” explain all the blunders, the great aberrations of instinct, and the modest specializations which diverted me from my life-task; as, for instance, the fact that I became a philologist–why not at least a doctor or anything else that might have opened my eyes? During my stay at Basel, my whole intellectual routine, including my daily schedule, was an utterly senseless abuse of extraordinary powers, without any sort of compensation for the strength I spent, without even a thought of its exhaustion and the problem of replacement. I lacked that subtle egoism, the protection that an imperative instinct gives; I regarded all men as my equals, I was disinterested, I forgot my distance from others–in short, I was in a condition for which I can never forgive myself. When I had almost reached the end, simply because I had almost reached it, I began to reflect upon the basic absurdity of my life-ldealism. It was illness that first brought me to reason.

{ Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, 1888 }

photo { Reto Caduff }

You ain’t no gangsta


{ For nearly 30 years, India and Bangladesh have argued over control of a tiny rock island in the Bay of Bengal. Now rising sea levels have resolved the dispute for them: the island’s gone. }

photo { Christophe Kutner }