Archive for June, 2006

Big crater seen beneath ice sheet

Sunday, June 4th, 2006

What appears to be a 480km-wide (300 miles) crater has been detected under the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. The scientists behind the discovery say it could have been made by a massive meteorite strike 250 million years ago.

The feature at Wilkes Land was found by Nasa satellites that are mapping subtle differences in the Earth’s gravity.

Steep dive in albatross numbers

Sunday, June 4th, 2006

Albatrosses on islands in the South Atlantic are being pushed to the brink of extinction, according to research.

Book – Rare Earth

Sunday, June 4th, 2006

We may be rarer than we think 

An assumption drilled into most of us by popular science fiction is that the stars are full of planets similar to Earth and that someday, we will learn how to travel between the stars and colonize them. For us then, a new and infinitely large frontier will open up and we will be able to escape the limitations and the mistakes we’ve made here on the planet which birthed our species.

This book should be required reading for folks on all sides of the ecology debates. It indicates that our future frontier may not exist and we will have to live here forever with the consequences of our thoughtlessness.

Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe by Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee

A debate on this subject

A book review:

Human Flu Transfers May Exceed Reports

Sunday, June 4th, 2006

One piece in the ‘Perfect Storm’ puzzle currently assembling itself is the Pandemic Piece. As human populations become denser, the probability that an extremely virulent bug will decimate us grows. Normally, bugs with such virulence kill their hosts before they can propagate to their next host and, in effect, their own virulence limits their ability to spread. But, as our populations grow denser, the probability also grows that such bugs will be able to spread from host to host quickly enough to survive.

In the wake of a cluster of avian flu cases that killed seven members of a rural Indonesian family, it appears likely that there have been many more human-to-human infections than the authorities have previously acknowledged.

The numbers are still relatively small, and they do not mean that the virus has mutated to pass easily between people a change that could touch off a worldwide epidemic. All the clusters of cases have been among relatives or in nurses who were in long, close contact with patients.

Full article:

An Inconvient Truth – Movie Review

Saturday, June 3rd, 2006

The part of the review, below, that I’ve highlighted is, to me, the strangest part of all of this; that so much hard science exists and people still don’t know due to obfuscation from the oil and coal industries.  Ross Gelbspan called this a ‘Crime against humanity’ in his book, Boiling Point.  I agree.

The environment has not resonated much with voters or politicians in the past, though the increasing popularity of hybrid cars and eco-friendly products and services might indicate a shift in attitudes. That something so important could be largely ignored for so long is almost inconceivable, and among the things the film does well is an analysis as to why that is. A 2004 Science magazine survey of more than 900 peer-reviewed academic papers on the subject of global warming found that all supported the reality while none contested it. However, a like sampling of mainstream media found that 53% of the stories portrayed global warming as something that was in doubt in the scientific community. The mixed message has kept the automobile and oil industries in the driver’s seat and the issue out of political debates.

Full review from the Los Angeles Times:

Portrait of a Perfect Economic Storm

Friday, June 2nd, 2006

Climate change, financial meltdown, and peak oil will devastate those segments of the economy dependent on oil subsidies and stable global supply lines.  These are no longer future issues.  A dramatic restructuring of the way we live, including a return to local food and energy self-reliance, has become an imperative.

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Will they speak in anger and frustration of the time of the Great Unraveling, when profligate consumption exceeded Earth’s capacity to sustain and led to an accelerating wave of collapsing environmental systems, violent competition for what remained of the planet’s resources, and a dramatic dieback of the human population? Or will they look back in joyful celebration on the time of the Great Turning, when their forebears embraced the higher-order potential of their human nature, turned crisis into opportunity, and learned to live in creative partnership with one another and Earth?

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