Science Friday: Our race between education and catastrophe
November 23, 2007
- Highly Allochthonous gives us a glimpse at an old catastrophe in Black horizon, out of the ice age and into the asteroid shower. I just love stuff like this, it really sets my imagination going. For example, imagine what it would be like if something like that happened now? Because, it doesn’t really cost that much to keep our eyes open.
- The new IPCC report may be waking up all but the most denial-bound. It certainly got the UN’s attention: Climate change irreversible? UN chief urges breakthrough after dire IPCC report released. It does remind me of that old quote from HG Wells: “Civilization is a race between education and catastrophe.”
- If you’re a science fiction fan, you are familiar with geoengineering, or changing the surface of a planet to make it more hospitable for human life. Waddya think, should we try it that first time on our own planet? Check out David Keith’s TedTalk: – geoengineering for cooler climate”. He isn’t actually advocating we try geoengineering instead of conservation and new technology, but makes a very cogent case for at least studying the idea.
- The first-ever “State of the carbon cycle” report was just released, and it ain’t pretty. Main problem is, a number of carbon-sinks that have moderated atmospheric carbon levels until now, may be reaching their carrying capacity. The largest of these sinks is our oceans, which have absorbed carbon dioxide by becoming more acidic. This is actually “not” a good thing so the Senate may fund a study on it. Well if the study reveals that it’s a problem I’m sure they’ll spring into action like they always do.
- How about an ocean story that has absolutely nothing to do with carbon dioxide or global warming? It turns out the old sailor’s legends of giant rogue waves in the middle of nowhere, are true. Well I’m sure that’s some comfort to Davy Jones and all his friends.
- While we’re on ocean ecology, it doesn’t look good for the bluefin tuna. Amazing… if you take more adults from a population than it can replenish, the population goes down. Who knew? I guess it’s just another darn case of market failure.
- Just to end on a positive note, there’s an enormous telecom satellite going up that will “deliver high-bandwidth services, such as mobile internet, to Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.” It will “allow people to set up virtual offices anywhere around the world – on land or at sea. Users get half-a-megabit connections through small, laptop-sized terminals. Customers include business travelers, disaster relief workers, journalists, and people in the petrochemical and maritime industries.”
- What’s cool about it is that it will enable entirely new business communication models in the emerging African economy, allowing them to technologically leapfrog us dowdy old first-worlders. If it’s anything Africa needs now, it’s a boost in prosperity.
I’m still trying to decide on the main topic for next week’s SciFri but have run into a lot of neat stuff. Bionic prosthetics? Algae diesel? Train efficiency?