More Hazardous Weather Patterns for World

weather patterns ice cream truck

They say the erratic weather patterns got him. Poor truck never stood a chance in this heat. http://www.mobypicture.com/user/Joseeete/view/12792610

Pollution is affecting our climates, increasing the severity of storms, and causing shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. It has been said time and time again, and yet it continues to be said, with good reason might I add! A recent study published in the scientific journal Nature, conducted by a team headed by Camilo Mora, claims that global temperatures will be drastically climbing within a generation. In less than 50 years we can see historical increases in temperatures, beating all past recorded highs for global temperatures. Imagine unbearable summers, intense heat waves, and dry times causing droughts and famine. At the same time, imagine freezing winter storms, strange weather patterns and unpredictable seasons.  This is all in response to the amount of increase in greenhouse gas emissions and the effect they have on our temperature and weather patterns.

Related Article: Costly Climate Changes

Now you may be wondering what exactly it all means, what a good comparison would be. The world’s hottest day was on July 10, 1913, clocking in at 134 degrees Fahrenheit in Death Valley, California. With global temperatures on the rise, and with the study predicting a drastic increase of global highs within 50 years, we can expect to see that high of 134 degrees Fahrenheit once again being reached, maybe even surpassed, sometime in the near future. Yikes. It is not only the heat we have to worry abut, but the erratic weather patterns as well, causing melting ice caps, deadly storms, intense rain; just to name a few.

Related Article: The Ugly Face of Overpopulation 

After all, weather patterns are responsible for half of our daily waking lives:

  • It rains, we cancel our sporting activity (some hardcore players may disagree).
  • It snows, well SNOW DAY of course! (Sometimes).
  • Hurricane/Tornado/Typhoon, houses damaged.
  • Humid Hot Days, stay in and blast the A/C

Anyway, you get the point. Whether you agree that weather and weather patterns are intensifying and impacting the world is up to you, but what are our preventative measures against this? Some talk of greener technology, some speak of wind power and solar power, while some encourage changes in car performance and oil usage. Some ideas even recommend taking advantage of the increasingly severe weather patterns to embrace the positive changes and avoid or harness the bad.

None of these ideas are drastic enough to stop pollution all together, nothing drastic enough to clean up more pollution than we are generating. Maybe it is because we believe ourselves to be unbeatable and indestructible, that no matter what we do or destroy, human ingenuity will persevere.

Related Article: A Cheaper Alternative to Pollution

Actually, we humans have always adapted and something like changing weather patterns and rising temperatures would be nothing new for us. In fact, I believe it would call for new crop irrigation techniques, new ideas towards more efficient cooling systems, and maybe even force us to venture out into space to colonize planets for the sake of our survival. An extreme, yes, but with our rate of pollution, and with the way we like to live comfortably and excessively, I would not be surprised if the proposed colonization of Mars is actually a trial for the coming desperate times. Weather patterns may shift, but so will humanity.

Cheers to new methods of preventing pollution!

 

 

Research:

Study Abstract: The Projected Timing of Climate Departure From Recent Variability

Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science

Camilo Mora, Postdoctoral Employee

USA TODAY: World’s hottest day was 100 years ago in Death Valley

 

Wondergressive: I Believe in GMOs

Wondergressive: A Cheaper Alternative to Pollution

Wondergressive: The Ugly Face of Overpopulation

Wondergressive: Costly Climate Changes

Wondergressive: Sign Me up for Mars!

A Cheaper Alternative To Pollution

The world is getting crowded, or so we think, and with it there is the looming threat of traffic, angry people, excessive food waste, and of course pollution.

Pollution is very unhealthy, unpleasant, and unprofitable. The pollution we are causing from our transportation and daily lifestyles is in essence costing us a pretty penny. In the midst of all the spending on pollution, we have critics that argue for a new, pollution-less world. But wouldn’t that just be a costly upgrade and exuberant amount of money spent on something that will likely cost exorbitant amounts to maintain? According to a new study, not really. In fact, the constant use of coal as a power source yields a great deal of carbon based pollution, which turns out to be costly in itself.

Related Article: The Ugly Face of Overpopulation

Many would argue that with the cheap labor costs and manufacturing costs that accompany it, there really isn’t a cheaper alternative to “coal power.” However, based on this study, coal power is in fact not only an outdated method, but it is at least more costly than onshore wind power and the use of new natural gases. Laurie Johnson, an avid advocate and proprietor of the study, gets to the nitty-gritty point:

The study results show that our electricity system, which generates fully 40 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide pollution, is costly. Transitioning to cleaner energy won’t just help protect us and our children and grandchildren from climate change, it’s also good economics

More importantly she discusses not only the cost of production, but also the cost of damage caused by the pollution. It is no secret that global warming is causing more severe storms and climate changes, and it is also no secret that we pay a pretty penny for the destruction of our tyrant mother nature.

Related ArticleCostly Climate Changes

The study estimates that by 2018, coal will be so costly that it will cost at least .5 cents per kWh more than renewable clean energy. Although that sounds like a very little number, take into consideration that the average American uses over 11,000 kWh per year. Now multiply that by the roughly 300 million Americans in the USA and again multiply it by the .5 cents that coal costs to operate/clean/maintain. That’s-a-big a-pizza pie! The study itself concludes that:

Our estimates have important policy implications. For new electricity generation, they justify a much stronger standard than proposed last year by the Environmental Protection Agency, which was based upon natural gas emission rates. For existing source standards, which the EPA is also required to issue, they justify replacing a significant portion of the current coal fleet with new cleaner generation.

Related Article: Germany Sets Example for Global Climate Battle

Maybe it is time to give up the farce of maintaining fossil power plants and time to step up into a world of clean and renewable sources of energy. We continually progress to higher gas mileages and less pollution based cars, so why not apply this idea of clean usable energy more as a solution to our constant need for energy?

Cheers to clean energy!

 

 

Research:

Social Cost of Carbon

Laurie Johnson

 EIA.Gov American Electricity

Wondergressive: The Ugly Face of Overpopulation

Wondergressive: Costly Climate Changes

Wondergressive: Germany Sets Example for Global Climate Battle

Costly Climate Changes

 

A new study has yielded that with our current rate of pollution, we will have to waste some 60 trillion dollars due to climate change. That cost will not be up front, it is mostly found in money we will likely have to spend to counter all the effects of global warming. Mother Nature sure has expensive tastes. According to some figures posted in the International Weekly Journal of Science: Nature, we are causing some costly damage to our planet, but that should not come as a surprise to us as we are still completely dependent on fossil fuels and wars over oil still exist throughout the world.

Related Article: Ask an Astrobiologist: Global Warming and What to Expect

So what is it exactly? Why is this type of Global Warming a bad thing?

It seems to be that methane, which is stored under the melting ice of the Arctic, will be released as the melting icecaps continue to diminish. Researchers claim that:

A 50-gigatonne (Gt) reservoir of methane, stored in the form of hydrates, exists on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. It is likely to be emitted as the seabed warms, either steadily over 50 years or suddenly.

If all of that methane were to be released, we would most likely see a time where the climate shifts more than 2°C, causing intense weather patterns and wind pattern changes. Maybe you have noticed the recent intense weather patterns? The storms that rage and destroy? The flash floods that are intensifying in your area? The little degree or two extra that the global temperature has been altered by over the years is rapidly messing with our climate, and it is likely that we will only see more drastic results in our lifetimes if this sudden outpour of methane occurs.

Related Article: Climate Changes Too Fast, Evolution Can’t Keep Up

Still, 60 trillion dollars, isn’t that a bit much?

For a time there has been speculation that the coasts would plummet underwater and we would all live in a Waterworld! Oh Kevin Costner, you do tickle my fancy so. But all of that was of the extremist perspective of course. There are however smaller versions of this, for instance the idea that California’s coasts will be completely submerged may be a plausible theory if  all of Greenland’s ice melts. NRDC or Natural Resources Defense Council states that:

Greenland holds 10 percent of the total global ice mass. If it melts, sea levels could increase by up to 21 feet.

That 21 feet would likely raise sea levels and ocean levels high enough to take away from our beaches, and leave us with a smaller and less attractive California. Not to mention all the destruction and devastation in such an occurrence. And this is just California. In reality, the big thing to watch is the storms and wind pattern changes. And by watch I mean experience. In 2006 TIME posted that:

Two studies last year found that in the past 35 years the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes worldwide has doubled while the wind speed and duration of all hurricanes has jumped 50%.

That was in 2006. At that rate, we can expect many many more damaging changes and the price to pay for all that is very, very steep. It might be even higher than the predicted 60 trillion. In fact, all of this is happening and the release of methane stored under the icecaps hasn’t begun yet. Tis a dangerous road we walk upon.

Related Article: Germany Sets Example for Global Climate Battle

Leave it to us to mess up mother nature’s plan for Earth. Well, if its bound to happen anyways, might as well buy that Camaro ZL1 that I have always wanted and burn the crap out of some oil! MMM 580 HP…

 

Research:

Climate Science: Vast Costs of Arctic Change

TIME: Earth at the Tipping Point 

Chevrolet: Camaro ZL1

IMDB – Waterworld

Consequences of Global Warming

Wondergressive: Climate Changes Too Fast

Wondergressive: Germany Sets Example

Wondergressive: Ask an Astrobiologist

2800 Year Old Lake Life Survives in Complete Isolation

Scientists have discovered thriving bacteria living in Lake Vida in East Antarctica, a lake that is seven times as salty as the sea, pitch black, and 13 degrees below freezing.  Most interestingly, it has been buried for over 2800 years under 20 meters of ice.

The scientists believe that the bacteria, shut off from sunlight for 1000’s of years, evolved to be able to  survive by metabolising hydrogen and oxides of nitrogen that Vida’s salty, oxygen-free water has been found to contain.

The team hopes this will reveal information about potential life living under and within ice on other planets and moons.

Peter Doran of the University of Illinois, Chicago explains that:

Lake Vida is a model of what happens when you try to freeze a lake solid, and this is the same fate that any lakes on Mars would have gone through as the planet turned colder from a watery past.  Any Martian water bodies that did form would have gone through this Vida stage before freezing solid, entombing the evidence of the past ecosystem.

The team’s next expedition, which started on November 25th, will be drilling into Lake Ellsworth, also situated in Antarctica.  It is 3 km deep. If they do find living bacteria in Ellsworth too, I think it’s safe to begin preparing for the Martian greeting ceremony.

Life is everywhere!

 

Sources:

New Scientist: Lake life survives in total isolation for 3000 years

Lake Ellsworth Antarctica

https://wondergressive.com/2012/08/17/life-its-all-over-the-place/

First Time Photo Captures Double Helix Structure of DNA

For the first time in history scientists have taken a photo that shows the double helix shape of DNA clearly. Using an electron microscope, Enzo di Fabrizio from the University of Genoa, Italy, did what was once thought to be impossible.

The structure of DNA was first hypothesized (and later understood to be spot on) by Francis Crick, who  received a Nobel Prize for discovering the structure.  Interestingly, after remaining unable to piece together the details of the structure for some time, Crick was reportedly able to comprehend it fully while under the effects of LSD.

After Crick and his colleagues made the discovery, the double helix structure was further validated using x-ray crystallography.  Even that was still just convincing speculation.   Despite learning that DNA is a double helix in school, no one had any actual visual evidence for this claim and it remained a theory backed by some pretty solid mathematics.

Well, solid mathematics is now backed by solid photography.  Case closed.

Take a good, long look at that picture – that’s what you look like under an electron microscope.

 

Sources:

http://io9.com/5964239/scientists-snap-a-picture-of-dnas-double-helix-for-the-very-first-time?utm_source=io9.com&utm_medium=recirculation&utm_campaign=recirculation

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Crick

Generations of Life Created From Skin Cells

 

Dr Katsuhiko Hayashi, from Kyoto University, has used stem cells created from skin cells to create eggs. Those eggs were fertilized and gave birth to mice, which in turn, gave birth to more mice.

I recently posted about Johns Hopkins researchers successfully returning blood cells back to their original stem cell state.  Japan has taken the world of stem cells one step further.

First, the researchers turned the skin cells, which were initially reprogrammed into stem cells, into early versions of eggs.The eggs were then surrounded by  reconstituted ovaries and transplanted into female mice.

IVF techniques were used to collect the eggs, fertilize them with sperm from a male mouse and implant the fertilized egg into a surrogate mother.

The mice born from this procedure than had perfectly healthy baby mice of their own whose “grandmother was a cell in a laboratory dish.”

The researchers believe that this process could eventually help infertile couples have children with genetic relation to themselves using just a single skin cell.

Unfortunately Dr. Hayashi warned that:

it is impossible to adapt immediately this system to human stem cells, due to a number of not only scientific reasons, but also ethical reasons.

Researchers are concerned due to a still limited  level of understanding of human egg development as well as the long-term consequences of the health of any child developed using this process.

That being said, Dr Evelyn Telfer, from the University of Edinburgh state that:

If you can show it works in human cells it is like the Holy Grail of reproductive biology.

Professor Robert Norman, from the University of Adelaide, also added that:

For many infertile couples, finding they have no sperm or eggs is a devastating blow. This paper offers light to those who want a child, who is genetically related to them, by using personalized stem cells to create eggs that can produce an offspring that appears to be healthy. It also offers the potential for women to have their own children well past menopause raising even more ethical issues.

The researchers have their eyes on future human application and are very busy and careful in admitting that we still have a long way to go before we can confidently and safely use this procedure in human births, but let’s just recap what we’ve read here: A skin cell gave birth to a fertile, healthy mouse which in turn gave birth to another fertile, healthy mouse ad infinitum.  That, in and of itself, is a remarkable feat.

Just imagine the conversations we will be having in the future:

“Dad, can you tell us about Grandma again?”
“Not much to tell son, your grandmother was a spleen cell, but she loved you with all her… well, she just loved you.”

 

Sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19827287

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/johns_hopkins_researchers_return_blood_cells_to_stem_cell_state

A Planet Covered In Diamonds

news.nationalgeographic.com diamond planet

Picture: AFP/Yale University/Haven Giguere

 

Men are from Mars, women are from…Cancri 55 e.

Twice the size of our blue home, Cancri 55 e is a planet 40 light years away from Earth within the Cancer constellation.  A year on Cancri 55 e spans 18 hours and the surface temperature averages 2148 degrees Celsius. Doesn’t sound like the best vacation spot, but there is one thing Cancri 55 e has a surplus of; diamonds.  Oceans and mountains of diamonds.

Rather than water and rock, the surface of Cancri 55 e is completely covered and filled with diamond and graphite.

Looks like Cancri 55 e is a girl’s best, best friend.

 

 

Sources:

Astronomers find diamond planet Cancri 55 e, twice the size of Earth

Yale News- Nearby super-Earth likely a diamond planet

The Profound Intelligence and Intuition of Elephants

Everyday, biologists are realizing with greater clarity that we are not the only self-aware and/or highly intelligent species on the planet.  Many animals even score drastically higher on tests dealing with memory, language, and problem solving skills.

Elephants are one of these exceptionally intelligent species.  What is especially interesting about elephants is that they seem to have an extraordinary intuition as well.

Lawrence Anthony, a legend in South Africa known as the elephant whisperer, spent his entire life saving animals and rehabilitating elephants.  On March 7, 2012, Anthony died, and something incredible occurred.

Two days after his death, wild herds of elephants, 31 in total, visited Anthony’s home to say goodbye.  These elephants walked over 12 miles to reach his house in South Africa.  The elephants, who had not been to the house in over 3 years or more, somehow knew exactly when Anthony had passed away and came to pay their respects.  The elephants carried such profound emotional gratitude for this man, their friend, that they remained at his house for 2 days and 2 nights without eating any food.  Then, they simply walked back home.

When will we shed our ignorance and choose sight over blindness?  When will the nonsense end? We are just animals, and we are sharing this hunk of rock and water with trillions of other separate forms of life.  Drop the ego and realize that our actions affect more than just ourselves.

 

A culture is no better than its woods.”  – W.H. Auden

A society is no better than its zoos.” – Wondergressive

An animal is no better than the way it treats other animals.” – Wondergressive

 

 

 

 

 

Sources: 

Wondergressive- A Group of Prominent Scientists Agree; Animals are just as Conscious as Us

The Daily Galaxy- A Moment of Zen: “Elephant Intelligence” –A Mystery of Our Universe

Discovery News- Elephants Outwit Humans During Intelligence Test

Wired- To Talk With Aliens, Learn to Speak With Dolphins

BBC News-Chimps beat humans in memory test

Laudator Temporis Acti- A Culture Is No Better Than Its Woods

Free Birth Control Creates Dramatic Decrease in Abortion and Unplanned Pregnancy

 

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that abortion and unplanned pregnancy rates dramatically plummet when birth control is provided for free.  While this may not be surprising, what is surprising are the numbers.  By providing free birth control to 9,256 women and adolescents between the ages of 14- 45 in the St. Louis area between 2007 and 2011, researchers found that there was a 62% – 78% decrease in abortion and unplanned pregnancy.

Jeff Peipert, MD, PhD, and Robert J. Terry Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology stated that:

The impact of providing no-cost birth control was far greater than we expected in terms of unintended pregnancies.  We think improving access to birth control, particularly IUDs and implants, coupled with education on the most effective methods has the potential to significantly decrease the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions in this country.

Unplanned pregnancies account for 50% of all U.S. pregnancies, which is higher than most other developed countries.  Roughly half of these pregnancies are the result of women not using contraception and the other half from incorrect use.

IUDs and implants are a great option, providing superior protection and remaining effective for 3 – 10 years depending on the type.  Unfortunately they are very expensive upfront, costing in many instances over $800 and not being covered by insurance.

The researchers remind us that:

Unintended pregnancy remains a major health problem in the United States, with higher proportions among teenagers and women with less education and lower economic status.  The results of this study demonstrate that we can reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy and this is key to reducing abortions in this country.

I understand that people don’t want to pay for the contraception of others through taxes, but paying for other people’s children through welfare, food stamps, and other methods costs far, far more.  I am still undecided on the issue of whether some form of safe and effective contraception should be completely free.  What do you think?

 

Sources:

http://esciencenews.com/articles/2012/10/04/abortion.rates.plummet.with.free.birth.control

http://www.dcsi.sa.gov.au/Pub/Portals/7/unplanned-teenage-pregnancy-part-c-statistics.pdf

Stanford Creates Highly Sensitive, Self-Healing Plastic Skin

Although there have been major advances for over a decade in synthetic skin and self-healing plastics, nothing compares to the sensitivity, degree of healing, or conductivity of the new self-healing skin created by researchers at Stanford Institute.

The researchers combined the “self-healing ability of a plastic polymer and the conductivity of a metal” to create the breakthrough new material.

The healing properties of the skin are extraordinary as the researchers have shown by taking:

“a thin strip of the material and cut it in half with a scalpel. After gently pressing the pieces together for a few seconds, the researchers found the material gained back 75 percent of its original strength and electrical conductivity. The material was restored close to 100 percent in about 30 minutes. What’s more, the same sample could be cut repeatedly in the same place. After 50 cuts and repairs, a sample withstood bending and stretching just like the original.”

The material is also sensitive enough to detect the pressure of a handshake, or the flexing of a joint.

Researchers believe the creation will be used for prosthetics, electrical and wire coating, as well as a protective plastic shell for various commercial products. Electrical components in hard to reach places would no longer need repairs, they could handle it on their own.

I say wrap absolutely everything in this material.  Clothes, cars, monitors, phones, walls, condoms… everything.

 

 

 

Sources and Related Readings:

Stanford News- Stanford’s touch-sensitive plastic skin heals itself

Wondergressive- Hairy Men Everywhere Rejoice: New Bandages Painlessly Remove From Skin