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!

What Does Light Look Like?

bullet apple 2

nikiinwonderland.blogspot.com

Throughout history humans have tried to understand how the world around us works. It’s what humans are good at. We really only have two semi-unique attributes that have helped make us as successful as we are: a brain to examine the world and opposable thumbs to manipulate it to our advantage.

We study phenomena closely, and devise better ways of observing them, so we can recognize patterns and use new information to our advantage. The simplest and perhaps most profound example of this in human history is the development and advancement of agriculture. Starting from literally nothing, as agriculture is a decidedly foreign concept to mammals, over many generations and thousands of years, humans pieced together the information necessary to create an abundance of food, capable of sustaining billions of people. What environment do certain crops grow best in, how to till the land, when to plant, when to harvest, how to store and cure. As soon as these questions had adequate answers we thrived as a species, spreading out from our native Africa to literally ever corner of the globe.

An amazing new tool has been discovered to help further our knowledge of the world: Femto-photography. It’s an imaging system that takes a trillion frames per second. Because of it, we can now visually observe light. Ramesh Raskar, an associate professor at MIT, demonstrates the remarkable abilities of this new technology in this Ted Talk.

light slo mo

Femto-photography. It’s an imaging system that takes a trillion frames per second. Because of it, we can now visually observe light.

In Raskar’s demonstration, he discusses ways of utilizing this new observational tool. On the more mundane side, femto-photography can be used to determine the ripeness of fruit based on the way light scatters through it. He also mentions a more practical (and military grant enticing) use: the ability to see around corners. But to me, the raw discovery is what fascinates me, rather than the current or future ways to productively utilize such technology.

Humans began to understand the world in concentric circles. First we understood our immediate environment. Then we spread our knowledge to the unseen. The Greek mathematician Eratosthenes is said to have determined the circumference of the Earth with remarkable accuracy in the 3rd century BCE. Galileo and Copernicus helped us understand the Solar System. Einstein created the Theory of Relativity and described space-time. Innumerate others helped explain sub-atomic particles and quantum physics.

Now we have a way of looking at light itself.

I am thrilled for the future applications of this knowledge. I really am. But for right now, I think it’s important to simply sit back in our arm-chairs, let out a contented sigh, and take comfort in the ingenuity of humans. It’s inspiring and assuring to realize that the species can indeed, given time, accomplish anything if it puts its mind to it (to paraphrase Doc Brown).

 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Femto-photography

http://www.ted.com/talks/ramesh_raskar_a_camera_that_takes_one_trillion_frames_per_second.html

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/19/opinion/raskar-camera-corners

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

 

 

Morality In Animals

Morality in Animals is a TED talk that documents some very interesting findings regarding how animals exhibit what we think of as morality.

It is so interesting seeing animals behave in ways that philosophers have always imagined to be strictly ‘human.’ This information may help end the sordid ways we treat other species, and our own.

Why do we have zoos again?

*Update*
Here is another article continuing the discussion of morality in animals.  It also remarks that “chimpanzees, who cannot swim, have drowned in zoo moats trying to save others. Given the chance to get food by pulling a chain that would also deliver an electric shock to a companion, rhesus monkeys will starve themselves for several days.”

These animals sound even more moral than many humans I know.

Morality In Animals: Chimpanzees That Risk Their Own Lives

morality

opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com

Morality in Animals is a TED talk by Frans de Waal that documents some very interesting findings regarding how animals exhibit what we think of as morality.

It is so interesting seeing animals behave in ways that philosophers have always imagined to be strictly ‘human.’ This information may help end the sordid ways we treat other species, and our own.

An article from The New York TImes continues the discussion of morality in animals with their article on primate behavior.  It also remarks that

chimpanzees, who cannot swim, have drowned in zoo moats trying to save others. Given the chance to get food by pulling a chain that would also deliver an electric shock to a companion, rhesus monkeys  will starve themselves for several days.

These animals sound even more moral than most humans I know.

 

Why do we have zoos again?

 

Sources and Resources for Morality in Animals:

TED talk: Moral Behavior in Animals

Living Links Center for the Advanced Study of Ape and Human Evolution

The New York Times: Scientists Find the Beginning of Morality in Primate Behavior

Biology and Philosophy: Wild Justice and Fair Play: Cooperation, Forgiveness, and Morality in Animals