Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

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The reason some popular posts are tagged ‘no title’ is not because they have no title—they all do—but because the old Blogger embedded the title at the top of text, and the new software does not see that. You can see the titles in capitals at the start of each snippet. (It would be nice if Blogger introduced an upgrade program that could fix this little problem.)

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Monday, 18 June 2007

YET MORE PROOF OF THE TRUTH ABOUT DNA

This BBC story again underlines the truth of what this blog first daringly postulated in November 2006 and reiterated in May 2007--i.e., that the traditionalists' notions about DNA are as much junk as the moniker they have long attached to most of our DNA.

Why did it take them so long to see it? How could they be so blind or arrogant or both and just dimiss what they did not understand, but which had for some reason been there for aeons, as junk? From the time I first heard the phrase 'junk DNA' I thought we would one day find out that it was not junk, and I said so to a DNA researcher way back in 1994, although it was not till November 2006 that I realised what it was. My first vague thoughts had been that it was like the comments in a program--which was nowhere near the truth that it is the machine that processes the program. The whole thing is a continuum, with all parts being necessary.

What is incredible is that such superlative intelligence can be built into and contained in what seems nothing but strings of chemicals, albeit rather complex ones, built of such simple fundamentals. It is enough to make you ponder on the real nature of life, the universe and everything. It is certainly enough to make you realise that Darwin et alia hardly knew/know a blind thing.

One wonders how much intelligence is built into DNA, and whether it has sufficient processing power to experiment, and thus to play an active role in improving an organism or in producing offshoot organisms. We no know that bacteria can 'vote' and that the preponderant chemically-communicated 'opinion' rules, so perhaps the preponderance of a particular genetic luggage in an organism's DNA, due to the survival of the fittest, causes more than just weight of numbers giving rise to certain offspring. It also causes joint processing and thus a greater refinement in the direction pointed to by those numbers. In other words DNA plays an active role not a passive one.

Footnote (23/07/2007): This article in ScienceDaily, which overturns traditional notions of proteins, shows that the functioning of the body is at base molecular. Myriads of molecular engines make up a cell (and not just proteins, obviously); myriads of cellular engines make up an organ; many of organic engines make up an organism. The high-speed internal action of the molecular engines will always be beyond our analytical capabilities, so the so-called 'designer drugs', which were predicated on the notion that proteins were static in shape, will remain a mirage.

Friday, 8 June 2007

HALF A DEGREE TO GLOBAL CATASTROPHE

'Confronting Climate-Change: Avoiding the Unmanageable, Managing the Unavoidable', written by an expert panel (SEG) organised by Sigma Xi, the scientific honour society, and sponsored by the United Nations Foundation, is outlined in the May/June issue of Update, the magazine of the New York Academy of Sciences. The report says accumulating evidence suggests that climate-change may not be gradual. Several major tipping-points, such as the collapse West Antarctic ice-shelf, major melting of the Greenland ice-cap, desertification of the Amazon rain-forest, and changes in the frequency of strong El Nino oscillations could cause sudden and catastrophic changes over a few years rather than a few centuries. The authors conclude that allowing the global surface temperature to rise more than 2 to 2.5 degrees Celsius over the next hundred years would sharply increase the risk those catastrophic impacts. Greenhouse gases now in the atmosphere have already committed the planet to a rise of about 1.5 degrees.

We are therefore only 0.5-1.0 degrees away from the risk of swift catastrophe.

To stay within the recommended range, the researchers say greenhouse-gas emissions must stablise at not much more than present levels by 2015 at the latest, then fall to no more than a third of present levels by 2100.

Fat chance!

The sea is rising at about 3mm a year and Antarctic glaciers are surging along, which the IPCC report did not factor in.

For the full Sigma Xi SEG report, click here.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

CHARMING ANSWER TO CLIMATE CHANGE IN SOIL?

Is this is a magic, climate-fixing triple bullet? Does the answer, literally, lie in the soil? Is a little charring all we need? Can we just 'char'm the global mess away with three simple steps?

You pyrolise biomass, which (1) generates renewable energy, and (2) makes 'agrichar' a material that reduces greenhouse gases, and (3) makes your soil far more productive (the only problem is that at the moment the supply of agrichar is miniscule). For details, go to this ScienceDaily article.

(Agrichar is a black-carbon byproduct of pyrolysis, in which green waste or other biomass is heated without oxygen to generate renewable energy.)

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

BUSINESS AS USUAL MAKES EARTH UNUSUAL

China shows itself to be as incredibly stupid about the planet as America in this BBC report. What a wonderful way to mark World Environment Day!

Business-as-usual condemns the planet to become increasingly unusual, i.e., decreasingly good for human life. This NZ Herald cartoon says it all.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

NASA SAYS CLIMATE TIPPING-POINT CLOSE

NASA's Goddard Flight Centre and Columbia University's Earth Institute say that the Earth's climate is dangerously close to a number of tipping points. Just 1 degree Celsius more above the average global temperature we had in 2000 will be enough to send things over the edge. Read the report on their latest research in Science Daily. Another report on the same research is here and the May 30 NASA article is here.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that we will be there soon. Nations are banking their futures on oil, huge investment is being put into oil pipelines, coal-fired power-stations are being built at a furious rate in China, America is tearing mountains to pieces to get vast quantities of coal to feed its power-stations, tens of millions of planet-trashing Black Stuff cars are being added annually to the 900 million already infesting the planet, etc., etc.

Friday, 1 June 2007

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S ICE MELTDOWN SHOCK

The cover story in the latest edition of the National Geographic magazine (June 2007) is 'The Big Thaw.' It should be required reading for every in-denial-prat of a politician and petrol-head, every pusher of the Black Stuff (oil and coal), and every pusher of fossil-fuelled machines.

It talks of projections of ice-cover, which predict huge reductions, and the consequent rise in the sea-level, but it also says that the meltdown is happening far faster than former projections ever expected. Greenland and West Antarctica and glaciers all over the world are melting at an alarming rate.

Excerpts: 'But lately, the ice loss has outstripped the upward creep of global temperatures.'

'Eric Rignot, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory who has measured a doubling in ice loss from Greenland over the past decade, says: "We see things today that five years ago would have seemed completely impossible, extravagant, exaggerated." '

'At the rate the Arctic is now warming [temperatures three to five degrees Celsius higher could be back soon]--"by mid-century, no problem," says Jonathan Overpeck of the University of Arizona, who has studied the ancient climate [130,000 years before the last ice-age]. "There's just unbelievable warming in the Arctic. It's going much faster than anyone thought it could or would." '

'The latest signs from Greenland have persuaded many ice researchers that sea level could rise three feet [a metre] by 2100. Rignot, who has measured the rush of glaciers to the sea, says even that figure may turn out to be an underestimate. Greenland, he notes, could ultimately add ten feet to global sea level. "and if this happens in the next hundred years instead of the next several hundred years, that's a very big deal."

Indeed. Enjoy your coal-fired electricity. Enjoy your fossil-fuelled life-destroying vehicle. Enjoy the remains of Earth as we have known it for all of human civilisation. Enjoy your share of trashing the only planet we can live on in the entire universe.