Tuesday, September 29, 2009

< 9 Minutes

POV footage of triggering and being caught in an avalanche. In less than 9 minutes, this fellow sets up, starts his descent, is trapped in an avalanche, and is rescued by his friends. Wrenching, amazing footage.

Avalanche Skier POV Helmet Cam Burial & Rescue in Haines, Alaska from Chappy on Vimeo.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Met Office warns of catastrophic global warming in our lifetimes

From The Guardian:

Unchecked global warming could bring a severe temperature rise of 4C within many people's lifetimes, according to a new report for the British government that significantly raises the stakes over climate change.

The study, prepared for the Department of Energy and Climate Change by scientists at the Met Office, challenges the assumption that severe warming will be a threat only for future generations, and warns that a catastrophic 4C rise in temperature could happen by 2060 without strong action on emissions.

Officials from 190 countries gather today in Bangkok to continue negotiations on a new deal to tackle global warming, which they aim to secure at United Nations talks in December in Copenhagen.

"We've always talked about these very severe impacts only affecting future generations, but people alive today could live to see a 4C rise," said Richard Betts, the head of climate impacts at the Met Office Hadley Centre, who will announce the findings today at a conference at Oxford University. "People will say it's an extreme scenario, and it is an extreme scenario, but it's also a plausible scenario."

According to scientists, a 4C rise over pre-industrial levels could threaten the water supply of half the world's population, wipe out up to half of animal and plant species, and swamp low coasts.

A 4C average would mask more severe local impacts: the Arctic and western and southern Africa could experience warming up to 10C, the Met Office report warns.

The study updates the findings of the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which said the world would probably warm by 4C by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. The IPCC also listed a more severe scenario, with emissions and temperatures rising further because of more intensive fossil fuel burning, but this was not considered realistic. "That scenario was downplayed because we were more conservative a few years ago. But the way we are going, the most severe scenario is looking more plausible," Betts said.

A report last week from the UN Environment Programme said emissions since 2000 have risen faster than even this IPCC worst-case scenario. "In the 1990s, these scenarios all assumed political will or other phenomena would have brought about the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by this point. In fact, CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel burning and industrial processes have been accelerating."

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Textbooks and Propaganda

Good article on rewriting of American history in Texas at Sociological Images: Seeing is Believing. Amazing to hear people talk so blatantly about removing any critical thinking from texts and schooling.

The net effect of the motion, would be to remove any trace of activism from American history -- because, presumably, you don't want kids to think that they could lobby government for change.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Human Smoke

Not the brilliant and horrifying book by Nicholson Baker, but the bodies stacked up in the streets of Iraq. According to a new study by ORB, a British research group, the violent death toll now stands at ~1.2 million dead. This is in line with the previous study by John Hopkins published in The Lancet. American soldiers are going through bullets so fast that the manufacturers can't keep up (seriously. you can check out the PDF report here).
The number of violently dead now puts Iraq in a class with Rwanda and is approaching the Cambodian killing fields.
But ask Americans how many dead there are and the numbers are so low as to defy belief. An AP poll showed the median estimate of Iraqi deaths was 9,890. The official number is ~54,000. Best epidemiological estimate is 1.2 million with ~56% of that due to American violence.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Monday, September 07, 2009

Sinead's Hand

Nothing really to add to this.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

10% Part 2

And while comptemplating the worrisome news in Bernie's article below, I found this story at The Adventure Corner by Olaf Malver reporting on his just completed kayaking trip to eastern Greenland. He describes passing 12 mile-long tabular icebergs the likes of which his 55 year-old Inuit guide has never seen before. These icebergs can only make their way south because so much of the Arctic Ocean has opened up during the summer. Olaf, who has camped along eastern Greenland for fifteen years, also noted that many of the fresh water pools at his favourite campsites have dried up, and he also comments on receding glaciers.
As the author of the Guardian article noted, "We all live on the Greenland ice sheet now. Its fate is our fate."


Apparently that's how much of the world's fresh water is tied up in the Greenland ice sheets. And current measurements are putting them in the ocean a lot faster than they used to be travelling. According to an article in the Guardian, "Helheim, an enormous tower of ice that calves into Sermilik Fjord, used to move at 7km (4.4 miles) a year. In 2005, in less than a year, it speeded up to nearly 12km a year." Kangerdlugssuaq, another glacier, is now moving at an inch (24 mm) every minute, making its motion visible to the naked eye.
The rate of calving off the Greenland glaciers has risen so dramatically that it seems that the calves are now big enough to generate seismic events transmitted through the earth, and these events actually help speed up the glaciers.
The world response to global warming has, so far, been (to quote the Guardian) "all mouth and no trousers." Which is why they've launched the 10:10 campaign--a campaign to have people pledge to reduce their carbon footprint by 10% in 2010.This would seem to be a no-brainer, as it is only a matter of picking the low hanging fruit in our lives. Some of us have already taken this step, and from here on out the choices become more difficult and require more governmental involvement, but still, we can and should be out in front of our elected officials on this one.
Not everyone is happy, of course. There is a certain amount of anger over the EU-mandated phase out of the incandescent light bulb. But most people are on-side, and really just need a gentle pointing in the right direction to get going. So lets get on board, even those of us well into the change. Let's drop our CO² emissions by another 10% in 2010.

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