My first involvement with the Acid Rain scare was indirect, but added to awareness of the limitations of data and understanding of atmospheric and ocean mechanisms.
It also heightened awareness of the political nature of environmental science. I knew the extents because of membership in the Canadian Committee on Climate Fluctuation and Man (CCCFM). It was part of the National Museum of Natural Sciences Project on Climate Change in Canada During the Past 20,000 years.
The committee was funded jointly by the National Museum of Natural Sciences and Environment Canada. It met yearly for several years, bringing together a wide range of specialists to focus on a region, time period, or area of study. Papers were published in Syllogeus, edited by Dr C.R.Harington of the Paleobiology Division. A review of them underlines how much the IPCC sidelined progress in climatology.
My election to Chair of the CCCFM likely caused its demise. In my acceptance speech I urged people not to rush to judgment on the recent anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis. I was unaware at the time of the involvement of Environment Canada (EC) in the promotion of the hypothesis and the work of the IPCC.
The UK government has announced that driverless cars will be allowed on public roads from January next year. It also invited cities to compete to host one of three trials of the tech, which would start at the same time.
In addition, ministers ordered a review of the UK's road regulations to provide appropriate guidelines.
The Department for Transport had originally pledged to let self-driving cars be trialled on public roads by the end of 2013.
Business Secretary Vince Cable revealed the details of the new plan at a research facility belonging to Mira, an automotive engineering firm based in the Midlands.
"Today's announcement will see driverless cars take to our streets in less than six months, putting us at the forefront of this transformational technology and opening up new opportunities for our economy and society," he said.
UK engineers, including a group at the University of Oxford, have been experimenting with driverless cars. But, concerns about legal and insurance issues have so far restricted the machines to private roads.
Other countries have, however, been swifter to provide access to public routes.
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the Ninth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC9) in Las Vegas. If you ever doubted scepticism towards man-made global warming as a growing social movement, well, you couldn’t after attending that conference with hundreds of enthusiastic doubters in attendance and some 6,000 watching online.
But I came away wondering about the culture that is developing around the movement, and whether it is truly one of enlightenment.
Most of us share enlightenment values. And skepticism is historically associated with the Enlightenment. But it should be skepticism of entrenched dogmas, not an automatic opposition to every new big idea. Indeed the enlightenment saw big ideas progress; ideas that once realized, dramatically improved the human condition.
Many sceptics apparently think that we have won the scientific argument, and that our next objective should be the dismantling of climate policies and climate research. But they are wrong. We have not won the scientific argument and we won’t, if we continue down the current path of suggesting that we can’t forecast weather or climate. This suggestion, that we can’t forecast, was often made at the conference and made again just last week by Jo Nova quoting Don Aitkin.
The history of science suggests that paradigms are never disproven, they are only ever replaced. Physicist and philosopher, the late Thomas S. Kuhn, also explained that competition within segments of the scientific community is the only historical process that ever actually results in the rejection of one previously accepted theory or in the adoption of another.
Death is the one certainty in life – a pioneering analysis of blood from one of the world's oldest and healthiest women has given clues to why it happens.
Born in 1890, Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper was at one point the oldest woman in the world. She was also remarkable for her health, with crystal-clear cognition until she was close to death, and a blood circulatory system free of disease. When she died in 2005, she bequeathed her body to science, with the full support of her living relatives that any outcomes of scientific analysis – as well as her name – be made public.
Researchers have now examined her blood and other tissues to see how they were affected by age.
What they found suggests, as we could perhaps expect, that our lifespan might ultimately be limited by the capacity for stem cells to keep replenishing tissues day in day out. Once the stem cells reach a state of exhaustion that imposes a limit on their own lifespan, they themselves gradually die out and steadily diminish the body's capacity to keep regenerating vital tissues and cells, such as blood.
Two little cells
In van Andel-Schipper's case, it seemed that in the twilight of her life, about two-thirds of the white blood cells remaining in her body at death originated from just two stem cells, implying that most or all of the blood stem cells she started life with had already burned out and died.
"Is there a limit to the number of stem cell divisions, and does that imply that there's a limit to human life?" asks Henne Holstege of the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, who headed the research team. "Or can you get round that by replenishment with cells saved from earlier in your life?" she says.
Claims of rapid and effortless weight loss are swiftly making this little supplement popular. But does it actually work? Learn all the facts about raspberry ketone and if it will work for you.
What is it?: Raspberry ketone is an aromatic compound found in raspberries that, when ingested in high doses, is said to increase the body's production of adiponectin, a protein used to regulate your metabolism, as well as the body's breaking down of fat stores. In order to ingest the recommended 100-milligram dosage required to affect these changes, however, one would have to consume 90 pounds of raspberries per day. As a result, the compound is produced synthetically in labs and consumed in pill form.
Chemistry debunks junk climate science in the 'global warming causes ocean acidification' debate. Established Chemistry proves that if temperatures were rising then, conversely, acidification would be falling, not increasing. Such is the woeful science ignorance (or intentional deceit) of climate alarmists.
carbon dioxide (CO2), dissolved in pure water, makes a weak, unstable acid, whilst the ocean water is a very stable buffer with a pH averaging around 8, which means it is alkaline;
there isn’t enough CO2 in the atmosphere to make much difference to the ocean’s pH;
the concentration of enough CO2 to significantly reduce the ocean’s pH will not come from the atmosphere;
the mass of the oceans is a huge 268 times the mass of the atmosphere;
CO2 is currently only 0.04% of that atmosphere.
Discussion about those facts
Besides the above chemical and physical facts, it is well known that an increase in water temperature will reduce the solubility of CO2.
Leave any opened cold carbonated drink – from champagne to Coke - to warm up and see what happens to the fizz, which is CO2 in case you didn’t know. Your warmed champagne/Coke goes 'flat' because the carbon dioxide has escaped the liquid and entered the atmosphere.
It is therefore not rocket science to state with complete confidence that warm water naturally contains less CO2 than cold water.
The oceans are outgassing CO2 due to the slight warming trend since the end of the Mini Ice Age (c. 1850's). The exact cause of this trend IS NOT known and remains the subject of much scientific debate! There is evidence that there is a gap of many centuries between planet-wide temperature swings and atmospheric CO2 concentrations.
Once again, NASA, when dealing with real science and real planets, conspicuously omits giving any credibility to the increasingly disputed "greenhouse gas effect." Australian climate researcher, Ross McLeod, presents NASA's own numbers to show the US space agency does not apply any so-called "greenhouse gas effect" in their planetary temperature charts to boost surface temperature.
Global surface temperatures have remained statistically flat for over a decade following a rapid rise in the second half of the 20th century despite the fact that the long-term increase in carbon dioxide associated with this rapid global warming has continued throughout the whole of the pause period.
Two pieces of research published this year suggest that the sun has played a bigger role in these events than is widely accepted by climate scientists and they imply, as a result, that the role of 'greenhouse gases' may be less significant than climate scientists currently believe.
The research shows that the sun is far more variable than we had previously thought and that variations in solar activity correlate very closely with changes in global surface temperature. This challenges the prevailing orthodoxy in climate science that our star plays no significant role in global warming.
The ebola virus that has killed almost 1,000 people in West Africa this year is fatal for "up to 90%" of those infected, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). But note the words "up to"... What is the normal fatality rate, asks James Fletcher?
The WHO describes ebola as "one of the world's most virulent diseases". It is, according to the organisation's website, "a severe, often fatal illness, with a case fatality rate of up to 90%".
A case fatality rate - or CFR - is a relatively simple measurement. It's the number of people diagnosed with an illness divided by the number of people who die because of it. But in the current outbreak, the proportion of infected people dying is far lower than 90%.
"That 90% figure actually comes from one outbreak of ebola which took place in the Congo between 2002 and 2003. It's the highest rate we have ever seen," says Maimuna Majumder, a biostatistician and epidemiologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Accused of being “flat Earth deniers of settled science” requires placing the Ptolemaic Model in perspective. Discussed for two centuries by the Greeks, Aristotle in 400 BC gave a solution involving approximately 50 transparent concentric spheres which rotated to provide the movements of planets and stars observed on a fixed, flat Earth.
NASA has tested an "impossible" electric space drive that uses no propellant – and found it works even when it is designed not to. This has sparked immediate skepticism of the technology.
The system is designed to use microwave energy reflected along a specially designed chamber to produce thrust. The idea first appeared as the Emdrive by British inventor Roger Shawyer in 2001, who designed a motor that he showed could produce power in this way. But critics scoffed, saying it would violate the laws of momentum.
The EmDrive, we're told, generates thrust by using the properties of radiation pressure. An electromagnetic wave has a small amount of momentum which, when it hits a reflector, can translate that into thrust, Shawyer found, and this apparently can be used to power flight in the near-frictionless environment of space.
The idea languished, but a decade later the Chinese Academy of Sciences published a paper saying that it too had built an EmDrive-like which, when fed 2.5kW, generated 720mN of thrust – a tiny amount, admittedly.
But this got the attention of NASA scientists, who in 2013 commissioned a series of tests on the drive and got some surprising results.
In an eight-day trial held by US engineering firm Cannae, researchers found that by using a reflective chamber similar to that proposed by Shawyer, the team was able to use solely electrical input to generate 30 to 50 micro-Newtons of thrust. Again, incredibly tiny, enough to move a grain of sand, but apparently significant.