Daily Archives: March 28, 2018

Knowledge and Power: Noam Chomsky Documentary

John Moore
Published on Oct 18, 2015

Documentary by Montaser Marai on Chomsky’s life; opinions; influence and philosophies. Recorded from Al-Jazeera UK; 18 October 2015.

Four Revolutions in the Earth Sciences: From Heresy to Truth: James Powell

41fv3362yel  sx331 bo1204203200Over the course of the twentieth century, scientists came to accept four counterintuitive yet fundamental facts about the Earth: deep time, continental drift, meteorite impact, and global warming. When first suggested, each proposition violated scientific orthodoxy and was quickly denounced as scientific―and sometimes religious―heresy. Nevertheless, after decades of rejection, scientists came to accept each theory.

The stories behind these four discoveries reflect more than the fascinating push and pull of scientific work. They reveal the provocative nature of science and how it raises profound and sometimes uncomfortable truths as it advances. For example, counter to common sense, the Earth and the solar system are older than all of human existence; the interactions among the moving plates and the continents they carry account for nearly all of the Earth’s surface features; and nearly every important feature of our solar system results from the chance collision of objects in space. Most surprising of all, we humans have altered the climate of an entire planet and now threaten the future of civilization. This absorbing scientific history is the only book to describe the evolution of these four ideas from heresy to truth, showing how science works in practice and how it inevitably corrects the mistakes of its practitioners. Scientists can be wrong, but they do not stay wrong. In the process, astonishing ideas are born, tested, and over time take root.

Federal report: High-tide flooding could happen ‘every other day’ by late this century – The Washington Post

High-tide flooding in Washington on March 27. (Angela Pan/Flickr)

High-tide flooding, which can wash water over roads and inundate homes and businesses, is an event that happens once in a great while in coastal areas. But its frequency has rapidly increased in recent years because of sea-level rise. Not just during storms but increasingly on sunny days, too.

Years ago, the late Margaret Davidson, a coastal programs director at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, warned it wouldn’t be long until such flooding became routine. “Today’s flood will become tomorrow’s high tide,” she said.

A new NOAA report has published startling new projections that affirm Davidson’s warning.

By 2100, the report says, “high tide flooding will occur ‘every other day’ (182 days/year) or more often” even under an “intermediate low scenario” in coastal areas along the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico. This scenario works under the assumption that greenhouse gas emissions — which warm the climate and speed up sea-level rise — are curbed.

For a more aggressive “intermediate” scenario, in which greenhouse gas emissions carry on at today’s pace, high-tide flooding is forecast to occur 365 days per year.
…(read more).

Journalist Ari Berman: If Trump Is Allowed to Rig the Census, Then All of U.S. Democracy Is Rigged

A new battle is brewing over the 2020 U.S. census. At least 12 states are moving to sue the Trump administration over plans to add a question about citizenship to the upcoming census. Voting rights activists fear the question will deter immigrants from participating in the census, leading to a vast undercount in states with large immigrant communities. This could impact everything from the redrawing of congressional maps to the allocation of federal funding. On Tuesday, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the decision to add a citizenship question was “necessary for the Department of Justice to protect voters.” At least five former directors of the Census Bureau, who served under Republican and Democratic presidents, have written a letter opposing the citizenship question.

Inside the Experiment: Abrupt Change and Ice Cores

Published on Oct 3, 2017

Jørgen Peder Steffensen, of Denmark’s Niels Bohr Institute, is one of the most experienced experts in ice core analysis, in both Greenland and Antarctica. Dr. Steffensen explained to videographer Peter Sinclair his concerns about possible abrupt climate changes.

Climate Change in Deep Time

Karina Adcock
Published on Apr 12, 2017

What were carbon dioxide concentrations like in Earths past? The history of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide summarized in an extremely useful visualization. Evidence of increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in modern times and historical concentrations of CO2 going from 800,000 years ago to January 2016. Using ice cores and modern measurements specifically focusing on the Mauna Loa and South Pole monitoring sites. The data shows a sped-up version of carbon dioxide changes over time and its natural cycles (milankovitch cycles and seasonal cycles) in addition to the upward trend. This animation is created by NOAA and is called the pumphandle. https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/tr… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gH6fQ…

A Barrier For Boston Harbor: UMass Team Studies Flood-Protection Plans | WBUR News

With sea levels rising, a team at the University of Massachusetts Boston is researching harbor barriers to protect the city from flooding.

The team, led by Paul Kirshen, a professor of climate adaptation at UMass’ School for the Environment, is weighing three harbor barrier configurations:

  1. The smallest would connect Logan Airport in East Boston with Castle Island in South Boston, protecting the city’s inner harbor and downtown from tidal flooding.
  2. The medium-sized solution is a barrier from Deer Island, in the harbor, to Quincy, which would wall off all of Boston’s neighborhoods.
  3. The largest of the proposed harbor barriers would protect not just Boston, but also Weymouth, Hingham, Quincy and Hull.

The UMass team has a big question to answer: Should the city start taking steps to build a barrier around the heart of the Massachusetts economy?

Or is the idea dead in the water?

If the city decides it wants to go forward, it could take decades — and untold billions of dollars — before a harbor barrier is built.

The barrier study was recommended in the city’s Climate Ready Boston report last year. The report says a barrier could work well in Boston Harbor, with its relatively shallow waters, and publicly owned land along the course of the imagined barrier.

But it would have to be done in a way that minimizes its impact on navigation and the environment.

“What I would like to learn from this project is, what are the ecological costs of such a barrier, and what would be the ecological opportunities that we could create in building such a barrier?” said UMass Boston marine biologist Lucy Lockwood.

It’s too early to say whether a barrier can be done to the satisfaction of the harbor’s advocates. But Lockwood says there’s a possibility the structures could actually encourage the ecosystem.

“How can we learn to create them such that they are a healthy, robust, resilient, functioning ecosystem,” she said, “just as if to say they were, say, a natural rocky shoreline.”

At Long Wharf downtown — one spot that already sees regular flooding during high tides — Kathy Abbott, head of the group Boston Harbor Now, says doing nothing is not an option.

“I think what we don’t want to see, now that we’ve spent $4.5 billion cleaning up the harbor and another $14.5 [billion] connecting our city back to the harbor with the Greenway, we don’t want to go backwards in terms of the water quality and the ecological health and well-being,” she said.

Abbott says that’s because the ecological improvements are the basis for the rebirth happening on the shore today.

…(read more)