Archive for the ‘Worst of Times’ Category

More Earthquakes for Italy?

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Looking for survivors in Italy.

BBC Science — There remains the potential for future quakes in Italy’s Apennines region, say scientists who have reviewed the latest satellite maps of the region. The new radar imagery suggests Sunday’s big tremor ruptured a segment of a fault in between sections broken by two other quakes in recent weeks. But the Magnitude 6.6 event has still left the deeper parts of the fault system locked in place. And this unrelieved stress now represents a risk down the line.

The researchers are keen to emphasise, however, that predicting precisely when and where a future quake might strike is not possible. No-one was killed in Sunday’s big tremor but more than 30,000 residents have been left homeless as a consequence of the damage it wrought. The new space data comes from Europe’s Sentinel-1 satellites which overfly Italy every day or so. These platforms are able to sense ground movement by comparing before and after radar imagery acquired from orbit.

The scientists turn this information into an interferogram – a colourful, but highly technical, depiction of the displacement that occurs on a fault. (11/02/2016)

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2015 was Hottest Year on Record

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

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Bloomberg Business — To say that 2015 was hot is an understatement. The average recorded temperature across the surface of the planet was so far above normal that it set a record for setting records.

The year was more than a quarter of a degree Fahrenheit warmer than the last global heat record—set all the way back in 2014—according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration figures released on Wednesday. A quarter of a degree may not sound like much, but on a planetary scale it’s a huge leap. Most previous records were measured by hundredths of a degree.

A powerful El Niño is largely responsible for the year’s extremes, but make no mistake: This is what global warming looks like. Temperatures are rising 10 times faster than during the bounce back from the last ice age. Fifteen of the hottest 16 years on record have come in the 21st century. …

The heat during 2015 was relentless. Monthly records were broken for every month except January (second hottest) and April (third hottest), according to data from NOAA. The year ended with an exclamation point in December, recording the most extreme departure for any month on record.

Results from the world’s top monitoring agencies vary slightly, but NASA, NOAA, the Japan Meteorological Agency, and the U.K.’s Met Office all agree: 2015 was unprecedented. The heat was experienced differently around the world, but most regions were unusually warm to downright scorching for much of the year. (01/20/2016)

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November 2015: Earth’s Warmest November

Friday, December 18th, 2015

Source: NOAA

WeatherUnderground — Dr. Jeff Masters writes: November 2015 was Earth’s warmest November on record by a huge margin, according to data released by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) on Thursday.

November 2015 also had the second largest positive departure of temperature from average of any month among all 1631 months in the historical record that began in January 1880; only last month (October 2015) was more extreme. …

NASA also rated November 2015 as the warmest November in the historical record. November 2015’s warmth makes the year-to-date period (January – November) the warmest such period on record, according to both NOAA and NASA.

November 2015 was the seventh consecutive month a monthly high temperature record has been set in NOAA’s database, and the ninth month of the eleven months so far in 2015.

The potent El Niño event in the Eastern Pacific that crossed the threshold into the “strong” category in early July continued to intensify into mid-November, and is now slowly waning. Strong El Niño events release a large amount of heat to the atmosphere, typically boosting global temperatures by at least 0.1°C.

This extra bump in temperature, when combined with the long-term warming of the planet due to human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide, makes it virtually certain that 2015 will be Earth’s second consecutive warmest year on record. The lingering warmth from El Niño is likely to make 2016 a good bet to exceed even 2015’s warmth. (12/18/2015)

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Understanding Climate Change

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

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BBC Science — The average temperature of the Earth’s surface has increased by about 0.85°C (1.4F) in the last 100 years. Thirteen of the 14 warmest years were recorded in the 21st Century, with 2015 on course to set another record.

Scientists believe that gases released from industry and agriculture (known as emissions) are adding to the natural greenhouse effect, the way the Earth’s atmosphere traps some of the energy from the Sun.

Human activities such as burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas are increasing the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. Carbon-absorbing forests are also being cut down.

The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is now higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years and reached a record high in May this year.

Higher temperatures, extreme weather events and higher sea levels are all linked to a warming climate and could have a drastic effect on the world’s regions.

Since 1900, sea levels have risen by on average about 19cm globally. The rate of sea-level rise has accelerated in recent decades, placing a number of islands and low-lying countries at risk.

The retreat of polar ice sheets is an important contributor to this rise.

Arctic sea ice is also shrinking because of higher temperatures, though it makes little contribution to raised sea levels.

An area of sea ice roughly 10 times the size of the UK has been lost when the current day is compared with average levels from the early 1980s. (12/09/2015)

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Hang Onto Your Wallets

Saturday, November 28th, 2015

Ellen Brown

CommUnity of Minds–Ellen Brown writes: Remember those old ads showing a senior couple lounging on a warm beach, captioned “Let your money work for you”? Or the scene in Mary Poppins where young Michael is being advised to put his tuppence in the bank, so that it can compound into “all manner of private enterprise,” including “bonds, chattels, dividends, shares, shipyards, amalgamations . . . ”?

That may still work if you’re a Wall Street banker, but if you’re an ordinary saver with your money in the bank, you may soon be paying the bank to hold your funds rather than the reverse.

Four European central banks – the European Central Bank, the Swiss National Bank, Sweden’s Riksbank, and Denmark’s Nationalbank – have now imposed negative interest rates on the reserves they hold for commercial banks; and discussion has turned to whether it’s time to pass those costs on to consumers. The Bank of Japan and the Federal Reserve are still at ZIRP (Zero Interest Rate Policy), but several Fed officials have also begun calling for NIRP (negative rates).

The stated justification for this move is to stimulate “demand” by forcing consumers to withdraw their money and go shopping with it. When an economy is struggling, it is standard practice for a central bank to cut interest rates, making saving less attractive. This is supposed to boost spending and kick-start an economic recovery.

That is the theory, but central banks have already pushed the prime rate to zero, and still their economies are languishing. To the uninitiated observer, that means the theory is wrong and needs to be scrapped. But not to our intrepid central bankers, who are now experimenting with pushing rates below zero.

Locking the Door to Bank Runs: the Cashless Society

The problem with imposing negative interest on savers, as explained in the UK Telegraph, is that “there’s a limit, what economists called the ‘zero lower bound’. Cut rates too deeply, and savers would end up facing negative returns. In that case, this could encourage people to take their savings out of the bank and hoard them in cash. This could slow, rather than boost, the economy.”

Again, to the ordinary observer, this would seem to signal that negative interest rates won’t work and the approach needs to be abandoned. But not to our undaunted central bankers, who have chosen instead to plug this hole in their leaky theory by moving to eliminate cash as an option. If your only choice is to keep your money in a digital account in a bank and spend it with a bank card or credit card or checks, negative interest can be imposed with impunity. This is already happening in Sweden, and other countries are close behind. As reported on Wolfstreet.com:

The War on Cash is advancing on all fronts. One region that has hogged the headlines with its war against physical currency is Scandinavia. Sweden became the first country to enlist its own citizens as largely willing guinea pigs in a dystopian economic experiment: negative interest rates in a cashless society. As Credit Suisse reports, no matter where you go or what you want to purchase, you will find a small ubiquitous sign saying “Vi hanterar ej kontanter” (“We don’t accept cash”) . . . .

(11/28/2015)

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Beyond Crime and Punishment

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

Future Positive Timothy Wilken, MD writes: In our present world, it is widely believed that mistakes are the result of badness. So when mistakes occur, we investigate, blame and punish. This belief has resulted in a world where violence, hate and judgment are common.

Synergic science reveals that mistakes are in fact the result of ignorance. If we understand this, then when a mistake occurs, we would analyze, determine responsibility, and educate. This could soon lead to a world where public safety, love and compassion are common.

We can never know all there is to know about anything — this is a fundamental ‘law’ of Nature. This is in fact is the only cause of mistakes.

Ignorance is the word that best describes the human condition. Alfred Korzybski explained this condition scientifically as the Principle of Non-Allness. By this he meant that we humans make all of our decisions with incomplete and imperfect knowing. We make every choice without all the information.

All humans live and act in state of ignorance. Korzybski felt that developing an awareness of this ‘law’ of Nature was so fundamentally important to all humans, that he developed a lesson especially for children. Korzybski would explain:

“Children, today we want to learn ALL about the apple.”

He would place an apple in view of the children, “Do you children know about the apple?”

“I do!”, “I do!”, “Yes, I know about apples!”

“Good” Korzybski moved to the blackboard. , “Come, tell me about the apple?”

“The Apple is a fruit.”, “The apple is red.”, “The apple grows on a tree.”

Korzybski would begin to list the characteristics described by the children on the blackboard.

The children continued, “An apple a day keeps the Doctor away.”

Korzybski continued listing the children’s answers until they run out of ideas, then he would ask, “Is that ALL we can say about the apple?

When the children answered in the affirmative, Korzybski would remove his pocket-knife and cut the apple in half, passing the parts among the children.

“Now, children can we say more about the apple?

“The apple smells good.” “The juices are sweet.” “The apple has seeds.” “Its pulp is white.” “Mother makes apple pie.

Finally when the children had again run out of answers, Korzybski would ask, “Now, is that all-we can say about the apple?” When the children agreed that it was all that could be said, he would again go into his pocket only this time he removed a ten power magnifying lens and passed it to the children. The children would examine the apple, and again respond:

“The apple pulp has a pattern and a structure.” “The skin of the apple has pores.” “The leaves have fuzz on them.” “The seeds have coats.”

Thus Korzybski would teach the children the lesson of Non-ALLness.

Now we could continue to examine the apple—with a light microscope, x-ray crystallography, and eventually the electron microscope. We would continue to discover more to say about the apple. However, we can never know ALL there is to know about anything in Nature. We humans have the power to know about Nature, but not to know ALL.

Knowing is without limit, but knowing is not total. Universe is our human model of Nature. Our ‘knowing’ can grow evermore complete. It can grow closer and closer to the ‘Truth’, but it cannot equal the ‘Truth’. It must always be incomplete. We are not ‘GOD’. We cannot see and know ALL.  (08/17/2014)

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November 2013, Warmest Weather Recorded

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

The Atlantic Journal— Rebecca J. Rosen reports: If you live in the eastern half of the United States, last month probably seemed like a normal November for you, perhaps even a bit chilly.

But, historically, the month was anything but.

According to NOAA, November 2013 was the warmest November since at least 1880, the year when NOAA’s global temperature records begin. During the 20th century, the average global temperature for November was 55.2° F; in 2013 we managed to beat that by 1.40° F.

The longer three-month period, stretching from September to November, was also unusually warm—the second warmest on record since 1880; only 2005 was warmer. For the entire year to date, 2013 is on track to be among the top five or six warmest years since we started keeping track. All ten of the ten warmest years on record have happened in the past 15 years. (12/18/2013)

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Understanding Mechanism and Consequence

Sunday, November 17th, 2013
CommUnity of Minds

First Atomic Bomb Explosion

CommUnity of Minds — Timothy Wilken, MD writes: Human intelligence develops over time and can achieve four levels of understanding. We start with PERCEPTION then develop and sometimes master CONCEPTION, then develop and sometimes master MECHANISM and finally develop and sometimes master CONSEQUENCE. These levels are sequential–CONCEPTION follows and depends on first mastering PERCEPTION, MECHANISM follows and depends on first mastering CONCEPTION, and  finally CONSEQUENCE follows and depends on first mastering MECHANISM.

It is possible for most humans to understand, and then master their intelligence fully. Those who choose to do so, can with practice, develop the ability to access five modes of thinking: Survive, Adapt, Control, Create, and Co-Operate at will. With additional study and contemplation they can gain mastery of the four levels of knowing: PERCEPTION, CONCEPTION, MECHANISM, and CONSEQUENCE.

PERCEPTION is the understanding of space and sameness—spacial integrity— recognizing WHAT is associated with Good Space and WHAT is associated with Bad Space. PERCEPTION is also knowing WHERE to go to enable or avoid a recognized event—knowing WHERE to go to secure Good Space and WHERE to go to avoid Bad Space. PERCEPTION enables the ability of Adaptation.

CONCEPTION is the understanding of time and difference—temporal sequence—local cause and effect, and from that understanding knowing WHEN to act in time to encourage a desired event, or WHEN to act in time to discourage an undesired event from occurring. CONCEPTION enables the ability of Control.

MECHANISM is the understanding of HOW things work together—what events and actions are necessary to produce a desired resultant—knowing how PERCEPTION and CONCEPTION relate to each other. MECHANISM enables the ability of Creation.

And finally, CONSEQUENCE is the understanding of the potential risks and benefits of our actions and their effects on our selves and upon others. CONSEQUENCE enables the ability of Co-Operation.

Let me provide one example of these four levels of knowing, and how they might apply to one problem currently threatening our civilization. As Albert Einstein warned us over sixty-six years ago: “The splitting of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”

Einstein had discovered one of Nature’s MECHANISMS: E=mc2

The scientists and technicians working at the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, New Mexico used their KnowHow to weaponize this MECHANISM of Nature with the creation of nuclear bombs.

Now let us examine the threat of nuclear weapons from the perspective of our four levels of human knowing.

PERCEPTION is the level of knowing necessary to adapt to a nuclear event — to know what is associated with a nuclear blast, and to know where to go to escape from the blast of a nuclear weapon. Where is Good Space? Where can I go to avoid Bad Space?

CONCEPTION is the level of knowing necessary to control a nuclear event — to know when to act to either detonate, or deactivate a nuclear weapon. What is the proper sequence of actions to control the process? And, when do I enter the activation code? Or, when do I enter the deactivation code?

MECHANISM is the level of knowing necessary to create a nuclear event — to know how reality allows the forces of nature to interact and result in a nuclear explosion — E=mc2. And, it also is the level of understanding necessary to invent and manufacture the technology of a nuclear weapon — the Manhattan Project. How do I design a nuclear device?

And finally, CONSEQUENCE is the level of knowing necessary in order to co-Operate — to know why we should never have created nuclear weapons in the first place. Why are we creating these devices? What will be the consequence of their existence? (11/17/2013)

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Honeybees and Consequence

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

CommUnity of Minds — Timothy Wilken, MD writes: The animals have perceptual intelligence. It is perceptual intelligence that allows the animals to survive in the fight or flight world of adversarity and to adapt to their environment.

We humans share the perceptual intelligence of the animals, but are blessed with a 2nd form of intelligence called conceptual intelligence. Conceptual intelligence allows us to speak with a voice, be aware of Time, and learn from our mistakes. It is conceptual intelligence that allows we humans to control the events in our lives by understanding how cause and effect work, to use tools to leverage our actions, and lets each new generation start from where the last generation left off.

Some humans learn to use their perceptual intelligence together with their conceptual intelligence to generate a 3rd form of intelligence called  genius intelligence. Examples of humans possessing  genius intelligence include: Albert Einstein in science, Michael Jordan in sports, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in music. It is genius intelligence that allows some humans to understand mechanism. Those understanding mechanism can invent new tools of science and technology, create new ways of playing basketball, and create original musical masterpieces.

A few humans learn to use their perceptual intelligence together with their conceptual and together with their genius intelligence to generate a 4th form of intelligence called goodness intelligence. Examples of humans possessing goodness intelligence include: Jesus of Nazareth, Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha, Lao Tzu, Florence Nightingale, Albert Schweitzer, Mohandas Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and the Dali Lama to name a few. It is goodness intelligence that allows a few humans to understand consequence. Those understanding consequence can see the truth. They can see good action. They know that they should avoid hurting others, and whenever possible they should help others.

As today’s author warns: “Beginning nearly a decade ago, honeybees started dying off at unusually and mysteriously high rates—this past winter, nearly one-third of U.S. honeybee colonies died or disappeared.”

Goodness intelligence grants us humans the ability to understand consequence. If we understand consequence, then we realize that we should move as quickly as possible to understand the plight of the honeybee. For only if we understand this crisis can we hope to rescue the honeybee, and perhaps rescue ourselves as well.

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Giving New Meaning to being Pro Life

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

BBC Life Sciences — A stocktake of UK nature suggests 60% of animal and plant species studied have declined in the past 50 years. The State of Nature report, compiled by 25 wildlife organisations – from the RSPB to the British Lichen Society – collates assessments of 3,148 species. Conservationists hope it will offer clues to the fate of the UK’s 59,000 species. Beetles and wildlfowers are among the most vulnerable species.

According to the document, reasons for the decline are “many and varied” but include rising temperatures and habitat degradation. …

Turtle dove, hedgehog, harbour seal, early bumblebee, small tortoiseshell butterfly, natterjack toad (c) NaturePL / Photoshot / RSPB / Butterfly Conservation

“This ground-breaking report is a stark warning – but it is also a sign of hope,” said naturalist Sir David Attenborough, who launches the report today.

“We have in this country a network of passionate conservation groups supported by millions of people who love wildlife,” he said.

“The experts have come together today to highlight the amazing nature we have around us and to ensure that it remains here for generations to come.” …

The State of Nature report outlines a new “watchlist indicator” which charts how populations of these species have fared in the last 50 years and the overall trend is a 77% decline, despite successes for some including bitterns and adonis blue butterflies.

A further 6,225 UK species have been assessed according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List criteria, 12% of which are considered under threat of extinction. The highest number of threatened species are found within the flowering plants but bees, flies, moths and butterflies each have more than 200 listed. (05-22-2013)

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