One Million Miles Away


On February 11, 2015  NOAA launched DSCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory) at Cape Canaveral, Florida courtesy a Space X Falcon 9 rocket. Never destined for glories of Hubble, Rosetta or the Mars Orbiter,  DSCOVR’s  launch was a victory in itself. Conceived in 1998 by NASA under then Vice President Al Gore, DSCOVR was born Triana for Rodrigo de Triana, first of Columbus’s men to spot land in the Americas.

NASA development of Triana began with Al Gore’s vision of live Earth views available 24/7 via the internet. Pre “An Inconvenient Truth” Gore wanted to raise global awareness of Earth, update Apollo 17’s iconic “Blue Marble” image of our planet, and establish irrefutable scientific markers of global warming. In orbit a million miles away – able to capture a full Earth image every two hours, a sentry to monitor solar wind, coronal mass ejections, changes in ozone levels, concentrations of atmospheric dust and volcanic ash, cloud height and vegetation fluctuations.

Triana never left the launch pad. In 1999 NASA Inspector General (to be clear – NASA Office of Inspector General is a product of the Inspector General Act of 1978 – one of many independent investigative/audit units created to police 63 Federal agencies ) reported that “the basic concept of the Triana mission was not peer reviewed”, and “Triana’s added science may not represent the best expenditure of NASA’s limited science funding. Triana went down in flames with the election of George W. Bush. I suspect he took pleasure in silencing Gore’s pet project. Bush placed it on “hold”, stubbornly unmoved by a Congress funded report from the National Academy of Sciences in 2000 stating the mission was “strong and scientifically vital”. Triana gathered dust until 2008 heralded the end of Bush rule.

Final chapter of the Bush era led to push and shove from Al Gore. NASA renamed the project DSCOVR, and in 2011 Obama pitched funding of the mission as a replacement for antiquated solar observatory Advanced Composition Explorer, launched in 1997. In 2013 NASA was given the green light to proceed toward a launch date in 2015. On June 8, 2015 DSCOVR started broadcasting on the DSCOVR EPIC website, linked below –

http://epic.gsfc.nasa.gov/

http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/DSCOVR/

Pondering why humanity chooses to stifle exploration of the cosmos hurts my head. War mongering, religious oppression, systematic denial of science, opportunistic corporate meddling – no excuse excuses the absurdity of blind eyes to the universe. Our world is not a product of politics or religion, we owe it to ourselves to understand what makes it tick.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_Space_Climate_Observatory

El Nino Watch


Climate change is bad for business; unless you happen to corner the market on fresh water or profit in some way from calamity, climate change is best debunked and ridiculed. Dismissive snorts escape big business boardrooms  Bottom line dollars, and profit regardless of impact make the subject far too treacherous to acknowledge.

Global warming reached its zenith with Al Gore – An Inconvenient Truth ranked as one of the highest grossing documentaries of all time. Sharing in a Nobel prize and Oscar helped to propel his message into the consciousness of millions. Cynics might argue the millions he profited along the way emit a mighty “green” stench. Sure his personal wealth hit the jackpot – from a couple of million as Vice President to hundreds of millions investing in “green” technology companies. Just because he gained from companies supplying carbon emission testing equipment to industry, smart meters or sustainable energy technology doesn’t make him a piranha. His twenty room, eight bathroom mansion uses more electricity in a month than the average household uses in a year – at least he got us thinking, right?

http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/NussbaumOnDesign/archives/2007/02/gores_carbon_fo.html

I’m not pondering Gore’s legacy or corporate denial. This isn’t about pointing fingers, laying blame or splitting hairs. Sure I’m disgusted by big business smoke screens – tactics used by each and every interest with something to gain or loose, from governments to the private sector – stir the pot, divide the masses, create confusion, and avoid reality long enough to keep the money rolling in.

Scientists are tracking a massive warm water anomaly in the Pacific Ocean. Large enough to cover the United States to a depth of 300 feet, this troublesome “blob” typifies changing weather patterns. At the moment a “sub-surface”event, quickly poised to become a formidable El Nino as wind and ocean currents push it closer to the surface.

El Nino is characterized by warmer than average ocean temperatures in the Pacific ocean. Warmer ocean means warmer air, and warmer global temperatures. El Nino years see dry countries flood – increased water a breeding ground for insect populations like mosquitoes which spread disease. Wet countries experience drought – crop failure and forest fires follow. Ocean currents change as a result of wonky trade winds – countries dependant on fishing suffer as “fish kills” or changes in migration deplete fishing grounds. The last El Nino year of 1997 is credited with 23,000 deaths and over 30 billion dollars damage worldwide.

http://www.bing.com/images

http://www.encyclopedia.com/article-1G2-3044900018/el-nio.html

http://earthsky.org/earth/warm-water-in-pacific-could-spark-a-monster-el-nino-in-2014?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=39f0193dfc-EarthSky_News&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-39f0193dfc-393970565

 

Deep Space Climate Observatory


Stating I was passionate about space weather would be a gross understatement. Saying I’m at a loss to comprehend why a majority of the population hasn’t the foggiest notion how space weather impacts earth, would be a completely accurate statement. Pleading the case to Canadian radio and television stations hasn’t garnered so much as a polite “thanks, but no thanks”. Long ago giving up on “educating” people I know – tired of eyes glazing over just before they roll, accompanied by a polite “that’s interesting” – my head screams ARGH as I change the subject.

Yesterday I received news prompting a happy jig in front of my computer screen. Within minutes I was on the phone to my like minded brother – excitedly asking “have you heard the news?” NOAA plans to launch DSCOVR – the Deep Space Climate Observatory in 2015.

Proposed in 1998 by then Vice President Al Gore, and known as Triana or GoreSat, it was intended to give a continuous view of the sun and sunlit side of the earth. Gore saw it as a chance not only to raise awareness through a continuous internet feed, but as a tool to measure UV light making its way through the ozone layer – hence tracking global warming, cloud patterns, weather systems and early warning for approaching solar storms. It was put on the back burner by George W. Bush shortly after taking office.

In November of 2008 the Obama administration dusted off the $100 million dollar satellite; by 2011 actively  securing funds for a proposed launch – the project was renamed DSCOVR.

When John Zande – http://thesuperstitiousnakedape.wordpress.com/ messaged me yesterday with news of the proposed 2015 launch – I practically swooned. Trust me; this is BIG news. I’ll spare all you glazed over eye rollers another account of the Carrington or Bastille Day events. Anyone left standing with the slightest interest – I applaud your pondering mind; fingers crossed you’ll “think about, talk about, learn more about” the importance of space weather.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_Space_Climate_Observatory

http://spaceweather.com/

Pondering Water


I’ve pondered climate change, plastic water bottles in land fills, and oil families the likes of George Bush snapping up land over the world’s largest aquifer. I’m used to the rolling eyes and ho-hum attitudes of people believing it’s not their problem. The moment Al Gore faded from front page news, so too did awareness, urgency, and social responsibility. Sure, there’s a core group of grass roots realists; their efforts seized upon by marketing gurus – turning a tidy profit with buzz words like free or fair trade, sustainable, and ethical. A marketing wet dream, after  slumpish years struggling for new adjectives to describe “new, and improved”.

Lets ponder water. A friend sent me this link tonight, a visual aid that knocked my socks off. Looking at the photo you should see three blue spheres. The largest one represents all the water on earth – everything from oceans, ice caps, moisture in fog banks, even your runny nose. The next size illustrates how much of the first sphere is fresh water; rivers, lakes, streams, and groundwater. 99% of this sphere is groundwater, and inaccessible. The last tiny blue speck shows accessible fresh water.

http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/2010/gallery/global-water-volume.html

We take water for granted, assuming the supply is infinite. Rising temperatures mean our glaciers melt faster than they are able to restore themselves. Many scientists believe the “tipping point” has been reached – within a few decades the Himalayas could be glacier free. Millions upon millions of people rely on the water glaciers deliver to rivers.

It takes 7 litres of water to manufacture a single plastic water bottle. a puny “water footprint” compared to the 16,000 litres needed for a single KG. of boneless beef. Americans use on average 575 litres a day per household, we use more water washing our cars than many people in the world survive on in a week.

http://www.treehugger.com/clean-water/we-use-how-much-water-scary-water-footprints-country-by-country.html

We allow ourselves to be lulled by slick ad-men, consuming with wild abandon like there’s no tomorrow. There’s a reason Texas oil men are buying  land atop aquifers, and it sure isn’t for a place to build  retirement cottages. They understand the oil will dry up and water is the next market to corner.

A link to the massive land purchase by the Bush family atop the world’s largest aquifer in Paraguay.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/oct/23/mainsection.tomphillips

Delicate Balance


What better way to start the new year than with a ponder. Something to think about, talk about, learn more about.

Scientists from Harvard and GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research,  have announced that melting ice due to global warming,  effects volcanic activity. Water is heavy; as it flows to and collects in our oceans, extraordinary pressure is put on the tectonic plates. In a nutshell – continents get lighter, oceans heavier.  By looking at core samples up to a million years old, evidence of volcanic ash were present in times of warmer climates. The conclusion being; extra pressure forced more magma towards the surface.

Climate change is not the hot topic it was a few years ago. Al Gore has faded from the talk show and speaker for hire circuit. In 2011 Stephen Harper pulled Canada out of the Kyoto Protocol; an international agreement aimed at reducing greenhouse emissions. Certainly a move that sent a jubilant cry throughout the “oil sands” in his home province of Alberta. Big business has settled nicely into the practice of trading carbon credits. Global warming came as a boom for the plastics industry; it created “environmental awareness” demanding millions of recycling bins. Ironic that plastic production is one of the worst offenders, not to mention the millions of barrels of oil required.

Life is a delicate balance; every action has a reaction. Life could not exist without a precise natural order. Cycles of climate change are part of that order. Are greenhouse gasses speeding up the process? Who can say for sure.

I look at it much like the “dust bowl’ in the 1930’s. Credited as the worst man made disaster in North America. A natural ten year cycle of drought occurred; the problem was, poor farming practices had stripped the great plains of grass. With natural grass gone, along with the 5 foot root system that kept soil in place – the plains simply blew away.

Global warming is a natural occurrence, charging full speed towards modern greed and indifference. Glaciers and the ice shelf are melting faster than they can be replenished. Ocean levels will rise, weather will become increasingly severe, and it seems volcanic activity will increase. Taking the lesson of dust bowl farmers; we can’t stop natural cycles, but can take steps to soften their impact.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121219133551.htm

Jacobshavn Glacier retreat lines

Jacobshavn Glacier retreat: The rapidly retreating Jakobshavn Glacier in western Greenland drains the central ice sheet. This image shows the glacier in 2001, flowing from upper right to lower left. Terminus locations before 2001 were determined by surveys and more recent contours were derived from Landsat data. The recent stages of retreat have widened the ice front, placing more of the glacier in contact with the ocean. Image courtesy NASA Earth Observatory, Cindy Starr, based on data from Ole Bennike and Anker Weidick (Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland) and Landsat data.