Weather Satellite


Many people hear the term “weather satellite”, immediately dismissing the concept as nothing more than a glorified “eye in the sky”weather report. To grasp an inkling of what these satellites do, start by thinking of them as Earth Observing technology. Of the 3000 or so satellites orbiting our planet, 120 are dedicated to specific observance and measurement of planetary changes.

Take Suomi, launched by NASA in 2011 Suomi circles the globe 14 times a day at a distance of 500 miles. Equipped with cutting edge ultraviolet and infrared sensors, Suomi measures ocean temperature and water vapor from evaporation at impossibly minute levels. Unhindered by cloud cover or darkness, Suomi boasts CERES (cloud and earth radiant energy system) collecting data for long term analysis of climate change, and short term storm/hurricane tracking. Appreciating Suomi is dependent on understanding the precise science of weather – hurricanes can’t form before ocean temperatures reach 79 degrees Fahrenheit, a irrefutable tipping point at which evaporation accelerates, forcing millions of tons water vapor up to 10 miles where winds driven by Earth’s rotation whip them into circular behemoths. The slightest variance in ocean temperature, all that stands between harmless blusters and a state of emergency.

Aqua has orbited the poles since launched by NASA in 2002, it collects data on a “global scale”. Oceans, atmosphere, land, ice, snow cover and vegetation – precisely measured and studied to understand the impact they have on each other. Miniscule changes in ocean levels, particulates like ozone, carbon monoxide and dioxide, and methane in the atmosphere, impact of vegetation, forest fires and volcanoes on climate, tracking plankton blooms – all in a days work for Aqua.

http://science.nasa.gov/missions/aqua/

Earth observing satellites monitor our planet with relentless accuracy. Each assigned specific tasks, missions that dictate stationary or orbital movement, height and duration – all with the goal of averting calamity through earlier warnings, while building base line data for tracking climate change.

Upwards of a billion dollars a year goes into debunking climate change. Money straight from  deep pockets of those standing to lose the most if ever we demand accountability. Check out the link below…

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/dec/20/conservative-groups-1bn-against-climate-change

One needn’t break a sweat pondering this one – what possible rational exists beyond indifference or apathy to swallow propaganda from “big money” over meticulous scientific data calling bullshit on corporate greed? Wake up people, the numbers don’t lie. Earth observing satellites don’t have shareholders to pacify or untold wealth to squirrel away in tax havens. The link below doesn’t pretend climate change is alarmist poppycock.

http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

theresilientearth.com

Facts


I take comfort in facts; irrefutable, set in stone, proven beyond a shadow of doubt,snippets of information used to define our world. The Oxford Dictionary defines fact as “a thing that is known or proved to be true”,  so far so good, right? Not so fast – fact missed the memo on truth.

I know for a fact we can’t pin point the exact age of our universe. Science says 13.8 billion years, give or take a millennium or two. We have no way of ever assigning “fact” to age, we can however say for a fact, the universe is billions of years old, science has proven this to be true. According to fundamentalist Christians the world is 6427 years old. The link below gives a timeline of their reasoning – for those requiring “proof”, a search on yahoo resulted in “best answer” rating for a response to the question “how old is the earth according to the bible?” – “the Bible doesn’t specify how old earth is but the lunar landing proved only 6000 years of dust had collected on the moon”. Yikes; that’s one hell of a fact.

http://bridavis.chickenfactory.net/timeline.htm

How about the “fact” Christopher Columbus discovered America – he never set foot on the continent, his 1492 landing was in the Caribbean – I suppose “close enough” makes for good historical “fact”. Leif Erickson found Newfoundland long before Columbus sailed the ocean blue – that’s a fact. Columbus Day based on historical fiction; truth bent so long as to become “fact”.

We need to take a long hard look at what we consider fact. Considering the source, burden of proof and context go a long way towards definitive truth. It isn’t good enough to say “I heard it on TV” or “the Bible says…” We need to understand that history , more precisely “historical accounts”, are often nothing more than one side of the story. We need to stop and ponder the difference between belief and fact. One year has 365 days, 1+1=2; facts beyond a shadow of a doubt – foundations on which we build our view of the world.

Using “fact” in the context of biblical or historical accounts, takes fact from the realm of truth, to that of speculation. History is not without bias; historical accounts often written from verbal folklore, or as a one sided “white washing” of the facts.  Alexander Graham Bell is credited with inventing the telephone – dead wrong, it was Antonio Meucci, a penniless Italian immigrant who couldn’t afford to patent his invention.Biblical “fact” based on a book neither proven or known to be true. We can say for a fact the bible claims Jesus performed 37 miracles, we can’t claim they are proven or true. “Facts” are solidified only when proven to be true.

http://www.zakkeith.com/articles,blogs,forums/who-invented-the-telephone.htm

Statistics aren’t “fact”; statistics are nothing more than a snap shot of one tiny demographic. Statistical “fact” based on responses from a few thousand hand picked respondents.  Editorial news stories aren’t fact, simply the opinion of a network or newscaster. We’re bombarded with “facts” based on nothing more than opinion or public relations firms presenting one side of the story. Fact has little to do with proven truth – fact and truth parted ways some time ago.

I can say for a fact that NOAA scientists reported November 2013 to be the warmest November since records began in 1880. November was also the 37th consecutive year, and 345th consecutive month where global averages of ocean and surface temperatures increased. Compelling facts but not irrefutable proof of global warming according to websites like thewatchers. Fact is open to interpretation – a nasty backlash since parting with truth.

http://thewatchers.adorraeli.com/2013/07/07/global-warming-debunked-nasa-report-verifies-carbon-dioxide-actually-cools-atmosphere/

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/

We all need to ponder the importance of getting our facts straight. Basing our statements of fact on the Bible, history textbooks, worse still, opinionated media or websites, makes us look silly. Bible stories or Scientology beliefs that humans are inhabited by the souls of an alien race from planet Xenu – bear no resemblance to fact; the only true fact being many people believe these stories. Teaching for a fact that Mesopotamia was the cradle of civilization, ignoring Gobekli Tepe, Varna, Puma Punku simply because we lack reasonable explanation, doesn’t change the fact these places blow our mainstream historical timeline out of the water.

We owe it to ourselves; not only remind ourselves of “facts” true meaning, but to expand our children’s minds with unbiased truth – science might not be able to explain, it doesn’t negate scientific truth. Ponder a world if we based our lives on factual truth rather than biblical references, historical hearsay, media opinion or statistical slants. Stop and think how different it would be if our lives were governed by fact based on truth instead of opinion. How simple life would be if a fact was a fact – so deal with it. A world where believe in your God ,or not , was irrelevant when educating our children. A place where “this is what we can back up with archaeological evidence”  or “this confounding truth defies explanation, yet is no less real”. A world where kids grew up with all the “facts”, were allowed to imagine and wonder, form their own ideas and taught to recognize the difference between fact and hogwash.

Fact needs to high tail it back to truth; our world needs to focus on what is proven to be true rather than how we believe, or would like to think the universe is ordered.

Spreading Dengue


When I think of Dengue Fever the last thing to cross my mind would be outbreaks in Europe or North America. Dengue is a tropical problem; found in Africa and jungles of the southern hemisphere – or so I thought. I hadn`t given Dengue much thought; aside from my perception it was a `jungle fever`, something that lurked in the night with malaria, the only other thing I knew was it is also called yellow fever, and caused a lot of trouble for Americans building the Panama Canal. Admittedly, a rather vague understanding.

Aedes aegypti, albopictus, and japonicus are the mosquitoes responsible for spreading this nasty `flu-like` virus. Dengue can`t be transmitted from person to person through contact, only the bite of a female mosquito carrying the virus can spread the unwelcome news. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 50 – 100 million cases annually, with almost half the world population now at risk. Before 1970 only 9 countries had Dengue epidemics, today over 100 countries are plagued by Dengue.

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs117/en/

In the late 90`s carriers were found in Long Island, New York and Ocean County, New Jersey. Today these mosquitoes have shown up from Washington state to Florida, in Canadian provinces, Germany, France, and New Zealand. In North America fewer than 10% of cases are properly diagnosed – it`s unlikely your doctor would suspect Dengue unless you had recently travelled to a tropical location.

Dengue is not epidemic in North America or Europe; it is knocking at the door, and spreading at an incredible rate. There are those who blame it on climate change, and those who credit increased imports of products like `lucky bamboo` harbouring mosquito larvae. Either way these pests are extremely adaptable and by all appearances quite happy to join West Nile Virus as something we need to ponder.

Photo – cbc.ca

Muddy Water Chain Gang in 1927


The greatest flood in American history took place in 1927 when the Mississippi River broke the levees in almost 150 places. Below Memphis Tennessee the Mississippi was 90 Km. wide; 70,000 Km lay under flood waters. Slavery may have been abolished but wealthy plantation owners depended on black share croppers to work their land. As white residents were moved to safety, poor blacks were rounded up at gunpoint – forced into labour camps along the remaining levees. Not so much a chain gang as a beleaguered army of unfortunates – they  had no choice but to fill sandbags as plantation owners waited for the waters to subside. Their efforts futile; when the levees broke they were left to fend for themselves. For anyone who’s ever pondered where Chicago blues or the term Muddy Waters came from – look no farther than the flood of ’27. Responsible for the largest migration of African Americans in U.S. history.

This link shows a timeline of events on the Mississippi River.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/timeline/flood/

Pondering the flood of 1927 serves as a perfect example of the obvious. That being, “might makes right”, and money trumps ethics without exception. The great flood may have been over 80 years ago but make no mistake; money makes the world go round.

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

Pine Beetle Rampage


Anyone living in British Columbia has heard of the Pine Beetle. A small insect, no bigger than a grain of rice, responsible for killing millions of acres of pine forest. The female bores into a mature tree secreting a pheromone to attract male beetles. The men arrive, packing another pheromone to entice more females. The pine tree protests with resin that’s toxic to the beetles. One step ahead; the beetles release spores from a blue fungus carried in their mouths, and distributed under the bark as they bore. This fungus stops the secretion of defensive resin, and serves as nourishment for the larvae now laid under the tree bark. Once mature, these beetles pack their bags, leaving behind a dead tree.

Within a few hours drive of coastal rain forests, cedar and hemlock trees give way to once vast stands of pine and spruce. At first glance you’re inclined to think a forest fire swept across the mountainside.  As far as the eye can see, the brown landscape confounds. us with a sense of disbelief.

Pine Beetles used to die off during the winter. Climate change has created milder winters, allowing these tiny pests to thrive. Quickly running out of mature lodge pole pine, they’ve started to attack high elevation white bark pines. Grizzly bears depend on seeds from white bark pines to store energy when they hibernate. Forests that would absorb carbon dioxide when healthy, now release it into the atmosphere as they decay. B.C. government attempts to stop the spread of pine beetle, have ordered clear cutting – leading to even fewer  co2 defenses, erosion, and consequently contamination of   waterways.

Ponder a tiny insect causing so much trouble. Global warming is much more than melting ice.

http://www.straight.com/news/david-suzuki-how-mountain-pine-beetle-devastated-bcs-forests

When in Drought, Find a Beaver


I learned something interesting about the Beaver of all things. Once the backbone of  Canadian fur trading, this rather large rodent may adorn our nickel, yet is considered nothing more than a nuisance. Their fur of little value in a world  of synthetic fabric draped political correctness,  the Beaver  inhabit a realm known as pest. In parts of Canada like Porcupine Plains, Saskatchewan they even have a bounty on their seemingly worthless hides.

Not so fast people. According to David Suzuki they could be the most important animal on our planet. It seems their relentless dam building serves a special purpose. By creating ponds, they trap water destined to evaporate from small streams. By building dams they make deep ponds out of trickles the summer sun would have turned to dry creek beds.

Dr Glynnis Hood studied the impact of beavers on water levels in a given landscape. Elk Island National Park near Edmonton, Alberta had seen every last beaver trapped by the late 1800’s. In the 1940’s seven beavers were introduced and park rangers kept meticulous records of their activity. Looking at park records, Hood noticed a dramatic increase in water levels once these beavers got busy.

A fish hatchery in Methow, Washington is using the beaver to restore pools of late season water to areas where salmon stocks are dwindling. In Montana cattle country, conservationists  introduced beaver to what had become dry valleys by late summer. Limiting livestock access, and letting the beaver do their thing; remarkably these bone dry valleys became lush and green the following year.

Pondering the beaver I can’t help but think of the greatest man made disaster in North America. The “dust bowl” of the 1930’s was the result of poor farming practices; stripping indigenous grasses from the great plains removed nature’s perfect defense in times of drought. Protective layer gone, complete with five foot deep root systems; the top soil simply blew away.

https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2012/11/20/the-greatest-man-made-disaster-in-north-america/

It worries me to watch arrogance grow, believing we control our environment. Anything getting in the way of progress is eradicated with nary a thought.  It makes me crazy to think this might come across as preachy, there just isn’t any other way to put it. All of us need to ponder the “balance of nature”. Today’s nuisance beaver might one day be our saving grace; in times of drought – find a beaver.

Do You Ever Ponder the Moon?


Do you ever ponder the moon? Do you understand how important it is to life on earth, or do you view it as something that always has, and always will be a permanent fixture in the sky? Is the moon simply a familiar occurrence  with nary a thought to the role it plays in our lives? Would it surprise you to learn that without the moon, life on earth would be radically different.

Compared to other moons in the universe, ours is massive. At about a third of the size of earth, it is by far the largest of all the known moons. The gravitational pull of the moon is the force that creates ocean tides, it also keeps our planet tilted on its axis; resulting in our four predictable seasons. From plankton to sea turtles, moonlight is the maestro that that dictates behaviour.

Without the strong gravitational pull of the moon, we would be at the mercy of the sun’s gravity. It would tilt our axis back and forth. The poles could become lush jungles as the countries around the equator languished under miles of ice. The jet stream, ocean currents, and our concept of seasons would be replaced by unpredictable swings – likely too much for most life on earth.

I don’t expect that the moon will be going anywhere soon. The point of this ponder is to think about how incredibly lucky we are to even be here. We squabble about the existence of God, commit atrocious acts in his name,  debate global warming, squander resources, yet forget to consider the delicate balance of circumstance that allows us to  thrive. Every once and a while we need to stop and look at the moon.  Perhaps by gazing at it we will be reminded of our good fortune,  finally understanding that it doesn’t matter how or why we’re here.

Everything we know; all that we take for granted, works as part of a vast system called the universe. Take a moment to ponder the moon, and let it be a reminder of how lucky we are. Maybe then it will start to sink in that we’re behaving very badly, and wasting precious time.

COPUOS Thanks to The United Nations


COPUOS (Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space) was established in 1958 by the United Nations. Meeting once a year in Vienna, the original 18 counties has blossomed over the years into 74. The idea behind this annual meeting was to discuss matters of space for the common interest of all people, and to maintain “peaceful use”.  Technology progressed, so did COPUOS; the cold war faded – topics of discussion turned to space debris, near earth asteroids, satellite navigation, and disaster management

This year COPUOS did something that warms my heart – space weather was added to the agenda.

Anyone who knows me, or reads this blog on a regular basis; understands how strongly I stand on educating the masses in matters of space. It boggles my pondering mind why solar wind, sunspot activity, and geomagnetic disturbances are not part of the daily weather reports.

By adding space weather to the COPUOS agenda, the United Nations acknowledges the potential ass kicking our sun could deliver. I won’t hold my breath, but the possibility exists that with the UN on board I just might live to see the day when everyone knows what a CME is.

http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/13feb_copuos/

Six Degrees


Ponder this – The average temperature of earth during the last ice age was only 6 degrees cooler than it is now. The industrial revolution of the 19th century heralded the age of burning fossil fuels. Since our industrial blast furnace began belching noxious fumes – average temperatures have increased by 1 degree. A single degree; responsible for glaciers calving at unprecedented rates, and massive 100 year storms becoming all too frequent.

http://chge.med.harvard.edu/topic/climate-change-and-biodiversity-loss

A study by the International Social Survey Program was recently published by the Science World Report. Covering 33 countries over a 17 year period from 1993 – 2010; it concluded global warming is becoming less and less of a hot topic. Only 4.7% rated the environment as a pressing concern, with most people calling it a national rather than personal problem.

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/02/26/kelly-mcparland-study-uncovers-massive-global-yawn-over-global-warming/

A story in the news today reported on rising food prices due to recent drought in North American farming regions. Within a few years dry land farming will surely become one for the history books. America’s corn belt was devastated last year, with the lowest rainfall in decades. Call me crazy but this should be seen as something far more than somebody else’s problem.

Big oil seems to have figured it out; at least a few big old Texas oilmen. T. Boone Pickens purchased 68,000 acres in Roberts County, Texas; along with the rights to drain 50% of the water. He sits atop the Ogallala Aquifer – the largest aquifer in America. In 2008 the Bush family purchased 100,000 acres in Paraguay – strategically placed over Guarani Aquifer; considered to be the largest in the world.

http://www.newsfocus.org/water_grab.htm

We need to start thinking about climate change from a different point of view. The debate over its cause will continue to rage, our hand in hastening natural cycles is no longer the point. The world is changing; our weather will become increasingly violent, and the ice will melt faster than it can be replaced. If we can move on to acceptance there’s a fighting chance to wrap our heads around the problem.

Six little degrees is all that stands between us and the last ice age. It doesn’t take much to turn our comfortable existence upside down.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/earth/cause-ice-age.html