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.

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.

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.

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.

55 Cancrie e, Is a Planet Made of Diamonds

As wonderful as it may be that scientists have confirmed a “habitable” planet 600 light years from Earth , (Kepler 22 b for those not paying attention )  the knowledge  a planet made of diamonds  lurks a mere 40 light years away, puts the smile on my face.

55 Cancrie e is in the constellation of Cancer. The fact that this massive planet has a surface temperature of 39oo degrees Fahrenheit  has a year equivalent to 18 hours, and couldn’t possibly support life as we know it pales in comparison to the fact that scientists believe it is made primarily of diamonds.

From the moment the universe went “bang”, a chain reaction was set in motion. The same elements we find on Earth are  in every corner of the universe, circumstance just happened to arrange them differently. Frozen moons, red dwarfs, white giants, black holes, quasars, nebulas, ice planets, gas planets, and diamond planets.

Ponder the universe and smile knowing that we were lucky enough to roll sevens.

Star map showing the planet-hosting star 55 Cancri in the constellation of Cancer. The star is visible to the naked eye, though better through binoculars. (Image by Nikku Madhusudhan; created using Sky Map Online)

Hurricane Season

Hurricane season in the Atlantic begins when the temperature of the ocean reaches 26 degrees Celsius. At this point 180 tons of water evaporates every hour. Drawn high into the atmosphere – the rest is history.

Hurricanes, Typhoons, and Cyclones

A tropical cyclone, variably known as a hurricane, typhoon, or cyclone, is a huge rotating air mass, typically having very low pressure, high winds, and torrential rains. Tropical cyclones are the largest storm systems on Earth.

Air always moves from areas of high pressure towards areas of low pressure. The speed of the airflow increases as the pressure difference between the two air cells increases and their proximity decreases.

Hurricanes begin as low-pressure cells that break off from the equatorial low-pressure belt. They begin to spin due to the Coriolis effect and pick up large amounts of water vapor and heat energy as they pass over the warm tropical water. When wind velocity within the storms reaches 120 kilometers (77 miles) per hour, tropical storms are upgraded to hurricane status. In large hurricanes, wind speeds have reached 400 kilometers (250 miles) per hour.

Hurricanes form only in the late summer and fall, when water temperatures reach at least 26 degrees Celsius (79 degrees Fahrenheit). They travel with the trade winds flowing east to west. Most hurricanes last 5 to 10 days and remain in the tropical region. Some storms, however, pass into the middle latitudes where they can cause great destruction along the east and west coasts of the Americas.

Read more: Weather and the Ocean – river, oceans, temperature, largest, source, effect, marine, Pacific