Saturday, 19 September 2015

How the harm of climate change could explode exponentially down the road

About two years ago there was a a political flap about something called "climate sensitivity." Roughly speaking, this is how much global temperature will increase given a certain quantity of greenhouse gas emissions. A low sensitivity means it takes relatively more emissions to increase temperatures, a high sensitivity means the opposite.

Back then, there was a lot of talk about the global warming "pause," since the rise in atmospheric temperatures seemed to have slowed, suggesting that sensitivity might be lower than previously thought. Conservative and centrist writers like Will Wilkinson, Ross Douthat, and Clive Crook seized on this as evidence that climate hawks were mistaken, and that the case for climate policy had been dramatically weakened.

Their analysis was obviously flawed, an error that has only become more glaring after 2014 was measured as the warmest year on record, and with 2015 looking set to beat it handily. Yet there is another reason to return to climate sensitivity, brought up in a recent paper in Geophysical Research Letters. The paper's authors ask: What if there are hidden time bombs in the way that climate sensitivity works? The answer should inform how we think about climate risks.

The paper, by Jonah Bloch-Johnson, Raymond T. Pierrehumbert, and Dorian S. Abbot, is about nonlinear feedbacks. That's not as complicated as it sounds. Most climate models assume that climate sensitivity is linear — that is, temperature will always move proportionally to the greenhouse gases added. In a linear model, if the carbon dioxide concentration doubles, then the temperature would increase by twice some constant.

However, it could be that sensitivity is not linear — meaning the temperature response to a given change in greenhouse gases could be more than simply proportional (or less). Essentially, the authors assume climate sensitivity has a quadratic factor, and imagine what happens:

-ΔF = λΔT + αΔT2

Don't worry about the overall equation, the αΔT2 is the important part. It's basically a fudge factor for the actual nonlinear mechanisms, such as water vapor, and T stands for temperature. Depending on the α, it could seriously change the overall climate behavior. As greenhouse gas concentrations increase, a negative α would make the sensitivity smaller, while a positive one would make it larger.

It's important to note that nonlinearity wouldn't be visible until we have a lot more data on temperature increases. Just like how y=x2 looks pretty straight between x=0 and x=1, any nonlinear factor wouldn't be visible for years, when the curve will start bending.

So why does this matter, if we can't even measure nonlinearity yet? It's true, if this were an anodyne scientific topic — the mating behavior of frogs or something — then it wouldn't be of much import to society or politicians. However, this could potentially be of great importance, since extreme climate change poses a huge threat to world society.

It matters because a large positive α would be an absolute catastrophe. If we're assuming that sensitivity is linear, and therefore that we have a certain amount of running room to emit carbon dioxide before we hit the danger zone, a large α would mean that some or all of that running room is an illusion. We'd go on emitting, and then we'd discover that temperature was increasing much faster than we thought it would.

In other words, this is about risk management. The possibility of nonlinear feedbacks means we should raise our estimate of the likelihood of catastrophic climate change somewhat, and plan accordingly. Even when a great danger is unlikely, it's still worth taking steps to avoid it.

 
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 » see original post http://theweek.com/articles/558645/how-harm-climate-change-could-explode-exponentially-down-road

Vaccine safety, climate change featured in Republican debate

Aurich / Getty Images

Ideally, science should inform many of the major policy decisions facing the US. As such, scientific questions are fair game for candidates for office. However, at last night's Republican Presidential candidate debate, scientific questions came up solely because people knew that this field of candidates would say something stupid in response. The field delivered.

The two areas touched on were vaccines and climate change. The former was motivated by Donald Trump's previous public pronouncements linking vaccinations to autism. The latter came up because members of the Republican party seem to have settled on a tactic of admitting they're not scientists and then suggesting that the actual scientists don't know what they're talking about.

Vaccines

The moderator, Jake Tapper, didn't pose the vaccine question to Trump. Instead, he asked Ben Carson, one of the MDs on stage, whether he'd be interested in correcting Trump on his claims regarding vaccines and autism. Carson came through, correctly noting that "there have been numerous studies, and they have not demonstrated that there is any correlation between vaccinations and autism."

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Cozy Old Navy Fall Winter 2015


Fall is upon us, but no one told the sun. September in NYC is as hot as ever. Old Navy's winter holiday offerings is prepping us for the day when the temperature drops. The key look was a mix of bold colors and large-scale plaids. The bigger versions of classic skin sweater motifs made the giftable pieces look fresher and younger.

Top picks for holiday gift giving were fun accessories. Coordinating hats and scarves in bright polka dots or quirky holiday statements. Bucket bags and backpacks in the season's colors were also a hit among the bloggers in attendance at the showroom. 

The Old Navy preview served up mini donuts that reminded me of the skating parties my school hosted in my childhood. The clothes, cozy booties, and color palette were quite similar to my grade school fashion trends too. That's what is so fun about this retailer. It takes your nostalgia and updates it for return after you grow up. 
 
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One of my 'darker' compositions

One of my 'darker' compositions

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New Mythical Cut Paper Collages by Artist Morgana Wallace

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Precious Cargo

Morgana Wallace (previously) began making cut paper collages after her interest was sparked during a monotype session in printmaking class. Wallace was most attracted to the texture of cut paper compositions, especially with unique materials like wallpaper samples. Currently her work revolves around female heroines and mystical beasts, adding detail to her characters with banners and leaves that float around the subjects' heads and torsos.

Wallace often uses Japanese linen paper in her work because of her attraction to its texture, mixing it with Canson thin card stock to create her characters' flowing hair. Other materials used in her works include X-ACTO knives, water colors, gouache, and pencil crayons. To create depth and shadows she also uses foam board which adds to the painterly quality of her scenes.

Wallace is represented by Madrona Gallery in Victoria, British Columbia. You can see more cut paper collages on the gallery's artist page here.

Necromancer

Necromancer

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TheRedKing

The Red King

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Roc

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Wulver

 

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Mandible

morgana

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Sigrún

 
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Not Monkeying Around

Researchers have developed a noninvasive method to image simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) replication in real-time, in vivo. This

The post Not Monkeying Around has been published on Technology Org.

 
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Social sciences beat physical sciences in reaching funding equality

Grant funding is a key contributor to continued gender inequality within academia. Women receive smaller grants than men in biology, the physical sciences, and engineering. However, a new study published in Nature reports that, in the UK at least, social science funding doesn't show a similar gender bias when academic position is accounted for.

This study examined applications for UK Economic and Social Research Council Research Grants between 2008 and 2013. It tabulated the number of grant requests submitted by men and women, their success in earning grant awards, and the sizes of awarded grants. These data were analyzed using the UK government's information on the number of men and women in social science academic jobs in the UK.

The researchers found that, though women hold 48 percent of the academic jobs in social science, they make up just 41 percent of grant applicants, indicating a slight under-representation. The data from the Economic Social Research Council shows that 18 percent of both male and female applicants were successful in earning social science grants, indicating that men and women were equally likely to receive grant awards once you account for their lower application rate.

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 » see original post http://arstechnica.com/science/2015/09/social-sciences-beat-physical-sciences-in-reaching-funding-equality/

Francesca Liberatore's Superheroes - Fall 2015

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francesca liberatore fw15

Do you kill it at your job, both in performance and in style? Are you a superheroine? Francesca Liberatore didn't outfit her models in capes, but they did have elements of your favorite comic-book characters.

There was a great print that contained graphic representation of star motifs. Zippers, metallic leather and silver pointed oxfords were a nod to edgier street wear. However, I love that this collection was mostly suitable for work, but pushing the fashion boundaries of office-appropriate just enough to be fun. The "Thor" like star symbol shields reminds everyone they are a superwoman .

Francesca Liberatore got her fashion chops studying at Central St. Martin. She made her mark across Europe working for Viktor & Rolf, Jean-Paul Gaultier in Paris then Brioni in Italy. You can see  the cheekiness of Gaultier and the Italian Craftmanship in her collection. 

So are you ready to run the world? In the air or at your desk, Francesca Liberatore fall 2015 makes it look good.

Photos by David TW Leung 

 
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Starting With the Earth as a Marble, This Is the First Timelapse of the Solar System to Scale

solar

When looking in a science textbook or a toy mobile of the solar system, it's easy to depict the sun, planets and moon to scale in comparison to each other. What's not so easy to visually comprehend the staggering distance that separates each planet on its individual orbit around the sun. Filmmakers Alex Gorosh and Wylie Overstreet challenged themselves to build such a model and the result is this fascinating short film To Scale.

Starting with the Earth as the size of a marble, it turns out you need an area about 7 miles (11.2km) to squeeze in the orbit of the outermost planet, Neptune. The team used glass spheres lit by LEDs and some GPS calculations to map out the solar system on the dry bed of the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Once nighttime arrived they shot a timelapse from a nearby mountain that accurately reflects the distance of each orbital path at a scale of roughly 1:847,638,000. Amazing.

If you have more questions about how they did it, here's a brief making of clip. (via Colossal Submissions)

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When standing next to the Earth in the scale model, the orb representing the sun appears exactly the same size as the actual sun.

 
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Researchers demo solar water-splitting technology

Rice University researchers have demonstrated an efficient new way to capture the energy from sunlight and convert it

The post Researchers demo solar water-splitting technology has been published on Technology Org.

 
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