Climate science, GOP style


We’re joking, right?

Stockman also said he “can’t get answers” to how long it would take for the sea level to rise two feet. “Think about it, if your ice cube melts in your glass, it doesn’t overflow. It’s displacement. This is some of the things that they’re talking about that mathematically and scientifically don’t make sense.”

Holdren wasn’t given a chance to answer this question, but the answer is pretty simple. Stockman seems to be forgetting that not all melting ice is already in the sea. Melting land ice — glaciers, ice sheets, ice caps, and permafrost — are the major contributors to global sea-level rise as their water flows into the ocean. And even though melting sea ice doesn’t directly contribute to sea level rise, it does cause ocean temperatures to rise. This causes the ocean to expand and rise — a big component of sea level rise — and the added heat can ultimately cause more land ice to melt.

The exchange ends with an awkward silence over the length of ice ages, and Stockman eventually getting interrupted by the committee’s sitting chair to move on with the hearing.

What do progressives believe?

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) appeared at Netroots Nation Friday and explained it all to you.

Most true Americans believe these things, not the stuff that the Tea Party terrorists stand for, and …

Wait?! Wasn’t that the Incredible Hulk at the end? If we’re gonna fight, and Hulk smash, we will win.

Let’s destroy the world: A musical climate change chart

It’s lovely to watch your world collapse in a graphic. I wonder what Pat Sajak would say (via MSN):

Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak sparked a social media backlash Tuesday after calling people concerned about climate change “unpatriotic racists.”

“I now believe global warming alarmists are unpatriotic racists knowingly misleading for their own ends. Good night,” Sajak tweeted late Monday.

I mean, really, who are you going to believe? The world’s scientists or a game show host who emcees a sophisticated version of Hangman? And where does the idea of racism and climate change come from?

The theory of inflation and Marilyn Monroe


OK, here’s one of those complicated science stories that make sense to maybe three dozen people on the planet. The chart above represents a confirmation of a hyphothesis on the Big Bang theory. As the chart says, physicists have been studying this for the past decade, and the result is one of those things that end up winning the Nobel Prize for Physics, but I can’t understand it any more than I can explain the theory of relativity. However, if you ever saw the movie “Insignificance,” you saw Marilyn Monroe (played by Theresa Russell) give a pretty good explanation of it to Albert Einstein (played by Michael Emil):

Anyway, the theory of relativity and the Big Bang theory are two of the most important findings in physics. In the scientific community, the discovery of the waves shown in the chart above is huge. According to the Washington Post:

Yet the theory of inflation has an even more profound implication. It suggests that the universe we can observe, everything we have seen or known on Earth and in the sky and ever will, is just an accident, and that the forces that caused inflation — whatever they may be — might have created other universes elsewhere, forever hidden from us by the laws of physics. What “elsewhere” means in this context, though, is uncertain.

But the theoretical physicists who posited the theory of inflation, an explanation that the universe went from nothing to … the universe in “a billionth of a billionth of billionth of a millionth of a second,” was overwhelmed to find his theory was proved.

Again, the physicist and his wife hear what was only random numbers to me, but they realize “discovery.”

So, why do I believe this, even though I don’t understand it, but I can’t believe the creationist concept that the world was created 9,000 years ago and man roamed the land with the dinosaur, which is a hell of a lot easier to understand?

I’ll quote an architect here. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe said:

“God is in the details.”

He was talking about restraint in design. The physicists who gave us relativity and Big Bang and inflation are what “intelligent design” should stand for … a meticulous examination of science and physics delving into billions of years of possibility. A theory is presented and they test it and test, in this case over decades, it until it’s either proved or disproved. That’s the epitome of restraint in design.

And the result of scientific discovery is that we live in a world where our everyday luxuries are things that would have been designated as “magic” a century ago. Think of smartphones and iPads. Things that weren’t even conceivable 40 years ago. These are the products of physics and chemistry and science.

But the “intelligent design” of creationism boils down to: “I can’t figure this out, so let’s just say God did it. After all God is all knowing and all seeing, and I’m not God, so why should I worry my beautiful mind about it.” And what do we get out of that? At its high point, witch burning. At its low point, an embrace of ignorance that has set us back centuries in development and brought us closer to extinction.

I posted a few days ago on the mistake Bill Nye “The Science Guy” made in going to the Creation Museum in Kentucky to hold a debate on evolution. Today I read something that boiled down in fewer words what I meant to say in that post:

The choir hears someone saying “Hey, can you believe that in 2014, some crazy person still believes the earth is flat?” But someone else hears, “Some people still believe the earth is flat. Others call them ‘crazy.’ ” Every time the Round Earthers resoundingly win a debate, you perpetuate the notion that it’s a debate, not a set of facts that are simply not up for discussion. This is probably making a mountain out of a little good-natured Twitter fun. Still, it’s worth considering every time you “win” an argument over a fact that you SHOULD NOT EVEN BE ARGUING ABOUT IN THE FIRST PLACE.

So the way to win arguments is to make discoveries like the theory of inflation. And don’t “debate” the matter with people who are unwilling to examine their own theories because their belief system encourages them to to ask questions.

Welcome to the Anthropocene

Scientists are now examining the current epoch in geologic science as the Anthropocene. According to the site Welcome to the Anthropocene:

Our species’ whole recorded history has taken place in the geological period called the Holocene – the brief interval stretching back 10,000 years. But our collective actions have brought us into uncharted territory. A growing number of scientists think we’ve entered a new geological epoch that needs a new name – the Anthropocene.

The Anthropocene period appears to encompass the past 250 years, prompted by the Industrial Revolution. The impact on the planet is noted in urbanization, global warming and diminishing water resources (the video above). Click here to learn more about how human activity has transformed the Earth’s geology.