Coastal conservatives need new places to hide their heads – Sea level rising faster


Click to enlarge — this ain’t the future, this is Miami in June 2014

Ocean levels on Earth have risen an average of three inches in the last 23 years, and could rise an additional three feet in the next century, according to an interdisciplinary NASA team charged with measuring changing sea levels.

Scientists from NASA Wednesday presented satellite data gathered since 1992 that measured ocean levels rising at an average of 3 millimeters per year. The findings pointed to thermal expansion caused by warming ocean temperatures, as well as melting ice sheets and glaciers, as the reasons for the rise — and scientists warned that the rate at which sea levels are climbing is accelerating.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made a comprehensive assessment of rising sea levels in 2013, with climate experts stating that oceans would rise from one to three feet by the end of the century.

But NASA said Wednesday that satellite data gathered since then has shown that sea levels will climb to the higher end of that range, though it will be difficult to predict exactly how long it will take to reach that level.

Along with partners from French space agency Centre National d’Études Spatiales, the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA has been tracking changing sea levels and the melting of ice sheets and glaciers using satellites equipped with highly sensitive instruments.

Mike Freilich, director of NASA’s earth science division in Washington, explained that the satellites were so accurate that they would be able to detect the movement of a dime lying on the ground from 40,000 feet above it.

The scientists said that melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica have been contributing to rising sea levels sooner and more significantly than they had anticipated…

Sea levels don’t rise uniformly across the planet, and in some places — particularly on the West coast of the U.S. — they are actually declining due to natural cycles of ocean currents. The scientists expect sea levels in those regions to catch up, and perhaps to exceed global average sea levels.

People need to understand that the planet is not only changing, it’s changed,” said NASA scientist Tom Wagner…

Researchers noted that with the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets melting, it will be difficult for scientists to predict when sea levels will rise as a result because they have never actually witnessed the collapse of an ice sheet.

This will not bother the folks who not only never witnessed a conversation with a burning bush – they can’t find scientific record of such an occurrence. But, they still believe.

The same cultural rejection of science and scientific research that justifies superstition makes it easy to place the fate of future generations in the hands of politicians who make the same noises as your grandparents. And that’s true whether your rationale is defined in terms of ideology, religion or just something your favorite demagogue said, last Thursday on the radio.

New theory leads to ‘radiationless revolution’


Click to enlargeAnapole Visualization by Andrey Miroshnichenko

Physicists have found a radical new New theory leads to ‘radiationless revolution’: Physicists have found a radical new way confine electromagnetic energy without it leaking away, akin to throwing a pebble into a pond with no splash…

The theory could have broad ranging applications from explaining dark matter to combating energy losses in future technologies.

However, it appears to contradict a fundamental tenet of electrodynamics, that accelerated charges create electromagnetic radiation, said lead researcher Dr Andrey Miroshnichenko from The Australian National University…

“This problem has puzzled many people. It took us a year to get this concept clear in our heads,” said Dr Miroshnichenko, from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering.

The fundamental new theory could be used in quantum computers, lead to new laser technology and may even hold the key to understanding how matter itself hangs together.

“Ever since the beginning of quantum mechanics people have been looking for a configuration which could explain the stability of atoms and why orbiting electrons do not radiate,” Dr Miroshnichenko said.

The absence of radiation is the result of the current being divided between two different components, a conventional electric dipole and a toroidal dipole (associated with poloidal current configuration), which produce identical fields at a distance.

If these two configurations are out of phase then the radiation will be cancelled out, even though the electromagnetic fields are non-zero in the area close to the currents.

Dr Miroshnichenko, in collaboration with colleagues from Germany and Singapore, successfully tested his new theory with a single silicon nanodiscs between 160 and 310 nanometres in diameter and 50 nanometres high, which he was able to make effectively invisible by cancelling the disc’s scattering of visible light.

This type of excitation is known as an anapole (from the Greek, ‘without poles’).

Um, OK. Like any physics including the word “quantum” – I usually end up asking SmartAlix to explain it to me. Which he does at least once a year.

Understanding lasts about 5 minutes in this old brain of mine.

SuperHero of the day


Meet “Buddie” – who consumes only the best buds

Metropolis has Superman, Gotham City has Batman, and now Ohio has a superhero of its very own. However, some critics wish it were somebody else — anybody else.

Meet Buddie, the caped crusader enlisted by ResponsibleOhio to aid in the fight to legalize marijuana in the Buckeye State. You’ll recognize him by his green-and-white costume, marijuana leaf-like gloves, washboard abs, half-closed eyes and blinding smile. Oh, and by the enormous marijuana bud that serves as his head.

He’ll probably never volunteer for anyone’s army. Unless Uncle Sugar is planning on invading somewhere with a long green growing season.

Groundbreaking for Colorado’s largest solar farm


Same old stodgy photo opportunity — progressive results

Renewable Energy Systems Americas will construct Colorado’s largest solar farm, one that backers say will produce electricity more cheaply than natural gas-powered sources.

Broomfield-based RES expects to employ 300 to 400 workers to build the Comanche Solar project, which broke ground…7 miles south of Pueblo…

SunEdison, the world’s largest developer of renewable energy projects, raised $253 million for the project and will run the solar farm with four employees once it is operating.

The farm’s 500,000 panels will stretch across about 1,000 acres, with a capacity of 156 megawatts that will generate enough power to supply 31,000 homes, said Paul Gaynor, an executive VP with SunEdison…

Several factors contribute to lowering the project’s price tag and making it cost competitive with natural gas generation, Gaynor said. Those include economies of scale, existing roads in the area, and “plug-and-play” access to transmission lines serving a nearby power plant.

Public Service Company of Colorado, a subsidiary of Xcel Energy, has signed a 25-year purchase agreement with SunEdison…

Gaynor said SunEdison has additional wind and solar projects that it can bring forward when utilities in the state want to purchase more power generation.

Smart people in educated states keep on making smart long-range choices. Even while the most reactionary politicians on the planet keep on trying to turn energy-production back to the Dark Ages of King Coal.

70 years after end of World War 2 – Okinawa protests new US military base


Click to enlargeJiji Press/AFP

Polls consistently show Okinawans and, increasingly, mainland Japanese are opposed to replacing Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, a sprawling military base in the south of the island, with a new facility in the rural Henoko district of Nago in northern Okinawa. Referred to as Henoko, the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) is planned to have multiple helipads, 5,900-foot dual runways, an ordnance depot, a fuel depot and an 892-foot pier capable of docking amphibious assault ships.

In May 35,000 Okinawans gathered to protest the Henoko base plan, days before Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga led a delegation to the United States to express opposition to Washington. Their demands, however, fell on deaf ears. U.S. and Japanese officials insist a new facility near Henoko Point in Oura Bay is “the only solution” to alleviating decades of tension stemming from the U.S. military presence.

Today, 43 years after the U.S. returned Okinawa to Japanese control, the U.S. maintains 32 U.S. military bases and installations plus 48 restricted air and ocean training sites on the island.

But, we are a peaceloving nation, friendly to everyone in Asia. Our politicians tell us so.