Wildfire smoke ain’t like some family campfire, folks!


Daytime, Juniper Hills, California

The West Coast’s wildfire crisis is no longer just the West Coast’s wildfire crisis: As massive blazes continue to burn across California, Oregon, and Washington, they’re spewing smoke high into the atmosphere. Winds pick the haze up and transport it clear across the country, tainting the skies above the East Coast.

But what are you breathing, exactly, when these forests combust and waft smoke near and far? Charred trees and shrubs, of course, but also the synthetic materials from homes and other structures lost in the blazes. Along with a variety of gases, these give off tiny particles, known as PM 2.5 (particulate matter 2.5 microns or smaller), that weasel their way deep into human lungs. All told, the mixture of solids and gases actually transforms chemically as it crosses the country, creating different consequences for the health of humans thousands of miles apart. In other words, what you breathe in, and how hazardous it remains, may depend on how far you live from the Pacific coast…

As the smoke plume travels through the atmosphere, “the heavier particles are going to start to fall out as time moves on,” says Rebecca Buchholz, an atmospheric chemist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “But then those sticky, partially burnt carbon gases are going to start to coagulate and become more particles again. So you’re losing particles out of the smoke, but you’re also gaining particles as the air processes through time.”

Another atmospheric nasty we’re all too familiar with forms as well: ozone, which inflames your airways. “Ozone requires carbon-containing gases, nitrogen-containing gases, and sunlight,” says Buchholz. “And so the more processing time you have, the more ozone is going to get created in that smoke plume.”

There are parts of the West where breathing the air has been evaluated as the equivalent of smoking 400 cigarettes! Today, wasn’t that bad in my neck of the prairie – here in northern New Mexico. But, after a morning try, I had to give up my usual regimen of exercise walking. My breathing, my eyes, just had too much of a bad thing to deal with.

Something out there Is Sending Signals

A mysterious radio source located in a galaxy 500 million light years from Earth is pulsing on a 16-day cycle, like clockwork, according to a new study. This marks the first time that scientists have ever detected periodicity in these signals, which are known as fast radio bursts (FRBs), and is a major step toward unmasking their sources.

FRBs are one of the most tantalizing puzzles that the universe has thrown at scientists in recent years. First spotted in 2007, these powerful radio bursts are produced by energetic sources, though nobody is sure what those might be. FRBs are also mystifying because they can be either one-offs or “repeaters,” meaning some bursts appear only once in a certain part of the sky, while others emit multiple flashes to Earth…

“We conclude that this is the first detected periodicity of any kind in an FRB source,” the [Canadian] team said in a paper published on the preprint server arXiv in late January. “The discovery of a 16.35-day periodicity in a repeating FRB source is an important clue to the nature of this object.”…

But while we know where it is, we still don’t know what it is.

Reflect on how little our species has advanced. If the signal is artificially produced, I don’t believe we can reproduce it and return the call. That’s OK. The answer to that is “not yet”. Bring in a True Believer and they can pray to it. Bring in a traditional American politician and they will begin to plan how to kill it.

Some facts take a really long time to sink in. Some bought-and-paid-for politicians never get it!

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Our latest creepy Republican liar-for-president is appointing one of the sleaziest and most corrupt public officials in the United States to head the Environmental Protection Agency. This is like appointing B’rer Fox to oversee hen-house construction. Backdoor guaranteed.

Scott Pruitt is known to take press releases from his Oklahoma oil and gas buddies and reprint them on his official letterhead as state attorney general – as if they were the product of his own research. Scumbag politician of the worst sort.

BTW, Snopes.com has already verified the article and searched deeper finding an article in Popular Mechanics that preceded newspaper coverage.

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URGENT air bag warning tells Honda/Acura owners to park it

The U.S. government is urging owners of 313,000 older Hondas and Acuras to stop driving them and get them repaired after new tests found that their Takata air bag inflators are extremely dangerous.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Thursday that it has data showing that chances are as high as 50 percent that the inflators can explode in a crash, injuring people by sending metal shrapnel into the passenger compartments.

“These vehicles are unsafe and need to be repaired immediately,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “Folks should not drive these vehicles unless they are going straight to a dealer to have them repaired…”

NHTSA’s urgent advisory covers vehicles that are up to 16 years old including 2001 and 2002 Honda Civics and Accords, the 2002 and 2003 Acura TL, the 2002 Honda Odyssey and CR-V, and the 2003 Acura CL and Honda Pilot, NHTSA said. The vehicles are among the oldest involved in the Takata recalls…

The older the inflators are, and the more time they spend in heat and humidity, the more likely they are to malfunction.

Honda said it has ample replacement parts available from companies other than Takata to immediately fix the cars…The company said it has reached out to the owners multiple times, but many vehicles remain unrepaired even in high-humidity areas mainly along the U.S. Gulf Coast that are at the highest risk.

In lab tests, about half of the inflators from these older Hondas in areas along the Gulf Coast blew apart.That should be enough to make the point to folks. If you’re driving one of these — STOP. If you know friends or kin who are driving one of these cars, make them stop.

Lightning strikes kill 40 in 24 hours in Bangladesh

At least 40 people have been killed by lightning strikes in Bangladesh within 24 hours as violent thunderstorms rumbled across the country.

The Bangladesh Meteorological Department said the storms caused disruption across 14 districts including Dhaka. Their spokesman told DPA news agency that most of the fatalities occurred due to a lack of awareness…

Two 20-year-old students were killed during a football match in Dhaka’s Jatrabari neighboughhood. Eight others were injured as the lightning bolt struck the ground.

The Hindu, a daily newspaper, reported that the casualties included a number of children who were playing in open grounds during the rain, but most of the victims were farmers working in their fields.

The rains do help to break the intense heat experienced ahead of the monsoon rains. However, the downpours are often accompanied by thunder and lightning.

Bangladesh’s Disaster Management Department has now launched a campaign to create awareness among people so that they remain inside during thunderstorms. Lightning kills around 300 people each year across the country.

Government responses to disasters like this often seem bogus. There is little in Bangladesh approximating a modern communications network – excepting cellphones, mobiles. Most cellphones in my neck of the prairie come with emergency warning systems turned-on by default. Local or state government can send me a warning on a moments notice. Probably the least expensive implementation of a warning system there can be.