6. Global Warming

Dec-20-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: Denial is still the modus operandi of Canada and the US in regards to the reality of global warming. We start with the latest numbers, then some lowlights from the conference at Doha, and some powerful speeches from countries that do see the water’s rising.

* Global Warming Is Melting Greenland And Antarctic Ice And Contributing To Sea Level Rise Slate

This is not good news. A new international study—done by 47 experts using data from multiple satellites and aircraft—shows that the Earth is losing ice at an ever-increasing rate from both poles. We’ve known for years that the Arctic has been suffering massive ice loss, with the record low broken more than once in recent years. What’s devastating about this new report is that it shows unequivocally and quantitatively that the Antarctic is also losing land ice, with the critical West Antarctica ice sheet losing on average 65 billion tons of ice every year.

* Climate Negotiations falter at Doha as CO2 Emissions Push Earth toward 1400-year Storms Juan Cole Informed Comment

Human beings are hurtling toward an average temperature increase on earth by 2100, just 88 years from now, of 9 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit (5-6 degrees C.), according to a new study by the Global Carbon Project.

…Shooting past the 2 degrees C. goal to 5 degrees C. increase, which is what is likely to happen at this rate, would be catastrophic, as I have pointed out:

“About 55 million years ago, in the Eocene, volcanic activity spewed enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the air. The earth warmed by 4-5 degrees Centigrade. All surface ice melted, and every place on earth became tropical, even Antarctica. Sea levels rose a great deal and a significant amount of land was lost to the sea. It is estimated that sea levels rise some 10 to 20 meters (yards) for every 1 degree C increase in the average surface temperature, over the long term. But along with all that dramatic change came something else. The seas absorbed a lot of the new carbon dioxide, creating carbonic acid. About 50% of some sorts of sea creatures did not survive the change.”

Two scientists casually tossed off this about the Eocene warm period:

“Palynomorphs in the core seem to have been reworked which suggests erosion and redistribution of sediment by storms. The storms also seem to have lasted for long periods of time (1100 to 1400 years).”

Hmm. Storms that lasted 1400 years and marked the earth so dramatically that scientists can still see the effects!

* Bolivia’s address to UN climate talks: Defend Mother Earth against wasteful and greedy system Rabble

The planet and humanity are in serious danger of extinction. The forests are in danger, biodiversity is in danger, the rivers and the oceans are in danger, the earth is in danger. This beautiful human community inhabiting our Mother Earth is in danger due to the climate crisis.

The causes of the climate crisis are directly related to the accumulation and concentration of wealth in few countries and in small social groups, excessive and wasteful mass consumption, under the belief that having more is living better, polluting production and disposable goods to enrich wealth increasing the ecological footprint, as well as the excessive and unsustainable use of renewable and non-renewable natural resources at a high environmental cost for extractive activities for production.

A wasteful, consumerist, exclusionary, greedy civilization generating wealth in some hands and poverty everywhere, has produced pollution and climate crisis. We did not come here to negotiate climate. We did not come here to turn the climate into a business, or to protect businesses of them who want to continue aggravating the climate crisis, destroying Mother Earth. We have come with concrete solutions. 

The climate is not for sale, ladies and gentlemen.

* Bangladeshis have Sinking Feeling about Do-Nothing Doha Climate Conference Juan Cole Informed Comment

Bangladesh, among the countries most threatened by climate change, is deeply disappointed by the do-nothing COP18 climate conference that just wrapped up in Doha, Qatar. The country is very low-lying, and rising seas could displace some 30 million of its population of 150 million over the next 50 years. The country also suffers from the increasing frequency and severity of cyclones (i.e. hurricanes) and from soil becoming salty.

There are no climate change deniers in Bangladesh.



7. Old Christmas Traditions; New Christmas Toys

Dec-20-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: xkcd looks at popular Christmas songs, and finds it’s all the Boomers’ fault. Brilliant research. Meanwhile David Sedaris has a very funny 15 minute monologue on the Netherlands strange traditions. A wonderful site (Thanks, Wilder!) called Know Your Meme will let you look up the latest trends and their history (look at what they do with the hip new phrase “yolo” for further enlightenment!) And David Pogue lets you find new gadgets under $100 to buy yourself  your beloveds, if you’re still searching.

* Xmas Tradition xkcd

* Six to Eight Black Men David Sedaris  YouTube

* December 21st, 2012  Know Your Meme

 Learn about why some people have been predicting the end of the world on 12/21/12 for over 56 years, and who the authors were who popularized the story.

* David Pogue’s 12 Days of Gadgets

Why can’t somebody invent a little beeper for your key ring? If you walk away from your smartphone (iPhone, Android phone or BlackBerry), your key chain beeps to alert you.

And it could work the other way, too. If you leave your keys somewhere, the phone beeps to alert you as you walk away!

That’s exactly the point of the Cirago iAlert Tag



9. Flora and Fauna

Dec-20-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: Some are educational, some are beautiful, and some are very funny.

* The Plants that Fruits Come From  TwistedSifter

We all know what an apple tree looks like, I suspect, but how about avocados, pomegranates or olives?

* Animals and Their People  The Big Picture 

Sample images include Gabriel Guallo of Ecuador’s Quichua tribe stands with a tarantula on his face to demonstrate how he is planning to break a world record, in El Tena October 2, 2012. Guallo hopes to carry 250 tarantulas on his body for 60 seconds. (Guillermo Granja/Reuters) 

Kids gather around the pen of competitor Boy Serrere, during the national final of the televised sheep reality competition, Khar Bii, in Dakar, Senegal on October 20, 2012. 

* Towering Sculptures Made of Flowers  Colossal

Aside from being consistently ranked as one of the best countries to live in on Earth, file this as reason #4,123 to stop by the Netherlands: Bloemencorso, the annual parade of flowers in Zundert. That’s right, every float here is made from natural flowers, specifically dahlias. From twisting architectural structures the size of houses to bizarre animatronic birds and puppets, and even animals made from swooping gestures reminiscent of graffiti, Bloemencorso seems to have a little bit of everything.

* The Sleeping Goddess  TwistedSifter

* Snowy Owl Stooping

From the gov’t of Québec website.The snowy owl is the official bird of Québec, so I infer the mouse in these images symbolizes English Canada….



7. Wouldn’t it be Great if There Were no Hypothetical Questions?

Nov-30-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: The brilliant online comic, xkcd, has been running a sequence of hypothetical questions, and we link to two recent examples. And the Quora question opens the door to some wonderful late night discussions.

If you could experience a month in the mind of any fictional character, which mind would you choose? Why?  Quora

* “If you carry a penny in your coin tray, how long would it take for that penny to cost you more than a cent in extra gas?” xkcd

But gas money isn’t the only cost attached to a penny. Let’s consider some of the others.

Suppose you found it on the ground on the way to your car. How much did it cost you to pick it up in the first place?

How much is your time worth? This obviously depends on a lot of things and varies from time to time and person to person. But for a broad estimate, I sometimes use a ballpark value of $10/hour—which is somewhere between the US minimum wage and the average wage—but you can adjust up or down to fit your preference.

If your time is worth $10 an hour, a penny is worth 3.6 seconds. If spotting and picking up a penny takes you more than 3.6 seconds, it’s a loss.

…But on the other hand, burning calories is exercise, which is good for you. Crouching to pick up that penny is equivalent to two or three seconds on an exercise machine. What’s that worth?

Well, one study suggests that 15 minutes of moderate exercise per day adds three years to your life expectancy (with smaller improvements in mortality rate for progressively more daily exercise). It’s a tremendous oversimplification, but a crude back-of-the-envelope estimate suggests each calorie burned adds something like 30 seconds to your life—or 12 seconds per penny.

But wait—if it only takes a couple seconds to pick up a penny, but it pays back 12 seconds, then you could game the system by repeatedly dropping a penny and picking it back up …

* Today’s topic: Lightning xkcd

Before we go any further, I want to emphasize something:

I am not an authority on lightning safety. I am a guy who draws pictures on the internet. I like when things catch fire and explode, which means I do not have your best interests in mind. The authorities on lightning safety are the folks at the US National Weather Service.

Ok. With that out of the way …




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