NASA video shows a year of CO2 pollution

A ultra-high-resolution NASA computer model has given scientists a stunning new look at how carbon dioxide in the atmosphere travels around the globe.

Plumes of carbon dioxide in the simulation swirl and shift as winds disperse the greenhouse gas away from its sources. The simulation also illustrates differences in carbon dioxide levels in the northern and southern hemispheres and distinct swings in global carbon dioxide concentrations as the growth cycle of plants and trees changes with the seasons.



The carbon dioxide visualization was produced by a computer model called GEOS-5, created by scientists at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Global Modeling and Assimilation Office.

The visualization is a product of a simulation called a “Nature Run.” The Nature Run ingests real data on atmospheric conditions and the emission of greenhouse gases and both natural and man-made particulates. The model is then left to run on its own and simulate the natural behavior of the Earth’s atmosphere. This Nature Run simulates January 2006 through December 2006.

While Goddard scientists worked with a “beta” version of the Nature Run internally for several years, they released this updated, improved version to the scientific community for the first time in the fall of 2014.

Climate Change: Look At The Big Picture Or Nothing

For this TED Talk Tuesday on 350orbust, climatologist and climate modeler Gavin Schmidt from NASA’s Goddard Institute For Space Sciences discusses climate modeling.

You can’t understand climate change in pieces, says climate scientist Gavin Schmidt. It’s the whole, or it’s nothing. In this illuminating talk, he explains how he studies the big picture of climate change with mesmerizing models that illustrate the endlessly complex interactions of small-scale environmental events. 



A Fork In the Road

“Transition to a post-fossil fuel world of clean energies will not occur as long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy. Fossil fuels are cheap only because they are subsidized and do not pay their costs to society. Air and water pollution from fossil fuel extraction and use have high costs in human health, food production, and natural ecosystems, with costs borne by the public. Costs of climate change and ocean acidification also are borne by the public, especially young people and future generations.”

dr james hansen fork in the road


Renowned climate scientist turned activist Dr James Hansen wrote in the Huffington Post about the “fork in the road” humanity is facing:

We stand at a fork in the road. Conventional oil and gas supplies are limited. We can move down the path of dirtier more carbon-intensive unconventional fossil-fuels, digging up the dirtiest tar sands and tar shales, hydrofracking for gas, continued mountain-top removal and mechanized destructive long-wall coal mining. Or we can choose the alternative path of clean energies and energy efficiency.  

Click here to read the full article.

Summer Solstice And Other Miracles

I’m busy attending an intensive course on citizen advocacy at the Canadian School of Peacebuilding this week, which doesn’t leave much time for blogging. So, have a happy summer solstice, everyone – summer officially begins at in North America at 7:09 P.M. EDT !  Here’s a picture from the NASA archives of the sun during the 2004 summer solstice:

sun at summer solstice 2004
source: NASA


And remember this:

Science Brings Rare Planetary Event To Our Living Rooms

Source: NASA

For those of you who, like me, didn’t have a pair of eyeball-protecting goggles to watch as the planet Venus crossed the face of the sun this past Tuesday, here’s some stunning HD images released by NASA yesterday. The pictures were collected by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which is, according to NASA, “the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the sun.” NASA’s website states:

During its five-year mission, it will examine the sun’s atmosphere, magnetic field and also provide a better understanding of the role the sun plays in Earth’s atmospheric chemistry and climate. SDO provides images with resolution 8 times better than high-definition television and returns more than a terabyte of data each day.On June 5 2012, SDO collected images of the rarest predictable solar event–the transit of Venus across the face of the sun.

Tuesday’s astronomical event, which lasted six hours, is among that rarest of planetary alignments (only seven of them have happened since the invention of the telescope).  The last transit of Venus was in 2004 (the transits occur in pairs, with 8 years between them) and the next will not happen until 2117. There are those that say Tuesday’s transit heralds a spiritual and technological revolution here on our blue planet; heaven knows we need one right about now. In the meantime we have these photos:



The SDO’s amazing accomplishment is due to the dedication and expertise of scientists, of course. Yet arm-chair climate skeptics whose biggest claim to scientific and technological accomplishment is to turn on their computer and use their television’s remote control, feel entitled to weigh in on climate science. Give me a break.

More links:

NASA’s Goddard Flight Centre: SDO ‘s View of Venus Transit 2012

Venus Chasers Of The 18th Century

Venus Makes Rare Trek Across Sun

The Meaning of the Venus Transit in June 2012

For My Grandchildren

From the March 2012 TED Conference in Long Beach California, NASA climate scientist Dr. James Hansen talks about why he must speak out climate change. A powerful and moving video – please watch, and share with your family and friends, and on social media.



For a summary of Dr Hansen’s talk, go to The Solution to All Our Problems on Martin’s Lack of Environment blog. I agree with both Dr. Hansen and Martin Lack about the importance of implementing a carbon fee & dividend as soon as possible; indeed it is one of the major policies of Citizens Climate Lobby, a group that inspires me in much of the climate work that I do. However,  I would go further and assert that implementing a price on carbon is the first step towards addressing the climate crisis, but the climate crisis (and ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, water and air pollution, etc) has been brought on by a world view that places humans above the natural world. We have somehow convinced ourselves that what happens to the water, air, and creatures around us won’t ultimately affect us, which of course is nonsense. Corporate well being is not more important that human and ecosystem well being.  It’s that mindset that needs to change if we are to live sustainably on this amazing planet that we are lucky enough to be alive on.

Do you want to become a climate hero, for your children and grandchildren? Join other parents and grandparents at Citizens Climate Lobby who are speaking out on this issue. Dr. Hansen had this to say about CCL:

“Most impressive is the work of the Citizens Climate Lobby, a relatively new, fastgrowing, nonpartisan, nonprofit group with 46 chapters across the United States and Canada. If you want to join the fight to save the planet, to save creation for your grandchildren, there is no more effective step you could take than becoming an active member of this group.”

Global Groundwater Depletion Is Detected From Space

Climate Change Quote of the Day:

Look, water has been a resource that has been plentiful. But now we’ve got climate change, we’ve got population growth, we’ve got widespread groundwater contamination, we’ve got satellites showing us we are depleting some of this stuff…I think we’ve taken it for granted, and we are probably not able to do that any more.”

~ Dr. Jay Famiglietti, Director of the University of California’s Center for Hydrologic Modeling from where the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) is being conducted.

source: NASA

More links:

Groundwater Depletion Is Detected by Grace Satellites. NY Times

“Dowsing From the Sky”

Science Fact, Not Fiction

Via NASA’s Global Climate Change page comes this 1989 video of science fiction author and biochemistry professor Isaac Asimov. As the NASA blog points out, if you change the coloring of the video, the facial hair style, and switch out Asimov for someone else, the video could pretty much have been made today. Only Asimov spoke without fear of retaliation from anti-science, pro-pollution wingnuts like Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

“I have been talking about the greenhouse effect for 20 years at least,” says Asimov in the video. “And there are other people who have talked about it before I did. I didn’t invent it.” As the NASA website points out, global warming, and the idea that humans can change the climate, is not new. Here’s some science 101 on the greenhouse effect, and it’s connection to our burning of fossil fuels:


More links:

Global Climate Change: NASA’s Eyes on the Earth

Would You Let Climate Science Skeptics Perform Brain Surgery On You?

Who among us, if told by 9 out of 10 neurosurgeons consulted that we had a malignant brain tumour, would go home and start surfing the internet trying to figure out how the experts (each with more than a decade of education and training in brain surgery)  might be wrong?  If we found a website where a dentist or a plumber offered “proof” with statistics that the odds of us actually having a tumour are very low, would we pay any attention to it?  Would we then agree to have that plumber or dentist actually perform the surgery?

Not likely!  So why is anyone paying attention to the non-qualified climate change denialists – backed by dubious “stink-tanks” – that proliferate on the internet and in the media these days? As Richard Somerville, a distinguished professor emeritus and research professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, recently said:

Science…does not work by unqualified people making claims on television or the Internet,…The first thing that the world needs to do if it is going to confront the challenge of climate change wisely is to learn about what science has discovered and accept it.”

Rather than focusing on the divisive scientific debate (and I’ll listen to the contrarians that say NASA is wrong when they can prove to me that they can send a person into space),  how about examining the risks?  We all buy insurance for our house or cars on the off-chance that something bad will happen.  When there’s a LOT of qualified people telling us that there is a VERY good chance that something VERY bad will happen, why wouldn’t we decrease the risk?  Here’s what the small “c” conservative newspaper “The Economist” says about it:

Although the benefits of averting that sort of catastrophe are incalculably large, the costs of doing so should not be enormous – as little as 1% of global output, if policy is well designed (see our special report).  This newspaper reckons that the world should fork out, rather as householders spend similar proportions of their income on insuring their homes against disaster.”

I’m reposting high school science teacher Greg Craven’s video where he sets aside the contentious debate over the science, and asks “what’s the worst that could happen”?

Last Decade Warmest on Record, and Other Interesting Links

A quick surf of the internet today brought these blogs to my attention:

“The Climate Change BackLash and  the Case for Ecological Sustainability” from 3E Intelligence gives a European perspective on the political climate change narrative and makes for interesting reading.

“NASA research finds last decade was the warmest on record” is posted today on Alan Gregory’s Conservation News, with a link to the NASA report.

Resources Research discusses the recent news about the error in the 2007 IPCC report regarding the rate of decline of the Himalayan Glaciers, “India’s Misplaced Glacier Row“, from an Indian perspective.

Carol’s Energy Notes is a smorgasbord, with links to “vertical farming” info, green business news, clean tech farm equipment info, a Fox interview with T. Boone Pickens, and Wisconsin hearings on the Clean Energy Jobs Act.

Braincheck has a recent posting about climate change and insurance, entitled “Want a serious approach to climate change? Call it Insurance change”.

There’s also an interesting link to the Centre for Sustainable Fashion (which some might call an oxymoron).

For some great wildlife pictures and an Alaskan perspective different from Sarah Palin’s, check out Lila’s Room with “Views”, where her most recent posting asserts that Alaska could lead the way to positive change rather than fighting environmental legislation.

Anyway, back to saving my own corner of the world – I have to finish preparing my banner for the “Rally for Democracy” downtown tomorrow. The rally is a grassroots, nonpartisan and nonpolitical response to our Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s unprecedented prorogation, or dismissal, of parliament twice in just over 12 months. It seems he doesn’t want to answer questions about whether or not Afghan prisoners handed over to Afghan authorities by Canadian soliders were tortured.  And he may also be dodging questions about Canada’s dodgy performance in Copenhagen.  Canadians might just be fed up and waking out of their political apathy because of Harper’s antics, so it will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow.