Saturday, August 25, 2007

Younger Dryas Climate Tipping Point Tossed in Bin

The Younger Dryas occurred as an Ice Age was ending. As the climate began to warm, a huge and sudden rush of fresh meltwater broke out from the Great Lakes and swept out to sea. The water surge was monumental enough that the meltwater lowered the salinity of the ocean, shut down the Atlantic conveyor currents, which disperse the planet's heat, and threw the northern hemisphere back into another thousand years of Ice Age. It raised temperatures near Greenland by a startling 15 degrees C, even as it doubled annual rainfall.

Modern climatologists have savored the Younger Dryas event as massive evidence of what comes when we push the planet's climate too close to a "tipping point." Further human-driven warming, they say, will make such abrupt climate changes more likely, with searing droughts, torrential rainfall, and extreme heat.

The National Academy of Sciences issued a 2002 report titled Abrupt Climate Change: Inevitable Surprises, which said abrupt climate changes have been especially common when the climate system was being forced to change most rapidly. According to that theory, greenhouse warming today could be drastically increasing risks from climate change.

Arbitary assumptions from the “model makers” and their creationist theories of a “steady state planet”

The NSF have released an interesting article on a ‘Hammer of God” event that provides evidence that the model makers are wrong and an “extraterrestrial event” in the form of a comet was the precursor event.

New scientific findings suggest that a large comet may have exploded over North America 12,900 years ago, explaining riddles that scientists have wrestled with for decades, including an abrupt cooling of much of the planet and the extinction of large mammals.

The discovery was made by scientists from the University of California at Santa Barbara and their colleagues. James Kennett, a paleoceanographer at the university, said that the discovery may explain some of the highly debated geologic controversies of recent decades.

The period in question is called the Younger Dryas, an interval of abrupt cooling that lasted for about 1,000 years and occurred at the beginning of an inter-glacial warm period. Evidence for the temperature change is recorded in marine sediments and ice cores.

According to the scientists, the comet before fragmentation must have been about four kilometers across, and either exploded in the atmosphere or had fragments hit the Laurentide ice sheet in northeastern North America.

Wildfires across the continent would have resulted from the fiery impact, killing off vegetation that was the food supply of many of larger mammals like the woolly mammoths, causing them to go extinct.

Since the Clovis people of North America hunted the mammoths as a major source of their food, they too would have been affected by the impact. Their culture eventually died out.

The scientific team visited more than a dozen archaeological sites in North America, where they found high concentrations of iridium, an element that is rare on Earth and is almost exclusively associated with extraterrestrial objects such as comets and meteorites.

They also found metallic microspherules in the comet fragments; these microspherules contained nano-diamonds. The comet also carried carbon molecules called fullerenes (buckyballs), with gases trapped inside that indicated an extraterrestrial origin.

The team concluded that the impact of the comet likely destabilized a large portion of the Laurentide ice sheet, causing a high volume of freshwater to flow into the north Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.

"This, in turn, would have caused a major disruption of the ocean's circulation, leading to a cooler atmosphere and the glaciation of the Younger Dryas period," said Kennett. "We found evidence of the impact as far west as the Santa Barbara Channel Islands."

Of course we have nothing to worry about as near-Earth objects (NEOs) have been detected, primarily by ground-based optical searches, in the size range between 10 meters and 30 kilometers, out of a total estimated population of about one million; some information about the physical size and composition of these NEOs is available for only 300 objects. The total number of objects a kilometer in diameter or larger, a size that could cause global catastrophe upon Earth impact, is now estimated to range between 900 and 1,230.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Greening your nether regions

How green can you be.Recycle your vibrator.

Panspermia did life come from outer space? or is there no consensus in Science.

A vocal minority of biological investigators, including Nobel winner Francis Crick have put forward views stating that life as we know it ,did not commence here on Earth at all, but was imported from outerspace. Specifically that the ingredients and precursors such as spores or microorganisms from life bearing planets are transported across the Galaxy.

The first proponent of the Panspermia theory was chemist Svente Arrhinius .His view was the life bearing spores floated across space propelled by solar radiation.Francis Crick suggested it was transported on meteorites ,Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe suggested it was in the interstellar clouds that earth encounters on the grand precession that earth takes around the outer spiral of the Galaxy lasting some 150 million years.

The latter has some substance as the paleo records show “feast and famine’ in biodiversity and severe climatic oscillations ,due to changes in density in the interstellar medium.

The 2005 Deep Impact mission to Comet Tempel 1 discovered a mixture of organic and clay particles inside the comet. One theory for the origins of life proposes that clay particles acted as a catalyst, converting simple organic molecules into more complex structures. The 2004 Stardust Mission to Comet Wild 2 found a range of complex hydrocarbon molecules - potential building blocks for life.

Researchers at Cardiff University believe that recent probes inside comets show it is overwhelmingly likely that life began in space.

Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe and colleagues at the University’s Centre for Astrobiology have long argued the case for panspermia - the theory that life began inside comets and then spread to habitable planets across the galaxy. It is a controversial topic, but highly relevant for astrobiologists trying to understand the origin of life and potential for life on other planets.

The Cardiff team suggests that radioactive elements can keep water in liquid form in comet interiors for millions of years, making them potentially ideal “incubators” for early life. They also point out that the billions of comets in our solar system and across the galaxy contain far more clay than the early Earth did. The researchers calculate the odds of life starting on Earth rather than inside a comet at one trillion trillion (10 to the power of 24) to one against.

Professor Wickramasinghe said: “The findings of the comet missions, which surprised many, strengthen the argument for panspermia. We now have a mechanism for how it could have happened. All the necessary elements - clay, organic molecules and water - are there. The longer time scale and the greater mass of comets make it overwhelmingly more likely that life began in space than on earth.”

In an interesting counter argument researchers at Rutger have resurrected microorganisms from Antarctic ice.

The finding is significant, said Kay Bidle, assistant professor of marine and coastal sciences at Rutgers, because scientists didn’t know until now whether such ancient, frozen organisms and their DNA could be revived at all or for how long cells are viable after they’ve been frozen. Bidle is lead author of the article, “Fossil Genes and Microbes in the Oldest Ice on Earth.”

Bidle and his co-authors, Rutgers colleague Paul Falkowski, SangHoon Lee of Korea’s Polar Research Institute and David Marchant of Boston University – melted five samples of ice ranging in age from 100,000 to 8 million years old to find the microorganisms trapped inside.

…The researchers chose Antarctic glaciers for their research because the polar regions are subject to more cosmic radiation than the rest of the planet and contain the oldest ice on the planet.

“It’s the cosmic radiation that’s blasting the DNA into pieces over geologic time, and most of the organisms can’t repair that damage.”

Because the DNA had deteriorated so much in the old ice, the researchers also concluded that life on Earth, however it arose, did not ride in on a comet or other debris from outside the solar system. “…(T)he preservation of microbes and their genes in icy comets may have allowed transfer of genetic material among planets,” they wrote. “However, given the extremely high cosmic radiation flux in space, our results suggest it is highly unlikely that life on Earth could have been seeded by genetic material external to this solar system.”

Not quite a formative argument as we find that UV is the primary inhibitor in outer space and not CR.

The organisms that are exposed outside the space station are in a dormant state, so they cannot evolve. They are just surviving. We have found that solar ultraviolet radiation is the most damaging perimeter -- it kills all organisms so far known. Except that Rosa de la Torre from Spain recently exposed lichens, and discovered that they had the same biological activity as before they were exposed to the full sunlight. So that is something new. But we did find that if we shielded microorganisms against solar UV radiation with dust, even a dust sphere of just one centimeter, they survive pretty well in space. So that means little meteorites just one centimeter in diameter could travel for at least two weeks in space and the organisms inside would survive. I also participated in the NASA LDEF mission, the Long Duration Exposure Facility. Their microorganisms stayed in space for six years, and they also survived pretty well when they were shaded against UV radiation.

Indeed, as we observe from this paper.

GosNIIGenetika, Moscow, Russia
Comparative Analysis of Life Activity of Microoganisms Exposed to Short-Term Spaceflights
Voeikova, Tatiana A.; Tabakov, Viacheslav Yu.; Voeikova, Tatiana A.; Journal of Gravitational Physiology, Volume 13, No. 1;
July 2006, pp. P-209 - P-212;

In 1996-2005, streptomycetes, bacilli and enterobacteria were flown on Mir and Foton-M2 to study spaceflight effects on microorganisms. Streptomycetes developed changes in their morphogenesis and antibiotic activity, while bacilli remained essentially unchanged, and enterobacteria showed a higher survival rate than on Earth. The conjugative transfer of plasmids from enterobacteria to streptomycetes was accelerated. The 6-14 day exposure to the space environment did not increase mutation frequencies in streptomycetes or bacilli and did not cause plasmid DNA loss. However, streptomycetes carried on the outer wall of the Mir station showed significant genetic changes.

Researchers investigated peculiarities of microorganisms’ physiology and behavior in outer space already on board the “Mir” orbiting space station, and it became clear back at that time that bacteria changed significantly in extraterrestrial conditions. Experiments continued on board the “Foton М2” space vehicle intended for scientific research, back in 2005 the first batches of bacteria were launched on its board into outer space. Among them, there were several cultures of bacilli, streptomycetes and Escherichia coli. These microorganisms were selected not at random, they all differ from each other in physiology, biochemistry and genetics, thus providing a more comprehensive view on bacteria behavior in general.

In orbit, living organisms face not only lack of gravitation, but also cosmic radiation presence. Here is what happens to them. Bacteria in outer space become more aggressive, they simply begin to “eat up” spaceship components. This happens because microorganisms start producing enzymes unusual for them in terrestrial conditions. These enzymes destroy structural materials, which can result in both equipment damage and breakage. It is not improbable that bacteria become aggressive not only as regards to materials but also to human beings, so they can provoke unexpected diseases. In addition, cosmonauts experience immunodeficiency due to high load during the flight, which makes their organisms even more vulnerable.

Observations on board the “Mir” and “Foton М2” proved that microorganisms started to change even during short-term flights (12 to 14 days). For example, streptomycetes changed their appearance (size, shape and outline of the colonies’ surface). The in-depth analysis also revealed genetic modifications of microorganisms. The number of their mutations does not increase, despite the fact that this could be expected. However, some genes’ work is disrupted. Some genes that are “dormant” on the Earth, begin to work, it is them that generate the enzymes enabling microorganisms to eat up structural materials.

What does this tell us ,that consensus does not exist in science, that new research and innovative thought promote better scientific discourse and can overturn “conventional thinking” until the Theory can withstand the test of time.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Chaos, complexity, climate models and crap.

….At this point a special technique has been developed in mathematics. This technique, when applied to the real world, is sometimes useful, but can sometimes also lead to self-deception. This technique is called modelling. When constructing a model, the following idealisation is made: certain facts which are only known with a certain degree of probability or with a certain degree of accuracy, are considered to be "absolutely" correct and are accepted as "axioms". The sense of this "absoluteness" lies precisely in the fact that we allow ourselves to use these "facts" according to the rules of formal logic, in the process declaring as "theorems" all that we can derive from them.

It is obvious that in any real-life activity it is impossible to wholly rely on such deductions. The reason is at least that the parameters of the studied phenomena are never known absolutely exactly and a small change in parameters (for example, the initial conditions of a process) can totally change the result. Say, for this reason a reliable long-term weather forecast is impossible and will remain impossible, no matter how much we develop computers and devices which record initial conditions.

Vladimir Arnold

Here is the climate forecast for the next decade; although global warming will be held in check for a few years, it will come roaring back to send the mercury rising before 2014.

This is the prediction of the first computer model of the global climate designed to make forecasts over a timescale of around a decade, developed by scientists at the Met Office.

The new model developed at the Met's Hadley Centre in Exeter, and described in the journal Science, predicts that warming will slow during the next few years but then speed up again, and that at least half of the years after 2009 will be warmer than 1998, the warmest year on record.

The new model incorporates the effects of sea surface temperatures as well as other factors such as man-made emissions of greenhouse gases, projected changes in the Sun's output and the effects of previous volcanic eruptions - the first time internal and external variability have both been predicted.

What a load of crap.

Idiot alert warning comes on immediately with this statement

“projected changes in the Sun's output’

Solutions for the magentohydrodynamic equations and the Velikhov Thermoelectric instability of gases are of course NOBEL PRIZE winning papers.Not only that they will resolve the constraints of the tokomak fusion reactors producing unlimited electrical power 10 years ahead of estimates saving ITER 20 billion dollars.

From our daily life experience we know how fragile and complex biological, ecological and social systems behave. What do we mean by the term “complexity” in a scientific context? According to our view complex systems are comprised of multiple components which interact in a nonlinear manner thus the system behavior cannot be inferred from the behavior of the components. More specifically, these systems are characterized by

• structures with many components,
• dynamics with many modes,
• hierarchical level structures,
• couplings of many degrees of freedom,
• long-range spatial-temporal correlations.

We start our considerations with some general remarks on self-organization and non-linear dynamics in biology. In particular, we summarize some basic physical principles that lead to the emergence of complex structures in biological systems, such as openess, irreversibility, entropy export and feedback processes. It is well known from the thermodynamics of irreversible processes that systems may exhibit a rich variety of complex behavior if there is a supercritical influx of free energy. This energy may be provided in different forms, i.e. matter (chemical components, resources), high temperature radiation, or signals. What kind of complex behavior is observed in a system, will of course not only depend on the influx of energy but also on the interaction of the entities that comprise the system. Among the prominent examples that can be observed in biological systems are processes of pattern formation and morphogenesis and different types of collective motion, such as swarming.

Considering further non-linear interactions between the particles, such as attractive forces or interactions via chemical fields, we are able to derive a rather general framework for the dynamics

As we discussed previously Chaos and Complexity theory studies nonlinear processes: Chaos explores how complexly interwoven patterns of behaviour can emerge out of relatively simply-to-describe nonlinear dynamics, while Complexity tries to understand how relatively simply-to-describe patterns can emerge out of complexly interwoven dynamics.

As we have learned from nonlinear dynamics, complexity is not restricted to large hierarchical systems, also relatively simple dynamical models may show complicated behavior. Among the specific features of complex nonlinear processes, we mention:
• complicated trajectories and chaos,
• manifolds of spatial-temporal structures,
• the limited predictability of future behavior (positive Kolmogorov-Sinai entropy).

Further, we note that complexity may arise in dissipative as well as in conservative systems. In general complex systems in nature and society are of dissipative nature, i.e. they are based on energy “consumption” that allows self-organization processes. This, however, needs some physical requirements, such as:
• thermodynamic openess, i.e. the system exchanges energy, entropy and matter with the environment,
• that on average the system exports entropy, i.e. it imports energy of high value and exports energy of low value,
• that the system operates far from equilibrium, beyond a critical distance from the equilibrium state),
• that the causal relations in the system include (positive and negative) feedback and feed forward processes), i.e. the dynamics of the system is nonlinear.

Self-organization behaviour can be exhibited by far-from-equilibrium chemical systems as it was shown by the Nobel-prize winner (1977) in chemistry Ilya Prigogine. According to the results of his studies, the inorganic chemical systems can exist in highly non-equilibrium conditions impregnated with a potential for emergence of self-organizing chemical structures. The more complex the aggregation of these structures, the stronger the tendency for macro-molecules to organize themselves, this is also the response of the biosphere components.

The integration of the carbon cycle and the biosphere adds complexity to the meteorological components and complete failure of integration of the separate models into GCM PRECLUDES the models predictive capacity.as it is the major quantity of the amplification and modulation of atmospheric gas and climate its coupling is of course the most important.

The GCM do not use the complexities of the carbon cycle with the oscillations of the biosphere through the transformation of energy by biological process.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Black Swans expecting the unexpected

A black swan is an outlier, an event that lies beyond the realm of normal expectations. Most people expect all swans to be white because that’s what their experience tells them; a black swan is by definition a surprise. Nevertheless, people tend to concoct explanations for them after the fact, which makes them appear more predictable, and less random, than they are. Our minds are designed to retain, for efficient storage, past information that fits into a compressed narrative. This distortion, called the hindsight bias, prevents us from adequately learning from the past.

Black swans occur when there are significant mismatches between the models people use to understand the world and the subsequent expectations that those models produce and observations. In other words, black swans are model errors.

As wired magazine in an interview explains

From Wall Street to Washington, we're constantly being told that the future can be forecast, that the world is knowable, and that risk can be measured and managed. Nassim Nicholas Taleb is having none of this. In his new book, The Black Swan, the finance guru and author of the surprise hit Fooled by Randomness argues that history is dominated not by the predictable but by the highly improbable — disruptive, unforeseeable events that Taleb calls Black Swans. The effects of wars, market crashes, and radical technological innovations are magnified precisely because they confound our expectations of the universe as an orderly place. In a world of Black Swans, the first step is understanding just how much we will never understand.

Wired: If Black Swans are the crucial determining events in history, why do we think we can predict anything at all?

Taleb: After they happen, in retrospect, we think that Black Swans were predictable. We think that if we can explain why something happened in the past, we can explain what will happen in the future.

But with better models and more computational power, won't we get better at predicting Black Swans?

We know from chaos theory that even if you had a perfect model of the world, you'd need infinite precision in order to predict future events. With sociopolitical or economic phenomena, we don't have anything like that. And things are getting worse, not better, because the growing complexity of the world dwarfs any improvement in sophistication or computational power.

So what do we do? If we can't forecast the really important things, how do we act?
You need to ask, "If the Black Swan hits me, will it help me or hurt me?" You cannot figure out the probability of a Black Swan hitting. But if you're in a business that's prone to negative Black Swans, like catastrophe insurance, I advise you not to take your forecasting seriously — and to think about getting into a different business. You don't want to be a sucker. What you want are situations where you can have as much of the good uncertainty as possible, where nothing too bad can happen to you, and where you have what I call free options. All of technology, really, is about maximizing free options. It's like venture capital: Most of the money you make is from things you weren't looking for. But you find them only if you search.

We see the greening of the corporate world in the UK, some of these companies now claim to be setting higher standards than any government would dare to impose on them. For example, Marks and Spencer (one of the largest clothing retailers and a multi-billion-pound food retailer in the U.K.) has promised to become carbon neutral, to cease sending waste to landfill by 2012, and to stop stocking any fish, wood, or paper which has not been sustainable sourced. Tesco (the world's third-largest grocery retailer) promises to attach a carbon label to all its goods.

Food miles has been discussed by the marketing departments of these organizations as one option in “sustainable carbon neutral purchasing”,

As we know the NZ agriculture outputs are more efficient and productive then either European or US subsidised farm outputs. We can also identify they are more carbon neutral then comparative UK manufacturers.

News from Lincoln University

New `food miles´ report shows NZ dairying still more efficient than UK, greenhouse gases included

The "food miles" efficiency of the New Zealand dairy industry in producing and delivering products for the British market has received new confirmation from a Lincoln University report released today. (27 July)

The report shows that in the production of New Zealand dairy product the generation of greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, all implicated in global climate change - is less than in the British dairy system.

The Lincoln study´s central finding is that the UK produces 35 percent more emissions per kilogram of milk solid than New Zealand and 31 percent more emissions per hectare than New Zealand - even including transportation from New Zealand to Britain and the carbon dioxide generated in that process.

But as we have seen above with the black swans and “the expect the unexpected rule of outliers” we can now observe the future carbon output of UK farms to be the highest in the world by many magnitudes.

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