Convincing the Climate Change Skeptics

Almost any scientist looking at a new idea views it with deep skepticism and doubts it, and that skepticism is only overcome by a consistent preponderance of evidence that keeps supporting the idea that that might be important – that global climate change driven by humans might actually be occurring. As that evidence has been accumulated, skeptic after skeptic among the scientists have decided, "Well, I'd better pay more attention to this." The physics of this is much more well understood. The models that incorporate all of our known aspects of physics and atmospheric chemistry and and climatology and so on, all predict that what we're doing is going to lead to climate change. All these bits of evidence keep falling into place. They all keep saying, "Gee, we'd better pay more attention to this global climate change idea," because when we look at some data that maybe would have rejected it, it doesn't. It supports that idea. I guess what I would say is that the idea is so real now.

There have been so many attempts to test it, so many attempts to reject the idea that we might be causing climate change which have not been successful, which keep supporting that hypothesis. I think it is now incumbent upon us to take it seriously and to do things to help slow the rate of climate change and hopefully stop it. If we find out in the long-term that climate change is not going to happen, we won't have done much to harm ourselves. But if we don't act now, we could have a runaway climate change that could basically greatly decrease the livability of the earth. The science is now solid enough that any reasonable person examining the scientific evidence would decide, "We have to pay attention to it. It's time to have some action.".

All Scientific Papers Should Be Free; Here’s Why They’re Not

If science drops in a field but no other researchers are around to hear it, does it further the academic area of study? Howdy researchers, Trace here for DNews. Science is a process, it’s a way of thinking about the world around us. Most of these scientific processes are thought through and then published in a journal, but to read them you have to pay! Shouldn’t all this scientific knowledge be FREE!? Firstly, science is mostly paid for by grants from governments, non-profits, foundations, universities, corporations or others with deep pockets. We did a video about it. But, even though the science was paid for, that’s just the first half of the equation… the other half is the scientific journal. The first journals were published over 350 years ago as a way to organize new scientific knowledge, and that continues today. According to the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers, 2.5 million new scientific papers are published each year in over 28,000 different journals.

A new paper is published every 20 seconds. (and you thought we’d run out of stuff for DNews 😉). Researchers need others to read their paper so it can affect their field. So, they freely send their treasured manuscripts to journals for peer review and publication. When a manuscript comes in, specialists select and send the best manuscripts to volunteer experts in the field who are “carefully selected based on… expertise, research area, and lack of bias” for peer review. After that, the papers are copy-edited, compiled into an issue of the journal, physically printed and then shipped and/or published online! They’re, like, the nerdiest magazines in the world. All this costs money… According to a study in PLOS One this whole process can cost 20 to 40 dollars per page, depending on how many papers the journal receives and how many they have to reject. Someone has to pay for that, and there are three ways this can happen: authors can submit for free and readers/subscribers pay (called the traditional model), or authors pay and readers get it for free (called open-access), or both authors and readers pay!English-language journals alone were worth $10 billion dollars in 2013! I know what you’re thinking, just put them on the internet! Save on shipping, like newspapers and magazines! Well, even though publishers don’t have to print and ship big books of papers anymore, they often still do.

And, even if the journals were only online, servers and bandwidth need to be paid for, and that ain’t cheap. Publishing requires dollah bills, y’all and someone has to pay, and everyone gets their money differently… For example: the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) publishes the Science journals, and the Public Library of Science publishes PLoS One among others; both are nonprofits. But, while PLOS uses an open-access (free to you) model, Triple-A-S publishes six journals: five with a traditional model (you pay) and one open-access. Plus, there are for-profit journals like Macmillan Publishers, who own the journal Nature (and a mix of traditional and open access options). And the giant Reed Elsevier (now called RELX) publishes over 2000 journals some of which are open-access and some are traditional! So, though some are non-profits, they don’t always give it to YOU for free, and those that do still can charge researchers up to 2900 dollars to publish! While others make money off scientific research which makes some people feel icky.

The whole thing is confusing. Asking “what is worse: for-profits charging universities or readers for access, or open-access charging authors?” Shrug. The debate rages. Many scientists argue as the peer review is provided for free by the scientific community, and the papers are provided for free by the scientific community; access to the papers should. be. free. The EU agrees, ordering any publically-funded papers to be made free by 2020; pushing toward open access to science! In the US, where many of the papers originate, some scientists are calling for boycotts on for-profit publishing. In the end, there was a time when practitioners needed a physical reference to the latest scientific achievements. In the days before the internet, getting a journal in the mail must have been both exciting and illuminating, but now, thanks to digital publishing… this whole pay-for-science model is wont to change… People WANT the knowledge to be free, but no one knows how to do it.

As y’all know, more research is always needed, but should that research be behind a paywall? Let us know down in the comments, make sure you subscribe so you get more DNews everyday. You can also come find us on Twitter, @seeker. But for more how much science actually costs, watch this video..

Margaret Atwood on Climate Change: Anti-Science Can Only Be Surmounted by Economics

If you look at the history of what happened to Darwin when he published, what would you call that? Yes he was hugely attacked at the time. And it's often a case of people do not want to give up their cherished beliefs, especially cherished beliefs that they find comforting. So it's no good for Richard Dawkins to say let us just stand on the bold bear promontory of truth and acknowledge the basically nothingness of ourselves. People don't find that cozy so they will go around the block not to do that. And that's very understandable and human. And religious thinking, you know, the idea that there's somebody bigger than you out there who might be helpful to you if certain rules are observed, that goes back so far. We probably have an epigene or something or a cluster of epigenes for that and you see it a lot in small children that there is a monster under the bed and you can't tell them there isn't.

They don't find that reassuring. What you can tell them is yes there is a monster under that bed but as long as I put this cabbage right in this spot it can't come out. So yes anti-science. When science is telling you something that you really find very inconvenient, and that is the history of global warming and the changes that we are certainly already seen around us. First of all it was denial. It could not be happening. Now there's grudging admission as things flood and droughts kick in and food supplies drop and the sea level rises and the glaciers melt big time. I have seen that; been there. You can't deny that it's happening but you then have to pretend that it's nothing to do with us. So therefore nothing so we don't have to change our behavior. That's the thinking around that. And that can get very entrenched until people see that by trying to solve the problem jobs can be created and money can be made. And that will be the real tipping point in public consciousness in this country. Other countries are already there.

Norway, which is an oil state, is a huge green country because they know that the fossil fuel thing is going to run out so they are already preparing for that. If we were tall forward looking more of us would be doing that, although Elon Musk is the wave of the future. He's got the all electric car; he's got the rapid pre-charger for it; and he's got the Powerwall, which is a home battery storage unit that you can recharge through solar and then run your appliances off it when it's dark. And that is probably going to be the connecting link. When that becomes cheap enough and efficient enough you ask anybody, I don't care who they are, if you could get off the grid and have a car you could recharge your self and appliances you could run yourself just off some units on your roof or in your backyard would you do that? Everybody says yes. So that's the idea whose time has come. And now it's a matter of the price.

So mentalizing the entire world with wind turbines is not going to be the answer, it's going to be individually owned and controlled off the grid electrical systems..

Teachers Endure Balancing Act Over Climate Change Curriculum

LULU JEFFREY BROWN: And now to our series called Coping With Climate Change that examines how communities around the country are dealing with unfolding changes. Tonight, Hari Sreenivasan focuses on the challenges of teaching about climate science. CHERYL MANNING, high school science teacher: Talk about what is — what have you heard? HARI SREENIVASAN: Cheryl Manning, a high school science teacher in Evergreen, Colo., starts her lessons about climate change by asking questions, not giving answers. CHERYL MANNING: I ask them to think about what they already know. And then from that list of what they know, what they think they know, I want them to form some questions. HARI SREENIVASAN: That’s because so many students today enter the classroom with preconceived notions about climate change.

CHERYL MANNING: They hear it on the news. They see it in the newspaper. They hear their parents talking about it. There are people who say that climate — the climate may be changing, but it’s not our fault, or the climate isn’t changing at all; this is a natural cycle. There are all sorts of things that the kids hear. They want clarification. HARI SREENIVASAN: In fact, in a recent survey by the National Science Teachers Association, teachers say they’re facing skepticism about climate science; 82 percent of science teachers say they faced it from students, and 54 percent say they faced it from parents. RENEE DOMICO, mother: You can put the spoons on there. HARI SREENIVASAN: Parents like Renee Domico of Colorado, a mother of five. RENEE DOMICO: My biggest concern is that my kids are going to come home from high school and say: The world is warming up.

We’re too industrialized. We drive too many cars. We have too many people. And human nature is polluting the world. HARI SREENIVASAN: Cheryl Manning knows that skepticism firsthand. CHERYL MANNING: I had students looking at data sets that were published online by NOAA and NASA and other international science organizations. And I had them comparing and looking at those and looking at projections and models, what were the models indicating. And I had some parents come to me during parent-teacher conference, and they were very upset that I was teaching about this. And they referred to peer-reviewed sciences, the Kool-Aid of the left-wing liberal conspiracy. And it was at that point where I realized what I was up against with this group of parents, and I knew that I needed to get some help. HARI SREENIVASAN: Manning sought help from Susan Buhr.

Buhr directs education outreach for CIRES, a cooperative environmental science research institute between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado, Boulder. SUSAN BUHR, outreach director, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences: Teachers in science classes are always going to want to talk about the science. And, increasingly, it’s difficult for them to do so because of resistance from parents or from students to hearing about the evidence of climate science and climate change. I want to talk a little bit about the threats that come at a higher level than your classrooms. HARI SREENIVASAN: To help teachers respond to concerns from students and parents, Buhr and colleagues have developed climate change workshops, even curriculum and lesson plans on how to keep the science in the classroom and the political controversy out. SUSAN BUHR: It is significant enough to some teachers that they don’t want to get into this topic.

So it can shut down instruction. HARI SREENIVASAN: Parents and students are also influenced by what’s in the air or, during a political season, what’s on the airwaves from politicians. Mitt Romney echoed views held by many in the Republican Party. MITT ROMNEY (R): My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet, and the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try and reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us. HARI SREENIVASAN: President Obama said the climate change issue will be part of his 2012 campaign in this month’s “Rolling Stone” magazine — quote — “I will be very clear in voicing my belief that we’re going to have to take further steps to deal with climate change in a serious way.” Cheryl Manning’s challenge with parents in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains ended with her superintendent supporting her, but she says the experience was exhausting. Climate science education faces challenges at the state levels. This spring, Tennessee enacted a law requiring teachers to present scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses on topics that arouse debate. In Louisiana, the Science Education Act passed in 2008 requires schools to promote open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied, including evolution, the origins of life, global warming and human cloning.

CHERYL MANNING: In the popular culture, the word theory is a weak concept. It’s an idea. In scientific culture, the word theory is equivalent to the word survivor. HARI SREENIVASAN: Science teacher Cheryl Manning says the distinction is important. CHERYL MANNING: It is the idea that best explains a phenomenon and has had lines and lines of evidence supporting it, and it has been tested and tested and tested, and it survived all those tests, whereas a theory in popular culture could just fall under the bus and disappear. HARI SREENIVASAN: The National Earth Science Teachers Association encourages teachers not to be influenced by social commentary. In fact, 36 percent of science teachers around the country say they have been influenced enough to teach both sides of climate change. Roberta Johnson is the association’s executive director. ROBERTA JOHNSON, National Earth Science Teachers Association: The science classroom is about using science — fundamental principals, fundamental principals of science and our ability to look at evidence and analyze it and draw evidence-based conclusions.

It’s not about talking about policy debates. It’s not about whether something is socially acceptable. It’s evidence. HARI SREENIVASAN: Some questions may be sorted out when new science standards for grades K-12 are introduced this year. For the first time, the national standards will link global warming trends to manmade emissions. The standards are based on a framework by the National Academy of Sciences. The Academy says 97 percent to 98 percent of the most published climate researchers say humans are causing global warming. Still, persistent skeptics remain unconvinced. NARRATOR: They like to scare you, tell you the Earth is on fire. HARI SREENIVASAN: A well-known conservative think tank, the Heartland Institute, doesn’t trust the science behind the upcoming standards. Instead, they will try to influence teachers directly. The institute has announced they will create their own K-12 climate science curriculum.

Heartland sees global warming has been a net positive. James Taylor is a senior fellow at heartland. JAMES TAYLOR, Heartland Institute: We have seen that soil moisture globally has improved. We have seen that droughts have become less frequent and less severe. We have seen expansion of forests. We ve seen crop production reach record levels. ve seen tornadoes and hurricanes — to the extent that we can ascribe trends, we ve seen that they have become less frequent and less severe. Across the board, we ve seen that warmer climate, warmer temperatures have always benefited humans, and continue to do so. HARI SREENIVASAN: These are views challenged by scientific evidence. In Cheryl Manning’s classroom, she is trying to get her students to tackle both the validity of the science behind climate change and what society can do about it. CHERYL MANNING: I want you to look for a couple of things.

I want you to look for, number one, when did the conversation change from being just among scientists to being amongst more than that, amongst policy-makers, amongst industry people, and amongst the general public? HARI SREENIVASAN: She now asks her advanced placement environmental class to create a timeline. Students chronicle both significant scientific advances and political events. CHERYL MANNING: My hope is that they walk away with a clear understanding of, there’s a difference between the scientific understanding of the processes and the political conversation that’s going on. I don’t want them to confuse the politics and the economics and all of that with the actual — actual data that exists. So, I want them to be able to identify it and separate it from each other. HARI SREENIVASAN: Manning is now sharing the lessons she has learned with other teachers through online and in-person workshops throughout the country. JEFFREY BROWN: And other teachers explain the creative ways they ve engaged students on our Coping With Climate Change page on our website.

Plus, join us tomorrow for a live online chat at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time with some of people featured in tonight’s story. gd&| gd&| :p&| urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags PlaceType urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags PlaceName urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags State urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags City urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags PersonName urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags place JEFFREY BROWN: And now to our series called Coping With Climate Change that examines how communities around the country are dealing with unfolding changes Normal Microsoft Office Word JEFFREY BROWN: And now to our series called Coping With Climate Change that examines how communities around the country are dealing with unfolding changes Title Microsoft Office Word Document MSWordDoc Word.


Bill Nye on Climate Change: We Could Engineer Low-Methane Cows — or Eat Less Meat

Erin: Hey Bill. I’m Erin and I’m from Scotland. I went vegan after I watched documentaries like Before the Flood and Cowspiracy. It presented me with lots of terrifying information such as that from the FAO which suggests that 14.5 to 18 percent of the world’s global emissions are due to animal agriculture. However, Worldwatch suggests it’s closer to 51 percent. I was wondering if you knew why there was such a difference between these two figures and whether you think that adopting a vegan diet is the best thing we can do as individuals for the planet. Bill Nye: Erin, you raised a very good point. I don’t know why the two figures in those two studies, the documentary and the—was it a scientific paper?—are discrepant, but it probably has to do with trying to assay or figure out how much greenhouse gas is created by cattle or other livestock. And the problem, everybody, is that livestock eat plants; then bacteria in their livestock stomachs metabolize the plant material into methane, natural gas. And you can make all the jokes you want, but methane is a very strong greenhouse gas.

The first place I’d look to find the reasons for the discrepancy between the two figures is in the amount of greenhouse gas supposed to come from a cow or a sheep or goat. So with humans, the human population getting so big that we are raising so many farm animals, it’s very reasonable that we’re creating a tremendous amount of extra methane that wouldn’t otherwise be there in the atmosphere. And that is causing global warming and climate change to happen more rapidly than would otherwise. However, if humans weren’t there animals would be all over the place anyway; it’s not clear that they’d be in these concentrations though. It could be a difficult thing to measure, but it’s also reasonable that agriculture researchers are going to produce or breed farm animals that produce less methane by changing the bacteria that are in their stomachs that metabolize plant matter.

To get all the way down to a plant based diet might be tricky for a lot of people. However, it seems like a good idea. Check in with me in a few months, because I noticed that my diet is becoming increasingly vegetarian, and so in the next little while I may be all the way over. “Why aren’t you now Bill?” That’s a great question. I’m working it—I’m working on it. It’s a very interesting question and and an important one. And literally a huge one because we’re talking about the Earth’s atmosphere. Thank you Erin..

The Worldwide Phenomenon That’s Shrinking Animals

The threat of rising temperatures due to global warming will have serious effects on our tiny blue planet. Warming oceans could kill coral reefs, there might be less fresh water, more disease, less polar bears, more bark beetles, the list goes on. But here is one side effect you may not have heard of…smaller horses. That’s right, warmer temperatures could make some animals shrink. About 50 million years ago, after the dinosaurs died off, the Earth went through a series of warming events called hyperthermals, most likely from an increase of carbon. Most notably was what scientists call the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), when temperatures rose between 5 and 8 degrees celsius, and stayed that way for almost 200,000 years. Now, scientists wanted to know how this global warming event affected the creatures living at the time, so they started studying ancient horse teeth.

And they found that, when global temperatures rose, these horses shrank. During the PETM, one ancient horse species called Sifrhippus (siff-RIP-us), shrunk by 30%. But as the Earth cooled back down, it got 76% bigger. During the less drastic Eocene Thermal Maximum 2, another ancient horse, the Arenahippus shrank by 14%, going from about the size of a dog to about the size of a cat. Yeah, ancient horses were smaller than you might have thought. So, why the shrinkage? Well, one explanation might be Bergmann's rule, which states when the climate gets warmer, mammals get smaller so they can cool off more efficiently. Rising temperatures also see an increase in drought and a decrease in plant growth, which basically mean less food and water for the animals, which could result in smaller and smaller offspring. But this is more than a fun fact, because global temperatures are on the rise again and some shrinking has already been documented in modern day animals, like sheep, goats and reindeer. Now, there are other factors that could have been in play and the same dwarfing may not happen the same way it did over 50 million years ago.

But with some climate scientists predicting the earth’s temperature increasing by up to 6 degrees by the year 2100, there may be a lot to learn from studying these shrinking horses. And if history does indeed repeat itself, more tiny horses could be on the horizon. If you’re tired of talking about the tiny, why don’t you go watch this video on some of the largest creatures to ever walk the Earth, dinosaurs. Scientists have completely rewritten how they are categorized and it’s kinda crazy. Don’t forget to subscribe, share and come back for more on Seeker..

This Powerful New Technology May Be The Only Way To Explore Venus

Imagine we’ve successfully landed a robot on Venus! Nice job… [pause, checks watch] Annnd now it’s dead. Hello fellow carbon-based lifeforms, Ian here for DNews. I want you to imagine building a robot that can land on the surface of Venus. Actually, imagine building a robot that will land on the surface of HELL and you’ll have a better idea of what to expect. Yes, Venus is a toxic hellhole that’s not only hot enough on the surface to melt lead, but the thick carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere has a pressure about 90 times greater than Earth’s. This isn’t very good news for any robots we want to send there to explore the planet and do science. But there IS hope. NASA engineers at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, are developing a new kind of integrated circuit that not only survives the rigors of being in space, it could also allow the delicate electronics inside Venus landers to live 100 times longer than previous efforts.

It’s not like we haven’t tried landing on Venus before. From the 1960s to the 1980s, the Soviet Union tried to send a series of 16 spacecraft to Venus as part of the Venera program — which included flybys, atmospheric probes and landers. Of the early landing attempts, Venera 3 to Venera 6 either burned up, crashed or got crushed by Venus’ atmosphere. Even though it got crushed before touchdown, Venera 4 has the historic distinction as being the first probe to transmit data from another planet’s atmosphere in 1967. In 1970, Venera 7 made history as the first ever soft landing on another planet. It sent back 23 minutes of data before dying. After this, the Soviets had more success from Venera 8 — which landed in 1972, returning 50 minutes of data. Venera 9 landed in 1975 and took the first ever black and white photos from another planet’s surface.

Venera 13, in 1981, and 14, in 1982, returned color panoramic views from Venus’ surface, revealing the alien geology and incredibly hazy atmosphere. In 1984, Russia launched the two Vega missions that included landers and atmospheric balloons. The US even gave Venus a go when they parachuted probes to the surface during the 1978 Pioneer Venus mission. One of the probes continued to transmit data an hour after landing on the surface. But all Venus surface missions quickly succumbed to the extreme heat and pressure, most lasting for less than a couple of hours. Venera 13 holds the record, lasting 127 minutes before melting. Although our technology has advanced since this exciting era of Venus exploration, we still don’t have the ability to protect them from the extreme environment for very long. Conventional silicon circuits stop working at high temperatures long before they start to melt. But now, NASA engineers are testing an extremely durable "silicon carbide semiconductor integrated circuit” — it’s a circuit made out of a new silicon mix that continues to function as a circuit should, only at much higher temperatures.

It was originally being developed for use in hot sections of fuel-efficient aircraft. Knowing that they could tolerate temperatures up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit, the NASA engineers placed samples of the circuit into the Glenn Extreme Environments Rig (GEER). This instrument not only replicates the temperatures found on Venus’ surface, it also applies the same pressures. And after 521 hours of extreme testing, the integrated circuits continued to operate as designed. To use conventional electronics in space, heavy shielding is needed to protect delicate components. If this new circuit technology is used for space robots, I’d imagine that this shielding may not be required, reducing weight, boosting electronics longevity in harsh environments, reducing launch weight and ultimately costs. But the thing that makes this kind of tech development REALLY interesting is the very obvious applications a highly durable integrated circuit has on Earth. Robotics are used in a range of industries and are increasingly being used in extremely hazardous environments — building tougher electronics to boost their operational lives would obviously be a bonus.

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Donald Trump: The World’s First TV President | Adam Mansbach

You’re seeing Trump bandy around the term "fake news" to describe some of our most venerated, venerable, trustworthy institutions. When the president is calling anything he doesn’t like “fake news,” yeah, it dislocates the term. It dislocates the idea. I think in general what we’re seeing is an assault on the idea that there can be objective truth, the idea that anything can stand above the political fray. And, you know, he’s seizing on that. But it comes out of a much, you know, it comes out of the polarization that the coverage and the news media has been mired in for a good long time. And he’s opportunistically seizing on it, but he didn’t invent it, right. We’ve been in the era for a long time now of polarized talking heads spewing venom at each other on cable news shows in what is supposed to be a fair and balanced and kind of like equal playing-field situation.

But because objectively speaking some of these people are dealing with facts and others are dealing with invented, imagined, biased nonsense there’s often, you know, creating that illusion of a balanced playing field is difficult. Like you can turn on the news and see like, “A Fair And Balanced Discussion of Climate Change”. And like on this side we have like this dude who’s got like, you know, a doctorate in physics from Oxford and is like a triple Ph.D. in every relevant field and wrote six books, all of which won the Pulitzer Prize. And representing the other side is like Joe Schmucko from Illinois who like thinks global warming doesn’t exist because he has a snowball in his freezer or some shit. And these people are being presented as if they have equal credentials. So, you know, the polarization that leads to the dislocation of truth, it’s got to be – the blame for it needs to be spread around. Like it’s been going on for a good long time. Yeah, I mean satire is an incredibly powerful tool and weapon.

And I think we’re in an age where satire seems outdated. It’ll come back around, but at the moment we are living in such an absurd world. Trump and his administration, his cabinet, his cronies defy satire because they are more ridiculous than anything that our greatest satirical minds can come up with. So as you say we’ve moved into a phase where, you know, right now satire is not for the masses. Satire is directed only at the president. Like Alec Baldwin’s entire audience on Saturday Night Live is essentially Trump. We’re in a moment where Trump’s own advisors are letting it be known that the way that they have to get his attention is to go on television. He won’t listen to them if they’re in the same room together. So they go on TV hoping that he will see them and listen because he apparently only pays attention to things and people that he hears on screen.

So, you know, I think there’s a very real sense in which both the satire and the entire sort of talking head infrastructure is increasingly directing itself solely at him. It’s like, you know, this guy watches TV all the time. He gets his news, he gets his information not from intelligence briefings, not from this treasure trove of classified information that most people would be fascinated to delve into, but from the same idiots that everybody else has access to. Maybe satire isn’t dead. That’s pretty absurd in itself. I take it back. Satire is very much alive in the form of Trump, you know, an audience of one for everything that goes on in the media..

What Ever Happened To Acid Rain?

I've finally figured it out. Prince must've been singing about ACID RAIN that was BLUE. Because carbonic acid turns litmus paper red… Blue plus red equals purple. If you know what I'm singing about up here. C'mon, raise your hand. Hello pH-balanced friends, Trace here for DNews. If you were to compare environmental issues to fashion trends—and I mean why wouldn’t you—then acid rain would be the equivalent of bell-bottom jeans. People started talking about it in the 60’s, then it slowly infiltrated media and pop culture, and by the mid-1970s’ seemingly everyone had an opinion on it, but since then, where did it go? To understand acid rain you have to understand "pH" levels. pH means "power of hydrogen," essentially it measure the kind of hydrogen in a solution. It's not super important to understand how it works, but it ranges from zero to 14 with zero (battery acid) being the most acidic and 14 (lye) being super alkaline (or basic): 7 is neutral — water is 7, milk is 6, sea water is 9… A change in even one number is a big deal, because pH is measured logarithmically, one number represents a 10-fold change! Okay, so, acid rain is bad, you guys.

Like really bad. It toxifies lakes and streams, destroys forests and threatens entire plant populations. Acid rain is even harmful to urban environments, where it eats away at limestone and marble buildings. All because its pH is crazy. I say crazy, because normal rain is acidic, just a little bit. As rain falls from they sky, it picks up carbon dioxide in the air, creating carbonic acid. This gives natural rain a pH of about 6, just slightly on the acid side — similar to urine or saliva. Regular rain becomes acid rain when it picks up not only carbon dioxide, but sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, which contain much stronger acids. These make their way into our atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels to make energy. Once natural rain picks up this acid, its pH can drop as low as 3. That means that rain that goes from pH 6 to pH 3 — it’s 1000 times more acidic!.

Threes are things like citrus, kimchee, or soda! The effects of acid rain entirely depend on where it lands. For instance if it falls on limestone-rich soil, it doesn’t have much of an effect because limestone is naturally alkaline; it has a pH above 7. So mixing acidity with a lower pH just neutralizes it. In fact, to protect cultivated areas from acid rain damage, limestone can be added to soil as a sort-of pH-balancing fertilizer. Though that's pretty much out of the question for huge tracts of land in the wilderness. When acid rain falls on neutral or acidic soil, or on vegetation, that’s when things get bad. Living things have a hard time in acidic environments because the acid basically kills their growth enzymes — fish can't swim in orange juice! What’s more, hydrogen ions in the acid rain replace nutrients in the soil like calcium and magnesium, which are vital for plant growth. This is why we preserve things in vinegar, rather than water because the acid in the vinegar prevents pickles, or kimchi for all you foodies, from growing mold. Keep in mind that we’re talking about ecosystems, so everything is connected. Once acid rain infiltrates soil, it flows into streams and lakes, killing marine life.

Even water-dwelling animals that can live in acidic environments, like frogs, still end up dying, because the acid kills their food sources. This sort of environmental damage stems as far back as the industrial revolution; however the public didn’t really catch wind of it until the 1970’s, after it had already caused massive damage — and that's why you heard about it. Why you don't anymore, is because in the early 1990’s the US government passed a series of regulations that dramatically reduced sulfur dioxide emissions, and acid rain sorta fell off the radar. At least in the U.S…. Acid rain is still an issue in China and Russia, two countries with lots of factories and few environmental regulations. China is particularly bad, as it’s coal contains higher-than-normal-levels of sulfur. Even parts of eastern Europe, Canada and the United States still have rainwater that’s just too acidic.

And even though our rain will likely never return to a 1960’s level of acidity, the effects of this environmental disaster will exist for decades. No domain extension will help you tell your story like a DOT COM or DOT NET domain name. And because you watch DNews, you can get 15% off Domain Dot Com’s names and web hosting by using the code DNews when you check out. So acid rain is still a problem, but what about the hole in the ozone layer? What ever happened to that? You can find out in this video here. Should we do a whole video about pH? That's kinda cool right? Do you have science questions? Tell us in the comments, make sure subscribe so you get the answers and thanks for tuning in to DNews..

Is Earth Turning Into A Big Desert?

Desertification, is the degradation of a productive, lush environment into dry, dry desert. Great for MarioKart and alien planets in movies, but terrible for growing food. Planet Earth is a constantly shifting landscape of 8 biomes, ranging from rainforest to grassland, desert to taiga. Twenty-two thousand years ago, the Sahara was pretty much uninhabited, except for the area around the Nile Valley. 10,500 years ago, monsoon rains rolled in to wet it up. Climates change, it happens, and sometimes they change hella dramatically… like when whole deserts completely shift their borders… which is happening RIGHT NOW. Only a few thousands years ago, the Sahara was green and lush, and now we can’t even IMAGINE it… instead, research has found the Sahara’s shifting sands are expanding, causing die-offs of vegetation, failure of agriculture, and increased erosion without plants to hold the soil in place.

But this wasn’t always the case. Scientists had hypotheses that an ancient river ran through the Western Sahara, feeding the land and securing it with vegetation. Clues were left off the coast of Mauritania, where researchers found sediment resembling that of a huge river… but there was no river around, only arid sands. They called this ancient waterway the Tamanrasset and now, according to a recent study by the Japanese Advanced Land Observing Satellite, it’s real! And was confirmed recently using microwave radar. If it were still there, the Tamanrassat river would be the 12th largest on Earth, winding 300 miles inland (500km) to the Mauritanian coast. As the researchers point out, climate change happens fast. In a study in Earth and Planetary Science Letters researchers looked at 30,000 years of dust blown from Africa into the Atlantic.

Over the millennia the amount of blown dust rose and fell in lockstep with the amount of moisture on the continent; less moisture, more dust, more moisture, less dust. Today, because it’s so dry, the majority of the sediment in the Atlantic is from Saharan dust! It can (and does) reach North America! By looking at this dust, they know about 6,000 years ago the African Humid Period ended suddenly, coinciding with an axial change in the Earth’s ORBIT. According to research from NASA and climate scientists, the Sahara exists, in part, because the Earth’s spin changed, decreasing Northern Hemisphere monsoons, and causing the Sahara to grow. Vegetation died very quickly and the third largest desert in the world took over North Africa, all in less than 300 years! In a separate study in the journal Science, one of the jet streams which moves hot dry air across the planet’s Equator, has shifted northward, causing the tropics to expand 140 miles northward in the last 26 years; and with it… the deserts of Earth. Why? They’re not sure, but they know global warming is part of it, as is the ROTATION OF THE EARTH.

In the movies, when a wizard summons a massive storm, the storm dissipates at the moment of his defeat. In reality, when we make huge changes to the Earth’s climate, those changes are not felt, or easily reversed across multiple human lifespans. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the melting of Greenland ice is changing the way the Earth spins, changing the tilt of Earth’s axis by 2.6 centimeters per year, with an increase in that tilt on the horizon! Why is the ice melting? You need only look in a mirror. We live on a spinning top, and we’re messing with the balance. SO WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN? To put it simply, as the distribution of ice and water on the planet changes, the Earth’s axis changes in a process called precession. Thus, the sun will hit different latitudes our planet at different intensities than before — drastically changing the weather systems and our overall climate.

Whether it’s natural or man-made, the jetstream is already shifting causing the tropical deserts to expand into previously lush territory (as we know it has done in the past), but scientists don’t believe this is a natural phenomenon, it is happening WAY too fast, and the rates are increasing… we’re doing this. As desertification hits the American plains, South Asia, and the Mediterranean, humans feel the affects through drought, climate changes, and, eventually, economics. In a 2005 report about desertification from United Nations University, they state 10 to 20 percent of these “drylands” have been negatively impacted through the loss of farmland and biodiversity. That was a decade ago, and at the time, 2.1 billion people lived in the drylands of our planet. It’s clear, the deserts have, and will expand, and as they continue to do so, farmland will dry, vegetation will disappear, and people will either have to move, or completely alter their lifestyles. Now, if you’re thinking, “But Trace! The ocean is FULL of water! Let’s just use that! You can’t.

Julian explains why we can just turn saltwater to freshwater, here. (soundup) REGULAR DNEWS CTA There are lots of little things that we can all do to curb climate change – check out where you can learn about things like the five day carbon challenge. Challenge your friends, your family, strangers, and most importantly, yourself. There’s a ton of way you can do to make difference out there. Thanks for watching! Have you felt the pinch of climate change? How?.