No, there is not a lake on Mars

While I was traveling around over the past couple weeks, I heard some snippets about a lake being found on Mars. I only just now have had the chance to track down the story [example], which perhaps is now old news. Here's the scoop: a team at University of Colorado, Boulder published a study with some details of a large lake on Mars that dried up about 300 million years ago. The surprising part is that this is much later than lakes are expected to occur on Mars. It's a terrific find, and appears to be a good target for looking for fossilized life.

The news reports appear to have been very, very skewed and misleading. Including the picture that I'll try to put here (might die if the link goes bad). It's of a partly filled lake in a Martian-like setting. Even on Discovery.com this was presented without explanation (unless you actually click on the image and read the caption). It's not cool.


Alternative medicine is a crock

I just read this rather poor article on CNN [link] covering "alternative" or "complementary" medicine dosed out by clinics just south of the border. The coverage of the topic is rather uneven, perhaps in an attempt to appear balanced. Essentially, it gives the sense that lots of people are seeking out these complementary treatments even though there is no science to back them up, but leaves the reader with the message that, well, maybe they do work.. at least a little. This is a dangerous view. All the treatments they discuss are in addition to conventional treatment. That is to say, when the supplementary treatment "works," it is in the presence of clinically proven treatment. Note that these clinics don't replace traditional treatment because otherwise their complementary treatment would be ineffective. They are placebo. They make people feel like they are doing something, but in reality, these clinics are bilking people of money, and potentially putting them at great harm by undercutting the actual treatments or displacing real doctors from the treatment of the patient's condition. For every "success" story these alternative medicines tout, just imagine the thousands of people who have died or suffered in the hope that a more "natural" method is better than a scientifically proven treatment. I shudder to think of the number of people who have suffered needlessly, and died for no reason other than an ignorance of science and a blind faith for something that is easy.


Global warming swindle, a link

I am traveling and working to much to keep up with my "regular" posting schedule, but I should be back to normal in another week or so. For now, maybe you should watch another of the great climate denier crock of the week videos that has just been posted:



Holy moly... http://www.cooliris.com

Having just installed this "simple browser plugin" a mere 10 minutes ago, I am wholeheartedly endorsing it and pleading with you to go and install it.

I can't even try to describe it, except to say that it is paradigm changing for me.


EPA says carbon emissions to rise (is that a surprise?)

Last week the EPA issued a report that, according the news accounts, says carbon emissions will rise in the next 20 years by about 40%. Here's a link to a very poorly written article: LINK.

So, just thinking out loud here, but the current rise in CO2 concentration is around 2ppm/year (confirmation). If that were constant, then 20 years would be an increase of 40 ppm, taking us to around 420ppm CO2.

Just eye-balling the emissions to concentration curves (curves) suggests a linear fit of about 10ppm increase for every 1Gt increase in emissions. That news article says
As a result, the analysis predicted a steady increase in emissions of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that scientists say threatens a serious warming of the Earth later this century. Between now and 2030, Wednesday's report said, global carbon dioxide pollution is expected to increase by 39%. That translates to 33 billion metric tons in 2015 and 40 billion metric tons by 2030, compared to 29 billion metric tons in 2006, the report said.
So a 40% increase according to that news article is going from 29 to 40, that's 40 divided by 29 (= 1.38, so about 38% increase). The emissions increase by just 11 Gt/year. Using our poor estimate of 10ppm/1Gt, that means 10*11= 110ppm!!

UPDATE: This is mistaken. After consultation with somebody who knows about carbon, I think the way I should have done that is to say that there's a 10ppm increase for a 1Gt/year increase in emission rate. The change from 29 to 40 Gt appears to be the cumulative emissions. This, however, suggests a much lower increase in atmospheric CO2. It isn't totally clear how to make the estimate without making a budget for carbon. I'll try to make that estimate and re-update later.