Friday, July 30, 2010
Despite the hopeful news on CNN, the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are far from over. PRI is pleased to announce the launch of "Under Siege" - our website about the threats of the oil spill on the subsurface biota of the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Keys. Check it out!
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
- The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for June 2010 was the warmest on record at 16.2°C (61.1°F), which is 0.68°C (1.22°F) above the 20thcentury average of 15.5°C (59.9°F). The previous record for June was set in 2005.
- June 2010 was the fourth consecutive warmest month on record (March, April, and May 2010 were also the warmest on record). This was the 304th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last month with below-average temperature was February 1985.
- The June worldwide averaged land surface temperature was 1.07°C (1.93°F) above the 20th century average of 13.3°C (55.9°F)—the warmest on record.
- It was the warmest April–June (three-month period) on record for the global land and ocean temperature and the land-only temperature. The three-month period was the second warmest for the world's oceans, behind 1998.
- It was the warmest June and April–June on record for the Northern Hemisphere as a whole and all land areas of the Northern Hemisphere.
- It was the warmest January–June on record for the global land and ocean temperature. The worldwide land on average had its second warmest January–June, behind 2007. The worldwide averaged ocean temperature was the second warmest January–June, behind 1998.
- Sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean continued to decrease during June 2010. According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, La Niña conditions are likely to develop during the Northern Hemisphere summer 2010.
"...a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."
Friday, July 16, 2010
A colleague sent me this great blog post from the Daily Green! Who knew all the things you could do with your old eggshells!
Enjoy! (Let me know if you do any of these, and how they worked in the comments section!)
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Social Membership Tickets**: $25
Purchase online at: Mastodons & Martinis
Purchase your social membership ticket by clicking below or for more information and to purchase by phone, please contact 607.273.6623 x11.
*ONE FISH, TWO FISH, RED FISH, BLUE FISH™ & © 1960 Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P. All rights reserved. Used by permission.**Social Membership includes entrance to Mastodons & Martinis on July 16, as well as advance notice of other social events at the Museum of the Earth. Entrance to Martinis & Mastodons is not included with regular Museum membership. You must purchase a social membership to attend this event.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
- Is your mind made up on climate change?
- On the Marcellus Shale?
- On nuclear power?
- Your spouse or significant other?
- Your ex-spouse or former significant other?
In the end, truth will out. Won’t it?
Maybe not. Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.
This bodes ill for a democracy, because most voters — the people making decisions about how the country runs — aren’t blank slates. They already have beliefs, and a set of facts lodged in their minds. The problem is that sometimes the things they think they know are objectively, provably false. And in the presence of the correct information, such people react very, very differently than the merely uninformed. Instead of changing their minds to reflect the correct information, they can entrench themselves even deeper.
“The general idea is that it’s absolutely threatening to admit you’re wrong,” says political scientist Brendan Nyhan, the lead researcher on the Michigan study. The phenomenon — known as “backfire” — is “a natural defense mechanism to avoid that cognitive dissonance.”
...it appears that misinformed people often have some of the strongest political opinions. A striking recent example was a study done in the year 2000, led by James Kuklinski of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He led an influential experiment in which more than 1,000 Illinois residents were asked questions about welfare — the percentage of the federal budget spent on welfare, the number of people enrolled in the program, the percentage of enrollees who are black, and the average payout. More than half indicated that they were confident that their answers were correct — but in fact only 3 percent of the people got more than half of the questions right. Perhaps more disturbingly, the ones who were the most confident they were right were by and large the ones who knew the least about the topic. (Most of these participants expressed views that suggested a strong antiwelfare bias.)
Perhaps more disturbingly, the ones who were the most confident they were right were by and large the ones who knew the least about the topic.
A 2006 study by Charles Taber and Milton Lodge at Stony Brook University showed that politically sophisticated thinkers were even less open to new information than less sophisticated types. These people may be factually right about 90 percent of things, but their confidence makes it nearly impossible to correct the 10 percent on which they’re totally wrong.
Friday, July 9, 2010
Although dozens of oily pelicans have become the iconic symbol for the recent disaster to hit the Gulf, thousands of forgotten creatures such as the spiny flower coral, yellow mussel, red heart urchin and the purple sea snail are equally under siege by the immeasurable plume of dense oil and dispersants. The Museum of the Earth recognizes the severity of the spill beyond the sandy beaches and below the murky surface.
World renowned malacologist, Dr. Paula Mikkelsen, associate director for science at the Paleontological Research Institution, remarks; “Our intent is not to say that the turtles and pelicans are not important. Our intent is to spread awareness of the high levels of biodiversity in the Gulf that are at risk in this devastating disaster. I hesitate to even suggest this because it’s so grim – there’s a lot we don’t know, as researchers and a society, about what’s going to happen. But it’s a much larger story than tar washing up on the beach.” Mikkelsen has specialized her professional research around the aquatic biodiversity of these now-threatened marine organisms.
Every habitat– from intertidal oyster bars and mangroves, to shallow seagrass beds, to coral reefs, deepwater sand plains, and pelagic Sargassum algae – includes thousands of species of invertebrates (coral, barnacles, snails, clams, starfish, sea urchins, sponges, and others) that depend upon clean water to survive. The deep-water oil plume looping through the Gulf, and heading toward the Florida Keys, is severely threatening aquatic biodiversity through contamination. The relationships of these marine ecosystems could soon be impacted, starting at the most basic levels, as the oxygen quality is compromised and the organisms’ food sources are killed. Many of these species are filter feeders, sieving food particles from the water, while others graze on algae or wait to feed on the filter feeders and grazers. All of these animals “breathe water,” extracting life-giving oxygen with their delicate gills. Oil in the water or their food sources will kill them, along with the algae and marine plants that they depend upon. The devastating reality is that there are no clean up efforts or rescue excursions that can help the eastern oysters, tube coral and other marine invertebrates that could be affected by the spill. As many as 15,000 species are indigenous to the Gulf and are threatened by this disaster.
Visit the Museum of the Earth to learn more about what is happening to the marine life in these affected areas and see some of the amazing specimens from the world famous PRI collection. Seeing the immaculate shells and coral on display creates immediacy to visitors and shatters apathy for these delicate, deep-water creatures. These heart breaking yet stunning displays should be a definite addition for your weekend “to do” list. On Saturday, July 10 at noon, Dr. Mikkelsen will be giving a Natural History at Noon lecture in the Museum’s classroom entitled "The Other 15,000: Marine Biodiversity at Risk in the Gulf of Mexico." For more information on the exhibit and the Museum’s Natural History at Noon lecture series please visit the Museum of the Earth online at www.museumoftheearth.org or call 607-273-6623 x33.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
I will bet $100 to the first three takers that at least one of the years between 2011 and 2020 (inclusive) will set a record for being the warmest year globally (since the beginning of instrumental global temperature record keeping in the latter 1800s) according to NASA data, barring a major volcanic eruption, major asteroid or meteor impact, or nuclear war. (Isn't that cheery?)
January 28 is tempting, but I wanted to keep it to 2010.
Friday, July 2, 2010
The 4th of July is arguably my most favorite holiday. First of all -- I love the summer and the 4th is a perfect way to celebrate the season. I love getting together with family and friends enjoying the weather and lots of BBQ's. Did I mention that I love BBQ's? Seriously I love to grill.
As I've grown older, I've begun to realize how much waste there is associated with picnics and said BBQ's. One of the things I've done is to make a conscious effort to take steps to be more green. I no longer buy paper plates, or disposable utensils. It actually seems wasteful.
It's quite nice to be sitting on a blanket in the shade having a delicious meal and not trying to balance a flimsy paper plate on your lap. Instead, I have a "real" plate and "real" silverware! It's almost decadent. I always bring a couple kitchen towels in my basket to have on hand to wipe off my dirty plates, glasses, and utensils. I no longer buy bottles of water, but I bring a big thermos filled with ice water. Once I learned how much goes into making the bottles for the water and how many end up in landfills -- I have really curtailed my bottled water habit.
This works for me and these steps -- although pretty simple -- might not work for you and your family. That all said, I came a cross 8 Tips for Being Green on the 4th of July and I thought I would share them:
1. Ditch the disposable party ware
2. Get outside!
3. Use propane for grilling
4. Save and reuse your decorations
5. Opt for greener fireworks
6. Gather in groups
7. Use large water containers
Most everything (if not all) from this list is super easy to do. Do what you can and have a safe and happy holiday!