Towering pyramids and ceremonial plazas are the hallmarks of ancient Mesoamerican urban building, yet the oldest examples that call to mind this familiar style are found nearly 1000 kilometers to the north in the muddy bayous of Louisiana. Five millennia ago, Native Americans began to build high mounds of earth flanked by flat plazas that resemble the classic architecture of the Maya and the Aztec. Surprisingly, new dating efforts reveal that the first great period of mound building nearly occurred 5,000 years ago—nearly 2,000 years before the first cities appeared in Mexico, and before the Giza pyramids in ancient Egypt. Stranger still is what brought this golden age of prehistoric Native American culture to an end: a five century long spell of massive floods in the lower Mississippi Valley.
We at The Resilient Earth would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our loyal readers for their patronage during 2011 and wish all of you a happy and prosperous New Year. The wonders of nature continue to unfold around us and the secrets of how the physical universe works are slowly uncovered by hard working scientists around the world. We look forward to a time when this website will only have to concern itself with recent scientific discoveries and the natural marvels they reveal, rather than having to debunk the junk science of the climate alarmist community and various “green energy” swindles.
The climate associated with global oceans undergoes natural variability with many time scales. A recent report in the Journal Science identifies atmospheric blocking over the North Atlantic as a major factor in such variability on time scales as short as a week. The correspondence between blocked westerly winds and warm ocean can be seen in recent decadal episodes, particularly from 1996 to 2010. It also describes much longer time scale Atlantic multidecadal ocean variability (AMV), including the extreme northern warming of the 1930s to 1960s, which predates the rise of human CO2 emissions that alarmists are convinced is causing all recent global warming.
The impact of solar irradiance variations on Earth’s surface climate has been debated by many in the past. Based on correlations between solar variability and meteorological changes, the Sun-climate link seems obvious but, as is often stated, correlation does not prove causation. Previously, any link was disputed because the amount of energy delivered by the Sun was deemed too small to have a significant impact. New satellite measurements indicate that variations in solar ultraviolet irradiance may be larger than previously thought, forcing a reevaluation of the impact of solar variation. A recent report in the journal Nature Geoscience claims to show just that—a link between the 11 year solar cycle and Northern Hemisphere winters.
A $3.1 million solar array at Naval Air Station Kingsville is expected to offset the base's consumption of conventional energy by 2.5 percent. This is part of the Navy's push to provide 50 percent of its energy from non-fossil fuel sources by 2020. This sound like responsible government green goodness until you take the time to look at the numbers. As pointed out by Energy Gap co-author, Allen Simmons, in a letter to the editor of the Corpus Christi Caller Times, the Navy installation of solar power is a bad deal.
New lessons are beginning to emerge from Fukushima. Each new concern leads to additional safety requirements. But some contradictions are beginning to raise questions: Amid tens of thousands of deaths from non-nuclear causes, not a single life-shortening radiation injury has occurred. Not one! And while some people in the housing area are wearing cumbersome rad-con suits, filtered gas-masks, gloves and booties, there are many people living carefree in other places like Norway, Brazil, Iran, India where folks have lived normal lives for countless generations with radiation levels as much as a hundred times greater than forbidden areas of the Fukushima homes.
An iceberg the size of Berlin is forming in Antarctica and is expected to break off from the Pine Island Glacier soon. As sure as night follows day, climate change alarmists will pronounce this a result of anthropogenic global warming—and they will be dead wrong. NASA scientists have already predicted the event and proclaimed it a part of a natural, ten year cycle that they have been studying for decades. The sad state of climate science is underlined by the fact that the researchers felt compelled to state that global warming is not the cause of the ice-shelf collapse.
Starting on January 1, 2012, airlines flying to and from airports in the European Union (EU) will be forced into an emissions trading system that attempts to regulate CO2. The announced intention of this draconian cap-and-trade system is to save the world from the imagined ravages of anthropogenic global warming (AGW), but given the dire financial straits much of Europe finds itself in there is little doubt that Eurocrats will view this new policy as a potential source of revenue. Unfortunately, the new regulation threatens the entire structure of international air travel by unilaterally violating agreements that have been negotiated over decades. In seeking to avoid the imaginary dangers of global warming, the EU threatens the global air transport system with a very real CO2 Armageddon.
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2011 has been awarded to Daniel Shechtman of the Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, for the discovery of quasicrystals. Quasicrystals are non-repeating regular patterns of atoms that were once thought to be impossible. Most people would agree that this is the type of unexpected discovery that deserves a Nobel Prize, but this is not just the story of an amazing scientific revelation. After first discovering evidence for quasicrystals in 1982, using an electron microscope in a US government lab, Shechtman was expelled from the lab and subjected to years of ridicule by other scientists. You see, quasicrystals were thought impossible by crystallographers at the time and even though Shechtman had evidence backing his claim, he was ostracized by mainstream science.
Nostradamus, the famous prognosticator, was said to have received his visions of the future by scrying—staring into a pool of ink for hours on end. The climate science equivalent of a gazing pool is the computer climate model, huge collections of complicated computer code that supposedly crank out frightening visions of the future. Most of the discussion about climate change has centered on the global aspects of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW), but now a number of climate mystics are turning their modeling dark arts to doing regional predictions. Why? The better to frighten the public and elicit funding from government coffers. Unfortunately, as climate researchers struggling to sharpen their fuzzy picture of what the future holds one fact has been ignored—there is even more uncertainty in regional models than in the global ones.
In 2009, the International Commission on Stratigraphy, the body charged with formally designating geological time periods, decided the Anthropocene concept “has some merit.” To investigate further they formed the Anthropocene Working Group, which published their initial findings this past February in a special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A. The group reported a wide range of human impacts that could leave a stratigraphically significant mark on the planet's geological record. There is no doubt that humans have changed the world we live in, but has the change been significant enough to declare a whole new epoch? The Anthropocene debate is continuing this week at the 2011 Geological Society of America conference.
No phenomenon in astronomy has been studied more closely than solar flares, gigantic eruptions on the Sun that can affect Earth's climate and even disrupt power grids. Scientists have been watching the Sun with ground based instruments and orbiting satellites for years, so it might be thought that we know a lot about such eruptions. Well think again. A new report from NASA has revealed that, like earthquakes, solar flares often have aftershocks. Moreover, the aftershocks can emit bursts of ultraviolet (UV) radiation more powerful than the original eruption. Combine this new finding with the recently uncovered linkage between fluctuating UV levels and El Niño, and the Sun-Climate connection looks stronger than ever.
Given that the Sun powers Earth's climate system and provides the energy for all life on our planet, it should come as no surprise that changes in solar activity can affect climate conditions. Because total solar irradiance varies only slightly, climate scientists have discounted our variable star as a driver of climate change. At the end of the 20th century, Heinrich Svensmark, of the Danish Space Research Institute, and Eigil Friis-Christensen proposed that solar activity may be a controlling factor for climate by changing low level cloud cover. Not surprisingly this idea was disparaged by mainstream climate science, since it would diminish the importance of greenhouse gases, CO2, the IPCC's favorite daemon, in particular. Now, after several years of experimentation at CERN, the preliminary results are in and it looks like Svensmark and Friis-Christensen were right after all.
Recent days have seen a number of announcements about our changing climate. As it turns out Arctic ice is rebounding, sea levels are dropping and things just are not going according to the IPCC's plan for catastrophic global warming. Faced with reversal after reversal, it might seem logical for mainstream climate scientists to admit that they are wrong, that global warming is not taking place at a breakneck pace, but this has not happened. Instead, climate change apologists are weaving a tangled web of excuses—hot is cold, wet is dry, up is down. No matter what happens to the world we live in, the root cause according to the doomsayers is always the same: it's always global warming's fault.
A pair of researchers has published a new report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in which two out of three glaciers studied were disappearing. In a report that was edited by James Hansen, of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, it would appear that the glaciers of the Himalaya are melting rapidly, but that is not how the report ends. The authors state that poor selection of study sites have led to the widespread use of non-representative data. Moreover, the IPCC report and others overstate the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers.