Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Earth Stands Still

New reports on the possibility of alien life having rained to earth in India indicate that the DNA-less microbes can reproduce.
I learned to my surprise that there have been three red rains, all with cells that replicate at 300 degrees Celsius (572 degrees F.), but without any known DNA for replication as we know in all other Earth life.
Comet Holmes in a distant galaxy suddenly defies the known physics of such celestial bodies.
Comet Holmes, discovered in 1892, had in recent years been visible only through telescopes until a dramatic outburst made it visible to the naked eye. In fewer than 24 hours, it brightened by a factor of nearly 400,000.

It has now brightened by a factor of a million times what it was before the outburst, a change "absolutely unprecedented in the annals of cometary astronomy," said Joe Rao,'s Skywatching Columnist.
And numerous scientists no longer believe that global warming can be either controlled or reversed.
As early as 1992, he says, the US National Academy of Science recognized that adaptation needed to play a key role in humanity's response to global warming.

Some analysts argue that demoting adaptation efforts to the status of "poorer cousin" to emissions reductions in the public debate has cost precious time.

"We've known for 100 years that if you pump enough CO2 into the atmosphere, you're going to get global warming," says Daniel Sarewitz, a science-policy specialist at Arizona State University in Tempe. Despite the conviction that humans are warming the climate expressed in the report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, specific aspects of the science remain riddled with uncertainties. This holds especially true for models trying to project regional effects, he says.

"We spend all this effort trying to understand climate dynamics, but the major variables are the interactions within society and between society and climate," he says, referring to everything from populations exploding along vulnerable coastlines to decisions about what types of crops to plant.

For example, Dr. Noble notes that in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, efforts to encourage growers to replace groundwater- gulping rice with grains that grow better in a drier climate are hitting a wall. "Farmers know that they'd be better off growing millet or sorghum," he says. "But there's no market for millet. If they have to live on what they produce, they'd rather produce rice than millet."

And while some of the highest-profile adaptation challenges may come from severe weather events, Noble adds that "ordinary" weather events can still pose enormous hardship, particularly in the developing world.

If "normal" rain comes in less-frequent but more-intense storms, one storm "could wash away half your crop. That doesn't qualify as a disaster, so you don't get disaster relief," Noble says. In that case, adaptation measures could range from runoff control efforts to government policies establishing crop insurance where it doesn't exist now. It also means building roads and bridges far more resilient in the face of flooding.

Ironically, many measures needed to adapt to global warming come from the same toolkit disaster planners and development agencies use today. "Adaptation means doing the things you do now, but doing them much better," he says.
From Time to begin 'adapting' to climate change?
The World Bank is hiring experts in 'adaptation' to a warming world. Coastal planners are starting to take it into account by Peter N. Spotts | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

The idea that teaching can continue to rehash last generation's syllabus is profoundly wrong. we are entering an age that requires immediate creative responses to events that have never been encountered by man before. Our schools need to be hardened to the new technologies that will be necessary to survive.

Anything less is negligent malfeasance.

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