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For any who remain skeptical about whether the earth is in a warming trend, as evidence of climate change, watch this moving graph: http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=YB_VxEQVGBw
Of course, the new factual graph does not indicate whether that warming trend is man-made or not, but the proof of the science is in. The news media has played down this revelation. I suppose many in Congress will too. But since when did the facts get in the way for Congress?
The 1979 James Bond film Moonraker, which I watched again tonight, reminds us of a space program that was then exciting and new, and which has now been left to wilt on the vine by a U.S. government that seems more bent on war than on exploration.
Moonraker, written by Ian Fleming in 1954, was due to be filmed in ’73, but was not shot and released until 1979. Its release preceded the Space Shuttle by 2 years, though the film featured not less than six of the shuttles, and the manned space station featured in the film was not actually started until the core section was assembled in space in 1998.
The film also featured the supersonic Concorde passenger plane, showing a BA plane landing in Rio. The Rio service, via Paris, began in 1976, and the Concorde, of which 25 were built, flew from 1969 to 2000. Thus, the Space Shuttle and the Concorde featured in this 32 year-old movie, are no more, and only the Space Station, which began 19 years after the film and is not due to be finished until next year, remains. It is expected to fly until 2020, and possibly 2028, and maybe there will be a U.S. spacecraft capable of shuttling to it again before then.
When journalists read scientific reports, they usually try to find a theme, in plain language. That what The Economist Magazine (June 18-26), “Sun Down” and Popular Science magazine (July 11), “Sun Stroke,” did. The problem, their reading of the science reached totally solar opposite conclusions.
The Economist concluded that: “Several lines of evidence suggest the sun is about to go quiet.” They predict that something called “solar minimums,” in which the regular cycles of the sun slow down, with fewer sun spots and more reliable communications on Earth, not interrupted so much by solar activity. The cooling effect of such historical slowdowns could even counteract or offset some of the warming effects of greenhouse gases, somewhat canceling out global warming, or giving us some breathing space to deal with it.
Then there’s Popular Science, blaring that, “A catastrophic solar storm isn’t a question of when — and it looks like soon.” A charged cloud of particles, called a coronal mass ejection, or CME could hit the earth. Such an eruption could fry computers and power transformers across the globe, shut down nuclear power plants and transportation — in other words, put the Earth on hold. Such a massive solar storm is a low probability event, just as is a 100-year storm, says Popular Science, but the question they ask is: what are we doing to prepare?
At this time of the summer solstice, when we are all celebrating the onset of a hopefully nice summer, after a winter of devastating storms, let’s hope the sun stays on an even keel, and that the journalists take a second look into science’s crystal ball and see if there is some consensus we can trust.