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25 March 2019
I’ve been fortunate lately to get to meet and interact with Phil Torres, independent scholar of existential risks. At my prompting, Phil came to a GSW meeting where Peter Brannen was talking about mass extinctions, and later he came to my class to talk to my Historical Geology students at NOVA about risks humanity faces. I figured it was about time I read his books, and now I can report …
7 June 2017
I have some questions for you. You answers determine whether you’re ready to begin talking about climate policy. Do you believe that carbon atoms exist? Do you believe that carbon can bond to oxygen? Do you believe that the bonding of carbon to oxygen is an exothermic reaction? Do you believe that exothermic reactions make heat? Do you believe that heat can be used to boil water? Do you believe …
27 April 2017
A quick exercise in deconstructing the argument of a “elevated CO2 is good” video on YouTube by identifying its logical fallacies. Pull up a chair, grab a bowl of popcorn, and join us in the critique!
8 March 2017
Who are “the 3%?” A reader question prompts a conversation with “Skeptical Science” guru and cognitive scientist John Cook.
24 December 2016
It’s bonfire season here in the Fort Valley. I live in a forest, and that forest is full of dead and downed wood. Motivated by a desire to (a) reduce forest fire risk and (b) clear out some of the area under the trees for unobstructed recreation, I gather it up and periodically burn it off in batches. We time these blazes to the weather – before or after after …
23 November 2016
Yesterday, I mentioned climate change visualizer extraordinaire Zack Labe. As delineated then, he’s a PhD student at U.C. – Irvine in the Earth Systems Science department. He’s producing some really excellent #dataviz on climate change. Today, I’d like to share a short exchange I had with Zack about his work. 1) Please give Mountain Beltway readers a sense of your background, leading up to what you’re working on …
22 November 2016
The amount of sea ice on planet Earth is much, much lower than ever recorded at this time of year. Will this anomaly turn out to be a relatively minor “weather” event? Or is this what a sea ice tipping point looks like?
8 December 2015
I have known for a long time about a diamictite in the latest Devonian part of the Appalachian stratigraphic sequence, since it is exposed in the lowermost part of the section (western end of the outcrop) at Sideling Hill, Maryland. When I led field trips there, I talked students through the multiple possible origins for diamictites (sedimentary rocks that are poorly sorted, with significantly “outsized” clasts “floating” in a finer-grained …
9 November 2015
This is probably the last week our planet’s atmosphere will have less than 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide. When are we going to stop letting this heat-trapping waste gas pile up in our home?
6 January 2014
Please. Please. Please. Please stop conflating weather and climate. It is cold today, yes, and that’s a big deal. But it doesn’t influence any scientific conclusion about climate change, one way or the other. Today’s cold temperatures are a weather event. It’s distinctive, but short-lived. Climate is a long-term trend: many years of weather events. It’s not something you can point to on a single day, and say “ha!” Climate …