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Sightings: Irony Falls Like Snow in Copenhagen

18/12/2009 Leave a comment

– SIGHTINGS REPORT –

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The Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen is getting precipitously close to it’s closing remarks, and we’re now learning what we’ve already suspected, which is that the best we should hope for from COP15 is just a few pages of a framework to be further negotiated and ratified at the NEXT COP conference…We would hope! The irony of making positive forward statements on the effects of Future climate talks, even while a disappointing cause is still unfolding, is further emphasized by the following video fragments…

As World leaders were arriving in Copenhagen on December 17th, we were treated to a decidedly inopportune time for Mother Nature to show us her hand, with a solid covering of up to 10 cm. of heavy snow falling on the city just as the world turned it’s eyes to Denmark to see how this conference can manage to produce something of value at the 11th Hour. In a time when legions of dissenters and skeptics are seizing upon every conspiracy imaginable, perhaps this is a chance for Climate Change supporters to suggest that it is the Imperialistic interests of Big Oil and Coal that have seeded this snow for maximum effect! After all…Russian officials have allegedly claimed that they can prevent snow from falling in Moscow this winter, and China has already had some seriously damaging results from it’s own efforts to seed precipitation in it’s drought stricken regions!

While we possibly consider just how far some people will go to assure an orderly progress to establishing a New World (uhm) Order….Here’s a quick roundup of some of the other bitter ironies that unfolded during this same 24 hour period:

Let’s start with a couple of serene and peaceful moments…

…before facing the ironies of fighting against Global Warming, while shoveling through any of the heavier consequences that follow:

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IR: Subtle Effects of Global Warming

17/12/2009 Leave a comment

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IMPACT REPORT: More Subtle Effects of Global Warming

We all know the Earth is warming, but it’s getting harder to get a clear reading on exactly what the causes and effects are of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) because of all the polarized rhetoric in the Media around the “man-made” aspects of this question. Obviously decisive precautionary actions must be taken to immediately reduce greenhouse gases while we sort out the rest of society’s environmental ills, but what if the Science behind AGW has somehow become too skewed by political or funding pressures? What if the need and desire to create a unified and global movement against Climate Change has now also became a leveraged force that can be managed to produce new political alignments, financial vehicles, and world banking results as well? As Environauts, we can start our search for answers by looking at the Present for signs of possible Futures. Let’s begin the process in Copenhagen.

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SR: Global Warming is just the Beginning

17/12/2009 Leave a comment

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–  SOCIAL REPORT  –

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Recent events around the uber-hyped Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen may be overshadowing the entire Green Movement, and casting a pale pallor of doubt over our entire outlook on the Future of our Environment. The faint silver lining to these looming storm clouds however, is that by now we should all have a much more realistic sense of what we can expect from the political processes and backroom shenanigans involved in addressing Climate Change via the United Nations. What we can also take away from things (after the DanishText leak, and ClimateGate scandals, right-wing Media backlash, etc..) is a more personally resolved understanding of Global Warming, that isn’t dependant on spoon-fed Media pablum for it’s vitality. We might also feel ready to resign any false expectations that we may have placed in the dubious value of Eco-Stunts, Public rallys, citizen marches, internet petitions, and other publicity hungry fabrications built upon good intentions, and amounting to little more than fodder for the Media, and some personal catharsis.

Instead we’re now better prepared to at least accept (if not undertake) an ongoing, and longer-term outlook on the real and genuine grass roots solutions that will be required, long after everyone has flown back home from Denmark and unpacked their souvenirs. Unfortunately, the road map to sustainable change is no less clear now, than it was when we embarked on what we had collectively hoped would’ve been a much more visible and direct route to the more immediate resolutions we’d all hoped for in Copenhagen.

Let’s first consider how we got here, as we re-plot our course towards a more sustainable Future. One where we don’t just wait for politically driven bureaucratic processes to come to the rescue, and somehow reduce one particular (CO2) by-product of an unhealthy civilization. Rather, let’s shelf the idea of simply delegating our environmental responsibilities to representative politicians long enough to consider what would happen if we were to personally hold established Environmental and Ecological principals as our highest standard in forging a better Future for us all

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Cloudy Coverup for Climate Change

02/12/2009 2 comments


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In an effort to wrap our collective heads around all the Causes that can Effect Climate Change, perhaps we could go up into Space to gain some seriously wide-angle perspectives on the subject, and then come back down to Earth with a more grounded view of what’s driving this change.

noc_strange_clouds_ISSThe first layer of atmosphere that we encounter upon re-entry is the Mesospehere, and it’s a frontier zone that’s only now being better explored for it’s peculiar properties. What’s driving this curiosity are visible signs of changes going on up there, which are impacting some wild theories about geo-engineering the skies, to counteract climate change down here.

More than 120 years after their discovery, Noctilucent Clouds (from the Latin words for “Night Shining”) remain a mysterious enigma that only appears up at the very edge of space – or about 75-85 kilometers (50 miles) straight up! This area is called the Mesosphere, and it’s not only very cold (-193F/-125C), but it’s also incredibly dry. Studies show that the mesosphere is about 100 MILLION times drier than the Sahara, so one of the questions that we find 80 kms above us is: just how do these eerie clouds form under such poor conditions? Just to contrast abit, the highest clouds that we normally see are called Cirrus, and form at only about 11 km (36,000feet) where it only gets down to about -40C.

NCLs over northern Europe  Credit: Pekka Parvianien.

So…Let’s consider what makes clouds to begin with? Basically ice crystals, or rain need to two things to form. A dust (1)particle that allows (2)water vapor to collect/condense around the particle in a process called “nucleation”. The theories on Noctilucent Clouds are that the dust required to form them at that altitude is either coming from space, or somehow coming up from the surface far, far below. Water vapor is also incredibly scarce at that altitude, which suggests theories that the water is actually coming from rocket exhaust. An even more fascinating theory suggests that oxidized Methane* is at the supply base for the components of water since atmospheric methane levels have been increasing since the 19th century, and have more than doubled in the past century! So we might be just seeing the early signs of some new form of climate change at work up there at the edge of space…

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Geo-Engineering: Laying Foundations

02/12/2009 Leave a comment

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Geo-Engineering has been a fringe science since the Sixties (when it first became popular to believe that Technology could fix anything), and it seems to be finally coming into vogue after being brought to back to public attention by mainstream Media sources such as the New York Times .

Before drilling down too deep though, let’s start by sharpening some of our bits of terminology first.

Unlike BIO-Engineering, which seeks to apply pure Science via Technological processes to produce engineered results in Biological fields (from GM’d corn, to the materials of Orthpaedic hip-joint replacement hardware), GEO-Engineering seeks to take the same approach to the entire Earth in order to effect positive changes to our environment. Regrettably, the term Geo-Engineering seems to have been misappropriated and popularized as a description of Ecological or Environmental engineering applications on a global scale, even though the terms Enviro, Global, or ECO-Engineering would likely have been a more appropriate descriptors. Unfortunately for the real Geo-Engineers out there (who’ve been working long and hard on true Geological Engineering), the term GEO has already been co-opted by Environmentalists, adopted by the Media, and is now popularized to represent a much more narrow scope of applied technological solutions to our most pressing issues around Climate Change. So Geo-Engineering has effectively come to mean something else entirely to all of us (relatively ignorant) non-engineers.

So….Geo-Engineering (as we currently accept the poorly defined definition) is a notably complex endeavor that requires the collection, collation and application of knowledge from three VERY large areas of study:

* Scientific disciplines including Climatology, Biochemistry, Ecology, Meteorology and several subsets of Biology and Physics
* Engineering disciplines including aeronautical, naval, architectural, ballistics, propulsion, and materials Engineering.
* Regulatory/Management and other control disciplines such as business process and risk management, and realtime operational research…and of course an insanely complex and interdependent maze of International Politics, Regulations, Diplomacy, and Trade.

Before delving into these ridiculously broad categories of study, first, let’s just put away any indignant or ignorant self-righteousness about “playing God” with the environment. Insteaed, let’s simply admit that we’ve already been toying with our Ecology, and changing the Earths environment in countless ways for a long time now already.

Whether it’s by altering watersheds and aquifers, re-engineering entire drainage systems for irrigation or hydro power, or by clearcutting the heat and CO2 consuming capacity of entire forests, and let’s not forget the ongoing and always contentious issues behind enormous volumes of CO2 (and other more potent greenhouse gases) escaping into the atmosphere, as Humans we are already very deeply ensnared in the tricky game of Geo-Engineering. Thus the dire scenarios described as AGW, or “Anthropogenic” (man-made) Global Warming are directly attributed to Human activities, which nobody questions as being capable of changing an entire planet.

So since we’ve already been behaving like foolish Gods (or rather like some lesser being that has self-provisioned itself with Godlike dominion over nature according to some self-distorting Judeao-Christian fallacy) let’s then look at the risks of Geo-Engineering more realistically.

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A New Mission…

26/11/2009 Leave a comment

You’ve discovered a Mission Category that still hasn’t been used yet…

If this notice is still appearing at the top of the page then this empty Mission Category is wide open to new explorations…

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From there we will create a Mission Profile Stub for you, and assign full Contributor privileges to your account, so that you can write/edit your new Mission Profile, as well as contribute to any other Mission Categories. Once your contribution is approved, you’ll have attained the role of Mission Specialist here at Environauts!

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