Growth has already pushed Earth past tipping point, new study says


The final synthesis report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change will show that growing economies herald growing greenhouse gas emissions and the result has been a growing threat of global warming, says scientist and Australian of the Year conservationist Tim Flannery.

”We thought we’d be at that threshold within about a decade,” Flannery told ABC. ”We thought we had that much time, but the new data indicates that in about mid-2005, we crossed that threshold.”

Flannery’s comments came just days after Canada and the U.S. both advocated a voluntary approach to limit greenhouse gases instead of strict international agreements to curb emissions. Neither President Bush nor Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants to cap emissions because they fear it would stifle economic growth.

They are right, of course, but that’s exactly what must happen.

As Flannery has observed: ”We’ve had growing economies everywhere. We’re still basing that economic activity on fossil fuels. You know, the metabolism of that economy is now on a collision course with our planet, clearly.”

The IPCC’s Synthesis Report (also known as the Fourth Assessment Report) will be released on November 7, 2007. The Report brings together the core information of the previous three volumes released earlier this year, to create “the most policy-relevant scientific document on climate change for the years to come.”


The World As I See It -An Essay By Albert Einstein


“How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people — first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy. A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving…

“I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves — this critical basis I call the ideal of a pigsty. The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. Without the sense of kinship with men of like mind, without the occupation with the objective world, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific endeavors, life would have seemed empty to me. The trite objects of human efforts — possessions, outward success, luxury — have always seemed to me contemptible.

“My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities. I am truly a ‘lone traveler’ and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties, I have never lost a sense of distance and a need for solitude…”

“My political ideal is democracy. Let every man be respected as an individual and no man idolized. It is an irony of fate that I myself have been the recipient of excessive admiration and reverence from my fellow-beings, through no fault, and no merit, of my own. The cause of this may well be the desire, unattainable for many, to understand the few ideas to which I have with my feeble powers attained through ceaseless struggle. I am quite aware that for any organization to reach its goals, one man must do the thinking and directing and generally bear the responsibility. But the led must not be coerced, they must be able to choose their leader. In my opinion, an autocratic system of coercion soon degenerates; force attracts men of low morality… The really valuable thing in the pageant of human life seems to me not the political state, but the creative, sentient individual, the personality; it alone creates the noble and the sublime, while the herd as such remains dull in thought and dull in feeling.

“This topic brings me to that worst outcrop of herd life, the military system, which I abhor… This plague-spot of civilization ought to be abolished with all possible speed. Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism — how passionately I hate them!

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery — even if mixed with fear — that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man… I am satisfied with the mystery of life’s eternity and with a knowledge, a sense, of the marvelous structure of existence — as well as the humble attempt to understand even a tiny portion of the Reason that manifests itself in nature.”


Metop sees Antarctic ozone ‘hole’


Europe’s new Metop satellite has revealed the extent of ozone thinning over Antarctica this year.

At its worst in late September, the hole was twice as big as Europe.

Nearly 200 governments recently agreed a faster timetable for phasing out the chemicals thought to be depleting the protective layer in the stratosphere.

This has been the first opportunity for Metop, Europe’s most sophisticated weather and climate observer, to study the hole since its launch last year.

Scientists at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) analysed data from the Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment 2 (GOME-2) instrument on the satellite.

They say some unusual meteorological conditions this year drove extensive thinning over the South Atlantic and South America and a build-up of ozone over Australia.

However, the thinning this year has been well short of last year’s record hole, which at times was bigger than North America.

Metop is one of three identical spacecraft that will be flown by Europe in a polar orbit over the coming decades to gather continuous data.

It is a joint project between the European Space Agency (Esa) and Eumetsat, the intergovernmental organisation charged by European member states with operating a series of orbiting weather observatories.

Other satellites also monitor ozone, including Europe’s main Earth-observation platform, Envisat.

Heads Up! 2 Meteor Showers This Month


The Giacobinids (also known as the Draconids) are a meteor shower whose parent body is the periodic comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner. It happens during early October, the best nights being Oct. 8-10. The Giacobinids are best viewed in the pre-dawn hours in an area with a clear dark sky. There were meteor storms of thousands of Giacobinids per hour in 1933 and 1946.

The Orionids are a meteor shower that occurs throughout October into early November. At its peak around October 21-22, as many as 60 meteors per hour can be seen appearing to originate from the radiant located in the constellation Orion near its border with Gemini. Unlike some showers, Orionids can be seen several days before and after the peak night of October 21-22 (at a frequency of approximately 5-10 per hour).

Support NASA funding!


Ask your Senator to support the Mikulski-Hutchison amendment

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The U.S. Senate is about to vote on the NASA funding for next year. They may also consider an amendment by Senators Mikulski and Hutchison adding $1 billion to the NASA budget, allowing for full support of missions of science and exploration. This is your chance to take a stand in support of a space exploration program that brought us the Mars Rovers, Cassini-Huygens, New Horizons, and other exciting missions. Write your Senators today! Ask them to support the NASA budget and vote for the Mikulski-Hutchison amendment.