Archive | September, 2013

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Stable Temperature Stokes Climate Controversy

Posted on 25 September 2013 by admin

Since the start of the new century there has been no change in the world’s annual-mean temperature. Climate change deniers have seized upon this fact and our continuing addition of COto the atmosphere with no effect, to support their view that human beings are not causing climate change and a temperature rise.

A new study entitled “Recent global-warming hiatus tied to equatorial Pacific surface cooling” published in the September 19, 2013 issue of Nature magazine, attributes the pause in the climate change temperature increase to natural causes.  The research report prepared by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego states, “Our results show that the current hiatus is part of natural climate variability, tied specifically to a La-Niña-like decadal cooling.”

The researchers successfully recreated our last decade of experience by altering climate models to reflect increased greenhouse gas concentrations, aerosol concentration and solar cycle changes.  When they added the known rise in sea-surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific, their model predicted as a normal climate variation what we are experiencing with a correlation coefficient of r=0.97 for the period of 1970 to 2012.

Contributing to the confusion about the stability of the world annual-mean temperature is the record heat waves in Russia in 2010, the U.S. in 2012 and Arctic sea ice reaching record lows in 2007 and 2012.  In addition we have seen record rains in Australia.  So much water has been deposited on Australia and absorbed into the soil that the overall mean global sea level has fallen by 7 mm.   When measuring the Earth’s gravity field around Australia there was a parallel increase in the mass of water retained on land.

In the meantime, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is releasing its most recent assessment.   Their report raises the level of confidence of a human caused climate change to 95% probability (up from 90%) and changes descriptors of the new likelihood to “extremely likely” (from “very likely”).  The report continues, “There is high confidence that this has warmed the ocean, melted snow and ice, raised global mean sea level, and changed some climate extremes.”

Early circulation of drafts of this report have in part set the stage for new G20 agreements to curb emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).  On June 8, 2013 the U.S. and China agreed to the progressive elimination of HFCs.

Readers will recall an earlier post on January 4, 2013 on this site entitled “Are We Trading Greenhouse Gas for Ozone?” in which we identified that HFCs were protective of ozone but very powerful greenhouse cases that contributed to climate change.  HFCs are many more times more damaging than carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.  In addition the article cited the significant increased production and sale of air conditioners in China and India that use the HFCs as their coolant.  For a reprise of that article see .

In January 1, 1989 the Montreal Protocol went into effect.  This was an international agreement to ban substances that destroy the ozone layer of the planet.  The central purpose of the agreement was to progressively eliminate chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) that are very damaging to our ozone layer.  The assumption was that hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) could be substituted for example in air conditioning and refrigeration and would not damage the ozone.  At the time there was no climate change or concerns about greenhouse gases.  The recent agreement corrects that oversight.

Finally, a new study reported in the August 2013 issue of Science magazine and other articles describe the process that is accelerating the movement of ice sheets and glaciers.  Scientists report that hotter temperatures are melting the surface snow and ice with the water draining down to the bedrock below.  This new layer of water between the soil and the ice sheets and glaciers acts as a lubricant that increases the speed of movement of the ice.  The faster the movement, the sooner they calve and/or break apart.  All of which shortens the lifetime of large bodies of ice that have been in place for centuries.

Use the following links to obtain additional information or access source documents:

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What Would You Do, Life or Death?

Posted on 08 September 2013 by Jerry

What would you do with your family if roving gangs with automatic weapons were killing people randomly in your neighborhood or if armed forces were firing heavy weapons like tanks, RPGs or mortars inexplicably destroying houses and buildings or jets and missiles were raining death unpredictably on your community?  What would you do if you could not let your children go outside or if your family was afraid a random explosion of their home would snuff out their lives?

If you were in Syria, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Palestine, Tanzania or elsewhere, you would do as an estimated fifteen million people before you, you would pack whatever you could carry and become a migrating refugee to a safer place.  You might make your way, most often on foot, to one of many refugee camps. You would uproot those you love and transport them to an uncertain future in order to save their lives.  In addition, probably most of you would mourn for your children’s loss of their childhood.

If you were Syrian, you might go to Al Zaatri, a refugee camp in Jordan that now ranks as the fourth largest refugee camp in the world with over 123,000 refugees.  A few years ago this camp was not on the world’s top ten list but growth of 5000 refugees a day would do that.


The point is that whether we bomb Assad’s regime for its use of chemical weapons or not, whether we marshal negative world opinion or have a President who suffers a humiliating defeat in Congress, we must not forget the displaced people of the world.  Their suffering has to be our suffering.  If the universe of Star Wars were real, they would be a major and ongoing disruption of the Force.

There have been earlier articles on this blog that discuss refugee camps.  See  and .

I personally participate by donating recurring monthly amounts to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees, aka The UN Refugee Agency (see ).  I have attached an article from a few years ago, but updated this year, that lists organizations that are rated and ranked and in which you should have confidence. ( )  Pick an organization and start a donation relationship to show your humanity to some of the most suffering people of the world.

Use the following links to obtain more information or see the source documents for this article:



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Poverty Limits Thought & Fits Maslow’s Hierarchy

Posted on 04 September 2013 by Jerry

Many people see a causal relationship between diminished intellect and poverty.  They believe that if poor people were more intelligent they would figure a way out of their poverty.  Recent research shows that worries and challenges created by poverty consume greater intellectual resources and attention from poor people when compared to “well-off” people.

This report in the August 30, 2013 issue of Science Magazine, entitled “Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function”, suggests that “poverty itself reduces cognitive capacity….because poverty-related concerns consume mental resources, leaving less for other tasks”.  The report stated further “The poor must manage sporadic income, juggle expenses, and make difficult tradeoffs….The human cognitive system has limited capacity. Preoccupations with pressing budgetary concerns leave fewer cognitive resources available to guide choice and action.”

In the latter part of the report, researchers warn, “Policy-makers should beware of imposing cognitive taxes on the poor just as they avoid monetary taxes on the poor.  Filling out long forms, preparing for a lengthy interview, deciphering new rules, or responding to complex incentives all consume cognitive resources.”

The research was conducted by Anandi Marti, PhD of Behavioral Economics at the University of Warwick, Sendhil Mullainathan, a MacArthur Genius award winner and Professor of Economics at Princeton University, Eldar Shafir, the William Stuart Tod Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs at Princeton University, and Jaiying Zhao, an Assistant Professor in the Princeton Psychology Department.

See for an interesting TED presentation by the MacArthur Genius Sendhil Mullainathan.  His talk is entitled “Solving Social Problems with a Nudge”.

These research conclusions support Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in the sense that Maslow does not identify any cognitive criteria for people’s existence at any level of his hierarchy.  He stated that the more closely the needs of the individual fall within the bottom levels of the Hierarchy, for example Physiological Needs or Safety Needs, the individual will seek to satisfy them first before considering other needs defined in the higher levels.  This would indicate support for the conclusion that dealing with poverty at the Physiological and Safety Needs levels focuses much more cognitive attention from the poor on lower level needs.  This leaves few cognitive resources for other pursuits.

Maslow’s Hierarchy is discussed more extensively in Chapter 9 – A Positive Life Experience Imperative in the book “Beyond Animal, Ego and Time”.  Posted on this blog, this book chapter can be accessed using the following link: .

Many people believe that poverty is the poor person’s fault.  That with a little gumption and hard work one can overcome poverty.  This research suggests a different reason why poor people tend to remain poor.  It hypothesizes that any brain only has so many cognitive resources and that they are occupied by the daily problems and challenges facing the poor. While this is a new and novel explanation of the cycle of poverty it sounds intuitively true and should cause us to reevaluate our approaches to helping the poor.

Use the following links to obtain more information or read source documents (in addition to reading the Abstract, select the Editor’s Summary)

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