Jake's blog

Do you know who you're voting for and want to help those that don't?

Blue NC members tend to be more politically engaged than most. In your friend group or family, are you the one asking if people have voted yet, or telling them about the merits of the different candidates? If so, here's a way to help spread your knowledge beyond those you know directly.

Climate Change Part 3: Energy Solutions

Hi all,

It's been a while--a couple busy months for me. I'm going to try to get back in the habit of posting stuff at least somewhat regularly now. I'll start by finishing up the climate change series I was working on before.

In part 1 and 2, I discussed the threats posed to humanity by global warming, and some policy tools being implemented to stop it. In this part, which I think is the coolest, and most encouraging, part, I'll discuss technologies that will enable us to pollute less while maintaining our energy-intensive lifestyles.

Science Sunday: Climate Change Part 2: Politics and Policy

A couple weeks ago, I outlined the problems associated with carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gas emissions, and the global warming associated with them. In Part 2 of this series, I will discuss how politicians are approaching this issue, and likely policy solutions.

Scientists (and a few politicians) have recognized this as a problem for decades (it was first observed in 1824 but not widely accepted until the late 20th century.) International discussion on how to reduce greenhouse gas pollution began in 1992 and led to the Kyoto protocol. The US Senate failed to ratify the treaty; many claimed it placed too much burden on developed countries like the US and not enough on developing countries like China. Americans generally did not begin to take global warming seriously until the Hurricane Katrina disaster and the release of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.

Science Friday: Climate Change, Part 1

Probably the second most important (only to preventing nuclear war) issue humanity has ever addressed will be discussed at Copenhagen in less than a month. At this conference, delegates from all over the world will work out a global agreement on how to prevent this catastrophe from occurring. In light of this, the next few weeks' Science Fridays will discuss the various aspects of climate change.

The change humans are causing to the climate is known most commonly as global warming or climate change, though the terms global change and climate crisis are also used. The meaning of these is essentially the same. Some people care a lot about which is best; I don't, except that I think global change is vague and likely to be misunderstood. I will use the other terms interchangeably in this series.

I'll start with an overview on how the Earth's climate has worked for most of recorded history, and how we should make sure it returns to.

Science Friday: Global Circulation Currents

I'd like to start this post by promising that the boringness of this post's title in no way reflects the awesomeness of this topic.

The Earth includes several circulation systems—currents on a global scale that carry air, water, or even rock thousands of miles before returning to their starting points. These have interesting and sometimes surprising effects on people. Example 1: a giant floating trash heap in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Science Friday: Water

Every few months or so, we hear reports of new planets orbiting distant stars, or new information about planets or moons in our own solar system, and it generally takes very little time for the reporter to shove aside talk of, well, anything else, and breathlessly ask “is there water?”

The answer is, generally, no. Either there's too little atmospheric pressure and it evaporates and is lost to space (the Moon), or it's too hot and evaporates and is lost to space (Venus), or it's too cold and it's all frozen in ice caps (Mars). Reporters know this (or should know this) by now, and if they ever decided to care about something else they would be able to run headlines other than “Still no water!” But the thought of life on other planets is too appealing to them, and, of course, life as we know it requires water—and civilization in particular requires a lot of water. So that's the topic of today's post.

Dan Besse & other Dems Win in Winston-Salem

All Republican challengers to council lost, including a stealth write-in campaign against Molly Leight in the South ward. Blue NC member Dan Besse (SW), successful Democratic primary challengers Derwin Montgomery (E) and James Taylor (SE), unopposed Democratic Mayor Allen Joines, and the other Democratic nominees for council in NE, N, NW, and S wards won. West ward is still held by a Republican who ran unopposed.

The incumbents were weighed down by screwups in the financing of the baseball stadium, the incentive package to recently departed Dell, and a bunch of pissed-off new residents in annexed areas. Despite this perfect storm of local reactionary fervor combined with the national teabagger craze, conservatives made exactly zero gains in W-S.

To make it worse for them, all those teabaggers' heads are currently exploding over NY-23. Though I'd trade that for Maine Q1 anyday.

Science Friday: the Physics and Economics Nobel Prizes

Science Friday comes to you rather late today because the esteemed author spent last night watching UNC pull defeat to an entirely pathetic, stupid, penalty-ridden, embarrassing, unprofessional, sorry-ass Florida State football team from the jaws of victory. Not that I'm bitter. Today's post: the Physics and Economics Nobel Prizes.

Science Friday: Nobel Prizes for Medicine and Chemistry

Here's some science for you—I'm taking advantage of the public wireless outside in downtown Carrboro and it's quite unpleasantly chilly out here. Fall sure did roll in since last week, and I'm not looking forward to lows in the 30s over the next few days. But more relevant to this post is that a bunch of Nobel Prizes were awarded over the last couple weeks. The Peace Prize got plenty of attention already, and since the other prizes hardly got any I won't give it any more. This week's post is devoted to the Medicine and Chemistry prizes.

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