CLIMATE: The Winter Of Our Discontent


VIRAL NERD: These pictures come from a friends friend who lives in Alaska. This caribou froze while standing up in -80°F winds on the North slope at the top of Alaska. MORE

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Authorities in two cities in northeastern Wisconsin are investigating deaths of people found outside in last weekend’s subzero cold. Florence County Sheriff Jeff Ricksby said Monday that a 43-year-old woman was found about 9:30 a.m. Saturday on stairs next to the entrance to her Florence home by her ex-husband and 13-year-old son. The sheriff said in a news release that the woman slipped on ice and injured her leg while walking theevilsnowman_1.jpghome about 11:20 p.m. Friday, and she crawled 327 feet along the side of the street but was overcome by cold before she could get to the door. Her ex-husband and two sons were in the home but were unaware she was outside, Ricksby said. She died after being taken to a hospital. Her name wasn’t released. De Pere police said 79-year-old Joseph Linnane was discovered about 7:30 a.m. Saturday on a sidewalk outside Renaissance Assisted Living Center, where he lived. MORE

CNN: At least 31 Mexicans have died from causes relating to cold weather since early October, most of them from carbon monoxide poisoning, the government health ministry said Monday. Carbon monoxide poisoning often occurs when charcoal grills, propane gas stoves or other fires are used as heat sources inside a dwelling that is not well ventilated. Few homes in Mexico have central heating. Eighteen of the 31 deaths recorded from October 9 to January 22 were from carbon monoxide poisoning, the ministry said. The other 13 were from hypothermia. MORE

INQUIRER: January temperatures have been well below normal. [Last Friday] was the first time it topped 50 this month in Philadelphia, something that usually happens six times in January, and the one-day thaw is over.


CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The intensity of the cold and snow over the past two winters is raising some questions about how well scientists understand the interaction of an array of weather-changing forces, from sunspots to volcanic activity. For instance, one reason the last two winters have been chillier than normal, climate scientists say, is a cyclical change in Pacific Ocean currents known as La Nina. In La Nina years, cold ocean currents rise to the surface near the equator, often causing cooler winters in northern regions like the United States. An opposite warming effect occurs in El Nino years. Meteorologists say La Nina phase in the Pacific is now ending, and some predict that by 2010 the world should again be seeing some of the warmest years on record. MORE

globalwarming_1.jpgBBC: A team of environmental researchers in the US has warned many effects of climate change are irreversible. The scientists concluded global temperatures could remain high for 1,000 years, even if carbon emissions can somehow be halted. Their report was sponsored by the US Department of Energy and comes as President Obama announces a review of vehicle emission standards. It appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

JAMES LOVELOCK: I think it’s wrong to assume we’ll survive 2 °C of warming: there are already too many people on Earth. At 4 °C we could not survive with even one-tenth of our current population. The reason is we would not find enough food, unless we synthesised it. Because of this, the cull during this century is going to be huge, up to 90 per cent. The number of people remaining at the end of the century will probably be a billion or less. It has happened before: between the ice ages there were bottlenecks when there were only 2000 people left. It’s happening again. I don’t think humans react fast enough or are clever enough to handle what’s coming up. Kyoto was 11 years ago. Virtually nothing’s been done except endless talk and meetings. MORE

NEW SCIENTIST: There is one way we could save ourselves and that is through the massive burial of charcoal. It carbon_1.jpgwould mean farmers turning all their agricultural waste — which contains carbon that the plants have spent the summer sequestering — into non-biodegradable charcoal, and burying it in the soil. Then you can start shifting really hefty quantities of carbon out of the system and pull the CO2 down quite fast…The biosphere pumps out 550 gigatonnes of carbon yearly; we put in only 30 gigatonnes. Ninety-nine per cent of the carbon that is fixed by plants is released back into the atmosphere within a year or so by consumers like bacteria, nematodes and worms. What we can do is cheat those consumers by getting farmers to burn their crop waste at very low oxygen levels to turn it into charcoal, which the farmer then ploughs into the field. A little CO2 is released but the bulk of it gets converted to carbon. You get a few per cent of biofuel as a by-product of the combustion process, which the farmer can sell. This scheme would need no subsidy: the farmer would make a profit. This is the one thing we can do that will make a difference, but I bet they won’t do it. MORE

AL ARABIYA: Obama Speaks To Islam

HUFFINGTON POST: Barack Obama struck a note of foreign policy confidence Monday night, telling an Arabic news station that al Qaeda leaders and Osama bin Laden “seem nervous” now that they don’t have George W. Bush as a recruiting tool. In his first formal interview since taking office, the president spoke with the Dubai-based station Al Arabiya on topics pertinent to the Arab and Muslim worlds. Much of the interview was spent defining the new approach that the United States would implement in that region: respectfulness over divisiveness, listening over dictating, engagement over militarism. But the president drew the line when it came to terrorist organizations. “Their ideas are bankrupt,” he told host Hisham Melhem, when asked to respond to recent audio clips from al Qaeda leadership calling him various epithets. “There’s no actions that they’ve taken that say a child in the Muslim world is getting a better education because of them, or has better health care because of them.” MORE


OPPOSING VIEWS: There may be a new president, but in DEA-land, it’s still business as usual — at least for the time being. On Thursday, just two days after President Barack Obama was sworn into office, DEA officials raided the medicalmarijuana.jpgoffice of a California medical marijuana provider, as well as two medical grow houses in Colorado. Is this behavior the final gasp of a dying regime, or an unfortunate harbinger of things to come? That could be up to you.

Several marijuana law reform groups, including Americans for Safe Access and MPP — as well as national media outlets — are urging concerned citizens to contact the new administration in opposition to the DEA’s actions. Call or e-mail the White House and tell Obama’s staff that our new President must honor his campaign pledge not to use Justice Department resources to circumvent state medical marijuana laws.

In the coming months, President Obama and his team will be appointing new DEA administrators.  Congress will also be holding additional hearings regarding Obama’s pick for U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder. Let’s make it clear to the President, now, that the DEA’s behavior is unacceptable and must not continue under an Obama administration. MORE

COLUMBIA SPECTATOR: Irving Weissman, a professor of pathology and developmental biology at Stanford University, laid out the conceptual foundation of his work—that stem cells are rare, self-renewing, and can regenerate body tissues. Weissman repeatedly expressed frustration that while many of his discoveries seemed to hold remarkable potential for life-saving treatments, commercial or regulatory hurdles have prevented his scientific research from benefiting human beings. One example is Weissman’s mid-’90s research on type I (or juvenile) diabetes, in which he demonstrated the ability to fully cure type I diabetes in mice using stem cells. But even though the experiments avoided political controversy by using so-called adult stem cells, which do not come from embryos, Weissman ran into a road block when pharmaceutical companies refused to sponsor clinical trials. The therapy went nowhere. Weissman implied that the pharmaceutical companies had put profit over principle, preferring to keep diabetes sufferers dependent on costly insulin than to cure them once and for all. MORE


HARVARD STUDY: Internet Predator Threat Vastly Overstated


LA TIMES: Since emerging from the primordial ooze, parents have wrung their evolving appendages over ways to shield their offspring from hungry predators, lurking maniacs and strangers from without. Again and again, they’ve learned, the threat to their children lies uncomfortably closer to home: Lion fathers would sooner eat their unprotected young than hunt wilier quarry; children pictured on milk cartons were more likely to have been snatched from home by an embattled parent than by a stranger; day-care providers were less intent on molesting a child in their care than was, say, a live-in partner, Uncle Wilbur or a trusted family friend. It was a lesson brought home again earlier this month, when parents learned that the roughly six in 10 adolescents who socialize on the Internet have relatively little to fear from the faceless pervert lurking in the anonymity of cyberspace.

In an authoritative report almost a year in the making, a Harvard University-led task force on Internet safety, ordered by the nation’s attorneys general and meant to expose the full extent of the danger, found instead that kids trading gossip, photos and plans on social networking sites such as MySpace are relatively safe from adults cruising online for sex with minors. The report, released Jan. 13, counters political calls to protective action with a generally upbeat look at the effectiveness of measures developed by Internet companies to protect kids from predatory strangers. And it douses parental fretting with research showing that few kids have been subject to such unwanted advances when socializing on sites aimed at the youth market. MORE


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