450 Scientists Present Stunning Rebuke of Climate Science Denial

by Joe Romm – NOAA-led report tells the truth about the science behind the warmest year on record. A massive new report by more than 450 scientists, confirms that the Earth warmed to a new record in 2016, driven by a record increase in carbon dioxide levels. The 27th annual “State of the Climate” report, led by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), stands as the first comprehensive rebuke by the nation’s and world’s climate scientists to the presidency of Donald Trump. Trump has repeatedly called climate change a “hoax” and reaffirmed last week that he intends to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, which remains the best hope for America and the world to avert catastrophic impacts. “Surface temperature and carbon dioxide concentration, two of the more publicly recognized indicators of global-scale climate change, set new highs during 2016,” the report explains, “as did several surface and near-surface indicators and essential climate...

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Harvard Study: Smoking Cannabis Actually Improves Brain Function

by Amanda Froelich – Preliminary findings from McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Tufts University indicate that pot actually improves cognitive performance. Fortunately, new findings from a study published in Frontiers In Pharmacology seem to support arguments for its decriminalization. Preliminary investigations by medical researchers from McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Tufts University indicate that pot actually improves cognitive performance. For the study, entitled “Splendor in the Grass? A Pilot Study Assessing the Impact of Medical Marijuana on Executive Function,” behavioral scientists tracked 24 certified medical marijuana patients over a three-month dosing period. The patients were repeatedly measured for cognitive proficiency through a series of intelligence tests, including the STrrop Color Word Test and Trail Making Test. Lead researcher, Staci Gruber, is the director of the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) program at McLean Hospital. As KINDLAND reports, her initial report is positive. The first benefit reported is that...

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Scientists Just Published a Study Calling Out the Head of the EPA by Name

by Samantha Page – No, warming is not ‘leveling off.’ A new study appeared in the journal Nature on Wednesday, directly refuting the idea that satellite data has shown global warming has leveled off, a claim made by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt earlier this year. “Satellite temperature measurements do not support the recent claim of a “leveling off of warming” over the past two decades,” the study says. The researchers were upfront about why they ran the study, calling out Pruitt by name. “Mr. Pruitt claimed that ‘over the past two decades satellite data indicates there has been a leveling off of warming.’ We test this claim here,” the researchers write. The study was authored by Benjamin Santer, an atmospheric scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and three Livermore colleagues, as well as three scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Washington in Seattle, and...

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Pack Your Bags: Human Have Just 100 Years to Get Off Earth to Survive, Says Stephen Hawking

by Andrea Germanos – Upcoming series set to show that “Prof. Hawking’s ambition isn’t as fantastical as it sounds”. If the human species is to avert extinction, it’s got just 100 years to leave Earth and colonize a new planet. That’s according to noted theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who makes the prediction in the upcoming BBC series “Expedition New Earth,” set to air later this year as part of its reignited Tomorrow’s World programming. “Professor Stephen Hawking thinks the human species will have to populate a new planet within 100 years if it is to survive. With climate change, overdue asteroid strikes, epidemics, and population growth, our own planet is increasingly precarious,” a BBC press statement announcing the documentary says. The show will explore “if and how humans can reach for the stars and move to different planets” and will take viewers on a global journey that “shows that Prof. Hawking’s...

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Climate Denial Textbooks, Coming Soon to a Public School Near You

by Dartagnan –  It’s bad enough that a hateful propaganda site like Breitbart News has its sordid tentacles entwined with the critical mental functions of the current White House occupant. It’s even worse when one of its featured columnists mates with a right-wing think tank to spawn poison aimed at our children in the public schools. The Heartland Institute is a tool of major fossil fuel producers and the Koch Brothers network of polluters salivating to maximize their profits with a clueless, malleable dupe like Donald Trump in the White House and a compliant Congress eager to serve them. Heartland propaganda is at the core of the climate denial industry which still seeks to convince the American public that there is some type of “debate” among scientists about the science of climate change. The latest well-funded salvo from this noxious organization comes in the form of a thin, glossy book, titled...

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7,000 Massive Methane Gas Bubbles Under the Russian Permafrost Could Explode

by Joe Romm – Scorching March brings Arctic temperatures up to 20°F warmer than normal. Russian scientists have recently discovered some 7,000 underground methane bubbles in Siberia that could explode anytime. ‘Their appearance at such high latitudes is most likely linked to thawing permafrost,” explained a Russian Academy of Science spokesperson, “which is in turn linked to overall rise of temperature on the north of Eurasia during last several decades.” Video of one of Russia’s methane bubbles, which have been called ‘trembling tundra’ This discovery is especially worrisome for three reasons. First, methane traps 86 times as much heat as CO2 over a 20-year period. Thawing permafrost creates both CO2 and methane (CH4), but most models of thawing permafrost assume only CO2 is created. If, as it appears, a lot of methane is being generated, then we’ll see even more extra warming than scientists have projected. Second, a recent study found global...

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New York Times Defends Hiring Extreme Climate Denier: ‘Millions Agree with Him’

by Joe Romm – The Times replaces search for truth with search for popular ideas that are false. But would they hire a Holocaust denier? Amidst backlash and subscription cancellations for hiring extreme climate science denier, Bret Stephens, the New York Times offered a stunning defense: There are “millions of people who agree with him.” With that ‘logic’, the Times could hire as a columnist former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke — or a flat earther or someone who thinks vaccines pose a health hazard. After all, millions agree with them. Screenshot of a typical pop-up ad in the NY Times new ad campaign This defense is especially absurd since, as I detailed Friday, the Times has been running a major ad campaign claiming there is no alternative to the truth — and former Wall Street Journal deputy editorial page editor Stephens has repeatedly dismissed as “imaginary” the climate reality reported...

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‘Earth is a Planet in Upheaval’: World Meteorological Organization Issues Dire Climate Warning

by Joe Romm – “Truly uncharted territory” 2016’s record-warming continues in 2017 with Jan-Feb 2017 the second hottest on record after 2016. CREDIT: NOAA Humanity is “now in truly uncharted territory,” thanks to CO2-driven climate change, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned Tuesday. The WMO’s annual “State of the Global Climate in 2016” paints a dire picture for humanity: record CO2 levels, record warming, record drop in both Arctic and Antarctic sea ice, and record high sea levels. Severe droughts “brought food insecurity to millions in southern and eastern Africa and Central America.” NOAA reported this month that the record-smashing warming of 2016 continued into 2017. In this country, “there were 11,743 daily warm temperature records broken or tied” in February alone. Globally, it was the second hottest February and January-February on record after 2016. “Earth is a planet in upheaval due to human-caused changes in the atmosphere,” as University of Arizona...

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Will Electric Cars Soon have Solar Roofs? Toyota and Tesla say Yes.

by Joe Romm – Advanced Panasonic solar modules triple the output of Toyota’s previous solar roof. Last week, Panasonic announced an advanced solar panel system that will debut on the 2017 model Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid in Japan (the Prius Prime). It is “the first commercially available, mass-produced passenger car to feature an optional solar charging system,” PV magazine explained. Panasonic notes that, previously, rooftop solar cells had outputs of only “several tens of watts.” So they were used only for ventilating parked cars and “auxiliary charging” of the standard 12-Volt lead-acid battery. But improvements in solar efficiency combined with advanced design and “technologies to laminate three-dimensional curved glass” have allowed a high output — some 180 watts, which is more than triple the output of the previous solar roof. As a result, this battery can charge the lithium-ion powertrain batteries, providing up to an additional 3.7 miles of range on a sunny day....

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Twelve Scientists Propose Ten Policies to Protect Pollinators

by Besame – In response to the United Nations’ global study on pollinator status, twelve scientists from universities around the world have outlined ten policies to protect pollinators. Earlier this year, the U.N. confirmed that pollinator populations are declining in North American and western Europe, and that urgent studies are needed to fill in data gaps here and elsewhere in the world. The status of pollinators outside these two regions can’t be determined due to lack of adequate information. This is no small issue for humans, although pollinators like bees, wasps, flies, moths, butterflies, and bats are important to all habitats and wildlife. Even orcas depend on pollinators. Three-quarters of the world’s food crops benefit from pollinators and ironically one primary threat to pollinators is the agriculture that produces our food. Pollinator health is a worldwide issue that extends across national boundaries. Avocados, chocolate, coffee and vanilla come from outside the U.S. and other nations depend on the income...

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Donald Trump Filled out a Survey about Science and it is Amazing

by Samantha Page – Answers to a science survey show lack of either knowledge or policy. Science is hard. At least, it seems to be for Donald Trump, who this week gave contradictory, off-topic, and sometimes garbled answers to a science questionnaire distributed by Science Debate, a non-profit that urges scientific literacy and accountability from political candidates. “Science is science.” — Donald Trump, 2016 The survey on the 20 “most pressing” scientific issues of our time, ranging from internet freedom to climate change to mental health, is intended to give voters and reporters an idea of where the candidates stand. Trump, Hillary Clinton, and the Green Party’s Jill Stein all responded. “Science is central to policies that protect public health, safety and the environment, from climate change to diet related diseases,” Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a statement accompanying the candidates’ responses....

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Solar Delivers Cheapest Electricity ‘Ever, Anywhere, By Any Technology’

by Joe Romm – Half the price of coal Chile has just contracted for the cheapest unsubsidized power plant in the world, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reports. In last week’s energy auction, Chile accepted a bid from Spanish developer Solarpack Corp. Tecnologica for 120 megawatts of solar at the stunning price of $29.10 per megawatt-hour (2.91 cents per kilowatt-hour or kwh). This beats the 2.99 cents/kwh bid Dubai received recently for 800 megawatts. For context, the average residential price for electricity in the United States is 12 cents per kilowatt-hour. “Solar power delivers cheapest unsubsidised electricity ever, anywhere, by any technology,” BNEF Chair Michael Liebreich said on Twitter after this contract was announced. Carlos Finat, head of the Chilean Renewable Energies Association (ACERA) told Bloomberg that the auction is “a strong warning sign that the energy business continues on the transition path to renewable power and that companies should adapt quickly...

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Gender Explained: How the Obama Administration Is Getting It Right on Gender Identity

by KAREN DOLAN – While society catches up with science, we need legal protections to stop discrimination and violence against people who identify as transgender The U.S. government is officially suing the state of North Carolina over its controversial, discriminatory “bathroom bill,” which bars transgender residents from using public restrooms appropriate to their gender identity. In announcing the lawsuit, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch gave a powerful speech invoking the state’s segregationist past. “It was not so very long ago that states, including North Carolina, had signs above restrooms, water fountains, and on public accommodations keeping people out based upon a distinction without a difference,” she said of the South’s Jim Crow laws. “We have moved beyond those dark days, but not without pain and suffering and an ongoing fight to keep moving forward. Let us write a different story this time.” Then, in a surprising tag-team move, the Department of...

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Is the US Moving Closer to Banning Encryption? (VIDEO)

How much power should governments have to snoop on what we share online? The US Senate has published a draft law to force tech companies to show encrypted messages to security services. The Compliance with Court Orders Act would force companies to hand over what is called “intelligible” or non-encrypted data, if they receive a court order. It follows decisions by Apple and Whatsapp take a stand on encryption. Apple has been locked in a battle with the FBI over its refusal to unlock its iPhone. And Facebook recently announced all messages on its messaging app, Whatsapp are now encrypted. Is the right to keep our online information a secret about to be banned? And where should the line be between privacy and transparency? Presenter: Jane Dutton Guests: Rachel Levison-Waldman – Senior Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. Robert Pritchard – Associate Fellow at...

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MIT’s Innovative 3D Solar Tower Produces 20x the Energy of Traditional Panels

By Brianna Blaschke – MIT researchers have discovered a way to maximize the efficiency of solar panels, effectively producing up to 20 times the solar output of traditional flat panels with the same surface area. Through the construction of vertical towers, scientists were able to create 3 different modules that are far more efficient in tracking solar movement and adjusting to changing seasons. Unlike traditional flat panels that are designed to harness energy when the sun is at its peak, the different permutations were able to track the sun when it was closer to the horizon; consequently, they collected more sunlight and generated a more consistent output of energy over time. Even variations in weather and altering seasons did not deter these 3D modules, as they were still able to produce double the energy of flat panels despite unfavorable conditions. The team relied on computer modeling to construct and analyze...

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Science Is a Good Substitute for God

by Ronald Bailey – Religious believers tend to be happier than non-religious folk, according to a long line of psychological research. Scientists have suggested several possible explanations for this phenomenon, including the ideas that religion offers a greater sense of control, provides a purpose for life, and reduces uncertainty. So if religious belief makes people more satisfied with their lives, why is secularism growing in many countries? A new study offers one possible answer: A belief in scientific and technological progress can also serve as a source of life satisfaction. Indeed, it may even offer more lifetime happiness than religion does. The study appeared in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, and the research team that conducted it was led by Olga Stavrova, a psychologist at the University of Cologne. The researchers first did a deep analysis of how the belief in scientific and technological progress affects the life satisfaction of a...

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GOP’s First Hearing On ‘Baby Parts’ Quickly Goes Off The Rails

by ALEX ZIELINSKI – On Wednesday morning, Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments in a case that could severely restrict a woman’s access to a safe abortion — an issue that brought hundreds of pro-choice protesters to Washington, D.C. But that wasn’t the only discussion about abortion rights taking place on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. Behind the closed doors of the Capitol, members of the House held the first congressional hearing on Planned Parenthood’s involvement with the sale of fetal tissue. This hearing, dubbed the “Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives” by the conservative representatives behind it, was a wide-ranging discussion of the morality of abortion that Democratic lawmakers protested was more like a witch hunt than an objective discussion. Four of the six people called to testify at Wednesday’s hearing were openly anti-abortion, and the discussion often veered into territory that left lawmakers at a loss for words. “In...

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Ted Cruz Challenged Science At His Climate Change Hearing. Science Won

by EMILY ATKIN – “Facts matter, science matters, data matters. That’s what this hearing is about.” That’s how Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the chairman of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, began a Monday hearing he called about the reality of human-caused climate change. Cruz — who is also running for president — does not believe that human-caused climate change is real, which he made clear at Monday’s hearing. He did not make it clear that 97 percent of climate scientists disagree with him, but such is life in the U.S. Senate, where 70 percent of Republicans largely side with Cruz. The thing about Cruz, though, it’s that he’s a master of political debate. He spoke forcefully and eloquently at Monday’s hearing about what he said were falsehoods surrounding the scientific consensus on climate change. He even injected some real data into his harsh rhetoric, which made him...

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Donald Trump Finally Sees the Light On Foreign Techies

by Shikha Dalmia – After maligning Rubio, he now says they are economic assets and shouldn’t be sent packing During the presidential debate, Trump was caught in a flat-out lie when he denied that he’d ever accused Sen. Marco Rubio of being Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg’s personal senator by pushing visas for foreign-born techies. In fact, Trump had said that very thing—and not in an unguarded moment to an interviewer, but in his own white paper on immigration (along with promising to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants and their American-born children). Trump’s paper also noted that “we graduate two times more Americans with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) degrees each year than can find jobs”—implying that there was no need for the U.S. government to hand out more H-1B visas to foreign workers in these fields. Yet there he was at the debate claiming that he never had any disagreement with Zuckerberg,...

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NASA’s Hubble, Chandra Find Clues that May Help Identify Dark Matter

Using observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have found that dark matter does not slow down when colliding with itself, meaning it interacts with itself less than previously thought. Researchers say this finding narrows down the options for what this mysterious substance might be. Dark matter is an invisible matter that makes up most of the mass of the universe. Because dark matter does not reflect, absorb or emit light, it can only be traced indirectly by, such as by measuring how it warps space through gravitational lensing, during which the light from a distant source is magnified and distorted by the gravity of dark matter. To learn more about dark matter and test such theories, researchers study it in a way similar to experiments on visible matter — by watching what happens when it bumps into other objects. In this case, the colliding...

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