Blog 118. Can Arctic Ice Cool Your Cocktail?

How come the scientific news seems flooded (as it were) by the melting of arctic ice?  After all, is the arctic really melting?  Should we believe all of the alarm over a little cold water?  Let’s look at the data. Continue reading

Blog 110. Climate in one picture

The present temperature is not the key index to predicting the future climate any more than the current temperature in a cold room tells how warm it will be if you add insulation to the walls.  It’s knowing the insulation that’s important for prediction. Below is a drawing that explains earth’s energy budget—as affected by the insulation of the atmosphere— in one glance. Continue reading

Blog 109. Is clean coal clean?

The concept of “clean coal” has been newsworthy for a decade or more.  In 2009, Senators John Kerry (D-MS) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) co-authored an op-ed in the New York Times, promoting renewable energy, nuclear energy, and “clean coal.”  Presidential candidate Trump touted “clean coal” during a debate.  Can coal, the dirtiest of fossil fuels, ever be made clean?  That’s seems as likely as senators of opposing parties learning to talk to each other again. Continue reading

Blog 103. Are we terrorizing ourselves?

There’s a social science of terrorism.  Science News magazine* devoted a special article to the research of anthropologist Scott Atran** of the University of Michigan.  Atran has been on the battlefields of ISIS, Continue reading

Blog 91. Can just anyone open a scientist’s email?

The 1/10/2016 New York Times (1/9/2016 web edition) offered an op-ed entitled, “Scientists, Give Up Your Emails.”  The author, a journalist named Paul Thacker, asserted that agencies (including universities) should not keep secret the personal communications of scientists who work for the government.  Continue reading

Blog 85. Should scientists become advocates?

Scientists are committed to tell the truth, as best they can from the measurements they make in the physical world.  But you can’t apply a scientific statement, however true, to just any situation.  Continue reading