Shell abandons oil drilling plans in Alaska after EPA ruling

And Obama wonders why oil prices are high? Shell has abandoned its oil drilling plans in Alaska after an EPA regulatory board denied it permits. This after the oil company had spent $4 billion over five years developing those plans. To me, the quote below reveals much about the political agenda behind the EPA’s decision:

The Environmental Appeals Board has four members: Edward Reich, Charles Sheehan, Kathie Stein and Anna Wolgast. All are registered Democrats and Kathie Stein was an activist attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund.

Observations of Comet Hale-Bopp at 30 AU

In a paper published tonight on the Los Alamos astro-ph preprint website, astronomers described new observations of Comet Hale-Bopp at a distance of 30 astronomical units, or 2.8 billion miles, from the sun. Their conclusions:

  • These observations were the most distant detection of any known comet.
  • The comet’s starlike appearance and its drop in brightness since the last observations suggest that the comet has finally ceased, or is about to cease, all activity, and that they are now looking directly at the comet’s nucleus instead of the coma cloud surrounding it.
  • Nonetheless, the comet is brighter than expected, which also suggests that a thin layer of new ice covers its surface and thus increases its albedo.

To quote the paper, “Observing Hale-Bopp in a completely frozen state would be extremely important because a thick coma was constantly present during the entire appariation [Ed. the fly-by of the Sun]. The coma obscured the nucleus which was not observed directly. Lack photometric data of the bared nucleus, its size — one of the most important input parameter in activity models — remains uncertain.”

“We’re going all the way to Mars, I think… best case 10 years, worst case 15 to 20 years.”

Elon Musk: “We’ll probably put a first man in space in about three years. We’re going all the way to Mars, I think… best case 10 years, worst case 15 to 20 years.”

I believe him when he says he’ll launch his first manned mission in three years. However, I think he seriously underestimates the challenges of a mission to Mars, based on our present engineering abilities to build interplanetary spaceships.

Earth Day predictions from 1970

The predictions of disaster from the first Earth Day, 1970. I especially like this one:

Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions. . . . By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.” Peter Gunter, professor, North Texas State University [emphasis mine]

A consensus was reached and the science was settled!

Remember this the next time some blowhard global-warming pundit tries to claim “the science is settled” today.

Scientists find previously unknown deposits of CO2 on Mars

Scientists find a gigantic and previously unknown deposit of CO2 at Mars’ south pole.

“We already knew there is a small perennial cap of carbon-dioxide ice on top of the water ice there, but this buried deposit has about 30 times more dry ice than previously estimated,” said Roger Phillips of Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo. Phillips is deputy team leader for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s Shallow Radar instrument and lead author of the report. . . . “When you include this buried deposit, Martian carbon dioxide right now is roughly half frozen and half in the atmosphere, but at other times it can be nearly all frozen or nearly all in the atmosphere,” Phillips said.

What this discovery means is that, depending on Mars’ orbital circumstances, its atmosphere can sometimes be dense enough for liquid water to flow on its surface.

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