Category Archives: Points of Information

Cancún climate talks in danger of collapse over Kyoto continuation

To me, this is good news: The Cancún climate summit is in danger of collapse. Key quote:

The UN climate talks in Cancún were in danger of collapse last night after many Latin American countries said that they would leave if a crucial negotiating document, due to be released tomorrow, did not continue to commit rich countries to emissions cuts under the Kyoto Protocol. . . . The potential crisis was provoked by Japan stating earlier this week that it would not sign up to a second period of the Kyoto Protocol. Other countries, including Russia, Canada and Australia are thought to agree but have yet to say publicly that they will not make further pledges.

Tinkering with the atmosphere to prevent climate change gains ground in Cancun

What could possibly go wrong? The environmental global warming activists at the Cancun climate summit appear increasingly eager to encourage governments to tinker with the atmosphere to prevent climate change. The most frightening quote:

Funding may not be far off.

In September, the U.S. Government Accountability Office recommended in a 70-page report that the White House “establish a clear strategy for geoengineering research” within its science office. A month later, a report from U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon, a Democrat from Georgia who chairs the House Science and Technology Committee, urged the government to consider climate-engineering research “as soon as possible in order to ensure scientific preparedness for future climate events.”

The U.S. panel had collaborated in its study with a British House of Commons committee. “We may need geoengineering as a `Plan B,'” the British report said, if nations fail to forge agreement on a binding treaty to rein in greenhouse gases.

Perhaps most significantly, the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, the global authority on climate science, agreed in October to take on geoengineering in its next assessment report. Its hundreds of scientists will begin with a session next spring.

Yellowstone caldara rise has slowed

In a paper published today in Geophysical Research Letters of the American Geophysical Union, scientists note that the rise of giant volcanic caldara under Yellowstone National Park has slowed significantly since 2006 and since 2008 has actually subsided somewhat. Key quote from the paper:

Here we propose that as the caldera source continues inflating, the accumulated strain energy in the deformed crust could promote earthquakes with mechanisms such as hydrofracturing,, migration of magmatic fluids, and brittle fracturing of rocks. These events can subsequently depressurize the magmatic systems or release the accumulated strain energy, slowing the uplift or even influencing a change in motion to subsidence. In January 2010 the Yellowstone caldera experienced another large earthquake swarm at its northwestern boundary close to the location of the 1985 swarm. . . . In the following five months the caldera experienced the first overall subsidence since the inception of its uplift in 2004. This scenario is similar to that in 1985 where a reverse of caldera uplift to subsidence was temporally correlated with the largest observed Yellowstone earthquake swarm.

Orlando Sentinel calls for more NASA funding

The squealing continues! The Orlando Sentinel demands that NASA gets its funding over everyone else, even as they admit there really is no money for anything. Key quote:

We applaud the Republicans’ determination to cut federal spending. But surely there are riper targets than the space program. The federal government spends billions each year on farm subsidies, a program held over from the Great Depression.

Snowbound England

Images of a snowbound England.

I know it’s weather and not climate, but Europe is experiencing its second cold winter in a row, despite predictions by many in the global warming community that such things would never happen again. My point here is that their claims in the late 1990s that hot streaks and big storms were proof of global warming were patently dishonest, and it is worthwhile to remind ourselves of this fact.

White House wants transfer authority on appropriations?

This must not happen! There are hints that the White House is asking the lame-duck Congress for the authority to transfer appropriations from one account to another, without Congressional approval. As Ed Morrissey notes

[This request] all but demands a blank check from Congress as a budget plan and ends their ability to direct funding as it sees fit. It’s a carte blanche for runaway executive power. Senate Republicans must pledge to filibuster any budget with that kind of authority built into it. In fact, every member of Congress should protest this demand to surrender the Constitutional prerogative of budgeting and the check on power it represents. Otherwise, they will consign the people’s branch to a mere rubber stamp for executive whims.

SpaceX to offer NASA its own plans for a heavy-lift rocket

SpaceX is putting together its own plans to provide NASA a heavy-lift rocket. Key quote:

Fast-track development, multi-use and low cost are key, says [SpaceX owner Elon] Musk. “The development timeframe is on the order of five years and would come to fruition before Obama’s likely second term ends. It has got to fit within a NASA budget that fits in 2008 levels, and it’s got to have operational costs when functioning that is as close to zero as you can make it. That latter point demands that whatever components are in use for super-heavy lift must be in use for launching other satellites for say, geostationary commercial and government customers. If not, then the likelihood of success in my opinion is zero.”

X-37B has returned successful to earth

After more than seven months in orbit, the unmanned X-37B space plan has successfully returned to Earth. Key quote:

“Boeing and the Air Force are building another X-37B vehicle scheduled for launch in the spring of 2011.”

Update: Since several different reports are listing slightly different totals for the number of days in orbit, I’ve edited my note above to be less precise. I could add up the days myself, but that involves more math than I prefer to do!

The next to go — astronauts!

White House initiates a study on whether astronaut corps should be trimmed.

This story is more evidence that I was right when I said Obama was lying when he claimed he loved manned spaceflight. If he was serious about sending humans to asteroids and beyond, he wouldn’t be so eager to find ways to shrink the astronaut corp.

Update: I should emphasize that I am not criticizing the idea of trimming the astronaut corp. I just want it clear that Barack Obama is clearly not a supporter of manned space, and that I believe his proposals (the commercial space subsidies) are merely window-dressing to placate his opponents while he dismantles the program.

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