Friday, February 18th, 2005

Lordy, but I’ve been using this new “science” category.  NASA has come out with a denial of reports that two scientists have found what they consider conclusive signs of life on Mars:

News reports on February 16, 2005, that NASA scientists
from Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., have found strong
evidence that life may exist on Mars are incorrect.

NASA does not have any observational data from any current Mars
missions that supports this claim. The work by the scientists mentioned
in the reports cannot be used to directly infer anything about life on
Mars, but may help formulate the strategy for how to search for Martian
life. Their research concerns extreme environments on Earth as analogs
of possible environments on Mars. No research paper has been submitted
by them to any scientific journal asserting Martian life.

Damn.  Of course, there’s still debate over the origin of the
potentially Martian microbes discovered in ’96 and the Viking Labeled
Release experiments designed by Gilbert Levin back in the ’70s. 
So who knows.  I sure as hell don’t.  I made it through 10th grade biology because my lab partner was the son of a veterinarian.  I suck at things like this. (more…)

OK, so I got a “science” category.  No one can now reasonably
claim that global climate change is a fluke or a natural evolution –
and that’s now scientifically certified.  A team of researchers
has declared an end to the debate over the cause of climate change,
having studied seven million data points and determined, conclusively, that humans (and specifically greenhouse gasses) are to blame:

The strongest evidence yet that global warming has been
triggered by human activity has emerged from a major study of rising
temperatures in the world’s oceans.

The present trend of warmer sea temperatures, which have risen by an
average of half a degree Celsius (0.9F) over the past 40 years, can be
explained only if greenhouse gas emissions are responsible, new
research has revealed.

The results are so compelling that they should end controversy about
the causes of climate change, one of the scientists who led the study
said yesterday.

“The debate about whether there is a global warming signal now is over,
at least for rational people,”
(emphasis mine – RMcMP) said Tim Barnett, of the Scripps
Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. “The models got it
right. If a politician stands up and says the uncertainty is too great
to believe these models, that is no longer tenable.”

It found that natural variation in the Earth’s climate, or changes in
solar activity or volcanic eruptions, which have been suggested as
alternative explanations for rising temperatures, could not explain the
data collected in the real world. Models based on man-made emissions of
greenhouse gases, however, matched the observations almost precisely.

“What absolutely nailed it was the greenhouse model,” Dr Barnett told
the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in
Washington. Two models, one designed in Britain and one here in the US,
got it almost exactly. We were stunned. They did it so well it was
almost unbelieveable.”

There you have it, folks.  Rush, Michael Crichton and that guy who
told Congress in the ’90s that global warming would be a good thing are
all officially morons and there’s science to back it up.  Seven
million data points.  It’ll take Bush about two seconds to
deflect, deny and marginalize it, but whatever.  There is no
arguing with it now, only ignoring it.  Anything but action in
favor of the environment is now, officially, insane. (more…)