The Changing Climate
Michio Kaku is a futurist, popularizer of science, and theoretical physicist, as well as a bestselling author and the host of two radio programs. He is the co-founder of string field theory (a branch of string theory), and continues Einstein’s search to unite the four fundamental forces of nature into one unified theory. He holds the Henry Semat Chair and Professorship in theoretical physics and a joint appointment at City College of New York and the Graduate Center of C.U.N.Y. He is also a visiting professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.
Kaku launched his Big Think blog, "Dr. Kaku's Universe," in March 2010.
I have often been asked about my thoughts on the recently increased storm activity and global warming. The fact is, you cannot judge a book by its cover, so you cannot make any definitive statements one way or the other about global warming based on current storms, which are primarily local effects.
Global warming depends on averaging data over many years, decades, and centuries across the entire planet, not just the United States, which occupies only a tiny fraction of the earth's surface. For example, just a few years ago, Europe was baking in the greatest hot spell in memory, which killed thousands—but that also does not say anything conclusive at all.
People disagree on the human component of global warming. However, most everyone can agree on several points:
a) The Earth is heating up and this is easily measured
b) The extra heat means more moisture in the air
c) Extra moisture and warming in general causes swings in climate
These swings, in principle, might be manifested as:
i) More droughts in the Southwest
ii) Increased hurricane activity affecting Florida and the Caribbean
iii) More snow storms
So, without making any statements about the role of human activity, one can hypothesize that the current storms are consistent with increased swings in climate, driven by more moisture in the air, which in turn is caused by heating.
This leads to a prediction: More violent swings in the climate in the coming years, in the form of floods, droughts, snow storms, hurricanes, etc.
As humans in a free country, we are free to believe whatever we want about global warming, and to disagree about anything. But any comment that has relevance has to be backed up by both mathematics and data—not just good intentions.
Scientists have developed new ways of understanding how the biological forces of death drive important life processes.
- Researchers have found new ways on how decomposing plants and animals contribute to the life cycle.
- After a freak mass herd death of 300 reindeer, scientists were able to study a wide range of the decomposition processes.
- Promoting the necrobiome research will open up new areas of inquiry and even commerce.
What do we see from watching birds move across the country?
- A total of eight billion birds migrate across the U.S. in the fall.
- The birds who migrate to the tropics fair better than the birds who winter in the U.S.
- Conservationists can arguably use these numbers to encourage the development of better habitats in the U.S., especially if temperatures begin to vary in the south.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
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