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2018 was the fourth hottest year on record, say both NASA and NOAA
Experts say global warming is no longer some future worry. It's already here.
- President Trump and other politicians have routinely dismissed climate change as a hoax.
- Data from NASA and NOAA show 2018 was the fourth hottest year on record.
- Collectively, the last five years have represented the hottest in the 139-year record.
At a time when a majority of Americans worry over climate change, politicians and the fossil-fuel industry continue to drag their feet over regulating human-made greenhouse gases. The Fourth National Climate Assessment, released last November, warned that unrestrained climate change would devastate the economy and threaten American safety. President Donald Trump's response? "I don't believe it."
He went on to tell reporters, "So I want clean air, I want clean water, very important." Of course, he meant clean air and water for the American people, not just himself. Right, Mr. President? So… tacit agreement, then?
Regardless of President Trump's dismissal, reality, to paraphrase Philip K. Dick, doesn't go away because you stop believing in it. Just ask researchers at NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
A hot take on 2018
The map shows global surface temperatures for 2014-2018. Higher than normal temperatures are in red, lower than normal in blue.
NASA and NOAA released statements this month calling 2018 the fourth warmest year on record. Both organizations' data suggests that the average global temperature last year was roughly 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit (0.83 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 20th-century average. Globally, the land-surface temperature rose 2.02 degrees higher than average, while the sea-surface temperature was 1.19 degrees higher.
Not only was 2018 the fourth hottest, it added yet another year to global warming's trending tradition. Collectively, the past five years were the warmest in the record's 139-year history (2016 was the hottest ever). And 2018 was the 42nd year in a row sporting an above-average temperature, a streak that began in 1977.
"We're no longer talking about a situation where global warming is something in the future," Gavin A. Schmidt, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told the New York Times. "It's here. It's now."
Scientists have long warned that climate change will incur heavy costs on lives and economies the world over — costs we're already paying.
Regarding weather and climate disasters, 2018 proved the fourth costliest year for the U.S. since 1980 (when records began). Fourteen inclement weather events amassed an economic toll of $91 billion, with Hurricane Michael's $25 billion bill expending the most. These disasters also took at least 247 lives and grievously injured many more.
An April anomaly?
Some may argue that blizzards and deep freezes disprove global warming and climate change, but to do so is to confuse the weather with the climate. Photo credit: Joe Amon/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Weather aficionados may remember another tidbit weather news: April of last year was the United State's coldest in 20 years. It's true. April 2018 was particularly chilled, thanks to an Arctic air engulfing many central and eastern states. Because of this and other factors, for the contiguous United States, 2018 would only be the 14th warmest year.
But climate change is a global problem. While the United States had an overall wet year, Australia continues to suffer horrible drought and rainfall deficiencies. Other countries that set record land temperatures include Russia, much of Europe, and parts of the Middle East.
As such, pointing to April's record lows to disregard global warming is to confuse today's weather with climate change. As the website Skeptical Science points out, "Weather is chaotic, making prediction difficult. However, climate takes a long-term view, averaging weather out over time. This removes the chaotic element, enabling climate models to successfully predict future climate change."
While April was a chaotic month of blizzards for much of the United States, overall and across the world, climate change models for 2018 proved accurate.
Science versus smoke screens
This map shows the 14 weather disasters that struck the U.S. last year. Their total cost amounted to $91 billion, and they took at least 247 lives.
How certain are scientists that humans are responsible for climate change? As certain as they are that cigarettes cause lung disease. That is, extremely certain.
According to an American Association for the Advancement of Science 2014 report, 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is human caused. As stated in that report:
"The science linking human activities to climate change is analogous to the science linking smoking to lung and cardiovascular diseases. Physicians, cardiovascular scientists, public health experts, and others all agree smoking causes cancer. And this consensus among the health community has convinced most Americans that the health risks from smoking are real. A similar consensus now exists among climate scientists, a consensus that maintains that climate change is happening and that human activity is the cause."
Yet, like the tobacco industry before, climate deniers continue to campaign hard against this scientific reality. The government continues to place people like oil lobbyist and climate denier Jim Inhofe in important environmental positions. Think tanks put out reports downplaying climate change, while "consistently conceal[ing] their sources of funding and final interest," as one study found. The fossil fuel industry has engaged in a decades-long disinformation campaign to gaslight the American people and will likely increase fossil fuel production.
"In short, [they] have marketed and sold their lethal product with zeal, with deception, with a single-mind focus on their financial success, and without regard for the human tragedy or social costs that success exacted," wrote U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler of the District of Columbia.
Judge Kessler wasn't writing about climate change, politicians, or fossil fuel companies. This quote comes from a 1,652-page opinion about tobacco companies' attempts to silence the scientific consensus that smoking causes cancer and dissuade the public from the findings.
One wonders if the future holds a similar statement aimed at today's leaders, policymakers, and heads of industry.
Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.
Richard Feynman once asked a silly question. Two MIT students just answered it.
Here's a fun experiment to try. Go to your pantry and see if you have a box of spaghetti. If you do, take out a noodle. Grab both ends of it and bend it until it breaks in half. How many pieces did it break into? If you got two large pieces and at least one small piece you're not alone.
But science loves a good challenge<p>The mystery remained unsolved until 2005, when French scientists <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~audoly/" target="_blank">Basile Audoly</a> and <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~neukirch/" target="_blank">Sebastien Neukirch </a>won an <a href="https://www.improbable.com/ig/" target="_blank">Ig Nobel Prize</a>, an award given to scientists for real work which is of a less serious nature than the discoveries that win Nobel prizes, for finally determining why this happens. <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/spaghetti/audoly_neukirch_fragmentation.pdf" target="_blank">Their paper describing the effect is wonderfully funny to read</a>, as it takes such a banal issue so seriously. </p><p>They demonstrated that when a rod is bent past a certain point, such as when spaghetti is snapped in half by bending it at the ends, a "snapback effect" is created. This causes energy to reverberate from the initial break to other parts of the rod, often leading to a second break elsewhere.</p><p>While this settled the issue of <em>why </em>spaghetti noodles break into three or more pieces, it didn't establish if they always had to break this way. The question of if the snapback could be regulated remained unsettled.</p>
Physicists, being themselves, immediately wanted to try and break pasta into two pieces using this info<p><a href="https://roheiss.wordpress.com/fun/" target="_blank">Ronald Heisser</a> and <a href="https://math.mit.edu/directory/profile.php?pid=1787" target="_blank">Vishal Patil</a>, two graduate students currently at Cornell and MIT respectively, read about Feynman's night of noodle snapping in class and were inspired to try and find what could be done to make sure the pasta always broke in two.</p><p><a href="http://news.mit.edu/2018/mit-mathematicians-solve-age-old-spaghetti-mystery-0813" target="_blank">By placing the noodles in a special machine</a> built for the task and recording the bending with a high-powered camera, the young scientists were able to observe in extreme detail exactly what each change in their snapping method did to the pasta. After breaking more than 500 noodles, they found the solution.</p>
The apparatus the MIT researchers built specifically for the task of snapping hundreds of spaghetti sticks.
(Courtesy of the researchers)
What possible application could this have?<p>The snapback effect is not limited to uncooked pasta noodles and can be applied to rods of all sorts. The discovery of how to cleanly break them in two could be applied to future engineering projects.</p><p>Likewise, knowing how things fragment and fail is always handy to know when you're trying to build things. Carbon Nanotubes, <a href="https://bigthink.com/ideafeed/carbon-nanotube-space-elevator" target="_self">super strong cylinders often hailed as the building material of the future</a>, are also rods which can be better understood thanks to this odd experiment.</p><p>Sometimes big discoveries can be inspired by silly questions. If it hadn't been for Richard Feynman bending noodles seventy years ago, we wouldn't know what we know now about how energy is dispersed through rods and how to control their fracturing. While not all silly questions will lead to such a significant discovery, they can all help us learn.</p>
Join Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and best-selling author Charles Duhigg as he interviews Victoria Montgomery Brown, co-founder and CEO of Big Think.
Women today are founding more businesses than ever. In 2018, they made up 40% of new entrepreneurs, yet in that same year, they received just 2.2% of all venture capital investment. The playing field is off-balance. So what can women do?
In a recent study, researchers examined how Christian nationalism is affecting the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A new study used survey data to examine the interplay between Christian nationalism and incautious behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The researchers defined Christian nationalism as "an ideology that idealizes and advocates a fusion of American civic life with a particular type of Christian identity and culture."
- The results showed that Christian nationalism was the leading predictor that Americans engaged in incautious behavior.
A pastor at the chapel of the St. Josef Hospital on April 1, 2020 in Bochum, German
Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images<p>Christian nationalists, in general, believe the U.S. and God's will are tied together, and they want the government to embody conservative Christian values and symbols. As such, they also believe the nation's fate depends on how closely it adheres to Christianity.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unsurprisingly then, in the midst of the COVID‐19 pandemic, conservative pastors prophesied God's protection over the nation, citing America's righteous support for President Trump and the prolife agenda," the researchers write.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Correspondingly, the link between Christian nationalism and God's influence on how COVID‐19 impacts America can be seen in proclamations about God's divine judgment for its immorality―with the logic being that God is using the pandemic to draw wayward America <em>back </em>to himself, which assumes the two belong together."</p><p>The logical conclusion to this kind of thinking: America can save itself not through cautionary measures, like mask-wearing, but through devotion to God. What's more, it stands to reason that Christian nationalists are less likely to trust the media and scientists, given that these sources are generally not concerned with promoting a conservative, religious view of the world.</p><p>(The researchers note that they're unaware of any research directly linking Christian nationalism to distrust of media sources, but that they're almost certain the two are connected.)</p>
Predicted values of Americans' frequency of incautious behaviors during the COVID‐19 pandemic across values of Christian nationalism
Perry et al.<p>In the new study, the researchers examined three waves of results from the Public and Discourse Ethics Survey. One wave of the survey was issued in May, and it asked respondents to rate how often they engaged in both incautious and precautionary behaviors.</p><p>Incautious behaviors included things like "ate inside a restaurant" and "went shopping for nonessential items," while precautionary behaviors included "washed my hands more often than typical" and "wore a mask in public."</p><p>To measure Christian nationalism, the researchers asked respondents to rate how strongly they agree with statements like "the federal government should advocate Christian values" and "the success of the United States is part of God's plan."</p><p>The results suggest that, compared to other groups, Christian nationalists are far less likely to wear masks, socially distance and take other precautionary measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Christian nationalism was the leading predictor that Americans engaged in incautious behavior during the pandemic, and the second leading predictor that Americans avoided taking precautionary measures."</p><p>But that's not to say that religious beliefs are causing Americans to reject mask-wearing or social distancing. In fact, when the study accounted for Christian nationalist beliefs, the results showed that Americans with high levels of religiosity were likely to take precautionary measures for COVID-19.</p>
Limitations<p>Still, the researchers note that they're theorizing about the connections between Christian nationalism and COVID-19 behaviors, not documenting them directly. What's more, they suggest that certain experiences — such as having a family member that contracts COVID-19 — might change a Christian nationalist's behaviors during the pandemic.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Limitations notwithstanding, the implications of this study are important for understanding Americans' curious inability to quickly implement informed and reasonable strategies to overcome the threat of COVID‐19, an inability that has likely cost thousands of lives," they write.</p>
Parental anxieties stem from the complex relationship between technology, child development, and the internet's trove of unseemly content.