Saturday, December 30, 2006

2007 the year of the Bond

One more reason to celebrate the new year as we are a few years from total destruction. The dudes in delhi would remark " aapa ko ki pharak penda heh!! "

TORONTO, december 29: A giant ice shelf has snapped free from an island south of the North Pole, scientists said on Thursday, citing climate change as a “major” reason for the event.
The Ayles Ice Shelf—66 sq km of it—broke clear 16 months ago from the coast of Ellesmere Island, about 800 km south of the North Pole in the Canadian Arctic. Scientists discovered the event by using satellite imagery. Within one hour of breaking free, the shelf had formed as a new ice island, leaving a trail of icy boulders floating in its wake.
Warwick Vincent of Laval University, who studies Arctic conditions, travelled to the newly formed ice island and was amazed at the sight. “This is a dramatic and disturbing event. It shows that we are losing remarkable features of the Canadian north that have been in place for many thousands of years,” Vincent said. “We are crossing climate thresholds, and these may signal the onset of accelerated change ahead.”
The ice shelf was one of six major shelves remaining in Canada’s Arctic. They are packed with ancient ice that is more than 3,000 years old. Some scientists say it is the largest event of its kind in Canada in 30 years and that climate change was a major element.
“It is consistent with climate change,” Vincent said, adding that the remaining ice shelves are 90 per cent smaller than when they were first discovered in 1906. Derek Mueller, a polar researcher with Vincent’s team, said the ice shelves get weaker as temperatures rise. He visited Ellesmere Island in 2002 and noticed that another ice shelf had cracked in half. “We’re losing our ice shelves and this a feature of the landscape that is in danger of disappearing altogether from Canada,” Mueller said.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Happy Birthday…Here is a tree for you

here's an idea from ajay jain, another extraordinary mortal who cares about his planet. read on......

There are enough companies who take care to make their employees and customers feel good on their birthdays. It could be in the form of a cake or a day off for the birthday boy or girl at office, or a card sent to a customer. How about making these occasions more memorable?

Plant a tree. And ensure provision is made to ensure it is nurtured over the years. No point having dead saplings and half trees lying around, right?

The logistics of tree birthday parties
Here are some tips that could help an organization do a good job of tree parties:

Where? Identify spots where trees can be planted. There are enough organizations who can help you. Best if it is within or near your workplace open areas.

Too many employees or customers to make it practical to gift each a tree? Have a monthly ceremony where you plant one or more trees.

Click a photo: When you plant a tree, click a photo with the employee/s who it is for. Give them that photo to cherish for life. If your customers are not there, send a photo of the tree and tell them about it.

Don’t want to hurt the sentiments of the tree? What sentiments? Hey, come on, you don’t send photos using paper made from trees, do you? Trees have feelings too. Post these online.

Find a tree manager: You need the tree to looked after. Find someone to do it. A staffer maybe. Or outsourced.

No time to plant trees and look after them? Never mind, you have an honourable escape route. Find an agency or organization to do so for you. Pay them. No, it is all right: you do not have to have your manager running around trying to plant a tree.

Name the tree: Don’t make the trees feel like orphans. Or be without an identity. Give them a name. Maybe even after your own brands. Kit Kat is a decent name for a tree. So is Fido Dido or Ronald McDonald. Even Volvo, Nirma and Bazooka will do.

What are you waiting for? You have a tree birthday to plan!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

36000 marriages and the Polar ice caps

so there are 36000 x 2 suckers who are going to tell each other today that they will live with each other for the rest of their lives. well guys i have news for you. the fire that you lit to go around is one of the reason why the polar ice caps are melting :)))

seriously now is the time for couples to do something about their environment if they want to enjoy each other's company and have a long life. for all those who are taking insurances and buying property so that their children will have a nice life .... WELL READ THIS ...................................

A new scientific research report predicts that the frozen sea areas in the Arctic circle will be completely gone by the summer 2040 due to the impact of global warming resulting from greenhouse gas emmissions.

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According to the study, by a team of scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the University of Washington, and McGill University, scenarios run on supercomputers show that sea ice could be reduced so abruptly that, within about 20 years, it may begin retreating four times faster than at any time in the observed record.

The increasing rate of melting sea ice is contributing to a positive feedback system, which feeds global warming further because open ocean absorbs heat from the sun rather than reflects back into space as does ice.

"As the ice retreats, the ocean transports more heat to the Arctic and the open water absorbs more sunlight, further accelerating the rate of warming and leading to the loss of more ice," says NCAR scientist Marika Holland, the study's lead author. "This is a positive feedback loop with dramatic implications for the entire Arctic region.

"We have already witnessed major losses in sea ice, but our research suggests that the decrease over the next few decades could be far more dramatic than anything that has happened so far," "These changes are surprisingly rapid."

The team of researchers studied a series of seven simulations run on the NCAR-based Community Climate System Model for studying climate change. The scientists first tested the model by simulating fluctuations in ice cover since 1870, including a significant shrinkage of late-summer ice from 1979 to 2005. The simulations closely matched observations, a sign that the model was accurately capturing the present-day climate variability in the Arctic.

The team then simulated future ice loss. The model results indicate that, if greenhouse gases continue to build up in the atmosphere at the current rate, the Arctic's future ice cover will go through periods of relative stability followed by abrupt retreat. For example, in one model simulation, the September ice shrinks from about 2.3 million to 770,000 square miles in a 10-year period. By 2040, only a small amount of perennial sea ice remains along the north coasts of Greenland and Canada, while most of the Arctic basin is ice-free in September. The winter ice also thins from about 12 feet thick to less than 3 feet.

There is some positive news in the report however. According to the study, mankind can still affect and slow down the melting trend.

The scientists also conclude by examining 15 additional leading climate models, that if emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases were to slow, the likelihood of rapid ice loss would decrease. Instead, summer sea ice would probably undergo a much slower retreat.

"Our research indicates that society can still minimize the impacts on Arctic ice," Holland said.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Conspiracy: Watch What You Inhale

The media has been full of stories of the KGB agent Litvinenko's murder by polonium 210. i found this in today's indian express. have fun and inhale to your heart's content. better do it near somebody smoking in a public place :)
When the former KGB agent Aleksandr V. Litvinenko was found to have been poisoned by radioactive polonium 210 last week, there was one group that must have been particularly horrified: the tobacco industry.

The industry has been aware at least since the 1960s that cigarettes contain significant levels of polonium. Exactly how it gets into tobacco is not entirely understood, but uranium “daughter products” naturally present in soils seem to be selectively absorbed by the tobacco plant, where they decay into radioactive polonium. High-phosphate fertilisers may worsen the problem, since uranium tends to associate with phosphates. In 1975, Philip Morris scientists wondered whether the secret to tobacco growers’ longevity in the Caucasus might be that farmers there avoided phosphate fertilisers.

How much polonium is in tobacco? In 1968, the American Tobacco Company began a secret research effort to find out. Using precision analytic techniques, the researchers found that smokers inhale an average of about .04 picocuries of polonium 210 per cigarette. The company also found, no doubt to its dismay, that the filters being considered to help trap the isotope were not terribly effective. (Disclosure: I’ve served as a witness in litigation against the tobacco industry.)

A fraction of a trillionth of a curie (a unit of radiation named for polonium’s discoverers, Marie and Pierre Curie) may not sound like much, but remember that we’re talking about a powerful radionuclide disgorging alpha particles — the most dangerous kind when it comes to lung cancer—at a much higher rate even than the plutonium used in the bomb dropped on Nagasaki. Polonium 210 has a half life of about 138 days, making it thousands of times more radioactive than the nuclear fuels used in early atomic bombs.

We should also recall that people smoke a lot of cigarette—about 5.7 trillion worldwide every year, enough to make a continuous chain from the earth to the sun and back, with enough left over for a few side-trips to Mars. If .04 picocuries of polonium are inhaled with every cigarette, about a quarter of a curie of one of the world’s most radioactive poisons is inhaled along with the tar, nicotine and cyanide of all the world’s cigarettes smoked each year. Pack-and-a-half smokers are dosed to the tune of about 300 chest X-rays.

Is it therefore really correct to say, as Britain’s Health Protection Agency did this week, that the risk of having been exposed to this substance remains low? That statement might be true for whatever particular supplies were used to poison Litvinenko, but consider also this: London’s smokers (and those Londoners exposed to secondhand smoke), taken as a group, probably inhale more polonium 210 on any given day than the former spy ingested with his sushi. No one knows how many people may be dying from the polonium part of tobacco. There are hundreds of toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke, and it’s hard to sort out how much one contributes compared to another—and interactive effects can be diabolical.

In a sense, it doesn’t really matter. Taking one toxin out usually means increasing another—one reason “lights” don’t appear to be much safer. What few experts will dispute is the magnitude of the hazard: the World Health Organisation estimates that 10 million people will be dying annually from cigarettes by the year 2020—a third of these in China. Cigarettes, which claimed about 100 million lives in the 20th century, could claim close to a billion in the present century.

The tobacco industry of course doesn’t like to have attention drawn to the more exotic poisons in tobacco smoke. Arsenic, cyanide and nicotine, bad enough. But radiation? As more people learn more about the secrets hidden in the golden leaf, it may become harder for the industry to align itself with candy and coffee - and harder to maintain, as we often hear in litigation, that the dangers of tobacco have long been “common knowledge”. I suspect that even some of our more enlightened smokers will be surprised to learn that cigarette smoke is radioactive, and that these odd fears spilling from a poisoned KGB man may be molehills compared with our really big cancer mountains.

Robert N. Proctor is a professor of the history of science at Stanford University