Don't be snookered by Mayan calendar prophecy

The world will end in 11 days, we've been told. That's when the Mayan calendar "runs out," causing us all to cease to exist, the story goes.

It's hoopla, of course. I guarantee we will still be here on December 22nd, and if I'm wrong and the universe really does come to an end, then, well, you can shoot me or something.

Sure, there may be some strange things happening on or around December 21st. Many people are using the Mayan calendar transition to engage in meditation marathons in order to focus on universal peace and similar vibrations. That's all fine and good. No harm in some healthy meditation...

Other people suspect that governments might actually use the day to stage something nefarious, thereby preying on the uncertainty and fear that already exists as the day approaches. This is a legitimate possibility, so if anything does happen on December 21st or 22nd, the first question to ask is: "Did the government stage this?"

   The danger of investing your intention in false prophecy

There's always some prophecy, it seems, warning that the end of the world is arriving on a specific date. Last year I remember a few people posting on Facebook, frantically begging me to write about an approaching comet (or secret planet, I don't remember which) that was going to collide with the Earth and destroy us all.

I never covered the topic, of course. And here we still are, amazingly.

But some people really, seriously believe in the latest prophecy fad and as a result they plan their lives around the belief that nothing will exist beyond December 21st. This does not resonate well with life tasks such as financial planning. Some people are spending away all their credit cards right now under the assumption that they won't have to pay anything back since we will all be destroyed on the magical Mayan calendar day.

The Mayan Tzolkin calendar, no end because it constantly rotates, to be much better than our linear calendar

That approach to debt spending is really going to suck on December 23rd or whenever the bill comes due. In fact, it may feel a lot like the end of the world when you realize you prematurely quit your job and spent away a whole lot of money you didn't even have (and now have to pay it back without the benefit of a trillion-dollar government bailout).

   There are legitimate threats to our world, but the Mayan calendar isn't one of them

Doomsday is actually approaching, by the way, and there are lots of ways in which our current human civilization is utterly unsustainable.

There are legitimate threats to our civilization from GMOs (genetic pollution), the pillaging of natural resources, loss of top soils, the polluting of the oceans, rampant infertility caused by synthetic chemicals, and even threats from hare-brained scientific experiments that could theoretically create black holes which consume the entire planet.

None of those are fiction; they're very real. And on top of that, there's also the coming debt collapse which won't actually destroy the world but will make you wish it had been destroyed due to the rampant poverty and starvation it will likely unleash.

 The monument nr. VI in Tortuguero, is blamed for the frenzy about the end of the world in December 2012. although it is not written any prediction of the Apocalypse on that date

But even with these real, legitimate threats, that's no reason to live your life as if it's all coming to an end, because in truth nobody knows the timetables on these things. The economic collapse, for example, could happen tonight or maybe in ten years. It's hard to tell exactly when things will reach a point of collapse. So while it's smart to be prepared for the unexpected, it's not prudent to allow your entire existence to be dominated by the thought that it's all coming to an end on a specific calendar date.

Unless God himself broadcasts a multilingual message from the heavens that announces a specific time and date that he's going to "end the simulation" and close the cosmos, you would be wise to stay on course with your life and not bet all your cards on a prophecy dreamed up by ancient humans who hadn't even developed an alphabet yet.

Print Page

Exploding Lakes - Horrifying Natural Phenomena

Exploding lakes are a terrible natural phenomena and very serious environmental problem.

These lakes are capable of killing thousands, even millions of people and animals living in the region.

In 1986 an awful tragedy occurred when Lake Nyos, in the volcanic region of Cameroon, suddenly released a cloud of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, killing 1,700 people and 3,500 livestock in nearby towns and villages.

Scientists were at the time not aware of the exploding lake phenomenon although the first event happened in 1984, when 37 people near Lake Monoun died suddenly.

Lake Nyos is an active crater lake that formed by an eruption about 5 centuries ago.

Nyos is located about 95 km from Lake Monoum. Together these two are the only two volcanic lakes in the world other than Lake Kivu that contain large amounts of CO2.

After many years of study the science community has come to an agreement that the origin of CO2 within Lake Nyos is due to CO2 that rises from volcanic activity.
This CO2 is then dissolved into groundwaters and transferred to the lake resulting in the slow saturation of the hypolimnion.

Cameroon's exploding lakes are a unique example of this phenomenon, where CO2 is trapped in the bottom water of deep volcanic craters.

The gas stays at the bottom of the lake, held down by the pressure of the overlying water.

But eventually, CO2 gas can start to bubble up to the top of the lake, which reduces the water pressure that usually holds the gas down.

        Lake Nyos was responsible for the death of 1,700 people and 3,500 livestock

When this happens, the gas from the bottom of the lake can vent with exploding force, creating a suffocating cloud that can kill people and animals in low-lying areas.

In order to prevent Lake Nyos from exploding again, an international team of scientists and engineers has developed and implemented a program to artificially remove gas from the lake through piping.

USGS scientists initially advised on the project and have long monitored gas levels in the lake to determine whether this removal has been successful. They'll also update devices monitoring gas levels in nearby Lake Monoun, another exploding lake, where CO2 has now been completely removed as part of the same project.

In 2001, a French engineering firm installed pipes that reached the very bottom of the lakes. Pumps initially push some of the lower water upward, releasing water pressure and allowing CO2 gas bubbles to form. Once bubbles form, the gas naturally flows up and out of the pipe at a controlled rate.

This technique has successfully resulted in the complete degassing of Cameroon's Lake Monoun, which now poses no risk of gas release. Much of the gas in Lake Nyos has been removed as well, but degassing will continue for several more years before the CO2 is completely gone.

                                                        Lake Kivu

The USGS continues to monitor water conditions at these two lakes. The probes that measure the dissolved gas pressure are built at USGS, and are permanently installed in the lakes. After a decade of use, the most recent probes now need to be replaced.

Unfortunately, this problem is not yet solved. According to recent reports, the lake now contains twice as much carbon dioxide as was released during the explosion. Earlier attempts to siphon off the gas had to be abandoned for financial reasons.

If Lake Kivu were to explode, over two million people and thousands of animals who live around it would be in danger.

Can we really say we lack financial resources to prevent these defenseless living beings from a possible horrifying death?

Print Page

Arctic sea ice melt 'may bring harsh winter to Europe'

The unprecedented loss of polar sea ice may lead to 'wild extremes' in the UK and northern Europe, say researchers

The record loss of Arctic sea ice this summer may mean a cold winter for the UK and northern Europe. The region has been prone to bad winters after summers with very low sea ice, such as 2011 and 2007, said Jennifer Francis, a researcher at Rutgers University.

"We can't make predictions yet … [but] I wouldn't be surprised to see wild extremes this winter," Francis told the Guardian.

This year's ice melt has broken the 2007 record by an an area larger than the state of Texas.

Polar ice experts "thought that it would be many years until we again saw anything like we saw in 2007", said Mark Serreze, director of the  National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado.

The unprecedented expanse of ice-free Arctic Ocean has been absorbing the 24-hour sun over the short polar summer. The heat in the water must be released into the atmosphere if the ice is to re-form this autumn. "This is like a new energy source for the atmosphere," said Francis.

This heat and water vapour will affect the all-important jet stream – the west-to-east winds that are the boundary between cold Arctic and the warm mid-latitudes. Others researchers have already shown that the jet stream has been shifting northwards in recent years. Francis and colleagues have recently documented that the jet stream is also slowing down.

"The jet stream is clearly weaker," said Francis. That means weather systems, be it rain or dry conditions, are slow to move on and last longer. Ultimately this can result in "blocking" events, such as the conditions that produced the terrible heatwave in western Russia during the summer of 2010, she said.

This year’s record sea-ice melt might foreshadow a harsh winter in parts of Europe and North America. Recent research, although preliminary, suggests a connection between late-summer Arctic sea-ice extent and the location of areas of high and low atmospheric pressure over the northern Atlantic. The highs and lows can remain relatively fixed for weeks, shaping storm tracks and seasonal weather patterns such as extended cold surges.

Ralf Jaiser, a climate scientist at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Potsdam, Germany, found a significant correlation in 1989–2011 meteorological data between late-summer Arctic sea-ice extent and atmospheric-pressure anomalies that favour extreme weather such as prolonged cold snaps in winter. He reasons that in autumn, the open Arctic Ocean sheds heat to the high-latitude atmosphere. The warming tends to reduce the large-scale atmospheric-pressure gradient and weakens the dominant westerly winds in the Northern Hemisphere. Those winds normally sweep warm, moist Atlantic air to western Europe; their weakening leaves the region more prone to persistent cold.

“The impacts will become more apparent in autumn, once the freeze-up is under way and we see how circulation patterns have influenced the geographical distribution of sea ice,” says Judith Curry, a climate researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. But, she adds, “We can probably expect somewhere in the mid/high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere to have a snowy and cold winter.”

   Ocean organisms are already seeing an impact

Arctic biology is already changing, as the retreat and thinning of sea ice allows more sunlight to penetrate the upper ocean and deprives certain species of habitat, says Jørgen Berge, a marine biologist at the University of Tromsø in Norway. For example, the dominant Arctic zooplankton — the copepods Calanus hyperboreus and C. glacialis — are being replaced by Atlantic C. finmarchicus. Meanwhile, Arctic cod (Arctogadus glacialis) is increasingly being out-competed by its larger Atlantic cousin Gadus morhua.

   There’s an important point that bears repeating: This is happening faster than we expected

Computer models that simulate how the ice will respond to a warming climate project that the Arctic will be seasonally ‘ice free’ (definitions of this vary) some time between 2040 and the end of the century. But the observed downward trend in sea-ice cover suggests that summer sea ice could disappear completely as early as 2030, something that none of the models used for the next report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change comes close to forecasting.

These changes are happening much earlier than scientists thought, said James Overland, an oceanographer and researcher at the University of Washington.

"We've only had a little bit of global warming so far," Overland said.

As the sea ice continues to decline, the jet stream will likely continue to slow more, and shift further north "bringing wild temperature swings and greater numbers of extreme events" in the future he said. "We're in uncharted territory."

Print Page

Lost in migration: Earth's magnetic field is weakening

The discovery by NASA rover Curiosity of evidence that water once flowed on Mars - the most Earth-like planet in the solar system - should intensify interest in what the future could hold for mankind.

The only thing stopping Earth having a lifeless environment like Mars is the magnetic field that shields us from deadly solar radiation and helps some animals migrate, and it may be a lot more fragile and febrile than one might think.

Scientists say Earth's magnetic field is weakening and could all but disappear in as little as 500 years as a precursor to flipping upside down.

It has happened before - the geological record suggests the magnetic field has reversed every 250,000 years, meaning that, with the last event 800,000 years ago, another would seem to be overdue.

"Magnetic north has migrated more than 1,500 kilometres over the past century," said Conall Mac Niocaill, an earth scientist at Oxford University. "In the past 150 years, the strength of the magnetic field has lessened by 10 per cent, which could indicate a reversal is in the cards."

While the effects are hard to predict, the consequences may be enormous. The loss of the magnetic field on Mars billions of years ago put an end to life on the planet if there ever was any, scientists say.

Mac Niocaill said Mars probably lost its magnetic field 3.5-4.0 billion years ago, based on observations that rocks in the planet's southern hemisphere have magnetization.

The northern half of Mars looks younger because it has fewer impact craters, and has no magnetic structure to speak of, so the field must have shut down before the rocks there were formed - which would have been about 3.8 billion years ago.

"With the field dying away, the solar wind was then able to strip the atmosphere away, and you would also have an increase in the cosmic radiation making it to the surface," he said.

"Both of these things would be bad news for any life that might have formed on the surface - either wiping it out, or forcing it to migrate into the interior of the planet."

Earth's magnetic field has always restored itself but, as it continues to shift and weaken, it will present challenges - satellites could be more exposed to solar wind and the oil industry uses readings from the field to guide drills.

In nature, animals which use the field could be mightily confused - birds, bees, and some fish all use the field for navigation. So do sea turtles whose long lives, which can easily exceed a hundred years, means a single generation could feel the effects.

Birds may be able to cope because studies have shown they have backup systems that rely on stars and landmarks, including roads and power lines, to find their way around.

The European Space Agency is taking the issue seriously. In November, it plans to launch three satellites to improve our fairly blurry understanding of the magnetosphere.

The project - dubbed Swarm - will send two satellites into a 450 kilometre high polar orbit to measure changes in the magnetic field, while a third satellite 530 kilometres high will look at the influence of the sun.

Scientists, who have known for some time the magnetic field has a tendency to flip, have made advances in recent years in understanding why and how it happens.

The field is generated by convection currents that churn in the molten iron of the planet's outer core. Other factors, such as ocean currents and magnetic rocks in the Earth's crust also contribute.

The Swarm mission will pull all these elements together to improve computer models used to predict how the magnetic field will move and how fast it could weaken.

Ciaran Beggan, a geomagnetic specialist at the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh, said studies have also refined our understanding of how the field reverses.

They have focused on lava flows: When these cool and form crystals the atoms in iron-rich molten rock align under the influence of the magnetic field, providing a geological memory of the Earth's field.

But that memory looks different in various locations around the world, suggesting the reversal could be a chaotic and fairly random process.

"Rather than having strong north and south poles, you get lots of poles around the planet. So, a compass would not do you much good," said Beggan.

While the whole process takes 3,000-5,000 years, latest research suggests the descent into a chaotic state could take as little as 500 years, although there are significant holes in scientific understanding.

"Although electricity grids and GPS systems would be more vulnerable, we are not really sure how all the complex things that are linked together would react," Beggan said.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Original source article: Lost in migration: flip of earth's magnetic field overdue

Print Page

Comet Coming Next Year May Be Brighter Than the Moon

Astronomers working at the International Scientific Optical Network in Russia have discovered a comet that is headed our way; one that many believe will be the brightest ever seen in modern times. Dubbed ISON (an acronym for the site in Russia), the comet was first found on September 25th, Discovery says  leading researchers to scour other images taken over the past couple of years to see if they could find it to help map it's trajectory.

                                                 Comet ISON

That led, Mail Online reports to several sightings and clearer picture of where it's coming from and where it's heading. At present, the researchers say, comet ISON appears headed on a course that will bring it to within 60 million kilometers of Earth but more importantly just 1.8 million kilometers from the sun, which is what causes the tail to shine so brightly. 

What makes the finding so exciting though, says Discovery is that most who have seen the data believe that the comet will be really bright; brighter in fact than any other seen in modern times. So bright it will appear brighter than the moon at night and bright enough to be seen even during the day. If that does happen, it will most certainly be a momentous occasion, one that will likely result in an enormous amount of media coverage, social network chatter and maybe even parties celebrating the once in a million year event.

Making all that even more likely is a prediction by the original research team that the comet will be lighting up the sky for up to two weeks, and if all that isn't enough, it's expected to arrive in late November to early December, bringing it very close to the holiday season, possibly inspiring comparisons between it and the Star of Bethlehem that the New Testament says, led the three wise men to the birth of Jesus.

The researchers believe the comet originated from a part of space known as the oort cloud, which is basically a mass of icy debris left over from impacts between planets and asteroids millions of years ago. If correct, it would mean the trajectory of the comet, if it survives its close call with the sun, wouldn't bring it around again for more than a hundred million years, which in human teams, pretty much means forever, so those of us that get to see it, will likely be the only ones ever to do so, even more reason to celebrate.

Print Page

Giant asteroids hit earth more frequently than thought

Research by international scientists concluded that giant asteroids, similar or larger than the one believed to have killed the dinosaurs, hit Earth billions of years ago with more frequency than previously thought, U.S. space agency NASA announced Wednesday.

To cause the dinosaur extinction, the killer asteroid that impacted Earth 65 million years ago would have been almost six miles (10 kilometers) in diameter. By studying ancient rocks in Australia and using computer models, researchers estimate that approximately 70 asteroids the same size or larger impacted Earth 1.8 to 3.8 billion years ago. During the same period, approximately four similarly-sized objects hit the moon.

Evidence for these impacts on Earth comes from thin rock layers that contain debris of nearly spherical, sand-sized droplets called spherules. These millimeter-scale clues were formerly molten droplets ejected into space within the huge plumes created by mega-impacts on Earth. The hardened droplets then fell back to Earth, creating thin but widespread sedimentary layers known as spherule beds.

The new findings were published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

"The beds speak to an intense period of bombardment of Earth," said William Bottke, principal investigator of the impact study team at the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado. "Their source long has been a mystery."

The team's findings support the theory Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune formed in different orbits nearly 4.5 billion years ago, migrating to their current orbits about four billion years ago from the interplay of gravitational forces in the young solar system. This event triggered a solar system-wide bombardment of comets and asteroids called the "Late Heavy Bombardment."

In the paper, the team created a model of the ancient main asteroid belt and tracked what would have happened when the orbits of the giant planets changed. They discovered the innermost portion of the belt became destabilized and could have delivered numerous big impacts to Earth and the moon over long time periods.

Print Page

Coldest, Deepest Ocean Water Mysteriously Disappears


The coldest deep ocean water that flows around Antarctica in the Southern Ocean has been mysteriously disappearing at a high rate over the last few decades, scientists have found.

This mass of water is called Antarctic Bottom Water, which is formed in a few distinct locations around Antarctica, where seawater is cooled by the overlying air and made saltier by ice formation (which leaves the salt behind in the unfrozen water). The cold, salty water is denser than the water around it, causing it to sink to the sea floor where it spreads northward, filling most of the deep ocean around the world as it slowly mixes with warmer waters above it.

The world’s deep ocean currents play a critical role in transporting heat and carbon around the planet, which helps regulate the Earth's climate.

Previous studies had indicated that this deep water has become warmer and less salty over the past few decades, but a new study has found that significantly less of this water has also been formed during this time.

                            Schematic representation of the disappearance of Antarctic Bottom Water

Oceanographers examined temperature data collected from 1980 to 2011 at about 10-year intervals by an international program of repeated ship-based oceanographic surveys in the Southern Ocean.

They found that Antarctic Bottom Water has been disappearing at an average rate of about 8 million metric tons per second over the past few decades, equivalent to about 50 times the average flow of the Mississippi River, according to statement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which helped fund the data collection.

"In every oceanographic survey repeated around the Southern Ocean since about the 1980s, Antarctic Bottom Water has been shrinking at a similar mean rate, giving us confidence that this surprisingly large contraction is robust," said lead author of the study Sarah Purkey, a graduate student at the University of Washington in Seattle.

What's causing the reduction and what it means are things the researchers must still investigate.

"We are not sure if the rate of bottom-water reduction we have found is part of a long-term trend or a cycle," said co-author Gregory C. Johnson, an oceanographer at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle.

Changes in the temperature, salt content, dissolved oxygen and dissolved carbon dioxide of this prominent water mass have important ramifications for Earth's climate, including contributions to sea level rise and the rate of Earth's heat uptake.

"We need to continue to measure the full depth of the oceans, including these deep ocean waters, to assess the role and significance that these reported changes and others like them play in the Earth's climate," Johnson said.

Print Page

Planet X and the killer comets

Another entry has just been added in the contest to devise an astronomical theory explaining the periodic showers of comets that are trought by many to wipe out life forms on earth every 26 million years or so (SN: 10/11/83, p. 212). Astrophysicist Daniel P. Whitmire and John J. Matese at the University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette created the new theory by merging two ideas that were proposed in the past for reasons totally unrelated to periodic comet impacts and mass extinctions: a tenth planet, dubbed Planet X and envisioned to reside beyond the orbit of Pluto; and a disk or belt of comets throught to lie in the plane of the solar system beyond Neptune.

By fashioning a complex motion for Planet X, the theorists designed a model in which the planet periodically crosses near the belt of comets, disrupting their orbits and sending them to rain on the solar system.

So far their paper, published in the Jan. 3 NATURE and presented Jan. 11 at a symposium on the Galaxy and the Solar System (held just before the annual meeting of the american astronomical society) in Tucson, Ariz., has received limited scrutiny. Other scientists, including proponents of rival theories, call the Planet X concept imaginative, even ingenious, but say that it is too hard to judge the model iwthout more detailed calculations.

In the scenario developed by whitmire and Matese, Planet X would move at an average distance from the sun of 100 astronomical units (AU), or 100 times the distance between the earth and the sun, in a moderately elliptical orbit that is inclined from the plane of the solar system at an angle of about 45 degrees. Planet X is envisioned to complete one orbit every 1,000 years. But the orbit itself, like the orbits of other planets, would revolve, or precess, around the sun in this model because of the gravitational tugs from the other planets. Comet showers would be triggered every 28 million years -- whenever the orbit moves close to the comet belt.

 Daniel P. Whitmire and John J. Matese

Whitmire and Matese propose that the belt, which was orginally hypothesized in conjunction with theories on the origin of the solar system, extends from 35 to 70 AU. From 70 to 130 AU, Planet X would have cleared a gap in the belt, which then resumes beyond 130 AU. While this comet belt has never been seen sys Whitmire, it is widely thought to exist, especially the section of the belt closest to the sun. The gravitational pull of Planet X would dislodge comets near the gap when either the perihelion (point on the orbit closest to the sun) brushes by the inner edge of the gap, or the aphelion (point farther from the sun) graces the outer gap edge, although Whitmire believes the former effect is stronger than the latter since the comet belt is most dense closest to the sun. Whitmire sees two major advantages of the Planet X approach over the competing Nemesis theory, of which Whitmire was in fact one of the original creators. Nemesis is the name of the proposed sister star to the sun that is envisioned to intrude on the so-called Oort cloud of comets at distances much farther from the sun than the proposed orbit of Planet X (SN: 4/21/84, p. 250).

With Planet X, "we're not postulating the existence of anything that hasn't already been postulated before for other reasons," says Whitmire. The idea that there could be an extra planet cruising the periphery of the planetary system has been put forth a number of times over the last 100 years in order to account for the observed deviations in the motions of the known outermost planets from their predicted courses (SN: 1/31/81, p. 68). While other suns are known to have companion stars, there is no independent astronomical evidence that Nemesis exists, Whitmire says. Moreover, past studies have concluded that the "missing planet" should have 1 to 5 times the mass of the earth and should be found 50 to 100 AU from the sun, Characteristics consistent with Whitmire and Matese's Planet X theory for comet impacts.

The second advantage, according to Whitmire, is that the orbit of Planet X, being much closer to the sun than Nemesis, would be very stable. Recent calculations on the orbit of Nemesis, on the other hand, indicate that its period has changed by 15 percent over the last 250 million years because of the gravitational nudges from other bodies (SN: 11/3/84, p. 279). "This is not necessarily a fatal objection to Nemesis, but it's fthe one that's most often raised," he explains.

Both the Planet X and Nemesis ideas can accommodate a range of values for the period, which is an asset at present because there is some uncertainty and disagreement over the exact period for the fossil, crater and other geological records. But this flexibility is also a disadvantage, says Richard B. Stothers at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, because the period can't be used to make testable predictions with either theory.

Stothers and co-worker Michael R. Rampino prefer a model in which the solar system oscillates through the galactic plane at the known time interval of 33 million years -- corresponding to periodicities the researchers claim to see in geological records (SN: 1/12/85, p.24).

All of the scientists involved in the debate do agree that the solution will depend on moe accurate dating of the geological and fossil records. Astronomers have also been looking for Nemesis. And, according to Ray Reynolds at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., who with co-workers had been planning to search for Planet X for a number of years, the data from the Infrared Astronomy Satellite (IRAS) have just been put in a form that can be analyzed to look for Planet X.

One of the reason why Planet X may not have been found in the past, says Whitmire, is that previous surveys concentrated on the Northern Hemisphere while recent calculations show that Planet X, if it exists, is more likely to be found in the Southern Hemisphere. The IRAS data cover both hemispheres.

In the meantime, comments Stothers, "I think we haven't seen the last of the astronomical mechanisms. I have a stack of preprints related to all this on my desk.... The field is full of flowers."

COPYRIGHT 1985 Science Service, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

Print Page

Mayan prophecy: The world won’t end

The ancient Mayans were masters of time, keepers of good calendars.

And now we have one of their timekeepers’ workrooms to prove it.

In a striking find, archaeologists in Guatemala report the discovery of a small building whose walls display not only a stunningly preserved mural of a brightly adorned Mayan king, but also calendars that destroy any notion that the Mayans predicted the end of the world in 2012.

 In Guatemala, never-before-seen Mayan artwork is discovered: In a striking find, archaeologists in Guatemala report the discovery of a small building whose walls display not only a stunningly preserved mural of a brightly adorned Mayan king, but also calendars that destroy any notion that the Mayans predicted the end of the world in 2012. The project was supported by the National Geographic Society.

These deep-time calendars can be used to count thousands of years into the past and future, countering pop-culture and New Age ideas that Mayan calendars ended on Dec. 21, 2012, (or Dec. 23, depending on who’s counting), thereby predicting the end of the world.

The newly found calendars, which track the motion of the moon, Venus and Mars, provide an unprecedented glimpse into how these storied sky-gazers — who dominated Central America for nearly 1,000 years — kept such accurate track of months, seasons and years.

“What they’re trying to do is understand the large cycles of cosmic time,” said William Saturno, the Boston University archaeologist who led the expedition. “This is the space they’re doing it in. It’s like looking into da Vinci’s workshop.”

Before the new find, the best-preserved Mayan calendars were inscribed in bark-paged books called codices, the most famous being the Dresden Codex. But those pages hail from several hundred years later than the newly found calendars.

Saturno said researchers have long assumed that the Mayans had worked out the cycles of the moons and planets much earlier, but no evidence of such work had ever been found.

But in 2010, an undergraduate student working with Saturno, Max Chamberlain, stumbled onto the house as the team began to excavate at a Mayan city, Xultun, which, despite being known since 1915, had never been professionally excavated. Over the decades, looters had dug deep trenches to access buildings. One day at lunch, Chamberlain announced his intention to find paintings by crawling through the trenches.

Saturno scoffed. The buildings were too shallow — any paint on their walls would surely be long gone, erased by water, dirt, insects and encroaching tree roots.

But sure enough, Chamberlain stumbled onto a wall, open to a trench, showing two red lines.

A quick excavation revealed the back wall of the building — replete with a mural of a resplendent Mayan king, in bright blue, adorned with feathers and jewelry.

Saturno’s team brushed off the wall and “ta-da!” he said. “A Technicolor, fantastically preserved mural. I don’t know how it survived.” Saturno immediately e-mailed contacts at the National Geographic Society, which agreed to fund a full excavation of the building.

The mural is the first Mayan painting found in a small building instead of a large public space. And it’s also the oldest known preserved Mayan painting.

Next to the king, a scribe holds a writing instrument. Three mysterious figures wearing black also march across the wall. One of them is named “older brother obsidian.” Mayan experts have no idea whom these mysterious figures might represent.

Once the team uncovered several columns of red and black dots and dashes — the Mayans’ numbering system — the meaning of these figures was almost immediately evident to David Stuart, one of the world’s foremost experts in Mayan hieroglyphics. It was a lunar table, showing a 4,784-day cycle of the moon’s phases.

The table is broken into 27 columns, each representing six lunar months. Each column is topped by the face of one of three moon gods — a jaguar, a skull and a woman. These three repeat. So by consulting the table, a priest, say, could tell which moon god would preside over a particular date.

Want to know whether the king’s birthday falls under a jaguar moon 10 years hence? A thousand? Check the table.

“It’s really cool because it shows us the tools the ancient astronomers and priests were using to do their calculations,” Stuart said.

On another wall sits a smaller set of four columns of figures. These took a bit more puzzling. But eventually Saturno’s team figured it out: This second table was filled with huge numbers relating to how long it takes Mars and Venus to cross the sky and come back again. This calendar spans some 7,000 years — heading much farther into the future than the supposed doomsday date.

“Like a lot of ancient cultures, they were able with naked-eye astronomy to calculate the paths of the planets,” Stuart said. “We tend to forget that before telescopes, people were able to analyze the movement of planets in a lot of detail — and figure out exactly, to the day, the length of a Venus year and a Mars year.”

Heather McKillop, a Mayan expert at Louisiana State University who was not involved in the research, called the Xultun murals “stunning new evidence of the ancient origins of Maya astronomical record keeping, best known from later documents.”

Tulane University’s Marc Zender, another Mayan expert not involved in the work, said that “it’s about as exciting as discovering lost manuscripts of a famous mathematician like Archimedes. It’s an amazing privileged glimpse over their shoulders.”

Saturno said the building had been filled in by the Mayans, heaped with dirt and rubble. “They just backed themselves out the door and left,” he said; no one knows why. But the fill probably helped preserve the paintings.

With the virtually unexplored city of Xultun containing hundreds of buildings stretching across at least 16 square miles of jungle, Saturno guesses that plenty of other surprises await excavation. “It might take another two decades,” he said.

He expects the world to still exist then and said he’d bet anyone a million dollars that it will. The Mayan calendar does start a new “long cycle,” later this year, but he equated that with the odometer on a car rolling over from 99,999 miles to zero: “You go, ‘Yay,’ but the car just doesn’t disappear.”

The discovery is detailed in this week’s Science magazine and in the June issue of National Geographic.


Incorrectly translated or stone slabs from Tortuguero, where, despite the belief, is not predicting the end of the world this year.

Science Daily Science Daily reported on in detail about this discovery, they have noted that the 2012, within one calendar cycle ends as we age, then begins a new cycle, and their circular calendar again using only the prefix of a new era - the cycle of how we transplants were millennia. Xultun is made in the first century BC, several hundred years, bow calendars that were created in the painted chamber discovered. Calendars are transplants were found during the 7000 years into the future. One of the most common issues that can be found on the 813. calendar new era, which essentially marks the beginning of the end of the Mayan civilization. It is interesting that on the wall and find explanations and calculations in order to use the Mayan calendar as the artist has long wanted to learn unfamiliar viewers how to properly use their calendars. The entire east wall of the chamber is filled with allegations of calculation and the proper use of calendars in the future. I sincerely hope that this discovery will silence the terrified people who were seduced and scared reckless advocates the destruction of the Maya world that supposedly predict. It is important to remember that in the short legs and lies no matter how much a lie as well, and proclaims it to be repeated sooner or later becomes exposed, it is hoped that this text is always one of rumors dispersed about the 2012.

Print Page

Forget global warming

Photos taken by a French satellite show glaciers in a mountain range west of the Himalayas have grown during the last decade.

The growing glaciers were found in the Karakoram range, which spans the borders between Pakistan, India and China and is home to the world’s second highest peak, K2.

The startling find has baffled scientists and comes at a time when glaciers in other parts of the region, and across the world, are shrinking.

Glaciers are growing in the Karakoram range, home to K2, (photo is the property of the EPA)

French scientists from the National Centre for Scientific Research and the University of Grenoble, were forced to rely on satellite images, to study the region – because much of the Karakoram range is inaccessible.

They compared observations made in 1999 and 2008 and found a marginal mass increase.

They estimated the glaciers had gained between 0.11 and 0.22 metres of ice each year.

The researchers are unsure why the region bucks the global trend – but they know from other studies in other parts of the world that in very cold regions, like the Karakoram range, climate change can cause extra precipitation, which then freezes and adds to ice mass.

Lead reseacher Julie Gardelle told BBC News: ‘We don’t really know the reason. Right now we believe that it could be due to a very specific regional climate over Karakoram because there have been meteorological measurements showing increased winter precipitation; but that’s just a guess at this stage.‘

Stephan Harrison, associate professor in quaternary science at the UK’s University of Exeter, said the new research had showed there is ‘considerable variability’ in the global climate and in how glaciers respond to it.

The Karakoram glaciers are also unusual because they are covered with thick layers of rock debris, which means their patterns of melting and mass gain are driven by changes in that debris as well as in the climate.

Harrison said much of their mass gain also comes from avalanches from the high mountains surrounding them.

‘Overall, the impact of melting glaciers such as these on sea level rise is known to be negligible, but it does mean that there is much more to be learnt about exactly how the world’s glaciers will respond to continued global warming.’

The findings provide welcome respite at a time when glaciers across the globe are shrinking at a rapid rate.

A study of the neighbouring Himalayas in 2011 found the rate of ice loss in glaciers – which provide fresh water for around 1.3 billion people – has doubled since the 1980s.

Print Page

Ocean current slowdown made Earth spin faster

IT SOMETIMES feels as though some months go by faster than others, but November 2009 really did. Events in the Southern Ocean conspired to make the Earth spin ever-so-slightly faster, shortening half of the days in the month by 0.1 milliseconds each.

Different factors affect how fast the Earth spins. For instance, if the winds that whip around the planet slow down, the Earth spins faster to conserve angular momentum.

There was a more down-to-earth cause in November 2009, however. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current is a powerful ocean current that rings the continent. Stephen Marcus and his colleagues at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California and at the Institute of Earth Physics of Paris  in France noticed that it slowed abruptly on 8 November 2009, only to speed up two weeks later.

Precise day-length data revealed that the changes immediately caused the Earth to spin faster, shortening each day by 0.1 milliseconds. Like the currents, day length returned to normal on 20 November (Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1029/2011gl050671).

This is the first time we have seen a rapid change in the oceans that is large enough to affect the Earth's rotation, says Marcus. The event is worth noting as the Antarctic currents directly impact the health of the ice sheets.

No one knows for sure why the currents slowed, but Marcus and his colleagues note that it happened in lockstep with atmospheric changes. Two days before the currents slowed, regional winds that move in the same direction slowed too. Two days after the winds went back to normal, so did the currents. Winds help drive currents, so that may not seem surprising. But it's unusual to see such a large response, says Marcus.

Tong Lee, also at JPL, believes that a slightly shifted El Niño may be to blame for the drop in wind speed. That, in turn, could come back to the environmental zeitgeist: models suggest that such shifts will happen more frequently as a result of climate change.

This isn't the only way that climate change may affect Earth's spin. Models suggest that rising sea levels will shift water towards the poles, drawing mass in closer to the Earth's axis and making it spin faster.

  Note: Since the beginning of our sites, we warn of climate change on the planet, one of the major factors stabilizing the climate and the constant currents, which are called termalini because they serve as a planet's air conditioning, cool the equator and cooler parts of the planet's warming. From the Deep Horizon accident BP when it expired at the Gulf of Mexico hundreds of millions of gallons of crude oil Mexican electricity is almost gone, but now you can notice on climate change and a large amount of snow that fell throughout the winter in Europe. Also there is a constant problem of melting glaciers and ice caps with which the sea touches the large amount of fresh water and thus disturb the salinity of the oceans and the movement of termalina polar regions toward the equator, which causes a disturbance in sea temperatures, reduced rainfall across the globe, etc. How to disrupted electricity is evident from this text, and what will create additional effects on the climate, we all feel very fast.

Print Page

Arctic Freshwater Dome Could Freeze Europe

Sea surface in a particular area of the Arctic Ocean has increased by as much as 15 centimeters (6 inches) over the past 15 years, leading to the formation of a large bulge of freshwater. It is estimated that this region of the ocean contains as much as 8,000 cubic kilometers (1,919 cubic miles) of water.

According to the results of a new study, which appears in the latest online issue of the top journal Nature Geoscience, it would appear that the bulge is being caused by an acceleration of the Beaufort Gyre, an oceanic circulation pattern driven by Arctic winds.

What this implies is that a change in this wind could allow this dome to fall apart, and all the freshwater it contains to spill in the northern sectors of the Atlantic Ocean. This is where the North Atlantic Drift – one of the five major oceanic currents – releases heat from the water.

           Arctic Radar collage made from Envisat, blue indicates the area permanently covered with ice.

That heat is then moved eastwards by prevailing winds, heating up the majority of the European continent. Last time the current was blocked – back when the sea that contained all the Great Lakes poured into the Arctic Ocean – glaciers moved as far south as the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

ESA satellites show that a large dome of fresh water has been building up in the Arctic Ocean over the last 15 years. A change in wind direction could cause the water to spill into the north Atlantic, cooling Europe.

The results are remarkable: since 2002, the sea surface in the studied area has risen by about 15 cm, and the volume of fresh water has increased by some 8000 cubic km – around 10% of all the fresh water in the Arctic Ocean.

Researchers from the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) at University College London and the UK’s National Oceanography Centre used data from ESA’s ERS-2 and Envisat satellites to measure sea-surface height over the western Arctic from 1995 to 2010.

The results were published yesterday in the online version of the scientific journal, Nature Geoscience.
The scientists conclude that the dome could be a result of strong Arctic winds accelerating a large ocean circulation known as the Beaufort Gyre, causing the sea surface to bulge.

A change in the direction of the wind would cause the fresh water to spill into the rest of the Arctic Ocean and even reach the north Atlantic.

This could slow a key ocean current, stemming from the Gulf Stream, and subsequently cool Europe.

This current keeps the continent relatively mild compared to other areas at similar latitudes.

                                                                        Mean sea surface

“When we looked at our data on a year-to-year basis, we noticed that the changes in the sea surface height did not always follow what the wind was doing, so we thought about reasons why this might happen,” said Katharine Giles, CPOM research fellow and lead author of the study.

“One idea is that sea ice forms a barrier between the atmosphere and the ocean. So as the sea ice cover changes, the effect of the wind on the ocean might also change.

“Our next step is to look into how changes in the sea ice cover might affect the coupling between the atmosphere and the ocean in more detail to see if we can confirm this idea.”

Sea ice can be measured by different types of satellite data. Radar altimeters on satellites such as the two used in the study, Envisat and ERS-2, can be particularly useful when observing inaccessible areas like the Arctic.

Envisat, the largest Earth observation satellite ever built, will mark 10 years in orbit in March.

ERS-2 was retired in July 2011, but 20 years of data from it and predecessor ERS-1 on oceans, land, ice and atmosphere will continue to be used by scientists for years to come.

“We were able to produce the Beaufort Gyre results thanks to the overlap of the ERS-2 and Envisat missions and long-term satellite data availability,” said Seymour Laxon, director of CPOM and co-author of the paper.

ESA will continue to monitor the Arctic with the upcoming Sentinel series of Earth-observing satellites for Europe’s Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme.

Later this year, the first results of seasonal changes in sea-ice thickness from data acquired by ESA’s CryoSat-2 satellite will be presented.

Print Page

End of Fossil Fuel Era an 'Exciting Time'

Author and scientist Amory B. Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute see a bright future beyond dirty fuels... and sooner than you think

In an essay in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs and a recent interview with Yale Environment 360, Amory Lovins discusses his latest book, Reinventing Fire, written with his colleagues at the Rocking Mountain Institute, which looks at what a transition away from an economy and energy system based on fossil fuels towards one based on renewable energy would look like.

                                                                      Amory B. Lovins 

"Weaning the United States from fossils fuels would require two big shifts," writes Lovins at Foreign Affairs, naming "oil and electricity" which he says are "distinct." He points out, "In the US, three-fourths of electricity powers building, three-fourths of oil fuels transportation, and the remaining oil and electricity run factories. So saving oil and electricity is chiefly about making buildings, vehicles, and factories far more efficient." This, admits Lovins, is "no small task."

Dwelling on the scale of the challenge, however, is not where Lovins devotes his energy. Instead, he looks at other "epochal energy shifts" that have occurred in history, like the end of the whale oil industry in the mid 19th century, where in just thirty years the whale oil industry went from bringing lighting to nearly every American household in 1850, to being essentially snuffed out by 1879, when Edison's electric lighting hit the scene. "Whales," writes Lovins, "had been accidently saved by technological innovators and profit-maximizing capitalists."

The point, of course, is not that we should look to 'profit-maximizing capitalists' to lead us to a clean energy future (though they will certainly play a role). The point is that we should definitely not expect whaling captains to lead us. And in this era, the whale ship captains are the captains of the big oil, coal, and gas companies and the politicians who do their bidding.

"The chief obstacle is not technology or economics," concludes Lovins, "but slow adoption." He writes:
Helping innovations catch on will take education, leadership, and rapid learning. But it does require reaching concensus on motives. If Americans agree what should be done, then they need not agree why. Whether one cares most about national security, health, the environment, or simply making money, saving and supplanting fossil fuels makes sense."

"Wise energy policy can grow from impeccably conservative roots-- [...]

Moving the United States off oil and coal will require Americans to trust in their own resourcefulness, ingenuity, and courage. These durable virtues can give the country fuel without fear; help set the world on a path beyond war, want, or waste; and turn energy from worrisome to worry-free, from risk to reward, from cost to profit."

   A Clean Energy Plan

In the interview with Yale Environment 360 senior editor Fen Montaigne, Lovins discusses how business and society can pull off this transformation even if the U.S. Congress keeps failing to act, why climate change need not even enter the discussion, and why the oil industry will ultimately forego fossil fuels and jump aboard the green bandwagon. “One system is dying and others are struggling to be born,” says Lovins. “It’s a very exciting time.”

Yale Environment 360: Given that we’re in the midst of what could only be described as a fossil fuel boom, with the discovery of new unconventional sources and new oil sources being found all over the world, how do you speed this transition and get from here to there?

Amory Lovins: Well, I’m not sure what boom you’re talking about. When I read the Wall Street Journal, I see a headline a few weeks ago about coal running out of steam.

e360: China is consuming tremendous amounts of coal.

Lovins: Hang on — I look at the data and I find that in the United States, coal’s share of the electrical services market, which is 95 percent of its market for fuel, has fallen by a quarter from 2005 through 2010, displaced by cheaper gas, efficiency, and renewables. And then when you look in the forward prices and the options market, that spread is going to keep widening. And when I hear how cheap natural gas is, I remember that it’s also very volatile. This has nothing to do with the many uncertainties around fracking, which will take a decade to resolve — if they work out well, we’ll be satisfied with a new option; if they don’t, that’s okay because we won’t need that much gas, so we won’t be very disappointed.

e360: Certainly in China, India, and the developing world there is a fossil fuel boom going on.

Lovins: But in a global context, there is a remarkable boom in efficiency and renewables in China, the world leader in five renewables. Part of the story in China is that the extraordinary vitality of renewables is coming very largely from the vibrant private sector, while all of the nuclear and half the coal business are the old state enterprises. So the story of incumbents and insurgents is partly the story of the reshaping of the Chinese economy from the old and rather bureaucratic command organizations. That is, I think, an encouraging trend.

  We  must use our most effective institutions to end-run our least effective institutions.

Last I looked a couple of years ago, the private sector in China was something like 50 to 70 percent of the profits, the growth, and the new jobs. Of course there is still a lot of momentum in the coal bureaucracy in China and India, which together burned half the world’s coal and account for about three-quarters of the projected increase, but I think those projections are looking quite dubious. In China, for example, they have lately retired over 70 gigawatts of inefficient coal plants, so that their coal plant fleet is now more efficient than ours. In 2010, 59 percent of their net new [electricity] capacity was coal. It used to be much higher.

e360: You feel we’re in a period where fossil fuels over the next decade or two are going to be increasingly like whale oil?

Lovins: Yes.

e360: You’ve got the president of Shell writing a foreward to your book. There are prominent quotes from the president of Texaco in one section of the book. How do you persuade these oil companies that are making billions of dollars now and into the foreseeable future to get on board with this renewable energy revolution? What is going to persuade them to be on what you see as the right side of history?

Lovins: Mainly risk management, and as a member of the National Petroleum Council, having worked in this industry for 38 years, I’ve seen a lot of concern about risk. Oil is like airlines. It’s a great industry and a bad business. Look at its fundamentals. It is extremely capital-intensive, long lead time, based on a wasting asset of which you only own about 6 percent and the rest can be taxed away or confiscated at any time. It is a business overflowing with all kinds of risk — technical, political, financial. It is unpopular politically. Its subsidies are at some political risk in this country. Put all that together and you have a magnificent recipe for headaches. Why would you want to be in a business like that?

e360: You’re making huge profits at this point.

Lovins: Well, sometimes yes, and sometimes it gushes red ink. So the smarter leaders in that industry have been trying to get out of the business since at least 1973, and have constructed some pretty intelligent portfolios of both activities and options that are getting rather rapidly diversified. Some companies that were not very foresighted, even though they were operationally excellent, are starting to smell the coffee.

 I think there is a bright future for what we now think of as the oil industry in the new energy era, using its formidable capabilities and assets, but in different ways. A lot of refineries will turn into biorefineries; a lot of drilling will go to geothermal, possibly carbon sequestration and other pursuits. The fuel logistics will diversify into hydrogen — which of course is mainly a business of the oil industry right now and it’s a very big business — and into electricity and biofuels. Shell is already the world’s biggest distributor of biofuels. The average cost of getting our U.S. transport system off oil is about $18 a barrel for the efficiency and electrification part, or if you include the biofuels to run the trucks and airplanes to the extent they’re not on hydrogen, it might be at most about $25 a barrel. So I don’t much care what the world oil price is, this is a better bet and it very much better manages the risks.

e360: In the spheres that you write about — transportation, electricity generation, industry — what pieces of the puzzle need to be put in place in the coming decade or so to do this massive scaling up that’s going to be required to attain your vision of an economy that by 2050 is primarily powered by renewable sources?

Lovins: Broadly we need to pay attention to allow or require full and fair competition, preferably at honest prices. And to use our most effective institutions to end-run our least effective institutions.

e360: For example?

Lovins: Well, we use private enterprise, co-evolving with civil society and sped up by military innovation, to end run Congress. The transition we describe requires no act of Congress. It’s led by business for profit.

e360: So you want the private sector to end-run the dysfunctional political system?

Lovins: At the federal level, yes. There are policies required to unlock or speed the transition we described, but they could all be done administratively or at the state level, where most of the action is.

e360: From a technological point of view, how do you scale up wind and solar to the point where it can be generating the volume of electricity that you envision by 2050?

Lovins: The way we’re scaling it up now. U.S. photovoltaics have doubled each of the last two years. World [photovoltaic] growth last year — a difficult year for many industries — was 70 percent. And 68 percent of Europe’s new capacity last year was solar and wind. Wind, for example, is generally competitive without subsidy, even though the global wind industry will of course shift its projects in a given year to wherever they get the most subsidy, as you would expect. But even without subsidy they have a very strong business case.

e360: So you foresee in the U.S., Europe, and China a steady accretion of this scale and volume for these new sources?

Lovins: Yes, and China is leading the plummeting cost and rocketing volume of most of the renewables. They’re the world leader in five. They aim to be in all. The ones they lead are photovoltaic, wind, small hydro, biogas, and solar thermal for hot water.

So this is actually quite a big business. Clean energy was a $260 billion investment flow in 2011. Europe has now more than one million new renewable jobs. The big winner is Germany. They have more solar workers than America has steel workers. [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel bet that it would be smarter to send their energy money to their own engineers, manufacturers, and installers than to keep paying it to [Russia’s] Gazprom. She’s right, and it was a winning bet.

e360: In your book you are not counting on any sort of miraculous silver bullet technologies.

Lovins: No, no new inventions.

e360:  But do you think there will be within a matter of decades technologies we can’t envision that could even further accelerate this transition?

Lovins: Oh, yes. I think there will be many, and actually although we’re not counting on any new inventions, we do give examples of emerging technologies in the lab about to get to market that are going to be quite powerful. For example, windows whose ability to transmit or block heat is a function of the temperature of the glass, and that’s a passive property.
It doesn’t  require any control system. That sort of thing is so revolutionary we haven’t even figured out how to use it yet. Or as another example, Tsutomu Shimomura, the computer security expert, has invented a way of controlling LED lighting in big buildings that gets rid of almost all of the wire and power supplies and controls, but gives superior control flexibility. And that should ultimately cut by manyfold the installed cost of those LED lighting systems and thus help them take over even faster in both new and old buildings. Fuel cells have already beaten the cost targets that we had expected. The list goes on.

Despite our woeful underinvestment in efficiency R&D, the technical progress here and abroad continues to accelerate with no end in sight and it’s not just in widgets. It’s also progress in new business models, new designs, ways of combining technologies more effectively to get expanding returns, not diminishing returns, new delivery channels that are rapidly maturing, new regulatory models. These things all together I think have put us irreversibly on the path to a new energy era, and a lot of it is an incumbents-versus-insurgents play where the incumbents have many intelligent ways they can respond and some dumb ways, one of which is called ostrich.

e360: Your book, in each of the main chapters, lays out detailed prescriptions — down to diagrams of factory piping — of how to improve efficiency and make advances. What has the reaction been to the book from corporations, from politicians?

Lovins: The reaction I have seen has been uniformly favorable, partly because it’s a trans-ideological approach that focuses on outcomes, not motives. Whether you most care about profits, jobs, and competitive advantage, or about national security or environmental stewardship and climate and public health — regardless of the reason, you’ll still want the outcomes. They’ll still make sense and make money, so let’s just do what we all agree ought to be done for whatever reason, not argue about what reason is most important, and then a lot of the stuff we may not agree about becomes superfluous. The military is very strongly on this track already — with both efficiency and resilient electric supply — for their own good reasons. We are not seeing so far political resistance to these ideas and we’re getting a very warm welcome in the business community.

e360: How big an impediment to your vision of how to go forward is the fact that many of the leaders of the Republican Party not only deny the existence of climate change, but belittle renewable energy. Is the political gridlock on this issue a big impediment to maybe moving forward?

Lovins: I don’t see it as a big impediment because we’re not relying on Congress to do anything. Again, you don’t have to believe climate science to think that the outcomes of Reinventing Fire are desirable. If you care
about  either making money or national security, either of those suffices; you may even care about both together. Then you’re twice as motivated. We are counting in the analysis all externalities — carbon [reduction] and otherwise — as worth zero, a conservatively low estimate. And we still get a $5 trillion surplus from getting the U.S. completely off oil, coal, and nuclear energy and a third off natural gas by 2050, with a 2.6-fold bigger economy. That, I think, is an attractive outcome regardless of your political beliefs.

e360: Let’s say there’s a President Santorum or a President Romney, do you think that they could be persuaded once they’re in office to embrace a vision like this?

Lovins: I don’t know, but I don’t much care. Rocky Mountain Institute is non-partisan, and we observe that most states, including many strongly Republican states, have renewable portfolio standards. The renewable leader in the nation is Texas, which is not noted for being environmentally minded, but does care a lot about making money and is very good at it. That’s fine.

e360: On the issue of climate change, do you believe the climate movement has made a strategic error by focusing so much on the issue of warming and its impacts rather than on the positive economic message you propagate in the book?

Lovins: I think you could make that case. In fact, to go back to the beginning of the modern climate debate, I think that when the bogus studies were issued claiming that climate protection would be very costly, the environmental movement fell into a trap of saying it won’t cost that much and it’s worth it. What they should have said is, “No, you’ve got it wrong. Climate protection is not costly but profitable because it’s cheaper to save fuel than to buy fuel.”

So the whole climate conversation has been distorted by this error of mistaking cost for profits and that has blocked international negotiations, because it’s so much harder to talk about cost burden and sacrifice, what is it worth to save the climate and who should pay for it, than to talk about profits, jobs, and competitive advantage, which should have been the subject all along.
I think you could make that case. In fact, to go back to the beginning of the modern climate debate, I think that when the bogus studies were issued claiming that climate protection would be very costly, the environmental movement fell into a trap of saying it won’t cost that much and it’s worth it. What they should have said is, “No, you’ve got it wrong. Climate protection is not costly but profitable because it’s cheaper to save fuel than to buy fuel.”

So the whole climate conversation has been distorted by this error of mistaking cost for profits and that has blocked international negotiations, because it’s so much harder to talk about cost burden and sacrifice, what is it worth to save the climate and who should pay for it, than to talk about profits, jobs, and competitive advantage, which should have been the subject all along.

e360: When you look at your 2050 vision, yet you also look at all the carbon that’s still being burned, how do you reconcile the two?

Lovins: Well, one system is dying and others are struggling to be born. It’s a very exciting time, but I think the transitions that we need in how we design vehicles, buildings, and factories, and how we allow efficiency to compete with supply, are well under way. Most of the key sectors are already at or past their tipping point. And it’s clearest for oil, but will become clearer for coal that the stuff is becoming uncompetitive even at relatively low prices before it becomes unavailable even at high prices. It’s the whale oil story all over again. They ran out of customers before they ran out of whales.


Amory Lovins at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

Print Page

None of the end of the world 2012th?

Experts for the Mayans decided to bar a little dilute the hysteria that grows as we approach the date in question - the end of world is Western idea, something like Maya does not even mention.

End of the world will not occur 21st December 2012. the claims a senior member of the Mayan, despite frequent claims that Mayan calendar shows that the time will then cease to flow.

Apolinario Chile Pixtun is tired of questions about the world.

''I came back last year from England where I was tired of such nonsense''he says.

Important period for the Mayans ends on this date, and various enthusiasts have found a series of astronomical alignment that will occur the 2012th, among which are those that occur every 25 800 years.

But most archaeologists, astronomers and Maya believes that the only thing that could hit the country over the next three years the rain New Age philosophy, pop astronomy, rumors about the end of the world on the internet and TV to this speciali the topic.

But for Pixtuna things might get worse when the new Hollywood disaster film 2012 which shows the terrible earthquakes, tsunamis and meteor showers (of which a cast aircraft carrier into the White House) goes to the cinema distribution.

Pixtun, otherwise from Guatemala says that the theories about the end of the world expanded Westerners, not Maya.

Hysteria over 2012. There are also some sort of archaeological foundation. It the so-called. Six monument, which was found during the reconstruction highway in Mexico 1960.

                                        photo: fraction of the Mayan calendar

Inscription on the stone describes what will happen to these year.
The associated Yokte Bolon, a mysterious Mayan god of war and of creation. However, due to erosion of the end of the disputed passage is illegible.

Guillermo Bernal, an archaeologist at Mexico's National autonomous museum assumes that the damaged part of the word''Lower will be from heaven'', but he also points out that there are Mayan records and
dates after 2012. even to the 4772.

''It's about creating a special anniversary. Mayans never mention the end of the world, or that on that date something bad happen. It's just important dates for them, the end of an era'', said David Stuart, a specialist in Maya epigraph from the University of Austin.

But the Mayans knew a secret, however - 21 December 2012. the Sun to the winter solstice will be aligned with our Milky Way, which is occurs only once in 25,800 years.

 documentary film about the Maya

Print Page
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...