Monthly Archives: March 2015
Previous studies using very small sample sets reported that there may be higher concentrations of methane dissolved in groundwater near wells using hydraulic fracking methods in northeastern Pennsylvania.1,2
The new peer reviewed study by Syracuse University published in Environmental Science and Technology used a database of over 11,000 sites, hundreds of times larger than the previous studies. No statistically significant relationship was found between dissolved methane concentrations in groundwater from domestic water wells and proximity to pre-existing oil or gas wells. Previous analyses used small sample sets compared to the population of domestic wells available, which may explain the difference in prior findings compared to the new findings using over 10,000 data points. Continue reading
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration completed its evaluation for two varieties of apples genetically engineered by Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Inc., and for six varieties of potatoes genetically engineered by J. R. Simplot Company and concluded that these foods are as safe and nutritious as their conventional counterparts. Read more from FDA press release.
Why are some in the liberal media falsely inflaming this story? They do not need to. The banning of the term ‘climate change’ by Florida officials is clear by now. There is no reason to embellish it with misleading stories by letting ideology distort reality. The Huffington Post, ran a story called ‘Florida Environmental Staffer Says He Was Reprimanded For Talking About Climate Change’, The Guardian called it “Florida employee ‘punished for using phrase climate change'”, The Washington Post called it “Fla. official says he was punished for using ‘climate change’ in report”
According to his reprimand, (read it yourself) it was not for using the term ‘climate change’ but for falsifying the results of a meeting, and for advocating against the Keystone pipeline on official documents. Whether the pipeline causes global warming or not is a political view, even though global warming and climate change are facts, it is not scientific consensus that Keystone will cause increased fuel use, only a shift in fuel use. Our position is that it may by making oil easier to get. Continue reading
Citing sections of a recent publication in Cell1 , Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute claims to have new evidence that confirms the predictions of their Intelligent Design hypothesis. Luskin has done this in the past when researchers have found new functions in DNA.
The promoters of ID claim that their hypothesis predicts the discovery of new functionality and complexity in DNA. They claim this points to a designer and that Darwin was wrong. Really? Neither Darwin, nor any other expert on evolution, nor the theory of evolution has ever claimed that we have discovered all the complexity in DNA, and that we would not discover new codons that determine how proteins and mRNA are regulated. Darwin actually predicted the existence of genetic material such as DNA would be required for natural selection to work.
Ted Cruz gain denied global warming as an issue on Late Night with Seth Meyers .
“I thought you were coming around on global warming,” remarked Seth Meyers. He asked Cruz, “Hottest year on record, But you’re not there right?”Continue reading
Modern observations show that the universe appears to be expanding, and that about 13.7 billion years ago it was much smaller and hotter. As it expanded and cooled, hydrogen and helium condensed out of the initial soup up of high energy particles. Massive clouds of hydrogen compressed by gravity gave birth to and fueled the stars. All of the elements heavier than helium are produced in fusion reactions that power the stars. The heaviest elements that make up the Earth and other rocky planets are remnants of supernova explosions of hot white stars.
Life on Earth is dependent on the debris leftover from one or more of these supernovas that occurred more than 4 billion years ago. Our bodies are about 90% stardust, and 10% hydrogen left over from the origin of the universe. Billions of years of evolution have resulted in biological organs, our brains, that have the ability to comprehend and appreciate their own existence. Our brains control a network of nerves that can animate our bodies, and experience the universe through our senses. At some point in the evolution of life on Earth our universe became self aware via unique arrangement of primordial hydrogen and stardust. Continue reading
We cannot blame the father of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann, who developed modern homeopathy in 1796. Molecules, viruses, and vaccines were unknown, and at least the practice of homeopathy did no more harm and created a atmosphere of caring for the sick. However, in today’s world we cannot be so forgiving, and institutions such as the University of Toronto deserve the criticism they receive over their homeophathy research spending that could be put to beneficial use.
“We are curious about why, given the need to investigate natural therapies that may actually have a potential for benefit, and saddled with a scarcity in funding, a Department of Pharmacy is interested in investigating a subject that has been … found wanting both in evidence and plausibility,” reads a letter from over 60 scientist addressed to Heather Boon, dean of the U of T’s Faculty of Pharmacy.
The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia recently released their results of an investigation into homeopathy and homeopathic claims finding it to be nothing more than junk science and medical quackery. They warn the public:
“Homeopathy should not be used to treat health conditions that are chronic, serious, or could become serious. People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness.”
The media as a ‘manufacturer of doubt’ can have a negative impact on the belief by the public that there is a no scientific consensus when in fact there is one. A Wall Street Journal article “The Myth of Climate Change ‘97%'” challenges that there is a scientific consensus by manufacturing doubt with shady arguments. The opinion co-authored by Joseph Bast, President of the Heartland Institute, which is the “the primary American organization pushing climate change skepticism,” according to the New York Times. They do not address whether climate change is real or not. Instead they focus on manufacturing doubt about scientific consensus. Continue reading
Strong scientific consensus will not generate public support for environmental policy, unless skeptical voices become almost silent. Surveys have shown that perceptions of scientific dissent undermine public support for environmental policy. Even a few vocal or organized scientific and media voices can cause a perception of uncertainty in the public, a tactic used by tobacco companies in the 50’s and 60’s to sway public opinion away from the dangers of smoking. A paper, since debunked as quackery, about vaccines and autism has led to 30% of the American public believing there is a connection according to PEW survey. Likewise, organizations like the Heartland Institute focus on manufacturing doubt about scientific consensus on climate change even though the scientific consensus on climate change approaches 97%. Continue reading
Opposition to Diablo Canyon started before it was constructed, by Friends of the Earth (FOE), a political action group founded by activist David Brower in 1969, over concerns about earthquake safety. Brower, who was against nuclear power in general, split with the Sierra Club over the Club’s position on the Diablo Canyon Power Plant. The Club helped block PG&E’s plan for a nuclear power plant at Bodega Bay over concerns of the earthquake danger from the nearby San Andreas Fault, and supported moving the site to Diablo Canyon. Brower believed that nuclear power was a dangerous mistake at any location, and opposed Diablo Canyon, in defiance of the Club’s official policy. Browser’s ideology was opposition to nuclear power this has become an existential issue for them so they need to claim it is unsafe regardless of the science. They have ignored the recent seismic studies making them out of touch with reality on this issue. Continue reading
Diablo Canyon, California’s last nuclear power plant, can safely withstand earthquakes, tsunamis and flooding that could potentially occur in the region according to a new report released March 9, 2015 by PG&E. Evaluations were performed at the direction of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
As part of its response to the Fukushima event in Japan in 2011, the NRC directed all U.S. commercial nuclear power plants to perform a reassessment of the potential seismic and flooding hazards to their facilities. The seismic hazard analysis at Diablo Canyon was performed using an NRC-mandated process known as the Senior Seismic Hazard Analysis Committee, or SSHAC. Under the SSHAC process, existing and new seismic information was peer-reviewed and publicly evaluated by third-party, independent seismic experts. Continue reading
The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model for the earliest known periods of the universe and its subsequent large-scale evolution. It states that the Universe was in a very high density state and then expanded. The Sillycats antiverse model is a version that explains the arrow of time, matter/antimatter asymmetry, and the conservation of energy in the origin of the big bang. Continue reading
A recent post described the disparity between the rate of actual gun violence and that of perceived gun violence. With actual ownership up, and actual gun violence down since 1968, the opposite of what the public believes. The disparity is due to campaigns of gun control activists promoting the idea that guns cause crime.
A Gallup poll of gun ownership shows that among white Americans, one in three own guns, almost twice the rate as non-white Americans. However, data on gun crimes from the Department of Justice for these groups shows the rate of gun violence among non-whites is several times higher. Also gun ownership among older adults, (>29 years old) is three times that of younger people yet the younger group is responsible for twice the rate of gun violent crimes. Continue reading
Discovery Institute a public policy think tank based in Seattle, Washington, best known for its advocacy of the pseudoscience “intelligent design” (ID), claims ID is a scientific theory that concludes certain features of the universe and living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.
They claim that certain natural objects are too complex and must arise from an intelligent action. The argument is that since a watch is too complicated to arise naturally and requires a designer, than so to must a living cell need a designer. Most of us, with the exception of the Discovery Institute and Republican presidential candidates, have realized early in our development that populations of watches do not have genetic material nor do they reproduce.