Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

The Quirk: How Will The World End?

February 18, 2010

A couple of weeks ago I ran a competition on WordPress Forum to give me suggestions for blog topics.  The winner was Liana Merlo. Check out her blog here, http://lianamerlo.wordpress.com/. Well done liana, you’ve won some minor exposure on a science blog! Liana wanted to know the most likely ways the world will end.  I thought I’d let The Quirk answer this one.

How the world will end is actually pretty mundane.  The Sun will eventually turn much of its hydrogen and helium supply into heavier elements. Once this has happened the sun will expand into a Red Giant, eventually growing large enough to burn the earth to cinders and eventually cause it to disintegrate and fall into the sun. YAWN! I think what Liana really wants to know is how the world as we know it will end. Here are a few of the possible theories:

GLOBAL WARMING

Soon the rising sea will engulf us all, leaving us in a horrible Waterworld-esqe existence.  I haven’t seen that film, but its got Kevin Costner in it, so I can only imagine it is terrible. Global warming is caused by greenhouse gas emissions, and our only chance of survival is to stop driving/making stuff/buying stuff/thinking and hope it just goes away.

Destroy-ability: 9/10; start building your arks people

MASSIVE ASTEROID IMPACT

If its good enough to kill the dinosaurs, its good enough to kill us.  Step one a massive asteroid hits earth. Step two a huge mass of dust is sent into the atmosphere, blocking the sun. Step three the world is plunged into coldness, and we all freeze to death.  Actually, come to think of it, if this happens soon it will balance out all that pesky global warming.

Destroy-ability: 3/10; I‘ve seen that film Armageddon, everything worked out, except for Bruce Willis

THE RAPTURE

Jesus comes back to earth and saves all the good souls, while the rest of us experience Hell on Earth.

Destroy-ability: 10/10 or 0/10; depends on your faith, you pick

So the smart money is on climate change to piss on our parade, but don’t discount other possibilities. Simon Cowell could use his increasing media influence to hypnotise us all Demon Headmaster style.  Obama’s health care reform could be passed, causing chaos by saving too many american’s lives. Immigrants (see The Daily Mail). Alien Invasion. Who knows?

Wasted Energy: Alternative Fuel Solutions? Rubbish

February 8, 2010

I’ve written an article over at Our Green Earth, go check it out:

http://www.ourgreenearth.co.uk/wasted-energy-alternative-fuel-solutions-rubbish/

Peer Review

January 21, 2010

Anyone that has read Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science will know the importance of the peer review system to science.  Scientists will write papers on any discoveries and submit these papers to journals for publication.  This way their work can be scrutinised and critically assessed by other experts in the field.  These journals are rarely read by the general public though.  Publications such as New Scientist and Nature provide a link from scientists to the public, but much of the science news we digest is reported by the media without verification of facts and figures.  We wouldn’t expect important decisions to be based on hearsay?

In 1998 Syed Hasnain, an indian glaciologist, stated he thought all the glaciers in the eastern and central portions of the himalayas would disappear by 2035.  These claims were never repeated in a peer-reviewed journal and Syed now says his claims were speculative.  However these claims were reported as “very likely” in a 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  The IPCC have now apologised for the mistake, however the question of how and why the claim was included in the first place still remains.

At times the world of science can seem murky and underhand.  Occurrences like the Climategate scandal show that information isn’t always freely available to those that want to or need to see it.  The peer-review system can lead to some scientists being frozen out if they want to publish unpopular views.  A balance must be struck, we want reliable data that has been critical assessed by experts, but we want that information widely available too.  It is important though that any science news story is supplied with appropriate published sources of the original study, so look out for mentions of papers and where they are published, so you don’t get caught out like the IPCC.

Professor Simon