NASA

America to be brought down by junk food? 69% of youth too fat to fight for the military – Daniel Barker

May 11, 2015

Great nations have often been subject to being brought down by an “enemy within.” In the case of America, that enemy might well prove to be be obesity. If this generation is too fat to fight, who will be there to defend our country in its time of need? That’s the question posed by a group of retired military personnel who have formed an organization called “Mission: Readiness.” Made up of “more than 500 retired generals, admirals and other senior retired military leaders,” Mission: Readiness is focused on investing in the youth of America to ensure that our nation remains secure and prosperous in the 21st century. The Minnesota branch of the organization has prepared a report titled “Too Fat, Frail, and Out-of-Breath to Fight.” It contains a critical look at the state of health among young people in America, particularly those living in Minnesota. According to the group, 69 percent of Minnesota’s young people are unfit to serve in the military, and obesity is one of the major reasons why. Many of the health issues affecting eligibility for military service, such as asthma – which disqualifies individuals from enlisting unless they have a waiver – are directly or indirectly

US Ranks Worst Among Rich Nations in Maternal Death Rates – Nadia Prupis

May 6, 2015

In a “rapidly urbanizing world,” the poorest mothers and children living in urban centers—in developing countries and Western nations alike—face similar obstacles and high risk of death, a new report by Save the Children has found. State of the World’s Mothers: The Urban Disadvantage, published Monday, details the hardships faced by impoverished families living in urban areas around the globe that have contributed to a growing survival gap between the world’s rich and poor. “Our report reveals a devastating child survival divide between the haves and have-nots, telling a tale of two cities among urban communities around the world, including the United States,” Save the Children president and CEO Carolyn Miles said while announcing the findings. The U.S. ranked the worst among all developed nations for maternal risk of death. Using five indicators, the annual report also indexes the best and worst countries for mothers, ranking 172 nations on maternal health, children’s well-being, educational status, economic status, and women’s political status. The U.S. fell two slots from last year’s index, dropping from 31st to 33rd in the world. It also performed poorly on political representation, ranking 89th overall with a total 19.5 percent of national government seats being held by women. Further,

In 50-49 vote, US Senate says climate change not caused by humans – Sean Cockerham

May 4, 2015

The Senate rejected the scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change, days after NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared 2014 the hottest year ever recorded on Earth. The Republican-controlled Senate defeated a measure Wednesday stating that climate change is real and that human activity significantly contributes to it. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, offered the measure as the Senate debated the Keystone XL pipeline, which would tap the carbon-intensive oil sands in the Canadian province of Alberta. The Senate voted 50-49 on the measure, which required 60 votes in order to pass. “Only in the halls of Congress is this a controversial piece of legislation,” Schatz said. The chairman of the environment committee, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., is an enthusiastic denier of climate change, saying it is the “biggest hoax” perpetrated against mankind. “The hoax is there are some people so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change the climate,” Inhofe said Wednesday on the Senate floor. “Man can’t change the climate.” Read

Anti-Science GOP ‘Eviscerates’ NASA Spending on Climate Change Research – Deirdre Fulton

May 4, 2015

Reinforcing the GOP’s reputation as anti-science, Republicans in the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology on Thursday voted to slash NASA spending on the branch that studies climate change issues. According to news reports, the NASA authorization proposal, passed along party lines, would cut between $300-500 million in funding to NASA’s Earth Sciences division, which researches the planet’s natural systems and processes—including climate change, severe weather, and glaciers. The bill will now go to the full House for a vote. “When you vote for people who publicly and loudly spout nonsense about science, and go against the overwhelming 97 percent consensus among climate scientists, what do you expect?” —Phil Plait, Slate As Ars Technica notes, “This vote follows the committee’s decision to cut the [National Science Foundation]’s geoscience budget and comes after a prominent attack on NASA’s Earth sciences work during a Senate hearing, all of which suggests a concerted campaign against the researchers who, among other things, are telling us that climate change is a reality.” Unsurprisingly, NASA pushed back against this latest attempt to stymie climate research. Read

Overlooked evidence – global warming may proceed faster than expected – Dana Nuccitelli

May 1, 2015

It’s known as “single study syndrome”. When a new scientific paper is published suggesting that the climate is relatively insensitive to the increased greenhouse effect, potentially modestly downgrading the associated climate change threats, that sort of paper will generally receive disproportionate media attention. Because of that media attention, people will tend to remember the results of that single paper, and neglect the many recent studies that have arrived at very different conclusions. Clouds Point to a Sensitive Climate For example, there have been several recent studies finding that the global climate models that most accurately simulate observed changes in clouds and humidity over the past 10–15 years also happen to be the ones that are the mostsensitive to the increased greenhouse effect. For example, a 2012 paper by Kevin Trenberth and John Fasullo concluded, These results suggest a systematic deficiency in the drying effect of either subsident circulations or spurious mixing of moister air into the region in low-sensitivity models that directly relate to their projected changes in cloud amount and albedo … the results strongly suggest that the more sensitive models perform better, and indeed the less sensitive models are not adequate in replicating vital aspects of today’s climate. A 2014

Here’s the Real Problem With Almonds – Tom Philpott and Julia Lurie

April 16, 2015

Almonds: crunchy, delicious, and…the center of a nefarious plot to suck California dry? They certainly have used up a lot of ink lately—partly inspired by our reportingover the past year. California’s drought-stricken Central Valley churns out 80 percent of the globe’s almonds, and since each nut takes a gallon of water to produce, they account for close to 10 percent of the state’s annual agricultural water use—or more than what the entire population of Los Angeles and San Francisco use in a year. As Grist’s Nathanael Johnson put it, almonds have become a scapegoat of sorts—”the poster-nut for human wastefulness in California’s drought.” Or, as Alissa Walker put it in Gizmodo, “You know, ALMONDS, THE DEVIL’S NUT.” It’s not surprising that the almond backlash has inspired a backlash of its own. California agriculture is vast and complex, and its water woes can’t hang entirely on any one commodity, not even one as charismatic as the devil’s nut almond. And as many have pointed out, almonds have a lot going for them—they’re nutritious, they taste good, and they’re hugely profitable for California. In 2014, almonds brought in a whopping $11 billion to the state’s economy. Plus, other foods—namely, animal products—use a whole lot more water per ounce than almonds. Read

What is the source of mysterious methane emissions at Four Corners?

April 9, 2015

This is a joint release of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU-Boulder), NOAA, NASA and the University of Michigan (U-M). A team of scientific investigators is now in the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest, aiming to uncover reasons for a mysterious methane hotspot detected from space by a European satellite. The joint project is working to solve the mystery from the air, on the ground, and with mobile laboratories. “If we can verify the methane emissions found by the satellite, and identify the various sources, then decision makers will have critical information for any actions they are considering,” says Gabrielle Pétron, a scientist from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, working in NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) and one of the mission’s investigators. Part of President Obama’s recent Climate Action Plan calls for reductions in U.S. methane emissions. NOAA is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Read

Russia, US to Jointly Prepare Mars, Moon Flight Road Map

April 6, 2015

Space Daily Russia and the United States will work together on a roadmap to send humans to Mars and the Moon, according to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. The Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos and its US counterpart NASA will jointly hammer out a “road map” program on flights to Mars and the Moon, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said on Saturday(March 28th, 2015). Bolden, who is currently on a tour of Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, added that he had discussed joint efforts to send missions to the Red Planet with Roscosmos head Igor Komarov, including time frames and funding. “Our area of cooperation will be Mars. We are discussing how best to use the resources, the finance, we are setting time frames and distributing efforts in order to avoid duplication,” Bolden said. Read More    

California’s Dire Drought Leads to Record Low Snowpack Levels at 6%, Triggers Mandatory Conservation Measures

April 3, 2015

California’s dire drought conditions have finally triggered more meaningful action at the state level. Today, Gov. Brown issued an executive order which calls on state and local water agencies “to implement a series of measures to save water, including increased enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, streamline the state’s drought response, and invest in new technologies,” according to California Coastkeeper Alliance. The governor issued the statement today as readings of the April 1 assessment came in, which showed snowpack levels are at their lowest since the state started keeping records (approximately 6 percent of normal levels, compared to 24 percent of normal levels last year). “Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow. This historic drought demands unprecedented action,” said Gov. Brown. “Therefore, I’m issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our state. As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible.” Sara Aminzadeh, executive director of California Coastkeeper Alliance, agrees. “Over the next several months we will see some communities run out of clean water, and rivers, streams and wetlands dried up, leaving fish and wildlife stranded. We need action at all levels of government that reflects the urgency and severity of this crisis.” The lack of snowpack will result in very little

Without Water We Die

April 3, 2015

How long can you go without water? You could probably survive a few weeks without water for cooking. If you stopped washing, the threat to your life might only come from people who can’t stand the smell. But most people won’t live for more than three days without water to drink. It makes sense: our bodies are about 65 percent water. According to the United Nations, about 750 million people lack access to safe water—that’s one in nine! One child dies every minute from a water-related disease and 1.2 billion people, a fifth of the global population, live in areas where water is scarce. And it’s not just in other countries. As of January, at least 1,838 drinking water advisories were in effect in Canada, including 169 in 126 First Nations communities—some ongoing for years. With Canada’s abundant glaciers, lakes, rivers and streams, we often take water for granted. (In my home province, we give it away to large corporations that bottle and sell it back to us at exorbitant prices!) We shouldn’t be so complacent. People in California thought they had enough water to fill swimming pools, water gardens and yards, support a fertile agricultural industry and shoot massive volumes into the ground to fracture shale deposits
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