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China's Coal Power Plants Mask Climate Change 464

Hugh Pickens writes "The Guardian reports on new research revealing that the huge increase in coal-fired power stations in China, up from just over 10 gigawatts (GW) in 2002 to over 80GW in 2006, has masked the impact of global warming in the last decade because of the cooling effect of their sulphur emissions. But scientists warn that rapid warming is likely to resume when the short-lived sulphur pollution – which also causes acid rain – is cleaned up and the full heating effect of long-lived carbon dioxide is felt. 'Reductions in carbon emissions will be more important as China installs scrubbers [on its coal-fired power stations], which reduce sulphur emissions,' says Dr. Robert Kaufman. 'This, and solar insolation increasing as part of the normal solar cycle, [will mean] temperature is likely to increase faster.' The effect also explains the lack of global temperature rise seen between 1940 and 1970 as the effect of the sulphur emissions from increased coal burning outpaced that of carbon emissions, until acid rain controls were introduced, after which temperature rose quickly. 'Warming due to the CO2 released by Chinese industrialization has been partially masked by cooling due to reflection of solar radiation by sulphur emissions,' says Prof Joanna Haigh. 'On longer timescales, with cleaner emissions, the warming effect will be more marked.'"
Wireless Networking

Global Warming To Hinder Wi-Fi Signals, Claims UK Gov't 280

radioweather writes with news of a government report from the UK's Dept. for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which warns of global warming's harmful effect on Wi-Fi and other communication protocols. Quoting the Guardian: "Presenting the report, the secretary of state for the environment, Caroline Spelman, said that higher temperatures can reduce the range of wireless communications, rainstorms can impact the reliability of the signal, and drier summers and wetter winters may cause greater subsidence, damaging masts and underground cables. The threat posed by climate change to internet and telephone access is a rare example of when the developed world would be hit harder than developing countries, which are in general more at risk from increased floods, droughts and rising sea levels. 'If climate change threatens the quality of your signal, or you can't get it because of extreme fluctuations in temperature, then you will be disadvantaged, which is why we must address the question,' said Spelman, 'and just imagine in the height of an emergency if the communications system is down or adversely affected.'"

Meta-Research Debunks Medical Study Findings 261

jenningsthecat writes "From The Atlantic comes the story of John Ioannidis and his team of meta-researchers, who have studied the overall state of medical research and found it dangerously and widely lacking in trustworthiness. Even after filtering out the journalistic frippery and hyperbole, the story is pretty disturbing. Some points made in the article: even the most respected, widely accepted, peer-reviewed medical studies are all-too-often deeply flawed or outright wrong; when an error is brought to light and the conclusions publicly refuted, the erroneous conclusions often persist and are cited as valid for years, or even decades; scientists and researchers themselves regard peer review as providing 'only a minimal assurance of quality'; and these shortcomings apply to medical research across the board, not just to blatantly self-serving pharmaceutical industry studies. The article concludes by saying, 'Science is a noble endeavor, but it's also a low-yield endeavor ... I'm not sure that more than a very small percentage of medical research is ever likely to lead to major improvements in clinical outcomes and quality of life.' I've always been somewhat suspicious of research findings, but before this article I had no idea just how prevalent untrustworthy results were."

James Lovelock Suggests Suspending Democracy To Save the World 865

mosb1000 writes "Climate scientist James Lovelock claims it may be necessary to put democracy on hold to prevent a global climate catastrophe. He goes on to say that the best remedies may be adaptation techniques such as building sea defenses." Lovelock is famously the creator of the Gaia hypothesis.

Greenpeace Decries Lack of Environmental Progress From Console Makers 143

SwiftyNifty writes with an update to Greenpeace's 2007 criticism of game console manufacturers over environmental concerns. Their claim was that some of the chemicals used to make the consoles were toxic, and that the manufacturers' recycling practices were not up to snuff. Two years have passed, and Greenpeace now says that progress is either slow or non-existent. "... Nintendo has little plan to remove PVC and almost no plans to remove [brominated flame retardants]. Slightly further up the scale, Microsoft was again awarded a poor ranking due to the use of toxic waste materials. And Sony, who rank rather well in their mobile phone partnership with Ericsson (scoring 6.5 out of 10 for improved toxic waste and efficient energy usage) didn't perform as well in the console category, failing to eliminate PVC or BFRs from their gaming products."

There is very little future in being right when your boss is wrong.