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Comment Re:Could be a death blow for vast areas of the oce (Score 2) 154

I am not sure there is a sentence of this post that is even remotely correct. Hydrates are not strip mined. With a drill ship, they drill the formation, then apply a vacuum to the drill string. The hydrate dissociates, leaving behind methane gas (which is sucked up the drill string), and a little fresh water. For every cm^3 of hydrate, you get ~164 cm^3 of gas at STP. A drill string, and bottom hole assemble of the research ship Chukyu is not very large, and will likely have no impact on the ocean floor, reefs, etc. There is very little "dirt" being thrown anywhere. Also, there is no dredging.

Comment Re:So much misleading. (Score 4, Informative) 416

1) Why would an 11,300 year data set imply cherry picking? Because it is not a round enough number for you? Perhaps this temperature record is based on foraminifera. Perhaps those are obtained through gravity or piston coring. Perhaps in regions where you need a high enough sedimentation rate to resolve temperatures at 200-400 year intervals, you can only recover 11,300 years. I have only briefly read the article, but it is likely that before 11,300 years, they did not have the time resolution to accurately resolve the temperature prior to this point. This is a data resolution issue, not an "i'm hiding the truths from you" issue.

2) It is the rate of those changes that the authors are highlighting. Absolute temperatures aren't that telling (it has been both much colder and much warmer on earth at various times in history). If the current rate of temperature change had previously occurred in the past 11,300 years (i.e. was driven by natural sources) then they would have seen some indication of it. It would not have been as pronounced as the current trend, due to lower temporal resolution (which acts as a low pass filter), but it still would have appeared.

I don't think anyone is arguing that there are not climate cycles (see Milankovish, also, straw man). But you are comparing events that are happening on much different time scales. Prior to 100 years ago, the temperature had been falling for ~5000 years. In the past 100 years, the temperature has risen to what it was 5000 years ago. Clearly whatever cycle was occurring on a 10000 year period is not the same cycle that we are dealing with now.

Comment Re:I thought water evaporated (Score 1) 244

Geophysics is a pretty big tent. I work on imaging methane hydrate in the ocean sediments using controlled source electromagnetics (known as CSEM). CSEM is basically a way to find the bulk resistivity of materials, whether at shallow depths, such as detecting groundwater, or great depths, such as the mantle conductivity.

The diamond anvil press is a pretty neat tool, while not very common in the US, it is (currently) the best way to replicate the pressures within the earth, and even with those we can't replicate very deep.

Comment Re:I thought water evaporated (Score 2) 244

Strawman much?

Although I do not know these scientists personally, I have a hunch that they understand the water cycle, and still believe that water evaporates. The groundwater is constantly recharging, it is just that we are removing the groundwater faster than it can recharge. This recharge deficiency could be due to a number of things, we could simply taking out too much water, or we could have altered the recharge mechanisms. Calculating how much water we take out is easy, but understanding all the ways that we could be interrupting the recharge mechanism is pretty complex. Off the top of my head we could have asphalted the recharge zone, or altered rainfall/snow-melt patterns, altered the natural drainage system via ditches and canals and sewage systems.

I don't really understand the contempt towards earth scientists these days. The vast majority of these people are highly intelligent, and are honestly attempting to understand these highly complex systems. If I were to ask myself, "Who should I talk to to better understand hydrology?" It would be to talk to a hydrologist, just like if I were to ask myself "Who should I talk to learn about cancer treatments?" I would go talk to an oncologist. Believe it or not, there is a good chance that these scientists, who have spend decades trying to understand these systems know more than you, just like I imagine you know more than them in your given field. (As a geophysicist, I don't know much about biology, and so I choose to trust those who have devoted their lives to it's study, just like those biologists generally trust me when I explain some aspect of geophysics.)

That is all.

Comment Re:More Details (Score 3, Interesting) 154

Actually the earthquake was predicted

If by predicted an earthquake, you mean he predicted the wrong time and the wrong place, then yes, he predicted an earthquake. And this is not the first time he has predicted an earthquake, this is just the first time his prediction was within a week of an earthquake actually occurring.

Giuliani uses radon as a measure of earths movement, and tries to use increased radon levels as a sign of an impending earthquake. This method has never been found to predict earthquakes, but even a broken clock is correct twice a day.

Scientists respond...

Comment Re:IODP Drilling sponsored by BP, Big Oil et. al (Score 1) 335

How is it these guys can be drilling again?

So IODP expedition 308 took place in 2005, some time before the GoM spill. Did you even read the site you linked?

And "these guys" are an NSF funded research organization, not an oil company.

I sailed on IODP expedition 308 (and 304, the expedition the article actually refers to) and one of the objectives was to learn how to safely drill in overpressurized environments safely. And the best place to do this is somewhere where you have ample geophysical data relating to sediment formations to identify and avoid potentially dangerous gas and oil bearing sediment. It turns out the organizations that have that geophysical data is the oil companies. If the USGS or DOE or PETA had that information, they would have collaborated with them, but they don't so we didn't. The sites drilled during EXP 308 were specifically chosen to avoid such dangerous places. Every sample that was brought aboard was measured for higher order hydrocarbons which are indicative of thermogenic gas and oil. Once those values reach a certain (very conservative) threshold drilling stops, and the hole is filled with heavy mud. However I don't believe we ever came close to that threshold.

The point being that researcher-industry collaborations are not inherently bad because industry is involved. I thought it was a good thing that industry was be interested in making drilling in the GoM safer.

Comment Re:Living under surface (Score 2, Informative) 335

Those are both continental crust, which a different animal. You would never actually hit either basalt or gabbro in continental crust, because continental crust is chemically different than oceanic crust. Also one of the goals of IODP expedition 304* and 305 was to drill through the oceanic Moho, the seismic reflection that defines where crust stops and where mantle begins. At the Atlantic Massif, this is pretty close to the surface due to its location adjacent to the Mid-Atlantic spreading center, and was thought to exist at depths less than 1 km. On continental crust the Moho is much deeper, normally 60-80 km deep. Drilling 1 km in the ocean is easier than drilling 60 on land. *Disclaimer, I sailed 304.

Comment Geoengineering (Score 1) 355

Others have pointed out that geoengineering is not new, and they are right. We started geoengineering on a global scale when we started removing vast quantities of carbon that had been sequestered in the earth, oxidizing it, and releasing it into the atmosphere.

And the energy community is already geoengineering how to get this released carbon back into the ground through carbon sequestration techniques. They are pumping carbon dioxide into oil bearing formations to increase well production. They are creating zero emission oil platforms that burn natural gas for energy, capture the CO2, and pump it back into the ground.

There are other, more complex, less studied ways to sequester carbon, such as seeding small parts of the ocean with iron, which will increase plankton production, which will draw down CO2 as they incorporate the carbon into their shells, which will sink and become part of the seafloor, effectively sequestering the carbon. Or by simply pumping liquid CO2 into places where it can't escape (basalt formations, subseafloor sediments, etc).

TFA states that pumping particulates into the atmosphere is a rather extreme solution, but sadly many other active sequestration techniques were not discussed. There are a lot of other, much more benign, better studied methods of geoengineering, it is a shame the article only discussed two relatively unstudied methods.

As another commentor noted, this stuff is confusing. And particulate pollutants are not the same type of pollutants that cause the greenhouse effect. Particulate pollutants are the reason why we see a decrease in global temperatures after a major volcanic eruption, the simply reflect sunlight back into space. But these pollutants are heavy and do not last long in our atmosphere. Greenhouse gases however can have a much longer residence time in the atmosphere, and operate on an entirely different principle than particulate pollutants.

Comment Synthetic World Economics (Score 2, Interesting) 221

Edward Castronova wrote a paper a while back concerning emerging economic theory within virtual worlds.

The paper goes into much greater detail about the type of people who play MMORPGs than the BBC article. In addition to a short history of MMORGSs, he also gives his thoughts on the future of avatars as our means of shopping/working/interacting.

"Journal entry, 18 April. I have called my avatar 'Alaniel.' I land in Norrath for the first time, in a town called Freeport. I am standing in a stone courtyard behind a gate. I see several lean-tos and a firepit. All around I hear the sounds of footsteps and I see humanoids of various shapes and sizes running back and forth, names like "Zikon" and "Sefirooth" over their heads, wearing odd costumes, carrying strange implements. Are they people? Or merely beings created by the software? Statements flow into my chat box at a rapid rate. "Galadriel shouts: Looking for bind at gate." I see a being with the name Galadriel. Is he talking to me? What is he saying? "Friitz says out of character: brt -omwb." What? No sign of anyone named Friitz. "Ikillu auctions: WTS bone chips." An auction. What should I do? I feel the presence of humanity, but I suddenly feel like a stranger in a very foreign culture. I become afraid of breaking some taboo, of making a fool of myself. Clumsily, I maneuver Alaniel toward the nearest lean-to and hide behind it. No one can see me here." (Castronova, p.2, Virtual Worlds, 2001)

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