marsden_online: (camera2)
march for Science, Christchurch edition
Rainbow unicorns
"We are also marching to support those who are being negatively effected by attacks on Science in the U.S and all over the world. We are marching to show that we support and value Science in our lives and that we will stand up to protect it."
marsden_online: (write)
The executive summary of the Improving the transition (pdf) report just out from Sir Peter Gluckman and the PMCSA should be required reading for anyone who has contact with children or adolescents.
Tip - you don't have to read it all in one sitting, it's not going anywhere. (It just came to me on an otherwise slow day.)

I just want to pull out and highlight here one statement that caught my attention as having even broader implications for policy delivery.
Given these factors, where interventions are to be targeted, they should be targeted according to risk rather than according to ethnic identity. Once individuals and groups at risk have been identified, strong cultural identity requires culturally relevant interventions and environments, but these interventions, like all others, must be carefully managed and monitored. The same rigour and evaluation needs to be applied to culturally tied interventions as to others (Chapter 22)

This is discussed in depth specifically in relation to Maori/Pasificka/other immigrant cultures and the report makes clear these are not monolithic groups and relevant delivery must be more finely grained.

But "white" culture in New Zealand is hardly a monolithic group either. I'm well aware that I belong to a middle class, highly educated, citified subculture and what gets my attention/consideration is very much not the same thing as even my blue-collar brother*. Whether the differences descend from geographical, socioeconomic or (especially in the case of youth) just "tribal" factors we could all benefit if, after targeting, a tailored approach is the standard. (Even though that last bit sounds like an oxymoron.)

*Currently making far more money than me working drilling rigs in Oz.
marsden_online: (globe)
Via SciBlogs, Jim Salinger explains how global warming contributed to the recent Queensland floods.
The causes of these floods have been laid at the feet of the La Niña climate pattern – the sister of El Niño. La Niña brings strengthened moisture-laden easterly winds on to the Australian continent. This year the La Niña event is strong, with it being amongst the top three in magnitude, ranking with the 1918/19 and 1973/74 events. However there is one distinct difference this season: temperatures in Australia this past decade have been 0.5 deg C warmer than in the 1970s, and 0.9 deg C warmer than in the 1910s, all as a result of global warming. And during the 2010/11 season, La Niña seas off eastern Australia have been much warmer than average, being 1 to 2 deg C above the 1985-1998 average.

It is a simple law of physics that a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture. With the long term heating of the oceans more moisture has been measured in the atmosphere during the last decade. The consequence is that global warming leads to an increase in the magnitude and incidence of heavy rainfall, and the resultant floods.
marsden_online: (Rage)
New Zealand kelp forests under threat
Last year the Ministry of Fisheries, following a period of consultation, entered giant kelp into the [Quota Management System]
the Ministry produced three options for total allowable catch for the management area that extends from a point near Kaikoura all the way down to Slope Point at the southern most tip of the South Island. These options were 1) 375.8 tonnes, 2) 40 tonnes, and 3) 17 tonnes.
the Minister’s announcement yesterday that the total allowable catch for the east coast of the South Island had been set at… wait for it…. 1,238 tonnes!!! TA DAAAAA!!!! But hang on a minute, wasn’t the largest option put forward by his own advisors 375.8 tonnes?
It takes a lot of time and research to write a submission that is based on current scientific knowledge. I personally feel like the effort that my colleagues and I put into this process was a complete and utter waste of time.

What's that line from Soylent Green? "The oceans are dead, we killed them."?
Although National has done this I'm not convinced Labour would have been any better. I wonder who bought and paid for this decision?
Note that his happens to many other species in the QMS. A veneer of legality to raping the ecosystem.
Less rage-inducing, a good explanation of why wind circles areas of low pressure instead of flowing straight into them.

Finally, making the point that academic research careers are the exception for science PhDs, and I think the principle can comfortably be extended to cover 'lesser' degrees (eg Masters) and other disciplines as well.
marsden_online: (Kea)…/
As the oceans warm up, more water vapour enters the atmosphere, and because it is itself a heat-trapping gas this adds to the warming. This positive feedback is important because it increases the amount of warming triggered by the CO2, but it’s also important because of impacts of the increase in water vapour itself. The increase has been measured: there’s about 4% more water vapour in the atmosphere now than there was 30 years ago, and I suspect that we’re now seeing the effects of that on our day to day weather.

Water vapour is sometimes described by meteorologists as the “fuel” that drives storms. As water evaporates from a warm ocean, it cools the surface and transfers energy into the atmosphere. As the water vapour condenses into clouds and rain, that energy is released, intensifying the storm. More water vapour, stronger storms, heavier rainfall.

4% extra water vapour doesn’t sound like a lot, does it? But it’s enough to change the probabilities of heavy rainfall events in two ways. Firstly, the frequency of heavy rainfall events will increase, and secondly the amount of rain that falls in the heaviest events will increase. Take a look at this graph (from NASA’s Earth Observatory feature on the costs of climate change):

Also from Sciblogs this week:
- I know that everyone here is sufficiently educated to know that camels store fat, not water in their humps. This post looks at other ways they are adapted to a low-water environment -

- Birds have friends too -
What was found was that birds who were the recipients of high intensity conflict (eg hitting) were more likely to receive interactions with high value bystanders. In other words, when birds got into a serious fight their friends came over afterwards. The correlation with conflict intensity implies that the “friends” knew when the victim would be more distressed and would need to be calmed. This insight further implies some level of empathy.
marsden_online: (globe)

An uncalculated (and unwelcome) cost of global warming - climate refugees

Sir Peter Gluckman's unsurprisingly little-reported broadside at science reporting in the media

You are not the shape you think you are


And just to see how it looks - LJ's new 'repost' button

marsden_online: (globe)
Knowledge versus certainty in skepticism, medicine, and science, via a couple of places

Hermit crab house party via Sciblogs
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
First, Biblical science vs Modern science (OK, mostly pretty pictures from modern science)

On a more serious note, this is how fucked the oceans really are.

marsden_online: (globe),

Some analysis of the gubermint's recent 'increase' in science funding.
marsden_online: (skull)
Bioblog at Sciblog talks about how death is a part of us from the very beginning
But the fine sculpting of the embryo doesn’t result solely from cell division & growth. It’s also dependent on programmed cell death, or apoptosis. This is perhaps most obvious in the development of fingers & toes, which appear as separate digits because cells lying in the regions between those future digits self-destruct (I’ve sometimes seen apoptosis described as cellular suicide).

... and possibly has been from the very beginning.
But just when did death enter the picture? Do single-celled organisms ‘die’ in the same way? After all, they reproduce largely by binary fission, with the occasional bit of unicellular hanky-panky, so the cell line surely goes on. And on…
It turns out that researchers studying phytoplankton die-offs have found that algal and cyanobacterial cells grown in the lab die in exactly the same way as cells of more complex creatures ... This suggests that the origins of cell death go a very long way back indeed ...
Because plankton reproduce by binary fission they are essentially clones of the parent cells & thus the members of a given species would share most of their genes with each other. If, in the face of a virulent virus, enough cells die off to slow the rate of infection, then maybe a tendency for self-destruction would actually be selected for.

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