Tag: climate change

This piece is called “Even the air and the water obey (the Laws of Thermodynamics). Part 1” #hotartcard

Thinking of entering my own art at the upcoming #hotartcard event. Although to be honest, I’m more of a “I only draw/paint because my walls look a bit empty, and I’m actually a scientist, so feel a little funny calling myself an artist” kind of artist.


Even the air and the water obey (the Laws of Thermodynamics). Part 1
(pastels and charcoal)

Giant Sculpture Awaits Climate Change and Subsequent Sea Level Rise




“One of the known environmental changes that is happening is the rising of the sea level through global warming. It is critical to me that at the time of its making this work reacts with the viewer, the walking viewer, on the top of the polder and that the surface that the viewer stands on is the surface that the work stands on. The work cannot have a plinth. Over time, should the rising of the sea level mean that there has to be a rising of the dike, this means that there should be a progressive burying of the work.”

Piece and quote by Antony Gormley. Via My Modern Met.

If Science could make New Year’s Resolutions.


Recently, I was asked to imagine a set of New Year’s Resolutions that “Science” would aspire towards.  This was pretty general and in good fun, as well as potential fodder for a piece at Slate.  In the end, Slate only used a small part of my rambling, but I figured this blog is as good a place as any to share the rest of my role playing resolutions.  As well, I’ve categorized it into three main sections, and note that some of them are a little silly (albeit potentially AWESOME).

A: Proper science (technical) resolutions

– Some major mind blowing breakthrough(s) in the renewable energy category.  Something, basically where the cost per watt just destroys the competing fossil fuel economy.

– DNA Sequencing to hit that magic criteria where costs and speed are met.  Basically, something akin to someone getting that Genomics X Prize (http://genomics.xprize.org/).  With those kind of capabilities, I think this is where the ideas behind personal genomics can really be put to test (we’re fast approaching it anyway).  Note that ideally, this would also mean that the policy side of things can also keep up.

– Somebody works out an efficient, effective, and easy way to isolate, purify, culture, and even possibly reset adult stem cells.

B: In the education, and/or policy arena

– Some kind of decent increase in national funding for science research generally – this works for any number of countries, US, and England (and Canada), in particular.  This is especially true in the basic research category which tends to get hit the hardest due to lack of appreciation (by politicians and the general public at large) of how science tends to progress.

– Science expertise in policy making decisions is given much (much!) more clout.  This kind of clout is needed so that more (all?) political decisions are made based on rationality, validity and good evidence (climate change policy, I’m looking at you).  While we’re at it, such expertise must also be utilized in a much more efficient and quicker fashion, since this advice doesn’t help if it can’t keep up with the science (decisions around molecular genetics/genomics for instance).  Basically, science needs to have a much more primary role in the political world.

– Slow but strategic introduction of “Science Philosophy” concepts into school curricula, such that one day, it will have a much more significant presence throughout elementary and high school syllabus (and also diversified in where it turns up: such as in Social Studies as well as the usual science topics).  This is because the nuances of things like the scientific method are far too important to be really only covered at the earlier ages where it is presented in an overly simplistic fashion.  The epistemology of science much richer than that, and ultimately you want all citizens to comfortable and knowledgable in such things because they provide the best practices for good decision making.  (Plus, it doesn’t have to be boring either – check out this piece for instance)  In other words, it’s not necessarily about educating people to become scientists, it’s more about teaching everyone the value of “thinking” like a scientist.  Put another way, I’d like everyone to smile while looking at this t-shirt, but then on reflection, that same person would ask themselves “How is that claim validated?  What is the evidence?”

– I would love for science communication skill sets/options/practices to have a greater presence in the conventional academic science pipeline.  In other words, something like if there is a dedicated funding schematic for graduate students to have the option of exploring these practices.  Translation of science needs more advocates from those in the trenches, or at least needs more that have some experience in the public communications arena.

– Somebody to develop a “Downton Abbey” type television series, but revolve it around the contrasting relationships between supervising scientists (professors, etc), and the rest of the lab (graduate students, technicians).  That show is like crack (I can only assume) to me.

– Where science begins to be recognized formally as a “creative” endeavour.  i.e. you go to the art gallery, and there’s a floor or the permanent exhibit looking at how science is, in many ways, a form of art.  This isn’t so much from the point of view of “this data looks aesthetically pleasing,” but rather, “how they came up with that hypothesis is just so elegant.”  I, and I’m sure others, believe that there’s beauty in that.

C: “Out there, totally unrealistic but this would be awesome category.”

– Somebody invent a time machine already, so that we can finally persuade Climate Change denialists that Climate modelling is actually a very robust and validated science.  In other words, with this contraption we can finally go to the future, and say “See, told you…”

– Give the UN enforcement capabilities for international agreements concerning the environment or biodiversity issues.  I suggest giving them lightsabers so that everyone knows that this is serious now.

– A super group who makes a “Let’s promote science literacy” music album (can we still call it an album?).  I can see Thom Yorke, Peter Gabriel, and Bjork doing this as a triad of voices backed by the rest of the Radiohead band.

Alright, that was fun.  Any other suggestions out there?

(Image by Kenwyn Lim)

Sun Power – lovely illustrations by Don Madden






By Don Madden, via myvintagebookcollectioninblogform.blogspot.ca, via Stacy Thinx.

Some quotes about climate change…


By Bird and Moon, via IFLS.

This pie chart pretty much says it all…

By James Lawrence Powell.

Here’s another song I wrote: This one is about climate change, the first law of thermodynamics, and the awesomeness of science.

I don’t know what it is about marking papers, but my brand of procrastination seems to lead to silly creative science pursuits.

And so, here is a song I quickly wrote and laid down some tracks last night. It’s kind of amazing what you can do with the average computer and a decent microphone these days. Hope you enjoy!

Listen, things are getting warmer
You can call it climate, climate that is changing
Simple in that science, science is the reason
We should take a stand, come up with a plan, listen to

It’s like this, living in a greenhouse
throwing in the air now, burning in the air now
warmer radiation, holding at the station
models add it up, heat is going up.

G A Dm G
Don’t you know It’s science, showing us the numbers
showing us a truth, something we can trust,
Something that we must take hold and move on forward


It’s like this, following the first law
Which is all to say that, that everything is bookkept
Counted and accounted. Following the heat
Following the work, following the state of things

Heat up, means it getting warmer
And with work a storming, moving air and water
Also changing states, melting ice to liquid
Averaging it out, causing thing to shout

Don’t you know…

Science: it’s not opinion, it’s not like fiction, and not religion. It’s rational, and looks at facts, mistakes are tracked, it looks at evidence.

In which it might take a while for Global Warming Man to save the day…

By Cyanide and Happiness. Note that the site is NSFW.

Watch this video on big oil and its spin: Not only is it relevant, it’s also beautifully done.

From the Post Carbon Institute, via Visual News.

A truly honest weathergirl via @DeepRogueRam #funny

By Deep Rogue Ram. Filmed at Strut Studios in Vancouver: Starring @pippa_mackie and @kainagata. Written by @heatherlibby.

In case you’re wondering how an oil spill can turn into a theme park.


Ever since the Keystone XL Pipeline (originally slated to transport Tar Sand bitumen from Alberta to Nebraska) was stalled, the attention on finding a new route has focused around my own neck of the woods – namely through British Columbia which is currently viewed as a portal for shipping to China. And it seems like every time I open the paper, there’s some new story about big oil shenanigans. Here, Enbridge is the company, and the varying reports of spinning include allegely censoring a newspaper cartoonist, producing a promo video that conveniently leaving out islands in the challenging shipping routes, being quiet on the omission of particularly nasty environmental reports in certain due processes, the somewhat positive downplaying of a spill that happened only a few weeks ago, and finding out that the required “scientific review” won’t really happen because the government recently gutted the department that would have been responsible for that job..

All of this, of course, makes you wonder what a meeting in an oil company’s PR division is really like, and here, I thought I’d have a little fun with this: Seriously, though, at the rate we’re going, I wouldn’t be surprised if memos like the fictitious one below are being passed around:

– – –

Memo: Turning pipeline leaks into something positive!

Alright everyone, it’s time for some major spin control. We managed to plug that pipeline up, but now we seem to be losing the public relations fight what with the freaking amount of bitumen that spilled out. Seriously, the bad press is everywhere, and we are, quite frankly, getting crucified out there. So what can we do about this? How can we turn this PR nightmare into a PR fairytale?

Well, we in the spin department think that we’ve got an idea that can’t lose. Let me explain. Basically, when we thought about the idea of a PR fairytale, we thought about castles. And when we thought about castles (stay with me here), as vanguards of the capitalist world, of course we didn’t think about real historic castles – no, we thought about pink stucco creations, like the kind you might associate with movie studios and animated versions of Cinderella. And then (like magic, we did this all at once, I swear) we said to ourselves, “THEME PARK!” And then we wondered, how much energy is in this leaked tar sand product anyway?

Well, it turns out (with some very speedy back of the envelope calculations) that the amount of energy we can get from it might be good enough to explore the running of our own magic kingdom! Well, at least if we can count on a few more leaks along the way. But how cool would that be? Anyway, here’s the gist. We just pull that energy from our happy accident(s), redirect it, and then run this baby! It’ll be like the leaks happened on purpose! Awesome!

But we digress. Let’s not bore you with talk of energy and leaks, let’s talk THEME PARK!

Now this is just preliminary brainstorming, but we’re thinking a great name would be something like “Slick City!” Nice, right? Maybe even add to that a catchy tagline – something like The Family Friendly Pipeline Spill! We can even have animal characters wandering around the park, with maybe some kind of funky gel-like oil in their fur and feathers so it looks all cool and shiny like. There will be a Fossil Fuel Palace, made out of shiny coal! I can even envision a theatre area where an oiled down animal mascot version of the musical Grease is performed. Is it just me, or are people going to pay some serious coin to see that?

And the rides? How about a ride like “Shutting down the science!” You can have these carts that go around a track, and the riders have these light guns that shoot at things for points. For instance, they can shoot at all the nasty scientists who want to report on their work, or shoot at research centers that might be making inconvenient discoveries. Ha ha, just kidding – I’m just throwing ideas out there, but you get the picture right?

We also need a giant slide ride of somesort. What if we design the slide so that it followed the same curve as the hockey stick graph? And what if we call it the Carbonator or something cool like that?

And the big ticket item? Obviously, this will be an epic roller coaster. Perhaps one made to look like a big old pipeline. We could even make it from real pipeline parts! Don’t we get discounts for those kinds of things? As well, this ride is going to be amazing: it’s going to be the future of log rides. Instead of logs, the folks could sit in oil barrels, and instead of traveling through water, maybe those barrels would even go faster in a petroleum based fluid. Extra bonus if we get to light it on fire!

This is totally a goldmine of an opportunity. It’s like the ideas are just flowing and the theme park is creating itself! FRIED FOOD! Whoa. That one came out of nowhere! Seriously folks, we’ve hit oil here and it’s a gusher!

(Image by D.Ng, text originally published at Boing Boing)

Just wash the damn spoon.

By Max Temkin.

The global mean temperature versus time graph is gonna get bad (very bad).

Not sure of the source. Do leave a comment, if you know.

Here’s one way to adapt to climate change: Build underground ski resorts.

“In order to simulate actual outdoor skiing conditions, provisions are made to vary the steepness of the slope from place to place. In addition, facilities are provided to produce random simulated moguls or an entire mogul field. Thus, during one run of the slope, most, if not all, of the conditions encountered on natural outdoor slopes may be simulated and incorporated into the run”

By Nobuyuki Matsui, via Google Patents, via Futility Closet.

Styrofoam cup cloud #whoa

A picture I’m sure I can use if I want to talk about consumerism, waste, and our climate.

Plus, whoa…

By Tara Donovan via My Modern Met.

Angry Bergs: a kid’s video game where you try to melt those pesky icebergs to save your oil drill.

This is part of a larger site found at arcticready.com, and it is pretty clever. In other words, it’s an environmental campaign simed to draw attention to various issues behind the corporate and (lack of) environmental underpinnings of how a big oil company might operate (some hyperbole in use but in my opinion to good effect). Not totally sure at this point, but I think it’s also closely related to (or even part of) this Greenpeace prank caught on YouTube.

Anyway, Shell is trying hard to get the website (and video game) removed, but so far, it’s still there. Just in case, and for prosperities sake, here is the introductory byline and also a few screencaps of the game itself.

– – –

(From arcticready.com/kids)

“Right now, the polar ice caps of our planet are melting.

That’s bad—but it’s also good!

That’s right! It’s bad because our planet needs ice at the poles. But it’s good because when the polar ice melts, we at Shell can go up there to get more oil, which can do a whole lot of things. Thanks to oil:

Mommy and Daddy can drive to the store to buy you new toys.
Companies like Mattel™ can build new toys.
Engineers can drive to work to design new, better toys that are even more fun to play with.
When you’re done with your toys, trucks can take them away to dispose of.

Oil can even help us fix some of the problems that melting ice causes.

So it’s fine to be sad about our melting polar ice caps, and about how sad that makes the planet—but remember to be glad as well, because of all that the oil we’re finding there is letting you do, now and far into the future!

Cloud spotting in your coffee cup

By Kevin Van Aelst

Alessandro Gottardo strangely compelling images: sweet, and in these cases, a little sciencey

Here’s a few great illustrations that could segue into discussions on green roofs and space programs.

By Alessandro Gottardo via My Modern Met.

In which North Carolina attempts to make sea level rises illegal. (Or let’s make climate change against the law)

This is breathtaking in its stupidity. Below: Replacement House Bill 819, section 2, paragraph e.

Read the full story at Scott Huler’s epic takedown, but here’s a small taste:

“There is virtually universal agreement among scientists that the sea will probably rise a good meter or more before the end of the century, wreaking havoc in low-lying coastal counties. So the members of the developers’ lobbying group NC-20 say the sea will rise only 8 inches, because … because … well, SHUT UP, that’s because why.

That is, the meter or so of sea level rise predicted for the NC Coastal Resources Commission by a state-appointed board of scientists is extremely inconvenient for counties along the coast. So the NC-20 types have decided that we can escape sea level rise – in North Carolina, anyhow – by making it against the law.”

The Last Resort by Slinkachu: great visuals for sea level discussions

Maybe a stretch, but these are cool nevertheless…

By Slinkachu, via Colossal.

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