A Nuclear Reactor that's Safe and Minimizes Waste

I don’t usually post videos that are anything longer than a couple of minutes, but this one lasts 11:17. But it’s worth it. Leslie Dewan, an engineer with a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology outlines her plans for a nuclear reactor that is safer than conventional reactors and uses what’s currently considered nuclear waste. She’s an impressive young lady, selected as one of TIME magazine’s “30 People Under 30 Changing the World” last year. It’s worth checking out because it could truly provide our energy needs now as a means of reducing emissions while waiting for renewable sources of energy to be ready for prime time.

Finland: The Heat is On

“Like the canary in the coal mine, the climate changes already evident in the Arctic are a call to action.”
Susan Collins

Global warming affects the North Pole more than it does the equator. That’s an established fact, usually attributed to the fact that the Arctic ice cap is shrinking so the darker water absorbs more energy from sunlight than the ice which is much more reflective, the so-called ice-albedo feedback, amplifying the entire process.

So it should be no surprise that a country located close to the North Pole such as Finland is warming faster than other nations around the world. How much faster? Last week meteorologists reported that Finland has experienced global warming nearly twice as fast as the rest of the world over the last 166 years of records. Since 1847, the Finnish Meterological Institute reports: Continue reading

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas…

“… just like the ones I used to know.”
—Bing Crosby (along with countless others since)

Yesterday we had a green Christmas. It somehow seems more like Christmas if there’s snow on the ground and a light snowfall, certainly much better than rain with green grass still visible, at least to me.

My recollection is that we had a lot more white Christmases when I was a kid than we do today. I started to wonder if that was simply selective memory or not, but Environment Canada has been able to help confirm my suspicions.

Looking to the city closest to where I live that Environment Canada provides data for on this issue, the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) had a 65 percent chance of a White Christmas from 1963 to 1982, encompassing almost all of my childhood. From 1992 to 2011, however, that probability dropped down to 35 percent. In other words, the GTA used to enjoy two in three odds to have a white Christmas when I was a kid, but now it’s one in three for me as an adult.

Another parameter Environment Canada has looked at is Continue reading

2014 in Review: What Have Scientists Been Telling Us?

“We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.”
Carl Sagan

Sometimes it can be frustrating when it comes to some people’s attitudes toward science and scientists. I’ve heard people say “We don’t need to reduce our emissions now because scientists are going to discover ways in the future that will get us out of this mess,” pinning their hopes on some as-yet-uninvented technology. But interestingly, these same people don’t want to listen to today’s scientists and what they have to say about how we should be dealing with the climate crisis right now.

Today’s scientific consensus is a strong one: more than 97 percent of climate scientists agree that present global warming is predominantly our fault. To put that statistic into perspective, that’s comparable to the scientific consensus that smoking causes cancer. When a politician claims “I’m not a scientist” when asked about the facts, it still blows me away that they feel that means they can ignore what the scientists are actually saying about our plight rather than turn to them for their expert opinions.

Here’s what some scientists said in 2014: Continue reading