Thursday, 16 June 2011

Saturn im Morgenlicht – being there

The title to this post is a reference to an Arthur C Clarke story from the March 1961 edition of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, which I used to devour. Saturn im Morgenlicht (Saturn in the morning light) always seemed more romantic than the English version - Saturn Rising. Now we can actually see it.

 Saturn im Morgenlicht

Along the same lines as a previous astronomical video post I did (Feb 2011) – If Jupiter was the same distance as the moon – comes this one following. It’s rather majestic.

Explanation: What would it look like to approach Saturn in a spaceship? One doesn't have to just imagine -- the Cassini spacecraft did just this in 2004, recording thousands of images along the way, and thousands more since entering orbit. Recently, some of these images have been digitally tweaked, cropped, and compiled into the following inspiring video which is part of a larger developing IMAX movie project named Outside In. In the last sequence, Saturn looms increasingly large on approach as cloudy Titan swoops below. With Saturn whirling around in the background, Cassini is next depicted flying over Mimas, with large Herschel Crater clearly visible. Saturn's majestic rings then take over the show as Cassini crosses Saturn's thin ring plane. Dark shadows of the ring appear on Saturn itself. Finally, the enigmatic ice-geyser moon Enceladus appears in the distance and then is approached just as the video clip ends.

5.6k Saturn Cassini Photographic Animation from stephen v2 on Vimeo.


Friday, 10 June 2011

Joined up thinking! – watch the dots being joined up - must see video

Divide and conquer is a time honoured strategy. Manmade climate change deniers often cherry pick isolated facts or pieces of evidence to create or bolster their deceptions. They rely upon the short attention span/sound-bite media world we live in to make their case. They shamelessly re-use demolished arguments and misrepresented research because they know that the general public has a short memory and if they just repackage the same ideas in different wording, to put a different spin it, they will get away with it with a large number of casual observers.

Illustrative of this is the “weather versus climate” meme whereby for example the delusionists will shout out that Smalltown, Pennsylvania has the coldest/deepest temperatures/snow since the oldest resident can remember and therefore how can the Earth be warming up? Clearly all those thousands of scientists must be wrong! This meme relies upon the short memories or insular focus of too many who are just not that aware of, or care, what is happening elsewhere apart from in their own backyards.

We had an unusual pretty cold snowy patch before Christmas in Jersey but that didn’t mean that the Earth was cooling, did it? It meant only that the UK was having a cold snap. Now, we in Jersey are having a prolonged period of high temperatures and virtually non-existent rainfall. That does not mean that the Earth is warming up.  No one event, no matter how dramatic, can prove a statistical trend. However, if one adds up all the unusual events like this across the whole world and starts to see a trend of unusual events happening – like two once-in-a-hundred-years floods/droughts/tornadoes etc. happening within five years -  then the truly intelligent should start to question whether there is something globally unusual going on.

The video below -

A link between climate change and Joplin tornadoes? Never.”

- is a stunning narration-with-pictures of a recent Washington Post op-ed by Bill McKibben, author and founder of Bill’s organisation campaigns that the most sensible thing to do is to reduce current atmospheric CO2 levels (390'ish ppm) to 350 or below in order to give us the best chance of avoiding the worst that could happen. The video below is narrated and illustrated by Stephen Thomson of

Caution: for those who have irony/intelligence bypasses (far too many people in Jersey...) the style of narration is IRONIC. He is PARODYING the deniers and showing just how blisteringly stupid, ignorant and destructive they are. He constantly tells you not to make connections between the frequency of extreme weather events happening now and climate change predictions. He tells you not to notice any patterns and not to connect each separate event. In short he suggests that burying your ostrich heads in the sand is the most comforting way to react.


In addition to the events mentioned by Bill, here’s a few more from a comment on “Climate Crock of the Week” Peter Sinclair’s blog. Peter was generally praising the video and started out by saying “damn, I wish I’d done this”.

Comment by otter17: “Also, there is no need to worry about the Larsen B ice shelf collapse, the Manhattan-sized iceberg falling off of Greenland, the near-unanimous melting of glaciers worldwide, the coastal flooding in Brazil in 2010, the increased frequency of European heatwaves this past decade, the changing growing seasons, the coral bleaching events, the Yangtze River basin drought in China, the prolonged low water levels in Hoover Dam’s reservoir Lake Mead, the Missouri River flooding this year, the recent decade’s spike in Atlantic tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes, the increase in El Niño events over the past several decades, the sinkholes and ponds developing from melting permafrost in the Arctic and Subarctic, the methane bubbling up above the vast methane clathrate reservoirs north of Siberia, etc.

Yeah, don’t bother with those events either. And certainly don’t connect the dots with the rapid rise in greenhouse gas emissions or the hockey stick temperature graph




Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Climate Crock versus Gerard B.

Sorry to keep harping on about local matters but it looks like Gerard Baudains will be standing for Deputy of St Clement again. Notwithstanding that he has got some good ideas in other areas, he unfortunately cannot see past his misguided views on climate change. Casting an eye over three of his recent letters to the JEP, he warmly promotes the hackneyed old denialist argument that, in the ice core records of past atmospheric concentrations, CO2 is clearly seen to increase only (I’m simplifying reality a bit here) after the temperature goes up which he, and legions of others who think too simplistically, claim is evidence that CO2 cannot therefore cause warming.

Over to the latest Climate Crock of the Week from Peter Sinclair. I like the fact that Peter is using the analogy of magic tricks to illustrate how the deniers use simple trickery and fallacious logic to fool people.

My favourite lines are in the bit where Peter ruthlessly and sardonically destroys the “Temperature leads CO2” meme which featured in “The Great Global Warming Swindle”. That execrable piece of deceit used a graph showing the 800 year lag of CO2 behind historical temperature rises:

“those who’ve watched this series for a while know that I always like to go to the source of any claim that climate deniers make – in this case a study by Nicolas Caillon, published in Science… which, of course, we’ll actually read.”

The "Temp Leads Carbon" Crock: Updated