Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday Short Subjects: Viewing the Earth Over Time

Earlier in the month it seemed we had reached an ominous milestone. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that on May 9 the daily average of atmospheric CO2 recorded at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii reached 400 parts per million for the first time. That number has since been revised downwards to 399.89. [Not quite 400, but nothing to celebrate.]  

Environmental activists have long been calling for immediate action to reduce  atmospheric CO2 to 350 ppm, what many experts believe to be the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. You can learn more about the science behind this number here

Just about the time the Mauna Loa story broke, the Google | Official blog unveiled “A picture of Earth through time.” Google worked with the U.S. Geological Survey, NASA, and TIME to compile more than a quarter-century of images of Earth taken from space and turn them into an interactive time-lapse experience. It’s pretty difficult to deny global warming after witnessing the remarkable images of the Columbia Glacier Retreat in Alaska between 1984 and 2011. 

There are many other featured sites including the Growth of Las Vegas, the Drying of the Aral Sea, Dubai Coast Expansion, and Amazon Deforestation. 

Prepare to be amazed and saddened. The next time you meet a climate denier, you will know just where to send him or her. 

Why Saturday Short Subjects? Some readers may recall  being dropped at the movie theater for the Saturday matinee — two action-packed feature films with a series of short subjects (cartoons or short movies, sometimes a serial cliffhanger) sandwiched in between. Often the short subjects were the most memorable, and enjoyable, part of the morning. That explains the name. The reason behind these particular posts is that we are all short on time. My Short Subject posts should not take me as long to write or you as long to read (or try).

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