CO2 global average crosses symbolic 400 ppm mark – #climate #redcups #realredproblems #COP21

After posting my red cup meme image yesterday, I saw the new report below, so why not make another image showing an actual red problem that should be getting attention and controversy instead of festive cups??
redmeme2 edit

A new report from the World Meteorological Organization shows that the global average concentration of carbon dioxide crossed above 400 parts per million for the first time in spring 2015. In spring 2014, carbon dioxide concentrations in the northern hemisphere crossed the symbolic 400 ppm level, but this is the first time it has been recorded as a GLOBAL AVERAGE.

“We will soon be living with globally averaged CO2 levels above 400 parts per million as a permanent reality,” Said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud

“We can’t see CO2. It is an invisible threat, but a very real one. It means hotter global temperatures, more extreme weather events like heatwaves and floods, melting ice, rising sea levels and increased acidity of the oceans. This is happening now and we are moving into uncharted territory at a frightening speed,” he said.

The New York Times also reported on the new WMO greenhouse gas bulletin that covers the 2014 data.

“This evidence shows us that the concentrations are increasing, and they are increasing with increasing rates,” said Oksana Tarasova, chief of the W.M.O.’s Atmospheric Environment Research Division. “This calls for urgent and very strong actions to limit the emission of those greenhouse gasses.”

But Dr. Tarasova noted that exceeding the 400 mark does not denote an immediate catastrophe.

“There is nothing magic about 400, it’s nothing better than 399 or 401,” she said. “This is like our obligation to ourselves, we’d like to not go over 400. It’s symbolic.” She said that surpassing the threshold “only shows that our commitments are not there.”

Image above includes the controversial red cup from Starbucks and a graph of carbon dioxide recording from NOAA showing  CO2 going above 400 ppm. Based on my post from yesterday. I couldn’t find an updated graph showing global average above 400, this shows a northern hemisphere recording to Nov 2015 – and I think it gets the point across.

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Jim Carrey throws anti-science twitter tantrum against California’s new vaccination law, makes fool of himself #science #irony

Earlier this week California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a contentious, but scientifically supported, bill enforcing strict school vaccination requirements!!! Following the signing, Jim Carrrey went on a rant on twitter raging against the bill.

Carrey claims that he’s not anti-vaccine, just anti- ‘toxins’ in vaccines. Too bad the science behind these compounds being ‘toxins’ is about as good as the science showing that vaccines cause autism (hint- its not good science). Apparently no one ever sent Jim Carrey this meme showing the basic chemistry difference between mercury and a mercury containing compound. #SCIENCE

Carrey can claim that he isn’t anti-vaccine, but he is still clearly misinformed when it comes to vaccines and science.

Lastly, Carrey included a picture in one of his anti-‘toxin’ tweets (below, the picture has been removed by twitter).

Turns out that the boy actually suffers from the disease Tuberous sclerosis, which has nothing to do with vaccines, but IS associated with autism. The boys mother couldn’t be more annoyed that her son’s image was misused by Carrey in such a way.

“Jim Carrey has a huge platform — a huge following — and is misrepresenting my son’s image by attaching it to his anti-vax rant,” Alex’s mother, Karen Echols, told BuzzFeed News by email.

Alex was born with a genetic syndrome called tuberous sclerosis, or TSC, which causes benign tumors to grow all over the body, including the brain. Many children with TSC have autism, including Alex.

Alex’s photo was removed from Carrey’s tweet on Wednesday night after Echols filed a copyright complaint to Twitter. (Echols’ first-ever tweet was to Carrey asking him to take the picture down.) The tweet had already been retweeted nearly 600 times.

Echols first found out about Carrey’s tweet when her brother-in-law posted it to her Facebook wall.​ Her sister, Elizabeth Welch, is also upset about Carrey using the photo out of context. “It kind of felt like he was mocking [Alex], and that’s what was upsetting,” Welch told BuzzFeed News.

“I’m very disgusted and sickened that a celebrity would use a photo like this that was used in the first place to spread awareness of Tuberous Sclerosis to mock him and and my sister for vaccinations,” Welch wrote. “Even if that was not his intended outcome, it is what happened.”

Apparently the hilarious, but scientifically misinformed, actor hasn’t learned the vaccines-cause-autism-etc-lesson from ex-wife Jenny McCarthy. Yikes!

Twitter mocks ‘The Food Babe’ Vani Hari for her anti-science, fear-monger lies!! @foodbabefacts #science

[tweet https://twitter.com/GeneticLiteracy/status/586521730581143552]

If you didn’t already know about the anti-science activist Vani Hari, commonly known as ‘The Food Babe,’ you may have seen her name over the last week. ‘The Food Babe’ is popular for fear-mongering and sounding off about invented dangers from just about everything – including GMO’s, vaccines, additives, food, and anything else she can make up. Check out this terrific NPR piece exploring why Hari should be labeled a fear-monger – exploiting the fears of the ignorant, uneducated, or those prone to conspiracy theories. Also check out this great post by Keith Kloor that looks at Hari and how science should deal with her. Twitter and scientists have had enough of Hari, and are now openly mocking her all over twitter – and calling out her anti-science drivel.

Case in point… the hilarious twitter handle  @foodbabefacts – some of my favorites below!

[tweet https://twitter.com/foodbabefacts/status/586457892082941954] [tweet https://twitter.com/foodbabefacts/status/586454992178913280] [tweet https://twitter.com/foodbabefacts/status/586454992178913280] [tweet https://twitter.com/foodbabefacts/status/586401176180002816] [tweet https://twitter.com/foodbabefacts/status/586385272620711936] [tweet https://twitter.com/foodbabefacts/status/586290793398276096]

Also check out this great post about Hari from fellow WordPress blogger – Violent Metaphors

Wanna buy a Nobel Prize Medal? James Watson is selling his to supplement his income… and more? #science

James Watson, who received the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for helping discover the structure of DNA, is auctioning off his Medal this week.

Christie’s has said Watson’s medal could sell for as much as $2.2 million dollars, when it is auctioned in New York on Thursday.

According to the Irish Times, Watson said he plans to use the money from the sale of the gold medal to supplement his income, make donations to “institutions that have looked after me” such as the University of Chicago, his alma mater, and Clare College, Cambridge, and to buy art.

Check out the article here for more info, including some info on the many controversial comments made by Watson.

Science and Society: an observation

The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” ~Isaac Asimov

As mentioned earlier, I have spent the past few days at ComSciCon, and a theme that really resonated with me is the notion that society DOESN’T actually have an issue with scientists; we DO trust scientists.  However, when it comes down to “controversial” issues like global warming or evolution, it’s not a matter of trusting scientists, but a matter of VALUES.

Rick Fienberg put it nicely, “When science is controversial, it’s not because of the science, but because of the implications (religion, economics, etc).”

Let me break it down.  Science is not something one “believes” in.  One believes in things like the tooth fairy or God.  Science, on the other hand, is evidence-based and factual.  Data either support an idea or contradict it.  And an overwhelming amount of research (check out the Yale Cultural Cognition Project) shows that society AGREES with this. AGREES with scientific results.  We trust scientists, we really do.

Then WHY so much outrage, controversy, and media outrage over some issues that the scientific community AND society agree are real and serious??  Like global warming, evolution, vaccination, and stem cell research to name a few… Turns out, as a society, we don’t doubt the credibility of the research or the results, but we have a hard time changing our VALUES.  For example:

  • If one has been raised on the bible, believing the world and humanity was created 10,000 years ago by the grace of God, despite the evidence and facts supporting that the earth was actually formed 4.5 billion years ago and that we evolved from monkey-anscestors over millions of years, despite all of that evidence-based research, one may have a hard time being OKAY with it.  Not because of the facts and data, but because that overturns their belief-system and compromises their values.
  • Or, if one is employed for an oil company, one cannot deny that oil spills, the oil refining process, and resulting emissions are NOT good for the environment, but THIS is how one makes their living and supports their families.  Despite the evidence and scientific support arguing against oil production, supporting policy that jeopardizes this industry, contradicts that life-style choice, and again, one has a hard time being OKAY with that.

So, perhaps when one argues, “I don’t believe in evolution,” what they really mean is, “I understand that science supports evolution, but this goes against my lifestyle and beliefs, so I’m going to ignore it.”  We are not misinformed or totally irrational; we just don’t like our values, beliefs, or life-style choices disputed.  And now we’ve come full circle.  Science gathers knowledge faster than society gains wisdom.

Don’t worry! There are new ideas and methods to try and tackle this disconnect, but for that, you will have to wait for another blog post!!

Chobani ad campaign fail: scientists doing it for themselves! #sciencematters

chobani

Yesterday, Greek yogurt titan Chobani decidedly lost the “war on science” that it accidentally started with a real-life hashtag campaign gone wrong.

It all started with the phrase, “Nature got us to 100 calories, not scientists. #howmatters,” which was stamped inside the foil sealing on the company’s 100-calorie yogurt containers… The campaign stresses Chobani’s natural ingredients over its competitors’ presumably non-natural ones. The offending sentence probably seemed like a playful way to address consumer’s GMO-centered fears.

But Chobani must have forgotten that many actual scientists — including food scientists – also eat yogurt, and aren’t going to stand for smears against their profession. Naturally, they took over the #howmatters hashtag to complain.

As a yogurt eating scientist, I completely missed this campaign and controversy. I am 100% Fage (more Greek). But Danielle Wiener-Bronner at the Wire picked it up and has summarized both the campaign and twitter responses!