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Tue, 17 Jan 2017
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Bad Guys

Environmental Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico: The Escalation of BP's Liability

© Erika Blumenfeld/Al Jazeera
Louisiana seafood distributor Dean Blanchard, with recently found oil taken from a nearby marsh
"If you got caught humping another woman - [if] you're both naked and caught in the act - you'd want BP to explain to your wife how it didn't happen."

This colorful analogy was proposed by Dean Blanchard, a seafood distributor on Grand Isle, Louisiana, to explain oil giant BP's continuing machinations to evade liability in the aftermath of the April 2010 disaster.

During a recent discussion in his office, Blanchard told Al Jazeera that the fishing waters off Louisiana are only producing one per cent of the shrimp they formerly produced. "Half of the local fishermen have shut down," he stated. "They are dying. And [as] for the fishing, every day they are hauling dead porpoises in front of my place. I have a claim filed with BP, but none of us in the seafood business are being paid."

Speculating that he may soon have to close down his company, Blanchard spoke for hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast residents who remain angry and frustrated when he added: "I worked 30 years to establish my business, and now BP has destroyed my life."

Bizarro Earth

Quadruple Rainbow Photographed for First Time

© Michael Theusner/Applied Optics.
The third-order (tertiary) rainbow (left), accompanied by the fourth-order (quaternary) rainbow (right). They appear on the sunward side of the sky, at approximately 40° and 45°, respectively, from the Sun. This is the first picture ever of a quaternary rainbow in nature and the second picture ever of a tertiary rainbow.

Forget the double rainbow. This year, the quadruple rainbow is all the rage.

A new photograph shows the first-ever evidence of an elusive fourth-order rainbow.

Few people have ever claimed to see even three rainbows in the sky at once. Scientific reports of these phenomena, called tertiary rainbows, were so rare - only five were reported in 250 years - that until now many scientists believed they were as real as a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

These legendary optical rarities, caused by three reflections of each light ray within a raindrop, have finally been confirmed, thanks to photographic perseverance and a new meteorological model that provides the scientific underpinnings to find them. The work is described in a series of papers in a special issue published this week in the journal Applied Optics.

The optical treasure hunt even went one step further, as revealed in the photo that shows the shimmering trace of a fourth rainbow.

2 + 2 = 4

Yale Paper Shows That Climate Science Skeptics Are More Scientifically Educated

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I think I've found the root of Joe Romm's problem. He needs to go back to school and learn more maths and natural sciences! At least that's what a recent Yale University study shows.

Somehow this paper got by me. Maybe this is old news, and so forgive me if this is already known. It's nothing you'd hear about from the "enlightened" media, after all.

Recall how climate alarmists always try to portray skeptics as ignorant, close-minded flat-earthers who lack sufficient education to understand even the basics of the science, and if it wasn't for them, the world could start taking the necessary steps to rescue itself.

Unfortunately for the warmists, the opposite is true. The warmists are the ones who are less educated scientifically. This is what a recent Yale University study shows. Hat tip: politik.ch.

Cloud Lightning

'Unusual' fall storm hits California - Up to a foot of snow falls in Sierras

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'This is more typical of a winter storm'

Sacramento - An early fall storm stranded big rigs in the Sierra Nevada and snarled roadways throughout California on Wednesday while unleashing gusty winds and snow in the mountains.

Showers hit Southern California, causing scattered fender-benders during the morning commute.

Westbound Interstate 80 reopened through the Sierra Nevada after being closed by stranded big-rigs and spun-out vehicles near Truckee for more than two hours.

"No injuries. But we still have a lot of big rigs stacked up," said California Highway Patrol dispatcher Kim Emery. "They're either waiting or they're chaining up."

Drivers were required to put on tire chains at higher elevations.

Snowman

US: Earliest snowfall on record for Philipsburg and Laurel Summit, Pennsylvania

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Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia, 2 October 2011
Snow in other areas, too, says reader Ralph Fato, including New York, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky.
0.7 inches of snowfall has been reported by the co-op observer at Laurel Summit this morning... with an accumulation of 1.2 inches at Philipsburg. Thus marks the earliest date in the cool season that measurable snow has been recorded at these sites... snow falling heavily at times.

Regional web cams show coating of snow even on roadways at elevations above 1,700 ft MSL... such as RT 22 from Gallitzin through Ebensburg... to Chickory Mountain... where much of this stretch of road is between 1,800 and 2,200 ft.

forecast.weather.gov

Snowman

UK: Heathrow airport spends £32m gearing up for snow chaos

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Heathrow airport almost disappeared during last year's record snowfall
Heavy snow the Saturday before last Christmas led to near-closure of the airport and thousands of passengers had to camp out. Heathrow operator BAA today announced a "winter resilience programme".

It is investing £32.4million in implementing the new measures, which include tripling the number of vehicles available for snow clearance.

It has increased staff available for snow clearance from 117 to 468 per shift and introduced a new "reservist" role, with up to 950 non-operational staff deployed to terminals to help passengers.

BAA has also agreed with airlines, air traffic control company Nats and ACL - the firm responsible for allocating take-off and landing slots - a new process for managing cancellations so that passengers receive faster, more accurate information.

Snowman

Moscow authorities turn heating on early for first time in history as two weeks worth of Autumn snowfall hits Russia in one day


Wintry weather has caught a number of large cities off guard in Russia's Far East and southern Siberia.

In the Chita and Magadan regions, heavy snow and strong winds paralyzed road traffic and left entire districts without electricity.

Municipal services today managed to clear the Kolyma motorway connecting the Magadan region with the Republic of Yakutiya, but several large roads remain closed due to poor visibility.

Some schools have been closed, while several small villages have been cut off from the rest of the region because of poor visibility on the roads.

The heavy snowfall has also disrupted the largest regional airports.

Igloo

Polar Bear Population Reaches Historic Highs: Is There Something Fishy about Extinction Fears?

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put the rifle down, then you can study me
If polar bears had any clue of the scale of speculation about the extinction threat they are facing due to climate change, they would have probably said, "you're kidding, right?"

If you think statistics are a pointer towards the growth or decline of a species, it will be interesting to have a look at the estimates published in a 2008 report by U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that the polar bear population is currently at 20,000 to 25,000 bears, up from as low as 5,000-10,000 bears in the 1950s and 1960s. A 2002 U.S. Geological Survey of wildlife in the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain noted that the polar bear populations 'may now be near historic highs,'" it read.

J. Scott Armstrong of The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; Kesten C. Green of Business and Economic Forecasting, Monash University; and Willie Soon of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, published their findings in 2008, arguing that the claims of declining population among polar bears are not based on scientific forecasting principles.

Bizarro Earth

Massive Japan Earthquake Altered Earth's Gravity

© ESA/HPF/DLR
ESA's GOCE mission has delivered the most accurate model of the 'geoid' ever produced. Red corresponds to points with higher gravity, and blue to points with lower gravity.
The devastating earthquake that struck Japan earlier this year was powerful enough to slightly alter the pull of gravity under the affected area, scientists now find.

Anything that has mass has a gravity field that attracts objects toward it. The strength of this field depends on a body's mass. Since the Earth's mass is not spread out evenly, this means its gravity field is stronger in some places and weaker in others.

The magnitude 9.0 Tohoku-Oki temblor in March was the most powerful earthquake to hit Japan and the fifth-most powerful quake ever recorded. To see how the temblor might have deformed the Earth there, scientists used the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites to analyze the area's gravity field before and after the quake.

The researchers found the Tohoku-Oki quake reduced the gravity field there by an average of two- millionths of a gal by slightly thinning the Earth's crust. In comparison, the strength of the gravitational pull at the Earth's surface is, on average, 980 gals. (The gal, short for Galileo, is a unit of acceleration; one gal is defined as one centimeter per second squared.)

Bizarro Earth

Earthquake swarm after officials confirm eruption at Iceland volcano Katla

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© Unknown
Is Katla about to erupt again?
Iceland's massive volcano Katla appears on the brink of a major eruption just days after officials confirmed they had detected the start of eruptions over the summer.

Measuring devices this morning have picked up a large earthquake swarm, usually a tell-tale sign of a potential volcanic eruption.

The Icelandic Government last month announced it was increasing monitoring Katla, which is one of Europe's most feared volcanoes, following a consistent and strengthening spike of tremors and quakes.

And last week, officials at the Iceland Meteorological Office confirmed a series of smaller eruptions had occurred in July strengthening fears of an imminent, much larger, eruption.

Evidence gathered by geophysicists showed the magma had risen to the height of the glacier ice above the volcano causing it to melt.

They said the high seismic tremors recorded on July 8 and 9 confirmed Katla had become active and started small eruptions.