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Sat, 29 Jan 2022
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Swarm Savvy: How bees, ants and other animals avoid dumb collective decisions

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This is a phone conversation, so if Tom Seeley rolls his eyes, that's his business. He's a distinguished behavioral biologist, full professor at Cornell University, member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and so on. Yet he takes it pretty well when asked whether honeybees could have had a real estate crisis and crashed their banking system.

Seeley, at least voice-wise, stays polite and treats this as a serious question. Which it is.

Of course honeybees don't have a banking system, but they do exhibit collective behavior. The queen bee doesn't decide what the colony needs to do. Instead, each colony member does her or his bee thing, and out of hundreds or thousands of interactions, a collective decision emerges. Seeley's next book, due out in 2010, will be called Honeybee Democracy.

Better Earth

Bangladesh: In search of fresh water

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© Munem Wasif / Agence VU / Courtesy Prix Pictet
Shajhan Siraj and his brothers from Gabura race against the rising tide as they seek to launch their boats into the sea. The boats are laden with water which takes them between two and three hours to collect each day.
Bangladesh has a complex and increasingly difficult relationship with water. Among the factors contributing to this are climate change, catastrophic flooding, coastal erosion and the pollution of drinking wells by natural arsenic.

Now photographer Munem Wasif has brought to light another growing problem that is already affecting hundreds of thousands of people in the Satkhira region of south-west Bangladesh: increasingly salty groundwater.

See Wasif's images.

This rise in salinity has been caused by a shift from traditional agriculture to commercial shrimp farming. The latter can generate a lot of money for a fortunate few, but for most its consequences are disastrous. Once-fertile land turns to brackish water and local people lose access to drinking water and their livelihoods.

Sun

Unexpected Solar Activity

The sun produced an unexpected burst of activity on April 23rd when an enormous prominence rose over the northeastern limb and erupted. SOHO recorded the blast from beginning to end with a series of high-cadence UV snapshots. Click here to set the scene in motion:
Sun burst
© SOHO

Evil Rays

World cooling has set-in warns astrophysicist - BBC & 'Global Warming apologists' challenged to end 'cover-up'

"Official data shows the world passed its peak temperatures 10 years ago, but sadly the BBC and 'Global Warming apologists' are now attempting to cover up the facts" said Piers Corbyn, 'climate realist', astrophysicist & long range weather & climate forecaster, 24 April, in response to the BBC's 'Quiet Sun baffling astronomers' report.

"In timely backing of the UK Government's £1billion Carbon budget and similar moves in the USA, the BBC and Prof Lockwood of Southampton University distort the facts in an attempt to cover-up the proven centrality of the sun in controlling world temperatures", said Piers.

"They make the ignorant and loaded claim that '...Current slight dimming of the sun was not going to reverse the rise in global temperatures caused by the burning of fossil fuels'. This is treble confusion because (1) the world is already cooling even though CO2 is rising; (2) there is no evidence that the burning of fossil fuels ever did or ever will drive world temperatures and (3) reputable and informed solar scientists know that there is a lot more to the sun's influence on the world than its dimness or brightness."

Better Earth

AMO and PDO - The Real Climate Makers In United States?

For decades we have been urged to urgently prepare for unprecedented global warming or there will be gloom and doom for the world. Yet only few years after the issue of the IPCC reports, exactly the opposite is happening. Matter of fact the cooling already started after 2002. The climate data from 3 different major organizations [GISS, UAH and RSS] that monitor temperatures all confirm this cooling trend as shown below.

Icecap
© Icecap.us
Graph of monthly global temperature anomalies 2002-2009

Better Earth

Atlantic cooling may presage Arctic ice increase

www.stormx.com/agriculture

Recent satellite observations from the Arctic indicate that spring ice melting is beginning at a lower rate than normal this year. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the area of ice-covered ocean has decreased only about 750,000 km2 from its peak value at the end of February, compared to a normal decline of 1.1 million km2 by late April. If this trend continues, the annual ice melt in 2009 may be less than in recent years, and the late summer Arctic ice extent may rebound from its well-publicized downtrend.

Evil Rays

Examining SORCE data shows the Sun continues its slide toward somnolence

I recently happened upon the SORCE/TIM website and decided to look up the plot of the full total solar irradiance (TSI) dataset.
Total Solar Irradiance Graph 2003 - 2009
© SORCE

The SORCE mission began collecting TSI data in February 2003.

I was curious to see if the variations in the TSI had begun to rise yet, perhaps indicating a start to cycle 24. Visual inspection of the SORCE TSI plot showed just the opposite - variations continue to decline in amplitude. If cycle 24 has started, there are no signs of it in these data.

We can be a bit more quantitative if we examine, instead, a plot of TSI variance with time. I produced such a plot using the daily average TSI data provided on the SORCE web site.

Life Preserver

More Americans Believe Global Warming Natural Versus Man-made

Despite years of hysterical, Al Gore-loving media hype that humans are destroying the planet by emitting too much carbon dioxide, more Americans now believe global warming is being caused by long-term planetary forces rather than man's activities.

This represents a stunning reversal in the past twelve months, and is likely a function of a recent global cooling that has thwarted efforts by climate alarmists to convince citizens that the warming trend that began in the mid-'70s was going to continue forever if the world didn't immediately stop burning fossil fuels.

Now, according to Rasmussen Reports, those believing man can actually control the planet's thermostat have plummeted in number:

Control Panel

Climate campaigners, sceptics live in different worlds

"Two Different Worlds" was a mid-50s hit-parade song. The title perfectly describes the world of "climate".

One world is where I have been taken by 2,500 hours of researching climate research.

The other world is the one portrayed by Gwynne Dyer in his April 8 column, by Thomas Friedman a few days earlier, or by Al Gore and David Suzuki any time.

To scare us, Dyer threw in "the climate problem has grown hugely,-point of no return", "planet turns to desert", and other red-letter disaster scenarios. Friedman was hardly to be outdone, with dire warnings that "climate change is happening faster,-higher temperatures are triggering self-reinforcing feedback mechanisms," and on and on. Gore's movie is pure hyperbole from start to finish Have these opinion-makers looked out their windows the past two winters? Care to hum a few bars of "I'm Dreaming of a White Easter" with me?

According to them, all knowledgeable in fields other than climate, a dire future awaits us UNLESS... unless we mend our ways and live righteously. "Righteously" is, of course, defined only by them, and requires sharp reductions in our production of carbon dioxide.

Darkly amusing is the way they write with full certainty that they know what the future will bring. They don't. They appear unaware that the world stopped warming 10 years ago, and that it has been actively cooling for more than half that time.

Key

Lord Stern, 'Scaremonger in chief', exposed by simple blunders

alligator crossing
© Telegraph UK
Lord Stern predicts that global warming will make the Arctic an ideal habitat for alligators

How come "the world's leading expert on climate change" doesn't even know how much carbon dioxide there currently is in the air, wonders Christopher Booker.

Confronted last week with the unfolding horror story of the Budget, we might have been grateful for the light relief provided by Lord Stern of Brentford, who told us how, unless we halt global warming, we can look forward to the sight of alligators gambolling at the North Pole, and Florida and Bangladesh sinking beneath the sea.

Since he produced the 570-page Stern Review in 2006, which Tony Blair described as "the most important report on the future ever produced by this Government", this former Treasury official and chief economist to the World Bank has won extraordinary adulation. In the US Congress he is acclaimed as "the world's leading expert on climate change", vying with Al Gore to be the world's Scaremonger-in-Chief.