Writings

Warming seas changing what fish are for dinner, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 15, 2013   View Article

Warming oceans are pushing fish toward the poles in search of cooler waters, according to a study that raises new concerns that climate change is robbing the tropics of a primary source of income and nutrition.

Meanwhile, in higher latitudes, data show that trawlers are hauling more warm-water fish out of the ocean – a phenomenon that will change what shows up on menus at locavore restaurants from Cape Town to Tokyo.

“There’ll be changes in the kinds of fish that are available to people who would like to follow that kind of (eating local) strategy,” Michael Fogarty, a fisheries biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, told NBC News.

Seeking gamers: Document power plants, fight climate change

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 12, 2013   View Article

Sometimes, drinking a few beers after class can save the planet. A just-launched online “game” dreamed up during one such beer-drinking session aims to do that by encouraging people around the world to supply much needed data about the world’s power plants that burn fossil fuels.

While the general whereabouts of these plants is known, in much of the world details are fuzzy on the kind of fuel they burn and how much electricity they produce, explained Kevin Gurney, a senior sustainability scientist at Arizona State University.

Ice-free Arctic in our future, ancient climate record suggests

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 9, 2013   View Article

About 3 million years ago, evergreen forests — not tundra — carpeted the Arctic, Greenland was green, and sea ice only formed for a few months in the winter, if it formed at all, according to analysis of sediment pulled from a Russian lake.

“Where we are going is into this warmer world,” Julie Brigham-Grette, a geologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told NBC News.

At the time — the Pliocene — concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide were around 400 parts per million, the same as they are today. But Arctic temperatures were about 14.4 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius) warmer than today, explained Brigham-Grette, who led the analysis.

Chill out? Greenland glaciers’ acceleration to slow, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 8, 2013   View Article

For the past ten years, skyscraper-sized icebergs have cracked off glaciers in Greenland and tumbled into the sea at an ever-quickening rate in response to global warming, raising concerns about runaway ice loss and rising seas. The good news? The rate of acceleration will slow, according to a new study.

The slowdown is related to the physics and geography that govern glacier movement, not a forecast that the rise in global temperatures will halt anytime soon. Indeed, the ice sheets will continue to melt and push up sea levels around the world, just not as quickly as feared, the study’s lead author said.

Robot learns to recognize objects on its own

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 8, 2013   View Article

When all the humans went home for the day, a personal-assistant robot under development in a university lab recently built digital images of a pineapple and a bag of bagels that were inadvertently left on a table – and figured out how it could lift them.

The researchers didn’t even know the objects were in the room.

Instead of being frightened at their robot’s independent streak, the researchers point to the feat as a highlight in their quest to build machines that can fetch items and microwave meals for people who have limited mobility or are, ahem, too busy with other chores.

Greenhouse-gas levels near milestone: Highest in millions of years

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 3, 2013   View Article

Any day now, the concentration of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide sampled from the air wafting above a barren lava field in Hawaii could be above 400 parts per million (ppm), a level not seen since the Pliocene, between 3.2 and 5 million years ago.

Carbon dioxide levels were around 280 ppm when the Industrial Revolution got under way in the 18th century and humans started pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels. Levels have continued to accelerate higher since then.

Three-fingered iRobot hand points to strong, nimble future machines

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 2, 2013   View Article

A robotic hand strong enough to lift a 50-pound weight yet so nimble it can pluck up keys from a table demonstrates real capabilities of a coming generation of robots that will be at work everywhere, from the battlefield to the construction site.

In a segment of a video compilation that was just released publicly, the three-fingered hand picks up a drill, and uses it to bore a hole through a narrow piece of lumber.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach