Carbon Dioxide | Global Temperatures

Atmospheric carbon dioxide CO2 has been monitored at Mauna Loa Observatory since 1958. Many other sites world-wide have been monitoring CO2. They all see the same increasing trend. Click on the graph to examine an interactive version which allows you to zoom in on any section. The blue line is the trend of the data. The varying red line is the monthly plot of values. The red line rises and falls with changes in the growing season primarily in the northern hemisphere. Summer months allow plants to use the CO2 to decrease it as they make O2 using photosynthesis. Winter months produce a rise in CO2 due to decomposition. Close inspection of daily records also shows the CO2 has a cyclical pattern between daytime and nighttime hours. (Not shown on this graph scale.)


How does this compare to the global temperature trend?

Columbia Glacier Retreat | 1986 to 2014

The NASA Earth Observatory published a pair of images showing the dramatic comparison of the Columbia Glacier in Alaska between 1986 and 2014. Valdez and the Columbia Glacier are on the southern coast of Alaska, east of Anchorage. This Google Map view will give you a broad perspective. Zoom in to find them north of Prince William Sound. Here is a screen shot to help you locate them.

Google Earth

Google Earth

The Columbia Glacier was imaged as shown below in 1986 by the Landsat 5 satellite. The east and west branches merged at the medial moraine with the glacier continuing to flow to the south. It terminated near Heather Island. There it calved and broke off chunks into the water.

NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen

The glacier was again imaged July 2, 2014. This time Landsat 8 gathered the image. Click this link or the linked image above to see their comparison after 28 years. There is a View Image Comparison button on the linked page you might find useful.

Glacier retreat is a serious problem world-wide resulting from global warming caused by increased CO2 in the atmosphere. More examples of glacier retreat and information about glaciers in general can be found at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Castor Bean | Hard Freeze | Update 6

Originally posted on Our View From Iowa:

Links to the Original post, Update 1, and Updates 2 and 3, 4, and 5

It was bound to happen. Cold air from the north arrived recently and killed the once tall and strong castor bean plant. It looked so sad. It will not regrow in the spring. I will see if the seeds are viable.


November 8, 2014

The seeds never quite fully ripened. The prickly pods contain 3 in each. A few were starting to split. I cut off the long stalk of them for a closer look. Plus, they will be destroyed and not put out to the environment for animals or children to access. They are toxic.


Click to embiggen

Here are some close views of a seed pod followed by photos of the 3 seeds compartments and one of a seed exposed. I read where the seeds resemble a tick full of blood

View original 76 more words

Election 2014 | Some Thoughts

French ballot box 2007 | wikimedia

Our team of volunteers was like thousands of others around the country. During the two weekends prior, and during the four days of GOTV November 1-4, we sent out canvassers to knock on doors. We reminded people of their early voting opportunities and of the need to return their absentee ballots if they had one. We sent canvassers at 9, 12, 3, and 6. Some returned to our staging location with absentee ballots which we gave to our county auditor that day or the next.

Ours is a heavily Democratic county. Our tally of votes during the general election would help our candidates running statewide for U.S. Senate and Congress. The countywide results after the election showed our Democratic candidates received twice as many votes as their Republican opponents. We did our job well. Statewide, the results were disappointing for the Democrats. Iowa is a rural and conservative state with three or four pockets of liberal and progressive voters like most of those in our county. Voter turnout in general was low.

My role as a volunteer was to train canvassers to do their job politely and effectively. They were greeted after their shifts and asked about their experiences, positive and negative. Most people were not home. Some could be seen inside and chose not to answer the door.

There was a small amount of positive feedback from voters who appreciated the information. However, negative feedback was most common. Top on the list was how sick and tired they were of the long and non-stop negative campaign. Television and radio ads attacking each candidate were wearing the patience very thin on the voters we contacted. They also had complaints about the number of phone calls they had received. They were very eager for it to stop.

What was conspicuously missing from nearly all of the positive or negative feedback was any discussion about current important issues faced by the country. They weren’t discussed in the political ads. Instead, those ads attacked and took much out of context. The voters were fed up and disgusted. They were opting out of participation in the democratic process.

This isn’t a new problem. But, it does seem particularly intense now. Voters see their communities and neighborhoods made up of people from different walks of life, different cultures, education, religions, races, sexual orientations, etc. They generally get along. When problems arise, the people work toward a solution. Some progress is made. It isn’t perfect. But, there is an attempt to look past differences to try to reach compromise and make life better for the residents now, and in the future. They don’t understand or accept that politicians in Washington D.C. and statehouses are so dysfunctional. The voters are angry.

Another very large part of the negative feedback we heard was about the enormous amounts of money spent on negative campaign ads. Voters feels their voice is not important any more. They don’t feel their vote carries much weight and so choose to tune out. They feel they cannot compete with the dollars spent by secret groups and individuals. So, why bother trying?

This is a very serious problem. Our founders envisioned a republic supported by we, the people. The people we heard from don’t feel they are as significant as the powerful dollars spent by special interests. It seems to them a losing proposition. I watched a video on TED this week by Lawrence Lessig in which he specifically addressed this financing issue in 2013. This problem can be fixed. It is a problem which is easier to solve than many others our country has faced and solved. But, it will require major changes by everyone. I invite you to watch and comment.

Election 2014 | Getting Out The Vote

Communities all across the U.S. have elections this coming Tuesday Nov. 4. My state of Iowa is electing a governor and a senator. We will also elect a member of congress from our district. There are races for many other state and local offices and some ballot questions to decide.

Both Melanie and I are volunteering with our Democratic party Saturday through Tuesday to Get Out The Vote – GOTV. We have also been helping before these final days. There are thousands upon thousands of citizens who are doing this all across the country. They come from both major political parties. I think this is the correct grass-roots way.

The overwhelming amounts of BIG donations coming from undisclosed donors is destroying our system where each common person feels their vote counts as much as the next. People feel their voice does not count any more. They are losing interest and are fed up and angry with government. I feel campaign financing reform should eliminate all donations like those. That is an issue for another post.

Control of the senate hinges on the outcomes of only a few states where there are competitive races. Iowa has one of those races. Our long time senator, Tom Harkin, is retiring. Many of us are supporting current congressman, Bruce Braley, to be his replacement. Today, I visited the FiveThirtyEight blog by Nate Silver to see what the current projections look like in those competitive races. Our Iowa race is within a point based on his polling.



For the final four days, volunteers will be visiting the homes of potential voters and calling them to see if they have voted. If we find they have actually voted based upon official records, that night we will strike their name from the list. We won’t ask them the next day.

Early voting is widely available in Iowa. Past history shows many take advantage of early voting in our county, which is a Democratic stronghold. We are looking for every possible vote for our candidates in order to have election results in our favor.

Solar Eclipse | Images | Not Mine

I was hopeful the sky would clear enough to the west to let me see the eclipse. It was not to be. Better luck next time. Instead of sharing my own photos, I visited Slooh which had a telescope trained on the Sun from Prescott, AZ. Slooh covers many live astronomy events in partnership with observatories. They covered this entire event and have a recording available for you to replay. In addition, there is commentary about aspects of the eclipse that is helpful. Visit their website linked above for the replay. Scroll down their page for highlights such as these.

That big sunspot group just below center was the subject of a story by Astronomy Picture of the Day. Follow the link to see it up close and in great detail.

Image Credit & Copyright: Randall Shivak and Alan Friedman

Solar Eclipse | Safe Viewing Methods

The current visible satellite images show many areas of the country will have clear conditions late this afternoon. Click on this link to see what might be in store for you. Online viewing is available at Slooh, and at several sites listed here by Sky & Telescope.

Here are two completely safe viewing methods for this evening’s solar eclipse. Push a thick pin, thin toothpick, or pencil point through an index card or piece of foil. Try to make the hole very round and not too big. Hold the pinhole two or three feet from a white surface so it projects sunlight onto it. Tape the card onto something so it is not moving.

Make a box viewer with the same pinhole technique. This will improve the contrast of the image. The link in the caption of the picture above has an interesting project that uses your cell phone and a box viewer to obtain an image of the eclipse.