Saturday, March 04, 2006

Antarctic ice sheet melting fast: scientists, etc

Antarctic ice sheet melting fast: scientists, ABC/AFP, March 3, 2006. .. Scientists say Antarctica's mammoth ice sheet is in "significant decline", probably due to climate change. United States researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder say online in the journal Science that the Antarctic ice sheet is losing up to 152 cubic kilometres of ice a year. Dr Isabella Velicogna from the University's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences says it is the first study to indicate the total mass balance of the Antarctic ice sheet is in significant decline. The team calculated the ice sheet lost 152 cubic kilometres a year from April 2002 to August 2005, give or take 80 cubic kilometres. That is equivalent to global seas rising 0.4 millimetres a year, with a margin of error of 0.2 millimetres, the researchers say. ...
North Pole Meets South Pole: Both Ends of Earth Are Melting: Melting Ice Caps Could Spell Disaster for Coastal Cities, ABC News, Bill Blakemore, March 2, 2006 - For the first time, scientists have confirmed Earth is melting at both ends, which could have disastrous effects for coastal cities and villages. Antarctica has been called "a slumbering giant" by a climate scientist who predicts that if all the ice melted, sea levels would rise by 200 feet. Other scientists believe that such a thing won't happen, but new studies show that the slumbering giant has started to stir. ... Recent studies have confirmed that the North Pole and the South Pole have started melting. Experts have long predicted that global warming would start to melt Greenland's two-mile-thick ice sheet, but they also thought the more massive ice sheet covering Antarctica would increase in the 21st century. It seems they were wrong. ... [The first article says the ice sheet is an average of 1,981 metres thick, so even at 1 mm a year at current global average temperature it would take nearly 2,000 years to entirely melt. However, if it did entirely melt, the article says "the West Antarctic ice sheet alone would raise global sea levels by more than six metres." But that is just one ice-sheet and if the global average temperature accelerated (as there is evidence it will due to there being increasingly less ice to reflect solar heat) then there might be noticeable sea level increases in low-lying areas (where most of the world's major cities are) in the next few decades. My reason for posting these depressing global warming articles is because, as I have previously posted (e.g. 4 Dec 05, 29 Nov 05, 17 Sep 05), etc, I interpret us as living in the period covered by Luke 21:24b-32, between v.24, "Jerusalem" no longer "trampled on by the Gentiles" (which occurred in 1967) and v.27, Jesus "coming in a cloud with power and great glory." Jesus predicted that in intervening period "nations will be in anguish and perplexity" and "Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world," which reads like our daily newspapers!]

Study Shows Babies Try to Help: Study Suggests That the Capacity for Altruism Emerges As Early As 18 Months of Age, ABC News/AP, Lauran Neergaard ... WASHINGTON Mar 2, 2006 (AP) - Oops, the scientist dropped his clothespin. Not to worry a wobbly toddler raced to help, eagerly handing it back. The simple experiment shows the capacity for altruism emerges as early as 18 months of age. Toddlers' endearing desire to help out actually signals fairly sophisticated brain development, and is a trait of interest to anthropologists trying to tease out the evolutionary roots of altruism and cooperation. Psychology researcher Felix Warneken performed a series of ordinary tasks in front of toddlers, such as hanging towels with clothespins or stacking books. Sometimes he "struggled" with the tasks; sometimes he deliberately messed up. Over and over, whether Warneken dropped clothespins or knocked over his books, each of 24 toddlers offered help within seconds but only if he appeared to need it. Video shows how one overall-clad baby glanced between Warneken's face and the dropped clothespin before quickly crawling over, grabbing the object, pushing up to his feet and eagerly handing back the pin. ... [More evidence that humans are `hardwired' for altruism. I have added this to my "Problems of Evolution" book outline, PE 14.1.10 "Man ... Uniqueness ... Altruism"]

Cavemen Preferred Blondes: Research May Explain Why Light Hair Color Is So Common in Northern, Eastern Europe, ABC News, Jonathan Silverstein, March 2, 2006 - Back in the ice age, Northern European cavemen got all the chicks. Thanks to a food shortage and a man shortage about 10,000 years ago, men were in such demand they had their pick of mates. With so much competition among women to find a mate, nature and evolution kicked in to give some cave women a distinctive look to attract the opposite sex: blond hair and blue eyes. So says a new study published in the British science journal Evolution and Human Behavior. ... The study's author, Canadian anthropologist Peter Frost, concludes that although blond hair and blue eyes started as a genetic mutation, men were pulled in by the golden locks and baby blues, thus populating the area with blond and blue-eyed children. While the rest of the world has predominantly brown hair and brown eyes, Northern Europeans have the greatest variety of hair and eye color found anywhere, and Frost believes it resulted from the sexual appeal of these traits. "When an individual is faced with potential mates of equal value, it will tend to select the one that 'stands out from the crowd,' the study said. Still, the study admits it's unclear why the mutation happened in Europe and not elsewhere ... [This is a good (bad?) example of a Darwinist `just-so' story. The fact that "the mutation happened in Europe and not elsewhere" indicates that it is more to do with less sunlight in Northern Europe. Indeed, what has the alleged "food shortage and a man shortage about 10,000 years ago" when "men were in such demand they had their pick of mates" got to do with it? If blond hair and blue eyes had even a slight sexual selective advantage (which they may well have), that alone should be sufficient to fix that mutant gene in a population. ]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

"In the second place, it was inevitable that a theory appearing to have very grave relations with questions of the most importance and interest to man, that is, with questions of religious belief, should call up an army of assailants and defenders. Nor have the supporters Of the theory much reason, in many cases, to blame the more or less unskilful and hasty attacks of adversaries, seeing that those attacks have been in great part due to the unskilful and perverse advocacy of the cause on the part of some of its adherents. If the odium theologicum has inspired some of its opponents, it is undeniable that the odium- antitheologicum, has possessed not a few of its supporters. It is true (and in appreciating some of Mr. Darwin's expressions it should never be forgotten) that the theory has been both at its first promulgation and since vehemently attacked and denounced as unchristian, nay, as necessarily atheistic; but it is not less true that it has been made use of as a weapon of offence by irreligious writers, and has been again and again, especially in continental Europe, thrown, as it were, in the face of believers, with sneers and contumely. " (Mivart S.J., "On the Genesis of Species," Macmillan & Co: London & New York , Second edition, 1871, pp.13-14)

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