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Mark Farmer

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Ga. GOP Senate hopefuls try to separate themselves

"Phil Gingrey, another House member and a physician like Broun, said he doesn’t agree with the administration that “carbon dioxide is definitely a greenhouse gas...There’s no doubt that methane is a greenhouse gas.”

CO2 and methane are both greenhouse gasses. We've known this for over a century. It has to do with bond bending and bond stretching and the absorption of infrared energy.

Where did Dr. Gingrey take his chemistry courses?

posted @ Sunday, April 20, 2014 - 10:24

Farmer: Hydrogen holds promise as energy source

[quote][b]kconner[/b] - The bumpy road starts when you start cutting into the profits of the oil industry.
[/quote]

The next billionaires are going to be the ones who hold the patents to things like artificial photosynthesis and hydrogen storage. There is a LOT of money to be made here in the coming decades. I think it would be great if the patents for these inventions were right here in the U.S.A. That way energy bullies like Russia could not use natural gas as a political weapon.
There are LOTS of good reasons for the U.S. moving away from a carbon based economy, even if China and India do not go along.

posted @ Monday, April 14, 2014 - 11:37

4.8 quake shakes Yellowstone National Park

Y'all know that there is a supervolcano under Yellowstone that if it blows will destroy most of the US that is to the east of it, including Georgia.

Sleep tight!

posted @ Sunday, March 30, 2014 - 20:24

What Others Say: Global warming isn't gravity (The Augusta Chronicle)

"Well, excuse us, but there is plenty of scientific evidence to the contrary,"

No, there is NOT evidence to the contrary. That is the whole point.

Unless you embrace the cherry picking tactics of the climate change denialists "There's been no warming for the past 16.5 years" (Technically true since 1998 was an abnormally warm year but if you calculate for the past 15.5 years, or 14.5 years, or 17.5 years then it HAS been warming). "The polar ice cover increased by 40% in 2013!" (Again, technically true, but only because ice cover in 2012 was the lowest in recorded history. If we look at all the satellite data from 1978 we see an overall LOSS of ice cover of frightening proportions.)

Kerry is absolutely correct about the data, and the vast, vast majority of climate scientists agree with his conclusion that humans are contributing to climate change.

So yes, if you choose to hitch your wagon to some climate change denier who happens to have a Ph.D. don't be surprised if he drags you over a cliff.

That doesn't mean that the rest of us want to go along for the ride.

posted @ Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - 09:18

Hood: Accidental science behind Groundhog Day

Great piece! Funny and educational. Nicely done.

posted @ Saturday, February 1, 2014 - 11:05

Weisbrot: New economic approaches could address climate issues

More and more free enterprise experts are supporting a carbon tax and an interesting approach is being advocated by former South Carolina Republican congressman Bob Inglis, Executive Director of the Energy and Enterprise Initiative
http://energyandenterprise.com/about/

They advocate taxing carbon and at the same time reducing corporate taxes (revenue neutral). This would reduce something we don't want (increased CO2 in the atmosphere) and promote something we do want (increased corporate productivity and full employment).

Not sure I can see a problem with this approach.

posted @ Saturday, January 25, 2014 - 11:29

Stossel: Time to chill on global warming

@Jerry NeSmith: Thank you Jerry. That is EXACTLY the point I wanted to make. Mr. Stossel's assertion that increased CO2 is no big deal is completely at odds with the scientific data.
The Vostok ice core data gives us a very good idea of what has happened in the past 400,000+ years. Namely CO2 levels naturally varied between 280 ppm to a low of 175 ppm. Today we are over 400 ppm.
Not only that the but natural variation was at an average rate of 1 ppm per 1000 years. Today it increases at a rate greater than 2 ppm per year.
That is the difference between driving a car at 60 mph or cruising down the highway at 120,000 mph.
We biologists are concerned about the RATE of change for the simple reason that gradual environmental change = evolution. Rapid environmental change = extinction.
It's the Ecology stupid.

posted @ Thursday, January 23, 2014 - 21:43

Farmer: The dangers of anecdotal evidence

@davidxto: I brought up the Koch brothers because they were the primary financial backers who funded Dr. Muller's Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature "BEST" project. Thus they are relevant to this discussion and Dr. Muller's work not solely because they support conservative political causes but because as ones who make millions from the fossil fuel industry they cannot be considered unbiased participants. So yes, some of this IS political.
Yet if scientists such as Dr. Muller were truly in it for the big bucks as some claim, then he had no greater teat to suck from than that of the Koch brothers. Instead he chose to extoll what the data indicated. That global warming is real and that human activity is largely to blame.
This was the central premise of my piece. Sorry if you missed it.

posted @ Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - 22:09

Farmer: The dangers of anecdotal evidence

@Used2baFreeCountry:
From Wikipedia:
The inner core of the Earth, its innermost part, is a primarily solid ball with a radius of about 1,220 km (760 mi), according to seismological studies. (This is about 70% of the Moon's radius.). It is believed to consist primarily of an iron–nickel alloy, and to be about the same temperature as the surface of the Sun: approximately 5700 K (5430 °C).

So Mr. Gore may have gotten the specifics wrong but he is essentially correct about the Earth's inner core temperature. It is REALLY hot.

He is also correct about human influence on the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and scientists dating back to the 1940's have shown that CO2 is a powerful greenhouse gas in that it helps the atmosphere retain the radiation of solar heat back into space.
The planet is heating up and human activity has had a major role in bringing it about this more quickly than is natural.
Those are simply the facts. Supported by lots, and lots and lots of data.

Don't believe me? Read up on former climate skeptic Richard Muller, a darling of the Koch brothers and congressional conservatives:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_A._Muller

If Muller is now convinced about the reality of AGW what data do you present to counter him?

posted @ Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - 23:02

East Athens neighborhood avoids potential wildfire disaster

@Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass:
It is not the job of the local newspaper.

There WILL be a cop or firefighter to help you when things are tough because you pay taxes. The same is true if you lose your job, fall sick or are injured, have someone pollute your water, try to cheat you in the marketplace or discriminate against you. Not to mention educate your children, insure the safety of your food or test the medicines your doctor recommends. On and on.

Those whose rail against the need for government quickly forget that these and other vital services are NOT provided by the private sector. They are provided by government.

Thank you ACC fire department. My taxes well spent!

posted @ Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - 22:39

Sikora: No reason for vegetarian smugness

"I would say that farming fruits and vegetables is one of the most serious causes of environmental devastation." - Walter Sikora

This has to be the seventh dumbest comment I've ever seen published in the ABH. Where does Mr. Sikora get his beef, chicken and pork or does he advocate an all wild game diet (about as sustainable for 7 billion people as is organic farming). I have never been a big meat eater and am now mostly vegetarian (for health reasons) and because I can afford it nearly all of my produce is locally grown organic. But to imply that a carnetarian diet is superior to one of mostly fruits and vegetables, and that it is better for the environment, is just a crock of industrially raised, corn fed, hormone injected, bovine fecal matter!

From http://www.sustainabletable.org/263/pesticides
Pesticides and Animal Feed

Approximately 80% of the corn and 22% of the wheat produced in the US every year is used for animal feed, while 30 million tons of US-produced soy meal is consumed annually as livestock feed. This grain is grown by intensive industrial farming G operations that use large amounts of pesticides and other inputs, and often rely on genetically engineered (GE G) crop varieties. Common genetic modifications include plants that are bred to contain insecticides within their genetic makeup (e.g., Bt corn) or to withstand direct application of herbicides (e.g., glyphosate resistant soybeans).

In addition to causing environmental damage, when grain is grown with pesticides and then fed to livestock, pesticide residues can accumulate in the animals' fatty tissue and milk. Pesticides, such as arsenic compounds, are also included in livestock feed to control intestinal parasites and other pests.

posted @ Saturday, November 30, 2013 - 09:23

Denero shaped Athens in many ways

Hard to believe that as recently as the 1970's East Athens had unpaved roads and homes without water and sewar. Sounds like this man did more to bring Athens into the 20th century than did any mayor or politician.

Thank you Walt.

posted @ Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 14:56

Today's editorial cartoon

@jlscott:
Green eggs & ham has a lot in common with Obamacare.

Both are hated by grumpy, close minded people. Until they actually try it.

posted @ Friday, October 18, 2013 - 11:27

Sikora: Climate comments confused issue

[quote][b]davidxto[/b] - Scientist run the full spectrum on the science of AG climate change. [/quote]

While this is technically true (if one includes the extremes of opinion and also depending on where one draws the line defining a "scientist") it is important to distiguish this from the question of consensus.

A recently published paper looked specifically at this issue and concluded that 97% of climate science papers agree that current warming trends are attributable to human activity.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013...

To those who deny that human activity can change the envirionmental landscape, please learn something about how farming practices in the US led to the great Dustbowl and the subsequent economic collapse of our country in the early 20th century.

While it appeals to our sense of fairness to give voice to dissenting opinions, this should not be confused with giving equal credence to all opinions.

Some opinions are better than others. I tend to listen most closely to informed opinions.

posted @ Monday, July 22, 2013 - 12:29

Sikora: Climate comments confused issue

"Doubt is our product, since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' [linking smoking with disease] that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy...if we are successful in establishing a controversy at the public level, there is an opportunity to put across the real facts about smoking and health."
-1969 Brown & Williamson internal document discussing cigarette advertising

Harold Brown has stolen a page from the Brown & Williamson playbook. Why? Because it still works with a poorly informed electorate.

posted @ Monday, July 22, 2013 - 11:58

Johnson: Focus on Jeantel instructive on racial issues

To those with preconceived ideas about black teens I urge you to Google the words "Temar Boggs"

posted @ Saturday, July 20, 2013 - 19:55

Sea-level 'rise' is complex phenomenon

@King Minos:

My friend Marshall Shepherd says "Weather is your mood that day, climate is your personality"

posted @ Sunday, June 30, 2013 - 18:37

Sea-level 'rise' is complex phenomenon

@Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass:
Dr. Brown wrote "Some shores are rising, some are sinking." so I was rephrasing something he would agree with.

Also as proftom pointed out, the TOPEX and Jason satellites along with buoys are also measuring in the mid-ocean where some of the greatest increases are being recorded.
http://sealevel.colorado.edu/content/map-sea-level-trends

Bottom line? The volume of the oceans is increasing and with them the likelihood of coastal damage from flooding and higher than normal storm surge.
The actual data is not as murky or as confusing as Dr. Brown would have us believe.

posted @ Saturday, June 29, 2013 - 19:03

Sea-level 'rise' is complex phenomenon

Dr. Brown correctly points out that sea levels are determined by two things, the actual volume occupied by the oceans, and the relative sinking (and rising) of the land.
So the test as to whether we are seeing local, and natural variation would be to not just look at few places (New Orleans, Florida panhandle, Chesapeake Bay) but MANY places. If land is subsiding in one place it is reasonable to suggest that it is rising in others. Thus on average, sea level rise and sea level drop should both be happening around the world.
Apparently that is NOT the case:

"Since 1993, measurements from the TOPEX and Jason series of satellite radar altimeters have allowed estimates of global mean sea level. These measurements are continuously calibrated against a network of tide gauges. When seasonal and other variations are subtracted, they allow estimation of the global mean sea level rate. As new data, models and corrections become available, we continuously revise these estimates (about every two months) to improve their quality."

A graph of these results and more detailed explanation can be found here:

http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

posted @ Saturday, June 29, 2013 - 09:52

Fetter: Expert guidance helpful on climate change

@Libralady: In addition to everything else it makes economic sense to start on an alternative energy economy right now. We know that we are going to have to change the way we do things to keep human civilization progressing.
So if we know the change is inevitable, it makes the most sense to start planning for it as soon as we know it.

The transition to a carbon-free economy will require a huge investment in infrastructure. Better to do this now in a thoughtful way than as a reaction to a crisis.
If phased in, along with a thoughtful family planning philosophy, we may yet avoid the societal trauma that davidxto predicts.

posted @ Sunday, June 23, 2013 - 18:14

Fetter: Expert guidance helpful on climate change

Let's see if we can agree on certain things. 1) So far we have burned through about 50% of the fossil fuels in 150 years and are now doing so at a rate that will deplete them entirely within 100 years. 2) It was this reliance on fossil fuels that have enabled human population to grow from 1.5 billion to over 7 billion in that same time frame and power the modern economy and society we have now (complete with electronics, air travel, etc.). 3) At this rate of economic growth and with population on track to reach 10 billion by 2100, the remaining fossil fuels will be gone in a century and CO2 will be 550 ppm, the highest level in millions of years. 4) The RATE of change in CO2 is nearly without precedent in all of Earth's history (4.3 BYA or 6000 years depending on your perspective).

So my question is this. What energy sources will our grandchildren and others use to power society in the 22nd Century?

If the answer is 'non-fossil fuel energy' then why not develop these technologies right now? Today! Especially if CO2 is changing the pH of the oceans and maybe altering the climate?"

Why wait? So that other countries do it first and we become as dependent on them as we have become thanks to our addiction to oil?

Carpe millennium!

posted @ Sunday, June 23, 2013 - 09:55

Fetter: Expert guidance helpful on climate change

@Used2baFreeCountry:
Ah yes, the Daily Mail. England's answer to FOX News.

Yes, I am aware of Dr. Curry's dissenting opinion, but Muller and most other researchers disagree with her because she is not considering all the data.
Furthermore Dr. Curry is claiming only that the warming trend has slowed, (not that it has stopped or never occurred). This point is often overlooked in the popular press.

All of this is nicely explained here, complete with citations to peer reviewed publications
http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-stopped-in-1998.htm

posted @ Sunday, June 23, 2013 - 09:30

Fetter: Expert guidance helpful on climate change

@Used2baFreeCountry:
An interesting letter, but I could not determine when it was written.
Have you seen this one from climate skeptic, and member of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Richard Muller? It was written last year.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/30/opinion/the-conversion-of-a-climate-ch...

posted @ Sunday, June 23, 2013 - 08:41

Fetter: Expert guidance helpful on climate change

In recent years it has largely been conservatives who have been skeptical, or even openly rejected, the findings of thousands of climate scientists working with diverse data sets from all over the world, all of whom say that the data supports the same conclusion. That anthropogenic increase in CO2 since the industrial revolution, is changing the climate and altering the chemistry of the oceans. Most significantly this is happening at a rate of change (160 years vs. thousands or millions of years) that is almost without precedent in Earth's history. The only comparable sudden changes in environment are the great extinction events such as the Permian or the KT boundary.

Perhaps liberals and conservatives alike would do well to remember the words of President Ronald Reagan:

"If we've learned any lessons during the past few decades, perhaps the most important is that preservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge; it's common sense. Our physical health, our social happiness, and our economic well-being will be sustained only by all of us working in partnership as thoughtful, effective stewards of our natural resources."

Remarks on signing annual report of Council on Environmental Quality, July 11, 1984

posted @ Sunday, June 23, 2013 - 08:20

Farmer: Breaking with breakbone fever

@Used2baFreeCountry: Crichton and others may have fallen for the old "cause but not effect" syndrome. While it is true that malaria deaths began to rise about the same time as DDT was being banned in the US, its use was NOT banned in Africa, and malaria deaths still rose.
This was due to some extent to the independent and separate evolution of chloroquine resistant malaria parasites.
Chloroquine, a manufactured drug based on quinine, started being used in the 1940's (along with DDT spraying) and it was VERY effective. But by the late 1950's the chloroquine resistant strains arose in Asia and South America. The Asian strain spread quickly to Africa, and deaths due to malaria began to rise again.
So yes, DDT did play an important role in limiting mosquitos and stopping malaria in the US. But Crichton's assumption that the rise in malaria can be laid at the feet of Rachel Carson is unsupported by the data. Good old fashioned evolution played a much bigger role.

posted @ Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 20:50

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