Taxonomy term

december 2009

Crystal Ball EARTH: Space: NASA keeps watch on a changing planet

In 2009, we saw a number of changes on Earth. The average global ocean surface temperature last summer was the warmest on record. Thin seasonal ice has recently replaced thick older ice as the dominant type of ice in the Arctic. And scientists saw that despite a quiet sun with few sunspots, Earth can continue to be bombarded with a high level of solar energy.

11 Dec 2009

Crystal Ball EARTH: Natural Hazards: Reducing society's risks

The global financial disaster of 2009 has many parallels with catastrophic natural hazards. It struck pretty much without warning, its impact was greatly exacerbated by an incredibly complex system of cascading consequences, and finally, mechanisms supposedly in place to mitigate the worse impacts (regulations, in the case of the financial system) failed. There was awareness that such a meltdown could theoretically occur, but it was considered such a low-probability event that it was evidently not worth planning for.

11 Dec 2009

Cash for Clunkers' footprint

In August, the Wall Street Journal reported that a little-known chemical was playing a big role in the Cash for Clunkers program. The federal government required dealerships to pour sodium silicate, or liquid glass, into the engines of the traded-in clunkers. The solution destroys the engine, ensuring that the old cars and trucks never end up back on the road. The Journal noted that chemical companies couldn’t keep up with the sodium silicate orders that were pouring in.

09 Dec 2009

Crystal Ball EARTH: Minerals management: The changing commodities scene

Many people would like to forget 2008. The subprime mortgage crisis came to a head and sent the world’s financial markets into a free fall. The situation didn’t improve much in 2009 as unemployment soared and consumers held on tightly to their dwindling dollars.

09 Dec 2009

Crystal Ball EARTH: Agriculture: The future will have a different face than the past

Tomorrow’s agriculture is facing an immense challenge. By 2050, the world’s population will reach somewhere between 9 billion and 10 billion people, and a greater proportion of those people will be enjoying a richer diet than today’s population. That means farmers will have to grow twice as much food. The world has already witnessed a preview of what might happen if large populations don’t receive an adequate supply of food: They do not accept their fates passively.

04 Dec 2009

Crystal Ball EARTH: Energy: A fool's look into the future

In the 1985 classic “Back to the Future,” Doc Brown, the mad scientist played by Christopher Lloyd, queries his time-traveling visitor, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), in 1955 about the future of America with the simple question of who was president. The answer of Ronald Reagan appeared astounding and ridiculous, as his name was on a movie poster at the time.

04 Dec 2009

Down to Earth With: Buzz Aldrin

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong made history when they landed and walked on the moon. The voyage left a lasting impression on Aldrin, who, at the age of 79, is one of the most vocal supporters of human space exploration.

03 Dec 2009

What powers U.S. transportation?

Consumption of U.S. energy
U.S. Energy Information Administration

 

01 Dec 2009

What consumes U.S. energy?

Consumption of U.S. energy
U.S. Energy Information Administration
01 Dec 2009

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