Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

A Look at the News with the SciSchmooze

a visualization of ocean currents
Ocean currents (not a Van Gogh painting)

Hello again Science Fans!

Climate change and the environment have been in the news a lot this month, and almost none of the news is good. Extreme weather events have been happening all over the globe. Predictions are dire.

Let’s start with the potential collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, which includes the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean. Read here to understand why this is so important.

In the Pacific, La Niña is coming! There’s a 70% chance of La Niña conditions forming in the between now and October. Historically there’s an even chance of drier or wetter than normal conditions for our area in La Niña years.

Expected La Niña impact

Here are some frequently asked questions about El Niño and La Niña.

At the hightest point in Greenland, rain fell for the first time in recorded history.

The wildfires in California and western Canada and the US are bad. But there are also enormous wildfires burning in Siberia, and they have put more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2 1/2 months than the top six most poluting countries put out in a year!

The United Nations report on the environment sounded a “code red for humanity” this month. Things are indeed looking dire.

In space news, scientists believe they have found the source of the Dinosaur-killing asteroid that formed the Yucatán peninsula. The bad news is that there are more asteroids like that one out there!

We think we have a pretty good idea of what the Milky Way galaxy looks like. It is, after all, our home galaxy. Well, surprise! There’s a previously unknown structure sticking out from it that hadn’t been detected before, even though some of the best known and studied nebulae are in it. (Beware, audio from an ad may start playing when you open this one).

Lastly, there is a lot of COVID news. Still. By now we all hoped COVID would be less of a story than it is, but the Delta variant is keeping things front and center. Texas and Florida, states who’s governors are actively discouraging or preventing precautionary measures, now account for 40% of the new cases of COVID in the US. Here in California we’ve seen mask mandates reinstituted and vaccine requirements announced for gatherings and events.

While California has been a leader in vaccination rates, it is useful to look at Israel to see what is happening there. Israel leads the world in vaccination efforts, and they too are seeing a surge in new COVID cases. Here’s a look at why that is happening and how it might play out here.

Those who look at vaccinations as a political ploy, or who are anti-vaccine in general, see this and say “this is proof the vaccines don’t work.” No, they do work. They prevent cases from becoming severe and prevent deaths.

Those who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines should be eligible for a third booster eight months after their second shot. But some scientists are not sure that this third booster is necessary. There’s a ton of conflicting information out there. Do your best to weed through the noise and decide for yourself. In other words, exercise some critical thinking.

Me, I’ll err on the side of caution.

Have a great week in Science!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *