Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

SciSchmoozing Our Warming Planet

Greenland’s rapidly shrinking Helheim Glacier (Photo by Nick Cobbing © Greenpeace International)

Welcome dear science-aware reader,

I’ve been slogging through The Climate Book created through the efforts of Greta Thunberg. It is an astounding collection of 84 short ‘essays’ by scientists, economists, visionaries, philosophers, and respected authors. The book has 5 sections:

– How Climate Works
– How Our Planet is Changing
– How It Affects Us
– What We’ve Done About It
– What We Must Do Now

The 5 sections are divided into 18 subsections, each with an introduction by Greta Thunberg. Some ‘essays’ are lyric descriptions of an idyllic planet – that we are despoiling – while others contain scientific analyses with charts and graphs. And everything in between. Bottom line: it had a powerful effect on me — i’m now using an electric bicycle for most of my errands under 12 miles. Recommendation: It is a powerful tome, so read it in small doses, but do read it.

¿How well are measures working to reduce global CO2 emissions? Dismally. CO2 emissions last year, 2022, were the highest ever. Subsidies (implicit and explicit) from the United States to oil and coal companies amount to about $62 billion annually – or $115,000 per minute. Globally, fossil fuel subsidies amount to 11 million dollars per minute. Currently, asset managers are permitted to ‘factor in’ climate change in their investment decisions – after all, change is happening. That policy has been condemned by fossil fuel supporters in Congress as “woke” capitalism and they hope to rescind that directive this week. 

¿What can we, what should we do about this crisis? #1) Assess your own situation. ¿Are you still driving a fossil-fuel-only vehicle? ¿Do you still have gas appliances? ¿Are there solar panels on your roof? #2) Communicate this global situation with as many people as possible. (That’s sorta what i’m doing here.) A 50-minute talk to college students about the environmental cost of eating meat reduced their meat consumption over the next three years. Communicate.

Eva H. won the Constellation Mug with her guess of 433, just 9 off from the target of 442. The prize this time is a Crooke’s Radiometer. Just send an email before noon Friday to david.almandsmith [at] with an integer between 1 and 1,000. 

Last time, i recommended you check out a Namib Desert webcam. The recommendation still stands and now i also recommend a Kalahari Desert webcam where you can see wild kudu, ostrich, springbok, gemsbok, eland, duiker, zebra, giraffe, jackal, warthog, weaver finch, lapwing, canary, et al.

My Picks of the Week

– Mycorrhizal fungi & the future of forests in a changing climate Berkeley Noon Wednesday
– National Geographic Women Explorers celebrate International Women’s Day Wednesday 5:30 – 8pm San Francisco
– A Conversation with Senator Josh Becker on Climate Change, Equity, and California’s Sustainable Future Livestream 12:30 Thursday
– Confronting Mainstream Pseudoarchaeology Livestream Thursday 7:30
– North Bay Science Discovery Day Santa Rosa 10 – 4 Saturday
– EV Ride and Drive: Electrify your Ride Sunnyvale 11 – 3 Saturday

Although it doesn’t begin this week, you can sign up now for a fun online course: Aliens in Outer Space: The Science and the Fiction taught by Andrew Franknoi. The first session is on April 4.


The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic met last week. Here are a few quotes from that session:

Rep. Debbie Lesko: “COVID was intentionally released [from a Chinese lab because] it would be impossible for the virus to be accidentally leaked.”

Rep. Richard McCormick: “[Coronavirus booster shots] do more harm than good.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene: “Researchers found that the vaccinated are at least twice as likely to be infected with COVID as the unvaccinated and those with natural immunity.”

Marty Makary, M.D.: “The greatest perpetrator of misinformation during the pandemic has been the United States government.”

If you aren’t getting enough help from people you know, perhaps you should instead turn to dolphins, orcas, birds, and wolves.

Havana Syndrome was first reported in 2016 and the cause was frequently attributed to sonic or radio frequency weapons. Psychologists, on the other hand, often opined that the illnesses were most likely due to “conversion disorder” or “mass psychogenic illness.” Last Wednesday, the United States Office of the Director of National Intelligence reported that “available intelligence consistently points against the involvement of US adversaries in causing the reported incidents.” Without explicitly saying it, they were agreeing with the psychologists.

You may be familiar with “Physics Girl” Dianna Cowern since i have linked to several of her videos before. Bad news. She is suffering from a severe case of long COVID. (Scroll down to pictures of her in the hospital.) We wish her well. Here is what is currently recommended about diagnosing and treating long COVID.

Fun nerdy videos:

Sabine Hossenfelder The Effects of Greenhouse Gases 20 minutes
SciShow Muonium – Lighter than Hydrogen 8 minutes
PBS SpaceTime Are Space & Time Real or Relational? 26 minutes
Dr. Becky Why is this Kilonova Spherical? 14 minutes
Just Have a Think Reducing Emissions from Steel-Making 12 minutes
Cup o’ Joe History of Cotton Candy 4 minutes

Be bold yet understanding this week,
Dave Almandsmith, Bay Area Skeptics

“Human kindness is working to overcome nature, aiming for the survival of every human being, hence our effective and growing health-care systems. While this would seem to stifle evolutionary improvement, doing otherwise seems unthinkable.”
– Marilyn vos Savant (1946 – ) German-American magazine columnist

Upcoming Events:
Click to see the next two weeks of events in your browser.

Leave a Reply

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