Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for September 12th, 2008

Are you an elitist?

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18 ways to know for sure.

Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 3:59 pm

Posted in Daily life

Watch McCain on The View

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Spoiler alert: lots of lies and confusion from McCain. Watch it here.

Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 3:47 pm

Posted in Election, GOP

Planned Parenthood campaign video

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The ad ends with a question. I know the answer; email me if you’re not sure.

Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 3:28 pm

Posted in Election

Which capsule is better: flaxseed oil or fish oil?

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I’ve always gone for fish-oil capsules myself—specifically, wild-salmon oil—but now here’s some evidence, reported for WebMD by Miranda Hitti:

Flaxseed oil pills, taken at the right dose, may equal fish oil pills in terms of their net effect from certain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. That’s according to a new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Flaxseed and other plant-based foods including walnuts, almonds, canola oil, and soybeans are rich in an omega-3 fatty acid called ALA. But flaxseed lacks the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which have shown cardiovascular benefits in past studies. EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, fish oil supplements, and some fortified foods.

Does ALA deliver the same benefits as EPA and DHA? The jury’s still out on that, note the researchers, who included James Friel, PhD, of Canada’s University of Manitoba. The optimal dose of ALA is also not known.

Friel’s team studied 62 male firefighters in the Canadian city of Winnipeg.

Why firefighters?

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Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

McCain: another liar in the GOP tradition

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Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 3:05 pm

Posted in Election

Andrew Sullivan hears from a reader

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Good points made by a reader of Sullivan’s blog:

Like many Obama supporters, I’ve been in a poll-induced funk recently. So I went to the Obama HQ in downtown Orlando looking for a t-shirt, a bumper sticker, something, anything, to make myself not feel so damn worried.  Here’s what I found:

1. A brisk campaign operation staffed mostly by 25-35 year olds, all at computers, all analyzing data on GOTV operations.

2. After speaking with my precinct captain who was present, she told me that since August 1, the downtown HQ has registered 80,000 new voters.  Let that number sink in.  In the last 40 days or so, they’ve registered an average of 2,000 voters per day.

I know they probably won’t keep up that pace, but even half that is good.

3. Consider that Florida was won by Bush in 2004 by 380,000 votes. Nader got 33,000 votes. I don’t even think he’s on the ballot in Florida this year. Assume that most of those go to Obama. The margin, to beat the Bush turnout in 2004, is 350,000 (give or take 50,000 votes.)

4. To win Florida, Obama needs everything Kerry got plus 400,000 votes.

5. Of those 80,000 newly registered voters (whose info won’t be available for pollsters for weeks, if not ever, before the election), the campaign has identified over 80% as Obama supporters. That’s 64,000 new Obama votes since Aug 1.

6. Assume they decrease their registration by 50% in September, and 50% in October. After all, there are only so many people not registered to vote. That would be another 60,000 voters, with approximately 48,000 new Obama votes, who can’t be polled. All together, that’s 112,000 new Obama votes. In Central Florida alone. Since Aug 1. 25% of the 400k to get Florida’s 27 electoral votes. Since Aug 1.

7. Of course, you have to get people to the polls. However, the precinct captain said that the 80% support of the newly registered voters has a built-in no-show formula.

8. I mentioned my worry over the polls. Without condescension, without a dirty look, or a snide quip, she said, calmly as possible, “we aren’t running the Florida campaign based on polls, we’re running it based on votes. There are so many people who have signed up to vote that pollsters can’t even reach, that the only thing the campaign is looking at right now is the GOTV operation and their own internal polls which are run much more specifically than, for instance, the state Mason-Dixon polls commissioned by the Florida newspapers.”

Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 3:01 pm

Why does he lie?

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Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 2:57 pm

Posted in GOP

FDA: good sign of an increased sense of responsibility

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Though in fact it’s probably because the Bush Administration was getting a lot of bad press about it. Still, it’s good news:

The Food and Drug Administration has recently hired more than 1,300 professional staffers in a move that officials hope will help it better protect the public health amid rapid technological and scientific change.

“Every pay period, we have had more than 100 people walking through our doors,” said Kimberly Holden, the senior manager directing the recruitment initiative. “We have had some people who left to go into industry and ended up wanting to come back. The revolving door swings this way every once in a while.”

The staffing drive will result in an estimated 10% increase in the FDA’s work force, and Holden said the new hires will provide critical expertise after years of losing valuable medical and scientific people who took industry jobs. Independent observers said the staffing increase is only a first step, albeit a much needed one.

Read more

Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 2:26 pm

FBI leash extension

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The following note from ThinkProgress is not good, IMO. The FBI already has problems staying within the law, and giving individual agents more discretion on what to do will probably worsen the problem.

The Justice Department will unveil changes to FBI ground rules today that would put much more power into the hands of line agents pursuing leads on national security, foreign intelligence and even ordinary criminal cases.” The changes give agents “the ability at a much earlier stage” to conduct physical surveillance and solicit information through friends and informants without the approval of a supervisor.

Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 2:16 pm

Another transitional form (the whale) reveals much

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Interesting report by Sara Goudarzi:

An early whale had large back legs, a tail like a dog’s, and a hip-wiggling swimming style, according to a new fossil study.

The discovery helps pinpoint the advent of “modern” whale flukes to between 38 and 40 million years ago, scientists say.

Flukes are the two wide, flat triangular lobes on a whale’s back end and are made of skin and connective tissue, with bones in the middle.

Scientists have known whales evolved from semiaquatic, four-footed creatures with long, thin tails to today’s fully aquatic mammals with fluked tails, no back legs, and flippers instead of front legs.

(Related story: Whales Evolved From Tiny Deerlike Mammals, Study Says [December 19, 2007].)

But it was previously unknown when the tail flukes first arose in the whale family tree.

“What’s interesting about this animal is that it had these back legs that it used to push itself through the water,” said study author Mark D. Uhen, a paleontologist from the Alabama Museum of Natural History.

“This animal didn’t have flukes, but the ones just a little bit younger [geologically] did. So we can really narrow that time frame now.”

Uhen’s study is detailed in the latest issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Continue reading; at the link is a representation of the discovered animal.

Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 2:13 pm

Posted in Science

Progress on mad-cow disease

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No progress in allowing packing houses to test all the cattle they process—the USDA still will not allow that, and Creekstone is still fighting for it—but progress in finding causes. Here’s the report:

New findings about the causes of mad cow disease show that sometimes it may be genetic. “We now know it’s also in the genes of cattle,” said Juergen A. Richt, Regents Distinguished Professor of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Until several years ago, Richt said, it was thought that the cattle prion disease bovine spongiform encephalopathy — also called BSE or mad cow disease — was a foodborne disease. But his team’s new findings suggest that mad cow disease also is caused by a genetic mutation within a gene called Prion Protein Gene. Prion proteins are proteins expressed abundantly in the brain and immune cells of mammals.

The research shows, for the first time, that a 10-year-old cow from Alabama with an atypical form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy had the same type of prion protein gene mutation as found in human patients with the genetic form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, also called genetic CJD for short. Besides having a genetic origin, other human forms of prion diseases can be sporadic, as in sporadic CJD, as well as foodborne. That is, they are contracted when people eat products contaminated with mad cow disease. This form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is called variant CJD.

“Our findings that there is a genetic component to BSE are significant because they tell you we can have this disease everywhere in the world, even in so-called BSE-free countries,” Richt said.

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Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 2:09 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

Another broccoli soup

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I’m getting my money’s worth from the immersion blender, and I’m perfecting my soup recipe. Today:

1 medium-to-large onion
1 stalk celery
1 serrano pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
Penzey’s Mural of Flavor
2 good-sized broccoli crowns
1 yellow crookneck squash
1 quart water
2 Tbsp (or more) of Eden Selected Imported Shoyu Soy Sauce (best stuff I’ve found)
3/4 c. grated sharp cheddar

Chop onion, celery stalk, and serrano pepper (after removing the stem, but with the seeds). Heat the olive oil in a pot, add the chopped vegetables and sauté until the onion is clear. While the vegetables cook, add salt, pepper, and Mural of Flavor.

Chop the broccoli crowns and the squash and add to the pot. Include the broccoli stalk (as much as you get with the crown).

Add the water and the soy sauce, bring to the boil, cover, and simmer for 35 minutes. The use the blender to make it all smooth, stir in the cheddar cheese, and drink from a big cup.

Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 2:04 pm

Most corrupt members of Congress

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It would be lovely if this group of criminals were turned out of office. List created by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). Here’s the list:

CREW’s Most Corrupt Members of Congress provides a detailed analysis of the unethical and sometimes illegal activities of 24 congressmen and women who have most egregiously betrayed the public’s trust.

CREW also has launched the report’s tandem website,, which offers short summaries of each member’s transgressions as well as the full-length profiles and all accompanying exhibits.

New to this year’s study are Reps. Marsha Blackburn, Vern Buchanan, Vito Fossella, Dan Lipinski, Charlie Rangel, Laura Richardson and Mike Turner, and Sens. Mary Landrieu and Norm Coleman.

Of this year’s list of 24, at least 12 are under investigation: Ken Calvert, John Doolittle, Tom Feeney, Vito Fossella, William Jefferson, Jerry Lewis, Alan Mollohan, Gary Miller, Tim Murphy, Rick Renzi, Don Young and Ted Stevens. One other, Charlie Rangel, is under a self-initiated House ethics committee investigation.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, said today, “With soaring gas prices, a housing market in crisis, rising unemployment, and a nation at war, elected officials should be prioritizing their constituents’ needs over their own self-interests. Unfortunately, the members of Congress listed in CREW’s Most Corrupt report have decided that their personal needs are paramount to those they represent. This report holds them accountable for those choices.”

The 20 most corrupt Members of Congress:

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Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 1:54 pm

Posted in Congress

The ethics of interrogation

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From the New England Journal of Medicine, an article by Jonathan H. Marks, M.A., B.C.L., and M. Gregg Bloche, M.D., J.D. (sources are at the link):

In May 2006, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) adopted a position statement prohibiting psychiatrists from “direct participation” in the interrogation of any person in military or civilian detention — including “being present in the interrogation room, asking or suggesting questions, or advising authorities on the use of specific techniques of interrogation with particular detainees.” A few weeks later, the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs of the American Medical Association (AMA) issued a similar opinion, stating that “physicians must neither conduct nor directly participate in an interrogation, because a role as physician–interrogator undermines the physician’s role as healer.” The opinion defines direct participation as including “monitoring interrogations with the intention of intervening.” Although the AMA and APA conceded that physicians could participate in general training of interrogation personnel, both organizations firmly opposed physicians’ helping to devise interrogation plans for individual detainees. The World Medical Association also revised its Declaration of Tokyo in May 2006 in firm terms, asserting that “the physician shall not use nor allow to be used, as far as he or she can, medical knowledge or skills, or health information specific to individuals, to facilitate or otherwise aid any interrogation, legal or illegal, of those individuals.”

Yet documents recently provided to us by the U.S. Army in response to requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) make clear that the Department of Defense …

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Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 1:50 pm

Tough critter

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A carnivorous ancestor of the salamander, with teeth in the roof of its mouth…

When the world’s land was congealed in one supercontinent 240 million years ago, Antarctica wasn’t the forbiddingly icy place it is now. But paleontologists have found a previously unknown amphibious predator species that probably still made it less than hospitable. The species, named Kryostega collinsoni, is a temnospondyl, a prehistoric amphibian distantly related to modern salamanders and frogs. K. collinsoni resembled a modern crocodile, and probably was about 15 feet in length with a long and wide skull even flatter than a crocodile’s.

In addition to large upper and lower teeth at the edge of the mouth, temnospondyls often had tiny teeth on the roof of the palate. However, fossil evidence shows the teeth on the roof of the mouth of the newly found species were probably as large as those at the edge of the mouth.

“Its teeth, compared to other amphibians, were just enormous. It leads us to believe this animal was a predator taking down large prey,” said Christian Sidor, a University of Washington associate professor of biology and curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the UW.

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Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Science

Cindy McCain’s addiction

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The Washington Post today has a front-page story on Cindy McCain’s addiction and theft and what it led to. The story, by Kimberley Kindy, is well worth reading. It begins:

When Cindy McCain is asked what issues she would champion as first lady, she often cites one of the most difficult periods of her life: her battle with — and ultimate victory over — prescription painkillers. Her struggle, she has said repeatedly, taught her valuable lessons about drug abuse that she would pass on to the nation.

“I think it made me a better person as well as a better parent, so I think it would be very important to talk about it and be very upfront about it,” McCain said in an interview with “Access Hollywood.” In an appearance on the “Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” she said she tries “to talk about it as much as possible because I don’t want anyone to wind up in the shoes that I did at the time.”

In describing her struggle with drugs, McCain has said that she became addicted to Vicodin and Percocet in early 1989 after rupturing two disks and having back surgery. She has said she hid her addiction from her husband, Sen. John McCain, and stopped taking the painkillers in 1992 after her parents confronted her. She has not discussed what kind of treatment she received for her addiction, but she has made clear that she believes she has put her problems behind her.

While McCain’s accounts have captured the pain of her addiction, her journey through this personal crisis is a more complicated story than she has described, and it had more consequences for her and those around her than she has acknowledged.

Her misuse of painkillers prompted an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and local prosecutors that put her in legal jeopardy. A doctor with McCain’s medical charity who supplied her with prescriptions for the drugs lost his license and never practiced again. The charity, the American Voluntary Medical Team, eventually had to be closed in the wake of the controversy. Her husband was forced to admit publicly that he was absent much of the time she was having problems and was not aware of them.

“So many lives were damaged by this,” said Jeanette Johnson, whose husband, John Max Johnson, surrendered his medical license. “A lot of good people. Doctors who volunteered their time. My husband. I cannot begin to tell you how painful it was. We moved far away to start over.”

McCain’s addiction also embroiled her with one of her charity’s former employees, Tom Gosinski, who reported her drug use to the DEA and provided prosecutors with a contemporaneous journal that detailed the effects of her drug problems. He was later accused by a lawyer for McCain of trying to extort money from the McCain family.

“It’s not just about her addiction, it’s what she did to cover up her addiction and the lives of other people that she ruined, or put at jeopardy at least,” Gosinski said in an interview this week.

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Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 10:29 am

Posted in Daily life, Election, GOP

Why did dinosaurs win out over crurotarsans

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The crurotarsans seemed to be dominant, but then the dinosaurs took over. Why? Ashley Yeager has the story:

Early dinosaurs got lucky — twice. That’s what led to the age of the dinosaurs, suggests a new study in the Sept. 12 Science.

Scientists have long hypothesized that early dinosaurs were somehow superior to or outcompeted their closest competitors in order to take over Earth.

But little quantitative evidence exists to support that idea, says lead author of the new study, Stephen Brusatte, who is now a Columbia University postdoctoral researcher affiliated with the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

To determine if early dinosaurs might have had superior physical traits, Brusatte and colleagues from the University of Bristol in England analyzed 437 skeletal features from fossils of 64 species of dinosaurs and their competitors, the crurotarsans, which are the ancestors of modern crocodiles.

The study is the first to quantify the abundance and diversity of crurotarsans that coexisted with early dinosaurs during the Late Triassic, between 230 million and 200 million years ago. Some crurotarsans looked quite similar to early dinosaurs, and the two groups even shared many of the same ecological niches.

But the new data show that crurotarsans were more diverse in body types and diets. Also, in many places, crurotarsans outnumbered early dinosaurs. This combination “makes you question why the dinosaurs took over at all,” comments paleontologist Thomas Holtz of the University of Maryland in College Park.

“If we were standing in New Mexico 210 million years ago and had to bet on what animals would dominate the world for the next hundred million years, any good gambler wouldn’t have put his money on the dinosaurs,” Brusatte says.

“Dinosaurs really weren’t doing anything ‘better’ than the crurotarsans for the 30 million years they overlapped,” he adds. “And it was only with a very short and very devastating extinction that dinosaurs took over.” It could have been luck that allowed them to survive, he says.

Also, crurotarsans and early dinosaurs seemed to have evolved at roughly the same rate, the study shows. …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 10:22 am

Posted in Science

Trusting Big Business: Telco edition

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This is so wrong. Nate Anderson has the story:

TDS Telecom, a telco with 3,500 employees and a presence in 30 states, is suing the town of Monticello, Minnesota, for trying to put in a fiber optic network of its own. Why would a company try to prevent a town from building itself a faster network? TDS tells us that it’s really just looking out for the taxpayer (and its own infrastructure investment).

Not satisfied with the current DSL and cable offerings, Monticello hatched an ambitious plan to wire up its entire town with fiber, build an interconnect station, and allow ISPs to link up to the site and offer Internet access over the city-maintained fiber links. After a vote on the measure passed overwhelmingly last year, Monticello moved to break ground and was promptly sued by the local telephone provider, Bridgewater, a unit of TDS.

We’ve already covered the legal filings in that case (which is ongoing), but were also interested in hearing from TDS. Fiber backers see the lawsuit and a recent announcement to install a TDS-built fiber network in town as strategy designed largely to prevent the Monticello experiment from being repeated across Minnesota (“See, you’ll get sued, and neither of us wants that! Also, we’re already building fiber networks, so no need to do it yourselves! Please stop thinking about it!”). But TDS insists it’s in the right.

Andrew Petersen, the director of legislative and public relations for the company, told Ars in an e-mail that the company’s “first” reason for filing the lawsuit was because …

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Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 10:19 am

Head lice evolving resistance to pesticides

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Evolution never stops—evolution is what life does, the only thing it does. As soon as life emerges, evolution begins and never ceases. That basic fact should be a part of the education of every student: evolution is not a fringe aspect of the life sciences, it is the central fact and shapes everything else. If all people everywhere could grasp that evolution will not stop, will continue so long as life exists, and will shape lifeforms to the environment they encounter, perhaps we could find alternatives to goosing our foes (disease microbes, crop insects, parasites) to develop better defenses to our attacks.

At any rate, now head lice have evolved to resist the means we use to kill them. From Treehugger:

While drug companies continue to say its not happening, school nurses around the country are saying more and more parents are at a loss for solutions, reports MSNBC. One nurse even reported a parent, whose child has been battling head lice all summer, was extremely frustrated and unsure what to do next. So why are common medications like Nix, Rid, Ovide and Kwell still prescribed? Simply because they do work on some cases, some of the time.

In response to these superbugs, new salons are popping up all over the US that solely de-louse hair, like Hair Fairies in Chicago. Salons catering to head lice victims first rinse the hair to remove eggs, and then get to work nitting the hair one strand at the time. Kids can play video games, watch tv, read, anything to relax them during the procedure, reports ABC News. Though the procedures can be costly and usually take several visits, though some patients can partially cover the treatment through insurance.

For the children whose head lice are resistant to pesticides, at this time, all they can hope for are stronger medicines, new gels that will coat the head and smother the lice or “hot air treatments that desiccate [the lice].” One gel awaiting FDA approval would kill the bugs in 30 minutes by blocking their air holes -called the “Lice Asphyxiator.” It takes roughly three to five years for head lice to build immunity to the pesticide, says Florida Atlantic University associate professor Shirley Gordon, at which point you have to look for something else.

Most head lice can live for a month on your head, but they need to “eat” blood at least two to three times a day. There are estimates that roughly 1.8 percent of US schoolchildren are affected with head lice each year. In Turkey the problem is much worse with roughly 30% of children infected and as high as 60% in Greece. Though these numbers are very rough estimates due to the stigma of having head lice which forces both over and under reporting.

Head lice don’t spread disease and they are not deadly. They are most common among school children because the lice walk – can’t hop or fly – and are thus easily transmitted among kids during close contact. Schools are now easing up on restrictions keeping kids out of class because many were spending months at home waiting and thus losing valuable learning time.

Other options that don’t involve pesticides include …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 10:09 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Using coal and global warming

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An ongoing rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuels might be kept below harmful levels if emissions from coal are phased out within the next few decades, say researchers. They say that less plentiful oil and gas should be used sparingly as well, but that far greater supplies of coal mean that it must be the main target of reductions. Their study appears in the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles. The burning of fossil fuels accounts for about 80 percent of the rise of atmospheric CO2 since the pre-industrial era, to its current level of 385 parts per million. However, while there are huge amounts of coal left, predictions about when and how oil and gas production might start running out have proved controversial, and this has made it difficult to anticipate future emissions. To better understand how the emissions might change in the future, climatologist Pushker Kharecha and director James Hansen of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies—a member of Columbia University’s Earth Institute–considered a wide range of scenarios.

“This is the first paper that explicitly melds the two vital issues of global peak oil production and human-induced climate change,” Kharecha said. “We found that because coal is much more plentiful than oil or gas, reducing coal emissions is absolutely essential to avoid dangerous climate change.” Kharecha is also author of a related article, “How Will the End of Cheap Oil Affect Future Global Climate?”

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Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2008 at 10:02 am

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