Sunday, January 31, 2010

U.S. High Speed Rail; More Than Jobs

In announcing the massive high speed rail investment on Jan 28, President Obama may have altered the direction of U.S. transportation forever. The impact on the environment is not clear cut, though I am certain a successful rail expansion will be positive for our quality of life in general. How can anyone argue against decreased commute times, less congestion and decreasing traffic fatalities/injuries?

In a nation more than willing to go into debt for weapons making, perhaps some investment in our future happiness is not such a bad idea!

The problem is a one time $8 billion investment is tiny compared to what will be needed to see 100mph trains zipping from city to city. With the fickleness of U.S. voters, and the uncooperative nature of our political "leaders", continued investment is unlikely. We can always dream.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cold Blamed on North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)

I found a piece on TerraDaily which has European meteorologists describing how the NAO is responsible for the recent cold snap in North America, Europe, Northern China and parts of Northeast Asia. As can be found in any explanation of the NAO, these cold snaps are associated with the negative phase of the teleconnection. NOAA's data on this phase concurs that we have indeed been in a negative phase since around the end of November.

This is a good example of a phenomena mentioned in my recent post "Local Cooling, Global warming." For one, other parts of the world have still been experiencing record heat, as the article points out, sections of North Africa and the Mediterranean have been warm.

This also is an example of how temporal patterns (even those in periods of years) could be decieving when it comes to whether or not the atmosphere overall is experiencing warming . This is especially true when we have patterns that affect the northern hemisphere differently than the southern. This is because we have so much more land in the north and land has a much lower specific heat than water.

TerraDaily article:
NOAA NOA data:

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Designing Packaging To Be Recyclable

Considering packaging waste makes up more than 30% of the U.S. metropolitan waste stream, the importance of minimizing packaging and designing environmentally friendly packaging is difficult to understate. All of this waste is made apparent during the holidays when we throw "away" all the packages from the goodies we had to have. Check out more on environmentally friendly packaging over at the "Green Living" section of Bright Hub!