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Global Warming

It is now accepted that global warming is actually happening, and there is increasing evidence that global warming in the past caused the worst mass extinction ever. 250 million years ago more than 90% of all species died. There is now evidence from several studies that this was caused by global warming caused by greenhouse gases from erupting volcanoes. As the planet warmed, the effect may have been added to by methane gas, held in oceans in a frozen state, being released. “The work provides a glimpse of what can happen when the climate heats up over long periods”, said Dr Ward, leaders of one of the studies.

The world’s largest climate prediction experiment published their results in Nature at the end of January. They used computing time donated by the general public, amounting to over 8,000 years of computing time, which has allowed them to carry out calculations that otherwise would have been impossible. They have found that the rise in temperature from the accumulation of greenhouse gases is likely to be double that of the maximum warning so far. One of the co-ordinators, Dr David Frame, said, „the possibility of such high responses to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has profound implications. If the real world response were anywhere near the upper end of our range, even today‘s levels of greenhouse gases could already be dangerously high.”

A Wind from the Stars

Every year, just before Christmas, the earth passes through an inter-stellar wind.

The space between the stars is not empty, but filled with giant clouds of gas and dust, and there is one such huge cloud nearby, called the Local Interstellar Cloud. The sun’s magnetic field holds much of the cloud at bay, but some of this penetrates and washes over the solar system like a faint breeze. As we know, the sun passes through different constellations in the sky throughout the year, the major ones of which make up the signs of the zodiac. Early in December the sun passes through the constellation Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer, and this is the direction this helium rich interstellar breeze comes from.

At this time of year the sun’s gravity focuses the material into a cone and the earth passes through this in early December. As the sun moves on, so this disperses and becomes again a faint breeze.

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