Tag Archives: ice

The Apocalypticon ~ around the world and (almost) back again


Around the world … A survey of satellite data published in the journal Cryosphere [links to a PDF] confirms what scientists have suspected for a while now: ice loss from the critical region of Antarctica is happening at an increasingly fast pace.
Antarctica lost roughly 1929 gigatons (a gigaton is one billion tons) of ice in 2015, which amounts to an increase of roughly 36 gigatons per year every year since 2008. Nearly 90% of that increase in loss occurred in West Antarctica, “probably in response to ocean warming,” according to NASA.
Photos and video emerging from the Indonesian island of Sumatra are absolutely terrifying. Thankfully, no one has been hurt, but the smoke and ash bubbling from Mount Sinabung after an eruption on February 19th is like watching a mythical monster slowing taking over the sky (left).
High levels of microplastics have been found in Northwest Atlantic fish. A study, published in open-access journal Frontiers in Marine Science, found microplastics in the stomachs of nearly three out of every four mesopelagic fish caught in the Northwest Atlantic.
And in the US, where a deranged president is urging teachers to get armed and trained [oh yay, schoolyard firefights, they won’t be dangerous …], legislators declared porn is a health risk but assault weapons are fine.
But actually, America’s greatest vulnerability is its continued inability to acknowledge the extent of its adversaries’ capabilities when it comes to cyber threats, says Ian Bremmer, founder and president of leading political risk firm Eurasia Group.
The latest bug to hit Apple devices wrought havoc on the internet.The issue, which has become known as the Telugu bug, gave people the ability to crash a wide range of iPhone, Mac and iPad apps just by sending a single character from the third-most-spoken language in India. Apple patched the bug a few days later (so update your Apple devices!) because mean-spirited users took to using the Telugu symbol to “bomb” other peoples’ devices. By adding the symbol to a user’s Twitter name, you can crash the iOS Twitter app simply by liking someone’s tweet.

Emerging risks of AI — A new report authored by over two-dozen experts on the implications of emerging technologies is sounding the alarm bells on the ways artificial intelligence could enable new forms of cybercrime, physical attacks, and political disruption over the next five to ten years.

Bonkers clock — Depending on the day, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is either the richest or second richest human on Earth. And while he’s trying to figure out how to use some of that money philanthropically, he announced construction has begun on the giant clock in the middle of nowhere that he put up $US42 million to build. The 10,000 Year Clock is intended as a symbolic reminder that we should consider the long-term impact of our actions.
~ Or he could spend that money on actually helping people … twat

Finally, some goodish news: more than 50% of Australia’s coal fleet will be over 40 years old by 2030, and the Australian electricity grid, along with these ageing fossil fuelled power stations, are increasingly vulnerable to worsening extreme weather events.
To reach zero carbon pollution well before 2050 in order to effectively tackle climate change, Australia needs to increase reliance on renewable energy. The good news is that Australia could reach 50% renewables by 2030 even without significant new energy storage.

Advertisements

The Apocalypticon ~ The Data Wars, airlines, animals, ice, carbon …


Moscow is adding facial-recognition technology to its network of 170,000 surveillance cameras across the city in a move to identify criminals and boost security. Since 2012, CCTV recordings have been held for five days after they’re captured, with about 20 million hours of video stored at any one time. This quickly became almost impossible to process by police officers alone, so they’re automating the process.
Are, Russia, so security conscious … The ‘secure messaging app’ Telegram has employees in Saint Petersburg in the same building as Kremlin-influenced social network VK, which is owned by the oligarch and Putin ally Alisher Usmanov. Doesn’t that make us feel secure?
Meanwhile, Russian hacktivist group Fancy Bear (also referred to as APT28, Sofacy, and Strontium) has been using a flaw in Google’s caching of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) to phish targets, Salon reports. To make matters worse, Google has been aware of the bug for almost a year but has refused to fix it…

Of course, things are much better in the United States of America. The Department of Homeland Security plans to expand the files it collects on immigrants, as well as some citizens, by including more online data – most notably search results and social media information – about each individual. The plan is set out in the Federal Register, where the government publishes forthcoming regulations. A final version is set to go into effect on October 18th.
But here, lax security can be incredibly rewarding. The CEO of Equifax is retiring from the credit reporting bureau with a pay day worth as much as US$90 million – or roughly 63 cents for every customer whose data was potentially exposed in its recent security breach. Nice one, good job there Dick, love your work.
Data is the new oil, or so the saying goes. So why are we giving it away for nothing more than ostensibly free email, better movie recommendations and more accurate search results? It’s an important question to ask in a world where the accumulation and scraping of data is worth billions of dollars..

Airlines worldwide were forced to delay flights as a global flight-bookings system operated by Amadeus IT Group SA suffered what the company called a “network issue.” Major carriers including British Airways, Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Cathay Pacific Airways and Qantas Airways were among those reportedly impacted by the outage. At least their planes still had fuel.

While we’re back in the analogue world, humans are changing animal migrate routes in ways you may not expect. White storks in Europe typically fly to southern Africa for the winter. Yet when researchers at Germany’s Max Plank Institute for Ornithology tracked a bird’s path using a GPS logger in 2016, they found it and a few others had skipped the grueling migration across the Sahara Desert. That year, the birds stopped, instead, in cities like Madrid, Spain, and Rabat, Morocco. Apparently, they had developed a taste for junk food, in particular the stuff that piles up in landfills along the migration route.

But hey, there’s a new rat, and it’s a biggun! The Solomon Islands is a nation comprised of nearly one thousand islands located northeast of Australia. Dense, lush rainforest blankets the majority of the islands, and the country’s coral reef biodiversity is among the richest in the world. Many of the plants and animals in the Solomon Islands have evolved in splendid isolation, and now, one of these animals has emerged from its idyllic surroundings, revealing itself to science for the first time: the vika (Uromys vika), a big-arse rat four times the size of even the heftiest of the familiar, city-slicker variety.

If you want an unusual but punchy telling of the world’s explosion of climate-warping gases, look no further than this visualisation of CO2 levels over the past centuries soaring like skyscrapers into space.

 

Satellite images taken last weekend show a new 267km2 iceberg emerging from Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier. The calving event did not come as a complete surprise, but it’s a troubling sign with regards to future sea level rise.

And in good news … OK, I’m struggling. How about this mirrored train ride through Tokyo?