Global Warming Causes Heat Waves, Says NASA Scientist
Heat wave events, once rare, are becoming more frequent due to global warming, says NASA scientist James Hansen. Such summertime heat events covered only 1% of Earth?s surface for most of the time since humanity has been studying the climate. Now, when they occur, they cover closer to 10% of the global land area.
“We conclude that extreme heat waves, such as that in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010, were ?caused? by global warming, because their likelihood was negligible prior to the recent rapid global warming,” Hansen writes in a new paper, “Perceptions of Climate Change: The New Climate Dice,” to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
This summer saw another major and anomalous climate related event; over the course four days, from July 8 to July 12, the amount of melting occurring over the surface of Greenland went from a seasonally normal 40% to an abnormal 97%, according to NASA scientists working with satellite data.
Massive melting was even observed at the Summit Central station located at the highest and coldest point of the Greenland ice sheet, nearly two miles above the sea level. Though extremely unusual, the melting phenomenon is not without precedent. A corollary event occurred in 1889, and ice-core samples suggest that Greenland melting seems to occur every 150 years.
However, scientists say that this year?s event was likely caused by extremely unusual high pressure systems, or heat ridges, which have been moving over Greenland since May. “Each successive ridge has been stronger than the previous one,” says University of Georgia climatologist Thomas Mote. This latest heat ridge made its way over the central part of Greenland on July 8 and stayed there until about July 16. Scientists believe that the ice will regrow, but the new ice, at least at first, will not be as thick as the ice that melted.
Scientists believe that the Arctic is heating twice to four times as fast as the rest of the globe. The bigger heat ridges in the Arctic may be linked to changes in the jet stream, as a result of manmade global warming.
Sources: NASA; an early draft of the paper by James Hansen et al. is available from Columbia University, Download PDF
NOTE: Futurist Update editor Patrick Tucker will be speaking on these and other issues related to climate and the future with Michio Kaku on Science Fantastic, airing Saturday, August 11. Check your local listings here.
New Organ Prize Aims to Put an End to Organ Shortages
As supplies of donor organs continue to trail the numbers of patients who need them, the Methuselah Foundation is pursuing the prospect of building new organs right in the lab. This nonprofit organization, which sponsors and advocates for research into arresting and reversing the human body?s aging processes, recently announced that it will dispense a New Organ Prize to go to any researcher who successfully constructs an entire new organ from a patient?s own cells. The competition specifies a few required benchmarks. For example, the organ must have maintained viability in its lab for two years or more.
“Our New Organ Prize is designed to connect the vast community of those needing replacement organs with those who can do something about it in an accelerating time frame that prizes have proven to produce,” says David Gobel, CEO of the Methuselah Foundation.
A prize could be just the catalyst that organ generation may need, as past prizes have brought about solutions to other global problems, Gobel adds. For instance, a Food Preservation Prize in the early nineteenth century spurred the development of refrigeration, which effectively ended famine in the developed world.
“It took a prize to get someone to fix it?and fix it they did,” he says.
The Methuselah Foundation is counting on donors to provide the funding for the prize, whose exact dollar amount will be greater or smaller depending on contributions. Donors can deposit funds directly via the Web site.
Sources: The Methuselah Foundation, NewOrgan.org
Innovators Go on Display at Futurists: BetaLaunch 2012
Innovative leaps in marketing, gaming, personal health care, and even national defense?visitors saw all of these and more at the World Future Society?s Futurists: BetaLaunch 2012, an expo of 11 future-thinking start-ups. The event took place July 28 in Toronto, in conjunction with WorldFuture 2012.
“Best in show” went to The Mission Business, a Toronto design collective out of OCAD University that produces connected live-action and online entertainment experience. Their project, ZED.TO, an “interactive, twenty-first-century marketing campaign,” entertained and informed with a dramatized debut of BioLogyc, a fictional pharmaceutical company that uses volunteer and crowd-sourced research and development to produce gene-based drug therapies. There actually is no such company, but the business model is a real concept.
“ZED.TO is a transmedia project that allows audiences to join the ranks of ByoLogyc, a fictional biotech corporation from the near future. By exploring the world of ByoLogyc through live-action events and online media, audiences challenge their assumptions about the future, helping us understand the future of entertainment, the evolution of technologies like synthetic biology, and how corporations and organizations can anticipate the future needs and values of customers,” says Trevor Haldenby, co-founder of The Mission Business.
Meanwhile, exhibitor CyberHero League presented its real-life approach to engaging young people in social causes via video games. The company?s computer games teach players about conservation, world hunger, and other issues. As the kids play the games and rack up points, actual donors contribute donations toward efforts relevant to those causes in the real world.
A third exhibitor, Lifetech, debuted an ion proton genome sequencer that could sequence a person?s entire genome within one day. The first sequencer may be released at the end of the year.
Then there was B-Temia, designer of a “dermoskeleton,” a skintight brace-like device that soldiers in combat could wear to protect against acute injury and repetitive strains. The company?s spokesman said that U.S. military leaders are very interested: Increasingly lengthy deployments have been making repetitive-strain injuries a serious problem.
Source: Futurists: BetaLaunch 2012
Andrew Hessel (left), the real father of synthetic biology, meets Chet Getram (center), the fictional father of synthetic biology and CEO of the faux company ByoLogyc, and Olive Swift (right), vice president Quality Assurance for ByoLogyc, at WorldFuture 2012
The Future?s Narrative: A Report from WorldFuture 2012
The World Future Society?s 2012 conference, held in Toronto July 27-29, got off to an inspiring start thanks to Lee Rainie (director of the Pew Research Center?s Internet & American Life Project) and Brian David Johnson (director of Future Casting and Experience Research for Intel Corp.).
Rainie?s survey work involves offering experts two alternative scenarios of change (“tension pairs”) and asking them to pick which will be more likely to happen. While the resulting data provides an overview of the experts? general mind-set (optimistic or pessimistic), the open-ended narrative responses to the scenarios are more useful, Rainie said.
Johnson used science-fiction references to make his point that “futurecasting is not about predicting the future; it?s about developing an actionable vision that we can build.” And building that future will mean understanding the language of computing, or algorithms. “Algorithms are written by people, and it?s a story, a narrative,” he said. Referencing Mary Shelley?s parable about Frankenstein?s monster?that if you build something, it will come to life and kill you?we need to change the narrative about the things we make.
As an example of a “real mad scientist” who is changing that narrative, Johnson introduced surprise guest speaker Andrew Hessel, whose Pink Army Cooperative is working on curing cancer?for free. Hessel?s work with synthetic biology changes the narrative of what viruses are. “Viruses are apps,” he said. Viruses are used to load “software” (cancer-fighting compounds) into cells.
Naveen Jain, founder of Moon Express, promoted an entrepreneurial approach to solving problems: “Don?t be afraid of doing well, but if you can do well by doing good, you?re a great entrepreneur.” In other words, don?t just do the “feel-good” stuff; solve billion-dollar problems, and think about the scalability of solutions.
In his Saturday luncheon speech, Geordie Rose, creator of the World’s First Quantum Computer, said that quantum computation is advancing faster than Moore’s Law. And on Sunday, speaker Edie Weiner looked at the future of 3-D printing, pharmaceuticals, cutting-edge trends in neuroscience, and the widening frontier of the possible.
These are just a few highlights of the more than 50 presentations, workshops, and roundtables taking place during WorldFuture 2012: Dream. Design. Develop. Deliver. Further coverage of the event will appear in the November-December 2012 issue of THE FUTURIST magazine.
WorldFuture 2012 speakers received coverage from i09, The Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, the Epoch Times, CBC, and CTV Canada.
Whats Hot on WFS.ORG?
A selection of articles, special reports, and other future-focused material on our Web site that you might have missed. Join now at www.wfs.org/renew.
Europe: Beyond the Crisis
In The Hague, World Future Society board member Mylena Pierremont and social entrepreneur Carine de Meyere announce the formation a new European chapter of WFS, with the goal of offering serious conversations about the future of Europe. View the video
The World Future Society Welcomes its New China Chapter
The World Future Society has been talking frequently about China for years. But just this year, for the very first time, the Society now has an actual presence in China. As Kenneth Hunter, chair of the WFS Board of Directors, announced Friday in an opening plenary speech at the WorldFuture Conference 2012 in Toronto, Dr. Zhouying Jin founded earlier this year a first-ever China chapter of the World Future Society. Read more.
FREE online from the July/August issue of THE FUTURIST:
The Abundance Builders
By Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler
Progress occurs when inventive people solve problems and create opportunities. Here, Peter Diamandis (left) and best-selling science writer Steven Kotler present just a few of the breakthroughs that offer the brightest prospects for a future that leaves austerity and deprivation behind. Read more.
The Secret Life of Data In the Year 2020
By Brian David Johnson
Author Brian David Johnson, a futurist for Intel, shows how geotags, sensor outputs, and big data are changing the future. He argues that we need a better understanding of our relationship with the data we produce in order to build the future we want. Read more.
The Individual in a Networked World: Two Scenarios
By Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman
Collaborative agent bots? A walled world under constant surveillance? Two information technology experts parse the future of human?network interaction. Read more.
From Smart House to Networked Home
By Chris Carbone and Kristin Nauth
Two foresight specialists describe how tomorrow?s integrated, networked, and aware home systems may change your family life. Read more.
Building and Connecting Communities for the Future
By Center for Communities of the Future
The economic-development profession can be a positive force for change in communities as we transition from a materialistic economy to a transformational society. Read more.
Integrated and Innovative: The Future of Regions
By John M. Eger
Challenges facing city and regional governments today may spur a movement toward improving the creative resources of tomorrow?s citizens. Investing in the arts may help communities capitalize on shifting paradigms. Read more.
Revolutionary Health: Local Solutions for Global Health Problems
By Rick Docksai
Better health care doesn?t have to be costlier, as a number of innovative health practitioners are showing. In India, Venezuela, and elsewhere, the strategic use of technology, community involvement, and resource reallocations are enabling health-care providers to treat more patients more effectively, all while spending less money. Read more.
Visions: Preview of Future Inventions
By Kenneth J. Moore
Futurists: BetaLaunch, the World Future Society?s second annual innovation competition, will allow WorldFuture 2012 attendees to preview a few of the life-changing and society-altering artifacts of the future. Read more.