Daily Archives: January 30, 2013

Are we having more forest fires in the US?

I’m not sure about the NUMBER of fires. That might be hard to count. If five small fires emerge and are put out, there are five fires. If five fires emerge, join into one configuration, and wipe out a handful of mountain villages in the Rockies, that’s one fire. It might be better to look at acreage burned per year.

My friend John Abraham has used the data supplied by National Interagency Fire Center to make a graph of acreage burned per year since 1960. The graph is a 10-year running mean of millions of acres burned in the US.

Here is the graph:

Acreage Burned in US Forest Fires since 1960
The annual rate of acreage burned in forest fires in the US seems to be increasing, presumably related to global warming.

Looks like a bit of an upswing.

For comparison, here is a section of a graph from this source showing temperatures (blue line) in the US Lower 48 for the roughly equivalent time period:

US temperature increase since 1960
Increasing temperatures in the contiguous (lower 48) US states.

Fire Photo Credit: T i q s © via Compfight cc

Common misconceptions and unproven assumptions about the aquatic ape theory

Common misconceptions and unproven assumptions about the aquatic ape theory

A Guest Post by Marc Verhaegen
*2013 m_verhaegen@skynet.be

It is often assumed that Alister Hardy’s and Elaine Morgan’s aquatic ape theory (AAT) suggests that more than 5 Ma (million years ago) there was a semi-aquatic phase in our past (explaining e.g. human fur loss, fatness and upright bipedalism), which was followed by a savanna phase on the African plains. In 2011, AAT proponents published an eBook, Was Man more aquatic in the past?, which showed a rather different picture of AAT. Here I very briefly describe my view of ape and human evolution (for details and references, see my publications at the end of this article).

The Homo-Pan last common ancestor (LCA)

My 1994 paper concluded:
Continue reading Common misconceptions and unproven assumptions about the aquatic ape theory

Science vs. Anti Science Updates

There is a new anti-science bill in Arizona. Go read about it here. It is interesting that these anti-science bills are sounding more and more like pro science bills except for just a few words that allow, encourage, and even require funding for the teaching of climate science denialism and creationism.

Michael Zimmerman has a nice write up on how the big boys in creationism have been rather flustered by a former High School Student (now College Student) Zach Kopplin who, as I’m sure you know, has been challenging creationists in halls of government and elsewhere for a few years now.

When Ham was asked if he had seen an article about Zack Kopplin, a Rice University sophomore who has been fighting creationism since his high school days in New Orleans, he responded simply and clearly: “Yes — he is a product of the system — brainwashed by secularists — is so ignorant about what science really is — we are writing a blog about it.”

Speaking of creationism and stuff, see how teaching it gets funded with public money!

And, from Big Sky Country, we have this:

When the time came for Montanans to speak about a creationist bill, no one but its author could be found to speak for it. Dozens of scientists, educators, theologians, and concerned parents came to the legislature to insist: “No creationism in Montana.”

Here’s the video: