Today's subject is the obvious. (Or, as we say over at Eschaton, "the fucking obvious.")
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute recently reported that trees may be a significant source of atmospheric methane. The implications of this finding for global warming were reported widely, and incorrectly. As WorldChanging notes:
[T]his report exploded across the newsosphere, usually with headlines suggesting that plants were responsible for global warming, that planting trees to mitigate atmospheric CO2 just made things worse, and otherwise striking an odd balance of "we're doomed" and "it's not our fault!"In response to this, the researchers have issued the following unequivocal clarification:
[T]he climatic benefits gained through carbon sequestration by reforestation far exceed the relatively small negative effect, which may reduce the carbon uptake effect by up to 4 per cent. Thus, the potential for reduction of global warming by planting trees is most definitely positive.Meanwhile, researchers at Penn State have reported the equally obvious finding that mitigating hazards in advance of natural disasters saves lives and money:
"The study found that hazard mitigation grants were cost-effective and reduced future losses from natural hazards," says Rose.Admittedly, everyone - even Congress - already knew this. But these days, affirming the obvious feels like progress.
"This type of grant provides a significant net benefit to society and a significant net savings to the U.S. treasury."
Often, it is progress. It's always been pikestaff-plain that Michael Fumento is a play-for-pay hack with the ethics of a sewer rat. But last week, we got proof. Better yet, he's been dropped by Scripps Howard News Service, which means I can now refer to him as a disgraced play-for-pay hack with the ethics of a sewer rat.
Producing nuclear bombs requires certain materials, certain equipment, and certain capabilities. Arms Control Wonk details some of them, and explains why hard-right hysteria over Iran's nuclear program is unrealistic and dishonest. (Also, in an especially poignant summation of the obvious, he calls Charles Krauthammer a moron.)
In other news, NASCAR has noticed that leaded gasoline is extremely poisonous, and intends to switch to unleaded. Not to be outdone, dentists have noticed that flushing mercury down the drain is a bad idea, and are taking steps to limit it.
And now, having wallowed sufficiently in the obvious, let's refresh ourselves with a good stiff dose of materia obscura, courtesy of BibliOdyssey.