Showing posts with label climate change. Show all posts
Showing posts with label climate change. Show all posts

Grumpy Cat Hates Telling You About The Weather Via Your Smartphone. And Everything Else.

You can set your phone or computer's desktop to an image of a funny feline.  Chances are you've seen a few amusing animal videos or GIFs as well during the course of your existence - maybe a lot, if you work in an office and get bored frequently.  So it comes as no surprise that now even the most mundane search of your day - that of meteorological news - can also be customized with a cat.  And who better than the internet's most famous one?

According to, the free Weatherkitty or Weatherpuppy app for your phone can feature up-to-date weather information superimposed on pictures of various furry friends, though the species options are currently limited to cats and dogs.  Your own pet can feature, or you can upgrade for $1.99 to be graced daily with the sourpuss hilarity of Grumpy Cat, scowling and serenading you with stats on snow or sunshine.

Bonus: reflections on your own mortality!
(Image courtesy

This isn't merely another meme.  The information included in the Weatherkitty or Weatherpuppy app includes a daily forecast with weather changes broken down by the hour, a weekly prediction of upcoming elemental events, wind speed, precipitation, atmospheric pressure, visibility, and highs and lows.  It's comprehensive.  Plus cats.

Developers Suraj Hemnani and Shiv Takhar are glad their app has made people's days a little brighter, even if it's dark out.  Hemnani explained, “We are social beings and we spend so much time alone, always working. So, we appreciate the company of dogs and cats very much—they have a way of bringing us back to the present moment and relaxing us.”

Grumpy Cat would perhaps be disappointed to learn he's considered "relaxing"...better put him to work as your own personal weather reporter.  Who else is better to tell you that it's raining out than a cat who'll be happy to tell you something worse?

Correct yet again, Grumpy Cat.  Well, at least its sunny out.
(Image courtesy 

Green Genes: Scientists Work On "Hacking" Plants

With global warming now a widely-accepted reality, it's time to make sure that our planet's plant life is able to keep up with the rising temperatures. To drought-proof the world's greenery, scientists have been experimenting on hacking plant genes to improve water retention.

According to, over 2 billion people worldwide have been affected by drought in recent years. The UN's Food And Agriculture Organization reports that over 11 million people have died from drought-related issues (crop failure or unsafe water sources due to scarcity) since 1900. Now, Duke University scientists aim to curtail that trouble, having "hacked" into plant genes to tell them when to conserve the scant amounts of water some of them are only able to obtain.

The "coping methods" are triggered in the plants when their levels of calcium are raised, forcing them to process precious water more slowly. This is encoded into a gene in the plant's cell membranes. To confirm this, the scientists raised both plants with this gene and plants lacking it and studied the results. “Plants that enter drought-fighting mode quickly and then switch back to normal growth mode quickly when drought stress is gone should be able to allocate energy more efficiently toward growth,” concluded associate professor of biology Zhen-Ming Pei.

This discovery will allow scientists to assess how plants in drought-afflicted areas could be made to augment their water retention and thus thrive even under difficult circumstances.  If we can't fix global warming yet, at least we're working on how to deal with it.

Go easy on the drinking there, buddy.

Bright Lights, Big Toilets, And Ostrich-Caliber Climate Control: The GOP Annihilates Environmental Programs

The GOP, in an unsurprising move, is now overtly making decisions that benefit themselves and detract from environmental legislation. Their recent decisions, passed Thursday night in the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, tear up environmental initiatives and replace them with fossil-fuel-dependent alternatives.

The Huffington Post reported this laundry list of Republican bad ideas. Included in the vote were measures that up funding for coal and fossil fuels (while cutting Energy Department funds for renewable energy by more than $100 million.) The new legislation also bars the enforcement of energy efficiency standards for light bulbs, cuts funding incentives for installment of low-flow toilets, and forbids spending on climate change model development.

This ensures we'll still pay lots of money for coal to keep the wasteful lightbulbs glowing and for more water than the average toilet user needs, and forget about analysis of the state of the climate.

Most shockingly, an amendment made by David McKinley (R-West Virginia) bans spending to "design, implement, administer or carry out specified assessments regarding climate change," because apparently burying our heads in the sand is a viable means of regulating one of humanity's biggest environmental challenges.

With decision makers like these, who needs enemies?

If only.

Oxymoronic GOP Science Committee Claims Global Warming "Debunked"

Despite many reputable, repeatable reports on the topic presented to the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, the GOP Science Committee chairman Rep. Lamar Smith informed the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Process that their facts were wrong.

Claiming that the figures (accepted by 97% of scientists) that global warming is primarily man-made have been "debunked", Rep. Smith went on to blame Obama for the misrepresentation.

Human contributions to global warming are vast, including the excavation and burning of fossil fuels, as well as the acceleration of deforestation, both of which are tied to financial interests of the Republican party.

Despite placing blame elsewhere and burying their heads in the non-scientific sand, the GOP Science Committee's claims are refuted by many studies, including one by NASA, that base their findings from technological readings, well-observed weather issues, and changing environments worldwide.