Real-time Earth and Moon phase

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Surf's up!

Here are two surf pictures shown in this article entitled "Coast surfer tackles Tahitian monster" in Sunshine Coast Daily online with author unidentified. The surfer's name is David Scard of Caloundra who was surfing in the round four heat of the Air Tahiti Nui Von Zipper trials leading to the World Championship Billabong Pro event in Teahupoo (Tahiti ) that begins next week.

According to the article
With the swell peaking at 5m late yesterday afternoon and 8ft to 12ft slabs at dawn yesterday, Teahupoo created a perfect arena for the world-class barrel riders to showcase their skills.
When everything's right, the surfer certainly makes it look easy:

Of course that's not always the case, and here's a "heavy wipe out"

My thumbs up for the photographer Steve Robertson of Surfing Australia for capturing these exciting pictures -- too irresistable not to post them again here!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day 2008!

It is not always feasible for a blogger to do something timely, but today I think it is appropriate for this blog to celebrate the "Earth Day" appropriately -- to introduce a newly published book entitled "The Really Inconvenient Truths: Seven Environmental Catastrophes Liberals Don't Want You to Know About--Because They Helped Cause Them" by Iain Murray. I don't know the author and I don't have the book yet. But this appears to be a terrific book nevertheless!


Here's an excerpt from the Introduction: Al Gore: Savior of the Planet? The question mark at the end is thr key:
The scientific case for global warming alarmism is based on a series truths that, far from being inconvenient, are actually trivial. First is the basic physical principle that certain gases absorb heat, and so, all things being equal, the more of these"greenhouse" gases like carbon dioxide there are in the atmosphere, the warmer it will be. Second, greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, have steadily increased in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution. Finally, we have indeed seen a small increase in global average temperatures -- about one degree Fahrenheit -- over the last one hundred years.

Out of this molehill of scientific truth has been built a mountain of the catastrophe theory that Al Gore and the green lobbyuse to advance their case for a complete realignment of the world's economic system.

This mountain building starts with scientists who use the correlations they have identified between greenhouse gases and temperature rises to build computer models of what might happen to global temperatures if greenhouse gas concentrations accelerate as fast as some other economists and scientists estimate they will. These models find different suggested increases, based primarily on what happens to global development this century.

On top of these models, other scientists develop yet more computer models, trying to determine -- if the first models are correct -- what might happen to say, pine trees, sea levels, crops, or tropical storms. In turn economists have developed computer models that assess whether the world will suffer or be better off.

From these computer simulations, Al Gore and his colleagues have advanced the argument that we face catastrophe very soon if we do not drastically curtail our use of the fossil fuels that release greenhouse gases when we burn them. They have suggested national emissions caps, taxes on energy use, and even personal carbon dioxide rations. (Want to drive Junior to his Little League game? Tough luck, you used all your monthly CO2 rations on your flight to grandpa's funeral last week.)

Yet if doesn't take a genius to realize that all those computer models are guesswork based on guesswork. Let's go back to the very first step, the correlation identified between greenhouse gases and temperature rise. While it looks quite strong, there is uncertainty even there . . .

. . .

These sort of uncertainties exist throughout the science. It only take a moment's thought to realize that heaping uncertainties upon uncertainties results in a much greater uncertainty at the end. Even so, these uncertainties are routinely dismissed by Al Gore and his friends. Uncertainty can not be an excuse for inaction, they say. It's a line worthy of Wizard of Oz . . .
Now based on the Table of Contents of the book, here are the seven past, present, and future environmental catastrophes:
1. Malaria: The plague of environmentalists.
2. Ethanol: Save the planet, starve the world.
3. The Pill as Pollutant: And other environmental menaces the left ignores.
4. Yellowstone in Flames: The dangers of liberal dogma.
5. Cuyahoga Burning: How progressives set a river on fire.
6. Endangered Species Act: Shoot, shovel, and shut-up.
7. Communism's Environment Record: The death of Aral Sea.
I can hardly wait to get my hands on this book. Go for it. Happy Earth Day 2008!

P.S.
Iain Murray, an Oxford graduate, is the Director of Projects and Analysis and Senior Fellow in Energy, Science and Technology of the Competitive Enterprise Institute among other things. At least two of his articles readily available online are: Gorey Truths: 25 inconvenient truths for Al Gore and Hockey Stick Slapped. And, of course, this latest one: The Truths Shall Set You Free tells why he wrote this book. A fabulous one indeed!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Whither hothouse earth?

The New Scientist magazine (issue 2652, 20 April 2008, page 14) carried an interesting news item yesterday about a new research result on the consequence of a huge rise in atmosphere temperature:

WHAT would it take to jam a planet's tectonics? It seems that a huge rise in atmospheric temperatures would do the trick, causing continents to grind to a halt, mountains to stop growing and earthquakes to cease.

Wait a minute, "earthquakes to cease" !? Isn't that a good thing ??? No more earthquake, there will no more tsunamis !!! How many lives that will save? Millions may be! How many people have the IPCC/Chickenlittlealgore and their fellow alarmists saved ??? Hey that's a politically incorrect question to ask!!! How dare you.

According to Adrian Lenardic of Rice University in Houston, Texas, and colleagues, a very hot atmosphere can trigger this effect by slowing heat loss from the mantle. The team's model showed that for such effects to occur on Earth, average atmospheric temperatures would need to rise by 60 °C (Earth and Planetary Science Letters, DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2008.03.031).

Though this is unlikely to happen on Earth in the foreseeable future - it could be caused by a huge rise in volcanic activity but not by human-made climate change - defining this upper limit may help determine if and when other planets, such as Venus, experienced tectonic plate movement.

So it is unlikely to happen and it certainly can not be caused by our SUV driving or Exxon-Mobil with or without Chickenlittlealgore's tiny, tiny fat carbon footprint.

Now if in the ultimate extreme case there can be nice things to happen, why can't we explore the beneficial effects instead of only alarms? If the earth is going to follow the fate of Venus at some point, do you really think IPCC/Chickenlittlealgore can save us from it's happening???

Freaque wave in Loch Glencoul

Here's a simple news from BBC News today:
Three sea kayakers have been rescued after capsizing in Loch Glencoul at Kylesku in Sutherland.

The trio were in a party of seven making their way to a bothy just after midnight when they overturned after being hit by a freak wave.

They were rescued by the Lochinver Lifeboat.

However, one of the men was winched onto a coastguard rescue helicopter and taken to Stornoway on Lewis with suspected hypothermia.
Here's a picture of Loch Glencoul:



Now how can such a tranquil, peaceful place in the North Highland of Scotland can still have freaque waves? The best answer is probably another question: Why not?

There's no details about the freaque wave that caused the capsizing. It just happened. Well, the best news is that they were all rescued. Thank God for that.

The truth of the matter is that freaque waves, as always, can be any place and any time, in storm or in calm tranquility, and we really know nothing about it!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A rock in a raging sea!

Pope Benedict XVI is visiting the U.S. this week. I followed his celebration of Solemn Papal Mass at Noational Park in Washington, D.C. this morning on the internet (EWTN). The Responsorial Psalm at the Mass was "Lord send out Your spirit and renew the face of the earth!".

According to Kathryn Jean Lopez of the National Review:

Last night was a terrific celebration at the White House of the pontiff, religious freedom, and Catholicism. President Bush said two important things:

a) That he "appreciates [Benedict's] rejection of moral relativism and religion as a pretext for violence."

b) The Catholic Church has been a rock in a raging sea and it is my prayer that it will never change."

A rock in raging sea! I like this expression. As a matter of fact I think there is an equivalent expression in classic Chinese as

中流砥柱

[Chung(1) Liu(2) Dee(3) Chu(4)]

At any rate on this nice day of slow freaque wave news, I took the appropriate liberty of entering this non-freaque wave item for my blog today.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Freaque wave hits shark cage diving boat

I have seen shark cage diving on television. I know it has become tourist attraction in San Francisco, California and Cape Town, South Africa. According to this About Cage Diving page, a shark cage is a special metal enclosure designed to keep dangerous sharks a safe distance away, so that it allows one to come eye to eye with some of the ocean's most feared predators. Humans are not a shark's first choice for a meal, but clear shark is not that smart and there is distinct possibility that without a cage the shark might mistaken a human for an elephant seal or giant fish.

Well, a shark cage protects a shark attack. How does one gets protection from freaque wave attack? There isn't any! Today's news from South Africa of the capsizing of a shark cage diving boat after an encounter with a freaque wave is rather troubling to read:
Cape Town, South Africa: Two Americans and a Norwegian tourist hoping to get close to great white sharks on a cage-diving adventure drowned Sunday when their boat capsized after it was hit by a freak wave, officials said. Sixteen people suffered minor injuries.

The accident happened in Gansbaai, a small town about two hours from Cape Town that calls itself the great white shark capital of the world. The area's clear waters teem with great whites, each year attracting thousands of tourists who go out on shark-spotting boats and enter the water in sturdy metal cages in hopes of encountering the mighty predators.

The boat that capsized Sunday had just anchored and was preparing to lower the first cage, though no one was yet in the contraption, said Mariette Hopley, head of the Great White Shark Protection Foundation, which groups cage-diving operators in the area.

"The sea was flat and conditions were perfect to go out," she said. "Out of nowhere, a freak wave washed up right up against the boat and made it capsize."

While there is no details about the freaque wave, the last description of during flat sea conditions, "out of nowhere a freaque washed up" removes any doubt of whether or not it was really a freaque wave they encountered.
There were no sharks in the near vicinity at the time because the boat operators had not yet put out any bait for them, Hopley said. She said it was the first accident since the cage diving industry started in the town in 1991.

"We are all so shocked," she said. "This is an act of nature. There was nothing we could do about it. We just prayed together."

All 10 passengers and 9 crew members were flung into the water, but 16 were rescued by nearby boats and taken to hospital suffering from shock and minor injuries, Hopley said.

We certainly can not disagree with the statement that "This is an act of nature. There was nothing we could do about it." Three lives lost unnecessarily is a true human tragedy indeed. But even though this is the first accident since the cage diving industry started 17 years, the discouraging part of the story remains that we can be safe from the shark but we don't know how to prevent the same kind of freaque wave from happening again. Hey all you generous philanthropists out there, why not invest some on the needed freaque waves research?

Update:

The day after the tragic event this article from News24 by Verashni Pillay with the title "Freak wave 'totally unforeseen'" was shown up on the internet. Here are some useful quotes:

Cape Town - The "freak" wave that capsized a shark diving boat on Sunday killing three tourists could not have been predicted, according to experts, despite the fact that the sea looked choppy to the untrained eye.

National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) spokesperson Craig Lambinon said the NSRI supported statements by White Shark Projects, the company which operated the boat, saying that the sea was flat.

"To our understanding it was relatively calm conditions yesterday," he told News24 on Monday, adding that shark diving in those conditions was not unusual.

It looks like the argument or discussion of the sea conditions has just started as

"Two metre swells and 10-15 knot winds sounds like rough seas," said Lambinon, referring to the weather conditions before the accident. "But that doesn't mean it was rough."

However eyewitnesses said the sea was choppy in contrast to statements from industry body, the Great White Shark Foundation, that the sea was "absolutely flat".

Marili Esterhuyse who was on the boat at the time with her boyfriend, Cheetahs' centre Hendrik Meyer, said that the sea was "turbulent" when the boat set off from Kleinbaai near Gansbaai early on Sunday morning.

An anonymous resident of Kleinbaai told Beeld that the sea was rougher than usual on the morning of the accident.

However Lambinon pointed out that to the untrained eye the sea may have looked choppy but was in fact calm enough.

"You've got to put it into perspective - how well does that person know the sea? What might be rough seas to one person might be calm seas to another."

While the argument seems to have centered on describing the sea condition as either "flat" or "choppy". To me that's just a non-issue. Even given the condition as "rough" or "turbulent" or "rougher than usual", the key point is that non of these condition will cause capsizing at any rate. So I have to agree with National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) spokesperson Craig Lambinon who emphasised that there was no way to anticipate the "freak" wave that capsized the boat, causing the three tourists to drown, and said that

"You have to be humble to the ocean, it's a place where the unknown happens."

which is just a brilliant statement of fact that no one can dispute.


Update II:


Here are two accounts on the wave event from the ones who were there. First one in The Sun:
“I’ve never seen anything like that wave. Nothing in the world would have stood a chance, except maybe an ocean liner. We are lucky to be alive.”

“It looked like a freak wave, something like the wave on the video of the 2004 tsunami.

“The captain shouted for us to grab hold of something, which we did. You don’t even have time to think.

“I just tried to get to the surface. Fortunately another boat was there to rescue us by the time I did.”

Another from someone in another boat in the Manchester Evening News:
"Preparations were underway for the clients to go down into the cage when suddenly this wall of water just came out of nowhere.

"Our boat went on to its side, but the other one simply capsized, and people were in the water floundering about. We managed to get a number onboard, and I sent out a mayday.

"Rescue boats were on the scene very quickly, and I doubt anyone was in the water for more than two or three minutes or so."
According to The Sun, where the tragedy happened was around 100 miles offshore – in an area known as “The Great White Shark Capital of the World.”

Monday, April 07, 2008

Can freaque waves sever leg?

This news from livenews.com of Australia last Friday is a little hard to take in:
Police believe a severed leg that washed up oa a beach at Phillip Island in Victoria on the weekend may belong to one of two missing Pakistani students.

Police will use DNA samples sent from Pakistan to try an identify the leg, which was found by a couple walking at Cape Woolamai at about 3.30pm on Saturday.

The process will take a while, said Sergeant Robyn Heal, but police believe the leg may be the partial remains of one of two Pakistani students who were hit by a freak wave last month.

'We literally have to wait for the DNA sample to come back from Pakistan, and it will then take one to two weeks or even longer for the comparison to be made,' Sergeant Heal told Fairfax media.

The missing students Omer Habib, 22, and Wasim Akram, 19, were washed from rocks while taking pictures between The Nobbies and Penguins Parade on March 24.

Mr Habib was hit from behind by a wave and was dragged backwards into the water. Mr Akram tried to save him but both men disappeared when another wave washed over the rocks.
Can freaque waves sever a human body? I certainly have a hard time to think that's possible. The tragic story itself is too sad to report in the first place. But it's happening is by no means a surprise or unexpected from this blog. But two young foreign students, far from home, enjoyed a beach outing and encountered the freaque wave while taking a picture on a rock and lost their life is just too depressing a news to think that's really happened. Now can freaque waves really severed a leg? Well, the only scenario I can think of would be the force of the freaque wave somehow injected the helpless body onto a underwater rock with a very sharp edge. At any rate, it was a sad story without this aftermath. Our prayers go to the family and love ones of the two students. Telling their story should really bring home the warning that one just can not be too cautious to be on the beach, anything can happen any time and any place!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Wild winds cause chaos!

Wild winds cause chaos! Wild winds are things never welcome, especially when it is not necessarily expected. Just when we enjoy the return of spring season in North America, the news from South Australia is sobering:
Killer weather cause chaos
Winds wreak havoc in southern states (of Australia)
High wins buffet Victoria
High winds expected to close bridges
are just a few headlines that describes what's happening in the peaceful wonderland of Southern Australia this morning. Here's the picture of a yacht losing mooring:

Now here's a thought: the planet earth is not a small globe. One part of the earth may enjoy something while another part of the earth suffers other thing. We don't even have the same season at the same time. So does the code word "global" really mean anything in the real world? Next time when you heard the mumble jumble of global something, keep in mind it most likely just full of nonsense, uh, hot air!