Friday, November 10, 2006

How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic (and big flare)

This is a wonderful guide for talking to the irrational about the fact that we only have one planet, and should probably be kinder to her than we have been.

Also, just to help you understand how fragile life can be and how quickly a "climate" can change, check out this story.
Scientists using NASA's Swift satellite have spotted a stellar flare on a nearby star so powerful that, had it been from our sun, it would have triggered a mass extinction on Earth. The flare was perhaps the most energetic magnetic stellar explosion ever detected.

The flare was seen in December 2005 on a star slightly less massive than the sun, in a two-star system called II Pegasi in the constellation Pegasus. It was about a hundred million times more energetic than the sun's typical solar flare, releasing energy equivalent to about 50 million trillion atomic bombs.

Fortunately, our sun is now a stable star that doesn't produce such powerful flares. And II Pegasi is at a safe distance of about 135 light-years from Earth.
It looks like they got a nice picture of it too.

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