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Monday, December 03, 2007

Global Warming – Recent Developments

by Jonathan Mayheart

Traces history of issues of Greenhouse effect and Global warming

There is one subject that is certain to raise a passionate argument in a party these days and that is “Global Warming”. Everybody has an opinion about it. And why not? After all if the international action plans for reduction of carbon emissions have to succeed, every individual needs to be involved and committed to it!

It is generally believed that the earth was covered with ice about 15000 years ago. About 7000 years ago the earth began to warm up and the ice age came to an end. Then again from the 14th century to the 19th century large parts of the earth experienced harsh, cold conditions. This period was known as “the little ice age”. In 1824 Fourier proposed the theory that solar radiations are trapped by the atmosphere and reflected back to the earth causing the earth to warm up and that the earth was slowly getting warm. Arrhenius termed it the greenhouse effect in the late 19th century. In the 1950s, Callendar supported the theory of the greenhouse effect.

From late 20th century there was a much greater attention being paid to environmental issues and serious scientific activities started for devising ways to measure global temperatures and to devise better mathematical models to analyze earth’s climate. By the end of the 20th century there was a large body of scientific opinion that believed that increased carbon dioxide emissions, caused by ever increasing use of fossil fuels, were responsible for global warming. In 1994, the United Nations Panel on Climate Change asserted that global warming was still a threat and nations needed to take action to negate the effects of global warming. Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement to fight global warming, was born in 1997. This protocol called for countries to reduce their emission of greenhouse gases. After eight years of hard bargaining, and acrimonious debates Kyoto treaty was finally ratified by 141 countries. Noteworthy among the countries that did not ratify it were the USA and Australia – both the largest producers of greenhouse gases.

The treaty aims to limit and cut back emission of greenhouse gases to control global warming. It sets limits for emission from 35 developed countries; developing countries are exempted from emission limits to allow them time to catch up. Under the treaty, various countries have committed to reduce the emissions to below their 1990 levels by 2012.

Most of the countries are struggling to limit the greenhouse emissions to the levels they had committed to; many are finding it quite tough when it comes to pushing for action while balancing domestic political pressures and pressure from oil & gas industry. It is, however, heartening to note that there are already significant success stories coming up where individual companies have shown the leadership and achieved remarkable success in attaining, and in some cases over attaining, their targets of reduction of carbon emission. In USA public opinion is seen to be far more decisive and assertive than the Federal government and many states are going ahead enacting legislations to limit carbon emission while federal government twiddles thumbs.

The Kyoto Protocol provides targets for reduction of emissions up to 2012. The recent G8 meeting has already come up with a plan of action and new emission reduction limits for the year 2050. The developed nations have shown their impatience with the dithering attitude of the US government in no uncertain terms.

Global Warming and climate change are events that effect our lives today, learn more about Climate Change at http://globalwarmingpages.com

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Science Experiments and Chemistry Chuckles

by Mort Barish

Science experiments in chemistry reveals the oddest fact -- molecules have down-right silly names. One doesn't usually think of chemistry topics as humorous but one look at these molecule names and you'll change your thinking on that. Try some of these names for Chemistry Science chuckles.

One molecule is called "arsole". It is the arsenic equivalent of pyrole, and is occasionally seen as a side group in the form of organic arsolyls.

Another molecule is called "Adamantane". This often brings laughter as Adam Ant was an English pop star in the early 1980's famous for his silly songs and strange make up. How did they ever think of this one.

"Bastardane" is a close relative of "Adamantane". It's proper name is "ethano-bridged noradamante". It was a variation of the standard structure and became know as the unwanted child. I have to imagine that the lineage is somewhat in doubt.

Another doozy is "Buckminster Fullerene". This soccer ball-shaped molecule won a Nobel prize for Chemistry in 1996. It is of course, named after the architect Buckminster Fuller, who designed the geodesic dome. It is sometimes referred to as "Bucky Ball", and is also known as "Footballene". Why was this so special as to win a Nobel prize, I do not know.

"Megaphone" gets its name from being both a constituent of "niba Megaphylla" and a ketone. This one shouts loudly in order to be heard.

"Munchnones" could be the favorite of the Munchkins from the Wizard of Oz, but they are ring structures in which the charges are delocalized. We represent the ring structure guild, the ring structure guild, the ring structure guild.

"Cummingtonite" got its name from where it was found, Cummington, Mass. For those who want to know, it is a magnesium iron silicate hydroxide. In case I cannot meet you in the afternoon, I am coming tonight.

"Putrescine" originates in putrefying and rotting flesh, and is the smell of death. It is usually associated with "cadaverine" named after the cadavers that give rise to the rotting flesh.

"Dickite" discovered by a geologist whose last name was "Dick" is a clay like mineral and is used in ceramics and as paint filler.

"Moronic" acid is of interest to people studying archaeological relics, shipwrecks and ancient Egyptian jars. Ask me why it is called "Moronic" acid and I cannot answer hopefully not making me a moron.

The Fuka region of Southern Japan has given birth to "Fukalite", which is a form of calcium silico-carbonate.

A plant hormone which causes injured cells to divide and help repair the trauma has been named "traumatic acid". Ah, chemistry and science, what a joy. It would certainly be traumatic if these cells could not repair themselves.

"Arabitel" has nothing to do with rabbits; it's an organic alcohol that is a constituent of wine.

An alcohol derived from sugar is named "fucitel", and comes from a North Atlantic seaweed. When sailing the ocean, perhaps one can troll a fishing line and pick up some "fucitel"

"Orotic Acid" is often misspelled and is called "Erotic Acid". Another name for this acid is vitamin B13. A chemistry science fair project would be a good venue for a continued search into these unusually named molecules.

This one could sound like a laxative, but it is really a type of mica found in Japan and Sweden. It is called "Kinoshitalite" and is green and vitreous and hard as fingernails. It comes from the Japanese meaning under the tree.

"Vomicine" is a poisonous molecule that gets its name from a nut which is the seed of a tree found in the East Indies. These seeds are sometimes called quaker buttons and are a source of strychnine.

"Bastadin-5" is just one of a number of bastadins which are molecules isolated from a marine sponge. They possess anti bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

"Skatole" comes from skatalogical, meaning concerning fecal material. Its proper name is 3-methylindole, but it gets its trivial name from the fact that it is a component of feces. It is also found in coal tar and beet. Chemistry science fair projects could emanate from this one.

"Sexithiophene" is a 'sexi' molecule - which means it has 6 sub-units, in this case of thiophene rings. Because of its conjugated system of double bonds, this organic molecule conducts electricity quite well. As a result, it is one of a number of similar molecules being studied for possible uses in organic polymer electronics. Incidentally, the Latin for 5 sub-units is quinque (pronounced 'kinky'), so by adding one sub-unit a quinque molecule becomes sexi.

"Bis(pinacolato) diboron" isn't the active ingredient in a root beer float. Rather it is a versatile reagent for the preparation of boronic esters from halides, the diboration of olefins, and solid-phase Suzuki coupling. A proper root beer float consists of root beer and ice cream. If you're lucky it will be served in a big glass.

"Lucifer Yellow" is a food coloring used especially in hot sauces, like salsa pickle. It is also used in plant microscopy anatomy studies, because it fluoresces under ultraviolet light and stains certain regions between plant cells.

"Crapinon" is used therapeutically as an anticholinergic. These are drugs which dry secretions, increase heart rate, and decrease lung constriction. The are also constipating, ergo "crappy-non" is appropriate.

Mort Barish is co-founder of Terimore Institute, Inc. Terimore provides hundreds of science experiments with step-by-step guides for children in grades K-12 to help them learn more about science. Find fun, easy and award-winning science experiments at http://www.terimore.com/!

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