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Science

Geoengineering Clouds Sounds Scary. And it is

Making clouds is a lot more frightening than it sounds.

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To combat the warming of Earth’s atmosphere, U.S. scientists are considering stratospheric climate geoengineering, or in other words, spraying sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere to form clouds.

Crafted clouds could be the cooling cure to slow planetary warming. They could also create some very serious problems in the atmosphere.

Much of this is speculative science proposed in study published yesterday in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

“The idea behind this type of geoengineering would be to create a sulfuric acid cloud in the upper atmosphere,” climatologist Alan Robock told USA Today, “The clouds formed after airplanes spray sulfur dioxide, would reflect solar radiation and thereby cool the planet.”

It seems that because man was largely the cause of our planet’s warming, man should be the solution, as per the manners, “clean up after yourself.” However, this proposed solution may do more harm than good.

Unless airplanes are continuously maintaining the cloud, warming may exacerbate. In the study, the effects of creating clouds for 50 years and then suddenly stopping were alarming: the earth would warm up too quickly, likely causing a huge loss of animal and plant life.

The bottom line seems to be that there must be a way for stratospheric climate geoengineering to be sustained if it is deployed. If not, the damage it causes would be much worse than the positive effects it would create.

Anjalie Tandon is a senior at the University of California, Santa Barbara where she is double majoring in Political Science and Philosophy. Anjalie has written for various campus, city, county, and national media outlets. She loves words because they compose and dictate the entirety of our reality and she writes with the hope of using words to get closer to truth.

Catilyn is a student at St. Bonaventure University in New York. She's a writer and Digital Producer for CMN.

National News

Study: College Roommates Don’t Fully Understand Each Other’s Distress

NYU researchers found that student roommates could be trained to be more sensitive to each other.

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New York University psychology researchers released the results of research that found while college roommates are sensitive to the each other’s distress, they don’t fully comprehend the depth of that discomfort. The results were first published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

According to Science Daily:

“College students can detect certain levels of distress in their roommates and spot changes over the course of a semester, but they nonetheless underestimate the absolute level of distress,” adds Patrick Shrout, a professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and the study’s senior author.

The researchers note that the study’s subjects had not been trained to spot distress, unlike other peers, such as dormitory residential assistants.

The study consisted of 187 same-sex undergraduate roommates who included Asian, Black, Hispanic, White, and biracial students. Twice during the school, the roommates reported their distress levels and how distressed they felt their roommates were.

Overall, most in the study tended to think that their roommates distress level was very similar to their own.

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Environment

Polar Bears More Vulnerable to Starvation than Previously Thought

The polar bear situation is a bit more grim than scientists initially believed.

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Polar bears have been listed as a threatened species in the United States under the Endangered Species Act since May 2008, and the World Wildlife Fund lists polar bears as vulnerable to extinction, which is just one step above endangered. A new study now shows that polar bears more prone to starvation than they were previously believed to be.

A group of researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and other institutions weighed and monitored the blood of track nine female polar bears near the Beaufort Sea last April. The researchers continued to monitor the polar bears over a span of 10 days using radio collars. According to the study published on Thursday in the journal Science, the dwindling ice caps are taking its toll on the polar bears.

As their habitats shrink, polar bears are having to swim further away from land in their search for food. Polar bears mostly prey on ringed seals, and the pups are easy prey in the spring. However, the scientists found that the polar bears burned more energy than they were able to take in from their prey.

The research was conducted during a time when the polar bears were supposed to be putting on weight so that they could later have cubs, feed those cubs, and survive the winter. Polar bears hunt from the ice, often waiting for seals to pop out of holes. Other times, the polar bears will swim after the seals. With less ice, polar bears are having to travel more and swim more often, which results in the bears using more energy.

The data collected showed that many of the polar bears ran on an energy deficit, and the metabolic rates, which is the amount of energy their bodies need to function, averaged more than 50 percent higher than previous studies predicted. Five of the bears lost weight and four of them lost 2.9 to 5.5 pounds a day. One bear lost 51 pounds in just nine days.

For now, the findings of the study demonstrates that polar bears require more food to survive than previously previously predicted, and the failure to catch prey will result in rapid, significant weight loss. “This is kind of the initial step, and the next step will be to see how energy expenditure is changing seasonally and how changing ice conditions are ultimately impacting the energy expenditure of these bears,” lead author of the study, research wildlife biologist Anthony Pagano said.  Further research will be needed to fully understand the impact of what is happening to the polar bears.

 

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Academics

Viewpoint: The Value of Education is Lost in Online Learning

Online Degrees: blessing or curse?

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Since the advent of the internet, it has been seen as both a tool for advancing technology and a hindrance to the average person’s day to day life. Similarly, higher education has been praised as a way to advance a person’s career and specialize in their desired field but has also been critiqued for its high costs, crippling debt left on graduates, and lack of access to all of America.

One tool praised to bring educational accessibility to broader audiences is online programs. Obviously not all programs are available to online education, but for those who work full time, online education seems to be a great option to help them further their education.

Over the past few years, online education has seen notable growth, but retention and completion rates have remained low. While there is not single answer for why this trend exists, we can see that more and more people are attempting online courses and degrees.

These programs might not be for everyone: online courses lack face-to-face interaction with peers and professors, and costs and time commitments can vary greatly from program to program. Some will say that the solitude of an online program is not desirable, while others may love the individualized structure and pacing of it. But overall, online education still cannot compare to traditional classroom environments.

Obviously these programs require the student to have access to a computer and reliable internet, leaving online education with a very narrow target audience. In addition to this, students might feel as though they don’t have the same grasp of content that they would in a traditional educational setting. Recent studies have also revealed that while online programs are assumed to have lower costs, the programs are often more expensive than its non-online counterpart.

Students also don’t get the same level of contact with instructors as far as questions, feedback, or comments on materials. Many online courses aren’t official degrees but rather singular courses to help individuals branch out their knowledge. While it is doubtful these online programs will ever completely replace face-to-face learning, there is potential for these individual courses to help people foster education, branch out their educational background, and familiarize themselves with previously unknown topics. If you’re thinking of pursuing online education, make sure to do your research before committing to  it.

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