Extreme weather events in our future climate

“When an extreme weather event happens, the public wants to know—is this climate change?” That statement by Lawrence Berkeley Lab’s Michael Wehner provided a good background for the session on climate change and unusual weather events that happened at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The fact is, scientists aren’t well equipped to answer that question—at least not in a way the public’s likely to find satisfying.

Instead, Wehner said, science is on solid ground when it examines weather events in terms of probabilities: is the risk of a given event higher? Will the magnitude of a given type of event change?

Wehner went through some historic events and examined how climate change shifted these probabilities. For example, events similar to Europe’s 2003 heat wave (which saw 70,000 deaths) are already twice as likely to occur given the amount we’ve warmed over pre-industrial conditions. If we allow the globe to warm by 2°C over preindustrial levels, that probability goes up to 154 times. “By the end of the century,” Wehner said, “when we’re likely to see 4°C warming, this event will likely seem cold.”

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Extreme weather events in our future climate

“When an extreme weather event happens, the public wants to know—is this climate change?” That statement by Lawrence Berkeley Lab’s Michael Wehner provided a good background for the session on climate change and unusual weather events that happened at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The fact is, scientists aren’t well equipped to answer that question—at least not in a way the public’s likely to find satisfying.

Instead, Wehner said, science is on solid ground when it examines weather events in terms of probabilities: is the risk of a given event higher? Will the magnitude of a given type of event change?

Wehner went through some historic events and examined how climate change shifted these probabilities. For example, events similar to Europe’s 2003 heat wave (which saw 70,000 deaths) are already twice as likely to occur given the amount we’ve warmed over pre-industrial conditions. If we allow the globe to warm by 2°C over preindustrial levels, that probability goes up to 154 times. “By the end of the century,” Wehner said, “when we’re likely to see 4°C warming, this event will likely seem cold.”

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Harrison Ford confirmed for Blade Runner sequel

Don’t believe a word Harrison Ford says. Despite the actor repeatedly saying he’d never return to his roles as Han Solo or Rick Deckard, he’s already shot Star Wars Episode VII and has now confirmed he’ll be returning for Blade Runner 2.

The sci-fi sequel is set to start shooting next summer, 34 years after Ridley Scott’s original was released. Although Scott confirmed the new entry back in 2012 and was once set to direct, he’s now taking an executive producer role. In his stead, Denis Villeneuve, best known at present for tense thrillers Polytechnique and Prisoners, is in discussions to take the director’s chair.

The original movie, loosely based on author Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was set in a dystopian Los Angeles in 2019, a neon-lit hellhole where artificial “replicants” hide amongst the human population. Ford, as Deckard, hunted them down, the film depicting his final, reluctant case. Dealing with themes of morality and humanity, the film is notoriously ambiguous, and the existence of a total seven different cuts of the film doesn’t help matters. One of the chief questions that plagues fans and critics to this day is whether Deckard himself was in fact a replicant.

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Harrison Ford confirmed for Blade Runner sequel

Don’t believe a word Harrison Ford says. Despite the actor repeatedly saying he’d never return to his roles as Han Solo or Rick Deckard, he’s already shot Star Wars Episode VII and has now confirmed he’ll be returning for Blade Runner 2.

The sci-fi sequel is set to start shooting next summer, 34 years after Ridley Scott’s original was released. Although Scott confirmed the new entry back in 2012 and was once set to direct, he’s now taking an executive producer role. In his stead, Denis Villeneuve, best known at present for tense thrillers Polytechnique and Prisoners, is in discussions to take the director’s chair.

The original movie, loosely based on author Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was set in a dystopian Los Angeles in 2019, a neon-lit hellhole where artificial “replicants” hide amongst the human population. Ford, as Deckard, hunted them down, the film depicting his final, reluctant case. Dealing with themes of morality and humanity, the film is notoriously ambiguous, and the existence of a total seven different cuts of the film doesn’t help matters. One of the chief questions that plagues fans and critics to this day is whether Deckard himself was in fact a replicant.

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Live long and prosper: Leonard Nimoy as Spock, over the decades

On Friday, Star Trek fans everywhere (including many of us here at Ars) mourned the loss of Leonard Nimoy, who famously portrayed Spock, the first officer of the USS Enterprise.

Many colleagues and fans have been expressing their love for him, including Captain Kirk himself.

“I loved him like a brother. We will all miss his humor, his talent, and his capacity to love.” -William Shatner http://t.co/U8ZN98tVYp

— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) February 27, 2015

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Live long and prosper: Leonard Nimoy as Spock, over the decades

On Friday, Star Trek fans everywhere (including many of us here at Ars) mourned the loss of Leonard Nimoy, who famously portrayed Spock, the first officer of the USS Enterprise.

Many colleagues and fans have been expressing their love for him, including Captain Kirk himself.

“I loved him like a brother. We will all miss his humor, his talent, and his capacity to love.” -William Shatner http://t.co/U8ZN98tVYp

— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) February 27, 2015

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How I requested my photographs from the Department of Homeland Security

I have my photograph taken and my fingerprints scanned every time I enter the United States. So do all other foreign nationals. The information is collected under the US-VISIT program. Information such as name, date of birth, gender, and travel document data is recorded as well. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request I filed in November 2014, the Department of Homeland Security released a document containing information collected about me under this program over the last four years.

In addition to photographs, the 21-page document contains entries for every encounter I have had with the agency in that period. Most of these encounters were recorded at airports around the country, but there are also entries for appointments related to immigration and enrollment into the Global Entry program. Along with the Global Entry program, the DHS recently launched a new program that may allow it to collect similar information about US citizens.

While Global Entry provides pre-approved travelers with expedited clearance upon arrival into the country, Automated Passport Control is a new program that expedites the entry process for all US citizens using self-service kiosks. The kiosks are similar to the ones used for Global Entry, and requires travelers to scan their passport, take a photograph and verify flight information. These kiosks are currently operational at more than 30 airports.

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