Earth Sciences

I am a big fan of solar power. In Science Left Behind I argued we should be doing basic research to improve our capabilities in the technology so that it can be a viable end game for when fossil fuels no longer make sense.

Methane, the abundant and inexpensive natural gas, is often burnt off around the world at oil fields and refineries but it's a great energy source and base material for the chemical industry, if only there was a viable way to put it in liquid form, which is easier to transport and more reactive.


When we published a paper in 2013 finding 97% scientific consensus on human-caused global warming, what surprised me was how surprised everyone was.

Ours wasn’t the first study to find such a scientific consensus. Nor was it the second. Nor were we the last.

The most comprehensive analysis to date of a series of earthquakes that included a 4.8 magnitude event in East Texas in 2012 didn't find evidence that the earthquakes were caused by wastewater injection - and they the difficulty of trying to claim earthquakes were caused by human activity, at least using currently available subsurface data.


A recent survey revealed that people who claimed to eat more fast food also had possible exposure of higher levels of phthalates.

Is that bad? In 2016, when all chemicals are scary, it certainly is, and environmental groups have raised a fortune claiming such chemicals "leach" out of containers and into food. The television show "60 Minutes", which has long promoted health scares, did a story on them and ever since groups like Natural Resources Defense Council (which manufactured one prominent scare, alar on apples, with the left-wing public relations company Fenton Communications) have claimed all kinds of effects using rat studies.


A very unusual exchange is about to take place over the Atlantic. The UK is sending some 700 kilograms of highly enriched uranium to be disposed of in the US, the largest amount that has ever been moved out of the country. In return, the US is sending other kinds of enriched uranium to Europe to help diagnose people with cancer.

The vast majority of the UK’s waste comes from its fleet of nuclear power stations. Most of it is stored at the Sellafield site in north-west England.

Despite the hype, there’s still no bee-pocalypse. Two weeks ago, the U.S. Department Agriculture released its latest count of commercial honeybee hives, and although the figure dipped 2.9 percent from the 20-year record-high set in 2014, the overall count of 2.7 million hives in 2015 remains strong. You wouldn’t know it from the news coverage.

A close-up view of the dentition of an ancient aquatic, carnivorous lizard, the mighty Mosasaur, from Late Cretaceous exposures on Vancouver Island. 
<>This well-prepped specimen is now housed in the collections of the Courtenay Museum, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. 

The creature who owned this jaw bone undoubtedly swan alongside Kourisodon puntledgensis, another enormously powerful marine predator and new species of Mosasaur unearthed on Vancouver Island. 

Their feet modified into flippers, they were expert swimmers and hunters, with a strong tail for propulsion. These two would have commanded our ancient seaways between 70 and 66 million years ago.



A great temple to the god Amon was built at Karnak in Upper Egypt around c. 1785. It is from Amon that we get his cephalopod namesake, the ammonites and also the name origin for the compound ammonia or NH3.

Ammonites were a group of hugely successful aquatic molluscs that looked like the still extant Nautilus, a coiled shellfish that lives off the southern coast of Asia.

While the Nautilus lived on, ammonites graced our waters from around 400 million years ago until the end of the Cretaceous, 65 million years.

Those working in the Jurassic exposures on Vancouver Island are a determined crew. Most of the sedimentary deposits of the Jurassic are exposed in the hard to reach areas between Nootka Sound and Cape Scott.