US Killed Soleimani Confirmed - Big Step In For Tat With Iran - Open War Unlikely - No WWIII

Short summary: Soleimani is an Iranian leader, who is highly respected in Iran, and played a...

North Korea’s “Christmas Gift” - Keeping Door Open For Talks - Maybe Alternative Is A Geostationary Satellite Launch?

First whatever happens - Kim might do something dramatic maybe but his aim would be to get the...

XR - IPCC Are Not Ignoring The Arctic Albedo Effect - Clouds Making World More Reflective In The Tropics More Than Compensate

You’ll often hear about the “Ice albedo effect” as a supposed tipping point...

Climate Tipping Points Paper Adds No New Research To IPCC Reports - We Have Not Erased The CO2 Budget For 1.5 °C

This is in response to a “Nature comment” Climate tipping points — too risky...

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Robert WalkerRSS Feed of this column.

I'm Robert Walker, inventor & programmer. I have had a long term special interest in astronomy, and space science since the 1970s, and most of these blog posts currently are about Mars and space... Read More »


We are headed for the next round of climate pledges in 2020. So, what do we need to do to stay within 1.5 C? This is based mainly on the new UN Emissions Gap Report 2019

Short summary: A Koala population in New South Wales has been severely impacted by fires with loss of perhaps 70%, at least 350 of them killed, and it could be more, leading to headlines of "1000 koalas killed". However there is no way even this population is functionally extinct (i.e. can't produce a new generation). It will recover again, not immediately but in a couple of decades. A koala population can triple in population in 12 years. It depends on eucalyptus leaves and those trees have died, but the eucalyptus grows quickly too.

This is the latest of several articles I've done about NASA / ESA’s plan to return a sample from Mars. The samples would be geological ones, but they also could contain life indeed NASA motivate the mission by the possibility of life, especially past life but present day life can't be ruled out. This means it could lead to extraterrestrial life coming into contact with Earth's biosphere. That leads to the question - what are NASA or ESA doing to prepare the planetary protection procedures and the supporting environmental legislation for a sample return?

NASA have put a great deal of work into the engineering for a sample return but I can't find any papers or blog posts or any sign of prepration for the legal side of the return mission. We are strongly protected by many environmental laws and laws to protect human health that we didn’t have at the time of Apollo. These laws don’t rely on the Outer Space Treaty for their legal basis. How NASA categorizes Mars makes no difference to them. See the article by Margaret Race of the SETI institute.

Right now all our missions to Mars are sterilized to protect it from any Earth life that could hitch a ride and confuse the searches. A report by the “Planetary Protection Independent Review Board” recommends that NASA treats most of Mars similarly to the Moon for planetary protection. It comes with a cover letter from NASA recommending to their planetary protection officer that they implement the proposal. This would be fine if Mars was like the Moon.

YouTube creators are panicking as YouTube classifies their videos as directed towards kids when they are not. It's a dumb algorithm. It would classify this as a comic book probably.

A human would never classify this channel as for kids under 13: