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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 »


Short summary: Soleimani is an Iranian leader, who is highly respected in Iran, and played a key role in the fight against ISIS. However, he was classified by the US as terrorist because of his position as leader of the Quds, a numerically small black ops type operations supplying weapons to shia militants and the mastermind of operations targeting US soldiers and civilians.

Here is my short tweet about it

First whatever happens - Kim might do something dramatic maybe but his aim would be to get the talks back on track. It would not lead to war no matter what. Neither side has any benefit from a war. They are trading threats again, but they are empty bluffs.

The US can't invade North Korea because it would lead to impossible levels of casualties in South Korea.

Meanwhile, North Korea only wants to defend itself against invasion and doesn't want to attack anyone. There is absolutely no point in them shooting bombs at the US or South Korea or Japan or anyone. That would be a disaster for North Korea. Tests yes, actually attacking anyone, no way.

You’ll often hear about the “Ice albedo effect” as a supposed tipping point that the IPCC is ignoring. The idea is that as the Arctic ice melts, it absorbs more heat from the sun, and so warms the planet. What they ignore is that as the planet warms there are also more clouds, especially in tropical regions. This did seem a possibility in the 1980s, and Margaret Thatcher mentions it in her speech to the UN. However, you need to look at the planet as a whole, and we now know that because a warmer world has more clouds in the tropics, the overall global albedo effect is actually a cooling rather than a warming effect, helping to offset some of the global warming.

This is in response to a “Nature comment” Climate tipping points — too risky to bet against which is scaring people. There are no new research findings in it and nothing to overturn the IPCC's conclusions. Of course it is important to look carefully at tipping points and the IPCC has done so with its high level reviews, and examined many research papers on the topic. The IPCC and climate scientists fully appreciate the importance and significance of tipping points. The reports are saying that factually the science doesn't support them in this case for global warming at the levels of CO2 emissions considered.

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.