Comeback for the Tasmanian tiger?

image taken from: BBC News

Who doesn’t love marsupials? Weird names, fun appearances, and ranks that include nature’s kick boxer, the creature that mastered playing dead, and a deceptively cute psychopathic bear-thing. Recently, there’s one species that’s made a return after its supposed extinction in 1936: the thylacine, or as most people recognize it, the Tasmanian Tiger.

The return was spotted by two people from the Queensland National Parks Service at the Cape York Peninsula. After scientists from James Cook University studied the description given, it was confirmed that it was not mistaken for some other Tasmanian or non-Tasmanian creature (in case it’s not obvious, I enjoy the word Tasmanian), and was 100% percent a thylacine. For those of you wondering, the Tasmanian Tiger doesn’t even look remotely like a tiger (receiving its name from the stripes running down its lower back), resembling a wild dog more than anything else, which is why it’s also referred to as the Tasmanian Wolf. But like both tiger and wolf, the thylacine was top of the food chain.

So, now the aforementioned scientists have packed up the camera equipment and are ready to begin the search. Fitting as there are several unanswered questions like: what has it been living off of thus far? Why was it spotted in Australia and not Tasmania? And the million-dollar question (or you know, probably less), how exactly did it stay hidden all this time? And even if this turns out to be a bust/hoax, there will be a substantial amount of data regarding endangered species within the area. But still, fingers crossed for beating extinction!

Mars 2117: UAE’s city of the red planet

Whether you cry a little every time you’re taken to a galaxy far, far away, or you draw a blank when someone cries “Exterminate!” there is no denying science fiction (sci-fi) is a massive part of pop culture. One of the most sci-fi concepts of them all is a city on Mars, which seems to be making a comeback ever since water was discovered on the red planet. Recently, the United Arab Emirates seemed to have become most intent on making a Mars city a reality.

Announced by Sheikh Mohammed on Feb. 14th, the Mars 2117 project aims to not only place a human settlement on Mars, but also to serve to open up the rest of space for humans. A VR experience outlined most of the details so far.

The colony is said to be somewhere around the size of Chicago, with a max population of 600,000 (NBC). The reasons for such a high number, as described by Saeed Al Gergwai, is, “Because it’s going to be like an exotic island, not everyone can go first, then we get advancement of rocket tech, which makes people move there easily, then the advancement oxygen tech to make it more Earth like, which will incentivize people.” (NBC)

Already, this sounds great, but the project is not fully complete. The economic system, for example, is still being discussed. Capitalistic elements are present, but a system needs to be designed with the unique environment of Mars in mind. Then there’s the small matter of the many, many, many environmental issues on Mars – the intense radiation and lack of terrain to grow food comes to mind (techtimes.com).

Finally, there’s the technology involved. Spacesuits are a necessity, but they’re not indestructible and could easily be compromised, and the technology needed to extract water isn’t to the point where we can start decorating it like a flying saucer.

Regardless of all this, the Mars 2117 project looks to be promising. But there’s still one question left: what would we call someone who lives on Mars?

 

U.S. backing out: Rumor or another inconvenient truth?

2016 was a disaster. I’ve seen the shirts to prove it. But in April 2016, something good actually happened: 194 countries unanimously signed the Paris Agreement, which sought to “stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” But April 2016 was 9 months ago. It is now January 2017.

A former Trump aide, Myron Ebell, says that it is only a matter of time before Trump pulls out of the Paris Agreement. Considering the bulk of Trump’s supporters, and his cabinet members, are climate change deniers, this is all too likely. But assuming this isn’t just a rumor (he is a climate change denier as well, so there’s that), then this is going to easily end up being the worst idea the U.S. has had in a long time.

Why will this be one of the worst ideas in a long time? For starters, green energy/tech companies are estimated to increase in value substantially in the coming years according to The Atlantic. If The U.S. does back out of the Paris Agreement we’ll be saying auf wiedersehen to a lot of worthwhile cash; something anybody will tell you is not considered good.

On top of that, if the Independent News is correct, it’s going to be a full year before the U.S. actually backs out of the agreement, and if we figure out by then that this was a bad idea, it’s going to take another three years to get back in on the agreement. And on top of all that, there’s the small matter of CO2 producing companies/manufacturers being able to crank up production since the agreement means the EPA must recognize CO2 as a pollutant. Keep in mind here that the Paris Agreement was made to cut down pollutants.

All in all, this could easily be a nightmare for everyone involved and possibly those who aren’t…assuming this actually happens. Remember, it’s still ambiguous. What do you think: rumor or another inconvient truth?

(Al Gore please don’t sue me)