December 15, 2006 12:01 PM PST

Week in review: Mother Nature on the hot seat

Global warming and the tech industry's environmental role were hot topics this week as scientists convened at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union to discuss the latest information about the state of Earth, planets and space.

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, in a speech at the San Francisco conference Thursday, urged scientists to come forward and help communicate to the public about the dangers of climate change. He warned that climate change presents an unusual, and dire, set of circumstances, and getting the public to understand the problem and then act upon it is not easy.

Humanity will essentially have to make large changes in how it consumes natural resources, and instilling massive societal changes is difficult. And society has become more short-term in its thinking, he asserted.

Gore took quite the flaming from CNET News.com's readers, many of whom questioned his motives and said he's hard to take seriously.

"You never see him driving around in hybrid," one reader wrote on the Talkback board. "Instead, I'm always reading about him motoring around in limos or Suburbans, and traveling by private jet instead of going commercial...I say start practicing what you preach before you ask me to have some Kool-Aid."

Gore's speech, also mulled over by News.com's Charles Cooper, came on the heels of a report released at the conference predicting that the permanent Arctic ice sheet could nearly melt away by 2040. (The earlier estimate was 2060.)

But not all the news was somber. Controls imposed on coal-burning power plants have reduced nitrogen-oxide pollution in the Ohio River Valley over the last six years, according to a new study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

And the scientific work abounds. For example, a pair of roving satellites is being used to track the world's water supply by measuring its gravitational field. Among the findings of the NASA-sponsored Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, the Congo River has been losing about 21.6 millimeters in depth every year for the past three years

Up in space, Opportunity, the healthier of NASA's two Mars rovers, will explore the rim of a large crater for more information on the Martian water and may even plunge inside.

Opportunity has made it to the lip of Victoria Crater, a fairly large crater on Mars, said Steve Squyres, the principal investigator from the Mars Exploration Rover program and a professor at Cornell University. Victoria's geology potentially will yield important clues about the chemistry and extent of the groundwater that Squyres and others believe existed on Mars in the distant past.

Talk of the environment was also taking place outside the conference walls. One story pointed out that pollution penance isn't just for heavy industry anymore.

This year, several Web-delivered services emerged that are designed to reduce an individual's environmental impact on the planet. Called carbon offsets, these programs are meant to appeal to people concerned about climate change that stems from greenhouse gas emissions.

Meanwhile, Andy Karsner, a senior Energy Department official tells of the dialogue he's started with tech leaders to figure out how his agency can help tackle energy efficiency in computing.

In the Zune zone
For Microsoft, trying to catch up to the iPod is an expensive proposition. To tout its Zune music player, Microsoft launched a marketing campaign on par with that for the original Xbox. But now that the music player has spent a month on the market, the company is considering increasing its advertising to attract more attention to it.

Microsoft debuted the Zune to mixed reviews last month. The device had a strong initial sales week, but has dipped in sales rankings since that point, according to market tracker NPD and online retailer Amazon.com's sales chart.

News.com's Ina Fried, for one, had trouble tracking down owners of the Zune, a music player that's supposed to be all about sharing and socializing. Unlike the solitary iPods, the digital music player lets you make new friends and discover new music. But it took Fried a week to find a Zune pal.

CONTINUED: Thwarting the "frankenbuild"…
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9 comments

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..Then CNET posted 4 "news" storys about it.
This is the 4th CNET article about this speach in less than 24 hours.. seems this tech rag is full of spastic environmentalists.

It has nothing to do with technology.. but..

>> Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, in a speech
>> at the San Francisco conference Thursday, urged
>> scientists to come forward and help communicate
>> to the public about the dangers of climate
>> change. He warned that climate change presents
>> an unusual,and dire, set of circumstances, and
>> getting the public to understand the problem
>> and then act upon it is not easy.

People who oppose Global Warming understand what gore is trying to say. Everyone gets the message now. They just either don't believe him or don't care.. and the only thing you can do to change that is put people who don't believe or don't care in jail and that creates a society too restrictive to be called a free state.


>> Humanity will essentially have to make large
>> changes in how it consumes natural resources,
>> and instilling massive societal changes is
>> difficult. And society has become more
>> short-term in its thinking, he asserted.

No we really don't. You can if you think that is something you would like to do but you can not force me to. It is wrong to force your ideas and will on to others..You have to get them to agree.. and to do that.. well.. see above.
Posted by Solaris_User (267 comments )
Reply Link Flag
ALGORE IS RIGHT NOT WRONG!
AlGore is right and not wrong our existance on this Earth is based on what we do in comparison to Global Warming. If you build a house and lose it to a hurricane you have nothing left unless you rebuild. You can't rebuild earth. You can't recreate an atmosphere or replace the human race. So why doesn't anyone want to listen?
Posted by kyle172 (65 comments )
Reply Link Flag
We don't want to listen because Algore is wrong.
The subject line of my message says it all.

Besides, Algore doesn't listen to his own message. The guy is no conservationist. With his jets, his limos, his homes (10,000 sq ft) which he heats and/or cools, and so on, he is hardly an example of a believable global warming alarmist.
Posted by andyengle (74 comments )
Link Flag
And I dont care.
So there you go Kyle. You have one person who thinks Al Gore is wrong.. then you have me who could care less if hes right OR wrong because I'm not changing either way.

Its not my job to save the world.. if it frys.. well too bad. The primary reason I think this way is because I live my life for fun, I have dedicated my entire life to party and music. (with a little technical work to provide for that)

If you think this is important, then you better get to it.. in the meantime I have wonderful new music to write and many party's to attend. ;)

(I can hear you thinking.. "Well, smarty pants, It wont be a party after the earth frys" Yes, true, but I'm getting pretty old now.. so I don't have long to go before I gotta retire from all that anyhow.. and I live my life for me.. not for you.)
Posted by Solaris_User (267 comments )
Link Flag
Loss of CNET credibility
The more I read about "global warming" on CNET, the less I rely on this organization as a reliable news source. I think Algore is a crazy, left-wing lunatic who is pretty much a hypocrite -- he lost his credibility a long time ago. But it's a real shame to see a decent organization like CNET fall prey to this global warming sham.

Please, CNET, stick to the technology reviews. Leave crazy kook reporting of topics like global warming to the idiots like Algore and the tabloids.
Posted by andyengle (74 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Really.. where is the cell phone news?
Common CNET.. People read your site -because- you have great technical news.. if we wanted global warming news there are MANY MANY other people out there doing it better than you.
Posted by Solaris_User (267 comments )
Link Flag
Al Gore's pontification on Global Warning
I wholly support your comments on Al Gore's un- informed remarks on Global Warming. Where ignorance is bliss - 'tis folly to be wise!
I am a retired environmental scientist and rather than my expressing my personal views, I would suggest Andy Engle read Michael Crichton;s novel
'State of Fear'. Michael has done an astonishing amount of research on global warming and his footnotes,graphs and bibliography on this subject are the most comprehensive I've seen. He is very objective in analyzing both sides of the issue.
I share your concern in C-Net providing a forum for political opinions on complex scientific issues that can confuse your membership. Matthew Gould
Posted by mattpam99 (6 comments )
Link Flag
Al Gore....
uses more energy in one airplane flight than my car uses in years. When he and the other left-wingers start making more real sacrifices than speeches, maybe people will listen. Until then...
Posted by mcnevich (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Please!
If I were to take global warming seriously, I would have to take a cold hard look at the tech philosophy promoted by CNET and similar sites. CNET lives by promoting rapid gadget churn. The toys promoted in review after review are as energy intensive to build as they are environmentally choking. I love the reviews and insight. But lets's not forget which side of the global warming fence we really sit on. Next we will see a Playboy editorial asserting support for virtue.
Posted by photopfriek (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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