Misc. / Studies and Reports

Studies and Reports Depot: Icesheets, Facebook Envy and Iraq War Deaths

Photo by Andrew C. Revkin

One thing you’ll quickly learn about me, I’m a big fan of studies and reports. So in an effort to bore educate our readers with the latest mind-expanding research, I will be compiling from time to time studies and reports that I find interesting.

Greenland’s ice sheets are just fine, thank you very much

According to eyewitness reports the next morning, I apparently got rather tipsy at a recent soiree and ranted more or less incoherently about Greenland… like you do. Trouble is, I know next to nothing about Greenland — I can only assume I was intending to reference Iceland, about which I know a tiny bit. Anyhow, thanks to a recent study by Nature magazine, I can now say I know a tiny bit about Greenland, or rather, Greenland’s ice sheets:

If it wasn’t obvious from that title, the study itself is an almost impenetrable scientific analysis laden with arcane chemistry jargon, but the nuts and bolts of the piece basically suggest that Greenland’s ice sheet is not as tenuous as once thought, that regardless of warming from climate change, the ice will likely hold solid for the next several hundred years. This is not to say that melting ice is not a problem, but our attention should rather be more focused on other ice sources such as the Antarctica rather than the Lady of Snow (Greenland’s nickname… See? You’re learning all sorts’a stuff here).

For a more succinct breakdown of the what the study means read Andrew Revkin’s piece in the New York Times.

*A quick note on linking to studies – Some of you might notice that I linked to an article that requires either a $200 subscription to Nature magazine or a one-time purchase of $32 to read. How did I do this for free, you might wonder? Pretty simple, here’s a pro-tip for those frugal scholar hounds out there: If you come to a paywall on a website wanting you to purchase a PDF study, right-click the page and hit “View Page Source”, which will bring up the HTML of the page. Then hit “ctrl-f” to search for any instances in which “PDF” is mentioned. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and see that the page source will list the URL where the PDF is stored on the site.

However, Andean glaciers? That’s another story

On the other side of the mass spectrometry (a chemistry joke, zing!), a recent study in the geosciences journal The Cryosphere suggests that the Andean glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates as a result of climate change, shrinking between 30 and 50 percent:

You should only smoke for 40 years, says science

A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests— brace yourself—smoking is bad for you! Examining a 50-year trend in mortality rates in the U.S., researchers found that smoking shaves, on average, as much as ten years off a person’s life:

The silver lining in all of this? The study also found that “nearly all the excess risk can be avoided if a person quits smoking before 40 years of age.” Awesome. Guess that means I’ll quit smoking when I’m 39.

The Vicious Facebook Envy Spiral of Death

Are you an avid Facebooker? Well, according to a new joint study by the Department of Information Systems of the TU Darmstadt and the Institute of Information Systems of the Humboldt-Universität in Berlin, some Facebook users tend to experience an extraordinary amount of frustration by enying their fellow Facebook friends’ lives, sometimes resulting in “vicious envy cyles.”

The study claims Facebook activities such as viewing your friends’ vacation photos can trigger strong emotional responses. “Aw, damnit… Why does Becky get to visit to the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota? That should be me!” This is one of those studies that sounds like total nonsensical bullshit to me. I will occasionally link to ridiculous studies to show that all is not well in the halls of academia.

Iraq surprisingly still a violent place

The indispensable Iraq Body Count continues the difficult work of counting the death toll from the Iraq War and has released its annual study tallying the total civilian deaths from the previous year:

They found documented evidence of at least 4,525 civilian deaths from violence in 2012. This figure is still far lower than the height of violence seen in 2006-2008, but it’s also the first time since 2009 that the figure has increased rather than lowered. And considering it’s only February and we’ve already seen a suicide bombing at a Shiite mosque that took the lives of 42 people and another at a government-backed militia that killed 22, it’s probably safe to say that Iraq is still experiencing the birth pangs of democracy.


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