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Natural Gas Could Overtake Coal If Well Managed

Drill deep into beds of shale, direct the drill to move horizontally, offer a few small, shale-cracking explosions, pump in water, sand, and chemicals, and pump out enough natural gas to give the Middle East and Russian gas some serious competition. If its production is not stymied by environmental concerns, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday that natural gas could overtake coal during the next two decades to become the second largest world energy source after oil.

Natural gas is an energy resource with a lot to support it. It is the cleanest of the fossil fuels, producing primarily carbon dioxide and water when it is combusted, without the harmful emissions produced by burning coal or oil. There is a plentiful domestic supply of natural gas, allowing the U.S. to export rather than import this resource and reducing the nation's dependence on foreign oil. Natural gas promises to fill an important energy role during the next decades while renewable energy technologies mature. Just as 1960s phones were fairly inefficient at texting, today's renewable energies have a long way to go before they can fill the growing energy needs of the world. Yet, the environmental concerns involved in the production of natural gas worry many who fear the drilling will harm their groundwater. Water is even more basic a need than energy, and people tend to be protective of their water resources. 

About Evolution - The Illusion Of The Cladogram

from  Koinonia House

Most of modern scientists assume that all life today evolved from single-celled organisms over the past several billion years. Since that assumption is pretty settled for the majority, biologists don’t bother questioning it. Instead, they assume it to be true, and spend time trying to figure out the evolutionary relationships of animals. What is the nearest common ancestor of both the frog and the newt? What are the ancestors of modern birds and how did they gain the ability to fly? How is this animal related to that animal, and where do they both fit in the evolutionary family tree? Enter cladograms. A cladogram is simply a branched, tree-like diagram that is used to put evolutionary relationships in order. Plants or animals are arranged along the branches according to the order in which they evolved from common ancestors. Cladograms can be useful in sorting out closely related creatures….provided there actually is a relationship. The study of cladistics is based on the concept that animals with similar structures and body parts are related. All vertebrates have a backbone, therefore evolutionists assume they all descended from a common ancestor with a backbone. Organisms are placed onto different branches based on similar characteristics, called "characters." Characters might include number of toes or number of sacral vertebrae. They might be, "has a jaw" or "chisel-like teeth". Characters can get very specific, like "Bifurcated neural spine in cervical vertebrae." The more similar characteristics different organisms have, the more closely they are considered related. It would be nice for evolutionary theory if the taxa being placed on a cladogram lined up nice and neatly, step-by-step. But, that’s often not the case. Let’s say organisms A B and C are being ordered on the cladogram based on four different characters. If A had characters #1 and #2, B had characters #1, #2, and #3, and Organism C had characters #1, #2, #3, and, #4, it would be reasonable to say that C evolved from B, and B evolved from A in neat and tidy single-transition steps. 


OrganismCharacter 1Character 2Character 3Character 4
AYesYesNoNo
BYesYesYesNo
CYesYesYesYes


In real life, cladograms are not so simple. What if organism A has characters #1, #2, and #3, B has characters #1, #3, and #4, and C has #2 and #4? Which organism came first? Which came second? 


OrganismCharacter 1Character 2Character 3Character 4
AYesYesYesNo
BYesNoYesYes
CNoYes NoYes


Solar Flares, Radioactive Decay, and The Age of the Earth

From Koinonia House

From their first books on dinosaurs, our children are told that life was evolving "millions of years ago." The majority of geologists today tell us that radioisotope dating has narrowed the age of Earth to about 4.5 billion years, give or take 330 million. Recently, two dating methods have been updated, and scientists say the earth might not be as old as they thought it was, but they may not recognize how "off" the dating methods truly are.

How accurate is radiometric dating? Should we accept the "millions of years" scenario that easily, or are there alternate possibilities that get rejected because they don't fit an evolutionary model of origins?

The Grand Canyon:

The age of the earth is not a purely academic matter. The deepest held values and beliefs of many people are tied into whether the earth has been around billions - or only thousands - of years. The Bible says God created the physical universe in seven days. That doesn't leave a lot of time for life to evolve from primordial amino acids.

Where does the evidence honestly lead? On one hand, Hadrian's Wall has survived the erosional forces of wind and rain and ice for nearly 1900 years. With that in mind, it is obvious the Colorado River would have required a great deal more than 6,000 years to scratch out the Grand Canyon. On the other hand, perhaps the mighty Colorado River did not carve the Grand Canyon at all. Consider, mud flows after the eruption of Mount St. Helens gouged sizeable canyons through solid rock in just a few days…

Radioisotopes: 

The measurable breakdown of radioactive isotopes, like the Grand Canyon, appear to give an ancient age for the Earth. Measuring the amount of uranium-238 parent material as well as the lead-206 daughter material in a zircon theoretically allows geochronologists to date the zircon in which these "before" and "after" materials are found. By comparing the derived date to that produced by U-235 and Pb-207 in the same sample, geochronologists believe they can get fairly close results.

The age-dating methods are not perfect, however. There is far less U-235 than U-238 in natural uranium, and by consensus, geochronologists have long used a U-238/U-235 ratio of 137.88 to simply calculate the amount of U-235 in a zircon rather than try to measure it. The original consensus ratio was determined to have some flaws, however, and researchers from the British Geological Survey and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently did do some careful measuring. They found the average ratio to be a more accurate 137.818 ± 0.045.

"Firstly, the consensus value of 137.88 couldn't be traced back to international standard units like the kilogram. Secondly, the old consensus ratio had no uncertainty assigned to it, [and] thirdly, the previous measurements were made on materials like uranium ores — and not on naturally occurring minerals that are routinely used for U-Pb dating studies," wrote Joe Hiess, a Marie Curie ITN Experienced Researcher.

This ratio adjustment would take a few hundred thousand years off the widely accepted view of the planet's age. That's not much, but it does raise a question: how many other dating method particulars have been accepted by consensus while including glaring flaws?