By the Numbers

Beyond propaganda and rhetoric, numbers tell the real story

pebble beach

Global warming is believed by some to be melting the polar ice caps, thereby increasing sea levels. But according to a 1998 study by the Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralologists the current sea levels are lower today than at any time in the past 30 million years. There also is evidence that elevated CO[2] levels are reversible. During the middle Cretaceous era some 90 million to 110 million years ago, large portions of all continents were submerged below shallow seas, and the atmosphere was abnormally high in carbon dioxide (CO[2]). The oceans mitigated the CO[2] with an explosion of single-cell organisms (coccolithophores) that extracted the gas from the atmosphere and formed massive deposits of chalk — the White Cliffs of Dover, for example.

Michigan fourth-graders and eighth-graders scored slightly above the national average on the science portion of the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress. On a scale of zero to 300, Michigan fourth-graders averaged 152, compared to the national average of 149, ranking the state 22nd in the nation. Michigan eighth-graders scored 155, compared to the national average of 147, ranking the state 15th in the nation. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only about 32 percent of U.S. fourth-graders and 35 percent of U.S. eighth-graders were "proficient" on the 2005 science test. For more information, go to http://nationsreportcard.gov/science_2005/.

About 10,000 computers used by the federal government join the waste stream every week, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Learn more at www.epa.gov/oamhpod1/admin_placement/0300115/fact.htm.

Lakes Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior contain about 6 quadrillion gallons of water. According to the Great Lakes Information Network, the lakes account for 20 percent of the world’s fresh surface water, and if all that H2O were spread across the continental United States, we would be 9.5 feet underwater. More numbers are available at
www.great-lakes.net/lakes/ref/lakefact.html.

ON THE COVER
SOHO-EIT image from September 14, 1997 showing a huge eruptive prominence on the sun.
Courtesy of SOHO/[instrument] consortium. SOHO is a project of international cooperation between the European Space Agency and NASA.

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