Stories by Olya Schechter

  • Smoked Out: Why Volcanic Ash and Planes Fight for the Same Small Airspace

    As the vast ash cloud from Iceland's volcano spreads over the Europe, flights to two thirds of European countries were delayed or canceled on Friday. Although flying through the ash isn't always deadly, the sheer volume of the volcanic output over England is enough to shut down Heathrow airport until the skies clear. But this shutdown, with global consequences and no real end in sight, isn't just bad luck: it's science. Volcanic ash and airplanes are both drawn to the same airspace—the jet stream—making plane routes especially susceptible to attracting volcanic ash. The jet stream, the channels of fast-moving air that crisscross the planet, are created by the tension between warm and cold air masses. Traveling from west to east, their narrow corridors make for great plane routes; the momentum the planes gain when pushed by the fast-moving air saves airlines time and money. But the stream also attracts volcanic ash, according to a September 2009 article in the...
  • Snowpocalypse and the Climate Change Debate: Blogs, Scientists, Facts Defend "Global Warming" As Blizzard Rages

    (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)by Olya Schechter Yesterday, the skies opened up (again), covering much of the Northeast in snow (again). Baltimore and Washington have broken seasonal snowfall records, first dog Bo can barely see over the drifts on the White House lawn and homeowners from North Carolina to New York are digging out from as much as two feet of snow. This excess of winter wonderland has been a boon for global-warming skeptics, quick to mock Al Gore, carbon emissions, and the idea of global warming. But just as quick to respond were the snowed-in, stir-crazy east coast media elite, always eager to bring down the room with their reliance on "facts" and "science".   New York magazine reminded us that focusing on the "warming" part of the now-outmoded phrase misses the point. " 'Global warming’ is an unfortunate misnomer, and unlike its more accurate cousin, 'climate change,' it doesn't reflect that our...