NASA Flights Detect Millions of Arctic Methane Hotspots

Exposing the Big Game

FEBRUARY 13, 2020

Thermokarst lake in Alaska
The image shows a thermokarst lake in Alaska. Thermokarst lakes form in the Arctic when permafrost thaws. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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Knowing where emissions are happening and what’s causing them brings us a step closer to being able to forecast the region’s impact on global climate.

The Arctic is one of the fastest warming places on the planet. As temperatures rise, the perpetually frozen layer of soil, called permafrost, begins to thaw, releasing methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These methane emissions can accelerate future warming – but to understand to what extent, we need to know how much methane may be emitted, when and what environmental factors may influence its release.

That’s a tricky feat. The Arctic spans thousands of miles, many of them inaccessible to humans. This inaccessibility has limited most ground-based observations to places with existing infrastructure – a mere fraction…

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Social Groups:The Concept

A social group is a collection of people who interact with each other and share similar characteristics and a sense of unity. A social category is a collection of people who do not interact but who share similar characteristics. For example, women, men, the elderly, and high school students all constitute social categories. A social category can become a social group when the members in the category interact with each other and identify themselves as members of the group. In contrast, a social aggregate is a collection of people who are in the same place, but who do not interact or share characteristics.

Psychologists Muzafer and Carolyn Sherif, in a classic experiment in the 1950s, divided a group of 12‐year‐old white, middle‐class boys at a summer camp into the “Eagles” and the “Rattlers.” At first, when the boys did not know one another, they formed a common social category as summer campers. But as time passed and they began to consider themselves to be either Eagles or Rattlers, these 12‐year‐old boys formed two distinct social groups.

In-groups, out-groups, and reference groups

In the Sherifs’ experiment, the youngsters also erected artificial boundaries between themselves. They formed in‐groups (to which loyalty is expressed) and out‐groups (to which antagonism is expressed).

To some extent every social group creates boundaries between itself and other groups, but a cohesive in‐group typically has three characteristics:

  • Members use titles, external symbols, and dress to distinguish themselves from the out‐group.
  • Members tend to clash or compete with members of the out‐group. This competition with the other group can also strengthen the unity within each group.
  • Members apply positive stereotypes to their in‐group and negative stereotypes to the out‐group.

In the beginning, the Eagles and Rattlers were friendly, but soon their games evolved into intense competitions. The two groups began to call each other names, and they raided each other’s cabins, hazed one another, and started fights. In other words, loyalty to the in‐group led to antagonism and aggression toward the out‐group, including fierce competitions for the same resources. Later in the same experiment, though, Sherif had the boys work together to solve mutual problems. When they cooperated with one another, the Eagles and Rattlers became less divided, hostile, and competitive.

People may form opinions or judge their own behaviors against those of a reference group (a group used as a standard for self‐appraisals). Parishioners at a particular church, for instance, may evaluate themselves by the standards of a denomination, and then feel good about adhering to those standards. Such positive self‐evaluation reflects the normative effect that a reference group has on its own members, as well as those who compare themselves to the group. Still, reference groups can have a comparison effect on self‐evaluations. If most parishioners shine in their spiritual accomplishments, then the others will probably compare themselves to them. Consequently, the “not‐so‐spiritual” parishioners may form a negative self‐appraisal for not feeling “up to par.” Thus, reference groups can exert a powerful influence on behavior and attitudes.

Primary and secondary groups

Groups play a basic role in the development of the social nature and ideals of people. Primary groups are those in which individuals intimately interact and cooperate over a long period of time. Examples of primary groups are families, friends, peers, neighbors, classmates, sororities, fraternities, and church members. These groups are marked by primary relationships in which communication is informal. Members of primary groups have strong emotional ties. They also relate to one another as whole and unique individuals.

In contrast, secondary groups are those in which individuals do not interact much. Members of secondary groups are less personal or emotional than those of primary groups. These groups are marked by secondary relationships in which communication is formal. Members of secondary groups may not know each other or have much face‐to‐face interaction. They tend to relate to others only in particular roles and for practical reasons. An example of a secondary relationship is that of a stockbroker and her clients. The stockbroker likely relates to her clients in terms of business only. She probably will not socialize with her clients or hug them.

Primary relationships are most common in small and traditional societies, while secondary relationships are the norm in large and industrial societies. Because secondary relationships often result in loneliness and isolation, some members of society may attempt to create primary relationships through singles’ groups, dating services, church groups, and communes, to name a few. This does not mean, however, that secondary relationships are bad. For most Americans, time and other commitments limit the number of possible primary relationships. Further, acquaintances and friendships can easily spring forth from secondary relationships.

Small groups

A group’s size can also determine how its members behave and relate. A small group is small enough to allow all of its members to directly interact. Examples of small groups include families, friends, discussion groups, seminar classes, dinner parties, and athletic teams. People are more likely to experience primary relationships in small group settings than in large settings.

The smallest of small groups is a dyad consisting of two people. A dyad is perhaps the most cohesive of all groups because of its potential for very close and intense interactions. It also runs the risk, though, of splitting up. A triad is a group consisting of three persons. A triad does not tend to be as cohesive and personal as a dyad.

The more people who join a group, the less personal and intimate that group becomes. In other words, as a group increases in size, its members participate and cooperate less, and are more likely to be dissatisfied. A larger group’s members may even be inhibited, for example, from publicly helping out victims in an emergency. In this case, people may feel that because so many others are available to help, responsibility to help is shifted to others. Similarly, as a group increases in size, its members are more likely to engage in social loafing, in which people work less because they expect others to take over their tasks.

Leadership and conformity

Social Scientists have been especially interested in two forms of group behavior: conformity and leadership.

The pressure to conform within small groups can be quite powerful. Many people go along with the majority regardless of the consequences or their personal opinions. Nothing makes this phenomenon more apparent than Solomon Asch’s classic experiments from the 1950s and 1960s.

Asch assembled several groups of student volunteers and then asked the subjects which of the three lines on a card was as long as the line on another card. Each of the student groups had only one actual subject; the others were Asch’s secret accomplices, whom he had instructed to provide the same, though absurdly wrong, answer. The experimenter found that almost one‐third of the subjects changed their minds and accepted the majority’s incorrect answer.

The pressure to conform is even stronger among people who are not strangers. During group‐think, members of a cohesive group endorse a single explanation or answer, usually at the expense of ignoring reality. The group does not tolerate dissenting opinions, seeing them as signs of disloyalty to the group. So members with doubts and alternate ideas do not speak out or contradict the leader of the group, especially when the leader is strong‐willed. Group‐think decisions often prove disastrous, as when President Kennedy and his top advisors endorsed the CIA’s decision to invade Cuba. In short, collective decisions tend to be more effective when members disagree while considering additional possibilities.

Two types of leaders normally emerge from small groups. Expressive leaders are affiliation motivated. That is, they maintain warm, friendly relationships. They show concern for members’ feelings and group cohesion and harmony, and they work to ensure that everyone stays satisfied and happy. Expressive leaders tend to prefer a cooperative style of management. Instrumental leaders, on the other hand, are achievement motivated. That is, they are interested in achieving goals. These leaders tend to prefer a directive style of management. Hence, they often make good managers because they “get the job done.” However, they can annoy and irritate those under their supervision.

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The Concept of Social Space

Space is the boundless three-dimensional extent in which objects and events have relative position and direction. Physical space is often conceived in three linear dimensions, although modern physicists usually consider it, with time, to be part of a boundless four-dimensional continuum known as spacetime. The concept of space is considered to be of fundamental importance to an understanding of the physical universe. However, disagreement continues between philosophers over whether it is itself an entity, a relationship between entities, or part of a conceptual framework.

Geographical space is the action space of individuals, households and firms. Location and allocation are two sides of the same coin. This seemingly simple observation leads to a wealth of spatial – economic phenomena that are well covered in the recent literature ( Fischer and Nijkamp, 2013). Examples are housing and labor markets, regional growth disparities, spatial innovation and entrepreneurship conditions, urban agglomerations, industrial clusters, or energy and environmental resource scarcity. All such phenomena are critically determined by the location of human and industrial activity. There is an abundance of both conceptual and applied studies that address the above-mentioned spatial mapping of activities. The present contribution aims to highlight the essential elements of standard location theory.

A social space is physical or virtual space such as a social center, online social media, or other gathering place where people gather and interact. Some social spaces such as town squares or parks are public places; others such as pubs, websites, or shopping malls are privately owned and regulated.

Henri Lefebvre emphasised that in human society all ‘space is social: it involves assigning more or less appropriated places to social relations….social space has thus always been a social product’. Social space becomes thereby a metaphor for the very experience of social life – ‘society experienced alternatively as a deterministic environment or force (milieu) and as our very element or beneficent shell (ambience)’. In this sense ‘social space spans the dichotomy between “public” and “private” space…is also linked to subjective and phenomenological space’.

As metaphor, ‘social space contributes a relational rather than an abstract dimension…has received a large variety of attributes, interpretations, and metaphors’.Such ‘social space…i[s] an intricate space of obligations, duties, entitlements, prohibitions, debts, affections, insults, allies, contracts, enemies, infatuations, compromises, mutual love, legitimate expectations, and collective ideals’.

For Lefebvre, ‘the family, the school, the workplace, the church, and so on – each possesses an “appropriate” space…for a use specified within the social division of labor’. Within such social spaces ‘a system of “adapted” expectations and responses – rarely articulated as such because they seem obvious – acquire a quasi-natural self-evidence in everyday life and common sense’: thus everybody consensually ‘knows what he is talking about when he refers to the town hall, the post office, the police station, the grocery store, the bus and the train, train stations, and bistros’ – all underlying aspects of ‘a social space as such. an (artificial) edifice of hierarchically ordered institutions, of laws and conventions’

Pre/postmodern space
‘In premodern societies, space and place largely coincided….Modernity increasingly tears space away from place’. Whereas in the premodern ‘every thing has its assigned place in social space’, postmodernists would proudly proclaim that ‘we need to substitute for the magisterial space of the past…a less upright, less Euclidean space where no one would ever be in his final place ‘.

The way ‘migration, seen as a metaphor, is everywhere’ in postmodernity – ‘we are migrants and perhaps hybrids, in but not of any situation in which we find ourselves’ – is rooted in the postmodern forms of production of social space.

Lefebvre considered globalization as the creation, and superimposition on nature, of ‘worldwide-social space…with strong points (the centers) and weaker and dominated bases (the peripheries)’.

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How Tourism Change Our World-Positively

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