Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to everyone 
From Nanook & friends 

Heat wave at the North Pole at Christmas



Temperatures at the North Pole were up to 20 degrees higher than average this Christmas Eve, in what scientists say is a record-breaking heatwave. Climate scientists say these unseasonably warm weather patterns in the Arctic region are directly linked to man-made climate change.
Temperatures throughout November and December were 5C higher than average.
It follows a summer during which Arctic sea ice reached the second-lowest extent ever recorded by satellites.


 Arctic sea ice extent is monitored and measured by satellite imaging

Dr Friederike Otto, a senior researcher at Oxford's Environmental Change Institute said that in pre-industrial times "a heatwave like this would have been extremely rare - we would expect it to occur about every 1,000 years".
Dr Otto added that scientists are "very confident" that the weather patterns were linked to anthropogenic climate change.
"We have used several different climate modelling approaches and observations," she said
"And in all our methods, we find the same thing; we cannot model a heatwave like this without the anthropogenic signal."

Temperatures  forecast to peak on Christmas Eve around the North Pole - at just below freezing.  Below freezing at the North Pole, "Geez Louise"!! The warm air from the North Atlantic is forecast to flow all the way to the North Pole, giving rise to clouds that prevent heat from escaping. And, as Dr Otto explained, the reduction in sea ice is contributing to this "feedback loop".
"If the globe is warming, then the sea ice and ice on land [shrinks] then the darker water and land is exposed," she said.
"Then the sunlight is absorbed rather than reflected as it would be by the ice."

Forecasting models show that there is about a 2% chance of a heatwave event occurring every year in the future. We are talking about a heatwave at the North Pole folks. Do you think the Chinese invented that??
"But if temperatures continue to increase further as they are now," said Dr Otto, "we would expect a heatwave like this to occur every other year and that will be a huge stress on the ecosystem."

Dr Thorsten Markus, chief of NASA's Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory, said the heatwave was "very, very unusual" and a harbinger of worse things to come.
"The eerie thing is that we saw something similar (temperatures at the North Pole of about 0C in December) exactly a year ago" .
The constant freeze and thaw conditions are already making it difficult for reindeer to find food - as the moss they feed on is covered by hard ice, rather than soft, penetrable snow.  All foraging animals in the Arctic are suffering. And the loss of  off shore pack ice is racing the polar bears to their extinction.

We don't know how Santa dealt with these new conditions, but for sure he was
overdressed. Maybe next year we'll see him in a hoodie or plastic raincoat.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Obama bans offshore drilling in sensitive areas of the Arctic and Trudeau adds support with Canadian Arctic drilling ban

The Polar Pioneer was the first of two oil drilling rigs Royal Dutch Shell was outfitting for Arctic oil exploration before the company ended its contract last year.

President Obama announced on Tuesday what he called a permanent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling along wide areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic Seaboard as he tried to nail down an environmental legacy that cannot quickly be reversed by Donald J. Trump.
Mr. Obama invoked an obscure provision of a 1953 law, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, which he said gives him the authority to act unilaterally. While some presidents have used that law to temporarily protect smaller portions of federal waters, Mr. Obama’s declaration of a permanent drilling ban on portions of the ocean floor from Virginia to Maine and along much of Alaska’s coast is breaking new ground. The declaration’s fate will almost certainly be decided by the federal courts.
“It’s never been done before,” said Patrick Parenteau, a professor of environmental law at Vermont Law School. “There is no case law on this. It’s uncharted waters.”
The move — considered creative by supporters and abusive by opponents — is one of many efforts by Mr. Obama to protect what environmental policies he can from a successor who has vowed to roll them back. The president, in concert with United Nations leaders, rushed countries to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change, putting the multinational accord into force in record time, before Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

Environmentalists are already drawing comparisons between Mr. Obama’s use of the 1953 law to ban new drilling to what critics and opponents called his novel and audacious efforts to create new climate change regulations: He turned to an obscure, rarely used provision in the 1970 Clean Air Act to write sweeping regulations that would require states to shift their electricity systems from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. The Army Corps of Engineers denied a permit for the Dakota Access oil pipeline that had raised the ire of Native Americans.

Mr. Obama is picking his fights carefully — the drilling ban is a case in point. But other presidents who have invoked old laws to enact new policies have not run up against successors like Mr. Trump.
He has mocked climate change as a hoax perpetrated by China and has attacked Mr. Obama’s environmental regulations as job killers. More important, he has promised to make fossil fuel mining and drilling across the nation’s lands and waters a central feature of his economic program. As such, he is not likely to let Mr. Obama’s drilling ban go unchallenged.
In many cases, Mr. Trump and a Republican Congress in line with the new president’s ambitions will be able to roll back some of Mr. Obama’s most recent environmental regulations. But because of new and legally inventive strategies, Mr. Obama and his staff may well have built firewalls around environmental policies that could hold off his successor — or at least keep him at bay for several years.

Tuesday’s announcement would ban drilling in about 98 percent of federally owned Arctic waters, or about 115 million acres, a pristine region home to endangered species including polar bears and bowhead whales. It would also block drilling off the Atlantic Coast around a series of coral canyons in 3.8 million acres stretching from Norfolk, Va., to the Canadian border. The coral canyons are home to unique deepwater corals and rare species of fish.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada simultaneously announced a ban on new drilling in Canadian Arctic waters.
“These actions, and Canada’s parallel actions, protect a sensitive and unique ecosystem that is unlike any other region on earth,” said Mr. Obama in a statement. “They reflect the scientific assessment that even with the high safety standards that both our countries have put in place, the risks of an oil spill in this region are significant and our ability to clean up from a spill in the region’s harsh conditions is limited.”

Opponents of Mr. Obama’s environmental agenda said they fully expect Mr. Trump to take actions to legally undo the ban.
“We don’t see how this could be permanent,” said Andrew Radford, a senior policy adviser with the American Petroleum Institute, which lobbies for oil companies.
Mr. Radford noted that after President Bill Clinton had used the same law to withdraw 300 million acres from oil and gas drilling from an area that had already been designated as a marine sanctuary, President George W. Bush reinstated about 50 million acres to fossil fuel leases.

“Similar to how President Bush issued a memo in 2008 to add areas back in, we’re hopeful that the Trump administration will take a look at this to reverse that decision and we look forward to working with them to make that happen,” Mr. Radford said.
Mr. Obama’s legal experts say they are confident that the ban will withstand legal challenge. They point to the specific language of the law: “The president of the United States may, from time to time, withdraw from disposition any of the unleased lands of the Outer Continental Shelf.”
Nowhere does the law say that a future president can reinstate those areas, a senior administration official told reporters on the condition of anonymity.

The official compared Mr. Obama’s use of the 1953 offshore drilling law to the president’s authority to designate national monuments, granted under the 1906 Antiquities Act. No presidentially designated monument under that law has since been removed by a later president. And he noted that Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon, George Bush and Bill Clinton all used the 1953 law to protect portions of federal waters. None of those designations have been undone.
“The statute does not say, ‘A president can reinstate,’” said Jason Hutt, a lawyer with Bracewell who has worked for energy companies against Obama administration actions. “It only seems to be one-directional.”

Experts say that there could be one avenue for Republicans to undo the ban: Congress could go back and amend the 1953 law, explicitly allowing presidents to reverse the drilling bans of their predecessors. However, that would require a 60-vote Senate majority to clear procedural hurdles, a challenge in a Senate with 52 Republicans.
“They’ll be arguing about this for years in the courts,” said Mr. Paranteau, the Vermont law professor. “It would be surprising if the Republican Congress didn’t do anything about it in the meantime.”

President Obama has done all he can do to protect the environment. Kudos to him. I wonder how long it will take Trump to unravel it all. America is one of the biggest polluters in the world, second only to China. And in China, they are getting sick. They can't breathe and people are dying from lung diseases, lack of clean air and other toxic reactions. And furthermore they can't see more than a few hundred feet in the cities; the fog from coal and other carbon sources is so thick...not just some of the time....all of the time.  That could be America in the future with a Trump at the helm.



Saturday, December 17, 2016

Canadian archivists assist emergency effort to save US climate data and records - before Trump takes office

Steel plant in China
Trump once claimed the concept of global warming was invented by China
 
Canadian "guerrilla" archivists will be assisting a rushed effort to preserve US government climate data.
Environmentalists, climate scientists and academics are collaborating to protect what they view as fragile digital federal records and research. They want the data saved before Donald Trump takes office.
Database geeks and computer-savvy archivists will gather in Toronto to help preserve US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data.
Michelle Murphy, with the University of Toronto's Technoscience Research Unit and one of the event organizers, says concerns around climate do not stop at the border.
"Things like climate change, things like water quality, things like atmospheric pollution don't respect jurisdictional boundaries," she said.
"If we're approaching a moment when the United States is going to really pull back on regulations, we are also talking about something that's continental or even planetary in scope."
On Saturday, volunteers will help select data they fear is most vulnerable to being lost, mapping the location of inaccessible environmental databases and building a project "toolkit" for other groups interested in preserving some of the roughly 75,000 publications on the sprawling EPA website.
She said the team was in a "race against time" to identify government sites they believe will be rapidly changed after Mr Trump is sworn-in on the 20th of January.


Trump campaigning
Mr Trump said the climate change deal is bad for business


The event is being held in collaboration with the Internet Archive's End of Term project, which since 2008 has saved US government websites at risk of changing or disappearing altogether during government transitions.
The internet is constantly changing. All new administrations update government websites to replace previous iterations with updated information and fresh government policy priorities.
Mr Trump and his transition team have not said they plan to manipulate publicly available data, but archivists are expecting big changes based on the dramatic differences between outgoing President Barack Obama's policies and Mr Trump's priorities.
The Internet Archive, which also stores copies of billions of websites, said in November it wants to keep a back-up in Canada following Donald Trump's US election victory and is raising money for the expensive endeavour.
The non-profit organization said it felt it was so necessary, in order to prepare "for a web that may face greater restrictions" and to preserve vital data and resources..
Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist, journalist and self described "climate hawk" helped launch the emergency archival effort by tweeting out a Google spreadsheet that collects databases people want preserved from federal websites.
Mr Holthaus does not believe the incoming Trump administration will intentionally delete government data.
But he said the "biggest concern is that, either through budget cuts or neglect or tough changing priorities, some data is lost or at least access to it is lost".


A tractor trailer drives by a mound of coal after delivering a truckload of coal to Arch Coal Terminals June 3, 2014 in Cattletsburg, Kentucky. New regulations on carbon emissions proposed by the Obama administration have reportedly angered politicians on both sides of the aisle in energy-producing states such as Kentucky and West Virginia
President-elect Donald Trump has promised to help the struggling US coal sector
 
Mr Holthaus said that preserving existing American climate research and data that goes back decades has a "global benefit".
Environmentalists have been alarmed by the US president-elect's rhetoric on climate change.
Mr Trump threatened during his White House run to do away with the EPA, calling what they do "a disgrace".
He also has said he would "cancel" the recent Paris climate deal and has called for more drilling, fewer regulations and the approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.
His recent cabinet picks, including Exxon Mobil boss Rex Tillerson as secretary of state and Oklahoma attorney general and climate change sceptic Scott Pruitt to the EPA, have done nothing to allay their concerns.
Mr Tillerson's nod "sent shivers down my spine," Mr Holthaus said.
The Toronto volunteers will be joined by academics from the University of Pennsylvania who will share the effort, acting as a "prototype" on hosting similar data archiving events throughout the US.
If the research and data is stored safely for four years, it will be easier to pick it up where it left off in four years from now, in spite of any damage or deletion Trump  may wreak on the records or scientific research data.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Weird science ... MIKE THE HEADLESS CHICKEN ... AND... THE GREAT KENTUCKY MEAT SHOWER OF1876

mike-plus-head
Mike meet everyone, everyone meet Mike. No, no, don’t wave. He can’t see, you’re just making this awkward.

Also known as Miracle Mike, Mike the Headless Chicken was a plump, five-year-old cockerel when he was unceremoniously beheaded on 10 September 1945. Farmer Lloyd Olsen of Fruita in Colorado did the deed because his wife Clara was having her mother over for dinner that night, and Olsen knew she'd always enjoyed a bit of roast chicken neck. With that in mind, Olsen tried to save most of Mike's neck as he lopped his head off, but in doing so,  his axe accidentally missed Mike’s jugular vein, plus one ear and most of his brain stem, and to his surprise, Mike didn’t die.
In fact, he stuck around for a good 18 months without his head. And but for a tragic accident,  Mike may have lived as long as any chicken on earth can hope for.
Immediately after it happened, Mike reeled around like any headless chicken would, but soon settled down. He even started pecking at the ground for food with his newly minted stump, and made preening motions. His crows had become throaty gurglings. Olsen, bewildered, left him to it. The next morning, when Olsen found Mike asleep in the barn, having attempted to tuck his head under his wing as he always had, the farmer took it upon himself to figure out how to feed this unwitting monstrosity. Mike had earned that much.
All Olsen had to do was deposit food and water into Mike’s exposed oesophagus via a little eyedropper. He even got small grains of corn sometimes as a treat.
Mike’s unlikely survival has everything to do with how his skeleton was shaped, according to Wayne J. Kuenzel, a poultry physiologist and neurobiologist at the University of Arkansas. Because a chicken’s skull includes two huge holes for holding its eyes in place, its brain fits snuggly into the remaining space at a 45-degree angle. This means you could slice the head off while still leaving a good portion of the cerebellum and the brain stem - behind. “You still have the functional part that’s so critical for survival intact.”


mike day 3
Mike on day three....just chillin

That Mike’s cerebellum was positioned below his massive eye holes and was spared by Olsen’s axe means he was still perfectly able to perform basic motor functions and breathe. He was just a little bit more clumsy now because, you know, he had no eyes.

Mike was so unfazed by the whole experience that farmer Olsen decided to hit the road and take his miracle fowl on a national tour. He was featured in Time Magazine and Life, got his name in the Guinness Book of Records, and had his own sideshows, giving the American public the chance to meet ‘Mike the Headless Wonder Chicken’. Mike even had his own manager, who must have done a good job, because he made Olsen an absolute fortune, as John Lloyd and John Mitchinson wrote in The Book of General Ignorance,
"At the height of his fame, Mike was making $4,500 a month, and was valued at $10,000. His success resulted in a wave of copycat chicken beheadings, though none of the unfortunate victims lived for more than a day or two."

It’s almost a given that with all this fame and all this fortune, something tragic was going to happen in a nondescript motel room to turn all dreams into dust. The national tour had taken Mike and farmer Olsen to Phoenix, and as they were hanging out in their motel room, Mike was snacking on some corn bits. But then, he began to choke. "Lloyd Olsen, to his horror, realized he’d left the eyedropper at the previous day’s show,” write Lloyd and Mitchinson. "Unable to clear his airways, Mike choked to death.”
Even headless chickens have no business flying that close to the Sun, it would seem.
Not that he had a terrible life in his beheadedness. According to the official Mike the Headless Chicken website, in the 18 months that he spent without his head, he grew from a mere 2.5 pounds to almost 8 pounds. In an interview after his death, Olsen said Mike was a "robust chicken - a fine specimen of a chicken except for not having a head”.
They still love Mike in Colorado. Every third weekend of May, locals will hold an annual Mike the Headless Chicken Festival, where they can enjoy music, contests, and food. Which is what he would have wanted. Mike just seemed like that kind of guy.


THE GREAT KENTUCKY MEAT SHOWER OF1876


meatrain-ponies
One of the preserved meat specimens from the Arthur Byrd Cabinet at Transylvania University.
YUCK! Why would they still have a sample hanging around??
On 3 March 1876, the sky just opened up and large hunks of flesh fell all over Olympia Springs in Bath County, Kentucky.
According to a New York Times article published the following week, the phenomenon occurred near the house of one Allen Crouch, whose wife was outside making soap when it happened. “The meat, which looked like beef, fell all around her. The sky was perfectly clear at the time, and she said it fell like large snowflakes.”
If this was a documentary, the words "MEAT SHOWER" would appear on screen right now, with trickles of little red meat flakes falling behind. A few select flakes would fall in front of the words for effect.
Back at the Crouch residence, a Mr Harrison Gill - whose veracity was described by the The New York Times as "unquestionable" - visited the day after the alleged flesh storm and noted the presence of meat sticking out of the fences and scattered across the ground. At least one of the hunks measured 10 centimeters square, but most were about 5 x 5 cm. They were apparently fresh when they fell, but having been left out all night, they were now spoiled and dry.
Two unidentified gentlemen turned up to taste the meat-rain and declared that it had the flavor of either venison or mutton.
"WTF was even going on here?" The New York Times did not offer an explanation.
The first explanation came three months later, when someone called Leopold Brandeis received and analyzed some of the specimens that had been preserved in glycerin. He announced that the ‘meat’ was not actually meat at all. "At last we have a proper explanation of this much talked of phenomenon,” it was reported in Scientific American that year. "It has been comparatively easy to identify the substance and to fix its status. The Kentucky 'wonder' is no more or less than nostoc."
A type of cyanobacteria that forms colonies surrounded by a protective gelatinous envelope, nostoc is known to swell up into a translucent jelly-like mass whenever it rains. Because it’s so inconspicuous when dry, for many years, people believed nostoc to float on the breeze until it rained, which caused it to fall from the sky like hail. Colourful nicknames such as "star jelly", "witch's butter", and "star-slubber" were thrown around.
Brandeis identified the Kentucky nostoc as belonging to the species Nostoc craneum, which he described as "flesh-coloured”. But really, it honestly just looks like the color of seaweed. It tastes like frog or spring chicken legs, he said, and had ballooned and fallen upon the Crouch residence when it rained.
But wait a minute, what rain? Didn't the Crouches report it to be a perfectly clear night?
Fortunately, Brandeis didn't play a completely useless role in the investigation, because he had given a couple of mystery meat samples to experienced histologist and president of the Newark Scientific Association, Dr. A. Mead Edwards, who said it was likely the lung tissue of a human infant or a horse. Another histologist, Dr. J.W.S. Arnold, studied the specimens and agreed, concluding in The American Journal of Microscopy and Popular Science that they consisted of some kind of animal cartilage and lung tissue.
Eventually, seven samples were examined by several scientists, who confirmed two to be lung tissue, three to be muscular tissue, and two were said to be made of cartilage. So how did they come to be involved in the Infamous Kentucky Shower of Flesh?
Enter the man with the best explanation for the "shower of quivering flesh” that we’re probably ever going to get - Dr L. D Kastenbine, who wrote in a 1876 edition of the Louisville Medical News that it was, quite literally, a coordinated bout of projectile vulture vomit scattered by the wind.
What can we say?? There must have been an enormous flock of invisible vultures that day.
No other explanation has ever been offered. Sometimes natural science is weirder than science fiction.



CEO of Exxon Mobil to be Secretary of State ...Hmmmm...something stinks of crude

Tillerson


Good news for environmental campaigners: President-elect Trump has finally nominated someone to his cabinet who actually believes in climate change science.
The bad news for those same campaigners is that this true believer happens to be CEO of Exxon Mobil, and also sees fossil fuels as critical to humanity's survival, of course.
That's quite a balancing act...climate change campaigner/oil producer.
Rex Tillerson is undoubtedly an unusual choice for Secretary of State, but perhaps less so when seen against the background of several other Trump nominees supported by the oil and gas industry, including former Texas Governor Rick Perry who is the pick for energy secretary.
Mr Tillerson may differ from the others on the causes of climate change, but he definitely subscribes to their view that an abundant supply of fossil fuels is critical to making America great again.

Turn off the taps

Last May, Mr Tillerson reiterated his company's perspective on climate change, delivered in his strong Texan twang, which dominated the Exxon Mobil Annual General Meeting in Dallas.
"For many years, Exxon Mobil has held the view that the risks of climate change are serious and do warrant action. We believe that addressing the risk of climate change is a global issue," he said.
Mr Tillerson is in favour of a carbon tax as the best way to reduce emissions, a view not likely to go down well with his new colleagues in government.
At the AGM, he was clearly not in favour of mild shareholder resolutions asking corporations such as his to support the goal of keeping global temperature rises below the 2C.
"We got to have some technology breakthroughs," Mr Tillerson said last May.
"Just saying turn the taps off is not acceptable to humanity."
"The reality is there is no alternative energy source known on the planet or available to us today to replace the pervasiveness of fossil fuels in our global economy, in our very quality of life, and I would go beyond that and say our very survival," he thundered.

Tough negotiator

This practical approach and Mr Tillerson's track record in building a relationship with Russia are key to his appeal to Mr Trump.
Under his guidance, Exxon Mobil has acquired drilling rights to millions of hectares of land in Russia. In fact, the company now has larger holdings in that country than in the US.
When President Vladimir Putin forced a number of foreign corporations to give back control of a huge gas project on Sakhalin Island in 2007, Exxon's holdings remained untouched. A few years later, Mr Tillerson received the Order of Friendship from the Russian leader.
Another factor that will have endeared the Exxon CEO to the President-elect is his toughness. When the government of Venezuela attempted to nationalise foreign oil companies, most of his competitors tried to negotiate compensation. Tillerson took Venezuela to an international court and won.
The current US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has made dealing with climate change a central theme and has played a major role in delivering concrete actions including this year's agreement on the phasing out HFC gases.
It is unlikely that Mr Tillerson will take a similarly active role. Under his control, Exxon has been on the back foot on climate change, having to deal with a series of state investigations into how much the company knew about climate science and whether it kept this information from shareholders. That background worries many green campaigners.
"One of the critical tests at his confirmation hearings must be his demonstration of a true commitment to America's leadership on climate action, including fully supporting the Paris Agreement and honouring the country's international climate commitments," said Dr Andrew Steer, from the World Resources Institute.
"Anything short of that would be unacceptable to the majority of Americans - more than 70% of whom support the nation's participation in the Agreement."
It will also be interesting to see how Mr Tillerson adapts to the more intrusive world of being under media scrutiny 24/7.
At the Exxon AGM, journalists from the Guardian were barred from the meeting in Dallas - Exxon argued that the newspaper was not "objective" in their reporting.
Reporters who did attend had to view the meeting on a TV screen in an adjoining room, and weren't allowed to record any pictures from the feed.
The TV showed a single shot of Mr Tillerson addressing the camera all through the event. There were no shots of the audience, nor of people asking questions.
Just the stolid, expressionless presence of Rex Tillerson for a couple of hours.
I wonder if this is how he will attempt to run events at State? Sounds a little grim.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Half the world's species failing to cope with global warming as Earth races towards its sixth mass extinction ***

 <span style="font-size:13px;">Nearly half the species on the planet are failing to cope with global warming, according to an alarming new study.</span>
Nearly half the species on the planet are failing to cope with global warming, according to an alarming new study.

 Nearly half the species on the planet are failing to cope with the global warming the world has already experienced, according to an alarming new study that suggests the sixth mass extinction of animal life in the Earth’s history could take place in as little as 50 years.

A leading evolutionary biologist, Professor John Wiens, found that 47 per cent of nearly 1,000 species had suffered local extinctions linked to climate change with populations absent from areas where they had been found before.

Professor Wiens, who is editor of the Quarterly Review of Biology and a winner of the American Society of Naturalists’ president’s award, said the implications for the future were serious because his review showed plants and animals were struggling to deal with the relatively small amount of global warming experienced to date.

So far the world has warmed by about 1 degree (Celsius) above pre-industrial levels, but it is expected to reach between 2.6 and 4.8 degrees (C) by 2100 if nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gases.

In his study, published in the journal PLOS Biology, the scientist examined academic papers about 976 different species from all over the world that had been studied at least twice, once about 50 years ago and again within the last 10 years.
“In almost half the species looked at, there have been local extinctions already,” he said.
“This is stuff that’s already happened with just a small change to the climate. We’re looking at a two to five-fold increase [in warming over the next century].
“What it shows is species cannot change fast enough to keep up with a small change in climate. That’s the big implication – even a small change in temperature and they cannot handle it.
The study looked at 716 different kinds of animals and 260 plants from Asia, Europe, North and South America, and elsewhere.
Local extinctions were found to have occured among 47.1 per cent of species at the "warm edge" of their traditional range, as it became too hot for them. There were few areas of the planet that were unaffected.
"Overall, the frequency of local extinctions was similar across most climatic zones, habitats, gradients and clade."

Professor Wiens described this as a “global disaster” and, when asked what he would say to the President-elect if he met him, he joked grimly: “Kill yourself immediately.”
What a refreshing idea.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Al Gore meets Donald Trump and Ivanka for climate talks ..... Don't be too encouraged yet

Al Gore on an elevator
Mr Gore arrived alone to Trump Tower and did not speak to the media before his meeting
 
Mr Gore told reporters he met Ivanka before his meeting with her father.
"The bulk of the time was with the president-elect, Donald Trump. I found it an extremely interesting conversation, and to be continued," Mr Gore said.
Last week a spokesman for Mr Trump says that Mr Gore would not be meeting Mr Trump during his visit to Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan.

Anyone who had Donald Trump sitting down with former Vice-President Al Gore among their post-election predictions, please raise your hand.
The meeting may not be the strangest thing that has come out of the Trump transition process. (That honor has to go to the Naked Cowboy's appearance in a Trump Tower elevator last week.) It is, however, an unusual development.
Ivanka Trump appears serious about taking on climate change as one of her "signature issues" - and anyone who has her ear also has a directly line to her father.
Mr Gore assuredly made his best case for continuing Barack Obama's efforts to address climate change. But will it make a difference?  Mr Trump has been stocking his administration with conservative ideologues, and many of the possible names for his environmental posts are skeptical of current policy. If Ms Trump pushes the issue and Mr Gore continues his "extremely interesting conversation" with the president, however, this could become a test of how willing President Trump is to cross party orthodoxy.
A free-agent president - beholden to neither party and willing to strike deals according to his own fancy - may be exactly what his voters wanted and what Washington insiders fear.
Mr Gore told reporters he met Ivanka before his meeting with her father.
"The bulk of the time was with the president-elect, Donald Trump. I found it an extremely interesting conversation, and to be continued," Mr Gore said.
Last week a spokesman for Mr Trump says that Mr Gore would not be meeting Mr Trump during his visit to Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan.
After leaving the White House in 2001 Mr Gore became an outspoken advocate of finding a solution to address climate change. In 2006 he starred in the documentary An Inconvenient Truth, which has been credited for raising global awareness.
Ivanka Trump is perceived to be a more progressive voice on her father's transition team, compared to his other advisers. In the weeks after Mr Trump's surprise election win, New Yorkers posted "Dear Ivanka" messages on social media and outside a Manhattan building owned by her husband, Jared Kushner.

A protester outside Trump Tower declares
A protester outside Trump Tower declares "climate change is real"

Many notes appealed to her to prevent her father from rolling back US climate change pledges, including the Paris agreement, which was signed earlier this year at the United Nations in New York.
Environmental groups did not immediately cheer the news of Ms Trump's environmental interest.
"From the start of Trump's presidential run we've seen his team use Ivanka to soften her father's most egregious positions, and there's no reason to think this isn't part of the same plan," Travis Nichols, a spokesman for Greenpeace, told EcoWatch.

a wildfire
Researchers fear that extreme weather will become more common as the effects of climate change become more obvious

Ivanka Trump and her husband have also reportedly been house-hunting in Washington DC, leading some to speculate that she will continue to serve her father in a political role.
Earlier on Monday, Mr Trump announced that former rival Ben Carson will serve as his Housing and Urban Development secretary.
The former surgeon, who has no experience in government, is Mr Trump's first African-American nominee.
As questions remain over what role Ivanka Trump will have, her father has faced intense criticism over potential conflicts of interest he will encounter once taking over the White House.
He has scheduled a speech for 15 December, which he announced on Twitter will be about "leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country".
In "Total"? I just can't buy that. I think he will still be making the major business decisions. Do you honestly believe he can cut himself off , totally, from the multi billion dollar empire he has  spent his lifetime building, without batting an eye?
He does an 'about face' on so many issues, it is hard to believe his commitment to any one of them. Perhaps Ivanka will be more amenable to climate change issues that must be addressed before we can no longer stop the planet from heating up.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

14-foot python was caught with 3 deer in its stomach... It's symptomatic of the tragic devastation of the Everglades


Normally, what a snake eats for breakfast isn’t worth a headline. But this is no normal snake. And this was no normal meal.
The Burmese python is a massive snake native to Southeast Asia that arrived in South Florida in the 1980s and sold as pets, possibly released into the wild by careless pet owners. There are now as many as 300,000 of these invasive creatures slithering through the state, and they’ve been known to eat alligators, bobcats, rabbits, and birds.
Now scientists have discovered that Burmese pythons — which can reach 18 feet in length and swallow a bobcat whole — are even more ravenous than they realized. In a new paper in Bioinvasions Records, a team of researchers describe slitting open the intestine of a dead 14-foot python and finding the remains of three different white-tailed deer. The snake appears to have gobbled them up, an adult and two fawns, in just 90 days.
The implications are disturbing says Scott Boback, a biologist at Dickinson College and lead author of the study. The incident comes alongside growing evidence that the Burmese pythons are ravaging all native wildlife in South Florida’s Everglades... from the smallest and now to the largest.  “When you consider the evidence, you’ve got to say, okay, something serious is going on here.”


<p>The 14-foot python that ate three deer. Captured by Bobby Hill of the South Florida Water Management District, who has captured more than 400 pythons in Everglades National Park.</p>

There’s growing evidence that Burmese pythons are devastating the Everglades

Something disturbing definitely is happening in Everglades National Park, South Florida’s most famous natural wonder. In a 2012 study, scientists showed that sightings of raccoons, opossums, bobcats, rabbits, foxes, and other mammals in the region have declined more than 80 percent since the mid-1990s.
These observed declines were strongly correlated with the Burmese python’s known habitat, and the researchers couldn’t find any other plausible explanations for the mammals’ disappearance. Hunting, for instance, has long been banned in the Everglades park.
Of course, correlation isn’t causation. But in 2015, a team led by Bob McCleery of the University of Florida conducted a follow-up experiment. The researchers took 100 marsh rabbits (which have seen a precipitous decline), tagged them with radio collars, and released some of the rabbits into two sites where pythons were known to exist and the rest into a region where there were no snakes. Lo and behold, the rabbit populations crashed in the python regions — with three-quarters of them eaten by the snakes.
“All these studies are putting together a story that we just can’t ignore anymore,” says Boback.


Red triangles indicate locations of pythons found between 2008 and 2009. The purple region represents the area of Everglades National Park where pythons were found in the 1990s and where reproduction was first reported.

This latest discovery adds to that picture. There have been isolated reports of pythons consuming deer before. And that 2012 study suggested that white-tailed deer populations have fallen 94 percent in Everglades National Park since pythons became established. Now, for the first time, a python has been found eating multiple deer in a short time period.

How had the python managed to catch and eat three deer? “This has been keeping me up at night,” he said. “It’s possible that the deer were all snoozing. But it also could have been an ambush.”
It’s thought that pythons use their olfactory senses to figure out where mammals tend to travel, and then lie in wait for one to pass. “It drives me crazy to think how a single snake was able to hide,” says Boback, “so that not just one deer but three deer walked within a meter of it — and then how it was able to strike from a low position ... or grab a leg. ... It’s fascinating to figure out.”
However it happened, the notion that pythons may be gobbling up lots and lots of white-tailed deer is troubling. For one, deer are a major revenue source in South Florida, thanks to the sale of hunting licenses. There are also ecological implications — the elimination of deer could rearrange the region’s ecosystem in unpredictable ways.
But what’s even more worrisome, says Boback, is that it suggests there’s little limit to what pythons can devour. “They’re eating pretty much every vertebrate in the Everglades,” he says. “They’re basically taking all that diverse biomass and replacing it with python biomass. And we’ve seen this kind of story before.”
 He may have been referring to the introduction of rabbits to Australia where they had no natural predators and the result was an absolute plague of rabbits in the millions, eating all of the natural fauna and causing the decline of other native species.
It only takes a small change to start a chain reaction which negatively affects a delicately balanced ecology.  The Everglades are being devastated by this change.
Consider this on a global scale. The changing climate upsets the balanced ecologies of plant and animal species all over the world. Those species are disappearing at an astronomical rate. We have to do more. How do we make people listen? Will they listen to Trump or to the scientific evidence before their own eyes?

Trump's attitude to climate change is going to cause a lot of opposition and demonstrations



Proposals by the Trump administration to roll back US environmental regulations are likely to foment opposition, say analysts.The President-elect is likely to push forward plans for fracking and drilling for oil and gas on federal lands.
Campaigners say that this is likely to be opposed in the courts, in Congress and lead to protests. President Obama is trying to limit the impact of the next administration by extending existing protections.

Moratorium on fracking

While much attention since Mr Trump's election has focused on the President-elect's threats to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, there is growing concern among green groups about the impact of other aspects of the Trump environmental plan.
One key element is the expansion of oil and gas production on publicly owned lands. At present there is a moratorium on energy recovery in federal areas, and the Trump team has promised to lift this, and encourage fracking and drilling.
President-elect Trump has also been vocal in his support for projects such as the XL oil pipeline, which President Obama rejected. Attempts to open up public lands for oil and gas, and to push through pipelines will likely attract significant public resistance, say observers.
"I think there'll be a lot of people who were very willing to get in the streets and you know, protest with civil disobedience and we're likely to see some real confrontations there," said Dean Baker, an economist with the Centre for Economic and Policy Research.
Environmental campaigners also take the view that opening up federal lands for resource extraction would be foolish and would help unify the opposition.
"I think they will try to expand fracking and mining and drilling on public lands," said Michael Brune from the Sierra Club.
"But that will be pretty fiercely resisted by people who live near those communities, both progressive and conservatives alike."
Even if the Trump administration succeeds in overturning the current moratorium, there may not be a rush from oil and gas companies to exploit these reserves.
"Most of these shale gas (and tight oil) resources are on private lands, according to the Congressional Research Service, so "opening up" public lands will do little to induce production until prices rise and could even have a depressing effect on prices," writes Alan Krupnick in a blog post for Resources for the Future, an independent economic research organization.
"If prices were to fall, the advantage natural gas has over coal would further widen unless coal prices fell as well."
As well as opening up public lands for oil and gas, the incoming administration is likely to try and overturn existing environmental regulations.

In an interview in 2015 Donald Trump labelled the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) "a disgrace" and promised to cut the department if elected.  He has appointed Myron Ebell, well known for his opposition to the scientific consensus on climate change, to head the EPA transition team.
It's likely that many of the actions taken by the EPA, especially recent regulations on methane emissions from pipelines and installations will now be overturned.
"I think these regulations are going to get a very critical look, as to what they're doing in terms of the economic cost versus the climate benefits," said Nick Loris, from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
"I don't know if you will see an energy revolution but I do think there's going to be a look at this regulatory onslaught that's choked off investment to specific energy technologies and energy sources."
The biggest casualty of the Trump presidency is likely to be the Clean Power Plan, the centre piece of the Obama administration's attempts to cut carbon emissions from electricity generation by a third within 15 years.
This plan has already run into trouble in the the courts and even if it isn't ultimately thrown out by the judges, the new administration is likely to let it wither on the vine.
Environmentalists are hopeful though, that the plan has already had some impacts on energy production.
"We have made so much progress in replacing coal with clean energy that many of the early goals of the Clean Power Plan have already been met," said Michael Brune.
"So undermining it won't have the effect that people thought two years ago."
With 29 states now having regulations in place that mandate a proportion of their energy comes from renewable sources, this will also make it difficult for President-elect Trump to turn back the renewable tide and boost coal without getting into a battle with the state governors.
One area where President Obama is rapidly trying to secure his environmentally friendly legacy is through giving extra protections to federal lands.
Earlier this week, the US department of the interior banned gold mining in an area near Yellowstone national park. There are expectations that he will try and extend protection from mining in Utah, Nevada and around the Grand Canyon.
While time is running out for President Obama, the imminent arrival of the Trump environmental agenda is doing wonders for environmental campaigners - Donations are rocketing, and memberships are rising.
"We have seen a surge of donations and volunteers that we haven't see in two decades in the last two weeks," said Michael Brune for the Sierra Club.
"It is good that people are uniting against Trump's proposals, but it is an unwanted silver lining."
Far better not to have to fight bureaucracy for the right to a clean, safe environment and to prevent climate change.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Planet Ocean and the origins of life




Rich or poor ... The pollution in New Delhi is deadly to all

A woman sits on a park bench amid heavy dust and smog in Delhi, India.
 

NEW DELHI — In the dense smog that engulfed India’s capital early this month, a baby named Vaishnavi gasped through the night.

Inside the concrete room that her father and mother rent for $20 a month, they took turns staying up, laying a hand on her rib cage, feeling it move up and down. Her coughing fits became so violent that she vomited, milk mixed with ropes of sputum. Three times they thought she would not survive until morning.
Twenty miles away, inside an elegant, high-ceilinged house in an elite neighborhood, a 4-year-old boy named Mehtab was also struggling to fill his lungs with air.
His mother, heavily pregnant, sat beside him, administering corticosteroids through a nebulizer mask once an hour. But once an hour wasn’t enough. Mehtab’s father fought waves of panic as they waited for the sun to rise. The boy looked, to him, like a fish suffocating in the air..

For seven days at the beginning of this month, a thick cloud settled over this metropolis of 20 million people. Held in place by a weather system known as an anticyclone, the pollution was pulled inward and down, trapping the people of this city in concentrations of hazardous micro-particles never before recorded here.

The rich, who are buffered from so many of Delhi’s dangers, bunkered themselves inside, filtering out particles in their own air through expensive, high-tech purifiers. But the nature of air pollution is that it is pervasive. Researchers in China have found that exposure rates for the rich and the poor are virtually indistinguishable.
As average daytime levels of PM 2.5, the most dangerous particles, passed 700 micrograms per cubic meter, 28 times the concentration the World Health Organization considers safe, the authorities in Delhi took the unprecedented step of shutting schools for three days. Protesters marched in surgical masks, carrying posters likening the city to a gas chamber.

Eventually, the wind picked up, bringing the city’s pollution level down to its usual, atrocious winter level. But the air quality in north India will remain dangerous for months, as poor people fight the dropping temperature by burning things — leaves, plastic, anything — to stay warm.

There is a clear body of evidence that death rates, emergency room visits, heart attacks and strokes all rise when particulate concentrations are high. Recent data from the W.H.O.’s Global Burden of Disease project indicates that the number of premature deaths related to air pollution in India has caught up with the number in China, and is now surpassing it.
The worst-hit will be the very old, who are susceptible to heart disease and stroke, and the very young, whose lungs are so taxed by polluted air that they cannot develop normally. Children are more vulnerable because they are smaller, with shallower breaths and higher heart rates; they breathe more air.
In the very different homes of Vaishnavi and Mehtab, four parents are waiting to see what the rest of this winter will do to their children.
Vaishnavi’s father, Ravi, who, like many in India, does not use a last name, remembers that October day because he woke up and smelled something burning. The rubber casing of an electrical wire is burning, that was his first thought. He splashed his eyes with water to stop the stinging.


People stand in a park amid heavy dust and smog in Delhi, India.

On the ride into central Delhi, where he sells trinkets on a street corner, he passed columns of smoke: grey-blue wisps from piles of trash, and black pillars from fields where farmers were burning the straw left over from their rice harvests.
Scientists had been tracking the progress of a mass of smoke via NASA satellite images, as it rose off farmers’ fields in the nearby states of Punjab and Haryana and floated across the plains toward the city, a two-day drift. In Delhi, it merged with emissions from cars, coal-fired power plants, open-air burning of trash, and dust from construction.
This year, the crop-burning emissions happened to arrive on the eve of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, when smoke from millions of celebratory fireworks typically send concentrations of the harmful PM 2.5 particles skyrocketing. Ravi has worked on the same corner since he was a child, and his mother worked there before him. He had never seen a smog so thick that it obscured the Shangri-La Hotel. He knew something was not right: He felt dizzy, as if he had been sniffing glue.
 Madhurbain Singh Anand, the father of 4-year-old Mehtab, peered into the garden behind their house as the cloud of pollution settled on the city; the garden wall, maybe 20 feet away, was no longer visible. When someone opened a door, a haze filled the room.
The worst season here in Delhi has just begun. It will continue for three months, growing worse when the city’s vast homeless population begins setting nighttime fires for warmth, and when dropping temperatures push the emissions toward the ground.
The emergency protective measures introduced during the week after Diwali, including a moratorium on construction and the shuttering of the 43-year-old Badarpur coal-fired power plant, have been quietly reversed.
Though the country plans to impose new standards on coal plants next year, they will only apply to newly built plants, said Mr. Krishna, of the Public Health Foundation.
“You stop being angry and start being cynical at some point,” he said. “Year after year, there are action plans issued with no follow-up. And every year, this kind of thing happens.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Wildlife cannot adapt fast enough to survive climate change


Tropical species are thought to be particularly vulnerable
Tropical species are particularly vulnerable

Many species will not be able to adapt fast enough to survive climate change, say scientists.
A study of more than 250 plants and animals suggests their ability to adapt to changes in rainfall and temperature will be vastly outpaced by future climate change.
Amphibians, reptiles and plants are particularly vulnerable, according to US researchers.
And tropical species are at higher risk than those in temperate zones.
Some animals might be able to move geographically to cope with rising temperatures, but others live in isolated areas where they cannot move, such as in nature reserves or on mountains or islands.
Ecologists analyzed how quickly species had changed their climatic niches (the conditions where they can survive) over time, and how these rates compared with that of global warming.
They analyzed 266 populations of plants and animals, including insects, amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles.
Rates of change in climatic niches by species were much slower than rates of projected climate change, by more than 200,000 times (on average), they said.
"Overall, our results show that rates of climatic niche change among populations of plants and animals are dramatically slower than projected rates of future climate change," said Tereza Jezkova and John Wiens, of the University of Arizona.

Double jeopardy

Mammals and birds might be better placed to survive than amphibians and reptiles, because they had the ability to regulate their own body temperatures, said Dr Wiens.
And, while some species might be able to move to higher latitudes or elevations to survive, "for a lot of organisms, that is not an option".
"It's a double jeopardy of climate change and habitat destruction".
It takes generations upon generations for  living species to evolve and adapt to new circumstances and environments. Most species of wildlife, including many mammals,
no longer have the time to evolve before being  driven to extinction.

According to the UN Environment Program, the Earth is in the midst of a mass extinction of life. Scientists estimate that 150-200 species of plant, insect, bird and mammal become extinct every 24 hours. This is nearly 1,000 times the “natural” or “background” rate and, say many biologists, is greater than anything the world has experienced since the vanishing of the dinosaurs nearly 65m years ago.
Pass the word along my friends. Encourage people to look these facts up themselves.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Mystery of 1952 ‘Great Smog’ which killed 12,000 Londoners has been solved*


In December 1952, the ‘Great Smog’ descended on London – a thick, polluted fog which made it difficult to see, and breathe.
Up to 100,000 people became ill after the ‘Great Smog’ – and some estimates put the death toll at 12,000 people.
The event prompted the 1956 Clean Air Act – but until now no one had fully understood why the fog poisoned so many..
Now researchers looking into China’s current air pollution issues may have worked it out – and Londoners may have been breathing in sulphuric acid created by burning coal.



Experiments in Xi’an and Beijing showed that sulphate can form due to interactions caused by nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide – building up tiny droplets of sulphuric acid which can be inhaled.
Lead author Renyi Zhang from Texas A&M University says, ‘People have known that sulphate was a big contributor to the fog, and sulfuric acid particles were formed from sulphur dioxide released by coal-burning for residential use and power plants, and other means.
‘Our results showed that this process was facilitated by nitrogen dioxide, another co-product of coal burning, and occurred initially on natural fog. Another key aspect in the conversion of sulphur dioxide to sulphate is that it produces acidic particles, which subsequently inhibits this process.
‘Natural fog contained larger particles of several tens of micrometres in size, and the acid formed was sufficiently diluted. Evaporation of those fog particles then left smaller acidic haze particles that covered the city.’
Constant inhalation of this chemical cocktail of  Sulphuric acid is corrosive and can cause severe irritation or corrosive damage. Severe lung damage, such as chemical pneumonia, fibrosis, bronchiectasis, congestion and inflammation, has been reported following inhalation of sulphuric acid mists. It can also cause life-threatening accumulation of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema).
The  cure for  all this is to stop burning coal as Britain did.


The presidents of the world's two most polluting nations  (China and the US) agreed: something should be done about climate change. An agreement was announced November 12/2011 between the U.S. and China. Although neither country has plans to stop burning coal or oil in the near future, both countries now have commitments to reduce the greenhouse gases that result. We hope.
 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Pulling out of the Paris Agreement and America's Clean Power Plan ...and promoting coal burning .... Thanks Trump



“THE Trump Administration is firmly committed to conserving our wonderful natural resources and beautiful natural habitats,” claims a new website which sets out the policy priorities of Donald Trump, America’s president-elect. Greens are not convinced. Mr Trump promised on the campaign trail to rip up the Paris Agreement on climate change, which aims to limit global warming to “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures. He wants to kill America’s Clean Power Plan, which would regulate emissions from power plants. And he would promote coal-burning once more. Can America’s next president keep his campaign promises?
The Paris Agreement came into effect on November 4th, less than a year after more than 190 countries adopted it in December 2015. Barack Obama committed America to the plan using his executive authority, which gives Mr Trump the power to abandon it without seeking congressional approval. The process to withdraw, as mandated by international law, would take at least four years. But the way the agreement is structured means that while each country is obliged to curb warming, they maintain authority over how to do so. Mr Trump could therefore wilfully ignore America’s obligations to cut emissions—although it is more than halfway to meeting its own target of cutting emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025 it is widely expected to miss the mark.

Alternatively, he could withdraw America from the framework UN convention under which the Paris Agreement appeared. This would only take a year. But America joined the convention more than two decades ago, under George H.W. Bush. Pulling out would be an astounding change and set a poor example for other countries. Even if Mr Trump struggles to free America from its Paris committments, further progress on cutting emissions as required by the deal will become very difficult. Whomever Mr Trump nominates to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court's bench, it is likely the new justice will vote to scrap the Clean Power Plan, which is already on hold pending legal action.
Mr Trump’s love of coal, however, may be tempered by market forces. A glut of fossil fuels means that production of the black stuff in America has declined by almost a quarter since the highs of 2008. The cost of solar and wind power, and of the storage needed to smooth out their variations, is dropping. It will continue to do so. Moreover, despite wanting to end “the war on coal” Mr Trump also needs to care for America’s air and water quality. The bulk of the population supports such protection. Nor will America’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) be rendered instantly toothless by a Trump administration. Acts passed decades ago to protect air and water are enforced by the agency. While its new staff will contain those who deny global warming, its mandate will remain the same. Under previous presidents with little regard for the climate, the EPA was sued more frequently by green groups for doing too little to protect the environment. That could happen again. Yet lawsuits of any kind pose a huge problem given the pace of global warming: 2016 is, so far, the hottest year ever recorded. Yet the greatest crisis from climate change will emerge only long after President Trump has left office.
We need to find a way to make him bend to the will of the people and to scientific proof. He needs to tour the artic to watch drowning and starving bears and follow that up with a tour of central Africa, where there has been a drought for 20+ years and little or no food. He has never gone hungry in his life. I don't think the word starvation is in his vocabulary. He seems to have his own agenda and doesn't care about much else.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Arctic could become ice-free for first time in more than 100,000 years, claims leading scientist

 I’m convinced it will be less than 3.4 million square kilometres [the current record low].

“I think there’s a reasonable chance it could get down to a million this year and if it doesn’t do it this year, it will do it next year.
“Ice free means the central part of the Arctic and the North Pole is ice free.”

Most of the remaining ice within the Arctic Circle would be trapped among the myriad of islands along Canada’s north coast.
Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University predicts we could see ‘an area of less than one million square kilometres for September of this year’

The Arctic is on track to be free of sea ice this year or next for the first time in more than 100,000 years, a leading scientist has claimed.

Provisional satellite data produced by the US National Snow & Ice Data Centre shows there were just over 11.1 million square kilometres of sea ice on 1 June this year, compared to the average for the last 30 years of nearly 12.7 million square kilometres.

This difference – more than 1.5 million square kilometres – is about the same size as about six United Kingdoms.

Professor Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge University, told The Independent that the latest figures largely bore out a controversial prediction he made four years ago.

“My prediction remains that the Arctic ice may well disappear, that is, have an area of less than one million square kilometres for September of this year,” he said.

“Even if the ice doesn’t completely disappear, it is very likely that this will be a record low year
The last time the Arctic was clear of ice is believed to be about 100,000 to 120,000 years ago.

The rapid warming of the polar region has been linked with extreme weather events such as “bomb cyclones”, flooding in the UK and out-of-season tornadoes in the United States.

And the sea ice off the north coast of Russia, which normally insulates the water below to keep it cool, is no longer present for much of the year, allowing the sea to get significantly warmer than before.
Scientists have monitored greenhouse gas methane – once frozen on the sea bed – bubbling up to the surface at an alarming rate.

According to one study published in the journal Nature by Professor Wadhams and others, this could produce an average rise in global temperature of 0.6 degrees Celsius in just five years.

“That would be a very, very serious upward jerk to global warming,” Professor Wadhams said, saying the prospect was “frightening”.

Less sea ice also means the surface of the Earth is darker, so it absorbs more of the sun’s energy.

Arctic warming: Rapidly increasing temperatures are 'possibly catastrophic' for planet, climate scientist warns
“When the sea ice retreats, it changes the whole situation. People are right to be concerned about the sea ice retreat and disappearance mainly because of all these other feedbacks,” Professor Wadhams added.

Sea ice is usually at its lowest in September and starts to build again when the winter sets in.

Dr Peter Gleick, a leading climatologist, said he had “no idea” if Professor Wadhams’ prediction was correct.

And he added: “If it's wrong, this kind of projection leads to climate sceptics and deniers to criticize the entire community.”

However Dr Gleick said Professor Wadhams was right to sound a warning about the rising temperatures in the region, saying it was “extraordinarily disturbing even in a world of disturbing news about accelerating climate change”.

“An ice-free - and even an ice-reduced - Arctic is leading to global impacts on weather and ecosystems, and most importantly, that the changes in the Arctic presage dramatic fundamental changes in climate throughout the globe,” he said.

“We're on a runaway train, scientists are blowing the whistle, but politicians are still shovelling coal into the engine.”
Professor Jennifer Francis, of Rutgers University, says ‘We are definitely looking at a very unusual situation up in the Arctic’ (Wolfgang Kaehler/Getty)
Professor Jennifer Francis, of Rutgers University in the US, who has studied the effect of the Arctic on the weather in the rest of the northern hemisphere, was also sceptical about Professor Wadhams' prediction, saying it was “highly unlikely” to come true this year.

She said she thought this would not happen until sometime between 2030 and 2050.

But Professor Francis stressed: “We are definitely looking at a very unusual situation up in the Arctic.

“The ice is very low and there have been record-breaking low amounts of ice in January, February, March, April and now May, so this is very worrisome.


“I think we are going to see perhaps a new record [in September], that’s very possible.”

Sunday, November 6, 2016

After years of moving at a glacial pace, the Paris Agreement is racing to take effect before the US election ....Why? you ask ...Read on

The Eiffel tower is illuminated in green with the words  


LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Efforts to build a new global deal to tackle climate change were for many years criticized for moving at glacial pace. But this week climate negotiators meeting in Morocco find themselves facing an entirely new problem: a deal that, astonishingly, has come into effect more than three years ahead of schedule.
The Paris Agreement on climate change, designed to start in 2020, entered into force on Friday after 96 countries and the European Union - together representing nearly 70 percent of the world’s climate-changing emissions - ratified it eagerly and with haste.
That has been a cause for celebration - and some puzzlement.
“We’re now in an interesting conundrum we never thought we’d find ourselves in: After pushing for decisive and speedy action, we got it, rather too speedily.” said Paula Caballero, global director of the climate program at the Washington-based World Resources Institute.


The immediate challenge for negotiators is that, by law, countries that have ratified the deal must start agreeing to the rules to implement it at the next U.N. climate conference. That meeting starts on Monday in Marrakesh. That has left officials a very short time to iron out a host of technical issues - and only about half the parties that crafted the Paris deal are eligible to participate in the early decision-making.

“Because we’ve jump-started the deal, we now have to find a way for negotiators to discuss the rules while still finding ways for other countries to come in and join,” said Liz Gallagher, a climate diplomacy expert at London-based E3G, a sustainable-development think tank.
But that is "a good problem to have”, she said. “It’s the first time we really feel the urgency in the negotiations is reflected.”
 
SOOO why the rush to ratify the Paris climate agreement?? Ask the guy in the image below.


Trump Effect
The rapid approval of the agreement - one of the fastest in the history of international deal-making – has happened in large part because a growing number of countries feel the urgency of taking swift action to deal with climate change and its worsening impacts, while big climate polluters such as China and the United States have jointly stepped up to push the deal. Climate deal members fear the US may back out.
Many nations have an anxious eye on this week’s U.S. elections, where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has promised to pull his country out of the climate agreement if elected. That threat, in recent months, has spurred a rush to ratify the agreement and ensure it takes force before the U.S. vote.


Under the rules of the Paris Agreement, once it has come into effect, “legally a country cannot withdraw before the next five years are over”, said Sven Harmeling, international climate change policy coordinator.
The quick ratification of the global climate deal, however, will likely require a bit of procedural fancy footwork at the Nov. 7-18 U.N. climate talks. Talks can then continue but no decisions will need to be made until all the countries in the climate deal ratify it.


Temperature Threat

Negotiators in Morocco will be trying to push ahead on a few key points, however, looking at immediate actions that could be taken to cut emissions. They also will dig into how the world will make a promised shift to using virtually no fossil fuels by the second half of the century and how to hold global temperature rise to an ambitious target of “well below” 2 degrees Celsius.
“It’s now starting to sink in,” Aarnio said. “It means really, really drastic mitigation in all sectors, much faster than anything we’ve seen before.
That effort has had a boost in recent weeks with the passage of an accord to begin limiting the use of hydrofluorocarbons – refrigerants that are major contributors to climate change – and a separate deal to cap increases in aviation emissions by 2020.

From drought-related food scarcity in Malawi and Madagascar, to worsening storms in Vietnam and the Philippines, “what we are seeing this year is more and more difficult for people to prepare for and cope with”, said Mr Harmeling.