Thursday, October 12, 2017

'War on the EPA': How Fossil Fuel Industry Executed 'Hostile Takeover' of Key Agency

Must-see Frontline details how Trump administration handed over environmental protection to oil and gas interests 


As Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt formally announced this week that he plans to pull the plug on the Clean Power Plan, Frontline released a documentary titled War on the EPA, which details the Trump administration's concerted effort to cater to the fossil fuel industry's demands and roll back environmental regulations.
Among those interviewed for the film are Elizabeth "Betsy" Southerland, a 30-year EPA veteran who publicly resigned this summer and, so far, is the highest-ranking former staffer to speak out against the agency's operations under Pruitt, who was appointed by President Donald Trump and has been a key player in the administration's war on science.
 
 
"The atmosphere of EPA is really tense," Southerland said in the film. "What everyone is trying desperately to do is to hope against hope that their facts will change Scott Pruitt's mind—that they'll be special and they'll be able to convince the administrator not to go with whatever the industry people have asked him to do, and to give some deference to the science and engineering behind previous regulations."
Mere weeks after Southerland resigned from the agency, Pruitt announced the EPA had finalized plans to postpone a regulation she had worked on, which sought to prevent coal plants from dumping toxic chemicals in waterways. Pruitt's plans were immediately denounced by experts and conservationists, with the Center for Biological Diversity calling it "mind-bogglingly dangerous."
Rolling back that rule was just one of many moves by the Trump administration to implement an agenda that serves the coal, oil, and natural gas companies. Trump first visited EPA headquarters in late March, to sign an executive order directing the agency to rewrite the Clean Power Plan. During his speech at the agency, the president declared: "My administration is putting an end to the war on coal."
The film also features an interview with Bob Murray, CEO of Murray Energy Corporation, the largest coal company in the United States. Murray mentioned in the film that not only was he in the audience during Trump's March speech at EPA headquarters, but that the president acknowledged the coal baron when he vowed to "put our miners back to work."
"I would say that people were really devastated by that," Southerland said of Murray's attendance. "That it was considered to be, really, an open slap in our face."
"What it conveyed is, 'this is a hostile takeover.' You, the scientists and lawyers and engineers at the agency are no longer valued," added Eric Schaeffer, who led the EPA's Office of Regulatory Enforcement for five years, and resigned from the agency in 2002, to protest attempts by then-President George W. Bush's administration to weaken federal clean air policy. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Come to Churchill ( Polar Bear Town) Manitoba in Canada


Come on this virtual journey through the realm of the polar bear (http://www.nathab.com/polar-bear-tours), as we follow the life-changing experiences of Nat Hab guests, Expedition Leaders and a WWF scientist during a trip to Churchill—the Polar Bear Capital of the World. Learn how the power of conservation travel can help protect a threatened species like polar bears for generations to come.

Learn more about Churchill Polar Bear Tours and conservation travel with Nat Hab and WWF: http://www.nathab.com/polar-bear-tours/




Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Study underway to help reduce China's air pollution and prolong life expectancy

Image result for images of pollution in china
Deadly air pollution in China has long been out of control
Image result for images of pollution in china
Chinese people suffer from a multitude  of respiratory diseases
Image result for images of pollution in china
Although the government has long been aware of negative effects of air and water pollution, they have been slow to act upon the problems
Image result for images of pollution in china
Toxic water pollution from industrial and human wastes fill every waterway
Solid waste like plastics cover every shore
 Children play on piles of garbage releasing toxic gases

There are currently an estimated 4.5 billion people around the world exposed to levels of particulate air pollution that are at least twice what the World Health Organization (WHO) considers safe. Yet, the impact of sustained exposure to pollution on a person's life expectancy has largely remained a vexingly unanswered question -- until now.

A study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that a Chinese policy is unintentionally causing people in northern China to live 3.1 years less than people in the south due to air pollution concentrations that are 46 percent higher. These findings imply that every additional 10 micrograms per cubic meter of particulate matter pollution (PM10) reduces life expectancy by 0.6 years. The elevated mortality is entirely due to an increase in cardiorespiratory deaths, indicating that air pollution is the cause of reduced life expectancies to the north.

"These results greatly strengthen the case that long-term exposure to particulates air pollution causes substantial reductions in life expectancy. They indicate that particulates are the greatest current environmental risk to human health, with the impact on life expectancy in many parts of the world similar to the effects of every man, woman and child smoking cigarettes for several decades," says study co-author Michael Greenstone, the director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) and the Milton Friedman Professor in Economics, the College and the Harris School. "The histories of the United States, parts of Europe, Japan and a handful of other countries teach us that air pollution can be reduced, but it requires robust policy and enforcement."
The study exploits China's Huai River policy, which provided free coal to power boilers for winter heating to people living north of the river and provided almost no resources towards heating south of the river. The policy's partial provision of heating was implemented because China did not have enough resources to provide free coal nationwide. Additionally, since migration was greatly restricted, people exposed to pollution were generally not able to migrate to less polluted areas. Together, the discrete change in policy at the river's edge and the migration restrictions provide the basis for a powerful natural experiment that offers an opportunity to isolate the impact of sustained exposure to particulates air pollution from other factors that affect health.

"Unveiling this important information helps build the case for policies that ultimately serve to improve the lives of the Chinese people and the lives of those globally who suffer from high levels of air pollution," says study co-author Maigeng Zhou, deputy director of the National Center for Chronic and Non-communicable Disease Control and Prevention of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Overall, the study provides solutions to several challenges that have plagued previous research. In particular, prior studies: 1) rely on research designs that may be unlikely to isolate the causal effects of air pollution; 2) measure the effect of pollution exposure for a relatively short period of time (e.g., weekly or annually), failing to shed light on the effect of sustained exposure; 3) examine settings with much lower pollution concentrations than those currently faced by billions of people in countries, including China and India, leaving questions about their applicability unanswered; 4) measure effects on mortality rates but leave the full loss of life expectancy unanswered.


Broader Implications -- Introducing the Air Quality-Life Index (AQLI)
Importantly, the results from this paper can be generalized to quantify the number of years that air pollution reduces lifespans around the globe -- not just in China. Specifically, Greenstone and his colleagues at EPIC used the finding that an additional 10 micrograms per cubic meter of PM10 reduces life expectancy by 0.6 years to develop a new pollution index, the Air Quality-Life Index (AQLI). The index allows users to better understand the impact of air pollution on their lives by calculating how much longer they would live if the pollution in the air they breathe were brought into compliance with national or WHO standards.
"The AQLI uses the critical data and information gathered from our China research and applies it to every country, allowing the billions of people around the world who are exposed to high air pollution levels to estimate how much longer they would live if they breathed cleaner air," says Greenstone.
Do we want our kids to live longer?? All the scientific evidence and the scientific answers are right in front of us. This requires a global effort. Air and water pollution from other countries affects us just as much as our own. Winds and ocean currents carry it to us and seriously affect our quality of life, our wildlife and aquatic life. Only by cooperation, not isolation, can we mend our damaged planet.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Energy can be harvested from evaporation from lakes and rivers and could potentially power much of US ....New Study




In the first evaluation of evaporation as a renewable energy source, researchers at Columbia University find that U.S. lakes and reservoirs could generate 325 gigawatts of power, nearly 70 percent of what the United States currently produces.
Though still limited to experiments in the lab, evaporation-harvested power could in principle be made on demand, day or night, overcoming the intermittency problems plaguing solar and wind energy. The researchers' calculations are outlined in the Sept. issue of Nature Communications.
"We have the technology to harness energy from wind, water and the sun, but evaporation is just as powerful," says the study's senior author Ozgur Sahin, a biophysicist at Columbia. "We can now put a number on its potential."
Evaporation is nature's way of cycling water between land and air. Sahin has previously shown how this basic process can be exploited to do work. One machine developed in his lab, the so-called Evaporation Engine, controls humidity with a shutter that opens and closes, prompting bacterial spores to expand and contract. The spores' contractions are transferred to a generator that makes electricity. The current study was designed to test how much power this process could theoretically produce.
One benefit of evaporation is that it can be generated only when needed. Solar and wind power, by contrast, require batteries to supply power when the sun isn't shining and wind isn't blowing. Batteries are also expensive and require toxic materials to manufacture.
"Evaporation comes with a natural battery," said study lead author, Ahmet-Hamdi Cavusoglu, a graduate student at Columbia. "You can make it your main source of power and draw on solar and wind when they're available." Evaporation technology can also save water. In the study, researchers estimate that half of the water that evaporates naturally from lakes and reservoirs into the atmosphere could be saved during the energy-harvesting process. In their model, that came to 25 trillion gallons a year, or about a fifth of the water Americans consume.
States with growing populations and sunnier weather can best capitalize on evaporation's capacity to generate power and reduce water waste, in part because evaporation packs more energy in warm and dry conditions, the researchers say. Drought-prone California, Nevada and Arizona could benefit most.
The researchers simplified their model in several ways to test evaporation's potential. They limited their calculations to the United States, where weather station data are readily accessible, and excluded prime locations such as farmland, rivers, the Great Lakes, and coastlines, to limit errors associated with modeling more complex interactions. They also made the assumption that technology to harvest energy from evaporation efficiently is fully developed.
Klaus Lackner, a physicist at Arizona State University who was not involved in the study, expressed support for the team's findings. Lackner is developing artificial trees that draw carbon dioxide from the air, in part, by harnessing the power of evaporation.
"Evaporation has the potential to do a lot of work," he said. "It's nice to see that drying and wetting cycles can also be used to collect mechanical energy."
The researchers are working to improve the energy efficiency of their spore-studded materials and hope to eventually test their concept on a lake, reservoir, or even a greenhouse, where the technology could be used to simultaneously make power and limit water loss.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Unicorn of the sea ( Norwhals) Endangered




No doubt few of you have ever seen a norwhal and probably fewer have even heard of them. Nevertheless they are fighting for their existence. They are predominately found around Northern Canada and Geenland and have always been valued by indigenous people for their long tusks, meat and their skin which is full of vitamin C and an important part of the Eskimos' diet.
The narwhal looks like a cross between a whale and a unicorn with its long, spiraled tusk jutting from its head. Males most commonly have tusks, and some may even have two. The tusk, which can grow as long as 10 feet, is actually an enlarged tooth. Ongoing research by WWF collaborators indicates that the tusk has sensory capability, with up to 10 million nerve endings inside. The tusk may also play a role in the ways males exert dominance.
Narwhals spend their lives in the Arctic waters of Canada, Greenland, and Norway. The majority of the world’s narwhals winter for up to five months under the sea ice in the Baffin Bay-Davis Strait area (between Canada and western Greenland). Cracks in the ice allow them to breathe when needed, especially after dives, which can be up to a mile and a half deep. They feed mainly on Greenland halibut, along with other fish, squid and shrimp.
Narwhals have been listed as endangered since 2008. Very few laws have been proposed in attempts to protect this interesting species. In an effort to support conservation, the European Union established an import ban on tusks. Narwhals are becoming extinct for three main reasons. The primary catalyst for the series of events that have led to decrease narwhal populations is unprecedentedly rapid climate change.
Thousands of years of evolution have prepared an Arctic species like the narwhal for life on and around the sea ice. Because of climate change, this ice cover has dramatically decreased in both extent and thickness, at a rate far too quick for a species to adapt. A narwhal relies on sea ice for a place to feed and a place to take refuge—occasionally even a place to hide from predators. An additional result of climate change is the reduction in the population of the narwhal’s primary prey, the Greenland halibut.

The Melting Ice Of The Arctic
 Melting Arctic ice

Also encumbering rehabilitation efforts for the narwhal species is the increase in oil and gas development. The increased shipping of oil and gas has lead to increased shipping movement in sensitive areas. In addition to the possibility of fatal oil spills, collisions between boats and many species of marine life are certain to occur. Also, shipping, marine construction and military activities cause an increase in noise pollution. Whales, as well as many other marine species, rely heavily on sound for communication. This new interference by noise pollution can negatively affect a narwhal’s ability to find food and mates, navigate, avoid predators and take care of their young. “Man-made noise affects sea creatures like putting a bucket on your head. It cuts off the senses they need to survive. When they can’t hear, they can’t live”
Finally, hunting with modern equipment represents the most long-standing and consistent threat to narwhals throughout their habitat-range.
Are Norwhals important??? Every link in the food chain is absolutely essential to the link that came  before and the link that comes after it and the link after that. That food chain eventually makes it's way to humans, who consider themselves at the top of the chain. When those links start disappearing one by one so does our food.
It's like this...a little fish, while eating a shrimp, gets eaten by a bigger fish, which gets eaten by a bigger fish and so on until the last fish in the line is a huge marlin which is then caught by a man and eaten. That is how the food chain works. So even the species that aren't too pretty, like the  narwhals hold an important place in the survival of the life on our planet.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Monster from the Deep



Here’s your daily reminder that the ocean is terrifying and no one really has any idea what’s lurking in the depths of the great abyss.
When Preeti Desai was trying to assess the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, she accidentally stumbled upon the depths of hell.


"What the heck is this indeed", Ms Desai.
The spine-chilling monster with its thick, serpent-like body, daggered teeth and NO EYES had social media stumped - the only thing they knew was that they were never going to swim again.
Some commenters threw out the suggestion of eel and a biologist agreed, telling the BBC it was a fangtooth snake-eel.
Fangtooth snake-eel. Oh okay then, so just a mixture of all of the worst things in the world – cool.
Dr Kenneth Tighe, a biologist and eel specialist, said it could be a conger or garden eel as "all three of these species occur off Texas and have large fang-like teeth".
Ms Desai, who is a part of the Audubon Society – a non-profit group dedicated to conservation, said she was seeing how extensively Hurricane Harvey had damaged the environment when she stumbled upon the creature.
"It was completely unexpected, it's not something that you'd typically see on a beach. I thought it could be something from the deep sea that might have washed on to shore," she reported.
"My main reaction was curiosity, to figure out what the heck it was."
She also said she left the horrifying monster eel on the beach "to let nature take its course".
Can’t say we blame her.
 But, monster or not, it is a citizen of earth, obviously a predator. I have seen conger eels but never one this huge. There are  hundreds of thousands of aquatic species. Any average person has only ever seen a couple of hundred. With the oceans getting more acidic and warmer,  thousands of these species hover on the brink of extinction.
The rapid loss of species we are seeing today is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate.
These experts calculate that between 0.01 and 0.1% of all species are becoming extinct each year.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Weep for What We Have Done





Image result for images of dead polar bears






 Death from exhaustion.



The Arctic Ocean is now the garbage dump at the top of the world. The ocean currents bring trash from all over the world.

 
Image result for rubbish floating in the arctic images
It is almost too much to bear. Where do we begin??
 How do we change people's thinking??
We must never give up trying.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A key government report on climate change has leaked. Here's what you need to know


Popular Science                 MARY BETH GRIGGS          August 8th 2017

The New York Timespublished a draft of a long-awaited government report on climate change on Monday night, and the picture it paints is dire.

Though the copy obtained by The New York Times isn't the final version, with some figures and citations still waiting to be inserted into the text, the authors' words are precise, unequivocal, and unflinching.

"Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are primarily responsible for the observed climate changes over the last 15 decades. There are no alternative explanations. There are no apparent natural cycles in the observational record that can explain the recent changes in climate (e.g., PAGES 2K 2013; Marcott et al. 2013). In addition, natural cycles within the Earth's climate system can only redistribute heat; they cannot be responsible for the observed increase in the overall heat content of the climate system (Church et al. 2011). Internal variability, alternative explanations, or even unknown forcing factors cannot explain the majority of the observed changes in climate (Anderson et al. 2012)."
The clear language used in the Executive Summary of the report is backed up by mountains of scientific data, and a veritable deluge of studies reports and figures that preceded this iteration. Each data point has been used to strengthen our understanding of how the climate is actively changing and warming. But the decades of investigation hasn't been easy, and the researchers who have worked on the report have faced considerable cultural opposition to their findings.

In the article accompanying the 545 page document, the New York Times mentioned that it spoke to one of the many government scientists who helped create the report. The source feared that the report would be suppressed, and requested anonymity to speak to the paper.

There is some precedent for the executive branch attempting to block reports like this, as Columbia Law professor Michael Gerrard noted on Twitter Monday night:

Congress requires the report to be submitted every four years as a part of the National Climate Assessment. The last report, published in 2014 was produced with the help of 300 climate experts overseen by a 60 member governing committee.
This draft is the fourth such report and was scheduled to be released next year. The first drafts of each of the 28 chapters in the document were gathered together in June.

Among the many findings of the report, it states that "The global, long-term, and unambiguous warming trend has continued in recent years." with 15 of the last 16 years being among the warmest on record, and the global average temperature across both land and sea rising by 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Much of that warming (1.2 degrees Fahrenheit) happened between 1951 and 2010, and the report says that warming was "extremely likely" to have been caused by humans.

Those temperatures are expected to rise if we continue to emit greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, with more emissions equating to higher temperatures. Heat waves, and drenching rains are very likely to become more common around the world. Storms, droughts, and floods are also expected to increase in some regions, but in some ways, that's down to where you live. In the Arctic, the pace is faster than the rest of the world, and changes in landscape, resources, and water supplies are coming quickly.

While some aspects of climate change are extremely regional—some areas will dry out as others drown—all the regions of the world are connected in some way. Climate shifts in the Tropics or the Arctic have impacts on the United States. And not all the changes are happening on land. The vast majority of our planet is covered with water and the oceans are absorbing up to 90 percent of the excess heat that we generate. Those warming seas are rising. At the same time, those waters are absorbing carbon dioxide, becoming much more acidic.

There are some things that the report can't fully anticipate, which it readily acknowledges. These are the surprises that are littered along our future path. There are tipping points, like the collapse of ocean currents or ice sheets, which we can't put back together when they all fall apart. Then there are compound events–heat waves layered on wildfires layered on droughts, or flooding coupled with heavy rainfall all sprinkled atop sea level rise. These multi-faceted events could happen independently, or they could happen coupled with a tipping point, or two, or three, and researchers still don't have a clear picture of what the result of those deadly combinations might be.

Weather, as the report notes, examines short term change in our atmosphere, while climate is the statistics of weather. We see the weather getting weirder all the time, and according to this report, our future climate forecast is muddled, and tempestuous, and unprecedentedly hot. There is still a chance to reduce emissions, take up alternative fuel sources, or start studying geoengineering options in case we find that—in a very extreme situation—we must change the world again (on purpose this time). A less frantic climate future is not something that any one person or any one government can achieve, but it is something that anyone can work towards.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

I really hope you keep this blog going Nee. You can do so much good with it and fight back against Mr Trump's ignorance. You can inform and educate and one day you will be proud that you did. It's a most worthy cause.
Best of luck
Jeannie.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL.
LOVE AFFAIR WITH
 PUTIN AND KIM JONG UN IS NOT.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Legacy of the human race .... Venimus, vidimus, et destruir



Henderson Island is part of the UK's Pitcairn Islands group

An uninhabited island in the South Pacific is littered with the highest density of plastic waste anywhere in the world, according to a study. Henderson Island, part of the UK's Pitcairn Islands group, has an estimated 37.7 million pieces of debris on its beaches.
The island is near the centre of an ocean current, meaning it collects much garbage from boats, large ships and South America. Researchers hope people will "rethink their relationship with plastic".
The joint Australian and British study said the rubbish amounted to 671 items per square meter and a total of 17 tons.
"A lot of the items on Henderson Island are what we wrongly refer to as disposable or single-use," said Dr Jennifer Lavers from the University of Tasmania.


The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, described how remote islands act as a "sink" for the world's rubbish.
In addition to fishing items, Henderson Island was strewn with everyday things including toothbrushes, cigarette lighters and razors.


Could plastic roads help to save the planet? It is one solution being studied.

"Land crabs are making their homes inside bottle caps, containers and jars," Dr Lavers said.
"At first it looks a little bit cute, but it's not. This plastic is old, it's sharp, it's brittle and toxic." Aquatic animals are being put at high risk from the toxins in our garbage, even though they are attempting to adapt to it.
A large number of hard hats of "every shape, color and size" were also discovered, the marine scientist said.
Henderson Island is listed by Unesco as a coral atoll with a relatively unique ecology, notable for 10 rare plant and four bird species.
It is 190km (120 miles) from Pitcairn Island, about 5,000km from Chile, and sits near the centre of the South Pacific Gyre - a massive rotating current.

 
The researchers estimate the rubbish to total 37.7 million pieces

The condition of the island highlighted how plastic debris has affected the environment on a global scale, Dr Lavers said.
"Almost every island in the world and almost every species in the ocean is now being shown to be impacted one way or another by our waste," she said.
"There's not really any one person or any one country that gets a free pass on this."
She said plastic was devastating to oceans because it was buoyant and durable.
The research was conducted by the University of Tasmania's Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, and the Centre for Conservation Science at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
There is no longer any safe habitat for wildlife. We have poisoned every corner of the planet on land and in water and even defiled the air we need to breath. Is there any hope for our wildlife ?? Where the creatures of the earth go, we follow. If we had the ability to look two hundred years into the future, I do not think we'd recover from the shock.

Mr Trump ... Global Warming needs global co-operation

Donald Trump


'Assailed by "enemies" on all sides, the most "unfairly" treated politician in the history of ever', (Wait ... What??) has at least had the consolation of knowing that his emissaries to the latest UN climate talks just finished in Bonn have followed his dictum to the letter. Or have they??
The new White House, in case you missed it, takes a very different view on climate change than the majority of countries in the world.
The Donald Trump-era perspective is that climate change is essentially an exaggerated threat, that coal, oil and gas are tremendous, and that the Paris agreement is a bad deal for America and should be "cancelled".
Given that almost all the small US delegation to Bonn were people who have previously been involved in climate discussions under the Obama administration, it must have been quite the mental u-turn to be instructed to keep repeating the mantra in climate discussions : "Our position is under review."
However, President Trump may be a little distressed to hear that instead of a stony faced resistance to the global warmist hordes in Bonn, the US team has actually been seen as playing quite a positive role.
In fact, one of the areas of discussion that made the most progress in these talks was the shock and horror of COP22 members driven by the US stance.
"What we have seen, to our relief,  is a generally constructive team," said Yamide Dagnet from the World Resources Institute, an observer at these talks.
"One of the US team was co-facilitator with China of the transparency discussion - this is one of the building blocks of the Paris agreement that made the most progress during this session. So we are quite pleased that there was still a constructive engagement."
The skilled negotiators from 180-plus countries involved in these talks have been doing their best to send soothing signals to Washington that everyone would be better off if the US was to stay in the game.
Fiji will become the first small island developing country to hold the presidency of the key annual meeting of negotiators, COP23, which will be held in November, again in Bonn. The woman who will lead the talks, Fijian climate ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan, reached for an appropriate Pacific island metaphor when discussing continued US participation.
"It's very important that all members of the family stay in the canoe and that we paddle in the same direction, and that nobody jumps out," she told BBC News, without specifying the creek up which the aforementioned canoe would be travelling.
"But if they don't (stay) what are our options? The answer is we carry on with the work program and we do it with or without members of the family who have decided to bail out."
Another perhaps less subtle signal has been sent by the European Union.
It is convening a ministerial meeting next week for the first time with representatives of China and Canada to discuss climate issues.
The inference in this is that Asia, Europe and the Americas are prepared to move ahead on climate without the US. Some observers in Bonn welcomed the move.
"This is our hour of need, when we need to see other countries stepping up to ensure that the world remains on course," said Mohammed Adow from Christian Aid
"What we've heard is a clear, strong message from Europe that it is going to help cultivate the diplomatic leadership that is required to keep the world on course.
"Climate change won't wait until we have a better leader in the White House or until the White House gets serious about its commitments because we know the world is warming."
However, others were somewhat worried that overtly trying to force the issue might be the wrong approach, given the temperamental nature of the current US president.
"I think pressure may well be the wrong tactic right now," said Elliot Diringer, a Clinton-era White House press spokesman and a former member of US delegations to the UN climate talks.
"Decision-making in this White House is highly unpredictable and the president can react defensively when pushed against the wall.
"I think the better approach is to encourage the US to stay in and be as ambitious as it can be."
A decision on future US participation is likely after next week's G7 summit in Taormina,

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Washed Up Killer Whale Is Most Polluted Animal On Earth



Image result for contaminated washed up whale

A DEAD KILLER WHALE THAT WASHED UP ON THE SHORE OF A SCOTTISH ISLAND LAST JANUARY WAS THE MOST POLLUTED ANIMAL EVER SEEN ON EARTH, ACCORDING TO A NEWLY RELEASED REPORT. THE WHALE HAD THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF POLYCHLORINATED BIPHENALS, OR PBCS, EVER RECORDED IN AN ANIMAL, ACCORDING TO THE SCOTTISH MARINE ANIMAL STRANDING SCHEME.


An analysis of the orca, who scientists named Lulu, revealed that her blubber had concentrations of PBC 100 time higher than the threshold for marine mammals. And despite being at least 20 years old, the whales ovaries showed she had never reproduced, likely the result of such a toxic concentration of pollutants in her body.
“Previous studies have shown that killer whale populations can have very high PCB burdens, but the levels in this case are some of the highest we’ve ever seen,” said Dr. Andrew Brownlow, head of the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme. “We know Lulu died from becoming entangled, but given what is known about the toxic effects of PCBs, we have to consider that such a high pollutant burden could have been affecting her health and reproductive fitness.”
PCBS, chemicals used in electrical and industrial equipment, were used liberally starting in the 1920s. From then until 1979, an estimated 1.5 billion pounds of PCBs were manufactured, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The U.S. government banned the chemicals in 1979 after researchers discovered they were harmful to humans and the environment. But to this day, they’re still leaching into oceans and other habitats. Researchers found PCBs in the furthest reaches of the planet, more than 36,000 feet down in the ocean, according to a study published in February.
“Once PCBs get into the marine environment, they are difficult if not impossible to remove,” said Brownlow. “They accumulate through food webs and persist over time.”
The pervasiveness of the chemicals does not bode well for the pod that Lulu came from. A small group of only eight whales typically seen off the west coast of Scotland, a recorded calf birth hasn’t been seen in the 23 years that scientists have been monitoring it.
“Lulus apparent infertility is an ominous finding for the long term survivability of this group. With no new animals being born, It is now looking increasingly likely that this small group will eventually go extinct,” said Brownlow. “One of the factors in this group’s apparent failure to reproduce could be their high burden of organic pollutants.”
Whales and dolphins have been washing up on beaches around the world with stomachs full of plastic bags and other plastic materials which, their digestive tracts cannot digest, break down or expel from their bodies.
If pollution of our oceans and forests continue unabated for a couple more centuries, all animals in the wild will become extinct, except perhaps all species of insects. Insects have a remarkable adaptivity. So it will be us and the bugs vying for disappearing food, water, and habitat.  And then it will just be the bugs, until it gets too hot on the planet for them to survive. What a splendid future for our descendants.

Stop before it's too late



Monday, May 1, 2017

Sign NOW to urge the White House to stay in the Paris Climate Agreement!

Urge the White House to Stay In and Support the Invaluable Paris Climate Agreement  http://genun.unausa.org/paris_agreement

The United States was a leader in crafting the historic Paris Climate Agreement, but now the U.S. administration is debating whether or not to back out of it. It’s up to us to urge U.S. leaders to maintain our momentum in this vital climate accord.

The Paris Agreement unites all nations around a common goal for our planet: to reduce the pollution that is changing the earth’s climate and causing dangerous global warming that affects human health and our environment. But U.S. participation in the agreement is under threat.

No nation can afford to slow its efforts in the fight against global warming, which is already impacting the United States and countries around the globe.This isn’t just about the environment – this is about health, jobs, national security, the economy, and so much more.

The United States can’t afford for other countries to take the lead on the new climate economy, and the world cannot afford for the United States to abandon its role as a global leader in meeting this challenge.

The administration is currently reconsidering America's role in the climate agreement, so there’s no time to lose. We’re gathering and delivering signatures to top White House officials at the end of this month, and we need you to join us!
Add your voice NOW to urge the White House to stay in and support an ambitious Paris Agreement.  http://genun.unausa.org/paris_agreement

Sunday, April 30, 2017

EPA Wipes Its Climate Change Site as Tens of Thousands March in Washington



Protesters march away from the US Capitol on Saturday in Washington.
Washington


Thousands march through Chicago on 100th day of Trump presidency
Chicago
Toronto
One of my favorite Toronto groups....The Raging Grannies
A woman holds a sign in her right hand reading "dump trump" with a photo of trump's face crossed out on it
Boston
A lane of the highway in los angeles is packed with protesters
Los Angles

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s main climate change website is “undergoing changes” to better reflect “the agency’s new direction” under Donald Trump.
The announcement, made late Friday evening, left empty what was previously the “official government site” providing “comprehensive information on the issue of climate change and global warming”.
The change came a day before thousands gathered in Washington DC and other U.S. cities to protest inaction on climate change, and hours before the symbolic 100-day mark of the Trump administration. In fact demonstrations took place in many countries to protest Mr Trump's attitude.
At the marquee climate protest, the Peoples Climate March in Washington, tens of thousands made their way down Pennsylvania Avenue in sweltering heat on their way to encircle the White House. Temperatures neared 90 degrees Saturday, well above the average high of 71 degrees for April 29, according to Weather.com. It seems global warming was sending it's own message to Mr Trump.
Organizers said about 300 sister marches or rallies were being held around the country, including in Seattle, Boston, Denver and San Francisco. In Chicago, marchers headed from the city’s federal plaza to Trump Tower.
Some of the marches drew celebrity attendees, including former Vice President Al Gore and actor Leonardo DiCaprio in the capital and senator and former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination Bernie Sanders at an event in Montpelier, Vermont.
“Honored to join Indigenous leaders and native peoples as they fight for climate justice,” DiCaprio tweeted.
Any marchers who used their phones to look at the EPA climate change website would have been greeted with a message from the new administration: “ This page is being updated.”
“As EPA renews its commitment to human health and clean air, land and water, our website needs to reflect the views of the leadership of the agency,” said JP Freire, an associate administrator for public affairs.
Previously, the website housed data on greenhouse gas emissions from large polluters and reports on the effects of climate change and its impact on human health.
“We want to eliminate confusion,” Freire said, “by removing outdated language first and making room to discuss how we’re protecting the environment and human health by partnering with states and working within the law.”
Information from previous administrations is archived as a link from the EPA’s website.
The EPA is currently led by Scott Pruitt, a former Oklahoma attorney general who has denied that carbon dioxide causes global warming.
The Trump administration has called for budget cuts of nearly one-third at the EPA and has sought to weaken protections for human health. For instance, the White House has proposed cutting funding and regulations regarding lead poisoning prevention and is considering rewriting regulations concerning smog.
It has already rolled back a law that prevented coal mining companies from dumping waste in streams.
An article written by Senator Sanders of Vermont made an economic case for a focus on industries meant to ameliorate the effects of climate change, rather than those which contribute to it.
The senator wrote: “No matter what agenda President Trump and his administration of climate deniers push, it is clear that jobs in clean energy like wind and solar are growing much more rapidly than jobs in the coal, oil and gas sectors.”
The truth is that Mr Trump cannot halt progress on climate change, alternate fuels and energy sources. He cannot turn back the clock or obliterate scientific knowledge. If he thinks  he can blindside the American people he is very much mistaken; there are too many intelligent and informed citizens our there.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Plastic eating caterpillars could be the answer to plastic waste in oceans and landfills

Wax worm caterpillars in petri dish
plastic eating caterpillars

In a chance discovery, a research team from Europe has learned that a common insect larva is capable of breaking down the plastic found in shopping bags and other polyethylene-based products. This trash-munching caterpillar could inspire scientists to develop a new chemical process to tackle the growing problem of plastic waste.
Advertisement

Beekeepers are all too familiar with the larvae of the moth Galleria Mellonella, also known as the wax moth. This daring insect has the audacity to lay its eggs inside of bee hives, where they hatch and thrive on beeswax. But as a new study published in Current Biology shows, these caterpillars are not just capable of breaking down beeswax, they can also break down plastic—and that’s probably not a coincidence. The chemical processes are likely similar, and researchers are now excited by the prospect of developing a biotechnological approach to the plastic waste that chokes oceans, rivers, and landfills.



Like so many other scientific discoveries, this one was assisted by a bit of luck. Study co-author Federica Bertocchini of the Spanish National Research Council happens to be an amateur beekeeper. While removing the parasitic pests from the honeycombs in her beehives, she noticed that the plastic bags she used to store the caterpillars became riddled with holes in less than an hour. Like the good scientist that she is, she decided to investigate further, recruiting biochemist Paolo Bombelli from the University of Cambridge to help out.
In experiments, the researchers exposed 100 caterpillars to a plastic polyethylene bag obtained at a UK supermarket. After just 40 minutes, holes began to appear in the bag, and after 12 hours the larvae had managed to reduce the amount of plastic by as much as 92 milligrams. That’s incredibly fast—even faster than the plastic-munching bacteria reported last year, which were capable of biodegrading plastic at a rate of 0.13 mg per day.

In subsequent tests, the researchers ground the caterpillars into a paste, smearing it onto the plastic. The bags degraded in a similar fashion, indicating that chemicals in the caterpillar’s body—likely in the gut—are responsible for the action. Naturally, this has the researchers excited, and they’ve already filed a patent on their discovery.
“If a single enzyme is responsible for this chemical process, its reproduction on a large scale using biotechnological methods should be achievable,” said Bombelli in a statement. “This discovery could be an important tool for helping to get rid of the polyethylene plastic waste accumulated in landfill sites and oceans.”
Indeed, plastic waste is a growing problem. Around 80 million tons of polyethylene is produced each year around the world, and it takes an inordinate amount of time—upwards of a hundred years—for this substance to degrade completely. Researchers are now looking to nature to find ways of boosting the speed at which we can degrade this stuff. In addition to bacteria, scientists have also discovered plastic-eating fungi.

Nature may have stumbled upon an answer to our plastic problem, but we still need to figure out how these creatures do it if we’re to ramp their biological processes up to an industrial scale.
“The caterpillar produces something that breaks the chemical bond, perhaps in its salivary glands or a symbiotic bacteria in its gut,” said Bombelli. “The next steps for us will be to try and identify the molecular processes in this reaction and see if we can isolate the enzyme responsible.”
Obviously, the caterpillars didn’t evolve to eat plastic. It just so happens that their wax-munching skills also work on human trash. Call it a happy accident.

Scientists and believers around the world... march for science



Thousands of protesters fill Tom McCall Waterfront Park during the March for Science in Portland, Oregon, on Saturday, April 22. Protests were held in cities around the world against President Donald Trump's policies.

London science march

Science protesters in London

Science protesters in London

Crowds massed in the US capital and around the world Saturday to support science and evidence-based research -- a protest partly fueled by opposition to President Donald Trump's threats of budget cuts to agencies funding scientists' work.
At the main March for Science, demonstrators gathered at Washington's National Mall to hear speakers laud science as the force moving humanity forward, and rail against policymakers they say are ignoring fact and research in areas including climate change.

A woman protestor holding signs

A dog wearing a banner at the protests

"Today we have a great many lawmakers -- not just here but around the world -- deliberately ignoring and actively suppressing science," one of the event's speakers, TV host and scientist Bill Nye, told a rain-soaked crowd from a stage.
"Their inclination is misguided and in no one's best interest. Our lives are in every way improved by having clean water, reliable electricity and access to electronic global information."
Besides the Washington march, organizers said more than 600 "satellite" marches were taking place globally in a protest timed to coincide with Earth Day.

Thousands participate in the National March for Science in Rome, Italy, on Earth Day.

The march, whose beginnings reflect the viral birth of the Women's March on Washington, was billed by its organizers as political but nonpartisan. But many messages were leveled at Trump and his party, which holds majorities in Congress. Scientists have raised alarms over Trump's budget blueprint, which would cut $12.6 billion from the Department of Health and Human Services, including $5.8 billion from the National Institutes of Health alone.
One speaker said the administration "tries but fails to silence scientists." Several contrasted rationality and scientific thought to "alternative facts," a phrase that's attracted popular derision since a White House aide uttered it.
With the White House in view, protesters held signs with messages such as "In peer review we trust" and "It's the environment, stupid."

 
Germany's Neumayer Station is an active research institute in Antarctica. During the Antarctic summer, the station houses up to 50 scientific researchers and support staff.
With the Antarctic winter drawing near, a very small "overwintering" team remains there to conduct research and maintain the station.
On Saturday, this skeleton crew traveled out into the 20°F temperatures and 26 mph gusts to join their voices in support with crowds gathering around the world. Marches for Science have taken place on all seven continents.
Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood," reads a quote from renowned scientist Marie Curie on the banner they held. "Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less."

 
MEANWHILE, their colleagues in the Arctic Circle at the other end of the globe ... conducting research in Norway's scientific village of  Ny-Ă…lesund, braved the 27°F temperatures and spoke out with their fellow scientists in Antarctica and the other marchers around the world, on Saturday.
Standing around a large bust of Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen, they unfurled a banner that read, "Somewhere something incredible is waiting to be known." 
Besides the main march in Washington, organizers said more than 600 "satellite" marches took place globally in a protest timed to coincide with Earth Day.
The crowds of people marching Saturday in Rio, Berlin, Washington, Boston, London and Paris, among other places, are voicing support of science and evidence-based research in a protest fueled by opposition to President Donald Trump's environmental and energy policies, which are selfish, uninformed, blind and motivated by industry...
AND SUCK!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Piracy of a river due to climate change




A team of scientists say a melting glacier in Canada's Yukon has caused a river to completely change course. Their findings, published in Nature Geoscience, show how climate change can cause surprising geological events.
The Slims River once flowed out to the Bering Sea, but now it flows into the Kaskawulsh River instead. This phenomenon, known as "river piracy", typically takes centuries but the study documented it over the course of one spring.
"Nobody's ever seen a river piracy occur in modern times, at least to my knowledge," lead author Dan Shugar told the BBC.
The geoscientist at the University of Washington Tacoma says he and six researchers from Canadian and American universities had planned to study the Slims River last summer.



An aerial photo shows the meltwater stream along the toe of Kaskawulsh Glacier, seen on the left, that is diverting fresh water from one river to the other

But when they arrived in the Yukon it was barely flowing. They discovered that a small channel had eroded from abnormal, rapid melting in a large glacier that fed a number of small lakes. Glaciers provide a vital source of fresh water lakes.
The glacial lakes used to feed two river systems - the Slims River and the Kaskawulsh River - but when water from one lake poured through the channel into another, it cut the Slims off from its water source.
The event is known as river piracy or stream capture, and often takes thousands of years. But the researchers documented the piracy of the Slims River and it took just one spring. With global warming, a water source can vanish that quickly.
Prof Shugar said his colleague, John Clague, at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, had predicted this event just a decade before because of the area's unique geological formation. But no one knew when or how quickly the stream capture would occur.
River gauges show an abrupt four-day drop in late May 2016, which then continued over the summer, the study found.
By the time Prof Shugar and his associates got there, the Slims was basically just "a long, skinny lake".
"The Slims River was essentially cut off from how it was flowing before," he said.
The change in the river's flow affected the whole landscape. Sheep are now grazing on the exposed river bank, while other rivers in the area are running high. Fish population, wildlife and lake chemistry will continue to be affected, the study noted.
In the big picture, Prof Shugar said, the piracy of the Slims is a reminder that climate change "may bring surprises that we are not appreciating fully and that we're not necessarily prepared for".

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Opossum Appreciation Day ( I just invented it )



At night, when you catch sight of an opossum in your car headlights, you are allowed to think, "That is one ugly little animal."

But what opossums lack in looks, they make up in originality. They're a southern species -- proper name Virginia opossum -- that's adapted to New England  and Canadian winters. They're one of the oldest species of mammal around, having waddled past dinosaurs.
They eat grubs and insects and even mice, working over the environment like little vacuum cleaners.
"They really eat whatever they find," said Laura Simon, wildlife ecologist with the U.S. Humane Society.
And they're an animal whose first line of defense includes drooling and a wicked hissing snarl -- a bluff -- followed by fainting dead away and "playing possum."
"They are just interesting critters," said Mark Clavette, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
And now ecologists have learned something else about opossums. They're a sort of magnet when it comes to riding the world of black-legged ticks, which spread Lyme disease.
"Don't hit opossums if they've playing dead in the road," said Richard Ostfeld, of the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y.

Ostfeld is forest ecologist and an expert on the environmental elements of infectious diseases like Lyme disease. Several years ago, scientists decided to learn about the part different mammals play in the spread of the ticks and the disease.
They tested six species -- white-footed mice, chipmunks, squirrels, opossums and veerys and catbirds -- by capturing and caging them, and then exposing each test subject to 100 ticks. What they found, is that of the six, the opossums were remarkably good at getting rid of the ticks -- much more so that any of the others.
"I had no suspicion they'd be such efficient tick-killing animals," Ostfeld said.
Indeed, among other opossum traits, there is this: They groom themselves fastidiously, like cats. If they find a tick, they lick it off and swallow it. (The research team on the project went through droppings to find this out. All praise to those who study possum poop.)
Extrapolating from their findings, Ostfeld said, the team estimated that in one season, an opossum can kill about 5,000 ticks.
What ecologists are learning is how complex the interaction of ticks and mammals can be.
For example, foxes probably serve as a host for ticks seeking a blood meal. But foxes are great at killing white-footed mice -- the species in the environment credited with being the chief reservoir of the Lyme bacteria.
Likewise, Ostfeld said, opossums, waddling around at night, pick up lots of ticks. Some ticks end up getting their blood meal from the possum. But more than 90 percent of them ended up being groomed away and swallowed.
"They're net destroyers of ticks," Ostfeld said.
For Simon, of the U.S. Humane Society, the Cary Institute research is a welcome justification to just leave opossums be.
"People are so hard on them," she said.
That's in part because people think oppossums might be rabid when they drool and hiss and carry on when threatened.
In fact, and this is breaking news, 'opossums are resistant to rabies'. So, please leave the ugly little guys alone. People tend to dispose them as if they were rats. They are valuable to the environment. They can't help being ugly.
You owe me one...Possums.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Trudeau an environmental hypocrite

Image result for images of trudeau


Justin Trudeau’s support for more oil pipelines and tar sands drilling is at loggerheads with his image as Canada’s progressive, environmentally concerned  prime minister, according to a top environmentalist.
In an op-ed published Monday in The Guardian, 350.org founder Bill McKibben called Trudeau a “stunning hypocrite” on global warming.
“When it comes to the defining issue of our day, climate change, he’s a brother to the old orange guy in DC,” McKibben wrote.
He said Trudeau was “hard at work pushing for new pipelines through Canada and the US to carry yet more oil out of Alberta’s tarsands, which is one of the greatest climate disasters on the planet.”
Tar sands ― a noxious mix of sand, clay and bitumen, a viscous oil ― are considered one of the dirtiest fossil fuels. The controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which Trump jump-started days after taking office in January, would funnel a daily load of 830,000 barrels of tar sands oil to refineries in Texas, producing emissions equal to putting 5.6 million new cars on the road, according to estimates by the environmental nonprofit Friends of the Earth.
A spokesperson for Trudeau did not reply to a request for comment. In 2015, former President Barack Obama rejected pipeline-builder TransCanada’s application to construct the Keystone XL after a seven-year deliberation. Trudeau cheered Trump’s decision to reconsider the pipeline.
“I reiterated my support for the project. I’ve been on the record for many years supporting [Keystone XL] because it leads to economic growth and good jobs for Albertans,” Trudeau told reporters on Jan. 24, when Trump signed an executive action inviting TransCanada to reapply.
 “We know we can get our resources to market more safely and responsibly while meeting our climate change goals.”
To be sure, the Trudeau administration has made significant moves to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels. In November, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced plans to phase out most coal-fired power plants by 2030. Some coal power stations would remain, equipped with carbon-capture technology that has yet to be proved reliable. Nevertheless, the Canadian government forecasts carbon emissions falling by 5 megatons ― equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the road ― if the plan is fully implemented.
In December, Trudeau announced a nationwide minimum price on carbon of about 10 Canadian dollars, or about $7.53 per metric ton. By next year, the administration plans to roll out either a tax on fossil fuels or a cap-and-trade system to exact the levy.
Still, McKibben urged Trudeau’s fans to “stop swooning” over the prime minister, whom he called a “disaster for the planet.”
“Trump is a danger and unpleasant to look at, but at least he’s not a stunning hypocrite,” McKibben wrote, before concluding: “Trump’s insulting the planet, in other words. But at least he’s not pretending to do otherwise.”