Friday, October 19, 2018


A long-awaited study by the EPA finds that fracking has "led to impacts on drinking water resources, including contamination of drinking water wells".

After years of asserting that hydraulic fracturing has never tainted drinking water, the Obama administration issued a long-awaited study of the controversial oil and gas production technique that confirmed "specific instances" when fracking "led to impacts on drinking water resources, including contamination of drinking water wells." The conclusion was central to a nearly 1,000-page draft assessment issued, finally, onThursday by the Environmental Protection Agency to address public concerns about the possible effects of fracking on drinking water.
  In the past, top administration officials such as former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz maintained that there was no evidence fracking had fouled drinking water, despite findings to the contrary by EPA's own scientists in several highly publicized cases. The acknowledgment of instances of fracking-related contamination marks a notable reversal for the administration. "Today EPA confirmed what communities living with fracking have known for years: fracking pollutes drinking water," said Earthworks policy director Lauren Pagel. "Now the Trump administration, Congress and state governments should act on that information to protect our drinking water, and stop perpetuating the oil and gas industry's myth that fracking is safe."

EPA officials said the study is not meant to provide a comprehensive tally of water contamination incidents. There is no national database of the number of wells fracked or contamination incidents at oil and gas sites.
For 40 years, Congress and successive administrations have exempted the oil and gas sector from a host of federal pollution rules that would require detailed reporting of its activities. As a result, the report stitches together a piecemeal picture of fracking-related incidents. It relies on several case studies involving a handful of major incidents, such as a well blowout in Killdeer, N.D., that state regulators investigated. It also uses state data for possible contamination events, such as spills of fracking fluid at well pads, which EPA acknowledges provides a limited scope of the problem. "The spills occurred between January 2006 and April 2012 in 11 states and included 151 cases in which fracturing fluids or chemicals spilled on or near a well pad," the study said.

"This is a study of how we can best protect our water resources," said Dr. Thomas A. Burke, EPA's science adviser and deputy assistant administrator of the Office of Research and Development, which conducted the study. As far as fracking goes, Burke said during a press conference, "it's not a question of safe or unsafe." Launched five years ago at the behest of Congress, the water study was supposed to provide critical information about the method's safety "so that the American people can be confident that their drinking water is pure and uncontaminated," said a top EPA official at a 2011 hearing. But the report was delayed repeatedly, largely because the EPA failed to nail down a key component: a baseline, sampling of water before, during and after fracking. Such data would have allowed EPA researchers to gauge whether fracking affects water quality over time, and to provide best industry practices that protect drinking water. EPA had planned to conduct such research, but its efforts were stymied by oil and gas companies' unwillingness to allow EPA scientists to monitor their activities. As a result, the study does not offer enough new data about fracking's effects, said several scientists who research oil and gas development's impact on water.
Rather, the EPA report provides an overview of cases of fracking-related water pollution investigated by state regulators. "It's comprehensive in its treatment of the literature, but it's not very comprehensive in bringing new research or data from the field," said Robert Jackson, professor of environment and energy at Stanford University. "That's my biggest disappointment: They didn't do prospective studies, they didn't do well monitoring, they didn't do much field research. I don't feel like we have a lot of new information here." Despite its conclusion that fracking has not led to water contamination at every fracking site, the report nonetheless catalogues risks to drinking water at every step of the process: from acquiring water to use in stimulating the well and mixing the fracking chemicals with the water to constructing wells, injecting the fracking fluid into the well, and handling of fracking waste water that flows back up the well. The risks are ever present.

Further, the study confirmed problems that independent researchers have identified over the last five years in peer-reviewed scientific literature. The EPA cited the high number of chemical spills on well pads in places such as Colorado, where fracking fluid could leach into the water table. It confirmed the migration of methane into some people's drinking water in Pennsylvania. Moreover, it noted that oil and gas companies, especially in the West, frack in underground sources of drinking water––or formations where pockets of water and hydrocarbons weave through each other.
Industry has denied such types of fracking. But Jackson and his Stanford colleague Dominic DiGiulio presented research at a conference last year that said oil and gas companies are fracking at much shallower depths than widely believed, sometimes through the underground water sites. The issues with fracking contamination will increase with the expected expansion in fracking for oil and gas unless legislation is passed to control abuses and regulate fracking processes.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Why Half a Degree of Global Warming Is a Big Deal

The Earth has already warmed 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) since the 19th century. Now, a major new United Nations report has looked at the consequences of jumping to 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius.

Half a degree may not sound like much. But as the report details, even that much warming could expose tens of millions more people worldwide to life-threatening heat waves, water shortages and coastal flooding. Half a degree may mean the difference between a world with coral reefs and Arctic summer sea ice and a world without them.
Illustration of globe centered on Arctic with ice melting.
Status of Arctic summer sea ice:
1.5°C  Sea ice will remain during most summers      2°C  Ice-free summers are 10 times more likely
An additional half-degree of warming could mean greater habitat losses for polar bears, whales, seals and sea birds. But warming temperatures could benefit Arctic fisheries.
                                     Extreme heat
llustration of people figures being engulfed by growing heat blob.
World population exposed to severe heat    waves (like one that blanketed southeastern
Europe in 2007) at least once every five years:
1.5°C     About 14%   of world population      2°C    About 37%      of world population
Extreme heat will be much more common worldwide under 2°C of warming compared to 1.5°C, with the tropics experiencing the biggest increase in the number of “highly unusual” hot days.
Water scarcity
Illustration of river flow shrinking.
Increase in urban population    exposed to severe drought:
1.5°C       +350 million      people worldwide       2°C     +411 million    people worldwide
The Mediterranean region is expected to see “particularly strong increases in dryness” in a 2°C world compared to a 1.5°C world.
                                      Plants and animals
Illustration of insects with shrinking area.
Species losing more than half of their range:
6% of insects               8% of plants                4%of vertebrates
18% of insects             16% of plants              8% of vertebrates
                                                 Coral reefs
Illustration of bleaching coral.
Status of coral reefs worldwide:
1.5°C         “Very frequent mass mortalities”          2°C          Coral reefs “mostly disappear”
                                         Sea level rise
Illustration of ruler, measuring 1.5°C sea-level rise versu 2°C.
Population exposed to flooding from sea
level rise in 2100 (without adaptation):

1.5°C       31 to 69 million      people worldwide      2°C     32 to 80 million       people worldwide
A half a degree of warming could be significant for small island nations, which are particularly vulnerable to sea level rise and other climate change impacts.
Illustration of wilting corn crop.
Global crop yields are expected to be lower under 2°C of warming compared to 1.5°C, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central and South America.

Small changes, big impacts
The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, compiled by hundreds of scientists from around the world, warns that these dangers are no longer remote or hypothetical.

Nations have delayed curbing their greenhouse gas emissions for so long that warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) is now all but inevitable. At current rates of warming, the world will likely cross the 1.5 degree threshold between 2030 and 2052, well within the lifetime of most adults and children alive today.

And 1.5 degrees is a best-case scenario. Without an extremely rapid, and perhaps unrealistic, global push to zero out fossil fuel emissions and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher this century looks more likely.

Each time the Earth heats up an extra half-degree, the effects aren’t uniform across the planet. Some regions, such as the Arctic, will heat up two to three times faster. The Mediterranean and Middle East regions could see a 9 percent drop in water availability at 1.5 degrees of warming and a 17 percent drop at 2 degrees, according to one major study cited in the report.

“If you’re looking at this one region, which is already water-scarce today and sees a lot of political instability, half a degree makes a really big difference,” said Carl-Friedrich Schleussner, the head of climate science and impacts at Climate Analytics and the lead author of that study. “It’s a good reminder that no one experiences the global average temperature.”

The odds of extreme weather events like severe heat waves or powerful rainstorms also don’t go up uniformly with an extra half-degree. The number of extremely hot days around the world, for example, tends to rise exponentially as the global average temperature increases, the report said.

The risk of tipping points
The report also highlights the possibility that even modest amounts of warming may push both human societies and natural ecosystems past certain thresholds where sudden and calamitous changes can occur.

Take coral reefs, which provide food and coastal protection for half a billion people worldwide. Before the 1970s, it was virtually unheard-of for ocean temperatures to get so warm that swaths of corals would bleach and die off. But as global average temperatures have risen half a degree in that span, these bleaching events have become a regular phenomenon.

With an additional half-degree of warming above today’s levels, the report said, tropical coral reefs will face “very frequent mass mortalities,” though some corals may adapt if given enough time. But at 2 degrees of total warming, coral reefs are in danger of vanishing entirely.

It is less certain when other long-feared tipping points will occur, such as the irreversible disintegration of the vast ice sheets on top of Greenland or West Antarctica. But the report warns that these ice sheets could potentially start to destabilize with 1.5 to 2 degrees of warming, committing the world to many more feet of sea level rise for centuries to come.

The report also warns that vulnerable areas, like many African countries and small island nations, may struggle to cope with multiple impacts. Crop failures, heat waves and the expansion of malaria-carrying mosquitoes compound when they occur together.

“You’re not just adapting to one thing at a time, you’re adapting to everything shifting at once,” said Kristie L. Ebi, a professor of public health at the University of Washington and one of the lead authors of the report’s chapter on climate impacts.

Beyond 1.5 degrees
At the United Nations climate negotiations in Paris in 2015, countries promised to hold total global warming to well below 2 degrees and agreed to “pursue efforts” to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. Leaders of small island nations, like the Marshall Islands and Maldives, had deemed that lower goal essential to their survival.

At this point, however, both goals are starting to look wildly out of reach. If you add up all the national pledges made in Paris to curb emissions, they would put the world on track to warm around 3 degrees Celsius or more.

Holding warming to 1.5 degrees, the report said, would entail a staggering transformation of the global energy system beyond what world leaders are contemplating today. Global greenhouse emissions would need to fall in half in just 12 years and zero out by 2050. To stay below 2 degrees, emissions have to decline to zero by around 2075. Virtually all of the coal plants and gasoline-burning vehicles on the planet would need to be quickly replaced with zero-carbon alternatives.

In addition, the report said, the world would have to swiftly develop and deploy technology to remove billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year — using technology that is still untested at large scales.

“My view is that 2 degrees is aspirational and 1.5 degrees is ridiculously aspirational” said Gary Yohe, an environmental economist at Wesleyan University. “They are good targets to aim for, but we need to face the fact that we might not hit them and start thinking more seriously about what a 2.5 degree or 3 degree world might look like.”

Thanx Brad Plumer ---Nadja Popovich

Knight Jonny C

Friday, October 12, 2018

Did global warming 'supercharge' Hurricane Michael?

Doyle Rice  
Hurricane Michael exploded in intensity this week, from a rather nondescript tropical depression Sunday with winds of 35 mph to a Category 4 monster Wednesday with 155 winds.

When it hit land, it became the most powerful hurricane on record to slam Florida's Panhandle and the third-strongest U.S. landfall of all time.

Along with other weather factors, Michael's rapid intensification was fueled in part by unusually warm sea water in the Gulf of Mexico. Warm water of at least 80 degrees fuels hurricanes, and the water in the eastern Gulf this week was as much as 4 to 5 degrees warmer than normal.

Although random weather patterns certainly played a role, the warm waters in the Gulf have a “human fingerprint” of climate change, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate and hurricane expert Jim Kossin.
Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday as a Category 4 storm, killing several people and causing devastating damage. Now a tropical storm, Michael has swept through Georgia and is headed for the Atlantic Coast but is expected to remain dangerous through Friday. 

(Pictured) A family sits by a lantern outside their antique shop during the power outage in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael on Oct. 11 in Panama City, Fla.

Penn State University climatologist Michael Mann told ThinkProgress that "once again we see a storm undergoing extreme rapid intensification over unusually warm ocean waters. We saw this pattern last year with Harvey and earlier this year with Florence and now, with my namesake, Michael.” meteorologist Ryan Maue said "there's no doubt the ocean water encountered by Michael was quite warm compared to the last three decades, especially near the coast."

Maue analyzed early October water temperatures in the eastern Gulf and found that when comparing data from 1985-2005 to data from 2006-2018, the average temperature rose nearly 1 degree.

He said the cause of the rise is still a research puzzle and that "more detailed climate analysis is needed to better understand what has happened over the past 12 years across the Gulf of Mexico."  

Several recent scientific studies say that hurricanes are intensifying more rapidly than they used to. One study this year in Geophysical Research Letters said that since 1986, the rate of intensification of storms like Michael has increased by about 13 mph. 

A 2015 study on how ocean temperatures affect hurricane intensity in the North Atlantic found intensification increases by 16 percent for every 1.8 degree increase in average sea-surface temperatures, ThinkProgress reported.

Regardless of the cause, “Michael saw our worst fears realized, of rapid intensification just before landfall on a part of a coastline that has never experienced a Category 4 hurricane,” University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said.
Thanx Doyle Rice

Crusader Jenny , Nanook & Knight Mika
This is only the beginning--------------------

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Could you stop eating beef to save the earth???

Image result for funny pictures of cows
If you’re not going to give up all of the meat, scientists say, you at the very least should consider cutting down on your beef consumption.

Researchers at Bard College, the Weizmann Institute of Science and Yale University calculated the environmental footprint of animal products in the U.S. food production system, from the resources needed to produce the feed that goes into their bodies to the emissions produced by the manure that comes out. Beef, they concluded, is worse for the planet than all of the other meats. Way worse. According to the study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the amount of greenhouse gases released by beef production is five times that of poultry, pork, eggs and dairy averaged together. It also requires 28 times more land, 11 times more water and six times more nitrogen fertilizer.

The researchers are framing their findings as an attainable way to green up our diets: while meat, in general, is much harder on the climate than grains and vegetables, convincing people to go vegan or vegetarian may be less doable than getting them to cut down on the worst offenders. And that would be the burgers. “Really, there’s no question about it,” Gidon Eshel, a research professor at the Bard Center for Environmental Policy and the study’s lead author, told the Huffington Post. ”Reduce beef whenever possible.”

“The biggest intervention people could make towards reducing their carbon footprints would not be to abandon cars, but to eat significantly less red meat,” concurred Tim Benton, a scientist at the University of Leeds, in an interview with the Guardian. Benton referred to another study, out last week, that showed how beef is wasting calories that could be better allocated to people suffering from hunger. The researchers behind that one reached the same conclusion: Cutting down on steaks and burgers — or eliminating them from our diets completely — has the potential to make a significant impact on  carbon production.
So put that hamburger down!

Friday, October 5, 2018

From London to Shanghai, world's sinking cities face devastating floods

The threat to major population centers is increasing as planners fail to prepare for impacts of global warming, report says
Flood victims in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2011.
Flood victims in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2011. Like many other major cities across the globe, Bangkok is sinking – which puts it at increasing danger from sea level rises. Photograph: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
London, Jakarta, Shanghai and Houston and other global cities that are already sinking will become increasingly vulnerable to storms and flooding as a result of global warming, campaigners have warned ahead of a landmark new report on climate science.The threat to cities from sea level rises is increasing because city planners are failing to prepare, the charity Christian Aid said in the report. Some big cities are already subsiding – the ground beneath Shanghai, for instance, is being pressed down by the sheer weight of the buildings above – and rising sea levels resulting from global warming will make the effects worse.

The cities named in the report are sinking for a variety of reasons. Jakarta is thought to be subsiding by 25cm a year largely because of groundwater extraction, and Houston is sinking as the oil wells beneath it are depleted. Bangkok’s skyscrapers are weighing it down, while London is slowly sinking for geological reasons: Scotland is slowly rebounding and rising after having been weighed down by glaciers during the last ice age, which is, in turn, pushing southern England downwards just like a 
see-saw.The warning comes as the world’s leading climate scientists meet this week in South Korea to finalize a comprehensive study setting out whether and how the world can avoid temperature rises of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the body of scientists convened by the UN, has been asked to examine the consequences of such a rise and assess what progress can be made to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The world has already warmed by roughly 1C from pre-industrial levels, and sea levels could rise by 40cm if that increases to 1.5C, previous science from the IPCC has suggested. Sharp brakes on greenhouse gas production are expected to be needed to halt the rise.
Under the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change, governments pledged to hold warming to no more than 2C, with an aspiration not to surpass 1.5C, based on previous IPCC advice. The new IPCC report, to be published on Monday, is expected to show that remaining within the 1.5C limit is still possible but only with strong action to reduce carbon in the atmosphere.                          

Christian Aid, one of many organizations publishing studies to coincide with the IPCC’s judgment, looked at the consequences of a 1.5C rise for a selection of eight major cities around the world. The report concludes that poor development choices are exacerbating cities’ vulnerability to weather shocks. They should plan city development around preparing for future flooding.
Kat Kramer of Christian Aid, who wrote the report, said: “These global metropolises may look strong and stable, but it is a mirage. As sea levels rise, they are increasingly under threat and under water.”
Dozens of the world’s biggest cities are built in coastal areas and near major rivers, making them vulnerable not just to sea level rises but also to storm surges, which can send high seas inland and past maritime defenses.
 The UK and the Netherlands experienced such a storm in 1953, when high tides and a storm surge inundated coastal regions. If similar weather were to strike today, the damage could be much greater despite sea defences, because of rising sea levels and the increased severity of storms that is likely to result from climate change. It is a fact most of the largest cities in the world are close to the sea or great rivers for ease of shipping commerce and trade with other countries. Also for fishing industries, tourist industries and many more industries dependent on water. Now we know that sea walls are not adequate to hold back the angry oceans and eventually our biggest cities will be gone like Atlantis unless our engineers put their knowledge to work to protect them.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Killer whales in grave danger

killer whale orca

People really like killer whales — from the popularity of whale watching and movies like “Free Willy,” to the recent viral tale of a killer whale carrying its dead calf for over two weeks off the coast of Vancouver, British Columbia.
That makes the possible population collapse of these iconic creatures even more distressing.
A paper in the Sept. 28 issue of Science says killer whales are at great risk, but not from climate change, loss of habitat or loss of their prey. It will be due to something that sounds very 1970s – PCB, or polychlorinated biphenyl. Another harmful human invention.

Image result for images of killer whales

PCB Passed On Through Generations

PCBs are human-made chemicals used for making plastics, electronics, lubricants, heat transformers and other materials and technology. In the late 1970s, studies showed the harmful effects of PCB on humans and on wildlife, such as birds, otters and seals.
In 1979, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned the chemicals. European agencies followed suit over the next decade.
But PCB is still being produced, and marine animals high on the food chain, like killer whales and sharks, are being harmed most by it. According to a 2017 paper, killer whale populations off the coast of the most industrialized parts of Europe are close to extinction.
PCB impairs the animals’ reproduction and immune system, and increases their cancer risk, says ecologist Jean-Pierre Desforges, co-author of the Science study.
In addition, PCBs are easily transmitted from mother to calf. “We are very worried about reproductive effects where these high levels of PCBs can impact the survival of killer whale offspring,” says Desforges, a postdoc at Aarhus University in Denmark.

Súbor:Type C Orcas.jpg

Bleak Forecast for Some Whale Populations

Desforges and his team created a risk-assessment model to forecast the effects of PCB on killer whales over the next 100 years. It’s based on measurements of the chemicals in 351 killer whales from oceans around the world. The model simulates the chemical accumulation in whales and the level inherited by calves.
The North Pacific and North Atlantic oceans, which includes the coasts of Alaska, Iceland and Norway, have the lowest PCB risk. But the model suggests levels will continue to increase in those waters.
The highest risk is in parts of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans near Brazil, Hawaii, Japan, the Strait of Gibraltar and the United Kingdom, to name a few. These areas are near industrialized regions, where the chemicals were used a lot before being banned or, in some cases, are still being used.
Diet also impacts PCB concentrations in the animals. In the Northern Pacific, Bigg’s killer whales prey on marine mammals, tuna and sharks, and they have sky-high PCB levels, the paper says. This is probably because the larger prey carry more PCB and the chemicals are transferred to the predator. In the same Northern Pacific waters, killer whales preying on fish low in the food chain have lower PCB levels.

Killer Whales

Desforges says researchers need to study where PCBs are entering the environment, identify contaminated hotspots and clean them up. Also, more studies on the effects of the chemicals on killer whales are needed.
“Addressing the PCB issue will definitely not be straightforward because PCBs are so widespread and thus a global problem,” says Desforges.
This may be another species we will have to say goodbye to.

Related image

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Climate Change has created extreme weather events this year

The scene in Palu, on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia, after Friday’s tsunami.

Dozens are feared dead on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi after a powerful earthquake triggered a tsunami that swept away homes, buildings and bridges on Friday evening.
Rescuers have scrambled to reach hard-hit areas after a 1.5-metre (5ft) wave thundered over the coastline, crashing into Palu, the capital of central Sulawesi province, a smaller city in Donggala and several other coastal settlements, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for Indonesia’s disaster agency.
Indonesia’s Metro TV channel quoted one hospital official as saying at least 30 people had died but this has not been confirmed. Nugroho said in a television interview there are “many victims”, with families reported missing. However, communications and power supplies have been disrupted, hampering efforts to get information.
Dozens of injured people were being treated in makeshift medical tents set up outdoors, TV images showed.
Early witness reports said the tsunami had claimed lives on Talise beach in Palu, a city that is home to about 350,000 people. “Many corpses are scattered on the beach and floating on the surface of the sea,” Nining, a resident, said she had identified victims amongst the debris of the coastal area, which has reportedly sustained severe damage.
TV images showed dozens of injured people being treated in makeshift medical tents set up outdoors in public places.

Search and rescue teams have been sent to hard-hit areas, Nugroho said on Saturday. On Friday he said military transport planes and helicopters would be deployed on Saturday, along with “all national potential”.
“There are reports that many buildings collapsed in the earthquake,” he said. “Residents panicked and scattered out of their homes.”
The shallow 7.5 magnitude tremor was more powerful than a series of quakes that killed hundreds on the Indonesian island of Lombok in July and August.
People living hundreds of kilometres from the epicentre reported feeling the massive shake, hours after a smaller jolt killed at least one person in the same part of the south-east Asian archipelago.
Dramatic video footage filmed from the top floor of a parking ramp in Palu, nearly 80km (50 miles) from the quake’s epicentre, showed waves of water bring down several buildings and inundate a large mosque.

The magnitude 7.5 earthquake on Friday was followed by numerous strong aftershocks, including one of magnitude 6.7.

Six tornadoes create havoc in Canada

See the source image

Last Friday six tornadoes touched down in Eastern Ontario. Gerald Cheng, a meteorologist, says that with the warm, humid temperatures, it was the perfect condition for a severe thunderstorm to develop.
 “Just because it’s hot and humid doesn’t mean there are thunderstorms, there has to be a trigger,” Cheng added. That trigger was the cold front that passed through. He added that with the winds going up in height and coming from different directions allowed for rotation, which caused the tornadoes. “Six touching down is extraordinary,” he said.
The last time there was a comparable event in Ontario was in 2009, Cheng said. That was when 18 tornadoes hit south of Toronto in the largest single-day tornado outbreak in Ontario and Canadian history.
“When thunderstorms do hit the area, you can seek shelter. That’s the first thing people should think about,” Cheng said. He added to always pay attention to Environment Canada alerts. He added that with the new alert ready system, it sends these alerts directly to your phone. It’s important, Cheng says, to take these alerts seriously.
Although Canada has been lucky in the past not to be troubled by many tornadoes, we are learning how to cope now that Climate change has visited extreme weather events upon us. The last decade has taught us some hard lessons: ice storms, wind storms, lightening storms, wildfires, floods
and now tornadoes. If it starts raining cats and dogs, I'm going to need a bigger umbrella.
 Love that global warming.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

By enforcing climate change denial, Trump puts us all in peril

Bob Richling carries Iris Darden as water from the Little River starts to seep into her home on Monday in Spring Lake, North Carolina. Flood waters from the cresting rivers inundated the area after the passing of Hurricane Florence. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
By  Jesse Jackson       09/17/2018 
North Carolina has been hit with a storm of biblical ferocity.

Florence has left at least 17 dead there, 500,000 without power, with flash flooding across the state from the coast to the western mountains. Landslides and infectious diseases are predicted to follow. North Carolina is not alone, of course.

We’ve witnessed the devastation wrought by Katrina in New Orleans, Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey, Hurricane Harvey in Houston and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Maria is now estimated to have taken 2,975 lives, nearly as many as died on Sept. 11, 2001.

As economics historian J. Bradford DeLong summarizes, the four storms — all in the past 15 years — are among the most damaging in U.S. history. No one storm can be attributed to any one cause. But repeated storms of greater force are the “predictable result” of catastrophic climate change, and they are a mild augury of what is likely to follow.

President Donald Trump has enforced climate denial in Washington. He has systematically sought to repeal even the inadequate steps the U.S. had taken to begin to address the problem. Last year he announced the U.S. was withdrawing from the Paris climate accord.

He’s geared up to repeal President Barack Obama’s executive orders on energy, climate and gas mileage. He’s opening up more public lands to mining and drilling and weakening environmental restrictions on coal, oil and natural gas, including most alarmingly, restrictions on the release of methane gas from natural gas pipes.

 Web pages with climate change information have been removed or buried at the EPA and the Interior and Energy departments. The rest of the world vows to continue to deal with climate change, but with the wealthiest nation in the world scorning the effort, it is certain to be more inadequate than it already is.

Catastrophic climate change is a clear and present threat to our national security. The Pentagon realizes this. It is developing contingency plans for bases around the globe that will be threatened by rising waters and raging storms. Its intelligence agencies warn that climate change will be more destabilizing than terrorism across the developing world.

DeLong offers one snapshot of the threat. Two billion poor farmers toil in the six great river valleys of Asia. Their existence is dependent on the snow melt from the region’s high plateaus arriving at the right moment and in the right volume to support the crops on which the billions rely. Another billion depend on the monsoon arriving at the right time each year.

Now as the planet heats up, the sea levels rise, the polar ice caps melt, so too the snow melt will change dramatically, as will the monsoons and cyclones. The disruption will wreak havoc on billions, forcing dramatic migrations to who knows where. The same is predicted as Africa gets hotter and drier, and desertification continues to uproot long settled peoples.

The effects are already here, visible in the scorching heat experienced across the country, the fires in the West, the drought in the South and the storms in the East. We are seeing climate change with our own eyes. Yes, no one storm or heat wave can be directly attributed to global warming. But global warming guarantees that catastrophic weather events will get more frequent and more ferocious.

Some suggest it is too late. The carbon already in the atmosphere will take us beyond the warming levels that the international community suggested were manageable. We are headed into the unmanageable.

But denial is no answer. Continuing to do more of the same is simple madness. It is not too late to make the wholesale cuts need in greenhouse gas emissions. Professor Michael Mann of Penn State University notes: “It is not going off a cliff; it is like walking out into a minefield. So the argument that it is too late to do something would be like saying: ‘I’m just going to keep walking.’ That would be absurd.”

Trump’s chaos presidency is corrosive and divisive. His impulsive and uninformed decision-making is terrifying. Now on what surely is becoming the greatest threat to our security — indeed human existence, if not addressed — he and the Republican Congress that aids and abets him, are adding fuel to the fire.

Without vision, the Bible says, the people perish. Trump’s blind denial of the reality around us seems intent on demonstrating how true that is.

Thanx Jesse
Knight Mama

Old Stone Drought Warning Resurfaces in Europe: 'When You See Me, Cry'

By Rafi Letzter, Staff Writer | August 27, 2018 
One of the "hunger stones" exposed by the low level of water in the Elbe river is seen in Decin, Czech Republic.Credit: Petr David Josek/AP/REX/Shutterstock 
Old stones bearing ominous messages have resurfaced in a river in Central Europe, according to news reports.
Over the course of centuries, Europeans marked low water levels during droughts by carving lines and dates into boulders along the Elbe River, which runs from the Czech Republic into Germany. The idea was that if water levels dipped low enough to reveal an old carving, it would signal to locals that dry, hungry times — similar to those experienced in the marked year — were coming. Over a dozen of these "hunger stones" have reappeared in the Elbe this year, amid a record-setting European drought, the Associated Press reported Aug. 23. [7 Surprising Health Effects of Drought]
And the stones' warnings aren't wrong. Agence France-Presse reported that northern Europe's current drought has not only brought with it record-setting temperatures and wildfires but also significant threats to local food production. In Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands, AFP reported, the grain harvest is expected to be down between 30 and 60 percent, depending on the region. England and France may also be significantly impacted. Farmers in northern Europe might have to "send much of their herds to slaughter due to a lack of feed," according to AFP.
While research indicates that climate change will exacerbate droughts in Europe — and make them more frequent around the world — these stones reveal how dangerous these sorts of events were when they occurred in previous centuries.
The oldest stone carving to emerge was carved in 1616 and is considered the oldest hydrologic landmark in Central Europe, according to the AP.
It "bears a chiseled inscription in German," the AP reported, "that says, 'when you see me, cry.'"
Originally published on Live Science
Thanx Rafi Leyzter
Crusader Jenny , Nanook & Mika

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Plastic roads: India’s radical plan to use its garbage to build hiways and biways

 Jambulingam Street, Chennai, India.

In India, roads made from shredded plastic are proving a popular solution to tackling waste and extreme weather
Jambulingam Street, Chennai, is a local legend. The tar road in the bustling Nungambakkam area has weathered a major flood, several monsoons, recurring heat waves and a steady stream of cars, trucks and auto rickshaws without showing the usual signs of wear and tear. Built in 2002, it has not developed the mosaic of cracks, potholes or craters that typically make their appearance after it rains. Holding the road together is an unremarkable material: a cheap, polymer glue made from shredded waste plastic... Plastic shopping bags, plastic packaging, bottles, jars and other food containers.

Jambulingam Street was one of India’s first plastic roads . The environmentally conscious approach to road construction was developed in India around 15 years ago in response to the growing problem of plastic litter. As time wore on, polymer roads proved to be surprisingly durable, winning support among scientists and policymakers in India as well as neighboring countries like Bhutan. “The plastic tar roads have not developed any potholes, rutting, raveling or edge flaw, even though these roads are more than four years of age,” observed an early performance report by India’s Central Pollution Control Board. Today, there are more than 21,000 miles of plastic road in India.  Most are rural roads, but a small number have also been built in cities such as Chennai and Mumbai.

Waste used to pave roads

Adding flexible materials to strengthen tar roads is not a new idea. Commercially made polymer-modified asphalts first became popular in the 1970s in Europe. Now, North America claims 35% of the global market. Modified asphalts are made from virgin polymers and sometimes crumb rubber (ground tires). They are highly versatile. They are also expensive. Polymer roads in the US are made with asphalt that comes pre-mixed with a  high grade polymer.

The plastic tar roads of India are a frugal invention, made with a discarded, low-grade polymer. Every kilometer of this kind of road uses the equivalent of 1 million plastic bags, saving around one ton of asphalt and costing roughly 8% less than a conventional road. Dr R Vasudevan, a chemistry professor and dean at the Thiagarajar College of Engineering in Madurai, came up with the idea through trial and error, sprinkling shredded plastic waste over hot gravel and coating the stones in a thin film of plastic. He then added the plastic-coated stones to molten tar, or asphalt. Plastic and tar bond well together because both are petroleum products. The process was patented in 2006. It will soon be used  on major roads and hiways and is expected to reduce construction costs  by 50%.

In India, plastic roads serve as a ready-made landfill for a certain kind of ubiquitous urban trash. Flimsy, single-use items like shopping bags and bubble packaging are the ideal raw material,  difficult to recycle, they are a menace, hogging space in garbage dumps, clogging city drains and even poisoning the air. Delhi’s air, in particular, has been called a “toxic pollutant punchbowl” partly due to contaminants from plastic-fueled street bonfires.

Last November, the Indian government announced that plastic roads would be the default method of construction for most city streets, part of a multibillion-dollar overhaul of the country’s roads and highways. Urban areas with more than 500,000 people are now required to construct roads using waste plastic. The project even has the blessing of India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, who has made “Clean India” a kind of personal crusade.
India’s road upgrade is long overdue. A recent road safety report by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that 17% of the world’s traffic fatalities occur in India, with crumbling roads partly responsible for the high death toll. In 2014, potholes alone caused more than 3000 deaths.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

News Clip Linked Coal to Climate Change — 106 Years Ago Today

By Kimberly Hickok, Staff Writer | August 14, 2018 04:37pm ET 
A newspaper clip published Aug. 14, 1912, predicts that coal consumption would produce enough carbon dioxide to warm the climate.Credit: Fairfax Media/CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 NZ 
A note published in a New Zealand paper 106 years ago today (Aug. 14) predicted the Earth's temperature would rise because of 7 billion tons of carbon dioxide produced by coal consumption.
"The effect may be considerable in a few centuries," the article stated.

The clip was one of several one-paragraph stories in the "Science Notes and News" section of The Rodney and Otamatea Times, published Wednesday, Aug. 14, 1912. 

The paragraph seems to have been originally printed in the March 1912 issue of Popular Mechanics as the caption for an image of a large coal factory. The image goes with a story titled "Remarkable Weather of 1911: The Effect of the Combustion of Coal on the Climate — What Scientists Predict for the Future," by Francis Molena. [Photographic Proof of Climate Change: Time-Lapse Images of Retreating Glaciers]

In the article, Molena described how carbon dioxide in the air is associated with warmer temperatures, and "since burning coal produces carbon dioxide, it may be inquired whether the enormous use of that fuel in modern times may be an important factor in filling the atmosphere with this substance, and consequently indirectly raising the temperature of the Earth."
When Molena's story was published, scientists had already been predicting the effects of coal combustion on climate for the past few decades. Researchers were studying the topic at least as early as 1882, as evidenced by H.A. Phillips' paper titled "Pollution of the Atmosphere," published that year in the journal Nature.

Jeff Nichols, a historian at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told Quartz that he's found many examples of newspaper articles published between 1883 and 1912 that make predictions about how rising carbon dioxide levels alter the climate. The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Kansas City Star all published articles about rising carbon dioxide levels affecting the climate more than a hundred years ago, Quartz reported.
Carbon dioxide continues to make up 65 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, having increased by 90 percent between 1900 and 2010, according to estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As of 2014, the top carbon dioxide-producing regions were China, the United States, the European Union, India, the Russian Federation and Japan, according to the EPA.
Original article on Live Science.
Thanx  Kimberly Hickok
Knight Jonny C.

Friday, September 14, 2018

30 Years Ago, Humans Bungled the Best Chance to Stop Climate Change

 By Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer | Seiyrmber  10, 2018
Upsala Glacier, the third largest glacier in South America, has been thinning and retreating at a rapid rate during recent years — from 2006 to 2010, it receded 43.7 yards (40 meters) per year.Credit: Etienne Berthier, University of Toulouse 
NEW YORK — Could the current climate crisis have been averted? Humans may have squandered the best shot at doing so decades ago.

As the 1970s drew to a close, incontrovertible evidence already pointed to the dangers that accumulations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) — resulting from the burning of fossil fuels — posed to the planet. During a pivotal 10-year period, from 1979 to 1989, scientists, activists and government officials worldwide took important first steps to address excessive CO2 emissions and to enact policies that would head off the worst of these emissions' impact on the global climate, according to "Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change," a single-article special issue of The New York Times Magazine, published online today (Aug. 1).

Over those 10 years, a window of opportunity opened that might have saved the planet. Efforts were launched on an international level to raise awareness of global warming, curb CO2 output and thereby stave off climate change's most dire impacts. But those efforts stumbled and stalled, and we are witnessing the devastating consequences now, writer Nathaniel Rich reported in the article. [Images of Melt: Earth's Vanishing Ice]

t almost worked. At the time, the topic of climate change was not heavily politicized in the U.S. as it is today, Rich said here at a launch event for the article yesterday (July 31). Members of the Republican and Democratic parties supported developing strategies to limit CO2, and advocating for the environment was not seen through the same political lens as it is now, Rich explained.

Leaders came heartbreakingly close to succeeding. Climate change became part of national and international conversations, which culminated in global superpowers convening to restrict carbon emissions — an initiative that ultimately fell through.
"At the end of the decade, paralysis set in," Rich said at the event, adding that, in the years since, we've collectively moved from a period of apprehension about climate change to a period of reckoning.
"We've run up a bill, and now it's coming due," he said.
Evidence of how this prolonged inaction played out is presented alongside Rich's report in sobering images by photographer George Steinmetz. His bird's-eye-view photos and videos — captured primarily by drone-mounted cameras in locations around the world in 2017 — present grim scenes, such as monsoons in Bangladesh, the aftermath of wildfires in California and the capital of Mauritania partially swallowed by desert sand.
Individual weather incidents — such as heat waves, floods and powerful storms — themselves are not necessarily the results of a changing climate. Rather, the proof of climate change is in weather patterns, and we can see its fingerprints in more prolonged or more frequent heat waves and flooding events, extended periods of drought and more powerful storms over time.

Global initiatives such as the Paris climate agreement show some worldwide commitment to the issue — a gesture that President Donald Trump rejected when he withdrew the U.S. from the global coalition in July 2017. But after decades of stalling and inaction, our time to effect meaningful change while minimizing the cost to communities and habitats around the world is running perilously short. As Rich noted in the article, Melvin Calvin, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist who died in 1997, warned of this when he testified before the Senate about climate change back in 1988, telling the assembled officials, "It is already later than you think."
Original article on Live Science.
Thanx Mindy  Weisberger
Knight Man

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Global warming could be far worse than predicted, new study suggests

Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
Temperatures across the United States are up 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit in the past 30 years. In Salida, Colorado, residents have noticed the change through more lawn watering, increased air conditioning sales and bigger fires. (June 18) AP
Collapsing polar ice caps, a green Sahara Desert, a 20-foot sea-level rise. 

That's the potential future of Earth, a new study suggests, noting that global warming could be twice as warm as current climate models predict.

The rate of warming is also remarkable: “The changes we see today are much faster than anything encountered in Earth’s history. In terms of rate of change, we are in uncharted waters,” said study co-author Katrin Meissner of the University of New South Wales in Australia. 

This could mean the landmark Paris Climate Agreement – which seeks to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels – may not be enough to ward off catastrophe.
“Even with just 2 degrees of warming – and potentially just 1.5 degrees – significant impacts on the Earth system are profound,” said study co-author Alan Mix, a scientist from Oregon State University.
“We can expect that sea-level rise could become unstoppable for millennia, impacting much of the world’s population, infrastructure and economic activity,” Mix said.

In looking at Earth's past, scientists can predict what the future will look like. In the study, the researchers looked back at natural global warming periods over the past 3.5 million years and compared them to current man-made warming.

By combining a wide range of measurements from ice cores, sediment layers, fossil records, dating using atomic isotopes and many other established paleoclimate methods, the researchers pieced together the impact of those climatic changes.
Human-inflicted climate change is caused by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas, which release heat-trapping greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane into the the atmosphere.

Study lead author Hubertus Fischer of the University of Bern in Switzerland and his team found that our current climate predictions may underestimate long-term warming by as much as a factor of two. 

Meissner said that "climate models appear to be trustworthy for small changes, such as for low-emission scenarios over short periods, say over the next few decades out to 2100. But as the change gets larger or more persistent ... it appears they underestimate climate change."

The research also revealed how large areas of the polar ice caps could collapse and significant changes to ecosystems could see the Sahara Desert become green and the edges of tropical forests turn into fire-dominated savanna.
However, Meissner said "we cannot comment on how far in the future these changes will occur."

Referring to the study findings, lead author Fischer said that without serious reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, there is "very little margin for error to meet the Paris targets.”
The study, which was conducted by dozens of researchers from 17 countries, was published last week in Nature Geoscience, a peer-reviewed British journal.

Thanx Doyle Rice
Knight Sha

Monday, September 10, 2018

Global Warming ! A Silent Message

Watch very closely ... Global Warming is sneaking up on us.

Knight Mama

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Global warming could spur more and hungrier crop-eating bugs

By Seth Borenstein | Associated Press 
A European corn borer . A warmer world likely means more and hungrier insects chomping on crops and less food on dinner platyes , a study suggests . Frank Peairs / Colorado University /
WASHINGTON — A warmer world likely means more and hungrier insects chomping on crops and less food on dinner plates, a new study suggests.

Insects now consume about 10 percent of the globe’s food, but that will increase to 15 to 20 percent by the end of the century if climate change isn’t stopped, said study lead author Curtis Deutsch, a University of Washington climate scientist.

The study looked at the damage bugs like the European corn borer and the Asiatic rice borer could do as temperatures rise. It found that many of them will increase in number at key times for crops. The hotter weather will also speed up their metabolism so they’ll eat more, the researchers report in Thursday’s journal Science. Their predictions are based on computer simulations of bug and weather activity.

“There’s going to be a lot of crop loss, so there won’t be as much grain on the table,” said study co-author Scott Merrill, an ecology professor at the University of Vermont.

The researchers calculate additional losses of 53 million tons in wheat, rice and corn from hungry bugs if the temperature rises another 2.7 degrees from now. The study estimates that in that warmer scenario, American corn, wheat and rice losses from insects will jump by a third above current levels. Bug damage to Russia’s rice crop would jump sixfold. And nine countries — North Korea, Mongolia, Finland, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Bhutan, Armenia, the United Kingdom and Denmark — would see at least a doubling of wheat loss from bugs.

If there are no drastic cuts in emissions from coal, oil and gas, the world will reach that 2.7 degree mark and extra insect loss around 2050 — give or take a decade or so, Deutsch said.

“In the history of agriculture, one of the most important themes is the continuing struggle between farmers and insects,” said Stanford University environmental institute director Chris Field, who wasn’t part of the study. “Based on this study, climate change tilts the balance in the insects’ favor.”

The Russian wheat aphid is a good example because “the populations are absolutely insane … they are born pregnant,” Merrill said. “If you increase the temperature a couple degrees you can see the population growing much faster.”

The researchers acknowledge that richer countries may be able to reduce projected losses with insecticides and other pest-fighting techniques.

The study comes as insect experts across the globe worry about declining numbers of flying insects, especially beneficial pollinators like bees and moths. But while many insects may be declining for a variety of reasons those associated with agriculture crops — especially invasive species — seem to be doing better, said University of Delaware’s Doug Tallamy, who wasn’t part of the study, which he considered too broad.

University of Illinois entomologist May Berenbaum, called the study distinctive.

“Problem insects are expanding their ranges with climate warming,” she said in an email.

Another study in the journal looked at how the world’s vegetation changed since the last ice age and applied that concept to current warming. The study logged massive changes to Earth’s landscape around the globe over more than 14,000 years from the last glacier period.

The same magnitude of warming — more than 7 degrees — is projected to occur with human-caused climate change, but may be in only 100 years or so, said study co-author Jonathan Overpeck, a University of Michigan climate scientist.

“It really paints a picture that is a lot more dire,” Overpeck said, calling it “vegetation chaos.”

Thanx  Seth Borenstein
Crusader Jenny , Nanook & Mika