April, 2016

Much of my news comes from The Daily Climate, whose wonderful subscription service clues me in to what's going on each day. Another great source of stories (and commentaries) comes from my friend Jim Poyser, at Apocadocs.

2016

April, 2016

4/30/2016

4/29/2016

  • Imperial Oil described its climate-warming business as 'anti-social': a collection of archived internal corporate reports, contradict what the company, Imperial Oil, had been telling the public for years. They also reveal that the company went as far as describing its own actions, behind closed doors, as "anti-social."
    • “A problem of such size, complexity and importance cannot be dealt with on a voluntary basis. The protection of the interests of society as a whole requires the establishment of legal controls on pollution and on other anti-social acts,” said the 1970 report.
    • This runs counter to public statements made by Imperial Oil executives from the 1990s that said scientists were still debating whether rising carbon dioxide levels were warming the atmosphere. In 1998, Imperial Oil's then-chief executive officer, Robert Patterson, said that carbon dioxide was "not a pollutant" and that greenhouse gases had "no connection whatsoever with our day-to-day weather."
  • Six years later, we’re still learning how badly the BP spill damaged the environment: The latest glimpse at the ongoing environmental effects of the disaster came in a new report by the conservation and advocacy group Oceana, which compiled the findings of a broad range of studies — primarily from the past two years — examining the aftermath of the spill. The report makes clear that the reach of the disaster, which ranks as one of the costliest environmental catastrophes ever, continues to grow.
  • More than half US population lives amid dangerous air pollution, report warns: American Lung Association’s ‘state of the air’ report finds 166 million Americans are living in unhealthy ozone or particle pollution with serious health risks
    • Cinci is #14 worst….
    • Small particles that escape from the burning of coal and from vehicle tail pipes can bury themselves deep in people’s lungs, causing various health problems. Ozone and other harmful gases can also be expelled from these sources, triggering asthma attacks and even premature death. [ael: more clean coal….]

4//2016

  • Why are we so bored?: We live in a world of constant entertainment – but is too much stimulation boring?
    • [ael: "Bored" is the wrong word — we are empty. We have lost our religion; we have no meaning, no purpose.]
    • [ael: here's a purpose for anyone: help repair the damage done by humans….]
  • 'It's my dream': achievement of scientist's solar cell goal opens up potentially huge new markets:
  • World heading for catastrophe over natural disasters, risk expert warns: With cascading crises – where one event triggers another – set to rise, international disaster risk reduction efforts are woefully underfunded
    • The world’s failure to prepare for natural disasters will have “inconceivably bad” consequences as climate change fuels a huge increase in catastrophic droughts and floods and the humanitarian crises that follow, the UN’s head of disaster planning has warned.
    • “It’s inconceivably bad, actually, if we don’t get a handle on it, and there’s a huge sense of urgency to get this right,” he said. “I think country leaders will become more receptive to this agenda simply because the disasters are going to make that obvious. The real question in my mind is: can we act before that’s obvious and before the costs have gone up so tremendously? And that’s the challenge.”
  • Siberian erosion, river runoff speeds up Arctic Ocean acidification: As Siberian permafrost thaws, crumbling Russian coastlines and big rivers flowing north along eroding banks are dumping vast loads of organic carbon into marine waters there, causing much quicker acidification than had been anticipated and signaling future danger for the entire Arctic Ocean.
    • Observations made since 1999 showed signs that in some locations, acidity has already surged past levels researchers didn't expect to emerge until the year 2100, due in part to "extreme aragonite undersaturation," the study says.
    • Globally, ocean acidification is generally considered a byproduct of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Since about a quarter of that atmospheric carbon winds up absorbed by the ocean, human-caused carbon dioxide emissions are considered the major source of ocean acidification worldwide. But on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, the carbon washed into the sea by eroding permafrost and river outwash — material formed by decaying and decayed plants and animals — far outpaces the carbon coming from the atmosphere and is enough to cause acidification on its own, according to the new study.

4/22/2016

  • Climate Change Adds Urgency To Push to Save World’s Seeds: In the face of rising temperatures and worsening drought, the world’s repositories of agricultural seeds may hold the key to growing food under increasingly harsh conditions. But keeping these gene banks safe and viable is a complicated and expensive challenge.
    • During the 872-day German siege of Leningrad in World War II, in which an estimated 1.1 million civilians died, a small band of workers devoted themselves to safeguarding a priceless trove of 200,000 seeds at the Institute of Plant Industry. Then the world’s largest seed bank, the collection had been amassed, in large part, by famed Soviet botanist Nikolai Vavilov during expeditions to 64 countries. As the siege wore on and starvation became epidemic, workers at the institute refused to eat the seeds and protected them from hungry citizens. Nine of Vavilov’s seed bank colleagues ultimately died from starvation.

4/21/2016

  • ‘And then we wept': Scientists say 93 percent of the Great Barrier Reef now bleached: Australia’s National Coral Bleaching Task Force has surveyed 911 coral reefs by air, and found at least some bleaching on 93 percent of them.
    • The amount of damage varies from severe to light, but the bleaching was the worst in the reef’s remote northern sector — where virtually no reefs escaped it. “Between 60 and 100 percent of corals are severely bleached on 316 reefs, nearly all in the northern half of the Reef,” Prof. Terry Hughes, head of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, said in a statement to the news media. He led the research.
    • Scientists resort to advertising to get Great Barrier Reef crisis in Queensland paper: “The Great Barrier Reef is at a crisis point,” the scientists say. “Its future depends on how much and how quickly the world, including Australia, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit ocean warming.” It then calls for Australia to rapidly phase out coal-fired power stations and for no new coalmines.
  • How Earth itself has dramatically upped the stakes for the Paris climate accord:
    • The first three months of 2016 have been the hottest ever recorded, and by a large margin. Greenland’s massive ice sheet melted more this spring than researchers have ever seen. Warming seas are turning once-majestic coral reefs into ghostly underwater graveyards. And scientists are warning that sea levels could rise far faster than anyone expected by the end of the century, with severe impacts for coastal communities around the globe.
    • “The strongest hurricane on record for both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, unprecedented continuing drought in California, the warmest start to a year that we’ve ever seen, on the heels of what was the warmest full year on record for the globe,” ticked off Michael Mann, a climate researcher at Pennsylvania State University. Such developments, though driven in part by strong El Niño conditions, are a “reminder of how perilously close we are now to a permanent crossing into the global-warming danger zone,” he said. “We are at a critical juncture when it comes to preserving our climate.”
    • Some scientists have even suggested that this bleaching event, which signals a warming of the seas at a rate too quick for a major planetary ecosystem to adapt to, may itself indicate that the world is crossing over into the realm of “dangerous” climate change — precisely what the Paris agreement hopes to prevent.

4/20/2016

BP Oil Spill Trashed More Shoreline Than Scientists Thought]: New evidence extends the size of the disaster that occurred six years ago this week.

4/18/2016

  • March temperature smashes 100-year global record: Average global temperature was 1.07C hotter - beating last month’s previous record increase
  • A year of fear and distrust in Dukeville: How tainted well water and conflicting health information have turned one North Carolina family’s life upside down
    • State officials had discovered vanadium in the Graham’s well water at an estimated concentration of 14 parts per billion, more than 45 times the state screening level of 0.3 ppb—a threshold set by health officials to warn well owners of potential risks. And the Grahams weren’t alone. Laboratory tests showed 74 wells in the tiny Dukeville community in Salisbury, North Carolina, exceeded state or federal thresholds. Across the state, 424 households received similar do-not-drink notifications, Department of Environmental Quality Assistant Secretary Tom Reeder said in January.
  • New Data Set Poised to Revolutionize Climate Adaptation:
    • The data set, called CHIRPS (short for “Climate Hazards Group InfraRed Precipitation With Station data”) blends data from weather stations and weather satellites with extraordinary accuracy, providing a detailed record of global rainfall stretching back more than 30 years. By making it possible to compare current rainfall patterns with historical averages at the neighborhood scale for virtually the entire world, CHIRPS provides an early warning system for drought, making it possible for development agencies, insurance companies and others to more effectively activate adaptive strategies such as food aid and insurance.
  • Loon's malaria death seen as sign of climate change:
    • Pokras and Ellen Martinsen, a Vermont-based research associate with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, started finding several different malaria parasites in loon blood samples a few years back. The latest data shows as many as 12 percent testing positive, though not all are expected be infected with malaria. Then last summer, the researchers found the first ever case of a loon — on Umbagog Lake located in Maine and New Hampshire — that died of the disease. Biologists and fans of the loons haven't found another case yet, but they are looking for other dead birds.
  • Delta drought gives glimpse into bleak future for mighty Mekong:
    • Thach has quit growing sugarcane and is building houses instead to repay loans after his farm in Soc Trang province in Vietnam's Mekong Delta rice bowl lost 10 million dong ($449). The sprawling Mekong Delta has been worst hit by salination in a region that provides half of Vietnam's rice and 60 percent of its shrimp and fish.
  • EPA doubles down on mercury rule; more litigation likely: U.S. EPA today stood by its plan to cut power plant mercury emissions, reaffirming an earlier conclusion that it made the right decision under the Clean Air Act to regulate releases of the toxic metal and other hazardous air pollutants. That determination "is particularly well-founded in light of the significant health risks toxic air pollution pose to the American public," the agency said in a statement this morning, adding that the public benefits from the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) "far outweigh the costs."
  • High Plains (Ogallola) Water-Level Monitoring Study
    • This pdf shows the depletion, capacity, etc. over time.
    • I got to this site to investigate Dan's assertion that the Ogallola was actually adding water, per this Washington Post article.

4/17/2016

Things I learned while attending the Democracy Awakening protest in Washington, D.C.:

  • Speeches and quotes:
    • "Silence is the sound of money talking." Something said by the mother or grandmother of Dr. Sandra Steingraber – Ecologist, Author, and Cancer Survivor, and head of Americans Against Fracking.
    • "We should not let Congress treat our President as 3/5 of a president." a rough quote of Cornell William Brooks, NAACP
    • William Barber gave his "The blood of the martyrs speech". Very moving. A later preacher gave his golden calf speech.
  • People: I had substantive interactions with several people
    • Drew Foley — we drove together to Washington, and shared a lot of stories and ideas. I was introduced to "Creation Spirituality" by Drew, and learned more from Patty McGrath.
    • Patty McGrath — was our host in D.C., who put up (and up with) seven of us. She was a wonderful hostess, and had a hot meal awaiting us upon arrival. Then she made us breakfast, after providing beds for all for the night.
    • Mike Regnier — has built three geodesic domes, and provide me some basic insights into their construction and problems (as well as blessings). I'm thinking of making a geodesic greenhouse!

4/15/2016

4/13/2016

  • Scientists Are Watching in Horror as Ice Collapses: Everything we learn about ice shows that it is disturbingly fragile, even in Antarctica.
    6feetOfFlooding.png
  • Why dead coral reefs could mark the beginning of ‘dangerous’ climate change: The island of Kiritimati is one of the world’s most remote places — one of several dozen atolls making up the tiny island nation of Kiribati, a speck in the Pacific Ocean more than a thousand miles south of Hawaii. But, isolated as it is, news of its devastated coral is turning heads around the world. A recent expedition has revealed that the reefs around Kiritimati have suffered a catastrophic mass die-off — an event that epitomizes what may be an ugly truth about the ability of coral reefs around the world to adapt to the growing threat of climate change.
  • Climate Change Hits Hard in Zambia, an African Success Story: But today, as a severe drought magnified by climate change has cut water levels to record lows, the Kariba is generating so little juice that blackouts have crippled the nation’s already hurting businesses. After a decade of being heralded as a vanguard of African growth, Zambia, in a quick, mortifying letdown, is now struggling to pay its own civil servants and has reached out to the International Monetary Fund for help.
  • Peabody, world's top private coal miner, files for bankruptcy: [ael: ding-dong, the witch is dead!]
    • Producers accounting for about 45 percent of U.S. coal output have filed for bankruptcy in the current industry downturn, based on 2014 government figures. While coal use has also stalled globally, largely because of China's economic slowdown and its efforts to protect domestic miners and rein in rampant pollution, most analysts expect consumption of the fuel to remain stable or rise in the future. Some 500 coal-fired power stations are currently under construction, 80 percent of which are in the Asia-Pacific region, where emerging markets as well as developed economies such as Japan and South Korea are still seeing consumption grow.
  • Australian oil and gas lobby spent millions advocating against climate action: report: Australia's peak oil and gas industry lobby group spent almost $4 million last year trying to "obstruct" more ambitious climate change policy, according to British research group InfluenceMap.
  • Review faults EPA oversight of oil and gas wastewater: A federal review has faulted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for not taking sufficient steps to safeguard drinking water supplies from the wastewater generated by the oil and gas industries.
    • The Government Accountability Office said in its report to members of Congress that the EPA has failed to adequately collect information from state and regional regulators about inspections or their enforcement actions to protect underground sources of drinking water. Auditors also found the EPA has not consistently carried out oversight of programs that regulate injection wells where oil and natural gas companies send streams of wastewater into the ground.
    • “You would think that an act of writing off a potential drinking water source would at least be coupled with rigorous oversight and accountability,” Noel said. “The oil and gas industry is exploiting these lapses in oversight and transparency.”
    • As of October 2015, California officials had identified more than 500 wells injecting wastewater into 11 nonexempt aquifers “with the potential to threaten underground sources of drinking water,” the GAO report said. It noted that California had halted the reinjection of oilfield fluids into some of those wells.
  • Wildfires, Once Confined to a Season, Burn Earlier and Longer:
    • The 10.1 million acres that burned in the United States last year were the most on record, and the top five years for acres burned were in the past decade. The federal costs of fighting fires rose to $2 billion last year, up from $240 million in 1985.
  • Global leaders are very worried about water shortages:
    • It’s not just government officials who are worried. In 2009, U.S. Embassy officers visited Nestle’s headquarters in Switzerland, where company executives, who run the world’s largest food company and are dependent on freshwater to grow ingredients, provided a grim outlook of the coming years. An embassy official cabled Washington with the subject line, “Tour D’Horizon with Nestle: Forget the Global Financial Crisis, the World Is Running Out of Fresh Water.” “Nestle thinks one-third of the world’s population will be affected by fresh water scarcity by 2025, with the situation only becoming more dire thereafter and potentially catastrophic by 2050,” according to a March 24, 2009, cable. “Problems will be severest in the Middle East, northern India, northern China, and the western United States.”
    • Thomas Friedman wrote about this in 2014
  • Solar power sets new British record by beating coal for a day: Coal’s decline continues as figures show homes and businesses got more power from the sun for an entire 24 hours last weekend

Parable of Climate Change:

Start-Stop Technology Is Spreading (Like It or Not): (2016/04/08)

216098-First-World-Problems.jpg
  • Dr. Keith Tao, a radiologist in Danville, Calif., owns three late-model Mercedeses, each equipped with a fuel-saving technology called start-stop. The system saves fuel and reduces emissions by cutting the engine when the car comes to a full stop and restarting when the foot is taken off the brake. One of the first things Dr. Tao does after starting the engine: He turns off the feature. The problem, Dr. Tao says, is that the stopping and restarting is rather intrusive. “You actually feel it restarting,” he said. “In terrible stop-and-go traffic this thing comes on and off constantly. In 20 minutes you can have 50 stop-and-start cycles. It can drive you totally insane.”
  • What's totally insane here? Dr. Tao, owner of "three late-model Mercedeses", being driven insane by the feel of his late-model Mercedesses restarting — in a pathetic effort to reduce Dr. Tao's immense carbon and consumption foot-print.
  • Dr. Tao — you, and our society — are totally insane. You are a symptom of a much bigger problem. But you are definitely a part of the problem. Buy a bicycle — it only starts and stops when you tell it to. And, for God's sake, please stop whining about your "first world problems"….

4/11/2016

  • The death of US coal: industry on a steep decline as cheap natural gas rises: With Massey Energy boss Don Blankenship headed to prison and some of the industry’s biggest companies bankrupt, a historic transformation may be ahead
    • The former chief executive of Massey Energy was sentenced this week to a year in prison for willfully violating mine safety standards – the highest penalty available under the law. Blankenship was not accused of direct responsibility for the accident – the worst in 40 years in the US. Next week Peabody Energy, the world’s largest publicly traded coal company, will come to the end of a 30-day grace period to repay its crushing debts or fall into bankruptcy. The company’s share price has fallen by 98% since 2011.
    • That night Kennedy condemned [Mountain Top Removal] as a crime of historic proportions. “This is the worst environmental crime that ever happened in our history,” began Kennedy. “It is a crime, it is a sin, and it is a moral obligation to stop this from happening.” Until Blankenship’s sentencing this week, however, no coalmining executive had ever been sent to jail for putting coalminers’ lives in jeopardy by placing profit over safety.
  • The greenhouse that acts like a beetle and other inventions inspired by nature: For a new generation of innovators, biomimicry – the imitation of nature’s ecosystems – may help solve some of humanity’s toughest resource problems
    • According to Terrapin Bright Green, Blue Planet could sequester up to 10bn tons of carbon dioxide over the next decade. While only a fraction of the more than 360bn tons that humanity is likely to produce in that period, it is still a significant step forward – and it hints at a process that could potentially transform the way industry views its waste carbon. As an added plus, the DeepWater project also produces fresh water and data storage, two more things that California desperately needs. [ael: really? 1/36th of humanity's production? I think that we have a unit problem.]
  • How to make coal companies pay to clean up their messes:
  • A Green and Fair Future: For a Just Transition to a Low Carbon Economy:
  • Is the IOGCC, Created by Congress in 1935, Now a Secret Oil and Gas Lobby?: In 1978, the DOJ told Congress IOGCC should be disbanded. It wasn't. In 2005, the group claimed credit for Halliburton Loophole after ‘years of hard work.'
  • Drowning History: Sea Level Rise Threatens US Historic Sites:
    • HISTORIC BOSTON: Much of historic Boston is along the water and is at risk due to sea level rise, including Faneuil Hall, the market building known as the "Cradle of Liberty," and parts of the Freedom Trail, a walking trail that links historic sites around the city. Boston has seen a growing number of flooding events in recent years, up from two annually in the 1970s to an average of 11 annually between 2009 and 2013, according to a 2014 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists. If sea levels rise by 5 inches, the group reported, the number of floods is projected to grow to 31 annually. If seas rise by 11 inches, the number of flooding events is projected to rise to 72 per year.
    • INTERNATIONAL SITES: Dozens of UNESCO World Heritage Sites are under threat from sea level rise, according to a 2014 report by climate scientists Ben Marzeion, of the University of Innsbruck in Austria, and Anders Levermann, of the Potsdam Institute in Germany. Among those are: the Tower of London; Robben Island in South Africa, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years; Venice, Italy, and its lagoon; Mont-Saint-Michel, home to an abbey built atop a rocky islet in France; the Kasbah of Algiers, Algeria; the historic district of Old Quebec, Canada; Old Havana in Cuba; and archaeological areas of Pompeii, Italy, and Carthage in Tunisia.
  • Farmland Could Play Key Role in Tackling Climate Change: “Climate-smart” soil management, primarily on land used for agriculture, can be part of an overall greenhouse gas reduction strategy that includes other efforts like carbon sequestration and reducing fossil fuel emissions, the paper’s authors said. Many scientists believe new efforts to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are needed to keep global warming to an internationally agreed-upon limit of 2°C (3.6°F).
  • Teak absorbs max CO2 from air, helps check global warming: Teak has the highest capacity for carbon sequestration among trees in India. This is the finding of a study conducted by the Gujarat Ecological Education and Research (GEER) to prepare a hierarchy of local trees in India …
  • Emails Show Museum Closed Green Energy Exhibit After Complaints From Fossil Fuel Industry:

4/6/2016

  • Climate Catastrophe, Coming Even Sooner? By Elizabeth Kolbert
    • Then the two got an idea from a colleague, Richard Alley, also of Penn State. Alley suggested that they look at what would happen if the floating ice shelves were lost. This would leave towering cliffs of ice exposed to the sea, which could make them vulnerable to rapid collapse. (A version of this process seems already to be under way in parts of Greenland.)
  • The Danger of a Runaway Antarctica:
    • In January, scientists reported that 2015 was by far the hottest year on record, and another record could be set this year.
    • In February, a Princeton-based research organization said the tidal flooding that has already made life miserable for people in coastal cities like Miami and Charleston is getting steadily worse.
    • In mid-March, a group of experts, including James Hansen, the retired scientist who first brought the perils of climate change to Congress’s attention in 1988, warned that shifts in climate could be sudden and abrupt, giving humanity little time to prepare for flooding, severe droughts and other upheavals.
    • Now comes another scary prediction: If carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels continue unabated, the vast West Antarctic ice sheet could begin to disintegrate, causing the sea to rise by five to six feet by the end of the century, destroying coastal cities and low-lying island nations and creating environmental devastation within the lifetimes of children born today.
  • It’s not just Antarctica — why Greenland could also melt faster than expected: Last Wednesday, a blockbuster new study in the journal Nature changed our understanding of the forces affecting ice melt in Antarctica and significantly increased expectations of the ice sheet’s future contributions to sea-level rise. But the news may not stop there. Some scientists are saying that the standing predictions for Greenland — which is warming even faster than Antarctica — may also be too conservative, meaning we may be seeing even faster sea-level rise than we thought.
    • Marco Tedesco, a researcher with Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, pointed out that a process called “ice darkening” is one significant process at play in Greenland.
    • “Numerous sensitivities are not included in the IPCC model sea level projections from land ice,” he noted. “Some of the sensitivities are feedbacks that mean the warmer climate gets, the ice will be lost increasingly faster.”
  • One crop breeding cycle from starvation? How engineering crop photosynthesis for rising CO2 and temperature could be one important route to alleviation:
    • One crop breeding cycle from starvation: In the race against world hunger, we’re running out of time. By 2050, the global population will have grown and urbanized so much that we will need to produce 87 percent more of the four primary food crops – rice, wheat, soy, and maize – than we do today.
  • 2016 Global Food Policy Report: How We Feed the World is Unsustainable:
    • Evidence is strong that climate change will continue to have negative impacts on agriculture. Every year, 12 million hectares of land is degraded due to drought and desertification—that’s roughly the size of Nicaragua, the largest country in Central America. This is especially detrimental to smallholders, such as the 200 million smallholder farmers in Africa south of the Sahara who tend drylands. Conversely, the global food system accounts for one-fifth of all greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The development of climate-ready crops, which can lead to more efficient water use and improve yields, are key to feeding a growing population and adapting and mitigating against climate change.
    • Worldwide, the number of overweight people is two-and-a-half times larger than the number of undernourished people. Urbanization, increasing incomes, and higher demand for animal protein is changing diets in developing countries. Beef consumption, for example, is growing, and is one of the most resource-intensive and environmentally impactful foods to produce. Beef production requires four times more land (and four times as much greenhouse gas emissions) than dairy for every unit of protein consumed. Additionally, beef is seven times more resource-intensive than pork and poultry, and 20 times more than pulses.
    • In 2009, adding one American to the global population would have required an additional hectare of land, which is as big as the maximum size of a World Cup football field with more than 1,700 additional square meters to spare. It would also pump out an additional 16.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent each year—or the greenhouse gas equivalent of driving from New York to Los Angeles and back seven times.
    • Today, 85 percent of global water use goes to agricultural irrigation. Innovations such as climate-ready crops can greatly reduce this amount. Rice is the staple food of more than half of the world’s population and C4 rice, for example, can double water use efficiency and increase yields by almost 50 percent. Unless significant changes are made in global water consumption, most people will live under severe water shortage conditions by 2050.
  • The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment: Climate change is a significant threat to the health of the American people. This scientific assessment examines how climate change is already affecting human health and the changes that may occur in the future.
  • Bureau of Meteorology plan to take over CSIRO climate change research
  • Some Whales Like Global Warming Just Fine: Humpbacks and bowheads are benefiting—for now, at least—from the retreat of polar sea ice: It's making it easier for them to find food.
  • Hey, Bill Gates, our 'energy miracles' are already here: In a keynote address at the BNEF annual summit in New York on Tuesday, Liebreich delivered what amounted to a broadside against Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, who is helping to fund a global push for a "miracle" breakthrough in energy technology within the next 15 years in order to solve the problem of human-caused global warming.
  • Can we save the Great Barrier Reef?: A recent helicopter flyover suggested Australia's Great Barrier Reef is 90 percent bleached, damaged by tourists and a rough El Niño year.

4/5/2016

  • Fever: Federal report says global warming making US sick: The 332-page report issued Monday by the Obama administration said global warming will make the air dirtier, water more contaminated and food more tainted. It warned of diseases, such as those spread by ticks and mosquitoes, longer allergy seasons, and thousands of heat wave deaths.
    • Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy said if that's not enough, climate change affects people's mental health, too. "It's not just about polar bears and melting ice caps. It's about our families. It's about our future," McCarthy said at a White House event unveiling the report.
  • Meltdown: More Rain, Less Snow as the World Warms: A Climate Central analysis of 65 years of winter precipitation data from more than 2,000 weather stations in 42 states, found a decrease in the percent of precipitation falling as snow in winter months for every region of the country. Winter months were defined as the snow season for each station, from the month with the first consistently significant snow, to the last.

  • Minnesota poised to import Canadian hydro to cut carbon: The 200-megawatt Wuskwatim Generating Station is one of Manitoba's newest hydrodams, completed in 2012. Power exports to the United States from this and other new hydropower facilities in Canada are expected to help border states like Minnesota comply with Clean Power Plan requirements.
  • Massive carbon capture investment 'needed to slow global warming': Carbon disposal technologies are needed because incremental emissions cuts are not enough to fight climate change, says Oxford University climate scientist
    • Carbon disposal consists chiefly of the burial of carbon dioxide in underground caverns, known as carbon capture and storage (CCS), but also includes possible methods of dissolving carbon dioxide in the oceans and other means of eliminating carbon from the air. [ael: oh, great: increase ocean acidification on the other hand. Sheesh….]
  • Climate change will wipe $2.5tn off global financial assets: study: Losses could soar to $24tn and wreck the global economy in worst case scenario, first economic modelling estimate suggests
    • “Our work suggests to long-term investors that we would be better off in a low-carbon world,” said Prof Simon Dietz of the London School of Economics, the lead author of the study. “Pension funds should be getting on top of this issue, and many of them are.” He said, however, that awareness in the financial sector was low.
    • Mark Campanale of the thinktank Carbon Tracker Initiative said the actual financial losses from unchecked global warming could be higher than estimated by the financial model behind the new study. “It could be a lot worse. The loss of financial capital can be a lot higher and faster than the GDP losses [used to model the costs of climate change in the study]. Just look at value of coal giant Peabody Energy. It was worth billions just a few years ago and now it is worth nothing.”
    • Investors have also been warned about investing in new coal and gas fired power stations after 2017 by a second new study. The research shows that, to meet the 2C target, no new carbon-emitting power stations can be built anywhere in the world unless they are later closed down or retrofitted with carbon capture and storage technology.
  • A surprising ally in the fight against climate change: dirt: By changing land use practices, an extra 9 billion tons of greenhouse gases could be locked away in the soil, according to an international team of scientists.
    974430_1_0406-agriculture_standard.jpg
    • Earth’s soils represent a potential storehouse for billions of tons of greenhouse gases, a vital addition to our arsenal for combating climate change, according to new research. The international group of scientists, whose findings are published Wednesday in the journal Nature, argue that carbon sequestration in soil has been under-appreciated and under-utilized, but has vast potential.

4/4/2016

  • Can coal companies afford to clean up coal country?: [ael: hell no, they can't! So we'll have to pay a fortune to clean up all that shit left by "clean, cheap coal"]
    • A worsening financial crisis for the nation’s biggest coal companies is sparking concerns that U.S. taxpayers could be stuck with hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in cleanup costs across a landscape of shuttered mines stretching from Appalachia to the northern Plains.
    • The biggest coal companies typically pay third parties to ensure that mine sites are cleaned up in the event of financial hardship. But in recent years, many coal companies have relied on a cheaper technique called “self-bonding,” pledging only their own names and financial wherewithal to guarantee their cleanup obligations. [ael: there's an idiot system. Reminiscent of our pension systems.] Peabody alone has cleanup obligations of nearly $1.4 billion guaranteed by self-bonding, according to statements filed by the company last year with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Arch Coal and Alpha — the nation’s second- and fourth-largest coal companies — have self-guaranteed liabilities exceeding $485 million and $640 million, respectively, in reclamation costs.
  • King Tides Offer Glimpses of Our Future: All the planets will line up just right to produce “king tides,” the catchy moniker for highest tides of the year. They occur each fall and spring. The first ones this year will be Thursday through Sunday.
    • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is partnering with states and academics across the country in a citizens’ science effort – the King Tides Project – that’s encouraging people from all walks of life to go out during these tides and take photos, and sometimes measurements, and send the photos in to a Flickr account. It began in 2012 in Australia and has since spread around the world.
      tides-graphic.jpg
  • [www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-to-talk-global-warming-in-plain-english/ How to Talk Global Warming in Plain English]: Scientists struggle to convey the risks of climate change simply
    • “If we want to tell the nation the risk, we need to [do it] in plain English,” Alice Hill, the National Security Council’s senior director for resilience policy, told scientists at a gathering in Washington, D.C., last week. As her boss, Susan Rice, often notes, Hill said, “climate change is a dire threat to the prosperity and safety of the American people.”
    • “People are flying blind and not building the infrastructure for tomorrow’s climate, but building the infrastructure for yesterday’s climate,” said Paul Fleming, who heads the climate resiliency program for the Seattle Public Utilities.

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