April, 2019

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. They stopped collecting news at the election of U.S. Unindicted Co-conspirator Forty-Five, which was a frickin' party pooper of a day, I'll tell ya.

Here's the 10-day weather forecast for Mattawa, Ontario, where we have a farm, away from the noise of that blowhard, the liar-in-chief. I try to spend as much time as I can on the farm.

April, 2019


  • Scientists Create Speech From Brain Signals: A prosthetic voice decodes what the brain intends to say and generates (mostly) understandable speech, no muscle movement needed.
    • [ael: phenomenal — listen to the speech samples from electronic brain patterns.]
  • Putting Down Your Phone May Help You Live Longer: By raising levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol, our phone time may also be threatening our long-term health.
    • If you’re like many people, you may have decided that you want to spend less time staring at your phone. It’s a good idea: an increasing body of evidence suggests that the time we spend on our smartphones is interfering with our sleep, self-esteem, relationships, memory, attention spans, creativity, productivity and problem-solving and decision-making skills.
    • the average American spends four hours a day staring at their smartphone and keeps it within arm’s reach nearly all the time, according to a tracking app called Moment. The result, as Google has noted in a report, is that “mobile devices loaded with social media, email and news apps” create “a constant sense of obligation, generating unintended personal stress.”
  • W.H.O. Says Limited or No Screen Time for Children Under 5: In a new set of guidelines, the World Health Organization said that infants under 1 year old should not be exposed to electronic screens and that children between the ages of 2 and 4 should not have more than one hour of “sedentary screen time” each day.
  • Canada: extreme floods show climate threat as experts warn of further tumult: Thousands evacuated from eastern Canada as Justin Trudeau admits urgent action necessary to improve climate preparedness
    • This is not the first time Quebec has seen large-scale flooding: in 2017, Quebec rivers reached similar levels, but the floods did not hit the heavily populated Ottawa-Gatineau region, and far fewer people were evacuated. The fact that two so-called “hundred-year floods” occurred so close together has climate preparedness experts concerned.
  • Why your brain doesn’t register the words ‘climate change’: Which phrase does a better job of grabbing people’s attention: “global warming” or “climate change”? According to recent neuroscience research, the answer is neither.
    • If you want to get people to care, try “climate crisis,” suggests new research from an advertising consulting agency in New York. That phrase got a 60 percent greater emotional response from listeners than our old pal climate change. (It must be music to the ears of Al Gore, who uses the phrase in just about every other tweet.)
    • Gerrol suspects that there are two reasons “global warming” and “climate change” performed so poorly. For one, they’re both neutral phrases. “There’s nothing inherently negative or positive” about the words themselves, Gerrol points out. (Luntz, as it happens, once encouraged Republicans to use the benign-sounding “climate change.”)
    • Then there’s the problem of overexposure. Both global warming and climate change are “incredibly worn out,” he said. There’s a reason why advertising companies aren’t using their ad campaigns from the 1980s — sometimes you need to shake things up to get people to pay attention. If a term doesn’t evoke a strong emotional response in the first place, it’s even more likely to wear out quickly, Gerrol said.


  • Editorial: A serious education gap on climate change is rooted in politics, not science: Much like sex education and evolution, the teaching of climate change is the latest topic backed by a wealth of sound science forced to yield to political pressure from a small group of disbelievers. Growing numbers of teachers, in particular, say they worry about discussing climate change because they don’t want to suffer the wrath of parents with baseless beliefs.


  • The Climate Change Generation Needs to Know What's Coming: Michael E. Mann
    • The fossil fuel industry’s decades-long campaign to build political power and spread disinformation about climate change is well-documented. It has long kept the American public in the dark and elected leaders in their pocket. Their strategy of denying the causes of climate change has been wildly lucrative for the fossil fuel industry, but devastating for our environment and democracy.
    • I myself have long been targeted for my research into climate change and my efforts to communicate the dire consequences of human-caused climate change. These days it’s mostly easily-ignored Twitter trolls, but during the height of the attacks on climate science, someone mailed me a letter filled with white powder. And in the not-too-distant past, members of Congress used the power of their offices to publicly attack my research and malign my reputation. It is always disturbing to see elected leaders bully in this way. Their purpose is never to provide “balance.” It is always to intimidate and obfuscate.
    • What can we do? For one, we can support groups that are fighting back against ignorance, like the National Center for Science Education and We The Future, a project putting art and teaching materials highlighting young leaders in 20,000 classrooms. We’re already seeing the harm of floods, fires, heat and drought, but it’s the next generation that will bear the brunt of climate change. The least we can do is give our kids the tools to rise to the immense challenge they will face as the climate change generation.
  • 8 Ways To Teach Climate Change In Almost Any Classroom


  • Ottawa declares climate emergency: City to spend $250K to speed up studies on renewable energy, emissions
  • A toxic microbe lurks on the SC coast. Older fat men should worry most: [ael: finally! Something to get the attention of Trump and other politicians!]
    • Vibrio bacteria can wash into open cuts and rapidly worsen, causing swelling and massive infections. They also can seep into wounds, get into the blood stream and attack the liver, causing people with low-grade liver diseases to become sicker, according to researchers at the University of South Carolina.
    • Those most at risk are people who already are ill or who have developed a minor liver disease that often results from poor eating habits — and no group appears more susceptible to liver problems than overweight men on high-fat diets, USC scientists say. Because of their metabolism and physiology, obese men over 40 years old appear more at risk of developing health problems from vibrio exposure than women and younger people, USC research scientist Geoff Scott said.
  • Global Warming Is Hitting Ocean Species Hardest, Including Fish Relied on for Food: Local populations of fish, mollusks and other marine animals are disappearing at twice the rate of land-based species, new research shows.
    • "These results are stunning, in part because the impacts of climate change on ocean life were virtually ignored just a decade ago," said Pinsky, an ocean researcher at Rutgers University. The study took a close look at cold-blooded marine species whose body temperatures are dependent on their surroundings.
    • Locally caught fish are an important source of protein for about half the world's population, and the new study shows that some of those species near the equator are among the most vulnerable to global warming because they already live near the edge of their heat tolerance.
    • "Our conclusions are based on global research across more than 500 species, from lizards and fish to spiders and crabs," he said. "We calculated safe temperatures for 88 marine and 294 land species, found the coolest temperatures available to each species during the hottest parts of the year, and identified whether warming had driven population loss for 159 species."
  • Canadian researchers warn of 'cascading impacts' as bumblebee species decline: York University researchers say the American bumblebee is facing imminent extinction from Canada
    • The imminent extinction classification is considered the highest and most at-risk classification before extinction. About 42 of the more than 850 species of bees in Canada are bumblebees — important pollinators needed to grow crops, including apples, tomatoes, blueberries and legumes, as well as trees, shrubs and wildflowers.
    • "This is a really drastic decline that we noticed," MacPhail told CBC Toronto. "We looked at historic data over a period of 100 years and compared it with the last 10 years and found an almost 89 per cent decrease in abundance relative to the other bees … it's really concerning."


  • Oilsands lobby speechless as government scientists point to higher pollution: A major oilpatch lobby group appears to be speechless after government scientists published new research showing that major oilsands facilities appear to be producing far more pollution than what they have reported publicly.
    • “Thank you for your request, but we won’t be providing a comment,” said Elisabeth Besson, a spokeswoman from the lobby group, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), in a brief email to National Observer.
  • These Scientists Are Radically Changing How They Live To Cope With Climate Change: When the US government is doing nothing to stop climate change, do your personal choices even matter? Here’s how climate scientists are — and aren’t — changing their lives.
    • Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University regularly engages with the public about climate change. She gave a TED Talk and created a YouTube series. Over and over again, she’s been asked the same question: What can I do about climate change? This has led her down a multiyear journey of experimentation, giving up certain things and seeing how it felt. Over the past decade, she’s invested in solar panels for her home, bought an electric vehicle, and switched from a dryer to a drying rack. Increasingly, she’s been giving virtual talks to cut down on travel. Hayhoe’s biggest climate impact, she said, is not cutting her own emissions or serving as a model for others on this front. It’s simply talking to as many people as possible about the perils of climate change. “The most important thing I’ve done is restructure my life to tell as many people in as efficient and effective ways as I can,” Hayhoe said. “It is real. It is us. It is serious and there are solutions if we act now.”
    • Join those who've given up flying....
  • Not dead but gone: how a concussion changed my girlfriend's personality forever: We have no place in our culture for this kind of grief. After her brain injury, Gabrielle was still there – it just wasn’t the her I had loved


  • Climate change has increased world economic inequality, study says: A new study from Stanford University says global warming has increased the wealth gap between the world’s countries by enriching cooler, wealthier countries and dragging down growth in hotter, poorer countries.
  • Why Did The Armadillo Cross The Road Into Kansas? Climate Change
    • Armadillos aren’t the only things moving north due partly to climate change. Cotton is, too. The Next Gineration cotton gin in Pratt has been running 24 hours a day, seven days a week this year. That’s because Kansas farmers grow more cotton than ever before.
    • To get consistently good quality and quantity you need heat. Betzen said there’s already a pretty noticeable difference in heat from the Kansas/Oklahoma border and where he farms 50 miles to the north. But lately, climate change is making conditions more favorable. Since 1970, the average amount of time between the last spring freeze and the first fall freeze in south-central Kansas has increased by almost eight days.
    • “There’s enough people realizing if they don’t change their ways,” Betzen said, “they’re probably headed for bankruptcy.”
  • Most Teachers Don't Teach Climate Change; 4 In 5 Parents Wish They Did
    • More than 80% of parents in the U.S. support the teaching of climate change. And that support crosses political divides, according to the results of an exclusive new NPR/Ipsos poll: Whether they have children or not, two-thirds of Republicans and 9 in 10 Democrats agree that the subject needs to be taught in school.
  • Greenland is melting even faster than experts thought, study finds: Climate change is eliminating giant chunks of ice from Greenland at such a speed that the melt has already made a significant contribution to sea level rise, according to a new study. With global warming, the island will lose much more, threatening coastal cities around the world.
    • Forty percent to 50% of the planet's population is in cities that are vulnerable to sea rise, and the study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is bad news for places like New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Mumbai.
  • Federal report contradicts EPA chief's claims that climate change impacts are decades away, environmental group says:
    • An analysis by the environmental advocacy group the Sierra Club, released Monday, found nine instances in which Wheeler's statements about the delayed impact of climate change were directly contradicted in the National Climate Assessment, a government-sponsored climate analysis authored by scientists from 13 federal agencies that was released in November. (there is no link to this analysis because they gave it to us exclusively)
  • Melting permafrost in Arctic will have $70tn climate impact – study: Study shows how destabilised natural systems will worsen man-made problem
    • If countries fail to improve on their Paris agreement commitments, this feedback mechanism, combined with a loss of heat-deflecting white ice, will cause a near 5% amplification of global warming and its associated costs, says the paper, which was published on Tuesday in Nature Communications. The authors say their study is the first to calculate the economic impact of permafrost melt and reduced albedo – a measure of how much light that hits a surface is reflected without being absorbed – based on the most advanced computer models of what is likely to happen in the Arctic as temperatures rise. It shows how destabilised natural systems will worsen the problem caused by man-made emissions, making it more difficult and expensive to solve.
    • They assessed known stocks of frozen organic matter in the ground up to 3 metres deep at multiple points across the Arctic. These were run through the world’s most advanced simulation software in the US and at the UK Met Office to predict how much gas will be released at different levels of warming. Even with supercomputers, the number crunching took weeks because the vast geography and complex climate interactions of the Arctic throw up multiple variables. The researchers then applied previous economic impact models to assess the likely costs.
    • The new projections contained a modicum of good news because the impact of land permafrost melt was at the lower range of what had been feared. Previous estimates suggested these Arctic tipping points could add more than 10% to climate costs. Some feared the methane alone could prove catastrophic but the new figures show CO2 remains the greatest concern.
  • Oliver Sacks: The Healing Power of Gardens: Even for people who are deeply disabled neurologically, nature can be more powerful than any medication.
  • The scientific maneuver Mueller used that implicates the president: Mueller does not set out to prove that the president engaged in obstruction of justice; he logically disproves all the ways in which he didn’t.
    • The maneuver that Mueller uses in Volume 2 is extraordinary. It’s a social scientist‘s delight and should be used as a case example in research methods classes. Special counsel Mueller uses the logic and procedure of the scientific method to arrive at his conclusion in his investigation about the possibility of obstruction of justice. This is unusual because it is not the typical route that an attorney would use in building a case or preparing an investigatory report. In short, rather than providing evidence to support a claim of obstruction, Mueller essentially sets out to falsify a null hypothesis that obstruction did not occur.
    • The double-negative language that describes this procedure can be confusing. Here’s how it works. The scientific method that all scientists, natural or social, use involves a process called falsification. The method was popularized by a philosopher named Karl Popper, who in the mid 20th century wrote a book called The Logic of Scientific Discovery. Popper argues that in science it is not possible to “prove” anything; rather, scientists seek to theorize all the possible explanations for a phenomenon, and then seek evidence to disprove as many of those explanations as possible.
    • [ael: reminds me of Sherlock Holmes, instead!]
  • The Media Are Complacent While the World Burns: But there’s a brand-new playbook for journalists fighting for a 1.5°C world.
    • When @mikebaird17 urged Hayes to invite Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University, one of the best climate-science communicators around, onto his show, she tweeted that All In had canceled on her twice—once when “I was literally in the studio w[ith] the earpiece in my ear”—and so she wouldn’t waste any more time on it. “Wait, we did that?” Hayes tweeted back. “I’m very very sorry that happened.”
    • This spring Hayes redeemed himself, airing perhaps the best coverage on American television yet of the Green New Deal. All In devoted its entire March 29 broadcast to analyzing the congressional resolution, co-sponsored by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), which outlines a plan to mobilize the United States to stave off climate disaster and, in the process, create millions of green jobs. In a shrewd answer to the ratings challenge, Hayes booked Ocasio-Cortez, the most charismatic US politician of the moment, for the entire hour.
    • Yet at a time when civilization is accelerating toward disaster, climate silence continues to reign across the bulk of the US news media. Especially on television, where most Americans still get their news, the brutal demands of ratings and money work against adequate coverage of the biggest story of our time. Many newspapers, too, are failing the climate test. Last October, the scientists of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark report, warning that humanity had a mere 12 years to radically slash greenhouse-gas emissions or face a calamitous future in which hundreds of millions of people worldwide would go hungry or homeless or worse. Only 22 of the 50 biggest newspapers in the United States covered that report.
    • Instead of sleepwalking us toward disaster, the US news media need to remember their Paul Revere responsibilities—to awaken, inform, and rouse the people to action. To that end, The Nation and the Columbia Journalism Review hereby announce Covering Climate Change: A New Playbook for a 1.5-Degree World, a project aimed at dramatically improving US media coverage of the climate crisis. When the IPCC scientists issued their 12-year warning, they said that limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius would require radically transforming energy, agriculture, transportation, construction, and other core sectors of the global economy. Our project is grounded in the conviction that the news sector must be transformed just as radically. This article is intended as a white paper, offering initial thoughts on how that can be done.
    • The Nation and the Columbia Journalism Review were inspired to ask these questions by a piece that Margaret Sullivan, the media columnist at The Washington Post, wrote last fall. She was responding to that landmark IPCC report, Global Warming of 1.5°C, which warned that the previously accepted target of climate policy—limiting the temperature rise to 2°C above the preindustrial level—was far more dangerous than realized. The IPCC scientists warned that new research and real-world observations, such as the unexpectedly rapid melting of polar ice and sea-level rise, dictated a 1.5°C limit instead. Over the next 11 years, global emissions of carbon dioxide must therefore fall by a staggering 45 percent on the way to net zero by 2050. The challenge is technologically feasible and economically affordable, the scientists added, though there is “no documented historical precedent” for the scale of the changes required.
    • Judged strictly on journalistic grounds, climate change is a great story. Bill McKibben, who published the first mass-market book on the subject, The End of Nature, 30 years ago and who remains the most knowledgeable reporter on the beat, said that climate change is “an exciting story filled with drama and conflict. It’s what journalism was made for.” The struggle between the fossil-fuel industry and its opponents—a fight he joined as an activist when he co-founded the grassroots group 350.org in 2008—offers compelling characters and eye-catching visuals, not to mention high political and economic stakes: Witness the sit-in last November at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office that spotlighted the Green New Deal. For years, the fight to respond to climate change has been the sort of David-and-Goliath story the press would normally love: oil-company CEOs and compliant legislators on the one hand, earnest environmentalists on the other. And yet it is a fight that has gotten only sporadic, mainly simplistic coverage.
    • Meanwhile, climate change touches virtually every beat in the newsroom, meaning that nearly every journalist has something to contribute to its coverage. For business reporters: Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, has been warning for years that climate change could tank the world economy if the scientific imperative of leaving most remaining fossil fuels in the ground leaves investors holding trillions of dollars in “stranded assets.” For the national-security beat: Military leaders, in the US and abroad, have warned that drought, sea-level rise, and other climate impacts are threat multipliers that increase the likelihood of armed conflict and even nuclear war. Food production, human health, immigration, even the viability of baseball in increasingly hot summers—climate change touches nearly every aspect of American life and every facet of the American press.


  • The politics of Easter is powerful. Let's not forget it: Jesus was considered an illegal by the ruling authorities of his day. We would do well to pay attention to who is being called a criminal today
    • As Christians around the world celebrate Easter this weekend, the news cycle will be captivated by the debate about the US justice department’s decision to exonerate Donald Trump of any crimes related to Russia hacking the US presidential election in 2016. Trump is, according to his own attorney general, no criminal. But we who worship the resurrected Jesus would do well to pay attention to who is being called a criminal in our common life. Because the Gospel story is clear: Jesus was numbered with the transgressors.
    • When Christians confess that Jesus is risen, we celebrate that the one who was criminalized got up to unite us all and is leading us forward together. In the midst of political chaos, Easter offers concrete hope that we can revive the heart of democracy through fusion coalition building for the common good.
  • Jared Diamond: So how do states recover from crises? Same way as people do: The bestselling environmental historian tells why his latest book, Upheaval, about how countries come through turmoil, is his most political
    • “There are about a billion Africans in Africa and almost all of them would be better off economically and politically and in terms of personal safety in Europe,” he says. “The cruel reality is that it’s impossible for Europe to admit a billion Africans but Europeans will not acknowledge this conflict between ideals and reality.”
    • Diamond is a lively 81-year-old who wears an Amish-style beard without a moustache and speaks with an authoritative Bostonian drawl. It is not easy to envisage him as a figure of hate, but he expresses his ideas with a clarity that makes few concessions to academic popularity. However, he is opposed to Trump’s wall-building on the Mexican border, mostly, it seems, because it doesn’t address the reality of illegal immigration – 95% of which stems from overstaying travel visas. Similarly, he doesn’t believe a “fortress Europe” approach is a practical policy.
    • “The only long-term solution is for you to do what is the only long-term solution for us in Latin America – namely, to do our best to improve conditions in Latin America and for you to do your best to improve conditions in Africa. It’s estimated that it would cost something like $30bn a year to solve the problems of malaria and Aids for the entire world. That’s a tiny fraction of the money the European Union has, so it would be perfectly feasible for the EU to devote modest sums to addressing a primary problem of Africa – public health problems.”
  • Climate Change - The Facts: After one of the hottest years on record, Sir David Attenborough looks at the science of climate change and potential solutions to this global threat. Interviews with some of the world’s leading climate scientists explore recent extreme weather conditions such as unprecedented storms and catastrophic wildfires. They also reveal what dangerous levels of climate change could mean for both human populations and the natural world in the future.
  • Judge Delivers Major Setback to Trump Policy to Increase Coal Mining on Federal Land: A federal judge late Friday delivered a significant setback to the Trump administration’s policy of promoting coal, ruling that the Interior Department acted illegally when it sought to lift an Obama-era moratorium on coal mining on public lands.
    • The decision, by Judge Brian Morris of the United States District Court of the District of Montana, does not reinstate President Barack Obama’s 2016 freeze on new coal mining leases on public lands. That policy was part of an effort by the Obama administration to curtail the burning of coal, a major producer of greenhouse gases contributing to climate change.
  • A crisis in Kentucky shows the high cost of clean drinking water: When the well water here turned brown and started tasting salty, Heather Blevins’s parents hooked their property on Dead Man’s Curve into the municipal supply. It seemed like a blessing until new hazards emerged: Today, Blevins says, the tap water smells of bleach, occasionally takes on a urine-colored tinge, and leaves her 7- and 8-year-old children itching every time they take a bath.
    • The challenges are monumental here in Appalachia and beyond: The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation’s drinking-water system a D grade in its quadrennial report card. The network of more than 1 million miles of pipes includes many that are a century old and have a 75-year life expectancy. Across the country, 14 percent of treated water is lost through leaks, and here in Martin County, that figure has at times reached more than 70 percent. The American Water Works Association estimates that it will take $1 trillion to support demand over the next 25 years; in Martin County, repairs carry a price tag exceeding $10 million.


  • Oliver Sacks: The Healing Power of Gardens: Even for people who are deeply disabled neurologically, nature can be more powerful than any medication.
    • As a writer, I find gardens essential to the creative process; as a physician, I take my patients to gardens whenever possible. All of us have had the experience of wandering through a lush garden or a timeless desert, walking by a river or an ocean, or climbing a mountain and finding ourselves simultaneously calmed and reinvigorated, engaged in mind, refreshed in body and spirit. The importance of these physiological states on individual and community health is fundamental and wide-ranging. In 40 years of medical practice, I have found only two types of non-pharmaceutical “therapy” to be vitally important for patients with chronic neurological diseases: music and gardens.
  • USDA orders scientists to say published research is ‘preliminary’: Researchers at the Agriculture Department laughed in disbelief last summer when they received a memo about a new requirement: Their finalized, peer-reviewed scientific publications must be labeled “preliminary.”
    • The July 2018 memo from Chavonda Jacobs-Young, the acting USDA chief scientist, told researchers their reports published in scientific journals must include a statement that reads: “The findings and conclusions in this preliminary publication have not been formally disseminated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and should not be construed to represent any agency determination or policy.” A copy of the memo was obtained by The Washington Post and the USDA confirmed its authenticity.


  • A Giant Laid Low by Too Many Blows to the Head: “Some days I feel like a young man, and some days not,” Ryan Miller said. What it’s like to visit a former football player trying to recover from head trauma.
    • Some Colorado regents have begun to ask questions. “Football as played in America is a brutal 19th century sport that is highly destructive to the human brain,” Linda Shoemaker told fellow regents. “I don’t believe it has a place in the academic enterprise that is the University of Colorado.”
    • He’s not a college football abolitionist, not quite. He loved the camaraderie and the strategy and the athleticism even as he knows the bottom line. “You are there to make money for the university. You are a lesser priced whore.”
  • David Attenborough: we're running out of time on climate change: Veteran broadcaster issues strongest warning yet about global warming
    • Calling for an end to the burning of fossil fuels, the veteran nature broadcaster said action must be taken to tackle global warming. The Daily Mirror describes his words as “his starkest warning yet about our future existence” and The Conversation says he is adopting “a much stronger position". Attenborough said: “Right now we are facing our greatest threat in thousands of years. Climate change. At the current rate of warming we risk a devastating future.”
  • Satellite confirms key NASA temperature data: The planet is warming — and fast: New evidence suggests one of the most important climate change data sets is getting the right answer.
    • A high-profile NASA temperature data set, which has pronounced the last five years the hottest on record and the globe a full degree Celsius warmer than in the late 1800s, has found new backing from independent satellite records — suggesting the findings are on a sound footing, scientists reported Tuesday. If anything, the researchers found, the pace of climate change could be somewhat more severe than previously acknowledged, at least in the fastest warming part of the world — its highest latitudes. “We may actually have been underestimating how much warmer [the Arctic’s] been getting,” said Gavin Schmidt, who directs NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which keeps the temperature data, and who was a co-author of the new study released in Environmental Research Letters.
  • When the Glaciers Disappear, Those Species Will Go Extinct: Henry Fountain, a New York Times climate reporter, and Max Whittaker, a photographer, traveled to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska to see how glacial melting is affecting the natural world. Map by Jeremy White.
    • This great melting will affect ecosystems and the creatures within them, like the salmon that spawn in meltwater streams. This is on top of the effects on the water that billions of people drink, the crops they grow and the energy they need. Glacier-fed ecosystems are delicately balanced, populated by species that have adapted to the unique conditions of the streams. As glaciers shrink and meltwater eventually declines, changes in water temperature, nutrient content and other characteristics will disrupt those natural communities.
  • Canada’s Tar Sands Province Elects a Combative New Leader Promising Oil & Pipeline Revival: What will Alberta’s incoming premier mean for carbon taxes, tar sands and pipelines, and how much can he reverse the industry's decline on his own?
  • With Climate Losses Rising, Central Banks Push Greener Finance: With insurers shouldering a record $160 billion in climate-related losses from last year alone, a group including 30 central banks called for measures to spur green finance and better assessment of the risks from higher global temperatures.
    • The move led by the Bank of France, Bank of England and People’s Bank of China draws the group deeper into a controversial area of policy-making where they advocate funding for alternatives to fossil fuels. They set out a road-map for authorities to use in prodding executives and investment funds to weigh up the impact global warming will have on portfolios.


  • Column: Climate change targets are slipping out of reach: LONDON (Reuters) - For all the commentary around a transition to a clean energy system, the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is still continuing to rise rapidly and shows no sign of slowing down.
  • Bill McKibben on the End of Nature: Few people have done more to sound the alarm about climate change than writer and activist Bill McKibben. He’s been doing it since 1989, when he wrote his first big scary book on the topic The End of Nature. Thirty years later, he’s still at it, and climate change is even scarier. The result is the book Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Out? In many ways it’s his darkest book yet, drawing on even more scientific evidence while investigating new threats, like genetic engineering and artificial intelligence. Outside editor Chris Keyes wanted to know, is there any hope at all? The answer is, yes, there is a scenario in which our species actually makes it out of this mess. Keyes caught up with McKibben at his home in Vermont to talk about it.
  • Living in the Future's Past: In this beautifully photographed tour de force of original thinking, Academy Award winner, Jeff Bridges shares the screen with scientists, profound thinkers and a dazzling array of Earth’s living creatures to reveal eye-opening concepts about ourselves and our past, providing fresh insights into our subconscious motivations and their unintended consequences.
    • Living in the Future's Past shows how no one can predict how major changes might emerge from the spontaneous actions of the many. How energy takes many forms as it moves through and animates everything. How, as we come to understand our true connection to all there is, we will need to redefine our expectations, not as what we will lose, but what we might gain by preparing for something different.
  • New climate models predict a warming surge: For nearly 40 years, the massive computer models used to simulate global climate have delivered a fairly consistent picture of how fast human carbon emissions might warm the world. But a host of global climate models developed for the United Nations’s next major assessment of global warming, due in 2021, are now showing a puzzling but undeniable trend. They are running hotter than they have in the past. Soon the world could be, too.
    • If the results are to be believed, the world has even less time than was thought to limit warming to 1.5°C or 2°C above preindustrial levels—a threshold many see as too dangerous to cross. With atmospheric CO2 already at 408 parts per million (ppm) and rising, up from preindustrial levels of 280 ppm, even previous scenarios suggested the world could warm 2°C within the next few decades. The new simulations are only now being discussed at meetings, and not all the numbers are in, so “it’s a bit too early to get wound up,” says John Fyfe, a climate scientist at the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis in Victoria, whose model is among those running much hotter than in the past. “But maybe we have to face a reality in the future that’s more pessimistic than it was in the past.”
    • Many scientists are skeptical, pointing out that past climate changes recorded in ice cores and elsewhere don’t support the high climate sensitivity—nor does the pace of modern warming. The results so far are “not sufficient to convince me,” says Kate Marvel, a climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. In the effort to account for atmospheric components that are too small to directly simulate, like clouds, the new models could easily have strayed from reality, she says. “That’s always going to be a bumpy road.”
  • Warren Vows to Leave Fossil Fuel Reserves in the Ground, a 180° Turn from Trump: The presidential candidate's proposal to end new coal, oil and gas leases on federal land is bold, but voters shouldn’t expect an immediate impact.



  • Arctic is warmest it's been in 10,000 years, study suggests: Permafrost samples suggest Arctic is 2 C warmer than previous record highs thousands of years ago
    • [ael: just coincidence, I'm sure….]
  • After a decade of research, here’s what scientists know about the health impacts of fracking: "This should be of serious concern to policymakers interested in protecting public health."
    • Evidence suggests women living closer to fracking have increased odds of having a baby with lower-than-average birth weight; of having a high-risk pregnancy; or having a baby with a low infant health index. "We were looking for repeat findings," Gorski said, "and there are six studies on birth outcomes, which each found associations between adverse outcomes and unconventional natural gas development."
    • "As a fossil fuel, natural gas extraction and use is contributing to climate change, of course," Gorski said, "but before conducting this study, I didn't realize the amount of of evidence we have that it may be even worse than coal." She pointed to several studies suggesting that if fugitive emissions of methane from the equipment used to transport and store natural gas exceed more than 3 percent, natural gas use would have a greater climate change impact than coal. She also said there's evidence to suggest that the industry's methane emissions well exceed that 3 percent.
  • Only rebellion will prevent an ecological apocalypse: No one is coming to save us. Mass civil disobedience is essential to force a political response
    • Had we put as much effort into preventing environmental catastrophe as we’ve spent on making excuses for inaction, we would have solved it by now. Everywhere I look, I see people engaged in furious attempts to fend off the moral challenge it presents.
    • Those who govern the nation and shape public discourse cannot be trusted with the preservation of life on Earth. There is no benign authority preserving us from harm. No one is coming to save us. None of us can justifiably avoid the call to come together to save ourselves.
    • As the author Jeremy Lent points out in a recent essay, it is almost certainly too late to save some of the world’s great living wonders, such as coral reefs and monarch butterflies. It might also be too late to prevent many of the world’s most vulnerable people from losing their homes. But, he argues, with every increment of global heating, with every rise in material resource consumption, we will have to accept still greater losses, many of which can still be prevented through radical transformation.
    • Every nonlinear transformation in history has taken people by surprise. As Alexei Yurchak explains in his book about the collapse of the Soviet Union – Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More – systems look immutable until they suddenly disintegrate. As soon as they do, the disintegration retrospectively looks inevitable. Our system – characterised by perpetual economic growth on a planet that is not growing – will inevitably implode. The only question is whether the transformation is planned or unplanned. Our task is to ensure it is planned, and fast. We need to conceive and build a new system based on the principle that every generation, everywhere has an equal right to enjoy natural wealth.
    • Today, Extinction Rebellion takes to streets around the world in defence of our life-support systems. Through daring, disruptive, nonviolent action, it forces our environmental predicament on to the political agenda. Who are these people? Another “they”, who might rescue us from our follies? The success of this mobilisation depends on us. It will reach the critical threshold only if enough of us cast aside denial and despair, and join this exuberant, proliferating movement. The time for excuses is over. The struggle to overthrow our life-denying system has begun.
  • A lawyer set himself on fire to protest climate change. Did anyone care?: David Buckel hoped his death would catalyze action. But what is individual responsibility when confronted with the crisis of a rapidly changing planet?
  • Startup Nikola Bets Hydrogen Will Finally Break Through With Big Rigs: “You can’t do this alone. Toyota and the others can’t do it on their own and neither could we,” he said. “The thing that Nikola brings to the table is we actually provide the entire network, we’re building 700 hydrogen stations around America. It will be the largest in the world.”
  • Marin supervisors receive harrowing report on climate change, sea-level rise: Climate change is already negatively affecting the health of Marin residents and within 15 years attendant sea-level rise could threaten the county’s shoreline buildings, roads and original utility systems.
    • This was the sobering message Marin supervisors received after Supervisor Kate Sears requested an update on the local health impacts of climate change and efforts to prepare for sea- level rise.
  • Employees brace for 'organized chaos': EPA next week will begin implementing a massive reordering of its 10 regional branches to bring them more in line with agency headquarters in Washington, D.C.
  • Ottawa, Ontario set for carbon price fight; court to hear case this week: The federal and Ontario governments are set to square off in the province’s top court this week over Ottawa’s climate change law in a fight experts say is as much political and ideological as it is legal.
  • This sleek new magazine adds a fashion-world spin to solving climate change: We know climate change will affect every aspect of society. Atmos, a beautiful new biannual magazine, extends that idea to art, design, and global culture.


  • Extinction Rebellion: Saving the world or wasting police time?: Protest group Extinction Rebellion's fight against climate change is making headlines - most recently when they stripped almost naked in the House of Commons. The Victoria Derbyshire programme went behind the scenes with the group, which urges people to break the law to save the world.
    • Does Extinction Rebellion really think ruining people's day by blocking their way is going to change their minds? "Yes, it is," says Mr Hallam. "The only way people change is by getting upset. No change is possible unless there's major emotional distress. And you can do that violently and non-violently… it's a no-brainer, that's how society changes."
    • 'Shut the country down': British climate group Extinction Rebellion heads to US: With dozens of events next week, many hope arrival of climate punks who’ve swept the UK will be a watershed moment
      • Extinction Rebellion US Call to Action
        • This type of rebellion is premised on extensive research that shows conclusively that if 3.5% of the population in any country is actively engaged in sustained resistance over a concentrated period of time, governments inevitably concede or collapse under the pressure.
        • Suggested Media Messaging for April 15 - 22, 2019:
            • Suggested Media Messaging for April 15 - 22, 2019:
            • For govt building targets:
              • Climate Justice Saves Lives
              • Climate Inaction = People Dying
              • Climate Lying = Communities Dying
              • We are Facing a Mass Extinction of Species
              • Climate Change = Ecocide
              • System Change, Not Climate Change!
            • Right Wing News:
              • Climate Lying = Communities Dying
              • Science Doesn’t Care About Your Opinion
              • Climate Inaction = Mass Murder
              • Climate Change = Ecocide
              • Climate Change Hurts the Most Vulnerable
              • Fox News Makes $ From Climate Denial
            • General Messaging:
              • There is No Climate Solution Without Climate Justice
              • Fight Like Your World Depends on It
              • Climate Change is a Racist, Capitalist Crisis
              • Action is our Best Hope
              • We Will Not Beg World Leaders, Change is Coming Whether They Like It or Not
              • Only the People Can Solve the Climate Crisis
              • The Climate Crisis has Already Been Solved. We Just Need to Wake Up and Change
              • The Last Time the Planet Warmed this Much, 88% of Life Disappeared
              • Climate Change Worsens Inequality and Poverty
              • 78 percent of African Americans live within 30 miles of a toxic-spewing coal plant
              • 80 percent of Latinos live in counties that violate at least one federal air-pollution law
              • Latino children are two and half times more likely to develop asthma than non-Latinos
              • Water is Life
              • Life is Sacred
              • Human Life Depends on Biodiversity
              • We are Facing a Mass Extinction of Species
              • If the Bees Go, We All Go
              • We Need Courage, Not Hope
              • When Hope Dies, Action Begins
              • If the Ocean Dies, We Die
              • Organizing is the Antidote to Despair
              • Another World is Possible
              • 1 in 8 Birds Is in Danger of Global Extinction
              • No more pipelines! No more stolen land!
              • Keep the oil in the soil!
              • We Can’t Drink Oil, We Can’t Eat Money
              • No Intelligent Species Would Destroy Their Own Environment
              • (Picture of a Dinosaur) They Didn’t See it Coming Either
              • Climate Change Can’t Be Solved through Personal Choice
  • How Big Business Is Hedging Against the Apocalypse: Investors are finally paying attention to climate change — though not in the way you might hope.
  • The Next Reckoning: Capitalism and Climate Change: Fixing the planet is going to be expensive. Can we stomach the bill for human survival?
    • The world’s most difficult problem has a solution so simple that it can be expressed in four words: Stop burning greenhouse gases.


  • Climate change: yes, your individual action does make a difference: What can we do in the face of the climate emergency? Many say we should drive less, fly less, eat less meat. But others argue that personal actions like this are a pointless drop in the ocean when set against the huge systemic changes that are required to prevent devastating global warming.


  • Cities are sucking our countryside dry, scientists say: Globally at least 16 billion cubic meters of water - almost the annual flow of the Colorado River in the United States - are pumped out of the countryside into cities every year
    • They identified more than 100 projects - be it pipelines or dams - that had diverted water into 69 cities, supporting the needs of 383 million people, mainly in North America and Asia.
  • The Renegade Nuns Who Took On a Pipeline:
    • The nuns see protecting the earth as part of their religious duty, which separates them from much historical Catholic teaching. Christians, drawing on wording from the Book of Genesis, have traditionally seen man as having “dominion” over the earth: all other living things were created for his use. The Adorers are calling for an end to the theology of human supremacy, and for a deeper understanding of creation’s interdependency.
    • The organizers told me that the group had been trying to keep its protests positive. They held a dance party at a work site during a snowstorm, used kayaks to deliver pizza (which they had termed a “kayaction”), and offered workers homemade cookies while Christmas carolling (after which Mark and Hannah were charged with “trespassing and terrorizing workers”). The proposed legislation frightened them. “South Dakota just passed a law like this,” Mark said. “They’ve even included what they call ‘riot boosting,’ so anyone who supports or encourages or funds protests can be arrested.”
  • A Key to the Arctic’s Oil Riches Lies Hidden in Ohio: The findings of a test well drilled in Alaska three decades ago have been a closely guarded secret. We found answers in a Cleveland courthouse.
    • BP allowed Mr. Silverman to conduct a confidential deposition about the well with a BP executive, David Jenkins. Reached by The Times, Mr. Jenkins said his memories were vague, but he recalled the deposition — which was sealed by the court — and telling Mr. Silverman that “there was never any evidence at all, at that stage, that there was anything material within the refuge.” Mr. Silverman, similarly, remembered being convinced that “either there was no oil and gas there, or the oil couldn’t be produced at an economic value.”
  • Canada’s Changing Climate Report: This report is about how and why Canada’s climate has changed and what changes are projected for the future. Led by Environment and Climate Change Canada, it is the first report to be released as part of Canada in a Changing Climate: Advancing our Knowledge for Action.
    • There is overwhelming evidence that the Earth has warmed during the Industrial Era and that the main cause of this warming is human influence. This evidence includes increases in near-surface and lower-atmosphere air temperature, sea surface temperature, and ocean heat content. Widespread warming is consistent with the observed increase in atmospheric water vapour and with declines in snow and ice cover. Global sea level has risen from the expansion of ocean waters caused by warming and from the addition of water previously stored on land in glaciers and ice sheets. The observed warming and other climate changes cannot be explained by natural factors, either internal variations within the climate system or natural external factors such as changes in the sun's brightness or volcanic eruptions. Only when human influences on climate are accounted for — changes in atmospheric greenhouse gases and aerosols, and changes to the land surface — can these observed changes in climate be explained. Of these human factors, the build-up of atmospheric greenhouse gases, principally carbon dioxide, has been dominant. Attribution studies provide quantitative assessments of the contribution of various climate drivers to observed warming over specified time periods. On the basis of such studies, it is extremely likely that human influences, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, have been the dominant cause of the observed global warming since the mid-20th century.


  • This Is How Human Extinction Could Play Out: Food-system collapse, sea-level rise, disease. In his new book “Falter,” Bill McKibben asks, “Is it Too Late?”
    • In 2015, a study in the Journal of Mathematical Biology pointed out that if the world’s oceans kept warming, by 2100 they might become hot enough to “stop oxygen production by phyto-plankton by disrupting the process of photosynthesis.” Given that two-thirds of the Earth’s oxygen comes from phytoplankton, that would “likely result in the mass mortality of animals and humans.”
    • A year later, above the Arctic Circle, in Siberia, a heat wave thawed a reindeer carcass that had been trapped in the permafrost. The exposed body released anthrax into nearby water and soil, infecting two thousand reindeer grazing nearby, and they in turn infected some humans; a twelve-year-old boy died. As it turns out, permafrost is a “very good preserver of microbes and viruses, because it is cold, there is no oxygen, and it is dark” — scientists have managed to revive an eight-million-year-old bacterium they found beneath the surface of a glacier. Researchers believe there are fragments of the Spanish flu virus, smallpox, and bubonic plague buried in Siberia and Alaska.
  • Global Warming Is Pushing Arctic Toward ‘Unprecedented State,’ Research Shows: Rising temperatures are triggering cascading effects across the polar region, from diminishing ice to changes in when plants flower and where wildlife is found.
    • Arctic forests are turning into bogs as permafrost melts beneath their roots. The icy surface that reflects the sun's radiation back into space is darkening and sea ice cover is declining. Warmth and moisture trapped by greenhouse gases are pumping up the water cycle, swelling rivers that carry more sediment and nutrients to the sea, which can change ocean chemistry and affect the coastal marine food chain. And those are just a few of the changes.
  • The Problem With Putting a Price on the End of the World: Economists have workable policy ideas for addressing climate change. But what if they’re politically impossible?
    • Avoiding horrific damage, as a United Nations panel of scientists recently concluded, will require changes in human behavior that have “no documented historic precedent.”
  • Trump Fed pick won't consider economic effects of climate: Stephen Moore, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told E&E News in a brief interview yesterday that the Fed should not consider the risks that rising temperatures could have on the economy because it was not tasked with addressing environmental policy.
    • "The Fed's job is to keep prices stable; that's all it is. It's not to get involved in political and policy issues," Moore said. "It's to maintain a stable price system with high employment." Moore's nomination comes as calls rise within the Fed to consider the economic effects of climate change. Chairman Jerome Powell, who Moore has called on to resign, told lawmakers earlier this year that he was looking into how the Fed should incorporate climate change into its planning.
    • Moore has a long history of rejecting climate science and recently claimed that scientists were motivated to make global warming seem risky because it could help them obtain research funding. Yesterday, he said addressing climate change is an issue for EPA, not the Fed.
  • Climate crisis: today’s children face lives with tiny carbon footprints: Next generation must keep their own carbon levels at a fraction of their grandparents’ in order to prevent catastrophe
    • Children born today will have to live their lives with drastically smaller carbon footprints than their grandparents if climate change is to be controlled. Fast, deep cuts in global emissions from energy, transport and food are needed to keep temperature rises in check and an analysis has shown this means the new generation will have lifetime carbon budgets almost 90% lower than someone born in 1950.
    • The data dramatically highlighted the burden inherited by today’s children, an issue at the heart of the global school strikes for climate. Another major strike will take place in more than 70 nations on Friday.
  • Old, unproductive oil and gas wells could cost up to $70B to clean up, says new report: 'The mess continues to grow,' says landowner stuck with abandoned well
    • The figure is much higher than an AER estimate, which pegs the anticipated cleanup cost of all oil and gas infrastructure at $58.65 billion. The AER's number includes pipelines and other facilities, while the ALDP only looked at oil and gas wells.
    • The number of wells in the province slated to be remediated is about 3,000. However, there are more than 100,000 unproductive wells that will need to be cleaned up.


  • Climate Change Is Already Battering This West African City: Home to nearly 300,000 people, Saint-Louis, Senegal, is seeing houses destroyed, streets flooded, and crops killed by encroaching saltwater.
  • Investors Should Worry If Climate Goals Are Missed, Report Warns:
    • “On the two-degree scenario, our broad view is that the impact overall on GDP is pretty negligible,” Steven Sowden, a principal at Mercer and one of the report’s authors, said in a phone interview. [ael: two-degrees — impact negligible? Delusional…]
    • Mercer said its model suggests climate change would depress the economy and weigh on interest rates. While most first-world government bonds could benefit from investors seeking safe havens against climate risks, Australia and New Zealand government bonds could be sensitive to physical damage caused by extreme weather events and resource scarcity. Worldwide real estate would also suffer a net loss, Sowden said. While rising seas and more intense hurricanes would likely push people inland, increasing the value of land that is now sparsely inhabited, those gains would be swamped by the loss in value — or simply the outright loss — of wide swaths of coastal property. The land that remains inhabitable would become increasingly expensive to insure. [ael: these bozos assume that first-world countries will be able to handle climate change impacts any better than third-world countries. Au contraire, I believe that it's the reverse. Katrina hit in 2005; my brother went down this year, 2019 (for what he says is the last time) to do Katrina-related repairs. We are so astoundingly blind!]
    • “These scenarios are negative for global growth, and they’re not really great for anyone,” Sowden said. Among the few areas of the economy he said were likely to have positive returns in a beyond-two-degrees scenario: Disaster-mitigation infrastructure, such as flood-wall defenses. [ael: my emphasis]
    • [ael] Stupid, stupid, stupid…. By the way, Mercer, climate goals will be missed.
  • From ruined bridges to dirty air, EPA scientists price out the cost of climate change: By the end of the century, the manifold consequences of unchecked climate change will cost the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars per year, according to a new study by scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency.
    • Even so, Hsiang said the new research lays the groundwork for a meaningful conversation about the risks of letting climate change continue unabated. “The climate may be one of the largest economic assets this nation holds,” he said. “We should manage it with the seriousness and clarity of thought that we would apply to managing any asset that generates trillions of dollars in value.”



  • A Mysterious Infection, Spanning the Globe in a Climate of Secrecy The rise of Candida auris embodies a serious and growing public health threat: drug-resistant germs.
    • Dr. Meis became intrigued by resistant fungi when he heard about the case of a 63-year-old patient in the Netherlands who died in 2005 from a fungus called Aspergillus. It proved resistant to a front-line antifungal treatment called itraconazole. That drug is a virtual copy of the azole pesticides that are used to dust crops the world over and account for more than one-third of all fungicide sales.
    • This is similar to concerns that resistant bacteria are growing because of excessive use of antibiotics in livestock for health and growth promotion. As with antibiotics in farm animals, azoles are used widely on crops. “On everything — potatoes, beans, wheat, anything you can think of, tomatoes, onions,” said Dr. Rhodes, the infectious disease specialist who worked on the London outbreak. “We are driving this with the use of antifungicides on crops.”
    • The genome sequencing showed that there were four distinctive versions of the fungus, with differences so profound that they suggested that these strains had diverged thousands of years ago and emerged as resistant pathogens from harmless environmental strains in four different places at the same time. “Somehow, it made a jump almost seemingly simultaneously, and seemed to spread and it is drug resistant, which is really mind-boggling,” Dr. Vallabhaneni said. There are different theories as to what happened with C. auris. Dr. Meis, the Dutch researcher, said he believed that drug-resistant fungi were developing thanks to heavy use of fungicides on crops.
  • Fed Researcher Warns Climate Change Could Spur Financial Crisis: Climate change is becoming increasingly relevant to central bankers because losses from natural disasters that are magnified by higher temperatures and elevated sea levels could spark a financial crisis, a Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco researcher found.
  • The Green New Deal Fan on Fox News Wasn’t a Random Diner. He’s a Climate Activist.: Meet the young man who ruined a "Fox and Friends" reporter's segment.


  • Australia will no longer contribute to major UN climate change fund: Following previous promises by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to no longer “tip money into that big climate fund,” the country made its final $19 million contribution in December, according to budget documents released today and reviewed by Climate Home News.
  • Let nature heal climate and biodiversity crises, say campaigners: Restoration of forests and coasts can tackle ‘existential crises’ but is being overlooked
    • “The world faces two existential crises, developing with terrifying speed: climate breakdown and ecological breakdown,” the group writes in a letter to the Guardian. “Neither is being addressed with the urgency needed to prevent our life-support systems from spiralling into collapse. “We are championing a thrilling but neglected approach to averting climate chaos while defending the living world: natural climate solutions. Defending the living world and defending the climate are, in many cases, one and the same.”


  • Shell quits trade group over climate-change positions: But the oil giant stayed in the American Petroleum Institute despite “some misalignment.”
    • “The need for urgent action in response to climate change has become ever more obvious since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015,” wrote Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden, who said that the company was responding to institutional investors and nongovernmental organizations. “As a result, society’s expectations in this area have changed, and Shell’s views have also evolved.”
  • An Iceberg Twice the Size of New York City Is About to Split From Antarctica: Two rifts on the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica are close to creating an iceberg over 560 square miles in size. Scientists say the calving event could happen any day now.
  • The Lost History of One of the World’s Strangest Science Experiments: The hummingbirds were dying. Cockroaches were everywhere. And then Steve Bannon showed up.
    • The idea for Biosphere 2 emerged on a New Mexico ranch in the early 1970s. The residents of Synergia Ranch — who split their time between experimental theater, farming and furniture-making — saw themselves as picking up the pieces from the wreckage of civilization. “Western civilization isn’t simply dying,” the co-founder, John Allen, once said. “It’s dead. We are probing into its ruins to take whatever is useful for the building of the new civilization to replace it.”
    • It soon became clear that raising food in Biosphere 2 was a major challenge. The weather was cloudy for the first few months of the mission, stunting the growth of crops. The Biospherians had to break into a three-month supply of food that had been secretly stored away before the doors had closed. Then Biosphere 2 began to lose oxygen because the soil had spawned an explosion of oxygen-gulping bacteria. The crew felt as if they were living at 14,000 feet. A truckload of liquid oxygen finally saved them; as soon as the gas began spraying into Biosphere 2, they began racing around in joy.
    • Meanwhile, the ecosystem was in flux. The hummingbirds and honeybees died, leaving the crops unpollinated. Nematode worms and broad mites attacked the crops. Cockroaches reigned. Ten months into the mission, the project’s advisory board of experts delivered a blistering report criticizing its ill-defined goals and the crew’s lack of scientific expertise. Things got so fractious that the board quit en masse.
    • In the 25 years since Ms. Alling and Mr. Van Thillo broke into Biosphere 2, our species has profoundly altered Biosphere 1. In 1994, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 358 parts per million. Now it’s over 410 — a level not seen for at least the last three million years.
  • The Plague Killing Frogs Everywhere Is Far Worse Than Scientists Thought: As a threat to wildlife, an amphibian fungus has become “the most deadly pathogen known to science.”
    • On Thursday, 41 scientists published the first worldwide analysis of a fungal outbreak that’s been wiping out frogs for decades. The devastation turns out to be far worse than anyone had previously realized.
  • He Helped Create A.I. Now, He Worries About ‘Killer Robots.’: Yoshua Bengio, an A.I. pioneer who won the 2018 A.M. Turing Award with two others, supports a proposed ban of robots that could use A.I. to target humans without human oversight.
    • Even as Stephen Hawking, the celebrated Cambridge physicist, warned that A.I. could be “the worst event in the history of our civilization,” and the billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has cautioned it could create an “immortal dictator,” Dr. Bengio has remained more upbeat.
  • "Effectively irreversible": Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, report says: Global warming is disproportionately affecting Canada. A new report by the Canadian government's Environment and Climate Change department indicates that the country is warming at a significantly faster rate than the rest of the world.
    • Canada's Changing Climate Report concludes that, on average, Canada's climate has been warming at double the rate of the world as a whole — a trend that scientists expect to continue. Since 1948, Canada's average land temperature has increased by 1.7 degrees Celsius, or about 3 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures in northern Canada have increased even more. For comparison, scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies estimate that the average global temperature has increased 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius) since 1880.
    • Canada’s Changing Climate Report: This report is about how and why Canada’s climate has changed and what changes are projected for the future. Led by Environment and Climate Change Canada, it is the first report to be released as part of Canada in a Changing Climate: Advancing our Knowledge for Action.
    • The effects of global warming are also being felt by Canada's neighbor, Alaska. Last weekend, parts of Alaska hit temperatures of 30 to 40 degrees above normal, shattering previous records. "Between a rapidly changing environment and lack of societal response, I'm very concerned," climate expert Rick Thoman, of NOAA's Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy, told CBS News last week.
    • The effects of global warming are also being felt by Canada's neighbor, Alaska. Last weekend, parts of Alaska hit temperatures of 30 to 40 degrees above normal, shattering previous records. "Between a rapidly changing environment and lack of societal response, I'm very concerned," climate expert Rick Thoman, of NOAA's Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy, told CBS News last week.


  • The Catastrophe is coming: No matter what happens with the climate now, we’re headed for a world of change. If it’s really bad, our descendants will know which generation to blame: ours.
    • Do you still use that quaint phrase ‘the elephant in the room?’ Does the family Elephantidae, currently at risk, still exist, or is its extinction such a horrific elephant in the room that no one dares speak that name?
  • Alberta issues 97% of reclamation certificates without ever visiting oil and gas sites: Data shows Alberta is visiting far fewer sites for an audit than it has previously indicated, with the vast majority of certificates granted by an automated online system
    • The data — accessed through a lengthy back-and-forth with the Alberta Energy Regulator’s media team and freedom of information office — shows that since the spring of 2014, more than 9,400 reclamation certificates have been issued, but during that same time period, just 277 sites were actually visited by the regulator for an audit.
    • In Eggers’ committee’s recommendations to the minister in 2004, it was made clear that 15 per cent of all reclamation certificates were to be audited, and that an audit would involve a “field investigation component,” including the possible use of soil sampling equipment or laboratory analysis — a far cry from a desktop review. At some point, the 15 per cent standard was apparently dropped, and the “field” was dropped from “field audit.” Prior to the introduction of “desktop audits,” all audits involved a field visit.
  • Trump signs permit for construction of controversial Keystone XL pipeline: Trump’s presidential permit gives TransCanada, the Calgary-based firm behind the project, permission to “construct, connect, operate and maintain” the pipeline in U.S. territory. The order appears aimed at addressing a ruling from a federal court judge in Montana last fall, who halted the project after finding the Trump administration had inadequately considered the environmental impact of the project before allowing it to move forward.
    • [ael: see previous entry for how oil and gas developers are held to account for their environmental crimes.]
  • Moving north to survive: Indigenous elders in Yukon say moose and caribou are moving farther north to escape the effects of climate change.
    • The changes Josie is seeing suggest a shift in animals’ traditional habitat, as weather patterns change throughout the territory. He thinks caribou are moving farther north to escape the effects of climate change, specifically an increase in wet weather. Josie says there’s a lot more rain and it lasts longer, from the summer to well into the fall. So the ground is freezing up, virtually sealing off lichens, an important food source for caribou in winter.
  • The Risks to Babies of Older Fathers: Most women know that reproductive risks to themselves and their babies rise as they get older, but few men realize that their advancing years may also confer a risk.
  • White House whistleblower says 25 security clearance denials were reversed during Trump administration: A White House whistleblower told lawmakers that more than two dozen denials for security clearances have been overturned during the Trump administration, calling Congress her “last hope” for addressing what she considers improper conduct that has left the nation’s secrets exposed.
    • Tricia Newbold, a longtime White House security adviser, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee that she and her colleagues issued “dozens” of denials for security clearance applications that were later approved despite their concerns about blackmail, foreign influence or other red flags, according to panel documents released Monday.
  • Exclusive: More than 1 million acres of U.S. cropland ravaged by floods: At least 1 million acres (405,000 hectares) of U.S. farmland were flooded after the “bomb cyclone” storm left wide swaths of nine major grain producing states under water this month, satellite data analyzed by Gro Intelligence for Reuters showed.]

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