February, 2022


Much of my climate 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. Unfortunately he and his pal Michael 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. Their recovery scenario is perhaps more progressive than the Green New Deal (and their book is darkly inspirational, and terribly funny — and free).


  • James Baldwin:
    • "People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction…." — Notes of a Native Son
    • "It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have." — No Name in the Street
    • "Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced." — As Much Truth As One Can Bear
  • "If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there's no progress. If you pull it all the way out that's not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. And they haven't even pulled the knife out much less heal the wound. They won't even admit the knife is there." — Malcolm X, TV interview, Mar. 1964
  • "… all you can talk about is money, and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!" — Greta Thunberg (address to the UN, 2019)
  • "Poverty is the worst form of violence." — Mahatma Gandhi
  • "The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands." — Genesis 9:2
  • "[Y]ou cannot postpone a rendezvous with reality forever." Nick Cohen, Observer columnist
  • “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” — Voltaire
  • "Any course in US history is inauthentic — worse, is a lie — if it doesn't teach the experiences of people like Fannie Lou Hamer." [ael: me, late to the game…:(]
  • "I want to be a great ancestor…." Overheard on an ACLU zoom call….
  • "A question ain't really a question if you know the answer too." John Prine (Far from me)

And Now for the News:

February, 2022


  1. IPCC issues ‘bleakest warning yet’ on impacts of climate breakdown: Report says human actions are causing dangerous disruption, and window to secure a liveable future is closing
    • Climate breakdown is accelerating rapidly, many of the impacts will be more severe than predicted and there is only a narrow chance left of avoiding its worst ravages, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said.
    • “The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human wellbeing and the health of the planet,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, a co-chair of working group 2 of the IPCC. “Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.” [ael: honestly, folks: let's be clear. We're going to miss it.]
  2. Latest IPCC Report Says Impacts of Climate Change Are Irreversible and Widespread; Urges Efforts to Cut Emissions and Adapt
    • In a statement released today, IPCC chair Hoesung Lee said, “This report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction. It shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.”


  1. The Best Food Storage Containers
    • [ael: I've added some to my "buy soon" list. Everyone's fridge could use a little makeover, I suspect!]

2/26/2022 — Pamela Moses Day

  1. Judge orders new trial for US woman sentenced to six years for trying to register to vote: Pamela Moses, who has been in prison since December but is being released on Friday, says she had no idea she was ineligible
    • Pamela Moses seen hugging Lemichael Wilson outside City Hall during a May Day rally in 2019.
      Photograph: Jim Weber/AP
    • The case attracted national attention in recent weeks, following a Guardian report, because of the severity of the sentence. Moses said she had no idea she was ineligible.
    • When she turned in the form, Moses believed that the probation for her 2015 felony had expired, and a probation officer even signed a certificate indicating that this was the case and that she was eligible. Prosecutors said that Moses deceived the officer into signing the certificate. But evidence obtained by the Guardian this week showed that corrections officials investigated the error immediately afterwards and determined that the probation officer – identified as Manager Billington – was negligent and made an error while Moses waited in the lobby of his office.
    • Ferguson, Moses’ attorney, said he had never seen the document before the Guardian showed it to him on Wednesday. W Mark Ward, the judge who oversaw the case and sentenced Moses, cited the prosecution’s failure to disclose the letter, even if it was inadvertent, as one of the reasons he was ordering a new trial. “The document does contain information that was not addressed in the direct and cross-examinations of Billington and contained the identity of an additional possible witness for the defense.”
    • [ael: We know of at least four old white guys who knowingly cast votes for dead relatives (two mothers, one father, and a wife), votes for Donald Trump, and who got at most a couple of days in the tank (one of them; the rest got probation) — per a Rachel Maddow show. This poor woman gets cleared to register by parole officers, etc., and ends up in jail since December, with a six-year sentence. Perhaps she's black — her real crime. Bless Pamela Moses, and help her get the restitution to which she's entitled by her racist white society.]
  2. Using Science and Celtic Wisdom to Save Trees (and Souls): Diana Beresford-Kroeger, a botanist and author, has created a forest with tree species handpicked for their ability to withstand a warming planet.
    • MERRICKVILLE, Ontario — There aren’t many scientists raised in the ways of druids by Celtic medicine women, but there is at least one. She lives in the woods of Canada, in a forest she helped grow. From there, wielding just a pencil, she has been working to save some of the oldest life-forms on Earth by bewitching its humans. At a hale 77, Diana Beresford-Kroeger is a medical biochemist, botanist, organic chemist, poet, author and developer of artificial blood. But her main focus for decades now has been to telegraph to the world, in prose that is scientifically exacting yet startlingly affecting, the wondrous capabilities of trees.
    • Dr. Beresford-Kroeger has also cultivated an arboreal Noah’s Ark of rare and hardy specimens that can best withstand a warming planet. The native trees she planted on her property in this rural village sequester more carbon and better resist drought, storms and temperature swings, she said, and also produce high quality, protein-rich nuts. If industrial logging continues to eat away at forests worldwide, soil fertility will plummet, and Dr. Beresford-Kroeger, an Irishwoman, is haunted by the prospect of famine.
    • Dr. Beresford-Kroeger was orphaned at 12. Her father, an English aristocrat, died under mysterious circumstances, while her mother, who traced her lineage to ancient Irish kings, perished in a car crash. Dr. Beresford-Kroeger was taken in by a kindly if neglectful uncle in Cork, and spent her summers with Gaelic-speaking relatives in the countryside. There, under the tutelage of a maternal grandaunt, she was taught ancient Irish ways of life known as the Brehon laws. She learned that in Druidic thinking, trees were viewed as sentient beings that connected the Earth to the heavens. She was also versed in the medicinal properties of local flora: Wildflowers that warded off nervousness and mental ailments, jelly from boiled seaweed that could treat tuberculosis, dew from shamrocks that Celtic women used for anti-aging.
    • As a university student a few years later, Dr. Beresford-Kroeger put those teachings to the scientific test and discovered with a start that they were true. The wildflowers were St. John’s Wort, which indeed had antidepressant capacities. The seaweed jelly had strong antibiotic properties. Shamrocks contained flavonoids that increased blood flow. This foundation of ancient Celtic teachings, classical botany and medical biochemistry set the course for Dr. Beresford-Kreoger’s life. The more she studied, the more she discovered that the symbiosis between plants and humans extended far beyond the life-giving oxygen they produced. “Every unseen or unlikely connection between the natural world and human survival has assured me that we have very little grasp of all that we depend on for our lives,” she wrote in her most recent book, “To Speak for the Trees.” “When we cut down a forest, we only understand a small portion of what we’re choosing to destroy.” Deforestation, she continued, was a suicidal, even homicidal, act.
    • She wrote about the irreplaceability of the boreal forest, which principally spans eight countries, and “oxygenates the atmosphere under the toughest conditions imaginable for any plant.” She introduced her “bioplan”: If everyone on earth planted six native trees over six years, she says it could help to mitigate climate change. She wrote about how a trip to the forest can bolster immune systems, ward off viral infections and disease, even cancer, and drive down blood pressure.
    • During a tour of her forest and gardens, Dr. Beresford-Kroeger spoke with wonder about how ancient Celtic cures were almost identical to those of Indigenous peoples, and waxed poetic about the energy transfer from photons of sunlight to plants’ electrons during photosynthesis. Then she advised a reporter to lean against a tree before writing. People, she said, should look at forests as “the sacred center of being.” “Without trees, we could not survive,” she said. “The trees laid the path for the human soul.”
    • Related: Top 10 healing plants to grow in your backyard: Diana Beresford-Kroeger has spent a lifetime studying as a botanist and biochemist, and has cultivated a garden with 6,000 potentially healing species
      • Over the years, Diana and Christian have filled about eight acres with perennial borders, a kitchen garden, a meadow, a pond, a mixed orchard (Image 3), a small vineyard, a medicine walk and, anchoring it all, a collection of trees, especially nut trees. With the garden as her laboratory, Diana has experimented with more than 6,000 species of plants, testing their mettle and propagating the best, from pest-resistant gladioli through heritage black potatoes and poppies to extremely hardy Hogge pears, which she bred herself from Russian ancestry.
      • Diana’s commitment to saving plants comes only partly from the need to preserve the world’s vital genetic diversity. Equally strong is her conviction, buttressed by a deep knowledge of Aboriginal healing, that plants hold a vast store of medicines we have only just begun to understand. Although nearly half of modern medicines come from the plant kingdom, only a small percentage of the world’s flora has been evaluated phytochemically. Much more remains to be investigated, she says, from the potential anti-malarial properties of cucumber magnolia (Image 4) to possible tumour-fighting acids in black walnut trees.
      • The crowning glory of any bioplan — and certainly of Diana’s own — is the trees, about which she is particularly passionate. Perhaps that harks back to her Irish ancestry, which is imbued with myth, magic and stories like that of a legendary king’s Irish oak so massive that 2,000 men and their horses could stand under its imposing canopy. At Carrigliath, her arboretum of more than 100 tree species includes American elms, tulip trees, the rare wafer ash, American basswood (“the greatest nectar-producing tree on earth”), a cucumber magnolia and many North American nut trees such as black walnut (Image 5), sweet chestnut and her favourites, the hickories. She terms these the “anti-famine” trees: “Hickory nuts and others are very high in fat, carbohydrates and protein, and they would sustain Aboriginal communities when the animals disappeared.”
      • Diana’s top 10 healing plants
        1. Hollyhock (Alcea rosea): Used as a tisane or a mouthwash, it’s anti-inflammatory and good for coughs and respiratory problems.
        2. Couch or twitch grass (Agropyron repens): Antiseptic, diuretic; used for bladder infections and bloating. Dogs eat it — the antibiotic compounds are good for their intestines.
        3. Rosy periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus): Contains agents used to treat leukemias and lymphomas.
        4. Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna): Vaso dilator, lowers blood pressure; used after coronarybypass surgery.
        5. Elderberry (Sambucus): Poisonous except for the flowers; they’re used in lotions to relieve tired eyes and rejuvenate aging skin and as an immune-system booster.
        6. Fig (Ficus carica): Fruits are mild laxatives; also high in B complex.
        7. Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis): High in potassium; used for gout and rheumatism.
        8. Cinnamon (bark of Cinnamomum zeylanicum): An intestinal stimulant; used to treat vomiting and nausea; also high in antioxidants.
        9. Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana): A skin astringent; also stops bleeding.
        10. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris): Thymol is an antiseptic, effective on gastrointestinal and respiratory complaints.
      • Diana’s Bioplan (her website: forest revival).
        • How to Participate
          • Everyone needs to plant one native tree per year for the next six years.
          • If we can globally plant 48 Billion Trees over the next 6 years we can reverse the effects of Climate Change.
        • Other simple strategies to help:
          • Encourage your friends and neighbours to plant native trees.
          • Protect the trees in your neighbourhood.
          • Protect the native forests in your community by getting involved and writing letters to your government representatives.


  1. White House science office to hold first-ever event on countering 'climate delayism':

2/24/2022 — Russia invades Ukraine

  1. Sea Ice Around Antarctica Reaches a Record Low: The drop surprised scientists, and may help them understand more about climate change affecting Antarctica and its waters.
    • As of Tuesday, ice covered 750,000 square miles around the Antarctic coast, below the previous record low of 815,000 square miles in early March 2017, according to the analysis by the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo.
    • Antarctic sea ice extent is highly variable from year to year, but overall has increased very slightly, on average, since the late 1970s, when satellite observations began. By contrast, sea ice extent in the Arctic, which is warming about three times as fast as other regions, has decreased by more than 10 percent a decade over the same period.
  2. Live Updates: Russia Attacks Ukraine From Land, Air and Sea: Dozens of Ukrainian soldiers are killed, as the government vowed an “all-out defense.” NATO’s secretary general condemned the “reckless and unprovoked attack” by Russia.
    • Here’s how the Russian attack began. Early Thursday, just as President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia announced on television that he had decided “to carry out a special military operation” in Ukraine, explosions were reported across the country. Blasts were heard in Kyiv, the capital; in Kharkiv, the second largest city; and in Kramatorsk in the region of Donetsk, one of two eastern Ukrainian territories claimed by Russia-backed separatists since 2014.


  1. Sea levels are rising at a staggering rate. We’re running out of time to act.:
    • Over the past century, sea levels in the United States rose by approximately a foot. That is a staggering amount — and one that could be matched in just the next three decades, according to a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and five other agencies. By 2050, U.S. sea levels could rise between 10 and 12 inches. In the East and the Gulf Coast, the figure could be even higher.
    • White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy called the findings a sign that “our climate crisis … is blinking ‘code red.’ ” It’s yet another reminder of the importance of keeping temperature increases under 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100, the threshold scientists warn we shouldn’t pass. That imperative won’t be achievable without large-scale policy changes to boost energy efficiency, clean technologies and alternatives to fossil fuels.
    • The report comes with an urgent warning: Emissions matter, both now and in the future. Thanks to heating that has already taken place, the 2050 projections will likely still materialize even if emissions are curbed. But if emissions are not reduced, the situation will be far worse: Sea level along the U.S. coastline could rise up to 7 feet by the end of the century, a catastrophic outcome.
  2. Wendell Berry’s Advice for a Cataclysmic Age: Sixty years after renouncing modernity, the writer is still contemplating a better way forward.
    • In the “long-legged house,” a remote cabin with no plumbing or electricity, Berry has written fifty-two books, during breaks from farmwork and teaching.
      Photograph by James Baker Hall
    • A few hours west of the decapitated mountains of Appalachia is the part of Kentucky known as the Bluegrass region. The Kentucky and Ohio Rivers wind through hills dotted with sheep, cows, horses, and handsome old tobacco barns. Lanes Landing Farm sits in this landscape, a white clapboard farmhouse on a hundred and seventeen acres. Wendell and Tanya share the house with their amiable sheepdog, Liz, who greeted me in a light rain as I climbed a set of steep stairs from the road. Wendell—rangy, with a slight writer’s stoop—stood on the porch, holding the door open with a wide smile. Tanya, petite and cordial, led me into their kitchen, where I sat with Wendell at a round wooden table by a wall of books and a window overlooking a grapevine.
    • He found a kind of salvation, and a subject, in stewardship of the land. With renunciative discipline, he tilled his fields as his father and grandfather had, using a team of horses and a plow. And he took up organic gardening. I’d learned from the letters that it was my father who introduced Berry to the practice, sending him Leonard’s book “Gardening with Nature,” and recommending the works of Sir Albert Howard. An early-twentieth-century English botanist, Howard had studied traditional farming methods in India and emerged as an evangelist for sustainable agriculture. In 1977, Berry quoted Howard, his defining guide on the topic, as “treating the whole problem of health in soil, plant, animal, and man as one great subject.”
    • I confessed that I’d never read Howard. Berry, turning professorial, retrieved “An Agricultural Testament” and read aloud, enunciating each word: “ ‘Mother Earth never attempts to farm without livestock; she always raises mixed crops; great pains are taken to preserve the soil and to prevent erosion; the mixed vegetable and animal wastes are converted into humus; there is no waste.’ ” Berry closed the book. “That’s it,” he said. “That’s the pinch of the hourglass.”
    • When I told a friend, a dedicated organic gardener, that I was writing about Wendell Berry, she replied, “I wonder if your father ever asked Berry to lighten up.” Readers of his fiction and poetry might find that line of inquiry puzzling. The novelist Colum McCann told The Atlantic in 2017 that Berry’s poems “have a real twinkle in their eyes in the face of a dark world.” He recited “The Mad Farmer’s Love Song,” which features one of his favorite figures in the canon:

O when the world’s at peace
and every man is free
then will I go down unto my love.
O and I may go down
several times before that.

  • (cont.)
    • Berry’s children sometimes struggled with the rigors of raising their own food, but they both stayed in the area and involved in farming.
      Photograph courtesy Tanya Amyx Berry
    • Berry’s writing, like the seasons, has a cyclical quality, returning again and again to the same ideas. Tanya once told him that his knack for repeating himself is his principal asset as a writer. He noted a few years ago, “That insight has instructed and amused me very much, because she is right and so forthrightly right.” In his new book, he has a characteristically bittersweet message: “Because the age of global search and discovery now is ending—because by now we have so thoroughly ransacked, appropriated, and diminished the globe’s original wealth—we can see how generous and abounding is the commonwealth of life.” But he has never suggested that everyone flee the city and the suburbs and take up farming. “I am suggesting,” he once wrote, “that most people now are living on the far side of a broken connection, and that this is potentially catastrophic.”
    • I asked him if he retains any of his youthful hope that humanity can avoid a cataclysm. He replied that he’s become more careful in his use of the word “hope”: “Jesus said, ‘Take no thought for the morrow,’ which I take to mean that if we do the right things today, we’ll have done all we really can for tomorrow. OK. So I hope to do the right things today.”
    • Wendell picked up a maul, which Meb had made from a hickory tree. It had a smooth handle and a bulbous head, squared off at the end. “With it,” he told me, “you can deliver a blow of tremendous force to a stake or a splitting wedge.” Thinking about a modern sledgehammer, I asked how the handle was inserted into the head. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “No, no, honey,” then hastily explained himself: “That’s our way of taking the sting out of it, you see, when we correct someone.” He showed me the swirling grain of the maul’s head, chopped from the roots of a tree, and swung it over his shoulder to demonstrate how it becomes a natural extension of the body.
    • When I was back home, he sent me a diagram and explained how the strength of the wood came from the tree’s immersion in the soil: “The growth of roots makes the grain gnarly, gnurly, snurly: unsplittable.” After you cut the tree, you square off the root end. Then, above the roots, where the grain isn’t snurly, you saw inward a little at a time, “splitting off long, straight splinters to reduce the log to the diameter of a handle comfortable to hold. And so you’ve made your maul. It is all one piece, impossible for the strongest man (or of course woman) to break.” He scrawled at the bottom of the page, “There is a kind of genius in that maul, that belongs to a placed people: to make of what is at hand a fine, durable tool at the cost only of skill and work.”


  1. Paul Farmer, Pioneer of Global Health, Dies at 62: As a medical student, Dr. Farmer decided to build a clinic in Haiti. It grew into a vast network serving some of the world’s poorest communities.
    • Paul Farmer, a physician, anthropologist and humanitarian who gained global acclaim for his work delivering high-quality health care to some of the world’s poorest people, died on Monday on the grounds of a hospital and university he had helped establish in Butaro, Rwanda. He was 62.
    • Dr. Farmer writing a prescription for a starving child.
      Credit…Angel Franco/The New York Times
    • Dr. Farmer attracted public renown with “Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World,” a 2003 book by Tracy Kidder that described the extraordinary efforts he would make to care for patients, sometimes walking hours to their homes to ensure they were taking their medication.
    • News of Dr. Farmer’s death rippled through the worlds of medicine and public health on Monday. “There are so many people that are alive because of that man,” Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a brief interview, adding that she wanted to compose herself before speaking further.
    • Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s top medical adviser, broke down in tears during an interview, in which he said he and Dr. Farmer had been like “soul brothers.” “When you talk about iconic giants in the field of public health, he stands pretty much among a very, very short list of people,” said Dr. Fauci, who first met Dr. Farmer decades ago, when Dr. Farmer was a medical student. He added, “He called me his mentor, but in reality he was more of a mentor to me.”
    • In 2020, when he was awarded the $1 million Berggruen Prize, given annually to an influential thought leader, the chairman of the prize committee said Dr. Farmer had “reshaped our understanding” of “what it means to treat health as a human right and the ethical and political obligations that follow.”


  1. The group that brought down Keystone XL faces agonies of its own: It was the upstart that changed the face of America’s environmental movement. But 350.org, founded by the legendary Bill McKibben, has been laid low by a budget crunch, equity fights and union strife.
    • The complex dynamic over race, diversity and equity that enveloped 350.org — and the quest to empower people of color to make consequential strategic decisions — reflected broader challenges in the environmental movement. White, wealthy liberals have dominated green groups for decades, coloring environmentalism with a reputation for elitism.
    • The union helped negotiate voluntary severance packages last fall. 350.org said five staff members, as well as two managers, took the severance. Boeve, however, sees a light at the end of the tunnel — and a more diverse and equable organization in the future. “Not just our organization — in big green groups, but also in Fortune 500 companies and government agencies — are really trying to grapple with this moment of racial reckoning that is long overdue,” she said. “I hope that that grappling makes us all better. Because of our staff of color pushing inside 350 and a lot of our partners outside 350, I really think that we’ve made some significant changes that I am proud of.”


  1. Covid Patients May Have Increased Risk of Developing Mental Health Problems: A new, large study found that in the year after getting Covid, people were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with psychiatric disorders they hadn’t had than people who didn’t get infected.
    • People who had Covid were 39 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression and 35 percent more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety over the months following infection than people without Covid during the same period, the study found. Covid patients were 38 percent more likely to be diagnosed with stress and adjustment disorders and 41 percent more likely to be diagnosed with sleep disorders than uninfected people.
    • The data does not suggest that most Covid patients will develop mental health symptoms. Only between 4.4 percent and 5.6 percent of those in the study received diagnoses of depression, anxiety or stress and adjustment disorders.
    • Researchers also found that Covid patients were 80 percent more likely to develop cognitive problems like brain fog, confusion and forgetfulness than those who didn’t have Covid. They were 34 percent more likely to develop opioid use disorders, possibly from drugs prescribed for pain, and 20 percent more likely to develop non-opioid substance use disorders including alcoholism, the study reported.
  2. A big climate warning from one of the Gulf of Maine’s smallest marine creatures: In the oceans, the climate-driven warming temperatures set catastrophe in motion.
    • Often likened to a grain of rice, this “copepod”—or microscopic crustacean—is the keystone of the sub-polar food web that makes the Gulf of Maine one of Earth’s richest marine ecosystems. By munching on phytoplankton and microzooplankton invisible to the naked eye, Calanus pack themselves so densely with fatty acids that researchers call them “butterballs” of the sea. Species that directly eat Calanus at some point in their lives include herring, mackerel, cod, basking sharks, haddock, redfish, sand lance, shrimp, lobster and right whales. The tiny crustaceans fuel the vast North Atlantic food web, where bigger fish forage on smaller fish until the bigger fish end up in the bellies of seabirds, seals, tuna, other flesh-eating sharks and whales—or on our dinner plates. [ael: I love that "butterballs of the sea" bit!:)]
    • Bigelow Laboratory zooplankton biologist David Fields has said that the ideal timing of the Calanus finmarchicus life cycle for fish larvae in the spring and whales in the late summer is one of the top examples of why the Gulf of Maine “is beautifully intertwined and synchronous. It is what has made the ecosystem so productive.” That very synchronicity, Fields said, also makes Calanus highly vulnerable to the gulf’s warming. It makes these tiny creatures a giant symbol of climate change. These metaphoric grains of rice in the ocean are now, like grains in an hourglass, slowly draining away.
    • Core populations of lobster have moved northward more than 100 miles over the last half century, giving Maine a momentary boom while lobstering has crashed in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Long Island Sound. Last year was the most valuable in the history of Maine’s lobster industry, with 108 million pounds of crustaceans bringing in $725 million in value. But lobsters are moving so fast toward Canada that there are signs that Maine has already peaked in volume.
    • The bedeviling thing about the shifts, according to Andy Pershing, director of climate science at Climate Central, and one of the authors of the 2050 summary paper, is that warming is unleashing “compound events” that can spur species’ declines. As a human parallel, Pershing cited Hurricane Ida’s landfall last year in New Orleans. He noted that while some people died during the actual hurricane, far more succumbed to the heat wave that followed because of a lack of power and air conditioning.
    • I heard heartbreak too from seabird researchers like I have never heard it. Longtime Canadian ecologist and seabird expert Tony Diamond, commenting on what he’s seen on Machias Seal Island, the island in the gulf with the most puffins, said, “Sometimes I’m shocked by the meals the birds are bringing in compared to what we used to see. Thirty years ago, it was big, fat juvenile herring. Today, so many times, they’re bringing in tiny little fish in their beaks. It’s not nearly enough to sustain them if this keeps up.”
    • What a tern, whale or puffin will return to after their winter migrations depends increasingly on whether humans act to curb the warming. The Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) recently announced that last fall was the warmest on record in the gulf. Average sea surface temperatures in early October that used to hover around 60 degrees Fahrenheit were nearly five degrees warmer. Even in November, a month where temperatures historically descended into the high 40s, they stayed in the low 50s.
  3. Student climate activists from Yale, Stanford, Princeton, MIT and Vanderbilt file legal complaints to compel divestment: For years, they tried to convince universities that investing in fossil fuels was immoral. Now they’re telling them it’s illegal.
    • Student-led campaigns at Yale, Princeton, Stanford and Vanderbilt universities and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology filed complaints Wednesday with their respective state attorneys general in a bid to compel schools to divest. The campaigns have requested an investigation into whether the schools have violated a state law related to investments by nonprofit institutions. The complaints argue that the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act requires universities to ensure their resources are put to socially beneficial ends, and that putting money into fossil fuel companies is in direct conflict with their missions. They also argue that the investments may no longer make financial sense, with the complaints saying “oil and gas stocks have greatly underperformed other investments over the last ten years.”
    • It’s crazy, said Molly Weiner, 19, an organizer with Yale Endowment Justice Coalition who is from California, that the university is making big returns off investments that include fossil fuel funds. “I’m here studying environmental policy, yet my school is contributing to the climate crisis,” she said. “It’s really awful.”
    • “A public charity can’t only be thinking about profit,” Hamilton said. “They have other obligations. We’re trying to make that a concrete legal fact.”
  4. Ikea’s Race for the Last of Europe’s Old-Growth Forest: The furniture giant is hungry for Romania’s famed trees. Little stands in its way.
    • In an accident of geography and history, Romania is home to one of the largest and most important old-growth forests left in the world. Its Carpathian mountain chain, which wraps like a seat belt across the country’s middle and upper shoulder, hosts at least half of Europe’s remaining old growth outside Scandinavia and around 70 percent of the continent’s virgin forest. It’s been referred to as the Amazon of Europe, a comparison apt and ominous in equal measure, because of the speed at which it, like the Amazon itself, is disappearing.
    • There’s one obvious, notable beneficiary of this situation: Ikea. The company is now the largest individual consumer of wood in the world, its appetite growing by two million trees a year. According to some estimates, it sources up to 10 percent of its wood from the relatively small country of Romania, and has long enjoyed relationships with mills and manufacturers in the region. In 2015, it began buying up forestland in bulk; within months it became, and remains, Romania’s largest private landowner.
    • With so little formal law enforcement—Romania’s Forest Guard was chartered in 2015 as a 617-person unit that doesn’t work nights or weekends—the task of protecting the forests has often fallen to activists and volunteers, a responsibility that has proved treacherous. All told, at least six patrolmen have been killed in recent years; in another 650 registered incidents, people have been beaten, shot at, or otherwise attacked in relation to illegal logging. Neither 2019 case went to trial; Paun’s attackers, caught on film, remain free.
    • Natura 2000 sites play a crucial role in the 2030 EU Biodiversity Strategy, for which there is an actionable legal standard, and are similarly important to the EU’s climate ambitions, for which there is not. Old-growth forests absorb 70 percent more carbon than logged and replanted trees, making them the most effective carbon-capture method on the planet; by the time a single beech tree reaches 150 years of age, it will have absorbed nine tons of CO2, the equivalent of 35,000 miles driven by car, its sequestration rate accelerating as it ages.
  5. Flourishing plants show warming Antarctica undergoing ‘major change’: Dramatic spread of native plants over past decade is evidence of accelerating shifts in fragile polar ecosystem, study finds
    • Antarctica’s two native flowering plants are spreading rapidly as temperatures warm, according to the first study to show changes in fragile polar ecosystems have accelerated in the past decade.
    • The plants are adapted to a very short growing season and are able to photosynthesise in snowy conditions with air temperatures below 0C. Despite being able to reproduce quickly and in harsh climatic conditions, they are not good at competing with other non-native plants. Although warming may benefit some native species in isolation, it greatly increases the risk of the establishment of non-native species that could outcompete native species and trigger irreversible wildlife loss, researchers warn. In 2018, for example, an invasive grass species called Poa annua – which is often used on golf courses – colonised Signy Island. Cannone said: “The ingression of alien species can induce a dramatic loss of the native biodiversity of Antarctica which required million of years of evolution and survival. Moreover, the vegetation change will imply a domino effect on the whole biota of the terrestrial ecosystems.”
  6. Wood burners emit more particle pollution than traffic, UK data shows: Revised government data estimates a lower proportion of pollution comes from wood stoves but they remain a ‘major contributor’
    • The government data on wood burning pollution is based on laboratory tests of stoves. Fuller said: “We need to remember the lessons from VW and dieselgate, where the air pollution produced in the real world was much greater than those in official tests. Data from New Zealand tells us that the same applies to wood burners, with the way that we light fires and the fuels that we use tending to lead to more air pollution than we expect from official tests.”
    • Other recent research has shown that wood-burning stoves in urban areas are responsible for almost half of people’s exposure to the cancer-causing chemicals found in air pollution particles. Even wood-burning stoves meeting the new “ecodesign” standard still emit 750 times more tiny particles than a modern HGV truck, another study found, while wood burners also triple the level of harmful pollution inside homes and should be sold with a health warning, according to scientists.


  1. Transgenic glowing fish invades Brazilian streams Aquarium curiosity appears to be thriving after escape from fish farms and may threaten local biodiversity
    • “This is serious,” says ecologist Jean Vitule at the Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba. Vitule, who was not part of the research, says the ecological impacts are unpredictable. He worries, for example, that the fluorescence-endowing genes from the escapees could end up being introduced in native fish with detrimental effects, perhaps making them more visible to predators. “It’s like a shot in the dark,” he says.
  2. How Bad Is the Western Drought? Worst in 12 Centuries, Study Finds. Fueled by climate change, the drought that started in 2000 is now the driest two decades since 800 A.D.
    • The drought, which began in 2000 and has reduced water supplies, devastated farmers and ranchers and helped fuel wildfires across the region, had previously been considered the worst in 500 years, according to the researchers. But exceptional conditions in the summer of 2021, when about two-thirds of the West was in extreme drought, “really pushed it over the top,” said A. Park Williams, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who led an analysis using tree ring data to gauge drought. As a result, 2000-21 is the driest 22-year period since 800 A.D., which is as far back as the data goes.
    • Climate change also makes it more likely that the drought will continue, the study found. “This drought at 22 years is still in full swing,” Dr. Williams said, “and it is very, very likely that this drought will survive to last 23 years.” Several previous megadroughts in the 1,200-year record lasted as long as 30 years, according to the researchers. Their analysis concluded that it is likely that the current drought will last that long. If it does, Dr. Williams said, it is almost certain that it will be drier than any previous 30-year period.
    • Samantha Stevenson, a climate modeler at the University of California, Santa Barbara who was not involved in the study, said the research shows the same thing that projections show — that the Southwest, like some other parts of the world, is becoming even more parched. Not everywhere is becoming increasingly arid, she said. “But in the Western U.S. it is for sure. And that’s primarily because of the warming of the land surface, with some contribution from precipitation changes as well.” “We’re sort of shifting into basically unprecedented times relative to anything we’ve seen in the last several hundred years,” she added.
  3. Coastal Sea Levels in U.S. to Rise a Foot by 2050, Study Confirms: More precise measurements indicate that the increase will happen “no matter what we do about emissions.”
    • A report by researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies also found that, at the current rate of warming, at least two feet of sea-level rise is expected by the end of the century. “What we’re reporting out is historic,” said Rick Spinrad, the NOAA administrator, at a news conference announcing the findings. “The United States is expected to experience as much sea level rise in the next 30 years as we saw over the span of the last century.”
    • The report said that the calculated rise over the next three decades means that floods related to tides and storm surges will be higher and reach farther inland, increasing the damage. What the report described as moderate or typically damaging flooding will occur 10 times more often by 2050 than it does today. Major destructive coastal floods, although still relatively rare, will become more common as well.


  1. Duke Energy plans to exit all coal, double renewables: Duke Energy Corp. intends to close the rest of its coal plants by 2035 and more than double its renewable capacity by 2030 as part of a massive — and expensive — clean energy push.
    • The company will shutter 11 remaining coal-fueled plants, including six across North Carolina and South Carolina, one in Florida and four in the Midwest. Duke now owns, operates or uses energy from more than 10,000 megawatts of solar and wind and wants to more than double that number to 24,000 MW by 2030. Charlotte, N.C.- based Duke is the second-largest U.S. electric company by market value, behind renewable energy giant NextEra Energy Inc.
    • As a regulated electric company, Duke is allowed to recoup the cost of its investments, plus earn a profit. North Carolina utility regulators are developing new rate structures that will let Duke do so in a way to minimize big increases, or “rate shock,” to customers. It is unclear whether Duke will ask to do the same in other states right now.
  2. The end of natural gas has to start with its name: The oil and gas industry didn’t invent the name. But it invented the myth of a clean fuel.
    • For over a century, the gas industry sold the public a myth about clean energy Researchers at Yale’s Program on Climate Change Communication had a hunch about gas that they had a chance to test in a peer-reviewed paper published last fall. They knew from previous public opinion polls that Americans are more likely to view natural gas far more favorably than other fossil fuels and see it as a solution for climate change, rather than a driver. Anthony Leiserowitz, one of the researchers and co-author of the paper, wanted to isolate the effect the word “natural” had on these views.
    • In the last year, API, ExxonMobil, and a number of other oil companies ran a blitz of Facebook ads that emphasized “clean natural gas,” first reported by the Guardian. SoCalGas, a utility that supplies gas to 22 million California customers, has run online ads claiming it is “renewable.” One company that sells biogas trapped from landfills and sewage treatments, which is identical to methane, claims it is a renewable energy company producing “zero-emissions” from the “cleanest fuel in the world.”
    • This language is “too dangerous to have around” Climate advocates point to the polling, the greenwashing, and the policy implications as pressing reasons it’s important that everyone, especially the media, drop the natural gas label. For Alan Levinovitz, the name natural gas is simply “too dangerous to have around.” Stopping calling it natural gas is the necessary first step for the world to move away from gas as a climate solution.


  1. To Counter Global Warming, Focus Far More on Methane, a New Study Recommends: Scientists at Stanford have concluded that the EPA has radically undervalued the climate impact of methane, a “short-lived climate pollutant,” by focusing on a 100-year metric for quantifying global warming.
    • The EPA’s climate accounting for methane is “arbitrary and unjustified” and three times too low to meet the goals set in the Paris climate agreement, the research report, published Wednesday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, found.
    • Methane is the second-leading contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide but is a far more potent greenhouse gas.Unlike carbon dioxide, which can remain in the atmosphere for centuries, methane is a “short-lived climate pollutant” that stays in the atmosphere for approximately 12 years.
    • Over a 100-year period, methane is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. However, over a 20-year period, a yardstick that climate scientists have previously suggested would be a more appropriate timeframe, methane is 81 times more potent than carbon dioxide. [ael: that's interesting — how does that vary?]
    • Over a 24 year time period methane is 75 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. This is three times higher than 25, the current value that the EPA uses for methane.
    • IPCC reports released in 2014 and 2021 placed the 100-year climate impact of methane at 28, while the EPA still relies on a 2007 IPCC report which calculated a slightly lower value of 25. “At a minimum, they should update the numbers,” Hamburg said. Gillespie, the EPA spokeswoman, said the agency will begin using a value of 28 for methane, a 12 percent increase in methane’s climate impact, in 2024, in line with the UNFCCC international guidelines.
  2. Michigan beef found to contain dangerous levels of ‘forever chemicals’: Contamination at a small farm discovered after sewage sludge was tested for PFAS, but officials downplayed incident as ‘isolated’
    • Cattle from a small south-east Michigan farm that sold beef to schools and at farmers’ markets in the state have been found to contain dangerous levels of PFAS, so-called “forever chemicals” that can pose a serious risk to human health.
    • The news comes after consumer groups in 2019 warned that using PFAS-laden sewage sludge as fertilizer would contaminate dairy, beef, crops and other food products. However, at the time a Michigan agricultural regulator publicly assured the state’s dairy farmers her agency wouldn’t test milk for the toxic chemicals as they didn’t want to inflict economic pain on the $15bn industry, she said. [ael: unfricking believable….]
    • PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of over 9,000 compounds that are used to make products heat, water and stain resistant. They are dubbed “forever chemicals” because they don’t naturally break down, and they are so effective that they are used in thousands of products across dozens of industries. The chemicals are also linked to a range of serious health problems like cancer, liver disease, kidney issues, high cholesterol, birth defects and decreased immunity.
    • Still, the US Department of Agriculture has largely been absent from the PFAS discussion while the US Food And Drug Administration hasn’t yet established health limits for food. The agency only conducts limited annual testing and recently adjusted its methodology so it will only catch what consumer groups say are extremely high contamination levels, and ignore relatively low to moderate levels that can still pose a health risk.
    • Related (May, 2021): ‘Forever chemicals’ found in home fertilizer made from sewage sludge: Alarming toxic PFAS levels revealed in new report raise concerns that the chemicals are contaminating vegetables
      • The EPA Office of Inspector General in 2018 identified more than 350 pollutants in a sludge sample, including 61 that it classifies “as acutely hazardous, hazardous or priority pollutants”. That’s prompted calls for a ban or much stricter regulation of sludge, and public health advocates say recent testing is further evidence that biosolids are unsafe.
      • Among the few standards for PFAS in sludge are in Maine, where the state government set screening levels for PFOA and PFOS, two common types of PFAS. It developed the standards after milk from cows on a dairy farm that spread sludge were found to be contaminated with high levels of PFAS. The cows had to be killed, and the farmers found extremely high PFAS levels in their blood.
      • Of the nine biosolid brands that the report’s authors studied, eight exceeded Maine’s standards. Though PFAS tests used by regulators check for up to 33 individual compounds, thousands exist. The authors also used a different test method to check for the total level of organic fluorine, which is an indicator of PFAS, and will provide a more accurate reading of levels. Those results found up to 233 parts per billion of fluorine, which the authors wrote is “similar to concentrations found in fish collected in highly polluted areas and thousands of times higher than the amounts that are regulated in drinking water”.
  3. Covid increases long-term heart risks, study of U.S. veterans finds
    • A large-scale scientific study found that coronavirus patients were at “substantial” risk of heart disease one year after their illness, increasing the odds of clots, arrhythmias, heart failure and related conditions. The risk of heart diseases grew progressively depending on the severity of the covid illness, according to researchers who analyzed health records from more than 153,000 U.S. veterans who had covid. The results were published in Nature Medicine this week.

2/10/2022 — Ashley Bryan Day

  1. Solar Storm Destroys 40 New SpaceX Satellites in Orbit: The geomagnetic incident resulted in the Starlink transmitters drifting back into Earth’s atmosphere, where they will burn up, potentially costing the company about $100 million.
    • As a consequence of a geomagnetic storm triggered by a recent outburst of the sun, up to 40 of 49 newly launched Starlink satellites have been knocked out of commission. They are in the process of re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, where they will be incinerated.
    • The incident highlights the hazards faced by numerous companies planning to put tens of thousands of small satellites in orbit to provide internet service from space. And it’s possible that more solar outbursts will knock some of these newly deployed orbital transmitters out of the sky. The sun has an 11-year-long cycle in which it oscillates between hyperactive and quiescent states. Presently, it is ramping up to its peak, which has been forecast to arrive around 2025.
    • The dangers that solar outbursts and geomagnetic storms pose to objects in low-Earth orbit, from electrical damage to communications disruptions, are well known. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ranks geomagnetic storms on a scale from minor to extreme. The latest, a “moderate” storm, is noted by the agency as possibly causing changes in atmospheric drag that can alter orbits.
    • With these risks being known, did SpaceX take this hazard into account during this Starlink deployment? “I’m just kind of dumbfounded,” said Samantha Lawler, an astronomer at the University of Regina in Canada. “Really? They did not think of this?” “It’s a bit of a surprise,” said Dr. McDowell. “They should have been ready for this, one would have thought.”
  2. Ashley Bryan, Who Brought Diversity to Children’s Books, Dies at 98: A prolific and eclectic artist, he filled his books with Black characters and injected rhythm into African folk tales.
    • He graduated from high school at 16, and his teachers encouraged him to apply for art-school scholarships. But he was roundly rejected, he told an interviewer in 2014. One admissions officer, he recalled, told him, “This is the best portfolio we have seen, but it would be a waste to give it to a colored student.” Undaunted, he applied to the Cooper Union in Manhattan, which used a blind application process. This time he was accepted.
    • “Every morning is a whole new day of discovery,” he told The Portland Press-Herald in 2014. “The one thing I have in common with any adult I meet is childhood. Every person has survived childhood. The most tragic experience you can have in life is the death of a child. That’s why I say, ‘Never let the child within you die.’


  1. The Magic of the Birds: For the teenage sons of an obsessed birder, a father’s bird-watching habit had become nerdy — until some bold jays in an Ontario park turned dubious adolescents into giggly boys.
    • Algonquin in winter is a place where such transformations happen: Here, birds break the fourth wall between us and the wild. And, just as my wife and I had hoped, a weekend away with birds can pierce the sullen exteriors of adolescents hardened by life in school.
    • But any benefit of food supplementation isn’t enough to counter the long-term declining trend of Canada jays throughout the park, said Ryan Norris — the University of Guelph professor who currently leads the jay population study. Since 1977, the number of Canada jays surveyed throughout Algonquin has declined by more than 70 percent. Climate change is thought to be a cause, namely unseasonably warm temperatures that spoil the birds’ food supplies. (After taking seed and bread from our hands, the jays often retreated back into the woods, where they cache food for later consumption.)
  2. The whole world should be worried by the ‘siege of Ottawa’. This is about much more than a few anti-vaxx truckers: How did this ‘grassroots’ rebellion paralyse the Canadian capital? With funding from the far right and a boost from Facebook misinformation
    • What the truck is going on in Canada? No offence to Ottawa, but it’s not the most exciting place in the world. Over the past couple of weeks, however, the Canadian capital has been embroiled in drama: hundreds of truckers, ostensibly protesting against vaccine mandates, have brought the city to a standstill. Members of the so-called “Freedom Truck Convoy” have been blaring horns, desecrating war memorials and setting off fireworks. Residents are being driven to distraction. The police chief has called the situation a “siege”; the Ontario premier called it “an occupation”. On Monday, the city’s mayor, Jim Watson, declared a state of emergency.
    • There’s a lot going on in the world right now. If you’re not Canadian, then the protest in Ottawa might not be top of your list of things to worry about. But I’m afraid you should be worried. You should certainly be paying attention. What’s unfolding in Ottawa is not a grassroots protest that has spontaneously erupted out of the frustration of local lorry drivers. Rather, it’s an astroturfed movement – one that creates an impression of widespread grassroots support where little exists – funded by a global network of highly organised far-right groups and amplified by Facebook’s misinformation machine. The drama may be centred in Canada, but what is unfolding has repercussions for us all.
    • That’s a big claim, so let me break it down. We’ll start with the Canadian lorry drivers. The people protesting against vaccine mandates, it can’t be stressed enough, are by no means representative of the Canadian haulage industry as a whole. Just 10% of cross-border drivers refused the jabs, according to the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), meaning that from 15 January they can no longer cross back into Canada without quarantine. The CTA, along with other major industry organisations, has disavowed the protest. The protesters don’t represent the vast majority of lorry drivers, nor are they representative of public sentiment towards vaccines in Canada – a country where 84% of the population, children included, have received at least one vaccine dose. They are, as Justin Trudeau has said, a “small fringe”.
    • They may be a fringe minority, but that doesn’t mean you should (as Trudeau seems to be doing) downplay or dismiss them. For one, they have a lot of powerful supporters. The usual crowd of rightwing politicians in the US, including Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, have been cheering them on. They have also been getting millions of dollars in funding across crowdfunding sites from international donors.
    • [ael: it's worth reading the rest, about how "troll farms" are pushing the content — not Canadians, not truckers — but trolls….]
    • After that report was leaked in September, Facebook made a lot of noises about how it was aggressively cracking down on troll farms. Has it followed through on these promises? Meta Platforms, Facebook’s owner, said on Monday that it had removed dozens of scam pages associated with the convoy protest from Facebook; however, there are still a huge number of recently created pages supporting the hauliers, with suspiciously large numbers of followers. Meanwhile, on Telegram, a social network favoured by the right, people across the world are urging each other to replicate the tactics in Canada in their home towns. Canada may not be on the brink of civil war, but what is happening in Ottawa is one small front in a global information war. And the baddies, I’m afraid to say, are winning.
  3. One in five applicants to white supremacist group tied to US military: Leaked documents show that about 18 out of 87 applicants, or 21%, to Patriot Front were currently or formerly affiliated with military
    • [ael: really — should anyone be surprised?] One in five applicants to the white supremacist group Patriot Front claimed to hold current or former ties to the US military, according to leaked documents published and reviewed by the Southern Poverty Law Center and alternative media collective Unicorn Riot.
    • A white supremacist and neo-fascist hate group, Patriot Front emerged as a rebrand of the neo-Nazi organization Vanguard America in the aftermath of the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
    • In addition to alleged military affiliations, the leak also revealed that the group targets minors. According to Unicorn Riot, Patriot Front recruits “members through the internet who are still legally minors, indoctrinating them with white supremacist ideology and even encouraging them to lie to their parents so the group can transport them across state lines for fascist events”.
    • In October, a House panel convened to discuss ways to address veterans being increasingly targeted for recruitment by extremist groups. “They provide them with a tribe [ael: my emphasis], a simplistic view of the world and its problems, actionable solutions and a sense of purpose, and then they feed these vulnerable individuals a concoction of lies and an unrelenting narrative of political and social grievance,” retired Marine Lt Col Joe Plenzler said at the panel. [ael: reminds me of E. O. Wilson, saying that organized religion is just tribalism….]
    • A study last year by the Center for Strategic and International Studies found that in 2020, 6.4% of all domestic terror attacks and plots were committed by active-duty or reserve personnel, up from 1.5% in 2019 and none in 2018.
  4. The urine revolution: how recycling pee could help to save the world: Separating urine from the rest of sewage could mitigate some difficult environmental problems, but there are big obstacles to radically re-engineering one of the most basic aspects of life.
    • Specialized toilet systems recover nitrogen and other nutrients from urine for use as fertilizers and other products.
      Credit: MAK/Georg Mayer/EOOS NEXT
    • [ael: here's mine!]
    • d41586-022-00338-6_20107530.png
      Source: M. Qadir et al. Nat. Resour. Forum 44, 40–51 (2020)
    • Scientists are working on ways to make centralized systems more sustainable and less polluting, but, beginning in Sweden in the 1990s, some researchers began pushing for more fundamental change. The end-of-pipe advances are “just, you know, another evolution of the same damn thing”, says Nancy Love, an environmental engineer at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Urine diversion would be “transformative”, she says. In a study1 that modelled wastewater-management systems in three US states, she and her colleagues compared conventional wastewater systems with hypothetical ones that divert urine and use the recovered nutrients to replace synthetic fertilizers. They projected that communities with urine diversion could lower their overall greenhouse-gas emissions by up to 47%, energy consumption by up to 41%, freshwater use by about half, and nutrient pollution from the wastewater by up to 64%, depending on the technologies used.
  5. Nuclear fusion heat record a ‘huge step’ in quest for new energy source: Oxfordshire scientists’ feat raises hopes of using reactions that power sun for low-carbon energy
    • Researchers at the Joint European Torus (JET), a fusion experiment in Oxfordshire, generated 59 megajoules of heat – equivalent to about 14kg of TNT – during a five-second burst of fusion, more than doubling the previous record of 21.7 megajoules set in 1997 by the same facility.
    • The doughnut-shaped JET is built to contain plasmas, or highly ionised gases, which are heated to 150m degrees Celsius, 10 times hotter than the centre of the sun. At such extreme temperatures, atomic nuclei can fuse together to form new elements and release vast amounts of energy. The same fusion reactions power the sun, but at considerably lower temperatures, because stars have gravity to lend a hand.
    • Experiments at JET have focused on whether fusion is feasible with a fuel based on two isotopes of hydrogen known as deuterium and tritium which combine to form helium gas. The latest results suggest that it is and provide crucial confirmation for Iter, a larger fusion project being built in the south of France. Iter is scheduled to start burning deuterium-tritium fuel in 2035 and ultimately generate more heat than is needed to keep its plasma at high temperature.
    • If all goes well with Iter, the next step is to build a European demonstration power plant that produces more electricity than it uses and is hooked up to the grid. The prospect of fusion energy is deeply attractive because it does not release greenhouse gases and 1kg of fusion fuel contains about 10m times as much energy as 1kg of coal, oil or gas. [ael: notice the "m"…:!]
    • Nuclear-fusion_Update-inArticle_620.png
    • While deuterium is abundantly available in sea water, tritium is extremely rare and produced in nuclear reactors. Future fusion plants – Iter included – are expected to make their own tritium fuel by using high-energy neutrons, released when deuterium and tritium fuse, to split the common metal lithium into tritium and helium.


  1. Australians ingest a credit card’s worth of plastic a week – so what’s it doing to us? : Citizen science project mapping microplastics menace in hope of halting spread
    • Suhrbier believes new research of his may provide a clue. A recent study his team conducted in mice found animals that had ingested microplastics did not show any accumulation in internal organs, nor any significant changes in their microbiome. However, when they were exposed to a virus that resulted in arthritis, the mice who had eaten microplastics had joint inflammation for a significantly longer period. The team surmised that the microplastics activated immune cells that resulted in the inflammation.
    • The research squares with a separate study, published in December, which found significantly higher levels of microplastics in the faeces of people who had inflammatory bowel disease – Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis – than people who didn’t. The researchers also concluded there was a correlation between the concentration of microplastics in the gut and the severity of disease.
    • His research has estimated that whipper snippers generate thousands of microplastics and billions of nanoplastics each minute when cutting grass. In January, scientists reported detecting nanoplastic pollution in polar regions for the first time.

2/4/2022 — Kevin L. Ward, Hero

  1. A beloved mayor’s suicide devastated his city and left an agonizing question: Why?: Hyattsville Mayor Kevin Ward’s sudden death is part of an uptick in suicides among Black people
    • Ward had been their nucleus — the one to offer diplomacy amid heated local politics, the perfect gospel song for a struggling friend or a handwritten note to his husband and sons to remind them how much he cared. He had seen a therapist and spoken openly about the toll of the pandemic and racial injustice, how heavily he felt the grief of his mother’s death and how difficult it had been to battle cancer twice. But nobody in his life saw this coming. Everyone was trying to understand.


  1. Swedish firm deploys crows to pick up cigarette butts: Clever corvids become newest weapon in Södertälje’s war against street litter
    • The Keep Sweden Tidy Foundation says that more than 1bn cigarette butts are left on Sweden’s streets each year, representing 62% of all litter. Södertälje spends 20m Swedish kronor (£1.6m) on street cleaning.
    • New Caledonian crows, a member of the corvid family of birds, are as good at reasoning as a human seven-year-old, research has suggested, making them the smartest birds for the job. Günther-Hanssen said: “They are easier to teach and there is also a higher chance of them learning from each other. At the same time, there’s a lower risk of them mistakenly eating any rubbish.
    • "It would be interesting to see if this could work in other environments as well. Also from the perspective that we can teach crows to pick up cigarette butts but we can’t teach people not to throw them on the ground. [ael] That’s an interesting thought,” he said.
  2. Flowers arriving a month early in UK as climate heats up: Plants now bloom in mid-April on average, with scientists warning of mismatches with insects and birds
    • Plants are flowering a month earlier in the UK as the climate heats up, a study has found. The researchers examined 420,000 recorded dates of first flowering for more than 400 species, dating to 1793. The average date for the first blooms was about 12 May up to 1986, but since then the date has been pushed forward to 16 April.
    • First flowering dates in the UK have shifted earlier by a month since the late 1980s
      Guardian graphic. Source: Büntgen et al, Proc Roy Soc B, 2022. Note: average first flowering for more than 400 species recorded
    • “The results are truly alarming, because of the ecological risks associated with earlier flowering times,” said Prof Ulf Büntgen, at the University of Cambridge, who led the research. “When plants flower too early, a late frost can kill them – a phenomenon that most gardeners will have experienced at some point.” But the even bigger risk is “ecological mismatch” [ael], he said, when plants and hibernating or migrating insects, birds and other wildlife are no longer synchronised. “That can lead species to collapse if they can’t adapt quickly enough.” Such mismatches are already being seen, for example, between orchids and bees and great tit chicks and their crucial caterpillar food.
    • The scientists found that the earlier flowering dates correlated strongly with the average daily maximum temperature from January to April, which rose from 7.8C from 1952-1986 to 8.9C from 1987-2019. The researchers did not find a link with the length of the day, but they said this cue used by plants might become important if average flowering dates are brought forward into February in the future.
    • The flowering date records used in the study come from Nature’s Calendar, a collection of 3.5m observations of seasonal change and maintained by the Woodland Trust and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. Many of the records are provided by citizen scientists and anyone in the UK can submit data. “It is the world’s largest dataset and it’s superb, but it’s not enough,” said Büntgen, who called for more people to participate. “Updating the dataset every year is extremely valuable, because this is the only tool we have to really understand how climate is affecting our ecosystems. This is not something we can model.”
  3. The Rise of Greenflation: Extreme weather and energy uncertainty are already sending prices soaring.
    • Since the mid-aughts boom, the North American economy actually lost productive capacity. Dean has little doubt about what is to blame. “The lumber-price story is a climate story,” he said. If a series of climate-change-aggravated disasters—including a multiyear outbreak of bark-eating beetles, back-to-back record-breaking fire seasons, and a massive November flood that washed out rail lines—had not struck British Columbia, “sawmills would be able to treat this market just like they did in 2006,” he said. “The price would never get over $500.”
    • For years, scientists and economists have warned that climate change could cause massive shortages of major commodities, such as wine, chocolate, and cereals. Financial regulators have cautioned against a “disorderly transition,” in which the world commits only haphazardly to leaving fossil fuels, so it does not invest enough in their zero-carbon replacements. In an economy as prosperous and powerful as America’s, those problems are likely to show up—at least at first—not as empty grocery shelves or bankrupt gas stations but as price increases.
    • That phenomenon, long hypothesized, may be starting to actually arrive. Over the past year, unprecedented weather disasters have caused the price of key commodities to spike, and a volatile oil-and-gas market has allowed Russia and Saudi Arabia to exert geopolitical force. “This climate-change risk to the supply chain—it’s actually real. It is happening now,” Mohamed Kande, the U.S. and global advisory leader at the accounting firm PwC, told me.
    • These mismatches have allowed oil producers to remind the rest of the economy of their power. Oil prices, now at their highest level since 2014, have made up 27 percent of the “excess” inflation since the pandemic began, according to the financial journalist Matthew C. Klein. Yet despite widespread Democratic agreement over its terms, Congress has not yet passed President Joe Biden’s climate and energy package, which could start to relieve this mess. If the mismatch between producers and consumers continues, higher oil prices—and higher prices for energy in general—could stick around for a long time.
  4. ‘A deranged pyroscape’: how fires across the world have grown weirder: Despite the rise of headline-grabbing megafires, fewer fires are burning worldwide now than at any time since antiquity. But this isn’t good news – in banishing fire from sight, we have made its dangers stranger and less predictable
    • Fire flourishes where life does, and the two depend on each other. There are pyrophilous (“fire-loving”) plants and animals that organise their lives around fire, such as the beetles that lay eggs in burned trees or pine cones that need flames to release their seeds. More than individual species, whole ecosystems depend on fire to clear space. In many habitats, fire is “as fundamental to sustaining plants and animals” as sun and rain are, a 2005 scientific survey found.
    • The most successful pyrophilous species is Homo sapiens. Early humans used fire for light, warmth, social gatherings and protection from predators. Fire lets us absorb nutrients quickly through cooking, rather than spending hours chewing every day as our primate cousins do. Chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas all eat raw food, and they all have much smaller brains. The caloric boost of cooking underwrites our large, resource-heavy brains. Simply put: no fire, no us.
    • The difference is vast. Societies using living vegetation for fuel are tightly limited by what the land can grow, and what people and animals can haul. With fossil fuels, however, we dig deep into concentrated stores of ancient organic matter, incinerating whole centuries’ worth of buried plant life annually. The coal, oil and gas we burn each year required as much organic matter to make as the entire planet grows in roughly 600 years. And as we burn it, we release long-dormant stores of carbon into the atmosphere.
    • Indonesia’s fires keep coming back, as does its haze. School closures, business losses and flight cancellations due to air quality are now routine. In 2015, another bad year, the plume from Indonesia’s fires stretched from east Africa to the middle of the Pacific. Those fires, feeding largely on dried peat, were also shooting ungodly amounts of previously sequestered carbon into the skies. At the height of the 2015 fire season Indonesia was emitting more greenhouse gas daily than the US. [ael]
    • This catastrophe, engulfing the world’s fourth-most populous country in a choking haze and badly exacerbating global heating, would seem to be a story with legs. And yet international coverage of Indonesia’s fires has been sporadic at best. You can find recently published books covering California’s wildfires from virtually every angle: investigative journalism about incarcerated women working as firefighters, an inspiring chronicle of a high-school football team from a burned town, a children’s book about escaping wildfire and an account of Zen practitioners defending their monastery from a blaze. But a search on Amazon turns up only one book published in English about Indonesia’s fires in the past 20 years: an 80-page economist’s assessment of governmental mitigation programmes.
    • The world won’t burn up, as we sometimes imagine. But the fires of tomorrow will be different from those of yesterday, and we’re racing headlong into that unsettling future, burning tankfuls of gas as we go.

What's going on: 2022

What went on: 2021

What went on: 2020

What went on: 2019

What went on: 2018

What went on: 2017

What went on: 2016

What went on: 2015

What went on: 2014

RClimate Examples

  • Here's the 10-day weather forecast for Mattawa, Ontario, where we have a farm, away from the noise of that blowhard tRump, the once-and-always-liar-in-chief. I try to spend as much time as I can on the farm.
  • Public News Service - Environment
  • More quotes:
    • Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it and by the same token save it from ruin which, except for renewal, except for the coming of the new and young, would be inevitable. And education, too, is where we decide whether we love our children enough not to expel them from our world and leave them to their own devices, nor to strike from their hands their chance of undertaking something new, something unforeseen by us, but to prepare them in advance for the task of renewing a common world. HANNAH ARENDT. From the Introduction to “Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism”, by Henry Giroux.
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