July, 2018

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. President Forty-Five, which was a frickin' party pooper of a day, I'll tell ya.


July, 2018


  • Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change: this two-part article is based on 18 months of reporting and well over a hundred interviews. It tracks the efforts of a small group of American scientists, activists and politicians to raise the alarm and stave off catastrophe. It will come as a revelation to many readers — an agonizing revelation — to understand how thoroughly they grasped the problem and how close they came to solving it.


  • How tech's richest plan to save themselves after the apocalypse: Silicon Valley’s elite are hatching plans to escape disaster – and when it comes, they’ll leave the rest of us behind
    • Which region will be less affected by the coming climate crisis: New Zealand or Alaska? Is Google really building Ray Kurzweil a home for his brain, and will his consciousness live through the transition, or will it die and be reborn as a whole new one? Finally, the CEO of a brokerage house explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system and asked: “How do I maintain authority over my security force after the Event?” The Event. That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, unstoppable virus, or Mr Robot hack that takes everything down.
  • Harnessing the enemy: as crops dry, Malawi turns to solar irrigation: Water pumping and storage systems help ensure crops survive increasingly harsh droughts
  • Could this tiny spider be helping the Arctic stay cool?: The 1.25-centimeter-long wolf spider may be having an outsize effect on the Arctic climate. When temperatures rise, the aggressive, ambushing arachnids switch up their diets, eating each other instead of an insect that keeps a greenhouse gas–belching fungus in check, researchers report. As a result, the spiders may be indirectly reducing greenhouse gases over the Arctic and keeping the region cooler than it would be otherwise.
  • Earth's resources consumed in ever greater destructive volumes: Study says the date by which we consume a year’s worth of resources is arriving faster
    • Earth Overshoot Day falls on 1 August this year - marking the point at which consumption exceeds the capacity of nature to regenerate


  • Spring Is Springing Sooner, Throwing Nature's Rhythms Out Of Whack: There's a cycle that starts when the snow melts and the earth thaws high in Colorado's Rocky Mountains. It's a seasonal cycle based on timing and temperature, two variables that climate change is pushing increasingly out of sync.
    • Harte and his colleagues have found that the heated soil holds far less carbon than the native ground. That missing carbon, he says, is going into the air, creating the potential for a feedback process that will accelerate climate change further.
    • Related to groundhogs, yellow-bellied marmots are getting fatter and bigger because of the longer growing season brought on by climate change.
    • Michael Stemkovski of North Carolina State says documenting these changes can be disheartening. "It's kind of like watching an illness progress without having the tools to remedy it."
    • Species that have a lot of plasticity tend to be generalists. They're able to make the situation work. Species with less plasticity, those that depend on a specific ecosystem or climate, are more likely to struggle.
  • The big heatwave: from Algeria to the Arctic. But what’s the cause?: The northern hemisphere is having a baking summer – and it’s not just down to climate change
  • U.S. loses bid to end children's climate change lawsuit: A federal appeals court in San Francisco on Friday rejected the Trump administration’s renewed bid to dismiss a lawsuit by young activists who say the U.S. government is ignoring the perils of climate change.
  • The Teen-Agers Fighting for Climate Justice: On Saturday, hundreds of teen-agers—loud, pensive, stubbornly determined—marched through Manhattan. They represented a movement that other teen-agers had started, last year, called Zero Hour. They were gravely concerned about politicians doing almost nothing for climate justice, and they had created a list of demands—including, most importantly, achieving negative carbon emissions by 2030. All across the country, other kids were marching, too, with the biggest group in a rainy Washington, D.C., where the movement’s founders led the way down the National Mall, around the Capitol, before ending with a rally in Lincoln Park. In New York, the route wound through midtown, from Columbus Circle to the United Nations headquarters, below some of the luxury skyscrapers that account for only two per cent of New York’s nearly one million buildings but a full half of the city’s emissions.
  • Trudeau’s Tough Climate Policies Face a Mounting Backlash: Two years ago, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a set of aggressive policies to reduce his country’s greenhouse gas emissions, centered on a nationwide price on carbon. As that price is about to take effect, growing opposition has put Trudeau on the defensive and has provincial governments rolling back other measures, raising questions about the appetite of this oil-exporting country to tackle climate change.


  • Climate Change Is Beginning to Shift Planet’s Seasons: Scientists: Pouring through four decades of satellite data, climate scientists have concluded for the first time that humans are pushing seasonal temperatures out of balance—shifting what one researcher called the very “march of the seasons themselves.”
  • More from the same study: Summers Are Getting Hotter Faster, Especially in North America's Farm Belt: Four decades of satellite data confirm man-made global warming and find seasonal warming trends that could threaten crops.
  • Hot enough for you? Get used to it: The forecast for the Ontario of the future is a troubling one: warmer and unrecognizable, with a greater chance of damage. “Forty years from now people won’t recognize the climate of southern Ontario,” says David Phillips, the senior climatologist for Environment and Climate Change Canada.
    • The agency’s modelling suggests the average summer temperature across Ontario between 2041 and 2070 will be 3.5 C hotter than it was between 1981 and 2010.
    • “We’ll have chronic and acute water problems.”
    • Phillips describes an Ontario in which fall and spring will each lengthen by about a month, shortening winter. Summers will be longer and hotter, he says.
    • Farmers, says Phillips, “can deal with variability to some degree but not back to back variability,” and weather is already proving to vary in ways not seen in the past…. Heavier rainfalls are expected, he says, but the atmosphere will take longer to replenish its moisture content, leading to more droughts and floods. Hail storms could be more frequent – but the hail stones are “very likely to be larger and thus more damaging.”
    • As for hot nights and hot days, he says, “take what you have now and triple it or quadruple” the number of very hot days.
    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Phillips_(climatologist)


  • Pence family’s failed gas stations cost taxpayers $20M+: Vice President Mike Pence turns nostalgic when he talks about growing up in small-town Columbus, Indiana, where his father helped build a Midwestern empire of more than 200 gas stations that provided an upbringing on the “front row of the American dream.”
    • The collapse of Kiel Bros. Oil Co. in 2004 was widely publicized. Less known is that the state of Indiana — and, to a smaller extent, Kentucky and Illinois — are still on the hook for millions of dollars to clean up more than 85 contaminated sites across the three states, including underground tanks that leaked toxic chemicals into soil, streams and wells.
    • Indiana alone has spent at least $21 million on the cleanup thus far, or an average of about $500,000 per site, according to an analysis of records by The Associated Press. And the work is nowhere near complete.
    • The federal government, meanwhile, plans to clean up a plume of cancer-causing solvent discovered beneath a former Kiel Bros. station that threatens drinking water near the Pence family’s hometown.
  • Southern California heat wave: Temperatures reach 121 degrees, break records: “Almost all if not all of the daily records will fall today. It is likely that several monthly records will fall, and it’s possible that one or two all-time records will be made.” It didn’t take long to topple those records. In downtown Los Angeles, it was only 10:15 a.m. when the mercury topped the July 6 mark of 94 degrees set in 1992 and kept on rising, ultimately reaching a toasty 108 degrees.
  • Over a billion people struggle to stay cool as Earth warms: More than a billion people are at risk from a lack of air conditioning and refrigeration to keep them cool and to preserve food and medicines as global warming brings more high temperatures, a study showed on Monday. More electricity demand for fridges, fans and other appliances will add to man-made climate change unless power generators shift from fossil fuels to cleaner energies, according to the report by the non-profit Sustainable Energy for All group. About 1.1 billion people in Asia, Africa and Latin America - 470 million in rural areas and 630 million slum dwellers in cities - were at risk among the world's 7.6 billion people, it said.


  • Self-sufficient in a Zombie Apocalypse: How do you prepare your property to be totally self-sufficient in dire times? Of course a zombie apocalypse is just hypothetical, but natural disasters happen all the time. People run out of food and water in the stores and no help is on the horizon. Besides that, you get various thugs who want to take stuff from you.
    • Responses:
    • The only possible way to be totally self-sufficient, in my opinion, is to go full caveman, including a band (tribe) social group on a piece of land large enough to live by hunting and gathering.
    • Interestingly, the step from survivalism to permaculture is not a huge leap, but it is a significantly different emotional situation/investment. What I mean is that Permaculture has as it's goal the development of a permanent culture, but it is doing this to build a better world by design for the long term. We do this, in my view, because it's high time we took into account our ecological footprint and our inherent ability to live on this planet without harming it. This is an intellectual and perhaps for some a spiritual decision, but it is not based on fear. Fear is grasping. Permaculture is about giving back. Therein lies the dichotomy, the split, in my thinking on it.
  • The Electric Aircraft is Taking Off: Now, 30 years later another trip around the world was completed, marking the first electrical-powered circumnavigation. The lofty journey started in Abu Dhabi and 16 months later landed back where its journey began. This plane, unlike others that have made the journey before, emitted no emissions and burned no fuel. Instead, it used solar panels, an electric motor and four massive 41 kWh lithium-ion batteries. Called Solar Impulse 2, it changed the world of aviation when it completed its flight in 2016. Since then, the vision of an electrically powered commercial airplane has gone from a dream to a possibility.




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