June, 2022

Thanks

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).

Quotes

  • 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:

June, 2022

6/28/2022

  1. Swamps Can Protect Against Climate Change, If We Only Let Them: Wetlands absorb carbon dioxide and buffer the excesses of drought and flood, yet we’ve drained much of this land. Can we learn to love our swamps?
    • Many people vaguely understand that wetlands cleanse the earth. In fact, they are carbon sinks that absorb CO2, and they are unparalleled in filtering out human waste, material from rotten carcasses, chemicals, and other pollutants. They recharge underground aquifers and sustain regional water resources, buffering the excesses of drought and flood. In aggregate, the watery parts of the earth stabilize its climate.
    • It is in and around wetlands that the greatest blossoming of biodiversity has occurred—it is not too much to say that we owe our existence to this planet’s wetlands, including fens, bogs, and swamps. Our wholesale destruction of wetlands for the sake of a few decades of growing wheat, rice, soy, and palm oil has been breathtakingly short-sighted. Once again, we are shocked into recognition that most of us live only for the moment.
    • One authority on water, William Mitsch, has suggested that if ten per cent of the old Black Swamp soils were allowed to become wetlands again they would cleanse the runoff, yet Ohioans remain powerfully anti-wetland. Even private efforts to restore small wetland areas are met with neighbors’ complaints about noisy frogs and fears of flooding. Still, despite all odds, there exists the Black Swamp Conservancy, a land trust that oversees twenty-one thousand acres of wetlands. Hundreds of active Black Swamp Conservancy members are doing their best to restore and protect remnants of this great swamp. Can they persevere?

6/27/2022

  1. ‘It keeps on going’: driving the world’s first production-ready solar car: Makers of the €250,000 Lightyear 0 hope to convince drivers it can be a viable climate-friendly alternative
    • Winding past the ochre-coloured plateaux of the Bardenas Reales natural park in northern Spain, Roel Grooten nudged me to take my foot off the accelerator. The car continued to barrel down the open stretch of road, its speed dipping only slightly. “It keeps on going,” said Grooten, the lead engineer for the Dutch car company Lightyear, as we whizzed through the lunar-like landscape. “What you feel is nothing holding you back. You feel the aerodynamics, you feel the low-rolling resistance of the tyres, of the bearings and the motor.”
    • It is this streamlined design that the company credits for allowing it to muscle its way into a space long overlooked by most car manufacturers. As early as November, the company will start delivery of what it describes as the “world’s first production-ready solar car” – the Lightyear 0, a €250,000 (£215,000) sedan draped in 5 sq metres of curved solar panels that top up the electric battery while the car is driving or parked outdoors. “If we would have the same amount of energy that we harvest on these panels on any other car that uses three times the amount of energy to drive, it becomes useless. It becomes a very expensive gimmick,” said Grooten. “You have to build this car from the ground up, to make it as efficient as possible, to make it this feasible.”
    • In optimal conditions, the solar panels can add up to 44 miles a day to the 388-mile range the car gets between charges, according to the company. Tests carried out by Lightyear suggest people with a daily commute of less than 22 miles could drive for two months in the Netherlands without needing to plug in, while those in sunnier climes such as Portugal or Spain could go as long as seven months.

6/24/2022

  1. The Ocean Is Climate Change’s First Victim and Last Resort:
    • The ocean, say scientists, is the source of all life on earth. It is also, say philosophers, the embodiment of life’s greatest terror: the unknown and uncontrollable.
    • This duality has become increasingly manifest in the climate discourse of recent years, as ice melts, seas rise, and shores everywhere face storms of a ferocity unseen in living memory. But even as the ocean has become the subject of hand-wringing over what we’ve wrought, it has also become a keystone of hope that we may limit the damage if we act now.
    • In an interview published in 2002, Werner Herzog, the filmmaker and intrepid philosopher of humanity’s relationship with the natural world, raised the idea that “civilization is like a thin layer of ice upon a deep ocean of chaos and darkness.” At this moment, with record summer-heat highs and record sea-ice lows, Herzog’s metaphor might be taken literally. Life as we know it, after all, exists only so long as the ice doesn’t melt, and the potential chaos of the oceans is not fully unleashed. But it’s also worth considering something Herzog said nearly a decade and a half later. Speaking about his documentary Into the Inferno, he noted that we face the climate problems we do “not because nature is angry” but rather because “we are stupid.” He continued: “We’re not doing the right thing with our planet.” If we did the right thing with our oceans, however, maybe their terrifying powers could save us.
  2. California’s largest reservoirs at critically low levels – signaling a dry summer ahead: Images from Lake Oroville and Lake Shasta compiled by the state show ‘a shocking drop in water levels’ compared to years past
    • This week, officials confirmed that Lake Oroville, the state’s second-largest reservoir, was at just 55% of its total capacity when it reached its highest level for the year last month. Meanwhile, Shasta Lake, California’s largest reservoir, was at 40% capacity last month – after the state endured its driest start to a year since the late 19th century.
    • Only five years ago, in February 2017, Oroville was so full that millions of gallons of water eroded the main spillway of its dam, which is the tallest in the US, forcing evacuation of nearly 200,000 residents downstream.
    • With global heating, California’s dry seasons are likely to be drier, and its wet seasons might be wetter, said Allison Michaelis, an assistant professor in the department of earth, atmosphere, and environment​ at Northern Illinois University. In a study published this year in the journal Earth’s Future, Michaelis and her colleagues found that climate crisis amped up the amount of rain and snowfall that flowed into Oroville in 2017, ahead of the deluge that year. And research suggests that the same force could drive more extreme droughts in coming decades. “It is challenging to attribute any one, specific event to climate change,” said Michaelis, who led the study. “But given what I and my co-authors found in our Earth’s Future paper, and what other researchers are finding, we can expect California’s hydroclimate to be more volatile in the future.”

6/22/2022

  1. Why Soap Works: At the molecular level, soap breaks things apart. At the level of society, it helps hold everything together
    • WhySoapWorksNYTimes2020.png

6/20/2022

  1. Meet the Peecyclers. Their Idea to Help Farmers Is No. 1.: A shortage of chemical fertilizer, worsened by the war in Ukraine, has growers desperate. It just so happens that human urine has the very nutrients that crops need.
    • Human urine, Mr. Sellers learned that night seven years ago, is full of the same nutrients that plants need to flourish. It has a lot more, in fact, than Number Two, with almost none of the pathogens. Farmers typically apply those nutrients — nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium — to crops in the form of chemical fertilizers. But that comes with a high environmental cost from fossil fuels and mining.
    • Now, more than a thousand gallons of donated urine later, Ms. Lucy and her husband are part of a global movement that seeks to address a slew of challenges — including food security, water scarcity and inadequate sanitation — by not wasting our waste.
    • It could also help with another profound problem: Inadequate sanitation systems — including leaky septic tanks and aging wastewater infrastructure — overload rivers, lakes and coastal waters with nutrients from urine. Runoff from chemical fertilizer makes it worse. The result is algal blooms that trigger mass die offs of animals and other plants. In one dramatic example, manatees in the Indian River Lagoon in Florida are starving to death after sewage-fueled algal blooms destroyed the sea grass they depend on.
    • Beyond the practical benefits of turning urine into fertilizer, some are also drawn to a transformative idea behind the endeavor. By reusing something once flushed away, they say, they are taking a revolutionary step toward tackling the biodiversity and climate crises: Moving away from a system that constantly extracts and discards, toward a more circular economy that reuses and recycles in a continuous loop.
    • Chemical fertilizer is far from sustainable. The commercial production of ammonia, which is mainly used for fertilizer, uses fossil fuels in two ways. First, as the source of hydrogen, which is needed for the chemical process that converts nitrogen from the air into ammonia, and second as fuel to generate the intense heat required. By one estimate, ammonia manufacturing contributes 1 to 2 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. Phosphorus, another key nutrient, is mined from rock, with an ever dwindling supply.
    • “The results we got were very fantastic,” Mr. Ali said. The next year, about 100 more women were fertilizing with it, then 1,000. His team’s research ultimately found that urine, either with animal manure or alone, increased yields of pearl millet, the staple crop, by about 30 percent. That could mean more food for a family, or the ability to sell their surplus at market and get cash for other necessities.
    • The kids aren’t the only ones who see economic potential. Some entrepreneurial young farmers have taken to collecting, storing and selling urine, Mr. Ali said, and the price has spiked in the last couple years, from about $1 for 25 liters to $6. “You can go pick up your urine like you’re picking up a gallon of water or a gallon of fuel,” Mr. Ali said.
    • “We see very strong results from the urine,” said Noah Hoskins, who applies it to hayfields at the Bunker Farm in Dummerston, where he raises cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys. He said he wished the Rich Earth Institute had more pee to give. “We’re in a moment where chemical fertilizer has more than doubled in price and is really representing a part of our system that is way out of our control.”
    • One of the biggest problems, though, is that it doesn’t make environmental or economic sense to truck urine, which is mostly water, from cities to distant farmlands. To address that, the Rich Earth Institute is working with the University of Michigan on a process to make a sanitized pee concentrate. And at Cornell, inspired by the efforts in Niger, Dr. Nelson and colleagues are trying to bind urine’s nutrients onto biochar, a kind of charcoal, made, in this case, from feces. (It’s important to not to forget about the poop, Dr. Nelson noted, because it contributes carbon, another important part of healthy soil, along with smaller amounts of phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen.)
  2. This Styrofoam-eating ‘superworm’ could help solve the garbage crisis: Scientists across the world are trying to find bacteria and bugs that consume trash. A plastic-consuming worm is the latest.
    • In a paper released last week in the journal of Microbial Genomics, scientists from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, showed that the larvae of a darkling beetle, called zophobas morio, can survive solely on polystyrene, commonly called Styrofoam.
  3. US must re-examine risks of glyphosate, key Roundup weedkiller ingredient: Appeals says EPA did not adequately consider whether glyphosate causes cancer and threatens endangered species
    • The US Environmental Protection Agency has been ordered to take a fresh look at whether glyphosate, the active ingredient in Bayer’s Roundup weedkiller, poses unreasonable risks to humans and the environment. In a 3-0 decision on Friday, the ninth US circuit court of appeals agreed with several environmental, farmworker and food-safety advocacy groups that the EPA did not adequately consider whether glyphosate causes cancer and threatens endangered species.
  4. How millions of lives can be saved if the US acts now on climate: Researchers have now calculated how many people could be saved from heat-related death if the US takes meaningful action
    • The rapidly shrinking window of opportunity for the US to pass significant climate legislation will have mortal, as well as political, stakes. Millions of lives around the world will be saved, or lost, depending on whether America manages to propel itself towards a future without planet-heating emissions. For the first time, researchers have calculated exactly how many people the US could save by acting on the climate crisis. A total of 7.4 million lives around the world will be saved over this century if the US manages to cut its emissions to net zero by 2050, according to the analysis.
    • Hess said that rising heat this century will cause an uneven distribution of deaths around the world, mainly focused on areas such as north and west Africa, as well as south Asia. India and Pakistan recently endured a brutal heatwave of temperatures reaching 122F (50C) in some places, which killed several hundred people and was made 30 times more likely by the climate crisis.

6/15/2022

  1. New data reveals extraordinary global heating in the Arctic: Temperatures in the Barents Sea region are ‘off the scale’ and may affect extreme weather in the US and Europe
    • The new figures show annual average temperatures in the area are rising across the year by up to 2.7C a decade, with particularly high rises in the months of autumn of up to 4C a decade. This makes the North Barents Sea and its islands the fastest warming place known on Earth. Recent years have seen temperatures far above average recorded in the Arctic, with seasoned observers describing the situation as “crazy”, “weird”, and “simply shocking”. Some climate scientists have warned the unprecedented events could signal faster and more abrupt climate breakdown.

6/14/2022

  1. The 1977 White House climate memo that should have changed the world: Years before the climate crisis was part of national discourse, this memo to the president predicted catastrophe
    • [ael: but it didn't….]
  2. How Superworms Make Styrofoam Into a Healthy Meal: By understanding the microbes that help large beetle larvae digest polystyrene, scientists hope to find a better disposal process for packing foam.

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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